Anastasia is a creative kid who loves to draw, paint and dance. She also loves musical theater, her pets — a guinea pig and her dog, Trixie, and spending time with family.
When Ana was a toddler, however, the arrival of her younger sister triggered behavioral changes and challenges that, among other things, made transitions very difficult. Disruptive tantrums sometimes became aggressive. Parent-child interaction therapy with the Early Childhood Behavioral Health Program at Children's National Hospital helped.
“Comprehensive treatment with psychology and psychiatry, along with medication, slowly changed things in a very significant way,” says Ana’s dad, Mark. “There was comfort in the providers’ commitment, willingness and the quality of care and communication.”
Therapy with psychologist Cassi McCants, Ph.D., focused on emotion-regulation and co-regulation skills for Anastasia and her family. It strengthened relationships and decreased stress. “Dr. McCants brought lighthearted and skillful playfulness into her work with Ana,” says her mom, Abby.
The impact has been serious. Abby and Mark expanded their parenting skills. Anastasia interacts better with her family and peers and practices daily regulation strategies. The result is that Anastasia — and her family — enjoy life more. The impact also extends to school.
“Dr. McCants’ intervention and support has given us credibility with her school and enabled Anastasia to have a normal educational experience like every child should,” Mark says. “The alternative would have been transferring to an inappropriate school.”
This summer, the family traveled to Assateague Island for a seaside camping trip with family and friends. Anastasia recently met her new teacher and classmates before the start of second grade. “She was very excited and anxious at the same time,” Marks says. “But she knows it will be great.”
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