News: world autism awareness day

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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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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8 spring fashion favorites for kids (and the Best Baby Sunglasses Around)!

By Scott Morris

8 spring fashion favorites for kids


Ro·Sham·Bo Baby sunglasses
 

By Jackie McGoey

Digital Editor

Springtime is probably my favorite time of year when it comes to fashion. Kids ditch the heavy winter coats in favor of floral prints, polka dots and bright rain boots. Here’s what all the cool kids are wearing this season. Plus, a little something for mom, too!

kidpik.com

kidpik

I couldn’t have discovered kidpik.com at a better time. My daughter is totally into fashion right now and, without hesitation or prompting, would describe her style as “fabulous.” But even if your girl is more sporty, glam or modest, the beauty of kidpik is that it’s completely tailored to her. Girls (sizes 4-14) can choose which colors, patterns and styles they love to wear and within a few days, a box of clothes and shoes arrives at the door. Parents with commitment phobia will love that there’s no subscription fee, shipping is free and you only pay for what you keep. However, if you do decide to keep the whole box, you get a 30 percent discount. I’d call that pretty fabulous.

 

The average kidpik.com box retails for $75.

Umi Shoes

 

umi

Come spring, kids can’t wait to ditch the closed-toe shoes and set their piggies free. Cute sandals that are comfortable and well-made are worth their weight in gold. Add in the fact that Umi shoes are made from eco-friendly materials and genuine leather and I’m planning on my girls living in them all season long. In my house, we’re loving the Celia and Cora styles. And boys will turn heads (and still be able to play rough and tumble) in the Mason and Nolan styles.

 Umi Shoes retail for $50+.

Picklez by AC Lens glasses

picklez

As a proud member of the four-eyes club, it’s exciting to see how far eyeglasses designs have come. I think back to the bent up, wire-rimmed frames I began wearing in third grade and I cringe. Kids today are so lucky they have cooler options like the new Picklez line from AC Lens. Bright colors and fun, trendy shapes allow kids to express their personalities. They even come in non-prescription lenses for those kids who like the playful look of glasses but don’t have the medical need to wear them. Best of all, they’re super durable (a must with kids) and the scratch resistant lenses come with a protective UV coating.

 

Picklez glasses retail for $49.95.

Glitzies hair stickers

glitzies

Any fashionista will tell you that if the ‘do isn’t right, nothing is. Glitzies stick-on hair jewels add a bit of shine and shimmer to everyday hairstyles. Silver sparkles accent fishtail braids, pearls add sophisticated glam to your girl’s top knot and try cheetah-print hearts for when she’s really feeling adventurous.

 Glitzies hair stickers retail for $9.95.

ro.sham.bo baby sunglasses

roshambo2

If babies in tiny sunnies don’t make you smile, you’ve got a cold, cold heart. Beyond upping your little’s cuteness factor, Ro·Sham·Bo Baby is making sure those baby blues (or browns or greens) are protected right from the start. Their stylish kids' glasses offer 100 percent UVA and UVB protection and are light, flexible and virtually unbreakable (seriously, just check out this video). A portion of all sales benefits the Autism Research Institute in San Diego and just in case you’re not already crushing hard, the shades come in names like “Kelly Kapowski” (hot pink), “Ice Ice Baby” (bright white) and “McFly” (tomato red). Be still my ‘90s heart.

Ro·Sham·Bo Baby stylish kids' glasses and sunglasses retail for $20.

Runchkins.com

runchkins

Kids seem to grow out of clothes faster than you can blink sometimes. Runchkins--a new personal shopping service based in Chicago--promises to buy back their items once your child outgrows them. Unheard of! Here's how it works: For a nominal subscription fee, hand-picked items for girls and boys (up to age six) are delivered to your door. Choose what you love and send back what you don’t. Simple! Prices are comparable to higher-end boutiques, but keep this on your radar for the future: you can soon choose to receive gently-used items in your box, which will reduce the final cost to you significantly.

 

The average Runchkins outfit retails for $88.

Doodle Pants

doodlepants

Your kiddos will have the cutest bums in Chicago in Doodle Pants leggings. And as we’ve all seen, spring in Chicago can mean snow (really, Mother Nature?), so having a few options to keep those chunky legs warm is a good idea. The 75+ designs are fun and creative, and most importantly, they’re comfy, with extra room in the seat (perfect for cloth diapers!). If you love them, you’re in good company; celebs such as Olivia Wilde, Jessica Simpson and Jenna Dewan-Tatum do, too.

 Doodle Pants retail for $24.99+.

Skylar Luna organic loungewear

skylarluna

Nobody, kids included, wants to be uncomfortable when they’re sleeping. Skylar Luna’s short sleeve pajamas sets are perfect for warm spring nights. Wrap your kids up in softer-than-soft Turkish organic cotton as they drift off to sleep. The sets are so cozy in fact, don’t be surprised if, come morning, your kids want to stay in their jammies all day long.

 Skylar Luna organic loungewear retail for $30+.

BZees shoes

BzeesDream

Chasing after toddlers, running behind new bike riders fresh off training wheels and walking big kids to school. Face it: moms have to be on their feet a lot. BZees line of sporty footwear aims to make that time as comfortable as possible. The lightweight slip-ons, strappy sandals and wedges (my personal favorite) are made with a special air-infused outsole and free foam footbed which make you feel like you're walking on air. Say goodbye to aching feet at the end of the day. Bonus: They're machine washable!

BZees retail for $59+.

http://www.chicagoparent.com/community/momma-knows-best/blogs/spring-fashion

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GIRLS' WORLD MAGAZINE KIDS' SUNGLASSES REVIEW: THEY LOVES OUR BABY SHADES!

By Scott Morris

Upgrade your child’s accessories with these cool pair of sunglasses! Enter to win one of three pair of ro sham bo sunglasses.

Designed specifically for babies and children’s use, abuse and love of putting things in their mouths, ro•sham•bo are so durable that they can be bent, stretched, pulled, stepped on (they have even been run over and survived!) and bounce right back to shape; even a thirty year old man can’t break them! ro•sham•bo shades come in baby, junior and adult sizes.

Even celebrities like Jamie King, Reese Witherspoon, Tiffany Hornton, and Courtney Lopez (aka Mrs. “AC Slater”) are fans of these high quality sunglasses for little people! ​ ro•sham•bo shades make the perfect stocking stuffer, gift for a new mom, or holiday gift guide item, and a percentage of proceeds go to autism research! In fact, the name “ro•sham•bo” is a reference to “rock, paper, scissors,” a game many special educators like to play with kids that need some extra quiet attention without disrupting a classroom.

Visit www.roshambobaby for more information. Watch Vimeo to see how to rock these shades.

http://winit.girlsworldmag.com/sweepstakes/win-a-pair-of-ro-sham-bo-sunglasses-14111

 

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CARING CAUSES: RO·SHAM·BO BABY AND SURFERS HEALING AUTISM CHARITY

By Scott Morris

Ro·Sham·Bo Baby, the leading brand for flexible glasses frames for kids and infants, is proud to announce the formation of a new charitable partnership with Surfers Healing, a non-profit organization committed to aiding children on the autism spectrum by providing surfing lessons in a safe and comfortable environment.  

The partnership is a natural fit: The Ro·Sham·Bo Baby company name is derived from the rock, paper, scissors game most of us played as kids - and this game is actually proven to have a calming effect on kids with autism.

Pro surfer Israel Paskowitz founded Surfers Healing because his son, Isaiah. has autism, and when he struggled with meltdowns and sensory overload, riding the waves with his father calmed him like nothing else.  The founders of Ro·Sham·Bo Baby grew up in the beach and surfing culture and love what Surfer's Healing is doing, so a percentage of all their sales sold in 2016 will go to supporting the inspiring work of Surfers Healing.

Surfers Healing has been at it for over fifteen years, and we hope we can be a very small part in helping them continue for another fifteen. Each year, Surfers Healings’ volunteer-staffed camps give over 4,500 children with autism and their families a fun, engaging day at the beach. Attending a Surfers Healing camp positively impacts children with autism, instilling confidence and calm. It also can have a profound impact on the parents. Autism parents are always told what their children cannot do, but at Surfers Healing, it’s all about what their kids can do.
Check out the full blog here: http://motherhood-moment.blogspot.com/2016/03/caring-causes-ro-sham-bo-baby-and.html

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Ro•Sham•Bo Baby Sunglasses – Protect Their Eyes and Your Shades

By Scott Morris

Ro•Sham•Bo Baby Sunglasses – Protect Their Eyes and Your Shades

Before you read this kids' sunglasses review, let us just say how delighted we are that Everyday Men gave this shoutout to us and our bendable baby sunglasses!

From Everyday Men.

Saw the picture and thought “Nice sunglasses!” huh? Luckily for you, Ro•Sham•Bo Baby makes some pretty nice adult sunglasses too, so don’t fret. This post, however, is more “everyday carry for the everyday dad.” As winter is on the retreat and the summer approaches, we all bust out our shades. Although, for the parents out there with babies – your shades are in grave danger. My son, just about 10 months old, seems to be on a never-ending quest to take and destroy my glasses and sunglasses. So, for the sake of my (slightly more expensive) sunglasses, and protecting my son from harmful UV rays (first priority of course), there are Ro•Sham•Bo Baby's bendable baby sunglasses.

RSBB shades are, of course, for your baby – which solves the “I have to take dad’s” problem. They are also durable – and not just durable in the traditional sense of the word – these shades are nearly (if not completely) baby-proof. You can check out a video of the creator trying to destroy the frames himself on their website – to no avail. This solves the “find and destroy” problem. Additionally, they are bpa free and small parts compliant (fancy way of saying there are no bad chemicals and no small parts that might fall off and be a choking hazard for your little one!), and block 100% of UVA/B rays. Better still, they are guaranteed for a year against any breakage, and should your little one lose a lens, they’ll replace it (music to parents’ ears). Else, a portion of every sale goes directly to autism research at the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, California. Learn more and see the full line up of baby, junior, and adult shades here.

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