May 31st, MALEFICENT is Magnificent as a Sensory Friendly Film

Sensory-Friendly-Films-logoSince 2007, 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 MaleficentSpecial Needs Parenting Expert Rosie Reeves. “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 Saturday October 5th at 10am local time, Maleficent 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 June 21st: How to Train Your Dragon 2


Editor’s note: Although Maleficent 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 sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images. 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.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 05-19-2014 to 05-25-2014

twitter logoWelcome 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 and Facebook 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 not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Hand Foot Mouth Disease | It’s common, it’s painful and it’s here right now!
Read how to recognize and treat symptoms

Looking Back: A Special Needs Child’s Struggle for Freedom

Since it’s Memorial Day and we take the time to honor those who have fought for our freedom I thought I would remind you to look back and appreciate all the struggles and victories you and your special needs child have faced. As I have mentioned, my child was never supposed to walk or talk but she does all that and more. Even if she had never made those strides (pun intended) we would love her and be proud of her, because the end result is not important – it’s the fight. As a a parent I have also had to fight – the school, the system as well as my own worries and expectations. Those who serve our country deserve our thanks and respect and I do not mean to take away any of their honor. If anything, watching my child and other special needs children battle for their own type of freedom gives me even more admiration for our men and women (and horses and dogs) in uniform.

Here is an excerpt from a piece I recently wrote for a fundraiser for The Chime Institute, which runs CHIME Institute Logomy child’s charter school based on inclusion. It was performed at Chimeapalooza as part of a multi-media celebration.

When I heard from the Regional Center that there was a CHIME Infant and Toddler Program for my baby daughter with special needs, I almost cried. Then, when I heard that I could bring along her typical twin brother and that it was free, I think I did cry. The Infant and Toddler Program was 65% special needs kids and 35% peer models. I loaded up my sixteen month old twins and explained that yes, he was walking and that no, she was not – and maybe she never would.

But she did. She graduated out of Regional Center Early Intervention, and the parade of therapists coming to my house stopped. From there the twins went to the CSUN Lab School – aka The Child and Family Studies Center. This time the program was 65% typically developing children and 35% of the program was saved for children with special needs with support from CHIME. I had to explain that yes, he pretty much knew how to use the potty and that no, she didn’t use the potty yet…and maybe she never would.

But she did. Preschool came and went, and then it came time for the lottery for the CHIME Charter Elementary School. I found my way through the maze of residential streets south of the boulevard…and a mysterious orange orchard…and handed in their applications. Maybe I was kidding myself. I knew the odds were stacked against us and that most children don’t get in, but maybe she would.

But she didn’t. But her older brother did! And that meant…the twins were in, too! I requested that they stay together in their kinder classroom – only the first of many, many requests I would make of the CHIME administration – and so off they went, still together.

One day on the way home from pick-up with all three of my kids in the car my kindergarten-aged son asked an innocent question, ”What is the big deal about special needs kids? I mean, why does CHIME talk about them so much?”

“Well…” I answered, tailoring my information to be age-appropriate, “CHIME believes in inclusion, which means that even though the kids can all do different things you can all learn together and be friends. So each class has some special needs kids in it. Like your class has three…”

He cut me off. “No, we don’t. We only have two.” He rattled off the names of his classmates with more obvious special needs. My daughter nodded her agreement. I felt my upper lip break out in a sweat.

“Yes, honey,” I said gently, “your class does have three special needs kids in it.”

“No it doesn’t!” he repeated adamantly, reminding me of his two classmates.

I jumped off the cliff. “The third student with special needs is your sister.”

“No she isn’t!” he objected as if I was playing a silly joke on him.

And there it was…living, breathing proof that the experiment that is CHIME is working so incredibly well. They didn’t see themselves as different from each other, …and maybe they never will.

One Decision: Tragic Results -Please Look Before You Lock (Video)

“It could never happen to me.” “I would never leave my child alone in the car – not for a minute.” “No GOOD parent would ever forget their child!”

But it happens every day. According to KidsandCars on average 38 children die in hot cars each year, about one every 10 days from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside motor vehicles. This year alone there have been 23 child vehicular heat-stroke deaths. And this is not counting the life-altering injuries experienced by the children who survive.

