Developmentally Challenged Children – Tips for Parents

2 05 2007

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Upon discovering that a child of ours is having a developmental disorder, be it autism, ADHD, dyslexia or whatever, parents face a number of difficulties. Often the first question asked is “who’s fault is this?”. Rest assured, developmental disorders are not the result of poor parenting!

The process of discovery may be painful but it is very important for both parents to accept the reality and deal with it. In many cases the disorder will be treatable even when discovered late. More importantly, the negative effects on a child with a developmental disorder can be devastating unless they are counteracted by parents and friends who are determined to let their child know that an inabity to perform on par with peers does not result in rejection or less love.

Start keeping a detailed journal for your child. Note down things like diet, moods, new therapies, hours of sleep, illnesses, medications, and physical data such as height, weight, head circumference, bmi and whatever else seems of importance. Make sure that you make relevant entries daily. This can be an invaluable help as time goes on. Ask your therapist to give you an appropriate developmental checklist and note down your child’s progress.

Finding the best therapy for your child is of great importance and perhaps even more important is to evaluate exactly what the individual child’s problems are.

A good therapy centre for developmental disorders will have at least the following facilities: Personnel; an occupational therapist, a child psychologist and a special educationist. Then Facilities; comprehensive licensed tests, a developmental playground, sensory integration toys and tools and good nutritional support. They will also maintain a therapy schedule with plenty of one-on-one sessions and so have a high therapist to client ratio. Finally, good therapy centers will include the parents in the therapy process. In our experience, when parents and therapists effectively cooperate, children do much, much better.

Parents then need to find out all they can about the particular problems that their child faces. The internet has plenty of information, but not all of it is good! Be sure to discuss what you learn with the professionals who are helping you! Join a support group with other parents who are sailing in similar waters. A good support group can be invaluable for sharing burdens and for finding solutions. You will be surprised to discover how common developmental problems are!

Finally, start including your extended family and your friends in your experiences. Don’t try to keep your child’s difficulties a secret.  This can be hard to do but it is very necessary.  Not all will be understanding but most people will appreciate your confidence and will try to be practically helpful.

Educating a developmentally challenged child can be difficult but many schools recognise the problems and are starting to practice inclusive education. Search out such forward thinking schools and spend time talking to your child’s teachers about what additional therapy is ongoing and areas where your child needs extra help.

Always know that you and your child will grow together. Some developmental problems can be completely cured, others can be so well compensated for that no deficit will be detectable and in all cases improvement will be seen!

So, never give up…
Digg!
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NUTRITION FOR KIDS WITH LD

22 04 2007

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Every aspect of the life of a child with learning or developmental disorders has to be studied and modified in order to give the child the best chance of achieving his/her true potential.

Attention should particularly be paid to the following key areas:

1. Play (guided, therapeutic play).

2. Adequate sleep and rest.foodpyramid-2.jpg

3. Physical development.

4. Therapy.

5. Nutrition.

6. Lots and lots of affirmative affection and love.

7. Discipline – for an ordered life.

I would like to just discuss a few pointers on diet. We have found that a change in diet makes a huge difference to attention spans and mental acuity as well as helping to correct deficits in physical growth and development.

A lot of parents are aware of the ‘food pyramid’ and have implemented those suggetions. Children with LD and developmental disorders require even more care as the diet not only has immediate effects on behavior but is also critical for normalising the functioning and development of the brain and nervous system.

The basics af a good LD diet are: Adequate calories and nutrients + a shift in the composition of the diet so that 40% is protein, 35% fat, and 25% complex carbohydrates.

Quantity is not as important as quality but do see that your child gets just enough calories.

Add more fried things – side dishes and snacks.

Mix the oils used in food preparation. Too often adults’ fears of too much cholesterol means that families stick to one safe oil, say sunflower oil. There’s nothing wrong with sunflower oil, but for kids other oils can help with the development of their nervous systems. Add oils like Olive, Sessame, Safflower, Rice Bran, and Corn oil, and you can also happily let the children have other dairy fat rich things like cheese and butter. Fish oil (cod liver oil) and other omega 3, omega 6 supplements we have found to be very helpful.

Use more herbs and spices in your cooking. Many exotic ingredients like mustard seeds, black pepper, cardomom, cloves, nutmeg, aniseed, sessame seed, corriander seeds and leaves, and mint are very good because they contain essential oils that are useful for the body. A few spices, especially red chilli powder (caprica) and turmeric we have found to be generally unhelpful. Nuts are an excellent source of essential oils – almonds, cashew nuts and macadamias are especially enriching.

Vegetables and fruits should be present in every meal. Let the kids have their favourites in any quantity but do see that the yellow vegetables are represented (e.g. carrots, pumpkin). Spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage are very good but some creativity may be required to get the children to eat enough of them.

