I am Dr. Nick Wagner, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University. I research child development and the enduring impact of early experiences, relationships and social environments (i.e., parent-child relationships, peer relationships, school contexts) on children’s social and emotional development. The goal of my work is to produce translatable knowledge to inform the creation and evaluation of methods for supporting children’s healthy emotional and behavioral development.

Ask me anything about:

  • How should I talk to my child about the pandemic?
  • How is the pandemic impacting my child’s social, emotional and/or cognitive development? What can I do to help?
  • What activities should I introduce to my child’s daily routine?
  • How can I support social interactions for my child – while staying safe?
  • How can I reduce my child’s pandemic-related stress?
  • What can I do to make my child less scared and confused during these uncertain times?
  • I’m noticing a behavior change in my child during this time – is this normal? What should I do?
  • My child is acting out more – how should I handle this?
  • Tips for remote learning?
  • How can I maintain my own well-being while supporting the needs of my family?
  • Do you recommend any alternatives to screen time activities/entertainment that my child can engage in independently?
  • How can I balance parenting with my career during this time?

My recent research has been published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Child Development, Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, Attachment & Human Development, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, Psychological Medicine, Clinical Psychology Review and more. I am honored to have received early career awards from the Society for Research in Child Development and the International Society for Research on Aggression, and the “Rising Star Award” from the Association for Psychological Science.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/klyd41ie7jt51.jpg

Thank you all for a great conversation! I have to log off now, but I will return to try to answer any remaining questions later. You can find me on twitter @nickjameswagner and for more information on our ongoing work, please visit my lab's website at https://www.bu.edu/cdl/baselab/. Thank you!

Comments: 81 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

jgladding22 karma

Do you get a lot of Simpsons jokes for being Dr. Nick? ("Hi everybodeeee!")

nickjameswagner8 karma

haha I haven't - but I'm going to google it!

nickjameswagner8 karma

FYI I'm just as good as Dr. Hibbert :)

herpderpherpderp21 karma

Hi Dr Nick. My son's been extremely lonely since we've been home-schooling. How would you recommend parents encourage social interaction with peers during lock-down? Should I be encouraging him to spend the weekends on the x-box?

nickjameswagner29 karma

Hi! Thank you for your question. As you note, reductions in children's access to peer interactions is a major concern for parents right now. While not what we're used to, it is possible for children to meaningfully connect with friends online, via zoom or other platforms and games. In fact, my postdoc (Dr. Kelly Smith) has some recent research (not yet published) that examined the quality of interactions between children while playing Minecraft together in the same room vs interacting over the internet while playing together. Those interacting over the internet still had very high quality interactions in terms of their discussions, and reported satisfaction and enjoyment. My kids aren't old enough for X box yet but I am aware that there are games that allow for social interaction while playing. Of course parents should work to oversee these interactions as much as possible (possibly encouraging the use of speakers rather than headphones), and I can't speak to how they're moderated. But, social interaction even over the internet can be very positive. Parents usually have a good sense of how to scaffold these interactions based on children's ages.

nickjameswagner14 karma

In addition to online interactions, depending on the public health considerations in a person's community, parents may also feel comfortable arranging outside playdates for their kids. In my experience, children adapt well to new guidelines around social interactions like mask wearing and social distancing. It's been amazing to see the types of games my four year old has come up with while still (mostly) adhering to our constant reminders to keep distance. Of course, parents should allow for distanced but in-person activities only as they feel safe doing so.

she_anachronistic14 karma

Is the anxiety my 15 year old developed during this pandemic reversible? He doesn't go anywhere and when I have to leave the house he asks a million questions and I can see panic in his eyes. What can I do to lessen and reverse the anxiety?

nickjameswagner3 karma

Things are really hard right now and it’s not unusual to see the pandemic impact the behaviors of kids of all ages. Often, parents talking with their children about how their feeling can create space for children to open up about their own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes simply putting a name to the feelings can help - then talking about strategies or activities we do when we feel sad or scared can help provide examples. When I talk to my kids I try to emphasize that our current situation is not going to last forever, that there are so many people working to keep everyone safe and to develop better treatments and a vaccine, and that no matter what the security of our family will not be in jeopardy. Even if it’s hard for me, sometimes verbalizing these points can make me feel better, and I think can help our kids feel better too.

nickjameswagner13 karma

Hi everyone! I'm excited to speak you all today about parenting during the pandemic!

