Children | Kay Trotter

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  Contact : (214) 499-0396

All Posts Tagged: Children

Parenting Tip

parenting tipParenting Tip

“Let’s spend more time on the floor with our kids. Let’s trade strollers for newborn carriers, and car trips for walks. Let’s spend more time looking into each other’s eyes, and less time staring into our screens. Let’s really get to know each other, and less time staring into our screens. Let’s really get to know each other.” ~ Zero to Five


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Childhood Development Ages 8 to 11

childhood development ages 8-11“The major task of childhood is to become “your own person”

My childhood development blog series will include the characteristics of the “typical” child during each developmental stage from ages 8 to 18, illustrating how children’s progression through these stages is determined not only by biological growth and change, but also by temperament and personality, adult expectations, and social influences.

The main tasks of childhood require children to learn, and this kind of learning is not just a matter of getting the right answer. Most important is to understand the meaning of the right answer. This is truly difficult work and it absolutely requires support from parents, relatives, and neighbors.

To help children grow up, parents need to be aware how their child is changing, growing, and developing. It is easy for a middle-aged adult to forget this fact, especially when confronted with a difficult problem. However, parents who are working on their own growth are in a good position to understand children and to respect what they are doing as they struggle to grow up and become good people in their own right.

Children progression through these stages is determined not only by biological growth and change, but also by temperament and personality, adult expectations, andsocial influences. Children learn to make choices and commitments, follow through with them, and stand up independently in the world. They need to be respected for taking on these tasks. After all, we respect adults who can do these things. They are complicated and courageous actions. However, children swing back and forth between dependence and independence as they work on these tasks. It is easy for parents to get frustrated. It is also easy for a parent to assume that if the child would simply follow the plan that makes sense to a parent, things would be all right in the end.

“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.”
-Richard L. Evans

Understanding your child’s moral, emotional, and self-development – the main tasks of childhood require children to learn, and this kind of learning is not just a matter of getting the right answer. Most important is to understand the meaning of the right answer. This is truly difficult work and it absolutely requires support from parents, relatives, and neighbors.

To help children grow up, parents need to be aware how their child is changing, growing, and developing. It is easy for a middle-aged adult to forget this fact, especially when confronted with a difficult problem. However, parents who are working on their own growth are in a good position to understand children and to respect what they are doing as they struggle to grow up and become good people in their own right.

Late Childhood Development 8-11″

Cognitive Stage: Children in this developmental stage use logical thinking but with a very limited ability to extend logic to abstract concepts (e.g. the disdain for imaginative and illogical thinking of early childhood). At this point, they have accumulated a lot of general knowledge and have gradually developed the ability to apply learned concepts to new tasks. They also have a frequent interest in learning life skills from adults at home and elsewhere (e.g. cooking, fixing things, etc.).

Moral Development: Children age 8-11 are predominantly focused in the needs and wants of themselves, although they have developed a conscience and move from thinking in terms of “What’s in it for me?” fairness (e.g. “If you did this for me, I would do that for you.”). They now want to gain social approval and live up to the expectations of people close to them. They tend to have a ”Golden Rule” morality where they can take the perspective of others and may place the needs of others over their own self-interest. However, their moral thinking abilities are not always reflected in their behavior.

Psychological and Emotional Traits: Children at this stage have a need to develop a sense of mastery and accomplishment with frequent interest in making plans and achieving goals. They learn from what parents and others do to make and fix things and have a tendency to be disorganized and forgetful.

“Early onset of puberty is associated with lower self-control and emotional instability.”

Self-Concept: Influenced by relationships with family members, teachers, and increasingly by their peers, often relatively, 8- to 11-year-olds have a low level of concern about their physical appearance (especially boys), although this is influenced by peers as well as the media. Many boys experience pressure to conform to “masculine” stereotype. Girls’ body image declines precipitously with puberty, especially with early onset puberty. Early onset puberty is also associated with lower self-control and emotional instability, especially for boys.

Relationship to Parents and Other Adults: Children in late childhood development tend to be closely attached to parental figures and parents increasingly need to involve these children in decision making while increasing responsibility with age. Most frequent conflicts occur over sibling quarrels and forgetfulness with respect to chores, schoolwork, and messiness, especially of their bedroom. Parental listening skills becomes increasingly important as the parent-child communication patterns can change with puberty. Many adolescents report that (a) they cannot talk with parents about issues related to sexuality, and (b) they do not get needed information in sex education courses at school.

