Author: Freya Gardon

Quirky Kid welcomes Connecting Young Minds to BoF

No Comments

Posted on by Freya Gardon

Social Emotional Learning

We are excited to welcome Connecting Young Minds as a program facilitator for the social emotional learning  ‘Best of Friends’® program in Mount Gambier, South Australia.

The Best of Friends® program is a multi-award winning Social Emotional and Learning program. Developed by The Quirky Kid Clinic, the program is in use across over 15 schools and agencies around Australia.

About Connecting Young Minds

Connecting Young Minds is located in Mount Gambier, South Australia. Headed up by Michelle Wright, a Family and Educational Consultant, her space specialises in creating individualised programs for families. As a result, these programs assist her clients in promoting positive mental health growth of their children.

Furthermore, we are impressed with the passion and commitment of Connecting Young Minds to social emotional learning. We are working with their team to deliver their first program to eight children during Term 4.

How we will implement the Best of Friends Program™ at Connecting Young Minds

The first 10-week group of The Best of Friends® program is taking place in Term 4 2018. Currently, our team of facilitators are closely supporting Connecting Young Minds in the delivery of the program.  Each participant receives a copy of the exclusive workbook developed by Quirky Kid. Further, facilitators and parents have access to an extensive series of information, manuals and regular supervision as required.

To ensure adequate evaluation, each child and group complete pre- and post- psychometrist testing of their social and emotional skills. As a result, Connecting Young Minds can monitor the outcome significance of the intervention. Evaluation and Monitoring is an important part of The Best of Friends® program. We are working closely with Connecting Young Minds to support them in this.

Interested in offering ‘The Best of Friends® ’ program at your clinic?

Connecting Young Minds is one of the 15 other school or clinics offering our programs around Australia. Further, their enrolment continues to establish our Social and Emotional program as a cost-effective and evidence-based intervention. The programs aim is to improve children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

We continue to work incredibly hard to produce innovative programs and resources.  Parents, clinics and schools love these resources, using them around the world.

Best of Friends®  has a comprehensive implementation, evaluation and monitoring plan. Likewise, we are keen to identify partners committed to the implementation and evaluation of social emotional learning programs.

Finally, you can contact us or visit the program website to find out more about how you can meet and develop the needs of your students or clients through The Best of Friends® program.

Advertisement

Gaming Disorders: Detection and Intervention

No Comments

Posted on by Freya Gardon

Gaming Disorders in children: what are they, what to do if you are concerned for your child

In a society that is increasingly more technologically focussed, a common question asked at the Quirky Kid Clinic centres on “does my child spend too much time playing video games?” The following article will discuss what Gaming Disorders are, how one is diagnosed with a Gaming Disorder, and what to do if your child is struggling.

What are Gaming Disorders?

Although video games have been entertaining us all for decades, the notion of a Gaming Disorder has only been formally recognised recently. In June 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released their newest revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The ICD-11 lists Gaming Disorders under the section‘ disorders due to addictive behaviours’. Previously, Gaming Disorders were only considered as an area warranting further research in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychological Association, 2013).

Characterised by recurrent and persistent game playing behaviour (both online and offline formats), an individual with this disorder would give gaming increasing priority over their daily life, to the extent that it impairs other areas of functioning.

Regarding prevalence, Gaming Disorders are more common in males than females (Wartberg, Kriston, & Thomasius, 2017). Though it can present at all ages, most of the research highlights adolescents and young adults as being more impacted (Wartberg et al., 2017).

How are Gaming Disorders diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with a Gaming Disorder, the following symptoms need to be observed over a 12 month period:

  • Impaired control over gaming practices (preoccupied, withdrawal symptoms when gaming is not possible)
  • Increasing priority is given to gaming over other areas of life, and other interests. (For example, stop engaging in social activities, other hobbies or experiencing sleep disturbances)
  • Continuing to game despite negative repercussions (WHO, 2018).

This is not to suggest that children cannot play video games or shouldn’t enjoy some screen time on the iPad; it can be a useful tool to develop hand-eye-coordination, teach problem-solving skills or relieve stress (Granic, Lobel, & Engels, 2014; Li, Chen, & Chen, 2016). Likewise, it is important to reflect on the changes that have occurred in ‘gaming culture’ over the decades. Typically speaking, games developed today are not just more interactive and complex, but also more accessible for consumers. There is also a social aspect to it; often games can connect players not just to friends but others across the world. When making a diagnosis, a professional will also consider the context for each individual child. 

Awareness around Gaming Disorders is more about making ourselves mindful of what too much focus could lead to. As a parent, listen to your gut instinct in these situations. Ask yourself, has my child’s mood changed negatively from continuous play? Do you feel like they need to cut down the time/frequency of play? Are they losing social connections? Is their school work suffering without other explanation?’

