How Can I Help My Child by Helping Myself?

“How do I help my child? What am I supposed to do?”

That is the question most parents ask when we begin speaking to them about their children’s developmental and learning challenges. It comes from a feeling of helplessness. They’ve either tried everything they know or they’re at the beginning of their attempts to make sense of things, and the myriad treatment options seem too overwhelming to make decisions about. The result is burnout or, worse yet, the inability to act. With knowledge and support, parents are empowered to act swiftly and confidently on their child’s behalf.

help my child - Child Success Center

It takes a village to help my child.

You can’t do this alone, nor should you have to. The best thing a parent can do when seeking support for their child, is to get support for themselves. Parents are the ones helming the ship, and if the captain isn’t operating with optimal knowledge, the whole crew suffers.  Self-care, groups, therapy resources, and just being kind to yourself, are all recommendations for parents.  Give yourself a break – give yourself compliments – don’t give in to negative self-talk.

There’s no right or wrong way to find community and get support.  Some parents prefer one-on-one meetings with a therapist, others prefer parent groups, while others find community in their yoga class or religious community.  Podcasts, books, blogs, and online groups are great resources. Finding others to talk about these topics and share experiences, gives a parent a sense of belonging and connection as opposed to feeling isolated and alone.

At the Child Success Center we understand the hurdles and intricacies of parenting “outside the box” kids. We offer various opportunities for parents to learn how to continue and support in the home and school environments, the strategies that we work on with the kids during sessions.

Our goal is to provide the resources and tools needed to facilitate happiness and success for children and peace of mind for parents.

Parent Resources:

Behavioral Therapy  – A child’s problematic behavior may, in actuality, be the resulting reaction to any number of unseen factors. Our therapists work closely with family members to help determine what lies beneath the surface of the behavior, including a variety of sensory, social emotional, environmental, and physical issues.

Child Success Foundation Parent Support Group

Child Success Foundation Annual “Outside the box” Child – Educational Conference

help my child - Child Success Center


Tips For a Successful Transition Back to School


Back to school tips to make the transition easier on the whole family.

Preparing a child for kindergarten

With school about to resume after the long summer break, now is the time to put wheels in motion for a smooth transition to the back to school routine. These back to school tips will benefit the whole family.

Morning Routine

First and foremost on parents’ minds is likely some dread thinking about the “morning routine” of school time. Two weeks prior to the start of school, establish school appropriate bedtime and wake up times, and practice going to bed and waking up at those times. Determine what the school morning will look like for each member of the family. Don’t use words alone – try using visual schedules to illustrate routines. A checklist with added visuals helps children learn how to self assess if they have completed what is expected of them. Every child wants to succeed, and feeling successful with the morning routine is no different.

Who will prepare breakfast and lunch?

Make sure to leave enough time in the morning routine for eating breakfast or preparing healthy smoothies to go. Start planning breakfast and lunch options a couple of weeks before school starts too, especially if your child is a picky eater. Explore ways your child can learn to make their own healthy lunches with plenty of fruits, crunchy veggies and protein to fuel their brain throughout the day.

Transition of movement

As kids head back to school, it’s important for parents to understand that their child’s nervous system is going to go through a transition while their body gets used to having less active movement throughout their day. Summer time fun involves a lot of whole body big movement play. School time requires more small motor tabletop play and learning experiences. This shift in body movement can cause a child to get fidgety or anxious. Try not to increase this anxiety by emphasizing they should “sit still”, “be good”, or “pay attention”. Make sure they get a good amount of active movement during after school hours.

If your child has been seeing an occupational therapist working on strategies to support attention and regulation, or if there are certain words that help your child connect to whole body listening, share those strategies and words with your child’s teacher prior to the commencement of the school year.

Painting - back to school tips

Much of the tabletop play and learning will involve writing or drawing. The small motor skills required for both are not necessarily automatic and easy for all children. Watch how your child picks up and holds a marker or pencil, and if they experience joy or avoidance responses when doing so. If you notice a tendency towards avoidance, manipulation seems awkward or encumbered, or if their desire to do age appropriate drawing and writing does not develop, seek advice from a pediatric occupational therapist as early as possible.

Sensory Overload

The classroom environment may have a lot more sound and visual stimulus than a child might experience during a typical summer break day, as well as many more people in their immediate space. For some children, this additional sensory activity is joyful, but for those with sensory processing challenges, these circumstances can heighten the stress response. Be aware and observe your child as he transitions into these new situations, and appreciate how his/her brain may be working to modulate and process the incoming sensory information.

