The Child Mind BlogBrainstorm

  • Autism Screening for Babies
    April 28, 2011 CNN

    Researchers have developed a new questionnaire that helps detect autism in children as young as one. Using a checklist of 24 questions, researchers say that any pediatrician will be able to screen children for early signs of autism during a normal checkup. Early intervention has long been considered a priority in autism treatment, and right now the average age of diagnosis is around five years old. Diagnosing autism during infancy could drastically improve the success of a child's treatment. Dr. Karen Pierce, the lead author of the study says that identifying language and development delays in babies may also help scientists better understand the neurological processes of autism.

    Know More:  Breakthroughs in Treatment for Autism

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  • Uniforms for Preschoolers
    April 28, 2011 Wall Street Journal

    Some preschools and even childcare programs are now requiring toddlers to wear uniforms. Kimberly Morey, the executive director of one such preschool, says that when kids come wearing uniforms they are "comfortable and prepared to focus. They're not worried about what their neighbor is wearing or what their mom didn't let them wear today." Parents like the uniforms too because they're cheaper, simpler, and, according to one grandmother, a great way to signify, "This isn't playtime, this is school now." But for others, preschool is supposed to be a time when young kids begin expressing their own individuality, and learning to pick out clothing plays an important part in that. Mom Julie Ryan Evans, who blogs on The Stir, thinks that school uniforms are a great idea—just not for preschool.  Evans writes, "Life gets too serious too quickly anyway, and I don't want my preschooler getting down to business. I want her to learn, yes, but I want her to learn through play and expression and creativity—like many studies say is the best."

    Know More:  Developmental Milestones

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  • A Parenting Nickname Handbook
    April 27, 2011 New York Times

    Lisa Belkin over at the Motherlode blog has posted a primer on the many nicknames coined to describe parenting styles. Starting with the clash between working parents and stay-at-home parents and working all the way up to the latest zoomorphism trends (Are you more of a tiger mom or a koala? How about a hippo?), Belkin defines the major nicknamed parenting trends of recent memory.

    Interestingly, the blog post also addresses the larger national trend of calling our own parents "mom and dad" instead of the more formal "mother and father" that once signified a coming of age. Rev. Michael P. Orsi laments the change, which he calls tantamount to "baby talk," and argues that it is "indicative of a growing problem in which offspring deem themselves to be perpetually dependent children."

    Maybe so. But at least calling your mother "Mom" sounds more adult than calling yourself a koala.  

    Know More:  Helicopter Parenting: How Much Is Too Much?

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  • In Fighting Anorexia, Recovery Is Elusive
    April 26, 2011 New York Times

    For many people struggling to overcome anorexia, it can often be unclear what constitutes a true recovery. Some consider a patient recovered when she reaches a normal weight (which is defined as 85 or 95 percent of a person's ideal weight) and resumes menstruation. But this definition doesn't take into account the mental dimensions of the disorder, and although the damaging behaviors associated with anorexia may have stopped, the self-criticism, perfectionism, and self-abuse that accompany the disorder often continue. According to Dr. Katharine Halmi, "About 50 percent of people with anorexia will be able to reach and maintain a normal weight, but most of them are very preoccupied with the calorie content of food." Aimee Liu, the author of "Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives" calls this anorexia's “half life,” and says it can last for years without good treatment. Like many alcoholics, some with anorexia prefer to consider themselves in a perpetual state of recovery.

    Kathleen MacDonald, a policy assistant at the Eating Disorders Coalition, is more optimistic. MacDonald struggled with anorexia and bulimia for 16 years, but now considers herself entirely recovered. "People always said once you have an eating disorder, you're always going to have an eating disorder," she says. "I tell people, 'There was a time in your life when you didn't have an eating disorder, and if that's possible, anything is.' "

    Know More:  What Are the Early Signs of an Eating Disorder?

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  • Predicting Bipolar Mood Swings
    April 26, 2011 US News & World Report

    New research suggests that it may be possible to predict mood swings in people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to the study's lead author, Warren Mansell, "Individuals who believed extreme things about their moods—for example, that their moods were completely out of their own control or that they had to keep active all the time to prevent becoming a failure—developed more mood problems in a month's time." In contrast, people who were able to moderate their moods had far fewer mood problems in the next month. Says Mansell, "These findings are encouraging for talking therapies—such as CBT—that aim to help patients to talk about their moods and change their thinking about them."

