3 Clues Your Child May Have an Eating Disorder

As a parent, there are countless matters in your child’s life that bring joy, happiness, and excitement. There are eating disordersalso a myriad of matters in your child’s life that can raise concern and cause alarm. In our youth and appearance based culture, one of these alarming matters is eating disorders.  Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia, along with more general disordered eating, are commonly thought of as a problem that affects teen girls.  Teen girls are historically most affected by these disorders, but boys and younger/older children can also develop these issues.  Read on for 3 clues that may indicate your child is on a path toward an eating disorder.

3 Clues Your Child May Have an Eating Disorder:

  1. Your child is constantly looking in the mirror. Do you notice that your child seems obsessed with the mirror? Does your child appear to be scrutinizing her face and body? Children with body image concerns will often spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, which may take away from homework, family time and other necessary or enjoyed activities.
  2. Your child is overly focused on glamorous images from the media. If your child appears to be fixated on certain celebrity icons, and more specifically, the appearance of these icons, she may also be struggling with her own body image.  Some children pull out magazine photos of a current celebrity obsession and create a shrine of the image. While celebrity crazes are common among children and adults alike, if your child seems to idolize the physical appearance rather than the talents of celebrities, it may be a sign that your child is unhappy with her own image. Read more

Hearing Impairment and Language

The earlier your child is diagnosed with a hearing impairment, the earlier he can receive services to assist in the development of speech and language skills during the critical 0-3 year-old period. Children with a hearing impairment are at a disadvantage during this time frame because much of language develops from exposure to the sounds and voices around them.

Implications of a hearing impairment during early childhood can include the following:

  • A smaller base vocabulary
  • Slower acquisition of words and sentence structures
  • Some American English sounds are produced with a very high frequency which is harder for children with hearing impairments to hear.  As a result, children with hearing impairments don’t learn these sounds.
  • Difficulty hearing and/or producing the /s/, /z/, /sh/, /ch/, /f/, and /v/ sounds. Read more

Red Flags for Feeding & Swallowing Disorders in Children

Most of us taking eating and swallowing for granted.  These actions come naturally and allow us to eat our mealsfeeding and swallowing disorders peacefully.  However, for some children, feeding and swallowing disorders make these natural reflexes and muscle actions difficult.  Read on to understand more about feeding and swallowing disorders and for red flags that your child may have a problem in this area.

What are feeding & swallowing disorders?

Feeding Disorders include difficulties gathering food to suck, chew, or swallow. According to ASHA:“…a child who cannot pick up food and get it to her mouth or cannot completely close her lips to keep food from falling out of her mouth may have a feeding disorder.”

Swallowing Disorders, also known as Dysphagia, include difficulty in one of the following stages of swallowing: Read more

Lipid Labwork in Children: Understanding the Numbers and When to Seek Help for Dietary Changes

As adults, our primary care physicians often instruct us to have labs drawn to check our blood lipid levels. Most of us lipid panelprobably know someone who is on a “lipid lowering” medication for high cholesterol levels. These same labs are also being drawn more often for kids, especially if there is a family history of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) or heart disease, or if the child is overweight or obese. Read on to understand what these labs look for in children, what the numbers mean, and what you should do after getting results.

The “lipid panel,” as the lab is called, measures these lipids that circulate in the bloodstream:

  • LDL cholesterol:  LDL cholesterol is associated with a risk for heart disease. The goal result for LDL cholesterol is <100 mg/dL, and <130 is considered acceptable.
  • HDL cholesterol:  HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind of cholesterol that scoops up the “bad” kind and helps get rid of it. The goal result for this type of cholesterol is >40 mg/dL. The higher the HDL is, the better, in most cases. Read more

Coconut Oil: Facts and Uses

Coconut oil has become popular, especially for its uses in cooking. Coconut oil has some unique properties that coconut oil facts and usesdifferentiate it from other types of oil. Here are some interesting facts about coconut oil and ways to use this food.

Coconut Oil Facts and Uses:

  • It is one of the only plant sources of fat that is solid at room temperature.
  • Coconut oil is very high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are absorbed from the stomach straight into the bloodstream. Other long chain fats require a more involved digestive process and are absorbed and transported via the lymphatic system. This is helpful for people with problems digesting fat. It can also be a good source of calories in some people with inflammatory digestive issues.
  • Medium chain triglycerides are “oxidized,” or metabolized, rapidly in the liver which means they have a low tendency to be stored as adipose tissue (fat) on the body.
  • It can be used in place of butter or margarine in many recipes, especially when baking sweets, since it has a slight coconut flavor.
  • Coconut oil can be used to grease baking pans instead of other hydrogenated products.
  • It can be used in place of other cooking oils when stir frying or pan frying various foods.
  • Because it is plant-derived, coconut oil is vegan and can replace animal-based fats in recipes. Read more

What is Verbal Behavior?

Verbal Behavior (VB) is an Applied Behavior Analytic approach to teaching all skills, including language, to children withautism Autism Spectrum Disorders or other related disorders.  Language is treated as a behavior that can be shaped and reinforced.  This is done with careful attention given to why and how the child is using language.  Verbal Behavior uses similar discrete trial teaching (DTT) techniques such as “SD-response-consequence,” but the approach is slightly different.  VB programming focuses on “manding” (requesting preferred items).  If a child can request what he wants, his world is a better place.  Pairing is also used.  Pairing the table, instructors, and work areas/materials with reinforcement is important to a VB program.

Another key aspect of the VB approach is the idea of “teaching across the operants.” In Verbal Behavior, teaching the child the word “ball” would require several steps.

Steps to teach a Child the Word “Ball” Using Verbal Behavior:

  • The child can “mand” for the ball if they want it.
  • The child can receptively identify the ball (listener responding).
  • The child can expressively identify or label it (tact).
  • The child can match the ball to another ball (matching to sample).
  • The child can perform a motor movement using the ball (motor imitation).
  • The child can answer a question about the ball (intraverbal).
  • The child can repeat the word ball (echoic).
  • The child can identify the ball by it’s feature, function, or class. Read more

Infant Soy Formula: A Review of Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Parents often ask me about giving their infant a soy formula when their infant shows signs of difficulty tolerating breast soy formulamilk or cow’s milk based formulas. Soy seems to be a common go-to alternative; however, there are actually only a few scenarios where soy formula is recommended. The American Academy of Pediatrics published a journal article that reviewed the use of soy based infant formulas in 2008. Here is a summary of the main points.

A Review of Infant Soy Formula:

  • Soy formula is not indicated as an alternative for breast milk or for cow’s milk based formulas except in the case of Galactosemia and hereditary lactase deficiency (both are rare diagnoses). Soy formula may also be an option for parents who desire a vegetarian diet for their infant, if breastfeeding is not possible.
  • Soy formula is not indicated for children diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy. Instead, an extensively hydrolyzed formula should be considered, because 10-14% of these infants will also be allergic to soy protein. Read more

Racial Differences in the Diagnosis of ADHD

A recent study published in the June issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics indicated that Caucasian children are more likely to receive a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)ADHD in comparison to minority children.  This study followed more than 17,000 children across the nation from kindergarten through eighth grade and asked their parents whether not their children were ever diagnosed with ADHD.

Findings-Racial Differences in the Diagnosis of ADHD:

The researchers found that Hispanic and Asian children were about half as likely to receive a diagnosis of ADHD as Caucasian children.  African American children were about two thirds less likely to be diagnosed with the condition.

Implications of this Study:

It is important to realize that the study cannot indicate whether or not ADHD is over diagnosed in Caucasian children or under diagnosed in minority children.  However, the numbers are pretty glaring and most definitely indicate a discrepancy in not only diagnosing the condition, but also in the interventions received. Read more

Creative Ways for Kids to Get Five-a-Day

The general recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake is five servings per day. The serving size depends on age, but5 a Day a good rule of thumb is to get your family to consume 2-3 fruits and 2-3 vegetables each day. Does this sound difficult? With a little planning and some creativity, you can achieve this healthy goal.

Tips to Get Your Family to Eat 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day:

  • Blend fruit, and even veggies, into smoothies or popsicles. Most kids like treats that come in smoothie, milkshake, or popsicle form. Use yogurt, frozen fruit, a banana, and a handful of spinach to make a smoothie that tastes so good your kids will never guess they’re getting several servings of fruits and vegetables. Freeze into popsicle molds for a healthy frozen dessert.
  • Make fruit and vegetable dippers. Some vegetables simply taste better with a little dip. You can make an easy, healthy, savory dip by mixing plain Greek yogurt with dry Italian or Ranch seasoning packets. Have fresh vegetables chopped and ready to go for snacks or meals ahead of time. Make it more fun by arranging several different colored veggies (such as carrots, celery, baby tomatoes and yellow bell peppers), and two dips (such as hummus and the yogurt Ranch dip) in a muffin tray with six cups. Kids love this fun presentation.  Fruit can be more appealing when dipped as well. Try a flavored yogurt, or mix plain Greek yogurt with a little peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon.
  • Create designs that appeal to kids. Take advantage of the variety of colors and shapes of fruits and vegetables to make your kids more interested in them. You can make rainbows skewers using fruits and vegetables from each shade of the rainbow.  For example you can create a fruit skewer using strawberries, mini orange slices, bananas, kiwis, blueberries, and blackberries. Or have your kids make funny faces using bananas, carrots, berries, kiwis, melons or peppers. Use broccoli, olives, pineapple, a banana, tomatoes, carrots, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and oranges to make Sesame Street characters! This is also a great option for a child’s party or barbecue.

Fruits and vegetables provide many essential vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients that provide health benefits such as reducing inflammation and preventing cancer. These healthy foods also provide fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.

Feel like you have fruits and veggies covered?  Read here for ways to sneak more whole grains into your child’s diet.  If you have concerns about your family’s diet, click here to find out more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Nutrition Counseling program.

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ADHD and Executive Functioning Resource Guide

Are you looking for more information on ADHD or Executive Functioning?  Read on for top picks from our ADHD ResourcesNeuropsychologist.

Top Resources for Information on ADHD and Executive Functioning:

  • Taking Charge of ADHD:  The Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents.  Barkley, Russell (2013): This book provides parents with evidence based interventions regarding ADHD.  It is well written and easily readable, while providing parents and practitioners with the latest research supported information regarding ADHD and various interventions.
  • Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents:  A Practical Guide to Assessment and InterventionDawson, Peg and Guare, Richard (2010): This book is aimed at practitioners that work with children with Executive Functioning concerns.  It may be a little research heavy for some parents; however, it is a wonderful resource for therapists and educators.   It includes basic research on Executive Functioning as well modifications and interventions that can help children and adolescents with a variety of Executive Functioning issues including disorganization, inflexibility, initiation of tasks, and monitoring work. Read more