Seeking Intervention

While only a small proportion of individuals who engage in gaming activities will go on to develop a disorder, it is important to check in with your child as to how much time they are investing in their gaming. Rather than telling your child, they cannot play (in turn making it more desirable), you may want to check in and see whether they feel in control of their gameplay.

If gaming appears to be having a significant effect on your child’s mental health and/or other areas of life, it is important to start intervention as soon as possible rather than waiting for a major incident to occur. Evidence-based intervention for Gaming Disorders recommend a cognitive behavioural approach, including monitoring time spent gaming while simultaneously addressing the thoughts that maintain game play (King, Delfabbro, & Griffiths, 2010).

Gaming Disorders may also be a potential warning sign for other areas requiring intervention (anxiety, depression, bullying, etc).

Here at The Quirky Kid Clinic, our experienced team of Psychologists are more than happy to meet with you to discuss any concerns you have in relation to your child’s development and behaviour.

We always start with a parent only consultation to ensure that we get a thorough understanding of your child’s developmental history and a sense of your families identity, history and cultural dynamics. From here we provide an individualised case plan dependent on your child and families needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly reception on (02) 9362 9297.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2001). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American psychologist, 69(1), 66. doi: 10.1037/a0034857

King, D. L., Delfabbro, P. H., & Griffiths, M.D. (2010). Cognitive behavioural therapy for problematic video game players: Conceptual considerations and practice issues. Journal of CyberTherapy and Rehabilitation, 3(3), 261-273.

Li, L., Chen, R., & Chen, J. (2016). Playing action video games improves visuomotor control. Psychological science, 27(8), 1092-1108. doi: 10.1177/0956797616650300

Wartberg, L., Kriston, L., & Thomasius, R. (2017). The Prevalence and Psychosocial Correlates of Internet Gaming Disorder: Analysis in a Nationally Representative Sample of 12- to 25-Year-Olds. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 114(25), 419–424. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0419

World Health Organisation (2018). International Classification of Diseases, 11th Revision (ICD-11).  Retrieved 21 August, 2018, from https://icd.who.int/browse11/l-m/en

 

Advertisement

Team Service Update: Welcome Taylor Moore

No Comments

Posted on by Freya Gardon

Service Update: Welcome Sarah Doyle and Michal Fisher

As Quirky Kid’s latest recruit, I bring a Masters in Clinical Psychology; experience working with children aged 2 to 12 years in the school setting; a passion for report writing; and an abundance of energy to share with the Quirky Kid team!

After 6 years at university, I completed a number of clinical internship programs. These were at the Brain and Mind Centre of Sydney University, the Western Sydney LHD Psychosis Early Intervention and Recovery Service, and the Western Sydney University Psychology Clinic. These opportunities honed my assessment skills with a variety of presentations including anxiety; depression; Autism Spectrum Disorder, challenging behaviours, social difficulties and emotional disturbance.

My clinical placements with children and families, ensured I have both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to help young people understand the connection between their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. I use evidence-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy combined with art and play-based techniques in my work at Quirky Kid. This is under the supervision of Dr Kimberley O’Brien and Dr Kathryn Berry.

Quirky Kid Update: Welcome Psychologist Taylor Moore; Team

 

Why have I moved to Quirky Kid?

My move to Quirky Kid was motivated by my commitment to joining an innovative team-based environment. In doing so, I will continue to grow my skills with children and young people in a clinical setting. Lucky for me Quirky Kid was the perfect fit!

I work within a passionate and experienced team who enjoy sharing their time, skills and knowledge with each other. Together, we strive to make positive changes for each individual child, their family and the broader school community! It’s so inspiring.  

What are my skills?

In addition to my clinical skills, I bring years of experience working in After School Care and School Holiday programs managing children with mixed abilities and differential diagnoses. In the clinic and school setting, I take my time to understand all perspectives of the presenting problem.

My preference is to work collaboratively with children, parents and educators. In doing so, I address their shared concerns by developing strategies to empower the young person. Further, I use my clinical skills to uniquely design interventions which match the individual needs of each client and to their circumstances.

Drawing on my established networks of health professionals from clinical placements and the QK team ensures the best outcomes for the child. Recently, I have also enjoyed training in the latest iPad version of the WISC-V since starting at QK.

What will my role at QK be?

Part of my role will be delivering the Best of Friends and BaseCamp group programs at Quirky Kid, in addition to building my client load of young people and families. Consultations will typically involve an initial assessment of the background information provided by the parents/carers. Following this, there will usually be follow up consultations with the child or adolescent.

In addition, I am also liaising with local schools and services to continue developing a network of allied health professionals, doctors and school leaders with which to consult.

More About Taylor

I am a self-confessed food lover. I have always said if psychology didn’t work out I would be a baker! Birthday cakes are my speciality. Growing up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches means I love the outdoors, especially going to the beach and enjoying coastal walks. I also enjoy travelling and trying new experiences.

