April 2022

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VOLUME 39, #2 APRIL 2022

FREE!

Having a

y b Ba

TRACKING TEENS Limits vs. Freedom

25+

Summer Camps

INSIDE:

SPECIAL NEEDS Pull Out and Save!


2 WNY Family April 2022


April 2022 • Volume 39 • Issue 2

EDITOR & PUBLISHER Michele Miller GENERAL MANAGER Paul Kline SALES REPRESENTATIVES Jennifer Staebell Paul Kline

Where It’s At! Having a Baby! Features:

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Karen Wawszczyk Melanie Schroeder

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Before the Baby: Planning for Your Pregnancy by Christa Melnyk Hines

CONTRIBUTORS Barbara Blackburn • Donna Phillips Richard De Fino • Deborah Williams Kathy Lundquist • Myrna Beth Haskell Mike Daugherty

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Bonding with the Bump by Sarah Lyons

/WNYFamily

/WNYFamily

/WNYFamily

Visit Our Web Site www.wnyfamilymagazine.com To Reach Us: Advertising Department advertising@wnyfamilymagazine.com Calendar Submissions calendar@wnyfamilymagazine.com Subscriptions subscriptions@wnyfamilymagazine.com Editorial Submissions michele@wnyfamilymagazine.com MAILING ADDRESS: 3147 Delaware Ave., Suite B Buffalo, NY 14217 Phone: (716) 836-3486 • Fax: (716) 836-3680 PRINTED BY: Commercial Printing Division The Post-Journal, Jamestown WE ARE AN AUDITED PUBLICATION CIRCULATION (copies printed): 20,000 © 2022 Western New York Family, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without permission is strictly prohibited. Inclusion of an advertisement does not constitute an endorsement by the publisher. PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS: MAILED FIRST CLASS, IN AN ENVELOPE SAME DAY ISSUE IS DELIVERED FROM THE PRINTER: $28 one year, $52 two years, $75 three years. Phone & online orders accepted with credit cards. Gift subscriptions available. Single copies & back issues by mail, $2.50. IF YOU MOVE: Missed issues will not be replaced if we do not receive an address change before issue mailing date.

Regulars:

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The ABC’s of Hospital Delivery by Christa Melnyk Hines

12 n

Supporting A Mom During High Risk Pregnancy by Sarah Lyons

14 n

Coping with Crying: Tips from a Parent Educator on Soothing Your Baby (and Yourself) by Malia Jacobson

23 n SPECIAL NEEDS A Special Pull-Out Section • You Are Not Alone • 5 Ways to Lend a Helping Hand • How to Help Kids Talk About Learning Disabilities • What is Hearing Loss • Social Challenges of Kids with Learning Problems • What is Non-Verbal Learning Disorder? • Here’s What People Need to Understand About Autism The Family Pet

59 n

Directories: 16 n 47 n 50 n 60 n

Choosing Childcare Your Home Summer Camps Wellness Choices

5 n Web Finds / What’s New In The Kid Biz 18 n Journey Into Fatherhood Trying Not To Panic by Richard De Fino 19 n Parent Previews by Kirsten Hawkes 20 n Pick of the Literature by Dr. Donna Phillips 43 n Dear Teacher by Peggy Gisler & Marge Eberts 44 n Family Travel Milwaukee by Deborah Williams 46 n Raising Digital Kids Continuous Partial Attention by Mike Daugherty 48 n Tweens and Teens Tracking Teens: Setting Limits & Giving Freedom by Christa Melnyk Hines 56 n Single Parenting Surviving Divorce: How to Prepare for the Road Ahead by Cheryl Maguire 62 n The Kid Friendly Kitchen by Kathy Lundquist 63 n The Kiddie Gourmet Connor’s Restaurant by Barbara Blackburn

You’ll find FREE courtesy copies of WNY Family at all Buffalo area Wegmans and 300 locations including Public Libraries, Doctors’ Offices, Child Care Centers and many of our advertisers. (Look for us INSIDE Wegmans on the racks where newspapers are sold, even though we are still FREE, or in some stores, on the FREE rack in the store foyer.)

Find this entire issue online at www.wnyfamilymagazine.com April 2022 WNY Family 3


4 WNY Family April 2022


web.finds EASY EASTER WREATH

Add come Easter color to your décor by creating this wreath based on a paper plate (with the center cut out) and egg shapes cut from scrapbook paper. Glue dots hold the eggs in place. Add a bow at the top and a coordinating ribbon to hang your wreath. Make a perfect egg shape with a cookie cutter or you can download all kinds of free egg templates at https://www.firstpalette.com/printable/easter-eggs. html. For complete directions on how to make the wreath, visit https://www.theresourcefulmama. com/easy-paper-easter-wreath/

PAINTED BUNNY EGGS

We just loved the sophisticated look of these eggs, created by Canadian mom, Elizabeth, at “Frugal Mom Eh.” (The “Eh” is distinctly Canadian!) They’re a project that moms, tweens, and teens would enjoy as they’re a bit more complex to make. Wooden eggs are painted with acrylic paint. Cardstock is used for the ears, which are then secured with hot glue, as are small paper or plastic flowers. Find the complete instructions at https://www.frugalmomeh.com/bunny-easter-eggs.html

BUNNY SLIME

These days, what kid doesn’t love slime! We happen to think these jars of “bunny slime” are adorable. Just make sure your slime comes out the right pastel shade for Easter! The slime recipe includes 6oz. of White Elmer’s Glue, ½ teaspoon of baking soda, 2 Tablespoons water (or ¼ cup for a stretchier slime), 1 Tablespoon Contact Lens Solution (brand doesn’t matter as long as it contains boric acid), and liquid food coloring. Googly eyes, pipe cleaners, large pom poms, stiff felt or foam in white and other colors for ears help you create the bunny face, held in place by glue dots or hot glue. Check out all the instructions at https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/ bunny-slime/

FOAM CUP BUNNIES

These inexpensive, easy cups can be used as favors, placecards, or leave them out for the Easter Bunny to hide at your house on Easter morning. Styrofoam cups, googly eyes, white and pink craft foam, and a pink Sharpie complete the list of supplies needed. For all the details visit https://onelittleproject.com/foam-cup-bunnies/

What’s New... IN THE KIDBIZ

THE CARE CONNECTION MOVES & EXPANDS Holly Shelly and Allison Zulawski have taken their 7-year partnership to the next level to fulfill their desire to help as many moms in the Western New York area as they possibly can. Moving and expanding to their new location/retail boutique gives them the opportunity to do just that at 1360 North French Rd., Suite 111, Williamsville, New York 14221. The Care Connection has been serving generations of families in WNY for over 30 years. The Care Connection staff includes Pediatric Nurse Practitioners IBCLC, providing lactation support and education for new parents with pre-natal and new parent classes (including Preparing to Breastfeed your Newborn; Breastfeeding beyond the newborn period; Happiest baby on the block, and Infant CPR), and lactation equipment and support. At their new location, you can visit their brand-new retail boutique, which offers all the latest trends in baby and breastfeeding items, and caters to customizing the needs of each client. Their services include free bra and breast pump fittings, breast pump education, baby weigh station and feeds. Allison and Holly, along with their team and lactation specialists (each with 25+ years of experience), have made it their life’s work to educate, provide, and support fellow moms. With so much passion for their own families, and serving the mom community, it’s no wonder these lifelong friends became business partners! Visit their new location and get a “free baby weight assessment.” The Care Connection works with most WNY insurance providers. Visit their website at https://careconnectiononline.com. April 2022 WNY Family 5


tor for recommendations about how to achieve a healthy weight.

Eat from the rainbow. Get into the habit of integrating more wholesome foods into your diet. Keep meals wellrounded with healthy carbs, lean proteins, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. A fish oil supplement could also help prevent preterm birth, Maulik says. Avoid restrictive diets like Keto or other low carb diets, especially while pregnant.

— by Christa Melnyk Hines

Before the Baby

Planning for Your Pregnancy

N

ot everyone gets the benefit of planning for pregnancy. But if you can plan, it can make a big difference in the health and wellbeing of both you and your future baby. “The healthier you are going into pregnancy, the healthier your pregnancy is going to be,” says Dr. Sara Talken, ob/ gyn.

Schedule a preconception appointment. As soon as you begin

thinking about starting a family, schedule a preconception appointment with your physician. Discuss your lifestyle and chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disease and mental health issues. Many health issues, if not carefully managed, can complicate a pregnancy.

Take a prenatal vitamin. Ideally, six months prior to conception, start taking a prenatal vitamin, containing at least 400 mcg of folic acid, available over-the-counter or with a prescription. A prenatal vitamin helps to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly, which are neural tube defects occurring in the first four weeks of pregnancy — usually before a woman even realizes she’s pregnant. According to the CDC, if the neural tube (which later becomes the baby’s spinal cord, spine, brain and skull), doesn’t close properly, the developing brain and spinal cord is exposed to amniotic fluid. Spina bifida causes paralysis, hydrocephalus and learning disabilities. 6 WNY Family April 2022

Anencephaly is fatal to an infant, often resulting in miscarriage or death soon after birth. “Studies also show that if you take a prenatal vitamin at least three months before pregnancy, you can reduce your risk of preterm delivery and promote healthier outcomes,” says perinatologist Devika Maulik, M.D..

Attain a healthy weight.

Weight can affect your ability to conceive. According to WomensHealth.gov, women who are underweight may have irregular menstrual cycles, and their bodies may stop producing estrogen. Obesity can make it harder to get pregnant too.

“If you’re trying to get pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, fertility greatly increases with just a five percent weight loss,” Talken says. Being overweight can also increase the risk for pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm delivery. Ask your doc-

“A baby that is deprived of carbohydrates, which are needed for adequate development, can actually grow smaller and not in a healthy way,” Maulik says.

Consider genetic testing. You and your partner may also wish to seek genetic counseling. “If anything raises a red flag, then we can do genetic testing on the parents before they even conceive to see if anything that they’re concerned about is actually an issue,” Talken says. A blood draw can determine if either of you are carriers for cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, or fragile X disorders.

Of a certain age? While it may not sound flattering, if you’ll deliver your baby in your mid-thirties or older, you’re considered “advanced maternal age.” You may wish to ask for more extensive genetic testing prior to pregnancy and consult with a perinatologist during pregnancy for more detailed anatomy screening ultrasounds. “We now have an amazing non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT), which is a simple blood draw taken as early as 10 to 11 weeks. It screens fetal DNA for trisomy 13, 18, 21 (Down syndrome) and also includes X’s and Y’s to determine gender if desired,” says Dr. Sharla Shipman, ob/gyn.

Your Preconception Appointment

Bring a list of your questions/concerns and current medications

Be transparent about your lifestyle and past/current health issues (including STDs)

Ask when/how to stop using birth control

Include your partner (his health history can affect your pregnancy too)


While these tests won’t change the outcome of any health issues or developmental delays, they can help you plan ahead. “It is often a great relief for higher-risk patients when they are negative. For an abnormal result, we can get started early pairing a family with a good specialty doctor and support system for their baby’s challenges,” Shipman says.

Avoid exposure to toxins. If you smoke, vape or abuse substances of any kind, now is the time to quit. As much as possible, avoid spending time in environments where you are exposed to second-hand smoke or other dangerous fumes. If you live in an older neighborhood or home, ask your doctor for a blood test to check the levels of lead in your system. “Lead can contribute to a lot of perinatal complications such as preeclampsia, which is like a hypertensive disorder in pregnancy,” Maulik says.

Planning a babymoon? While many couples plan babymoons when an expectant mother is in her second trimester as one last hurrah before the baby arrives, others may prefer to plan a fun getaway before conception. But, if you’re hoping to get pregnant in the near future, Shipman advises both partners steer clear of areas considered high risk for Zika. According to the CDC, Zika is a virus spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Often, there are no symptoms of infection, and it can be sexually transmitted from a male partner. The virus can cause severe brain defects, including microcephaly, which stunts the development of a baby’s brain. “Future moms and dads need to avoid travel to high-risk Zika areas for six months prior to trying for pregnancy,” Shipman says. “This is a frustrating new factor for patients who wanted to travel to Mexico or certain Caribbean locations prior to starting a family.”

Prioritize self-care. Strained relationships, demanding careers and exhausting lifestyles could make it harder to get pregnant and can interfere with a relaxed, healthy pregnancy and postpartum period. Manage stress through regular exercise, meditation, deep breathing and time with friends. If you continue to struggle, seek guidance from your physician, a licensed counselor or other trusted resources. “When we empower ourselves to make good choices, we start to see ourselves as strong and become less willing to allow stressful situations and people in our lives,” Shipman says. “I believe that ‘empowerment decision’ is a natural transition to becoming parents because we begin to see ourselves as moms and protectors.” Christa Melnyk Hines is a nationally published freelance writer and a mom of two active sons and a quirky mutt. Her articles appear monthly in international, national and regional publications, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Pregnancy & Newborn, Vibrant Life, and Kansas City Parent. She is also the author of “Confidently Connected: A Mom’s Guide to a Satisfying Social Life” and “Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World,” both available on Amazon.com

April 2022 WNY Family 7


A

positive pregnancy test is just the beginning of the loving relationship you will have with your child. As your body begins to change and the time to deliver grows closer, you may feel a disconnect to your unborn child. This is normal, considering all the new adjustments and worries you may be facing as a momto-be. Give yourself the time needed to bond with your unborn child. Try these techniques if you want to form a stronger bond with your bump.

shop for clothes, a car seat, stroller, a crib, and register for and attend your baby shower. All of these things will help you get excited for the baby’s arrival. Choosing an outfit to bring your baby home in, decorating your nursery, and planning for life with a newborn will also help you bond with the baby.

Find Your People

Speak Up

Babies begin to develop hearing during the second trimester and can listen to their mother’s voice and heartbeat. Spend time talking or singing to your baby bump. You may notice that your child will respond with pushes and kicks. Rubbing your belly in response to movements is another way to bond with your unborn child.

Exercise

Participating in light exercise can be a great way to get in touch with your changing body and bond with your baby. Taking a walk, swimming, or joining a prenatal yoga class will help you stay healthy, refreshed, and give you time to reflect on the miracle of pregnancy.

Keep a Photo On Hand

Sometimes pregnancy can feel surreal until the first glimpse of the baby is seen during an ultrasound. Ask for a printed photo of the scan and keep it on hand. This can help remind you that the baby is growing and changing. Also 8 WNY Family April 2022

— by Sarah Lyons consider doing a prenatal photo shoot. Many women will see the beauty in pregnancy when it is captured through photography.

Write It Down

Journaling is a great way to record the day-to-day feelings of pregnancy. Write down how you are feeling, your body changes, and other observations during pregnancy. This can be for you or for your child to read someday. Some women may also choose to write their child a letter explaining their feelings and excitement in meeting their baby. Putting feelings into words can help a mom-tobe process feelings and adjustments that are happening in her life leading up to birth.

Prepare

There are many preparations that need to be made before the baby is born. You will most likely

Many women find that when they become a mother, they instantly have things in common with other moms. Reach out to other pregnant women and discuss how you are feeling and what you are excited about, consider joining a local moms’s group, or speak to your own mom about what pregnancy and the newborn stage was like for her. Surround yourself with people who understand what you are going through and can be excited for the things to come.

Get Creative!

Use your creativity to help you grow closer to your unborn child. Sew a quilt, crochet a hat or blanket, create a scrapbook, paint the nursery, or use your own talents and artistic gifts to make something special for your child. This is a great way to bond with the baby and it will be a keepsake that will be cherished for many years to come. There is no right or wrong way to bond with your unborn child. If none of these suggestions work, find something that feels right for you. Give yourself time and the chance to adjust to the big changes that come along with parenthood. You have a lifetime of love, joy, and great experiences ahead.


How Dads Can Bond with The Bump

Dads are an important part of the baby’s life right from the start, but bonding with your unborn child may be difficult for dads because they don’t experience the physical changes women do. Here are some great tips for dads who want to bond with the bump. ❤ Bond with mom - Stay in tune to your partner’s needs and the challenges she is facing.

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❤ Attend birth classes - Educate yourself on pregnancy, birth, and newborn care so you know what to expect when the time comes. ❤ Go to doctor appointments - Go with your partner to doctor appointments so you can hear the heartbeat, see the sonograms, and experience pregnancy with her. ❤ Talk to baby Baby can hear you and get to know your voice, just like mom’s. ❤ Write a letter - Consider writing down your thoughts and feelings about pregnancy to share with your child when they are older. ❤ Talk to other dads - Connect with other men who have experienced parenthood. ❤ Snuggle up - Cuddle with mom and feel for baby’s movements and kicks. Sarah Lyons is a mom of six kids including seven-year-old triplets. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time outdoors with her family. Her work has been published in Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine KC Parent, Austin Family, Creative Child and over 160 other parenting publications. April 2022 WNY Family 9


monitor, especially if you are on medication to be induced.

