News: adults with autism

11 Expert-Recommended Autism Apps for Kids

By Gen Cohen

These 11 apps for kids with autism are designed to support emotional and social needs.

By Melissa Willets via parenting.com

Using apps for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be useful for learning and social development, according to Dena Aucoin, M.Ed., the Assistant Academic Chair in the Educational Studies program at Kaplan University.

"[They allow] for learning to take place in many environments, which helps aid in generalization of the attainment of skills," she told Parenting.com. "For example, if we are only teaching the skill of greeting others in the classroom, we may see less success when attempting to greet others at the grocery store."

More from Parenting: 11 Books for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"[They] can be helpful to provide visual supports, to provide structure, a schedule, and language or pictures to facilitate communication," adds Patricia Aguayo, MD, MPH, Medical Director Autism Services, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Hospital for Special Care. She explains the most important thing to consider when choosing an app is what the specific needs of the child are and what your goal is for introducing it.

Aucoin adds, "Anyone can make an app so do a little research. What company is presenting this app? Are there supportive applications that go along with it? Is it credible? These considerations can help in making choices that fit the need."

Aguayo urges parents to use an app in collaboration with the school team.

"It is important that everyone involved in the child's life is consistent and use the same app or device," she says.

More from Parenting: Behavior Training Helps Families Cope with Autism More Than Education

She recommends two books to help parents narrow down their app options:

But here are 11 autism apps for kids that our experts recommend trying:

1. First-Then Visual Schedule

This app provides visual schedules to help with transitions and decrease anxiety. "First-then support can offer children of most intellectual and language abilities to understand what is expected of them, and what will come next, or what the reward will be," explains Aguayo.

Cost: $9.99, available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android.

2. iPrompts

"iPrompts is a highly recommended app for supporting organizational skills, setting expectations for performance, and setting up subtle supports and reminders," says Aguayo. Users can create and modify visual schedules, as well as use a countdown timer with picture supports to indicate how much longer a task or activity will last.

Cost: $49.99, available for iPhone and iPad.

More from Parenting: Why Dental Care for Your Special Needs Child Is So Important

3. Autism Track

This app is brought to you by the creators of iPrompts and is designed for parents of children with ASD to help them track data. "This customizable data tracking tool allows parents to easily track behaviors, interventions and symptoms in one place," says Aguayo. "Behaviors and symptoms can be rated, as well as particular medications and their doses, diet changes and therapies. Parents can also review trends in their child's data and share these data with school and medical providers to inform treatment planning. This app is especially helpful for children with challenging behaviors, psychiatric conditions or both."

Cost: Free to $9.99, depending on the version, available for iPhone and iPad.

4. Learn with Rufus

"This app uses a child-friendly character to teach emotion words, facial expressions associated with emotions, and to identify emotions in others," Aguayo says, and it may also help with the development of language, communication, and social skills.

Cost: $4.99, available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

5. E-Mintza

This customizable, bilingual app is designed for augmentative communication using a family's own pictures. Aguayo says it's free, but time-consuming to set up and customize.

Cost: Free, available for Android.

More from Parenting: Mom Recycles Military Uniforms into Weighted Vests for Kids with Autism

6. Stories2Learn

"S2L offers parents and educators the ability to create personalized stories using photos, text, and audio messages," explains Aucoin. "These stories can be used to promote an individual's literacy, leisure, as well as social skills." The app supports reciprocal play, non-verbal communication, playground and school rules, turn taking, and more.

Cost: $13.99, available for iPhone and iPad.

7. Model Me Going Places 2

"[This] is a great visual teaching tool for helping your child learn to navigate challenging locations in the community. Each location contains a photo slideshow of children modeling appropriate behavior," says Aucoin. Locations include the hairdresser, mall, doctor's office, grocery store, restaurant and playground.

Cost: Free, available for iPhone and iPad.

More from Parenting: How to Make Flying with a Child with Autism Easier

8. The Social Express

This online interactive program addresses core deficit areas standing in the way of school, social, and life success for kids with social learning challenges. It uses "highly interactive and visual presentation" and animations to encourage children to practice social skills in an interactive way. According to Aucoin, this app "employs rich graphics and audio and offers a high degree of quality in every aspect of the app."

Cost: Free for version II, monthly and annual rates available for iPad.

9. Cognoa

Dr. Clara Lajonchere, former VP of clinical programs at Autism Speaks, helped to develop the Cognoa evaluation tool, which not only identifies autism in kids, but also tracks a child's behavior and milestones for doctors and teachers. "Features include expert-recommended activities, which can help autistic children who have issues with fine motor and sensory, socialization, tantrums and more," she says.

Cost: Free, available for Android and Apple products and online.

10. Pictello

Pictello is a simple way to create visual stories and talking books, explains Aucoin. "Each page in a Pictello Story can contain a picture, a short video, up to 10 lines of text, and a recorded sound or text-to-speech using natural sounding voices." The app can be used to teach social skills or to help kids remember events, and supports non-verbal children in communication with others. Better yet, stories can be shared with other Pictello users and even non-users.

Cost: $18.99, available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

More from Parenting: New Autism Research: Social Struggles & Increase in Diagnoses Explained

11. Dreampad

This unique app uses a pillow with embedded transducers that play relaxing music through vibration to induce relaxation and sleep. A study on kids with autism conducted by Dr. Sarah Schoen of the SPD Foundation concluded all 15 participants showed improvements in sleep initiation, duration of sleep, reduction in night waking, and improved daytime behavior.

Cost: the pillow is $169, and the accompanying app is free; available for Android and Apple devices.

Check out Assistive Ware and I Get It apps for more apps that support autistic children. Parents should also note that while not specifically created for kids with ASD, developers, such as Toca Boca, Oceanhouse Media, Duck Duck Moose and Spinlight Studios are consistently developing apps being used in treatment settings.

