Aussie scientists ‘unlock’ deadly peanut allergy, by Andrew Rochford

Peanut square

Australian scientists are confident they’ve found a solution to the deadly peanut allergy affecting thousands of children.

Under a new trial, children with the deadly allergy are being fed ground peanuts mixed with a probiotic in a bid to alter the stomach to accept nuts, and not reject them.

According to the scientists, 80 per cent of children in the trial were able to tolerate peanuts by the end of the study.


Matthew Reed at the peanut allergy trial. Source: 7News


Aussie scientists are working to unlock the peanut allergy affecting three in every 100 children. Source: 7News

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia figures show three in every 100 Australian children suffer from a peanut allergy.

The figures also show just 20 per cent of those children outgrow the allergy.

“I’m worried all the time,” parent Leanne Reed said.

(To read more of this article and watch a video, please go to the link below…)

“Orange Friday” in Aotearoa/ NZ… raising awareness of domestic violence. By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp


Orange Friday is a  day to raise awareness and much needed funds to help victims of domestic abuse become safe and stay safe.

Domestic abuse is not an easy subject, especially because our statistics here in Aotearoa/ NZ are shocking.   The NZ Police answer a domestic abuse callout every 5 minutes.   One child is killed every 6 weeks by a family member.   And one in three Kiwi women will experience physical or sexual abuse by a partner in their lifetime.  It’s awful to know that we have such a huge problem with domestic abuse in our beautiful country.

On “Orange Friday” people dress in (you guessed it) ORANGE :).  They donate money to the organisation “Shine”.  Shine was founded in 1990, so have just celebrated their 25th Anniversary.   Shine work in partnership with many organisations,  including the NZ Police,  Child Youth & Family Services and Family Works.  They offer a range of integrated services that support adult and child victims to be safe, as well as supporting men who have used abuse, to change their behaviour.  Shine currently have a serious funding shortfall, meaning only  1 out 4 victims that are referred are able to be helped.  Orange Friday aims to help with this shortfall by raising  funds to ensure  all victims of domestic abuse are able to have the support that they need.


Kamo lntermediate School Children on “Orange Friday” 2015.

“Orange Friday” is also a good opportunity to raise general awareness of domestic violence, so holding it in schools or offices is great… lots of people wearing orange will attract interest and further help this worthy cause.  So get out there, get orange and “shine a light” on this problem… one which is often hidden behind closed doors until it’s too late.


For more information about “Orange Friday” and Shine, follow the links below:

10 Powerful Truths About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) That Will Change Your Perspective, by Mike Berry


For the majority of the world, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is misunderstood and often judged. But, there are powerful truths that can change your life when you understand, and embrace them.


That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about FASD. Anger.

I’m angry that my child’s birth mother would make the selfish choice to drink during her pregnancy, angry that the claws of addiction dug deeper than the conviction of pre-natal care, angry at the numerous therapists, doctors, and authorities who’ve downplayed or disagreed with my child’s diagnosis over the years, angry at a world that judges before seeking the truth, and angry when I think about the missing pieces of my child’s life.

The child I chose with love.

Most of all, I’m angry that he will never have a normal childhood. A part of his brain is absent thanks to a stupid choice, a lack of self-control, and an unwillingness to guard his precious life before he took one peek at the world. I know this sounds harsh but this is the stuff I wrestle with often. Sometimes it eats at me, grinding away at my soul like a jackhammer grinding away at concrete. Other times, it’s sadness. A deep longing to go back in time, before his conception, and beg his birth mother to not make the choice she would eventually make.

Yes, we reel in pain over this disease. After all, that’s what it is. It’s brain damage, and the worst kind too, as far as we’re concerned. We live with the devastation of our child’s violent outbursts that have brought trauma on our family so deep that we’re not sure we’ll ever heal from it. We wrestle but, we’re hopeful. In the midst of our life, which often looks more like a pile of ashes than a life, we have a hope and a belief that our child, our son, will succeed. It began a while ago, when we embraced some powerful truths about FASD…

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

Increased levels of fluoride in drinking water linked to higher ADHD rates, by Gabriela Motroc


New research shows there is a strong connection between increased levels of fluoride in drinking water and the prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the United States.

