Tag Archives: NYU Langone Medical Center

Understanding Our Kids: The Power of Validation


We’ve all experienced frustration when someone minimizes our concerns or tunes us out. And most of us are guilty as well, perhaps more often than we realize. But when we do it to our kids—when we fail to hear them and validate their feelings—we are in danger of damaging one of the most important relationships of all.

What validation is . . .
Put simply, validation is the acknowledgement and acceptance of another’s thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It can be particularly effective with adolescents who are navigating the complicated road to adulthood. As parents, we want to know what our teenage children are thinking and doing, while their inclination, as they test new boundaries, may be to withhold their emotional struggles from us.

Validation techniques can help bridge that chasm by showing our children that we are listening to them without judgment, and that their feelings make sense. In turn, parental validation helps children manage their emotions, decreases conflict, and improves the parent-child relationship. It can also help build self-confidence and teach coping techniques they will rely on throughout their lives.

. . . And what it is not.
In order to understand what validation is, we must also clarify what it is not. The “no judgment” aspect alarms some parents and gives rise to the misconception that validation involves permissiveness and leniency. It does not. Validation is neither agreement with nor approval of what your child is saying. Nor is it encouragement, reassurance, or praise—other parenting tools that are helpful but distinct. And validation is most emphatically not excessive permissiveness or reinforcement of bad behavior.

Instead, it’s a parenting tool that helps show your child that you hear what he is really saying, and gives him the confidence to engage with you on an emotional level. For example, if your child is upset by his curfew, you can let him know that you understand how hard that restriction feels, especially when your rules are different from other parents’, and yet also hold to your limits. He may still be angry, but he may also be more likely to discuss his feelings in the future, lessening the likelihood of a larger argument. While he knows you understand and accept his feelings, he also realizes that the curfew stands.

The Six Levels of Validation
Validation takes practice. It will probably not feel natural at first, especially during a tense time when you and your child are under stress. Keep at it!

Here is a summary of the six levels of validation developed by Marsha Linehan (1993), the creator of Dialectical Behavior Theory. It is generally recommended that parents use the highest level of validation they can within the situation.

1. Be present. Stop what you’re doing, put down your iPhone, and give your child your undivided attention.

2. Reflect accurately. Repeat what you believe your child has said and is feeling.

3. Read minds. Guess how your child is feeling, and ask him if you are right.

4. Put it in context. Understand your child’s reactions in the context of his past experiences.

5. Convey your understanding. Let your child know that his reactions and feelings are normal, and that anyone would feel the same way in the situation.

6. Be radically genuine. Treat your child like an equal, perhaps by sharing a similar experience you have had.

Like any other parenting strategy, validation will become easier and more natural over time—and the rewards for your child and your family are lasting, and well worth the effort.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Randi Pochtar, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The Real Facts About Celiac


May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month! If you suspect that you or your child has this disorder, your first step should be to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who can accurately diagnose your symptoms. To get you started, here are some important facts about celiac disease.

What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder affecting the gastrointestinal system. Children and adults with celiac disease cannot digest gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

How is it treated?
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease.

How do you know if you have it?
Symptoms associated with celiac disease vary widely from person to person. Everything from fatigue and headaches, to bloating, diarrhea, and constipation can be signs of the disease. Celiac disease may also be present without any symptoms at all. Blood work for elevated celiac markers, as well as genetic testing, can help rule out or establish suspicion for celiac disease. If it is suspected, an endoscopy with biopsies is recommended for definitive diagnosis.

What foods must you avoid?
The gluten-free diet eliminates all food items containing, or that have come in contact with, wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives. This includes spelt, farro, and malt. One of the biggest challenges of living with celiac disease is learning to identify all hidden sources of gluten in recipes and prepared foods. For example, soy sauce, salad dressings, and mustard often contain gluten.

What if you don’t avoid these foods?
In a person with celiac disease, failure to comply with a gluten-free diet leads to increased risk for certain cancers, poor growth and development in children, persistent abdominal pain, and nutrient deficiencies.

