One Child in Six

xnormal distribution homework.uoregon.eduHave you ever noticed that the number quoted about high risk problems all seem to settle on or at one in six? This would mean that the vast majority of us live okay lives. But for those who live at the left far end of the bell curve, it means excessive stressors and dysfunction.

Here is a link to a recent article I published on LinkedIn, looking at the concerns of these children. Society sees these children as challenging since the stressors frequently lead to unwanted behavior and our feeling that we must control it.

Let me know what you think.

Let’s Make This the Year of Understanding Children and Adolescents

pediatric profiler pictureHere we are, standing on the threshold of a new year.  What will it bring us?  What will it bring the children and adolescents in our communities?

I have been working with children and their families for approximately 30 years.  One theme that occurs more often than I want to hear is that “They (children/adolescents) have to learn to respect us (the adults). We won’t show them respect until they show it to us first.” Where are they (children/adolescents) supposed to be learning this respect for others? From the adults in their lives, of course. Unfortunately for many children and adolescents, they have never seen it modeled and if they see it at all it is in the form of fear of others that lead to following rather than relating.

This style of interaction has roots back to the times of Colonial America when most parenting was called Authoritarian, meaning that children obeyed due to love and fear of their parents. Blind obedience was expected or else they would receive the wrath of the belt or switch. This form of parenting is still used although child services frowns on it since we now provide children and adolescents with protection from physical punishment, which includes belts and switches. This then leads to a verbal equivalent where the child is repeatedly torn down emotionally to then be built to be an unquestioning follower.  Some children, those who have temperament profiles that need to understand “why”, are frequently victims of repeated emotional abuse because they can’t simply do what doesn’t make sense.

This style of adult-child interaction is also seen in many schools, with examples being the Zero Tolerance policies where there is not room for understanding what led a child to respond or react in a certain manner.  Frequently there are very valid reasons, which left unaddressed result in a much worse outcome down the road, when this student decides to get vengeance on those who punished with no regard to the torture he may have been receiving from others until he finally stood up to them.

Look at the child abuse statistics from one year ago (1/2/2014).  30% of children who were abused became abusive parents. If you asked children in school how many of them felt that they were verbally and/or emotionally abused, I would expect the number would be high, although they aren’t seen as a significant part of the statistics listed on that site. The abuser may be their parent or parents, but it is just as likely to be a teacher, administrator, or another student. These interactions influence and model for the child how to interact, if not with all others, at least with children, thus keeping the cycle going.

2015 for me will be a time for increased speaking for children.  I will continue to travel the country explaining the hows and whys of children and adolescents in the hope of creating change in adults who influence children.  Help me do this. Share my brochure with others to bring training to parents, teachers, administrators, and others who routinely come in contact with children and adolescents.


Thank you and Happy New Year.

1 in 6 pediatric profiling brochure

Patricia McGuire MD FAAP to be on Brainware Safari Webinar on June 18, 2013

Patricia McGuire MD FAAP to be on Brainware Safari Webinar on June 18, 2013

I am so excited to be on the Brainware Safari webinar on June 18th, 2013 at  2:30 PM CST.  Come listen to the discussion about the role of temperament in working with children experiencing cognitive and learning problems, which frequently lead to behavior problems.  The more we understand how children function, the better we will be prepared to help them succeed.  Share this with your friends and professionals who work with children experiencing developmental and behavioral challenges.  Let’s get the word out on understanding the brains of children.


Want my new free report on oppositional children?  Click here.

YouTube series on temperament


different yet beautiful

different yet beautiful

I have been receiving messages from my readers commenting on my YouTube video from 2011 (Patricia McGuire video 2011.AVI ) about their interest in temperament and how it affects children’s behaviors.  This YouTube video was actually put together as a demo video for meeting planners to see my presenting style. While I recognize that the quality is not studio perfect, the people contacting me felt that I was describing their children and their students.

Based on their requests I am going to develop a YouTube series of short videos on the temperament traits but also on the effect of those traits when put in the context of different neurodevelopmental disorders.  Oh, you want to know what a neurodevelopmental disorder is?  Good question!

Neurodevelopmental disorders affect one child in six. The disorders are;

  • ADHD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Communication Disorders
  • Motor Disorders (such as Tourette’s Syndrome)

I would love to hear from you as I plan these videos out.  Just fill in this form to let me know.  I hope to have the first one done by mid-May.

Thank you so much.

Would you like a free copy of my report on oppositional children?  Click here.

Update on Autism and Temperament

In February of this year I wrote a post about Autism and Temperament, looking at a chart review of my practice over 2 years.  Now I came across a study published in February 2012, looking at the  temperament traits and sensory issues in a population with autism spectrum disorder compared to a group with developmental delays.  The questionnaire group was the control group. autism and temperament graph

It was fascinating and exciting to see that my population had the same profile tendencies, which in the study demonstrated that those with ASD were significantly different from the control group for 8 out of the 9 traits. In the study, the autism spectrum group were significantly different from the developmentally delayed group for only 2 straits, approachability and distractibility with the ASD group being much more withdrawal and much more hyperfocused.

It is important to realize that there is a more common profile of temperament that has to be taken into consideration when working with children within the autism spectrum.  These are hard-wired hows of behavioral response. For example, as my graph showed, individuals with an ASD have significant problem with feeling time move around them (Rhythmicity).  This leads to inconsistent sleep, wake, and hunger cycles.  It leads to significant problems with organization and time management.  Most of these individuals have significant problems visualizing what they need to do and how it will unfold, in order to get work done.