The study titled Exposure to fluoridated water and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder prevalence among children and adolescents in the United States: an ecological association study published earlier this year in the journal Environmental Health discovered that a one per cent increase in artificial fluoridation prevalence in 1992 was linked to roughly 67,000 to 131,000 extra ADHD diagnoses from 2003 to 2011. The research went back to fluoridation in 1992, emphasizing the harmful effects which exist some two decades later.

The team of researchers analysed information from the U.S. National Survey of Children’s Health related to children aged between four gathered over several years. A couple of months after the study was released the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced they would reduce the amount of fluoride in drinking water; the recommended range is currently of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.

According to the study, U.S. states with a higher portion of artificially fluoridated water had a higher prevalence of ADHD. The link held up across six years examined. One of the study’s authors, Ashley Malin of York University, Toronto with expertise in Clinical Psychology emphasized the importance of wealth in this equation. “Wealth is important to take into account because the poor are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD,” Newsweek cited Malin as saying.

Multiple studies have indicated that children with moderate and severe fluorosis score lower on measure of IQ and cognitive skills. A 2010 report by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 41 per cent of American youths aged between 12 and 15 had some form of fluorosis. There have been roughly 40 studies showing that children born in regions where water has elevated levels of fluoride have lower-than-normal IQs.

A recent small study of fewer than 1,000 people in New Zealand concluded that water fluoridation did not decrease IQ. However, only a small percentage of the people involved in the research actually lived their entire lives in areas without fluoridation and even less did not use fluoride toothpaste, which may have limited the validity and relevance of the findings.

(Read more at the following link…)

Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and an Anxiety Disorder: Living with and Loving our Special Son, an interview by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp with Kirstin, a kiwi Mum

Family FYKirstin kindly allowed me to interview her about life with and for her son Toby, who has recently been diagnosed as having severe dyslexia and mild dyspraxia (a developmental disorder which affects fine motor skills and can present as problematic for children undertaking tasks such as writing and tying shoe laces).  As well as this, Toby, age 9, has been diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder.