Zeofur10 karma

HI Dr.Wagner. I have a question.

I recently got my 11 year olds progress report from school and it turns out she hasnt done her assignments in months and shes lied to us about just about anything she could.

She even willingly only does half a chore and leaves it undone. Her reason for lying, not doing homework and only doing half of chores is: 1: it's boring 2: I didnt think I would get caught

How do I talk to/ punish her in a way that will make her understand that you cant fail school or not do chores/help people simply because its "boring" and "I thought I could get away with it"?

General info about her is: 1 shes addicted to a game called roblox 2 she doesnt have an attitude problem, shes a really pleasant person 3 no matter what we introduce her to, she hasnt found a new hobby she likes besides roblox and YouTube in years (I limit roblox but let her play it because it's her only communication with friends outside school)

Also, how can I get her interested in something other than roblox and youtube? I've tried taking them both away but she will literally lay on her bed for days waiting for them to return

Sorry for the long message, I just really need some help before I have a young adult who lies non stop and wont do anything but play roblox

Please help me. And thank you very much

nickjameswagner20 karma

Thank you for your question! One thing that hits home for me from your message is that all of the stressors of COVID, staying home, missing out on things we used to do, and the fact that it's lasted so long, has made it hard for me to focus and get motivated on things as well. Seemingly small chores now seem a much heavier lift. Very often our behaviors have other underlying motivations, stress about one thing, or feeling sad about something else, can manifest as an outburst about a seemingly small chore or avoidance of things we didn't mind doing in the past...at least that's been the case for me.

General tips for behavioral modification which may be helpful typically include 1) over praising (like really over praising) behaviors you like and want repeated (so really giving attention when a chore is done or HW is finished - attention and praise is almost always the best reward), 2) scaffolding expectations and focusing on one thing at a time - so when chatting about something you'd like to work on (e.g., chores) try not to also bring in HW or other things to the conversation, 3) you can use consequences as needed but be selective, consistent, and do so (as much as possible) in a calm way - make it clear what needs to be done for the consequence to be lifted and then super-praise when the behavior happens.

Here's a link to a post that may be relevant by researchers at FIU on tips for back to school - it's a bit off topic but the points about setting goals and consistency are relevant:

https://news.fiu.edu/2020/a-parents-secret-weapon-for-back-to-school-a-daily-report-card

Zeofur3 karma

Thank you very much for the answer. I'll give it a shot.

Any idea how I can get her interested in things without saying shes uninterested in anything but roblox and youtube?

nickjameswagner11 karma

Not pulling from specific research here, just my opinion: 1) chat more about what she likes specifically about these activities and brainstorm with her things that may provide similar experiences or hit the same points, 2) think whether you'd be happy not changing the activity itself but maybe how it's done - for example, are they activities you could do together, etc. Hope that helps!

SheepGoesBaaaa8 karma

Evening Dr Wagner, thank you for doing this.

My daughter , when lockdown hit, was just gone 11 months old. We had (wrongly, probably) treated her to one TV programme a night (kept her calm before bedtime)

Working from home, with a child, sucked. We ended up leaving her in front of TV for hours and hours a day, interacting when we could, but ultimately using the TV as a third parent.

On all "progress" charts she has performed excellently, except in social. She has been ADS tested, hearing tested - she's fine , but doesn't point, gave up waving, and has only learnt her first words (dad and duck) recently at 18 months old.

Would you say the adage our parents gave of "it rots your brain" was right (I've heard a lot of mentions of "passive communication", which TV supposedly is, and isn't good for their development), or are these outliers and "going at their own pace" quite normal? Have you or others seen a delay in social skills and communication in infants during the crisis?

Thanks

nickjameswagner12 karma

Thank you for this important question and for sharing. I can tell you from experience, simultaneously working full time and parenting full time is an impossible task. I very often feel guilty that I'm putting one over the other, and I know I'm almost always never doing either well. So first and foremost, you are definitely not alone on that front.

As I mention in a response below, most research on screen use looks at 'how much' and 'how it's experienced.' For example, it's usually the case that the more socially engaging something is the better. So playing a game on an iPad together where the child is receiving social feedback from a peer or parent would be preferred to passively watching something. This link has good information (https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/series/screen-sense) as does this link for some research on these topics (https://www.cinelabresearch.com/the-debate). Guidance on on screen time by age is offered by most medical associations (American Medical Association, Pediatrics, etc.) and can be helpful.

It is important to remember that individual variability in developmental progression is the rule, not the exception. That is, all children develop at their own pace, and benchmarks are based on averages. Your pediatrician will have insight specific to your experiences and child. Of course, this isn't to say that benchmarks are very important and informative, but everyone's experience in a given domain is going to be a bit different, and that's to be expected.

We'll be learning about the implications of COVID-19 for the social and language development of very young children for years to come. Work on language development highlights the importance of imitation, something that can be difficult with masks. But, children soak up information from everywhere in their environment, and what they're not getting from people outside of their family they might be getting more of from family members, for example.

To circle back, working parents everywhere are struggling with these issues. And, I think we've all used screens and other things to help balance an impossible situation more than we might have in the past. It is, however, important to try to find as much direct social play/interaction as is feasible. Because I always have email on my phone, I've personally found it helpful to schedule (literally schedule on my calendar) time for me to put everything away, lay on the floor, and play with my kids. Sometimes it's just for 5 or 10 minutes, but the structure and attention helps.

Hang in there, you're not alone!

corialis7 karma

Lots of laypeople online say that the effects of reduced social interaction, lockdown, and change in routine are more detrimental than the actual COVID virus for children and that decades from now the negative mental health impacts will be more devastating than the COVID deaths. What are your thoughts on this?

nickjameswagner18 karma

Thank you for this important question. As we're all aware, research on the implications of COVID-19 for children is necessarily ongoing and ever-changing. But, my read of the medical literature is that COVID does pose meaningful risk to children and that children can spread the virus, including to people who may be potentially high risk (see here for a recent editorial in JAMA Pediatrics: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2771180). My personal opinion is that parents and policy makers should follow the medical science and put their physical health and the health of our children first.

Of course, there is substantial research documenting the critical importance of social interaction for children, particularly young children. The ways in which stress, changes in routine, and the link impact the developing child are also well documented (I discussed these topics here, if you're interested: http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/how-to-parent-during-a-pandemic/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=link&utm_content=research_socialsciences&utm_campaign=social_experts). Regarding social interactions, playing with similarly aged peers—as opposed to with parents— present children with an opportunity to develop perspective-taking skills, social competence, and advanced moral reasoning in a way that differs from play with parents (all play is good though!). Kids can explore the dynamics of social relationships with other kids in ways that just aren’t possible with adults.

Importantly, I don't think direct comparisons between the direct health risk of COVID and the social/emotional consequences COVID-related changes to our lives are necessary or helpful. We have to do what we can to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. Then, we have to work to adapt to our current situation to best support our developing children.

Luckily, we're all in this together. I've been encouraged by the outpouring of information and support from professionals, family members, and friends - our social connections look different but they haven't ceased to exist. For example, I’ve seen teachers and parents alike develop very creative and effective ways of supporting children’s online relationships. Of course these things vary from child to child in terms of what works when it comes to setting up online play dates or other social experiences. For my own young children, I've found it’s best to provide some structured or planned activities, while still leaving space for creativity and exploration.

It's incredibly hard to be a parent right now, and, speaking from my own experiences, I am saddened when I think of all of the opportunities my kids have missed out on since this all started. But, I'm encouraged to know that none of us are in this alone. We're all working to figure out how best to support our kids, and we should not be scared to ask for help. Also, take comfort in the fact that decades of research on children and families unequivocally demonstrates that children are very resilient and can flourish even in changing and difficult circumstances.

nickjameswagner13 karma

Thank you for this comment and the comment below! A few more thoughts:

First, of course I don't mean to downplay the importance of our giving attention to the mental health impacts of COVID-19 for our kids. After all, it's what I study! But there are lots of things to consider when thinking about whether and how experiences (in this case, COVID-19 impact on social connection) influence developmental trajectories, including impacts on mental health. Generally speaking, one piece of the complex puzzle is the length of exposure to the stressor. In this sense, it's possible that sooner we can get the virus under control the less likely it is that our children will experience disruptions (e.g., starting and stopping school, having some things like play dates be "OK" and then not again).

