See Rogue One Sensory Friendly Tomorrow at AMC

New sensory friendly logoAMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

Families affected by autism or other special needs can view a sensory friendly screening of Rogue One: A Start Wars Story on Saturday, December 31st at 10am (local time). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming in JanuaryHidden Figures (Tues, 1/10), Sing (Sat, 1/14), xXx The Return of Xander Cage (Tues, 1/24) and Monster Trucks (Sat, 1/28)

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Editor’s note: Although Rogue One has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

A New Perspective on Our Kids’ Attention & Movement Crisis

Our kids' movement crisisIf you have a youngster at home, you probably notice they like to move…A LOT! I have two young boys and in recent months I have especially begun to notice how much they like to fidget and move. My older son is seven years old and I was beginning to worry about his ability to focus in class. Then I came across this great article that has been floating all over the internet entitled, Why Children Fidget: And What We Can Do About It. Given that it was written by a pediatric occupational therapist, I felt pretty good about the validity of its content.

The author makes the point that many children today have a very difficult time sitting still in classrooms. They are constantly fidgeting. Some teachers or parents start to think many of these children may have ADHD due to their inability to sit still. According to this article, there may be something much more basic and simple going on in these situations—the children need to move much more in order to adequately develop balance and strength. This movement, as the author describes, helps “turn on their brains” so they can focus on academic topics.

Here’s how the author describes it:

“Children are going to class with bodies that are less prepared to learn than ever before. With sensory systems not quite working right, they are asked to sit and pay attention. Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of to “turn their brain on.” What happens when the children start fidgeting? We ask them to sit still and pay attention; therefore, their brain goes back to “sleep.”  

Wow, what an eye-opener. I had a sense of this issue before but I never thought of it in these terms before. Have you ever noticed how much better your child sits still or focuses on school work (or similar task) after they have played really hard? I certainly have noticed this with my son and this makes think this issue is really at work for many children.

We have known for years that there is a “movement crisis” in the United States. Rising child obesity rates is some evidence of this (although multiple factors may be at work), but now it seems that rising rates of ADHD diagnosis may be related to a lack of movement and open-ended play time. Of course, there are children who have clearly-defined and diagnosed ADHD, but this article makes me wonder if some kids may just need much more exercise and movement in their lives to help them focus better.

This recognized need for more movement for our children is not new. At least one recent pediatric study showed the benefit of recess time (even 20 minutes) for improved classroom behavior.

Recently a study from Finland showed similar results, particularly for boys. This research showed that, among boys, lower levels of activity and greater time in a sedentary situation was related to poorer reading skills in first grade. Interestingly, this relationship between movement and academic skills was not as strong for girls.

Hopefully, as more research of this type comes to the forefront, more schools will maintain or perhaps expand recess or break times to allow children more time to move.

 

Which Complementary Therapies are Proven Effective for Asthma?

Most complementary therapies for asthma haven’t been shown to work. The exception is some types of breathing exercises, which do seem to improve symptoms and quality of life.

complementary therapy for asthmaResearch by Asthma UK shows that almost 1 in 10 people living with asthma use complementary medicine, and many would consider using it in the future.

According to Dr Mike Thomas from Asthma UK, there’s little evidence that complementary therapies in general improve asthma symptoms.

Specific remedies that are sometimes tried include homeopathy, acupuncture, air ionisers, the Alexander technique and Chinese herbal medicine, but the results have been disappointing. Read more about asthma treatment.

Breathing Exercises for Asthma

The exception is certain types of breathing exercises, which can help some people with asthma. These include breathing exercises taught by a lung (respiratory) physiotherapist, some types of yoga breathing exercises, and the Buteyko method of breathing.

People with asthma are taught slow, steady “diaphragmatic” breathing through the nose. This type of breathing is done by contracting the diaphragm, which is located between the chest and the stomach. This can result in fewer asthma symptoms and better quality of life. However, these exercises are not a cure, and people with asthma still need to use their regular inhalers.

The Buteyko Method

The Buteyko method, a system developed in Russia, teaches similar exercises and may improve asthma symptoms for some people. However, some find that the breathing exercises used during yoga also help their symptoms.

According to Leanne Male, Asthma UK’s assistant director of research, people with asthma who gain some relief from Buteyko and other types of breathing exercise should not rely on it so much that they stop their conventional medication.

“We know that some people with asthma use breathing techniques such as Buteyko but, while they may reduce symptoms, they will not reduce the sensitivity of the airway, and should not replace regular asthma medicine. Also, we don’t know what the long-term benefits are.”

Chinese and Other Herbal Medicines for Asthma

There isn’t enough clinical evidence to recommend the use of Chinese medicine, other herbal medicines, acupuncture, hypnosis and other complementary therapies.





