Yearly Archives: 2018

How You Can Help a Family Supporting a Mental Health Patient

Ways You Can Help A Family Struggling With A Mental Health Illness

by: Nellie Valentine
Families are overwhelmed when supporting a loved-one with mental illness.  Dealing with the erratic behavior, which sometimes lead to unsafe situations for their loved-one is just the beginning of the worry and stress they endure.  If their loved-one is suicidal, or threatening to harm others; processing that reality brings unimaginable overwhelm.  When these families reach out to you it is oftentimes simply to share their fear and anxiety.  Lending an ear and providing emotional support can go a long way.
The entire process is one of learning for families and their loved-one.  Each person experiences mental health illness differently.  If you are able to, research and get information about the diagnosed illness and pass it to your family member or friend.  Remember that supporting your family member or friend is simply that.  Supporting. Please do not try to control what they do with your information.  They will know when to use it, or if necessary pass it on to their loved-one suffering with mental health illness.  Please do not make them feel judged if they are not following your advice.
Nothing prepares someone for absorbing or processing the fact that their loved one has a severe mental illness.  Let alone attempting to end their life or threaten the lives of others.  When someone is supporting a loved-one with mental illness, they feel the stigma and isolation that is perpetuated with the illness.  They feel the judgement and unasked questions. Simply tell them you care and are thinking about them and praying for them and their loved-one.  Hearing caring and encouraging words can be a healing balm.  

Hitting Hurts Others – Books with Behavior Strategies

A Social Story Book that offers behavior strategies…  by Nellie Valentine

Many parents struggle with their children when they are exhibiting maladaptive behavior.  Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) often have a difficult time coping with rules regarding socialization and behavior.  We learn social rules, guidelines, etiquette, laws and even taboos from childhood through adulthood.  We are taught these rules by parents, teachers, peers and others in various ways, in order to shape the way we interact with others.  Over time we learn to intuitively access these rules in any particular situation to successfully engage with others.

“Many of our social rules make no sense to individuals with ASD and our behaviors in certain situations may seem perplexing or sometimes frightening to them.  In addition, we work out our social problems quickly and intuitively while individuals with ASD do this through logic and deduction, which involves a different part of the brain.”  – Sharyn Kerr – PhD

Social Stories are a wonderful way of relaying a message to all children!  Swanky Brain Social Story Books give children with Autism, ADHD & other neurodevelopmental disorders a new perspective on a behavior, action or event.  Our books help change behavior patterns and reinforce social skills. As the Author, I  believe our language resonates with readers, who find the books engaging.  They have simple suggestions and perspective shifting dialogue to which our readers can relate.  Having four children on the Spectrum has helped me create language and communication that is effective with my kiddos and I transfer them to my books!

In our Social Stories Book series, we encapsulate events; situations with words and vivid illustrations, while infusing behavior strategies. This is a concrete way to shape perspective, bolster appropriate behavior, reinforce social skills, planning and organizing. Throughout the years, I have found that using Social Stories independently or as a part of a behavior plan; has been tremendously impactful and effective for my children!  Additionally, I believe that Social Stories make a profound difference as repeated reading increases comprehension and allows for sustainability of a changed or new behavior or habit.

Can You Make A Picture? Hand-washing…

I was reminding my eight year with ASD to please lather his hands with soap before putting them under the water pouring from the sink-faucet.  I was reminding him that lathering with soap and warm water is what actually cleans his hands and if he simply lets the water pour off his hands, they are not clean.

My son stated:  “Mom, can you make a picture and put it on the wall?  That way I can see it and remember the rule?  Sometimes I forget all these rules I have to follow.  There are so many of them!”

Can’t say he is not a Problem Solver!

The Eject Button!

My daughter takes the bus to college – she is not yet ready to drive – and each day can be colorful with the many passengers she encounters.  On day a couple weeks ago she came home and said to me:

“Mom, there is this passenger who keeps arguing with the bus driver.  Every time she gets on the bus, Mom.  He picks her up at the same stop and takes the same route every day.  Yet she argues with him to make this turn and go that way and if he went that way he would get to her house faster.  She argues from the time she gets on the bus until she reaches home.  I’ve heard the bus driver try to explain to her that he takes that route because it is easiest with traffic at that time of day but she does not listen.  That is when I use my imaginary eject button.”

“For what?”  I asked her.  She said, “I visualize her propelling out the bus!”

“Where does she go?” I asked.  I was secretly very concerned about this poor woman.  My daughter replied… “She lands at her dining table eating dinner.  That way she cannot talk and chew at the same time.  I am sure she talks at her family the same way she does the bus driver.  They need some peace too, Mom.”

I wanted to suggest earbuds to my daughter but thought better of it at the time… 🙂