What Does Independence Mean For Your Special Needs Child?

Girl and Dad Watch FireworksAs you gear up to celebrate The Fourth of July, take a moment to think about the idea of independence. How far has your special needs child come thus far? How many things can he or she do independently now that seemed out of reach a while ago? No matter how small, be sure to celebrate each speck of progress. And the next. And the next. Eventually those specks can build something amazing. There was a time when everything my daughter touched would be knocked down, dropped or spilled. Today she has a good 95% success rate!

Take a moment to look to the future. What short and long term goals do you hope your child will achieve toward independence? Now may be the time to start planning for the next phase of your child’s life, the next transition. Will your child be able to live on their own? Are there group homes in your area? If they will be at home, what are the ground rules? I dread the day my daughter starts talking about dating…but not as much as her father is dreading it!

Independence can also be interpreted as freedom. What freedom has your child been able to master? It is hard for any parent to release control of their child and watch them become their own person. How much of the leash have you been able to let out? Of course it’s heartbreaking to watch your child fail or fall, but that is part of learning. Let them pick themselves up (figuratively or literally) and encourage them to try again. Sure, it would be easier and faster if I did my daughter’s chores for her, but I hope that some day she will be on her own. She may never want to do any of it, but one day – for whatever reason – I won’t be there to do it for her so she should at least know how to do it.

If you need some tips, check out my article about making fireworks more manageable for special needs kids from last year on my Examiner page.

What will independence mean for your child?

The Facts About Teens in Cars (Infographic)

The following infographic is courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide. Many teens are texting and riding in cars without seatbelts…and this doesn’t always stop when our teens start driving. Click here to access the research report and find out more about cars and teen safety. Safe Kids Infographic on Teen Driving

Is it Time to Start Feeding Baby Solid Foods?

Mother feeding baby solid food on a spoonThere comes a time in every baby’s life when the food on your plate starts to look better than what she’s been eating. Is it time to start feeding your baby solid foods?

Here are a few questions to consider when coming up with an answer:

  • Is your baby around 6 months old?
  • Can she sit up with support and hold her head up on her own?
  • Does she show interest in solid foods, say, by watching you when you eat and opening her mouth or moving it as if chewing along?
  • When you offer her a spoonful, does she take it into her mouth and move her jaw instead of pushing it out with her tongue?
  • Has she doubled her birth weight (to about 13 pounds or more)?
  • Is she still hungry after eating a full meal of breast milk or formula?

If the answer to these questions is yes, your baby may be ready for her foray into solid foods.

First foods

In the past, parents were advised to start with a single-grain cereal and introduce solid foods in a specific order: rice cereal, vegetables, fruit, and then meat. We now know there’s no scientific evidence showing that introducing foods in a specific order is necessary. Of course, it’s fine if you want to introduce foods in the traditional order, but if you think your baby is interested in trying a different food first, that’s OK, too.

The following guidelines do still apply:

  • Introduce new foods one by one, waiting two to three days between each new food to watch for an allergic reaction, such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting.
  • While they’re called solid food, your baby’s first foods won’t actually be solid. Instead, the foods will be soft or pureed – what we generally think of as baby food and find in baby food jars at the store. If you like, you can also puree food in a blender or food processor. Just make sure everything is reduced to the point that it no longer requires chewing. You can also mix in a little breast milk or formula to make your baby’s first solid foods more familiar.
  • Offer small bites – half a spoonful or a smidgen on the end of your fingertip is enough. And don’t expect your little one to start feeding himself yet. That will come a little later when he’s ready for finger foods.
  • If your baby balks, don’t force it. Back off and return to breast milk or formula for a while. There’s plenty of time for your baby to learn to enjoy solid foods.
  • Don’t forget breast milk or formula. Just because your baby has started solid foods doesn’t mean he’s ready to be weaned. On the contrary, breast milk and/or formula will continue to be an important part of your baby’s diet until he’s at least 12 months old.

As you begin feeding your baby solid foods, remember that mealtime is not only for eating – it’s an important social activity as well. So as your little one takes his first tastes, make it a family affair and enjoy your meal together. Bon appetit!

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 06-16-2014 to 06-22-2014

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 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Bounce House Safety http://t.co/0oIfsfnnRM Great tips for parents of young kids

Emergency Dental Care – Knowing When Your Child Needs It

Teeth Injuries in kidsWith summer in full swing, kids are as active as ever with summer sports, swimming, day camp, and more. However, increased physical activity leads to increased risk of injury, which can include mouth injuries. Some injury might not need professional attention and can be easily treated at home. But for those instances where the injury is more severe, immediate medical attention should be sought after. Many dentists provide same-day emergency care for severe oral injuries. Being proactive and taking your child to the dentist after an injury can decrease the risk of progressed or even permanent damage.

Dental emergencies come in many forms. Whether the result of a sports accident or biting into something hard, children can experience severe pain from oral injuries. Some dental emergencies that can arise include:

  • Cracked or chipped tooth
  • Dislodged or knocked out tooth
  • Orthodontic emergency (i.e. broken wire or bracket on braces that is causing pain)
  • Lost filling or crown
  • Severe tooth pain
  • Bleeding gums

Not all dental accidents need immediate attention, so use your best judgment when deciding whether or not to take your child in for an emergency exam. For example, accidental loss of a baby tooth may not cause extreme damage and a permanent tooth can grow in and develop normally. Nonetheless, if your child is in pain, it is better to seek help from a dentist to ensure that the injury is taken care of.

Keep an eye on your child this summer and all year round, as dental emergencies can happen at any time. Don’t hesitate to seek immediate medical attention if the injury is severe. Ask your dentist about ways that you can help prevent certain emergencies from happening. Mouth guards are an easy and relatively inexpensive solution to preventing injury in sports, especially for children with braces. This can help your child protect their teeth for a lifetime of dental health.

Sat. June 21, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 is Sensory Friendly

Sensory-Friendly-Films-logoOnce 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 “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” How to train your dragon 2says PedSafe Special 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 March 29th at 10am local time, How To Train Your Dragon 2 will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program (although not in 3D for our Sensory Friendly audiences). 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 26th: PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE


Editor’s note: Although How To Train Your Dragon 2 has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, it has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for adventure action and some mild 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.