All parents wonder at times if their child is really understanding or listening to what they’re saying, but what if you’re worried your child may actually be struggling to comprehend conversations or instructions? About 5% of school-aged children have an auditory processing disorder, or APD, which affects the connection between their ears and their brain. Children may get confused in the classroom, upset in loud environments, or fail to follow instructions when they have this condition.
What’s the Difference Between an APD and Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss, hearing impairments, and APD can appear to have very similar symptoms, but they have entirely different causes. With hearing loss or a hearing impairment, someone may struggle to hear different sounds or quieter volumes. Hearing loss can also worsen over time if there’s any damage to the cochlea in the inner ear.
APD, on the other hand, isn’t a hearing impairment at all. Those with an auditory processing disorder can hear perfectly fine, but the information gets disorganized somewhere in their brain. Children can have trouble discerning what people are saying to them, or understanding and analyzing different sounds.
Signs and Symptoms of APD
Most parents begin to notice signs of APD when their child is in grade school because their symptoms may become more apparent in the classroom. APD can range in severity, but a common problem is having difficulty listening to one person talking in a loud, noisy environment. Your child may also:
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child has APD
If your child seems to have an auditory processing disorder, make an appointment with an audiologist. Only an audiologist can accurately diagnose your child, but keep in mind that most diagnostic tests require children to be at least 7-8 years old. If you’re wondering what exactly an audiologist will be testing for, here are the five main “problem areas” they will check:
Ways You Can Help
If your child is diagnosed with APD, there are several ways you can help them succeed both at home and in the classroom. First, your child’s doctor or audiologist may refer you to a speech-language pathologist to help your child improve their reading and listening comprehension skills. A speech therapist can also offer you and your child different resources or let you know about in-school supports, such as assistive listening devices. Other ways you can help your child at school include:
At home, you can significantly lessen your child’s frustration or confusion to make both of your lives easier. Along with helping your child study and stay organized, here are a few more tips to ease their symptoms of APD:
For more information, visit us at Oakville Wellness Center.
Over the past few decades, technology has grown exponentially. Parents today probably still remember using big, clunky computers and cell phones with actual buttons. These have been replaced by sleek tablets, laptops, and phones that can do much more than just call others. With this rapid growth, researchers still aren’t sure about all the effects screen time has on children, and it’s one of the most pressing concerns that parents have today.
Consequences of Too Much Screen Time
According to the ADA (American Optometric Association), children today are increasingly learning how to use technology before they can even walk or talk. Screen time for young infants can cause damage to their developing eyes, but as children grow older, screen time may cause even more harm such as:
How to Monitor Your Child’s Screen Time
It’s important to be aware of how you monitor and approach the subject of screen time with your child. Try to calmly explain why you want them to spend less time on their phone or laptop instead of just saying, “Because I said so.” Having access to the internet is often essential for children’s school work, and it will just become more important as your child grows older. Help your child establish good habits now so they don’t experience the negative drawbacks that excessive screen time can cause. Here are a few tips to help you monitor how much time your child is spending in front of a screen:
Benefits of Limited Screen Time
Cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula says that technology, when used for appropriate amounts of time, can have several positive effects on children. Narula says, “It can introduce them to ideas, information, current events, even health education that they may not get normally. It can also connect them socially to people who may live far away geographically, like family and friends, and allow them to be involved in school projects and assignments." When your child becomes a teenager, they’ll also utilize technology to apply for jobs, write research papers, look for colleges, and much more.
The key takeaway here is that screen time isn’t always a passive activity. YouTube videos can teach children how to make simple recipes or learn an instrument. Social media can keep your child up-to-date on the latest news from around the globe. There are plenty more sites dedicated to educating people about every subject known to humanity. Encourage your child to access this wealth of knowledge responsibly and to use their knowledge to help others, learn new skills, and pursue their interests.
For more guidance, visit us at Oakville Wellness Center today.