What sort of things need to be monitored after receiving the diagnosis?
The first step after diagnosis is initiating a gluten-free diet—a multidisciplinary approach is key to a successful transition into a gluten-free lifestyle. A dietitian helps to establish meal planning and maximize dietary intake. A nurse practitioner follows with blood work. A social worker and certified child life specialist team up to provide emotional and educational support as needed. Depending on the person and disease process, blood markers are checked every three months to yearly to ensure adequate control of the disease.

Support for children with celiac disease
Beginning and maintaining a completely gluten-free lifestyle can be challenging for children and adolescents with celiac disease. NYU Langone’s Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten-Related Disorders Program offers families the tools they need to make this transition as easy as possible. In this program, pediatric gastroenterologists, nurse practitioners, and other nursing professionals, nutritionists, and social workers focus on improving the health and quality of life of children with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Schieber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.

How to Help Kids with Chronic Hoarseness


“My five-year-old son constantly loses his voice, and has sounded hoarse for a long time. His teacher has a hard time hearing him and I’m concerned something is physically wrong. What should I do?”

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Chronic hoarseness is the most common voice problem in children. Unlike short-lived hoarseness typically caused by upper respiratory viral infections, chronic hoarseness can persist for months or even years if not treated. This can lead to communication difficulties in the classroom, on the playground, or in other noisy environments.

Why Some Kids Get Chronically Hoarse

Some children are hoarse from birth because of how their vocal cords developed. But most chronic hoarseness is caused by overuse or misuse of the voice.

Kids who are naturally loud or scream and yell a lot may incur injury of the vocal cords, the bands of tissue that vibrate to make sound. Speaking with injured vocal cords takes extra effort, and rather than resting their voices, kids typically get even louder. This sets off a repetitive cycle of increasing injury and pushing the voice, eventually causing bumps—also called nodules—to develop on the vocal cords, producing chronic hoarseness.

If your youngster experiences long-term hoarseness or has been hoarse longer than two or three weeks after getting over a respiratory infection, it’s time for an evaluation. Your pediatrician can refer you to a specialist to find the underlying cause and recommend the best course of treatment.

How It Is Diagnosed

Diagnosis involves laryngoscopy, a simple, 30-second procedure that allows inspection of the vocal cords. Older kids and those young enough to be held by a parent usually undergo laryngoscopy at the specialist’s office. After applying a topical anesthetic inside the nose, the doctor will insert a thin tube with a tiny camera through the child’s nose, down into the throat. Children between the ages of about four and seven may struggle and need to have it done in the operating room under anesthesia.

The most common finding is nodules, related to injury and chronic non-healing wounds of the vocal cords. Sometimes cysts or polyps are found, which are more advanced types of growths caused by overuse of the voice. Occasionally, examination will reveal papillomas, or warts, which generally occur in younger children and are usually related to a viral infection acquired in the birth canal.

Treatments for Chronic Hoarseness

Voice therapy. Most kids, particularly those with nodules, can be treated with voice therapy, where a voice therapist trains them how to speak and use their voices more efficiently. This might include teaching how air pressure affects the vocal cords, how to control the energy they put into their voices, and exercises to practice less abusive vocal behaviors.

Medication. In addition to voice therapy, some kids need steroid medication to calm down the bumps.

Voice rest. Your doctor might also recommend the child not talk for a period, but that may be difficult for younger children.

Surgery. Therapy alone may not be enough to treat cysts and polyps, which often must be removed surgically in an outpatient procedure. Papillomas typically require surgery as well. Pain is minimal and kids are generally up and active later in the day. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the voice to recover, so if surgery is performed during the academic year, children will have to miss some school to allow their voices to rest. It may be more practical for them to undergo surgery during summer break to minimize overusing their voices during recovery.

Temporary hoarseness is nothing to worry about, but don’t ignore longstanding hoarseness. Evaluation and treatment are essential for healing your child’s voice and improving his or her ability to communicate with the world.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Milan R. Amin, MD, is Director of NYU Langone’s Voice Center, specializing in the treatment of vocal cord problems, voice disorders, and swallowing and airway concerns. He is chief of the Division of Laryngology at NYU Langone, as well as president of the New York Laryngological Society.

