Archive for the ‘Motor (Gross and Fine) Delay’ Category

Stress

February 17, 2013

Stress from Google

Everyone is stressed! The fewer the stressors, the more opportunities for learning and development for children of all ages. Our goal is to identify and eliminate as many stressors as possible.

Environmental – Our homes and schools are full of stressors.
o Toxic Chemicals – Lead, mercury, antimony, aluminum, and other “heavy metals” reduce immunity, and interfere with the body’s ability to perform its many functions. Lead is “old news” and we know that any amount is unsafe for cognitive development. Every child should have lead levels tested.
Mercury, antimony, and aluminum are the “new” toxins that are also showing up in the bodies and brains of children with all types of delays. Their sources are power plants, ground water, petroleum plants, dental amalgams from the mother, vaccines, flame retardants, cookware, and other unlikely places. Read more about these metals here  and here.
Green your building with non-toxic materials for flooring, paint, cleaning supplies, building products, art and office supplies.
Chemicals from disinfectants, cleaners, building materials and other supplies “off gas” and when a person breathes them, they are toxic to the body. They are especially harmful to people with compromised immune systems, and those who have asthma.
The standard benchmark for design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings is LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Find a green building in your city, learn who greened it and consult with them.  Here is a handbook on how to green an existing building.
o Air Pollution – Open the windows when possible. When too hot, make sure air conditioning equipment is clean and not moldy. Use HEPA (an acronym for “high efficiency particulate air”) indoor air filters throughout building. HEPA filters can trap a large amount of very small particles that vacuum cleaners recirculate back into the air.
o Fluorescent lighting – Replace with bulbs that do not make noise or flicker. Use bulbs that offer the right color of lighting. Read this article on lighting.
o Noise – Play soft, gentle music, such as Mozart, which is the same rate as the human heart beat. Read more information  on “The Mozart Effect.”
Biological – Our bodies are toxic waste dumps too. Reduce our exposures.
o Water – Good hydration is essential for learning. Ensuring that our drinking water is pure is one of the most important steps we can take for children with developmental delays. Water should be available and offered frequently. Use water filters throughout the building.
o Diet and Nutrition – What kids are eating can be the determining factor between health and sickness. This is especially true for children with developmental delays. Sugar is one of the most damaging of all products ingested. Read more about it here.
Encourage families to cook and not eat “fast food.” Help them understand the importance of a varied diet of natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, good quality protein and good fats.
Research is showing that eliminating some foods from kids’ diets helps their development and learning tremendously. Many foods are shown to cause ear infections. Two types of foods that are particularly problematic for kids with delays are those containing gluten, the protein from wheat, and casein, the protein from dairy products. Read about gluten and dairy in many websites containing “gfcf.”
Children with Down syndrome have especially high nutritional needs. A company that specializes in the care and feeding of those with this genetic syndrome is Nutri-Chem, in Ottawa, Canada. The founder, Kent MacLeod, a pharmacist has written a book on the importance of diet and nutritional supplementation: Down Syndrome and Vitamin Therapy.
o Allergies – Many kids with developmental issues have allergies, not only to airborne particles, insects, and other environmental pests, but also to foods. Some allergies are life-threatening and immediate, such as shellfish and peanuts. Others are troublesome, causing fatigue, rashes, respiratory and digestive problems, and are delayed, taking hours or even days to show up. Read about the different kinds of allergic reactions here.