I am very excited about joining the Quirky Kid team and empowering young people to achieve their potential. 

You can read more here about how Taylor can assist your family.  Please feel free to contact our reception on 02 9362 9297 for any enquiries or further information.

 

Advertisement

PhD Internship Opportunity with Quirky Kid Clinic

No Comments

Posted on by Freya Gardon

New Position for a Child Psychologist Available

 Quirky Kid® recently applied and won one of the three APR.Intern PhD Position (Australian Postgraduate Research (APR) Intern) program positions in collaboration with the University of Wollongong and iAccelerate.

As a result, the PhD student will complete a paid internship project with Quirky Kid® to assist with the research design and evaluation of The Basecamp® – our multi-award winning anxiety program for kids aged 7 to 12 years. This opportunity remunerates a PhD student $26,000. This rebate is 50% through the Australian Government and 50% through the University of Wollongong- (the position was filled, thank you for your interest)

 

Leo Rocker_Postgraduate_Research

The application process for one of the APR.Intern positions were competitive. It required Quirky Kid to complete a detailed and well-articulated pitch that including project background, research to be conducted, expected outcomes and the relevance to our organisation and community. 

Quirky Kid®  is currently working with iAccelerate Researcher in Residence, Prof Sharon Robinson to facilitate recruitment of the PhD Intern. If you would like to apply, please contact us to arrange an interview. (the position was filled).

This is the second time we’ll work with the University of Wollongong on a research project. The first research project involved evaluation The Best of Friends®  program with the help of Dr Noelene Weatherby-Fell from UOW’s School of Education.

Quirky Kid® creates evidence-based social and emotional programs to assist young people globally.

Advertisement

Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in infants

No Comments

Posted on by Freya Gardon

Autism Spectrum Disorder

A common question new parents ask us at The Quirky Kid Clinic is ‘What do we need to look out for in relation to an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?’. The following article will discuss what ASD is, the diagnosis of ASD, and what to look out for if you have developmental concerns for your child.

What is ASD?

ASD is a developmental disability characterised by marked differences in social interactions, deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication skills, restricted and repetitive interests/behaviours, and sensory sensitivities. It appears in infancy and the symptoms and severity differ from individual to individual.

The severity of an ASD presentation can range from ‘Level 1 requiring support’, through to ‘Level 3 requiring very substantial support’. When ASD is diagnosed it includes the inclusion or exclusion or an accompanying intellectual disability (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 52).

There is no known cure for ASD, and there is no current consensus amongst medical professionals on the precise cause of ASD. However what is clear is that quality individualised early intervention will support children to increase skill development, communication abilities and develop flexible adaptive behaviours (Dawson et al., 2010).

How is ASD diagnosed?

ASD has shown to be reliably diagnosed in a child as young as 18-24 months old (Charman et al., 2005). However, historically children have been more likely to have received a diagnosis closer to school age than during their toddler years (Mandell et al., 2005; Moore & Goodson, 2003).

Howlin & Moore (1997), who conducted a study of 1200 participants in the UK, reported that whilst the average age parents had any developmental concerns for their child was approximately 18 months old, for the majority of participants studied, the diagnosis did not actually occur until closer to the child turning 6 years old.

In response to ongoing research in the area of ASD diagnosis, in the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics has now recommended that all children be screened for ASD at approximately 18-24 months old (Johnson & Myers, 2007).

In Australia, Williams et al. (2008) have concluded that currently, we have not matched initiatives occurring in other countries, such as the United States, in relation to early ASD diagnosis and early intervention support initiatives. However, the Autism CRC under the guidance of Professor Andrew Whitehouse and colleagues are currently developing a National ‘Best Practise’ Guideline document for the diagnosis of ASD within Australia. Whilst the document has not yet been finalised the draft submission cites the reliability of an ASD diagnosis for a child of 2 years old by a qualified professional. Although, it is still most common in Australia for children to receive a diagnosis between the ages of 3 and 5 years old (Whitehouse et al., 2017).

A reliable diagnostic process involves identifying the child’s strengths and weaknesses via a comprehensive formal assessment which includes a child observation, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2), a parent interview, such as the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), and cognitive / developmental testing such as an IQ test or a general developmental assessment, completed by an experienced practitioner (Charman, 2010; Whitehouse et al., 2017).

Following diagnosis, access to individualised early intervention with the aim of increasing developmental deficits, and decreasing challenging behaviours can make a huge difference in your ASD child’s developmental pathway.

Early Signs to look out for in infants

Identifying characteristics of ASD in a child younger than two years old can be difficult. Concerns may arise due to the ‘absence’ of behaviours considered to be ‘normal’ development and the ‘presence’ of behaviours considered to be ‘abnormal’ development.