But Aguayo wants to caution parents: "It is also important to keep in mind that, just as with typically developing children, electronics can become an obsession, and their use for breaks, reinforcers, and during free time should be monitored and limited. Apps, even those that can help children with ASD, should never replace real-world interactions and interventions that help to develop social and communication skills in natural settings."

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Pediatrician with Autism Uses Her 'Aspie' Skills to Better Care for Kids

By Gen Cohen

Doctor says her autism helps her understand her special patients in a way that no other pediatrician can.

By Rochelle Flynn, MD, FAAP via parenting.com

 

If you have a child with autism, you have probably read everything about the disorder—from articles written by other parents raising a child with autism to psychologists giving their professional opinions to people who have the disorder sharing their own experiences. And you have likely taken your child to the pediatrician for advice about childhood illnesses and parenting suggestions for your special child. In your mind, you try to coalesce all of the information from so many diverse sources as you try to figure out how to help your child to reach his or her full potential.

But what would you think if you took your child to the pediatrician and instead of the same routine advice, she is able to explain things to you that your child is likely experiencing, but may not be able to communicate? You're probably thinking, "Great, I found a pediatrician who has an autistic child, too." Nope—actually the pediatrician has autism spectrum disorder! Say what?!

The story of my diagnosis begins almost three years ago, when I was officially diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome on May 15, 2013 (later revised to "Autism Spectrum Disorder-Mild"). At the age of 42, I finally had an explanation for the decades of struggling to fit in and for the severe anxiety associated with struggling to survive in my career.

When I was a child, autism referred to the more severely affected, nonverbal children. That certainly didn't apply to me. After my diagnosis, I started reevaluating my entire life through the eyes of autism. So much now is starting to make sense. In second grade, I begged another girl to be my friend. In high school, I made a joking comment to someone and my classmates got really upset. I felt the tight grip of pressure in my chest from everyone's reaction, but I didn't understand what I had said wrong.

All my life, my "obsession" was becoming a doctor. There was a path to follow and getting into medical school was the final step to this dream coming true. The very first day stands out in my mind as the day when one of the deans approached me "out of concern" because she noticed that I "seemed more anxious than any other student." From that day on, medical school became the start of a career-long roller coaster ride of anxiety, when my personal drive and intelligence smashed full-speed into the brick wall of all of my social skills' deficits. As I fought to survive and achieve my dream, the emotional toll it took on my already-fragile self-esteem left permanent scars that to this day I struggle to overcome.

Graduating medical school should have been the realization of my lifelong dream, but the struggle to fit into a career where so much relies on social skills meant that my journey was just beginning, and every day was a new battle to survive. I started my career in pediatric emergency medicine where every day was different, and I loved the puzzle of piecing together clues and making a diagnosis. However, the high-stress environment, the tragedy of young children dying, and the physically unbearable work schedule all built up over the years. To see colleagues spend their entire careers in one place made me feel like an incredible failure as I floundered around trying to find my career niche.

My practice style focused on providing information to educate parents rather than performing unnecessary tests or giving unnecessary prescriptions. For many parents in the emergency department, however, this was the trigger for complaints because I "didn't fulfill their expectations" (that antibiotic for their child's virus, etc.). Most times, this occurred long after they left the hospital. I never suspected that anything was wrong, only later to be criticized by my supervisors. It did not matter that I did everything medically correct, only that the parent was "not satisfied." And so this pattern continued: well-meaning advice by me would result in complaints by the parent and censure by my supervisors. My brain became so conditioned by this that the grip of panic in my chest became increasingly frequent, triggered even by thinking about work. No wonder so many on the autism spectrum develop PTSD after years of this type of unconsciously triggered anxiety and the emotional scars it leaves behind.

Switching careers to general pediatrics, where I am now, was my attempt to find families who could appreciate my practice style. However, new sources of stress come from the constant daily struggle to navigate the subtleties of office policies and politics that everyone else seems to understand but often make no common sense to me.

As I am beginning to understand myself better after my diagnosis, I am also realizing that there are many great benefits to being a pediatrician with autism. I think that choosing pediatrics as my career was unconsciously due to the realization that children are very accepting. My personality traits that are considered deficits in the adult world of communication are actually strengths when dealing with a scared child. I can allow myself to get very silly with a child to get them giggling and no longer afraid of my exam. The depth of gratitude expressed by many of the parents of these children has been overwhelming and incredibly rewarding.

Another of my "Aspie" skills is being very detail-oriented. Sometimes this focus allows me to pick up a single clue that leads to a diagnosis that otherwise might have been missed. This skill is also the one that causes me the most stress, however, because it means that I am frequently one or two hours behind schedule. The more burdened I become by time-pressure (a notorious detriment to most of us with ASD), the less efficient I become. I suffer daily anxiety struggling to balance family life with the hours of paperwork and indirect patient care tasks that I still have to do during my personal time because I cannot complete them during regular work hours. Physical exhaustion and emotional guilt are my constant companions.

I do not tell most parents that I have ASD. However, when I do share this personal information with parents of children who have ASD, the sense of appreciation and acceptance is slowly beginning to give me confidence in myself as a person and as a pediatrician. I am becoming more hopeful that some of my emotional scars might eventually fade away.

This journey of personal and professional self-discovery is something that, until now, I have kept deep inside myself. However, by taking the risk of putting aside "normal professional boundaries," I hope to foster a better understanding about the struggles that all of us on the spectrum experience to some degree or other. All of my struggles to survive in a career that relies on social skills have led me to the unique position where I am able to understand my special patients in a way that no other pediatrician can. Perhaps in that realization, I have finally discovered my own special career niche.

