Child Health & Safety News 10/9: Sextortion -Parents Need To Know

Last updated on October 17th, 2017 at 02:01 am

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: How ‘Sesame Street’ is helping kids learn to cope with trauma abcn.ws/2fYmZ0x

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 overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • Daan Utsav: Bringing Quality Healthcare To Underprivileged Children bit.ly/2hXQkJ0 2017-10-08
  • Does a Parent’s Age Have an Effect on Child Development? bit.ly/2yvh8ax 2017-10-08
  • 85% of Parents Are Giving Time-Outs Wrong bit.ly/2xoaoLH 2017-10-08
  • A growing backlash among young people disillusioned with the negative side of tech, such as online abuse & fake news bit.ly/2xkEYWg 2017-10-07
  • 3 ways to boost your child’s health through their gut bit.ly/2g0Tpr7 promoting healthy gut bacteria that can last a lifetime 2017-10-06
  • For Children With Severe Anxiety, Drugs Plus Therapy Help Best n.pr/2xdDVHJ 2017-10-06

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Why Every Parent Needs to Know About Sextortion thebea.st/2y1e2YW
it’s the fastest growing crime against kids on the internet!

  • West VA senators back reauthorizing the 20 yr old CHIP (childrens health insur plan) which expired this month bit.ly/2yI0cdd 2017-10-06
  • Did You Know..Every 2 weeks a child dies from a “tipover”? – Thurs Time Capsule 09/11 bit.ly/2x1Lkqe 2017-10-05
  • 9 million kids get health insurance under CHIP. Congress just let it expire. wapo.st/2xQBacw 2017-10-04
  • Quarter of young people admit to bullying someone online bit.ly/2xf2e3h 2017-10-04
  • Rett Syndrome: The Little Girl’s Disease Nobody Knows zpr.io/n6Y2H 2017-10-04
  • Page Turners for Grade Schoolers bit.ly/2xOQbLZ ..books that are “safe” for young readers not quite ready for mature content 2017-10-03
  • Women’s Choice Award® Announces Best Children’s Hospitals for 2018Awards to recognize excellence in pediatric care read.bi/2xUqUl8 2017-10-03
  • Feds push flu shots; 105 US children died from the flu last year detne.ws/2xEjlQ3 2017-10-02
  • An ADHD Dog Trainer Shows Special Kids How To Use Calm Energy zpr.io/n6P5E 2017-10-02

Carbon Monoxide is a Silent Killer…How to Keep Your Family Safe

Last updated on October 17th, 2017 at 02:02 am

As the winter months rapidly approach and the cold starts to set in, It is inevitable that people will start to break out the heaters. It is around this time of year that you will start to see an increase in the number of Carbon Monoxide stories in the news and especially in the hospitals. It’s the Carbon Monoxide I would like to talk about today.

What is Carbon Monoxide and how can I tell where it is?

Carbon Monoxide or CO, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is created from unburned Fuel Sources such as gas, oil or coal. So any appliance that uses fuel can create carbon monoxide. Heaters, Furnaces, Dryers, Cars, Fire Places, Chimneys, Generators, Barbecues, etc.. all have the ability to create carbon monoxide. Please make sure that any fuel burning item in your home has been properly installed and sealed, and that all manufacturer instructions for doing so have been followed.

Items that use electricity do not burn a fuel and do not emit carbon monoxide. While these items may pose a significant risk of fire when used improperly or left unattended, they do not burn fuel and do not pose a risk of Carbon Monoxide.

Common Locations of Carbon Monoxide:

  • Automobile Garage – Cars warming up or left running in a garage will cause a build-up of Carbon Monoxide.
  • Laundry Room – Laundry machines that run on natural gas or propane can emit propane.
  • Basement – Furnaces and Heaters located in a basement or enclosed area can cause a build-up of Carbon Monoxide.
  • Kitchen – Gas Appliances like ovens can emit Carbon Monoxide.
  • Bedroom – Fuel burning heaters such as gas lamps and heaters can emit Carbon Monoxide.

What are the Signs of CO Poisoning?

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty Breathing.

How Can I Detect CO In My Home?