It happens…

Napping in the back seatChildren climb into unlocked cars to play. A child is sleeping in the back-seat and a parent “cracks open the window” and runs into the store for “just one thing” (…illegal in some states but in a NHTSA survey, 25% of parents admitted they had done this at least once). A spouse / partner / caregiver carefully buckles the baby into the car seat to drop them off at daycare. Maybe it wasn’t their day to drive…or maybe something distracts them for just one second. It’s just a little departure from the usual morning routine – only this time they forget the baby sleeping in the back seat (…more likely now since the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their guidelines to recommend that children remain rear-facing in car seats until they reach the age of two. A parent looking in the rear-view mirror no longer sees their child’s face – just the back of the car seat – whether their child is in it, or not).

It happens…

How hot vehicles get…and it doesn’t have to be 100 degrees outside for the consequences to be devastating. According to NHTSA’s report on “Unattended Children and Cars, even cool temperatures in the 60s can cause the temperature to rise well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit inside your car. The inside temperature can rise almost 20 degrees F within the first 10 minutes”. Within an hour the temperature jumps around 50 degrees F. If the outside temperature is in the low 80’s F, the temperature inside the vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes. Slightly rolling the window down has almost no impact on these temperature increases.

Take a look at this simulation produced by the SafeKids organization of how fast a car can heat up when exposed to direct sunlight

Children’s bodies – in particular infants and children under 4 years of age – are at greatest risk for heat-related illness. They absorb more heat and are less able to lower their body heat by sweating. Because a child’s thermoregulatory system is not fully developed, their bodies warm at a rate 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. Hyperthermia occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. A core body temperature of 107 degrees F is considered lethal because cells are damaged and internal organs shut down.

It happens…

ray rays pledge logo

To the most loving, caring parents…the most responsible caregivers. These are not “those horrible people who should never have been allowed near children”. Take a minute to read Kristie Reeves-Cavaliero’s story about the day her husband Brett took one wrong turn and drove to the office instead of dropping their beloved daughter Sophia (Ray Ray to those who loved her) off at daycare. It wasn’t until they met for lunch later in the day that they realized something was wrong. By that time Ray Ray had been in his truck for 3 hours. An hour and 19 minutes later she was gone.

But this isn’t just Ray Ray’s story. More than 1 in 5 kids who die of heatstroke in a car were supposed to be dropped off at daycare that morning – and no one questioned their whereabouts until it was too late. Now Kristie has made “Ray Ray’s Pledge” her lives’ work – to establish a “daycare safety net” and make sure this doesn’t happen to another child. Other parents have made similar pledges. To share the story of their children’s tragedies here, in interviews, in every public forum possible – in the hopes of saving just one family the pain they have endured.


  • Child Vehicle Heatstroke Prevention Tips from NHTSA:
    • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
    • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
    • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
    • If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have them call you to make sure the drop went according to plan. Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up.
    • Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:wheresbaby4
      • Keep a large object such as a stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s empty. Move the stuffed animal to the front seat when you place the child in the seat as a visual reminder.
      • Place your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle
    • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle: call the police. If the
      y are in distress get them out as quickly as possible and cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately
  • Download the KidsandCars Safety Checklist and keep it handy
  • Take Ray Ray’s Pledge
    • You Pledge: to call your child’s teacher if he or she will be late or absent
    • Teacher Pledges: to call YOU immediately if your child does not arrive at his or her usual time
  • Today is National Heat Awareness Day: Please Help Us Raise Awareness!
    • Ray Ray’s Pledge,, Safe Kids Worldwide, Jan Null (Certified Consulting Meteorologist, San Francisco State University), Child Care Aware of America, National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) and Pediatric Safety will join the National Weather Service in a day of social media conversation to raise public awareness of child hot car deaths
    • We will be tweeting and posting on Facebook every hour on the hour (9am – 5pm ET) facts and prevention tips related to child vehicular heatstroke, the leading non-traffic, non-crash cause of death for children.
    • Please join the conversation…and use the hashtag #heatstroke to let us know you’re here.
    • For more info and sample tweets click here

“If you think it can’t happen to you, then it could and it might… Tell yourself it COULD happen to me and then do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t.”

And if you ever catch yourself saying…”I’ll only be gone for a moment”… please do two things:

  1. Consider the following question: If someone gave you a million dollars – would you leave it sitting there unattended in your car – even for a moment? Isn’t your baby’s life worth more?
  2. Consider watching this video…and then maybe even share it:
    Before you do, know that it is very graphic and may be upsetting…so please think twice before you watch it.

