How to Support Your Child With a Co-Occurring Disorder
November 2, 2023
By Dr. Matthew Specht
By Dr. Matthew Specht
Parent Advice | Supporting your Child
boy with co occuring disorder riding fathers shoulders

If your child presents multiple conditions at the same time, he/she may be diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder, also known as comorbidity. Due to the nature of several conditions happening concurrently, treatment can often be complex.  

Mental health is not black and white. A wide range of psychiatric disorders can overlap and co-exist with one another, which means that supporting each child with a comorbidity diagnosis is highly customized to his/her specific needs,” said Dr. Matthew Specht, licensed child, adolescent, and young adult psychologist and founder of Connecticut OCD, Anxiety, & TICS Specialists located in Greenwich. 

Parents are crucial in emotionally and mentally supporting children diagnosed with co-occurring disorders and setting the tone for a child’s treatment and path forward. An informed, loving, compassionate, and  strong support system at home will make all the difference.

Here are some tips to support you as you support your child:

Understand the complexities of co-occurring disorders. 

Education is empowerment. The more you understand the extent and challenges of co-occurring disorders, the better equipped you’ll be to support your child, implement daily strategies, and create/maintain a treatment plan. Know that the journey forward may not be linear and that the impact on your child’s life may be great, the more information you have about the condition, the more prepared you will be. 

Seek professional help.

Given the complexity of co-occurring disorders, the guidance of a licensed and trained professional is crucial. A child psychologist or therapist will provide assistance and a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for your child. The same way you would seek help for any medical condition, a professional can offer expertise, help navigate the healthcare system, address the need for family therapy, provide integrated treatment approaches, and so much more.

Create a supportive home environment. 

Kids, especially those with a mental health diagnosis, have a greater potential to thrive when they have a safe, stable home life and adults/caregivers that love them,” commented Dr. Specht. 

He relayed that communication, non-judgmental dialogue, routines, and consistent boundaries are key to creating a safe and supportive home environment. “Maintain patience and resilience and be prepared for the possibility of relapses and setbacks, focusing on handling these situations without losing hope,” he continued. 

Build an extended network of support. 

While a positive home environment is key, so is surrounding your child with a caring and supportive community. This may look like close friends, neighbors,  support groups with other families and young people facing similar situations, and teachers and school staff.

To best support your child, one of the most important things you can do is to ensure that you’re getting the support you need too.”  

Both you and your child can nurture these relationships and find strength in a strong support network. 

Take care of yourself.

Dr. Specht said, “To best support your child, one of the most important things you can do is to ensure that you’re getting the support you need too.” 

Caring for children with intense needs can take an emotional, physical, and mental toll on parents. This means that stress management and self-care are imperative. Primary caregivers may be at risk for burnout, which could lead to issues like depression, anxiety, and extreme fatigue. Whether it’s getting help with respite care or engaging in your favorite hobbies, to avoid getting burnt out, parents must also take care of their own needs.

C-OATS is here to support you. 

As Co-Occurring Disorders specialists in Fairfield County, we are proud to treat our patients with compassionate mental health support and treatment. Knowing that each child is unique, our approach addresses all aspects of a child’s well-being,” commented Dr. Specht.    

If your child is showing signs of multiple disorders, we can help you navigate the potential complexities of treatment and beyond. With early diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment plan, our goal is to help both kids and their families thrive,” he continued.

To learn more about how C-OATS can help you address co-occurring disorders or to get in contact with our office, simply click here



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