While CO is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas it can be detected with Carbon Monoxide monitors that can be bought at many stores. Things to know about CO detectors before you purchase:

  • CO detectors come in many sizes.
  • CO detectors are NOT all the same. Some detect non-lethal low levels of CO while others only detect potentially lethal high levels of CO. Please read the package on the detector you purchase.
  • Some can be hardwired to your house alarm system and some use batteries AA or 9volt batteries.

Where In My Home Should I Place CO Detectors?

  • CO detectors should be placed in areas of the house you spend the most time in. The living room, Family Room areas are great places to put them and they should also be placed outside the bedroom areas to alert occupants Before it reaches the bedrooms.
  • CO detectors should not be placed next to or near items that emit a lot of heat as it may cause the device to malfunction. As always, please read and follow the instructions on whichever device you purchase.

What should I do if my CO detector is activated OR someone in my home begins to have the symptoms of CO poisoning?

  • If the detector is activated you should immediately open doors and windows and go outside.
  • Once outside, assess to see if anyone is having symptoms of CO poisoning.
  • If anyone is having symptoms CALL 911 AND Follow the instructions they give you.
  • If the alarm continues to sound call 911 and let the fire department clear the home.

For more information on Carbon monoxide you can contact the following:

  • Your local Fire Department
  • Underwriter Laboratories – 1-847-272-8800
  • Utility Companies in your area. The Gas company for example.

As always, I urge everyone to err on the side of caution and CALL 911 if any concern exists about CO in your home. Please be safe and use your items carefully. Here in South Florida during hurricane Irma there were fatalities due to CO because people ran generators and motors inside of their homes while they slept and succumb to CO poisoning. Always run motors and any fuel burning device in an opened, ventilated area!

Be Safe and stay warm.

Sensory Friendly Screening: Blade Runner 2049 Tomorrow at AMC

Last updated on October 11th, 2017 at 11:26 pm

AMC Entertainment (AMC) has expanded their Sensory Friendly Films program in partnership with the Autism Society. This Tuesday evening, families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of Blade Runner 2049, a film that may appeal to older audiences on the autism spectrum.

As always, 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“.

AMC and the Autism Society will be showing Blade Runner 2049, sensory friendly tomorrow, Tuesday, October 10th at 7pm (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: My Little Pony: The Movie (Sat 10/14); Geostorm (Tues 10/24); My Little Pony: The Movie (Sat 10/28)

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Editor’s note: Although Blade Runner 2049 has been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language. 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 family.

Rett Syndrome: The Little Girl’s Disease Nobody Knows

Last updated on October 11th, 2017 at 11:26 pm

Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects brain development, resulting in severe mental and physical disability.

It is estimated to affect about 1 in 12,000 girls born each year and is only rarely seen in males.

This page covers:

Signs and symptoms

Some children with Rett syndrome are affected more severely than others. Also, the age at which symptoms first appear varies from child to child.

A child with Rett syndrome may not have every symptom listed below, and their symptoms can change as they get older.

Rett syndrome is described in four stages, although symptoms will often overlap between each stage. The main features of each stage are described below.

Stage One: Early Signs

At first, the child will appear to develop and grow normally for at least six months, although (especially with hindsight) there may be subtle signs of Rett syndrome before the child is recognized as having a problem.

Stage one is sometimes described as ‘stagnation’ because the child’s development slows down or stops altogether. Symptoms include:

  • low muscle tone (hypotonia)
  • difficulty feeding
  • unusual, repetitive hand movements or jerky limb movements
  • delay with development of speech
  • mobility problems, such as problems sitting, crawling and walking
  • lack of interest in toys

These symptoms typically begin during the period from six to 18 months of life and often last for several months, although they can persist for a year or more.

Stage one can often go unnoticed by the child’s parents and by healthcare professionals because the changes occur gradually and may be subtle.

Stage Two: Regression

During stage two, known as ‘regression’ or the ‘rapid destructive stage’, the child starts to lose some of their abilities. This stage usually begins between the ages of one and four and may last for any time from two months to more than two years.

The child will gradually or suddenly start to develop severe problems with communication and language, memory, hand use, mobility, co-ordination and other brain functions. Some of the characteristics and behaviours are similar to those of autism spectrum disorder.

