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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians, which we call Scribit Veritas.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

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What Parents Should Know about Marijuana

If you are a parent who wants your teenager or child to grow up with a healthy, drug-free life, you are unfortunately in a kind of war zone. Why is it a war zone? Because  there are many adults and teenagers who would promote marijuana and other drug use to young people. To help teens avoid the pitfalls of drugs in their youth, parents must take some pretty bold stands. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug for teenagers. (2) They are more likely to use marijuana than to use tobacco. (6) Marijuana’s effects lead to immediate and long-term problems of which many teens are unaware.

How Many Teenagers are Using Marijuana?

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Person-Centered Language for Those with Dis(abilities)

Society has come a long way in the treatment of those with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). In the past, those with I/DD have been seen as “inadequate,” and have been treated poorly, often times placed in institutions. Overtime, society has grown in knowledge of these diagnoses and towards the mindset of inclusion. Still, the need remains for progress towards a perspective that provides the understanding that these individuals have an identity – one that is far beyond their diagnosis. Even if there is not currently someone in you or your child’s life with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability, there could be at some point in the future. This is an opportunity to help your child understand differences in others and how to extend compassion.

Here are some important points to remember when helping your child understand differences in others:

  • They are aware when someone looks or acts differently.
  • They should know that no one is perfect.
  • They should be encouraged to be kind.

Having a Person-Centered approach helps navigate the way in which we can speak to and about these individuals. Person-Centered thinking makes the independent rights and abilities of the person a priority, regardless of their diagnosis. These examples (below) give us an idea of how modern culture addresses the I/DD population and how we can instead speak with words that encourage their identity as a person first.

  • Artwork by autistic man to be on view in Brooklyn Museum for advocacy fundraising efforts.

This sentence displays the independence and capability of the man, while still being labeled with his disability. A Person-Centered approach to making this statement could be saying, “Artwork by a man with autism to be on view in Brooklyn Museum for advocacy fundraising efforts.”

  • The disabled girl had the chance to be a part of her community through the recently opened fully-inclusive playground at the local park.

The Person-Centered approach to making this statement could be, “the girl with a disability had the chance to be a part of her community through the recently opened fully-inclusive playground at the local park.”

The difference between wording in each of these examples is slight, though the Person-Centered mindset behind them is what continues efforts towards inclusion and acceptance of I/DD individuals in society. Ultimately, it is Person-Centered thinking that helps navigate the way we communicate about and with people that have disabilities.

In this topic, the most important message to share with your children is to treat others kindly despite differences you can or cannot see from the outside.

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References

Robert L. Schalock, Ruth A. Luckasson, and Karrie A. Shogren (2007) The Renaming of Mental Retardation: Understanding the Change to the Term Intellectual Disability. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: April 2007, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 116-124.

Gjerde P, F: Culture, Power, and Experience: Toward a Person-Centered Cultural Psychology. Human Development 2004;47:138-157. doi: 10.1159/000077987

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Developmental Delays – What You Should Know

We are constantly hearing more about developmental delays in our society. Whether this is because more awareness is being brought to the topic or because there are more cases of individuals with developmental delays, you should know what exactly a developmental delay is and what potential signs are.

Before reading further, acknowledge that all children are different and develop at their own pace. Keep in mind that sometimes drawing attention to a newly developed behavior can make it worse. When the pace of a child’s development or their behavior becomes outside of the norm, it may be a good idea to seek a second opinion from your pediatrician or other trusted health professional.

The term “developmental delay” serves as an umbrella for many different conditions. Types of developmental delays along with potential signs are as follows:

Speech, Language, and Hearing

Into the first few months of a child’s life, you should begin to see their personality blossom through expression by making noises or by reacting to the noises that surround them.

  • By 4 months, your child should display a response to loud noises, be babbling, and begin attempting to mimic sounds. Read this article for more information about babbling.
  • By 7 months, your child should display a response to sounds around them in daily life.
  • By 1 year, your child should begin to say their first word. Of course, these are single words like “mama” or “dada.”
  • By 2 years, your child should have a vocabulary of at least 15 words and begin saying two-word phrases.

 Vision

Being able to see faces and objects is important to a child’s development. If signs of vision delays are present, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a child can establish a foundation for learning through seeing shapes and letters, for example.

  • By 3 months, your child should notice hands, follow objects with their eyes, be able to move both of their eyes in all directions, and should not be crossing their eyes frequently.
  • By 6 months, you should not frequently see one or both of your child’s eyes turning in (or out), they should have recurring eye drainage. They should be following objects that are both close and far away (6 feet) with both of their eyes.

Movement

Delays in movement are known as motor skill delays and include both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills refer to small movements such as using a pencil, pressing buttons on toys, or picking up blocks. Gross motor skills refer to movements on a larger scale such as rolling over, sitting, or walking.

  • By around 4 months, a child should be reaching for and grasping objects, bringing objects to their mouth, supporting their own head, start beginning to roll over, and should press into their feet when placed in a standing-up position on a hard surface.
  • By 7 months, your child should be putting objects into their mouth, be able to roll over in both directions, and sit up independently.
  • By 1 year, a child should be able to crawl and stand with support.
  • By 2 years, children are typically able to walk and should be walking in a heel-to-toe order.

Emotional/social

Establishing a secure attachment with their caregiver is a crucial component to a child’s development. If any of the following signs are not present, contact your doctor.