Child Health & Safety News: Wk 51 “Zika in Brownsville, TX”

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: Children’s Headphones May Carry Risk of Hearing Loss https://t.co/UpzFuGnmTT

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we miss something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of this past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Pregnant Women Warned to Avoid Brownsville, Tex., Because of Zika https://t.co/kYRYFICgeE

Kids Will Get Sick: 5 Facts a Pediatrician Wants You to Know

girl_high_fever_mom_checking_tempThe warnings you were given as a child about not going out with your hair wet or you’d catch pneumonia, don’t sit too close to the television or you’ll damage your eyesight – it’s probably safe to say what they lacked in accuracy they made up for in good intentions. But as we enter into the time of year when colds and other infections seem to thrive, it seemed like a good opportunity to set the record straight, debunk some of the myths and provide you with some useful information to get you through the worst of it…just in case you or someone else in your family starts to feel sick…

Fallacies vs Realities:

  1. Being out in the cold or wet weather can lead to a “cold” in a child.  A “cold” or an upper respiratory infection is almost always due to a viral infection which, aside from certain colds being more prominent during certain seasons, is unrelated to the outdoor temperature.  A cold happens when a viral agent attaches to the inside of the mouth nose or eyes.  The viral particles enter the very specialized cells in these areas and replicate in to more of the same particles and even fever which then can invade further causing the associated symptoms.  The same is true for the fear of “catching pneumonia” when one gets cold and/or wet.
  2. When the mucus in one’s nose green it automatically signifies the onset of sinus infection or contagious disease.  A sinus infection is not contagious for the same reason that it occurs. Inflammation or possibly bacteria works its way into the sinus cavities, set up shop and cause the symptoms of the resulting pain and sometimes swelling.  The reason, as with ear infections, that these are not contagious is that both of these occur in fairly small closed spaces and the inner contents cannot get out; concurrently antibiotics have a difficult time getting in, so it usually takes c little longer to cure these infections. For a frame of reference, consider the rapid “cure” that occurs when one contracts strep throat, an easily accessible area, after antibiotics are used.
  3.  Once the fever is down after the use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen during an illness, that illness is over and the concentration should be placed on “breaking” the fever.  In fact each illness has its own symptoms, including how high the fever goes or how long it lasts.  Some fevers do come and go within the same illness and the use of medications to” cure” the fever and hence the illness is fallacious. Certainly one will want to give their child some relief from the symptoms and these medications are good for that reason.
  4. A child who has a “high” fever will get brain damage.   In fact, fever itself is merely a symptom of an illness such as other symptoms; runny nose, cough, headache, etc.  While high fever itself is seldom ever responsible for brain damage some very rare but very significant illnesses for which the fever may be an accompanying symptom may result in brain damage:  e., meningitis, encephalitis and others.  But to be complete, and fair to all parents worrying about their child with fever, fever by itself is not the only symptom one sees with such serious illnesses.  If there is a very high fever, contact with your Doctor will help sort through the causes.
  5. High fever will cause seizures in my child.  There is a small population of children who will, in fact, develop a mild, non-harmful seizure during the initial rise in that fever.   Although these seizures are not harmful to your child, it is important to know if there might be another reason for such seizures, and your child should be seen by a physician immediately- usually an Emergency room Doctor. Also a little known fact is that the seizure will only seldom repeat itself during the same illness. Again the parents will want to use a medicine for fever because of the discomfort your child will have and the fact that another seizure is possible.

These are just a few; let me know of other questions or concerns you might have and I’m happy to address them.

I’ll Give This “10”: How to Help Kids Reframe BIG Feelings

How can you help kids deal with BIG feelings or emotions? With all the stress kicked into high gear by the holiday season -or any time kids are overly anxious- help children to understand and reframe their feelings and life experiences by having a Cognitive Conversation that recognizes and acknowledges their emotions and then lets them decide how long they want to continue to feel that way…

Consider a conversation that sounds something like this:

Kids! We all have BIG feelings sometimes. Some experiences bring us feelings of frustration, anxiety or anger. Let’s talk about times when we might make a decision about how long we will be “in” our feelings and when we will choose to let them go.  Will we be “in” our feelings for 10 seconds, 10 minutes or 10 hours? You decide.  Here’s an example…

 

If you waited in line for an ice cream cone and when it’s finally your turn, you learn they are out of vanilla ice cream, you might say to yourself, “That is super frustrating. I was so hungry for a vanilla cone.  I’ll give this 10 seconds and then ask for a chocolate one.”

I’ll Give This 10! is a practical tool for feelings exploration, cognitive reframing and mood modulation.

 

In I’ll Give This 10, we learn how to recognize that when we are having BIG feelings, we name them and then tell ourselves how long we plan to experience these BIG feelings. We usually choose to “feel our emotions” for 10 seconds, 10 minutes, or 10 hours. Of course, this “rule of 10” is a cognitive construct, it could be 2 minutes or 27 minutes. But children get “10,” so it is a wonderful starting point to help a child to determine:

  • “HOW BIG is this feeling?”
  • “HOW LONG am I going to let this feeling determine my thoughts and behaviors?”
  • “WHEN will I let this feeling go?”

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70-play-hi-res-150x197Written for teachers, educators, and clinicians whose work involves playing, talking or teaching children who would benefit from better executive function and social-emotional learning skills, 70 Play Activities incorporates over 100 research studies into printable worksheets, handouts, and guided scripts with step-by-step directions, to empower children to learn and behave better. “With 70 Play Activities we aim to improve the trajectory of children’s learning by integrating the newest neuroscience with activities children love!” With over 70 activities designed to improve thinking, self-regulation, learning and behavior, your tool-kit will be full and your creative brain will be inspired to craft your own meaningful exercises. 70 Play Activities is available at amazon.com