Signs at this stage include:

  • loss of the ability to use the hands purposefully – repetitive hand movements are often difficult to control and include wringing, washing, clapping or tapping
  • periods of distress, irritability and sometimes screaming for no obvious reason
  • social withdrawal – a loss of interest in people and avoidance of eye contact
  • unsteadiness and awkwardness when walking
  • problems sleeping
  • slowing of head growth
  • difficulty eating, chewing or swallowing, and sometimes constipation that may cause tummy aches

Later on during regression, the child may experience periods of rapid breathing (hyperventilation) or slow breathing, including breath-holding. They may also swallow air which can lead to abdominal bloating.

Stage Three: Plateau

Stage three of Rett syndrome can begin as early as two years of age or as late as 10 years of age. It often lasts for many years, with many girls remaining in this stage for most of their lives.

During stage three, some of the problems that occurred at stage two may get better – for example, there may be improvements in behaviour, with less irritability and crying.

The child may become more interested in people and their surroundings, and there may be improvements in alertness, attention span and communication. Their walking ability may also improve (or they may learn to walk, if they were previously unable to do so).

On the downside, problems that can arise during stage three include:

  • seizures, which become more common
  • irregular breathing patterns may get worse – for example, shallow breathing followed by rapid, deep breathing, or breath holding
  • teeth grinding
  • some children may develop heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias)

Gaining and maintaining weight can also be difficult to achieve.

Stage Four: Deterioration In Movement

Stage four can last for years or even decades. The main symptoms at this stage are:

  • development of a spinal curve (the spine bending to the left or right side), known as scoliosis
  • muscle weakness and spasticity (abnormal stiffness, particularly in the legs)
  • losing the ability to walk

Communication, language skills and brain function don’t tend to get any worse during stage four. The repetitive hand movements may decrease and eye gaze usually improves.

Seizures also usually become less of a problem during adolescence and early adult life, although they will often be a lifelong problem to manage.

What causes Rett syndrome?

Almost all cases of Rett syndrome are caused by a mutation (a change in the DNA) in the MECP2 gene, which is found on the X chromosome (one of the sex chromosomes).

The MECP2 gene contains instructions for producing a particular protein (MeCP2), which is needed for brain development. The gene abnormality prevents nerve cells in the brain from working properly.

There’s usually no family history of Rett syndrome, which means it isn’t passed on from one generation to the next. Almost all cases (over 99%) are spontaneous, with the mutation occurring randomly. This is known as a ‘de novo’ mutation.

Diagnosing Rett syndrome

Rett syndrome is usually diagnosed based on your child’s symptoms, and by ruling out other more common disorders.

A diagnosis of Rett syndrome may not be made for a number of years because the syndrome is so rare and symptoms don’t tend to appear until a child is between six and 18 months old.

A genetic blood test can be used to identify the genetic mutation responsible for Rett syndrome (although it isn’t found in every child with the syndrome). If a change is found in the MECP2 gene, it can help confirm the diagnosis, but failing to find it doesn’t necessarily rule out the syndrome.

Read more about genetic testing.

Managing Rett syndrome

There’s no cure for Rett syndrome, so treatment focuses on managing the symptoms.

As a parent caring for a child with the syndrome, it’s likely you’ll need help and support from a wide range of healthcare professionals.

Your child may benefit from some of the following treatments and aids:

  • speech and language therapy, picture boards, eye gaze technology and other visual aids to help with communication
  • medication for breathing and mobility problems, and anti-epileptic medicine to control seizures
  • physiotherapy, attention to mobility, careful attention to your child’s sitting posture (to minimize the chances of scoliosis developing), and frequent changes in posture
  • if scoliosis does become established, a back brace and sometimes spinal surgery may be used to prevent the spine curving further (read more about treating scoliosis)
  • a high-calorie diet to help maintain sufficient weight, with the use of a feeding tube and other feeding aids if necessary
  • occupational therapy to help develop the skills needed for dressing, feeding and other daily activities
  • an ankle-foot orthosis (lower leg brace) to help them walk independently
  • a hand splint to help control hand movements, if these are severe (they’re mainly used for limited periods to prevent self-injury or to encourage activities with the other hand)
  • beta-blocker medication or a pacemaker to control their heart rhythm

Therapeutic horse riding, swimming, hydrotherapy and music therapy have also been reported to be beneficial. Ask your healthcare team where you can access these therapies.