Next time you get frustrated with a child with an ASD, just remember that he is doing the best he can with how he is wired.  Take the time to observe beyond the surface, to understand, and to respond with patience, love, and acceptance. You will both be better for the effort.

Autism and Temperament

When working with children in the autism spectrum, there are assumptions of behavior based on children we have worked with before.  But is there any truth to the assumptions?  Below is a graph looking at the temperament profiles of 56 patients I saw between Jan 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011.  There were 56 seen in all, with 14 being female and 42 being male, making for a 4:1 ratio.  As  you can see there are certain trends that are  predictable, such as adaptability.  The 1 level (green) means that the person is very slow to adapt to change.  That is what we see with problems in changes in routines, differences in opinion, and transitions. Individuals who are slow to adapt to change also have more problems taking others perspectives, much like the concept of theory of mind.

From the composite of the 56 patients I worked with the following profile would be expected.  Very few would be of a low activity level (blue).  The majority have an average range, with a significant number also needing to be active most of the time in order to be relaxed (red). The more stressed the child is, the more active they become trying to relax.

Rhythmicity is how in tune to time and rhythm a child is.  It is part of our internal clock.  This is needed for organization, planning, and work efficiency.  The majority of individuals had significant problems with sensing time and being able to plan, sequence, do activities and work in a timely manner.

Approachability is how long it takes to become comfortable with different people, places, and situations. While the majority can become comfortable with an average amount of time, there is also a very large group that takes a very long time, which means that they don’t like attention focused on them.  They also would be very slow to seek help if they didn’t know how to do something.

As noted in adaptability, the vast majority of these children are very slow to adapt to changes.  Also important to note, there were no children who were overly adaptable.

Intensity of response is how soon a child shows changes in emotions and how much they show from moment to moment.  As the composite profile shows, there are a number who don’t demonstrate their emotions immediately and may therefore develop physical symptoms if stressed over time, such as headaches, stomach-aches, sleep problems, etc.  There is also a small group that always shows all emotions immediately and to an extreme degree, kind of like a light switch rather than a dimmer switch.

Basic mood is the first impression to a situation, stimulus, or suggestion. Out of the 56 patients, there was only one who always looked at things in a positive first impression.  The majority can go either way or are very negative in their first impressions, which irritates most adults.

Persistence is the ability to stay at an activity or task without help or motivation.  As the profile shows, none of my patients were overly persistent.  In fact the majority found it very difficult to persist.  It is important to understand which have problems due to motivation and which shut down since they don’t know how to problem solve, because the approaches would be different.

Distractibility is how much the child can divide his attention to different aspects of his surroundings.  What was important was the fact that a large minority were hyperfocused, and only a few were distractible most of the time.  Being hyperfocused means that they can’t multitask very well since they can only focus on one thing at a time and become very distressed if they are forced to try to focus on two or more things at a time.

Sensory threshold is very important since sensory issues have been proposed to be a part of the DSM-V for autism spectrum disorders.  As the profile shows, there was a large number who were actually hyposensitive, leading to an over seeking or under responsive style of behavior and needing higher levels of a sensory input to recognize what is happening.  There were very few who were oversensitive to everything.

The importance of understanding temperament when working with individuals in the autism spectrum is in realizing that these are wired in behavioral responses.  This means that interventions have to include teaching strategies for the poorly fitting temperament traits in a situation.  It means not trying to give negative consequences or trying to extinguish behaviors.  It requires the professionals working with this population to understand how to create “good fits” and making this one of the goals for life success.  This is what a pediatric profiler does.  Check out the different programs that I have through my listing on Speaker Match in order to learn how to become proficient at this skill.


Suffer the Children

This week I read an article on the horrible outcomes for some children due to extreme corporal punishment.  The parents were Christians (which is not the problem) who believed the writings of a Tennessee minister and his wife, Michael & Debi Pearl.  Several of these children died from following what he wrote in his book To Train Up A Child. This book endorsed using a switch on children as young as 6 months of age. He described it as being no different than how the Amish trained their stubborn mules.

Does anyone else have a problem with relating a 6 month baby to a farm animal?  I thought we had gone beyond seeing our children as property that we could do with as we pleased.  I thought we had learned in the last century that children are not born knowing right from wrong, but need to be led with love and guidance to understanding.  He  points to the bible referring to the rod, as justification for his teachings, but we live in a much different society than when the Bible was written.  Children were not seen as important, but rather workers for their parents and others that they may lend them out to.   If we didn’t see children differently than in biblical times, why did we institute child labor laws? Why did we create laws against child (and any) abuse?

7 months old is a time of exploration

Fifty years ago, according to the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Chess and Thomas had their first article on temperament published.  It was a longitudinal study to understand the behavioral responses of infants and children in order to determine how to best help them grow mentally as well as physically. They followed those children then into adulthood, looking at the role of environment and other influences on their personality and mental health.  Others have followed, some with slightly different groupings and labels for these traits, but they all found that children are wired individually, inheriting behavioral traits from their families, which need nurturing and guidance to flourish.  This is what they called goodness of fit.

Parent training such as what is promoted in To Train Up a Child, and many Assertive Discipline methods don’t use the knowledge from this longitudinal research.  They stay back in the dark ages of seeing children as property or as “evil” and needing to be coerced into compliance.  We as a society need to say enough is enough to old ways that mentally and physically abuse children.  We need to learn to use the knowledge from temperament research to create methods of raising children that allow them to flourish and learn cooperation and problem solving skills, not just fear  and cowering.

What do you think?