Managing Your Child Through the Election Process

With the election right around the corner, media coverage of the election is everywhere and often finding its way down to children of all ages. As with other news topics, children may be exposed toblog-election-main-landscape hearing and seeing things they do not fully understand. As parents, it is important to be mindful of what your child is exposed to and also to support your child through answering their questions and managing their concerns.

Monitor Election Coverage

Political advertisements and news coverage may come across scary or worrisome to some children. Moreover, some media coverage does not sensor language. It is important to be mindful of what your child is hearing and to step in when “teachable moments” appear. Also be conscious of what your child may be overhearing during conversations you have with your friends or spouse.

Provide a Safe Space for Questions

Be prepared and create space for your child to ask questions about the election. These questions might range from asking about specific facts, to asking about mom and dad’s political orientation. Depending on your child’s age, the way you respond to these questions may range from simple (ie. the election takes place on Nov. 8) to more complex (ie. explaining your political position or discussing how your values impact who you vote for). As your child gets older, their values may begin to differ from yours. It is important to allow space for these types of conversations – as they can often strengthen the parent-child relationship.

Allow your Child to Participate

Make sure to teach your child about the election process and ask them what they’ve learned about it from school. Discuss with them, in age-appropriate language, what makes voting important and why voting is important to you. Children under 18 are even allowed to tag along with you to vote. Younger kids might even be interested in marking the ballot for you!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Social Work

White Sox Benetti

Living the Dream | An Interview With Chicago White Sox Announcer Jason Benetti

Every day at NSPT, we welcome families into our clinics. Each child is so incredibly unique with their Jason-Benettitreatment, their diagnosis, the challenges they may face, the strengths that they have, etc. We are often told by parents that their biggest question is “what’s next for their child?” “Will they succeed in life?” At NSPT, our mission is to help each and every kiddo reach their maximum potential…whatever that may be.

Jason Benetti, the newest addition to the broadcasting team for the Chicago White Sox, is living his own childhood dream. At a young age, Jason was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Like our families, there was a point in time where maybe his family had the same questions about “what’s next?” He recalls at a young age going through a few surgeries and spending time at the Rehab Institute of Chicago. “Everyone there was just wonderful,” said Benetti. A typical week at a young age included Physical and Occupational Therapy and focusing on building range of motion.

Benetti grew up on the Southside in Homewood and is a graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Initially, he was a member of the band playing tuba. “That probably wasn’t the best thing for me to be doing,” joked Benetti. It was at that time the band director asked him if he would be interested in sitting in the press box during games and calling out the next set as the band was performing. This was the beginning of a growing passion for broadcasting. Homewood-Flossmoor was one of few high schools that had their own radio station, so Benetti was able to further pursue and develop his skills.

Upon graduation, Jason attended Syracuse University to pursue a career in broadcasting. While there, he was able to continue to build his skills as the Triple A announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays. But nothing fits quite like being able to land your dream job with your favorite team growing up. We were able to sit down with Jason and ask him about what it’s like to be a broadcaster for his hometown team, the Chicago White Sox.

Were there any broadcasters you wanted to be like growing up?

Benetti: There were a lot of people, Hawk Harrelson was the guy I would mimic with catchphrases walking around saying, and “You can put it on the board, YES!” But I’m not particularly a catch phrase guy myself. So Hawk was the guy. He has been so encouraging of me doing half of the games with Steve Stone, just genuine and kind.

When you first expressed interest, what did people around you say? Was there adversity or support?

Benetti: As a radio guy, no one cared what I looked like. Viv Bernstein did a story in early 2010 and asked me if there was a ceiling with regards to TV. It took time for people to warm up to the fact that I can’t look into the camera or have a commanding strut walking into a room, so perceptively there was an adjustment period for people. I quickly found great allies with Time Warner in Syracuse and ESPN. Once they got to know me, they were supportive. It just takes one person.

If you could call a game for any baseball player, who would it be? Retired or current.

