The Child Mind BlogBrainstorm

  • NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black Resigns
    April 7, 2011 New York TImes

    Cathleen Black, the former magazine executive who was appointed chancellor of New York City schools, will be leaving her post after serving just three months. Black had no experience in education or public agencies, and was surrounded by controversy from the moment she was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg.  Despite her tumultuous tenure as schools chief, many are still surprised by her early resignation, which officials say came at the mayor's urging. Bloomberg has announced that Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott will be replacing Black.

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  • Autism Fears, Measles Spike Among Somalis in Minnesota
    April 6, 2011 The Ledger

    A measles outbreak is hitting Minneapolis' large Somali population. The community has already been marked by an apparent rise in autism, and a growing number of Somali American parents have refused to vaccinate their children against measles, fearing that the vaccination will lead to autism. Andrew Wakefield, the author of the now-discredited study linking early childhood vaccines to autism, has been meeting with the Somali community in Minneapolis, and many worry that he is inciting vaccination fears. Wakefield's paper was retracted last year from the journal it was published in, and his name has been erased from the UK medical register. There is no scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism.

    Know More:  Autism, Vaccines, and the Wakefield Fraud.

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  • Missing Boy Highlights Autism's Wandering Tendency
    April 6, 2011 The Autism News

    Rescue workers in Quebec are looking for a three-year-old boy with autism who has been missing since Sunday. Adam Benhamma was last seen playing hide-and-seek with his sister near the Mille-Iles River, and police are now redirecting their search efforts to the river itself. Efforts to find the boy have been further complicated by the communication challenges facing rescuers. According to Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, "With a child who is non-verbal like many children with autism, they don't respond when their name is called. A lot of kids won't even turn and look at you if they hear their name being called."

    Adam's disappearance reflects the disturbing tendency shown in many people with autism to wander away from safe locations, an impulse that is currently being studied by the Interactive Autism Network. IAN recently announced the launch of a new landmark survey to study the prevalence of wandering in the autism population. All families in the US autism community are encouraged to participate in the survey. For more information visit IAN's Elopement and Wandering Questionnaire.

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  • Talking to Kids About Divorce
    April 5, 2011 New York Times

    How do you explain some one else's divorce to your kids? Is an explanation even necessary? Although it's tempting to ignore—or put off—discussing difficult concepts like divorce with your kids, New York Times parenting blogger Lisa Belkin makes a good case for why you shouldn't. "Over the years I have seen bad news as a way to 'inoculate' my children," Belkin writes. "There were going to be setbacks and blindsides in their lives, I reasoned. Isn't it better to face those moments armed with the knowledge that everyone has bad times, but they get through?"

    Know More:  Building your child's resilience.

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  • Studies Find Little Evidence for Effectiveness of Autism Treatments
    April 4, 2011 Los Angeles Times

    A review of 10 years worth of studies published today in Pediatrics finds that many of the treatments used for autism, and problematic behaviors in children with autism, are not supported by solid evidence. The review found that there is evidence of the value of intensive behavioral therapy for very young children, who have shown improvement in social communication and language, but that most of the medications used to mitigate hyperactive or repetitive behaviors have not been proven effective. The drug secretin, which is sometimes prescribed to children with autism who have digestive problems, has not been shown to be helpful to them.

    Read more: What is working in autism treatment?

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  • Mom's Relationship Influences Adolescent Happiness
    April 4, 2011 Psych Central

    A new study finds that a mother's overall happiness with her relationship is more important to a child's well being than that of the father's. Not surprisingly, the happiest children were found to have two parents (with no distinction between biological or otherwise), no younger siblings, a relatively calm relationship with their parents, at least three meals shared with the family a week, and a mother  happy in her own relationship. The study also found that the overall relationship an adolescent had with his parents had more impact on his happiness than his relationship with his siblings.

    Read More: Don't Let a Child's Disorder Destroy Your Marriage.

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  • Autism Speaks Launches ‘Light It Up Blue’ Campaign
    April 1, 2011 Parents Magazine

    Major landmarks across the world will be lighting up blue this evening in support of autism awareness. The Empire State Building in New York City, the Willis Tower in Chicago, Niagara Falls in Canada, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia will all be participating in the "Light It Up Blue" campaign organized by the advocacy group Autism Speaks. If you would like to get involved, build your own blue website, add a blue banner to your Facebook page, or just wear blue!

    Read More:  Learn about the future of autism research.

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  • Artificial Dye Safe to Eat, Panel Says
    April 1, 2011 New York Times

    An expert panel convened by the FDA has ruled that artificial dyes do not cause hyperactivity in children. While the FDA acknowledged that food dyes can worsen the symptoms of some children with behavior problems, the panel did not find proof that other children are similarly affected.  The panel voted 8 to 6 against including a warning on products containing artificial dyes.

    Read More:  Is It ADHD or Just High Energy?

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  • Autism Awareness Month: Best Places to Live if You Have Autism
    April 1, 2011 LA Times

    Autism Speaks is kicking off Autism Awareness month with a survey determining which areas have the best autism services and resources. At the top of the list are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, Northern New Jersey, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle and Milwaukee. The survey also ranked areas with the poorest access to resources. 74 percent of the people surveyed said they were unhappy with the availability of services where they live, with more than two-thirds saying they regularly travel an hour or more for care.

    Many families affected by autism are turning to the web for more resources. Read how autism Internet communities are affecting people on and off the web.

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  • Toddler Twins: Secret Language or Babble?
    March 31, 2011 New York Times

    More than six million people have viewed the viral video of two toddler twin boys engaged in what looks like a really great conversation. Wearing diapers and holding onto the refrigerator for support, the twins laugh, stomp, and gesture animatedly.  But are they talking? Probably not, say speech experts—but they're close. "Some people believe twins have the ability to generate their own detailed language, a twin language, but it doesn't seem to be true in terms of a fully developed language system,'' says Stephen Camarata, a professor of hearing and speech sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Instead, the twins are probably mimicking the intonation patterns they've learned from their parents. Says Dr. Camarata, "Children are very clever at watching and learning from adults. You wonder if there hasn't been a conversation between the husband and wife or other people in the kitchen that they are mimicking."

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