Read more about caring for a disabled child and care equipment, aids and adaptations.

Outlook

Although some people with Rett syndrome may retain a degree of hand control, walking ability and communication skills, most will be dependent on 24-hour care throughout their lives.

Many people with Rett syndrome reach adulthood, and those who are less severely affected can live into old age. However, some people die at a fairly young age as a result of complications, such as heart rhythm abnormalities, pneumonia and epilepsy.

Advice for carers (*caregivers)

Caring for a child with Rett syndrome is mentally and physically challenging. Most carers will need social and psychological support.

Your guide to care and support** (for our UK readers) provides lots of information and advice about how you can take time to look after yourself, including:

You may also find it useful to contact a support group, such as Rett UK** for information and advice about looking after a child with the syndrome.

National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service

If your child has Rett syndrome, your clinical team will pass information about him or her on to the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service (NCARDRS).**

This helps scientists look for better ways to treat and prevent the syndrome. You can opt out of the register at any time.

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

OCTOBER IS RETT SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH!

** Resources in the United States

For more information and to donate to Rett Syndrome research:

Meet Miss Maddie! Madelyne Rae was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome on January 17, 2017. She was 27 months old at that time. Since her diagnosis Maddie has had several hospital stays for seizures, metabolic acidosis and for feeding tube placement. Maddie recently celebrated her third birthday! She’s learning to communicate using an eye-gaze, speech-generating device called a Tobii Dynavox. She stays active with her adaptive bicycle and goes to school full-time.

 

NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk





Child Health & Safety News 10/2: Whole30 during Pregnancy?

Last updated on October 11th, 2017 at 11:26 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Photo Of Mom’s Horrific Car Accident Goes Viral For Important Message: This is why you buckle in safely EVERY time oxygen.tv/2fBchZV

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 overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • What Is the Tango App and Is It Safe? bit.ly/2yBnlO9 2017-10-01
  • Some preventative tips during National SIDS Awareness Month bit.ly/2fBtlPp 2017-10-01
  • WHO recommends large-scale treatment for intestinal worms to improve children’s health and nutrition bit.ly/2fzDAnB 2017-10-01
  • Increased asthma in kids w/ families struggling financially sparks push to improve military kids’ health care on.mgmadv.com/2fAvHOE 2017-09-30

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Is it Safe to Whole30 During my Pregnancy? bit.ly/2fIAoqh
Note: Always check with your doctor

  • 14 Year old recognized for saving young child from drowning bit.ly/2xENA9K 2017-09-30
  • Pediatric Safety – Kids Who Care – Issue #1 bit.ly/2xLV631 2017-09-29
  • Keeping Your Family Safe from MRSA -Thurs Time Capsule 09/11 bit.ly/2f7U35C 2017-09-28
  • How to Raise Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Children zpr.io/nnm3e 2017-09-27
  • Millions of kids in developing countries aren’t properly developing cognitive learning skills nyp.st/2fHQ4K5 2017-09-26
  • Concerns about ADHD – introduction and overview bit.ly/2xnWS9M2017-09-19
  • NY Times Opinion | California’s Sexual Assault Law Will Hurt Black Kids nyti.ms/2hp0fmY 2017-09-25
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle is Sensory Friendly Tomorrow at AMC zpr.io/nnGQm 2017-09-25
  • 2017 Parent Empathy Pledge: Focus on the “Other” Report Card zpr.io/nnG5W 2017-09-25

An ADHD Dog Trainer Shows Special Kids How To Use Calm Energy

Last updated on October 11th, 2017 at 11:26 pm

I have been writing articles about safe and healthy interactions between kids and canines for Pediatric Safety for over two years now, and in those articles I have shared numerous personal stories with you all… so I think it’s safe to say that through those stories many of you have gotten to know me pretty well. I have shared about what is was like growing up with ADHD and learning disabilities in a time where it was not really known about in my post: Growing Up With ADHD – Have Things Changed?“. I broached the subject of being in recovery from addiction in Kids, Pets & Your Holiday Party: Read this List (check it twice!) and I got into a bit more detail about it and also talked a bit about suffering for many years with low-self-esteem in Building a Child’s Confidence Through Dog Training“.