More broadly, the emotional security children derive from their families can be supported through conversations about how the disruptions to our lives makes us feel, and by seeing the ways in which we cope with these disruptions. Not to get into the weeds or to bore any of my undergrad students who have just learned this stuff, but there is a lot of interesting research on how families operate as systems. By this I mean that families are characterized by wholeness and order (the sum of the parts does not equal the whole - families are more than a collection of relationships - parent-child - parent-parent, and so on). It's the interactions between these relationships, and how one relationship influences others, that really characterize the impact of families in our lives. The other important part of this 'systems perspective' is that families naturally and adaptively self-organize in response to changes and challenges. The responsibilities of members of the family, the quality and types of interactions between members in a family, all of these component 'parts' adapt in response to external forces. Families do this naturally in response to any major change like the birth of a child, the death of a family member, the loss of a job, and so on. COVID's impact on our families is no different. We often don't realize it, but our families have been and will continue to adapt, and our kids contribute to and benefit from these adaptations.

The point is that these adaptations can't occur if we're not healthy, and medical science makes it pretty clear that there are certain things we need to do (socially distance, wear masks, etc.) to stay healthy right now.

Good thing there's no word limit! Hiding the soap box now...

musejade4 karma

Hi Dr Wagner. My child is asperger ( I say is not has because it's smth inherent to him. And during lockdown. I have been encouraging using discord and playing online games. Teachers and therapists of hum are strongly against it ( he is seven) but in my family we are all gamers so is a natural thing to play online. Im always criticize by letting him play games by his doctors but I find him sharing games with my husband and I ( among us, starcraft..) has made his lockdown more fun for him. So my question is, and taking into account my experience, aren't doctors overreacting about online games and forgetting that people interact a lot on them too? I haven seen any erratic behavior by my son for playing online games, he has his name online and knows the difference between his online name and real. Life name and so on. I will love to hear about your experience and knowledge about this subject. Sorry English is not my first language, plz forget any grammatical errors I may have done in the text.

nickjameswagner4 karma

Thank you so much for your question. First a few disclaimers: I don't explicitly study differences in online vs in-person social interactions, nor do I study the longterm consequences of screen use (although I know people who do and there is some really interesting work on this front: https://www.cinelabresearch.com/screen-time-and-child-development). I'm also responding generally since I'm not familiar with the details that your doctors and others may be working from.

So, most of the research of which I am aware paints a more nuanced picture than "video games are bad" or "screens are bad for kids." Almost always the impacts of these activities depend on how they're experienced. I would imagine, pulling from my own opinion here, that engaging in an online game with yourself and your husband could be a very positive shared experience. In an earlier post I reference very new work by someone in my lab suggesting children can have high quality interactions online. Of course, we are all always concerned about keeping our children safe online, and monitoring their experiences as best we can. But, if the question is can children have meaningful social interactions via online games with their peers or family members, my answer would be yes, I think they can.

NapsAreMyFavorite4 karma

Hi Dr. Wagner!

What advice can you give for parent-child interactions when they've been isolated together a long time? In this case, a single mother who is working from home and due to pretty serious underlying conditions has no choice but to quarantine almost as strictly now as in March/April, and a 7 year old girl who can't go to school in person or see friends due to the risk of bringing home COVID to her mom. Interactions are getting harder and harder, as both are getting pretty sick of each other's company (in a loving way of course), feeling lonely and isolated, and both child and parent are finding their patience worn thin.

Child is more likely to escalate to tantrum/tears more quickly, more likely to fight over small things they didn't fight about before, and less able to regulate being hyper/loud.

Mother is more likely to escalate to punishing rather than talking, more likely to put her foot down over small things she didn't before, and less able to be patient/understanding about annoyances.

Are there any ways to help smooth things?

nickjameswagner5 karma

Thank you for your question! It sounds like you have excellent insight and perspective into the interpersonal processes at play. As hard as it is, remembering that escalations are a normal consequence of the stress we're all feeling, and sometimes language and behaviors are motivated by things that are seemingly unrelated to the conflict at hand. One thing I've found to be helpful with my partner (we've had similar experiences!) is to set aside time to talk about how we're feeling. Sometimes putting words to these feelings and sharing them can help by itself, and these sorts of conversations, about our emotions and feelings, can be had with children of any age. Asking and listening openly can help us realize that the experience is shared, which has always made me feel better. Then, work to control what you can, scheduling activities together or alone that you can get excited about, a new movie, a new game, etc. As hard as it is, finding some time to focus on your own mental health (walk, food you like, anything and however small) is important. You could also consider reaching out to others in your or your child's social networks for some virtual connection. I've set my 4 year old up to watch Frozen over zoom with one of her friends and, although she only made it to the first "scary part" I think it put her in a better mood.