G

et ready. Pack your bag be-

tween 32 and 35 weeks of pregnancy. Bring toiletries and comfortable clothes, including warm socks and slipon shoes. You’ll also need a take-home outfit for your baby and a car seat.

H

epatitis B. The American

Academy of Pediatrics recommends all healthy newborns receive their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of delivery. Hepatitis B is a potentially fatal viral infection that attacks the liver.

I

— by Christa Melnyk Hines

The ABC’s of Hospital Delivery

T

expect.

A

he hospital delivery process begins long before labor pains begin. Here’s what to

dmissions. At around 32

weeks gestation, schedule a pre-admission appointment to complete most of your paperwork before labor, like the birth certificate and other forms. “At that time, we do all of the preadmit work like consents you’ll sign when you come to have the baby,” says pre-admission coordinator Clara Davis, RN.

B

irth plan. Do you want an

epidural or prefer natural childbirth? A birth plan communicates your desires for your labor and delivery experience. If you have a plan, bring it with you to the pre-admission appointment and delivery.

C

ircumcision.

At hospitals, circumcisions are usually performed within 48 hours of delivery. Talk to your doctor about the procedure’s benefits and risks. Your pre-admission 10 WNY Family April 2022

coordinator will have the paperwork you need to complete when you’re ready.

D

elivering

physician.

Many doctors check in on their patients first thing in the morning and midday. “We page the delivering physician as soon as we think it’s time. If a baby is having heart rate issues, we can always page them to come evaluate,” says labor and delivery nurse Jenna O’Connor, RN.

E

pidural. An epidural is a

pain-relieving local anesthetic administered by an anesthesiologist that numbs pain in the lower half of the body. “Allow 45 minutes from the time you ask for your epidural to getting it,” O’Connor says. “We like to give IV fluids prior to that at a faster rate to help prevent blood pressure from dropping from the anesthesia.”

F

etal

heart

monitor.

Healthcare practitioners will either periodically monitor your baby’s heartbeat during labor, or you will be hooked up to an electronic fetal heart

nduction. Prior to an induction,

your provider will examine your cervix and decide whether you should go into the hospital the day of the scheduled induction or the night before. If you go in the night before, you might receive a medication or a balloon catheter that thins or softens the cervix. When your cervix is ready, you’ll be given a medication called Pitocin to induce contractions.

J

acuzzi tubs. Many hospitals

offer laboring moms full-size jacuzzi tubs for pain relief early in the delivery process. Check with your doctor to see if this an option for you.

Vitamin

K

All babies are born vitamin . K deficient. Upon birth, your baby will receive a vitamin K shot, which is essential to aid the body in forming clots to prevent severe and potentially life-threatening bleeding.

L

actation

consultant.

Breastfeeding specialists visit new moms in the hospital to address any initial questions or concerns around breastfeeding.

M

arking the moment.

During pre-admission, you’ll have the opportunity to decide if you want your newborn photographed. “But, you’re not obligated to buy anything,” Davis says.

N

ICU. Premature infants, mul-

tiples and sick or low birthweight babies are usually transferred to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which provides specialized care. continued on page 22


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y first three pregnancies were easy. I felt great, barely had morning sickness, remained active, and was able to maintain all of my pre-pregnancy activities. Then I experienced a triplet pregnancy. Everything I knew about pregnancy went out the window when I found out at 21 weeks that I was expecting, not one, but three babies. My head spun as the doctor told me my first goal was to make it three more weeks, which is considered viability — 24 weeks gestation and when a child will have a chance of survival outside the womb. For weeks after receiving the news, I barely slept but read every book and blog I could find on triplets, high order multiples pregnancy, and prematurity. The information was overwhelming and terrifying. Once I came out of shock, I realized I had to move forward with a new normal for the health of my babies. Thankfully, I received a lot of support from my friends and family.

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A high-risk pregnancy is stressful. Mom is usually worried about the health of the baby, or babies, as well as herself. She may also be concerned about her other household or work-related responsibilities which she may not be able to keep up on due to bed rest or the physical

limitations of pregnancy. Having someone to talk with can be very therapeutic. When you visit, listen attentively and offer support. A short email or text shows you care while leaving it in her hands to respond when it’s most convenient.

Visit Many moms with a high-risk pregnancy are put on bed rest at home or in the hospital. While resting in bed may sound like a nice vacation for a busy mom, it is extremely boring and typically gives mom too much time for worrying. A visitor can really brighten mom’s day. “One of my friends would visit and ask what needed to be done,” says Robin Wahrenbrock from Missouri. A care package with movies, magazines, and treats is also nice when stuck in bed.

Help With Older Kids Mom may feel like she is letting down her older kids because she can’t be her usual self. Show support by offering to pick up the kids, even if it’s just for a couple hours. Driving the kids to school or activities is also a big help. Keeping the kids in their regularly scheduled activities helps lessen the anxiety they feel with the changes at home.

Stop By The Store Offer to pick up a few things the family needs if you will be out running


errands. Many grocery stores now offer drive through pick up. Have the family order and pay for groceries online, then pick them up and deliver them. Offering to help put them away is appreciated. If mom is allowed to ride in a wheelchair during her outings, offer to drive her to the store and assist as she tries to get her shopping done.

Provide A Meal Providing meals for the family during a high-risk pregnancy is a huge help. The family, including mom, needs to eat three meals a day. Bring easy to heat up casseroles and freezer meals or stock the pantry with quick fix meals and snacks. Also consider simple to prepare food for lunch and breakfast. Try setting up a meal train for other friends and family to bring meals as well.

Help Around The House When faced with the questions of “How can I help?,” it is often difficult for mom to come up with an exact answer. Things you can consider just going ahead and doing include sweeping the floor, folding loads of laundry, vacuuming, or doing dishes. Even a little bit of tidying up can make a big difference. Consider hiring a cleaning service for the family until mom is back on her feet.

Checkups A high-risk pregnancy usually warrants extra check-ups. “I looked forward to the weekly scans,” says Loretta Jones, mom of triplets. “I only made it to 27 weeks, which was incredibly scary, but I felt better because I had just been at the doctor two days before.” Having weekly checkups and ultrasounds are common for high-risk pregnancies and it can really put a mom’s mind at ease when you are given a thumbs up for the day. During high-risk pregnancy, mom often feels overwhelmed with the things she is missing due to bed rest, including time with her spouse and other children, her work, and normal daily responsibilities. Combined with the worrying about her and the baby’s health, it is an extremely stressful time. By assisting with the basic needs of the family like cooking, cleaning, errands, and being a sounding board for her concerns and fears, you will relieve some of the stress so mom can focus on the health of herself and her child.

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leaning into the virtual parties and gatherings the way they were a year ago. The supportive ‘we’re all in this together’ messaging is just not there anymore, because people are just over it.”

Reaching Caregivers about PURPLE Crying

— by Malia Jacobson

Coping with Crying

Tips from a parent educator on soothing your baby (and yourself)

C

aring for a wailing newborn who seems inconsolable is exhausting, frustrating, and isolating. That’s especially true during a global pandemic that increased fears about exposing infants to disease, squeezed childcare resources, slashed social support, and compounded financial insecurities. With fewer opportunities for social and emotional support or outside help with childcare and household chores, frustration may give way to anger and increase the likelihood of shaking a crying baby. Research shows that rates of child abuse and abusive head trauma — the type of brain injury that happens when an infant is shaken — escalate during economic recessions and natural disasters. During the national recession that began in 2008, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Harborview Medical Center saw such cases more than double, mirroring a trend occurring nationwide. Seattle Children’s established its “Period of PURPLE Crying” caregiver education program in response to the increase in abusive head trauma cases locally and nationwide. When COVID 14 WNY Family April 2022

began impacting access to social support and childcare resources for new parents last year, Period of PURPLE Crying Program Coordinator Christine Baker says child abuse researchers feared the worst. “At the beginning of the pandemic we were fearing that there would be a similar effect with rates of child abuse, but it was hard to predict,” she notes. “There’s research showing these effects after recessions and natural disasters, but there wasn’t data on the effects of a global pandemic like this one.” After a year into the COVID pandemic, research showed a similar spike in cases of child abuse. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of emergency department visits and hospitalizations related to child abuse and neglect for children and adolescents increased significantly from 2019 to 2020. “At this moment we have a combination of isolation and virtual connection fatigue, particularly for new parents who may be literally stuck at home with an infant,” says Baker. “People are tired of connecting online and they aren’t

Over the past year, COVID has complicated efforts to educate caregivers about the dangers of abusive head trauma (sometimes called shaken baby syndrome). With more families delaying well-child checkups and community events temporarily curtailed, program leaders have fewer opportunities to help new parents learn ways to cope with crying. Getting information to caregivers in the early weeks of parenthood is critical, because it only takes one shaking incident to permanently alter a child’s brain function, says Baker. “A shaken brain will never be the same brain again.” Shaking causes injury instantly, with effects that can compound over

What is the Period of PURPLE Crying? Peak of crying. Your baby may

Unexpected.

Resists soothing. Your baby may

Pain-like

Long-lasting. Crying can last as

Evening.

cry more each week, the most in month 2, then less in months 3–5. Crying can come and go and you don’t know why. not stop crying no matter what you try. face. A crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not. much as 5 hours a day, or more.

Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening.

• The word “period” means that the crying has a beginning and an end.


time with repeated episodes. Shaking any part of a baby, even the arms or legs, can cause learning disabilities, behavior disorders, problems with hearing, vision, and speech, seizures, cerebral palsy, permanent disability, or death. Using the acronym PURPLE (Peak of crying, Unexpected, Resists soothing, Pain-like face, Long-lasting, and Evening), the program helps spread the message that a phase of intense crying is developmentally normal, temporary, and not the result of genetics, parenting, or your child’s personality. While not all babies go through such a phase, many do, crying up to five hours in the afternoon or evening during their second and third months. Crying generally tapers off around months four and five, but not before caregiver’s nerves are thoroughly frayed.

Coping Tips for Caregivers Knowing that this phase is normal, and doesn’t reflect poorly on their child or their parenting, can help parents cope, says Baker. Working with families, Baker counsels caregivers to “just pause.” “We tell parents to “take five,” because taking a pause or a break is so important to keep frustration with crying from escalating. We tell parents to just pause, take a minute, set your baby down gently someplace safe, and walk away for a few minutes.”

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Parenting isn’t about perfection, notes Baker. “It’s about doing what you need to do in the moment and handling a situation in a way that you’ll feel good about tomorrow.” Caregiver should know that periods of intense, “purple” crying are normal for babies, and so are feelings of anger, even fury, for parents. During tough moments, calling or texting a trusted friend or family member, listening to music, taking a few deep breaths can keep frustration from escalating to rage — and keep babies safe from unintended outcomes. “A lot of parents don’t feel prepared to deal with the anger they feel, because it’s so unexpected,” she says. “They love their baby, they wanted and planned for this baby, and then they feel this anger that can be very isolating. Those are really normal feelings. So, we help parents expect and plan for that, so when those feelings show up, they know what to do.” Malia Jacobson a nationally published, award-winning journalist specializing in health and family topics for publications that include Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, and Runner’s World.

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April 2022 WNY Family 15


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M

ost families use a combination of care arrangements to meet all of their needs; the best child care arrangements are those that work best for you, your child, and your family. Types of care arrangements can include: • Parent only care • Care by a relative • Non-relative care by nannies, friends, or neighbors (in the child’s home or a licensed family child care home) • Child care centers • Specialized child care for children with special health needs Why is it important to have high quality child care? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of a child’s early experiences, whether at home, in child care, or in other preschool settings are educational. The indicators of high quality child care have been studied and are available in many formats. When care is consistent, emotionally supportive, and appropriate to the child’s age, development, and temperament, there is a positive effect on children and families. Depending on each child’s needs, benefits of high quality child care can include: • Enhanced brain growth and child development • Greater success in school (better math and language skills) • Better cognition, social skills, interpersonal relationships, and self-regulation • Decreased need for special education and related services later • Lower adolescent pregnancy rates and lower juvenile crime • Higher graduation rates Locally, you can visit the Child Care Resource Network at https://wnychildren.org/ or call them at 716-877-6666 for resources. Visit www.childcareaware. org for additional information on making your childcare decision. You can download their comprehensive guide at https:// www.childcareaware.org/wp-content/ uploads/2016/04/Eng_121m.pdf entitled “Is This The Right Place For My Child: 38 Research-Based Indicators of Quality Child Care” which includes a checklist you can copy to take with you to each childcare facility you visit.

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Trying Not To Panic

I

thought for this month’s column I would talk about something a little more personal than anything I have shared previously. I wanted to talk about anxiety, and how it plays into my role as a parent. Since I was young, I’ve been living with something called Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which, in a nutshell, causes me to worry all the time about anything you can think of. There are many other components to this, but worrying is the biggest part of it. Before Violet was born my biggest fear was that my unhealthy attachment to the people I love would cripple me once she was in my arms. Let me explain. Since I was about seven or eight and up into my early teens, probably for longer than I should have, I developed a late case of separation anxiety, which had manifested from my regular anxiety. I have always been afraid of losing the people I needed most in my life; and with the possibility of someone I care about dying and that being out of my control, it would cause me to spiral into a state of relentless panic. I would 18 WNY Family April 2022

cry, hyperventilate and pace around almost to the point of passing out. I would do this if someone was running late, unable to be reached by telephone, or just not in my direct sight. Today, in my late thirties, I don’t cry, hyperventilate, or pace around my room worrying myself into defeat, but I still become a little anxious when I feel like I’m out of immediate reach. This only happens now with my wife and daughter, but mostly with Violet. I worried when Violet was born, that I would start to have those same debilitating feelings again whenever I couldn’t see her, for instance, when she started daycare. But I really didn’t have that problem when she started going at 11 weeks old. I suppose I didn’t worry much because I immediately trusted her teachers and felt comfortable leaving her there. And the same goes for when her Grandma Linda and Aunt Jen watch her. I always felt she was safe with them. Knowing she is in good hands makes it a little easier to not feel like I’m losing control. But lately, it’s not leaving her somewhere that’s causing me to worry. It’s the thought of losing her altogether.

My general anxiety is the sole reason why I have these intrusive feelings about Violet, but having my first-born child die doesn’t help either. I do my best to watch over her and keep her safe; driving carefully, eyes on her when she is eating and while in the bathtub, but there is only so much I can do within my reach. I know one day she’ll be at an age when she can leave the house by herself to meet friends at the park or walk down the street to her classmate’s house. And of course, I won’t be sheltering her at home, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t already sick thinking about it. I fear that I’ll become a “helicopter parent,” wanting to keep her safe from harm, nestled in a danger-free bubble suit. But I already promised myself and Andrea that I won’t let it come to that. I know it’s normal for parents to worry about their children, but at my level, it can be harmful. It’s not good to stress this much, especially over something that I have no control over, so I’m working on it now, this way, I can be ready for the future. I think “letting go” is a good start. And as I mentioned before, all I can do is my best to keep her safe and the rest is out of my hands. As worried as I am, I honestly think Violet is going to be okay when she’s out venturing on her own. I know it’s premature to say now, but she really seems to have a sharp mind about her surroundings. She’ll be 19 months on April 1st and she’s already showing signs of what I feel is an independent thinker and observer. She’s very inquisitive, inspecting every turn in the hallway and roadblock of toys in the living room. She’s very careful about how she navigates around the house and it’s the same when we’re walking down the street, which makes me believe that she’ll be just as careful when she’s older. Richard De Fino, a freelance writer by night, first became a father at age 34. After losing his first-born son Louis, at birth, he was determined to keep his memory alive the best way he knew how; through words. Now, with the birth of his daughter Violet, he plans on continuing to share his fatherhood journey each month with WNY Family readers.


