Star Wars: The Force Awakens is Sensory Friendly for the Holidays

New sensory friendly logoAMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs ”Sensory Friendly Films“ every month – wonderful opportunities to enjoy favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment. And now they are also featuring PG-13 films – like the new Star Wars film! – for older audience members on the autism spectrum.

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.

Star Wars Force Awakens Poster-cropDoes 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. “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 Tuesday, December 22nd at 7pm local time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be screened as part of the “Sensory Friendly Films” program. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of participating AMC theatres nationwide (note: to access list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming later in December: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Sat, 12/26)


Editor’s note: Although Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for sci-fi action violence. 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.

Bring My 7 Year Old to an Orthodontist? Why??

Little boy with retainerAccording to the American Association of Orthodontics, children should receive their first orthodontic screening by the age of 7. Not every orthodontic problem can be treated by age 7, but most of them can be identified. Most adult first molars and front teeth are erupted by this age allowing the orthodontist to assess growth patterns and development. While this may seem early to some, in reality early orthodontic treatment prevents more serious problems from arising.

Orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics or Phase 1 orthodontics. Since teeth are still developing and the jaw is still growing, certain conditions may be easier to address. The goal of interceptive orthodontics is to create adequate space for permanent teeth to grow and ensure the proper development of the upper and lower jaws. Interceptive orthodontics is necessary to:

  • Guide growth of the permanent and jaws
  • Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Improve facial appearance

While early orthodontics may not be the answer, it is the best solution. Most children who undergo any form of interceptive orthodontics will need further treatment later on in life. There are many benefits, however. The most important is that later treatment will often be shorter, less complicated and less extensive. Other benefits of orthodontic treatment include:

  • Fewer extractions
  • Better profile/facial esthetics
  • Influence jaw growth versus correcting jaw alignment

The only way to know for sure if your child needs interceptive orthodontic treatment is to schedule a visit with your orthodontist. Some of the most common early signs are:

  • Early or late tooth loss
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Crowded or misplaced teeth
  • Current or previous thumb sucker
  • Misaligned jaws

If you think your child may need interceptive orthodontic treatment, consult an orthodontist. X-rays, impressions and photographs may be taken to determine ideal treatment.

Coughy Cup

Imagine a coffee cup that’s not for coffee and it has no bottom. It’s my latest invention. I turned a coffee cup into a cup for coughing and sneezing. It’s called a Coughy Cup as in coughing cup. It’s a play on words but hardly child’s play.

Coughy_Cup in UseThe Coughy Cup looks like a standard Starbucks’ paper coffee cup with a plastic lid but it’s the inside that matters most. The Coughy Cup captures, contains, filters and kills 99.9% of germs and viruses. This means the germs and viruses stay in the cup and not in the air, on your hands, body or others. How? By using an antiviral and the same face mask filters used by doctors during surgery.

My name is John Delatorre. I was once a TV weatherman for ABC in Sacramento, California, Corpus Christ, Texas, El Paso, Texas and a few other cities. I spent much of my time visiting schools teaching kids weather and encouraging them to stay in school and away from drugs. Today I’ve taken on a whole new role in my efforts to help children.

A few months ago, my wife and I were watching Shark Tank; the ABC reality show. Out of the blue, my wife says to me, “You need to invent something to help children.” My initial reaction was to say it’s not easy to think of things to invent and that it takes time. My next response gave way to its creation. I told her that I would pray about it and see what God had to say. I did not pray at that moment nor later that night but 24 hours later I did. My wife was out of town that night so before I went to sleep I closed my eyes and my exact words were, ‘Okay God. You heard her. What do you got?’ A half second later I pictured two words; Coughy Cup. I immediately knew what it would be. There was no doubt in my mind. I was blown away. I was sure God had blessed me with an amazing gift. That night I began my research and the next day I started writing my fifth patent application. When my wife returned the next day, she agreed God had given me a great idea.

My initial reaction was to draw up every crazy complicated cup I could think of. Thank goodness that thought process didn’t last long. I quickly understood that I had to manufacture each cup for as little as possible and I had to be sure my cups would be socially acceptable. So, what is the cheapest form of a coffee cup? Paper, right?

