The SpongeBob Movie is Sensory Friendly this Saturday!

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’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

The-SpongeBob-MovieDoes 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“.

On Valentine’s Day, Saturday February 14th, at 10am local time, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water 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 full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming March 28th: Home

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Editor’s note: Although The SpongeBob Movie 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 mild action and rude humor. 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 child.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-02-2015 to 02-08-2015

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 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
What Causes Girls to Enter Puberty Early? http://t.co/hrmNaE2kY4 Stress and obesity are likely culprits

How To Save Your Child From Drowning

Throw a life preserverAfter learning I work in water safety, a man told me about how he saved a man from drowning in Hawaii. Several families were exploring tide pools on the lava rocks and a wave swept one man into the water, about 4 feet below the rocks. The waves were wild, pounding the victim against the sharp lava as he was tossed in the churning water. Anyone who had jumped in to help him would have ended up in the same helpless position, so there would have been more than one victim and probably multiple deaths. Everyone was forced to watch the victim drown, including his wife and two young daughters. Fortunately, the man telling me the story had been a Boy Scout and had learned how to rescue someone safely. He tied beach towels together, lay on his stomach and put the makeshift rope over the side. By this time the victim was losing strength and was bleeding badly from multiple cuts. He couldn’t grab the rope. The rescuer finally starting yelling at him (in strong and rather pointed language) that he absolutely could not let his daughters watch him die. A couple of lucky waves pushed the victim against the rope and he grabbed one knot. Another lucky wave swept him up to the next knot, and slowly they got the victim onto the rocks to safely.

This is not an isolated incident. I see too many stories like this, where the would-be rescuer also dies, or a parent goes in to save a child and either both die, or just as often, the parent dies and the child is rescued by someone else. It doesn’t have to be like this.

Take the time to learn how to rescue someone safely, and teach your children.

The rule is REACH. THROW. GO.

  • REACH for the person using a pole, knotted towels, an oar, anything that the drowning person can grab hold of so you can pull them to safety.
  • THROW something that floats to the drowning person. A life ring. An empty gallon jug. A thermos chest. A flotation cushion. A tree log. Don’t throw it at them, just near them, you don’t want to knock them unconscious. Throw anything that floats so they can conserve their strength and try to kick back to safety. Look around, there is a growing movement to have life rings or flotation tubes near open water. Kauai and on the River Thames in the UK are leaders in this area, and yes, they have saved many lives.
  • GO! Run for help! If you are anywhere near a lifeguard, there is only a 1 in 18 million chance the person will die from drowning because lifeguards are the best insurance going. If you aren’t near a lifeguard, run for more help or for something to reach or throw. Call 911. And when you are teaching your child these things, remind them ALWAYS call for an adult.

For my money, the Boy Scouts of America have the best in basic ‘how to rescue someone’ materials. Although I come from, and have, a Scouting family, you don’t have to join, you can find out what the basic requirements are for swimming and lifesaving by looking at their merit badge requirements online. Click here for swimming merit badge requirements. Click here for lifesaving merit badge requirements. The rule in my family is you have to be able to pass every requirement before the swimming lessons stop. It’s not for the badge (though my son earned his), it’s because these badges summarize one of the most basic life skills you can have. The Boy Scouts do water safety extremely well.

A final word about the Hawaii drowning scare. There were signs cautioning of the danger of being swept overboard. I realize the U.S. is so lawsuit crazy that we have signs for everything, meaning we all ignore most of them, but let me be clear, water safety is grossly underfunded. If there is a sign warning of danger in an area where there is open water, I guarantee the danger already happened. There is too much water and too little money to just be planting signs around. If there is a sign, there is a reason.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 01-26-2015 to 02-01-2015

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 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Morphine following surgery may cause life threatening respiratory problems for some children who have had their tonsils and/or adenoids removed http://t.co/hgTZPFJ0jv

