Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Getting guilt-free time off

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

nine o'clockFew parents can afford the kind of support or home care that would truly provide the respite you need to recharge your batteries. Therefore, you need to be creative in trying to build in snippets of time off.

Parenting a preemie, a child with a birth defect, developmental delay or disability is all-consuming. The physical and emotional toll it takes on a parent can be so heavy that you may wonder how you will go on if you don’t get a break.

Here is what used to work for me:

I decided that every Wednesday was my day off. On that day, I would not make a bed, empty the dishwasher, do laundry (unless absolutely necessary), book doctor or therapy appointments, or otherwise do anything that I usually did on the other six days of the week. Returning non-emergency, non-important emails or phone calls could wait until the next day. After all, I was “off duty” – the usual daily chores could wait. I did not feel guilty that beds were unkempt, because after all, I was off duty. I did not care that if someone rang my doorbell, the house was not tidy because (you guessed it) I was off duty. Dinner was simple – leftovers or take out, on paper plates please! It was my day off so I didn’t have to cook or do dishes. All I had to do that day was take care of my children and myself, which was enough. Wednesday was the day I gave myself a free pass.

It may sound silly or overly simple, but it worked for me. I looked forward to that day in the middle of the week when I didn’t have to do all the things that I usually did on the other days of the week. It was a little way for me to give myself a reprieve without feeling guilty. After all, with most jobs, you get time off to recharge your batteries and become refreshed. Parents raising kids with special healthcare needs must have “time off,” too, even if they can’t physically get away.

Here is another approach I used when my kids got a bit older. I would tell them that at 9 pm I “turn into a pumpkin” (a la Cinderella). That meant they had to have homework done, backpacks packed, and questions asked because I was about to go into my room to unwind (usually by watching a TV show). I can still hear them telling each other “We better show mom this (whatever it was) fast because it is almost pumpkin time!” It was a way for me to know that my day had an end (sort of), and a way for them to respect that Mom needed time to relax. It was amazing how quickly everyone got used to the routine. I even got a night shirt with the words “OFF DUTY” on the front! (A little extra emphasis can be a good thing…haha!) The bottom line is that this method worked well for my family, and especially for me.

Let’s face it, your kids need you, and they need you to be fully functional. If you can’t get someone to help give you a break, maybe my little day-off scenario and “pumpkin” deadline will work for you.

If you have a method of how you get re-charged, please share.

 

Note: The mini-series on Delays and Disabilities has lots of info to help you if you have a child with special needs. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions. If you have questions, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Fathers help mold their children’s future

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

dad and babyAlthough this blog is called “News Moms Need,” this week we’d like to give a shout-out to dads. Fathers provide a specific kind of nurturing and support to babies and children. Research suggests that fathers who are active and present in their children’s lives may have a positive effect on their future development.

All fathers, and especially those of children who are born prematurely, with medical conditions or disabilities, play a vital role in their children’s care. They diaper, feed and soothe babies, attend IFSP or IEP meetings, advocate for their children, help with homework, and pitch in when and where they are needed.

In a study that looked at the experiences of first-time fathers of late preterm infants, the authors noted “Fathers believed they had the ‘best job in the world,’ yet saw fathering as the ‘biggest job ever.’ Fathers viewed fatherhood as an opportunity for personal growth and reflected on how their lives had changed since the arrival of their infant.”

Just as fathers are instrumental in molding their young children, they are also deeply affected when something goes wrong. We have heard from dads who lost a baby or child, and the grief they experience is deep and constant. Although they may grieve in different ways from the mom, they nevertheless experience profound pain.

Here are some facts about the increasing role of dads in the lives of their children:

  • Twenty percent of fathers (1 out of 5) are now the primary caregivers of preschool-aged children when the mother is employed.
  • The number of stay-at-home dads (in a home where the mom works) has doubled in the last 25 years.
  • In the last 40 years, the number of father-only families has more than tripled.
  • In one national survey, 95% of fathers reported they participate in bathing and diapering their children several times per week.
  • A recent government report stated “Although fathers continue to spend less time on childcare than mothers, this gap has narrowed over the past 10 years and dads are increasingly performing caregiving activities traditionally done by mothers.”
  • A Pew Research study reports, “The amount of time parents spend with their children continues to go up. Fathers have nearly tripled their time with children since 1965.”