Paper coffee cups and plastic lids can be made for pennies and people are very comfortable walking around holding them. They’re seen everywhere from meetings to work and play. I also understood that the name Coughy Cup easily described how the cup should be used so that was a huge advantage.

Cough_Cup_Lid-photoWith this new knowledge, I set out to design a common coffee cup with a plastic lid. The only difference would be my cup would have no bottom, a bunch of holes in the lid and a filter. But, the cup was the easy part. The key to the success of the Coughy Cup would be the filter or as I like to call it, Coughy filter.

My journey began with understanding how to avoid germs and viruses. I found myself studying how surgical face masks worked. I knew there were a lot of face masks; some better than others. I soon found out that some materials used in face masks make breathing more difficult. My filters had to make breathing easy.

Consider what it’s like to cough. You expend a tremendous amount of air after each cough and immediately your body requires you to inhale deeply. The breathability of my Coughy filters makes it easy to inhale after each cough.

It also turns out the best face mask filter has a bacterial filtration efficiency of 99.9% and a particle filtration efficiency of 99.9%. But I didn’t want to only trap the bacteria. I wanted to kill it too. I knew other products were killing 99.9% of germs & viruses. So, I figured I’d find a way to apply this same technology to my cups. I am happy to say I found a solution, one that will remain a secret for now.

Soon after, I introduced the cups to the world of social media using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and launched two sites of my own: and The response to the Coughy Cup has been amazing! In a few short weeks, thousands of teachers, parents, doctors, nurses and even Howie Mandel are following my work and appear to be my greatest advocates and why not? They know germs and viruses better than most.

So now the word is out! One of the first questions I often get is people wondering whether I expect them to walk around coughing into a cup. The question always makes me chuckle. You can certainly use my cups while walking around but that’s not how I expect people to use them. My cups are primarily for confined areas where people are expected to sit for long periods of time. Places like schools, school buses, airplanes, daycare centers, nursing homes, prisons, doctors’ waiting rooms and hospitals.

coughy_cup_with tissue dispenserImagine you’re on a road trip and someone in the vehicle gets sick? Would you prefer they be given a Coughy Cup to reduce the chance of others in the vehicle getting sick? Imagine you’re on a plane and the person next to you can’t stop coughing. Would you prefer the flight attendant hand the passenger a Coughy Cup? I’ve had people tell me they plan to buy my cups to give away to anyone around them who start coughing and sneezing.

My primary goal is to first get my cups into the hands of young school children. They represent a major line of defense in battling the spread of germs and viruses. If my cups can help reduce germs & viruses in schools, that means fewer kids and teachers missing school and healthier parents who don’t miss work.

Studies show that, on average, 40 percent of teachers in New Jersey’s Camden City Public Schools are taking sick days compared to only 3% absenteeism among the average American worker.

I believe the CDC will one day consider the Coughy Cup to be a huge help in so many ways. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are constantly seeking ways to better understand, treat and ultimately prevent infectious diseases. The numbers of people affected in the U.S. alone are staggering.

  • The average child can catch between 6 to 12 colds every year.
  • Colds cause children to miss 22 million days of school every year.
  • More than 1 billion colds and more than 30 million flu cases occur every year.
  • Almost 1 million people have died related to influenza in the U.S. in the last 30 years.

Ultimately, I would like to see a dishwasher-safe, reusable Coughy Cup in every child’s book bag. Teachers would be able to use the cups as a way of instructing children to perform one common behavior and a way to monitor who’s sick in their classrooms.

They would always have their cup at the ready. The shelf life of my Coughy filters is more than two years and they’re in air tight sealed envelopes. The child would simply take the filter out of the envelope, snap it to the lid, place the lid on the cup and cough or sneeze. It’s that simple.

So what’s my plan for getting my cups into schools? I’m hoping to recruit the help of pharmaceutical companies, cough syrup manufacturers and the makers of tissues. It’s a win/win. They get good PR and the kids get free cups.