Benetti: Growing up Robin Ventura was my favorite player, so in a way, I now get to call games for him.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Benetti: I’m looking forward to the development of the rapport between myself and Steve Stone. We have only had one game so far, but I felt comfortable after and am excited to have the partnership develop. Steve has such a wealth of knowledge. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

What was it like sitting in the booth at US Cellular Field for the first time?

Benetti: It was just like another game, but with way more people interested. I’ve done so many baseball games and baseball is baseball. There weren’t really nerves, just a new experience.

What is it like working alongside hall of fame broadcaster Steve Stone?

Benetti: Anyone who is creative grows up wanting to be around other people like that. Steve Stone and crew fulfills that 100 percent. To be in a room with everyone wanting to do great work, to work with someone who expands like Steve, is everything anyone could want in a partner doing games.

Do you ever meet with or talk to young athletes? Or young individuals with CP or other disabilities? What is the one thing you tell them?

Benetti: I would tell them if you think people perceive you a certain way, you are not crazy and they might be, but do everything you can to disregard that and get past it, it could be damaging to the relationship. It is happening, but trust yourself to get past it.

And one final question…you heard it here first…Prediction…will it be a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series?

Benetti: I’m going to say yeah, it would be great fun. The Billy Goat couldn’t be blamed. Someone would have huge bragging rights for a long time.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

New Call-to-Action

Zika Guidelines | What You Need To Know During The Outbreak

This Guest Blog Post was written by Dr. Kudus Akinde, MD FAAP of Glencoe Pediatrics.

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency (AAP News). There is strong suspicion that recent clusters of fetal microcephaly are occurring in babies of infected mothers in areas where Zika virus transmission appears to be common. The CDC & the AAP have become involved in issuing recommendations to health care providers and to the general public in the matter.

Zika is a mosquito-borne flavivirus with RNA as its genetic material. It is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitos. An estimated 80% of all people infected have no symptoms according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from Jan 22, 2016. The report goes on to explain that symptoms are usually mild with usually a few days of fever, rash, joint aching and pink eyes without mucus or pus buildup. No antiviral medicines exist to treat Zika virus. Treatment is supportive (acetaminophen, rest, oral fluids); avoid aspirin or ibuprofen in pregnant women.

So what’s the big deal about the Zika Virus? Infections happen all over the world. Right?

Well, it turns out that there are areas in the Caribbean, North and South America where children are being born with microcephaly (heads. therefore brains, that are abnormally small for their gestational age) or intracranial calcifications. This is a problem because these findings can be associated with a whole host of neurologic and developmental delays that can be lifelong in duration.

Since the outbreak is currently ongoing, it is difficult to make associations and good reliable information about infection during pregnancy is unavailable. As a matter of fact, pregnant women aren’t known to be more susceptible to infection with Zika virus than anybody else. It seems to infect people of all ages across the board. However, it can infect pregnant women in any trimester and if they are infected, the virus can be transmitted to the developing fetus in any trimester as well.

How To Prevent The Zika Virus?

All pregnant women should be screened for travel. If they haven’t traveled, they should strongly consider postponing travel to all endemic areas. If they do travel, they should practice strict mosquito avoidance. This includes:

  • Long-sleeved shirts and pants are preferred to the shorter varieties
  • EPA-approved insect repellants
  • Permethrin-infused clothing and other equipment
  • Using screens and air conditioning as much as possible

Pregnant women who have travelled to areas of ongoing Zika, dengue and chukungunya (similar flaviviruses with similar symptoms and also transmitted by Aedes mosquitos) infection should be tested according to CDC guidelines if they have symptoms consistent with Zika (fever, rash, pink eyes within 2 weeks of travel OR fetal microcephaly or intracranial calcifications after travel). Women wtihout symptoms and with normal fetal ultrasounds do not need to be tested according to current recommendations. If lab testing confirms Zika by Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), then prenatal ultrasounds to diagnose and monitor problems are recommended as well as Meternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist (high-risk obstetrics) or an Infectious Diseases specialist with expertise in the care of pregnant women. An antibody test also exists but the decision for which test to order should be made with/by the treating provider.

What Testing Can Be Done For The Zika Virus?

