Fresh Start has just celebrated its 4th year as an independent private practice! We’re honored to have served so many in the community and are now starting to see many “repeat” clients who are requesting updated evaluations. From my perspective, I’ve seen two types of “repeaters”: Those who accepted the initial results and followed my recommendations OR Those who didn’t. I get it, in some cases, your only intention is to obtain a diagnosis simply as a means to an end. Perhaps your child needed a diagnosis for school accommodations, maybe you needed a diagnosis just so that your medical doctor would prescribe medication, or maybe you or your child needed to “prove” there was no diagnosis to another family member or other professional. In any case, you still received well-thought out recommendations to not just “accommodate” the problem (or diagnosis), but to actually help improve symptoms.
Just recently, I met with parents, who had their child evaluated by me and my team in 2013. They were so excited to see me and tell me all about their now-teenage daughter. They related that they followed “every recommendation” and even provided specific examples. Some recommendations they were still adhering to til this day!! Their daughter had been taken off some medication, significantly improved her grades at school, and required an updated evaluation for her IEP. These parents also wanted an updated report themselves, just so they could see the prior diagnoses removed. I too, was ecstatic to see the results!! This was a very different girl than I evaluated in 2013. Thankfully, we have numerous stories like these.
On the other hand, I’ve met some parents who’ve come back quite distraught because their child is struggling just the same or even worse. When I ask what all has been done in the last two or three years, some parents say they participated in a couple of counseling sessions or provided the report to the school, often with no other attempts at intervention. For many of these parents, there very well might be little time in the schedule or limited funds in the budget to adhere to some of my recommendations, but two things are for sure: 1) I provide a multitude of options with schedule and budget in mind, and 2) I encourage parents to meet with me periodically to discuss other treatment interventions in the event the ones I offer are not feasible.
Being a psychologist is definitely my calling in life. I appreciate every client that walks through the doors of Fresh Start and vow to give my best effort to help with the platform I’ve been given. It is now up to you to take these well thought-out and heart-felt recommendations and apply them in your or your child’s life. It could make all the difference down the road. Trust me!
What do you look for in a school? As I parent, and an Educational Consultant, I think about this as much as you do. When my kids were in school, I kept a notebook of things my children liked and did not like about their school experience. I watched their anxiety level, and their stress levels, and I wrote it all done. That’s how I discovered my daughter had severe test anxiety. In understanding this I was able to work with her teachers and ease that anxiety during assessments. For my son, it was socialization, learning proper responses and being able to read facial queues and body language.
From all of that, I go back to my question of what do you look for in a school? For me it was the following:
● Dedication of Staff – I will take a dedicated staff member over a certified teacher with a Master’s Degree any day; and in the past I have been lucky enough to have both. A dedicated staff member will go above and beyond to find a method of teaching that works for your child. A dedicated staff member will answer your 101 emails and put you at ease. A dedicated staff member has the same goals as you do. My biggest sense of pride when I owned and ran Hayden’s Way is that we had a dedicated staff. Those women added, searched, and gave more than any other teachers I knew. They were creative, intuitive, knowledgeable, and above all dedicated. They were dedicated to the school, the students, and the parents.
● Curriculum – I want a mixture of curriculum that guides the students through their learning, and I want a variety of choices, because not every curriculum works for every child. A school needs to be able to give your child options, and I don’t care if it’s written by the Mennonites, who by the way have the best grammar book out there, or the Director of the DOE herself. I just want it clear, concise and thorough, and I want it to work for my child.
● Socialization – Let’s be honest – we all want our kids to have friends, go to parties, and have a social life. The one thing we had at Hayden’s Way was a code of conduct. This code of conduct gave ownership to the students and created empathy and responsibility. We helped our students understand that we are all different, and to respect those differences in one another. Socialization is another reason that field trips are so important. Field trips offer an educational and fun social outing for students. It creates opportunities to impart to them proper social skills. I know as parents we all try and teach this social understanding to our children, but sometimes we can start to sound like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon. It’s good to have outside reinforcements to explain how their actions affect others, and to teach them how to approach a new friend. So look for a school that has a good set of ethics code and will work with you and your child to heighten their social ability.
Get in the habit of journaling what did and did not work for your child this year. Take notes on their anxiety and stresses, and work with your teachers and administrators to setup an environment to succeed for your child.
And if you need help finding the right school for your child contact me. It’s what I do!
Lei Rhyne, M.Ed.