SNNHK Talk: The Joys of Growing Up with Scarlett Mattoli

5 March 2019, OpenMind Space, Central

As a parent, what do you feel when you think about puberty? Does it feel like an overwhelming topic? Do you worry about how to communicate with your child? In SNNHK Talk: The Joys of Growing Up, psychologist Scarlett Mattoli provided participants with a wealth of information to equip them in supporting their children through these strange yet exciting years.

The presentation was very comprehensive, covering areas such as neurobiology, bodily changes, normalizing the topic of sex, basic needs (eat, drink, sleep and exercise!) of growing children. It was also explained to participants how the period may be extra challenging for children with ADHD as well as other neurodivergent children. Using everyday examples, participants were given an opportunity to visualize how certain physiological changes in children could have contributed to behavior that might prove difficult for people around them.

Scarlett also shared with participants a wide variety of online resources and books which parents and caregivers may employ to discuss puberty with children. For children with learning difficulties, picture books can be useful. Parents and caregivers may even construct social stories with pictures and symbols together with the child to reinforce certain ideas and boundaries. Difficult issues such as sexual stimulation in public can be very challenging for parents to tackle. Communication tools (stories and books) could be engaged to help children understand that certain things should be done only in private. Children may be facing new and overwhelming emotions and sensations as their bodies change and parents may be able to help with feelings of frustration or lack of control by engaging with them in a safe space.

During the question and answer session, participants described scenarios and Scarlett shared her insights. There was constructive exchange and participants found the Q&A session helpful and enjoyable. It was like the final piece of the puzzle where information discussed during the presentation can be used to explain real life cases. Additional tips in dealing with challenging situations were also shared.

It was great to have a talk that touches on so many aspects of our children’s lives by a professional. SNNHK have been collecting feedback from its members about events that could be of interest and schooling came up a lot. Save the date (21 May 2019) for our next SNN Shares event: A Perspective on School Options and Perspective Progress for Children with SEN in Hong Kong. SNNHK parent Trisha Tran will provide an overview of schooling options. We expect lively and keen discussion to follow the presentation. Hope to see you there!

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