So now, I want to combine little bits of all of that into this month’s article, because being a professional dog trainer, and especially being a member of a wonderful organization like the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) has changed me. There are so many observations and realizations I have made about myself since becoming a member; both personally and professionally! The changes I had to make to grow as a trainer helped me take a new look at the struggles I had so many years ago and how I might have handled them today. It is my hope that in sharing this story with you, I may be able to help many of you who have dogs and also a child who struggles with ADHD. I hope I can potentially offer you a different perspective on how they may see and perceive things, not based on years of research, studies and statistics, but based solely on my own personal experiences… who knows, maybe some of those same tactics can help you and your child too.

Early on in my career as a dog trainer, I really did not understand why I did not do well with toy breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Chihuahuas, etc. It was obvious (even to me) that I did not do well with them, but I just couldn’t grasp the ‘why’ of it. So I shied away from them. I took all the calls for the mid-sized dogs (Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Wheaten Terriers…) large breeds (Golden and Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Huskies…) and even giant breeds like the Great Dane, Rottweiler’s and Mastiffs!. I was consistently successful with any breed that wasn’t tiny and typically nervous, so I referred those clients elsewhere. But I think deep down, it did bother me! Who wants to admit they cannot succeed in any area of their chosen profession? I sure didn’t!

But it was exactly this time, eight years ago, that I attended my first IACP conference!

To say that I ran the gamut of emotions- from excited to nervous, insecure, and petrified -would be a huge understatement! I do need to mention here that as a New Yorker, we all tend to talk a bit faster than most. I arrived at the conference a New Yorker with ADHD and extreme nervousness! Fortunately most of the other attendees acclimated to my hyperactivity pretty quickly… but I couldn’t help but notice how often words like, ‘Calm, tranquil, peaceful, and consistent’ were used in conjunction with the word ‘energy’ (ie: ‘calm energy,’ and ‘tranquil energy,’ etc.). Even the trainers who had their dogs with them … Both the trainers AND their dogs… were all so STILL! And my first thought was ‘CRAP! I can’t do that!’ I immediately flashed back to my childhood. It was a time in my life when the word ‘can’t’ first became my mantra.

But then came the main meeting…. And the main speaker, Cesar Milan, took the stage. His primary methodology is all about using a calm energy… building the dog’s respect for him by being assertive, firm and consistent…and CALM. At the end of his speech, when it was time for questions and answers, you bet I had some! But when I stood up to take the microphone to ask it, in my nervousness, the rapid speech was tripled, and my words seem to come out in a jumble, all tripping over each other! And Cesar, obviously having no clue what I was trying to ask, came to the edge of the stage, and in a calm and very thoughtful pose, looked at Peter, my husband, and asked, “How often is she this hyper?”

At this time the entire audience of trainers, all of whom had spent the last few days already with me and having already witnessed my hyperactivity, began to laugh… and in front of thousands, I began to cry. All that pent up nervousness, all of those hidden insecurities up until that point, all the overwhelming new knowledge (and with it, the self-doubt) came rushing to the surface.

I somehow regained my composure, eventually got out my question, and he answered it, but it was when we spoke afterwards that some things suddenly started to make sense to me. I envisioned myself arriving at a client’s home with a tiny dog, that is fearful and nervous, and me coming at them at a hundred miles an hour! How would I personally feel if I was afraid, and someone came at me like that? I was just lucky that I hadn’t gotten bitten yet!

As I thought more and more on this, other memories resurfaced…. How as a child, our dog Brandy would often come to me to rough-house and play, but if he wanted to cuddle, or just wanted to be calm and still, it was my sisters he sought out. As a kid, I took it as a personal rejection. Now I realize it wasn’t.

And I started to change the way I worked with my clients.

