High Functioning Aspergers Syndrome

One of the largest problems with having a high functioning Aspergers child is people do not always see a child with a disability, they think they are just acting out or undisciplined. I have even had this discussion with family members who felt it was a discipline issue. Even if discipline was the problem, Aspergers children work differently when it comes to discipline and techniques used on other kids do not always work or work the same with Aspergers children. We look back on all the years and all the different things we tried and now realize we either had absolutely no effect on her, or it went in the wrong direction from where we were trying to get.

It is extremely frustrating to have people misunderstand your child in this way. Since many Aspergers children have a maturity level under their actual age it makes things even worse. I often want to tell my child to grow up or act her age, but I realize she is not there mentally. She still loves to watch the young children cartoons, for example. She still can throw a tantrum (not throwing herself on the floor, but gets very frustrated and shuts off). Her ability to know what is proper and not proper in certain situations can still be at a childs level. This is also frustrating because some situations she is fine and handles herself perfectly, but once in awhile she does not and you just do not know when it will happen. This is where the high functioning Aspergers is in play, when she can function just fine, but then one day she does not. I have often got the “look” from people. Even people I know and family members who know she has a disability. It is the “control your child”, or “what kind of parent are you” or “she has no dicipline” look. If they could only spend one day in my shoes to understand there is a difference with these children. They literally are wired different and have to be deal with different. Just like when you come home with a new baby from the hospital “without an instruction manual” and have to figure it out ……. this is the same. There is no instruction manual because they are all different and you have to find what works and fits for them.

I am so thankful she is high functioning Aspergers because she can lead a fairly normal life. She can learn the social skills and abilities to function in the world. It just takes time. I love that her doctor made the comment that “someday people may actually look at Aspergers as an positive attribute when interviewing for a career”. He made this comment after talking about several scientists that were thought to have been Aspergers. There are some good attributes that many Aspergers children display that could potentially be sent after in certain fields such as science. Since my daughter is a science freak and loves math, our doctor feels she could really excel in school and a career.

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Aspergers – For Us in the Beginning

I had every hope and dream as every other pregnant mother. On a beautify February day we bought our sweet daughter into this world. She was as perfect as anyone could hope for. Family members quickly commented on how alert she was. Even at a tender few hours old she seemed to be checking everything out like she was not going to have enough time to take everything in. The next few months continued along the same path. Being my first child I did not have anything to gauge her growth, abilities and interactions off of. She was always busy. ALWAYS! As a toddler she had so much energy we used to say we needed to bottle it and sell it. She would literally go go go until she dropped to the floor tired. Seriously! We found her several times on the floor like she had been running and literally ran out of steam and just dropped to the floor sleep. We noticed she had problems with other children when playing and did not make friends well. It was like she was overbearing and the other kids reacted negative to that. She has never been aggressive or mean, infact just the opposite. We continued to notice how she picked up on things quickly and at a very young age. Puzzles, blocks, computer games, organizing things. She remembers everything she learns and has loved watching educational shows as well as computer research to learn just about anything. Science such as geology, outerspace, dinosaurs, Egypt, and medicine are her favorites. She excels in math and science.

In kindergarten we finally bit the bullet we had been trying to dodge for years and had her checked for ADHD since she still was going go go all the time and still had problems with interacting with other kids. She was given the ADHD diagnosis and started on medications. This helped, but we still noticed a difference. We trucked along as most parents would, thinking this was all ADHD. In 3rd grade two very awesome teachers not aware her handwriting was not where a 3rd graders should be. Being naive parents we just thought she was lazy or even rushing her work. They advised us that she had had dysgraphia (a form of dyslexia that effects handwriting due to poor motor skills). The school worked to diagnose and begin helping her with dysgraphia. So, now I felt bad because we waited too long to get the ADHD diagnosis and now we had missed the clues of a handwriting problem. We were trucking along with these two conditions now.