Physical – The physical body needs a good sensory diet and sleep to reduce stress.
o Movement – Use every opportunity to move to learn. Little children’s bodies learn by moving and using their senses of touch and having their muscles and joints take in sensations. Two good books about the importance of movement in learning are, Smart Moves: Why Learning is not all in Your Head, by Carla Hannaford, and Physical Activities for Improving Learning and Behavior by Cheatum. Obtain the workbook “Begin Where They Are,” with therapy activities, from http://oepf.org/product/begin-where-they-are-0.
o Reflexes – Over 100 different reflexes are programmed into the body to get the body moving appropriately. If demands on the body are premature, before the reflexes are fully integrated, then delayed development can be the result. Learn about reflexes through an intensive training session. Learn more about reflexes at http://masgutovamethod.com
o Vision – While some children have eyesight problems that can be corrected by glasses, others have vision issues, such as the two eyes not working together, in conditions called exotropia, esotropia and strabismus. Motor activities that are the foundation for vision development and the body must be strong to support binocular vision. The relationship between vision and learning can also be a training session for those at the center. To learn more about vision, read this.
A book explaining the role of vision in learning is How to Develop Your Child’s Intelligence by Getman.
o Hearing – Listening is to hearing as vision is to eyesight. Although a child can hear, his brain may not process what it hears. Several “listening programs” are available to help children give meaning to what they hear. Look here for understanding of this area.
o Sleep – Everyone needs uninterrupted sound sleep for their bodies to heal and repair. Pre-school aged children require 11-12 hours of sleep per night. Young children with disabilities might need more if they are contending with health issues. Help parents and teachers understand their kids’ need for rest periods. Read this.
Educational – Schools are often unknowingly a source of stress too.
o Inappropriate curriculum – All children learn in a predictable developmental sequence, just as they learn to walk before they run. We discourage teaching rote concepts such as the alphabet, counting and naming to young children. These skills will emerge when a child is developmentally ready. Here is an article on this subject.

o Non-ergonomic furniture – Sitting in small chairs when the trunk and head are not stable only results in compensatory techniques like tilting the head and rotating the hips. Replace hard, wooden chairs with soft gym mats, beanbags, cushions and pillows to help children develop core strength.

Emotional – Families have so many situations that add stress.
o Unreasonable expectations – This stressor is tied to the one above related to an inappropriate curriculum. Children want to please adults, and when they cannot comply with expectations, they become discouraged. Make sure that requirements are consistent with a child’s developmental age.
o Worries and fears – Some kids like being around many people; others find crowds difficult. It appeared that many of the children we saw were somewhat fearful of having so many adults watching and prodding them. Observations should be limited to one or two adults at a time until a child is comfortable emotionally.
o Family Issues – Today’s families, especially those with multiple children with disabilities, are under a great deal of stress. They need support systems to help them cope. Offer parent and sibling support groups where adults and children can share their experiences and learn from each other.

Behavioral – Treating symptoms is never the right answer.
o Medications – Pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs all have side effects which can cause behavioral symptoms as benign as restlessness and irritability, and as serious as rashes, seizures and fevers. They can also interfere with sensory processing, such as cause double vision and tactile defensiveness. Instead of treating symptoms, look for natural alternatives to prescription drugs, and search for underlying causes of illness, such as food allergies and toxicity,.
o Screen Time – While young children are attracted to the bright colors, sounds and movement of objects on computers, iPads, and iPhones, these two-dimensional objects are not good for development. To learn, children need to touch and see objects in three dimensions, not on flat screens. Please consider replacing electronic toys with playthings made out of natural materials. For non-verbal children, speaking with real people is superior to speaking to a machine. Psychologist Jane Healy is the expert on brain development and screen time. Please refer to her books, Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds — and What We Can Do About It, and Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence.

Summary
Even with loving, supportive parents and teachers, the our lifestyle and environment add stress to the lives of our children with developmental delays. Start with the physical environment, and reduce exposures to noise, light, toxins and sensory overload. Every time you replace a product, purchase one of higher quality with fewer toxins. Gradually, stressors will reduce, and the home and school will be more conducive places for learning and growing.

Kuwait Revisited: Offering Help to Those with Severe Disabilities

January 3, 2013

Kuwait Dubai Jordan and Erika's wedding etc 441Kuwait Dubai Jordan and Erika's wedding etc 241artists

Right before Christmas, I returned from my second mission to Kuwait. Now that the holidays are over, I want to share my impressions. I made my first trip there in May, when I was invited to assist with the launch of Center 21, whose motto is “putting the able in disabled.” This enormous undertaking is the brainchild of devoted parents who want their son and others to continue to learn and grow despite the fact that they are no longer eligible for educational services. Center 21 will provide therapeutic and recreational services for the thousands of young adults with disabilities in that tiny country squished precariously between Iran, Iraq, and Saudia Arabia.
The Hosts
Lamia and Nabil and their children Abadi, Saud and Nadia, opened their home and hearts to us. Abadi, the inspiration for Center 21 remembered me, and followed the adult strangers around like a puppy dog, high fiving us over and over again. He was clearly communicating his welcome! His younger siblings, one in college, the other a high school senior, soaked up our knowledge, learning from us at every opportunity. One of Center 21’s volunteers, Fawzi, was our driver, tour guide, technology consultant, and caterer, anticipating and taking care of our every need from sightseeing to late dinner. My team of experts instantly fell in love with our hosts’ warmth and generosity. They made this venture so comfortable and enjoyable that it hardly seemed like work!
The Team
This trip had one repeat member, my long-time friend and colleague, Aubrey Carton Lande, occupational therapist, award winning musician and horsewoman. Accompanying Aubrey and me on our excursion was Mary Rentschler, a specialist in Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI®). Completing this international team were Scandinavian neuro-developmental optometrists Thorkild and Lena Rasmussen, whose unfathomable job it was to evaluate and prescribe treatment for the undiagnosed vision issues rampant in the special needs population. As team leader, my prodigious responsibility was as case manager, educator and priority-setter. What a humbling challenge for us all!
The Mission
Whereas in May our emphasis was on visiting schools, government agencies and private organizations, this trip focused on providing individual assessments and services that could improve the quality of the lives of those with special needs. We set up serial evaluations with each expert, followed by group explanations of the role of each area in remediation, and the importance of continuity, support and follow-up by the families. In addition, similar to our previous trip, we delivered an evening conference in a magnificent ballroom, followed the next night by small group discussions on prioritizing therapies, sensory diets and reflex integration.

The Culture
Whoever would have thought that a nice Jewish girl from Pittsburgh would come out of retirement to hang out, joke with, and consult to Muslims in Kuwait? We bonded as humans with common goals and philosophies that instantly overrode our religious, educational, language, fashion and cultural differences. When speaking with parents, sometimes with a translator, my brain quickly disregarded the traditional dress worn by some, seeing only the love in their eyes, and the fear in their hearts. Kuwaiti parents are no different than my clients in the States.
The Disabilities
After working for over 40 years with families of those with special needs, I thought I had seen it all. But nothing prepared me for the complexity of the issues facing these Kuwaiti families. While the country is oil rich, it is resource poor. When a young child receives a diagnosis, little remediation is offered. “Take your child with a disability home and love him,” most families were advised.

We met many individuals age four through the mid-twenties with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, and global developmental delays. Because Center 21 is planning to have an outpatient facility providing occupational and speech therapy services to all ages, younger kids were included in our case load. Many parents had not one or even two children with diagnoses; several had three of eight or so children with serious disabilities under one roof. Only the loving care of live-in nannies from countries such as the Philippines and Nepal helped them cope.
Just like their American counterparts, families in Kuwait are grateful for and blessed by all of their children, regardless of ability. However, because prenatal testing is not performed in Kuwait at the drop of a hat as it is in the US, children with genetic syndromes are common, especially in families where marriage of cousins is not uncommon.
In the United States an estimated 92% of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies, according to Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatric geneticist at Children’s Hospital Boston. In the absence of prenatal testing, the United States would have experienced a 34 percent increase in the number of Down syndrome births between 1989 and 2005, Skotko estimates. Instead, 15 percent fewer such babies were born during that time, representing a 49 percentage point difference between expected and observed rates, according to Skotko’s research review. Add to that other screenings, such as those for over 200 other known genetic syndromes, such as Tay-Sachs, that occur in specific populations, and the number of genetically different births is reduced even further.

The Children
Each expert spent more than an hour with about 20 children, a few of whom I introduced you to in my previous blog. For the repeats, we had the opportunity to delve more deeply, and to carve out a prioritized plan. Here are some of the complex cases we saw:

  • Dallal is the 16-year-old non-verbal young lady I introduced you to in my previous blog, who frequently rips off and breaks her glasses. In May, I had suggested a less strong Rx, blatantly practicing optometry without a license. Because she continued to reject even the weaker prescription, this summer her father decided to abandon the glasses altogether.
    The examining optometrist determined that Dallal’s eyes turned out, a condition called exotropia, and that even the lower Rx stressed her brain to keep her vision binocular. Dr. Lena thus recommended no lenses at all, and replaced her glasses with some motor activities designed to strengthen her neck and adjacent muscles, thus allowing her eyes to work together more efficiently. In addition, Aubrey worked with Dallal’s parents to design a sensory room that provided her with deep proprioceptive input and calming activities to lessen her frequent agitation.
  • Abdullah, also 16 and non-verbal, has journeyed outside of Kuwait with his devoted parents in efforts to improve function and skills. His calm demeanor and healthy appearance are unusual for a male with an autism diagnosis. His mother shared that he benefitted greatly from a gluten- and casein-free diet, and had undergone a detoxification program. Yet, he experienced both extreme tactile and auditory defensiveness that prevented him from relating to strangers.
    Addressing the tendon guard and Babinski foot reflexes calmed his extreme tactile defensiveness. Mary is hopeful that with continuous work, he will become available for other reflex repatterning techniques and eventually be ready to engage positively and communicate with others.
  • Mohammed is a teen with Down syndrome who looks more like nine than his 15 years. He has a winning smile that makes those around him melt. Totally loved and over-indulged by his family, he is courteous and compliant. He can tie his shoes, speak in sentences, and even read and write a little.
    His glasses prescription for extreme myopia was also found to exacerbate his visual skill development, and was reduced. Work on his large motor skills quickly improved his grasp of a writing implement and his speech. Discussion about the importance of immune system boosting foods and supplements and a referral to Nutri-Chem and the book Down Syndrome and Vitamin Therapy by Nutri-Chem’s pharmacist founder, Kent MacLeod, rounded out his program.
  • Achmed is one of three boys with autism in a family of eight. His exhausted mother shared matter-of-factly that in addition to coping with her sons, she is the only daughter of a mother on daily dialysis, and is having some health problems of her own. Referencing the work of one of my heroes, Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, the alarm went off in my head for mercury poisoning. Klinghardt implicates mercury whenever a family has multiple children with autism diagnoses. I asked Achmed’s mother about her dental status, and she began to weep, showing me a mouth full of silver amalgams mixed with gold crowns: a veritable petri dish for disease. We discussed the importance of working with an expert in detoxification who knew how to remove mercury safely. Without biomedical intervention, this family cannot get well.
  • Yasmeen is a four-year-old whirling dervish with a single eyebrow that crosses her forehead. In an hour’s time she never stopped moving or emitting a high pitched scream. She eats corn flakes with milk for breakfast, spaghetti for lunch, and pizza for dinner, snacks on crackers and cookies all day, and washes everything down with milk. She has a brother nine months old who is covered in eczema. Her young parents, who are biologically related, were told that their daughter is autistic, and that nothing can be done for her. Last year her teacher suggested casting her arms and putting mitts on her hands to prevent her from self-abusing and touching others. Now that these torture devices have been removed, her hands are so weak, that she cannot use them functionally.
    Yasmeen, like Achmed, is physically sick. I have no doubt that she is gluten and casein sensitive, and is ravaged with a combination of toxins, gut bugs, viruses, parasites and metals. All the sensory therapies and external interventions in my tool chest are impotent in trying to improve her function. We must start with nutrigenomic testing such as offered by Dr. Amy Yasko, to see what type of genetic abnormality this family is carrying, and offer supplements to correct the faults. Somehow, some way, we must improve her diet and get some nutrition into her. This case is urgent; the younger brother is another statistic waiting to happen.
  • Hussein is a young adult with severe cerebral palsy. He has little use of any of his limbs, and very poor head and eye muscle control. One of his legs is permanently perched in his lap, with the knee bent. He does not speak, but appears to understand what others are communicating, according to his sister, who is his advocate. He wears diapers, and is totally dependent upon caregivers for eating and moving from place to place.
    Reflex work on Hussein’s feet left his muscles uncontracted for the first time in his life. He was able to release his leg to an almost normal position. He smiled broadly. His sister started to cry, and promised to continue the prescribed therapy daily.

The Causes
Why so many severe cases with such complex needs? Maybe it started with exposure to the chemical soup from the Gulf War oil fires, compounded by unknown viruses and bacteria, and exposure to heavy metals, mercury and who knows what else, that tweaked their genes in a unique way. Add an extremely aggressive vaccination schedule, the ubiquitous presence of American fast-food restaurants, and stressors such as a well-meaning early intervention program that gets kids walking before their bodies are ready, and you have the “total load.”

The Healing
In the short time we had, we introduced that concept that the body’s top priority is staying well, and that speaking, relating and learning had to take a back seat to digestion, respiration and detoxification. We spoke of the success many families we knew in the U.S. experienced when they combined biomedical intervention with sensory therapies to heal their children with autism, and to improve behavior in those with genetic syndromes and global delays.
When anyone seeks medical help at a hospital, the first step after hydrating and stabilizing the body is running tests to determine what is wrong. We urged our Kuwaiti families to follow this model. We distributed test kits from the Great Plains Laboratory to measure the basics: gut function, the presence of dangerous metals, bacteria, viruses, and parasites, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, immune system markers and more. Hopefully, parents will take the time to collect the necessary hair, stool, urine and blood to open the door to healing.
The Future
As soon as possible, we plan to set up an online network so that parents can communicate with and support each other. Furthermore, we must also appoint case managers to provide continuous education and training. Without support and frequent check-ins families can easily become discouraged and drop out.
Nabil has suggested that we return in February to follow up and continue our work. Whenever we go back, careful monitoring is essential. We need to enlarge our team to include more vision specialists, as well as experts in assistive technology, psychology and counseling.
I would also love to host representatives of Center 21 to visit the United States and see model day, residential, vocational, biomedical, sensory, vision and other programs that they can emulate in Kuwait. If you know of a program I should include in the itinerary, please let me know.
The Payoff
I can think of no more rewarding work than what I have been blessed to do this year. Stay tuned for a continuation of this journey. Lamia, Nabil and their children, Fawzi and his beautiful family, Achmed, Mohammed, Dalal, Abdullah, Yasmeen, Hussein, and the others we saw are my new extended family. I wish them and you a healthy and happy 2013.

Strabismus: Implications for Development

January 19, 2010

I received a beautiful holiday card from a lovely couple showing several pictures of their two young children. The three-year-old boy is playing ball and laughing. The year-old-girl is wearing glasses and staring into space unfocused with her mouth open. I last saw these children about a year ago, when the girl was just an infant; I had not spoken with her parents since.

It appears to me that this little lady has crossed eyes, also known as strabismus. Her development concerns me greatly.  Unknown to me is what treatment she is receiving. I know from experience that strabismus is a serious visual condition that affects the ability of the eyes and the brain to communicate. A strabismus rarely goes away untreated; children generally do NOT outgrow it.

