Partners in your child’s wellness

Dr. David Callies, Child & Adolescent Psychologist

Welcome to Gyro Psychology Services!

We provide psychological testing, assessment and treatment services to children, adolescents, young adults and families with a wide variety of mental health and behavioral needs. Gyro Psychology Services is committed to providing effective and compassionate psychological care that is grounded on sound research, practice and discipline.

We’ll collaborate with professionals who are involved in your child’s health care and education so that your child can reach their full potential in all areas of their lives.

Join us! We would be honored to be your partner in the behavioral healthcare of your child, adolescent and your family.

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Improving your Child’s Self-Control

Improving your Child’s Self-Control

It can be frustrating and embarrassing when your child has a temper tantrum while shopping in a crow[...]

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6 Healthy Habits To Teach Kids Who Worry Too Much

One of my favorite quotes is by Marjorie Hinckley, the author of the book Small and Simple Things. In it she says, "The trick is to enjoy life. Don't wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead."

It seems like an easy principle to live by, but in reality many of us live our days fighting the Worry Monster -- that constant internal voice that tells us we aren't doing enough, succeeding enough, gaining enough, earning enough. For our kids, this trickles down into fears like "I won't be able to pass my spelling test," "I won't do well in soccer practice" or "I'm not smart enough or cool enough for my friends. "

So how do we instill tools within our children to help them combat these universal and common anxious feelings? How can our children learn to live in the present rather than worry about the future that has yet to come? Encourage these six simple, practical and healthy habits for daily living:

Make a worry list.
Have your child make a list of all his or her worries and fears, both small and large. Just the act of recognizing and writing down worries can sometimes make the scary emotions seem less intimidating for your child. This allows you to identify which worries and fears you want to work on with your child, tackling one by one together.

Practice thinking strategies.
Help your children convert their worries into reassurances by teaching them new thinking strategies. For example, if their consistent worry is "I am afraid my mom won't pick me up from school," have them replace it with "I know my mom is coming for me because she ALWAYS does." Together, you can say each worry and fear and come up with new sentences to combat the old. Practice these with your kids until they become habitual replacements for the old, incessant worries. This is a key skill for building resilience.

Don't skimp on sleep.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep on a regular basis. Well-rested equals well-equipped mentally and physically to deal with minor daily stresses. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that 3- to 5-year-olds get 11-13 hours a night, 5- to 12-year-olds get 10-11 hours per night, and teens get 9.25 hours per night (although some do fine with 8.5 hours).

Make good nutrition a priority.
Make sure your child gets a steady dose of protein throughout the day. Many kids experience low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar usually occurs a few hours after breakfast and it looks and feels a lot like anxiety: they feel dizzy, start sweating, feel weak, and their heart beats really fast. Staying away from caffeine and energy drinks is also recommended as they mimic the effects of adrenaline and cause people to feel anxious.

Get some exercise.
Exercise burns adrenaline. If it's not already a part of your child's daily routine, add daily exercise to your child's plan, and let him know that not only is it good for his body, but it will help keep the Worry Monster away. Exercise can include any activities that your child enjoys such as swimming, shooting baskets, hiking, soccer, dodge ball, tennis, martial arts, jumping rope, rock climbing, bicycling, dancing, gymnastics or yoga. Anything that increases your child's heart rate will help fight the Worry Monster.

Don't underestimate distraction.
Arm your children with a little healthy distraction. Let them pick a favorite activity such as ten minutes on the computer playing a brain game, time out for reading a favorite book, watching a half hour television show or bike riding around the block -- and allow them to do that activity whenever a worry attack comes on. This allows them to combat worry with pleasure and takes their mind off the often paralyzing thoughts and feelings brought on by the Worry Monster. Before you and they know it, they have been distracted from their worries.

All of us experience worry and anxiety, but Worry Warriors know that the trick is to understand how the Worry Monster works, be prepared for his sneaky ways, tackle him head-on and not leave him lurking silently in the closet. We can arm our children to battle their anxious thoughts and engage in life -- and we can do the same. By maintaining these six healthy habits, your family can put their worries aside and experience life to the fullest.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post & Daniel B. Peters, Ph.D.
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8 hours ago  ·  

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What Do I Do If My Teen Is Thinking About Suicide?

They say that the worst pain in life is losing a child. When parents hear that their child is thinking about suicide, or has even tried to commit suicide, they often become paralyzed by the fear that they will say or do something that will lead their child to take their own life.

Many parents coming into our suicide prevention programs say "I feel like I am walking on eggshells and don't know what to do." Yet, parents are rarely involved in treatment to any great extent. In fact, we have heard from many parents that they have been discouraged from participating in their child's mental health treatment!

Our reply is simple: if a teen is living at home, effective teen suicide prevention must involve parents or guardians. So, how can parents and guardians help? We offer eight tips based on years of clinical work and research with families with teens who have thought about or actually tried to commit suicide.

~ Learn the warning signs for teen suicide
Don't mistake them for typical teenage behavior.

~ Take ALL suicidal statements seriously. Some parents think their teens threaten suicide to manipulate them or a situation, so it is okay to ignore these statements. The fact is that parents can never be 100% certain that this is the case and the cost of being wrong is too great to risk. Teens may act on suicide threats to prove their parents wrong or gain attention and end up accidentally taking their lives. Teenagers do not accurately estimate the lethality of methods of self-harm. If a teen threatens suicide, regardless of intent, there is something wrong and professional help is needed.

~ Talk to your teen about suicide. Many parents are afraid that if they talk about it, it will lead to their child to think about suicide. This is a myth! Research suggests just the opposite -- for many teens it actually decreases suicidal thinking and is a relief to share such a painful "secret" with their parents.

~ If your teen shares suicidal thoughts, do your best to respond calmly and rationally. Many teens do not share suicidal thoughts with parents because they fear that their parents will "lose it" emotionally or not be able to respond in a way that is helpful. Some also share that they do not want to be a burden to their parents. Let your teen know that you can handle it and can help.

"Many parents are afraid that if they talk about it, it will lead to their child to think about suicide. This is a myth!" --Christy Esposito-Smythers

~ Become knowledgeable about good, helpful mental health treatments for teenagers. There are many treatment approaches for teenagers with mental health difficulties, but not all of them work.

~ If your teen does have suicidal thoughts, it is incredibly important to remove or lock up any objects that can be used to hurt him/herself. For example, if your child is prescribed medication, keep it locked up, dispense it to your child, and make sure that it has been swallowed. Some teens try to stockpile large amounts of medication and you want to avoid that! Other lethal means (including bottles of Tylenol, razors, guns, etc.) should also be removed from the home or locked up while teens are in a high-risk period. Suicidal acts can be impulsive. However, if it is hard to actually find something to use to hurt oneself, the suicidal impulse may pass without any self-harm.

~ Seek your own mental health treatment if needed. Everyone goes through difficult times. Parenting itself can be highly stressful even under the best of circumstances. We tell parents to think of themselves as the captains of a ship, if they go down, so does the ship. To most effectively help your child, you must take care of yourself!

~ Finally, be aware of social media and what your teen is doing online! Bullying often happens online now and if your child is a victim, this can contribute to suicidal thoughts. Often teens share comments about suicide on Facebook or other online outlets.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers and young adults. Effective suicide prevention strategies are sorely needed.

Parents are a critical part of the solution. Our clinical research team has one of the few successful programs shown to reduce suicide attempts in teenagers, and we feel that it is largely due to the parent education and training that is part of the program. If your teen struggles with suicidal thoughts, know that you are part of the solution and work with the mental health provider to learn how to best help your child!

Courtesy of Christy Esposito-Smythers, Associate Professor fo Psychology, George Mason University & the Huffington Post
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1 day ago  ·  

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Here’s a personal story about how a teenager manages the multiple pressures of adolescence as well as anxiety.

Gyro Psychology Services


Navigating High School as an Anxious Teen

Being a teenager is hard. Anyone who is one or has been one can confirm this. The teenage years are full of social and physical changes, big decisions and stress. This year, I learned that it's even harder to juggle the responsibilities of being a teenager when also struggling with mental illness.

According to research, the number of teens who suffer from an anxiety disorder is rising. I am among this growing group of teens with anxiety. I was diagnosed last year, and I spent most of my grade 10 year of high school learning how to cope with my anxiety while also trying to maintain a normal, balanced teenage social life, something I quickly learned is not easy to do. Navigating the ups and downs of high school is overwhelming as it is, and having to deal with a mental disorder on top of it sometimes made it seem impossible to succeed. My simultaneous battle with mental illness and with high school, although exhausting, has caused me to learn and grow a lot.

When I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder at 15, as a grade 10 student, I was already feeling the pressure to succeed. According to society, my peers, and many of the adults in my life, in order to be a well-rounded teenager I needed good grades, cool clothes and lots of friends.

There were already expectations set out for me as a teenage girl, and the pressure was multiplied thanks to my anxious brain, which convinced me that I was not good enough and would never be good enough to succeed at these things. Navigating high school with an anxiety disorder is exhausting, confusing and terrifying at times. Although I've struggled with anxiety for most of my life, it increased by a lot in the past few years.

My family and friends began to notice something was going on with me when I stopped wanting to be around people. I went from being an extroverted, outspoken social butterfly to just wanting to be alone and watch Netflix. I've always excelled academically, but when my anxiety was really bad, my marks started to plummet. My teachers thought I wasn't trying hard enough, and they had no idea how much of a struggle it was for me to do my homework every night and concentrate in class. I was distracted all the time because I was constantly worrying. My anxiety told me that I was a failure, and I would never get the grades I wanted. It told me that I was annoying and that none of my friends wanted to hang out with me. I started to believe that part of my brain, and I stopped trying to be social, smart and well-rounded. Instead, I scraped by in my classes and many of my friendships dwindled.

Mental illness is vastly misunderstood in today's culture. I encounter people all the time who don't know anything about my disorder or how it affects my life. Too many times, I've heard "get over it" or "that's weird" or "you're crazy" when it comes to the topic of my anxiety. When I've approached teachers or coaches for help, they often don't know how to react. In a place as complicated as high school, when I didn't know how to get the help I needed, it was easy to feel alone.

Fortunately, I was surrounded by amazing people in my life who did want to help me. My parents, friends, counselors and community encouraged me and supported me through some pretty hard times. I learned through them that my anxiety could not define me. I learned how to be more confident and open about my struggles. Being a teenager is tough, especially when you have to juggle it along with an anxiety disorder. It's still really hard for me, and I run into new obstacles that I have to face every single day. But I continue to grow and learn and I'm conquering new fears all the time.

For those who are struggling with something similar, know that you're not alone. There are teens all around you who are going through the same thing. Surround yourself with people who love you and want to help you. The biggest piece of advice I can give you, as a teen that's been through it and is still going through it, is to be open. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and talk about how you're feeling often. Sometimes just being able to be open can make a huge difference.

There is a huge stigma attached to mental illness in our society, and by talking about what you're going through you can also help raise others' awareness. You can educate people and help them to understand that mental illness is something that affects people both mentally and physically, and that it is actually an increasingly common issue among teenagers. I have been overlooked, belittled and misunderstood because of my mental illness and the lack of awareness surrounding this issue. I was made to feel ashamed of the fact that I needed help because I was sick.

We can make a difference as people who have been through it, or have loved others who have been through it, by removing the stigma. Speak up, and help raise awareness. This is my challenge to you.

Courtesy of Samantha Goodyear (High School Student) and the Huffington Post
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2 days ago  ·  

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Here’s an interesting study that links regular bedtime routines with an improvement in child behavior. Please give us a call is your child has difficulty falling or staying asleep, 360-236-0206. We're here to help!

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Regular Bedtime For Kids Could Be The Secret To Good Behavior

Young children who don't have a regular bedtime behave worse than kids who go to sleep at the same time each night, a new study suggests.

"This is a very well-done study that in many ways reaffirms what we already know about a lack of sleep," said Dr. Carolyn D'Ambrosio, director of the sleep center at Tufts Medical Center and the Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, who was not involved in the research.
She said the findings clearly show an association between kids behaving better and a regular bedtime.

Sleepy kids
In the study, researchers looked at data from more than 10,000 children enrolled in the Millennium Cohort Study, a long-term study of babies born in the U.K. in 2001 and 2002.

When children were ages 3, 5 and 7, their mothers filled out questionnaires describing whether the child went to sleep at a regular time on weeknights during the school year, and what that bedtime was.

In addition, mothers and teachers evaluated 7-year-olds' behavior, assessing their conduct, relationships with classmates, emotional symptoms and hyperactivity levels.

Researchers found that almost 9 percent of the 7-year-olds lacked a regular bedtime.

Having an irregular sleep schedule had the greatest effect on a child's behavior, but kids with later bedtimes also tended to behave worse.

D'Ambrosio said the study findings strengthen the argument for a consistent bedtime for children because there were a large number of kids involved in the research, and their behavior was rated at three different ages.

For both kids and adults, "when people are sleep-deprived, they are a little bit moodier, have a shorter temper and their normal physiological processes aren't as finely tuned," D'Ambrosio said.

"Kids don't say they're tired, they typically act it out -- most commonly by being hyperactive," she said. In fact, the study found that erratic bedtimes had the strongest influence on children's hyperactivity levels, as judged by their mothers and teachers.

A lack of sleep also shows up in a child's school performance, moodiness, eating habits and as behavioral issues, D'Ambrosio said.
Bedtime tips

Having nighttime routines and a regular bedtime adds structure and consistency to a child's schedule, D'Ambrosio said.

An enforced bedtime helps kids to function their best the next day, and to get a regular amount of sleep. Kids ages 5 to 7 need 10 to 12 hours a night, she said.

This means enough sleep to get through all stages of sleep, which have important functions that regulate the body: For example, deep sleep helps people to wake up feeling refreshed, while REM sleep helps to improve memory skills.

Sufficient shut-eye is also critical for children because their young brains are still developing.

D'Ambrosio advised parents to start the process of regular bedtimes early in a child's life. This process involves letting children know when bedtime is coming and beginning their nightly routines -- brushing teeth, bathing, putting on pajamas, reading a story, dimming lights and allowing children to have a comfort item, such as a stuffed animal but limiting stimulating distractions, including a TV or iPad.

"Pick a bedtime that works for you and your family," she recommended. "It may not work every night, but just keep trying."
D'Ambrosio also suggested that kids have consistent bedtime schedules, even on weekends and during the summer.

She is quick to remind parents that "sleep is one of the most important things you can do for a child's health and behavior."

Courtesy of LiveScience
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3 days ago  ·  

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Here’s an interesting article about children with Autism who have unique reading and writing skills. Enjoy! Gyro Psychology Services, 360-236-0206


Autism and Literacy: Making the Unique an Everyday Occurrence

In recent years, there have been a number of inspiring reports on non-verbal (i.e., non-speaking) children with autism displaying masterful language via reading and writing. One of the most recent appeared this summer in the recounting of a non-verbal autistic teen who, with the assistance of technology, gave the graduation speech at his school.

These children are in the news because, in today's world, their achievements are unique. The common assumption is that the absence of speech is a sign that language is beyond reach. Any exception to this assumption becomes headline material. The students are presented as extraordinary individuals with amazing talents that go beyond the norm.

But what if this assumption is not valid? What if most, if not all non-verbal children could learn to read and write and are not doing so simply because they have not been taught? This question has not received the attention it merits. The developmental sequence in neuro-typical children is that spoken language appears well before written language. This has led to the conclusion that if children do not speak, they are simply not ready for literacy. Typically efforts that are made focus on what is termed "emergent literacy" -- meaning the initial behaviors of reading and writing that are deemed to lead to conventional literacy. For example, looking at a picture book, scribbling, etc.

Many children fall into the category of being non-verbal. Though exact figures are not available, the estimates are that about half of children with autism either do not speak or are limited to one and two word phrases.

Guided by the assumption outlined above, schools do not put forth major effort in teaching literacy to these students. Years of instruction are spent on isolated reading related skills such as writing one's name, learning signs relevant to the routines of the classroom, and mastering a few sight words. But the vast majority of these children are never given the possibility to achieve the language attained by those who make the headlines.

It is important to recognize that the ones who have made the headlines such Carly and Ido started on their path largely via home instruction where the parents recognized signs that far more language was present in their children than they had been led to believe. They also did not use traditional reading instruction and so were able to transcend the assumptions guiding the educational system and use technology to give their children the opportunity to become competent language users.

Can this development become widespread? Research shows that it can -- but only if we have solid, comprehensive software programs that carry out, in a systematic manner, what these parents have done "instinctively" on their own.

There have been many critical junctures in our understanding of autism. We may now well be at another such juncture where literacy -- and hence, language, is made available to all. We will know that we have succeeded when the headlines about non-verbal children achieving literacy stop because it is no longer news and all children on the spectrum have mastered this vital skill.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post & Dr. Marion Blank
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5 days ago  ·  

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