Current treatment programs available at the CARDC focus on 1) Anxiety Disorders: phobias, chronic worry, social anxiety, panic attacks, obsessions and compulsions, and school refusal behavior; 2) Neurodevelopmental Disorders: ADD/ADHD, Learning Disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, Tourette’s Disorder; and 3) Social Vulnerability, i.e., a child’s proneness to being neglected and/or rejected by their peers.
Treatment programs are evidence-based and consist of cognitive-behavioral coping strategies and social skills interventions that are tailored to each child’s unique social and emotional needs. Treatment may be individual or group, and typically last about 12 to 15 sessions. Treatment sessions generally occur at the CARDC. However, home visits and/or school consultations are scheduled on an as needed basis. The following is a list of general descriptions of problems/disorders treated at CARDC. Professional evaluation is necessary before a final diagnosis can be made.
Children and adolescents fear and often avoid specific objects and situations. The most common phobias involve animals (e.g., dogs, cats, insects), being alone, taking tests, doctors/dentists, blood-tests, darkness, thunder/lightning and forms of transportation (e.g., cars, buses, trains, planes).
Some children and adolescents experience persistent anxiety that can occur in the presence or absence of stressful events. Chronic anxiety is often expressed in the form of somatic complaints (e.g., inability to relax, muscle tension, stomachaches, headaches) and frequent worries (e.g., school, family, friends, money, health).
SHYNESS/SOCIAL ANXIETY/SELECTIVE MUTISM
Children and adolescents experiencing shyness and/or social anxiety frequently avoid situations in which their actions may be observed by others and fear that they will be embarrassed or humiliated. Common situations include speaking in front of others, eating in public places, going to parties and using public bathrooms. Some children may be so inhibited that they do not speak outside of the home, especially at school. This is referred to as selective mutism.
SEPARATION ANXIETY/SCHOOL REFUSAL BEHAVIOR
Some children and adolescents experience persistent anxiety when separating from major attachment figures. Children often worry that their parents will be harmed (e.g., car accident), or that they themselves will be kidnapped or become the victim of an accident. Often children are unable to sleep alone and will avoid being alone at all times (e.g., refusing to go to school). School-related difficulties may involve specific fears (e.g., school building, teacher), family issues or peer-related issues.
Some children and adolescents experience a sudden rush of intense fear or anxiety in the absence of stressful events (i.e., totally out of the blue). Common physical symptoms include difficulty breathing, palpitations, dizziness, shaking, and the feeling of losing control or going crazy.
Some children and adolescents experience obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are persistent ideas or images that are intrusive and senseless. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that are intended to prevent or correct discomfort or some dreaded event. The most common obsessions are repetitive thoughts of violence, contamination, and self-doubt. The most common compulsions are cleaning and checking rituals as well as trichotillomania (pulling out one’s hair, eyelashes, or eyebrows).
Some children and adolescents who experience attentional (e.g., difficulty paying attention, difficulty finishing tasks) impulsive (e.g., acting before thinking, difficulty waiting) and/ or hyperactive (e.g., always moving, fidgeting) behaviors, often experience related problems as well including learning weaknesses, obsessions and compulsions, worries, explosive outbursts, and conduct problems.
Some children and adolescents who experience specific deficits in academic areas (e.g., reading, spelling, math) and/or more general learning weaknesses (e.g., nonverbal or language-based), often experience related problems as well including inattention, anxiety, panic, and social withdrawal.
Some children and adolescents who maintain appropriate intellectual and cognitive functions may experience deficits in their social interaction skills (e.g., poor eye contact, lack of social or emotional reciprocity, rigidity, repetitive motor movements). Anxiety, hyperactivity, impulsivity, psychological rigidity, and explosive outbursts are common associated features.
Some children and adolescents who experience chronic motor (e.g., eye blinking, head jerking), and/or vocal (e.g., sniffing, throat clearing) tics also experience related problems as well including learning weaknesses, chronic anxiety/worry, obsessions/compulsions, ADD/ADHD, and/or explosive outbursts.
Because of anxiety and related problems, some children may be more likely to be subjected to emotional and/or physical harm by more aggressive children. Shyness, social anxiety, or a tendency to be withdrawn may underlie this social vulnerability, as may awkwardness in social situations or a tendency to be impulsive or explosive. These socially vulnerable children may be at greater risk for being neglected and/or rejected by their peers.