Young Leaders Needed for Canopy Youth Council

Thursday, September 9, 2018
4:30 P.M.
CANOPY CHILDREN’S SOLUTIONS ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE
1465 LAKELAND DRIVE, JACKSON, MS

Join Canopy for the 2018-2019 Youth Council Kick-Off meeting with guest speaker Teresa Mosley, who will share her family’s story about suicide.

The Canopy Youth Council aims to reduce the stigma around mental illness, change the conversation about mental health and open communication about issues that matter to youth. Each month will feature new educational opportunities and ways to get involved. The Canopy Youth Council will be made up of youth in grades 9 to 12 from Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties.

Youth council members will:

  • participate in service projects and events to promote character building and leadership development
  • advocate on behalf of youth suffering from depression, anxiety, drug dependency, ADHD, and other issues
  • engage your school and community with mental wellness campaigns
  • participate in public events to promote mental wellness and inspire other youth
youth council meets with members of MS Legislature

Youth council members pose with members of MS Legislature at Canopy’s Day at the Capitol

Members of the 2017-2018 Council had the opportunity to volunteer at Canopy’s residential treatment campus for youth ages 6-17, make their voices heard by volunteering at the Mississippi State Capitol during Canopy’s Day At the Capitol event, hosting on-campus events at their local schools to promote Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 10), giving video testimonies to be shared at the 2018 Children’s Mental Health Summit in Jackson, and meet with administrators of their local school districts.

For more information, contact Tonja Smith
601-352-7784
tonja.smith@mycanopy.org

Click here for a printable flyer.

Things I’ve Learned from a Child with Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism Spectrum Disorder, typically referred to as simply autism, is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are more than 10,000 Mississippi youth on the autism spectrum, affecting 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. While the challenges of a child with autism are often great, it is important to remember, so are their strengths.

Canopy Children’s Solutions offers a variety of therapeutic autism solutions including intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, specialized education autism classes, and targeted emotional and social skills therapy. While our staff are dedicated to nurturing and teaching children, they also find children teach them along the way. Staff from Canopy’s Early Intervention Autism Clinic, which specializes in intensive ABA therapy, share with us some things they have learned from working with children on the autism spectrum.

Things I’ve Learned from a Child with Autism

“Children are incredible teachers. A child with Autism has taught me to speak Spanish, to become culturally aware, how to praise myself for the hard work, and to self-correct when I know I can do better. Most importantly, a child with autism has taught me to laugh and smile unapologetically.”—BreAnna Newborne, BCBA (Senior Behavior Interventionist II)

“I’ve learned to celebrate EVERYTHING! It’s easy to get bogged down and miss what are truly special moments. Children with autism have taught me to cherish and celebrate small victories because small victories will lead to milestone moments.  It’s up to us to find joy in everyday success!”—Racheal Caldwell (Behavior interventionist)

“A child with autism has taught me to take nothing for granted. I have learned that golden moments like a smile, saying ‘hi,’ or telling mom or dad ‘I love you’ for the first time may seem small to some, but to our clinic families, it is an earth-shattering big deal.”—Jasmine Allen (Behavior Support Specialist II)

“I have learned children with autism are just that, children. Just like any child, they need us to believe in their potential to learn, perform, and to thrive alongside their peers and within their communities. They can do it with our support.”—Madeline Potter, BCBA (Behavior Support Specialist II)

“Children with autism have taught me more than I could ever imagine. I have learned just how unique each child is. By working with these kids each day, they have helped me grow personally and professionally.”—Robyn Brewer (Behavior Support Specialist I)

 “A child with autism taught me there is, in fact, a difference between Kylo Ren and Darth Vadar. Who knew!? There is so much about the world they take in, and in turn, can offer us a new perspective. Each session I grow as a therapist because they challenge me to be better and see the world through their eyes.”—Laura Barker (Behavior Support Specialist I)

“A child with autism taught me when someone says, ‘you can’t,’ I have the choice to say, ‘watch me.’ Each of us has the last say so in whether we give up or continue pushing through. I smile every day because I get to see these children transform.”—Alana Cole (Behavior Support Specialist I)

“Children with autism have taught me to take the time to learn how they communicate; how we deliver our ABA services to best benefit not only the child, but also their families. These children help me grow every day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”—Hayden Rizer (Behavioral Support Specialist I)

I have learned that a child with autism is not defined by their disability or limitations because limitations can be overcome. Any progress made in learning or development is an accomplishment. The smiles, the laughs and even contact are huge conquering feats.”—Rebecca Taylor (Behavior Support Specialist I)

A child with autism taught me to leave expectations at the door, because with determination, anything is possible.”—Garrett Yaeger (Intern)

“A child with autism taught me to smile in the ‘bad moments’ because those moments are what teach us to truly appreciate the good.”—Karla Banks (Autism Clinic Coordinator)

I have learned many things from kids with autism. They’ve taught me greetings in different languages, facts about traveling the world, current weather reports, new and fun outside games to play, and many different ways to truly connect with others. There are many details they pay attention to that I would never have thought. Being with these kids is the best part of my day!”—Lindsay Rigby (Volunteer)

Individuals with autism have much to offer if we take the time to look past their diagnosis. Many companies, like Microsoft for example, have embraced their unique strengths and are actively pursuing individuals on the spectrum for employment. This offers hope to thousands of individuals on the spectrum and to their families who know the impact their loved ones can have on the world, given the opportunity. We should actively help to cultivate their strengths and individual uniqueness. Given half a chance, any child with autism would have a thing or two to teach us all.

