AMC Has Storks Sensory Friendly Twice, Starting Tomorrow

Last updated on September 26th, 2016 at 07:01 pm

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.

storks-posterDoes 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 have TWO opportunities to view a sensory friendly screening of Storks – on Saturday, September 24th and Saturday, October 8th 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 October:  Storks (Sat, 10/8 – second showing), The Girl on the Train (Tues, 10/11) and  Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Sat, 10/25)


Editor’s note: Although Storks 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 by the Motion Picture Association of America for mild action and some thematic elements. 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.

Video: Scoliosis Diagnosis, Treatment and Impact on Your Child

Last updated on September 26th, 2016 at 07:01 pm

Rachel was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, when she was 11. She describes how it progressed throughout her childhood, the treatments she had and where she found support. Click on the picture below to go to the NHS YouTube channel to watch the video.


Editor’s Note: Video Highlights

  • Rachel, who is grown now, was diagnosed with scoliosis – curvature of the spine – at age 11, in a routine school health check up
  • To check for scoliosis, you have to bend down and touch your toes
  • The impact of the issue depends on how much  your spine is curved
  • learning-about-scoliosisRachel’s spinal curve was moderate, so she was still able to do sports and PE
  • What she couldn’t do was trampolining – or anything with a lot of impact
  • There’s a strong genetic link with scoliosis – so siblings should be checked – Rachel’s sister was diagnosed with a slight curve
  • Because Rachel was still growing, she was fitted with a “Boston brace” – which is a plastic corset that fits around the torso
  • At first Rachel found the brace scary – and it was big and bulky – but she got used to it
  • She had a choice of wearing it just during the day – or both day and night – Rachel mostly wore her brace just during the day
  • After wearing the brace for 18 months, Rachel was told she needed surgery
  • This involved having a Harrington rod fused to the base of her spine – to the bottom curve of her S-shaped spine
  • This was also very scary – but Rachel had a lot of support from her parents
  • She was in the hospital for one week – including one night in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
  • It was quite major surgery but Rachel recovered at home over the summer – and was able to go back to school at the start of the new year
  • Rachel wore her brace again for another six months to protect her spine – and she wasn’t allowed to do any physical activity during this period
  • If someone was being diagnosed now with scoliosis, Rachel would say: “Don’t be scared. It doesn’t affect your life that much if you don’t let it.”
  • For further support you can go to the Scoliosis Association website in the UK

Editor’s Note: US Resources :


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 09-12-2016 to 09-18-2016

Last updated on September 26th, 2016 at 07:02 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: Ultimate Car Seat Guide – Safe Kids

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 Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Improve the Health of Young Athletes: Concussion Awareness

Surprising Similarities Between Child Raising and Dog Training

Last updated on September 26th, 2016 at 07:02 pm

Puppy Jack russell terrier lying on a carpet and looking guilty.Having been a professional dog trainer for many years, there is always one pitfall we trainers have to be careful to avoid when talking to customers and that is using ‘dog speak’ – or terminology that is very well known among us in the canine world, but to the everyday person means nothing.  So to avoid this I use numerous analogies during my training sessions to make sure my clients understand exactly what I am talking about.  I try to find examples that are common in everyday life – and more often than not, I find myself equating training situations to those that are similar with raising kids…especially when I am dealing with parents.

I know…it sounds strange, but it works.  Picture “little Johnny” instead of “little Pup-Pup” and all of a sudden, the things you would normally sit there and say “I have absolutely no idea why my dog is doing that”, suddenly become clear.  So, that being said, here are some of the more “useful” analogies I’ve shared with my customers …and some funny scenarios they’ve in turn shared with me…

Housebreaking and Potty training.  When a customer is having trouble with this task, they tell me they let the pup out, it played for hours, then came back in and peed or pooped on the floor.  There are actually three “kids and dogs” analogies I typically use to help customers make sense of this.

