Ensuring that your child succeeds in school is about more than just packing up a lunch, making sure they bring along all their textbooks, and checking through their homework at the end of the night. Unfortunately, managing the demands of their schoolwork, friendships, and extracurricular activities can make school a source of anxiety and stress for kids. In more severe cases, this pressure can lead to depression and certain behavioral disorders. While many schools provide on-site counseling services and offer free behavioral evaluations, it can be beneficial to seek independent therapy and help. At Family Psychiatry and Therapy, Dr. Miller and her team help parents find the right treatment for their children.
For students of all ages, we can help with:
- Medical clearance to return to school
- Psychiatric evaluation for IEPs and 504 plans
- Confidential evaluation of behavioral and attentional issues
Medical Clearance to Return to School
Traumatic events can drastically affect a child’s ability to function in daily life. After experiencing one of these harrowing situations, kids may struggle with insomnia, experience bouts of irrational anger, and may undergo periods of intense depression or anxiety.
Sometimes, a child may make a threat to harm himself or others. Staff may discover that he has injured himself. On rare occasions, a child may even harm himself or hurt people at the school. When this occurs, the school is required to suspend the child from school immediately, pending psychiatric clearance. Your pediatrician will not be clearance, as it must be from a mental health provider. Most schools will not allow anyone other than a Medical Doctor to provide “return to school” clearance. Some schools may tell you to take your child to the nearest emergency room. This can be extremely traumatic for a child. They may not even be seen at all by a psychiatrist, but by a “mental health screener” who is not even a Medical Doctor or Psychiatrist!. Then the “screener” will make recommendations to the Emergency Room doctor, who may not even be a pediatric specialist! Moreover, your child may be placed alongside acutely ill individuals, either with major mental illnesses or acute infectious diseases while waiting to be screened. This can sometimes take up to 6 hours. Your child may even be told that he will need a blood test. These are often unnecessary and further serve to traumatize your child or teen.
At Family Psychiatry and Therapy, we understand how scary it is for your child to be suspended from school. We want to help your child to return to school as soon as he or she is safe to do so. Our office is staffed with live in-house support nightly until 8 PM. They will take your call, and, in most cases, get your child seen by Dr. Miller within 12-48 hours of the call. This way, your child will not have to undergo the trauma of sitting all night in a busy overcrowded emergency room.
For these children, time away from school may help them focus on feeling better. When working with an experienced therapist, the child will learn coping techniques and strategies to avoid feeling overwhelmed by normal activities and demands in the classroom.
Separation and removal from the classroom should be monitored by a therapist. This observational period ensures that the child receives proper care and medication for their condition. However, to return to the classroom, most schools require medical clearance given by the psychiatrist treating the child.
Dr. Miller has years of experience providing medical clearance for children to return to the classroom. Before receiving the “all-clear” from the school, the therapist will consider the course of therapy, improvements made, and discuss coping techniques to ensure that the child is ready to handle the pressures of the classroom. More often than not, the child will be reintroduced to the classroom gradually rather than resuming a full school week schedule.
Continued support ensures that the child is successfully transitioning back into daily life and maintaining good behavior in the classroom while coping with underlying trauma and stress triggers.
IEPs and 504 Plans
All children are special, but some require very particular styles of education or need extra assistance to do well in traditional educational environments. For these children, an evaluation for both IEPs and 504 plans will provide insight into the type of assistance they need.
IEP stands for “Individualized Education Program.” These programs are designed to offer a solution to students who struggle in traditional learning environments due to learning disabilities.
A qualified psychiatrist begins by examining the student’s performance and looking at test results for an indication of a learning disability. The results are then presented to the school with a recommendation on an ongoing treatment method. The psychiatrist may also organize a plan for future counseling with the student and his or her family if needed.
Once the plan for treatment is agreed upon, the psychiatrist attends all IEP meetings for the student to better assess their performance, growth, and emotional well-being. This process is ongoing and continues for the duration of the student’s educational career.
Like IEPs, 504 plans use psychological evaluations to better assess a student’s performance and unique educational needs. However, 504 plans offer a more individualized learning program for each student. While IEPs provide a standard special education protocol, 504 plans take into consideration the needs of each student and works to provide accommodations based on their needs.
Unlike IEPs, 504 plans have no specific stipulations on the type of disability that qualifies a student for participation in the program. Anything that affects an individual’s ability to learn, even if it’s not one of the 13 disabilities recognized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is covered under 504s.
Attention disorders, behavioral disorders, and social disorders that may be alleviated by special accommodations in the classroom all qualify for participation in these plans too. After consultation with an experienced psychiatrist, a recommendation on the types of allowances to provide the students is presented to the school. Family Psychiatry and Therapy is proud to provide ongoing support for families and students involved with a 504 plan.
Behavioral Disorders in Children
Behavioral and emotional disorders are just as common in children as they are in adults. The stresses of modern life and the demands of academic success place strain on the mental state of many children. Though each child will display unique symptoms, most can be classified into the following diagnoses.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Social and emotional difficulties related to Dyslexia
- Bipolar Disorder
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, many children struggling with daily life and social demands in school often fall into these categories.
An experienced psychiatrist will examine the child’s emotional state based on disciplinary reports and feedback from the school on their academic performance. From there, the psychiatrist will work with the child’s parents to understand any problems and issues that they notice in daily life. Once there is an understanding of the symptoms and behavioral issues at hand, the treatment and therapy can begin.
Medication is not always the answer. In fact, children often improve by simply talking to an unbiased adult. Regardless of the behavioral or emotional disorder the child is coping with, the consultation and therapy will be completely confidential. Unless the parents want the condition disclosed with the school, all information regarding treatment and therapy will be kept completely confidential.
Finding proper treatment for your child and getting them back on track to succeed might seem like a daunting task, but you’ve already taken an important step in the right direction by educating yourself on the topic. It’s important to remain calm and remember that things will improve if you seek out professional help.
Schedule a confidential consultation today and see the incredible changes that therapy can make in your child’s life.