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One of our readers writes in,

“I am looking for a parent class or group to learn about behavior change. My son is 6 with autism and ADHD. His behavior is getting more erratic and uncontrolled. He is forgetting more and can’t keep track of things. He is angry a lot. I live in Massachusetts on the New Hampshire border.”

Special-Ism reached out for professional insight from our team of writers who are knowledgeable on this topic to help address this challenge. Each offers a unique response.

Joanna Keating-Velasco, an author and paraprofessional specializing in adult transition, begins with, “I give my advice with a caveat in that I am not one to vigorously recommend medicating kids unnecessarily, however, sometimes having a specialist also evaluate the child can help in this regard. I have found with many of my students ESPECIALLY DURING THE TEEN YEARS, their bodies are pumping so many different chemicals and a typical teen doesn’t know what to do with it. So, I would recommend a physician evaluation to make sure that his body chemistry is good and that medication would or would not be of help to regulate and take the edge off of some of these mood changes. THAT SAID, I also think it’s good to have a place for boys, especially, to get some of their ‘aggression’ out via karate, taekwondo, [easyazon-link asin=”B002V3C5NO” locale=”us”]trampoline[/easyazon-link], swimming – to get the energy released in a positive way so in the house he doesn’t have to release so much energy.

As for mom’s sanity, she can go online to YAHOO GROUPS and search some key words (I tried oppositional defiant and got quite a response) to find groups online and/or in her area so she can seek exact advice from others experiencing the same thing. Another good online support options is Cafe Mom – there they have tons of groups that are mom run. I am sure she can quickly join a bunch of moms and seek support and advice on any issue directly from those experiencing it.

As for organizational skills, visual reminders like calendars, dry erase boards, school planners, etc are vital. Let him go to the store and help pick out these supplies so he is connected to them.”

Chris Abildgaard, NCSP, LPC, director of the Social Learning Center, suggested “ have the the family contact the Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE) for recommended professionals in the area.  They are a wonderful association and would be happy to provide some support and suggestions to this family (they would know of professionals in the area who also work with kids with an ASD and ADHD).”

Martianne Stanger, a homeschooling mom with over 20 years of experience with certifications as a Middle School Generalist and English 8-12 teacher, replied “If she is on MassHealth, she can call them and they will direct her to someone who can help her with a behavior modification program.  She might also call the owner at The Christopher Donovan Center and Day School to see if she might have connections further north.  I spoke with this woman once and found her very helpful.  Friends go to her programs and speak highly about them.

Beyond that, I can attest that for all the Behavior Modification, OT and other help we had for my son, who is ADHD, sensory (and MAYBE slightly Asperger’s), the thing that helped us the most was diet change and modifications to my husband and my reaction and parenting techniques.  I have not taken her courses, but the closest thing to the amalgamation of ‘techniques’ we are finding success using seems to be those espoused by Amy McCreadyParent-to-Parent in MA might be very helpful and I have also heard good things about Howard Glasser’s book ([easyazon-link asin=”0967050707″ locale=”us”]Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach[/easyazon-link])…”

Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC, a certified ADHD Coach and Parenting Specialist,  runs “… a Parent Coaching Workshop series for parents of children with ADHD.  It’s full of excellent insights into understanding why behaviors occur and tips and strategies to help the relationships and behaviors.  It’s 6 weeks and starting in October I will be offering it as a teleseminar/webinar as well as out of Long Island and NYC (at the Hallowell Center of NY).”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to thoughtfully reply to this reader’s query. If you have advice, we’d love to hear it. Please leave a comment below.

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An "Ism" is our coined term synonymous with a “challenge”. Many children, with or without a diagnostic label, experience various challenges throughout their developmental years which are impacting them in the classroom and at home. At Special-Ism, the Ism is our focus. We do not look at the diagnostic label, instead, we look at the Isms and offer solutions no matter the diagnosis.