Please also know that this was a re-enactment – no one was harmed in the making of this film


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July of 2013. We are republishing it today to commemorate this year’s National Heat Awareness Day.

“Forgotten Backseat Baby” Syndrome: an Unimaginable Danger

Child-in-a-Rear-facing-car-seat“Huh? Forgotten what???” is what I imagine you are asking after reading the title. The next question that probably comes to mind is, “what kind of idiot would forget his/ her own child in a car?” As the parent survivor of a child who was tragically lost to vehicular #heatstroke in 2011 when her daddy forgot to drop her off at daycare that fateful morning, I WISH I could tell you that only idiots make this kind of mistake; that only a selfish monster could do such a deed…..sadly, most of the more than 600 kids who have died from being left in a hot car since 1998 were victims of what I like to call forgotten backseat baby syndrome; a mistake committed not by idiots or monsters, but a mistake made by folks you would never in a million years imagine: caring, loving, responsible parents. Most of them took nearly every precaution to child-proof their homes and to assure that the car seat was installed correctly; many of them also took parenting classes in preparation for their bundle of joy’s arrival. Sadly, most of these parents also never imagined the remote possibility of forgetting their child in the backseat of a vehicle. In other words, folks just like YOU and ME, sadly, are capable of forgetting our most precious cargo in the backseat of our cars under the right conditions.

Your protective defense mechanisms are probably kicking in right now and you are probably saying “yeah right, not a chance lady”. …..but for those of you still in denial that you could make such a mistake, here is a little food for thought.

Have you ever, in a moment of multi-tasking, sleep deprivation, running late for work, or being severely fatigued after a bought of illness (you, your spouse, your kids), done any of the following?

  • Forgotten to turn off the headlights before exiting your car? (apparently so many of us in the past drained our batteries by doing this that most cars now have automatic function of headlights, or at least have an alert that “dings” when you open the door to let you know you forgot to turn off the lights)
  • Left your ATM card in the machine after a transaction? (again, so many of us were guilty of this behavior that now most ATM machines have quick swipe technology so that we no longer have to wait for our cards to be returned)
  • Forgotten to buckle your seatbelt? (are you thinking of that annoying alarm right now? So many front passengers have forgotten this safety routine in the past that the auto industry has decided we need this annoying reminder to protect our front seat cargo)
  • Forgotten to turn off the coffee maker? (note that most brands now have an auto-shut-off feature for us poor souls who just aren’t fully awake until chugging a cup o’ joe)
  • Walked into a room with a purpose to get/ do something, then arriving only to find that you couldn’t remember why you were there – no matter how hard to try?

If you have ever been guilty of any of those behaviors (or similar cases of stress-induced memory failure), then yes, unfortunately, you too are capable of forgetting a baby in the backseat.

I WISH I could tell you only a monster could do such a thing. Unfortunately, even the best of mortals can suffer the devastating consequences of “forgotten backseat baby” syndrome under the right conditions. That’s why I advocate implementation of safety nets/ plans for ALL child transport activities to verify arrival and/ or absence in a timely manner…..EVEN if you are still in denial that you are capable of forgetting your precious backseat cargo, consider a child transport safety plan an “insurance policy” to make sure you prove me wrong.

I lost my daughter, Sophia Rayne “Ray Ray” Cavaliero, to vehicular #heatstroke on Wednesday afternoon, May 25, 2011. That morning, our entire family overslept. Speaking in retrospect (after observing my 20 month old twins during the same phase of their lives), I think we overslept because it was the first time that Ray Ray finally slept through the night. We always called her our little alarm clock, because without fail she would awaken to nurse at 5:00 am, then sweetly drift back to sleep until about 7:30 am. Then we usually played with her for an hour or so before her daddy took her to daycare around 9:00 am. Ray Ray’s behavior was so predictable that I no longer set an alarm clock to awaken. That morning began with me awakening to my sweet child giving me precious kisses all over my face, followed by a glance at the clock. As I saw the time of 9:43 am, chaos ensued in my home. We had all overslept! Brett rushed to get dressed for work; I rushed to get Ray Ray fed and dressed for daycare. The entire family then hurried to daddy’s truck (I was still in PJs).