A Simple Mommy Secret: 4 Steps to Stop Your Little Biter

Toddlers fight then biteDo you have a biter on your hands? Biting is among the most bothersome and embarrassing kid behaviors. I remember the horror the first time I saw one child in our playgroup bite – I quickly learned that biting is usually temporary, and much more common than I had thought. The other moms and I read up on biting behavior, and shared what we’d learned with one another. We learned that infants and toddlers often bite to relieve teething or gum soreness, or think it’s just a game. Preschoolers typically bite because they haven’t yet developed the coping skills to deal with stress appropriately or the verbal skills to express their needs. Whatever the reason, we knew that this behavior is clearly upsetting to all involved. And has been known to continue as kids get older if not dealt with. Our job was to nip this behavior before it becomes a habit.

Here are a few steps you can take to help you handle this annoying (but common) behavior:

Step 1. Confront the Biter A.S.A.P.
Step in the very minute your child bites and call it what it is: “That’s biting!” Then in a very stern voice say: “You may not bite people!” Firmly express your disapproval, and quickly remove your child from the situation. Remember Mom: No matter what you hear from other parents, do not bite your kid back! It is not helpful, and in fact, you’re only sending him the messages that kids can’t bite, but adults can.

If your kid has developed a history of biting, you’ll need to take emergency action. Arrange a private meeting amongst your child and other caregivers (such as his teacher, coach, daycare worker, babysitter) with whom he’s displaying the behavior. Create a consequence everyone understands: this could be the loss of a privilege, time out, or going home. You’ll want to all be on the same page and consistently enforced whatever consequence you all agreed upon. All the moms in our playground, for instance, decided to get on the same page together. Because we all responded the same way (yes, there was one mom who was a bit too laid-back, but we knew we couldn’t change her behavior), we were more successful in stopping our four-year-old Vampire Wannabees.

Step 2. Comfort the Victim and Boost Empathy
Kids always need to know that biting hurts! So in the presence of your kid focus your concern on the victim. “I’m so sorry! That must hurt. What can I do to help?” Doing so shows your child not only that his action caused pain but also how to convey sympathy. If possible, find a way to help your child to make amends. He might offer the victim a Kleenex or band-aid, draw a picture to apologize, say he’s sorry, or give the other child a toy. Do also apologize to the child’s parents on the spot or with a phone call. (Word to the wise: I learned the hard way that it is far better that I make the call then having the parent hear the story from someone else).

Step 3. Teach a New Behavior to Replace the Biting
If your toddler is teething, she’s probably biting because of sore gums. In that case, offer something appropriate to bite on: such as a frozen juice bar, a hard plastic teething ring, or toy to relieve the discomfort.

Kids often bite because they haven’t developed the verbal skills to communicate their needs or frustrations. Identify what skill your child lacks, and then teach a more appropriate way to respond that will replace the urge to bite. Practice the new skill together, until he can successfully use it on his own. One youngster bit because he didn’t know how to say he wanted a turn. Once his dad recognized the problem, he taught his son to say: “It’s your turn, then it’s my turn.” The biting quickly stopped. If your child has trouble verbalizing feelings or needs, teach him to say: “I’m getting mad.” Or: “I want to play.” Remember to let him know how proud you are when he uses good control.

Step 4. Anticipate Biting Behavior as the Best Prevention
If your child has developed a pattern of biting, then supervise those play times closely. You can then immediately step in and stop your biter before it happens. Put your hand gently over his mouth firmly saying: “You may not bite. Use your words to tell what you need.” Then show how: “I want a turn.” Sometimes you can distract your child from the situation: “Would you like to play with the clay or blocks?” You may have step in a few times before the biting is stopped, so watch closely then intervene pronto.

The most important part of this Mommy Secret to learn is that kids usually bite because they lack the ability to handle their frustrations. It’s up to us to help find better ways to get their point across.

Photo credit: Sabine 75; CC license

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Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at amazon.com