    Know More:  What Medications Are Most Effective in Children With Bipolar Disorder?

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  • Autism Now: How Should We Address the Deepening 'National Health Emergency'?
    April 25, 2011 PBS NewsHour

    The final episode of NewsHour's report on autism in America airs tonight on PBS, this time featuring a roundtable discussion on the future of autism care and research. CMI Scientific Research Council member Dr. Catherine Lord joins the expert panel of doctors and autism advocates to discuss solutions for the national health emergency. You can see the report on PBS tonight, or watch the entire series online at the NewsHour website.

    Know More:  Dr. Catherine Lord on Breakthroughs in Treatment for Autism

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  • The Anxiety Gender Gap: Are Women Really More Anxious?
    April 22, 2011 Slate

    Women are diagnosed with anxiety disorders twice as often as men. In an essay for Slate, Taylor Clark argues that this prevalence isn't due to bioengineering so much as the "cultural setup" which turns girls into nervous women who have poor coping strategies. Clark calls his theory the "skinned knee effect:"  

    "Parents coddle girls who cry after a painful scrape but tell boys to suck it up, and this formative link between emotional outbursts and kisses from mom predisposes girls to react to unpleasant situations with 'negative' feelings like anxiety later in life. On top of this, cultural biases about boys being more capable than girls also lead parents to push sons to show courage and confront their fears, while daughters are far more likely to be sheltered from life's challenges. If little Olivia shows fear, she gets a hug; if little Oliver shows fear, he gets urged to overcome it."

    The women's blog Jezebel took issue with some of Clark's generalizations on female behavior, but agreed that society does treat little girls differently, citing the popular book The Dangerous Book for Boys and its female counterpart, The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls, as clear examples of gender bias.

    In his essay Clark also points out that women may receive more anxiety disorder diagnoses simply because they are more likely to see a therapist.  

    Know More:  How to Help Your Daughter Have a Healthy Body Image

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  • Pabst's New "Binge in a Can"
    April 22, 2011 Wall Street Journal

    Earlier this month Pabst Brewing Co. released an updated version of the Colt 45 called "Blast." The new malt beverage comes with twice the alcohol content of the original Colt 45 and flavors such as strawberry lemonade and raspberry watermelon. Attorneys general from several states are already protesting the drink, which they call a "binge in a can," and have expressed concern that Blast is targeted to underage drinkers who will be attracted by the fruit flavors and by the drink's promoter, Snoop Dogg. In a letter to the chairman of Pabst, C. Dean Metropoulos, the attorneys general claimed the product "poses a grave public safety threat," and requested that Pabst immediately reduce the number of servings of alcohol contained in one single-serving container.

    Know More:  Is My Teenager a Substance Abuser?

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  • Half of All Children With Autism Wander from Safe Places
    April 21, 2011 Science Daily

    The Interactve Autism Network (IAN) has announced the preliminary results from their landmark survey on the prevalance of wandering among people on the autism spectrum. Approximately half of the parents taking the survey reported that their child wanders or bolts from safe locations. Of the children who wandered, nearly 50 percent went missing "long enough to cause significant concern about safety."

    The director of the Ian Project, Dr. Paul Law, says, "We hope that advocates and policy makers use this research to implement key safety measures to support these families and keep these children safe."

    Know More:  The movie Wretches & Jabberers takes autism advocacy on the road.

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  • Demi Lovato: I Have Bipolar Disorder
    April 21, 2011 People

    Disney star Demi Lovato told People magazine that she was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Lovato says she didn't know she had the disorder until she sought treatment for her anorexia, bulimia and cutting last November. "Looking back it makes sense," she says. "There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I'd be up until 5:30 in the morning." Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones made a similar announcement about her bipolar II disorder on April 19th, and Lovato was quick to offer her support, tweeting that Zeta-Jones was "SO brave."

    Lovato recently quit starring in the popular Disney show Sonny with a Chance. Lovato says she plans to focus on her treatment and on her singing career instead. "Being in front of a camera would make me nervous," the teen said.     

    Know More:  Going Public About Bipolar: Catherine Zeta-Jones and Demi Lovato

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