I also hope to convince the airline industry to offer my cups to their passengers, especially international passengers. Consider the Middle East virus. The bird flu is only a plane ride away. The U.S. government is very concerned about the likelihood of a pandemic flu. It’s why they are stockpiling needles and syringes to be shipped to 10 receiving stations throughout the U.S. The purchase order can be viewed on their website.

But getting the cups into the hands of children and airline passengers unfortunately won’t be possible this flu season because I still have a lot of paperwork to do. Believe it or not, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider the Coughy Cup to be a medical device. The FDA requires what they call Pre-Market Approval. This means any claims I make (i.e., kills 99.9% of germs & viruses) must pass an FDA evaluation before I can sell my cups. It’s a whole lot of government paperwork and a min of $9,500 to get there.

Still, I have no doubt the FDA will certify my cups. The Coughy Cup might sound too good to be true but it’s not because the science and technology works. In the end I expect the Coughy Cup to be by far my most successful invention.

Coughy_Cup sloganThat success may include winning the right to sit on the shelves at Wal-Mart and Target. I recently entered Wal-Mart’s “Get on the Shelf” and Target’s Simplicity Challenge contests.

  • Wal-Mart gives Facebook users a chance to vote for which products they like best. I am happy to say my Coughy Cup made it through round two. Get additional information here
  • Target’s contest is just getting underway. Target is using doctors and healthcare industry experts as judges. The winner gets $25,000 and a chance to partner with Target. Details can be found here

If all goes as planned, the Coughy Cup should begin showing up in schools and airplanes by next cold and flu season. I believe once people begin seeing the Coughy Cup in use, it will become better understood and more socially acceptable.

So, pass the cup not the germs, because NOT sharing is caring.


I. Tips to Avoid Germs

  • Don’t put personal items like backpacks, book bags, books, coats or similar items on the floor, especially public restroom floors or on kitchen counters or tables at home as this may further spread germs.
  • Leave your phone in your bag or pocket when entering restrooms either at home or public.
  • Try not to multitask (i.e., talking on phone, working on computer) when cooking. This could spread germs from one surface to another
  • Children should never share food in school, especially during cold and flu season. If it’s necessary to share books, remember to never touch any portion of your face until you wash your hands and even then try to not touch your face.

II. Cold vs. Flu

  • Colds usually go away on their own in 3 to 5 days.
  • Colds are usually contagious in the first 3 days.
  • A cough that last more than 5 days may be a sign of a sinus infection or pneumonia.
  • Pay serious attention to a cough that lasts more than 7 days. A chest x-ray may be needed.
  • If a cold does not go away after 7 days, your child may have a bacterial infection and need an antibiotic.
  • Cold and flu symptoms can mimic one another but the common cold rarely includes a temperature over 101 degrees.
  • If your child’s fever is over 101 degrees, keep him home. A fever is a sign your child is fighting an infection.
  • The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends giving a child plenty of fluids and increasing the humidity in the room as the best way to relieve a child’s cough. Hydrate with popsicles, watered-down juice, flat ginger ale and chicken soup. Open a stuffy nose with 2 to 3 drops of saline solution in each nostril.
  • Don’t worry about a child’s daytime cough. Coughing helps dislodge phlegm and reduce congestion.
  • Persistent coughing, especially at night can be a sign of asthma.
  • Honey has been shown to be a natural way to soothe a cough. The risk of botulism makes honey unsafe for children under one.
  • A coughing child having difficulty inhaling may be a sign of whooping cough (pertussis).
  • Rest may be the best medicine to prevent sickness but a sick child needs even more sleep. Normal sleep for children is 8 to 12 hours every night.


Editor’s Note: Pediatric Safety readers were first introduced to Coughy Cup in September, 2013. John is continuing to develop and sell his product, with a folding cup due out soon. Check out his Facebook and Twitter page for updates.

My Child Has Cold Symptoms: Is He Contagious? Need a Doctor?

boy with winter coldWe are entering the season with the cold weather and children gathering in groups in school that cold symptoms are very common. But what distinguishes a cold from an allergy and when you should seek medical care for your children are topics of concern for many parents. Is he/she contagious? Should I send my child to school with these symptoms? When do I bring him/her to the Pediatrician? All good questions.

Let’s deal with the last question first. The symptoms that appear with colds and allergy are indeed very similar. There are some exceptions to common thoughts about these problems.