Family Movie Options: In Theaters and Streaming Online Turning Red

Disney+

Rating PG

Overall A-

Violence B-

Sex A-

Profanity A-

Alcohol/Drugs A-

Trying to balance her own dreams with the constricting rules of her domineering mother, Meilin encounters a new complication: whenever she feels strong emotion, she turns into a giant panda. Luckily, there’s a ritual to solve this problem but there are challenges along the way. Brilliantly original, empathetic, and very funny, this film is another triumph for Pixar. Parents will want to be aware of scenes of animated violence and coded mentions of menstruation. Photo ©Disney+

Tall Girl 2

Netflix

Rating TV-PG

Overall B-

Violence A

Sex A

Profanity B

Alcohol/Drugs A

Finally comfortable in her own skin, Jodi auditions for the school play and lands the lead. The attendant pressures test Jodi’s confidence and threaten her new relationships. Burdened with uneven acting, lazy writing, and avoidable conflicts, this feels like a low budget made-for-tv tween flick. While there are some helpful messages about anxiety and self-esteem, the rest of the movie falls short. Photo © Netflix

The Adam Project

Netflix

Rating

Overall

Violence

Sex

Profanity

Alcohol/Drugs

PG-13

B+

B-

B

C+

B

Twelve year old Adam Reed is bullied at school and grieving his late father. Then he discovers a man in the garage – a man with his memories and a familiarity with his dog. That man is his future self, who has traveled back in time on a critical mission. This family-friendly sci-fi flick has lots to offer, mainly time travel, plentiful action, a great cast, and reminders to be nice to mom. Those positive messages just might compensate for the unnecesary cussing. Photo ©Netflix

Butter

Theaters

Rating

Overall

Violence

Sex

Profanity

Alcohol/Drugs

PG-13

C+

C

B

C

C

After years of being bullied and trying to become invisible, high school student Butter comes up with a new plan: he’s going to eat himself to death online. When he creates a website to solicit suggestions for his final menu, Butter gains a strange kind of popularity at school. This can be a painful film to watch and it contains some disturbing content. It is also profoundly empathetic to teens with mental health challenges and can be an excellent catalyst for discussions about serious topics. Photo ©Blue Fox Entertainment

Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop

Online Rental

Rating

Overall

Violence

Sex

Profanity

Alcohol/Drugs

PG

B

B-

A-

A-

C+

Happily teaching classics and writing erudite books, Elizabeth Willoughby is surprised when friends of her late parents ask for help. They think their quaint bookshop is being haunted and they want to uncover the truth. This production feels more like a TV series than a film, but it has a cozy vibe and a plot that moves briskly along. It’s also comparatively low on negative content and can be watched by tweens and adults who enjoy mysteries without gore. Photo ©Gravitas Ventures Detailed reviews available at www.parentpreviews.com April 2022 WNY Family 19


PICK OF THE LITERATURE — by Dr. Donna Phillips

T

ime for Spring! Time to celebrate Easter and Passover! Time for family and getting outdoors to enjoy all the season has to offer! Whether you are planting seeds, hiding Easter eggs, walking out in nature to breathe the fresh spring air and see the growth that has hibernated all winter, this is your time. Perhaps you are staying indoors during a spring rain to wait and see what it inspires to grow or you are preparing food for your family’s celebrations. Regardless, this is the time we have been waiting for these many long months! Beatrix Potter’s story The Tale of Peter Rabbit, originally published in 1901, has remained a classic and is often the book that is found in Easter baskets for young children. Peter, the independent and mischievous little bunny, has captured the hearts of children and parents for over 120 years. The latest board book version, illustrated by Charles Santore, The Classic Tale of Peter Rabbit (Applesauce Press, Kennebunkport, 2022, $8.95) is sure to be a favorite Easter treat for your little ones. The colorful detailed

20 WNY Family April 2022

illustrations will encourage exploration and conversations, and the sturdy board pages will invite all to read this over and over again. Children might even see themselves or another family member as Peter, who looks for adventure but ends up in trouble by not following his mother’s advice. We all know that it ends well for everyone and we hope that Peter has finally learned his lesson. Who wouldn’t love to get a lift-the flap book in their Easter basket? Five Little Easter Bunnies (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, New York 2022, $17.99), written by Martha Mumford and illustrated by Sarah Jennings, might be what you are looking for. This book follows the classic format as five Bunnies start out on their search for most delicious Easter egg. They search high

and low across the countryside. There are many flaps to lift to uncover all kinds of surprises. As one bunny after another goes off to find their hidden special egg, their numbers dwindle until, in the end, only one is left searching for their special surprise. Of course, in the end, they all meet to celebrate the season and share their special surprise egg. The colorful illustrations and the repeated phrase will get children and parents engaged in the romp and the quest. If you have a budding reader, they will be sure to enjoy the The Berenstain Bears Meet the Easter Bunny (Harper Collins Publisher, New York, 2022, $4.99), written and illustrated by Mike Berenstain. Designated as a My First book, it is specifically for the beginning reader. This level is written with basic language, repeated words, fun illustrations, and is perfect for reading together or alone. In the true Berenstain Bear style, the family is readying for their Easter celebration. Full of expectations for treats and surprises, they are confused when the Easter Bunny fails to arrive. Leave it to Papa Bear to take the place of the Easter Bunny, hopping around with carrot ears, straw whiskers, and eggs from the refrigerator. That is until he trips and falls breaking all the eggs. Now what to do? Off to find the Easter Bunny himself! Of course, there


is a delightful surprise ending. Hopefully, the Easter Bunny will leave the book in one of your Easter baskets so you can find out what it is! For those who celebrate Passover during this spring season, Passover, Here I Come (Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 2022, $5.99), written by D. J. Steinburg and illustrated by Emanuel Wiemans, is the perfect book to start and end the celebration. A collection of simple poems, it touches on many of the elements of the Passover celebration. Getting the house ready for family and friends, making a Seder plate, or saying “good-bye” to bread and “hello” to matzoh. Do you know the story of the exodus? You need the Haggadah for that. Do you know the answer to the Four Questions? This book can help. It is afikomen time! Can you find the missing matzoh? Do you know how to make Matzoh Brei? There is a recipe for that, too! This little book packs so much information and fun into such a simple format. For anyone celebrating Passover, or for those who are unfamiliar with it, it is a perfect start for the family or the classroom. Yes, it’s time for Spring! Take a deep breath and inhale the fresh air and new beginnings! Open your eyes to the growth and potential all around you. Listen to the telltale sounds of spring. Taste the treats of the holiday celebrations. Feel the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze on your skin. Spring is the time to awaken the senses after our long winter rest. Go forth and blossom! Dr. Donna Phillips is an associate professor in the College of Education at Niagara University where her specialty is literacy and children’s literature. She lives on Grand Island, NY and is the mother of two adult children and the grandmother of one.

April 2022 WNY Family 21


ABCs OF HOSPITAL DELIVERY continued...

O P Q

vernight stays. The typical hospital stay for a vaginal delivery is 24 to 48 hours, while a C-section is between three and four days.

ediatrician. The hospital will notify your baby’s

physician when you’re admitted. He or she will provide a physical examination of your infant within 24 hours postpartum.

uestions. Throughout your pregnancy journey,

you’ll likely have many questions come up about what to expect when you get to the hospital to deliver your baby, like where to park, which entrance to go in (especially if you go into labor after hours), and what you should pack. Your physician, nurses, doula and/or midwife, your hospital’s pre-admission coordinator and your instructors at hospital labor and delivery classes are all excellent sources of information.

R

isks? Because hospitals are prepared for complica-

tions that can arise during labor and delivery, they are among the safest places to deliver babies, especially for women considered high-risk. High-risk pregnancies include women who are expecting multiples, are under the age of 17 or over the age of 35, or have a health condition like diabetes, high blood pressure or depression.

S

urgery. A cesarean section requires an incision through the abdomen and uterus. You’ll receive an epidural and will likely be awake for the procedure. Upon

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arrival for a planned C-section, you’ll be hooked up to a monitor and an IV, receive a physical assessment, and bloodwork.

T

ours reduce

U

ncertainty.

Scheduling a firsthand look of a hospital’s birthing center early in your pregnancy can familiarize you and your partner ahead of time with the hospital layout, parking and available classes and amenities. Some expectant parents tour as early as 6 to 12 weeks gestation. “By meeting them early, we can help them feel as comfortable as possible throughout the entire process,” says labor and delivery nurse Danae Young, RN, a hospital maternity navigator, who offers birthing center tours and guides expectant parents through pre-admission paperwork.

V

isitors. Decide who you want in the delivery room.

“This can be doctor-directed a little bit. For example, if the patient is having trouble with their blood pressure, we’re not going to want them to have a lot of visitors in their room at that time,” Davis says. When your baby arrives, your loved ones can access the locked unit during visiting hours by providing the required identification.

W

ireless monitoring. Some hospitals wireless-

ly monitor the baby’s heart rate and a laboring mom’s contractions. The wireless monitor allows patients the freedom to move around, use the restroom, take a shower or sit on a birth ball.

X Y or

? Still unsure if your newborn is a Xenia

or a Yasmin? Try settling on a name before you check out of the hospital. Otherwise, you’ll get a call from the State Department of Health for not completing your birth certificate paperwork — and it can cost you extra.

Z

en. Giving birth is rarely considered a “Zen-like”

experience, but many hospitals prioritize comfortable accommodations for expectant parents, like private suites, in-room music options, rocker-recliners, and “quiet time for moms” to allow for family bonding. Christa Melnyk Hines is a nationally published writer. She and her husband are the parents of two sons who were both C-section deliveries.


SPECIAL NEEDS

WNY Family Magazine | April 2022 | PULL-OUT & SAVE

April 2022 WNY Family 23


I

f you have recently learned that your child has a developmental delay or a disability (which may or may not be completely defined), this message may be for you. It is written from the personal perspective of a parent who has shared this experience and all that goes with it.

You Are Not Alone For Parents When They Learn That Their Child Has a Disability

When parents learn about any difficulty or problem in their child’s development, this information comes as a tremendous blow. The day my child was diagnosed as having a disability, I was devastated — and so confused that I recall little else about those first days other than the heartbreak. Another parent described this event as a “black sack” being pulled down over her head, blocking her ability to hear, see, and think in normal ways. Another parent described the trauma as “having a knife stuck” in her heart. Perhaps these descriptions seem a bit dramatic, yet it has been my experience that they may not sufficiently describe the many emotions that flood parents’ minds and hearts when they receive any bad news about their child. Many things can be done to help yourself through this period of trauma. That is what this article is all about. In order to talk about some of the good things that can happen to alleviate the anxiety, let us first take a look at some of the reactions that occur.

Common Reactions On learning that their child may have a disability, most parents react in ways that have been shared by all parents before them who have also been faced with this disappointment and this 24 WNY Family April 2022

— by Patricia McGill Smith

enormous challenge. One of the first reactions is denial — “This cannot be happening to me, to my child, to our family.” Denial rapidly merges with anger, which may be directed toward the medical personnel who were involved in providing the information about the child’s problem. Anger can also color communication between husband and wife or with grandparents or significant others in the family. Early on, it seems that the anger is so intense that it touches almost anyone, because it is triggered by the feelings of grief and inexplicable loss that one does not know how to explain or deal with. Fear is another immediate response. People often fear the unknown more than they fear the known. Having the complete diagnosis and some knowledge of the child’s future prospects can be easier than uncertainty. In either case, however, fear of the future is a common emotion: “What is going to happen to this child when he is five years old, when he is twelve, when he is twenty-one? What is going to happen to this child

when I am gone?” Then other questions arise: “Will he ever learn? Will he ever go to college? Will he or she have the capability of loving and living and laughing and doing all the things that we had planned?”

Other unknowns also inspire fear. Parents fear that the child’s condition will be the very worst it possibly could be. Over the years, I have spoken with so many parents who said that their first thoughts were totally bleak. One expects the worst. Memories return of persons with disabilities one has known. Sometimes there is guilt over some slight committed years before toward a person with a disability. There is also fear of society’s rejection, fears about how brothers and sisters will be affected, questions as to whether there will be any more brothers or sisters in this family, and concerns about whether the husband or wife will love this child. These fears can almost immobilize some parents. Then there is guilt — guilt and concern about whether the parents themselves have caused the problem: “Did I do something to cause this? Am I being punished for something I have done? Did I take care of myself when I was pregnant? Did my wife take good enough care of herself when she was pregnant?” For myself, I remember thinking that surely my daughter had slipped from the bed when she was very young and hit her head, or that perhaps one of her brothers or sisters had inadvertently let her drop and didn’t tell me. Much self-reproach and remorse can stem from questioning the causes of the disability. Guilt feelings may also be manifested in spiritual and religious interpre-


tations of blame and punishment. When they cry, “Why me?” or “Why my child?,” many parents are also saying, “Why has God done this to me?” How often have we raised our eyes to heaven and asked: “What did I ever do to deserve this?” One young mother said, “I feel so guilty because all my life I had never had a hardship and now God has decided to give me a hardship.” Confusion also marks this traumatic period. As a result of not fully understanding what is happening and what will happen, confusion reveals itself in sleeplessness, inability to make decisions, and mental overload. In the midst of such trauma, information can seem garbled and distorted. You hear new words that you never heard before, terms that describe something that you cannot understand. You want to find out what it is all about, yet it seems that you cannot make sense of all the information you are receiving. Often parents are just not on the same wavelength as the person who is trying to communicate with them about their child’s disability. Powerlessness to change what is happening is very difficult to accept. You cannot change the fact that your child has a disability, yet parents want to feel competent and capable of handling their own life situations. It is extremely hard to be forced to rely on the judgments, opinions, and recommendations of others. Compounding the problem is that these others are often strangers with whom no bond of trust has yet been established. Disappointment that a child is not perfect poses a threat to many parents’ egos and a challenge to their value system. This jolt to previous expectations can create reluctance to accept one’s child as a valuable, developing person. Rejection is another reaction that parents experience. Rejection can be directed toward the child or toward the medical personnel or toward other family members. One of the more serious forms of rejection, and not that uncommon, is a “death wish” for the child — a feeling that many parents report at their deepest points of depression. During this period of time when so many different feelings can flood the mind and heart, there is no way to measure how intensely a parent may experience this constellation of emotions. Not all parents go through these stages, but it is important for parents to identify with all of the potentially troublesome feelings that can arise, so that they will know that they are not alone. There are many constructive actions that you can take immediately, and there are many sources of help, communication, and reassurance.

Seek the Assistance of Another Parent

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There was a parent who helped me. Twenty-two hours after my own child’s diagnosis, he made a statement that I have never forgotten: “You may not realize it today, but there may come a time in your life when you will find that having a daughter with a disability is a blessing.” I can remember being puzzled by these words, which were nonetheless an invaluable gift that lit the first light of hope for me. This parent spoke of hope for the future. He assured me that continued on page 42

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Five Ways to Lend a Helping Hand

to a Family with a Special Needs Child

Parents of medically fragile children rarely get a break from their responsibilities.

F

amilies with a medically fragile child or children face a unique set of challenges. In addition to their regular responsibilities, parents and even siblings are consumed with ensuring that the child’s needs are met. It can be an exhausting and relentless journey, says special needs parent Holley Moseley. That’s why if you know of a family with a medically fragile child, the greatest gift you could offer them is a helping hand.

his or her day is absolutely worth doing.”

“Raising a chronically ill child is one of those things families often can’t do alone,” says Moseley, author of A Ray of Hope: A Mother’s Story of Love, Healing, and the Miracle of Medical Marijuana (Hope Grows Publishing, 2018, ISBN: 978-0-692-13847-2, $14.95). “Between work, rushing their child or children to school or doctor’s visits, and the demands of everyday life, parents’ lives are filled to the max. It takes a whole village of helpers to step in and help make it work. Luckily, a little help from friends, neighbors, other parents, and extended family members makes a real difference.”

After many years of trying every possible treatment, Moseley and her husband discovered “Charlotte’s Web,” an oil produced from a high-CBD/low-THC cannabis plant. The CBD-rich oil significantly reduced and eventually eliminated the seizures and allowed RayAnn to start making huge strides in her health and happiness.

If you know a family in this situation, the greatest gift you could offer is your time and support, says Moseley. Even small gestures help lighten the load and energize weary parents. “Families probably won’t ask for it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it,” says Moseley. “And for a medically fragile child going through the struggle of their life, anything you can do to brighten 26 WNY Family April 2022

Moseley’s daughter RayAnn is one such child. Now a thriving teenager, RayAnn spent many years severely ill and hovering near death. After being diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy since birth, she began experiencing a drastic increase in her seizure activity and was hospitalized many times with status epilepticus — when seizures follow one another without recovery of consciousness in between.

“During RayAnn’s most difficult years, I was always so grateful for help from others,” observes Moseley. “A small gesture of caring can go a long way to help a family find the balance they need to keep going through hectic periods.” If you’re inspired to support a family in your life with a special needs child, here are some ways to lend a helping hand.

Ask, “How can I help?” The simple act of reaching out and asking, “What can I do?” or “What do you need?” is meaningful in itself — especially since people may feel uncomfortable or unsure of what to say around families

with special needs children. Showing up and offering assistance of any kind will always be appreciated. You may be asked to pick up a few groceries, drive a child to their physical therapy appointment, help repair a broken garage door, or wash some dishes. These are small kindnesses, but they lighten the load for stressed-out and worn-out parents. “This is one easy way to make a difference to a family that might be struggling under the load of responsibilities they face each day,” says Moseley. “By offering, you are making it clear that you are their ally. And if you catch them off guard with your offer, let them know that they can think about it for a few days and that you will check back in to ask again. Then, be sure to follow up.”

Deliver a meal. A hot meal can make all the difference to a rushed and frazzled family. Choose a time when you will already be preparing a meal and make extra amounts of each dish. Package it all up along with a bottle of sparkling cider and deliver it to the family’s home. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be homemade to be special and very appreciated; a bucket of chicken and a few sides from a restaurant or grocery store is always a big hit as well!

Include them. “Families with a medically fragile child are busy, but they still want to be invited to attend neighborhood potlucks, parties, and other events,” says Moseley.


“Keep inviting them to things. They will miss events when they need to but will attend others and always welcome the chance to have fun and socialize. “Be sure to include the child as well,” she adds. “Children with disabilities or medical conditions still want to be invited to parties and on playdates. They need friends and a social life.”

“Parents also need kid-free time to shop for groceries and take care of other necessities,” adds Moseley. “Luckily my mother could sometimes step in and watch RayAnn so I could run some errands, but not every family has this resource. Offering to pick up the kids from school and entertain them for a few hours gives parents time to get things done.”

Treat parents to a night out

Don’t forget about siblings.

(for a date, or grocery shopping, or anything else!).

Having a child with special needs can place strain on a marriage (about 22 percent of parents of kids with disabilities divorce), and parents need to make time to nurture the relationship. Volunteer to come by and babysit all the children in the household so parents can have a longoverdue evening to themselves. Gather up your own kids too, and head over with some kid-friendly movies, board games, and ingredients for homemade cookies or s’mores. Be sure to offer up this very generous gift ASAP so parents can get dinner reservations or order tickets to a concert or movie in advance.

Caring for a differently abled child can be a full-time job for the whole family, and despite everyone’s best efforts, siblings may sometimes feel neglected, jealous of the attention their brother or sister receives, or resentful that they must help out in their daily care. So, volunteer to take the siblings out on a special “kids date.” You can take them to a museum or aquarium, or go ice skating, or go see a movie together. (A siblings outing may be best in situations when the medically fragile child is occupied with other activities. Work with the parents to ensure that they do not feel excluded!) “It takes real courage to reach out and offer help to special needs parents

— especially if you’re unsure of how the parents will react to your offer,” says Moseley. “You may worry that you’re intruding or crossing an inappropriate boundary, but this is usually not the case. Push past the momentary discomfort and let a family know you see them and that you would love to help. This selfless gift can help a family achieve the elusive balance that allows them to reach new milestones and raise a thriving child. And that is a gift worth giving, every time.” Holley Moseley is the author of “A Ray of Hope: A Mother’s Story of Love, Healing, and the Miracle of Medical Marijuana.” A University of South Alabama graduate, she has over 14 years of nursing experience, specializing in pediatrics and clinical research. She worked as the executive director for the Epilepsy Society of Northwest Florida and continues to be a dedicated advocate for epilepsy awareness. Holley was instrumental in passing the first cannabis legislation in the state of Florida, known as the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014. She lives with her husband and three children in Gulf Breeze, Florida. For more information visit www.arayofhopebook.com.

April 2022 WNY Family 27


How to Help Kids Talk About Learning Disabilities

Sometimes opening up about learning differently is hard, but with practice, the rewards can be huge

I

— by Rae Jacobson learn differently.”

Three small words that can make a world of difference for kids like me who grew up struggling with learning issues. Sounds Wrong.

simple

enough,

right?

If your child has a learning disability, getting her help — working with the school to get an effective IEP — is the first thing on your mind. But helping her get comfortable talking about it is also important. And for a lot of kids, opening up isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Why Your Child Needs to Speak Up Without context, the symptoms of LD can look like laziness or disobedience, and, more often than not, that means kids find themselves being disciplined rather than helped. I have ADHD and dyscalculia ( a learning disability that makes it hard to learn math). As a kid I was dreamy, disorganized, and really (really) bad at math. I doodled during class and regularly missed homework assignments. On the other hand, I was also smart, talkative, and good at writing. The discrepancy made my weaknesses seem willful. “I was in trouble all the time,” agrees Kaitlin, a 16-year-old high school student with ADHD and auditory processing issues. “I was afraid to tell them what was going on with me, so they just thought I was a bad student. It seemed like I didn’t care about doing well, which wasn’t true.” 28 WNY Family April 2022

Kaitlin’s mother was working with the school to get her the accommodations she needed, but Kaitlin was still uncomfortable talking about her learning disability. “It took time for me to open up, but in my second semester of 9th grade I started telling my teachers that I had learning difficulties and right away things got a lot better,” she says. “For the first time, they saw that I really was trying, even if it didn’t always seem that way, and I got the help I needed.”

How to Help Kids Open Up When you’re a kid who’s struggling to stay afloat, drawing attention to yourself can feel scary. If your child is reluctant to open up about her learning needs, doing a little groundwork at home can help get the conversation started. Assess readiness: Some kids, especially younger ones, might not be ready to speak up, and that’s okay! You can model good advocacy skills by talking with your child (and letting her see you talk to others) about learning differences frankly and comfortably. Ask and listen: If your child is uncomfortable talking to others about her learning issues, have a talk about what’s bothering her. She may be feeling embarrassed or ashamed of being “different.” Take this as an opportunity to reassure her and talk through her fears or doubts. She’ll feel better and you’ll have the information you need to support her emotionally, as well as academically.

What to Say to Teachers: Once your child is feeling comfortable and you’re confident she’s got a strong understanding of her LD, help her get her message across clearly with these pointers: Name your LD. Even though teachers should have the information, it’s good for a child to get in the habit of naming her learning difference — for example, “I have auditory processing disorder” — so there is no confusion. Be specific. Not all kids with learning issues are the same, so encourage your child to spell out the ways her LD affects her personally: “It’s hard for me to hear when there’s a lot of background noise, so sometimes I miss parts of the lecture.” Knowing what has worked for her in the past — and what hasn’t — will give teachers a head start on providing the best support. Talk about strengths, too. Encourage your child not to just recite a list of things she’s “bad” at, but to talk about things she’s good at, too, and her interests. This will not only boost her self-esteem, it will help the teacher place her in activities that allow her to demonstrate her strengths. Express enthusiasm. Sometimes learning issues can make it hard for others to see how passionate kids are about succeeding in school. Expressing enthusiasm and interest in doing well will help your child turn her teachers into allies. Tell on yourself. If your child has habits or strategies she uses to manage


her LD that don’t necessarily look like what they are, encourage her to let the teacher know. For example: I pay attention best when my hands are occupied, so I used to draw all through class. I heard every word, but to my teachers I looked disinterested and bored. Once I learned to let teachers know why I was doodling, they knew I was paying attention, even if it didn’t always look like it. Test drive: When she feels ready, go over what she’s going to say a few times at home. This way you can be sure she’s sharing useful information and give her a chance to practice in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Provide back up. Talk to her about how she’ll handle situations that are less than perfect. And if she’s not getting the accommodations she is entitled to, agree that she’ll tell you about it right away. This way you can provide comforting, positive feedback, and make a time to talk with the teacher and the administration if you need to. Start small. If she’s feeling nervous, encourage her to pick one person she feels comfortable with — a favorite teacher, camp counselor, or even a family friend, as a “test” candidate she can practice on.

Help Your Child Talk to Peers, Too “I didn’t really learn to talk about my ADHD until college,” says Lauren, who struggled with learning issues throughout middle and high school. Looking back, she feels strongly that finally having a community of LD/ADHD-friendly peers was what helped her to open up. “I ended up at a school where other students had learning issues and talked about them!” she says. “For the first time I had friends who spoke openly about having LDs. Finding out I wasn’t alone made me feel more comfortable talking about my ADHD. Now I’m more forthcoming. It’s almost like a disclaimer: ‘You’ll have to be ok with this part of me if you want to be my friend.’” For many kids who struggle with the stigma of learning differently, finding out that other kids they like and respect also struggle with learning issues boosts self-esteem and helps bust stigma. It was huge for me. We all have, somewhere, a list of things we wish we could tell our younger selves. It’s going to be okay. You don’t have to change to fit in. Your hair looks great. I promise! But if I had to pick just one thing to tell my past self it would be this: Speak up about your learning issues. Do it loudly and often. Don’t be scared. You won’t be sorry. As a parent though, you don’t need to be a time traveler to help your kids develop the confidence to advocate for themselves. Just pass the message on. You’ll be giving them the tools they need for a brighter, better future.

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www.thepracticebuffalo.com April 2022 WNY Family 29


head toward a new sound and repeating sounds (like “ooh” and “aah”) By 12 months, making babbling sounds, responding to their name, imitating words, and saying a few words such as “mama” or “byebye”

As your child gets older, signs of hearing loss may include:  

What is Hearing Loss?

K

ids who have hearing loss, or hearing impairment, have trouble hearing or understanding some or all sounds. This can happen when there is a problem with:   

One or more parts of the ears The nerves that send sound signals from the ears to the brain The part of the brain that makes sense of these signals

What Are the Types of Hearing Loss? Types of hearing loss include:

Conductive Hearing Loss This is caused by something that blocks sound from traveling to the inner ear. Ear infections, ear wax buildup, and problems with the tiny bones of the middle ear are common causes of this type of hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL) This happens when the inner ear (cochlea) or hearing nerves are damaged. SNHL may run in families, be part of a genetic syndrome, or be caused by certain infections or medicines that damage the inner ear or nerves.

Mixed Hearing Loss Mixed hearing loss is when a person has both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Central Hearing Loss This happens when there is damage to the part of the brain that controls hearing.

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) This is when the ears and brain don’t work well together. Kids with 30 WNY Family April 2022

APD have normal hearing but something interferes with the way the brain recognizes and makes sense of sounds, especially speech.

What Causes Hearing Loss? Many things can lead to hearing loss, but often, no cause is found. Hearing loss is more likely if a child: 

 

 

Has birth defects of the ears or family members with childhood hearing loss Was born early and/or stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) Had newborn jaundice with a bilirubin level high enough to need a blood transfusion Had many ear infections, a perforated ear drum, or was exposed to loud sounds Has an infection like meningitis or cytomegalovirus Was given medicines that can lead to hearing loss

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Hearing Loss? It can be hard to tell if a child has hearing loss, especially in young children. Those with hearing loss may not respond to sounds or speech. Language development may be delayed. Talk to the doctor if your child does not reach these hearing milestones in the first year of life:   

For newborns, startling or “jumping” to sudden loud noises By 3 months, recognizing a parent’s voice By 6 months, turning the eyes or

  

Not seeming to pay attention or follow directions Not responding to conversationlevel speech or answering inappropriately Being easily frustrated when there’s a lot of background noise Needing a higher TV volume Learning problems

Some hearing problems come on gradually after birth or show up later in life. If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, talk to your doctor. Your child may need to see a hearing specialist called an audiologist for a complete hearing evaluation.

How is Hearing Loss Diagnosed? It’s best to catch hearing problems early, because treatment is more successful if it starts before a child is 6 months old. That’s why every newborn has a hearing screening test before leaving the hospital. If your baby doesn’t have a screening before going home, or was born at home or a birthing center, get their hearing checked within the first 3 weeks of life. Not passing a hearing screening doesn’t mean a baby has hearing loss, but it does mean that the baby should be retested as soon as possible, ideally within a month of birth. If hearing loss is found, then treatment should begin right away. Kids with typical hearing should continue having their hearing checked at their regular checkups. Hearing screening tests are usually done at ages 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 years, and during preteen and teen years. The doctor will also check hearing any other time there’s a concern.

How is Hearing Loss Treated? Treatment depends on the type of hearing loss, what caused it, and how


bad the hearing loss is. Children with permanent hearing loss should be seen by a team of specialists that includes an audiologist, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor, speech-language therapist, and education specialist. Medical treatments, therapy, and surgery can help kids with some kinds of hearing loss. These include:

Hearing Aids: Hearing aids make sounds louder. Babies with permanent hearing loss who get hearing aids before 6 months of age have a better chance of improving their language development. No single style or manufacturer is best for every child. Your audiologist will help you choose a hearing aid based on your child’s needs. Most kids with hearing loss in both ears wear two hearing aids. Frequency modulation (FM) systems: An FM system helps

reduce background noise and makes a speaker’s voice louder. The person talking (like a teacher) wears a tiny microphone and transmitter. The transmitter sends an electrical signal to a wireless

receiver that the child wears either on the ear or directly in a hearing aid. It’s portable and can also be used at home or other places where there is a lot of background noise.

Cochlear Implants may help children with severe hearing loss when a hearing aid can’t. This surgically placed device bypasses the parts of the ear that are not working properly. It stimulates the hearing nerve directly. With training and therapy, kids with a cochlear implant can learn to hear and speak well. Hearing rehabilitation helps children born with hearing loss learn how to listen and communicate. This may include auditory-verbal therapy (AVT), speech therapy, speech (lip) reading, or learning American Sign Language (ASL). Your audiologist and doctor will work with you and your child to find the best way for your child to communicate. Kids who lose their hearing when they are older also learn these communication techniques through what’s called hearing rehabilitation.

What Else Should I Know?

Even mild hearing loss can cause problems with speech, language, learning, and social skills. That’s why babies and toddlers with hearing impairment should be enrolled in early intervention, a service that offers free therapy in each state to children who qualify. Older kids may qualify for special education services once in school. Getting this help early is the best way to prevent delays and improve a child’s development. You can also find more information and support online at: CDC: Hearing Loss in Children https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/ hearingloss/treatment.html American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/ support-services-for-children/ Information provided by KidsHealth.org from Nemours Children’s Health. © 1995-2021. The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth®. Reprinted following guidelines.

April 2022 WNY Family 31


Social Challenges of Kids with Learning Problems Learning problems can affect not just school but communicating and connecting with other kids — by Caroline Miller

W

hen we think of children with learning challenges, we think of difficulty with reading or math, with being organized, with paying attention and staying focused in school. But many students with learning and attention disorders also have social and communication problems. They have trouble connecting with other kids, making friends and understanding what’s expected of them in social situations. Some of them miss social cues, and misinterpret body language and tone of voice. Kids with learning disabilities may talk too much, or at the wrong time, or say things that are inappropriate. Some are stiff in conversation, have trouble expressing themselves and miss the point of a lot of humor. They don’t “get” things that seem to come effortlessly to other kids. They may have trouble understanding what’s happening in a group, and finding a way of fitting in. For children and teenagers, being “just a little off” in their social behavior can easily trigger rejection by their hyperaware peers, and make them targets of teasing and bullying. Sometimes young children with social awkwardness or deficits are misdiagnosed with autism because these behaviors are one component of an autism diagnosis. 32 WNY Family April 2022

Diagnosis A specific set of signs and symptoms that together define a disorder. For psychiatric disorders, the criteria are based on standards established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). But it’s important to recognize that these behaviors occur in a lot of kids who aren’t on the spectrum, too. “Most kids with learning problems have social dimensions to their problems,” observes Scott Bezsylko, the executive director of Winston Preparatory School, which specializes in teaching children with learning challenges. What causes these social and communication difficulties, and why do kids with ADHD and learning disorders have them?