“When he was little, Toby never crawled, he just shuffled along on his bum,” Kirstin recalls.  “Apparently that can be an indicator of dyslexia.  Then, once he started school, it became clear that Toby had major difficulties with reading and writing.  We asked the school whether he had dyslexia, but they said he didn’t.  By Year 4 Toby was playing up and causing major disruption in class.  We know now that it was because he couldn’t understand and he wasn’t receiving the help he needed, but the school didn’t recognise this at the time.  Toby was usually punished by being sent out of class… which, of course, was exactly what he wanted.”
Kirstin and her husband felt certain that there was more to Toby’s behaviour in class than just “naughtiness”.  Finally, they made the decision to change schools.  At the new school, Toby’s learning difficulties were identified within a week.
“It was such a relief to have professionals say that there were issues behind the behaviour and learning difficulties,” Kirstin recalls.  “You often feel these things in your heart as a parent, but it’s really great to know for sure, it means you can move forward.”
Toby’s dyspraxia and his anxiety disorder also affected his brain-bowel co-ordination.  Kirstin says that knowing this makes it easier to understand him having “accidents”.  “Not knowing and thinking that this shouldn’t be happening, that a kid his age should be getting toileting cues, sometimes made us harder on Toby than we should have been,” she says.  “Understanding is the key, then you can look at strategies for moving forwards.  With help from support organisations, we’ve now been able to put measures in place to help Toby in this area too.  The advice of other parents who have “been there” is invaluable, as is the reassurance offered by professionals with experience working in this field.”
Kirstin says now that it is apparent what the issues are, measures can be put in place to help Toby cope.  “His anxiety disorder means Toby gets stressed if, for example, there are lots of other kids around making a noise,” she says.  “He now knows when he needs to go off for quiet time by himself, which helps him get “back on track” and his teachers accommodate that too.  As parents, his Dad and I have had to learn to be more patient, as our stress rubs off on him and his anxiety disorder makes him more sensitive to everything.  Lots of children are like this anyway [pick up on parental stress], but with Toby it’s magnified.”
“Toby has always been Toby with his own special personality, which we love,” Kirstin says, “so there’s a degree to which his diagnosis hasn’t affected our family too much, we’d already lived with who he was for 8 years before receiving a professional diagnosis.  But it just feels good knowing that there is a reason for behaviour which otherwise can seem quite random and frustrating at times.”  Kirstin says children with dyspraxia don’t cope well with spontaneity or changes from routine.  “I heard one Mum say that with dyspraxic kids you can be spontaneous… so long as you give them three weeks notice first!”
Dyspraxia and dyslexia can be genetic, as can childhood anxiety disorders (which may or may not carry on into the adult years), Kirstin says.  “My brother had dyslexia, but it wasn’t picked up until he was in High School,” she says.  “Teachers and others are more aware of these conditions and attuned to how they present than they were some years ago.”
Toby is now in Year 5 at Primary School and, thanks to extra support and a teacher aid, has recovered most of the reading he had fallen behind on.  “It can be hard for him,” Kirstin says, “his little brother, who is two years younger, finds reading easy and Toby takes this and other things very personally.  We try to encourage him by stressing how far he has come in the last year or two and being honest with him about the fact that he was not receiving the right support for who he is before.  We recently went to an Intermediate School Open Night and I was so thrilled that Toby was excited about the future… in the past the thought of big changes like this could bring out his anxiety… he’s even been known to make himself throw up as a result of becoming anxious, like at the start of a school marathon.  We used to find homework very, very difficult too.  Toby hates writing, but fortunately some strategies which are used for children with dyspraxia and dyslexia have been put in place to help with this.  As Toby’s confidence grows in any particular area, his anxiety levels are also better able to be managed.”
Kirstin says she and her husband hope that in the short term future Toby will “integrate into Intermediate School without too much difficulty.  Things have certainly gotten so much better with him since he has been diagnosed and also as he’s gotten older.  For the long term future we just hope that things won’t seem so hard for him and that he’ll find something he really enjoys and can work at.”
Kirstin says it’s really important for parents who feel their child might have issues affecting their learning, to talk with others and not feel shy or embarrassed.  “People often don’t want to think that their child is ‘different'”, she says, “especially in the case of ‘hidden disabilities’ such as Toby’s… it can be easier, sometimes, to bury your head in the sand and ignore what you know in your heart.  In our case, we had a gut feeling and we didn’t let up until Toby received the appropriate support.”
Photograph above: Toby kayaking with his brother and Dad, thanks to Kirstin and her family for supplying this 🙂

How to raise an overactive child The joys and challenges of raising a kid who is more intense, more energetic and more persistent than average, by Lisa Bendall


When Jennifer Weiss of Airdrie, Alta., put a dish of parsnips on the family dinner table for the first time, eight-year-old Mackenzie went from calmly chatting to a total meltdown. “He was adamant, arms crossed, tears rolling down his face,” Weiss says. Mackenzie’s mood swings, she says, are typically intense: “from happy as can be to a pile on the floor — screaming that life is unfair and we hate him — in seconds.”

Like 10 percent of all children, Mackenzie, a sweet, loving boy, is what is known as a “spirited child.” These are the kids we refer to as “challenging,” “strong-willed” or worse — traditionally they’ve been slapped with labels like “difficult” or “problem child.” Spirited children may be more intense, more persistent and more energetic than average. “These kids live life bigger and bolder than other kids,” says Michael Popkin, author of Taming the Spirited Child. This can mean they’re enthusiastic and determined. But when they’re little, this temperament often translates into behaviour that’s frustrating for parents — for example, a baby who screams when you don’t hold him, a toddler who never sits still, or a preschooler who falls to pieces because her sandwich was cut into triangles instead of diamonds.