Carbs should be complex, especially for kids with ADD/ADHD. Honey, molasses, treacle, pure maple syrup, and date syrup, are very good sweeteners. Stay away from sugar (sucrose) and glucose as much as possible. Fruits of all types are good. Dark chocolate is good as are homemade icecream and fruit cocktail. Fruit preserves that have no stabilizers or artificial preservatives are fine. In fact it is best to stay away from anything with artificial stabilizers, food colorings and preservatives as many of these have effects on mood and can worsen hyperactivity. Bread should best be whole grain, but a number of children are sensitive to gluten so check that out and if necessary try a gluten excluded diet for at least a week to see whether it helps.

Don’t store anything in the fridge, if at all possible – FRESH IS BEST!

Changes in diet will result in both immediate and slower changes, and if you are a sensible parent you will pay close attention to this very important aspect of your child’s life. make sure to keep track of dietary changes or anything ‘new’ that your child eats in your journal.

Anyone interested in the Challenge ‘eggetarian’ LD diet (very Indian) can mail me and I will send you a copy. There is no ONE CORRECT diet that will work with all developmentally challenged kids, so keep working on it and learning as you go!

Digg!





LD3 – Dyspraxia

15 04 2007

spilled mikDyspraxia is again a very common learning disorder.

One can think of dyspraxia as being in a disordered state of mind. Disorganisation can become the hallmark of a child’s life. Common tasks cause confusion. There is no plan put into action to complete a job. Indeed, dyspraxia is more than a learning disorder, it is a life disorder!

For students, the common signs are messy workplaces, things going ‘missing’ very often and when a series of actions are called for an inability to repeat a sequence of actions in the same way. Simple everyday activities like brushing one’s teeth can prove problematic. If you think about it, what many of us do almost without a second thought actually involves a number of separate steps. We find and pick up a toothbrush, then find and open a tube of toothpaste, then put just the right amount of paste onto the bristles of the brush, cap the paste and put it back in its proper place. We then brush our teeth and usually that too in some sort of ordered sequence to ensure that each tooth has been cleaned, front and back. Then wash the paste out of our mouth, find a towel and dry up. The brush has to be washed and brush and towel returned to where they should be.

The student with dyspraxia will often have forgotten books, pen, diary etc. Typically the disorganisation will be visible on the work surface. Things will be scattered around. Something once used will not be put back from where it was taken. Activities like searching or finding will often end in failure.

I think you can see the devastating effects that dyspraxia can have on a chid’s life, self-esteem and personality development.  Typically, such children will be thought of as  ‘unable to do the simplest thing properly’. Without intending to, they will be considered naughty, stubborn, lazy, messy, unreliable, careless, forgetful and a lot of other unfavourable things.

Dyspraxia can be very frustrating for parents to deal with for it is not limited to school or study but will affect every area of a child’s life.messy desk toon

Dyspraxia again is a developmental disorder and one that can occur alone or along with dyslexia, dysgraphia and/or ADHD. Dyspraxia can and should be treated!

Most chidren will show improvement with therapy. For a few kids, some degree of difficulty will be with them throughout their lives. Many will be able to compensate for their disorder to such an extent that it may become unnoticeable.

Digg!





LD2 – Dysgraphia

4 04 2007

Dys (Greek – something wrong or improper) + graphia (writing). An inability to write at all is called agraphia but this is very rare. What is a very common learning disorder is dysgraphia – messy, poorly spelled, difficult to read handwriting. Dyslexia (difficulty reading) often but not always is found along with dysgraphia.

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Poor handwriting can sometimes be the result of improper teaching of basic writing skills but that would not be considered a “learning disorder” and can be easily corrected with just a bit of focused coaching.

The real disorder is not so easy to correct and depending on factors such as concomitant dyslexia, it may take years to set right. But, dysgraphia as with dyslexia IS treatable. Improvement with sound therapy is very possible and for many kids a complete recovery is possible.

Again, early detection is important. Any signs; bad spelling, messy handwriting, inability to write in straight lines, resistance to writing and even complaints of hand pain while writing should result in a proper professional evaluation of the child. The pros will look into all aspects including proper functioning of nerves and muscles and other possible physical sources like eyesight. Along with the physical tests they will use tests that study whether there is good coordination between the motor and perceptual parts of the brain.

A key issue always with any LD is how the child is developing and whether the child’s development is on par with other kids of the same age. Slower development of some parts of the brain can often be detected in kids that have learning disorders.

Dysgraphia is treatable, so if you have any suspicion that your child’s handwriting is not on par with her/his peers, do get it checked out and don’t get disheartened!

In our experience in dealing with developmental disorders, we have found that nutrition is very important. In my next post I will talk about that and a few other things that parents need to know…