No one knows this better than neuroscientist, Sue Barry, the author of Fixing My Gaze. I just finished reading her remarkable book, and recommend it highly.  You don’t have to be a scientist to understand the impact of going through life with misaligned eyes. 

What happens normally? As we scan our environment, not only must our two eyes simultaneously aim at the same object, but our brains must integrate a message from each eye into a single image. The process of fusion (combining the pictures from each eye into a single picture) enables us to perceive three-dimensional depth and helps us to determine our relationships to objects in our environment. Vision emerges as the primary sense when a typical child integrates it with touch, movement and the other senses.

What goes wrong?  In children with developmental delays, signs of incomplete or inefficient eye teaming (binocularity) usually appear around eighteen months, just when expressive language is emerging. However, later onset is not uncommon. Poor eye teaming can be associated with neurological disturbances related to heavy metal toxicity, high fevers and childhood illnesses such as strep or pneumonia. Dr. Melvin Kaplan found that about half of the children with autism that he examines have an undiagnosed strabismus.

Initially, the inability to efficiently and effectively team the eyes may appear only at times of illness, fatigue or intense concentration. However, frequently, the vulnerable binocularity can worsen; strabismus and amblyopia or a “lazy eye” can result. 

First, Strabismus… In strabismus, one eye accurately aims at the object of regard, while the other eye misses it by aiming above, below or to the left or right of it. Double vision (diplopia) then results. The misalignment may be constant or intermittent, and thus not always noticeable.  Disorganization and confusion follow as the brain struggles to integrate competing messages.

Next, Amblyopia…. In order to minimize the disorganization and confusion, sometimes the unconscious mind adapts to strabismus by suppressing signals from the faulty aiming eye.  Eventually, visual suppression leads to amblyopia or “lazy eye,” in which the nerves that transport and interpret visual information lose some of their ability. The result is poor vision in one eye, due to an interference in the neurological interpretive mechanism. 

In many instances the reduced vision cannot be corrected with glasses or surgery.  With the eyes functioning at less than 100% efficiency, any sustained visual activity such as reading may require extra effort and strain. As in strabismus, the only obvious sign of amblyopia may be an eye turn. However, some people with amblyopia may turn or tilt their heads to see certain things or close one eye when reading.  I diagnosed a possible strabismus in a child after looking at photos in which his head was tilted to the left in each and every one. 

Proper early developmental vision examinations by an optometrist trained to look at the whole child are essential. Eye turns cannot always be observed and require special testing. Untreated binocular vision problems can pose obstacles to development in many areas.

Strabismus & Amblyopia Affect Spatial Relations and Balance Usually, such as in the holiday photo, cosmetic aspect of misalignment is obvious. Even more important are the effects on function and vision, because strabismus disrupts the ability to orient oneself in space.  A good number of the eye’s neural fibers bring information to the body’s balance system. If they deliver inaccurate information, the person’s sense of where he is in space can be compromised.  

The Psychological Effects of Strabismus -  Strabismus and double vision can adversely affect social-emotional development.  A child who is disoriented in space experiences himself and his environment as unstable and unpredictable. He may grow increasingly inward, become belligerent or demonstrate sensory defensiveness, all characteristics of “autism”

Treatment and Referral – Strabismus and amblyopia always require attention. Surgery, even when done when a child is young, may cosmetically straighten the eyes but usually does not improve visual function, especially without pre- and post-surgical vision therapy. Clinical studies indicate that fewer than 20% of patients who undergo strabismic surgery acquire depth perception.  Patching the “strong” eye to force the “lazy” eye to see is also of limited value.  Barry is one of surgery’s failures.

Effective treatment programs using vision therapy combine involve lenses, prisms and motor activity designed to teach the eyes, body and brain to work together.  Research shows that vision therapy can be effective at any age, but more treatment is needed the longer the condition has existed. Barry is one of vision therapy’s most prominent successes. 