Peer Relationships: Friendships among 8- to 11-year-olds are often with their same-gender peers and are usually based on proximity, common interest/hobbies, or other perceived commonalities. Girls usually have fewer, but emotionally closer, friends than boys. Formation of exclusive “clubs” and shifting peer alliances is common at this age and media influences and popular culture increasingly affect the child’s peer activities and relationships.

† Source: Middle Childhood and Adolescent Development, Oregon State University Extension Service.

Next blog of the Childhood Development series will be  “Early Adolescents ages 11-14”

Download the complete ages 8-18  “Task of Childhood” 

Additional Resource:

Ages and Stages A Parent’s Guide to Normal Childhood Development Written by a fellow play therapist Charles E. Schaefer‘s Ages and Stages this book is great for sorting through what’s normal age appropriate behavior and what’s not.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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Resources to Strengthen Your Child’s Ethnic Identity

Ethnic identity is important because it’s part of an individual’s self-concept develops from knowledge of membership in a cultural group and the value or emotional significance attached to that membership.  For children it’s important that their parents place value on their own unique ethnic group membership.  The relationship between conceptualization of self, ethnic identity and acculturation is critical for children to development.

Here are some resources to encourage a positive ethnic identity for children of color. Most are global resources, however I have added some local Dallas area resources since that is where I live and practice.

Please let me know if you have additional ethnic identity resources and I will add them to this blog post.

Mocha Moms

mom and baby of colorMocha Moms is an online support group for stay-at-home mothers of color who have chosen not to work full-time outside of the home in order to devote more time to their families. Their web site can be used as a resource for current members, prospective members or anyone interested in stay-at-home parenting, child rearing and related topics.


Bill Cosby and Little Bill

Little Bill

Little Bill created by Billy Cosby, Little Bill is based on Cosby’s popular book series and is developed through research and in consultation with a panel of educational consultants. Little Bill is designed to help kids celebrate their everyday experiences and the people who share them.

Little Bill also shows kids that what they do makes a difference in the world. By dealing with conflicts in everyday life, the program encourages children to value the love of their family, to increase self-esteem, and to develop social skills.

Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales For Every Child

black boy and Black mom cartoon

“Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales For Every Child” is a series which retells the world’s most famous fairy tales with a cast of animated characters from many ethnic backgrounds. For the first time ever, children of different races will find themselves represented as the royalty, fairies, and folk of the fairy tale world.

The charm and mystery of the original tales are enhanced by this diverse spectrum of cultures. As the title suggests, these are truly fairy tales for every child.

Up, Up and Away move coverUp, Up and Away

Up, Up and Away movie – Life’s not easy for super-powered teenagers trying to get along in a world that doesn’t understand them. But life is even harder for teens who don’t have superpowers, especially when their parents do. In Disney’s Up, Up and Away, Scott Marshall (Pagan) is the sole “normal” in his super-powered family. His dad is a mild-mannered orthodontist who fights crime as Bronze Eagle. His mother is a similarly mild-mannered businesswoman who takes on the bad guys as Warrior Woman. His older brother Adam rounds out their crime-fighting trio with super speed and electrical powers. Even his little sister, a budding pyromaniac, can shoot laser beams out of her eyes.


Jump In move posterJump In!

Jump In! is the 69th Disney Channel Original Movie that premiered on January 12, 2007. The movie, starring Corbin Bleu from High School Musical and Keke Palmer from Akeelah and the Bee, revolves around a young boxer, Izzy Daniels (Corbin Bleu), who trains to follow in his father’s footsteps by winning the Golden Glove. When his friend, Mary (Keke Palmer), however, asks him to substitute for a team member in a Double Dutch tournament, the young .


black girl cartoon

Lil’ Bits

Lil’ Bits –  when it comes to quality content for Black Children there is always room for more! At the heart of this web site is the Lil’ Bit’s – African American Children’s Book series, but its content also includes fun online activities for Black Children, and useful resources for Black parents. Lil’ Bits is one of many projects by LaShanda Henry, founder of Multiple Shades of You Online, an eCommunity designed for diverse audiences.