pinkwatermelooone3 karma

Hi Nick, I have a 25 month old daughter and I really want to help her meet her social needs because I think she's getting more stressed from being inside so much and it's causing her to act out/have more tantrums. She is so eager to play with other children, she'll try to initiate play in the middle of the supermarket. I have no idea what to do to help her have more socialisation, especially as she's an only child and we don't live near anyone we know with children. How can I help her meet her social needs and manage her emotions in general?

fairywizard_lady2 karma

I'm in this boat with my 22m old. He's desperate to play with children and I'm concerned about his lack of social interaction having a long term effect on his development. The need for more attention inspires tantrums and dramatic behavior. I often wonder if his patterns are driven by shutdown or if he would act this way anyway at this age.

pinkwatermelooone1 karma

I know tantrums are normal but I definitely think the current situation isn't helping. It's stressful for all of us even toddlers, perhaps even more so because they can't understand what's going on. I hope you find a way to get your son the interaction with other children he needs soon!

nickjameswagner1 karma

Hi both, thank you so much for your questions and comments, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back onto this thread. No matter how we slice it, things are really hard right now. I have a 2 year old as well, and it kills me that she’s not getting the time to socialize with friends her age that she she’d otherwise have. While this is a really hard time for families with young children, I’m given confidence by decades of research demonstrating that children are extraordinarily resilient. In many ways, kids can adapt to challenge better than adults. Hang in there, you’re not alone!

ImgursThirdRock2 karma

What can States do for children in the juvenile justice system to protect their sense of self once they have been detained? It’s my understanding that juvenile detention negatively impacts a child’s opinion of themselves and the government as a whole. Are there cheap and effective tools that detention centers can use to mitigate this or possibly better alternatives to detention?

nickjameswagner6 karma

I really appreciate this question and unfortunately I don't have expertise in the areas of policy as related to juvenile detention. I do, however, know that promoting children's autonomy, and supporting emotional and social development through young adulthood is critical. And I definitely agree these are things that should be prioritized when policy work is done on this topic. I'm sorry I don't have more to offer on this front.

eightyfive15182 karma

My daughter is nearly 5 and has always been a bit shy and slow to warm up to strangers. In the last few months she has stopped talking altogether with anyone outside our family. Even her extended family that we try to meet once a week, she has stopped talking to.

Have you seen a rise in selective mutism recently? Is this something I need to look intro treating with a therapist or just hope is a phase and something she’ll outgrow when we send her back to school next year?

nickjameswagner1 karma

Thank you for your comment and I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to reply. I’m not aware of any research that has examined rates of selective mutism, but parents seeing changes in their children’s behavior across (and in response to) the pandemic is not unusual. My suggestion would be to continue to keep an eye on things and to not hesitate to reach out for a second opinion or to discuss your concerns. Mental health providers have adapted very well to our current situation, and tele-health opportunists are very effective.

AlterEdith2 karma

Hi there! Love to see fellow psychologists here! I have a six month old son who attends daycare while my husband and I work remotely through telehealth. Is there any research that spending lots of time with people in masks impacts language development?

nickjameswagner1 karma

Thank you for your comment! This is something I’ve thought about a lot. I can’t think of any research ont his topic off the top of my head (which definitely doesn’t meant there isn’t any), but I do know that imitation is an important component of language development. I’ve found myself getting eye-to-eye with my 2 year old and really sounding things out for her maybe more than I would have previously. Kids soak up information nonstop, from every aspect of their environment. I don’t have data to back this up, but I think there will be some compensatory mechanisms that will keep language acquisition on track for most. At least that’s my hope.

ladyledylidy1 karma

Hi Dr. Wagner. I'm an AMFT getting my hours and am finding it incredibly difficult to keep the attention span of my 9 year old patient. Do you have any strategies to increase maintained focus when toys and distractions surround him? Can you suggest ways encourage him to stay on topic?

edit: Forgot to include *over zoom*

nickjameswagner1 karma

Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer on this front. I’d encourage you to reach out to your professional community and across other professional networks - one thing I do know is that you’re not the only one struggling with these challenges!