Allergic symptoms appear for the most part during the “shoulder” seasons – Spring and Fall, when there are allergens in the air either from growing and pollinating in the spring or debris from blowing leaves, etc. in the fall. As those leaves fall they become wet and can also produce molds which can act as allergens for certain children. Allergic symptoms are usually of a prolonged and recurrent pattern and similar to colds, and can produce sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, cough, runny nose with itching and other “cold” symptoms. No matter what the cause, this situation is not contagious and your child can go to school with all the other children with the same symptoms. This condition may respond to antihistamines such as Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec.

Colds on the other hand generally have a predictable life span of 5 to 10 days, and cold symptoms follow a predictable pattern of sore throat (scratchy) for 1 – 2 days, followed by sneezing and runny nose followed in rapid order by cough to one degree or another. There can be fever of any degree during this time and also does not mean another infection. Antihistamines and over the counter cold medicines are generally ineffective and especially cold preparations can have undesirable side effects. The color of the mucous during this time is insignificant as it will usually start as clear and watery and will end with green or yellow mucous – this does not imply another infection or sinus problems. If these symptoms last more than 2 -3 weeks, or fever persists beyond the acute phase of the cold you should bring your child to his/her pediatrician for evaluation. If your child is acting very sick, regardless of the presence of fever, he should be seen by his Doctor.

Usually your child will be contagious for about 1-2 days prior to the illness (you, of course, will not be aware of this) until 1-2 days beyond the onset of fever (as long as it returns to normal) and, of course should be held out of school until no fever for 24 hrs.

If you are considering taking your child to family parties over this holiday season, use the criteria mentioned to return to school as a guide. If one of the relatives has an underlying immunologic dysfunction; cancer, cancer treatment, long term use of steroids, etc. this may require further preventative measures and your relative should consult his/her Doctor.

This is a very common issue and you, as parents, should be aware of the differences and significance of these situations mentioned above.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 12-07-2015 to 12-13-2015

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: How winter coats could affect car seat safety

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 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:
American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends All Children To Get Screened For Cholesterol, Depression And HIV

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline #2 of the Week:
Is Tooth Polishing Necessary? – The New York Times – something to consider for you and your kids

Bullying: The Facts for Kids and Parents

Many children and young people experience school bullying and bullying outside of school – but you don’t have to put up with it.

Almost half of all children and young people (46%) say that they’ve been bullied at some point during their time at school, according to the Tellus4 National Report (PDF, 1.33Mb), carried out in 2009.

Find Out Where to Get Help

If you’re being bullied, you don’t have to put up with it. There are many people and organisations that can help you; see Where to find help if you’re being bullied.

If you’re concerned that your child is being bullied, read What to do you if your child is being bullied.

Unhappy Teenage Girl Being Talked About By PeersWhat is Bullying?

Bullying can take many forms: from teasing and spreading rumours, to pushing someone around and causing physical harm. It often happens in front of other people.

It includes name calling, mocking, kicking, taking belongings, writing or drawing offensive graffiti, messing around with people’s belongings, gossiping, excluding people from groups, and threatening others.

Why are People Bullied?

Children and young people are bullied for all sorts of reasons. It can be due to their race, their religion, their appearance, their sexual orientation, because they have a disability or because of their home circumstances. People are bullied for being black, white, fat, clever, gay, or red-haired. These are a few examples.

But people are sometimes picked on for no reason.

Cyberbullying is increasingly common both inside and outside school. Cyberbullying is any form of bullying that involves the use of mobile phones or the internet. For example, sending offensive text messages and emails, circulating degrading images on the internet, or impersonating someone on social networking sites such as Facebook. For more information on cyberbullying and how to respond to it, see How to deal with cyberbullying.

The Effects of Bullying

Online bullying makes the lives of its victims miserable. It undermines their confidence and destroys their sense of security.

Bullying can cause sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, and poor concentration, and lead to self-harm, depression, suicidal thoughts and, in some cases, suicide.

Bullying can also affect children and young people’s attendance and progress at school.

Help for Parents and Children

To find out where to get help with bullying, read: