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Doctor Blake
Doctor Blake, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 146
Experience:  Ph.D., Ed.S., NCSP Clinical Psychologist; 15+ years of experience; dual licensure
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could you help me please with grandaughtershe is 7 years

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could you help me please with grandaughter
she is 7 years old and has been a normal happy confident little girl but has recently been diagnosed as being dsylexic. She has not been told this although it has been explained that she can have extra help and assistance... just like Mummy did at school. This doesn't seem to have been recieved too badly but she now has an absolute hate of eating at school lunch and is gets into a panic attack about being sick. Eats not too badly at home but is a bit fussy about food mess around her. What should we do to try and help the parents please.

She has a 6 year old sister who is not dyslexic and so is ahead of her with reading and writing. The parents do explain that they are just different and excel at different subjects but could this academic difference be affecting her and if so, how can they explain it better? Do you think this has anything do with the sickness phobia anyway?   

Good morning.


I regret that I may not be as familiar with UK laws governing the provision of services for students with learning problems as I am with US laws. I understand that there is considerable overlap - but you may wish to consult with folks locally as well.


With regard to dyslexia, I would hope and assume that, if actually diagnosed - the school is providing appropriate services to address your granddaughter's learning needs. Here in the US, students identified with learning problems receive an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that is tailor-made to meet their learning needs. Some IEPs also allow for provision of counseling services in the event that emotional/behavioral issues are interfering with a child's ability to learn in school.


With regard to the panicky problems you discussed, I would be hesitant to jump to diagnosing any disorder. (Besides being inappropriate and unethical to diagnose over the internet and across the Atlantic, it may be too early to call her behavior "a disorder...") That is, your granddaughter may simply be experiencing some adjustment issues to changes in her school programming. This should be worked out among her parents and teachers (both regular education and special education). Parents always have the right to request a meeting to discuss these matters and this is no exception.


In the event that you feel that her behaviors have escalated to the realm of truly worthy of intervention, I would recommend that the family contact her pediatrician/family doctor for a referral to see a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) who specializes in both Child Psychology and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). See below.


PANIC DISORDER has been described as a catastrophic misinterpretation of mildly elevated physiological responses to the environment. It is considered one of the Anxiety Disorders and, as such, is felt to be related to applying the wrong response to a given situation. That is, fear is an adaptive function that all animals (human and otherwise) are born with... it is not learned, it is innate. When fear (the response) comes at the right situation (a hungry saber-toothed tiger standing in front of you), you're doing GREAT! Fear makes you move (fight or run for your life)! When fear (the response) comes at the wrong situation (at the grocery store or on an elevator, for example), you're not doing so great - and you need to relearn when/how to apply fear as originally intended.


Research has consistently demonstrated that treatment plus medication is more effective than medication alone or treatment alone for anxiety. Further research has shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychological treatment/intervention - particularly in dealing with anxiety disorders (like Panic Disorder).


A properly trained LMHP would be able to provide developmentally appropriate forms of CBT to address these fears and possible panics.


Thanks. I hope you're well and that this was helpful.


* FEEDBACK ENCOURAGED. Please contact me prior to leaving negative feedback so that we can resolve the matter. I am eager to work with all JA clients to provide them with useful/helpful answers. Thanks again.

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Many thanks for you answer. One or two questions perhaps if you are still there?

I understand from your answer that you believe the changes in the school (extra help, moved to front of class etc. ) are responsible for her food behavious. Do you think Ella should be told she is dyslexic and have it explained to her?


Oh, correction!


(Sometimes it is just impossible to convey information through the internet!)


I don't believe that the changes in the school are NECESSARILY responsible for her food behaviors. It may be one component to these behaviors - or it may be entirely unrelated.


Regardless, I do believe that Ella should be told something about her learning differences, and how she will receive special training in how to work through or around her learning differences to be as successful as she wants to be. Typically, these types of discussions occur with the parents and the special educators/psychologists working with her through the school. (These folks have a great deal of experience in communicating this with children of all ages...)





Customer: replied 7 years ago.
That's really useful. Many thanks for your help. Have a great day as you say over there!

Yes. I hope to "have a great day!"


I'm not sure (I'm such a bloomin' Yank), should I say "Cherio," then?


Best of luck to you and your family.