The Cognitive Process To understand the link between learning problems and social difficulties, it helps to think about the cognitive (relating to conscious intellectual activity such as intellectual capacity, perception, judgment, memory, and reasoning) process that has to occur in a successful social interaction A social interaction involves being presented with some new information or situation that calls for a response. We tend to think of those interactions as intuitive and instantaneous — you just

know how to respond appropriately without thinking about it, notes Bezsylko. But it’s actually a multi-step cognitive process. You have to understand what’s been said, organize your thoughts about it, prioritize the response you want to give, retrieve the words to express it. If that description seems too cumbersome for something that happens in an instant for most people, Bezsylko suggests thinking of it as comparable to a math problem. Someone very good at solving multistep math problems can do one in her head automatically. Others of us might have to work through the steps sequentially. Similarly, if we break down those “instantaneous” social interactions into a set of steps, most of us are pretty good at performing those steps at lightning speed. But kids with social and communication problems can get caught up on some part of that cognitive process. This doesn’t reflect on their intelligence, but on specific learning skills that they can’t access automatically. “Yes, there are people who understand things quickly and easily and rapidly,” notes Bezsylko, “but that isn’t the only way that understanding can happen. Understanding can happen step by step.” The part of the process presenting a stumbling block may be different for different kids. When you see children who struggle to connect with other kids, or to respond appropriately in social situations, their behavior may be superficially similar, but represent different underlying causes. A child might have trouble: • • •

Comprehending the new information or situation Organizing the information into the desired response Retrieving language to express that response

Problems with Comprehension Kids who have trouble with comprehension of social information include those with what we call non-verbal learning disorder. These kids have trouble picking up on social patterns and


don’t intuitively recognize the rules of social scenarios, whether it’s a group of people they’re joining, a greeting they need to respond to or a joke that eludes them. They aren’t able to fit it into a pattern that tells them what kind of behavior is expected. The good news is that kids who struggle with nonverbal learning tend to be good at rote learning, Bezsylko says. That means you can teach them the patterns they’re missing. For instance, kids who have difficulty recognizing what facial expressions go with what emotions can be taught to match expressions with what they convey. They can practice until it becomes easy, but it will always be mechanical, instead of effortless. When a student at Winston Prep has had a negative social interaction, his teacher will help him do a post-mortem, breaking it down to help the student see what happened, and what part of the sequence he is having problems with or can learn to do differently next time.

Problems with Organization Kids who have problems with executive functions, including those with an ADHD diagnosis, may comprehend the information they’re trying to respond to but have trouble organizing or prioritizing it. They may not choose the right stimuli to respond to — putting aside the question from the teacher, for example, and paying attention to the whispered comment from a classmate instead. Or they satisfy the impulse to say something rude because their brains are not pointing out that the consequences will not be good. When these kids have a history of ignoring authority figures or blurting out something unacceptable, they get a lot of negative feedback. “The narrative about themselves becomes that they are always doing the wrong thing,” says Bezsylko, “that they’re not smart, but impulsive and socially inept. It doesn’t have to be this way.” These kids are not socially clueless; they just don’t necessarily make the right choices of which cues to respond to, or how to organize their response effectively. Self-regulation, or effective management of their own behavior, is something they need to work on. At Winston Prep the goal is to get kids to understand how their weakness in executive functions affects their ability to connect with other kids just as much as their ability to do multi-step math problems. The goal is to help students become resilient and open to feedback when they make mistakes, Bezsylko notes. “We might say to a student, ‘You made a bad decision that caused a negative reaction from your classmate, and your response was to withdraw.’ We need to teach them what self-regulation looks like, when it’s done well, and how to achieve it.” Working on self-regulation in the same way that you work on math or reading comprehension is a project that kids can see as constructive, Bezsylko adds. But only if it’s presented that way, and not as: “You’re so disorganized! You need to pay attention!” continued on page 45 April 2022 WNY Family 33


This affects kids’ ability to comprehend reading, and write or tell a story effectively.

What is Non-Verbal Learning Disorder?

If also affects taking notes. Bezsylko observed that some kids essentially take down everything the teacher says because they don’t know what’s important and what not to take down. Other kids don’t know what’s important so they take down nothing, and people think they aren’t paying attention. Or they take down all the wrong things.

— by Caroline Miller

3) Social Communication

Difficulty picking up concepts and patterns affects kids visually, socially and academically

A

learning disorder is characterized by difficulty in learning primary skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. When we think of learning disorders, we tend to think of dyslexia, which is a learning disorder that interferes with an individual’s ability to read, and other disorders involving language — that is, kids who have trouble decoding language and learning to read. But there is another, less well-known type of learning disorder that’s not about verbal communication — hence it’s called “non-verbal learning disorder.” You’ll see it referred to as NVLD or NLD. It isn’t an official diagnosis like ADHD or autism — in fact, many kids who have non-verbal learning challenges have those diagnoses. But experts say focusing on NLD explains what’s happening with kids — and how to help them learn — better than those diagnoses.

Recognizing NLD Patterns Kids who have NLD do not have trouble decoding language, reading, or learning information in a rote way. As Scott Bezsylko, executive director of Winston Preparatory School which has taken the leading role in working with students with the disorder, puts it, “Think of it as the opposite of dyslexia.” The problems these kids have involve, he says, all the other kinds of learning. “All the stuff that involves understanding information — relationships, concepts, ideas, patterns.” These deficits — all things related to 34 WNY Family April 2022

the right hemisphere of the brain — can affect a child’s ability to do a surprising variety of things. Physical coordination, social interaction, problem solving, organizing thoughts, planning — all these things can be challenging. They seem very different, but the unifying theme is that each requires the ability to recognize patterns or concepts and then apply them to new situations.

The Five Areas of NLD There are five areas in which children with NLD show weakness. Not all children have weaknesses in all areas. 1) Visual and Spatial Awareness — Many kids with NLD have trouble understanding visual imagery. For example, when they are asked to copy a shape like a cube, they produce “profound distortions,” says Bezsylko. “These kids can’t accurately perceive the cube, the forms that make up the cube, and the relationships between them. Hence they can’t copy it.” They also have difficulty evaluating visual-spatial information. This means they have trouble grasping the relationships between things they see and having a clear sense of where they are. This can make them physically awkward. 2) Higher-Order Comprehension — Higher-order comprehension is the ability to identify the main idea in something, the details that support the main idea, and the relationships among them.

Most kids with non-verbal learning disorders have trouble reading emotion in facial cues and body language, so they often don’t know what’s going on in social interactions. They miss social patterns that other kids pick up automatically, so they don’t know what’s appropriate behavior in a given situation. Difficulties with social communication is one reason why kids with NLD often focus — sometimes obsessively — on technology. “In chat rooms or in a video game they don’t have to deal with all the nonverbal stuff,” Bezsylko notes. 4) Math Concepts Many kids with NLD are very good at rote learning, and they are able to do well in math just by memorizing data. But as they get older, they struggle to solve more advanced mathematical problems that are based on recognizing concepts and patterns. Even with a problem they’ve seen before, if it’s approached differently or modified slightly, they have trouble recognizing it. 5) Executive Functions Executive functions are a set of skills we use to organize our thinking, plan and carry out actions, and figure out how to solve problems. Mos kids with NLD have weaknesses in these organizing and planning functions. For instance, they struggle with breaking down a project into smaller pieces, or conceiving steps that need to be taken to get something done. “These kids have trouble figuring things out — in fact they really don’t know what figuring something out means,” Bezsylko says. “We have to help them learn to do that — the step-by-step process you go through.”


How do these deficits manifest in kids with NLD? In addition to the different combinations of symptoms, kids with NLD also vary along a spectrum of severity. On the one hand, there are kids who are extremely highfunctioning but socially awkward, a little clumsy, disorganized — what Bezsylko calls “the absent-minded professor type.” Other kids are more pervasively affected, and they function with more difficulty in many areas. “These kids often struggle to learn everything that isn’t rote or literal.” At Winston Prep, a study of more than 100 students with NLD showed that there were 6 combinations of the 5 deficits. The largest group had all five of the deficits, but the second largest group had just two: social communication and executive functions. Do You Have Concerns About How Your Child is Developing and Learning?

When do these deficits become noticeable?

We Can Help!

Many kids with NLD symptoms can do well enough in elementary school because they are very good at memorization and rote learning. It’s common for them to run into trouble around middle school, when their difficulty with the higher order reasoning — figuring out the main idea, the details, and the relationships — causes them to fall behind. “There’s a saying that in fifth grade you stop learning to read, and now you read to learn,” notes Bezsylko, “and that’s when these kids fall apart.” “Almost all of these kids look inattentive and disorganized,” Bezsylko adds, “especially as they get older. The more that schoolwork, math concepts, and socialization become complex rather than rote, the more those difficulties start to show up.”

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For instance, if a child is disorganized and inattentive, he is likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. But he may well be disorganized and inattentive because he doesn’t understand what’s being discussed, what he reads, or the problem he’s been asked to solve. That’s where NLD comes in. “You can’t pay attention if you can’t understand,” notes Bezsylko. Similarly, a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder will be described as having social and communication deficits. Those behaviors, too, can reflect NLD — not being able to recognize patterns in facial expression, body language, and other forms of nonverbal communication can make kids unresponsive socially. Take the kids in the Winston Prep study who had all five of the deficits. Most of them had a diagnosis of either ADHD or autism spectrum disorder. “But those diagnoses don’t identify three important areas where they are struggling,” notes Bezsylko, “higher-order comprehension, math concepts, and visual and spatial relations. Unless their NLD is recognized, they are not likely to get help that strengthens or compensates for weaknesses in those core areas.”

Hurd igh

les

NLD is not one of the official diagnoses mental health professionals and schools use to categorize kids with psychiatric or learning problems. Kids who have it usually have other diagnoses — often autism or ADHD. But while those diagnoses list their symptoms or behaviors, they don’t fully explain them, argues Bezsylko.

H

A More Comprehensive Diagnosis

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A

People with autism will have breakdowns from time to time. And they shouldn’t

s humans, many of us live in our own little world. So, it’s completely normal that what might make sense to us doesn’t always make sense to others. It’s also very hard and sometimes uncomfortable to take ourselves out of that world we’ve grown accustomed to. As someone who has lived with autism my whole life, I can attest to the fact that many people don’t understand what it means to be on the spectrum. 

feel bad about it. Sometimes it’s the only way to express that we have reached our breaking point. I finally started to get real help after my first real freak out. Please don’t shame someone for breaking down. Those of us with autism are already our own worst critics. We don’t need you to make us feel worse about ourselves.

Having a kid with autism is not the end of the world. Here’s

Autism can be an advantage. Sure, there 

the thing about autism, no one with Here’s What People Need autism is the same, just like everyto Understand About one on earth, no two are alike. So, if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Each individual with autism has their own quirks and own way of dealing with their situation.

If someone is diagnosed with autism, it doesn’t change a single thing about them. They are still the same person, and we all have our own strengths, weaknesses, and individual traits. A diagnosis might just help them understand why they think the way they do. 

You can’t see autism. It’s im-

portant to remember that you also can’t see autism. When you are autistic, people look at you and think “I don’t see anything wrong with you.” It’s hard to have a disability that no one can see, like a broken leg. People might make assumptions about you that aren’t true. Try not to judge anyone, whether you suspect they have autism or not. It’s important to get to know people and not jump to conclusions. 

Autistic kids take things very literally. For example, in

36 WNY Family April 2022

AUTISM — by Alexandra Adlawan

elementary school, when my teachers told me I couldn’t leave if I didn’t finish my work, I thought I would have to stay there late into the night. It terrified me. Choose your words carefully when talking to an autistic child or any kid; they might take what you say too seriously. 

Do not yell at or raise your voice with an autistic child. Rather than getting our attention, it will shut us down. If you raise your voice, we won’t respond favorably. Most of us have a hard time identifying emotions in others and interpret loud voices as anger.

Instead, talk to us slowly and clearly, but not like the way you would talk to a 3-year-old. We might process information differently, but we are quite intelligent.

are situations where autism is a disadvantage, but it can be the opposite. People with autism tend to focus their attention and energy into one thing. For me, those things are my art and whatever TV show or movie I’m obsessed with at the time. When it comes to autistic people and our passions, we are dedicated, determined, and hard working.

Don’t try to take an autistic person away from their passion. It’s a losing battle and why would you even want to? My parents nurtured my talent for art, and now I’m a published author and illustrator.

It’s Important to Accept Everyone At the end of the day, we are all unique humans interacting with each other. There will always be people that you click with and those that you just don’t get along with. One thing that has always annoyed me is how autistic people are taught how to act like “normal human beings” while the neuro-typical aren’t taught how to interact with us. Or to act nicely with anyone at all. What if we all just tried harder to be ourselves and to be good people?


I remember how hard it was to talk to my parents about my problems because I didn’t want to worry them. Looking back, it’s funny to me how I was so scared of upsetting others while I was falling apart inside. I know how hard it is to say how you’re feeling and to say it in a way that gets your point across.

“And now I know it is perfectly natural for me not to look at someone when I talk. Those of us with Asperger’s are just not comfortable doing it. In fact, I don’t really understand why it’s considered normal to stare at someone’s eyeballs.

With that said, I’d like to leave you with a couple of inspiring quotes I enjoy that puts things in perspective:

– John Elder Robison

“What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.” – Temple Grandin, The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism & Asperger’s

Alexandra Adlawan, diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum at age 15, is a writer and illustrator from Long Beach, California, and creator of the Amazing Artists publishing company. A naturally gifted visual arts and written word communicator in reaching children, Alexandra enhanced her skill set by graduating from a professional digital arts and animation studio for artists with autism. Alexandra’s children’s book series includes The Adventures of Maddie and Albert, Wild Imagination, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Flying the Imaginary Skies, and the forthcoming, Backyard Jungle.

April 2022 WNY Family 37


YOU ARE NOT ALONE continued... there would be programs, there would be progress, and there would be help of many kinds and from many sources. And he was the father of a boy with intellectual disabilities. My first recommendation is to try to find another parent of a child with a disability, preferably one who has chosen to be a parent helper, and seek his or her assistance. All over the United States and over the world, there are Parent To Parent Programs (https://www.p2pusa. org/). Each State also has a Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) (find yours at https://www.parentcenterhub. org/find-your-center/) and many have a Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC). PTIs and CPRCs can put you in touch with parents and parent groups locally, and connect you with resources in your State.

Talk with Your Mate, Family, and Significant Others Over the years, I have discovered that many parents don’t communicate their feelings regarding the problems their children have. One spouse is often concerned about not being a source of strength for the other mate. The more couples can communicate at difficult

times like these, the greater their collective strength. Understand that you each approach your roles as parents differently. How you will feel and respond to this new challenge may not be the same. Try to explain to each other how you feel; try to understand when you don’t see things the same way. If there are other children, talk with them, too. Be aware of their needs. If you are not emotionally capable of talking with your children or seeing to their emotional needs at this time, identify others within your family structure who can establish a special communicative bond with them. Talk with significant others in your life — your best friend, your own parents. For many people, the temptation to close up emotionally is great at this point, but it can be so beneficial to have reliable friends and relatives who can help to carry the emotional burden.

Rely on Positive Sources in Your Life One positive source of strength and wisdom might be your minister, priest, or rabbi. Another may be a good friend or a counselor. Go to those who have been a strength before in your life. Find the new sources that you need now. A very fine counselor once gave me a recipe for living through a crisis: “Each morning, when you arise, recognize your powerlessness over the situation at hand, turn this problem over to God, as you understand Him, and begin your day.” Whenever your feelings are painful, you must reach out and contact someone. Call or write or get into your car and contact a real person who will talk with you and share that pain. Pain divided is not nearly so hard to bear as is pain in isolation. Sometimes professional counseling is warranted; if you feel that this might help you, do not be reluctant to seek this avenue of assistance.

Take One Day at a Time 38 WNY Family April 2022

Fears of the future can immobilize one. Living with the reality

of the day which is at hand is made more manageable if we throw out the “what if’s” and “what then’s” of the future. Even though it may not seem possible, good things will continue to happen each day. Worrying about the future will only deplete your limited resources. You have enough to focus on; get through each day, one step at a time.

Learn the Terminology When you are introduced to new terminology, you should not be hesitant to ask what it means. Whenever someone uses a word that you don’t understand, stop the conversation for a minute and ask the person to explain the word.

Seek Information Some parents seek virtually “tons” of information; others are not so persistent. The important thing is that you request accurate information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because asking questions will be your first step in beginning to understand more about your child. Learning how to formulate questions is an art that will make life a lot easier for you in the future. A good method is to write down your questions before entering appointments or meetings, and to write down further questions as you think of them during the meeting. Get written copies of all documentation from physicians, teachers, and therapists regarding your child. It is a good idea to buy a three-ring notebook in which to save all information that is given to you. In the future, there will be many uses for information that you have recorded and filed; keep it in a safe place. Again, remember always to ask for copies of evaluations, diagnostic reports, and progress reports. If you are not a naturally organized person, just get a box and throw all the paperwork in it. Then when you really need it, it will be there.

Do Not Be Intimidated Many parents feel inadequate in the presence of people from the medical or educational professions because of their credentials and, sometimes, because of their professional manner. Do not be


intimidated by the educational backgrounds of these and other personnel who may be involved in treating or helping your child. You do not have to apologize for wanting to know what is occurring. Do not be concerned that you are being a bother or are asking too many questions. Remember, this is your child, and the situation has a profound effect on your life and on your child’s future. Therefore, it is important that you learn as much as you can about your situation.