“It’s natural for a parent to wonder: ‘Did I do something to make him act that way?’ But parents need to know it’s not their fault that their child is spirited,” says Sara King, a child psychologist at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. “It’s just the way that genetics and environment mix up in that particular child.”

Parents of spirited kids can learn how to manage this temperament. And as your child gets more independent, he’ll start doing these tricks to help himself. “Right now it’s driving you crazy,” says Popkin. “But if that child learns to use those traits constructively, they’ll be real assets for the child in the future.”


Spirited kids seem to have extra batteries. They’re hands-on involved with what’s going on around them. When my spirited daughter was younger, it was a Herculean effort to get her to sit for long at the dinner table, and even as she tried to settle in bed, her legs kept moving.

Why it’s a good thing This is a child who’s brimming with energy, is curious about the world and may be driven to excel in sports.

What to do “I’m a great believer in letting your kids play outside in the backyard,” says King. “Let them go to a space where it’s OK to be running around and burning off that energy.” Make sure it’s safe. You can also enrol your child in soccer, karate or hockey, providing him with a positive outlet for his high activity level.

Of course, there are times when even busy children are going to have to sit still. Calgary parent educator Celia Osenton says it helps to give your kid frequent breaks to move about. “Do things in small blocks,” she says. Suggest that the teacher give your child excuses to be mobile, picking him to hand out papers or collect the crayons. At the supper table, he can be the designated gofer if someone wants more milk or needs something from the kitchen.

What not to do Don’t set your child up for failure. If you know his energy is off the charts, don’t expect him to sit through a four-hour car trip without frequent stops, or walk sedately by your side in the grocery store. It just ain’t gonna happen.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

But I adopted my child at birth. What do you mean trauma? By Alex Stavros

Baby in tum

It is not uncommon for adoptive parents to come to us feeling out of options for their difficult child and overwhelmed about what could have created all of these DSM diagnoses and intense feelings and behaviors.  Especially if the child was adopted at or near birth.

“We adopted our son at birth. We brought him home from the hospital ourselves and have done nothing but love him.”

Does this sound too familiar? If so, then why are you now being told that all of that had something to do with the issues today?

First and foremost, it is important not to be too hard on ourselves or even our child’s birth parents. At this time, it is most important to find our child the help that they need. Understanding the diagnosis and its origins may help one decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.  Quality and traditional parenting techniques may no longer be a solution – our child’s condition will likely require trauma sensitive interventions to heal.

Fetal Trauma

First we need to understand there are many developmental milestones for your child that occur prior to birth.  Your child began feeling and learning in the womb. According to Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D., your baby learned to be comforted by the voice and heartbeat of his mother well before birth[1] – a voice that was not yours. In the case of adoption this connective disruption has an impact on the brain and body.

Paula Thomson writes for Birth Psychology, Early pre- and post-natal experiences, including early trauma, are encoded in the implicit memory of the fetus, located in the subcortical and deep limbic regions of the maturing brain. These memories will travel with us into our early days of infancy and beyond and more importantly, these early experiences set our ongoing physiological and psychological regulatory baselines.”[2]

Clearly, chaos outside of the womb, for example, may affect children in utero. This includes arguments, a chaotic home environment or an abusive spouse, and other rambunctious noise that may seem harmless to the fetus.  If the mother drinks or smokes, or is generally unhealthy, this also impacts in-utero development, including the sense of safety and self-worth for the child.  Critical brain development is also stunted.

Mothers that end up placing their child with adoptive parents are also likely to feel increased stress during their pregnancies.  Many are very young, have many other children or are emotionally or financially unable to support a child.  Each of these stressors could expose unborn babies to cortisol, making them also stressed.  The baby is then born anxious.

Surprisingly, babies are also able to sense a disconnection or lack of acceptance from their mother while in the womb – leading to attachment issues and developmental trauma down the road.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

Dyspraxia, A Parent’s Perspective, by Tania Broadley

Dyspraxia Collage

I have four children, all girls.  Katie is 10, Emma 6 and my younger twin girls, Jamie and Alyssa, have just turned four. Three of my girls have dyspraxia.  Emma also has ADHD.  Jamie does not have dyspraxia.  [For more information about ADHD, attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, see The Forever Years post at the following link:  ]

Dyspraxia is one of many “hidden” special needs.  It is a neurological (brain and nerves) disorder in which messages from the brain to the muscles are disrupted, thus effecting physical and gross motor skills– movement and co-ordination.  Early intervention with occupational therapy, physical therapies and sometimes speech therapy help children with dyspraxia to reach their potential. [Source: Medical Questions and Answers, Australian Women’s Weekly, New Zealand Edition, February 2014].

Bringing up children with unique needs is mentally, physically and emotionally draining for me.  On the good days it can be very rewarding.  I feel a real sense of achievement when I overcome challenges.  Katie was diagnosed as having dyspraxia at the age of five and Emma at about four years old.  Alyssa is under Vera Hayward [Children’s Support Programme] and at this stage her dyspraxia seems to be mild.  I did not realise that Emma had dyspraxia until I was pregnant with the twins!

Some days can be overwhelming, juggling four girls, hospital appointments, dyspraxia and ADHD.  Other days I feel relaxed and confident.

My husband and I used to avoid a lot of social gatherings with the girls, because we found it too stressful and we felt judged because of their behaviour (like outbursts of temper).  Meeting other parents in similar situations to ours has given us the confidence to go back out on family social outings again.  It is also very comforting to know that there are other families out there with multiple (twins, triplets or more) children and unique needs, like ours.

Our girls are a true blessing to my husband and I.  I look forward to seeing what journey they each take in life.  They have made me a stronger, more confident mother and I’m so very proud of them all.

Thanks to Tania Broadley for sharing her family’s story with “The Forever Years”.

Dyspraxia 2 Collage

Some Further Information about Dyspraxia…

Developmental Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder and the Clumsy Child Syndrome) is a neurologically based disorder of the processes involved in “praxis” or the planning of movement to achieve a predetermined idea or purpose, which may affect the acquisition of new skills and the execution of those already learned. More specifically, it is a disorder of praxis, or the process of “ideation” (forming an idea of using a known movement to achieve a planned purpose), motor planning (planning the action needed to achieve the idea) and execution (carrying out the planned movement).

Dyspraxia may affect any or all areas of development– physical, intellectual, emotional, social, language and sensory– and may impair the normal process of learning, thus it is also a learning difficulty.  It is not a unitary disorder (like measles or chicken pox, where all those affected share a common set of symptoms) and affects each person in different ways at different ages and stages of development and to different degrees.  It is inconsistent, in that it may affect the child one day, but not the next– as if information is sometimes put away “in the wrong drawer”.

Dyspraxia is a “hidden handicap” as, under normal circumstances, children with dyspraxia may appear no different from their peers, until new skills are tried or known ones are taken out of context, which is when difficulties may become apparent.

In many affected children, dyspraxia occurs with or as part of other neurological conditions, so defining common symptomsdownload may be confusing.  Therefore a diagnosis, naming the disorder is often very difficult and sometimes the closest may be “shows some dyspraxic tendencies”.  A major international, multi-disciplinary conference on dyspraxia was held here in Aotearoa/ New Zealand in 1997, making it easier for parents to find a professional who is confident in making a diagnosis. If you think that your child exhibits some or all of the symptoms of dyspraxia, talk with your GP or peadiatrition about your concerns.

The following is information for teachers and others interecting with children with dyspraxia to be aware of…



Related Links/ Information

New Zealand Dyspraxia Support Group:

Australian Dyspraxia Support Foundation:

Dyspraxia USA, resources:

Dyspraxia Foundation, UK (has some great film clips about living with dyspraxia for adults and for kids:

Dyspraxia Association of Ireland:

Facebook Support Page for families: