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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Smoking Weed Could Cost Teens

There’s no doubt about it—pot is a hot topic. Whether it’s a conversation about legalization laws or the celebrities who use it, the drug seems to be more popular than ever.

But there’s one thing most supporters and critics can agree on: Teens shouldn’t be using it. Several new studies are putting more proof behind this claim.

The Lancet Psychiatry reported that teens who smoke marijuana daily are 60 percent less likely to graduate high school or college than those who never use—and seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

It’s not just daily use. According to the researchers behind the study, teens who used cannabis monthly were also at risk of underachievement: By the age of 25, they were 38 percent less likely to graduate high school or earn a college degree, two and a half times more likely to attempt suicide, four times more likely to be dependent on cannabis and almost three times more likely to have used other illicit drugs.

“This is particularly concerning as cannabis use at lower levels is much more common among teens than daily use,” said Dr. Edmund Silins, co-author of this study and researcher at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “So there are relatively large numbers of teens using cannabis relatively infrequently, for example monthly or weekly. The effects for this group were still notable.”

Among Chicago teens, marijuana continues to be a fairly accessible drug.

“It seems cool to people,” said Latin junior Chris Maurice when asked why he believes teens are drawn to pot. “Kids see people that smoke weed who seem to be pretty happy with their lives.”

Along with the cool factor, many teens simply don’t think of weed as a dangerous drug. A separate 2013 study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Monitoring the Future) found that nearly 60 percent of high school seniors didn’t view regular marijuana use as harmful. The study also found that 6.5 percent of seniors smoked marijuana daily.
Some students believe research findings like these will serve as a reality check to teens.

“Some think that (marijuana) isn’t that dangerous because it doesn’t have the same repercussions that alcohol does … or other more intensely affecting drugs like heroin, and they think that cannabis is like a lighter, not as dangerous thing,” Nazareth sophomore Allison Kufta said. “I think if people were more aware of this, they would care more about their future and their awareness of this contemporary world issue and be smarter.”

Still, others are skeptical about the new findings.
“I don’t know if I quite believe the graduating high school statistic,” Whitney Young junior Hannah Chow said about the study published in The Lancet Psychiatry. “It seems just a little too high. Most of (the people I know who use marijuana) are bright, intelligent people who smoke mostly to relieve the stress of high school.”
Sarah Stollenwerk, a substance abuse counselor at The Youth Center at Northwest Community Hospital, said that most marijuana addiction and abuse cases she sees started as social use that got out of control.

“It could’ve been family issues, it could’ve been underlying mental health issues. But for almost all of them it started as social,” she explained. “And for some of them it got really bad really fast, and for some of them it took a little bit longer.”

Stollenwerk said there’s another facet of the Lancet study that hit home with her experience counseling teens.

“What I thought really highlighted a lot of what we see in the field is that the earlier kids start, the more likely that they will have problems with substances,” she said. “If someone is starting earlier in their life, they may not have the skills, the abilities to be able to avoid falling into habits and patterns that are likely to be problematic.

“In society, especially with teenagers, (marijuana) is not thought of as a problematic substance, but it can be as destructive as other drugs in terms of how it affects overall life goals and general functioning and things of that nature.”

Picking up the drug earlier in life seems easier than ever. According to the Monitoring the Future study, 39 percent of eighth graders said it would be fairly easy or very easy to get weed.
Latin junior Miles Alsberry said he believes that middle school students’ access to marijuana is directly influenced by high school usage.

“Younger students get weed from some of the older students,” he explained. “If not directly by the older students, they’ll be referred to someone outside of school. Kids would be doing (marijuana) as early as middle school if they knew people in upper school that use it.”

Dr. Silins said the findings of The Lancet Psychiatry study speak loud and clear: “The message to teens is that we would encourage them not to use cannabis or at the very least to delay use. It’s a particularly important message because the developing adolescent brain is very susceptible to the harmful effects of cannabis.”

While Silins said he knows that change won’t happen overnight, he still hopes that his research can inform the public about the harmful effects of marijuana and aid in the debate over cannabis legislation.