At 50 years of age, she danced among falling snowflakes, experienced skyscrapers looming toward her, and tree branches projecting upward and outward, “enclosing and commanding palpable volumes of space” for the first time in her life. 

If you suspect that a child’s eyes don¹t work together, as I do with my friends’ child, go to the vision section in the Practitioner Directory at http://www.devdelay.org/ to find a qualified eye care practitioner in your area. This section lists organizations that train and certify optometrists to work with children and adults with a variety of vision issues. Go either to www.covd.org or www.oepf.com For a  complete explanation of this common problem, go also to http://www.strabismus.org/ .

What Does "Keeping Kids Healthy" REALLY mean?

November 4, 2009

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The TV bombards us with ads promising that vaccines and pharmaceutical products will “keep you and your family” healthy during the flu season.  Are there alternatives?

I just gave a talk at a local school on “staying healthy.”  Parents came armed with notepads, ready to hear my favorite natural solutions to sniffles and coughs. They went home with those.  However, I started with a question:  Does “healthy” necessarily mean, “not sick?”

Philip Incao, MD, a physician in Colorado, describes health as “a beautiful sunny day with a brilliant blue sky and no clouds in sight.  At any time, if our Spirit is strong, then, like the sun we can dissolve the clouds that come our way. Sometimes too many clouds form at the same time, or a cloud becomes too large and obscures the sun’s light. If we don’t pay attention to these messages, the clouds can grow and merge into a huge thunderstorm. After the rain, the sky becomes clear again.”

I really love this description.  I can visualize my spirit making those clouds go away. I am also well aware of times when I have not paid attention to the messages and I have endured some thunderstorms!

Here are some of the points from my talk. 

Main ingredients for a strong immune system:

  • Nutritious, unprocessed, organic food in season,
  • Clean, filtered air and water
  • Daily and ample sleep/ exercise/ sun / nature

Impediments to staying healthy:

  • Toxins from foods, environment
  • Lifestyle stressors in job, family, friends
  • Issues of inconvenience and changing long standing habits

Here is a list of specific foods and supplements that boost the immune system. Thank you to Lisa Rudley for helping to compile it.

Foods  “Warming” foods. Less raw; more well-cooked for winter.  Soups and stews. Seasonal fruits – apples, pears, persimmons, vegetables – root veggies- onions, turnips, squash, parsnips, beets, radishes, greens, kale, collards, cilantro, parsley. Limit sugar!  Read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.   

Supplements

Vitamin A – Important for vision and mucous membrane integrity.   RDA 1,000-2,000 IU for children,

Vitamin C – 2-4 grams per day or to “bowel tolerance.”  

Vitamin D3 – Adults need 5,000 IU when midday sun exposure is not possible. Infants need 1,000 IU, and older children need 2,000 IU. – Need good oils for absorption.

Vitamin E -  Anti-inflammatory effects and increases resistance to infection. Use only natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol), not the synthetic form (dl-alpha-tocopherol). A mixed tocopherol form of vitamin E is best because children need the gamma as well as the alpha forms. 100 mg for children under two and 200 mg for children aged 2-12.

Omega-3 fatty acids – As fresh, wild, cold-water small fish or their oils in capsules or liquid form.   Salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines. Flax & Hemp seeds for vegans.

Zinc – 25 mg zinc per day, but if you continue zinc for an extended period of time also take copper to prevent a deficiency (10:1 ratio of copper to zinc).

Colostrum – Immunoglobulin IgA coats the intestinal lining preventing attack by pathogens. Lactoferrin locks onto iron releasing it to red blood cells and depriving bacteria of the iron they need for reproduction. Lysozyme destroys microorganisms on contact. Cytokines boost T-cell activity and stimulate production of a baby’s own protective immunoglobulins. Polysaccharides bind to bacteria and block their attachment to mucus membranes. Take two capsules twice a day through the winter months.