Children can also be overwhelmed by the amount of oral communication they have to process during a school day. They need to fire up their listening skills to follow direction, and their memory systems need to respond and perform in an expected manner in a group all day. Whew, that’s a lot! Don’t be surprised if they struggle with following directions and listening when they get home at the end of the day. Watch for chewing of shirt, pencils and other nonfood items – this is a sign that their nervous systems is needing help to regulate. Keep this in mind for the first couple of weeks and try not to overload them with too many additional directions.


language and speech therapy back to school tipsSchool requires children to be sharing thoughts and ideas, and following direction utilizing their language processing brains all day long. If they are struggling in any of these areas and if they were a late talker, seek a speech and language evaluation to gain insight into language processing, before social, emotional, or reading/spelling concerns develop as well.

Speech intelligibility is a developmental process. Knowing when your child should be saying “s”, “l”  and “r” sounds, to name a few, correctly can be confusing. This chart can be referenced as a guideline.

Finally, you and your child will feel tired as you transition sleep patterns and routines back to school. Be kind to both of your nervous systems and don’t over schedule your child’s after school activities. Some down time is a good thing – for both of you.

Supporting the Dad of an “outside the box” Child

The journey a dad will take with his “outside the box” child  may be long and challenging. How and where will he find the support he needs?

Any father-to-be experiences myriad emotions when contemplating his new role as a parent. Elation and excitement will likely give way to some level of anxiety, as he questions his ability to be a “good dad”. Questions like, “how will I financially support my growing family?” “Will I be able to find enough time in the day to work and be there for my family?” He might even fall asleep at night wondering if his child will be successful, get married, have children of their own. All of this might well be addressed with the creation of a “plan”. A roadmap that, if followed closely, will lead to the desired outcome. Done.

But, what happens if a dad suddenly is faced with a major detour in that road? What happens when he receives a diagnosis for his child of a developmental delay, whether it’s sensory-processing based, speech related, or behavioral? It can be jarring and confusing, causing dad to go back and question his parenting choices, or feel guilt, fear, anxiety and anger. Ultimately, dad may even choose to deal with this by creating a new “plan”. But how? How to make things better – what to do – how to help?

Now this certainly doesn’t apply to all men, but, according to gender research men have difficulty dealing with things they can’t fix or problems they can’t solve. When their usual problem solving methodology doesn’t work, they may feel powerless or inept. Add to this the emotions and fear of their spouse, the sense of aloneness, and the realization that some of the “dreams” they had may not turn out just as “planned”, what parent wouldn’t get overwhelmed?

While a parent is a parent, no matter the gender, moms, dads and even siblings and grandparents will all deal with the diagnosis in their own way and at their own pace. No two people are the same, nor do they process and experience events in the same way. It would be unrealistic to expect two parents to understand and process a diagnosis and be “on the same page” all the time. A disconnect can occur when fear and anxiety about the child’s future, coupled with the sheer amount of extra work and patience it takes to deal with your child’s challenges, all feel like too much to bear. It would be shortsighted to think that support would come in a “one size fits all” form.

The journey a dad will take with his “outside the box” child and the rest of his family may be long and challenging. There is much parents will have to decide and do together to achieve the best possible outcome. But while the need for teamwork is crucial, there is also room for individual support and guidance. The “dad will tough if out” mentality is no longer the norm, and our community realizes the need to acknowledge the dad’s perspective and offer solutions that he can relate to and apply in familiar ways. Whether dad is “stay at home”, primary care giver, tag-teammate or weekend warrior, joining a dads’ support group can bring camaraderie, patience, insightful information, new perspective and help focusing on the positive and the strengths of all involved.

dad supportChild Success Center is presenting a Dads’ Discussion Group in a series of 3 evening sessions to be held this fall, designed to provide insights into self-care, ways to support your child and partner, information about diagnosis, provide camaraderie (you are not alone), and tools needed to maintain patience and a perspective of positivity. This feedback and coaching will be helpful to dads endeavoring to adjust to the new needs of his child and systems in place within the home and out.

Learn more about this innovative new program and sign up today.





Child Success Center
2023 S. Westgate Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Call 310-899-9597 to access our “warm” line.
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