July 2019 Newsletter

Breaking news! Because of generous donations to our nonprofit partner, Excelsior Foundation for Family Wellness, we are able to offer our parenting seminar this Saturday (July 13th, 9:00-3:00) for 90% off! For $10 a family - up to 10 families - parents can attend our all-day workshop based on a 1-2-3 Magic framework. Please call us to reserve your spot to learn how to deal with those tantrums mentioned in our featured article this month :) Please make arrangements for child care, as this is a parent-only class.



Jennifer Williams is a wife, teacher, and parent with two children affected by Autism living in the Savannah area. Once her children were diagnosed a little over five years ago, it was a struggle to find resources to help in the various areas often needed by ASD parents and their caregivers, but especially for parents who were not from the Savannah area. Due to the struggles not only in her own family, but those she heard from others in the community and school system, Jennifer decided to create a website dedicated to the resources she was able to find, but also those that were recommended by other ASD parents and caregivers. In 2019, she created Savannah Autism Resources in order to highlight these recommendations in hopes to help others in our area who may not know where to turn. The idea is to create a constantly evolving site that reaches not only parents of children with ASD, but those affected by ASD and their family members by sharing resources in the area of education, doctors, therapies, community activities, and so much more. Jennifer is always looking for suggestions from others who have personal experiences working with an organization, community activities, or doctor that has benefitted a person with ASD or family member of a person with ASD. She asks that readers please share suggestions and recommendations that will help the site be more beneficial for those in our community so we can all help put the pieces together in our local area. Jennifer's website i

Link to the Full Featured Article

Featured Article: 5 Tantrum Red Flags: Warning Signs Your Child's Tantrum Might Signal a Mental Health Disorder

There are five warning signs that a small child's tantrums might signal an underlying psychiatric disorder, researchers find.
All child tantrums are excruciating to parents. But there are five tantrum styles that are "red flags" indicating a preschooler may have mental health problems, find Washington University researchers Andy C. Belden, PhD, and colleagues.
"If you have a child, you are going to have tantrums," Belden, a developmental psychologist with two small children, tells WebMD. "They happen, and one of the more important things for parents is to keep eye on them and think about what the child is actually doing."
Belden, Joan L. Luby, MD, and colleagues conducted long, structured interviews with 279 caregivers -- nearly all of them mothers -- of 3- to 6-year-old children. They also evaluated the children for psychiatric disorders.
They found that tantrums in children who truly had mental health problems tended to be different from tantrums in healthy children.
"Essentially, we found five tantrum styles. They were strongly associated with specific diagnoses," Belden says. "No one I have met can look at a tantrum and give a diagnosis, but these are definitely red flags worth looking into in terms of getting a mental health referral from a pediatrician."
Tantrum Red Flags
Belden warns that normal children may display every one of these tantrum warning flags from time to time. But kids with problems show these signs in nearly every tantrum:

  • Aggression toward caregivers, objects, or both. If this happened more than half the time in the last 10 to 20 tantrums, it may signal disruptive disorders. "It is not uncommon at all for children to try to kick their moms because they won't buy them an ice cream cone. But if this happens 90% of the time, and you have to take cover to protect yourself during a tantrum, this may mean a problem," Belden says.
  • Self-injury. Kids with major depression and kids with mixed major depression and disruptive behavior were much more likely than healthy kids to bite themselves, scratch themselves, bang their heads against a wall, or kick objects in an attempt to hurt their foot.
  • Frequent tantrums. Preschoolers who have 10 to 20 tantrums a month at home, or who have more than five tantrums a day on multiple days outside the home, are at risk of a serious psychiatric problem.
  • Very long tantrums. A five-minute tantrum can seem like a million years to a parent. But kids who consistently have tantrums that last more than 25 minutes may have underlying problems. "A normal child may have a tantrum that lasts an hour, but the next one lasts 30 seconds. These children with psychiatric disorders are having 25-minute or longer tantrums 90% of the time," Belden says.
  • Inability to calm oneself after a tantrum. "These kids almost every time require some sort of external force to calm them down," Belden says. "You have to constantly remove them from the situation or bribe them or it will go on and on."

Tantrum expert Michael Potegal, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, says the Belden study is a welcome "step in the right direction."
"Everybody knows children throw tantrums, but remarkably tantrums have not been subjected to much study," Potegal tells WebMD.
During a tantrum, Potegal says, a child has two intense emotions: extreme anger, and extreme sadness or distress.
"My colleagues and I have found that hitting, kicking, and screaming during a tantrum is associated with anger, and crying, whining, comfort seeking, and perhaps throwing oneself down is associated with sadness," he says. "The Belden study focuses on anger; there is no mention of distress."
Worrisome Tantrums? What to Do
What should parents do if their child has "red-flag" tantrums?
"You can go two ways. One is to take the child to a pediatric neuropsychologist to get a broad assessment, including what is going on in the family, because some of this is absolutely in response to family difficulties," Belden says. "The other way is to go directly to a child psychologist who will focus on the child's emotional control and on the family circle."
If your child has tantrums, don't feel alone. Seven out of 10 18- to 24-month-old toddlers throw tantrums. And more than three-fourths of 3- to 5-year-olds have tantrums.
Belden and colleagues report their findings in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.


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