Our Blog
February 16, 2018
Category: Pediatric Care
Tags: Autism   Sensitivity   GI  

People with autism have such a wide variety of symptoms and experiences, it can be challenging to address the condition in general terms. For example, there are many physical signs and consequences experienced by autistic people that may never surface in a large portion of the autistic population, but that doesn't mean they're not related to the disorder.

Some of the most common physical effects of autism include sensory sensitivity (or lack thereof), gastrointestinal problems and coordination.

Sensory Sensitivity

A person's sensory sensitivities can greatly influence the way he or she interacts with the world. For example, a high tolerance or indifference to pain, as is often found among autistic individuals, can have serious physical consequences.

Think for a moment what you might do if you burn your hand or otherwise injure yourself: You'd probably give it some sort of medical attention, either at home or at a doctor's office, because the discomfort you've suffered as a result has interrupted your regular activities or daily routine. Because injuries often have complications, it's important to have a doctor look into what's causing you pain. If an autistic person is unbothered by pain, he or she may not seek medical attention, allowing the issue to potentially inflict more damage on his or her body.

Sensitivity to light and sound can also make it difficult for autistic people to go into uncontrolled environments, limiting their capacity for physical activity. Research suggests that exercise is beneficial to people with autism, but helping an autistic person get active isn't as simple as stepping through the front door to go on a job. Careful consideration needs to be taken to accommodate sensitivities, coordination and comfort with new things.

Digestive Issues

Digestive issues often occur in people on the autism spectrum. Other than the discomfort related to gastrointestinal (GI) issues, there are health consequences. For example, chronic diarrhea could mean a person isn't getting all the necessary nutrients they may have ingested, opening up the possibility of vitamin deficiencies and other symptoms of malnutrition.

An autistic person's physical health is paramount, and their disorder should not be an excuse to ignore or minimize the significance common symptoms like GI problems, diminished coordination or sensory sensitivities. Discuss treatment options with a pediatrician or primary care provider familiar with the disorder and its implications, but trust your instincts, too. As the family member of someone with autism, you're more in­-tune to that person's needs than anyone else.

February 06, 2018
Category: Pediatric Care
Tags: Teens   Sleep Deprivation   Fatigue  

While you may wonder at your teen’s ability to stay up late into the night, it’s more a matter of biology than rebellion! According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens tend to go to bed later, getting sleepy only around 11 PM. But what happens when early wake-up times for school or sports practice cuts short the amount of sleep they get each night?

Only a very small percentage of today’s teenagers get the amount of sleep per night that they should ­ perhaps as low as 15% ­ and the effects not getting enough sleep can be dire. While early school start times are often to blame for a lack of sleep in teens, new studies are beginning to prompt school districts to move their start times up, one more example of how we are beginning to understand just how serious sleep deprivation can be.

Danger on the Roads

We all know that sleep deprivation can be dangerous on the road, but recent study has shown how even small changes sleep affect road safety. Because so many teens are sleep deprived, they are a danger on the roads for themselves and everyone else!

The study in question showed that crash rates in two neighboring cities in Virginia were 20-­25% higher for 16­-18­-year olds in the city where school started at 7:20-25 AM, compared to its neighbor where school started at 8:20-8:25 AM. This marked difference, with only an hour’s discrepancy in school start time from one town to the next, shows just how risky sleep deprivation can be for young drivers.

Slowed Learning

And injuries on the road aren’t the only trouble. Less sleep for adolescents also damages their ability to learn. In a 2002 study, roughly an extra hour and a half of sleep led to “significant benefits such as improved attendance and enrollment rates, less sleeping in class, and less student-­reported depression.” And according to the APA, even as small a difference as 25 minutes more sleep appears to make the difference between an A or B student and a C, D, or F student. Simply put, the less sleep a teen gets, the less prepared their brain is to absorb new information and to process that information later.

What Can I Do?

Obviously, sharing this information with your child is a great place to start. Also, consider the start time of your child’s school or pre-­school activities, and whether a later start time might be a better fit for your child. If they do attend a school with a very early start time, encourage them to go to bed earlier than they might otherwise. The evidence backs it up ­- bedtime shouldn’t necessarily end with young adulthood! In the long run, your teen should feel the marked difference when they get a good night’s sleep. Prevent dangerous consequences by tackling the problem of sleep deprivation before it gets out of hand.

Do you have a story about your sleepy teen? Comment below and tell us about it!

January 15, 2018
Category: Pediatric Care
Tags: Ear Piercing  

While piercing girls' ears as early as the day they are born is quite common in other places of the world, here in the United States, the practice is still somewhat controversial. You'll want to make sure that you know the facts and make an informed decision before you proceed. Here's what you need to know!

What is the Best Age to Get My Child's Ears Pierced?

The best age to pierce a child's ears really depends on the preferences of the individual family. Some pediatricians recommend waiting until the child is old enough to take care of the piercings independently ­ around age ten. Others have no problem piercing at any age since the procedure is so low risk.

It may be wise to wait until your child is old enough not to put things in his or her mouth, however, since an earring that has fallen out can present a choking risk. Talk to your pediatrician to be sure.

Where Should I Get My Child's Ear's Pierced?

The best place to have your child's ears pierced is at the pediatrician's office, if your pediatrician does the procedure. Otherwise, you can ask your child's pediatrician or even your friends and family for a good recommendation. Make sure that the facility you choose uses proper sterilization techniques, and is properly accredited.

What Do I Need to Do to Prepare?

If your child is old enough to understand what is happening, you may want to warn him or her of the pain and make sure that he or she is certain about the decision. An over-­the-­counter pain reliever taken beforehand can help ease the pain.

How Do I Care for My Child's Ears After They are Pierced?

Taking care of a piercing should be relatively easy. Rotate and clean the earring and the ears as recommended by the professional who does the piercing. Only use earrings made of an approved material while the ears are healing. Do not remove the earrings for any length of time until the holes have healed.

Getting pierced ears is an exciting milestone for a child. Use the advice above, and it is sure to be a positive one as well.

January 02, 2018
Category: Pediatric Health
Tags: Concussions  

A concussion is a temporary injury to the brain often caused by a fall or a forceful blow. If your child has a concussion, it is important to seek medical help right away. While most people recover from concussions on their own within a day to a week's time, concussions can lead to other major health problems that need to be addressed, so seeking medical assistance is important.

How Do Children Get Concussions?

One common way that children get concussions is while playing contact sports. During sports, children often fall down, get knocked down, get hit or run into others - all of which can cause a concussion. This certainly is not the only way, however. Children can also get concussions as the result of falling down on the playground, fighting, or getting into a car or bicycle accident. Anything that causes a forceful blow to the head can cause a concussion.

Symptoms of a Concussion

The symptoms of a concussion can vary widely among children. While a concussion can be accompanied by an unconscious period, it doesn't have to be. Concussions that occur without an unconscious period can be just as serious.

Common physical symptoms of a concussion include: headache, dizziness, lack of coordination, blurred vision and nausea. Common mental symptoms of a concussion include: feeling confused, forgetful or unable to focus. Concussions can also cause children to be more or less sleepy or to feel anxious, sad or irritable. If your child seems "out of it" or "not himself or herself," a concussion may be to blame.

At-Home Treatment for a Concussion

If your child has unequal pupils, weakness on one side of the body or neck pain, or if your child is vomiting repeatedly, very drowsy or unconscious, call 911 immediately.

If your child seems okay, however, the doctor will probably advise you to simply monitor him or her at home. You will want to have your child rest. Your child also may want an ice pack to help with any swelling as well as an over-­the-­counter pain medicine to help with any pain.

Observe your child closely for 24 hours. If your child's symptoms disappear on their own, this is a good sign.

If they worsen, however, call the doctor right away. The doctor will be able to do the necessary tests and scans to look for more serious brain damage.

December 15, 2017
Category: Pediatric Health
Tags: Puberty   Voice Change   Cracking  

It happens when you least expect it. One night your little boy goes to bed with a sweet, high- pitched voice and the next morning he wakes up with a deep voice. A voice change can be really exciting, but it can also be a little embarrassing and nerve-­racking too. Here's what you need to know.

Why Do Boys' Voices Change?

As boys grow and develop, their throats grow as well. Before puberty, a boy's vocal cords are small and thin; after puberty, his vocal cords become thicker and longer. This change in shape and shape produces a change in sound as well. Combine this change with the changes that happen in the facial bones, nasal cavities and throat, and a deeper sound is created. Both boys and girls experience this same change, but the effect is much more noticeable in boys than in girls.

When Do Boys' Voices Change?

Boys' voices change sometime during puberty, or between 11 and 15 years old. The most common ages for the voice to change are 12 and 13. The change can happen gradually or quickly, but it usually doesn't happen all at once.

How to Help Your Son Deal with a Changing Voice

A cracking, changing voice can be embarrassing for a young man who is suddenly no longer able to control the sound of his own voice. Help him ease this transition by assuring him that the cracking and breaking noises are completely normal, that all boys go through it, and that it doesn't last long. Advise him to try clearing his throat and starting again if his voice starts to crack, and to just go on like nothing has happened. Other people won't make a big deal out of it if he doesn't.

A voice change is an exciting time in a boy's life. Help him to see past the embarrassment and embrace the fact that he is growing up to be a man!

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