You asked the questions...
UF Health medical experts answered them!
What questions should parents ask providers (doctors, dentists, sports organizers, etc.) about their COVID-19 safety measures? (Is there a handout or link that can be shared?)
First consider your personal level of comfort and weigh the risk and benefit and priority of using that service at this time (even if established safety measures are in place). Secondly, observe or ask if social distancing measures are being enforced. Third, if it applies to your need, ask about alternative ways of accessing/participating in the service.
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides great information for parents.
How does distribution of the vaccine play amongst children/individuals with special disabilities?
At this time the vaccine is not offered to children and those with special disabilities. Clinical trials have only included adults so it is currently unclear how the vaccine will impact children.
How does a family reconcile providing structure and guidance with a teen who wants nothing more than autonomy from such oversight?
Pick your battles! Teenagers are at a phase where they are starting to develop their autonomy. Find the most important area of guidance for your teen’s mental and physical health (ex. a regular sleep-wake schedule) and communicate why it’s important with your teen. They may not seem like they are listening but be patient and know they hear you.
What are your recommendations to parents who feel their child needs an intervention or treatment? What's the first step we should take?
Seek resources from child’s school counselor. While the needed support may be above what the counselor can provide, he/she can connect you to resources that will help address your child’s issue and provided the right level of needed support.
Where should we go to get help for our children who have an IEP? Especially now, that we have all the safety precautions associated with the pandemic?
Ask for an IEP meeting with your child's ESE teacher. If you do not have an IEP but are interested in having your child evaluated for a disability, seek assistance from your school's counselor.
Where would you recommend divorced parents who share custody of a child go for services?
Mental health providers understand that families come in all shapes and sizes. We understand that sometimes a child’s parents are separated or divorced and there may be step-parents, stepsiblings, and half-siblings who are part of the family. We can work with your family to meet your goal of helping your child. We understand that divorce can be really tough on a family and can help provide support and guidance to help your family get through it in the most healthy way possible.
How do I go about evaluating the best mental health professional who is a good fit for my adolescent child?
One way is to find a healthcare professional that you trust or has worked with your child before and seek their recommendation. Also seek out information from trusted sites on a provider that meets your child’s needs.
When a teen begins speaking to a therapist is the parent typically also present or does that prohibit progress for a teen?
This depends on the nature of the subject, and what is in the best interest of the teen. Foremost, find a trusted/recommended therapist. You should feel free to have an open dialogue with your child's therapist and express your concerns.
What are some ways to help my teenager deal with the stress of challenges to academic achievement?
Normalize the reaction and help a child see the broader picture. Make sure to acknowledge their feelings and there stressors. Help them realize that other students like them are also experiencing similar challenges and having the same response. Listen to them but also express your support for their ability to achieve.