Telling stories is one of the longest lasting traditions of mankind. Even before written words were invented, stories were passed down from generation to generation and have mesmerized children for centuries. Kids today still love hearing stories and being read to, especially from their parents. While tucking your child into bed and reading to them can be a calming night-time routine, research has proven that reading to kids can have several other benefits, too. Read on to learn more about why you should read to your children regularly.
Behavior and Attention
It’s believed that when children are read to, they learn how to empathize with the characters and learn how to describe new feelings. Instead of acting out, children are able to identify their emotions and learn how to handle difficult feelings, such as anger or sadness. Parents who tend not to read to their kids raise the chances that their toddler may have attention difficulties or increased levels of aggression. These issues may persist throughout childhood and could lead to issues with concentrating at school.
One study that focused on children from just a few months old through 5 years old showed that reading to children can help them develop better self-control and decrease hyperactivity. Children need to stay still and quiet so they can enjoy the story, which can be hard for kids to do in other circumstances. Dr. Mendelsohn, one of the leaders of this study, stated that, “The key take-home message to me is that when parents read and play with their children when their children are very young...it has really large impacts on their children’s behavior.”
Interest in Books
Reading to your child, even while they’re just a year old, can encourage “pre-literacy” and help them develop an interest in reading. Toddlers enjoy looking at the pictures, hearing about the heroes of the story, and turning the pages of the books. Toddlers often like to ask questions while being read to, and this should be encouraged! Answering their questions will help them increase their vocabulary while learning more about their world.
Children aged 3-5 usually become motivated to learn how to read if they were read to often during their earlier years. If they enjoyed a certain story their parent had read to them before, they may pick it up on their own and try to read it themselves. For preschoolers, having the intrinsic motivation to read will help them immensely when they enter kindergarten.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) discovered that young children who are read to at home are more likely to be able to write their own names, count to 20, and recognize all the letters of the alphabet before other children. Kids who have been read to often have larger vocabularies and better language skills when they begin going to school, or they may already be reading independently.
As your child grows older and continues to read on their own, their reading comprehension and writing skills are likely to improve as they subconsciously notice sentence structures and other key elements of writing. It’s also shown that children who read more often typically score better in all kinds of subjects, not just English!
Reading a variety of different books to your child can cause them to become fascinated by a certain topic. They may ask questions about a specific place or job or want to read more about the subject. Having the desire for more knowledge at a young age can help invoke a natural curiosity about their world and lead to a love of learning. When a child enters school, they will be more excited and motivated to work than other classmates who aren’t thirsty for knowledge.
Parents should encourage their child’s interests and find books that appeal to them. This also gives parents the opportunity to explain different topics to their kids and answer any questions they may have. Learning about several different aspects of the world helps to foster compassion, imagination, and motivation for young children, and these benefits may all come simply from nightly bedtime stories. One study conducted in 2004 followed a group of 4-5 year old children who were read to by their parents and found that by the time they were 10-11, they were more likely to enjoy reading than other children.
Have Quality Time
The quality of reading is much more important than the quantity of books you read to your child. Try to not rush through books! Instead, take your time showing your child the pictures, explaining different words, or asking questions about the story. Making sure your child is engaged is the most important part of spending quality time with them. To help your child focus, ask questions about the pictures, or ask them how the main character might be feeling. The key is to spark curiosity and imagination, and your child’s interests and motivation will grow from there.
Looking for more parenting help? Visit our blog at Oakville Wellness Center.
Grieving is a difficult and complex process that every person experiences differently. Grief is well-known to be the result of the loss of a loved one, but it may also be caused by other significant losses in life. Finding out that you or a family member has a terminal illness, losing a close relationship, moving away, or losing your job can all lead to a period of mourning.
Five Stages of Grief
Most people are likely familiar with the five-stage model but may not understand exactly what it entails. This model can help people understand where they are in their stages of mourning by putting their feelings into context. That being said, everyone mourns differently and there is no “right” way to grieve. It’s perfectly OK if you don’t experience each stage in order, or if you don’t go through a certain stage at all. The most important thing is allowing yourself to feel intense emotions without judging yourself.