  • The first thing I will ask them is “Did you leash the pup and go out with them?” Usually they tell me no. So here, I will say to them…. When you potty trained your child…. Did you bring them to the bathroom door, send them inside, close the door and hope they went? Or, did you physically bring them inside, pull down their pants, put them on the toilet, and wait with them until they went? And after they went, did you just pick them up off the bowl and send them away? Or did you praise them, smile and clap your hands, give them some stickers for doing a good job?” So….. the only difference between potty training and housebreaking, besides the obvious leash and collar, indoors/outdoors thing, is that the dog gets a biscuit instead of a cookie, and we forgo the stickers and give them a toy instead! Other than that, it is the same…. You have to physically be there, stay with them, and praise when it is done.
  • Part two of the same example I just gave is that the dog is getting confused what the outside is for if they are allowed to go outside and play for hours. So for this, I tell my customers that the analogy I am about to give them is a bit outlandish, but makes its point….. I tell them, If you kept ALL of your child’s toys in the bathroom, how would you know if they wanted to go in there to play, or if they had to make? This lets the dog’s owners know that the only time pup/dog should be outside is to go potty…. Not to play…. At least until they understand what the outside is for.
  • Part three of the above example I gave is when a customer is upset that they have been working on housebreaking for two weeks… why is this not done yet… I ask them, “How long did it take your child to potty train? Did they get it overnight or in a few days? Just like potty training, housebreaking takes patience, time, and consistency.

Distractions. When we are training, I tell the customer to put all the pup’s toys away while we are training…and to do the same when they are practicing.   Just like turning the TV off when their kids are doing their homework…the kids are not going to be able to concentrate with all those distractions in the background, and neither is the pup!

Calm a Hyper Pup. Another analogy I find myself using – usually with puppies and very hyper dogs – is in response to an owner complaining about how they let their dog run and play outside for hours to burn up their energy, and they came back in just as crazy.  How can they fix this?  My response… with training. Then I go on to ask them when their child goes to a birthday party, there is plenty of running around, playing, etc… but very little focused work that requires brain power, so more often than not, their child comes home still rearing to go! However, put that exact same child in a classroom for the same amount of time, they come home ready for a nap. Mental stimulation is ALWAYS more taxing and tiring than physical.

Consistency. Finally, here are some additional analogies I offer my clients to help bring home why practicing what their pups have learned during training makes such a huge difference.

  • One question I get asked all the time – especially by clients who call to inquire about my one-week boot-camping (intensive training) program – is “After the week is done, will they know all of the commands they need to be a really well behaved dog?” Sounds logical…it is an “intensive” training course. Now I ask them to think about this a little differently. If your child goes to kindergarten for one week and learns their A,B.C’s…. are they ready for college? This just puts the question into perspective for them and gives them a more realistic understanding that in a week I can teach all of the basics, but it is up to them to follow through and continue their with their training.
  • Also, when we are talking about consistency regarding a dog’s training, when I am asked why they need to keep drilling the dog on even basic commands such as SIT and STAY in different locations, I explainIt’s for the same reason they hold fire-drills in the schools. They do not want to wait until there is an actual emergency and hope the children will know what to do”. In your living room, with no distractions around, it is great that your dog knows the commands…. But in an emergency, it is imperative that your dog knows to follow the same commands with no hesitations.  You want to know when the fire-bell rings, the kids jump up, find their buddy, get in line, no one is scared, everyone is accounted for, no one gets overlooked and no one gets hurt.  And when you’re out with your dog – you want to know you’ve put the same safety net in place.

So, as I’ve said, it can be very helpful when trying to explain a dog training concept to a parent, to relate it to a child raising experience.

What can be very funny however, is sometimes…when I least expect it… a dog training concept I worked on with the owner works “in reverse” with the child.

My favorite story of this was little Sophia.  The entire session, this child’s name was repeated over and over and over again. Seeing this was going to make training difficult for this poor puppy, I decided to forgo the usual first commands of SIT and STAY, and work on a “WATCH ME” command. The purpose of this is that no matter what distractions are going on, when you say this command, your dog should look directly at you. We worked on the command the entire session, and the pup was focusing on us and paying attention like a champ! At the end of the session, we went over to the table where my date book was (Sophia had now climbed up on the table) and while I went through my date book, all I heard was, “Sophia stop it!! Sophia, leave that alone! Sophia, get down….” On and on it went. Next thing I know, Sophia has opened MY pocketbook, and has started to go through it. The mother was mortified, and after a minute of yelling at her to “leave it alone, get off the table, stop it” (all requests being ignored), I hear a second of silence, and the mother yells, “SOPHIA!! WATCH ME!!” …and the kid stopped dead in her tracks and stared at her Mom right in the eyes!! Her Mom at that point begged me to move in!