Movies – Videos – Books

Movies and books that provide a positive message, lots of black characters, especially show black children being brave and smart vs. dancing, singing and enjoin life to the fullest.

  • Akeelah & The Bee
  • Fat Albert the movie
  • Our Friend Martin
  • Raising Black Boys by Jawanza Kunjufu

South Dallas Cultural Center

Youth Programs South Dallas

The South Dallas Cultural Center is an Afrocentric center that provides instruction and enrichment in the performing, literary, media, and visual arts. The program emphasizes the African contribution to world culture. – Your Internet connection to the Dallas black community


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Parenting Recommended Reading Series

Each day in the month of January 2014, I will post one of my favorite parenting books across a child’s lifespan on my Facebook Fan page.

I have found these books to be very valuable in my understanding of human nature.

I offer them to as a tool to enhance your parenting skills, personal growth, and personal relationships.

If you would like to suggest a parenting book for this series, that has been impactful to you please leave me a comment below with the books title and why you find it valuable.

I hope that you will join me on my Facebook Fan Page.

Kay Trotter Signature

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A Promise For My Daughter

Tears ran down my face as I read this today. Maybe it’s because I am mom and cherish every moment of the gift of motherhood. And maybe it’s because I have been preparing to speak about our abused and neglected children, and how “humanity’ has turned it’s backs on these precious little souls.

“A Promise To My Daughter” is a call to reclaim our humanity and say no more neglect, because                        “yes I will come, I will always come.”


A Promise For My Daughter

I’m tired and she’s tired. And she’s been weeping with frustration, her face a smudge of red cheeks and snotty trails.

I go down on my knees beside her little, chubby legs. They’re curving over the edge of her green froggy potty stool and she is glaring hot blue eyes into my face. I reach for her and she swats at me and doesn’t want the comfort I know she wants.

I gently take her hands and pull her up. Her tender self all frustration and sweat and nakedness melting into me. I cup her with my arms and my words and slowly stroke those damp curls back from her cheeks.


I’ve got deadlines and to-do lists and no clue what to make for dinner. There is one quiet window before the boys come home and Pete has made it back early and we’re hoping for a snatched ten minute nap. But she’s inconsolable for reasons she can’t put into two-year-old words yet and I’m on my knees reaching for her.

I will always come, baby.

She’s in my arms and slowly beginning the ritual of stroking my right arm. Her curls are warm and sweaty and that pudgy baby cheek fits just under my chin.

I will always come.



I dance with her slowly – the rock and roll of motherhood – and I know this is a promise I can stake my life on.

I will always come.

When you forget your lunch. When you are sheep number 5 in the Christmas play. When you take up the recorder and bleat all the way through the Easter service. When you get that bad hair cut. When you think you want to be a beauty queen, when you swear off fashion altogether.

I will come.

When the mean girls make you want to shrivel inside your skin. When a teacher intimidates you. When you intimidate the teachers. When you think you can sing and try out for a musical, when you get laughed at and people point fingers at your hair and your shoes and your too bony hips.

My darling, I will come.

When that boy breaks your heart and you’re stranded at a college miles away, I will come. When the internship you thought was part of your calling falls through. When a friend gets sick. When the car crashes. When you have more long distance charges than you thought possible. When you run out of gas, chocolate chip cookies and faith.

I will be there.

When you say your “I dos,” when you you start your happily ever afters, when none of it quite feels like you thought it would. When you don’t know how to pick a mattress, when the sofa is in the wrong place, when you regret what feels like signing your life away to someone else. When you keep on keeping on. When you remember how to say sorry. When you need a safe place to say how cliche you feel all “barefoot and pregnant” I will so be there.

When the baby won’t sleep and the world’s on fire with sleep exhaustion.

Sweetheart, I will come.

When your husband’s out of work. When you’re down to one car and have moved in with his in-laws. When your job threatens to break your heart. When toddlers make you question your sanity. When you realize that you’ve made the worst mistake a woman can make. When you’ve run out of tears and still the tears keeping coming.

I will come.