Mushrooms: Activate white blood cells and stimulate antibodies. Reishi (ganoderma), maitake (grifola), shiitake (lentinus), polyporus, and tremella.  Use dried or in tablet, powder, or liquid extract form.

Homeopathics:

Influenzinum – One dose each week for 4 weeks (9C, 12C, or 30C) if you are exposed to the flu.   

Osccillococcinum – 3 X a day for 2-3 days

In today’s fast-paced world we “need” our kids to be “not sick.”  If they have to miss school, one of us has to miss work, or grandma, a friend, or other relative has to fill in.  It’s inconvenient, and in using a pathology model, means that something has gone amiss. 

If we trust our bodies, though, “sick” actually means our immune system is working well.  By coughing we bring up mucous; fevers help clear out toxins; rashes mean detoxification. In fact, in the “olden days” getting sick was a bi-annual house-cleaning ritual! 

Dr. Alan Scherr of the Northport Wellness Center on Long Island suggests that we give kids “well days” instead of “sick days!”  I like the idea of putting health into the positive.  Staying home is respectful of your body’s working to stay well. 

Nature is the greatest healer. Take a walk through the leaves. Hike, sit under a tree by a stream. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and our children is to “SLOW DOWN,” says Susan Johnson, MD, a California pediatrician. Remember, doing “nothing” is often the best!

 

 

 

From Play to Work with Hattie Larlham

September 8, 2008

On a beautiful day last week I hopped into my car and drove to Mantua, Ohio, about two hours away, to visit Hattie Larlham, the new workplace of my friend, Ingrid Kanics, an occupational therapist.  I was not prepared for my emotional reaction to this astounding multi-dimensional operation serving more than 1000 children and adults with severe disabilities.

I had started my career in Boston at a facility very much like Hattie Larlham.  In fact, Kennedy Hospital was the first place I met an OT and learned about the power of movement.  Soon after I moved back to Pittsburgh, I was introduced to Ingrid, who was busy making play spaces accessible to all kinds of children.  Her two-story treehouse at Pittsburgh’s now defunct Center for Creative Play allowed kids in wheelchairs to get a birds-eye view.

Now she is in Ohio, honing her skills with the same population of medically fragile children I served in the early 1970’s  Just look at the picture of what she has designed! Ingrid’s skills have earned her several awards for incorporating sensory skills into children’s play areas in parks and museums. 

Hattie Larlham was a registered nurse who, in the sixties, became frustrated by the lack of programs for children with disabilities.  So she and her family started the Hattie Larlham Foundation and took children into their home and cared for them. Today, this amazing organization provides residential and community care through group homes, foster care, vocational training and other services.  Its 27 acre campus is growing and changing daily.  Ingrid showed me construction of new therapy rooms, a pool, multi-sensory room, apartments and eating areas that provide a home-like atmosphere of those with developmental disabilities.

Two of the most unusual programs are the sensory playground and the art room.  The programs are truly multi-sensory.  Even the most physically challenged residents can paint and draw by working with technology and a human partner.  The art that is produced is such high quality that it sells for respectable prices at local art and craft fairs.

After the campus tour, Ingrid drove me into Hudson, a charming historic town where Hattie’s Café  and Gift Shop occupy the town’s old pharmacy.  The Hudson location is one of three cafes run by Hattie Larlham.  Complete with old-fashioned soda fountain stools and lighting, it sells lunches, fair-traded items like coffee, and home-made products, both edible and artsy.

We ate a delicious salad prepared and served by a young adult with Down syndrome.  Other employees worked in the kitchen and were making gift baskets with a variety of themes, such as “Just Ducky Baby,”  “Best Teacher” and “Doggie Basket.” All purchases support education and training. Gift baskets are great ideas for holiday giving.  To view them and order, go to www.hattiescafe.org

Hattie Larlham was way ahead of her time.  Wouldn’t she be pleased at how her ideas have grown with the times and still maintain her homestyle feel? To learn more about Hattie Larlham, go to www.hattielarlham.org


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