Friday November 24, 2017

Children with Autism can look Forward to Art therapy for Treatment

Discovering ways in which art therapy can help children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder: The results of a small scale survey

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Art Therapy for Autistic Children
Art Therapy for Autistic Children, pixabay
  • The estimates are- 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by age 8 each year as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Some of the best practices found out (which Art Therapists can work upon) after the survey was: use the same routine to begin each session, explain instructions in a consistent manner, spark curiosity to teach new skills and be aware of transitions between activities

Florida (US), July 28, 2017: A Researcher from Florida State University is working with art therapists in order to find better ways to treat children having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism spectrum disorder is the name for a group of the developmental disorder and includes a wide range, a spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.

People with ASD often have these characteristics:

  • Ongoing social problems like difficulty in communicating and interacting with others
  • Repetitive behaviors and limited interests or activities
  • Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
  • Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life

Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. Treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function. One such mode of treatment is Art Therapy, it promotes mental and emotional growth through art making. It is conducted with the aim of building life skills, addressing deficits and problem behaviors, and promoting healthy self-expression. Clients are encouraged to explore and express themselves using art materials

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Theresa Van Lith, assistant professor of art therapy in FSU’s Department of Art Education, led a study that surveyed art therapists working with children with ASD to develop a clearer understanding of the techniques used and approaches. Van Lith said, “I had noticed that is there is a high number of art therapists working with people who have autism, but I wanted to understand what their words of wisdom were in terms of how they go about facilitating art therapy sessions.” She added, “We want to make it a transparent process for the client or the parents of a client, so they know what to expect.”

The estimates are- 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by age 8 each year as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As that population grows, more parents and educators are reaching out to art therapists to address social development and sensory issues that generally accompany ASD.

Creative Kids-Specific Activities organised to mark World Autism Awareness Day

The research team compiled the art therapists’ expert opinions and analyzed them. It was on topics like what worked with ASD clients, their objectives during a session, their most preferred theoretical approach and the considerations they had to make when working with children with ASD.

She realized that there wasn’t a consensus with the theoretical approaches they used.  “They had to use a number of theoretical approaches together, and we wanted to understand what that would be like in practice,” Van Lith said.

Though the survey results varied, the researchers were able to develop a set of guidelines for delivering art therapy to children who have ASD. The proposed guidelines will serve as a basis for successful practice for new art therapy professionals and also for further studies. Van Lith intended, “We used these practice wisdom from art therapists around the field to understand the most effective and beneficial way to use art therapy with child with ASD.”

Autistic child doing painting
An autistic child doing painting. Pixabay

Some of the best practices found out after the survey was: use the same routine to begin each session, explain instructions in a consistent manner, spark curiosity to teach new skills and be aware of transitions between activities.

The researchers also noted the aspects of practice that were found, not to be useful such as being overly directive or too loose with direction, using over stimulating art materials and forcing or being restrictive with communication styles. That’s important because sometimes there is the assumption of why can’t anyone do these techniques? People wonder why art therapy can’t be conducted in a much less formal situation. However, they don’t realize there are nuances in the way we (art therapists) deliver the art therapy directive — a lot of that is about knowing the client and the way a client responds to communication.

Based on these guidelines and consensus, Van Lith is rolling out a larger study to demonstrate the efficacy of that working model. “The idea is that, over time, we can build up the evidence that art therapy is effective for these children, and we can demonstrate the how and why,” said Van Lith said.

The ultimate goal will be- to educate art therapists about best practices as well as inform clients, parents, and teachers about possible benefits of art therapy for children with such medical condition.

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“When there will be more transparency, the clients will be able to appreciate or understand some of the changes that might be going on for them as they receive art therapy,” Van Lith said. They don’t want it to be a mysterious process for them.

Van Lith co-authored the study with Jessica Stallings, associate professor at Emporia State University, and FSU alumna Chelsea Harris, who practices at the Emory Autism Center. This study was published this month in the journal Arts in Psychotherapy.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children

The study found a direct relationship between poor dental health leading to a rise in BMI (Body Mass Index) and extra body fat.

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Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children
Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children. Pixabay
  • Worried about your child’s obesity problems? It’s high time you curbed his love for sugary drinks and junk food. A little focus on dental care may also prevent your child gaining excess weight, says a new study.

The study found a direct relationship between poor dental health leading to a rise in BMI (Body Mass Index) and extra body fat.

“Weight can be a sensitive subject, but if you talk about eating behaviors alongside dental health, you are looking at the issue from a different angle,” said Louise Arvidsson, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“The question is whether a healthy diet can have the effect also in young children. There has been a lot of focus on physical activity and mental health in children, but diet is an increasingly recognized aspect.”

