Frequently Asked Questions About A Substance Abuse Counselor

Being left alone in a trailer by my mother since I was 12 years old and needing to fend for myself for years before a social worker could put me in the foster care system was brutal. It was the worst experience that I would never wish for anyone to have. I was too young to work, so I had to look for leftover food at the dumpsters behind restaurants for months. Sometimes, the neighbors would take pity on me and give me bread, but they were dirt poor like me, so it did not happen as often as I hoped. Of course, as I lived in a trailer park, it meant that I got exposed to people doing shady stuff, which mostly involved drug abuse and selling.

How I never got tempted to try snorting coke or at least smoking pot always astounded people who heard my life story for the first time. After all, when such activities were too common in your neighborhood, and you did not have an adult in your life to tell you what NOT to do, it was easy to ride the tide. My best guess was that the social worker saved me from all that before I needed actual saving.

Once I went to foster care, I got lucky in finding an elderly couple who wanted to adopt me after I stayed with them for months. If you must know, adoption was rare for older foster kids. I did not have any known relatives to counter my foster parents’ case, so I became legally adopted on my 14th birthday.

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Living The Dream

I was technically the elderly couple’s only child, and they doted on me in every way possible. If they saw me looking at something for more than a few seconds at the mall, they would ask, “Would you like us to get that for you?” If I seemed unhappy, they would worry as any parent should. 

In truth, I was not interested in a lot of material objects. It was enough for me to have a smartphone and a computer. The only thing I actually requested from my adoptive parents was to allow me to study counseling after high school. As expected, they gave me their full support, but Mom curiously asked why I wanted to take up counseling instead of other degrees.

“I am lucky to have new parents like you, but I still want to go back to the trailer park someday and offer counseling to substance abusers and hopefully help them turn their lives around,” I replied. 

How long do you have to go to school to be a drug counselor? 

 A drug counselor spends the same number of years – at least six – at school as any counselor. The only difference is that they have chosen to specialize in substance abuse.

How long does it take to get a CADC? 

 If you want to become a certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC), you need to allocate 270 hours of your time to attend various related courses. On top of that, you are required to complete an internship for at least 3,000 hours. All these may take place within six months or longer. 

What are the eight practice dimensions of addiction counseling? 

  • Clinical Evaluation: The first step is to screen and assess the patient’s condition to ensure that they qualify for addiction counseling. 
  • Treatment Planning: When it becomes evident that they can avail addiction counseling, the counselor will plan how long they should receive treatment, what kind of counseling they should get, etc.
  • Referral: In this step, the counselor figures out what treatments they cannot provide in the facility and refer the patient to mental health professionals who can provide those.
  • Service Coordination: It is also essential for the counselor to coordinate not only with the patient but also with their loved ones and other concerned individuals regarding the upcoming treatment. Doing so guarantees that everyone is on the same page, which increases the success rate of addiction counseling.
  • Counseling: The actual counseling takes place at this point. The counselor will most likely recommend a one-on-one session to the patient to ensure that they can feel comfortable opening up about their problem. Over time, they may suggest group counseling and introduce the patients to others with the same issues.
  • Education: The mental health professional aims to educate everyone involved in the patient’s life regarding addiction and its symptoms. 
  • Documentation: Any progress that the patient makes every session needs to be recorded in written form. This way, the future psychologists or counselors they work with will know their mental status.
  • Professional/Ethical Responsibilities: It is among the counselor’s responsibilities to assess what symptoms or other issues they cannot treat and be honest about it. They don’t try to fix such problems; instead, they help the patient look for another professional who can help them.
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How long does it take to become an LCDC? 

 Becoming a licensed chemical dependency counselor requires you to spend 270 hours studying for it. Then, 135 out of those 270 hours must be focused on chemical dependency courses.

Can a felon be a drug counselor? 

 The answer depends on which state you live in. If you are in California, for instance, felons and other criminals can become drug counselors. However, many states do not allow that, especially if you have been newly acquitted for your crimes.