Supporting Young Adults with Autism through Life Transitions


The transition between high school and college or high school and other postsecondary opportunities brings a lot of changes to the lives of young adults and their families. In most cases, young adults suddenly experience much more flexibility in terms of daily activities and schedule—and unfortunately have fewer opportunities for structured social activities. For adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such transitions can be extremely difficult due to their specific social challenges. Such challenges may interfere with the ability to successfully form friendships and romantic relationships, navigate college, and later on, seek and maintain employment.

Parents play an important role as social coaches and facilitators of vocational and social opportunities. Below are some suggestions for parents for supporting their adolescent or young adult through the transition to adulthood and toward independence.

Make a Plan

Identify goals
Adolescents and young adults tend to show interest in employment opportunities, greater independence, and social relationships, including romantic relationships and dating. If having close friends or dating is a priority to your child with ASD, it’s important to think about how to intentionally build in more support and social experiences to help him or her to be successful and included in his or her community.

Start small
Parents and young adults don’t need to do everything all at once! Once goals are identified, think about priorities. If the goal is to make new friends and build one’s social group, work with your young adult to identify his or her interests and find social activities or groups based on those interests. For example, if your child has an interest in chess, he or she can visit gaming stores, attend tournaments, join a chess Meet Up group, or join a chess club on his/her college campus. It can be helpful to talk about how to identify individuals who may have similar interests. If the primary goal is employment, starting small may include one of the following: visiting a parent’s place of work for a day, participating in extracurricular school activities related to career interests, learning about internship or service learning opportunities, or occupational mentoring to learn and practice work behaviors and gain awareness of a potential professional niche.

Practice together
In addition to the two planning steps above, a helpful tool for young adults is practicing the different skills or scenarios that might come up in vocational or social situations. Try role-playing interview skills or having a back-and-forth conversation, and give your child feedback or coaching. Common difficulties for individuals with ASD that may need coaching include inconsistent eye contact, dominating the conversation, perseverating on topics of personal interest, talking about inappropriate topics, and body boundaries.

Praise/recognize efforts
Individuals with ASD may feel misunderstood or disrespected, and become exhausted by social demands, or think of small talk as phony. It is important to praise their efforts and motivation, while continuing to coach around areas of difficulties.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Learn more online at the Autism Society.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Katherine Sullivan, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Your Guide to a Gluten Free Passover

Every holiday has its sweets and treats. Hanukkah has greasy latkes, Purim with its gooey hamantaschen, even Rosh Hashanah boasts apples dipped in honey. And then there’s the most challenging of all holiday treats for a gluten free diet . . . matzah! What gives the crackle and crunch in this otherwise boring Passover delicacy? Let’s break it down.

Traditionally, matzah is made with two ingredients: flour and water. Water is added to flour made from one of the following grains: oat, wheat, rye, barley, or spelt. The mixture is then cooked for 18 minutes at most, just long enough for it to be cooked and before it is able to rise. Because of the grains used, traditional matzah is not acceptable for those on a gluten free diet, specifically those with celiac disease.

So what is a gluten free Passover observer to do? Luckily, along with the rest of the food industry, Passover food brands are catching on to the growing need for gluten free products—now there’s even gluten free matzah! Look for “Gluten Free Matzah style squares,” made by the brands Yehuda and Manischewitz. And, as if we weren’t already fans, Manischewitz has created a full line of gluten free, kosher for Passover products! Find everything from brownie and pancake mixes to macaroons, crackers, and soup broths that are both Passover and gluten free compliant. We also recommend looking for Passover foods made with potato starch and tapioca flour, which are both gluten free ingredients.

The great news is that you don’t need to celebrate Passover in order to reap the benefits of this holiday. The season brings endless amounts of new gluten free foods that only reach shelves around the Passover season. So take out that magnifying glass and head to the kosher for Passover aisle—who knows what holiday sweets and treats you may find!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Schieber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. Mrs. Schieber is a great resource for all things relating to food and nutrition, from symptom management to weight maintenance to healthy snack ideas.

Leora Hauptman, MS, RN, CPNP is a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. Mrs. Hauptman has many years of experience working with children with gastrointestinal disorders and developmental disabilities.

X-Ray Vision and Our Medical Superheroes: What to Expect in Pediatric Radiology


You care about your children’s health, and it can be extremely anxiety-provoking to see them in pain or discomfort. When they need medical attention, knowing what to expect can help you manage an already-stressful situation.