RT-PCR can be done on amniotic fluid but there are limitations to the testing. Amniocentesis carries higher risk of complications early in pregnancy (at 14 weeks or less) so it should be done at a minimum 15 weeks gestation. For babies born with evidence of Zika, testing should be done on available tissues (umbilical cord and placenta). In cases of fetal loss, RT-PCR should be done on fetal tissues as well (cord and placenta). There are no commercial tests available for Zika virus infection. The CDC and state public health agencies are the ones who can help with testing. ​

A Summary of the Zika Virus:

  • Zika virus infection is suspected of an association with clusters of fetal microcephaly and intracranial calcifications in many countries in North and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.
  • Most infected people don’t even know they’re infected (up to 80%).​​
  • Pregnant women are being cautioned not to travel to areas Zika virus transmission. Pregnant women should be asked about travel at their pre-natal visits. If they have traveled and felt no symptoms of illness, they do not need testing.
  • Testing should be done for Zika virus (also dengue and chukungunya) on symptomatic pregnant women who have travelled to endemic areas.
  • ​​If testing is positive for Zika, serial ultrasounds and very specialized care with MFM or Infectious Diseases specialist with focus on pregnancy should be obtained.
  • If a baby is born with evidence of Zika virus infection, testing of the umbilical cord and placenta by RT-PCR should be done.
  • ​​If fetal loss occurs in a symptomatic mother with known travel to an endemic area, RT-PCR should be done.

*Special thanks to the CDC, WHO, and AAP for their leadership in this emerging matter.

 


Dr. AkindeDr ​Kudus Akinde, MD FAAP is the practicing physician at Glencoe Pediatrics in beautiful Glencoe, IL. Glencoe Pediatrics provides services including: sick or urgent visits, minor scrapes & bumps, annual check-ups, school physicals, camp physicals, sports physicals, pre-surgical physicals and more.  Dr. Akinde graduated from University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1995. He attended the University of Illinois College of Medicine and obtained his MD in 2002. He completed his Pediatrics Residency at Rush University Medical Center in 2005.  He has practiced in various locales from small to large communities, urban, suburban and rural (including Rockford, Belvidere, Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Highland Park & Chicago, IL).  He has never met a kid he does not like.  His interests include newborn care, immunizations, nutrition, gastroenterology and adolescent issues.  He loves to spend time with his children when he is not at work.  He enjoys web browsing, bike riding, football, basketball, music and traveling among other things.

NSPT is in-network with United Health Care

North Shore Pediatric Therapy is Now In-Network with United Health Care for Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy Services

North Shore Pediatric Therapy is now in-network with United Health Care for Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy services in addition to our current in-network offering of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Our goal is to make our services convenient and accessible to all Chicago area families, and this is one more step toward making that a reality.

According to our CEO, Maria Hammer, “We are excited to provide another option for insurance coverage for many of our current NSPT families and we anticipate being able to help more new families as we go in-network with United Health Care.”

Services that are covered by United Health Care:NSPT is in-network with United Health Care

NSPT also offers Neuropsychological Testing, Applied Behavior Analysis, Social Work, Dietetics, and Academic Services.

With 6 locations, North Shore Pediatric Therapy (NSPT) is the only concierge health and wellness center for children and young adults, that combines the power of multiple disciplines, first class service, and inspiring results, that has become the company’s hallmark. Deemed a Thought Leader in pediatric therapy, NSPT brings Peace of Mind to thousands of children and their families with its invigorating blend of positive environment, heroic staff, and blossoming kids.  NSPT provides the ultimate discovery that challenges can be overcome, and happiness restored.  Our team is comprised of Neuropsychology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Social Work, Nutrition, and Academic Specialists.  Visit us at www.KidsBlossom.com.