How Long Does Grief Last?
The grieving process varies depending on each person’s experience and beliefs; someone who loses a loved one to a tragic accident will likely spend more time mourning than someone who ends a relationship with their significant other. In some cases, such as the passing of a close friend or family member, you may never “get over” the loss completely.
Dr. Michael Craig Miller says that grief rarely has a clear ending, but the difficult emotions associated with grief often change and begin to soften over time. It’s normal to miss a loved one if you hear a song they used to enjoy, or wish that they were with you for an important event in your life. Dr. Elisha Goldstein writes, “Grief may be something that doesn’t completely go away, but instead evolves and weaves into your life, lessening during some hours and making its presence known during others.” Mourning is a normal and important experience; it shows us how much we care for one another and the impacts just one person can have on others.
How to Cope with Grief
As you’re experiencing the intense emotions of grief, here’s some advice that may make your life a little easier in this tough time:
There’s a big difference between merely feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder. It’s normal to feel anxious before starting a new job or speaking in public. This type of nervousness has a specific cause, it’s predictable, and others can understand why you feel anxious. However, for people with generalized anxiety disorder, feeling nervous and “on edge” is a part of their daily life even when there’s little reason to worry.
Mental Symptoms of GAD
Several years ago, a survey found that roughly 3 million Canadians, or nearly 12%, suffered from some form of anxiety. General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is among the most common anxiety disorders. One common misconception about GAD is that people with the disorder don’t realize that their anxiety is unrealistic. In reality, people with GAD recognize that their worry is irrational, but they’re still unable to stop their anxious thoughts. While each person’s experience with GAD can vary in severity, some common mental signs can include:
Physical Symptoms of GAD
While describing their experience with GAD, one individual said, “Anxiety is like an adrenaline rush without the actual roller coaster! Heart races, palms sweat, knees get weak. You have all the physical symptoms of a thrill ride but your brain has no actual event to tie the symptoms to.” The physical signs of anxiety disorders are less well-known than the mental symptoms because the general public typically doesn’t associate anxiety with physical effects. Due to the constant feelings of dread and apprehension, GAD can cause a litany of physical symptoms. Some common signs can include:
Causes and Risk Factors
Like most types of mental health disorders, there is no one known cause of GAD. Researchers believe that developing GAD may be caused by a variety of biological and environmental factors such as:
Possible Complications Due to GAD
Sometimes, GAD can become debilitating. Being unable to sleep, or having worsening feelings of restlessness or worry can start interfering with someone’s daily routine. The symptoms may increase in severity and prevent an individual from living out their normal life Untreated GAD may even cause or worsen physical and mental illnesses such as:
Tips to Prevent GAD
Although there’s no way of predicting the development of a mental illness, anyone can benefit from adopting healthier habits. These simple tips can help improve your life and create healthy ways to deal with stressful situations or worries:
If you believe you’re suffering with GAD, make an appointment with your doctor. They will be able to rule out other illnesses or conditions and will give you an accurate diagnosis. It’s also important to get treatment early rather than later on; your anxiety may worsen, and it tends to be easier to treat if you get help sooner. Your doctor may suggest medication, such as antidepressants or sedatives, to help you manage your anxiety.
If medication along isn’t enough, talk therapy is often beneficial for people with anxiety disorders because they can express their worries without fear of judgement. A great therapist will teach clients coping skills to deal with worrisome thoughts and work with them to start changing their thought processes. Cognitive behavioral therapy is typically a short-term commitment and is dedicated to helping people ease their worries and return to living a normal, fully-functioning life.
Starting therapy can seem scary, but Oakville Wellness Center makes it easy to choose the right therapist for your needs. You can check out profiles of qualified therapists or even schedule an appointment today.
