Red Flags for Feeding & Swallowing Disorders in Children

Most of us taking eating and swallowing for granted.  These actions come naturally and allow us to eat our mealsfeeding and swallowing disorders peacefully.  However, for some children, feeding and swallowing disorders make these natural reflexes and muscle actions difficult.  Read on to understand more about feeding and swallowing disorders and for red flags that your child may have a problem in this area.

What are feeding & swallowing disorders?

Feeding Disorders include difficulties gathering food to suck, chew, or swallow. According to ASHA:“…a child who cannot pick up food and get it to her mouth or cannot completely close her lips to keep food from falling out of her mouth may have a feeding disorder.”

Swallowing Disorders, also known as Dysphagia, include difficulty in one of the following stages of swallowing: Read more

Lipid Labwork in Children: Understanding the Numbers and When to Seek Help for Dietary Changes

As adults, our primary care physicians often instruct us to have labs drawn to check our blood lipid levels. Most of us lipid panelprobably know someone who is on a “lipid lowering” medication for high cholesterol levels. These same labs are also being drawn more often for kids, especially if there is a family history of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) or heart disease, or if the child is overweight or obese. Read on to understand what these labs look for in children, what the numbers mean, and what you should do after getting results.

The “lipid panel,” as the lab is called, measures these lipids that circulate in the bloodstream:

  • LDL cholesterol:  LDL cholesterol is associated with a risk for heart disease. The goal result for LDL cholesterol is <100 mg/dL, and <130 is considered acceptable.
  • HDL cholesterol:  HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind of cholesterol that scoops up the “bad” kind and helps get rid of it. The goal result for this type of cholesterol is >40 mg/dL. The higher the HDL is, the better, in most cases. Read more

Coconut Oil: Facts and Uses

Coconut oil has become popular, especially for its uses in cooking. Coconut oil has some unique properties that coconut oil facts and usesdifferentiate it from other types of oil. Here are some interesting facts about coconut oil and ways to use this food.

Coconut Oil Facts and Uses:

  • It is one of the only plant sources of fat that is solid at room temperature.
  • Coconut oil is very high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are absorbed from the stomach straight into the bloodstream. Other long chain fats require a more involved digestive process and are absorbed and transported via the lymphatic system. This is helpful for people with problems digesting fat. It can also be a good source of calories in some people with inflammatory digestive issues.
  • Medium chain triglycerides are “oxidized,” or metabolized, rapidly in the liver which means they have a low tendency to be stored as adipose tissue (fat) on the body.
  • It can be used in place of butter or margarine in many recipes, especially when baking sweets, since it has a slight coconut flavor.
  • Coconut oil can be used to grease baking pans instead of other hydrogenated products.
  • It can be used in place of other cooking oils when stir frying or pan frying various foods.
  • Because it is plant-derived, coconut oil is vegan and can replace animal-based fats in recipes. Read more

Infant Soy Formula: A Review of Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Parents often ask me about giving their infant a soy formula when their infant shows signs of difficulty tolerating breast soy formulamilk or cow’s milk based formulas. Soy seems to be a common go-to alternative; however, there are actually only a few scenarios where soy formula is recommended. The American Academy of Pediatrics published a journal article that reviewed the use of soy based infant formulas in 2008. Here is a summary of the main points.

A Review of Infant Soy Formula:

  • Soy formula is not indicated as an alternative for breast milk or for cow’s milk based formulas except in the case of Galactosemia and hereditary lactase deficiency (both are rare diagnoses). Soy formula may also be an option for parents who desire a vegetarian diet for their infant, if breastfeeding is not possible.
  • Soy formula is not indicated for children diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy. Instead, an extensively hydrolyzed formula should be considered, because 10-14% of these infants will also be allergic to soy protein. Read more

Racial Differences in the Diagnosis of ADHD

A recent study published in the June issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics indicated that Caucasian children are more likely to receive a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)ADHD in comparison to minority children.  This study followed more than 17,000 children across the nation from kindergarten through eighth grade and asked their parents whether not their children were ever diagnosed with ADHD.

Findings-Racial Differences in the Diagnosis of ADHD:

The researchers found that Hispanic and Asian children were about half as likely to receive a diagnosis of ADHD as Caucasian children.  African American children were about two thirds less likely to be diagnosed with the condition.

Implications of this Study:

It is important to realize that the study cannot indicate whether or not ADHD is over diagnosed in Caucasian children or under diagnosed in minority children.  However, the numbers are pretty glaring and most definitely indicate a discrepancy in not only diagnosing the condition, but also in the interventions received. Read more

Creative Ways for Kids to Get Five-a-Day

The general recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake is five servings per day. The serving size depends on age, but5 a Day a good rule of thumb is to get your family to consume 2-3 fruits and 2-3 vegetables each day. Does this sound difficult? With a little planning and some creativity, you can achieve this healthy goal.