There is no doubt about it – mothers and fathers bring a different dynamic to parenting. Both are critically important in the long, joyous but often arduous road of parenting, and deserve to be acknowledged.

To all the dads out there: what advice would you give a man as he is about to become a father for the first time?

 

Comments or questions? Send them to AskUs@machofdimes.org.

View posts in the series on Delays and Disabilities, here.

Oh to be understood!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

child learning to readHelping a child with attention or learning problems is a feat that most parents find intensely challenging. You may know that your child is bright, yet she can’t seem to keep up with her peers at school and is becoming increasingly difficult to manage at home.

Children with disabilities have a hard time expressing their frustrations, as they don’t fully understand what they should be doing. As a parent, you have expectations for your child, but you don’t see what they see. You can’t fully grasp their struggle.

In order to help your child, you first need to have an accurate idea of what she is experiencing. By getting in her shoes, even for a little while, you will develop an appreciation for her struggles, and have a starting point from which to start your journey of setting up interventions.

What if you could see what your child sees?

I’d like to introduce you to a novel web based resource for parents of children with learning or attention issues, called (appropriately) Understood. Developed by a team of professionals from the National Center for Learning Disabilities along with lots of input from parents, they created a digital resource that can show you what your child is “seeing.”

The section entitled “Through your child’s eyes” has simulations to help you understand your child’s struggles with organization, attention, reading, writing or math. Once you can see what your child sees, and feel what she feels, it will help you to find patience when you thought you had none, and find energy to create an appropriate program for her.

When my daughter first went to a school that specialized in teaching children with learning disabilities, one of the exercises the parents had to do was similar to one on this website. Even though it took place many years ago, I remember it to this day. It was eye opening and mind boggling. We parents had NO IDEA our kids were seeing the world the way they were, and were faced with such a huge mountain to climb every day. Many of us felt guilty – we simply did not know the pain our kids were in every day. But, how could we have known? Until we were shown exactly how our kids were struggling, we did not truly understand. Life changed for me after that day. I had a different perspective and attitude about my daughter’s disability, not to mention a newly discovered abundance of patience that I did not know I possessed.

The simulations on Understood will help you to see the world through your child’s eyes, so that you can develop patience, empathy and most importantly an action plan specific to your child’s needs.

For other posts in this series, see the Table of Contents.

Parenting your child with a heart defect

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

in the NICUWhen your baby has a heart defect, it is overwhelming, exhausting, emotionally draining, and beyond scary. Have I left any adjectives out?

Congenital (present at birth) heart defects (CHDs) affect 1 in 100 babies every year. These heart defects can affect the heart’s structure, how it works, or both. Did you know that congenital heart defects are the most common types of birth defects? Each year, about 40,000 babies are born with a heart defect in the U.S. The good news is that more and more children born with CHDs are living longer, healthier lives, due to medical advances.

Heart defects develop in the early weeks of pregnancy when the heart is forming. Severe congenital heart defects are usually diagnosed during pregnancy or soon after birth. Less severe heart defects often aren’t diagnosed until children are older. Depending on the heart defect, your child may or may not need active treatment. For example, some defects resolve on their own. However, there are heart defects that require more intensive treatment and care.

What is CCHD?

Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) is a group of the seven most severe congenital heart defects:  Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS); Pulmonary atresia (PA); Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF); Total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPV, or TAPVR); Transposition of the great arteries (TGA); Tricuspid atresia (TA); Truncus arteriosus.

About 1 in 4 babies born with a heart defect has CCHD, or about 4,800 babies in the U.S. every year. Babies with CCHD need treatment soon after birth – often within hours, days or months, depending on the severity of the condition. A baby with CCHD will need ongoing treatment from a pediatric cardiologist, a medical doctor with advanced training.

Your child with CCHD

Some babies with CCHD will receive surgery soon after birth, and others require subsequent surgeries as they get older. The treatment your child receives will depend on the type and severity of the defect. If your child has been diagnosed with CCHD, it is important to understand his disease and the treatment that is required. Ask your child’s pediatric cardiologist and pediatrician all of your questions. The doctor can tell you if your child’s activity should be encouraged or restricted, if your child needs antibiotic treatment before certain procedures, if your child requires extra calories (from food) to help maintain his health, if he needs physical therapy or other kinds of therapies.

Children with heart defects may be delayed in reaching their developmental milestones. Early intervention may help enable your child to make strides and catch up. Other children may develop a disability over time. The early intervention program is designed to be family centered – moms and dads receive help in parenting their child, and the child receives therapy to keep progressing. Early intervention, together with medical advances, are helping children with CCHD live richer, fuller lives.

You may need support

Parenting a child with a congenital heart defect involves a blend of vigilance, medical interventions, health advocacy and lots of love and patience. The March of Dimes’ online community, Share Your Story, is a place where parents of babies with heart defects as well as other birth defects or disabilities, can go to find support, comfort and information. There is nothing like the camaraderie of another parent who has walked in your shoes to help you through your journey.  Just log on and post a comment and you will be welcomed and supported.

Where can you learn more?

Visit our website to learn more about CCHD. We discuss the most common heart defects, how they are diagnosed and treated, as well as possible causes. You will also learn about screening tests your baby can have to determine if he has CCHD. Additional guidance on parenting a child with a heart defect is available on the CDC website.

For more information about any of the heart defects listed above, contact us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org and we will be happy to help. To see similar posts in the Delays and Disabilities series, click here.

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents for the Delays and Disabilities series

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

If you are new to this series, or if you want to catch up on posts you may have missed, this is a good way to see all the posts. They are grouped by topic to help you navigate your way.

Table of Contents

Why this blog series?
A new blog series is here

How to get early intervention and special education services
Babies and toddlers:

Understanding Preemie cues

Understanding developmental milestones and delays

Vocabulary at age 2 may predict kindergarten success

Preemies- adjusted age and delays

Here’s a tool to monitor your child’s physical development

Early intervention for babies and toddlers

From NICU to EI services

What is an IFSP?

Guest post from the CDC on early intervention

Don’t delay with delays

How does your state define developmental delay?

Kids ages 3 and older:

Prematurity, disabilities and special education

Turning 3 – the leap from early intervention to special ed

Early intervention and special ed for children ages 3 and older

What is an IEP?

What are related services?

IEP or 504 – that is the question!

IEP reviews in April

IEPs on TV

April is IEP month

IEP season is here

What is Prior Written Notice or “PWN?”

IEPs and LREs – the nitty gritty

An easy way to find resources for kids with special needs

Summer programs for kids with special needs

Delays, disabilities and the law

Learning the lingo

Words and terms – a whole new world

Changing a program for a child with special needs

What is peer-reviewed research?

Keeping track of your child’s records

How to get your child’s records organized

The special language of special needs

Happy 25th Anniversary ADA

Good-bye NICHCY. Hello CPIR.

Pediatric medical specialties

Getting to know your NICU healthcare team

What are pediatric specialties?

Finding pediatric specialists

What is a developmental behavioral pediatrician?

What is a child psychologist?

How to find a specialist for a birth defect or rare disease

Therapies and Treatments

What is physical therapy or “PT”?

Physical therapy – can it help your preemie?

What is occupational therapy, or “OT”?

What is speech therapy?

Respiratory therapists help babies and families breathe easier

Pragmatics – helping your child learn the rules of social language

What are hippotherapy and therapeutic riding (THR)?

What are recreation services?

Kids with challenges zoom on souped up kiddie cars

Sensory issues

Light and sound in the NICU

Sensory difficulties in children

Everyday tips for dealing with sensory special kids

Help for sensory issues

Changing seasons can be tough for a child with sensory issues

Fireworks are not fun for kids with sensitive hearing

Fourth of July – fabulous or frightful for kids with special needs?

Sensory friendly malls

Halloween ideas for kids with food allergies or sensory challenges

Heavy backpacks hurt- Here’s how to lighten the load

Understanding the diagnosis – in preemies and babies with special needs

Preemies and asthma – how to help your child

RDS and BPD – breathing problems in preemies

Pneumonia and preemies

Brain bleeds in premature babies

An allergy or a cold – learn how to tell the difference

Preemies and hearing loss

Hearing loss in babies

Did you hear me? What is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?

Learning differences, disabilities and disorders – are they all the same?

What are learning disabilities (LDs)?

LDs – What they ARE and are NOT

What is dyslexia?

What is dyscalculia?

What is dysgraphia?

What is dyspraxia?

Prematurity, learning disabilities and ADHD

Understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities

Oh to be understood! Learn what your child with LD experiences

Parenting your child with a heart defect

Preemies as adults – are their health problems due to prematurity?