How do I get CAADC? 

 To get a CAADC certification, you must present a master’s degree in any mental health profession (preferably behavioral science) and complete alcohol and drug counseling courses. After that, you need to pass the IC&RC test and work for at least 4,000 hours in your desired field.

What can a CADC do? 

 A CADC helps addicted individuals figure out why they have developed an addiction in the first place. Most of the time, they sort of know the reason, but they are in denial about it.

How do I get CCAPP certified? 

 The first thing that CCAPP will ask you before getting certified is a high school diploma. Once you pass the initial assessment, you can enroll at their accredited programs related to ethics, counseling skills, communication, etc. This is a requirement for everyone, even for individuals who apply for certification after getting their bachelor’s or master’s degree.

What does CADC III stand for? 

 CADC-III stands for the highest level of certification that you can get as an alcohol and drug counselor.

How difficult is it for a felon to get a job? 

 The level of difficulty depends on how long it has been since you got convicted of a felony. If it is relatively new, you may struggle to find a company that will accept you without looking at your criminal record. Despite that, more companies try not to discriminate against felons and other criminals and hire them based on their skills.

Can felons become social workers? 

 Yes, felons can technically become social workers. They can apply for a license in their state, but the approval depends on the type of felony they have committed. Some also conduct a criminal background assessment. 

If you genuinely want to become a social worker, you may get a California license, where they have pretty relaxed rules regarding who can be certified or not.

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What is a CDCA certification?

The Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA) certification is the first type of accreditation you should get to become a chemical dependency counselor.

Final Thoughts

The road to professional counseling took almost a decade of studying. No matter how challenging it was, though, my adoptive parents did not cease to support and encourage me to continue following my noble dreams. As of 2020, I already got the certifications required to become a substance abuse counselor and started to offer free counseling at impoverished communities throughout the country.

 

Things You May Not Know About Autism (Mental Health Facts)

Autism can be a lot of things because it has a wide variety of symptoms. Quite possibly, a person’s autism condition tends to be different from other autistic individuals. There is no exact diagnosis of its condition because people feel and experience different behaviors and mental illness responses. They have different triggers, and they deal with their surroundings differently. Autism is not just about an individual who seems unable to talk, act, and behave in a normal way. There are more than meets the eye on their mental health state.

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There Is No Possibility To Outgrow AutismAutism stems from the changes in people’s brain development. It is not something someone can outgrow over time because it is a lifelong condition that needs proper care and assistance. Though mental illness can affect people’s lives, it does not mean they cannot make significant improvements. Autistics, given with the right medication and treatment, can improve their social and language abilities over time.

Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism – Funny that some individuals believe that vaccines cause autism. But the truth is, it is 100% categorically incorrect. There are so many studies in this area, and all results end up finding not a single trace of any association of autism and vaccinations. Vaccines are specifically made for preventable diseases such as measles, influenza, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and so on. It is one of the few cost-effective interventions that are successful in keeping up with public health demands.

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Not All Autistics Have Savant Skills – Many of us believe that when people are mentally disabled, they automatically possess and demonstrate a specific ability in a far or excess average. Yes, quite autistic individuals have special skills such as painting, math, problem-solving abilities that can come pretty much extraordinary. However, not all autistics are like that. In fact, these special abilities only apply to a small portion of people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Autistics Are Emphatic – Autism by some means has problems in recognizing subtle communicational cues. These include body language, voice pitch and tones, and so on. Autistics somehow cannot relate when a person is angry or upset. But when emotional communications are done directly towards them, they become emphatic. They feel empathy when other people show sadness and loneliness. They recognize emotional needs.

Autistics Can Have A Great Sense Of Humor – The idea that autistics are too sensitive is false. The truth is, autistics actually have a lot of sense of humor. Autistic individuals understand a joke and can come up with one as well. It is entirely unacceptable to assume that they can no longer appreciate a humorous conversation because they are somewhat socially incapable of dealing with others. It is essential to consider that autistics are also capable of having a funny character.

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Autistic Can Have Quality Friendship – Autistics indeed has significant difficulties with social interaction. There is anxiety everywhere, which sometimes makes them feel like making friends is a struggle. Autistics suffer from direct communication. That is why they often choose not to express themselves to avoid confusion and judgments. However, their social skill problems do not mean they lack the desire for quality friendships. Contrary to that, autistics like to socialize, though it could mean differently.

Autistics Are Not Violent – Often, there are lots of misinformation that tells autistics are violent. Do not be fooled by that. No evidence can support the claim that autistics are more violent than the rest of the population. They do not necessarily express their unwanted emotions through a volatile rage. Yes, their spectrum disorder may cause them a sudden outburst, but it is not at all related to the intent of harming other individuals.

Not All Autistic Are Intellectually Disabled – We all know that quite a couple of people in the spectrum have intellectual disabilities. However, it does not count everyone. Just because autistics have social communication issues, that does not mean they are no longer capable of critical thinking and problem-solving. In fact, they are smart and intelligent in their ways. It requires a different assessment that does not rely too much on communication skills.

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Autistics Can Maintain A Healthy Romantic Relationship – Contrary to the beliefs, people with autism spectrum disorder can have a happy and healthy relationship. Just like the rest of the community, they understand the need for intimate connection. Yes, there are quite a few people in the spectrum who chooses not to engage in a romantic relationship. But that does not mean autistics are not capable of having one. Autistics can form a connection and bond with the opposite sex, and they can keep it.

Every individual with a spectrum disorder is different. They are full of their unique talents and personalities. Thus, their challenges and needs also vary. The guidelines of autistics’ condition rely on understanding.

How My Family Handles My Autism Meltdown

Dealing with autism now that I am a teenager is quite different from when I was a child. Maybe that is because, in some instances, I can already identify some of the emotions that once bothered me. I have an impression of what I am dealing with, and somehow I understand the risk of my psychological condition. That being said, there is something I know I can and still can’t do. That is why there are specific people who guide and support me through the life challenges caused by autism. That is none other than my family.

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Walking Through The Experience

At times, I can stay calm. I can have a proper conversation with people around me, especially when I am taking my medications. I can pretty much interact with my friends and family like an average individual. I can understand a couple of jokes, and I can ride with it. I can make some jokes myself too. However, things escalate when I sense triggers. Every time something catches my attention, I lose all the focus. I become more drawn to things that are not supposed to be a big deal. These include flashing lights, unexpected noise, and unusual items. It is pretty much stuff like that. I get too excited and extremely overwhelmed about everything that surrounds me.

Whenever I am having some trigger issues, my family keeps on talking to me. My family tries their best to get my attention so that I can manage to stay in line with my emotions and actions. But there are times that they leave me alone. Perhaps that is because some of my triggers are not that alarming at some point. My family ensures that I listen to them attentively so that I can avoid further emotional turmoil. Honestly, I know it is not easy for them to control their emotions as well. But when I am having a difficult time understanding myself, they try not to cause any additional damage to the situation.

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The Unexpected Turn Of Events

Teenage autism can get out of hand sometimes. When I sense the change in my emotional pattern, I feel the agitation rising quickly. That explains why when I can’t seem to control myself, I start fidgeting, thumping my feet, shaking my hands, and continually changing my facial expression. In some unfortunate instances, when I am experiencing a total loss of physical control over my body, I start to bump my head and eventually hurt myself.

When I reached the point where I no longer want to listen to anyone, it becomes a real problem. It is like I can become a different person in just a few seconds. There are too many emotions that I cannot contain anymore. And sometimes, it becomes entirely difficult to be in charge of my behaviors. I always scream, cry, and throw tantrums like a 6-year-old kid who wants to have candies. I can’t breathe, and all I think about is the changing patterns I don’t want to experience. I get angry over nothing. There are instances that when my family tries to comfort me, I tend to react more viciously.

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I know it is hard for my family to see me in that specific situation. And as much I don’t want them to worry about it, there is pretty much nothing I can do to stop. My parents and my siblings often tell me that things are going to be okay. But I can’t seem to convince myself that what they are saying is true. I wouldn’t say I like it when I am at my worst and having a meltdown because I seem to be a different person. To top it off, I hate it most because it makes me unintentionally hurt my loved ones.

Things I Am Thankful For

It is not always that I do not listen to what my family tells me every time I am having a meltdown. But I won’t lie. It hurts me to see them trying so hard not to show their exhaustion and frustrations towards the things I do. Usually, when they try and help me get through my emotional dilemma, I feel bad for them. They do not deserve to experience my uncontrollable mood swings. But regardless of my condition, my family always ensures that I get to be comfortable with myself. They always find time to encourage me to take a deep breath, and often, that somehow resolves my emotional stress. Though I know, my meltdown will soon start to repeat itself after a couple of hours.

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I am just so thankful for my family’s support, patience, and unconditional love. Without those things, I might probably look at life the other way around. So, for the well-being of my family, I will continue to try my best to manage my mental situation in the best way possible.

6 Activities You Can Do With Your Child With Autism To Keep Them Entertained While In Quarantine

Routines faced interruptions because of the quarantine imposed by the government due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kids and teens alike are affected by this sudden change, especially children with autism. 

Adapting a new routine will help children with autism relax and cope with the unstable environment. And here are some fun and learning activities you can do with them to keep them entertained while in quarantine.

Household Chores

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One of the entertaining things you can do with your child with autism is household chores! Yes, cleaning the house, making their beds, and doing the dishes are some activities that can entertain your child.

Not only do these tasks distract them, but it can also be their outlet to release their stress from being locked at home. Incorporate a cleaning day in their schedule and let your child destress while helping you with the household chores.

Arts And Crafts

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Another fun and relaxing activity that you can do with your child involves arts and crafts. Painting, drawing, and creating things are some art activities that you can do at home.

Children with autism often struggle with verbal and social communication but are good at thinking visually and in pictures. Crafting with your child not only entertains them but also helps them have their medium for expressing their emotions.

Also, this can motivate them to learn and create while having fun. Your kid may also discover their artistic side and find a new hobby that they’ll love.

Online Learning

One of the critical activities that have been affected by this pandemic is learning. But that should not be the case. Going to school may not be possible now, but education can continue even at home.

Also, including online schooling in your child’s routine may give them back the sense of control that being in quarantine may have taken away. 

Take note, though, that what is happening in the world is very anxiety-inducing, especially for your child with autism. So, be ready to assist them with their education and take on the role of teachers in guiding them with their tasks.

Christopher Lynch Ph.D. shares, “Provide accommodations to address areas of struggle, modify tasks to suit each child’s unique learning style, alternate frustrating tasks that play to strengths, and provide with breaks as necessary.”

At the start, you may need your child to talk with their homeroom teacher to help them get used to the new setup. Remember that patience is the key to an excellent home-learning experience with your child.

Science Experiments

Another engaging learning activity that you can with your child is science experiments. Your child learns visually, and what better way to teach them scientific principles than by trying them at home!

The internet has a lot of fun and safe ideas for what you can do with your child. And for a more visual resource, you can look up experiments on YouTube. Some science activities will also be engaging sensory experiences for your kid.

Playing With Playdough

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One of the best aspects of play dough is its flexibility. It can be anything that your child wants it to be. Another excellent use of playing with playdough is that you can use it to practice your kid’s communication skills. You can ask to talk about what they are making and tell stories about it.

You can also make this task a fine motor practice for your child by letting them squeeze it, roll it, pound it, and maybe make it into a clay model of your family. However, you may need to test what play dough will be more suitable for your kid.

Dancing And Workout

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Another stress-relieving activity that you can with your child and other members of your family is exercising. YouTube has lots of videos to guide you and your kids in making your routine. You may also incorporate dancing in your workout and have fun while sweating out. 

