To mark World Autism Awareness week, Allie from Harrow Council, and Colin from Harrow Carers, talked about bringing up their sons, who both have autism, and the support available in the borough to residents in a similar situation. Allie also met Jadan, a young volunteer at the café, and its manager, Taz, and enjoyed coffee and conversation with friends and colleagues.
Social media, news and conversations between adults mean that other children around the world – those not close by or directly affected by war – are also very aware of the crisis.
Many are frightened and don’t know what to expect. They have questions.
So, to help parents, family and care-givers navigate the overwhelming task of responding to children’s fears and worries, Ane Lemche, a psychologist and child counsellor at Save the Children, has shared five tips on how to speak to children about war:
1. MAKE TIME AND LISTEN
Give children the space to talk when they want to – even if you’re in the middle of something else. Encourage them to tell you what they know, how they feel and to ask you questions.
2. TAILOR THE CONVERSATION TO THE CHILD
Older children will need more details while younger ones may be satisfied just by understanding that sometimes countries fight. Be informed, keep calm and answer questions honestly. Begin with simple information – too much detail may overwhelm and cause anxiety.
3. VALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS
Speak to the child about how they feel. It is important that children feel supported in the conversation. They should not feel judged or have their concerns dismissed. When children have the chance to have an open and honest conversation about things upsetting them, they can feel relieved.
4. REASSURE THEM
Remind them that this is not their problem to solve. Adults all over the world are working hard to fix this. They shouldn’t feel guilty playing, seeing their friends and doing the things that make them feel happy.
5. GIVE THEM A PRACTICAL WAY TO HELP
For example, they could start fundraisers, write letters to local decision-makers or create drawings for peace. Children who have the opportunity to help can feel like they are part of the solution instead of feeling helpless.
At KCA, families have been accessing Creative Therapy and Counselling for many years.
The Creative Therapy team use a range of art materials and objects to help and enhance expression of inner experience within a therapy session. Working creatively provides a vehicle with which to safely explore thoughts, ideas and emotions. Looking at the image together helps facilitate reflection, dialogue – a conversation – and communication – helping us to put language to our feelings.
We offer art therapy as a choice, and it is up to the needs and preferences of each person how much art-making will be done. Some, especially children will be making art in every session, and others will occasionally use the media – preferring to talk instead.
Because art and play-based materials and activities work with metaphor and symbol they provide an ideal medium for engaging with children, especially those who find difficulty to put things into words. The process of art or mark making can be soothing, regulating and so reduce feelings of stress. When stress is more easily understood and managed, communication within family relationships become more positive and enjoyable – impacting positively on mental health.
“My daughter is doing so much better. The relax time straight away when she comes in from school helps a lot, as this seems to be the most hectic and stressful time for her). Her siblings have also expressed how well she has been doing and how proud they are of her. We are all enjoying the peace”.
“My therapist has excellent boundaries, insight and awareness and is able to connect well with the client and knows how to move the client on gently if they choose too. She has reminded me of the tools that I have at my disposal to help myself”.
“just wanted to let you know ……….. is doing A levels and scoring A’s and B’s and would like to say ‘Thank You’ for everything you did in supporting him. Our journey will always include you and others who supported him – thank you again”.
A mother of a large family, said using the arts in the therapy had “helped her ‘symbolically’, to change the way she ‘travelled’ in life, in a more energetic and positive way”. She had “cast away some of the unwanted baggage” and now travelled more lightly and with more direction. There was enough room in the car for her kids to travel with her, too.
A mother and her adolescent son both used the Creative therapy Service. They recognized that it helped their understanding of each other. “Their ways” had improved and were communicating better – and fewer ‘explosive’ rows meant that relationships within the family improved, especially for his little sister.
Our FREE Creative therapy services are funded by John Lyons Charity and City Bridge Trust. If you would like some more information about the service or to make a referral please email firstname.lastname@example.org
It is not a legal requirement from today, to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid-19 in England, but it is still advised that people with Covid-19 stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days, until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days.
We are asking parents when they or their child receive a positive test or have Covid-19 symptoms to follow the advice from the Department for Education for SEND settings. This is to protect the health of everyone at KCA until we fully assess the impact changes.
Working on the outreach service during these testing times has been one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences I have had. Though there are many challenges we face, we have still managed to make sure we can provide our young people with a fun and Covid-safe day.
Following government guidelines, we have been able to provide our young people with the chance to still learn through play, whilst ensuring that we are thoroughly explaining and stressing the importance of self hygiene routines such as regular hand washing and wearing a mask when necessary whilst keeping the experience exciting.
Though it has been a challenging process, I feel we at KCA have successfully been able to ensure both the safety of the staff and young people during our sessions.
Working at KCA, it has been an eye-opening experience and a delight to be able to help our young people out of lockdowns and isolation, as the wider public hope for our lives to revert back to a safer and accessible norm.