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When You Love A Child You Leave Your Needs Behind

When I talk about my husband and his beautiful young son with people, there is a question that is inevitably asked. Sometimes it is kind, sometimes it is disapproving and sometimes it is only curious, but it almost always comes up. Why doesn’t my husband have his son living with him? And subsequently, now that we are married, when are we going to have him come live with us instead of his grandparents. I have one very clear and succinct answer, my step-son lives with his grandparents because it is the best place for him to be. Let me elaborate.

I am a product of multiple families. My birth mother was 15 when she had me and she and my grandmother put me up for adoption immediately. I was raised by my adopted parents until I was 12, then a single mom until I was 17 after which I lived with my dad and my step-mom. As an adult I have met and become close to my birth family as well including two half brothers.

Now, I have a step-son who lives with his grandparents. My husband and I visit him regularly and are an active part of his life, however, we are not raising him. The truth is he has a better life with his grandparents than we could give him at this point in ours. The same was true when I moved in with my dad and my step-mom, they were in the position to give me a better life than my mother. I have a niece who was adopted by another family, we still see her and are part of her life, but she has a more stable family than she would have if my brother had kept her.

I grew up believing that the more people who loved a child the better off that child would be. In my case and in the case of my step-son I have absolutely found that to be true. When it comes to raising a child there is no room for judgement or shame whether self imposed or imposed by the society in which we live. It is okay for us to not be able to do something alone, even if that something is parenting. It does not make you a bad parent to ask for help.

The moralistic notion that giving up a child to someone who can and will raise them better makes you a bad person or means that you don’t love your child is dangerous for the child. If my birth mother had not given me up for adoption, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college. I would have been raised in a household that was unhappy and in the case of my grandfather, abusive. Instead I grew up safe and graduated college without debt and now have the love of four different families.

My step-son is being raised somewhere where he can play outside on acres of land. His cousins are with him almost everyday and his great grandmother lives right up the street. He is safe and happy and gets more attention than my husband and I could afford to give him with both of us working full-time jobs. Eventually, we would like to have him live with us, when he is older and we are more financially stable, but for now, the best option is to let him be where he is and not remove him from a beautiful life just because we have been told that we are supposed to raise him ourselves no matter what.

Ultimately it shouldn’t matter who is raising the child, so long as the child is loved, and sometimes the most difficult decisions are the ones that look like the easiest. I believe it is our responsibility as a society, not just as individuals, to keep children safe and to love them. This means not shaming one another for making decisions that we may not understand such as choosing to let a child go to another home. Accepting our limitations as individuals is one of the most important things we can do, for ourselves and for our children, and at the end of the day what is best for the child should not be decided by morals and ideals imposed upon individuals by society, but by what will be the best decision for the child. Period.

Thor: Ragnarok is Sensory Friendly Twice in November at AMC

New sensory friendly logoSince 2007, AMC 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 Thor: Ragnarok on Saturday, November 11th at 10am and Tuesday November 14th at 7pm (local time). Tickets are typically $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 November: Thor: Ragnarok (Tues 11/14); COCO (Sat 11/25); Justice League (Tues 11/28)

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Editor’s note: Although Thor: Ragnarok 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 intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.  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.

Can Wealth Be as Big a Parenting Risk-Factor as Poverty?

Many of us are now aware of the damaging long-term effects of growing up in poverty. The stress experienced by adults and kids who struggle to meet their basic needs can put kids at risk for lower academic achievement, health problems and emotional difficulties.

On the other side of the economic spectrum, however, we are finding that kids who grow up in an environment of affluence may also be at risk for negative outcomes. This may seem hard to believe—kids growing up in a prosperous home would seem to have all the advantages. A recent in-depth study into this issue helps us understand that affluence may go hand-in-hand with some parenting practices that may not promote the ideal development for adolescents.

Problematic Parenting

In both situations of poverty and affluence the issue of resources themselves are often not the sole contributor to developmental problems in children. Both poverty and affluence create situations in which parents’ behavior may be altered to the point that they are unable to adequately support their children. In the situation of poverty, the stress of lack of resources often makes it difficult for parents to be as patient, attentive and supportive as they might otherwise be.

In the case of affluence, parents’ behavior is also altered such that they might not be as emotional available or have enough time to spend with kids. The recent study points out two particular issues that seem to be the source of problems for kids.