At NYU Langone Pediatric Radiology, we typically see patients from the newborn period through adolescence. We understand that kids are not just small adults; they have their own needs, and our approach is tailored to children specifically. It matters to us that your child has a positive experience, so we’ve made every effort to ensure they do.

Here’s what you can expect the next time you bring your child in for an imaging appointment:

Fluoroscopy: This type of imaging uses low dose X-rays to look at the inside of the body in real time, usually using a contrast liquid that will appear on our monitors. Some of our most common types of fluoroscopic procedures in pediatrics include contrast enemas, small bowel series, upper GI series, voiding cystourethogram (VCUG), and video swallow studies. Here are some helpful tips:

•  Patients for these exams should be as comfortable as possible. Any soothing comfort items your child would like—toys, pacifiers, etc.—are welcome.
• Babies and toddlers in particular should not eat before their studies.
• Fluoroscopy uses low dose radiation. We subscribe to the Image Gently campaign’s Pause and Pulse philosophy of using the lowest radiation dose possible as described.

CT and MRI: When your child needs imaging done with CT or MRI, there are a few things to keep in mind.

• CT, which stands for Computed Tomography, uses radiation to generate very detailed 3D images of any part of your child’s body. A CT scan does involve a low dose of radiation, but we use the most state-of-the-art equipment to minimize exposure.
• MRI, which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, produces detailed 3D images of the body without using ionizing radiation. MRI takes longer than a CT scan. The decision to image with CT or MRI depends on several factors, including the anatomical location of the problem.
• In order for us to obtain the highest-quality images, it’s important for kids to stay as still as possible during imaging. When necessary, the department of anesthesia is available to provide sedation to make the experience easier.

X-ray: It’s common for pediatricians to refer kids to us for X-ray imaging, often for the evaluation of possible broken bones or pneumonia. Here are some helpful tips:

• Unless otherwise instructed, you can feed your child before the exam so that he or she is kept as comfortable as possible. Other soothers, such as pacifiers and blankets, are also allowed for the exam.
• X-rays do involve radiation, but a very small amount. These procedures are non-invasive and nothing needs to be put into the body. The radiation is isolated to the specific part of the body that needs imaging and nowhere else, making X-rays extremely safe.

Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a very common pediatric imaging procedure. It can be used to evaluate almost every part of the body. One of the most common reasons we see pediatric patients is to evaluate abdominal pain. This procedure is particularly easy for our patients. Here are some helpful tips:

• The entire process is non-invasive, so there’s no stressing out about radiation or discomfort.
• We like to consider the simple things to make our patients more comfortable during medical procedures, so we use warm jelly that will feel more pleasant for the kids.

Imaging is central to any good patient care. Our pediatric radiologists are part of the healthcare team, working closely with your referring physician to gather relevant information as quickly and accurately as possible. We know imaging studies play a huge role in helping doctors diagnose exactly what is happening to a patient and determine which treatment steps to consider.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Nancy Fefferman, MD is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, and the chief of Pediatric Radiology.

Organization Frustration: Tips to Help Your Child Stay on Top of Schoolwork

Child with learning difficulties. Tired boy doing homework.
Many parents of school-aged children complain that their kids lack basic organizational skills—they forget to complete assignments, leave important materials for homework at school, have messy backpacks, take too long (or not long enough) to complete homework each evening, and fail to plan ahead for projects and tests. Organization is not an innate skill; some children easily organize their materials and juggle multiple tasks while others struggle to keep up with school-related demands. If your child shows problems with organization, time management, and planning skills, consider these concrete strategies and routines for helping children stay on top of schoolwork.

Does your child have a clear, organized method for keeping track of assignments?
Help your child develop the habit of using a planner to record assignments. Even if teachers post some or all of the assignments on a class website, keeping a personal record will help your child stay organized. Look for a planner that is broken down by subject, has enough space to write details, and has an easily accessible monthly calendar for recording long-term assignments. A space to check off items that need to come home and return to school can help kids who often forget needed materials.