Rochelle Caruso Flynn, MD, FAAP, started her career as a pediatrician specializing in pediatric emergency medicine, but with her husband's encouragement, Rochelle decided to make a career change to general pediatrics. Then, in May 2013, her world once again turned upside down when she was diagnosed with autism. Rather than providing relief as the explanation for many of her life's challenges, Flynn now finds herself reevaluating her entire life from this new perspective.

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When Do Signs of Autism Appear?

By Gen Cohen

Uncovering the Early Signs of Autism

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15 Ways For Moms and Daughters to Have More Fun Together

By Dallas Stevens

15 Ways For Moms and Daughters to Have More Fun Together



With the chaos of juggling our own schedules with our kids' calendars, it's easy for your quality time to be limited to carpool conversations and the bedtime routine. Penciling in some one-on-one time with your favorite girl may require a little extra effort, but it'll pay off in spades. Here, 15 ways to stop stressing and start making memories.

1. Ice Cream Outing

Because calories don't count when you're spending time with your favorite girl!

2. Sign Up For a Mother-Daughter Cooking Class

The weeknight dinnertime rush tends to take the fun out of cooking. Bring it back by devoting a few hours to hands-on foodie fun with your little one. Look up a cooking school in your area — you may be surprised to find how many kid-friendly classes are out there.

3. Spa Day

Source: Thinkstock

Instead of trying to squeeze in a mani-pedi while your kids are at school or during your lunch hour, schedule appointments for two after school or on a weekend afternoon. It's a fun opportunity to indulge yourselves in some girl time.

Keep reading for more great mother-daughter date ideas!

4. Farmers Market Fun

Give her a lesson in where her food comes from by taking your daughter out for a one-on-one farmers market outing. Let her have a say in your selections, and encourage her to help turn your produce picks into dinner once you're back home.

5. Play Tourist in Your Own Town

We often take for granted that our own town or city has some pretty amazing sites to see. Spend an afternoon exploring with your girl. Head off to a destination that you've always wanted to check out, or take her to one of your own favorite spots that she hasn't seen yet.

6. Get Crafty

Source: Thinkstock

Sometimes staying home is the easiest and best way to bond. If she's got siblings, plan some crafty QT during their nap time or when dad or someone else can take them out for a bit.

7. Volunteer

Source: Thinkstock

Do good while having fun by signing up to volunteer for a few hours. It's a great opportunity to learn which causes speak to your daughter and spark a conversation about the importance of giving back.

8. Invite Grandma Along

Source: Thinkstock

What's better than two generations of family fun? Inviting a third along!

9. Get Active

Depending on her age, bring your daughter along for a jog in her stroller, a side-by-side power walk, a class at the gym, or whatever other fitness fun suits your fancy.

10. A Night at the Movies

Let your little chick pick the flick, and treat yourselves to a movie date.

11. The 9-5

Source: Thinkstock

If you're a working mom, make arrangements to bring your daughter in to visit your office for the day (or, depending on her age, an hour or two). Give her a better understanding of what her mom does for a living, and spark a conversation of what she could see herself doing as an adult.

12. Day Trippers

Take advantage of a sunny weekend afternoon, and take a meandering drive down a scenic stretch near your home, either with a drivable destination in mind or just an openness for adventure!

13. Plan a Picnic

Take the experience of planning and preparing a meal together, and make it even more special by enjoying it al fresco — just the two of you.

14. Ladies Who Lunch

Source: Thinkstock

This weekend, skip brunch or lunch with your gal pals, and instead take your special little lady out for a date a deux. A one-on-one meal is a great opportunity to get her to open up on what's happening at school, in her social circle, and more.

15. Explore Nature

Source: Thinkstock

There may be a chill in the air, but don't let it slow you down. Bundle up, and hit up a local nature trail, park, or boardwalk (hot cocoa in hand, perhaps?) for some outdoor exercise and conversation.

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Take a Hike: Essentials for Hikers

By Scott Morris

 

Hey, We Know Those Shades! (and we love to hike with them too!) Our sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection come in both kids' and adult sizes, like our light and flexible junior glasses!

With warmer weather just around the corner, urbanites are getting ready to take a brief break from the city and enjoy nature by going on a hike. New York has several hiking trails just a train ride away and it’s a great way to get moving in the great outdoors. Whether it’s just a day of hiking or you’re going on a longer excursion, be sure to come prepared with these handy hiking products.

Matador Freerain24 Backpack

Freerain24
Taking you through 14 states, the Appalachian Trail is the longest continuously marked footpath on Earth. For a hike this extensive, you will need Matador’s Freerain24 Backpack and an adventurous friend. Nearly 2,200 miles long, the Appalachian Trail has only been successfully completed by 15,000 people.

Are you up for the challenge? If you’re a hardcore hiker then the answer is a no-brainer. The real question is do you have Matdaor’s Freerain24 Backpack to accompany you on this arduous but rewarding journey? Made out of strong and durable fabric, it’s the ideal hiking bag to carry all of your necessities. For a hike this long pack extra clothes, plenty of water, a compass, a map, and a headlamp. If you choose to navigate with a GPS system, be aware that battery life is limited so throw a rechargeable gadget in your Freerain24 Backpack for extra precaution. Its most unique and convenient feature is this backpack’s compact design. It can fold up so small it can literally fit into the palm of a hand.

When unpacked it turns into a 24 Liter backpack with a waterproof main compartment.

– Ultra-lightweight (5.5 oz) for easy transport
– Has 24-liter capacity with multiple pockets for easy-access storage
– Made with Cordura® 30D waterproof materials and Hypalon® rolltop construction to keep gear dry
– Breathable straps with adjustable top stabilizers for improved ergonomics
– Puncture resistant

 

Stojo

Stojo
Rule number 1: Always pack water for an extra day. Whether long or short, staying hydrated is key when hiking and with Stojo you will always have a cup to quench your thirst.

