The Child Mind BlogBrainstorm

  • When Do Kids Form Their First Memories?
    May 12, 2011 Web MD

    Popular thinking used to be that children don't have the cognitive ability or language skills to develop memories before their third or fourth birthdays. But now new research proves that children do form memories at younger ages, although the memories tend to fade or be replaced with newer memories over time. Researchers have also found that cultural differences play a role in how memory works. On average the earliest memories of Chinese children occur a year later than Canadian and American children. Dr. Robyn Fivush from Emory University explains that Western children likely have stronger early memories because their dialogues with parents are more autobiographical. "It is more appropriate to talk about events in the context of the group."

    Know More:  Developmental Milestones

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  • 'Overgeneral' Memories May Be LInked to Depression
    May 11, 2011 New York Times

    The Times offers a fascinating look at the concept of "overgeneral" memory, or memory that blurs specific experiences into vague categories—"my brother is always mean to me" instead of "my brother refused to play Monopoly with me last Sunday"— and whether it pressages depression. Sometimes it's a response to traumatic experience, and actually facilitates recovery, by dampening the emotional impact of specific memories. But a number of studies, including one at Oxford, are focusing on whether a tendency to overgeneralize contributes to depression, as a  "vulnerability factor for unhelpful reactions when things go wrong in life,” as one Oxford researcher puts it. Specific memories can play an important role in dispelling a dark mood, he adds. “If you’re unhappy and you want to be happy, it’s helpful to have memories that you can navigate through to come up with specific solutions. It’s like a safety net.”

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  • Research Uncovers Raised Rate of Autism
    May 9, 2011 New York Times

    In a landmark autism study, researchers have discovered that 1 in 38 kids screened in a South Korea city are on the autism spectrum. Experts are shocked by the rate, which is two and a half times the current estimated rate of one child in 110 being on the spectrum. However, those interpreting the study caution that this big leap does not mean that autism is any more prevalent than before. Rather, the study in South Korea was more comprehensive because it screened every child in the community. Previous studies gathered data from records of children already identified with an autism spectrum disorder, leaving out children of parents who never sought a diagnosis. "If we had only looked at the high-probability group, we would have come up with about 0.7 percent, which is in line with C.D.C. statistics for the U.S.," said Roy RIchard Grinker, the study's senior author.

    Know More:  Why Combine Autism and Asperger's?

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  • Bin Laden Dies, America Celebrates, a Parent Grapples
    May 4, 2011 Parent Dish

    The beginning of Tom Henderson's blog post about the death of Osama bin Laden is venomous and somewhat shocking, but the emotions he describes are familiar to many Americans. Henderson writes that his son still wants revenge:

    He thinks Americans should kick and spit on Osama bin Laden's dead body before it is hung upside down on meat hooks at Ground Zero—mirroring what Italians did with the body of Benito Mussolini at Piazza Loreto almost exactly 66 years ago.

    Henderson sympathizes with his boy's views—albeit a little queasily. It isn't hard to understand why children, particularly those who grew up in the shadow of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, would feel strongly about bin Laden, even after his death. Young children tend to view the world through black and white lenses which cast people as either heroes or villains, and their perspective was bolstered by adult displays of feverish celebration that happened everywhere from the White House lawn to college campuses across America (not to mention on Facebook).

    But when Henderson asked his son how he'd feel if he was also talking about the desecration of bin Laden's body, his son said that he would hate it. "That's not you," the boy explained. His response made sense to Henderson, who reasoned, "Like children, we want those we trust to mete out justice to be above such bitter motivations. We expect better things from our parents ... and our nation."

    It's reassuring, then, to know that the government has decided not to release gory photographs of bin Laden's dead body. "We don't trot this stuff out as trophies," the president said. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, confirmed with a familiar response, saying it's "not who we are."

    Know More:  Talking to Kids About Osama Bin Laden

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  • Duerson’s Brain Trauma Confirmed
    May 3, 2011 New York TImes

    Researchers have confirmed that former NFL star Dave Duerson suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that has been linked to concussions. Dr. Ann McKee, the neuropathologist who examined Duerson's brain, says she found indisputable evidence of CTE in Duerson's brain tissue samples, and "no evidence of any other disorder."

    Duerson killed himself in February, at the age of 50, after complaining of headaches, blurred vision, memory loss, poor impulse control, and uncharacteristically abusive behavior toward loved ones—all telltale signs of repetitive brain trauma. In a note to family members Duerson requested that his brain be given to the NFL's brain bank for study. 

    In an interview DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the players association, said Duerson's diagnosis of CTE "makes it abundantly clear what the cost of football is for the men who played and the families. It seems to me that any decision or course of action that doesn't recognize that as the truth is not only perpetuating a lie, but doing a disservice to what Dave feared and what he wanted to result from the donation of his brain to science."

    Know More:  What Parents Should Know About Concussions 

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  • Dr. Koplewicz Gives Tips On Talking With Kids About Bin Laden’s Death
    May 3, 2011 CBS

    CMI's President Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz was interviewed by CBS on how to talk about Osama bin Laden's death with children. Koplewicz calls this a teachable moment for kids of all ages, and reminds parents to consider their child's developmental age when discussing bin Laden. Children aged 6 to 11 are at a good age to begin discussing religious tolerance, says Koplewicz. However, younger children should be sheltered from disturbing news and images that may be on television. For older kids, Koplewicz cautions that teens are often impulsive in their reactions, and benefit from parents who model a calm example.

    Know More:  Talking to Kids About Osama Bin Laden 

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  • High Schoolers with Jobs Less Likely to Finish College
    April 29, 2011 USA Today

    A new study shows that high school students who work more than 15 hours a week are less likely to finish college than their peers who work fewer hours. The odds get proportionally worse the more a student works, and in the study only about 20% of high school students who worked 31 hours or more during the week finished college. Working in the evening after a spending all day at school can put significant strain on students and make focusing on academics difficult. School counselor Steve Schneider explains, "It becomes more than just attitudinal disengagement, it becomes almost a physical disengagement. The ultimate disengagement would be, 'I'm just not going to come to school tomorrow.' " Schneider recommends that parents and employers help students establish good priorities.

    Know More:  When Anxious Children Become Anxious Adolescents

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  • How to Obtain Guardianship for Adults With Autism
    April 29, 2011 Parent Dish

    After people with autism turn 18, some will need their parents to go through the courts to ensure that their legal guardianship continues. Each state has its own process to navigate, but the Parent Dish has compiled a list of basic tips for all parents who are trying to obtain guardianship.  

    Know More: Breakthroughs in Treatment for Autism

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  • 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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