Everyone experiences negative thoughts from time to time. Looking on the bright side might seem unrealistic or futile, especially during stressful situations. People can easily slip into negative mindsets and start developing a more pessimistic outlook when they feel discouraged, but this only causes more stress and anxiety. To avoid falling into a negative cycle, the first step is to recognize which thoughts are harmful or untrue.
Automatic Negative Thoughts
Many people have such habitual cycles of negative thoughts that they don’t even question the validity of their thoughts anymore. Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs), also called cognitive distortions, come to a person’s mind instantly and leave them feeling discouraged and defeated. But these thoughts are usually far from the truth!
Before you can start challenging or replacing your negative thoughts, you need to become more aware of your thought processes and be willing to understand that they’re unrealistic. To help you start recognizing the damaging thoughts, here are nine of the most common ANTs people experience:
How to Set ANT Traps and Practice Positivity
Once you recognize your negative thoughts, then you can work towards stopping them and replacing them with positive thoughts. Dr. Daniel G. Amen writes,” If you can catch them at the moment they occur and correct them, you take away the power they have over you.” Dr. Amen and other researchers suggest the following steps to begin changing your thoughts:
Why Positivity Matters
Mark George, M.D., researched the brain activity in women during three different moods: happy, neutral, and sad. He noticed that the deep limbic system became much more active when the women were sad, but it calmed down significantly when they thought positively. The study proved that thoughts create physical reactions throughout your brain and body. Sadness can cause muscle tension, increased sweating, and a faster heart rate, while positive thoughts help relax and calm people.
Positivity combined with eliminating negative self-talk has been shown to have excellent health benefits. Researchers claim that positive thinkers typically have:
If negative thoughts are holding you back from fully enjoying your life, therapy may be a great option for you. View our therapist profiles or schedule an appointment today.
Many people dread the transition from autumn to winter. The days grow shorter and colder, and thoughts of the upcoming holiday season can cause unneeded stress or dread in anyone’s life. While some are content with the colder weather and happily bundle up to continue their regular routines, others find winter much more difficult to manage. It is estimated that 2-3% of Canadians suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder at any given time, and winter is the most common time for SAD symptoms to flare up.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The main criteria for SAD is that an individual must experience major depression or manic episodes that coincide with certain seasons every year for at least 2 years in a row. SAD itself isn’t a type of mood disorder; instead, it’s considered to be a type of major depression or bipolar depression.
However, unlike chronic depression, those affected by SAD won’t experience symptoms during other seasons of the year. For most people with SAD, they begin experiencing symptoms in late autumn or winter, but their symptoms go into remission when spring arrives.
Symptoms of SAD
To have a diagnosis of SAD, the symptoms should be a result of the changing seasons rather than stressful life situations. For example, a person who commonly feels down in the winter due to slow business or lack of work is experiencing other stressors that aren’t directly related to the season. Someone with SAD will notice that the same symptoms appear during specific seasons regardless of how happy they are, or how well their life is going. Although everyone experiences SAD differently, some common symptoms can include:
You might be tempted to just “wait it out” and see if your symptoms go away on their own, but this will only increase the chances of the symptoms becoming more severe. Even though the symptoms may last only a few months, about 6% of people with seasonal affective disorder have to be hospitalized due to their intense feelings of depression or hopelessness.
For any type of depression, including SAD, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will likely run a few tests to rule out other illnesses that can mimic symptoms of SAD, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, low blood sugar, or underactive thyroid. If you are diagnosed with SAD, you will have a few different treatment options, including:
Ways to Decrease SAD Symptoms
Treatment may take some time before you start feeling better, so doctors also recommend making a few small changes in your daily life to combat SAD. These tips can be useful for anyone who may feel a little sluggish or unmotivated at any time during the winter, so encourage your family and loved ones to follow this advice as well!
For more help coping with the symptoms of any depressive disorder, reach out to us at Oakville Wellness Center.
I do not ask a wounded person how he feels,
I myself become the wounded person,
My heart turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Empathy and sympathy are two words we hear a lot, particularly in the context of one person reacting or relating to the difficult circumstances or challenging situation of another.
What’s the difference, exactly?
Empathy is About Sharing Feelings
In her charming video about the subject, University of Houston researcher Brené Brown says that empathy involves sharing feelings or being able to feel with someone.
Sympathy, though it also involves recognizing another person’s emotions, often leads to a response that tries to minimize the intensity of the other person’s experience, the offer of a solution or way to ‘fix the problem.’
An empathetic reaction recognizes that there isn’t necessarily a response that can make things better. “Connection makes things better,” Brown says.
The Four Qualities of Empathy
Theresa Wiseman, a nursing scholar, describes four qualities of empathy. These include:
Sharing is Caring
What should you say when someone comes to you upset and struggling with overwhelming emotions? Brené Brown suggests that sometimes the best thing to say is, “I don’t know what to say, but I am really glad you told me.” Fostering a sense of caring and acceptance is often more helpful than trying to come up with a solution to a problem.
Walk a Mile in My Shoes
An empathetic reaction is only possible when you are able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, to recognize in yourself the same emotional reaction to a similar experience.
Sympathy Recognizes Emotional Experience
Sympathy, on the other hand, involves a recognition or acknowledgement of the other person’s emotional experience without necessarily also sharing a personal understanding of the experience. Comforting the other person and providing reassurance are kind and thoughtful responses to another person’s emotional pain even when it’s not possible to directly relate through shared experience.
Though a sympathetic response may be much appreciated when someone is suffering, an empathetic response can lead to a deep connection between people who feel they have a special bond as a result of a strong shared emotional experience.
In both empathy and sympathy, kindness and compassion underlie the desire (and ability) to recognize the experiences of others.
Too Much (Or Too Little) Empathy Can be Problematic
For someone who is naturally empathetic and feels the emotional pain of others often and deeply, it’s possible to feel overwhelmed. For natural empaths, it’s important to maintain boundaries and practice self care so as not to take on too much of another’s emotional pain.
The opposite is the case when someone is unable to share the emotional experiences of others. A sociopath is someone who has trouble empathizing with others while a psychopath lacks this ability completely.
Children Can Learn to Be Empathetic
Developing empathetic skills requires practice and that practice can start in early childhood. Teaching our children to talk about their own emotions and to recognize and identify the emotions experienced by others lays the foundation needed to become empathetic adults.
Expressing Sympathy is Also Rooted in Kindness
Given that we all have different life experiences and emotional reactions, it’s impossible to always have a deeply empathetic reaction to everyone else’s intense emotional experiences. When we can’t directly relate an emotional experience of our own to one we encounter in someone else, then expressing sympathy is a way to recognize and validate another person’s emotional pain. Learning to recognize similarities in our own past emotional responses even when the exact circumstances may differ is a way to deepen the empathetic response. By allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and share in another’s pain we are able to form rich and deep connections with others.
For more information on establishing boundaries so you don’t feel overwhelmed in emotionally intense encounters, using empathy to strengthen your primary relationships, or raising empathetic children and teenagers, visit the Oakville Wellness Center.
What does it mean to be “authentic”? The dictionary definition of authenticity is “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.” But while this short, simple phrase may sum up the notion accurately, actually being authentic can be surprisingly complex.
Letting go of negativity and judgment helps, but also creating and serving others allows you to go outside of yourself. Apply the following practices to release fear, anxiety and guilt, and to introduce positivity, optimism and inspiration:
Tune Into Your Intuitive Abilities
Discussing your feelings with others, asking for advice, and being open to constructive criticism are all very important. However, don’t be afraid to trust your own opinions and intuitions, either. Social upbringing, culture, and a whole lot of other factors causes people to feel doubt and to question everything. Authentic turn to others for guidance -- but they don’t allow themselves to be lead around by the thoughts or desires of others without taking their own aspirations and desires into account.