Don’t make a rookie mistake of not packing enough water. It can be a matter of life and death. Seriously! It cannot be stressed enough how important hydration is during any physical activity, but especially during hiking when water supply is limited. The hike you assumed would only take two hours can sometimes take four, a miscalculation that is common for a novice hiker. Bring water and lots of it. Save a ton of room in your bag by packing Stojo’s collapsible pocket cup. Made from mostly silicone and recyclable materials, this leak-proof cup has a unique design that allows it to “collapse” into a 1.75-inch disc that can fit right in your pocket. When opened up the cup can stand at 5 inches tall, about the same size of a standard coffee cup. Stojo is also devoted to making an environmental impact when you use 1 Stojo cup you are saving 500 disposable cups a year from piling up in landfills.

The Stoja Collapsible Cup is loaded with features:
– Available in 6 vibrant colors.
– Works for hot or cold beverages.
– BPA-free with no phthalates, glue or lead.
– Food-grade rated silicone cup and stopper.
– Dishwasher and microwave safe.

 

Ro·Sham·Bo Baby Sunglasses with UVA and UVB Protection

RoShamBo (1)

It was a tough hike but you have finally made it to your destination. As the sun slowly drowns into the horizon and the sky fades into pinks and purples you realize a sunset is the perfect reward. Set your bag down and view Mother Nature’s masterpiece through Ro Sham Bo Sunglasses.

No one goes outside planning to get sunburned. While surrounded by beautiful scenery you may forget that the sun’s rays are relentlessly cascading down on every part of your body. Hiking may expose you to long hours in the sun. Protecting your skin by wearing protective and lightweight clothing, a hat and sunscreen is great but most people forget the importance of sunglasses. Ro·Sham·Bo sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection totally blocks out 100% of those harmful rays. Even during winter hikes sunglasses are ideal. They can prevent snow blindness which is when snow reflects light that can be discomforting to the eye. Available in 8 vivid colors, these shades are durable and lightweight. Due to their flexible design they are virtually indestructible. Bend, twist and stretch your pair of shades without breaking them. Made exclusively in Italy, Ro·Sham·Bo Baby's eyewear is stylish and offers guaranteed protection against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Make sure your little one has a pair too, their baby corneas will need the protection as well.

 

Matador Pocket Blanket

PocketBlanket (2)

Overnight backpacking in the Grand Canyon can be a little overwhelming with the extra planning and extra packing. It will be all worth it once you are cuddled up in your Matador Blanket gazing at the night skies.

With its dark skies and clean air, the Grand Canyon is one of the best places to star gaze in the United States. Every year in June they throw a Star Party where thousands of people gather to gaze at planets, star clusters and galaxies. Nights can be cool, even in the summer so make sure to wrap up in a warm Matador Pocket Blanket. This ultra-compact pocket blanket can be as small as a deck of cards when folded but when unpacked pans out to about 63” x 44″. Keep yourself nice and toasty during an overnight hike or lay it out on the ground for everyone to use. Puncture resistant, you won’t have to worry about twigs or rocks poking any holes in your blanket. Storage and portability is super convenient just fold it back up and stick it in your backpack or pocket. It will be ready to use the next time it gets chilly or you need to take a rest stop during your hike.

 

Leisure Leash

LeisureLeash

Take your furry friend on your next hiking adventure with Leisure Leash. Your dog will love the physical activity and will keep you motivated along the way.

Dogs are the best hiking buddies you could ever ask for. They are loyal, trustworthy and can alert you if anything is near by. Staying hands free is optimal while backpacking, but after a certain point your four-legged friend may want to roam freely. Holding your dog’s leash, especially while hiking can be inconvenient but with Leisure Leash your trusty companion can carry his or her own leash. This new leash system allows quality time to be more enjoyable and easier for both you and your dog. It’s a two-part system that is equipped with a slip collar and a leash. Simply clip the leash to itself and wrap it around the collar and slip it around your dog’s neck. Comfortable and lightweight, your dog won’t even notice his leash has become a second collar. Leisure Leash is versatile, use it for short-leash heeling, medium-leash running and off-leash training.  Innovative and simple to use, the Leisure Leash ranges from 22” to 27” but extensions are available for additional lengths if necessary.

 

Matador Camera Base Layer

CameraBaseLayer

Dream it. Live it. Frame it! What’s a walk of a lifetime without snapping a few pictures? With Matador’s Camera Base Layer you will always be ready to take the best shots. While hiking in Yosemite National Park, you will inevitably come across some of the most surreal landscapes in the United States.

From Glacier Point to Yosemite Falls, Mother Nature is ready for her close up. For photography enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals, the ultra-lite Matador Camera Base Layer bag is designed to easily slip out your camera to capture precious moments on the next vacation, camping trip or day hike! Accessible and comfortable to hike with you can carry it around your neck or sling it over your shoulder. Remove your camera from the bag in less than a second for full access to all buttons and controls to capture all of Yosemite’s iconic scenery. The one-size-fits-all roll-top design can house DLSR and Mirco 4/3 camera lenses making the Camera Base Layer versatile with every camera model and size. Yosemite is a photographers dream don’t miss out on the beautiful sunsets and scenic pictures.

 

Sydney Paige Backpack

SydneyPaigeBackpack

Known as one of the most dangerous hikes, the Kalalau Trail in Hawaii is only for experienced and physically fit hikers. With steep volcanic slopes and narrow paths a high quality Sydney Paige backpack will be able to endure this challenging hike.

