For your child, the benefits of having a pet cat are far-reaching. It’s a big responsibility though, so teaching children safe techniques for bonding with their pets is paramount. In an article by Advantage Petcare on ‘Introducing Cats To Children', our experts at Oracle Psychology contributed practical advice for parents to encourage and enhance successful bonds. As director of Oracle Psychology, Mr Daniel Wendt offers a unique combination of qualifications in both education and psychology, to assist children and young people.
Perhaps one of the greatest positives that pet ownership can have for children in terms of wellbeing, is to teach children valuable lessons in empathy, compassion, friendship, and maturity. We advise that one of the best ways to create a strong bond between your child and their cat is to have them take part in the care of their pet.
Allowing children to look after the cat by feeding it, grooming it and showing it love, gives them a sense of ownership and encourages them to make strong connections. Talk to your child about the cat’s feelings along the way, so they understand the impact they have on their pet’s life. In doing so, having a pet cat benefits the mental health and development of your child.
Another important lesson is letting your child be involved in looking after their pets. This can help promote self-esteem, increase play skills and grow social connections. In some instances, pets have been shown to assist children with developmental conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, to become more interactive within the family.
It’s important to consider your family’s individual circumstances before committing your time, love and attention to caring for a cat. However, if you do, there are huge benefits that can result from the special bonds formed between children and their pets.
Mr Daniel Wendt, specialises in the psychology of children, teenagers and young adults in the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast regions of NSW. The team at Oracle Psychology are expert Child and Adolescent Psychologists who are registered with the Psychology Board of Australia.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a program which is already helping many people with disabilities and special needs in the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast areas. It is run by National Disability Insurance Australia (NDIA) which provides funding to eligible individuals in order to access ongoing supports and important early intervention services. Roll out of the scheme nation wide is commencing in July 2016 to assist all eligible individuals in accessing supports.
NDIS can assist eligible children, adolescents and adults with a recognised disability or special needs diagnosis such as an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The program outsources funding to registered providers such as Oracle Psychology to implement treatment and supports. Approved funding can include assistance from Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Case Managers and Support Workers. However individual supports need to be approved and negotiated with an NDIS planner.
The importance of early intervention is well documented in the research literature. Many childhood conditions benefit from early identification and treatment. By recognising and addressing needs in children, clinicians can promote more positive outcomes in adulthood. Mental health diagnoses such as anxiety and depression can also benefit greatly from treatment in childhood and adolescence which further highlights the benefits of early access to services.
If you or a family member may benefit from accessing support through NDIS you can contact them directly on 1800 800 110 to enquire as to possible eligibility and the application process. Our Child Psychologists are registered to provide a range of supports and services to participants once a formal plan for funding is approved. We can also provide assistance through private health fund and Medicare rebates for eligible clients.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been known by many names over the years. Trying to understand how labels like Asperger's, Autism, PDD-NOS and ASD all fit together is sometimes like figuring out a puzzle. Understanding these different terms can be difficult for parents and teachers alike.
Some of the confusion comes from changes in the international diagnostic criteria over the past few years. In 2013 a new set of diagnostic terms were released as a part of the updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - Fifth Edition (DSM-V). Prior to the DSM-V three separate conditions were used to describe children affected by ASD. These were Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). With the release of the DSM-V these individual diagnoses have now been merged into one single Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis.
The new umbrella term of ASD captures the similarities between the different disorders. Essentially children with ASD experience difficulties understanding the emotions of others and how to interact socially. As well as social difficulties, individuals with ASD often find it difficult to be flexible, struggle to cope with changes and have repetitive/obsessive behaviours. Individuals with ASD can also find certain sensory experiences overwhelming and may be quite sensitive to sound, touch, smell or taste.
After a diagnosis of ASD is made a rating system is applied to indicate the level of need for the individual. Professionals provide a severity rating of either 1, 2 or 3. This can be thought of in terms of Mild, Moderate or Severe symptom levels respectively. This rating system helps with understanding the level of support required and what assistance may be available.
ASD is a neurological (brain based) condition meaning it is generally life long. However early intervention by professionals such as Psychologists, Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists can assist individuals in gaining improvements in day to day activities and interactions. Generally, the earlier ASD is identified and treated the better the long-term outcomes.
Individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face many challenges in their life. They are born into the social world and are immediately confronted with experiences and sensations which can be overwhelming and confusing. However children and adolescents with ASD have many strengths. They experience the world in a unique and individual way. They can be excellent visual learners, very loyal friends and quite particular about following the rules.
ASD is estimated to affect 1 in 100 children and adolescents. Among other things, it is primarily characterised by difficulties understanding social relationships. What many of us take for granted as “common sense” can be confusing or illogical for someone with Autism.
For example, it seems obvious to most people that we look at others when we talk to them. Most children don’t need to be taught this and it just happens without consequence. However children on the Autism Spectrum often need the social world explained to them in detail so they can understand the “nuts and bolts” of the situation.
“We look at other people so they know we care” a parent might explain to their child with ASD. “It makes people feel happy when we look at them and smile” the parent may add. This helps the child understand the connection between the social action and the feelings of other people.
Children with ASD are commonly identified when starting school however the signs are often present from a young age. Sensory concerns, difficulties coping with change, repetitive behaviours and extreme emotional outbursts can also be indicative of the condition.
Of course, not every child with social difficulties has ASD. Just like other aspects of child development (e.g. language, motor skills, cognition) social skills also develop at different paces in different children.
It can be helpful to talk to a Child & Adolescent Psychologist if you or others have ongoing concerns regarding your child. This can help identify what is expected at your child’s developmental level. After all, early identification and assistance can lead to better outcomes for many childhood conditions.
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Child Psychologist Daniel Wendt is the Principal Psychologist of Oracle Psychology in Newcastle, NSW.