Developmental milestones occur across age ranges so your child may be ahead or behind their peers with respect to milestones such as crawling, walking, and early verbal and nonverbal language development.

Listen to your ‘gut instinct’ as a parent. Consider seeking help from your Child Psychologist or Paediatrician if your 12-month-old infant is not demonstrating the following behaviours, either as an emerging skill that is continuing to progress, or once learnt, does not demonstrate these behaviours consistently across multiple environments (Boyd et al., 2010; Charman, 1998):

  • Responding to their name, or to the sound of a familiar voice, by turning their head and referencing the person who spoke or the direction from where the voice came from;
  • Referencing a familiar person with eye contact, such as smiling in reciprocation to being smiled at, at times such as feeding, and or when playing ‘peek a boo’ like games;
  • Demonstrating joint attention, such as referencing a favourite toy or food, then referencing a familiar person, then looking back towards the item of interest as if to say, “pass it to me”, or “can I have more”;
  • Babbling or making noises to get a familiar adults attention;
  • Developing an imitation repertoire such as waving and clapping, and or including the imitation of a familiar person’s facial expressions and movements;
  • Demonstrating reciprocal interest and enjoyment in play, such as tickles, ‘peek a boo’ like games and cause and effect toys, coordinating eye contact to indicate “more”;
  • Tracking objects or familiar people visually around the room and or following a familiar person’s gestures, such as pointing to an object;  
  • Coordinating gestures in order to communicate, such as pointing at an object to initiate a communication, or waving goodbye;
  • Positively responding to cuddling, and or reaching out to be picked up.

Remember that your child may, like all individuals, experience good days and bad days. Your child’s development will occur in spurts and patterns, and it is best to evaluate your child’s development by considering the consistency and frequency of these emerging skills.

If you feel a particular skill is lacking spend the time to practise the behaviour with your child, ensuring that you are providing attention and praise for your child’s attempts at demonstrating the behaviour. If the skill does not start to develop or your child responds negatively to your attempts to model and teach the skill then seek help from your Child Psychologist or Paediatrician.  

Seeking Intervention

Commence an individualised early intervention program as soon as possible. Whether your child has a formal diagnosis or not it is advisable to start intervention as soon as you suspect that your child’s development is not progressing at the level expected for their age rather than following a wait and see approach.

Here at The Quirky Kid Psychology Clinic, our experienced team of Psychologists are more than happy to meet with you to discuss any concerns you have in relation to your child’s development and behaviour.

We always start with a parent only consultation to ensure that we get a thorough understanding of your child’s developmental history and a sense of your families identity, history and cultural dynamics. From here we provide an individualised case plan dependent on your child and families needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly reception on (02) 9362 9297.

————-

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Boyd, B. A., Odom, S. L., Humphreys, B. P., & Sam, A. M. (2010). Infants and toddlers with autism spectrum disorder: Early identification and early intervention. Journal of Early Intervention, 32, 75-98.

Charman, T. (1998). Specifying the nature and course of the joint attention impairment in autism in the preschool years: Implications for diagnosis and intervention. Autism, 2, 61-79.

Charman, T. (2010). Developmental approaches to understanding and treating autism. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 62, 166-177.

Charman, T., Taylor, E., Drew, A., Cockerill, H., Brown, J. A., & Baird, G. (2005). Outcome at 7 years of children diagnosed with autism at age 2: Predictive validity of assessments conducted at 2 and 3 years of age and pattern of symptom change over time. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 500-513.

Dawson, G., Rogers, S., Munson, J., Smith, M., Winter, J., Greenson, J., & Varley, J. (2010). Randomized, Controlled Trial of an Intervention for Toddlers With Autism: The Early Start Denver Model. Pediatrics, 125(1), e17–e23.

Howlin, P., & Moore, A. (1997). Diagnosis in autism: A survey of over 1200 patients in the UK. Autism, 1, 135-162.

Johnson, C., & Myers, S. (2007). Identification and evaluation of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 120, 1183–1215.

Mandell, D. S., Novak, M. M., & Zubritsky, C. D. (2005). Factors associated with age of diagnosis among children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 116, 1480-1486.

Moore, V., & Goodson, S. (2003). How well does early diagnosis of autism stand the test of time? Follow-up study of children assessed for autism at age 2 and development of an early diagnostic service. Autism, 7, 47-63.

Whitehouse, A.J.O., Evans, K., Eapen, V., Prior, M., & Wray, J. (2017). The diagnostic process for children, adolescents and adults, referred for assessment of autism spectrum disorder in Australia: A national guideline (Draft version for community consultation). Autism CRC Ltd.

Williams, K., MacDermott, S., Ridley, G., Glasson, E. J., & Wray, J. A. (2008). The prevalence of autism in Australia. Can it be established from existing data?. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 44, 504-510.

 

Advertisement