The defining event that led to Ray Ray’s death due to vehicular heatstroke was something very simple: ONEPicture of our daughter Ray-Ray WRONG TURN. My husband usually made a LEFT turn at the bottom of a major hill near our home to drop our child off at daycare (located less than 10 minutes from our home). After dropping her off, he would circle back onto the same major highway and head to his office, less than 15 minutes from our home. That morning for unknown reasons he made a RIGHT turn at that critical intersection. As Ray Ray sat rear-facing and quietly in the backseat, he had no clue along his work route that she was still in the truck….he couldn’t see her; he couldn’t hear her. WHY did he make this wrong turn? We have asked this question daily for almost three years and still have no answer. What we know (through the criminal investigation) did not contribute to the wrong turn was his phone—records show that he wasn’t talking, emailing, or texting…..Could you ever imagine that ONE WRONG TURN, as I am sure you have probably made a few times in your life as well, could have such devastating consequences???? We couldn’t either….We still can’t; but this is our reality, like a nightmare from which we cannot awaken….cannot awaken because sadly it is not a dream.

The story I have just told to you replicates the story of more than one hundred families since 1998, as forgotten childcare drop-off is the leading source of child hot car death (aka child vehicular heatstroke or hyperthermia). Another resounding theme in nearly every “forgotten backseat baby” syndrome tale resulting in child hot car death is a change in routine on the day of the tragedy. For us, that change in routine was oversleeping, with a resultant chaotic start to our day. For other families, that change in routine was commonly an alternate person dropping the child off at daycare (one not accustomed to doing so). Other common changes in routine that we have seen in these tragedies include changes in school routine–either at the start of summer when grade school has just ended or in August at back to school time, ESPECIALLY where there are multiple siblings in the family and one starts kindergarten and the younger still needs to be dropped off at daycare.

I have shared my story with you today to commemorate the upcoming National Heat Awareness Day (designated by the National Weather Service/ NOAA) this Friday, May 23, 2014. The rate of child vehicular heatstroke tragedies begins to rise exponentially around this date, peaking in August (aka “back to school” time—remember that change in routine risk factor I alluded to earlier???). This year for the first time, numerous national child safety advocates, including the staff at Pediatric Safety, will join forces to commemorate and co-promote this day. We will be posting hourly child vehicular heatstroke facts and prevention tips on social media outlets to raise public awareness of this often unrecognized danger to child passenger safety, focusing on “forgotten backseat baby” syndrome, which is every parent’s unimaginable risk and the leading cause of child hot car deaths. Please join us and help spread vital information to PREVENT child vehicular heatstroke by sharing our social media posts and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. We will be using the tag “#heatstroke” on all of our posts and encourage you to do the same.


Editor’s Note: We are just at the beginning of summer and 5 children have already died this year. Please reach out to everyone you know, to everyone who follows you on Twitter or Facebook or any other social media you have access to – and help us raise awareness of this terrible tragedy.

All it will take is a minute to post any one of these:

  • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a car. ACT to prevent child vehicular #heatstroke
  • Most kids who die of vehicular #heatstroke are accidentally forgotten in the backseat by a loving, responsible parent.#LOOKbeforeyouLOCK
  • Forgotten childcare drop-off is the #1 source of child vehicular #heatstroke. #RayRaysPledge
  • A child overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult. Never leave your child alone in a car. Prevent vehicular #heatstroke
  • 30% of kids who died in a hot car gained access to an unlocked vehicle. Prevent vehicular #heatstroke
  • The inside temperature of a car increases more than 40 degrees in less than an hour. Prevent vehicular #heatstroke
  • Most kids who die in a hot car are less than 2 years of age. Prevent vehicular #heatstroke
  • Most common factor associated with parents who forgot their kids in the backseat: change in routine. Prevent vehicular #heatstroke
  • Is your child in daycare? Make an absence verification plan w ur provider aka #RayRaysPledge. Prevent vehicular #heatstroke
  • Create reminders for all child transport activities eg: purse/ briefcase/ cellphone in backseat. Prevent vehicular #heatstroke

If we can save just one child’s life, all our efforts will have been worth it.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 05-12-2014 to 05-18-2014

twitter thumbWelcome 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 and Facebook 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 not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
For Data Miners, Little Kids are Big Business
Beware! Educational software may be tracking your kids