Compared to mountain biking or rock climbing, hiking can seem like piece of cake. Putting one foot in front of the other may be second nature to you but on an insanely hard hike you will need to be in top-notch shape. You’ll want to be strategic with what you bring when it comes to the Kalalau Trail. A Sydney Paige backpack is perfect to travel light but big enough to carry your necessities. With one large main compartment, a drawstring and a magnetic closure you can fit shoes, clothes, water bottles and more. The Guidi Laptop Rucksack has one front and two side accessory pockets with metal zippers and padded back and shoulder straps for added comfort. Created by a mompreneur who wanted to show her kids that anyone could change the world, Sydney Paige will give a child in need a backpack for each one sold.

Sydney Paige’s mission to break the cycle of poverty involves:
– Donating the same high quality backpack as purchased.
– Filling each donated backpack with a full set of age-appropriate school supplies, food, clothing, and hygiene kits.
– Letting customers choose which non-profit company receives their matching bag and supplies.

 

Matador Droplet

Droplet

It’s always a smart idea to pack extra clothes while hiking. Climate changes go change with little to no warning. Depending on the season you pack a set of warmer or lighter clothes with Matador Droplet.

How many times has the weatherman predicted a perfect forecast only to be proven completely wrong? Like that one time he promised sunshine and blues skies but instead it rained for 6 hours straight. Don’t be caught unprepared if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Weather can be unpredictable especially when you are heading into the backcountry. Pack a change of clothes for emergencies or unexpected climate changes in your Matador Droplet. Whether it gets hot, cold or you decide to take a dip in the lake, this handy bag can carry it call. Light and versatile this bag is also waterproof guaranteeing your goods will stay dry. It’s large enough to carry a whole outfit and also other essentials like first-aid supplies, rain gear, an insulated jacket or extra socks. The Matador Droplet Wet Bag can fold up to fit right in the palm of your hand. It’s compact design fits perfectly on a droplet shaped silicon keychain making portability convenient and simple.

 

DryFins

DryFins

Stop Trail Chafing 2016! Painful chafing while hiking can be a guy’s worst nightmare. Next time you are about to go backpacking wear DryFins so you won’t have to cut your adventure short.

Guys don’t like to talk about it but with DryFins they won’t ever have to. Jump into a refreshing lake and swim freely after a long hike without worrying about chaffing afterwards. Designed for guys by guys, this brand was exclusively designed for active males who love to swim, fish or hike. Unlike traditional swim trunks, these top quality board shorts have a quick dry liner designed to eliminate irritation from chafe, rash and burn. The signature DryFins is a comfortable cut board short with a super-soft outer shell that looks great wet or dry. Two deep pockets can hold sunglasses, snacks, a flashlight or any other hiking goodies you may need. Available in men and boy sizes you can choose from a classic red or blue and coming soon, green. Say goodbye to the uncomfortable chafe waddle with DryFins.

 

Matador Surface

Surface
Fishing while on a backpacking trip is the perfect way to take in the beauty and peacefulness nature has to offer. Lay down your Matador Surface at the dock and catch a giant trophy fish.

Backcountry lakes and fishing go together like a fish in water. Lay down your fishing tackle box and fishing poles on a Matador Surface and prepare for an epic day of fishing. Made from ultra composite material, this portable work surface covers a large of space of about 53” x 36.” Equipped with a “hardware trap” you can put hooks, bait, sinkers, bobbers and extra line inside. It’s a hiking essential you would never think you needed until you lose track of your needle nose plier. You can also use it at home for home repairs or when working on your car. It’s gas, oil, grease resistant and 100% waterproof. Printed on an easy pack-folding pattern, the Matador Surface can is compact and thin. It can fit comfortably in a toolbox or in your Matador Freerain24 Backpack. Like the majority of Matador’s products this portable work surface also folds down right down the middle into the size of your palm.

Matador Surface also includes:
– Metric and standard ruler markings
– A precision laser etched mm rule
– Protractor
– Angle Marking detents
– Bottle openers

 

ECOlunchbox

ECOlunchbox

For long hikes with steep terrains make sure to avoid food that will make you fizzle out such as chips, sodas and sweets. With ECOlunchbox you can pack tasty and energy boosting snacks to keep you going until the end.

Whether you are hiking for 2 miles or 20, you will need food that gives you plenty of energy. Some high-energy snacks are trail mix, dried fruit, sunflower seeds or chocolate covered soy nuts if you have a sweet tooth. With ECOlunchbox you can pack simple yet nutritious foods to avoid cramps, nausea or even dizziness while you are hiking. This reusable lunchbox is made entirely from non-toxic materials such as stainless steel, cotton and plastic-free silicone. ECOlunchbox is a socially and environmentally aware company that is on a “Plastic-free” mission to keep the planet as green as possible. Their lunchboxes are specially designed to healthy for people and the planet. Store your food in the most efficient and healthy way with awarding winning ECOlunchbox.

ECOlunchbox also has a line of plastic-free lunch bags and snack containers.
– Dishwasher safe
– 100% Non-toxic
– Stainless steel
– Reusable
– Waste-free
– BPA-free
– Phthalate-free

 

Allison Izu Sunrise Sweat Pants

AlizonIzuPants

Hiking trips don’t stop fashionista’s from looking fierce even if they hot and sweaty. Throw on some of Allison Izu’s Sunrise Sweat Pants with your hiking boots and look like the ultimate outdoors babe.

You’re tired, hungry and drenched in sweat but who cares because yourSunrise Skinny Sweat Pants fit exactly the way they should on your petite frame. Perfect for early mornings in the backcountry and made especially for petite women, these sweat pants are casual and fashionable. For women with a bold and daring sense of style choose Allison Izu’s zebra inspired animal print. If you lean more towards minimalist fashion than their dark grey sweat pants will fit into your wardrobe perfectly. Allison Izu Song spotted a huge problem in the fashion industry while she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. The majority of women’s fashion was designed for tall women leaving petite women at a huge disadvantage. She decided to fix this problem by creating, Allizon Izu a luxurious line specifically for women 5’6” and shorter. Made in Hawaii, you can say goodbye to long pants that drag across the floor and sleeves that swallow your arms whole. Customers will love the quality of fabrics, trims, constructions and variety.