The researchers reviewed the eating behavior, body fat and dental health of 271 small children. The height, weight and food intake of the children were kept under observation for one day and then checked for the prevalence of cariogenic microorganisms in saliva.

The results found that the children who had a higher amount of carries bacteria also had higher BMI and worse eating habits.

The children were suggested to consume whole grain products, 400-500 grams of fruit and vegetables per day, fish two to three times a week and a low intake of sugar and saturated fat.

Arvidsson mentioned in the thesis, conducted at the University’s Sahlgrenska Academy, that with good food comes increased self-esteem, better relationships with friends and fewer emotional problems

Rather, parents who try to change the regime of their children by asking them to eat less during childhood can see serious repercussions of overweight problems in later life.(IANS)

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Lack of Social Communication Skills may cause Increase in Health Problems

How can lack of Social communication skills affect your mental health?

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Lack of Social Communication Skills may cause Increase in Health Problems
Lack of Social Communication Skills may cause Increase in Health Problems. Pixabay
  • Are you left out by your friends due to improper communicative techniques? Beware, as it may take a toll on your health. New research reveals that people with poor social skills may be at a greater risk of developing mental as well as physical health problems.

Importance of Social Communication Skills in avoiding Mental Health Problems

Social skills refer to the communication skills that allow people to interact effectively and appropriately with others. They are mostly learned over time, originating in the family and continuing throughout life.

The use of technology, like texting, is probably one of the biggest impediments to developing social skills among young people nowadays, the researchers said.

“We have known for a long time that social skills are associated with mental health problems like depression and anxiety,” said Chrin Segrin, a professor at the University of Arizona.

“But it was not known definitively that social skills were also predictive of poorer physical health. Two variables — loneliness and stress — appear to be the glue that bind poor social skills to health. People with poor social communication skills have high levels of stress and loneliness in their lives,” Segrin added.

The researchers studied over 775 people, aged between 18 to 91 years, and were provided a questionnaire addressing their social communication skills, stress, loneliness, and mental and physical health.

The results found that the participants who had deficits in those skills reported more stress, loneliness, and poorer mental and physical health.

The study, published in the journal Health Communication, mentioned that while the negative effects of stress on the body have been known for a long time, loneliness is a more recently recognized health risk factor. It is as serious a risk as smoking, obesity or eating a high-fat diet with lack of exercise.(IANS)

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‘At one point, I even had suicidal thoughts and wanted to end things’, says Bollywood Actress Ileana D’Cruz

Actress Ileana D'Cruz was once suffering from depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Watch out what she has to say.

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Actress Ileana D'Cruz
Actress Ileana D'Cruz . wikimedia commons
  • Actress Ileana D’Cruz, who suffered depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, says at one point in her life she felt suicidal.
  • But once she accepted herself, she started feeling better.

Actress Ileana D’Cruz suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder

At the 21st World Congress of Mental Health here on Sunday, Ileana had a tete-a-tete with Organising Chairman Sunil Mittal on her struggle with depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Ileana was also awarded the Woman of Substance Award for her efforts towards raising awareness about mental health, read a statement.

She said: “I was always a very self-conscious person and was picked on for my body type. I used to feel low and sad all the time but didn’t know I was suffering from depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder till I got help. All I wanted to do was to be accepted by everyone.

“At one point, I even had suicidal thoughts and wanted to end things. However, all of it changed when I accepted myself and what I was going through. I think that is the first step towards fighting depression.”

The “Barfi!” and “Rustom” actress said depression is “real” and people shouldn’t shy away from seeking help.

“It is a chemical imbalance in your brain and needs to be treated. Don’t sit back and think it will get okay but go get help. Like you have a sprain and go get yourself checked if you have depression, seek help,” she said, urging people to be like Winnie the Pooh. “He wore a crop top, ate his favorite food all day and loved himself, you can too.”

Ileana D’Cruz, whose mother was her biggest pillar of strength throughout, also said imperfections are a part of life.

“I am not saying that I had this miraculous recovery, every day is a process, every day is a step towards healing yourself and getting better. You are a human being and are allowed to be imperfect, and you are allowed to be flawed. There is a lot of beauty in your imperfections, in your uniqueness.

“You may look at us actors and think that ‘Oh my God, they are so pretty, so perfect’. But that’s not how it is. It takes two hours to get ready and look like this. Love yourself for who you are and trust me if you are happy from within, you are the most beautiful person and your smile is your best asset.”

Ileana D’Cruz said she decided to open up about her struggle because “as someone people look up to, even if I can help a handful of people cope, it is worth talking about it”.

The World Congress was organized by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), a global alliance of mental health professionals, national health associations, NGOs, policy experts and other institutions.( IANS)