When you move and move and relocate again. When you pack boxes and dreams and hope. When your life is a world of duct tape and questions. I will still come.

And when your home is warm and your heart is full. When you’re at peace. When you need someone to share the joy, to watch the kids, to admire the dimples. When you want to remember that old recipe for melktert, when you still can’t pick a sofa, when you wish you’d never said yes to the dog.

When you don’t know where you’re going. When you’re the most sure of yourself you’ve ever been. When you’re holding onto faith with just your fingernails. When you’re singing, “Jesus loves me this I know” and you mean it with every tiny, beautiful, miraculous part of your DNA –

Zoe, always I will come. One hundred different ways I will come when you call.

I will rock and roll you with my love and the promise that I will help you get back on your feet. I will hold your hand. I will rejoice. I will babysit. I will pass the tissues. I will wash the dishes.

I will come.



And the day after. And after.

And then some.

lisa-jo-3Guest Blogger Lisa-Jo Baker: First and faremost Lisa-Jo is a mom. A mom who sincerely believe motherhood should come with its own super hero cape. And on most days she can’t find her car keys, her cell phone or her mind. Most nights she think her heart will burst wide open from all the messy love stuffed inside it for those sweetly snoring kids And many mornings I want to quit motherhood before I’ve even served the first bowl of Cheerios of the day. A mother who absolutely maintain that motherhood is the hardest and most transformative role we’ll ever had.

Yep Lisa-Jo is just like you and I.

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Guide your children to a better way of behaving

At some point, children will misbehave to the point of having a consequence as a result. Depending on the problem at hand and the family belief of proper action, discipline for your child can take a variety of forms. However, what happens when your child doesn’t care about the consequences and performs these actions anyway? What happens when he or she cares nothing or is not impacted by the disciplinary action of choice?

Lurking Negativity – Taking an item away from a child when he or she misbehaves is a common practice by many parents. For the most part, it can be an effective solution to quell a specific problem. However, some children care nothing of objects and seem to be unaffected by this manner of discipline. If your child doesn’t seem to be affected by his or her actions, there may be a deeper underlying problem that isn’t being addressed.

Keep Communications Open – Depending on the severity of the action from the child that prompted the discipline, keeping your composure may be difficult. Obviously your child wasn’t thinking rationally, but you need to do so in order to deal with the situation. Instead of instantly jumping to conclusions as to why the child did what he or she did, you need to get to the root of the problem. There could be a deeper problem that he or she is trying to work out and is unable. While it may be difficult to get to the heart of the problem as your child can be quite tight-lipped, you still need to show that you are there for them. You can’t force a child to unload his or her problems on you, but you can reassure them that you are there regardless of how bad it may seem.

Repeated Actions – If a deeper problem does persist, the actions that cause you to enforce discipline could repeat themselves. It’s not that your child is purposely trying to enact punishment, although it may seem that way sometimes. He or she is demonstrating there is something wrong and are unable to deal with the circumstance. While disciplinary action can still play a role in how your family functions, you should still concentrate on why he or she did what they did. You would be amazed at how well future problems can be solved with communication and dealing with problems as they arise.

Never Belittle One’s Stress – One thing many parents do is assume that the child’s problem is “silly.” This is especially seen with families that have teenaged members. The problem may be simplistic to you, but it could be dire to an individual who has never experienced it before. You have decades worth of experience in contrast to a child who may be experiencing certain frustrations or heartaches for the first time. While we know that specific problems are not the end of the world, some children could think otherwise. Unless you deal with the underlying problems that cause misbehavior, some circumstances could feel routine. Every problem has a solution, and it’s up to the parent to help the child find the one that fits. You don’t have to solely rely on spanking or grounding your children. Get to the root of the problem before it escalates into something far worse.

Be involved in your child’s life and guide them to a better way of thinking and behaving


In-Home Parenting Coach | One of  Dr. Kay’s professional counselor comes to your home and observes the areas you may be feeling unsuccessful in your parenting and then offers personalized strategies and mentoring to help reduce stress and increase joy. DON’T WAIT, call us at 214-499-0396. SPECIAL OFFER EXPIRES JULY 31.

The Center for Parenting Education | A resource to help parents do the best job they can to raise their children. This link is to their Library of Parenting Articles for parents who are looking for answers right now.

One Trough Job | An online resource for real-live parents has articles to download on Positive Parenting tools that address behaviors and disciple by your child’s age from 6 to teenagers.  

The Task of Childhood Development ages 8 to 18 | 1st blog post of a 4 blog series where Dr Kay talks about childhood development in a way parents can understand and put into practical everyday use. You can also download the complete “Task of Childhood” brochure on Dr Kay’s web page, at bottom of page under “Parenting.”

Dr Kay on Pintrest | The Child & Family Counseling Resources: Community Board is a group board of mental health therapists and specialists dedicated to providing therapeutic resources for children, adolescents, adults, families, and care givers. The Raising Healthy Children Board is full of tips to help parents raise a healthy child by providing unconditional love, plus ways to encourage children to express and explore their emotions.


Guest blogger – Christine Maddox

Author Bio: This post is contributed by Christine Maddox. Currently she is pursuing her Master’s degree from University of Texas as well as blogging for 4 nannies . She loves to write anything related to parenting, kids, nanny care etc. She can be reached via email at: christine.4nannies @

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Children and teens engaging in self-harming behaviors – Help!


By Dore Quinn, M.Ed., LPC

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, it seems there has been an increase recently of parents in my office upon discovering their child has been self-harming.  Self-harming is a topic that can be very uncomfortable for parents and children to address, but necessary for the emotional and physical health of our children.

Self-harming can occur in several different ways such as cutting one’s skin, scratching, burning (either with cigarettes or an ice/salt combination), pulling one’s hair, biting self, or picking at sores thus not allowing the sores to heal.  The most common forms of self- harm that I have observed in private practice is cutting and /or scratching.  For the purposes of this blog, I will mainly address cutting and scratching.

There are several reasons why a person may self-harm.

  • The person has very strong emotions and doesn’t know how to cope with them, thus they cut so he/she can focus on the physical pain rather than the emotional pain.
  • The person has ignored emotions to the point where he/she feels dead inside and cuts in order to feel something.
  • The person “enjoys” the rush of adrenaline that often accompanies injury to the body.
  • The person feels the need to punish self.

According to self-report of the children I have worked with, most of them cite the first reason as their reason for engaging in self-harm.  Bad things happen in life, and as humans, we find ways of self-soothing during hard times much as a baby who sucks his thumb in order to feel better.  Children who self-harm have picked a method of self-soothing that happens to be injurious rather than helpful.

Self-harming usually is inflicted upon the body either on the arms, upper thighs, stomach, or breasts.

Tools of choice in self-harming usually consists of:

  • Scissors
  • Knives
  • Razors
  • Pins (safety and straight)
  • Anything else sharp

What are some indicators that a teen may be self-harming?

  • Wearing long sleeves, hoodies, sweatshirts, or jackets when it is warm outside.
  • Wearing multiple bracelets on one or both arms (covering up injuries).
  • Wearing sweatbands around wrists (it’s not in fashion….)
  • Association with one or more friends who also self-harm.

Self-harming is a private activity, thus the parents usually are the last to know.  Often it is discovered because the child’s friend discovers the self-harming and reports it to either a school counselor or his or her own parent who then informs the parent of the child who is self-harming.  Parents, fight the urge to feel guilt if your child self-harms; it isn’t useful!  At this stage, getting help is the main goal, not taking on guilt.

Be aware that many children will initially deny self-harming (to friends, siblings, and parents) and try to explain away current wounds.  I have heard children say that they have skin conditions, the cat scratched them, a bottle broke on them, etc.  If you suspect your child is self-harming, then assume that you are right and get professional help.

All the children and teens I have worked with admitted self-harming during the first session and actually were relieved to be getting help.

If a child is discovered to be self-harming, it is extremely important for that teen to receive professional help.

There are several things that I will usually do with a teen during counseling:

  • I usually begin by explaining the role that emotions play in healthy living and the importance of being aware of emotions and identifying them.
  • Identify which emotions the teen avoids and why he or she avoids feeling that emotion.
  • Learn short-term alternatives to cutting such as snapping self with a rubber band or using ice-cubes instead of razors.
  • We discuss alternatives to self-harming and learn healthy coping skills other than cutting.
  • Learn relaxation and deep-breathing exercises.
  • Learn triggers that lead to self-harming (such as family drama, failing a class, etc.).
  • Identify any perfectionistic tendencies the teen may have.
  • Work to identify negative views the teen may have about self and work to neutralize those negative thoughts.
  • Identify the teen’s strengths and how to utilize those strengths to end self-harming behaviors.

A part of self-harming that parents don’t often think about is how to help the teen address questions that other people may have when scars are observed and commented on.  First off, I tell teens that making personal comments about someone’s body is considered in our culture to be rude.  Therefore, they are not obligated to address comments or questions by other kids if they choose not to.  If they do choose to address comments or questions, I advise them to view their scars as part of their journey to learn healthy living skills and not something of which they need to be ashamed.  In a practical sense, I tell them to answer by saying, “Oh that…I used to self-harm, but I don’t anymore.  I’m in a good place now.”

Parents also need to be prepared to respond when their child tells them they know of someone who is self-harming.  It can be scary and bewildering to many children when they discover someone they know is self-harming.  Parents, if your child tells you that they know someone who is self-harming, it is a good idea to get the name of the child and report it to either the parent of that child (if you know the parent) or the school counselor.  It can be reported anonymously.  Don’t be afraid to discuss self-harming with your child.  Discussing it is not going to make your child want to do it, but will help your child understand something that can be confusing and scary. Help your child understand the importance of not ridiculing or harassing someone who self-harms.  Help your child understand the importance of that person getting help.  Help your child learn to view that person as someone who is in pain and not as weird or a “loser.”

With professional help, self-harming behavior can be overcome!  I have seen many teens learn healthy coping skills and end self-harming behaviors.  It has been rewarding to watch a teen grow, develop a healthy self-esteem and gain a positive outlook on life!

Additional Recourses:

Understanding Self-Harm


Talking Self-harm


If you would like Dore to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Kaleidoscope Counseling also post regularly on: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

Dore Quinn is a licensed professional counselor at Dr. Kay Sudekum Trotter Counseling Services PLLC

Dore Quinn is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Kaleidoscope Counseling

Dore is a licensed professional counselor. She earned both her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and her Master of Education in Counseling from the University of North Texas. Dore has experience working with individuals, couples, adolescents, groups, children and families. She works with those who are striving to overcome depression, anxiety, effects of sexual and physical abuse, grief, marital and parenting issues.

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Dr. Trotter at Lewisville ISD Middle School Parent University

This is an opportunity for you to learn more about topics that may affect your child!  Topics covers are: Internet, Video Gaming and Teenagers, Bullying, Eating Disorders, Cutting,  What’s in Your Teen’s Room, Drug Trends…and more. It’s never too early to be starting these conversations.

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 9.24.33 AM

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 from 6-9 p.m.

Lamar Middle School   •   4000 Timber Creek Rd   •  Flower Mound TX 75028

[button url=”” target=”_self” size=”small” style=”limegreen” ]MORE INFO[/button]


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The shining stars of autism

By Tracie Posehn, LPC-Intern, one of Dr. Kay’s outstanding counseling team members.

Thanks Tracie for this very heart warming look at autism.

Each of us is unique.

Five short words which make such a statement of truth if one takes the time digest. We enter the world with similar characteristics in a global sense: head, body, limbs, eyes, ears and hopefully, 10 little fingers and 10 little toes. For a few, even those parts don’t always show up as expected. Hearts are filled with joy, hope, angst, fear,  wonder . . . the list of emotion extensive. Weight and length are measured and the start of a lifetime of comparison begins. Parents begin to hear terms such as percentile, milestones, normal and abnormal. The infant is watched for signs of distress and when all looks good, out into the big wide world he goes. For some, this transition takes longer than others, but eventually, days turn to weeks, weeks to months and the awe of new skills and mastery start to surface. Parents share anecdotes and begin to plan for the future having survived the first year, enjoying the calm before the storm of the “terrible two’s.”

But, one day, something seems different. Parents’ instincts notice, but the mind pushes these thoughts away. Maybe it’s a coming flu? Or tiredness? Or something one just can’t put a finger on – yet something has changed.