Tips to Get Your Family to Eat 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day:

  • Blend fruit, and even veggies, into smoothies or popsicles. Most kids like treats that come in smoothie, milkshake, or popsicle form. Use yogurt, frozen fruit, a banana, and a handful of spinach to make a smoothie that tastes so good your kids will never guess they’re getting several servings of fruits and vegetables. Freeze into popsicle molds for a healthy frozen dessert.
  • Make fruit and vegetable dippers. Some vegetables simply taste better with a little dip. You can make an easy, healthy, savory dip by mixing plain Greek yogurt with dry Italian or Ranch seasoning packets. Have fresh vegetables chopped and ready to go for snacks or meals ahead of time. Make it more fun by arranging several different colored veggies (such as carrots, celery, baby tomatoes and yellow bell peppers), and two dips (such as hummus and the yogurt Ranch dip) in a muffin tray with six cups. Kids love this fun presentation.  Fruit can be more appealing when dipped as well. Try a flavored yogurt, or mix plain Greek yogurt with a little peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon.
  • Create designs that appeal to kids. Take advantage of the variety of colors and shapes of fruits and vegetables to make your kids more interested in them. You can make rainbows skewers using fruits and vegetables from each shade of the rainbow.  For example you can create a fruit skewer using strawberries, mini orange slices, bananas, kiwis, blueberries, and blackberries. Or have your kids make funny faces using bananas, carrots, berries, kiwis, melons or peppers. Use broccoli, olives, pineapple, a banana, tomatoes, carrots, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and oranges to make Sesame Street characters! This is also a great option for a child’s party or barbecue.

Fruits and vegetables provide many essential vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients that provide health benefits such as reducing inflammation and preventing cancer. These healthy foods also provide fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.

Feel like you have fruits and veggies covered?  Read here for ways to sneak more whole grains into your child’s diet.  If you have concerns about your family’s diet, click here to find out more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Nutrition Counseling program.

Visit us anytime at www.NSPT4kids.com

ADHD and Executive Functioning Resource Guide

Are you looking for more information on ADHD or Executive Functioning?  Read on for top picks from our ADHD ResourcesNeuropsychologist.

Top Resources for Information on ADHD and Executive Functioning:

  • Taking Charge of ADHD:  The Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents.  Barkley, Russell (2013): This book provides parents with evidence based interventions regarding ADHD.  It is well written and easily readable, while providing parents and practitioners with the latest research supported information regarding ADHD and various interventions.
  • Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents:  A Practical Guide to Assessment and InterventionDawson, Peg and Guare, Richard (2010): This book is aimed at practitioners that work with children with Executive Functioning concerns.  It may be a little research heavy for some parents; however, it is a wonderful resource for therapists and educators.   It includes basic research on Executive Functioning as well modifications and interventions that can help children and adolescents with a variety of Executive Functioning issues including disorganization, inflexibility, initiation of tasks, and monitoring work. Read more

Concussions are More Common in Teens than Once Thought

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

What is the prevalence of concussions in teens?

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

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

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

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

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

How to Handle Fireworks and Your Child’s Sensitivity to Noise

By the time the 4th of July rolls around, summer is in full swing!  Kids spend their days at camp; families spend more timefireworks relaxing, and everyone enjoys spending time outside in the sun. The 4th of July is a fun time to gather friends and family and celebrate with food, games and (of course) fireworks!

While these July 4th traditions bring excitement for many children, there are kids with hypersensitivities who do not look forward to the noisy day. Below are 5 strategies that can help your sensitive child enjoy the day as well.

5 Ways to Help Your Child with Hypersensitivities Enjoy the 4th of July:

  1. Prepare your child for the day by providing them with explanations of where you are going, what you will do there, and what they will hear. This will help them to understand what to expect from the day without being fearful. You can also prepare them for the noise by having a family music night where everyone bangs on pots and pans around the house!
  2. Watch a video, either online or on television, that has fireworks in it.
  3. Bring cotton balls or ear plugs to the fireworks event to help decrease the intensity of the sound.
  4. Ask friends who lives near a local fireworks show if you can watch from their home. Being indoors will also decrease the intensity of the sound.
  5. If your child still won’t have an enjoyable time during fireworks with the above strategies, consider having a babysitter stay home with your kids. She can plan fun holiday games and crafts to celebrate at home.

Have a safe and wonderful 4th of July!

For more ideas on helping your child, click here to read about activities to address your child’s tactile hypersensitivities.
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A Mother’s Role in Raising a Confident Daughter

As girls grow and develop, their overall sense of self-worth and confidence grows and changes.  Sadly, in confident daughteradolescence, a girl’s confidence and sense of self-worth often plummets.  This is due to the fact that beginning in the preteen years, body image becomes the barometer by which many girls measure their self-worth.  Confidence becomes one with how a young girl looks, and as a result, how she feel about herself.  The message our young girls receive is this: Women in our society are valued based on their physical attractiveness.  A mother is the main role model in her young daughter’s life.  Her daughter subconsciously takes in how her mother carries herself, regards herself, and thinks about herself. For this reason, mothers play a pivotal role in how a young girl navigates this challenging time. Read more