One day on the radio I heard someone speaking about the website www.autismspeaks.org . I had heard of Autism, but did not feel my daughter had the sever symptoms of Autism, however, I still felt compelled to check out the site. Sure enough, when I went through their checklist I still did not feel she had Autism. I did however notice a link to something called Aspergers Syndrome. This is where our little adventure begins! I was able to mentally put a checkmark on so many things listed under Aspergers Syndrome. The biggest thing that stood out to me at that moment was the poor handwriting due to lack of motor skills. I also found little experiences listed I never would have thought of questioning. It was a moment! I actually wanted to cry, because for the first time I felt I had found the reason for us not understanding our daughter and finally we just might have the secret decoder ring in possession to help us understand and help her.

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Tony Atwood – Leading Researcher With Aspergers Syndrome

Not long after my daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome I had started researching articles and books. I had found several books that looked good. One of the sites had a conferece in my area for one of the authors, Tony Atwood. After researching him I found out he was a leading researcher of Aspergers Syndrome from Australia. The conference was for teachers, medical professionals, and parents. I paid the money and attended the all day conference. It was well worth it. His discussion about how special these children are made me so much more comfortable dealing with these issues. He explained that they do not see / do things wrong, just different.

I loved his analogy of the 100 piece puzzle. It has helped me explain Aspergers to so many people. He said to imagine a 100 piece puzzle. People with Aspergers have 80 or more pieces of that puzzle. Relatives will have similar tracks to Aspergers and may only have 40, or 60, or 20 pieces of that puzzle and are not Aspergers, even though they might have a trait of Aspergers. It is only when they have 80 or more pieces and display a large amount of Aspergers hits are they really Aspergers. Nice and easy! I left the conference feeling challenged, but eager to work with my daughter even more.

Aspergers children are brilliant and usually have special areas they excel in. My daughter is math and science. The book I read by Tony Atwood was called “Girls and Aspergers” which was a huge help to understand it better. Girls display Aspergers different then boys. Boys can be more outgoing and aggressive while girls are inward and awkward. Social skills is the largest display for both as they have difficulty reading social and facial cues given by others. I highly suggest reading one of Tony Atwoods books because he has many out there to deal with different situations.

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Social Skills Difficulties

Socials skills difficulties are a symptom of Aspergers Syndrome. These are a few of the symptoms I have learned about in regards to social situations and social skills difficulties that you should address with a doctor. We noticed several of these symptoms in our own daughter at a young age, but were unsure of what that meant since she was our first child. Progressing through the years she has learned social skills in some situations, and yet new areas are now an issue.

1. Difficulty playing in a game situation such as not sharing, not following the rules, or taking turns.

2. Not knowing how to interact (wants to interact but does not know what to do).

3. Will watch others but will not join in. Will stand in the distance and watch or be by themselves.

4. Inability to start up a conversation. Not knowing what to say.

5. Monopolizing a conversation. Not realizing they are not letting others speak.

6. Will not participate in activities that interest others. Only wants to do activities they enjoy.

7. Always has to control the situation. Playing or doing activities has to be done their certain way.

8. Limited ability to see or understand the emotions of others. They may not read the facial cues others give that show how they are feeling.

9. Exhibit behavior that may seem strange or out of place by peers. (Such as choosing games or activities of a younger age group)

10. Are not aware when others react negative to them joining into activities.

11. Will be unaware ofappropriate conversations or actions in a public.

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Early Attention is Required With Children With Down Syndrome

Parents of children with Down syndrome are flooded with a barrage of emotions. They may experience disappointment, anger, grief, frustration, fear and anxiety. Mothers over the age 35, who have a higher chance of having a baby with Down syndrome, may experience guilt or self-blame.

These feelings naturally come up, which is why establishing a support network is important for new parents. Talking with others who've been through the same challenges will offer inspiration and ensure the best possible upbringing for the developmentally disabled child.

Children with this chromosomal disorder will have tribulations early on. Parents should be aware of the special-care needs for babies with Down syndrome as early as possible, to prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead. Some babies require medication to address a heart defect, while others require physical therapy sessions to help develop better muscle tone and coordination.

Some syndrome babies have a difficult time learning to breastfeeding at first, which is sometimes related to stomach or intestinal blockages. Eye, ear, nose, throat and thyroid problems are not uncommon, as is late teeth. The main thing to keep in mind is that the baby will actually get there, but patience and offering loving support are critical to the child's development.

The educational needs for children with Down syndrome vary, depending on the degree of mental retardation. Early intervention and skill assessment is the key to relating to the child on terms he or she can relate with. For example, often concrete concepts are more easily understood than abstract ideas. Step-by-step teaching and providing consistent feedback are two techniques that can help the developmentally disabled.

In the past, Down syndrome children went to separate schools or were home-schooled. Now, the mainstream of these children is providing effective at decreasing the emotional gap between children with this chromosomal disorder and those without. In countries like Denmark or Germany, a two-teacher approach allows these kids to observe and be exposed to others, while focusing on their special needs.

There are certain health risks for children with Down syndrome. About half of all Down syndrome babies are born with congenital heart defects and 60% suffer an eye disease, including cataracts (15%) and the need for corrective glasses or contact lenses (50%). Nearly 75% suffer hearing loss, sleep apnea and persistent ear infections. Other problems include thyroid disease (15%), gastrointestinal atresias (12%) and acquired hip dislocation (6%).

Less than 1% of all cases report leukemia or Hirschsprung disease. Over time, adults with Down syndrome may suffer respiratory infections, heart disease, surgery for bowel obstruction or cataracts, hearing loss, epilepsy and osteoarthritis.

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Cerebral Palsy Associations – Help For Families With a Cerebral Palsy Child

When an infant is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, families' lives are changed forever. Cerebral Palsy is a group of non-progressive conditions that affect thousands of infants each year. There are many services for families that will help them become educated about it. They help find medical and financial services for families also; you will get all the information and resources needed for your child.

There are cerebral palsy associations in the US that families can turn to for help. Several of these organizations are listed below:

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)

In 1949, United Cerebral Palsy was founded. This organization dedicates their services to improve the rights of individuals with disabilities. UCP offers many services nationwide such as housing, therapy, job assistance, and support for families. UCP is committed to improving independent productivity for individuals with disabilities also.

Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation (CPIRF)

CPIRF was founded in 1955. They are devoted in supporting research related to developmental disabilities. They are dedicated to improving health care services for families. CPIRF supports research in areas like prevention and rehabilitation.

Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Association (CHASA)

Another cerebral palsy association is the Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Association offering support and information to families of infants, children, and young adults who have hemiplegia or hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Families can find information and issues about children with hemiplegia with the help of CHASA. You can sign up for local support groups and finds other families that are dealing with the same issues.

Easter Seals

Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities for more than 85 years. This organization provides many services to families with children that have cerebral palsy and other special needs.

Easter Seals will help with employment and child care. They also provide recreational activities and services for caregivers.

March of Dimes

The March of Dimes believes in giving babies a fighting chance against threats to their health. This organization is devoted to preventing risks such as:

* Birth defects

* Infant mortality

* Premature birth

Their website has information for parents about topics relevant to caring for newborns with health issues.

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)

An organization that offers information about specific disabilities is the NICHCY. They believe in early intervention, education rights, and more for families that have children with disabilities. They provide a wealth of information to the nation on:

* Children and youth with disabilities

* Services for infants and youth with disabilities


* No child left behind

National Disability Sports Alliance (NDSA )

The National Disability Sports Alliance began as the United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association in 1987. Ever since, they have been in charge of organizing competitive sports for people with physically disabling conditions. The NDSA is organized internationally, national and locally. They are responsible for formulating rules, carrying out policies and more.

Cerebral Palsy Associations Near You

United Cerebral Palsy has partners all over that can assist you in locating other cerebral palsy associations in your town. The associations cited above list resources on their websites also.

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People With Down Syndrome Are Not Severely Handicapped

Until recently, people with Down syndrome were considered severely handicapped. Yet with better advocacy and pushes toward educational integration, adults with Down syndrome are getting married, working jobs, living independently and living well into their fifties.