  • High expectations with conditional love: having high expectations for kids’ behavior, academic performance or sports is not a problem, per se. When high expectations are combined with lack of emotional support and conditional love, they do become problematic.
    • Example: if a child is only valued or loved for what they can accomplish in the classroom or on the sports field, this actually undermines their development. Among affluent families, research finds that 25% of boys and 15% of girls describe themselves as “underachievers.” The obvious implications for children’s emotional development under these circumstances are worrisome.
  • Isolation from parents: both emotional and physical isolation are more common problems among affluent families. Due to kids’ expansive extracurricular activities, families may have little time together. This, coupled with increased physical distance due to larger houses, may create a situation in which adolescents feel increasingly distant from their parents.

The statistics we see among affluent families illustrate the effects of this isolation and conditional love scenarios among teens. Affluent teens have higher rates of clinical depression (25% higher) and substance abuse (15-35% higher) compared to non-affluent groups. Teen girls, in particular, are at risk for depression—20% of affluent teen girls have clinical levels of depression.

In both conditions of poverty and affluence, the types of parental factors that can mitigate the effects of each situation are similar. If parents can remain warm, emotionally responsive, supportive and provide some structure (without becoming a helicopter parent), then kids in both situations are much more likely to have positive futures.

Sensory Friendly Screening of Geostorm 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 Geostorm, 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 Geostorm sensory friendly tomorrow, Tuesday, October 24th 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).

Coming in November: Thor: Ragnarok (Sat 11/11) and (Tues 11/14); COCO (Sat 11/25); Justice League (Tues 11/28)

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Editor’s note: Geostorm 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-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for destruction, action and violence.  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.

4 Things That Will Help Your Child Develop Early Reading Skills

Developing early reading skills in children ages 9-48 months involves enhancing cognitive skills such as sequential processing, simultaneous processing, focused attention, and inhibition.

Speaking with your child face to face, drawing attention to characters and actions on the written page and practicing how oral-motor sounds relate to phonemic representation, are skills we can model and teach through playful interaction. CLICK on the 4 Activities IMAGE below to download a printable version to help you keep these fun, yet meaningful activities front of mind.

Ages 9-18 Months, enhance visual tracking skills by reading picture books with your children for a few minutes daily.  Turn the pages of the books and use your finger to point out characters, movement, and action.  Talk about what the children see on the page.  “The doggie is running.”  “Where is he going?”

Ages 18-24 months, speak with your child face to face.  Children develop phonemic awareness by experiencing the kinesthesis of oral-motor movements.  When you speak with your child face to face and enunciate your words, your child watches how your mouth forms the sounds.  So sit face to face while you speak, playfully encourage your child to make the phonemic sounds with you,

Ages 24-36 months, reading fluency is correlated with rhythmic patterns and sounds.  When children are able to read with meter, the recurring pattern of stresses or accents that provide the pulse or beat of music, they become more fluid readers enhancing foundational skills that underlie comprehension.  As you read books like Dr. Seuss, enjoy the rhyme and rhythm.  “The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Ages 36-48 months, sequential processing is a foundational cognitive skill that underlies both cognition and movement. We read, speak, play and even move in a sequential manner.  One step comes before the next.  So enjoy noticing and talking about patterns with your children.  Be it in the car, while cooking in the kitchen or on the playground, explore what you are doing in words and talk about what comes next.  “First we walk up the stairs, then we climb on the slide, then we slide down, Zoom!”

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bloom cover - 140x208Written for real parents with anxious, angry and over-the-top kids, Bloom is a brain-based approach to parenting all children. Taking its lead from neuroscience and best practices in early childhood mental health, it offers parents, teachers and care providers the words, thoughts and actions to raise calm, confident children, while reducing the need for consequences and punishment. The first book of its kind, it provides pages full of printable mantras you can carry with you, hang on your fridge or use in your classroom to raise emotionally competent kids. Stop second-guessing the way you handle misbehaviors, and learn why they occur in the first place. Bloom is available at amazon.com

 

 

My Little Pony: The Movie is Sensory Friendly 2x in October at AMC

New sensory friendly logoSince 2007, AMC 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 My Little Pony: The Movie on Saturday, October 14th and October 28th 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).

Still to come in October: Geostorm (Tues 10/24); My Little Pony: The Movie (Sat 10/28)

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Editor’s note: Although My Little Pony: The Movie 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 some mild 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 family.

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