Monday, November 26, 2012

Children's Diets and Daycare

This article from Family Edge describes the problem of childhood obesity with relation to day care.

The French-Canadian province of Quebec has a big stake in this information because 15 years ago it rolled out a province-wide, $7 a day childcare scheme which was aimed at helping the poorest children, as well as make it possible for women to stay in the workforce and have babies and thus lift a dangerously low fertility rate. You can read here what one commentator had to say about the fiscal results early this year.
Reports on how the kids are doing are mixed. The latest, from researchers at the University of Montreal, is negative. It reveals that children aged between 4 years and 10 are 50 percent more likely to be overweight if they attended a daycare centre between the ages of 18 months and four years, compared with those care for at home by their parents. Even leaving a child with a relative significantly increased the risk of obesity, the Daily Mail reports.
Read the entire article here. 
I was a licensed day care provider from my home for three years. Here's how the kids become overweight. Mom feels guilty for putting child in care, comes to pick up with unhealthy fast food in hand. Plus she's too exhausted to cook dinner from scratch anyway. So there's fast food for dinner too.
I was providing daycare at my home to be able to homeschool my kindergartener and care for my preschool child. I cooked dinner from scratch, and did not go out for junk food. It just wasn't in our limited budget. We served a carefully planned, government approved lunch and snack menu, with measured portions, and no seconds, so I know that the kids were not getting fat in my care. Oreos and candy were not reimbursed, but oatmeal cookies and fruit were. NO junk food was brought into my home. Or video games. We only watched one hour of TV a day, the rest of the day was spent in play with educational toys.
 In addition, the children always went outdoors for at least a half hour exercise before lunch. I did my part to keep those kids in my care healthy, as my girls were among them. I am also a certified teacher and I taught preschool curricula to the kids, letters, numbers, colors, shapes were taught in circle time. Arts and crafts and music time were part of our schedule. My girls enjoyed kindergarten from home with built in friends.

 It takes a full time parent to serve home made meals from scratch with no additives. And I think the money saved by not buying junk food could save a lot of moms the trouble of going out to work. One of my moms, who worked in a bank, admitted she made no money after taxes, she was only working because she didn't want to be with her two young sons. She had no control over them, and all three were unhappy. I felt very sorry for the entire family. It was as common a scenario as the struggling single mom.
Another mom, who was not making much money had a lovely four year old daughter with a severe weight problem; she couldn't fit in the swings on my swing set. Mom showed up every day with a bag of chips at four o'clock, despite my protests that we had just snacked at 3PM. It broke my heart.
I have worked most of my twenty years as a mom, but 90% of the time I worked part time, or from home, making great financial sacrifices to stay home with my three girls. Many of the moms whose children I cared for, could have chosen that option, at least while the children were young, but the culture encourages women to pause to mother only briefly after childbirth, while on maternity leave.
As Alice Von Hildebrand says, today's women, like Jacob of the Bible have traded their rich inheritance for a mess of pottage. They have cheated themselves of the riches of family life. Both of my grandmothers worked full time with young children out of need; they were immigrant families and the nation was suffering a Depression. Sometimes a woman has no choice. My mother enjoyed being at home while we were, and entered the work force when my younger brother entered preschool, in fact that is where she worked. She has so little clothing, she only had two work outfits and alternated days, causing the inquisitive preschoolers to ask why she only had one outfit, since they alternated days as well! I am so grateful for her sacrifice.
I had a happy childhood, and had no weight problems. Despite having a Masters's in Education, I chose to forgo the good income of a full time teacher to stay home with my three daughters.
 Now that my girls are beginning to leave the nest, I am so happy that I chose them over the nice vacations, fashionable clothing (we shopped at our parish thrift store) and new cars (if a car has under 100,000 miles, to us its 'new'). The emotional, spiritual and physical benefits my girls enjoy are immeasurable.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Sensory Diet and Christina

I attended a session at the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress Annual Conference which really opened my eyes. It was on Sensory Integration Disorder. Here is the blurb.
Sensory Processing in the Child with Down Syndrome:
Presented by Marie Mancini-Oliveira MS, OTR/L, Melissa
Broxton MS, OTR/L. 
This workshop will provide an overview
of Sensory Processing Disorder and how it presents itself
functionally in children with Down syndrome. We will
elaborate on ways to detect whether it’s sensory or behavior,
as well as ways to know if your child could benefit from a
sensory integration based evaluation.
I learned how the low muscle tone, hearing and visual impairment of those with Down syndrome can affect their sense of where their body is in space ( this is called proprioception ) and their sense of balance (vestibular). Therapeutic interventions like swinging, using a therapy ball,  and brushing using a brush like this Wilbarger Therapy Brush. were discussed and it was amazing to hear how a lack of sensory integration can lead to behavioral problems as our children are trying to tell us that we are not meeting their needs. Almost all the parents in the session had the same issues with their children with Down syndrome; they hated bathing, hair brushing, nail trimming, and haircuts. They did all kinds of extreme things to avoid these behaviors and were shortcircuting relationships, and education by their coping behaviors.  It was a revelation and made me wonder why all the professionals who have worked with Christina had not suggested sensory issues before.
It all comes down to the parent doing the research, attending the workshops and making sure their child's teachers and therapists are on board. It can be an overwhelming responsibility.

 Here's a demo video on brushing.

I did try this on Christina, she absolutely LOVED it, in fact, she brushed Mommy this morning!! I have a PPT meeting on Wednesday about the results of the Sensory Integration Survey and I will need your prayers to be assertive in making sure that Christina has a sensory diet included in her IEP. There is no way that she should be so resistant to going to school as she is, refusing to get out of bed. It took me till 12:45 to get her to school today, only to discover that it was an early dismissal day!
I firmly believe that if we help Christina integrate her sensory input that her non-compliant behavior will decrease and she will be more cooperative and focused, making learning possible. I will document the results here on the blog, so you can make up your own mind if this works.
I would appreciate your prayers as I sensed a lot of resistance on the part of the staff at the last PPT meeting.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Tribute to Dr Jerome Lejeune, Father of Modern Genetics

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The Fear Which Haunts Me

There have been great changes in my household in the past year. Four older teenagers have moved out of my home to begin their independent lives; my brother and sister-in-law, a friend's daughter who was boarding with us, and my oldest daughter Gabbi is attending Franciscan University of Steubenville.
That leaves me alone with Christina, now ten years old, at least five hours a day. Most of the time we enjoy one another's company and happily work together, eat together, and just enjoy a walk, a movie or board game together. But sometimes I have to put in a load of wash or get involved in yard work, look up and Christina is gone. The house is eerily silent, and she does not answer my panicked calls. It last happened on Sunday, in the dark, and she was found in the car in the driveway, waiting to go pick up Bella from youth group. Most times it is something normal which any other ten year old could do without freaking me out. But Christina is NOT a normal ten year old and stories like this terrify me.
Jenny was a special needs student with Down syndrome. Sheslipped out of her physical education class that day, and sadly after an exhaustive search, her body was found in a nearby retention pond several hours later.
This happened despite five aides who were present and a gym full of children, many of whom saw Jenny leave and assumed it was OK. It wasn't OK. Children with Down syndrome are always children, and have to be watched with extra vigilance.
We have a shallow river nearby, and a pool in our yard. We have little traffic on our road, but they drive too fast, and it only takes one car, and we have woods, endless woods where she can get lost or find a predator.
Animal or human. We have bears, bobcats and coyotes.
I have put up a tall fence around my home, thanks to funding from the State,  and am looking into alarms for the doors, as Christina has learned how to open them. We need more secure locks, and I would love more pairs of eyes to help me keep track of her. I never want to live with the regret that Christina found herself in harm's way and I could have prevented it.
I pray to her Guardian Angel and seek peace that I am as vigilant as humanly possible. The rest is in God's hands.
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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Business Week says Sequenom is Making a Killing with New Prenatal Test

from Business Week;
Shares of Sequenom Inc. surged Friday after the company said demand for its maternal Down syndrome test is improving and it expects to surpass its previous guidance for testing volume.
Sequenom said at the end of October it was handling about 1,700 MaterniT21 Plus samples a week, which projects to a rate of about 90,000 tests per year. The company said it ran about 18,000 of the tests during the third quarter and will "significantly exceed" its estimate of 50,000 billed tests in 2012.Read the entire article here. 
Here is my response.

Not that pre-natal testing is wrong in itself, but with the extraordinarily high (75-92%) abortion rate when these tests yield a positive result for Down syndrome, does't Sequenom plan on investing any of these profits into education about the research advances made this year testing the first medicines to treat the cognitive delays present with Down syndrome?
To inform the parents of the amazing things people with Down syndrome are able to do today, complete high school, act, compete in sports, hold down a job, get married, paint, play instruments or simply spread their unique joy in life?There has never been a better time to be born with Down syndrome. 

Or do the owners of this company see it as their goal to rid the world of those with extra chromosomes?
See the poster below from Nazi Germany stating that the developmentally delayed are "useless eaters" who cost the people much needed funds without offering anything to society.

Dr Jerome Lejeune who first discovered the cause of trisomy 21 and made Materni T21 possible won the Kennedy Prize for this discovery 50 years ago, and dedicated his entire life to finding treatments to improve the lives of those with extra chromosomes, I hope that Sequenom takes the same type of socially responsible attitude instead of just making their investors rich. 

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Special Mother is Born Celebrates First Anniversary

CCC 166 Faith is a personal act — the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.

In 2002, I , the mother of two girls, became the mother of a baby girl with Down syndrome. It was something I never imagined I could handle, I rationalized that I didn’t have enough patience, that my marriage could not withstand the stress, nevertheless, one Sunday morning, while attending Mass halfway through my pregnancy, I heard a voice in my heart, which said, “You are going to have a baby with Down syndrome.” I doubted this voice, and tried to shrug it off, but a few minutes later, I was in the Communion line and the voice said, “I want you to accept this child as a gift from My Hand.” I accepted God’s will and His Body in tears saying, “yes, Lord, but please bring my husband along for the ride”. God used even my reluctant fiat to accomplish His will in my life.

Four months later, Christina was born and the voice was proved to be prophetic; Christina did have Down syndrome and was tiny at 5 lbs,but was otherwise healthy. I was surrounded by an embrace of love. Phone calls came, meals arrived, and over one hundred people attended her Baptism, in the pouring rain on Mother’s Day. Their faith kept me afloat when I was weak, recovering from a C-section, dealing with her jaundice and nursing issues, as well as supporting family members who were still coming to grips with the fact that she had Down syndrome.

My pastor connected me with the mother of a lovely 20 year old young lady with Down syndrome who calmed my fears by telling me that Kristin was happy, working a job a local bakery, busy with family activities, and a godmother three times over. Another friend sent an Elizabeth Ministry package with a book and CD “Sometimes Miracles Hide” which was full of testimonies of parents of special needs children. My faltering faith was buoyed by a loving tide of support from my faith community.

Once I regained my stride as a mother, I began to notice that other mothers of babies with Down syndrome are not given such support.. I took Christina to her older sister’s softball game and brought tears to the eyes of a mother who had felt unequal to the challenge of bearing a child with Down syndrome, and made the tragic choice of abortion. My baby made this mother realize she had made a mistake; between 75-92% of moms who received a diagnosis of Down syndrome choose abortion. I resolved to share my story with moms like this who feel overwhelmed, as I did, but who do not have the beautiful community of support I enjoyed. I learned that my doctors were not going to pass my phone number to their patients, so I took to the Internet. There I found a place to share how my little child with Down syndrome was a blessing to my family and the larger community. I shared how she was an example of faith by her simple prayers to God in times of need, her unconditional love of all those she met, and her boundless joy at Mass. Soon other parents shared their inspiring stories with me, and I collected them into a book A Special Mother is Born a collection of 34 stories from Catholic parents of special needs children who share what a blessing they are.

So many women have told me that these moving stories strengthened their faith, making them additional links in the chain of believers, and I am grateful to God for the grace to say “yes” to His gift of Christina a little girl with Down syndrome.

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