Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Does Your Child Require Special Services in School?

Have you noticed that when you search for the term “special needs,” the main focus tends to be typically on autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Those conditions certainly deserve a concentrated focus and increased awareness, but there are so many special needs that extend well beyond those two widely known areas. And there are so many parents with children who are sincerely desperate for information and support for their child’s specific special needs.
Remember, autism was not always widely known; it was through the huge effort of the many moms and dads, doctors and teachers, researchers and advocates, who stood up and demanded that more research be done, more money be allocated for, and more information become available for children with autism.
The same needs to be done for the many diseases, conditions, and afflictions of all children so every child can get the services, treatment, and accommodations necessary for her particular circumstance.

What is a special need?

A special need is required when a diagnosis in a child requires special assistance in order to help that child be the best she can be, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are medical issues (chronic and congenital), developmental delays, behavioral issues, mental issues, and more. It is impossible to list all, but here are just some special-need conditions (some you may not have heard of) that warrant treatment and services at home, in school, and beyond:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sluggish, Anxious, Exhausted? It Might NOT Be Just the Baby...

Laura Faber of Soho was surprised by how tired she had become since giving birth. As a first-time mom, she initially denied her fatigue until it became unbearable. During her six-week checkup, she mentioned that she had been so tired she couldn't function. "I first thought that I should feel that tired because I was up all night with the baby, but even when I got sleep, I still felt wiped out," Faber explains. Because of this and her other complaints of body aches and dry skin, her doctor decided to run a quick thyroid panel in her labs that day. By 2pm the following day, Laura's doctor called to tell her that she had postpartum thyroiditis, a disease that commonly affects new mothers.

What is Postpartum Thyroiditis?
The thyroid is a central gland in the body, so it's no surprise that when it has problems, your whole body is affected. According to the American Thyroid Society, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime, a significant finding considering the thyroid produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue, and organ in the body.

In postpartum thyroiditis, the thyroid becomes inflamed, which impairs function. The hypothyroid phase occurs when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone to supply the body. The hyperthyroid phase is diagnosed when the thyroid produces too much hormone.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

POTS: A Debilitating Syndrome You Probably Never Heard Of That Affects Children and Teens (and Adults)

Not many know that POTS has directly affected my family. After years of fighting a chronic illness, we only recently found out that my daughter has POTS. Over the past year, I have learned everything I could about this horrible condition, which steals childhoods from kids and teens. It is life-changing and the ironic thing is that even though I have been a writer specializing been in parenting and health, and although I have three children (one of which has had chronic health conditions), I had never before heard of POTS until my daughter was thought to have it. You can read a bit more about our story with POTS here

The article below appeared in NY Parenting magazines and hit nearly 100,000 views within just a few weeks. That is how desperate our POTS community is for awareness, information, and ultimately, a cure. If you know anyone with POTS, or are a school nurse, teacher, doctor, or a parent, please read through the whole piece to gain a better understanding. There are several resources listed at the bottom of this article. Thank you to all the folks in my POTS community who helped us in those dark few weeks after diagnosis, and who continue to help us whenever a new symptom debilitating or scary symptom appears, and who are always there to lend their support and love for others who are battling this terrible condition.

Julia Swanson was a vivacious, smart, and fun-loving teen until, quite abruptly, she wasn’t. One day, she felt dizzy, nauseous, and her heart was racing before leaving for school. Thinking she was coming down with the flu, she brushed it off. After a few days, the flu never set in but Julia kept having these symptoms. Then she almost passed out in school after walking up the stairs. 

Doctor after doctor could not identify why a healthy teen was experiencing such debilitating symptoms. One said it was simple tachycardia — an abnormally rapid heart rate — brought on by the stress of school. Another said it could be anxiety or panic disorder. Another said it was irritable bowel syndrome. Yet another said it was a hormonal imbalance. The last one said it was allergies. Julia became unable to walk very far, be active, concentrate, socialize, or do anything she would normally enjoy doing.