First-time parents may not know what to look for, and more-seasoned parents can tell you that no two pregnancies, let alone children, are the same, and that surely it’s just a phase – kids go through them all the time. Yet as time passes, subtle differences become less subtle. Eye contact and social interaction decrease while objects tend to hold more interest. As play dates come and go, that “something” is still hanging on, and a parent determines it’s time to check with the pediatrician. Autism is diagnosed and the parent feels emotions from all sides: What does this mean in the moment? What does this mean for the future? How did this happen? Now what do we do?

You do what you’ve always done, and what you would continue to do with or without a diagnosis. You love your child and value the amazing qualities that make your heart sing. You broach the challenges with information, strategies and support, just as you would with any other child. You find out what makes your child smile, what makes her heart hurt and you feed her soul. You may have to let go of one set of dreams, and replace them with another – dreams that your child has for a future – building upon strengths and natural talents. You have the opportunity to see outside of your own vision for your child, as so many other parents remain focused on who they want their child to become. You have the opportunity to embrace a life journey outside of the status quo and see the beauty of unique. Granted, a period of adjustment and even grief may follow the initial news, yet ultimately, the child developing before you has the same basic needs as any other child: to be accepted for who he is, encouraged to face challenges and learn from mistakes, have the opportunity to fail and to succeed – to be loved for all his uniqueness.

Normal is a perception, not a state of achievement. All stars shine in the sky. The most vibrant may stand out at first, obvious above the city glow, the norm; the expected. But if you get away from all the hustle and bustle of society, to a quiet place in the country, and allow your eyes to adjust to the natural beauty of the night, you’ll find a different kind of radiance. You’ll see stars with unknown names, in random patterns, making their own kind of magic. One view no better than the other, just different, and at times, a brilliance that’s little harder to find when you’ve become accustomed to the standard and expected.


Helpful resources

Dr. Trotter’s Pinterest Board “Autisum Resources” 

Autisum Speaks

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EMDR – help for anxiety and trauma

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a psychotherapy used for individuals who have experienced severe traumatic events and have not resolved these experiences.

While originally developed to treat adults suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), the use of EMDR has successfully been implemented for children, especially those who have experienced a trauma or loss. Events such as a car accident, playground injury, abuse or neglect, or the loss of a family member or friend can often begin to trigger fear and anxiety. Separation and divorce are also sometimes a starting point to fears of abandonment in children. And, EMDR therapy has effectively been used with foster and adoptive children due to loss and many changes in their lives.

The thinking behind EMDR is that, when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms. The person then inadequately processes the memory and associated stimuli and dysfunctionally stores the memory in an isolated memory network.

EMDR therapy involves focusing on the memory while following eye movements or bi-lateral movement, similar to REM sleep. It reprocesses the memory from past to present and gives the mind a new way of focusing toward mental healing. EMDR does not re-traumatize though because retelling is not processed, thus making it effective for children or clients who were wounded at a pre-verbal age.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories in order to reduce their lingering influence and allow clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms.

One reason EMDR can be so effective is because it happens inside the client’s mind. Since people think, on average, seven times faster than they talk, and since EMDR doesn’t require the client to talk through everything he or she is mentally experiencing, it enables individuals to deal with traumatic memories more quickly.

Typically, the use of EMDR can cut therapy time from years to only months. While it takes a few sessions for children to learn the therapy before being used, some adults can find relief almost immediately. It is a gentle method and parents can participate in sessions with their young child.

According to the EMDR Institute, Inc. with children, “children most likely to benefit are those who have seen or experienced a trauma or loss.  A car accident, playground injury, abuse or neglect and the loss of a family member or friend can often begin to trigger fear and anxiety.  Separation and divorce are sometimes a starting point to fears of abandonment. “


EMDR can also be useful in treating children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) because clearing away fear, or the “emotional noise,” helps children and families tackle the complexities of ADD. Sometimes medication may be needed, and coupled with EMDR, children are better able to focus, are less impulsive and more organized. In some cases, they may be able to leave the medication behind.

 EMDR can also treat other psychological problems, including:

  • Panic attacks
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions
  • Anxiety, (such as discomfort with public speaking or dental procedures)
  • Trauma


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