Does your child often lose papers, books, and other important items?
Think about where your child runs into trouble. Is he constantly misplacing one folder? Does she stuff papers into her bag because punching holes and finding the right section in a three-ring binder takes too long? Think about how you can step it down, or simplify the routine. We have found that an accordion file works well for many children; there are no holes to punch, and papers for different subjects are easily filed within one manageable tool.

Help your child develop a routine for checking that all important items are in the bag when packing up in school and at home. A visual checklist pinned to the inside of the backpack can be a helpful cue so your child doesn’t forget critical items.

Does your child struggle to complete tasks in an appropriate amount of time?
You can help your child gain control over his or her schedule by teaching critical time estimation and planning skills. Set aside five minutes each day to review what work needs to be done (consider what is due tomorrow as well as longer-term assignments), how long each assignment should take, what other events are on the schedule (e.g., extracurricular activities), and what your child would like to do to relax. You may find it helpful to create a written schedule, where your child can map out the evening’s activities in 15-minute time increments.

Does your child have difficulty planning ahead for more complex tasks?
If your child is unsure of how to start working on multi-step tasks or if he or she struggles to produce neat, complete work in advance of deadlines, you may need to work on task planning skills. Start by helping your child state the goal for the specific task, break the task down into steps, order the steps, think about materials that are needed, consider how long each step will take, and fit the steps into the schedule. You can write down the individual steps on a calendar so your child can clearly keep track of what to do and when.

Organizational Skills Training at the NYU Child Study Center
If your child has significant difficulties with organization, time management, and planning, he or she may require more intensive intervention to get on track with schoolwork. Organizational Skills Training (OST) is a manualized, empirically supported treatment that has been proven to improve the organizational skills and academic performance of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders. For more information on OST, click here.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Elana Spira, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center. She is co-author of the treatment manual for OST, Organizational Skills Training for Children with ADHD.

Your Child Has Autism: Now What?


Your child has just been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and it may feel as though the ground has dropped out from under you. The challenges seem overwhelming at first, but you don’t have to face them alone. With so much going on, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a few ideas.

Find Professional Support
You are beginning your journey as your child’s advocate and will need to identify the resources you need as soon as possible. Your child will have symptoms, abilities, needs, and challenges that are unique to him or her. With that in mind, a little research will help you evaluate who can best help your child. Be sure to ask questions about each therapist’s approach and methodology, including whether the treatment is grounded in evidence-based practice and how parents and caregivers are included in the treatment.

Make Time for Yourselves
Your child’s needs are paramount, but if you are going to be able to meet them, you must also take care of yourself. As parents, you are under a tremendous strain. It’s critical that you take a deep breath, step back a bit, and process your own emotions and needs. It will be hard at first—your impulse will be to throw yourself into protecting and helping your newly diagnosed child—but it is necessary for your own long-term health and that of the rest of the family.

Be Open with Your Other Children
The diagnosis affects the whole family. Your other children will have questions and reactions, and their feelings about having a sibling with autism need to be validated. Don’t withhold information—it will neither protect them nor make them feel better. Encourage them to ask questions, and process what the diagnosis means for them.

Build a Support System
Don’t go it alone. It’s impossible to overstate how important it is to have family, close friends, parents of children with ASD, and therapists who support you as you start on this new path. Other parents will be particularly supportive—who else knows truly understands what you’re going through? They can be an invaluable source of information on family dynamics as well as on therapists and other resources.

Approach the Internet with Caution
While the Internet is a great source of information, it also contains a great deal of misinformation; you must be discerning. When reviewing websites, check to see if the author has a background in ASD and is professionally qualified to provide reliable information. Also, note whether the site’s information has been subjected to rigorous testing and research. Put another way, does the site share information on evidence-based practices?

One last, but important, note. Your child is the same child he or she was before the diagnosis and will continue to develop in his or her own way, and build unique strengths, skills, and interests for you to embrace and celebrate.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Learn more online at the Autism Society.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Sarah Kern, LCSW, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center.

NYU Langone Staff—and Their Furry Friends—Bring Springtime Cheer

Therapy bunny2Doctors and patients at the Hospital for Joint Diseases at NYU Langone Medical Center welcomed spring this week with some special guests: Therapy rabbits Nutmeg and Clovis. These bunnies live at the hospital and are part of NYU Langone’s Horticultural Therapy Program, which helps patients rehabilitate from brain and spinal cord injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, strokes, and other conditions. Doctors may recommend bunny time for patients in rehabilitation, because caring for animals can be therapeutic. As you might imagine, Clovis and Nutmeg are especially popular with children, who adore seeing and working with the friendly bunnies.

Purim carnivalWhile Nutmeg and Clovis were getting kids in the Easter spirit, Child Life Specialists got festive with a Purim carnival for children at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital.

At NYU Langone, we understand that illness and medical procedures have the potential to cause anxiety and fear in children. To ease these feelings and help your family prepare for and cope with your child’s surgery or hospital stay, we offer child life services, music therapy, art therapy, and therapeutic recreation in part through the Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care.

Purim carnival 2Child life specialists, along with recreation therapists and creative arts therapists, strive to provide ample opportunities for play throughout the healthcare experience. This allows children to be children, even in the hospital. If your child is ever a patient at NYU Langone, be sure to take advantage of these offerings—and request a visit from Clovis and Nutmeg!

For more information about the horticultural program and its resident rabbits, visit http://nyulangone.org/locations/rusk-rehabilitation/horticultural-therapy. To learn more about NYU Langone’s Child Life, Recreation & Creative Arts Therapies services, visit http://nyulangone.org/patient-family-support/child-life-recreation-creative-arts-therapies.

Fun, Friends, and the ADHD Camper: Choosing the Right Summer Camp for Your Child

SPK
For most parents, sending kids to summer camp for the first time may stir up fond memories, anticipation of the fun awaiting their children, and perhaps a little separation anxiety.

It’s more complicated for parents of children with ADHD. Their kids can find making friends, playing team sports, and behaving appropriately—the hallmarks of a successful summer camp experience—challenging. Asking camp directors and veteran parents the right questions can help parents decide which camp is right for their child. Here are a few suggestions.

Will camp counselors and staff understand my child’s needs?
This goes straight to the heart of the matter. You want to be sure the camp’s counselors have the training and experience to work successfully with children with ADHD. What are their academic and professional qualifications, and do they receive special training to work with special needs children in a camp environment? What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?

What kind of programs do you offer?
Camp can be a wonderful opportunity for your child to develop social skills, increase self-awareness, and learn new coping techniques. At a minimum, that requires a structured environment to help kids stay focused, and team sports to encourage flexibility and cooperation. What skills–including friendship skills—does this camp emphasize, and what goals will your child work toward? What is the mix of sports, academic, and social programs that will help him/her succeed?

Who will administer my child’s medications?
The camp you have chosen is likely to have a nurse on site to administer medications, but it’s best to ask. There may also be a psychologist who can work with you and your child’s psychiatrist to fine-tune the medications if his behavior, symptoms, or moods warrant.

How do you communicate with parents?
You’ve done all the advanced research and preparation you can—but you’re still going to worry about your child. Find out how frequently the camp communicates with parents, and how you can check on your child’s progress.

Talking to other parents whose children attend the camp can also give you additional insight. Ask for a few references and pose the following questions:

Will my child have fun?
Fun is often overshadowed by the problems children with ADHD have in fun-like situations with insufficient structure and supervision. They may go too far, bully or be bullied. They may be shy and not know how to play with others. But fun is an essential component for camp. Ask other parents if the counselors are fun spirited and love the kids. Find out what their child gained from the experience. Did he/she make friends? Did he/she like the counselors?

Does the camp deliver on its promises?
Did your child receive individual attention? Were medications administered properly? Did the staff communicate with you about your child’s progress and/or problems? Did your child learn new skills that can be carried into every day life?

Will you send your child back next summer?
You can take heart from an enthusiastic “yes”.

About the Child Study Center’s Summer Program for Kids
The Summer Program for Kids is the only all-day, therapeutic summer program in the New York area for children with ADHD. Our methods are grounded in the latest research, and our clinical psychologists continually evaluate the program to help each child. We help our campers learn the skills they need to help them focus, make friends, and improve their social, school, and home behavior. For more information, click here.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Karen Fleiss, PsyD is an assistant professor in the Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. She is the clinical director of the Child Study Center’s Long Island Campus, and director of the Summer Program for Kids.