  • By 3 months, your child should smile at others and acknowledge new faces without displaying emotions of fear.
  • By 7 months, your child should desire closeness with caregivers and show affection. It is a warning sign if they’re unable to be soothed during the night, if they do not smile or laugh, and if they are not responsive to a game of “peek-a-boo.”
  • By 1 year, children should exchange gestures with others such as smiling and waving.

Cognitive

Cognitive delays can often surface through play with a child and are often associated with other developmental delays; for example, a child who does not press a button on a toy could be evaluated for both cognitive and motor delays.

  • By 1 year, a child should look for an item that he/she knows is hidden and should point to pictures and objects.
  • By 2 years, a child should understand basic functions of simple objects like cups and utensils and should understand simple directions.

To Conclude

During the early years of their life, when children are unable to advocate for themselves, their circumstances are chosen for them. Be aware of typical patterns of development and seek help if warning signs are present so that children have every opportunity to grow healthily into their next stage.

Helping Your Child Make Friends

Our brains are hard-wired to develop social relationships, and infants as young as 4 – 6 weeks demonstrate social skills with their smiling and cooing. Research consistently demonstrates the importance of our social relationships, including friendships, in our overall health.

However, the social skills necessary to develop friendships must be learned and reinforced in childhood to assure lifelong skills. This is even more important in today’s environment, filled with social media in which friends are more virtual than real. Below we’ve provided some practical information for parents on helping children develop and maintain healthy friendships.

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Approaching the New Year: Handling change

This time of year brings about a great deal of change, even if it is as simple as change in routine. Children are home for Winter break and are setting back into normalcy following the holiday season. If there was a loss in the family over the last year, the holidays are a time when their absence is emphasized. On the other hand, the holidays are also a time when children are around many family members. This could be something they are not accustomed to. It is important to know that these familial situations impact children, too. Then, soon enough, they will be preparing to return to school, changing their pace once again. Parents should know how these shifts affect a child as their response to this change can be represented by challenging behaviors. As we dismiss the holiday season and merge into the new year, consider the following topics dealing with children and handling change.

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The Holidays: A Time to Nourish Healthy Eating Habits

Food brings people together, creates an atmosphere of comfort as the smells of a favorite meal waft through the air, and supports family traditions as recipes are handed down year after year. While the holidays are often a time to indulge, they can provide parents with a unique opportunity to teach their children healthy eating habits. Here are some helpful tips to remember as we enter a season of holidays and celebration:

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Guidelines and Concerns about Adolescent Social Media Use

Only two decades ago, it would have been unheard of for a thirteen-year-old to have their own cell-phone. Now over 2/3 of today’s teenagers use phones to text their friends daily! Social media use is nearly universal for today’s teenagers in the United States, with Facebook being the most commonly used social media website. All these new connections available to teens pose important questions for parents. Thankfully, social media websites can provide teenagers with many positive benefits. However, research shows that there are many concerns for parents to be aware of when their child begins using social media accounts and gets their first cellphone.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that professionals be aware of the following issues and facts when working with adolescents and young adults, regarding social media use:

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Protecting Your Kids from Pornography

This fall as I walked around Walmart, I noticed some fun changes. In addition to all things pumpkin spice (which is probably the best part of fall if you ask me), I saw football cupcakes, game day snacks, and more. Football season is here, and people are stoked and ready to go!

Professional football has become a big part of American culture. And as of 2016, the NFL generated about $13 billion (1). That’s a lot of money.

But there’s another part of our culture that has become even bigger. And unfortunately, it doesn’t bring game day snacks or cheering fans.

As of 2015, the pornography industry worldwide made an estimated $97 billion dollars (2), over 7 times what the NFL makes in a year. Not only is it raking in a lot of money, but in the United States, about 107 million people view pornography at least monthly (3).

Unfortunately, this culture of pornography is seeping down to our kids. One study found that the average age of first exposure for boys is somewhere between ages 11 and 13 (4). It’s become not so much a question of if our kids will be exposed, but when.

With pornography becoming a bigger and bigger part of our society today, what damage is it causing? And how can we protect our kids from those damages?

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How to Keep Your Kids Safe #ChildSafetyandProtectionMonth

When you’re a parent of young kids, life suddenly becomes more dangerous. The stairs, electric outlets, the stove, and more are all disasters waiting to happen!

In the Walt Disney film Lilo & Stitch (1), Nani struggles to keep her little sister Lilo safe from the many hazards of life. In this clip (2) she sheepishly tries to explain herself to the social worker:



Thankfully, Lilo turns out okay in spite of being left home alone with pots boiling over on the stove. But if we aren’t careful and don’t provide appropriate supervision, our kids can really get hurt.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Injuries are the leading cause of death in children ages 19 and younger. But most child injuries can be prevented” (3). This November in honor of Child Safety and Protection Month, take some time to learn how you can help your children stay safe, whether at home or on the go.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Read With Your Kids

I still remember fondly the days when my dad read the Harry Potter series to me and my siblings. His silly voices made the fantastic world seem all the more magical! As I grew older, my mom would sometimes read her book club books aloud to me, and we’d discuss the stories and ideas. Those times reading with my parents are probably some of my favorite childhood memories.

Perhaps you also have fond memories of being read to. Or maybe you now enjoy being on the other end, reading aloud to your own children!

Reading books with your kids can be fun, but it’s much more than just a good idea. In fact, “reading aloud to . . . children is crucial” (1). But what is it that makes reading with your children so very important? In honor of National Family Literacy Month this November, here are just a few of the research-based reasons why you should read with your kids.

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