Dr_D-R-E1 karma

My daughter is 8 months old and has been crying a bit. My wife says she’s teething, but I’m more curious:

Is this a good time to buy the family a motorcycle?

nickjameswagner2 karma

With a sidecar!

IronRT1 karma

When should a child be introduced to daycare? Or is it not necessary for social development?

nickjameswagner2 karma

Research shows that it’s not necessarily when (or if) children attend daycare, but that it’s the quality of experiences that matters. Children can get the high quality social and learning experiences that they need in the first few years of life at home, in daycare centers, and in all of the options in between!

elizacandle1 karma

Hi Dr. Nick, I have a 15 month old while she doesn't quite understand what's going on she definitely notices changes. She gets fussy and stir crazy. We try to go to the park and what not but with limited options it's not always possible. What advice do you have for parents of young children?

nickjameswagner5 karma

Thank you for your question - I have a 2 year old and have had similar struggles, as I'm sure all parents of young children have. Even at very young ages, children are acutely aware of stress in the family. As you note, these stressors absolutely impact children's moods, regulation, behaviors, etc. A few thoughts:

  1. While parents can't have a back and forth conversations with kids this young, we can talk about our0 feelings, and try to talk about how we think our children are feeling and why they're feeling that way. This consistent validation and emotion labeling helps young kids learn about emotions and link their feelings with what they're experiencing, skills that pay off in the form of emotion regulation and emotion intelligence.
  2. Attention can often be the best cure - I love the park example because I call on that option a lot as well, other things I try are to capture their attention with something new, get down on the floor and try to follow my child's lead as much as possible, even if only for a few minutes, the targeted and focused attention usually helps
  3. Relatedly, attempting to redirect children's attention to a new toy or activity when you sense fussiness can help. This is clearly easier said than done sometimes, but heading things off before they escalate is always worth the effort.

Finally, as hard as it is, I've been working to remember that even under normal circumstances fussiness, misbehavior, and the like are normal for all kids and these aren't normal circumstances. Knowing that every parent of children of all ages are seeing more emotion and behavioral regulatory issues (more tantrums, fussiness, etc.) as a consequence of the stress we're all experiencing can help with coping (we have data supporting this, but I also have experienced it first hand!). We'll get through this!

elizacandle2 karma

Thank you. One more question do you recommend these books?

  • No Drama Discipline
  • The Whole Brain Child Both by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

nickjameswagner3 karma

I'm sorry to say I haven't read them - but my general approach has always been the more information the better!

MentalAdventure1 karma

Hi Dr. Nick!

Are you in the new CILSE building? 2 Cummington is a wasteland these days...

nickjameswagner2 karma

Hi! I'm not, my lab is 64 Cummington, although I wouldn't say no to a spot in CILSE (wink wink admin ;)

Although at this point I'm looking forward to getting back to being around people, building regardless!

Laithina1 karma

I am sorry that I missed this AMA but hope that you have a chance to see my question Dr. Nick: My son is a special needs child being helped through school by a special educator (whom is fantastic by the way) and multiple others. My son is currently seven years old and is struggling to read. I have been trying different methods to help him succeed at reading. He does extremely well in other areas in school (mathematics especially). I have picked up a program recently by David Morgan Education called visual trainer text as a possible starting point. Phonics seems to be a huge struggle, so much so that tantrums typically happen when writing or identifying letters/sounds (he can identify his letters if I give him a scatter and ask him to point to the letter 'A' but not if I hold up the letter 'A' and ask him what the letter is). Do you have any suggestions on methods to try to help us?

nickjameswagner1 karma

Thank you so much for your comment. I’m sorry that I don’t have expertise in this area and therefore don’t have anything concrete to offer. But I can tell you that having an advocate who is as supportive as you clearly are makes all the difference. Hang in there!

TripleSen1 karma

Hey, Dr. Nick, I'm a 14 year old with autism who's been feeling mood swings lately. How do i fix?

nickjameswagner1 karma

Hi! Thank you for your comment. It’s completely normal to feel more frequent and intense changes in our moods during times of stress. I know I have lately! It’s helped me to talk more about my feelings when I notice changes, and sometimes I write down how I’m feeling and why I think I’m feeling that way, maybe what happened before I noticed the change in my mood. I’ve also been reaching out to and relying more on my support network - family, friends. Most importantly, know that you’re not alone! We’ll get through this!