A More Accessible Home for a More Inclusive Family

by: Caitlin Hoff Someone who was born with a disability or grew up from a young age with an impairment can tell you that for them, it is their “normal.” They have grown up instinctively adapting to an able-bodied world. What we don’t often talk about is a parent’s initial adjustment to their child’s disabilities. Overtime, these parents become expert caretakers and passionate advocates for their child and other children with disabilities, but it’s not […]

Sensory Challenges in Children

by Lisa Cohn When I asked my son, Michael, age 10, to explain what it feels like to have “sensory processing disorder, (SPD)” he said that the sound of a food blender sends him sprinting into a different room; the feel of a wool sweater against his skin “is like a bomb to me.” For Moira, age 10, loud noises are difficult.   And it’s hard for her to sit still for more than an hour […]

Should You Explain the Diagnosis to the Child?

BY: Tony Attwood, Ph.D. The immediate answer is yes. Clinical experience indicates that it is extremely important that the diagnosis is explained as soon as possible and preferably before inappropriate compensatory mechanisms are developed. The child is then more likely to achieve self-acceptance, without unfair comparisons with other children, and be less likely to develop signs of an anxiety disorder, depression or conduct disorder. When and How do you Explain the Diagnosis? At what age […]

How to Minimize Mealtime Stress for Special Needs Children & Families

Studies have shown that sharing regular meals as a family has many benefits for children and their parents or caregivers. Participating in a mealtime ritual has been linked to stronger family bonds, healthier habits, better grades, and overall smarter choices. Making time to eat regular meals together and creating a comfortable dining space in your home is especially important for the safety and overall health of special needs children, too. Children’s mealtime behavior can be […]

Family Matters: Exploring Risks for Obesity in Autism

Marina Sarris Interactive Autism Network at Kennedy Krieger Institute Why are children and adults with autism more likely to be obese than other people?1-3 Studies show that many have extremely picky eating habits, do not exercise as much as others, or take medications that cause weight gain.4-11 While those may affect weight, a new study says the biggest risk factor, at least for youth, has nothing really to do with autism: it’s families.12 Youth whose […]

What does a student with Asperger Syndrome need in a school program?

BY: LYNDA GELLER, Ph.D. Anyone who knows many children and adults with Asperger Syndrome knows that every person’s manifestation of the condition is very different. While they share significant social disability, some are very successful academically, some struggle with accomplishing work; some have intense intellectual interests that lead them to career paths, and others have intense interests that seem to have no practical use; some have a few friendships, others are desperately alone and lonely. […]

Why Doctors Should Ask About the Use of Supplements in Patients with Down Syndrome

My wife is a pediatrician and in better health than I am. She is physically fit and obsessively exercises, which is more than I would claim about myself. She begins her day in a routine way, which includes drinking a foul-smelling concoction of green tea, herbs, and spices that are said to have anti-inflammatory qualities. She uses it to wash down fist-full of supplements, which are without solid scientific evidence of extending life or delivering […]

A Victory for One

In 1886, the physician Jonathan Hutchinson examined a six-year-old patient who lacked hair and had the withered skin of an old man. Later, in 1897, the physician Hastings Gilford followed up on this same patient and examined a second one with a similar appearance and documented in photographs the progression of the condition that rapidly ages people who have it. Today, this condition is known as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, HGPS, or simply progeria. It is […]

The Shoebox Phenomenon: What Not to Do with the Results of Your Child’s Annual Statewide Achievement Tests

   By William Blackwell, Ed.D. & Nancy Stockall, Ph.D. According to the U.S. Department of Education, almost 3.5 million children with disabilities participate in statewide achievement tests each year. Parents typically receive their child’s results in a paper report sent home through the school. Yet, parents often struggle to accurately interpret the reports, which contain complex testing jargon and vague descriptions of their child’s performance. This can lead to what one parent described as “the […]

It’s Not Selfish: 5 Self-Care Tips For The Caregiver

 There’s nothing else quite like caring full time for a person living with special needs. Challenging yet rewarding, the life of a carer is one full of responsibility- which can come with a lot of stress. Since persistent or chronic stress has the ability to impact our own personal health, it’s always a good idea to monitor tension levels and engage in positive, healthy outlets for self care. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s possible to […]