Another fun way to engage them in these activities is to let them have a choice. You may make a choice board filled with these enjoyable tasks and have them pick the one that they like to do for the day.

This pandemic and our new normal may be challenging to adapt to, but that does not mean that you cannot have fun with your child while in quarantine.

Teaching Children With Special Needs

 

 

Master Sgt. Jerry Molina, an Airman from the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, helps a boy with cerebral palsy color during a special education class at the Nadjeshda Children's Center April 27, 2010. Nadjeshda is home for 60 children and teenagers who are disabled in different ways. With the help of adults, children there are able to learn to sign, draw, study, work and have fun using various methods of therapy. U.S. Airmen have supported Nadjeshda for the last six years, helping rebuild and repair the facility and spending time with the children. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carolyn Viss)

Source: afcent.af.mil

“Dreaming of a Bigger Tomorrow was the theme at the 2019 Special Needs Conference attended by children with autism and other disabilities, parents, policymakers, sponsors, and other participants that had the same goal. They all were interested to improve the lives of children with special needs and their families. Among those who attended were teachers from different states, who listened to discussions about teaching children with special needs. It was a transformative event that communities from different states truly recognized and appreciated.

Teaching Children With Special Needs

As a teacher, disabled children and teens may present with several distinctive challenges. They will require more patience and time from you, so you also need to have special instructional techniques in an organized environment that improves their learning capacity. It is vital to keep in mind that students with special needs are not incapacitated. They are capable of learning – only that they require a more custom-tailored type of guidelines that are suitable to meet their corresponding learning disabilities. Here are some common strategies that you can use or be guided with.

  • Give verbal instructions to children with reading disabilities. Reading materials and examinations should also be in an oral format so that the student’s evaluation will not be influenced by his reading disability.
  • Provide quick feedback to the disabled students as they need to immediately see the connection between what you taught them as a teacher and what they have learned as a student.
  • Progress checks should be made available to them regularly. Provide them with a simple checklist of how they are doing so far in individual and class environments.

 

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  • Structure your activities in a way that they are understandable – short and to the point. Long projects will most probably frustrate these students and might decrease their motivation.
  • Children with learning disabilities have trouble comprehending abstract concepts and words. As much as possible, provide these students with tangible objects, things that they can smell, touch, hear, etc.
  • If necessary, repeat your instructions or provide both written and oral formats. It is important that children with disabilities benefit from sensory modalities.

 

 

 

How To Help Children With Autism Adjust During The COVID-19 Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat to our world health system, most of us are staying home away from other people. We have to adjust to a new way of life to prevent the virus from spreading and take care of our health and our loved ones.

It can be tough to experience sudden shifts in our lives, especially for children with autism who could be facing emotional distress at the effects caused by the pandemic. 

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According to Donna Murray, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, people with autism find comfort in doing routine activities and this particular time may stress them out. “Depending on developmental levels, the difficulty of understanding why a routine is disrupted, how long it’s going to last, wondering when it’s over—all of that adds a lot of unknowns. It can add anxiety.”

Children with autism may display extreme resistance to change. Adding to the strains is the closure of kindergartens, schools, and other facilities, children with autism feel attached. With that, here are some of the ways you can help children with autism to cope amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Introduce New Daily Routines

Children with autism take solace in predictable daily routines. Since you have to introduce them with a new way of living for a while, create a structured schedule that gives them a sense of control in uncertain situations. Work with them in creating new daily activities. For this purpose, make a visual schedule and post it somewhere your children can see so that they can check on it regularly.

Don’t overcomplicate their schedule. It doesn’t even have to be time-based to take off the pressure in keeping up with it. You can also help your kids regain control by providing options and letting them make decisions. Allow them to choose the meal for dinner or ask them what they would like to do next while doing school work.

Use Auditory Or Visual Cues

Having reminders can help your kids to know how long an activity should last or other essential things they need to perform. Use visual or auditory reminders to give them hints on their next events.

