Tomorrow, BRAVE is June’s AMC Sensory Friendly Movie Screening

Once a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” 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! “It can be challenging enough to bring ANY child to a movie theater” says PedSafe Special Needs Parenting Expert Rosie Reeves “they are dark, the sound is very loud, there are tempting stairs and rails and they are expected to sit still and stay quiet”. For a parent with a special needs child attempting an outing like this may seem overwhelming. And yet getting out, being with the community and sharing in an experience with an audience can be invaluable for just such children”.

On June 30th at 10am local time, Brave will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. 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 list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming July 21st: Ice Age: Continental Drift


Editor’s note: Although Brave has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for some scary action and rude humor. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

“Bad Air” Days Mean Breathing Problems: How to Protect Your Kids

You may have enjoyed this year’s balmy winter, but it’s a cause for alarm among scientists. All across the U.S., temperatures broke all records. March 2012 was the warmest March ever recorded — and records go back to 1895. The first quarter of the year was also the warmest, and the period between April 2011 and March 2012 was the warmest 12-month stretch on record. Across the country, there were 7,775 new daytime highs.

Temperatures in the U.S. have already risen more than 2 F in the last century, and like the price of gas, they’re still going up. In fact, they’re expected to climb another 1-2 F by 2020.

Still think climate change is a myth? What does this warming spell bode for your health? Get ready for some bad air days, the experts warn. By 2020, said the Union of Concerned Scientists in a report released last year, rising temperatures will cause higher ground-level concentrations of ozone that could lead to 2.8 million more occurrences of acute respiratory symptoms, such as asthma attacks, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and chest tightness. And that’s not just in people with respiratory problems.

The Dangers of Ozone

Ozone is a colorless gas found in the air we breathe. Where it occurs determines whether it’s good or bad. It’s good when it’s in the Earth’s upper atmosphere (anywhere from 10-30 miles from the surface), shielding us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. But when it’s near the ground, it’s a result of air pollutants from vehicle exhaust and power/chemical plants interacting in the presence (and heat) of sunlight.

This earthbound type of ozone — the main component of smog — can irritate your respiratory system, make it difficult to breathe deeply (particularly when you exercise), inflame and damage the cells that line your lungs, aggravate asthma and other lung diseases (e.g., emphysema and chronic bronchitis), and make you more susceptible to respiratory infections. You can even experience severe chest pain.

How common is it? Unfortunately, these days, it’s as much a part of summer as the ice-cream man.

How to Protect Your Family

Children, the elderly, and people with chronic lung conditions are most susceptible to health problems from ozone exposure, though even healthy people can experience upper respiratory problems and even permanent lung damage as a result of breathing in ozone.

“Some people are sensitive to ozone gas, and you’ll probably know it if you are,” says Dr. Nick Hanania, pulmonary physician and director of the Adult Asthma Clinic and Pulmonary Diagnostic Laboratory at Ben Taub General Hospital. “Once you inhale it, you get upper airway irritation, with sneezing, itchy nose, and coughing. Ozone can also prime the airways for allergies, irritating the airways so they’re more susceptible to allergens.”

Here are a few tips from Dr. Hanania and other experts to protect yourself and your family:

  • Pay close attention to ozone alerts if you have chronic respiratory problems, small children or older relatives, or if you are older yourself. Now, along with temperatures and precipitation, your local meteorologist includes ozone levels as well as pollen and other pollutants in the forecast as part of the Air Quality Index (AQI). If the ozone is high, limit the time you and your family spend outdoors. Stay inside with the air-conditioning. If you don’t have AC, go somewhere that does. Window fans can keep you cool, but they can also draw ozone inside.
  • If you need to be outside — for yard work, for example, or to exercise — do it early in the morning or in the evening when ozone levels are usually lower. If you usually jog or play tennis, pick a less intense activity during high-ozone periods. Walk rather than run, for instance. “When you’re exercising, you’re inhaling more air per minute than if you’re just sitting,” says Hanania.
  • Forget masks. Ozone is a gas, and it will pass through even the finest filter.
  • Get your own personal ozone alert. EnviroFlash is a free service that alerts you when ozone is approaching dangerous levels. Sign up here.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 06-18-2012 to 06-24-2012

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 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 who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Is there a Jerry Sandusky in your child’s life? – National Child Safety Examiner Scary, but worth reading!

