In general, child psychologists solve three main tasks: helping adults understand what is happening with their child; helping the child overcome his difficulties; helping to establish contact and communication between adults and a child. And since these tasks are difficult to call insignificant for each parent, the importance of child psychology as a science cannot be convinced. Especially when it comes to children with mental and other developmental disorder forms, including autism.
Any child is not ‘on its own’ for a child psychologist. The process of psychological work with children is impossible without parents and/or close relatives and acquaintances who take an active, most important, and direct part in the formation of a child’s personality at all stages of his growing up, and thus in the formation of prerequisites both for his success and for his problems.
Even the best parents, who are fully immersed and involved in their child’s life, often (and precisely for this reason) are unable to objectively evaluate certain factors, find their root cause, and the right way out. Parents need to perceive this fact normally and do not blame themselves for all problems, but try to cope with them without any extra emotions. There are child psychologists for this purpose.
A psychologist for autistic children
The main working areas of a child psychologist – not only for children with ASD but also for neurotypical children – include the following:
- counseling the child’s parents;
- individual sessions with a child;
- psychodiagnostic of child’s and parental relations;
- psychodiagnostic of the child’s personality;
- therapy classes with a child;
- individual developmental classes with a child;
- group developmental activities with a child;
- conducting seminars and trainings for parents.
It is quite obvious that play techniques work best for young children. Autistic children are no exception in this respect, but a child psychologists note some features working with them. The ‘Child with a future’ kindergarten psychologist Yana Yurchenko says about this.
The game of children with ASD (autism spectrum disorders) is usually non-functional, not socialized, devoid of plot and symbolic features, rigid, monotonous, and consists of repeated manipulations with toys (which are not used for their intended purpose) or non-game unstructured materials (such as sticks, water, sand, pieces of cloth, scraps of paper).
Therefore, such children should be taught to play, starting with the development of subject-game actions based on the child’s interest in a particular toy or situation. It is necessary to take into account the child’s game preferences: at first, a toy that the child likes or knows well. The adult offers the child to perform object and game actions on imitation, repeatedly repeats them and accompanies the game with speech comments. Later, the action with the toy moves on to the plot and image game. Children are taught to play first next to their partner, and then together with their peers to create a storyline game. It is only gradually that children are brought together in micro-groups during the game.
Children’s team playing is closely related to their perceptions about relationships between people. Therefore, it is necessary to constantly form and enrich children’s ideas about the role of each member of the family, about how people communicate with each other. The game fosters socially acceptable norms of relationships between people and teaches them to subordinate their behavior to the requirements of the situation and moral norms.
Children experience a variety of sensations throughout their lives and different age periods. And it is quite natural that they together lead to a wide range of problems to one extent or another. As our and our other colleagues experience shows, parents most often turn to specialists when their children have the following obsessive and repetitive things:
- aggressive and impulsive behavior;
- hysterics and whims;
- bad habits (biting or chewing nails, sucking objects);
- shyness and timidity;
- increased anxiety;
- permanent failure at the kindergarten or school;
- difficulties in retelling and memorizing texts;
- poor classroom performance with good home performance;
- difficulties in adapting to kindergarten and school;
- communication problems with peers and adults;
- visible disorders in the development of cognitive processes (memory, speech, thinking, attention);
- low self-esteem and self-doubt;
- increased excitability and hyperactivity;
- strong reluctance to learn;
- psychosomatic problems (enuresis, encopresis);
- jealousy and competition between brothers and sisters, etc.
This list can still be continued, but the main thing is that parents shouldn’t ignore it, turning a blind eye to important issues for their child. There are a lot of cases when parents decide to visit the psychologist. All of them are not listed in this material, but we do not set such a task to ourselves. We just need to understand the essence and objectives of the ‘child psychologist’ profession.
And one more thing from the universal. Very often a child psychologist is referred to (and properly done) during the most significant periods of the child’s growing up.
At first, parents receive recommendations on how to prepare a child for kindergarten.
The second time – they check his readiness for the first grade, for going to school.
The third time – check the child’s readiness to go to school during a very difficult teenage period.
Let us allow ourselves a few, as it seems to us, necessary words at the end. The teenage age for all our children has always been and will always be extremely important and extremely difficult. It is clear: this is the only period in the life of each of us, when the individual’s social situation of development becomes sharply and very seriously complicated, his focus is transferred from parents to peers, in an incomprehensible way, intimate and personal relationships come into play, there is a need to obtain and confirm his status in life, a feeling of adulthood appears, but there are not many reasons for his social and physical confirmation, etc.
And no matter how advanced parents are (or consider themselves), the teenage period of their child comes suddenly for most of them, and very often parents, alas, feel victims of this period first of all themselves. This is not only a subjective feeling but also a good reason to visit a psychologist together with their child to pass this ‘trial’ period for each family with minimal losses. We hope that this will be the case for your family.