Change: Notice It, Adapt to It, Anticipate It, Go with It!

By Patricia S. Lemer, M.S. Bus., NCC Everything changes:  winter to spring, summer to fall, youth to adolescence, health to illness. We expect, accept and adapt naturally to the irreversible cycles of the seasons and to aging. Changes from health to illness and illness to health are not so predictable and irreversible.  We can benefit from fine-tuning our responses to these changes. How people deal with change is the basis for a profound, little book, “Who Moved My Cheese?”, given to me by my dear friend Diana Henry, OTR.  Cheese, a metaphor for what we want in life, is elusive.  As I read the book, I saw how its wisdom can help us attain our “cheese” — good health and function for our kids. Change Happens; Notice It Health changes appear first in those subtle differences in skin, digestion and behavior.  Do those little bumps persist?  Is elimination less regular?  Are sleep patterns disturbed?  In many children these early warning…

Social Stories for Autism, ADHD and PDD-NOS

by Stephen M Edelson, Ph.D. Director, Center for the Study of Autism  Theory of mind Many persons with autism, attention deficits (ADD & ADHD), learning disabilities (LD), and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD-NOS) have deficits in social cognition, the ability to think in ways necessary for appropriate social interaction. Recent research has shown that these individuals do not realize that other people have their own thoughts, plans, and points of view.  They also appear to have difficulty understanding other people’s beliefs, attitudes and emotions. As a result, they may not be able to anticipate what others will say or do in various social situations.  This has been termed as a lack of “theory of mind,” or the ability to take the perspective of another person. Social Stories An interesting technique, developed by Carol Gray, a consultant to students with autism in Michigan, helps individu­als with autism “read” and understand social situations better.  This approach presents appropriate social behaviors in the form…

Special Needs Summer Camps or ESY?

Special Needs Summer Camps or ESY?

Special Needs Summer Camps or ESY?

Patricia S. Lemer, M.S.Bus., NCC, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers, fills us in on special needs summer camps. Parents frequently ask me to make recommendations about summer programming for their children with special needs. They are torn between using the season for intensifying therapy programs or giving the child a break from routine. Any child who has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is eligible for an Extended School Year (ESY) program. ­ First, “critical life skills” are identified in the IEP. Next, a committee determines if the child’s critical life skills, without ESY services: Will regress and not be recovered in a reasonable amount of time Are emerging and at a breakthrough point Are impeded by stereotypic, ritualistic or self-injurious behaviors If an interruption in programming is likely to prevent a student from receiving some benefit from the educational program during the regular school year, the school system must provide ESY services. IEP goals for ESY are carried over…

Teacher Says: Help Kids Become Food Allergy Detectives

By Evelyn Porreca Vuko Science teachers and parents can turn kids from elementary to high school age into food allergy detectives.  Teach them to investigate their own bodies and to determine whether they have food allergies that affect their behavior and learning. Stage 1: Do a Little Homework. Many experts believe that nutrition and food play an important role in the behavior of children diagnosed with attention deficits, learning disabilities and pervasive developmental disorders.  Use Dr. William Crook’s book, Help for the Hyperactive Child: A Practical Guide Offering Parents of ADHD Children Alternatives to Ritalin.  Its workbook format is easy to read. Stage 2: Investigate Behavioral & Learning Symptoms. Personal investigation will help students learn more about themselves, their dietary choices and their behavior.  Use this checklist from Stanley Turecki’s book, The Difficult Child. Kids can decide on “yes,” “no,” or “sometimes.” Are you active and don’t like sitting still? Are you easily distracted while working? Do you dislike new…

Using a Multidisciplinary Approach for Autism and Other Spectrum Disorders

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers Recently I returned to Boston for my 30th college reunion.  I was disappointed to find that some of my old haunts had vanished, but thrilled to find that others were still there. A visit to what was once Kennedy Hospital for Children, where I began my first job in 1969 as a staff psychologist, resulted in my reminiscing about my career odyssey. It was here that the dream that was to become Developmental Delay Resources, my former non-profit, began to percolate.  This remarkable institution was the genesis of my focus on the concept of a multi-disciplinary team.  How fortunate I  was to have worked with the best doctors and therapists. Every Monday a group of five children entered the hospital as inpatients. Each department did a comprehensive evaluation and on Friday met to discuss findings.  An overall treatment plan included such innovative techniques as a ketogenic nutrition diet,…