Inspire Your Own Olympic Swimmer

During the 2008 Summer Olympics I witnessed additional Olympic events every day at my local pool. Inspired by the swimmers, the children spent every afternoon recreating the the aquatic competition – complete with cheering, colorful commentary, and imaginary award ceremonies.

Now, are all those children going to be competing in the Olympic games some day? Of course not, most kids have no more hope of becoming the next Michael Phelps than they do becoming the next Michael Jordan, but that is the sheer beauty of children’s imagination. The only thing limiting them is the cranky adults who surround them, too wrapped up in the ‘should be’ to remember the joy of ‘could be’.

Beginning on July 27, your budding Olympian can be inspired by 34 swimming events, 6 diving events, the fierce competition of water polo and the beauty of synchronized swimming. Click here for a schedule. Take advantage of the global focus on aquatic competition and follow-up the excitement of watching the Olympics by taking your children to the pool frequently so that they can engage in their own Olympic games.

If your children need a bit of encouragement to jump-start their imaginations, here are a couple of suggestions: Invest in some weighted rings and have them dive for them (or reach down in shallow water for younger children); put an inflatable ring in the water, hand them some splash balls and see who can toss the most balls into the center of the ring; toss a volleyball in the water and get a game of water polo going; or have your dancer transfer her skills to the water.

Then stand back, watch them closely (because you always need to watch your children in and around water and stay within arm’s reach of your non-swimmers), cheer wildly, and let them dream of Olympic gold. Besides, you never know, you may have the next Ryan Lochte or Missy Franklin splashing in your own bathtub, just waiting to be inspired and find the sport that makes their heart sing.

Let the Games begin!

Summer is Here – How to Keep Your Kids Safe & Healthy

For much of the country, the arrival of summer, officially at 7:09 PM on Wednesday, was anything but subtle. In many areas the heat index (temperature plus humidity) was well over 100. For many people this level of heat can rapidly lead to true health emergencies. This is true for everyone but especially the very young or old, those with certain health conditions and your pets. Here are some keys to help assure you survive and have a safety and healthy summer:

  • Never leave a child or pet in a car when you leave. Even running cars can stall and doors can become locked. Temperatures can reach FATAL level within minutes. Don’t do it- ever not even for just a minute. If you encounter a child or pet locked in a vehicle- don’t hesitate to call 911.
  • Drink plenty of fluids- before you are thirsty.
  • Stay in the air conditioning/shade when possible.
  • Wear sunscreen and replenish often. Recent headlines suggest there is no such thing as a truly waterproof sunscreen.

Look for the signs of the affects of heat- these may include the following. Remember it is not necessary for all these to be present to suggest a problem.

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Flushed, pale skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Profuse sweating.
  • If you are someone else is sweating and the sweating stops this may be a sign of a serious life threatening condition known as heat stroke. Call 911!

If any of the above are present the first rule is get out of the heat move into the shade- air conditioning is better.

Drink cool fluids- ice cold may enhance nausea.

Ice and wet towels may be applied to the skin. Areas where arteries are close to the skin may result in faster cooling.

If you are affected by the heat- you are done for the day- don’t try to rest up and go back out. Your body can succumb much quicker a second time. You need time to recuperate.

As this is now summer and pools are open- remember pool safety and making sure your pool is child proof. That water looks like a sure relieve from the heat- not for young kids and never alone.

MY FOOD FIGHT! App Makes Nutrition Fun for Kids and Adults

As a nursing student I had to sit through more than one nutrition class and frankly, I found them boring. I know healthy nutrition is important and understanding about all the different components of food and how they affect the body is a part of learning to make wise nutritional choices. But still, I wished for a better, more entertaining way to learn about eating healthy foods versus eating junk foods and what makes a food healthy or bad for you.

Enter a new app from Field Fresh Apps, LLC called My Food Fight!

The Field Fresh Apps website describes their new app this way:

“MY FOOD FIGHT!® is a fun interactive journey to combat the health enemies that we each encounter daily. Focused on nutrient density in food, players are rewarded for their consumption of high nutrient dense and organic foods.”

Great for kids and adults alike, this app is a game that rewards healthy food choices and makes learning fun! The creators, Eric Quick & Roger Cardoza wanted kids to learn how food affects health and impacts our lives. What better way to make it interesting and entertaining than to create an educational game app? Best of all, it’s free!

Currently the My Food Fight! app is only available for Apple devices but I believe they are working on an Android version too. Check it out and let me know what you think. And if your kids are getting bored during summer vacation, give them this game and they’ll be having so much fun they won’t even know they are learning!