Not unlike little Sophia, there have been other times after a training, when I hear the parent use a technique we worked on with the dog (like STAY!!) … with their child (hand signal included)!!  And it always cracks me up when they turn to me and say, “IT WORKS!!!”

For the record…even though I’ve had a number of my customers at the end of a successful session ask …  I don’t train children or husbands!!  🙂

What “Sensitive” or “Authoritative” Parenting Really Means

Last updated on September 21st, 2016 at 11:57 am

authoritative-parenting-in-actionMany articles you see in the media discuss the positive influence of “sensitive parenting” on children’s development. Sensitive parenting is seen as the gold standard on how to effectively interact with your child to promote their optimum maturation process.

So with all these positive benefits of sensitive parenting, you may wonder what “sensitive parenting” really means. Contrary to what some may think, sensitive parenting does not mean giving in to your child’s every whim or not enforcing rules. Sensitive parenting is often called authoritative parenting.

This approach to parenting involves setting firm boundaries but also emphasizes explaining the reason for rules and meeting children’s emotional needs. This type of parenting is in contrast to permissive and authoritarian parenting approaches. These parenting styles were originally categorized by researcher Diane Baumrind over 40 years ago and they still have relevance today.

As you may have guessed, permissive parents fail to set limits or boundaries on their child’s behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, authoritarian parents run their homes like a dictator and expect children to obey strict rules with little emotional support or explanation. Based on these categories, it is easy to see why authoritative parenting is associated with the best emotional and physical outcomes for children. It serves as a middle ground between being too permissive and overly strict. In this environment, children come to know what is expected of them but are also given the emotional support, empathy, and skills to meet these expectations.

When I first read these descriptions of parenting styles as a graduate student (prior to having kids), I did not think much about it. They made sense and I took note of them in my mind for a later date. Well, now that I am actually a parent, I can really appreciate the usefulness of these categories.

One key aspect of authoritative parenting that I think is often overlooked is the fact that these parents change with their child. Their rules, relationships, and dynamics with their child move and grow as the child develops. It is easy to underestimate how hard this dynamic relationship really is. Authoritative parents, however, aren’t afraid of the challenge. They are in-tune with their child and they know they must grow with their child to meet his/her needs.

In real life, this might mean something as small as allowing your baby to use a fork although you know he/she can’t completely handle it and it will make a mess. Later, it might mean allowing your elementary-age child some freedom, but within certain limits, to travel to a friend’s house on his bike.

This authoritative approach also focuses on skill-building. Through the ability to grow and change with their child’s changing needs, the authoritative parent is inherently building the child’s confidence in themselves and their ability to handle new situations and challenges. If you’ve ever seen a 7-year-old with just a little freedom to ride their bike down the block, you’ve seen the confidence instilled. Inherently, most children know (and most parents too) when they are ready for the next level of skill or responsibility. When given this responsibility at the appropriate time and with the appropriate guidance, a child can flourish.

In contrast, the dictator-type authoritarian approach doesn’t teach the child to think on her own; she becomes crippled by her lack of confidence in her abilities. On the other hand, permissive parenting offers no scaffolding or support—the child just has to figure everything out on their own, which can result in dangerous mistakes. The authoritative approach offers a happy medium between these two extremes.

Now this is not to say that an authoritative parenting approach is easy. As is often the case, the middle approach between two extreme ends of a spectrum is the most difficult. Sometimes it may seem easier to give up and just let your child do whatever they like or bear down and insist on blind obedience. As we have seen with research, however, by sticking with authoritative parenting your children will ultimately reap the greatest benefits.