  • When I had to work with a small dog, when I arrived at the house, I had to take a few deep calming breaths before ringing the doorbell. And I found when I calmly and assertively greeted them, both owner and dog seemed more calm and receptive!
  • Another challenge I had was my impatience and aggravation sitting in traffic for an hour prior to arriving at a clients house…. So to combat that, I left an extra half hour earlier than I needed to to arrive on time. This allowed me to arrive, park near-by and do something (reading, listening to some music, etc.) to bring down my level of agitation prior to arriving at the person’s house… And amazingly, I found this not only worked well for the many small dogs I now worked with, but for the larger hyper pups as well!

When I tried to help my clients with hyperactive ADHD kids, and I would explain the importance of the kids being calm around the dog, there was one key fact that I forgot….

Almost anyone can be calm for an hour during a focused training session. But if I was able to curtail that hyperactivity full time, I would not have the diagnosis of ADHD! Was I seriously asking my client’s hyperactive kids to be calm full-time and expecting them to accomplish it?

I needed to figure out a way to help them interact with their dogs better, because I could physically see the different way the dog or pup reacted to the ADHD child versus older or calmer family members.

  • With the calmer children, the dog was more relaxed, did not mind lying next to them and even cuddling with them….
  • The ADHD child was filled with scratches and nip marks from the dog chasing them and jumping on them. Also a child that feels rejected by the dog that won’t cuddle with them will often try to ‘force the dog to stay with them’ by holding their collar or wrapping their arms around him. If a child physically restrains a dog and the dog wants to get away, there is a very high risk in that moment of the dog biting the child to free themselves.
  • My toughest challenge was trying to figure out a good way to explain these dynamics to the child as well as explain to the parents the potential risks and dangers in a way so that they could understand and be receptive to the necessary changes.

What we did (and what you can do)

  • The first thing I wanted to do was work with the child (and Mother) alone… without other family members present. (This made the child feel less self-conscious and more important – he was getting to work alone with the trainer)
  • Next, I wanted to show the child that they too can have a ‘cuddling session’ with the dog. I sat on the floor with the child and we just talked a bit about the puppy, and I asked him if he would like to be able to cuddle with the puppy too, and he looked so sad when he said, “Yes, but the puppy doesn’t like me that way.” This was my opportunity to explain to him that if all they did was run and go crazy with the dog that would ALWAYS be their relationship, so he had to show the pup that they can do this.
  • Next I sat side by side with the child, with my legs stretched out in front of me. I opened my legs a bit and I put the puppy on his back in between them, then gently held him in place. Once the dog had settled on me, I told the boy to gently pet all the way up, and all the way down the dog’s body, instead of quick rough movements in one spot, and to avoid the paws and ears for now, as they are sensitive areas on a dog that tend to get them easily riled up when messed with.
  • The little boy did as I asked, and then when the pup was nice and calm, I switched the pup over to in between Mom’s legs and we continued the gentle petting. It was important that Mom was comfortable with this and understand what she had to do if she was going to be able to continue this when I was not around.
  • After pup was relaxed with Mom, we instructed the child to sit the same way his Mom and I did, and then we calmly put the pup between his legs, and I let his Mom help him to keep the pup still and calm. We continued this, and much to the little boy’s delight, the puppy let out a huge sigh, and then closed his eyes!

When the pup was nice and relaxed, we got him up slowly and then put his leash on and all of us (Mom included) went for a walk. We worked on walking SLOWLY, and getting the pup to keep pace with the boy, instead of the other way around. The boy seemed to have a bit of trouble walking slowly for any length of time, so we practiced taking ten steps, and then telling pup to SIT. I praised the boy, and had the boy praise his dog (calmly and gently). We did this again and again…. Every ten steps we stopped and sat. The Mom told me she had never seen her son so calm and focused, and I pointed out to the Mom and the boy how receptive the pup was to his training.

A dog can be such a wonderful tool to help a child with special needs. All it really takes is a little know-how, some time, patience, and understanding. This is why they are so often used for therapy.

As an adult who has dealt with ADHD all of my life, I hope some of this helps you to help your child move out of the “I can’t’ Mantra, and into the “Wow… I really can!” all the while helping your child and pet build a safe and beautiful relationship!