SERVICES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
TRAUMA-INFORMED PLAY OR GAME/ART/MUSIC THERAPY
A variety of play therapy materials, therapeutic books, and therapeutic games are available for treatment of behavioral health and/or developmental concerns, particularly those associated with trauma as a cause or as an effect (e.g., bullying, medical trauma, accidents, etc.). Parents can be present during these therapy sessions and are encouraged to reinforce what is learned in therapy with the child afterwards, when the child is in the family environment.
LEADERSHIP AND ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS FOR SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN
To avoid stigma and the use of mental health or behavioral health labels, our school-aged children participate in an individualized leadership and enrichment program that includes activities with family members and with one another using technology and community-based resources such as therapeutic horseback riding, music theater, theme-centered karaoke performances, field trips, 4-H club projects, and community service activities.
SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING
A variety of social skills are taught to children and youth of all ages in whatever setting works best for them. Children on the Autism Spectrum, along with children with developmental delays, anxiety, anger management issues, and/or a behavioral health diagnosis can benefit from social skills development. Many children learn social skills from their parents, extended family members, and other role models, but a number of things can interfere with this leaving a child vulnerable to bullying, exclusion, and other types of maltreatment.
CHILDREN'S CREATIVE ARTS CENTER
"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser" -John Gardner
"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life" -Pablo Picasso
The Children's Creative Arts Center is both a place on-site and a virtual (on-line) space where all children, not just those with behavioral health issues, can combine one or more of the creative arts with imagination and creativity to do what children do best...use play, creative writing, art, music, drama, carpentry, building materials, and a variety of other crafts to express themselves, to share their talents and developing areas of expertise, to take refuge from stress and affect dysregulation, and to communicate their hopes and dreams and wishes and wants and idealism. Sometimes, we adults can learn a great deal from what they have to say this way.
Call (724) 733-2928 to arrange for individual, family, or group time in the Children's Creative Arts Center.
This space can also be used for:
Supervised visitation or parent-child reunification activities;
Organized recreational group activities such as 4H Club meetings, scout meetings, DFC Kids-for-Peace music practices, small recreational group classes;
Small group lessons in a performing art.
Gender Disparities and Autism
Most individuals who have been diagnosed with autism are male. In fact, it is diagnosed at a rate of 3 to
4 times more often in males (Loomes et al, 2017). However, what appears to be a definitive ratio is
much more complex than at first glance. Much of the research regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder
(ASD) has centered on males (Giambattista et al, 2021). As such, all of the tools we use to diagnose and
support autistic kids and adults are based on a male standard. Additionally, assessment of females is
“restricted to areas where they are most similar to males.” (Giambattista et al, 2021). In the process,
females with ASD often remain undiagnosed, unidentified, and unsupported, particularly those with
symptoms that are not immediately obvious.
There are many reasons that females are underdiagnosed, one of which is gendered socialization. In
order to understand this phenomenon, it is important to note that the criteria for an autism diagnosis
include social skill and communication impairment. Girls are socialized to be less aggressive and more
mindful of the emotions of their peers, and therefore, autistic girls tend to have more vibrant social lives
than autistic boys overall. Even when autistic girls are more introspective or quiet, they are thought to
simply be exhibiting characteristics of femininity rather than of ASD. They might also be experiencing
problems with socializing or communicating, but perhaps not in ways that are apparent. There are
subtle but important differences in the manifestations of autism between females and males that are
not always caught by standard screening tools (Giambattista et al, 2021).
What does this mean for you as a parent?
If you have a female child who tends to be quieter, be mindful of how she discusses her social
interactions. Keep in mind that the traditional screening tools for autism are designed for male
children. Although your child may not be exhibiting characteristics of what you traditionally perceive as
autism, it may be helpful to seek a professional opinion, particularly if she reports having some
difficulties at school socially. Try to keep your own biases in check.
Giambattista, C., Ventura, P., Trerotoli, P., Margari, F., & Margari, L. (2021). Sex differences in Autism
Spectrum Disorder: Focus on high functioning children and adolescents. Frontiers in Psychiatry,
Loomes, R., Hull, L., & Mandy, W.P.L. (2017). What is the male-to-female ratio in autism spectrum
disorder? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry, 56(6), 466-474