 

Play Again Now

PlayAgainNow

With hiking season quickly approaching you may be training extra hard to reach your fitness goals on time. PlayAgainNow is a daily nutritional supplement drink aiding in muscle recovery that you can feel in just 7 to 14 days. This daily sports nutrition drink supplement is designed to combat soreness and stiffness and can be consumed by athletes or active people of any age or fitness level.

This beverage contains hyaluronic acid (HA) and MSM, which acts as a shock absorber and lubricant for muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. After challenging yourself at the gym make sure to recover your muscles with Play Again Now. This drink is caffeine free, gluten free and contains zero calories and carbs.

repost from http://www.downtownmagazinenyc.com/take-hike-essentials-hikers/

 

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Some Preggers "Rules" Examined...

By Scott Morris

Really? No sushi, no lunch meat, and I can't touch kitty litter?? 

[reposted from Lucie's List] 

There are TONS of pregnancy myths and fact about what you should-- and shouldn't -- be doing during your pregnancy. Perhaps you've already been admonished by an annoying coworker about the dangers lurking inside your turkey sandwich. 
 
The truth of the matter is that the majority of miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects occur from reasons that are totally outside of your control. This will either give you comfort or totally freak you out; hopefully it's the former.
 
As it turns out, many of the rules of the pregnancy police come not from actual data or studies, but from the "why-take-a-chance" philosophy that pervades American medicine, no matter how infinitesimal the actual risk.
 
First, a biology lesson.
 

Mr. (or Ms.) Fetus

Only half of your tiny peanut is identical to your own biology (the other half belonging, of course, to your sperm-donor-of-a-husband, or boyfriend, or fiance, or one-night-stand --- no one's judging here).

Fetus: nooo, don't attack meee!!

Because of this dissimilarity, your little ball of baby cells would normally be rejected by your body's own immune system (much like with a transplanted organ). Thankfully, our immune systems have evolved to NOT attack the developing fetus.

Essentially, your whole immune system lets down its guard for the duration of your pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women are more vulnerable to nasty stuff. This also explains why you'll get every strain of cold under the moon during the 3rd trimester, even if you are normally quite healthy.

So which of the rules are justifiable and which aren't? Let's have a look at some pregnancy myths that have been debunked or confirmed.

Listeria Hysteria

Listeria is the big bad bacteria that you want to avoid during pregnancy, mainly because it can cross the placental barrier and infect the fetus, which can result in miscarriage or fetal death.

True, pregnant women are about 20 times more likely to get listeria than the non-pregnant, but EVEN SO, it is EXTREMELY rare, infecting about 50-100 per million for those with a bun in the oven (3 to 5 million without).

~ This is even less likely than your chances of dying in a plane crash (1 in 30,000). 

* For comparison's sake, 1 in 84 people die in car crashes.

It should also be noted that most listeria infections in pregnancy occur in the 3rd trimester, when suppression of Th1-mediated immunity is at its maximum.

The highest risk foods for listeria are preserved fish (lox and stuff), cheese from unpasteurized milk, and deli meats. Pate (pa-TAAAAAY). Under cooked hot dogs. Stuff like that.

Bottom line: With those kinds of odds, you should worry more about your driving and less about your turkey sandwich.

Sushi 

Most American OBs say, "No sushi for you!" However, if you look at the data, 85% of seafood illness comes from eating raw shellfish -- that's right, bivalve mollusks, namely, raw oysters and clams

If you take those out of the equation, the risk of falling ill from eating seafood is 1 in 2 million servings. [By comparison, the risk from eating chicken is 1 in 25,000.] So... can we agree that we won't eat raw oysters and clams? I mean, really? Millions of Japanese women are not wrong (and yes, with some of the best public health officials in the world, they've looked into it).

Furthermore, fish eaten in a sushi restaurant in the US is almost always flash frozen before it gets to the restaurant, so any parasites or bacteria in the fish would have been killed during the process.

Salmon-ella, ha!

Bottom line: No raw shellfish, but your salmon roll shouldn't be any more scary than your chicken sandwich.

Freddy Mercury

"You should eat lots of fish when you're pregnant." No wait... "You should avoid fish when you're pregnant."

Well, which is it?

"Between the warnings about parasites in sushi and about mercury in certain species of fish, pregnant women are being scared off fish altogether. And that's bad news, since the fatty acids in fish are the ideal nourishment for a developing baby," said Steven Shaw, a former food writer for The New York Times.

Furthermore, researchers found that greater maternal intake of omega-3 fatty acids in fish was associated with better fine motor development, more pro-social behavior, and better social development.

So is there a "too much"? All researchers can do is guess at it, but many suggest that the warnings against seafood consumption are dramatically overblown.

In fact, a study in the Seychelles [a high fish-eating population] showed no link between the children's development over their first 6 years and the levels of mercury contained in their mothers' hair during pregnancy, which is a measure of the amounts to which fetuses were exposed.

Bottom line: Common sense would tell us to limit consumption of fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (sorry, no shark for you this week [snort]). 

The Truth About Kitty Litter

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite whose only natural host is the cat. Reeeer.

The truth is if you've had an indoor/outdoor cat for years, your chances of being immune from a previous exposure are fairly high - perhaps as high as 90%.

Studies show... of the 10% of pregnant cat owners that are susceptible, about 2% of those are exposed to toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. Of those (now 0.2%), only 30% of the 0.2% become infected. If infected (this keeps getting better, huh?), only 30% of those are "clinically infected", meaning their newborn will be impacted in some noticeable way.

Where are we on the math? About 0.0018 (or, 1.8 in 100,000) of the fetuses of pregnant cat owners will get sick from toxoplasmosis. You can see why doctors really don't see this very often.

