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Have you been touched by autism? I have a friend whose child has severe autism, limiting speech and functioning. She embraces her son and helps him with so many challenges and yet the struggle can be exhausting. I recently met an artist whose creative genius can be attributed to her autism. I once heard Temple Grandin speak in person about her amazing life with autism. Maybe you know someone with autism, or maybe you’d like to learn more about it. Maybe your child has a classmate with autism. In any case, we can all do more to learn how to accept and support individuals and families living with autism.

Logo_WAAD

The eleventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2018. Across the globe, countless landmarks, buildings, homes and communities will light up blue in recognition of people living with autism. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support.

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a range of conditions demonstrated by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism is also characterized by unique strengths and differences. There are many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.

The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four previously distinct diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

Although the symptoms of autism widely vary, the most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Parents with concerns are urged to seek evaluation early, as intervention can improve outcomes.

Autism Speaks shares these facts about autism:mother-2605132_960_720

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
  • An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
  • Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
  • Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
  • Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and phobias.

It’s likely that many school age children will interact with autistic children in their school. The National Autism Society provides age appropriate resource guides to help students not only understand autism but also learn to connect with autistic children.

Sesame Workshop launched a new online initiative called “See Amazing in All Children” to promote awareness and acceptance of children ages 2-5 with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The website features narrated videos that reflect a diverse group of ASD children, an electronic storybook that features Julia, a new Muppet character who is Autistic, and eight daily routine card sets. After utilizing website materials, parents of non-autistic children reported increased knowledge and acceptance of those with autism, and parents of children with ASD reported increases in confidence and hope in raising their ASD children. Sesame Workshop also has information to help adults know what to say to the parent of an autistic child.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

Sources:

  • AutismSpeaks.org
  • National Autism Society
  • Sesame Workshop

Picture sources:

  • Autism Speaks
  • Pixabay

 

 

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Schools in your area may be assessing students’ health, collecting BMIs, or providing nutrition and physical activity education. What does all this mean and why is this becoming more common?

So what exactly is a BMI?

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a method to measure body mass based on a person’s weight and height. Weight and height are plugged into a standard formula which can then be compared to a range or norm. The Center for Disease Control states that a BMI calculated result is a reliable body fatness indicator for most teens and children. Although BMI does not measure body fat directly, it can be used as an indirect measure. An example of a direct measure of body fat would be underwater weighing or the Bod Pod (air displacement plethysmography). BMI is useful as a screening tool to help identify weight concerns and implement prevention education.

After the BMI number is obtained, the number is plotted on the boy’s or girl’s BMI-for-age growth chart. A percentile ranking is determined and this percentile is used to assess growth patterns of the individual child. Comparison is done with children of the same sex and age. Four different categories of weight status are used to categorize the child or teen. These include underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control recommend the use of BMI to screen children beginning at the age of 2.

Why BMI in Schools?

BMIs in schools vary per state and district. According to a comprehensive study in Preventing Chronic Disease, 20 states were requiring BMI or body composition screening with 9 additional states recommending the screening as of 2010. BMIs are designed to provide information and initiate conversations regarding ways to make healthy nutrition and physical activity choices.

Many factors must be taken into consideration with BMI and it is crucial to remember that BMI calculations are not perfect. Age and gender are important to consider in this assessment. The healthy level of the child or teen varies for age month by month and as his or her height increases.

Expert organizations still recommend using BMI surveillance as an effective screening tool. Although there needs to be more studies evaluating the effectiveness of these programs, with the proper use of guidelines and resources, BMI screening could become a more common, accepted, and useful tool in assessing and triggering interventions for obesity among children.

The BMI can be most useful when it is considered one additional tool in the toolbox. It is not the only tool, but one that can be a starting point for healthy conversations. BMI’s may be effective in evaluating the effectiveness of health programs.

Knowledge is power toward healthy behaviors.

girl on scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/about_childrens_bmi.html

Nihiser AJ, Lee SM, Wechsler H, McKenna M, Odom E, Reinold C, Thompson D, Grummer-Strawn L. BMI Measurement in Schools. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 2009. 124;589:597.

http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/diet-weight-loss/should-body-mass-index-be-measured-in-schools-115934 (photo)

Written by: Shannon Erskine, Dietetic Intern/ Liz Smith, MS, RD, LDN, Ohio State University Extension, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, smith.3993@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu.

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“The more committed a child is to learning, the more likely it is that he or she will grow up healthy.” – Peter L. Benson, Ph.D.

14 August blog

Believe it or not, summer break is nearly over and school will officially be back in session soon. Going back to school can be an exciting time for many students; and for others, a source of added stress. However, there are things parents can do to help make the transition from summer vacation into the school routine less stressful.

The good news is children are born learners. They are curious about the world around them. They are motivated learners who accept some responsibility for their own education. They understand that success comes as a result of their own efforts. They pay attention and concentrate on school-related tasks. Successful students can ignore or reduce distractions in the environment or from their own thoughts which can interfere with learning.

Here are a few tips parents can use to encourage success in school.

1. Develop a study plan/routine.

Involve your child in establishing a specific time every day for homework and general reading. Check with the teachers to see how much homework to expect for your child. Some elementary school students have 20‐30 minutes a day set aside for this purpose. Junior and senior high school students may need at least 30‐45 minutes for daily study time. Some schools expect students to spend at least 15 minutes per subject each day on homework.

2. Create an environment conducive to learning.

Make your home a place where it is easy for your child to learn. Keep books, magazines, catalogs and writing materials within easy reach. Make sure that your child has a place to study. This could be in the child’s room, in the kitchen, or in another place where the lighting is good, and it’s quiet. Be near enough to answer questions that your child has.

3. Become a mentor/coach for your child.

Be enthusiastic! It can be contagious. Don’t give the message that homework is a boring chore; children who do well, enjoy learning. If your child does not seem motivated to do well in school, try to find ways to make the learning fun.

4. Listen.

Listen carefully when your child talks about having difficulty with her homework. Encourage her to break down problems into small steps.

5. Get to know your child’s teachers.

Get to know your child’s teachers and what they expect. Compare your goals for your child to those of the teachers. Make sure your child knows of your interest in his/her school. This will send the message that what they are doing is important.

Talk with your child and find out their concerns. If you learn your child feels ignored or “picked on” in the classroom, talk with the appropriate school official. If you can’t find the time to visit in person, call the teachers or attach notes to your child’s homework they are taking back to school.

One of the most difficult challenges facing parents and teachers today is that of encouraging youth to value learning and make a personal commitment to education. Youth who develop a love of learning will not only increase their chances of academic and career success as adults, but will also be more likely to avoid problem behaviors and negative peer pressure.

References:

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Be Successful in School, August 9, 2012 in Families Matter http://extension.udel.edu/factsheet/how-parents-can-help-their-kids-be-successful-in-school/

Back to School Success, by Bill Stone, http://lee.ces.ncsu.edu/2013/10/back-to-school-success-2/

SCHOOL SUCCESS, (2005) by Peter L. Benson, Ph.D., What Kids Need to Succeed http://cte.ed.gov/nationalinitiatives/gandctools_viewfile.cfm?d=600051

Encouraging Success in School, by Beth D. Gaydos, Faculty Emeritus, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences.

Written by: Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by: Polly Loy , Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Belmont County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Bridgett Kidd, Extension Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, Human Ecology Extension Administration

Reviewed by: Kim Barnhart, Office Associate, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Jennifer Lindimore, Office Associate, OSU Extension, Morgan County, Buckeye Hills EERA

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MP900439398[1]We’ve all see the back-to-school commercials with joyous parents clicking their heels and dancing around with the mere thought of the start of the new school year. The reality is that August can be a very stressful time for both children and those responsible for getting their children back to school. Parents already have a lot on their plate and as families get ready for a new school year, they can be overwhelmed with the additional financial stressors — paying for back-to-school supplies, clothes and possibly tuition. In a recent consumer survey, 65% of parents cited back to school shopping as their number one stressor related to the new school year.

While there is financial stress associated with heading back to school, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune every year. Here a few great ideas for saving money while getting them everything they need.

  • Prepare a budget with your child. He’ll learn a lesson in responsibility and be less likely to get upset if you can’t afford something he wants.
  • Make a list. Use the recommended or required supplies from your child’s school and stick to it. Extra supplies, while they may be cute, will probably never get used and just leave your pockets empty.
  • Take inventory. Sort through last year’s supplies to see what is left over or can be reused.
  • Hold off buying trendier gear. Kids love the latest superhero or princess lunch box or pencil cases in July, but once they start school and see that their friends are all using another kind, they’ll want an upgrade. The result is wasted cash.
  • Shop end-of-summer sales.  Many children wear short sleeved shirts throughout the year as layers. You will get good use of the deep discounts on short sleeved shirts and shorts well into the fall.
  • Check your closets. Let the kids pick out something new to wear on the first day of school, so I just buy one outfit (or shirt). Their summer clothes will last them well into September most of the time, so I wait to buy clothes for cooler weather.
  • Shop the supermarket and discount stores for basic supplies. Check weekly circulars for great deals on pens and loose-leaf paper, and get your weekly grocery shopping done at the same time. Buying everything in one place saves time and money.

 

Finally, to reduce stress and save on back-to-school shopping, it’s important to set a budget and stick to it. Let your child help you,  With proper planning, you can prepare your children for another school year without breaking the bank and your family’s budget.

 

Resources:

Dealing With Back to School Blues., APA Help Center, American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/school-rush.aspx

Peterson, N.&  Shoup Olsen, C. Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, Tips for Parents: Trim Back-To-School Stress, http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/Families/doc13642.ashx

 

 

Written by: Kathy Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, Heart of Ohio EERA

 

 

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StopBullyingNowThe start of a new school year is right around the corner. Many stores are stocking their shelves with book bags, school supplies and boxes of crayons and pencils. For some children the start of a new school year brings fears and anxiety about bullying. According to the website, www.stopbullying.gov bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others.
Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
According to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9-12 experienced bullying. Consider that in a classroom of 25 students – 5 of these students may have experienced bullying.

Bullyfreezone

Forms of bullying may include teasing, taunting, name calling, or threatening physical harm.
Social bullying may include spreading rumors about someone, leaving someone out on purpose, embarrassing someone on purpose or telling someone not to be friends with someone.
Physical bullying can include hitting, pinching, spitting, tripping or taking someone’s things. All forms of bullying can be damaging and have the ability to hurt others.

What can you do? Encourage your child to talk to an adult about the bullying. Suggest they tell the teacher, school counselor, camp counselor or other adult about what happened. It will be important to share details about the incident. The adult will help so that it doesn’t happen anymore.
Once they’ve talked to an adult about the bullying, encourage your child to become friends with the child who has been bullied. They can take simple steps to help them feel included.

  • Say hello and smile.
  • Invite them to sit together at lunch.
  • Invite them to play a game at recess.

Start this school year off right – as a parent learn about bullying and talk to your child about what to do if they or someone they know is being bullied. You can work together with responsible adults and observant children to help stop this mean behavior.

Bullying

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Sources:
http://www.stopbullying.gov
http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm
http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/friend/being_bullied.html

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