Every doctor she visited missed the diagnosis. It wasn’t until her mother, Elaine, took her to a psychiatrist to rule out any psychiatric conditions, but the doctor said he didn’t think she had any mental issues at all. In fact, she was reacting very normally for someone going through such terrifying physical experiences day in and day out. “She may have POTS,” he said. It was the first time that Elaine had heard the term before.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What Finally Forced Me to Stop Being a People-Pleaser

I have always avoided confrontation. The thought of speaking up and asking for what I wanted or needed was a lost trait in my character.
When I was a kid, I had no trouble speaking my mind but somewhere around puberty, like so many others, I became a people-pleaser. And pleasing others often means denying yourself your true feelings, wants and wishes because they are the very things that might offend or put someone out.
There are a lot of us out there.
When I was managing editor at a monthly magazine, I quickly realized how many of our female employers and freelancers would apologize, not speak up for themselves, and settle for less than wanted, whether it be workload or salary. In stark contrast, male employees, even those with little experience, would rally for themselves consistently.
So what made me, after so many years of being non-confrontational, finally learn how to stand up for myself?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Letter To My Daughter On Her College Graduation

I remember the first day you started at St. Francis. You called me on the phone from downtown, frantic, as you had just gotten off the train and you couldn't find the college. It turned out you were right around the corner. Eventually, you found your way. Since then, Dad and I have watched you challenge yourself in demanding classes like cognitive neuroscience, take on internships at the Brooklyn Autism Center, RTP, and Women's Initiative, be inducted into Psi Chi, give countless presentations, put in hundreds of hours of studying (and as Katie would say "thesising" day and night), and hold down a job in the admissions office for the past four years. You also served as president the photography club and had a photo exhibit at the college and then took a marine biology course in the Virgin Islands, complete with jumping from a boat into the sea to snorkel...at night.... in the dark!
Not only did you set out to get a Bachelor's degree, but you also decided to pursue a Master's degree at the same time. We have never seen anyone put in as much blood, sweat and tears (literally) into a project and we were not at all surprised when you found out a few days ago that you got an A on your thesis. And all the while you have been a wonderful daughter, a caring sister and friend, and a sweet granddaughter and niece.
22 years ago, when we had you, we worried if we would do all the right things to give you the best life and you have exceeded our expectations beyond. You are the first person in our immediate family to obtain a Master's degree and this is just the beginning.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Saying Goodbye To A Beloved Pet

About a week ago, our oldest cat, Lily, stopped eating out of the blue. She began vomiting a bit and quickly appeared dehydrated. She had become very skinny over the past few months but I chalked that up to age because she was still so friendly, happy, and lively. However, one day she was rubbing up on the kitchen chair and chomping down on a bite of pizza with the kids yet just a few days later, she was vomiting and parched. I took her to our vet, Dr. Jeff Beverly at Marine Park Vet Group in Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Initial blood work ruled out a few suspected diseases, like thyroid issues and kidney failure. She was given fluids for dehydration and the next step was an ultrasound scheduled for Monday morning. But on Friday night, she looked listless and was projectile vomiting. Dr. Beverly said to bring her in at any time if she became any worse and I did on Saturday morning. I was sure she needed fluids and honestly, I was afraid to keep her at home. Dr. Beverly agreed she should hospitalized because she needed IV fluids and had a heart murmur, but since their practice was closed on Sundays, he quickly set us up with an emergency care hospital where they could also perform an immediate ultrasound. In less than an hour, Lily was being triaged at the 24-hour facility.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day Gifts: From The Kids vs. From Dad

The countdown is on! With only a couple of days left till Mother’s Day, some of you may still be scrambling to find the perfect gift, card, or activity to celebrate the special moms in your life this Sunday.

I offered some suggestions in my article, “Mother’s Day Gifts: 5 Things Moms Really Want“, and while many of you agreed with the ideas, some of you commented to say a few interesting things about Mother’s Day, and gifts in particular. It made me wonder how traditional today’s moms are when it comes to Mother’s Day.

A few of you objected to the mass commercialization of Mother’s Day. I have to agree with that sentiment because as much the perfect gift can make a mother smile, knowing she is valued and appreciated is what matters most. Impersonal gifts mean less in every circumstance on any holiday.

One savvy reader said: “Mother’s Day has become, like Valentine’s Day, a celebration of consumerism, not a way to honor one’s mother as originally intended. Moreover, mothers who are respected and treated with kindness year-round don’t need a special pretty princess day.”