Should you tell your husband or partner that this really isn't a threat after all?

Hell-to-tha-NO! Let him think it's highly lethal for, like... the rest of your life (come on, you can't get drunk for the next few months, the least he can do is scoop some kitty crap, yeah?). It'll be our little secret. ;-)


Conclusion: Ladies, I'm not saying you can't get sick from things like listeria, sushi, and kitty litter. I'm just saying they're fairly unlikely (k, so don't sue me). The beauty is that everyone can decide based on their own risk tolerance. I love 'dis country!

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Connecting with Autism Spectrum Kids

By Scott Morris

Connecting With ASD Children (from Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine)
Autism_Awareness_Ribbon

Communicating and connecting with someone who has Autism can be difficult. If you have a loved on or a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder you might notice they have difficulty making eye contact, or they may withdraw into themselves or they might seem uninterested in relating to family members. As a parent these symptoms can be frustrating and heartbreaking but there are ways you can remove boundaries that this disorder has created. As part of Autism awareness month we want to help you break down the barriers of ASD.

How common is ASD? According to the CDC approximately 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder. From a study performed by the CDC about 1 in 6 children in the United Stated had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy and autism. ASD is also more common in boys.

Although ASD has no cure, there is still hope through treatment. Doctors and other health experts have learned the key on how to deal and communicate with kids with Autism.

BayCare recommends we should:

  • Be patient. Many children with ASD take longer to process information. Try slowing down your conversation to his or her speed.
  • Teach your child how to express anger without being too aggressive. Children with ASD should know they shouldn’t have to hold in their anger.
  • Be persistent yet resilient. Don’t get upset if your child does not respond to you as you’d like. Many children with ASD have trouble both showing and controlling their responses.
  • Be polite. Children with ASD respond best to positive reinforcement, so make sure to reward good behavior.
  • Ignore irritating attention-getting behavior. ASD children may act badly at times to get you to focus on them. The best way to prevent bad behavior is by ignoring it.
  • Interact through physical activity. ASD children tend to have short attention spans, especially when it comes to communicating. By letting your child run around and play outside it allows them to relax and feel calmer.
  • Be affectionate. Children with ASD just like other children need a hug every once in awhile. Often times children with ASD they have trouble showing their feelings, but they still need to know you love them.

Upcoming events for Autism: 

Tampa Bay Autism Speaks Walk 

The Tampa Bay chapter of Autism Speaks will hold this event at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. Proceeds will support Autism Speaks’ mission: To fund research and family and adult services.

 

Ro.Sham.Bo.Baby 

These adorable sunglasses for kids, like these black toddler Wayfarer sunglasses, come in a variety of colors and sizes. Designed to care for your baby or toddler’s eyes, a portion of the proceeds of these stylish specs goes to the Autism Research Institute.

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Best Baby Carriers!

By Scott Morris

Check out this best baby carrier review to find the best baby carrier for your newborn!

Reposted from Lucie's List

People have been wearing babies for centuries. We could learn a thing or two from our ancestors.

American women went away from babywearing a couple of generations ago when doctors preached that a baby who received too much love, touch, and attention would be “spoilt.”

Now we know better: babies desperately want to hear the sound of your voice and the beating of your heart. They also have a very good sense of smell; just the scent of mommy or daddy is enough to calm their nerves. In fact, one study showed that infants who were carried/worn during the day cried and fussed 43% less (overall) and 51% less in the evening hours (4 pm to midnight)1. Yes, please! Sign me up for that.

The Tula Baby Carrier

The Tula Baby Carrier

Babywearing is also a practical logistical solution: wearing your baby allows you to go about your day like a normal person.

In the early days (before your baby can sit unassisted), babywearing is the only practical way to do things like grocery shopping, where you really need your hands free to push a cart. Things like getting the mail, walking the dog, going through airport security and boarding a plane, doing housework, or navigating through a crowded street market becomes infinitely easier with a baby carrier.

Nay, downright enjoyable!

ErgoBaby Carrier

Ergobaby Carrier

 Your Lifestyle

As with strollers, there is no one carrier that is perfect for every situation, so my advice is to decidehow you will primarily use the carrier, then go from there. Meaning… will you use it for shorter periods of time, for doing things around the house, taking short walks around the neighborhood – OR – will you use it for longer periods of time, like going on long walks or hikes. Or both.

Speaking of lifestyle, excuse me while I grossly overgeneralize and stereotype people, but I really have noticed that there are two very different types of moms out there: the walkers and the drivers.

The walker is a mom who lives in a city or walkable suburb. They walk to neighborhood parks and cafes and take public transportation sometimes (or a lot). Perhaps they also go hiking, visit street markets/festivals, and generally have more of a metropolitan lifestyle. These moms greatly benefit from longer-term babywearing. (I just described all of my mommy friends in San Francisco.)

The driver is a mom who lives in the suburbs and rarely gets from A to B on foot. This mom mostly drives everywhere and her baby/toddler tends to spend most time away from home in her car seat or stroller. Perhaps this mom also has a long commute from work and doesn’t tend to leave the house again once she arrives home. These moms will be just fine with a “small baby” carrier and probably won’t need/use one after 6 months or so. (I just described all of my mommy friends in Atlanta and Tampa.)

After living in both environments, I can tell you that the needs of these two groups are very different (sorry for overgeneralizing, but it’s kinda true). (Yes, I know you can fall somewhere in the middle, just humor me.) 

Picking an Infant Carrier

Infant carriers are smaller and meant to be worn anywhere from 0-4 to 0-9 months, at which point you would switch to a larger “soft structured carrier,” which will take you well into toddlerhood.

Nesting Days

Nesting Days Newborn Carrier

You could also skip the infant carrier and go straight to a soft structured carrier to save some money – with the understanding that young babies (0-6 months) tend to get swallowed up in most SSCs.