Helping babies with FASD

Talking to your child about his medical condition

How knowing your family health history may help your baby

Tracking birth defects helps states help you

Thalidomide and Dr. Frances Kelsey

Coping – day in and day out

Staying positive in the NICU

How to cope when your baby is in the NICU

Skin to skin contact helps your baby AND you

When can your baby go home from the hospital?

NICU parents can develop PTSD due to stress and trauma

Caring for yourself as you care for your preemie

Recognizing families who care for preemies 

The NICU dad – Superman has nothing on him!

Do you know your baby’s different cries?

Breastfeeding a baby with a cleft lip or palate

Parenting your child with a heart defect

Medication mistakes are common

It’s good – no, great – to read to your baby

Avoiding and handling tantrums

More resources for handling meltdowns

Positive reinforcement – the power of one M&M’s® candy

Positive reinforcement – fortune cookie advice

Caring for your sick baby (understanding signs of illness and learning when to call the doctor)

Flu can be serious for kids with special needs

Flu is dangerous for certain people

Shingles, kids and pregnant women – know the facts

Can sleep affect your child with special needs? Or you?

Research shows a consistent bedtime routine can help your child sleep

A social skills tip for kids with special needs

Apps for math LD and other disabilities

There’s an app for that (for kids with learning challenges)

Knowing your family health history  may help your baby

Getting through transitions, holidays, vacations and disasters

A transition tip

Bracing for the holidays

Spending holidays in the NICU

Holidays and your child with special needs – tips for the NICU, visiting Santa, dinners and traveling

Taking Thanksgiving in stride

Holidays 🙂 or 🙁

Visiting Santa is do-able for kids with special needs

Toys glorious toys! (for kids with special needs)

New Year’s Resolutions – good or bad for kids with special needs?

Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! (an inspirational holiday poem)

Adjusting to life after the holidays

Getting back in the swing (after a holiday)

Camps and vacations

How to find camps for children with special needs

Tips for family travel when your child has special needs

Vacationing with your child with special needs

Accommodations help vacationers with special needs

Re-entry: life after vacation

Back to school

Kids with special needs head back to school

Summer to September

From summer to school – the big transition

Back to school is hard on kids and PARENTS!

Shopping for toys for kids with special needs

Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs

Surviving and thriving – Your child with special needs, your other children, and YOU

Stop. Rest. Relax…Repeat.

Getting guilt-free time off – what worked for one mom

Special moms need special care

Caring for the caretaker – put on your oxygen mask

Caring for yourself as you care for your preemie

Caring for the siblings of a child with special needs

Having a baby in the NICU can be stressful for siblings

Sibling visits to the NICU can be helpful

Do siblings of children with disabilities need help?

Fathers help mold their children’s future

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Laughter helps your body, mind and mood

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Resilience. When struggles can be a good thing.

Have you found your child’s passion?

Brace yourself: the ShareUnion message

Living with loss

What’s Happening

World Birth Defects Day gets the word out

First ever World Birth Defects Day

You can also see all of the blog posts by clicking on Help for Your Child under “Categories” on the menu. Scroll down to read the blog posts in reverse chronological order. If you have comments or questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!

 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

roller-coaster-rideAll children have their highs and lows, but for children with special needs, the extremes tend to be more extreme.  The typical ups and downs of childhood have higher highs and lower lows.

The lows

It is hard to watch your child be frustrated because she can’t do the things that her peers can do. Your child’s frustration may take the form of crying, meltdowns or sadness (depending on your child’s age). When you stop to think about it, it seems very reasonable. Adults react much the same way. But, with toddlers or children, they don’t have the maturity to understand their condition, or the patience to wait until they acquire certain skills. In many cases, they may never acquire the same skills as their peers. Thus, the lower lows.

Along with the lower lows come the “two steps forward and one step back” type of progress that is so common among children with special needs. This is so frustrating – for a parent and especially for the child. You tend to feel like you are on a roller coaster ride – no sooner do you get up in the air and are so happy about progress, when you take a bit of a plunge and feel low again.

The highs

On the flip side, the highs are much higher. When your child achieves a milestone that she had been struggling with (that comes easily to her siblings or her peers), the happy dance is much more jubilant! You celebrate each and every accomplishment, no matter how small. The small steps are big steps to a child with special needs. In fact, every step is a big step. The joys of watching your child inch forward has a much more intense meaning.

Progress is a wiggly line

What has helped some of the parents I know who have children with special needs is realizing that it is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to pace yourself and look at this as one long journey. You may get lost or a little off track now and again, and even need to take breaks to re-fuel or get new directions. But, overall, you will stay on your path and get to your child’s unique destination…eventually. It is important to remember that you need to look at progress as a kind of wiggly line. Look at the overall progress, not minute to minute progress.

Bottom line

Remember that this path has its uniqueness and gifts, too. After all, if we were all the same, this world would be so boring. Try to look past what your little one can NOT do, and focus on what she CAN do. Then, all of the prospects for her future brighten up considerably.

 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Special moms need special care

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

two women meditatingA new study published in Pediatrics shows that groups led by other moms reduced stress in mothers of children with disabilities. It helped to improve “maternal well-being and long-term caregiving for children with complex developmental, physical, and behavioral needs.” These support groups were uniquely focused on learning specialized techniques to reduce stress.

Mothers of children with developmental disabilities experience stress, anxiety and depression more often and to a greater degree than mothers who parent children without disabilities. It is thought that the chronic stress and the associated poor health that often result may impact a mom’s ability to parent effectively.

This study looked at what would happen if a program were put in place specifically for moms of children with disabilities (or what I will call “Special Moms”).  Researchers randomly assigned 243 Special Moms into two groups to attend a program led by peer mentors (eg. other Special Moms who received training to lead the groups).

One group learned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) techniques while the other group learned Positive Adult Development (PAD) techniques. MBSR and PAD are evidence-based practices, which mean that they have been shown, through research, to be beneficial.

The MBSR group learned meditation, breathing and movement techniques and the relaxation response. The PAD group learned ways to “temper emotions such as guilt, conflict, worry and pessimism by identifying and recruiting character strengths and virtues…and by exercises involving gratitude, forgiveness, grace and optimism.” All the moms attended weekly group sessions and practiced what they learned at home on a daily basis.

What were the results?

According to the study, the moms in both groups experienced less stress, anxiety and depression, and improved sleep and life satisfaction.  After 6 months, these improvements continued. There were some differences between the two groups that related to whether they received the MBSR or PAD practice, but the important take-away from this study is that both treatments proved beneficial to the moms.

There are programs in place to help children with disabilities, but few programs exist to help their parents, especially when the stress causes mental, emotional and physical fatigue. Moms often become anxious or depressed, which does not help them as they face the intense daily challenges of parenting a child with a disability. This study shows the positive effect of proven stress reduction techniques when taught in a peer-mentored program.

The authors conclude that “future studies should be done on how trained mentors and professionals can address the mental health needs of mothers of children with developmental disabilities since doing so can improve maternal well-being and long-term caregiving for children with complex needs.”

Bottom line

If you are a Special Mom, your personal take-away message from this study is to try to include a stress reduction program into your daily life, such as meditation, yoga, or another relaxation technique. If you can do so with a group of other Special Moms, all the better!

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input.

Fortune cookie advice

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

fortune cookieThe other day I opened a fortune cookie and read:  “Help people reach their full potential. Catch them doing something right.” I was surprised to see such a sentiment in a fortune cookie. I know that this concept is true for shaping a child’s behavior – if you want to change their behavior, catch them doing something good and praise them for it. Your praise reinforces the behavior which makes your child want to keep doing it. (As opposed to your child only hearing what he is doing wrong which erodes his self- esteem and makes him want to stop trying.)  But I had never considered this concept as applying to all individuals, especially to adults.

When I stop to think about it, isn’t it human nature to want to keep doing those things that you are doing well and avoid tasks that you do poorly?  As an adult, I like doing those things that I believe I do well, and I generally steer clear of those tasks that are hard for me. I also enjoy doing things that I like and I avoid doing tasks that I simply don’t like to do. Hmmm. This sounds too logical for me.

I found this fortune cookie message to be powerful – it not only applies to parents trying to shape their child’s behavior in a positive way – it applies to all individuals, at home, at work and anywhere.  Do you ever tire of hearing that you are meeting or exceeding goals at work? How do you feel when your spouse or partner recognizes your efforts? Doesn’t all that positive feedback help you to carry on and persevere? If you never received a kind word, encouragement, or a raise in your salary at your job, I bet you would assume you weren’t doing well and perhaps stop trying so hard. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in helping to shape behavior in any individual, including children with special needs. Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’s tips on positive reinforcement through rewards for ideas on how to get started shaping your child’s behavior in a positive way.

Child behavior experts have long advocated that you should acknowledge and praise a child when he gets it right. And, now, my fortune cookie agrees.

Stay tuned for more helpful information on the power of positive reinforcement in upcoming blog posts.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input. If you have questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Home Visiting Program

Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) is designed to support at-risk families during pregnancy and early childhood. Home visiting family support programs match parents with trained providers, such as nurses or parent educators. These providers then visit the family at home one to two times a month from the time a mother is pregnant through the first few years of the child’s life.

We all know that children do not come with instruction manuals so these home visits can be invaluable to vulnerable families that may not have access to outside support or lack experience or knowledge of basic parenting skills.  The providers help the families access the information and resources that can support the physical and emotional health of babies and entire families. During their time in the program, the parents receive support and information about how children grow and learn. They are taught about providing a safe and enriching environment for their children.

The program is federally funded and locally administered and has been shown to reduce health care costs, reduce need for remedial education, and increase family self-sufficiency.  Here is why, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts:

Reduced health care costs

• Mothers who participated in the Nurse-Family Partnership in Pennsylvania were 26 percent more likely to quit smoking while pregnant.

• A home visiting program in North Carolina, Durham Connects, has been shown to pay for itself by the time a baby is 3 months old, through reductions in use of government medical assistance.

• Children who have strong bonds with their parents have better lifelong emotional health and a lower risk of later problems, including alcoholism, eating disorders, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

Reduced need for remedial education

• In first grade, children who participated in Healthy Families New York were nearly twice as likely as other at-risk children to be able to follow directions, complete work on time, or work cooperatively with others—the foundational skills needed for a lifetime of learning.

• Parents that participated in Parents as Teachers were more likely to read aloud, tell stories, say nursery rhymes, and sing with their children. These activities are key to successful brain development and lifetime language skills.

Increased self-sufficiency

• Mothers who participated in Healthy Families Arizona were found to be five times more likely than other similar mothers to be enrolled in an education or a job training program.

• Mothers who have more years of formal education have higher family income, are more likely to be married, and have better-educated spouses. They work more but do not spend less time breastfeeding, reading to their children, or taking them on outings.

• Children of better-educated mothers also do better in math and reading at ages 7 and 8. Better-educated mothers are more likely to invest in their children through books, providing musical instruments, special lessons, or the availability of a computer.

To learn more, click on this link. Contact your congressman if you wish to support renewing funding for the MIECHV program.

Adjusting to life after the holidays

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

after-partyWelcome back to the Delays and Disabilities series. I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season.

It seems like yesterday I was blogging about how to cope with all the extra excitement and stress that often accompanies the holidays. I hope that some of the tips helped you and your child with special needs to enjoy the season.

Two steps forward, one step back

Depending on how your past few weeks went, you may find that establishing your new “old routine” is especially challenging. You may wonder why things that your little one used to do so well, has now become a struggle, or has even been totally forgotten. Routines and accomplishments once mastered have somehow disappeared. It may seem like you have taken a step backward.

The “two steps forward and one step back” pattern is a common one among children with special needs. Often, it doesn’t take a lot to throw our kids off kilter. But, if you know that this is common, when it happens you won’t feel too thrown off by it. All of the past excitement of the holidays was difficult for your little one – and now, re-adjusting to life is…well…difficult, too. Just try to keep your cool and patiently bring your child along the path again, step by step, until old routines and behaviors are mastered, once again. As usual, praise and positive reinforcement help so much.

If you have any concerns, speak with your child’s health care provider. It is always important to rule out possible reasons for unusual behavior (such as ear infections or other illnesses) before soldiering on.

Also, re-read my blog post on Re-entry – life after vacation. It includes tips on how to master going back to your new “old” routine.

Look for possible positives

My daughter used to have a surge in her speech vocabulary after a trip or holiday. Her speech therapist used to love it when we went away or had a break in routine. Although the change in routine was always hard on my daughter (and me) at the time, the after-effects would result in new connections for my daughter. And, although re-adjusting to her old routine was indeed a challenge again, the benefits from her language boost were well worth it. So, keep an eye out for possible positive gains – they may appear when you least expect them!

Bottom line

Just remember, it’s a new year, with all new hopes for a wonderful future.  Try to take it one moment at a time. Baby steps.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view the archive of past blog posts. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.