Few people can forget the lovable character “Corky” on the hit TV series “Life Goes On,” and how he frequently challenged stereotypes and unfair assumptions about those with such a disability. Advances in medicine, social normalization and the expansion of programs to help the disabled are credited with what is sometimes referred to as “the new generation” of Down syndrome.

People who are afflicted with this disability encounter many physical challenges that others do not. Their motor skill development is slow, so they will learn to breastfeed, roll over, walk and talk, as well as teeth later than other children their age. This can be frustrating for both the Down Syndrome child and the parents who are repeatedly confronted with their own mistaken expectations.

Another physical risk is, of course, the associated health problems. Many babies with Down syndrome undergo heart, ear and eye surgeries before one year of age. There are later risks of epilepsy, obesity, heart disease, ear infections, thyroid disease, throat infections, pneumonia and osteoarthritis.

Everyday activities can be difficult for people with Down syndrome to cope with. Many disabled children are naturally empathetic and in tune with their parents emotions and they sense the frustration or stress the parents sometimes experience. The extra attention expected of parents is sometimes exhausting and overwhelming, so psychologists recommend that parents attend Down syndrome support meetings to talk to other parents who have Down syndrome children and learn new techniques for raising their disabled child.

One of the things that people with Down syndrome still struggle with is public misperceptions about their condition. For instance, they are often stereotyped as being always happy or “out of it,” when in reality Down syndrome children experience a full range of emotions and have quite unique personality traits. However, there are certain coping strategies that work better. For example, routine and order help them control their lives better.

Additionally, self-talk helps them communicate, express themselves and make sense of what's going on. People with learning disabilities generally rebuke change, which has led to the misperception that they are stubborn by nature. Perhaps they are simply trying to understand what's going on and maintain control in their lives. Perhaps they just need a little extra patience from those around them.

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Do You Know What Causes Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome children are a lot of work. Parents will need a team of doctors, including a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist, a pediatrician and other specialists, like speech therapists. Babies with Down syndrome may have trouble learning to roll over, sit up, feed, walk or talk. However, the temperament of these children is often extremely loving, loyal and gentle, which is why some doctors say raising a child with Down syndrome can be a rewarding experience. What causes Down syndrome boils down to genetics, although there is no way to prevent it.

An error in cell division is what causes this chromosomal disorder, experts say. Typically, human cells have 46 chromosomes; half from the sperm and half from the egg. Occidentally, extra genetic material builds up on the 21st chromosome when cells divide improperly and chromosome 21 becomes a trio, rather than a standard pair. In fact, another name of Down syndrome is “Trisomy 21.” The triple chromosome will then continue to replicate improperly in each growing cell.

Doctors found that what causes Down syndrome environmentalally may be the parents' age. For example, a 25-year-old mother has a 1 / 3,000 chance of having a baby with Down syndrome. By age 35, her risk will have increased to 1/365 and by 45, it will be a 1/30 chance of having a baby with the genetic condition! The latest Down syndrome research suggests that older fathers are now responsible for the 50% rise in risk, when the mother is also over 40.

Even though the odds get worse as the parents age, 80% of these babies are born to women who are 35 or younger. However, that statistic can also be explained because younger women are having many more babies. Younger mothers who smoke and have a meiotic II error or who smoke and take oral contraceptives are at increased risk for having a down child as well.

During pregnancy, there are several screening tests to examine what causes Down syndrome. Some people get blood tests like the quad screen, which reveals chromosomal disorders between the eleventh and fourteen weeks of pregnancy. Doctors look for plasma protein-A and the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone.

This test is about 87% effective in making a Down syndrome diagnosis. Ultrasound is another method to check for abnormalities. While these tests may give parents peace of mind, they may also set off a false alarm. Even though 1/20 women test positive, most will go on to deliver healthy babies anyway.

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Spastic Cerebral Palsy – Types, Diagnosis and Treatments

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of this disability that affects approximately 80 percent of patients. It differs from other types of cerebral palsy in that it affects muscles and joints. There is muscle stiffness and spasticity as well as limited joint movement.

How This Form is Categorized

This form is categorized by the areas of the body that they affect. Affecting both the legs and the arms is a type called Diplegia. One limb is affected in Monoplegia, a rare form of spastic cerebral palsy. Another type affects only one side of the body, Hemiplegia. A type that affects the movement of three limbs is Triplegia and Quadriplegia affects all four limbs.

Diagnosing This Disability

It is difficult to diagnose cerebral palsy especially during early infancy. However, tests can be run right after birth such as CT scans, MRIs, and EEGs. Your child should be seen by a doctor if your child is experiencing developmental delays or abnormal muscle tone.

Treatment Options

There are no cures for this disorder however there are treatments that may help manage spasticity and support a higher quality of life for the child. Therapy is give to children with the related symptoms include occupational therapy that helps with fine motor skills such as eating. Then there is physical therapy that focuses on gross motor skills focusing on muscle strength. Children can also go through surgeries, and they can wear braces and casts.

Does Your Child Have Spastic Cerebral Palsy?

The reasons for cerebral palsy are often unknown but are present at birth. Parents are entitled to know why or how this happened. There are risk factors including lack of oxygen, infections to the mother or her baby, preterm delivery and other delivery complications. It is important that the delivery goes safely. The medical staff is responsible for the mother and child, making sure they are alright. Nonetheless there are cases where medical malpractice takes place and families need to know what they can do if this happens. Families can be compensated for damages that occurred during labor and delivery.

Contact a Lawyer Today

Families need to contact a lawyer immediately if you feel like there may have been medical malpractice involved. There is time limit in cases like these so do not wait to call. Lawyers know your rights and they can get the compensation you need for the care of your child.

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Answering Your Down Syndrome Questions

Having a child is a huge responsibility. Even before the child is born there are things that expectant parents must do to ensure that their child is safe. But there are occasions and conditions that can not be avoided. Down syndrome is not picky on what infant it strikes. It does not know socioeconomic barriers and there is no cure.

But there is hope for that child and his or her parents. Unlike the past, many children with this genetic disorder can still lead fulfilling lives. Thanks to new treatment options and available education, parents can help their child make it in this world. This article will cover some of the basics of this disorder and hopefully shed a little light on any questions you may have.

How do doctors identify it genetically?

While a woman is pregnant there are ways to determine if Down syndrome is present. The first test is a routine prenatal screening to detect a wide variety of disorders. If the test comes back positive for Down's syndrome, the mother has the option of having an amniocentesis performed.

During this procedure a needle is inserted into the abdomen and amniotic fluid is taken. The doctors can then test specifically for the disorder. The overwhelming sign of Down's syndrome is the presence of a 21st chromosome.

What are some characteristics of Down syndrome children?

There are certain characteristics that are associated with Down syndrome individuals. Their physical appearance will be similar. There will be a slanting of the eyes, a round face and often a distended tongue that can make speech difficult.

Often the individual will have poor muscle tone and can even have white flecks on the iris called Brushfield spots. Some of the characteristics will not be immediately obvious such as congenital heart defects, sleep apnea and more space between the big toe and the rest of the toes. Unfortunately having Down's syndrome also means having a degree of mental retardation.

Does a Down syndrome child need specialized care?

Yes, most Down syndrome children will need specialized care. The child may have a speech problem and need to work with a speech therapist. The child may have poor muscle tone and have to work with a physical therapist. If there are emotional barriers, the parents have to work with the child to help them adjust to school and different emotional situations that may arise.

Many Down's syndrome children have physical problems that have to be regularly monitored such as congenital heart defects. With the right treatment and care the child can learn to be full functioning as an adult. Some individuals with this genetic condition can even live by themselves and hold down jobs. It is even possible for them to marry and have a family.

How severe is the retardation associated with Down syndrome?

The mental retardation associated with Down syndrome varies from child to child. It can be quite pronounced with a mental IQ of less than 35. Mild retardation is classified by an IQ score of 50-70. The only way to find out the extent of the child's mental facilities is through testing. Some parents want to know and others prefer not to subject their children to further testing just to classify the mental abilities.

