Dr. Kwan Hansongkitpong Ross, a certified clinical psychologist, speaks with Prestige about how Little Sprouts Children’s Centre helps kids grow into happy and confident young adults.
In the heart of Thong Lor sits Little Sprouts Children’s Centre, an oasis of healing and happy learning for children. Founded by Dr. Kwan Hansongkitpong Ross, the organisation’s clinical director and a certified clinical psychologist, the centre has a multidisciplinary team made up of internationally trained specialists who take a more open, honest, and experienced approach to intervening when it comes to disempowering behavioural patterns and conditions that could stifle a child’s ability to grow to their fullest. Prestige Petite sat down with Dr. Kwan to find out more.
Tell us about Little Sprouts Children’s Centre
Little Sprouts is a private child development centre that was founded in 2011. We provide clinical, developmental, and educational services to children of all abilities. My goal was to set up an intervention centre for children with autism and developmental disorders and problems. This then developed into helping children with social emotional challenges, self-esteem issues, and learning issues – helping not only the children, but also the families who come in with them. Little Sprouts’ vision is that every child has the right to grow into a happy and confident young adult, and every family has the right to help their child thrive.
What’s your educational and work history?
I graduated in 2006 with a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Prior to that, I received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University, and a master’s degree in education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. After I graduated, I worked in California for four years, and then I spent a year at school again. I then came back to Thailand, in 2010/2011, and set up Little Sprouts.
Why do you feel your service is important?
Early intervention is quite important and is essential for children with special needs. Research has shown that children who receive intensive and consistent early intervention demonstrate increased independence as well as improved ability to function in their natural settings. The earlier they receive the correct attention, the better their prognosis.
What are you seeing more often in children these days?
It’s hard for me to speak about the whole population, but at the centre we see a lot more children with anxiety disorders, as well as an increase in number of selective mutism cases, more children with social anxiety, performance anxiety and perfectionism disorders. And certainly more of an increase in this over the past four years.
Partly this is due to exposure to social media, but also through the parents using social media, even when the child isn’t using social media. The parent sees something online and then wants it from their child, placing high standards on kids and themselves. Children can easily pick up whatever mood their parents are in and mirror that. If the parents are anxious, the children might think, “Is it because of me?”. It becomes a vicious cycle. Basically, the world is putting a lot of pressure on our young children.
What do parents need to know, or do?
I think, first and foremost, they need to make the home a safe place for children to talk about their emotions, worries, fears, frustrations, and anything else that their child is concerned about. When it’s safe to speak about those things at home, it also becomes easier for parents to understand their own children, which is so important. Show them that it’s okay to have different emotions, negative emotions, and it’s okay to struggle with your mental health issues. It’s okay to speak about it, and it’s okay to seek help.
What does Little Sprouts offer that regular learning facilities do not?
I think we offer a multidisciplinary approach. Therefore, we have the ability to see the bigger picture. It’s usually not just one thing affecting the child. For instance, a problem with social skills is not just about social skills, but also about behaviour regulation, emotional regulation, autism spectrum disorder, and a wide range of areas that need intervention. When we have specialists from different fields, we can address the child more holistically.
What else is important for us to touch upon?
The mental health area. I feel that it’s a topic that is difficult to talk about, especially in the Thai community, as it’s still a bit of a taboo. But this generation is changing, we are slowly no longer viewing going to see a therapist as something that is embarrassing, or something to be ashamed of. But here it is still not as accepted as it is in other cultures. I feel that more awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, more seeking of support and outside support, is empowering, and would allow our culture to grow and make progress.
To find out more about Little Sprouts Children’s Centre, visit littlesproutscentre.com.