Child Health & Safety News 12/11: New Facebook Kids Messenger

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Schools Are Introducing ‘Share Tables’ To Feed Hungry Students And Help Reduce Food Waste 

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 15events & stories.

  • We need to talk about guns before my child stays in your home It’s a terribly awkward conversation…we don’t have a problem with you owning guns…we have a problem with our superfast kid… 2017-12-10
  • St. Clair Shores boy fights brain tumor with new proton therapy new therapy precisely targets cancer cells avoiding healthier organs and tissues 2017-12-10
  • Screen Time Right Before Bed Linked to Less Sleep and Higher BMI: Ditch the Phone and Try These Foods to Sleep Better 2017-12-10
  • Thousands of N.C. kindergartener students exempt from vaccines on religious grounds More than double in 5 years… 2017-12-10

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Facebook Kids Messenger – How to use the new child-friendly texting service.
Parents setup the account, child’s name is not searchable and parents must add contacts for their kids

  • My 12 Year Old Was Blackmailed for Nude Photos – For every parent who says “it can’t happen to my kid” PLEASE READ THIS! 2017-12-09
  • 3 Things Parents Can Do To Help Kids Calm Under Pressure 2017-12-08
  • For The 1 In 5 North Texas Kids In Poverty, It’s Harder To Get To The Doctor, Succeed In School  2017-12-04
  • Why Sniffles Hit Hardest At Night – Thurs Time Capsule 2017-12-07
  • Video: What Exactly is Cerebral Palsy? How Do I Know…  2017-12-06
  • Brain remaps itself in child with double hand transplant 2017-12-06
  • Safety concerns raised over the ‘most beautiful girl in the world – 6 year old model with 500k Instagram followers’ 2017-12-06
  • When it comes to threats of violence or suicide, most are known by at least one other individual BEFORE the incident occurs. Bring Say Something to Students in Your Community 2017-12-05
  • A new Child and Adolescent Asthma Guideline has been developed in NZ 2017-12-04
  • Do-It-Yourself Braces: Just Say No and Save Your Child’s Smile 2017-12-04

Help with Holiday Hurdles for Special Needs Kids

Holiday Traditions

Special needs parents and caregivers come up against the spectre of expectations on a daily basis, but the holidays can bring up even more challenges. You may have your ideal holiday all planned out in your mind, or be burdened with visions of holidays past, but your child with special needs may be unable or unwilling to go along with the images in your head. This is certainly true to for typical kids and teens, too!

Religious services

While you may get comfort from attending some form of worship, to a person with special needs a church, temple or other holy place may seem scary. There are strange smells, loud sounds and crowds. This can all be too over stimulating for certain people.

Some places of worship are starting to offer services geared to those with special needs, or may offer an alternative activity while the parents attend services. If these options are not available in your area, ask for them to be initiated – or help to start them yourself. Headphones, earplugs and even surgical masks may help with excessive sensory input. Weighted vests or special fidgets or stuffed animals may offer a sense of being grounded or calmness.

Social expectations

Let’s say you open a present from Great Aunt Ethel. It is a sweater, and you don’t really like it, but you know that you should still say thank you. Some people with special needs lack that politeness filter and may blurt out their honest feelings, such as “that is an ugly sweater.” Not only is Great Aunt Ethel offended but the parents of the child with special needs may also come under fire for not teaching the child “good manners.” Too bad no one taught Great Aunt Ethel good taste, then this awkward situation would have been avoided.

Maybe waiting to open gifts in private could help spare Great Aunt Ethel’s feelings, and of course a polite thank you note afterwards would be appreciated.

Holiday Gatherings and Visits – even to the North Pole

Visiting friends and family can be challenging due to strange environments, new people and  changes in routine.

Bring familiar items and if necessary, favorite foods you know your child will eat. Social stories where you can rehearse acceptable responses are helpful, and de-sensitization practices may help make new places less problematic when you visit them beforehand while they are empty.

Your holiday tradition may include a visit to Santa. As a former Macy’s Herald Square Elf I can tell you that as nice a person as Santa is, to a small child this giant man in a vibrant red suit can seem terrifying! Screams, crying and squirming are common responses even from neurotypical children. If your child with special needs truly can’t handle an encounter with Mr. Kringle please don’t force them – you are trying to make a happy memory for kids, not torture them.

Check local malls or a We Rock The Spectrum location for Sensitive Santa, which is a crowd-free visit with subdued lighting and low or no music. Many special needs families have gotten their very first happy holiday photo thanks to these events. Waving to Santa from across the mall or a photo with Santa far in the background may also be a fun alternative to standing in a long line to meet him face to face.

It isn’t just visiting the jolly elf that may bring up tough situations – Great Aunt Ethel may bring her own set of problems. At her house the rules may be different, which is difficult and possibly even upsetting for individuals with special needs. Even if she comes to your house she may upset the usual environment; she may wear a strong perfume or change the usual mealtimes. While you may want that photo of your child and Great Aunt Ethel snuggling by the fire, your child may want nothing to do with her.

Give your child some space. A group photo may be more tolerable for your child. After some time your child may become comfortable with new people and new settings. Let them ease in at their own speed.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Editor’s NoteAutism Speaks is a co-sponsor of Sensory-Friendly Santa. Click here to find one in your area.

Sensory Friendly Screening of Wonder, Tomorrow Night at AMC

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 Wonder, 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 Wonder, sensory friendly tomorrow, Tuesday, December 12th at 7pm (local time). Tickets can be as low as $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).