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Do You Understand a Child With Down Syndrome?

Cathy Morgan, a mother of a child with Down syndrome, recalls when she received the initial diagnosis of Down syndrome from the doctor: “Her message was' Legally, you have 24 weeks to terminate the pregnancy and you should do it sooner rather than later because it will be more difficult on you if you wait, 'and you're sort of taken aback.'

She said that she was scared, nervous and disappointed at first but abortion was never an option for her. Now that she has three-year-old Eddie, she could not imagine life without him. Raising any child is not any easy job, either they have 46 chromosomes or 47.

At home, your attitude is critical to your child's development. Here are some down syndrome facts. While acceptance and social normalcy are a reality now more than ever, your child will still face hurdles with cruel children at school.

A Down child is also susceptible to depression, so your love and acceptance is very important. Many parents attend support group meetings through the National Down Syndrome Society to learn how to better care for their Down Syndrome child and to address any negative emotions.

Patience is more than just a value here; it is an absolute necessity. While your child may learn to feed feed, roll over, walk and talk later than his or her peers, you will still find these achievements just as significant.

Set aside time each day to practice daily skills like getting dressed, using silverware or helping with chores. Being organized with a routine, as well as a system of lists, behavior contracts and rewards is the best way to encourage your child against the effects of Down syndrome.

As your child with Down syndrome gets older, grooming, hygiene and sexuality becomes very important issues. There are many books you can get that will help you explain these awkward topics to disabled children in ways they understand. Ensuring that your child attends school well-groomed and properly cared for will have a strong impact on how other adolescents perceive him or her, so this area can not be ignored.

Boys must learn that erections are natural, and what to do when one arises. They must also learn that public masturbation is against the law, as well as socially unacceptable. Girls must learn about the changes their bodies go through as well and must understand how to use pads, as well as how to have respect for their bodies. Like any other teens, Down syndrome children will want to date, socialize and develop intimacy, so be sure to address these issues.

Know the health risks of your child with Down syndrome. Find a good medical practitioner who specializes in Down syndrome obstacles. Heart defects, visual impairments, hearing problems and difficulty breathing are all common ailments children with Down syndrome may face. Diet is also very important for the disabled. Be aware that obesity can be a problem, and that high-sugar / additives / preservatives may be upsetting.

Try a natural diet with alpha-ketoglutaric acid supplements. You may also need to limit dairy if your child is sentenced to ear infections. Additionally, a Down syndrome child may sleep poorly, with frequent awakenings and interrupted REM sleep. This could lead to more difficulty focusing and learning, research suggests. Discuss treatment options with your health care practitioner if you suspect this condition may be prevalent.

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The Gift of the Dyslexic Child

Dyslexia is mistaken by many people as another word for “learning difficulties”, where in fact it is only one of many different learning difficulties.

Dyslexia is a brain defect in the ability to process or decode graphic symbols that are not caused by eye problems or low intelligence. A dyslexic person usually has difficulty with reading and spelling, but it is important to remember that not everyone with reading and writing difficulties is dyslexic.

I have worked with many kids, who have had symptoms similar to dyslexia that were actually caused by other problems. Deafness, visual problems, temporary challenges with a second language, gaps in their education or emotional problems may appear like dyslexia but can not be treated like dyslexia.

When I work with a dyslexic child, I spend most of the time not on the actual difficulty or brain processing problem but on the child's self image and self esteem. You see, many dyslexic children think they are stupid, which is very far from the truth. Most of them do not understand that with their disadvantage, they also have a certain advantage. Their “thinking machine” just works differently and they have a unique way of looking at the world. Most of them have special gifts in other areas, as if their brain compensates for their missing abilities. Many dyslexic kids (and people) show great talents like:

  • Artistic abilities
  • Athletic skills
  • Music
  • Mechanics
  • Social skills
  • Visual skills
  • Vivid imagination
  • Intuition
  • Curiosity

To understand that dyslexia is not a real obstacle, think of famous dyslexic people. Albert Einstein was a famous person. He was very bright and his mother never thought that her son, thinking differently was a problem. Other special dyslexic people: Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Jamie Oliver, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo Da Vinci and Richard Branson, all of whom could only reach their highest potential because of their ability to think differently.