“Peoples’ views and opinions about cannabis are generally not easily changed. Change does happen, but it takes time,” Silins said. “To change peoples’ opinions will take much more than a single study.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or visit you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Teens who smoke marijuana daily are …
60% less likely to complete high school than those who never use
60% less likely to graduate college
18 times more likely to become dependent on marijuana.
8 times more likely to use other illegal drugs in the future.
7 times more likely to attempt suicide.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post & Maggie Roache, Nazareth Academy & Brianna Yang
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2 days ago  ·  

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5 Ways to Skip Halloween Candy — Without Getting Your House Egged

It's an age-old question … or at least one asked by those health-conscious no-good-doers: What can neighbors give out to kids on Halloween night that won't contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic?

Many ideas out there will surely get your house egged or worse. Hand out bookmarks or spooky pencils? Seriously? Why not just label which garage windows you want the disgruntled children to soap?

A list of healthy alternatives on a Clemson University website includes bean dip. Fun times in South Carolina, for sure. Other ideas bantered about on the Internet are well-intentioned, but ultimately impractical. Spooky toys and decorations? News flash: Halloween is over by the end of the night. Vampire teeth just don't have the same impact on Nov. 1.

Money ? That's kind of, well, expensive. Candy costs less than 10 cents apiece. Handing out a dime seems rather cheap. And don't even think of trying 10 pennies. Play-Doh? That's very expensive, and big kids — the kind who can TP your house — don't care much for "creative" toys.

What follows is a list of five candy alternatives for Halloween that are practical in terms of expense , trick-or-treaters' health, acceptability among a wide swath of ages, and safety to home and person from mischievous pranks. [13 Halloween Superstitions & Traditions Explained]

Glow sticks and finger lights:
Glow sticks cost about $1 for a pack of 15, on par with the price of small pieces of candy, or about 7 cents each. Online, you can buy them in bulk for as low as a pack of 100 for $5. LED finger lights are much cooler, but will set you back $6 for a pack of 40, or 15 cents per kid. The only downside, which isn't entirely insignificant, is that you're creating a lot of trash for landfills.

Mini-packs of pretzels, raisins or dried fruit:
These are marginally acceptable by the kids, and you reduce the impact on landfills that glow sticks bring. But with these, you're getting up into the 20-cents-per-kid range, and you likely aren't saving any teeth. These foods may be lower in calories than a candy bar, but their carbohydrate base and ability to stick to the teeth ultimately promote tooth decay.

Batch of warm, low-sugar cookies:
Hear me out on this one. The kids will either eat them immediately and happily, or their parents will toss them out later because they don't trust their origin. Either way, your house and wallet are safe.

Temporary tattoos:
With an amazing variety of choices — dinosaurs, butterflies, pirates, zoo animals and the like — you can probably please trick-or-treaters of any age. You can buy sheets of 100 or more tattoos for just pennies per tattoo.

Obscene noisemakers and whistles:
Their parents will hate them, but the kids themselves probably won't. Unfortunately, you would have to demonstrate how to use them.

As the saying goes, you can't please everyone … except with a big bar of chocolate. So it may be wise to have a few chocolate bars on hand for those kids who look like they are old enough to shave. They likely have hit at least 100 houses before yours, and they mean business.

Courtesy of LiveScience & Christopher Wanjek
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3 days ago  ·  

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Is it OK to Give Your Baby that iPad?

A recent New York Times article points to a glaring inconsistency between the amount of “screen time” toddlers have using tablets, phones and computers – and the advice of many early years specialists.

In fact, there are several apps specifically developed for (and enjoyed by) two-year-olds and even one-year-olds, yet the official guidance from the American Pediatric Association states that: “Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age two.”

So why is the age of two a milestone that matters? I asked a few of my early childhood specialist European colleagues about the policies in their countries. In Germany, some child psychologists advise that screen use should be avoided until the age of six, in Finland and other Scandinavian countries there is no consensus, in Spain and Poland, practitioners typically refer back to the APA guidance of two years.