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Talk To Them About The COVID-19 Pandemic

Children with autism may not be able to express their fears and frustrations at face value. But helping them to understand the current situation can make them grasp what is happening. Be direct and honest, and don’t offer other information that they don’t need. It may create further misunderstandings and complications. 

Easily explain to them that they will do their schoolwork at home, and any activities outside will be on hold. Talk to them about important things, such as:

  • Wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Avoid touching their nose, mouth, and eyes. 
  • They can’t stay close to other people, practice social distancing
  • Wearing cloth covers or face masks when going outside.

Apply Social Stories

To help your children process and comprehend new information, you can use social stories. Social stories are stories that help teach kids to distinguish what’s happening and what to do about it. It goes with pictures, storytelling, and other visuals to help them engage in the topic.

You can use social stories in further explaining the essential details about the following:

  • COVID-19
  • How to stay healthy
  • Social distancing
  • Hygiene
  • Homeschooling
  • New routines

Use other learning methods that have worked before. Give them time to process new knowledge. Some children with autism need to roleplay and will always ask questions to reduce the stress they’re experiencing. You can search online to help you in creating social stories. Or make your own social stories through drawings, pictures, or photos.

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Help Your Children Express Their Emotions

Children with autism perform repetitive behaviors when they feel worried or scared. They may have tantrums and other actions that are challenging to address.

You can support your kids with their emotions by trying calming activities, such as deep breathing, watching films or videos, or exercise with them to ease anxious feelings. You can also try doing the following:

  • Writing
  • Talking with each other
  • Arts and crafts
  • Using augmented communication devices for nonverbal children 
  • Playing out their fears

Avoid making your children watch, hear, or read upsetting news, as this may increase their anxiety. If they did so, talk to them in a calming manner. Limit their time on social media to prevent further misunderstandings.

You must take care of yourself as well as much as you take care of your children. They’re going to need you healthy and reliable as your family goes through this pandemic. Most importantly, stay with them. Your comfort as a parent is the best support your children can have.

Job Opportunities For People With Autism

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A mother and advocate of autism was the special speaker at the 2017 Autism Conference. Monica Meyer inspired and motivated. Most participants – which consist of autism specialists, medical professionals, researchers, and moms of children with autism – agree that it was one of the best and the biggest conferences so far. Aside from the moving speech that Meyer delivered, there was also a question and answer portion of the program where the audience was allowed to ask anything and everything autism. Plus, workshops that involved tools that parents can use to cope with their children, dealing with autistic behavior, and even employment opportunities for those with autism.

For parents with teens or adolescents diagnosed with autism, there are jobs that they can do and that they can excel in, depending on their unique talents and skills!

Technology

Worldwide, some of the most successful tech specialists and computer programmers are diagnosed with autism. These people have a passion for looking into computers and anything tech-related. This is probably one of the best careers for them because the job doesn’t need much social interaction. They also have their own space to work in, which is conducive to their personalities.

Pet Sitter Or Groomer

A lot of teens and adolescents with autism are fond of having pets for companions. Most often, a dog or cat provides them with something to focus on. And since at times pets are a source of comfort to them than other humans, autistic people who have a flair for pets can make great pet sitters or groomers. This career also doesn’t require a lot of talking with other people. They would spend more time with pets than with humans, which makes it convenient for them. Other animal-related jobs include dog trainers and livestock caretakers.

Writing And Research

Our services can support you to look for work

Source: autism.org.uk

Most writers can be described as ‘aloof’ simply because they love to be alone with only their pen and paper with them. A writer can be a suitable job for a person with autism. Through writing, he can express fully what he finds difficult to express verbally. It sharpens his mind and enhances his creativity. As a researcher, on the other hand, he can utilize his keen attention to detail and his tendency to over-focus on the things that he is most interested in.

 

 

 

Friendship Building For Kids With Autism 

Often, we leave the children to form their friendships with their playmates. However, for children with ADHD, that task can be quite tricky. As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children make new friends and maintain those bonds. Here are some tips and tricks to teach our children about friendship building.  

 

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