Just like Einstein reached his greatest glory thanks to his mother, the attitude parents of dyslexic children have towards their children determines their learning experience. The best approach is to embrace the uniqueness of their kids and by that help them tap into their great talents.

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The Causes of Down Syndrome

In the process of reproduction the egg cell and the sperm cell begin with 46 chromosomes. As the cells divide they are left with 23 chromosomes each. Thus in the process of fertilization 23 chromosomes of the father's sperm and 23 chromosomes of the mother's egg are involved that finally developed to form a fetus and there on begin the process of creation of a baby.

This natural process is sometimes eroded and the sperm or the egg instead of retaining one copy of chromosome number 21 keeps both copies. This causes an additional copy of chromosome to be retained inside taking the total count of chromosome number 21 to 3 instead of two. This ends up in building an extra copy of chromosomes in all cells in the body of the child, leading to a major defect called the Down syndrome.

This abnormality in fertilization can occur in three patterns. It can cause from 'trisomy 21', which is most common. This is formed due to retaining of that one extra copy of number 21 chromosomes. Thus the child will have three copies of chromosome 21 in every cell in the body. Further, an abnormal division of cells subsequent to fertilization can happen where the child has extra copy of number 21 chromosomes on some cells and not all. This is called Mosaic Down syndrome. Another fertilization process away from the natural could be when Translocation Down syndrome where at conception stage or even before 21 number chromosome gets 'translocated' or attached to another chromosome.

While it is not clear which genes or processes causes this syndrome but it has been found from research that there are more than one gene that is involved in causing this abnormality leading to the cause of Down syndrome.

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Developing an Effective Exercise Program For the Mentally-Handicapped

Obesity is creeping its way into the lives of everyone in society, including the special populations. Obesity is causing a quick deterioration of the quality of life special population clients could have, despite other mental limitations. Problems such as: hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, blood clots, heart risks, skin irritations, etc. all plague society today – but in the case of the mentally handicapped, these problems are intensified. Unfortunately, there is little information around on how to safely and effectively engineer an exercise program to the mentally-challenged. In addition, most caretakers do not have the time, knowledge, or motivation to promote a healthy lifestyle-change – or are suffering from the same health problems related to being overweight, as the people they take care of – and therefore, are not helping the problem.

With that said, there is a rising need for caretakers, health care workers, family members, etc. to become knowledgeable on ways to confront this growing epidemic! I have focused my attention as a fitness professional on providing healthy exercise classes and personal training sessions to this special population.

Based on my experience, there are very effective ways to incorporate healthy changes to the lives of these people. As with any exercise program for any individual, motivation is key. I first want to list some suggestions on improving adherence to a healthy lifestyle. First off, the use of interactive charts for tracking progress is a good starting tool. I make each of my clients a chart (measuring whatever we deem important to measure) and I give them stickers to post on each day or time he or she becomes closer to his / her goal. For example, I had a client measure how many servings of fruit she ate each day … so for each serving of fruit she put a sticker on her calendar. This made her aware of what she was eating and it gave her a goal to push towards. Second, allow the client to choose one aspect of his / her exercise program. At the end of each workout I allow the client to choose what he or she wants to do, whether it be shoot baskets, ride the bikes, swim, play racquetball, do yoga, etc. This provides the client something to work toward during each exercise session, as well as provide a sense of control on the part of the client. Third, remain consistent week to week with scheduled exercise sessions and the amount of time each session lasts. Consistency is key in the mind of a mentally handicapped person, change is not addressed lightly. Remaining consistent on time allows the client to enter the session session prepared and mentally focused. Fourth, use all types of equipment for exercising. Creativity can go a long way! I use paper plates, balloons, parachutes, dowel rods, bouncy balls, ribbons, as well as standard exercise equipment for each session. Exercising should seem like a “game” or “event” each time the client shows up to participate.

