“A person’s a person, no matter how small”

– Dr Seus

At Imagine we believe that one size does not fit all when it comes to therapy. Children experience problems in different ways to adults and may well have different priorities. Problems associated with mental health and neuro-developmental differences can get in the way of children thriving socially, academically and in play. We aim to offer a service that supports children to be children.

Children at Imagine…

We aim to hear the child’s voice. Sometimes this means getting creative around communication or using your child’s interests to develop trust.

We aim to make our services child-friendly. This might mean using play in sessions and adapting information so that your child understands and can participate

We see the importance of family. We understand that you are central to children’s lives and wellbeing. Our role is to hear you, empower you and support you to support your child.

We aim to offer services for children that are effective. We recognise that we might not have all the answers and will signpost you to other services if we can’t help

Childrens mental health

Mental health problems in children often show up in different ways to what we would experience as adults. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether a child is experiencing a mental health problem or whether a behaviour has another cause. Children don’t always have the same language as adults so they might express themselves in different ways if something is wrong. Children might process a traumatic or ‘big’ event through play or behaviour rather than talking. Children might not yet be mature enough to understand their own thoughts, feelings, physical sensations or behaviours. This can mean mental health issues in children are missed or confused for something else. On the other hand, there can be lots of reasons for new behaviours which aren’t associated with mental health. Its hard to know. Either way if the behaviour is not shifting and is getting in the way of your child being able to participate in their normal everyday activities at home, socially or at school then it might be helpful to get some help.

Some of the behaviours we see in children struggling with their mental health include:

  • Difficulties with sleep.
  • Problems with attention or concentration at school.
  • Being unhappy to be away from parent/guardian either during the day or night. This could include problems with attendance at school.
  • Behavioural difficulties at home or at school.
  • Changes in academic ability
  • Mood changes such as increased sadness, tearfulness or angry outbursts.
  • Changes in behaviour around play
  • Needing to do things in a certain order or a certain way
  • Withdrawal from social interactions.
  • Elective mutism
  • Talking about death or suicide
  • Frequent stomach aches or headaches

Your child may have been diagnosed with a mental health problem or you may relate to some of these behaviours in this list. As a parent you know you child best. If you think your child might need some help with their mental health then please get in touch.

ADHD and Autism

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism are neuro-developmental diagnoses. This means they differ to mental health problems in that they involve specific differences in the brain that are present from birth.

Children with neurodevelopmental diagnoses have particular strengths which are often overlooked. Children with ADHD can be highly imaginative, energetic and creative. They may be extremely smart and can see things differently to others. Children with Autism may also think differently, in a more visual way. They communicate more directly and can have excellent long-term memory.

Like mental health problems though, for some children these diagnoses can often be missed or confused for something else because the associated behaviours can overlap with other causes.

Autism and ADHD can also present children with challenges, often exacerbated by environmental demands. Some of the challenges these children can experience include:

  • Difficulties with social communication
  • Sensory processing differences.
  • Difficulties attending or concentrating at school
  • Difficulties with sleep
  • Academic difficulties
  • Preferences around structured routines and struggles with transitions between activities
  • Behavioural difficulties at home or school
  • Associated problems with coordination, leading to challenges with tasks like handwriting and activities like riding a bike or ball games
  • Needing to do things in a certain order or a certain way

Both ADHD and Autism are complex, and this list is by no means comprehensive. Individuals will have specific strengths, challenges and needs. The challenges individuals experience in their daily lives often means that children can experience mental health issues as well. At Imagine we specialise in addressing the mental health needs of these children. This might mean working on specific mental health issues, or social communication, sensory processing, attention or self-regulation.