Furthermore, many of the soft structured carriers (Ergo, for example), require the purchase of a newborn adapter in order to use it with a young baby (0-6 months). The newborn adapter is often about the same price as some of the infant carriers below, so…. you’re better off just getting an infant carrier that’s appropriate for young infants. Your choice.

Lucie's List (Meg Collins)2. Best Baby CarriersFollow On

1. Original Baby Bjorn ~ $56+

Yes, she’s wearing socks on her hands. Sue me, it was cold…

For me, this is hands-down the easiest carrier to take on and off, especially if you leave it in its semi-intact position after taking it off. In the Bjorn, your baby can face in or out, which is fab. It can also be used very early on for newbs without needing a special newborn adapter. Lucie loved facing out in the Bjorn so she could watch the world go by.

However, this is not Sweden’s finest piece of engineering… the downside for the parent is the ouch-factor: think of carrying a heavy backpack on the front of your body. This carrier exerts a great deal of pressure on the lower back and the straps tend to dig into your shoulders. This results in a condition I call “Bjorn back” or “Baby back” (you may also be stricken with Baby wrist, Baby hips and knees, or Baby shoulder — none of which are pleasant). The BabyBjorn Miracle is slightly easier on the back, but for that price? I think you can do better.

People also love to hate on the Bjorn because it’s a dreaded “crotch dangler” [drink!], which means the baby is not in an ergonomically correct position and, in theory, could develop hip dysplasia. With casual use, I don’t think this is a real issue. However, for baby’s sake, I would not wear it heavily. Speak to your doctor if you have concerns.

bjorn

Having just talked all that smack, I have to admit I LOVE the Bjorn for its easy on/off, around the house convenience. Need to throw it on to unload the dishwasher, get the mail, or tend to another child? YEP! For 0-4 months or so, this is a very handy carrier indeed. Closeted, crotch-dangling mothers around America agree. But after baby hits the 15 lb mark? Forget it, your back will be DYING. It absolutely pains me to see moms or dads carrying around older infants or even young toddlers in a goddang Bjorn. Ouch, people! It makes me want to have an impromptu baby carrier intervention.

I’m not sure I would buy one new, but if you can borrow one from a friend for the first few months, you’ll be glad you did. It’s all about options! BabyBjorn introduced a new carrier, the Baby Carrier One, named so to be “the only carrier you’ll need from birth through toddlerhood.” This is a pricey (but pretty nice!) carrier that behaves more like a traditional soft structured carrier, like the Ergo, but with the convenience of easy in and out that Bjorn is known for. Read our complete review of the BabyBjorn One.


2. Moby Wrap Original ~ $48

The Moby is the bizzaro Bjorn: difficult to get on, but a pleasure to wear. The closeness and comfort that you have with a Moby is like no other, mainly because you are literally wrapping baby to your body so you move together as one unit.

moby baby carrier

The Moby is a single, long piece of stretchy fabric that you tie around you and your baby and, like grits, is an acquired taste. It takes a bit of practice to tie it correctly, but once you do, you’ll be in love. Unlike the Bjorn, it’s great for wearing for long durations because it doesn’t cause back fatigue. Seriously though, I would never have figured out how to tie it if I had just read the manual.

I made an instructional video here:

Just remember: it takes some practice and patience. If you lack both of these qualities, see #3. The Moby is totally perfect for your 0-6 month old baby and at ~$45, it’s very affordable.

  • A lesser known, but similar wrap is the Boba Wrap. Many moms like it better because it’s more stretchy and less bulky (and cheaper!).
  • Ergobaby released the Ergobaby Wrap in March of 2014. This wrap has a built-in pocket to store all the fabric so it doesn’t drag on the ground. It’s about $80 though; almost double the price of the others. So unless someone else is buying… see my review here.

3. Baby K’tan (pronounced Ka-TAHN) ~ $50

The K’tan is the Moby without all of the intricate tying – the best of both worlds if you ask me. Your baby can face in or out (yay!), and can be carried on your hip when they get older. Unlike most other carriers, the K’tan is not one-size-fits-all. It is sized to fit the wearer (you), not your babe. Therefore, you may not be able to share it with your partner if there is a great size difference (which there usually is). This is the biggest downside.

For a video on how the K’tan compares to something like the Moby, click here.

The Baby K'Tan baby carrier

The Baby K’tan

And like the Moby, the price is right at ~$49. Score!

Notes:

  • Pay close attention to the sizing recommendations. If you are at all in-between sizes, get the smaller one. The material is quite stretchy.
  • It comes with an extra piece of fabric that you can tie around to give you extra support (more like a Moby) if you feel like you need it. Some people forget about this piece then complain it isn’t secure enough. It’s there – use it.

4. Nesting Days ~ $89+

The Nesting Days carrier is different because you wear it around your tummy, like a shaper, which makes it very secure, comfortable, and totally hands free. This carrier also gives much needed tummy support after giving birth, especially for C-section moms.


Snug as a bug

The creator of Nesting Days, Julie Arvan, is a nurse and postpartum doula who also worked in the apparel industry. With the Nesting Days carrier, she brought together the best of both worlds. The fabric’s are soft, stretchy, and completely machine washable.

This has become my go-to gift for new moms and the friends who received one can’t stop raving about it. See our demonstration video here.

Nesting Days is ‘made-to-order’ in small batches in San Francisco. Immediate delivery is $99. Pre-orders that ship in 4 to 6 weeks are $89. Sizing is based on your pre-pregnancy dress size. They run a little small, so size up when you order. Wrong size?  Nesting Days sends you the right size in a few days, and a pre-paid envelope for the return.  Made for newborns 5-18 pounds. You’re going to love going skin-to-skin!

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