As far as developing a program, initially I check with the clients' physician for clearance before beginning. Second, I notify the guardian and caretaker of the plan so everyone is onboard with the idea. Third, I meet with the client to discuss what he or she likes and dislikes, what he or she hopes to do, and I also get a feel for the cognitive and physical capabilities of the client through this interview. We will visit the place where we will workout to familiarize him or she with the settings, etc. Finally, we meet the first time and begin the program. I sit down the first day and the clients' caretaker and myself, and the client make a grocery list encompassing all the meals, snacks, and treats that the client will be able to have to eat from then on. I make sure the client provides as much insight as possible and offer healthier alternatives to what he or she chooses.

Then I introduce a calendar and 3 or 4 body weight exercises for the client to begin working on during their own time. We do these exercises every workout session as part of his or her warm-up to help him or her remember the movements. I have the client chart the times he or she does the workout on the calendar – at the end of each month a reward is provided for the time invested. I try to incorporate very functional movements into the program I design for each client, depending on his or her abilities and limitations, attention span, and desire to exercise. I try to meet with each client either in a group setting or individually 2 times a week if at all possible. Repetition, repetition, repetition. I also provide educational information for the caretakers to best help Incorporate the program I am introducing through monthly nutrition and exercise seminars.

I have experienced great success with weight loss, improved range of motion, program adherence, and improved coordination and confidence with this programming. I would love to help you or your facility adopt an improved quality of life.

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Great Gifts For Busy, Hyper Active Kids

Is your child, like mine, busy, active, and can never sit still? Do a lot of the toys he gets for Christmas or Haunukah get played with once (if at all) and then never used again? In today's economy you do not want to waste money on gifts your child will not enjoy or use. This year you can be more strategic and thoughtful about the gifts you purchase if you think about what your child will really use and enjoy. Here, in no particular order, are my “gift picks,” for busy, (hyper) active kids. Some of these are appropriate for youngger children, while others are better suited for older kids.

o Indoor Trampoline – you know, the small one you can put in your territory. Get the kids off the couch and bed and no one gets hurt!
o Jump routes – again, use 'em in the basement, or driveway. You CAN jump rope in a snowsuit!
o Pogo stick – just be sure to get a helmet.
o Gift certificates to local indoor play-space, sports complex or ski slope / sledding park -This is a great gift idea for grandparents, aunts / uncles (especially the “cool” ones).
o Marble runs – the wooden ones are best. Drop the marbles in and watch them go!
o Water wheel – OK I have no idea what this is really called. If you come to my office you know what I am talking about. Water and some form of colored oil in a clear plastic container. If you tip the water wheel up, the soil spills toward the bottom and spins a wheel inside, tip it again and the wheel turns the other way. Let me know if you know the name of this thing or if you can find an example for me to show folks. I call this my “unofficial ADHD detector”. Every kid or adult with ADHD can not put this thing down!
o Lava lamp – Same concept as water wheel. Moving liquid seems to be soothing and entertaining to hyperactive kids.
o Tickets to a loud, raucous stadium event – In our family it is Monster Jam (Monster Trucks). Your kids may like something different. This is an “if you can not beat 'em join' em gift. The kids are going to yell and shout so you may as well get them out of the house and bring them where screaming is acceptable and they can be with their own peeps (other hyperactive kids).
o A homemade gift certificate to go sledding, build a snowman, bake cookies, see a movie, go shopping with YOU – This can be the best gift of all. Just make sure you follow through and make good on the certificate later on.

Holiday Books

There is a great list of wonderful children's holiday books at amazon under “Fuller Books”

I need to buy some of these for our family!

Teacher Gifts

Please do not forget to recognize your child's teachers and specialists this holiday season. They do care and work hard on behalf of your child. Joan Celebi, the Special Needs Parent Coach, put together a lovely list of teacher gifts. See her list on her blog at her website.

FYI: Joan will be joining us for our January Parent Skills and Strategies teleseminar. I am so looking forward to speaking with her! Enjoy gift buying and giving. Remember, it really is the thought that counts.

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