If you know a child in need of autism solutions, please contact Karla with Care Coordination at 800.388.6247. You can also learn more about Canopy Autism Solutions here.

Cutting through the Pain

After sharing a deeply intimate night together, Lauren’s boyfriend, Bryan, broke up with her. She was angry, sad, devastated, and felt used. Hoping to cheer her up, Lauren’s friends talked her into dinner. When she arrived, Bryan’s car was outside. When Lauren saw Bryan and Jenny there together, he smiled and pulled Jenny close. Lauren could feel her heart in her throat; it felt as though everything was spinning around her. She turned and ran out the door to her car. The pain in Lauren’s chest was agonizing. She felt sick to her stomach and could not stop crying as she drove home. Her friends told her to calm down, that it was no big deal. Lauren felt like no one was actually listening; no one understood. The pain was too much and it had to end.

When she got home, Lauren found a pair of scissors on her mother’s sewing table. In the quiet of her bathroom, she carved small cuts into her arm. Lauren was careful not to cut too deep as to leave visible scars. She placed them carefully as to be easily concealed. With each cut, she felt a sense of calm rush over her. Exhausted from such an emotional evening, she cleaned the scissors, placed them back on the table and went to bed. Lauren felt empty inside, but the pain of the cuts helped her remember she was in control of her pain.

Cutting became a source of release for Lauren. It cleared her mind and caused her emotional pain to subside. Lauren found control in cutting. She could decide where and how deeply to cut. It helped her to relieve anxiety and stress. It was a secret she kept to herself. Rather than relying on the support of friends or family, Lauren would cut when the world became too much, until the night that even cutting couldn’t ease her pain.

When teens are faced with new levels of stress, whether it is over grades, or relationships or how they will perform during a game, they must find a way to relieve the stress knotted up inside their body. Some teens turn to positive coping mechanisms such as moderate exercise, meditation, journaling or listening to music. Others find ways that alter the way they feel through alcohol use and self-medication, self-injury (such as cutting) or participating in risky behavior. Much like alcohol and drugs, self-injury can lead to an immediate feeling of relief but each time it requires more and more to have the same effect.

“When working with a child who self-injures, the first important thing to understand is ‘why’ they self-injure. What pain are they trying to mask,” said Caitlin Mudd, Program Director for Canopy CARES Center. “Your brain releases chemical endorphins as a self-preservation mechanism when your body experiences physical injury. For many of our kids who have experienced a lot of trauma, it is actually easier for them to experience physical pain than emotional pain, so self-injury helps them replace what’s going on inside with something they can manage through the body’s natural response. We work with them to understand their pain and find a healthier way to address it.”

Self-Harm

Each year, one in five girls and one in seven boys engage in self-injurious behavior. Approximately 90 percent of individuals who engage in self-harm, do so during their teen and pre-teen years. If often starts by the age of 14 and can carry on into their 20s without the right help. Self-injury can occur for many reasons including an individual’s attempt to relieve emotional numbness or pain, inflict punishment on themselves, reenact abuse, establish what is “real,” or regain a sense of control over one’s self. Self-injuring behaviors may start from introduction from a peer, something the youth has seen on the internet or television, or it may happen merely out of impulse or by accident. Self-injury can, but does not always, accompany the presence of a mental health challenge such as anxiety, depression, or eating disorder.

Self-harm is identified by a number of behaviors. The most common include:

  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Interfering with wound healing (picking or reopening wounds)
  • Punching or hitting oneself or other objects
  • Inserting objects into the skin
  • Purposely bruising or breaking one’s bones
  • Pulling out eyelashes, brows or scalp hair (not for grooming)

Self-injurious behavior is often concealed. Do not confuse this as a ploy for attention as individuals often don’t broadcast self-injury wounds, making these behaviors sometimes difficult to spot. If you notice someone wearing unusual clothing for the time of year, i.e. long sleeves during hot summer months, they could be concealing self-injury wounds. A person may also refuse to participate in activities they once enjoyed that would reveal such wounds, i.e. going swimming or visiting the beach. A sign can also be if a person has consistently fresh wounds but also has a seemingly logical story, i.e. cat scratches, or getting in a fight no one saw to explain a broken hand. You may also notice items that they use to self-injure in peculiar places such as razor blades in their backpack or pocket.

If you suspect someone is self-injuring, approach them and tell them you want to help. When you broach the topic, remain calm and don’t be demeaning. Tell them what you’ve noticed that concerns you. Ask them about things that are going on in their lives and how it makes them feel. Be particularly mindful of feelings of emptiness. Encourage a teen to be open with their parents or trusted adult who can connect them with a mental health professional. Finding adequate support can help to end or ease the frequency of self-injury.

If you or someone you know is self-injuring, confide in someone who can help find a better way to cope. This can be a counselor, therapist, teacher, coach, parent, youth minister, pediatrician or other trusted adult. Don’t just assume symptoms will go away on their own. Getting professional help is important for long-term safety. Ignoring the problem can push a child toward more dangerous and risky behaviors.

Canopy Children’s Solutions is a Mississippi-based non-profit with Behavioral Health Clinics in Jackson, Hattiesburg and Gulfport working specifically with children and adolescents ages 5-20. For more information on Canopy outpatient clinics, contact a Care Coordinator at 800.388.6247. You can also click here.