Schedule an Appointment



Top 5 Reasons to Visit the New Lincolnwood Pediatric Therapy Clinic

North Shore Pediatric Therapy is proud to officially open its 6th location in Lincolnwood, IL.  The Lincolnwood clinic was chosen after many local schools, parents and pediatricians expressed the need for services such as speech therapy, physical therapy, social work, applied behavior analysis and occupational therapy closer to the Lincolnwood, Skokie, Winnetka, Wilmette and Park Ridge neighborhoods.  Neuropsychology is also part of the team.Lincolnwood, IL Now Open

5 reasons you should schedule a tour of the North Shore
Pediatric Therapy Clinic in Lincolnwood, Illinois:

  1. If you are thinking of therapy services for your child, here is your chance to see what a state of the art facility should look like. The Lincolnwood clinic has brand new, top rated therapy equipment for gross and fine motor, sensory, language, attention, emotional development and more.  A fun environment and relaxing family lounge for mom, dad, and nanny.
  2. Meet our Family Child Advocates and our Therapists. The multidisciplinary team cares about you from the second you connect with us.  We have graduates from Rush, UIC, and Northwestern, and a top educated and caring team.
  3. Get Caffeinated! Kuerig Coffee is complimentary at any visit.  We want you to feel like you are in a home away from home in Lincolnwood, Illinois NSPT’s clinic.
  4. Bring your child to get acquainted with the clinic. Feeling comfortable in your new space is quite helpful.  It will bring peace of mind to you and your child.
  5. All scheduled tour visitors will automatically be entered into our Contest for a $50 Old Orchard gift certificate. Your Lincolnwood or Skokie home could use a lot of fun things to buy or a great time to stop for lunch before or after therapy!

To schedule a tour and enter our drawing, click here:

Schedule a tour at Lincolnwood

Services Offered at Our New Lincolnwood Location:

what percentage of our brain do we use

What Percentage Of Our Brains Do We Really Use?

You may have recently seen (or more likely heard) the debonair voice of Morgan Freeman in a movie trailer for Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson. In the trailer, you hear him state the statistic that we, as humans, only use 10 % of our brain’s capacity. This seems a shocking statistic that makes you wonder… is this for real?

Well.

No matter how convincing that buttery voice may be, you can’t believe everything he says! The origins of this popularwhat percentage of our brain do we use myth is unknown, but it is thought to be traced back to the Einstein era. “Though an alluring idea, the “10 percent myth” is so wrong it is almost laughable”, says neurologist Barry Gordon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

That is neither here nor there… What IS important is knowing how powerful our brain is and that we actually use most of our brain all the time! Our brain actually uses up 20% of our body’s energy, and in kids, it uses up 50% of their energy! John Henley from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota states that “Evidence would show over a day you use 100 percent of the brain.”

Without even thinking about it, at this very moment you are doing the following with your brain:

  • Blinking (thanks your motor cortex)
  • Breathing (thanks to your brainstem)
  • Reading this blog (using your occipital lobe AKA eye sight AND your frontal lobe for thinking and reasoning)
  • Moving the mouse around (using your cerebellum).

That’s just to name a few… Even the most mundane tasks (like sleeping) can stir up quite a lightning storm in the ol’ noggin’. So when you hear Mr. Freeman state that overly used myth about only using 10% of your brain (in his elegant way), don’t let that voice forget you know the truth! That’s not to say we can’t get swept up in the alluring cinematic idea of being a super-human, right?!

How To Handle Tragedy With Your Children

What happens when tragedy occurs?

When the unthinkable happens, both adults and children access their darkest fears and concerns about national, community and personal safety.  Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event and can be expressed in a variety of ways. Most kids are resilient and with validation of their feelings, opportunities for them to talk and be listened to, and reassurance that many people are working hard to ensure their safety (i.e. policemen, teachers, doctors, volunteers, parents and teachers) can resume previous levels of functioning. Other kids may display acute signs of anxiety such as excessive worry, school refusal, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches, stomachaches, loss of interest in previous enjoyed activities, changes in relationships with peers and changes in school performance. It is also important to note that children may appear unhinged by trauma initially, but may demonstrate more delayed symptoms of anxiety after the exposure to the tragedy.

When managing your child’s reaction to tragedy it is imperative for the parent to understand their own thoughts and feelings regarding the event. Getting any parental concerns and anxieties under wraps will be essential prior to managing any child anxieties and concerns. Children, by nature, are dependent and vulnerable and rely on their parents to exude a sense of control, protection and care. If a parent is highly reactive to their own anxieties, children can pick up on this and in turn will mirror their parent’s anxieties. If a parent is calm and objective the child can then have a solid sense that their parent is in control of the situation and give the child permission to feel safe and cared for.

Validate and acknowledge your children’s fears and insecurities regarding the tragedy

This provides outlets and opportunities for your child to express their feelings and insecurities. Brushing over their feelings of sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety with “don’t feel this way” and  “don’t worry, it won’t ever happen to you”  can prove invalidating and deny the child the opportunity to effectively process their responses. Acknowledging your child’s fears and concerns will help them process the event and encourage them to self-express.

Limiting screen time to avoid continued media coverage regarding the event will help to reduce anxiety and re-traumatization. The most important part of dealing with trauma and tragedy is to process both you and your child’s interpretation of the event, not the actual facts and details (i.e. how many people died, who killed them, the severity of this national tragedy, how it compares to other national tragedies, etc.). Exploring with your child how they interpret the event and what they think has happened is more therapeutic than rehashing the gory details. Also, instead of initiating a conversation about what has happened to your child, ask your child what they think has gone on and work from there. Providing too much information that does not fit within their scope of understanding can prove to further confuse them and elicit anxiety.

Uncontrollable tragedies occur and have the power to threaten our perceptions about our safety and understanding of our world around us. Providing a safe space to process the feelings that our children have is the best way to acknowledge the legitimacy of their concerns and regain a sense of normalcy.



Is Going Gluten Free Right for Your Family? (Recipe Ideas Included)

Gluten free eating has gained attention and popularity in recent years. This is probably partly due to increased awareness of Celiac disease, which requires a gluten free diet for treatment. It is also likely due to increased awareness of wheat allergy and wheat intolerance, both in kids and adults. For more information about the differences between these conditions, as well as accompanying symptoms, see my previous blog, Is Gluten Bad for You?

Unless you fall into one of the above mentioned conditions, going gluten free will not necessarily improve health. In other words, eating wheat (which contains gluten) in moderation is perfectly healthy, especially if it is whole grain wheat. Some people wonder if going gluten free can help with weight loss. The answer is, not necessarily. If wheat represents a large part of your family’s caloric intake, then removing wheat without replacing it with other equally calorie-dense foods could result in weight loss. Or if your family’s diet contains a lot of high calorie processed foods made with wheat, and you remove these and replace them with lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and other whole grains, then you will definitely see health improvements. But removing wheat alone will not likely result in weight loss.

In any case, it is always good to eat a variety of foods in regular rotation of family meals. Since wheat is so prevalent in many of our households, it might take some thinking ‘outside the box’ to make gluten free meals. 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

Concussions are More Common in Teens than Once Thought

A research letter was published in the Journal of American Medical Association on Tuesday, June 25 which concussionsummarized findings from a recent Canadian study examining concussions in teenagers.  The Canadian research team found that concussion rates in adolescents are much higher than previously thought.

What is the prevalence of concussions in teens?

1 out of every 5 teenagers completing the research project indicated that they had sustained a concussion.  These numbers are high, and there are some flaws with generalizing these numbers to the population as a whole.  This was a survey research project in which the examiners asked teenagers a series of questions about head injuries and academic performance.  Although the likelihood of 1 in 5 teenagers having sustained a concussion is probably not realistic, it is known that head injuries are quite common at rates that are greater than suspected in the past.

Why is it important to know the incident rates of concussions?

The importance of knowing about the incident rates of concussions is that there are numerous known behavioral and emotional variables associated with head injuries.  Adolescents who have sustained a head injury are at risk for learning problems, substance abuse, and emotional concerns.

What does this mean as a parent or teacher?  If you notice a teenager exhibiting a sudden change in academic performance, behavior, or emotional regulation, you want to have an evaluation immediately.  Speak to your child’s pediatrician about a possible neurological or neuropsychological evaluation in order to help determine the possible cause for the changes, as one possible reason might be a sustained head injury.

To read the full Chicago Tribune article on this study, click here.  To learn more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Neuropsychology Diagnostic Program for children and teens, click below.