Hippotherapy: Therapeutic Horseback Riding

By Donna M Warfield, Co-Executive DirectorCircle of Hope Therapeutic Riding, www.chtr.org Equine assisted therapeutic (hippotherapy) riding provides therapy to children and adults with disabilities including, but not limited to attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome and head trauma. Therapeutic riding is a special training program in which individuals with disabilities learn horse-riding skills. Medical doctors, physical therapists, educators, psychotherapists. and other professionals have come to recognize the numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits of riding therapy. Physical benefits can include improved balance, strength, coordination, and endurance.  Especially for the physically handicapped, the warmth and movement of the horse stimulates unused muscles. Individuals with emotional and developmental disabilities benefit in language development (there are stories of children who spoke their first words ever on horseback) and concentration.  In many children and adults, riding therapy can boost confidence and self-esteem and foster greater independence. Because learning riding skills provides multi-task learning, there can…

Fat and Brain Development

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, co-founder, Developmental Delay Resources Fat and brain development: A diet high in hydrogenated fats (trans fats) leads to neurological development problems. One of the most dramatic changes in the western diet over the last 50 years has been a shift in the type of fat we consume. Few people understand the serious risk posed by shelf-stable or hydrogenated oils.  These relatively new fats were introduced as part of the war effort over a half century ago. With the butter shortage, these chemically stabilized oils were used widely at home and by food manufacturers who loved their cheap cost and total resistance to spoilage. What started as a food manufacturer’s dream has turned into a brain development nightmare for the last three generations brought up on fats that make a nice cookie but were never meant to be part of brain tissue.  The brain is 60% fat. Myelin, the fatty coating of the neurons or brain…

Sleep Strategies for Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Developmental Delays

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, Co-founder Developmental Delay Resources Sleep disturbances are common in children with developmental and attentional issues because they have trouble recognizing their body’s need for rest, so here are sleep strategies for autism, ADHD, SPD and other developmental delays. Feeling sleepiness apart from all the other incoming information is as difficult as other sensory integration tasks, such as paying attention in a crowded classroom or getting to the bathroom in time. Poor sleep regulation is simply another symptom of the sensory system getting confused and overloaded. Adults with sleep problems are instructed to get more exercise, avoid stimulants and have a regular bedtime.  The same advice works well for youngsters with regulation issues. Providing motor and sensory stimulation during the day in the form of exercise or occupational therapy techniques like brushing, prevents the need to seek out excitement at three o’clock in the morning.   One way the body communicates its unmet needs is by restlessness or…

Patient-Centered Therapy and Integrated Medicine: Dr. Leo Galland

by Patricia S. Lemer, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers Once every few years a book comes along that is destined to become an instant classic. The Four Pillars of Healing by Dr. Leo Galland is such a book. Even before its publication, I was impressed by Dr. Galland who combines common sense with medical science. His previous book, Superimmunity for Kids, has been a best seller for several years. After I heard him speak recently in New Jersey at “Keeping Our Kids Healthy…Naturally,” I felt as if I had known him all my life. Since I am a “diagnostician,” trained in labeling children’s learning problems, I was validated by his approach. Dr. Galland is a Harvard-trained physician with impeccable medical credentials that take five pages to enumerate. What makes him stand out is his insistence on putting the patient back into the healing process. As he details the history of medicine in the first chapters of his new book,…

Birth Trauma and Developmental Delays

by Viola M. Frymann, D.O., F. A. A. 0., F. C. A, Director, Osteopathic Center for Children. La Jolla, CA Birth trauma and developmental delays:  In at least 80% of children with developmental delays, including attention deficits and autism, there is a history of traumatic birth.  In each diagnosis there are manifestations of various aspects of cerebral dysfunction, which in simple terms means that the brain is not functioning as efficiently as it should. The brain is contained within the bony skull, which at the time of birth is designed to accept the temporary compression of the birth canal, and expand fully when the baby cries immediately after birth. The lower end of the central nervous system is located within the sacrum, the large bone forming the back of the pelvis.  This, too, is designed to absorb the compressing forces of the contracting uterus, and then be restored by bodily movements after birth.  The vertebral column protects the spinal cord…