Still to come in December:  Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Sat 12/23) and (Tues 12/26)


Editor’s note: Wonder has been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly “Mature Audience” screening. Parents should be advised that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for thematic elements including bullying, and some mild 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.

3 Things Parents Can Do To Help Kids Calm Under Pressure

Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control our own behavior, thoughts or feelings altering them in accordance with the demands of a situation. While we often expect children to be well-modulated, it is most helpful when we teach them what being regulated “feels like”.

Whether you teach, love or parent children from pre-school to high school, having the “felt sense” of internal regulation is helpful at any age. Here are 3 simple activities to help students experience self-regulation.  RIGHT CLICK on the IMAGE to download for personal and professional use.

1. Talk with your children about the fact that we all have an engine inside us that revs up or calms down depending on what we are doing. When we feel excited, anxious or nervous our engines rev up. We need to be our brains “best coaches” by helping our bodies calm down.

2. Model for the child how to “coach” their brain.

Step 1: Help your child begin to notice his own escalation. “Let’s talk about what it feels like when you are in class and your teacher calls on you. What happens to your body? Does your heart begin to race? Do you think, ‘It’s my turn now, she’s going to ask me a question.’”

“In that moment, you want to coach your brain to be alert while your body remains calm. So when you hear your name called, take a big deep breath and turn toward your teacher so that you can hear what she asks you.”

Step 2: “When we feel anxious we tend to rush, so remember, go ‘Slow-Mo’. Slowing down and being present will help you to focus, think and respond.”

3. Practice. Role-play different scenarios. “What happens when…” How will we be our ‘brain’s best coach’? What will we say to ourselves? What will we notice about how our body feels? What will we do to remain alert yet calm?  Think about a time when you feel calm. How does your body feel then? That’s the feeling we are aiming for when we feel anxious or stressed.

Helping children begin to be mindful of the felt sense of the difference in feeling revved up or calmed down is the beginning to better self-control.


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


Video: What Exactly is Cerebral Palsy? How Do I Know…

About one in 400 children born alive has cerebral palsy. In this video Dr Lucinda Carr explains the causes, symptoms and treatment

Editor’s Note: Video Highlights

Cerebral Palsy:

  • Describes a persistent disorder of movement or posture caused by an abnormality of the immature brain
  • It’s surprisingly common and occurs in one in 400 live births
  • And ranges in severity from mild to severe

Causes – many different:

  • For the majority, the causes occur prior to birth. The brain may not develop normally in the womb, due to genetics, infection or trauma
  • A small group experience problems around the time of birth although this is uncommon
  • The highest-risk group are children born prematurely (40% of children with cerebral palsy were born prematurely)

Signs / Symptoms

  • An early ultrasound brain scan may show some damage
  • “Fits” shortly after the baby is born
  • Problems with movement when the child begins to develop
    • Not moving their hands and legs normally
    • Not beginning to sit or walk when expected (developmental milestones)

Treatment – once diagnosis is made

  • A (UK) child will meet with a local child development team* – typically a doctor and a physiotherapist.
  • It may be helpful to involve speech therapists, occupational therapists and psychologists at this point.
  • The aim is to help identify what the child finds difficult and help the with this.
  • The common aim is to help the child in their movements – to keep the muscles strong and of good length and avoid contractures that could require orthopaedic surgery to correct
    • Doing stretching and strengthening exercises
    • Using splints and orthotics where necessary
    • Botox injections may help to relax the stiff muscles
  • As they grow we look to their needs as young adults

Most young people with cerebral palsy are fully independent and have full, active lives

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

* It is likely that a similar set of doctors would get involved at this point in the US

NHS Choices logo



Child Health & Safety News 12/4: Grim Booster Seat Video Goes Viral

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Safety News: YouTube has upped the number of video removals after concerns that children are exposed to extreme content

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 20 events & stories.

  • Australian Research Study to examine impact of mother’s diet on children’s long-term health 2017-12-03
  • How one health professional addresses the stigma around childhood obesity 2017-12-03
  • Whether She’s LGBTQ or an Ally, the Newest Barbie Is Awesome 2017-12-02
  • How Pressuring Kids to Get Good Grades Can Have a Negative Impact 2017-12-02
  • The GOP Has Officially Engineered a Children’s Health-Care Crisis 2017-12-01
  • The Holidays: From Nuts to Trees What Makes Your Family Sneeze 2017-12-01
  • Gift Guide for Raising Kids Who Care 2017-11-30

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
See the viral video prompting parents to buckle their ‘big kids’ in booster seats 

  • Why your child should get the HPV vaccine – Dr Valerie Jones 2017-11-30
  • Dealing With a Child Who Is Lying – Thurs Time Capsule  2017-11-30
  •   2017-11-29
  • Baby denied kidney receives transplant An Atlanta baby receives a kidney transplant after the hospital first denied surgery due to his father’s arrest. 2017-11-28
  • For The 1 In 5 North Texas Kids In Poverty, It’s Harder To Get To The Doctor, Succeed In School  2017-11-28
  • Every Beijing daycare center to get a supervisor to monitor child safety taking no chances…. 2017-11-21
  • States prepare to shut down children’s health programs if Congress doesn’t act 5 states run out in late December, others in January…  2017-11-27
  • Sensory Friendly Screening of Justice League, Tomorrow at 2017-11-27
  • Pediatric Safety: Anxiety and Depression in Children: 5 Warning Signs to Watch For 2017-11-27