They all pointed out that lumping together watching television, essentially a passive activity, with interactive and participatory use of smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, Leapsters (educational toys combining video game and physical activity) seems absurd. It seems that, somewhat ironically, despite the global market for such technology we are far from reaching a global consensus on what is and isn’t appropriate screen use at different ages.

There is a lot of guidance on establishing the appropriateness of screen time overall, for example the recent RAND report outlined five key questions for parents and teachers to consider. Lisa Guersney, a writer on early years education, has pointed to the importance of content, context and the individual child.

Might it be that children under the age of two are too young to understand the content and context of what they see on screens?

Comparing two worlds
Screens are essentially a surface that creates and contains an alternative world. So we need to think about the concepts displayed in this “other world” and ask whether children under two might not be able to grasp them in a way that would have a meaningful, and positive, impact on their development.

For example, it’s well established that despite being only six months apart, three-year-olds consistently outperform two-and-a-half-year-olds in dual representation tasks, designed to test children’s ability to imagine the relation between a symbolic and a real representation of the same object.

Research by Judy Deloache and colleagues shows that some young children also make scale errors, for example mistaking toy cars for real cars. (If you don’t have a baby to test this on you can see for yourself from videos at the Child Study Center of University of Virginia.)

Child psychologists also know that interactive apps can interfere with children’s story comprehension, mostly because the parents reading the book to their child tend to focus more on the interactive elements than on the story, something that wouldn’t happen with a printed book.
No matter how accurate and personalized language-teaching software might be, it can never deliver the range and quality of linguistic cues of a human speaker. The ability to try mimicking and mirroring facial expressions, gestures, tones of voice and body language is crucial for early language development.

Content matters
Technocrats might argue that given the popularity of tablets with both adults and young children, they could serve to bring both together. But the quality matters – typically print books go through a competitive peer-review process, often with early-years experts advising on quality before publication. The App Store Review Guidelines for Kids are remarkably short by comparison, and certainly not informed by the work of child psychologists.

The one-sided portrayal of the world in children’s software is another important consideration. Adults and friends model various complex behaviors, including not relying on digital devices in all situations. Needless to say, this cannot be modeled by an app.

One could argue that not all software for the under-twos is there to be educational or to support their development. Many apps are simply to entertain parents and children alike. However is such hardware appropriate for babies’ entertainment? Has anyone actually tested what the different levels of screen brightness do to the developing eyesight of children?

Physical vs. digital
Similarly, we know very little about the possible long-term effects on the under-twos of extended interaction with touch-screens. Moving, highly interactive and responsive images have distinctively different properties from most other objects with which toddlers interact.

Touch is the first and number one means of communication and learning in early childhood. They need to be able to manipulate, squeeze and chew on things to understand their basic properties. We have no idea what happens if we substitute the time spent on these experiences with the variations used with digital tech such as tapping, swiping, dragging and dropping.

So what’s the verdict? In an age of ubiquitous screens, it’s simply not possible to avoid them completely. Parents should certainly not panic when their baby encounters a screen, especially if it is at an opportune moment for parent and child to do something together. But until we have research-driven evaluation criteria for the appropriateness of screens for under-twos, it is best to minimize their presence and to maximize that of effective human contact.

Courtesy of LiveScience & Natalia Kucirkova, The Open University
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4 days ago  ·  

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Here's a teen's reaction to her observations of the growing trend in apathy amongst her peer group. Enjoy!

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A Teen’s Look at Apathy

I'm a fairly outspoken person. Whether that's a flaw or not is purely subjective, but I've grown to accept the good with the bad. I was always taught that I should constantly educate myself on what is happening in the world around me -- especially if I ever wanted to be a leader. Turning a blind eye tends to do more harm than good and ignorant bliss isn't really living. I'm proud of my ability to look at different perspectives and form my own opinion based on a mix of experience, prior knowledge and newly presented facts, and I've always surrounded myself with people who had the ability to do the same.

But there are a lot of people (and this number seems to be growing) who seem to not have an opinion on anything. And, if they do, it's based off ideas and stories that have little to no underlying facts.

They regurgitate the ideas they hear on mainstream media or from their peers without ever taking the time to read an article. Why? Because they don't care. And that pisses me off. Our world is messed up, there's no denying that. And a lot of the issues that we face today, we had no hand in creating as individuals. However, we bear the responsibility to fix the mistakes of our ancestors.

Our history is stained and it's up to us to fix it. It's a heavy burden to bear, I know. But, while a small group of people can create lasting change, it will take a joint effort on behalf of humanity as a whole to address the issues that we've ignored for so long. It is up to us to make the decision to either increase or alleviate the burden that will rest on the shoulders of our children.

By choosing to not care, to not have an opinion, to not take a stance, you are part of the problem. Ignoring something doesn't make it go away. And you cannot rely on others to fight for the world you want to live in. It's on you. And me. And all of us to build the world we want to live in. We've become so numb; we no longer care who is controlling our lives, as long as it isn't us. Because then we don't have to confront the issues that surround us every single day. And that scares the heck outta me.

I didn't even write this with a particular cause or issue in mind, because it's really just about finding your niche. What do you care about? How can you take action? What does that even mean --"taking action"? I feel as though this is the part scares people away from the idea of creating change, because we have such a narrow view of what "taking action" means. Talk to your neighbors, your peers. Educate others. Hold lively discussions. Change your point of view. Twice. And then again if you learn something new.

We are constantly growing and evolving as people. Taking action, to me, simply means refusing to stay silent. Because that discussion that you had with your neighbor at the bus stop leads to a group debate which sparks an idea for a blog or a video or a poster that goes viral and educates thousands of others and then, all of a sudden, there's a petition and endorsements and people pushing for legislation and actual change happening in communities around the country because one small action is never just one small action. It's a chain effect of people forming opinions, volunteering, sharing their ideas and building a revolution. So refuse to be silent. Scream at the world and demand that someone listen to you. Because you never know what could happen. But we all know that nothing will ever happen as long as there are good people who sit around and refuse to care about the world around them.

After all,

"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post & Rebekah Bolser
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6 days ago  ·  

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Parents, You Need to Help Us Manage Stress

There have been a growing number of suicides committed by teenagers in the last four months in Dubai. The devastating occurrences raise several questions: Are parents pressuring their children too much? Is academic competition taking a toll on them? Or, is today's generation too brittle to face reality?

Many youth are raised in comfortable environments and have little to work for: should this be a valid reason for them to give up on their lives when the going gets rough?

Stress management is a burning issue in today's fast-paced society among adults, but let us not forget the excessive stress placed on teens to succeed in every respect. Mental resilience in managing with stress and social pressures varies from one person to another.

Some teenagers can handle even the toughest situation, but there are also many others who struggle trying to keep it together. Youth are even more at risk because their understanding of life has still not matured. Furthermore, adolescents can arguably be more impulsive than the average adult and if they do not deal with underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety and are left to deal with problems on their own. Sometimes even a minuscule trigger can drive them over the edge.

Increasing social expectations in a highly competitive environment is a likely cause of stress to teens in peril. Many teenagers have to get through schoolwork and extra-curricular activities such as music, sports and art in addition and excel at each activity.

How do can adults help equip teenagers with the means to deal with the increasingly stressful situations of this day and age?

Here are a few suggestions:

~ Communicate. Parents, guardians and teachers should always communicate on a regular basis with adolescents so that they can easily solve the matter without any harm.

~ Parents, if your child wants to be a professional YouTuber, let him or her. She might be the next Rebecca Black [Goodness]. Regardless, parents need to be far more open-minded as far as education is concerned. Engineers roam the streets with stressful jobs and not much to show for it -- would you rather they become successful on your terms or be happy on theirs?

~ Mandatory stress management courses in schools. Schools teach us everything -- math, science, politics, but do they teach us how to work with anger? How to stay calm in the face of overwhelming expectations? Because these are the life skills we require in order living happy lives. Knowing who the last 14 presidents are won't help us deal with our day-to-day lives.

~ Allow them to indulge in activities that bring true joy -- their dearest hobbies -- art, sports, anything they are passionate about.

~ And meditate.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post & Vedika Issrani, 13 year-old student
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7 days ago  ·  

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