Darlene Lancer of PsychCentral once wrote, “We can’t control other people’s reaction, so we also must know that we can nurture and sustain ourselves”. Nurturing oneself sounds great doesn’t it? Yes, it’s “easier said than done”; but it just takes discipline and practice, until little by little you develop a strength and confidence in yourself. Try meditating and reflecting inward and ask your authentic self the same questions you’ve asked others; and answer back genuinely and truthfully, and free of judgment; then listen to your intuition and take action.
Find Friends Who Foster Happiness and Success
Think about that old saying, “You are are who you hangout with”. Surround yourself with people who foster bad habits and cynical attitudes and you’ll start to act, think and sound like them. On the flipside, involve yourself with successful and authentic leaders, and you’ll gradually begin to feel motivated, inspired, and yes, authentic. Jessica Stillman of Inc.com wrote that even if “you have an 'I am less than them' feeling,” when interacting with successful figures, “If they are a genuine leaders, they will help you”. Stillman also advises to find friends and colleagues that make you “feel comfortable in your own skin." Think about taking those next steps in walking away from toxic relationships, and into life-changing ones.
Discover Authenticity through Helping Others
In the article, Volunteering--7 Big Reasons Why Serving Others Serves Us, Kathy Gottberg, explains that “a part of our brain lights up when we help others; that part of our brain then doles out feel-good chemicals like dopamine, and possibly serotonin”. You’ve heard about the “runner’s-high,” will this achieves similar feelings and is known as the “helper’s high”. By serving others in need, people typically feel more fulfilled, meaningful, peaceful and closer to their authentic self. By serving the community (whether that’s leading an AA group, writing a self-help book, or working at a soup-kitchen), you’ll experience a deeper connection to others which creates both outward and inward love.
Do I Need Professional Help To Feel Authentic?
Quite simply, you can achieve authenticity and fulfillment all by yourself. However, when you feel down and gloomy or anxious day in and day out, you may want to consider getting psychiatric and/or therapeutic help -- even if it’s just for someone to listen with undivided attention!
Oakville Wellness Center, has several certified therapists with various special focuses and styles. If you do not feel authentic after trying to love yourself and others, then consider contacting one of the therapists at Oakville Wellness Center. Struggling should not happen alone, if you feel isolated or misunderstood, seek out help today. With the right therapy (and sometimes medication) and self-help practices, you’ll feel significantly more at ease and closer to your authentic self.
Whether you feel stuck in a dead-end job or you still haven’t lost those 15 pounds you were determined to lose by last year’s New Year’s resolution, it can be frustrating to feel like you are not making any progress in your life. You may feel as though you ended up following a daily routine that has made your life become unintentionally stagnant. While getting stuck in a rut is a common experience for all people, staying stuck does not have to be your only option.
People can feel trapped or stuck in any area of their lives, including romantic relationships, physical health, the workplace, or even at home. However, feeling like you’re in an endless cycle of the same experiences usually does not mean there is a lack of opportunities in your life. You may need to take a step back to reflect on your mindset; feeling stuck can be due to one or more of these negative, unhelpful feelings:
Advice to Free Yourself
When people become stuck in a negative mindset or situation, it is common for them to wait for something to change rather than implementing a change themselves. Change is scary and will always come with certain risks, but there is no sure way to free yourself from a rut without changing some part of your life. Some small ways of implementing change can include:
Feeling Permanently Stuck?
Sometimes, change can seem out of reach, or even impossible. Maybe you’ve been stuck in a negative relationship and aren’t sure how to get out of it, or perhaps finding a new job will cause new difficulties in other areas of your life. Trying to get out of a rut on your own can be challenging, frightening, or simply exhausting. If you feel like you’ve tried everything and still feel trapped, speaking to a professional can be the first step you need to get unstuck.
Qualified therapists at Oakville Wellness Center can help you identify any negative thoughts that are impeding you from reaching your goals and assist you in sorting out what’s holding you back from personal growth. If you’re ready to start making small changes to become unstuck, you can schedule an appointment online today to focus on your own well-being and hear advice from a new perspective.