Do Not Be Afraid to Show Emotion So many parents, especially dads, repress their emotions because they believe it to be a sign of weakness to let people know how they are feeling. The strongest fathers of children with disabilities whom I know are not afraid to show their emotions. They understand that revealing feelings does not diminish one’s strength.

Learn to Deal with Natural Feelings of Bitterness and Anger Feelings of bitterness and anger are inevitable when you realize that you must revise the hopes and dreams you originally had for your child. It is very valuable to recognize your anger and to learn to let go of it. You may need outside help to do this. It may not feel like it, but life will get better and the day will come when you will feel positive again. By acknowledging and working through your negative feelings, you will be better equipped to meet new challenges, and bitterness and anger will no longer drain your energies and initiative.

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Maintain a Positive Outlook A positive attitude will be one of your genuinely valuable tools for dealing with problems. There is, truly, always a positive side to whatever is occurring. For example, when my child was found to have a disability, one of the other things pointed out to me was that she was a very healthy child. She still is. The fact that she has had no physical imcontinued on page 44 April 2022 WNY Family 39


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Keep in Touch with Reality To stay in touch with reality is to accept life the way it is. To stay in touch with reality is also to recognize that there are some things that we can change and other things that we cannot change. The task for all of us is learning which things we can change and then set about doing that.

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Remember That Time Is on Your Side Time heals many wounds. This does not mean that living with and raising a child who has problems will be easy, but it is fair to say that, as time passes, a great deal can be done to alleviate the problem. Therefore, time does help!

Find Programs for Your Child Even for those living in isolated areas of the country, assistance is available to help you with whatever problems you are having. Your state’s Parent Training and Information Center can connect you with folks who can help you get started in gaining the information and assistance you need. While finding programs for your child with a disability, keep in mind that programs are also available for the rest of your family.

Take Care of Yourself In times of stress, each person reacts in his or her own way. A few universal recommendations may help: Get sufficient rest; eat as well as you can; take time for yourself; reach out to others for emotional support.

Avoid Pity Self-pity, the experience of pity from others, or pity for your child is actually disabling. Pity is not what is needed. Empathy, which is the ability to feel with another person, is the attitude to be encouraged.

Decide How to Deal With Others During this period, you may feel saddened by or angry about the way people are reacting to you or your child. Many people’s reactions to serious problems are caused by a lack of understanding, simply not knowing what to say, or fear of the unknown. Understand that many people don’t know how to behave when they see a child with differences, and they may react inappropriately. Think about and decide how you want to deal with stares or questions. Try not to use too much energy being concerned about people who are not able to respond in ways you might prefer.

Keep Daily Routines as Normal as Possible My mother once told me, “When a problem arises and you don’t know what to do, then you do whatever it was that you were going to do anyway.” Practicing this habit seems to produce some normalcy and consistency when life becomes hectic.

Remember That This is Your Child This person is your child, first and foremost. Your child’s development may be different from that of other children, but this does not make your child less valuable, less human, less important, or in less need of your love and parenting. Love and enjoy your child. The child comes first; the disability comes second. If you can relax and take the positive steps just outlined, one at a time, you will do the best you can, your child will benefit, and you can look forward to the future with hope.

Recognize That You Are Not Alone The feeling of isolation at the time of diagnosis is almost universal among parents. In this article, there are many recommendations to help you handle feelings of separateness and isolation. It helps to know that these feelings have been experienced by many, many others, that understanding and constructive help are available to you and your child, and that you are not alone. Source: https://www.parentcenterhub.org


SOCIAL CHALLENGES OF KIDS continued...

Problems Retrieving Language For kids with dyslexia, the problem usually doesn’t lie in reading non-verbal signs or understanding social interactions and knowing how to respond appropriately — they may be very good at those things. But because basic decoding of language and following multistep prompts is not effortless for them, they may have trouble with rapid word retrieval. This affects them not only when they’re reading and writing but also when they’re speaking. Their speaking vocabulary isn’t as well-developed as well as it might be, and their oral expression may be inexact and quirky because of trouble retrieving words, or saying the wrong word. “As a result, their ability to transact in language is compromised,” Bezsylko explains. While they might be good at the non-verbal dimension, as socializing becomes more and more verbal, they may come across as unsophisticated, or immature, or just somehow “not quite with-it” to their peers. Bezsylko has seen kids who fit this profile bullied at their former schools because of their social awkwardness. “Even if the language issues of dyslexia (a learning disorder that interferes with an individual’s ability to read) do not directly impact socialization,” he notes, “it can still cause diminished self-confidence in ways that require teachers to rebuild skills like resilience and self- advocacy.”

Lack of Confidence

Self-confidence can be an issue for kids without any developmental problems at all, of course. But by the time children with serious barriers to learning have struggled through several grades where the main focus is on mastering reading and writing, their self-esteem can be severely damaged. If they haven’t been diagnosed, they have probably been accused of not trying hard enough to learn — or to keep track of their backpacks or finish their

assignments — and they have surely begun to worry that they’re not as smart as other kids. Many children with ADHD or dyslexia (or both) try to hide their struggles, working extra hard to keep other kids from seeing that there’s something wrong with them. “Kids who are feeling badly about themselves and ashamed of their failure to master basic skills are going to have trouble interacting with peers,” Bezsylko notes. For these kids, the first step is to help them understand that they are just as smart as other kids, and they can catch up to their peers with the right support. And, of course, the next step is to provide that support, to help kids develop needed skills and strategies to work around the underlying problem so they will have the opportunity to succeed — academically as well as socially. Thinking of awkward social behavior as a function of missing skills also defuses situations where parents, teachers and other adults tend to get upset, making the child’s situation worse.

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We all, as adults, tend to react emotionally when kids aren’t doing what we want them to do socially, Bezsylko notes. “Nobody would ever call somebody a bad kid because he gets a word problem wrong. But if he’s impulsive in class and blurts out something to his teacher, then they may get upset.” In many schools, when there is an emotional confrontation between students and teachers, nobody’s thinking clearly, he adds, which decreases the opportunity for learning. “So, we try to see both the errors and the remediation of those errors as a skill-based rational process,” he says, “rather than sending you to the principal’s office.” This article was developed in collaboration with Winston Preparatory School (https://www.winstonprep.edu/), a New York area school that specializes in working with students with learning disorders. Source: childmind.org/article/social-challenges-kids-learning-problems. April 2022 WNY Family 41


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DEAR TEACHER – by Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts

Helping all parents make their children’s educational experience as successful as possible

Opportunities for Young Teens to Volunteer

Q

uestion: I’m already thinking about summer and what my young teens could do beyond just fun activities. There are some jobs like babysitting and yard work, but beyond this there aren’t too many jobs for children this age. Where are some places that they could do some volunteer activities? — For Volunteering Answer: Volunteering is a worthwhile experience for young teens. It can be an opportunity to explore career paths by stepping into a new environment. There are some summer volunteer opportunities even for young teens in most communities. You can find opportunities for young teens with parks and recreation departments, food banks, soup kitchens, animal shelters, non-profit organizations and local libraries. You and your young teens can easily get an idea of what opportunities exist by searching for “volunteer opportunities for children” online or you can be more specific and search for a specific age. You will find loads of websites with suggestions about things that they can do. Some cities, usually larger ones, have websites that list volunteer opportunities for teens. Besides volunteering in person, there are many opportunities to be an online virtual volunteer. Both of you can explore these opportunities online. There is online tutoring, calling and checking on senior citizens as well as playing online games with them, being a pen pal to younger children, advocating for a cause, starting a fundraiser, and much more. Young teens can also get together with their friends to create items for the

homeless or others in need. They can sew blankets, knit socks, and put together bags of needed items from clothes to food. They can also grocery shop for the house-bound and raise funds for a particular cause. One thing that is great about young teens volunteering is that it starts them on the road to a lifetime of volunteering. Furthermore, studies show that volunteering tends to make them happier and increase their self-confidence and they may even learn some new skills. And in volunteering they get a feeling of satisfaction that they have made a difference by meeting real needs in their community.

Kindergarten Expectations Question: My son did not attend preschool. This fall he will start kindergarten. I have tried to teach him some of the skills that I thought that he would need to be ready for kindergarten. He has been an eager learner and knows how to write his name, knows most of the letters of the alphabet, and can count to 20. What I am wondering is whether he has the readiness skills that the teacher will expect him to have. Is there a checklist that I can use to evaluate his readiness? I want to make sure that he is ready and gets off to a good start in kindergarten. — Ready or Not

a watered-down first grade. The kindergarten readiness checklists all now have an academic element as well as the more traditional social, emotional, and motor skills sections of the past. If you search online for checklists, you will find a great number of lists. However, what you want to find out firstof-all is if your local school district has a checklist. This will be the best checklist for you to use. Another possible source is a state’s readiness checklist. If you want to see if your child is ready to learn to read, visit the readingrockets.org website and search for the “Get Ready to Read Screening Tool.” It is a fast, free, research-based and easy to use screening tool. It is designed specifically for children in the year before they start kindergarten. It only takes parents 10 to 15 minutes to give this test. Be sure to read what to do after using this test. This excellent website also has skillbuilding activities to help children get ready to read as well as animated online games. All are designed to enhance their pre-reading skills. One important thing for you and all parents who are anxious to know if their children are ready for kindergarten is that children this age change rapidly. Skills that they may not yet have acquired this month may be solid in another few months. Just use a checklist as a guidepost for engaging in fun activities with your son to strengthen skills that are not as strong as they should be. Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher. com and to learn more about helping their children succeed in school visit the dearteacher website.

Answer: You are right to be questioning if your child is ready for kindergarten. You want him to be ready to learn from day one. Unfortunately, kindergarten is no longer the milk and cookies and playtime that it once was. In many school districts, it is April 2022 WNY Family 43


Milwaukee Is Famous For More Than Beer!

FAMILY TRAVEL — by Deborah Williams

E

veryone knows who Dr. Fauci is and, not surprisingly, he is the best-selling bobblehead at Milwaukee’s National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum — one of the city’s 17 museums. The museum rates as high among the many unique and fun attractions in Wisconsin’s largest city. This is a city with a sense of humor. Vogue Magazine called Milwaukee “the Midwest’s coolest and most underrated city.” The city boasts both a riverfront bronze statue of Gertie the Duck and a Riverwalk bronze of “The Fonz,” plus a stunning waterfront art museum with “moveable wings” boasting a 217-foot wingspan. Of course, Milwaukee is well known for its cheese, beer, and many breweries. But there is another Milwaukee treat that is glorified by residents and visitors alike. It is frozen custard. The city is known as the “Unofficial Frozen Custard Capital of the World,” with more frozen custard shops per capita than anywhere else on the planet. The city is the birthplace and world headquarters of Harley-Davison. Visitors are warmly welcomed on the Harley campus that includes a lively museum as well as a restaurant and bar. Summer visitors can enjoy expansive sandy beaches. When you imagine a beach vacation you probably don’t imagine Milwaukee but the “third coast” is home to 1,400 acres of beaches and parkland adjacent to Lake 44 WNY Family April 2022

Michigan. Bradford Beach is downtown and the Travel Channel named it one of the top city beaches. Summerfest, known as the Big Gig, is the world’s largest music festival. The festival runs over three weekends (June 23-25, June 30-July 2, and July 7-9) and features more than 1,000 live performances, 12 stages, and attracts more than 900,000 guests every year thanks to the combination of top musical acts and its perfect lakeside location. This is a sports city with major league baseball — Milwaukee Brewers; basketball — Milwaukee Bucks; and indoor soccer — Milwaukee Wave; and outdoor soccer — Milwaukee Torrent. Baseball fans have no worries about rain since the Milwaukee Brewers play rain or shine because of American Family Field’s retractable roof. Harley-Davidson brings worldwide attention and fame to the city where the

company was founded and became an iconic American brand. “People come from all over the world to our campus and museum,” explained Bill Davidson, vice president and great grandson of one of the company’s founders. “It was 1903 when the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle was sold out of a wooden shed that served as our factory.” That wooden shed has been recreated as part of the museum exhibits. The museum is housed in what was once the expanded factory. Much of the museum displays the company’s collection of historic Harleys but there are also exhibits on racing bikes and the Experience Gallery where everyone is invited to sit on a Harley motorcycle and pretend to be a biker. There’s live music on Thursdays May-September. If you have a motorcycle license there are free demo rides during the same months on Saturdays. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum opened three years ago and houses the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads. Mark your calendars: It is too late for this year, but National Bobblehead Day is celebrated on January 7. There are more than 20,000 bobbleheads on display including some local favorites including Josh Allen and Jim Kelly. “The first known bobblehead dates back to 1765 in a famous portrait of Queen Charlotte,” explained Phil Sklar, co-founder, who clearly enjoys sharing his bobblehead tidbits. “There are two Chinese nodding head figures in the background of that painting — what we call bobbleheads today.”


There are 12 different versions of Dr. Fauci in the hall and more than 50,000 of his bobbles have been sold. For the person who has everything, the Bobblehead Museum can even create a personalized bobblehead. A river cruise through downtown along the Milwaukee River to Lake Michigan is a must do for all ages. The three-mile long RiverWalk follows the Milwaukee River through downtown neighborhoods. Our guide pointed out the many cream-colored brick buildings along the river that led to the city’s nickname “Cream City.” If the timing is right, when the tour boat arrives on the lake front you can witness another unique Milwaukee sight. It is the opening and closing of the Burke Brise Soleil, the amazing moveable, wing-like sunscreen that rests on top of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s vaulted, glass-enclosed Windhover Hall. The sunscreen has a wingspan comparable to a Boeing 747400 and its two ultrasonic wind sensors automatically close the wings if the wind speed reaches 23 mph. The wings open at 10 am Tuesday-Sunday and then close and reopen at noon and close again at 5 pm. The art museum is the largest in the state and houses a collection of more than 30,000 works of art and holds one of the largest collections of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe. Along the voyage we got a close-up of a bronze statue of Gertie the Duck who became a city icon back in 1945 when she was discovered nesting on wood pilings under the Wisconsin Avenue bridge. The story of her heroic efforts to hatch her ducklings became an inspiration for many war-weary Americans near the end of World War II. Her story captivated the city, the country and soon became an international story. She was featured in Life Magazine. Children’s books about Gertie were published and a Gertie toy was created. Finally in 1997, the sculpture was installed on the side of the bridge as a memorial to the plucky duck. Nearby is another popular bronze statue along the river. It pays homage to Arthur Fonzarelli aka “Fonzie,” the king of cool from Happy Days, the popular sitcom set in 1950s Milwaukee. Standing five foot six inches just like Henry Winkler, who portrayed the Fonz, this statue attracts many visitors who want to wrap their arms around him or mimic his thumbs-up pose. Everyone wants to take a photo. During the summer there is patio furniture set out so you can lounge with the Fonz by the water. Kayaks are available for rent if you want to paddle yourselves down the river. Fishing is big on Lake Michigan and there are many charter options if you want to get out on the lake. This is a big lake and that means big fish such as steelhead, trout, coho and chinook salmon. The Historic Third Ward area is adjacent to downtown and is bound by the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan. It was originally settled by Irish immigrants and today is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the city’s oldest center of continued on page 58

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bear to leave your phone behind or you don’t feel safe without it, make sure you turn off your notifications so you can enjoy the time, distraction-free. You can use the Focus feature on your iPhone to eliminate pings, calls, and notifications from everyone, except a few key emergency contacts.

RAISING DIGITAL KIDS — by Mike Daugherty

Continuous Partial Attention

If you do need your phone during this time, clearly explain why you are using it. For example, “Let’s use this to look up the ingredients we need for this recipe.” or “We should call Grandma for her opinion.”

Social Media “Office Hours”

S

martphones have revolutionized the way we communicate, do business, exercise, and so much more. It is hard to imagine a world without these amazingly connected, helpful devices, especially in a post pandemic world. There is a tradeoff for all of these digital conveniences, though. A study from 2021 found that the average American adult spends over five hours per day on their smartphone. This means, on average, we check our phones between sixty and eighty times each day. This fact did not surprise me as much as it probably should have. It’s probably safe to say we are all guilty of this at some level. As a coach, I cannot count the number of times I’ve witnessed a parent miss a great play/shot/block from their son or daughter because they were looking at their phone during a game. Even smaller moments at home may go unnoticed due to a distracting text, disruptive chirp, or some other interrupting notification. We often talk about technology addiction in children, but as adults, what message are we sending our kids when we are always pulling out our phones? Aside from missing moments in our kid’s lives, another study looked at the interaction between caregivers and children during mealtime as it related to technology usage. A direct quote from the findings: “Caregivers absorbed in devices frequently ignored the child’s behavior for a while and then reacted with a scolding tone of voice, gave re46 WNY Family April 2022

peated instructions in a somewhat robotic manner (e.g., without looking at the child or relevant to child behavior), seemed insensitive to the child’s expressed needs, or used physical responses.” I think we can all relate to this as well. No one is perfect. You pull out your phone to check something and get engrossed in what you’re doing. It can be frustrating when you get interrupted, and that frustration can manifest itself in a variety of ways. I am not suggesting that everyone is addicted to their smartphone or that we should all go back to the rotary phones of the 80s. After reading quite a few articles during my research for this column, I do believe that “distracted parenting” or “continuous partial attention” is harming our kids. There are ways to help control some of these bad habits, so you can have a healthy phone/life balance.

Prioritize Time with Your Children

Set aside time each day to spend phone-free time with your kids. Ideally, leave your phone at home and take them outside. Go on a walk, hike, or bike ride. Play a game of basketball or catch. Can’t go out? Play a board game or cook with them. Find an activity each day that you can do where you can set your phone aside. Putting your phone away for an hour or two sounds easy, but it is harder than you think. The average person would check their phone twelve times during that two hours. If you can’t

We love our peeks into our friend’s lives, but those glances shouldn’t take away from your life. Choose a time during the day when you plan to check social media instead of checking it frequently throughout the day. One article I read referred to these as office hours. Pick a time while the kids nap, after they leave for school, or after they fall asleep to get your Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook fix.

Eye Contact

Making eye contact is extremely important when having a conversation with your children. It shows them that you are present. Whatever you two are talking about is more important than the rest of the world around them. It is difficult to make good eye contact when you are staring at the screen in your hand. Be mindful of this and put your phone down when speaking/listening to your children.

There’s An App for That

Kevin Holesh, a software developer in California, recognized the impact his smartphone was having on his relationships. He created “Moment” to combat the everyday distractions of our digital devices. Moment “helps people disconnect from their phones and get back their time.” The app uses a coaching model to help teach you better technology habits. You start by selecting your goal or goals. Some example options are “Get More Family Time,” “Sleep Better,” and “Stop Wasting Time.” From there, Moment will monitor your usage and pro-


vide tips to help you achieve your goals. Moment even offers a family option that allows you to track your family’s usage across a variety of devices. Parents can use this to set screen time limits in addition to merely monitoring usage. Moment Coach is a paid feature inside the app that takes things to the next level. The Coach add-in allows you to select courses that are designed to help you re-imagine your relationship with your phone. The classes are anywhere from three to fourteen days. I’d suggest starting with the Phone Bootcamp class. According to the website, Moment Coach users “gain an hour back each day by following simple strategies” and those who completed the bootcamp saved an average of twelve and half hours during that time. Another great app for this is Space - Break Phone Addiction. The app’s motto “Find your phone/life balance.” Users start by taking a quiz to determine their interactions with their phone. From there, you can set goals around usage and share your progress via social media. Users who pay for the Pro version of the app gain access to short courses that help you manage your screen time. This is available for both Apple and Android devices.

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It is a fact that our society’s reliance on digital devices is increasing. Adults are effortlessly and unintentionally forming bad habits when it comes to how they use these devices. Awareness is the first step toward correcting the problem. Use the steps outlined in this column to lessen the grip that technology has on your time, your relationships, and your family. Mike Daugherty is a husband, father of three young children, author, speaker, Google Innovator, and possible Starbucks addict. He is a certified educational technology leader who has served in a variety of roles through his twenty-year career in public education. Currently, Mike is the Director of Technology for the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School district in Northeast Ohio. As an IT director he has developed creative, well thought out solutions that positively impact teaching and learning.

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T

hanks to GPS technology in smartphones, we have plenty of options when it comes to keeping up with our teenagers, but should we? As with so many other parenting decisions, it mostly depends on what works best for your family and what skills you are trying to help your adolescent develop. “Life is a progression and that’s how we should raise our teens as well. Make sure you start where you can build up. If you are allowing a curfew of midnight at 15, what are you allowing at the age of 17? Each kid masters skills differently,” says Jennifer Jackson-Rice, LSCSW, a child and adolescent therapist. During the teen years, it’s developmentally appropriate for kids to strive for more independence. Parents help foster responsibility by slowly giving more freedom over time as trust is built and skills are learned.

Curbing Distracted Driving

Many parents use tracking apps to help reinforce important safety practices when they aren’t there. Jackson-Rice says she and her husband opted for the Cell Control app when their son got his driver’s license. “We wanted him to develop a very healthy habit of not being on his phone while in his car from the beginning,” she says. With any skill that you are nurturing, it’s important to clarify and implement consequences if rules are broken. For some families, that might mean pulling back on their teen’s curfew or restricting driving privileges. “Once that skill has been mastered, then move away from the app,” JacksonRice advises. “Teenagers are supposed

Tracking Teens:

Setting Limits & Giving Freedom to be explore. They’re The app offers TWEENS & TEENS supposed to gain some crash detection and independence and emergency response, a by Christa Melnyk Hines we’re supposed to be map pinpointing your able to trust. When we need to put a conloved one’s location and weekly driver sequence in, we put a consequence in, and reports, highlighting phone usage, accelwe start over again.” eration, braking and top speeds.

Supporting New Drivers

Kelly Wornall opted for the Life 360 app, when her 16-year-old son started driving, also to reinforce safe driving. “We use the app more for peace of mind when he’s out driving,” Wornall says. “A huge benefit of the app is the feature where I can click ‘get directions to my child.’ He is horrible with directions, and we’ve had several instances where I’ve needed to meet up with him. I would have had issues finding him without the app.”

Mutual Trust-Building Strategies •

Discuss tracking/safety apps as a family

Talk about personal safety measures in cars and with social media

Model safety measures

Be present and available to connect with your teen, like when they arrive home at curfew

Carve out dedicated family time throughout the week (include their friends if they desire)

Be flexible; kids learn skills at different paces

48 WNY Family April 2022

“The app is a little security blanket for us. We have a strong relationship with our kids, and we trust them. The kids know Life 360 is on their phones. It’s a decision we agreed on as a family,” Wornall says. “The boys track us, too, so sometimes I feel like the tables are turned!”

Tracking For Control

Although she can see the wisdom of apps for vehicular safety, mom of five Cheryl McGaugh has chosen not to use apps as a way to keep tabs on her kids. “I feel that if I lead and guide with mutual love and respect, I have no need or reason to track them,” McGaugh says, whose kids are 22, 16, 14, 11 and 9. Apps like mSpy and SpyBubble can be used anonymously to monitor your teen’s texts, calls, and social media accounts. Some experts believe monitoring apps can cross a line if your teen has never given you a reason not to trust them. “If you have a difficult kiddo who has some boundary issues and following rules issues, then I see how apps could benefit when safety is a concern,” Jackson-Rice says. “Where we run into trouble is when


Common Tracking & Safety Apps

Life 360 • Our Pact • Circle • Bark Covenant Eyes • Cell Control iPhone’s “find my phone” feature Blue tooth options that shut down texting and driving there wasn’t a reason for us to become so hyper-involved with our teens.” Without opportunities to practice independence and self-reliance, teens may struggle with dependency issues or poor decision-making when they eventually experience full-blown freedom after leaving home for college, trade school, or a job. “They then begin to learn independence when we’re not there as parents to monitor, protect, guide and give natural consequences,” Jackson-Rice says.

How much do you want to know?

The problem Jackson-Rice ran into with Cell Control was she got more information than she wanted, like her son’s acceleration since the app also tracked his driving speed.

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“What we learned is that it created a lot of anxiety in parenting, which I’ve heard from many parents. They’re constantly aware of what their teenager is doing,” Jackson-Rice says. Of course, once you have that information, you have to decide what you’re going to do with it. Jackson-Rice says she chose to ignore the extra information, instead zeroing in on her goal of teaching her son not to use his phone while driving. If he gets pulled over by the police for speeding, he’ll have to face the natural consequences of receiving a speeding ticket. As for Wornall, Life 360 has been a good fit for her family’s current needs. “In using a tracking app, you as a parent are skating on a fine line between making sure your kid is safe and stalking them,” Wornall says. “We don’t want to be helicopter parents, but at the same time, we want to know he arrived safely at his destinations.” Freelance journalist Christa Melnyk Hines resides with her husband and their two teenage sons. April 2022 WNY Family 49


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SUMMER DAY CAMPS A fun, structured environment

July 5 - August 12 (no camp July 4th)

Children from Cheektowaga and surrounding areas looking to have fun this summer in a recreational setting, are invited to attend our great Summer Day Camps! Here they have a chance to make new friends, explore, play and swim.

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Two Locations Available

CAMP ALEXANDER

Fully integrated program for children, including youth with special needs.

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Contact us at (716)897-7205 or cheektowagacamps@gmail.com 50 WNY Family April 2022


“Special things happen when children and horses are brought together”

David De Marie Dance ~ Summer 2022 ~

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TheLegacyEquestrianCenter.com 52 WNY Family April 2022


Basketba Camp ll When: June 27th-30th Cost: $80 for the week (4 days) and includes a Basketball Camp T-Shirt! Session One: For girls entering 4th, 5th and 6th Grade - 9a.m.-11:30p.m. Session Two: For girls entering 7th, 8th and 9th Grade Coaching from Mount Mercy Varsity Coach Jeremy Rowe and Mount Mercy basketball players.

Register online: @mtmercy.org/basketball-camp

Sail Buffalo

Junior Sailing Camp Ages: 7 - 18 Weekly Sessions

We Teach Sailing! Enrollment is Open, Sign Up Now! info@sail-buffalo.org

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DELAWARE SOCCER CLUB PRESENTS: 2022 SUMMER SOCCER CAMP SCHEDULE 9am - 3pm Daily

H June 27-30 H August 22-25

Grassroots/ Elite Training Camp Ages 5-15 Grassroots/ Elite Training Camp Ages 5-15

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SUMMER CAMPS 2022 SPORTS

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SUMMER SWIM CAMPS!

Become amer Super-Swim Ask about our competitive team and our “Your Pool, Our School” backyard pool lesson program!

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Summer 2022 Think Summer

Summer 8 WEEK PROGRAM Starts July 5th

• Returning!! Mini Camp! Every Mon/Wed from 9:30am-12pm or 12:30-3:00pm • Quality Gymnastics: Ages 1-18yrs ~ Weekly Themes • Trampoline & Tumbling Classes: 7-18yrs • Open Tumble/Cheer Class July/Aug. - Mon. 8:50-9:45pm • July/August Open Workouts - Wed. 7:15-9pm

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Award Winning Academy of Theatre Arts 2022 Summer Programs at the ATA Theatre

SPRING BREAK CAMP

Turn your next school break into something special! As part of our NEW Break Camps, you’ll spend your week off acting, singing, and dancing your way into a new show, culminating with a live performance onstage!

Broadway Babies ($150)

August 15th-19th - 9:00-12:00pm - Ages 2-4

Students work on public speaking and confidence on stage through dramatic play and story telling. At the end of the week students put on a dramatic reading of a story book!

Broadway at ATA $450

July 11th - 22nd - 9:00-4:00pm - Ages 12 & up

You don’t want to miss this fun and exciting program here at ATA! This camp, strictly for older theatre performers, will consist of intensive voice, theatre and dance workshops. We also put a focus on public speaking, team building and problem solving during this camp; skills the students can use throughout their lives! Students will learn what it takes to put on a musical not only on stage but off stage as well. Students will audition and be cast in the full musical production of “SpongeBob The Musical”!

Onstage at ATA $450

July 25th - August 5th - 9:00-4:00pm - Ages 9 & up

This camp, for middle school students, will consist of voice, theatre and dance workshops. We also put a focus on public speaking, team building and problem solving! Throughout the two weeks students will create their own musical as a team from the set, costumes, and musical numbers. Then they will audition and be cast in the full musical production of “Tarzan”

Catch a Rising Star $225

4 different week options available - 9:00-3:00pm - Ages 5-9

This popular one-week camp will allow you to be part of a fun-filled production of “Disney’s Jungle Book Kids.”. Join us for a week of singing, dancing and making new friends! In just one short week, students will learn lines, musical numbers and important team building skills, public speaking and being comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone!

Summer on the Silver Screen $300

August 1st - 12th - 3:00-7:00pm - Ages 9 & up

Our “Summer on the Silver Screen” camp takes students behind the scenes of their very own film! During this two-week intensive campers will learn the basics of screenwriting, cinematography, and film editing, all while starring in their own movie scenes on the big screen.

Behind the Scenes SUMMER WORKSHOP $175

August 15th-19th - 9:00-1:00pm - Ages 7 & up

Learn about the magic that happens onstage long before the curtain goes up! In this one week intensive summer camp, students will learn the art of backstage production design. From creating props to designing sets to learning the ins and outs of sound and light production, campers learn new skills daily over the course of this exciting camp workshop.

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To Register or for more information call 716-810-0551 or Visit www.accademyoftheatrearts.com/summer-at-ata/


four seasons Camp @ 9 mile island 1 Orbit Drive Nine Mile Island • Amherst

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SUMMER DANCE CAMPS and CLASSES for ALL AGES

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FOUR SEASONS

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Phone: 716-434-3196 | www.clclockport.org

A Challenger Learning Center camp is an exciting and completely unique experience for your child. The 8 weeks in July and August feature over a dozen activity filled, STEM-based sessions.

Our camps feature our robotics lab, planetarium dome and Space Mission Simulator.

Campers will do activities in robotics, programming, astronomy, aeronautics, rocketry, and much more! They will venture to Mars or the Moon in our Simulated Space Missions after learning to be missions specialists.

Register early to make sure you have a spot in the camp of your choice.

Storybook Dance Camp ~ Ages 3-6 Ballet Mini Intensives ~ Ages 7+

BALLET INTENSIVE WORKSHOP

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Children’s Center for Success “Help Is Our Middle Name”

ANNOUNCING OPEN ENROLLMENT 10 week 2022 Summer Program

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www.FamilyHelpCenter.net April 2022 WNY Family 55


SINGLE PARENTING — by Cheryl Maguire

How to Prepare for The Road Ahead

HORSE CAMP at Skibbereen Farm June through August • 9am-1pm

• Learn basic riding skills • Safety rules around horses • Horse care • Saddlery • Basic first aid

Cost: $350/Session

Registration Form Online

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Fall in Love

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Ages 3–6

Summer

DANCE Intensive July 5 - 29, 2022 Ages 7yrs - 18yrs

Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm Exciting Guest Teachers!!!

RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW! 835-3585 or 796-9102 | www.rabanddance.com 56 WNY Family April 2022

Money concerns are related to how the money will be divided and how will spousal or child support be determined.

Child concerns are about custody and how the divorce will impact the child’s emotional health. Emotional concerns are about the person’s emotional well-being and possible depression or anxiety while going through the separation.

Official School of the Greater Buffalo Youth Ballet

August 15 - 19, 2022

She is not alone. Divorce has increased 34% during the COVID pandemic. Jann Blackstone, PsyD, founder of Bonus Families and author of Co-parenting Through Separation and Divorce, says that Wells’ concerns after a separation are common. Typically, people going through a separation worry about the following:

Social life concerns are related to possible changes in friendships or dating new people.

DANCE this Summer

August Pirates & Princess CAMP

W

hen PeggySue Wells’ husband walked out on her, she looked at her six children’s faces and wondered, “How did this happen?” So many other questions ran through her mind. Could I ease their pain? What do I do now? Will my children be permanently damaged? Can I provide all that my family needs? Wells was able to move forward and wrote about her experience in her new book, 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make.

Katherine Woodward Thomas, M.A., MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After says, “One of the biggest problems is that we’re not really rational and we tend to be consumed with really big feelings that can often distort our perspective.” She explains that some common emotions people experience are anger, resentment, pain, and guilt. So how can you cope with these issues? The experts offer the following recommendations to help you prepare:

Connect with Your Emotions

Woodward Thomas explains that it is important to get a handle on your emotions since you will need to make important rational decisions regarding your finances and if you have children, about their custody. If your emotions are influencing these decisions often that is when people become involved in expensive and contentious legal battles. She says, “The first thing that you want to do is to find a way to connect with those feelings, and then even use them as fuel for positive change in some ways.”


Identify Your Feelings

Going through a separation is often a difficult situation for everyone involved. Woodward Thomas says, “They are our ‘home’ and when we lose them, it’s quite shocking and traumatic. Even if we were the ones who were leaving, and we kind of saw it coming and knew it was going to happen, it’s still quite a shock and a trauma.” She explains that the first step to healing is to identify your feelings. “You should ask yourself, ‘What am I feeling?’ and then you give the feelings a name. Because the moment you give the feeling a name, you have it, it does not have you,” she says. Woodward Thomas explains that when you identify one emotion at a time, you start to feel more in your own body. “You become capable of making rational decisions and not just knee-jerk reactive decisions that could then end up hurting you in the long run,” she says. Everyone has different time frames of how long it will take them to heal. “Some are ready to move on in a year, it may take others two or more years, but be kind to yourself as you go through the process,” says Blackstone.

Figure Out Support Systems

Woodward Thomas suggests asking people that you trust to be supportive and positive. “When you’re enrolling your friends to support you, it’s not about villainizing your partner, it’s about helping you to grow, and helping you to see a positive future on the other side,” she says. Blackstone also stresses the importance of a support system. “If you can afford it, find a counselor who specializes in break-up recovery. This may include a conventional therapist or a counselor through your church or synagogue, but find someone who can be an unbiased third party to help you do the work necessary to forgive and move on,” she says. If you are unable to find a counselor Blackstone recommends looking for an online community like Bonus Families (https://bonusfamilies.com/), which offers a place for you to ask questions and get support from other members.

Focus on Opportunities

Blackstone explains that most people who break up have experienced some sort of trauma prior to the break-up, whether it is domestic violence, drug addiction, an affair, or simply not getting along and constant arguing. “That trauma often slows down when there is a separation and children have said that their day-to-day life is no longer filled with constant fighting and then they are able to relax,” she says. Woodward Thomas says that people can view their separation as an opportunity. “I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to really wake up out of the trance of your old beliefs,” she says. Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Washington Post, Parents Magazine, AARP, Healthline, Your Teen Magazine and many other publications. April 2022 WNY Family 57


FAMILY TRAVEL continued... commerce. The Ward developed a reputation for colorful fistfights and became known as the “Bloody Third.” Its history was shaped by the 1892 Great Third Ward Fire that devastated 16 square blocks of vital riverfront commerce area. When it was over, nearly 2,000 people, mostly Irish immigrant laborers, were left homeless. Reconstruction began almost immediately and within 30 years the district was rebuilt into the bustling district that it had been. The area has experienced a renaissance as a revitalized mixed-use neighborhood. It is home to the city’s highest concentration of art galleries, award-winning restaurants, specialty stores, the Milwaukee Public Market, as well as condos, office buildings, and industrial space. The city’s airport boasts the world’s only “Recombobulation Area” signs located just beyond the security checkpoints. Actually, recombobulation is not even a word but that did not matter to Barry Bateman, the now retired airport director. He made up the word and suggested the signage to add some comic relief to what can be a tense aspect of air travel. “He understood that traveling can be stressful and the signs are intended to put a smile on people’s faces,” explained Harold Mester, the airport’s public relations manager. “Whether it’s a word or not, I think we can all agree we all feel discombobulated after going through a security checkpoint and need a minute to recombobulate, whether that means tying our shoes or putting our laptop away,” Mester added. Travel Tip of the Month: For more information go to visitmilwaukee.org or call 800-554-1448.

58 WNY Family April 2022


And Baby Makes Three... Unless You Already Have a Fur Baby!

A

b a b y way he will be comTHE FAMILY PET will drafortable continuing matically while you are caring change your life, as for the new baby. well as your pet’s life. Start adjusting Here are some tips: your pet’s feeding and Introduce your walking schedule to pet to baby items so he what you think it may is comfortable. New be after baby arrives — smells for pets are imthe number of walks a portant. Unpack a diaday, length, or timing. per or two, put some If you generally play, baby lotion on your groom, couch cuddle, hands, etc. or socialize with your Show your pet the bassinet, crib, dog frequently, begin transitioning to two stroller, car seat, etc. Get a doll and put quality 5-10 minute segments where you it in them. Carry the doll around with you are totally devoted to the dog or cat and and talk to it the way you will do when baby is not the focus of your attention. baby arrives. If your pet had toys that may look Practice walking your dog next to the like infant baby toys, your pet may think stroller. This will get him used to behavhe can play with them. Try to shift dog ing correctly when the baby is with you. toys to those that don’t so closely resemNever attach the leash to the stroller. If ble what baby may have. your pet decides to chase after a squirrel If you have a rambunctious pet, conor jump at the sound of a backfiring car, sider putting up safety gates and/or using he could take baby with him. a crate as a space he may feel safe, espeIf your pet has forgotten some of his cially as the baby turns into a toddler. obedience training, now is the time for a Nearly there… refresher course. He needs to immediately Once the baby is in hand and before respond to commands including come, sit, you return home, have your partner bring stay, leave it, refrain from jumping, etc. one of her first articles of clothing or blanIf your pet has not been around baket so that your dog and/or cat get used bies or children, try visiting a park where to this strange enticing new smell. It will he can observe from a distance. Babies help when you bring baby home, although and children can be strange and somethere is nothing quite like the real thing. what frightening to a pet not familiar with The Introduction! such creatures. You’ve arrived home, but you aren’t Ask someone who is comfortable ready for introductions quite yet. with your pet to watch him while in the Have your partner hold the baby outhospital or picking up an adopted child. side. Greet your pet and expect lots of enIf you have a very active dog, conthusiastic “I missed you so much” hellos. sider utilizing a doggie day care for a few continued on page 63 days a week before the baby arrives. That

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Suicide Rate is Spiking Upwards in Preadolescent Children

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In the past two decades, a growing number of preteens have taken medicines or other chemicals as a way to end their lives, new research warns. The mental health of children has become a big talking point in light of the pandemic, but the study data showed the problem has been percolating for years: There has been a 4.5-fold increase in suicidal ingestion cases among children between the ages of 10 and 12 since 2000. Study co-author Dr. David Sheridan, a pediatric emergency room doctor at Oregon Health and Science University, said mental health concerns are a growing issue in emergency department patients. “We’ve just seen rapidly escalating numbers of adolescents coming in with suicidal thoughts. And it seems like we’ve been seeing younger patients as well,” Sheridan said. To verify this anecdotal information, the researchers turned to data collected in the National Poison Data System for children aged 6 to 18. The cases were coded to show whether it was a suspected suicide attempt or recreational misuse or abuse of a drug or chemical, as well as the final outcome in each case.

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During the study period, there were more than 1.2 million cases, about two-thirds in girls. Nearly 29% of the cases resulted in serious outcomes, including just over 1,000 deaths. While recreational ingestion stayed constant, suicidal ingestions increased dramatically. In adolescents, the increase was 2.4fold higher, compared to a 4.5-fold increase in those aged 10 to 12. “It’s a good thing that recreational use is not increasing, but it’s just a very concerning thing that the suicidal ones are significantly increasing,” Sheridan noted. Despite the dramatic increase, the actual number of teens with suicidal ingestion continues to be much higher than preteens, Sheridan said. He added that it’s important for parents to know that the drugs these children are taking are sometimes those that are the most commonplace in households, including acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and allergy medications like Benadryl. “Unfortunately, there are kids who are suicidal and they’re impulsive, and so they just take whatever is at home,” said Sheridan, who suggested locking up even these common medications if you have kids in this age range. Though the study authors noted that suicidal thinking can be fueled by many factors and is not well understood, they also said that many social media platforms were launched around 2013, which happened to dovetail with the rise in cases. Sheridan, however, urged caution about connecting the two. “This study was not designed to look at what is causing this rise or what the factors are,” Sheridan said. “I think the goal is to highlight this is happening, to fuel more research to hopefully get to the bottom of what you’re asking, which I think is a really important thing.”


The researchers would also like to see what happened with suicidal ingestion cases during the full course of the pandemic and are waiting for the data to catch up; only one pandemic year was included in the study. The findings were published online March 14, 2022 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics. Susan Tellone, clinical director for the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, said it’s important to open the conversation about mental health so that people are able to talk about it as openly as they talk about their physical health. A positive side effect of the pandemic is that is happening more. “I’m very hopeful that we can reduce the stigma and shame attached to mental health and have it start to look like we talk about our physical health, because our brain is an organ, just like our heart, our lungs and every other part of our body,” Tellone said. Parents can do that with their own children by asking, “Are you OK?” Tellone said. “And if you’re not OK, what’s going on in your life right now that’s making you feel sad,” Tellone suggested. “And to ask the question, ‘Has it gotten so bad that you’re actually thinking about not wanting to live?’” It’s important to be able to have that conversation with your kids, Tellone said, and to help them when they’re just starting to feel out of sorts. Three important words to keep the conversation going are, “Tell me more,” she said. “And just listen without advice or judgment, just ‘I’m here for you. Tell me more,’” Tellone said.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Even in your darkest moments, you are not alone. Crisis Services (https://crisisservices.org/suicide-prevention) is always prepared to support you, and those you know, with suicide prevention and stigma-breaking information. Their 24Hour Crisis Hotline is where you can safely and confidently speak with a specialist who knows what you are going through. They’re ready to help, no matter what. Call their hotline at 716-834-3131. To chat with a counselor online, go to their website and click on the chat link, anytime between 6pm and 11pm, Monday through Friday. You can also send a message to their text line at 716-300-2338. Crisis Services also operates the Kids Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 716-834-9881. It provides school-age children, adolescents, and parents with immediate and confidential support and problem-solving assistance for problems of every day living, including suicide, depression, drug and/or alcohol use abuse.

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During the pandemic, children have experienced isolation and uncertainty along with everyone else, and they’ve had an enormous amount of loss, Tellone noted. Many kids are being raised by parents who are under a lot of pressure and stress. “For our children, there’s many factors that come into the rise in suicidal ideation, but I think the pandemic and the chronic level of uncertainty has taken its toll and it’s taken its toll on families,” Tellone said. April 2022 WNY Family 61


If you have any questions about our column, e-mail Kathy at allergy@roadrunner.com. For further information about food allergies, contact FARE www.foodallergy.org, or call 1-800-929-4040.

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hen it comes to holiday cooking, I’m always looking for easy, healthy side dish ideas. For my family, ham is a must for the main dish, as is usually some style of potato. Beyond that, they will let me vary the rest of the meal. Since most of the day is laden with calorie rich foods and desserts, I try to keep the side dishes on the lighter side. Following are a few ideas to make your Easter dinner a bit brighter. Double or triple recipes as needed.

Beet Salad

Free of: DAIRY, EGGS, SOY, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, FISH, SHELLFISH, WHEAT, GLUTEN, VEGAN Yield: 4 servings PrepTime: 10 minutes 1 pound cooked beets, cut into bite sized pieces 1 fresh orange, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces (or 1 can mandarin oranges, drained) 1/2 sweet onion, sliced Romaine or Boston lettuce Dressing: 1/4 cup oil 1/4 cup orange juice 1 teaspoon sugar Salt, pepper to taste Arrange salad ingredients. Mix together dressing and drizzle over salad.

62 WNY Family April 2022

Glazed Carrots

Free of: DAIRY, EGGS, SOY, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, FISH, SHELLFISH, WHEAT, GLUTEN, VEGAN Yield: 4 servings Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

1 pound baby carrots (or regular carrots, peeled and sliced) 1/4 cup fruit juice (orange, apricot, pineapple, or apple) 3 tablespoons brown sugar 2 tablespoons dairy/soy free margarine or canola oil Salt, pepper to taste In a frying pan, stir together juice, sugar, and margarine. Add carrots; stir. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the tenderness you prefer.

Kathy Lundquist is a Western New York parent whose son, now an adult, was born with severe food allergies. Over the last two decades, she has worked tirelessly, in a variety of capacities, to increase community awareness about food allergies.

Roasted Asparagus

Free of: DAIRY, EGGS, SOY, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, FISH, SHELLFISH, WHEAT, GLUTEN, VEGAN Yield: 4-6 servings Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10-15 minutes 2 bunches asparagus (about 2 pounds) 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (or other oil) Salt, pepper to taste Preheat oven to 450° (or broil.) Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place spears on cookie sheet, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Roll around to coat all sides. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, stirring once to evenly bake, until fork tender.


THE KIDDIE GOURMET

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— by Barbara Blackburn

onnor’s likes General Tso sauce. Yum! Connor’s kids enough to Connor’s seafood ofRestaurant have a special fers a variety including Lake 3465 Seneca St. West Seneca, NY 14224 section on the menu, for Erie Perch ($17.99) and a 716-674-9945 $6.95, including a small pop platter of Popcorn Shrimp, connorswestseneca.com and a dish of ice cream. The Crab Cakes, one-half a Fish choices are Hot Dogs with Fry, and Breaded Scallops ~ SPOONS ~ Fries, 2 Chicken Fingers ($23.99). All seafood platFOOD 4.5/5 with Fries, Grilled Cheese ters are served with colewith Fries, Child’s Size Spaslaw, macaroni salad, and ghetti, and Macaroni and choice of potatoes. SERVICE 4/5 Cheese. Child seating is proFor those asking, vided, with do-it-yourself “Where’s the beef?” ConFAMILY entertainment in the form of nor’s has a long standing FRIENDLY 5/5 white paper and crayons. tradition of original Roast We had read about their Beef on Weck ($12.99) and touted (by a renowned critSpecialty Burgers ($11. ic) Pan Pizza Buffalo 49). The Beli Buster Style, with a touch of is one-half pound of Detroit crust. Alas, at freshly ground An3 o’clock we learned gus Reserve steak, that the ovens don’t served with French turn on until 4pm. Fries, Cottage Fries, So, to compensate in or Macaroni Salad a small way I ordered ($11.29) or with the Pizza Logs ($9.99) cheese ($12.99). You and enjoyed the five may request a toasted traditional logs with roll. Marinara sauce. Check online for Having a hanall day specials but be kering for seafood, I advised that the web ordered another apsite is not always curpetizer — one pound rent. It may say free of Steamed Clams, with warm butter. I dessert on Saturday and needs updating. didn’t want or need a main course. These Two desserts were available in the delicious morsels were shareable. form of Cheesecake and Carrot Cake. Dad ordered soup of the day: Chili Our grandkids adore carrot cake and (Cup $4.99/ Crock $5.99). Another usually end a restaurant meal with it spoon made this shareable. This red dewhen available, which is usually all over light was rich in a sauce enhanced by Western New York and Florida. cumin and coriander, along with enough If you enjoy the classic old-fashground meat and beans. The proportion ioned Western New York restaurant of chili pepper was just right. with well-prepared old “standbys” interAnother item from the Appetizer twined with some modern ethnic fusion and Share-able menu section added an favorites, then Connor’s rates a visit. Asian touch to the Italian, New England American, and Tex-Mex foods — ChickCheck out Barbara Blackburn’s blogs en Potstickers ($9.99). Teriyaki flavored at frontierfare.wordpress.com and culichicken and vegetables wrapped in a narrations.wordpress.com. Community delicate oriental dough were served with News Kitchen Wizard.

THE FAMILY PET continued... Tell your pet to sit and do the same in a chair where the pet cannot join you. Once your pet is calm, have your partner bring baby in and gently hand the baby to you. DO NOT dangle the baby in front of the pet or ever place the baby on the pet! Let your pet sniff the baby. Reward him for good behavior with a treat and extra praise. Animals are instinctively attuned to nursing. When it’s time to nurse or give baby a bottle, have someone with you who can provide your pets a treat when they behave and leave you and the baby alone. They can then associate a pleasant experience when you need to tend to the baby. The same is true for changing diapers, putting baby down for a nap, etc. When your pet isn’t behaving or expressly unhappy, instead of constantly yelling “No” try to redirect them to activities for which he can be rewarded (“go find this treat I tossed across the room” or “stay”). And Then… Start to include your dog in babyrelated activities. Allow him to sit nearby when changing a diaper, feeding or bathing. Remember to talk to both your human and fur baby. Bring them both on walks. When possible take the dog out for a walk before baby goes in for a nap. This will make your dog more likely to be tired and curl up for a nap himself. Consider making one area or room off limits to your pet. This way your baby plays with floor toys, learns to roll over and crawl, there is safe space for her. Spend quality one-on-one time with your first baby, although a fur baby. Never leave your dog or cat unattended with your baby. Never force the pet to interact with the baby. Watch for signs of fear in your dog such as licking lips, cowering, heavy panting, yawning, pacing, or being hypervigilant and provide them with a quiet retreat. Your pet knows who was there first, but who is most important now. Eventually, both babies will be friends for many years to come. The Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society consists of more than 75 small animal hospitals and 200 veterinarians in Erie and Niagara counties. Learn more at www.nfveterinarysociety.org. April 2022 WNY Family 63


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