Information for Your Teen about Abuse in Relationships

Last updated on September 19th, 2016 at 06:28 pm

If you’re in a relationship and you feel unhappy about or frightened by the way your partner treats you, you don’t have to put up with it.

It can be hard to know what’s “normal” in a relationship. It can take time to get to know each other and discover what works for you both. But there is one thing that’s for sure: abusive or violent behaviour is not acceptable, and if it’s happening to you it’s OK to ask for help and advice.

Partner abuse can happen to anyone of any age, culture or religion. It can happen to boys or girls, but it’s much more likely to happen to girls. Young people in same-sex relationships are also more likely to be affected.

Tink Palmer, a social worker who works with people who have been abused, says: “No one should have to put up with violence in any form. If it’s happening to you, talk to a person you trust, such as a parent, a trusted adult or a friend. Don’t hold it in, talk to someone.”

What is Abuse in a Relationship?

Abuse can involve physical violence, such as hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping or pressuring you into sex. But there are other forms of abuse, too. Emotional and verbal abuse can involve your boyfriend or girlfriend:

  • Saying things that make you feel small, whether you’re alone or in front of other people
  • Pressuring you to do things you don’t want to do, including sexual things
  • Checking up on you all the time to find out where you are and who you’re with – for example, texting or calling you a lot if you’re out with your friends
  • Threatening to hurt you or someone close to you, including pets

As well as happening when you’re together, emotional and verbal abuse can happen on the phone or on the internet.

Behaviour like this is not about love. It’s about someone controlling you and making you behave how they want. People who abuse a partner verbally or emotionally may turn to violence later on in the relationship. This kind of controlling behaviour is a big warning sign.

Behaviour like this is not OK, even if some people tell you it is. Violence and abuse in relationships is not normal, it is not “just the way things are” or “messing around”. It’s a serious issue.

Being hurt emotionally and physically can harm your self-esteem and make you feel anxious, depressed or ill. Girls who are abused can also develop eating disordersproblems with alcohol and drugs, and be at risk of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy from sexual abuse.

Getting Help for Abuse

If you are in a controlling or abusive relationship and you want help, don’t be scared to talk to someone about it. Remember it’s not your fault, no matter what anyone says, and it is far better to talk about it with someone. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking or what you’ve been wearing. There is no excuse.

It can be difficult to find the right words to ask for help. Try asking someone whether you can talk to them about something. Tell them you need some help or that something is happening and you don’t know what to do.

There are several people you might talk to, such as:

  • An adult mentor or a favourite teacher at school
  • Your mum, dad or another trusted adult, perhaps a friend’s mum
  • An adviser on a helpline such as ChildLine (0800 11 11) (*in the UK)
  • A GP (*family physician) or nurse
  • A friend

And remember, try again if you don’t get the response you think you need. If you are in immediate danger, call 999 (*in the UK – 911 in the US).

If You Think a Friend is Being Abused

If you think a friend might be experiencing abuse, talk to her (your friend might be male, but it is most often girls who experience abuse). “Keep calm, and don’t be judgmental or condemning,” says Palmer. “It can be difficult to talk to a friend, but try. If you’re concerned, don’t worry that you might be wrong, worry that you might be right.”

Try asking your friend if you can talk about something. Tell her you’re worried about her and ask her whether everything is OK. Listen to her and let her know that nobody has to put up with abuse.

If she has been hurt, offer to go to the doctor with her. Have the number of a useful helpline, such as ChildLine on 0800 11 11 (*in the UK), ready to give to her.

Your friend might be angry or upset with you for a while, but she will know that you care and you might have helped her realise she can get help.

If You are Abusing Someone

If you are abusing your partner or you’re worried that you might, you can call ChildLine on 0800 11 11 (*in the UK) or talk to a trusted adult.

“Recognising that your behaviour is wrong is the first step to stopping it. But you may need help to stop,” says Palmer.

Sometimes the things that cause abusive behaviour, such as feelings about things that happened in the past, can be very powerful. “We can’t always stop things on our own, or straight away,” says Palmer. “We do need help, which is why it’s important to talk to someone.”

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

U.S. Resources for Teen Relationship / Domestic Abuse: