10 Signs Your Child May Have Asperger’s Syndrome, from “Pop Sugar Moms”

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Asperger’s syndrome is a neurological disorder in the family of autism spectrum disorders. Because every child exhibits a different set of symptoms, there is no precise checklist of behaviors that must all be present for a diagnosis. Instead, there are many behaviors that may be signs of Asperger’s syndrome. Here we’ve rounded up 10 of the common behaviors to watch for, as shared by moms whose kids have the condition.

1. Fixation on One Activity

Many children with Asperger’s syndrome are preoccupied with a single or a few interests and focus on them for hours on end. As Circle of Moms member Karen R. shares: “The most common report from every parent I know . . . is that their kid fixated on something (their cars, their blue toys, their books) and played or attended [to] that thing for an outrageously long time.”

2. “Little Professor” Speech

“Typically a child with Asperger’s sounds like a little professor,” shares one Circle of Moms member, Sheila D. “They tend to have advanced verbal skills, but due to the autism aspect of the syndrome they might seem fixated on a topic that they want to talk about all the time.” Children with Asperger’s syndrome may also speak more formally than usual for their age or prefer talking to adults.

3. Difficulty Reading Social Cues

Social difficulties are another key sign of Asperger’s syndrome. Reading body language may be hard, as well as taking turns or holding a conversation. As Eliana F. shares: “Group work at school is also hard for him, as he does not understand waiting his turn or accepting others point of view.” Similarly, Colleen notes: “My son is very social, but he doesn’t engage in two way conversations. He just talks and talks.” As a result of their social difficulties, children with Asperger’s syndrome may seem isolated from their peers.

4. Need For Routine

Structure plays a big part in our lives now,” shares Wendy B. Like many children with Asperger’s syndrome, Wendy’s granddaughter needs routines. “Otherwise it is very confusing for her. So shower is at 8:30 p.m. Bedtime is at 9:30 p.m. Breakfast at 8:30 a.m., lunch at 12, supper at 6. You get the message, very structured. If I want to take her shopping, I start telling her a few days ahead — that way, it doesn’t upset her, but we still follow the same routine.”

5. Emotional Meltdowns

“My boy tends to have meltdowns when he gets overwhelmed,” shares Circle of Moms member Ylice. She’s not alone: many children with Asperger’s syndrome can’t handle routines or plans going awry. Amanda B. describes it as an “inability to control emotions when things are ‘out of order.'”

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

http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Signs-Asperger-Syndrome-27332056?utm_source=com_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=com_newsletter_v3_11162016&em_recid=180811001&utm_content=placement_1_desc

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Fear and Anxiety – An Age by Age Guide to Common Fears, The Reasons for Each and How to Manage Them, by Karen Young

Fear-and-Anxiety-An-Age-by-Age-Guide-to-Fears-Why-and-What-to-Do

It is very normal for all children to have specific fears at some point in their childhood. Even the bravest of hearts beat right up against their edges sometimes. As your child learns more about the world, some things will become more confusing and frightening. This is nothing at all to worry about and these fears will usually disappear on their own as your child grows and expands his or her experience.

In the meantime, as the parent who is often called on to ease the worried mind of your small person, it can be helpful to know that most children at certain ages will become scared of particular things.

When is fear or anxiety a problem?

Fear is a very normal part of growing up. It is a sign that your child is starting to understand the world and the way it works, and that they are trying to make sense of what it means for them. With time and experience, they will come to figure out for themselves that the things that seem scary aren’t so scary after all. Over time, they will also realise that they have an incredible capacity to cope.

Fears can certainly cause a lot of cause distress, not only for the kids and teens who have the fears, but also for the people who care about them. It’s important to remember that fears at certain ages are completely appropriate and in no way are a sign of abnormality.

The truth is, there really is no such thing as an abnormal fear, but some kids and teens will have fears that are more intense and intrusive. Even fears that seem quite odd at first, will make sense in some way.

For example, a child who does not want to be separated from you is likely to be thinking the same thing we all think about the people we love – what if something happens to you while you are away from them? A child who is scared of balloons would have probably experienced that jarring, terrifying panic that comes with the boom. It’s an awful feeling. Although we know it passes within moments, for a child who is still getting used to the world, the threat of that panicked feeling can be overwhelming. It can be enough to teach them that balloons pretend to be fun, but they’ll turn fierce without warning and the first thing you’ll know is the boom. #not-fun-you-guys

Worry becomes a problem when it causes a problem. If it’s a problem for your child or teen, then it’s a problem. When the fear seems to direct most of your child’s behaviour or the day to day life of the family (sleep, family outings, routines, going to school, friendships), it’s likely the fear has become too pushy and it’s time to pull things back.

So how do we get rid of the fear?

If you have a child with anxiety, they may be more prone to developing certain fears. Again, this is nothing at all to worry about. Kids with anxiety will mostly likely always be sensitive kids with beautiful deep minds and big open hearts. They will think and feel deeply, which is a wonderful thing to have. We don’t want to change that. What we want to do is stop their deep-thinking minds and their open hearts from holding them back.

The idea then, isn’t to get rid of all fears completely, but to make them manageable. As the adult in their lives who loves them, you are in a perfect position to help them to gently interact with whatever they are scared of. Eventually, this familiarity will take the steam out of the fear.

First of all though, it can be helpful for you and your child to know that other children just like them are going through exactly the same experience.

An age by age guide to fears.

When you are looking through the list, look around your child’s age group as well. Humans are beautifully complicated beings and human nature doesn’t tend to stay inside the lines. The list is a guide to common fears during childhood and the general age at which they might appear. There are no rules though and they might appear earlier or later.

Infants and toddlers (0-2)

•   Loud noises and anything that might overload their senses (storms, the vacuum cleaner, blender, hair dryer, balloons bursting, sirens, the bath draining, abrupt movement, being put down too quickly).

Here’s why: When babies are born, their nervous systems are the baby versions. When there is too much information coming to them through their senses, such as a loud noise or being put down too quickly (which might make them feel like they’re falling), it’s too much for their nervous systems to handle.

 

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

heysigmund.com/age-by-age-guide-to-fears/

How to Raise Kids With Virtually Indestructible Inner Strength, by Sunita Ramkumar.

Inner-Strength-Main_55313624_XXL

Did you know that Oprah Winfrey had an abused and neglected childhood followed by troubled adolescence peppered with drugs, teenage pregnancy, depression and even attempted suicide?

Today though, we know her as a larger-than-life figure with more success than most of us can imagine.

And yet, for every Oprah, there are thousands of kids, if not more, who didn’t make it. Oprah’s own half-sister for instance, died of reasons related to cocaine addiction.

Why is this? Why is it that some people have virtually indestructible inner strength that pulls them out of the direst circumstances while others crumble under far less complicated circumstances?

Is this inner strength something we can nurture in our kids?

Maybe our goal isn’t to raise the next Oprah, but can we make sure that no matter what life throws at them our kids will face it like champs and come out stronger for it?

I believe that small everyday experiences help in sculpting us and building that core of inner strength within us.

Inner Strength in Facing Everyday Challenges – A Simple Example

Let me share an experience about my 8 yr old daughter. It’s a rite of passagekind of challenge that all our kids face at some time or the other during their school years – you’ve probably had a similar experience too.

One day in school my daughter had a slight tiff with her friend and playmate.  Her friend was apparently more upset than her about the incident. The next day, her friend gathered a few other playmates and instigated them to gang up to confront my daughter.

As my daughter would tell me later, her first instinct at being caught unaware in this way was to either cry and run away from the situation or lash back at them in hurt and anger. A typical flight or fight response to feeling betrayed and singled out.

Instead of immediately reacting though, she took a moment to respond. She pulled her tiny self all straight and calmly stood her ground. She looked her friend in the eye and apologized for unintentionally hurting her. And then as calmly as she could, she pointed out to the others that there were simply no issues between them and her.

I was so proud of this response from her. I’d like to think that all our mom-daughter talks about “being strong inside” helped.

This is not an everyday reaction from a child. Her friends weren’t expecting it. They had expected her to be scared, angry or upset.

The whole situation turned around quickly after that. Within moments they had put the whole thing behind them and were back to playing together again.

That day when she came home, she had this huge smile on her as if she had won a big battle! I couldn’t be happier.

It may seem trivial to us grown-ups, but this was a very significant experience in my daughter’s life – a ‘win’ on top of which future wins can be built. A narrative to pull out in the face of future adversities.

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

http://afineparent.com/strong-kids/inner-strength.html

More Kiwi kids video chatting with strangers on risky website: what is Omegle? By Jessy Edwards

Omegle FY

A website with the tagline “Talk to strangers!” is putting increasing numbers of Kiwi children at risk, cyber safety professionals say.

Stumble across website Omegle and you’re just two clicks away from being in a video chat with a stranger.

A 14-year-old Wellington girl who has used the site said it contained “lots of nudity”.

“There’s quite a lot of teenagers on there and then occasionally you get creepy old men going on. If you’re on chat, people send quite creepy things, like wanting to sex and stuff.”

Cybersafety consultant John Parsons said he was first alerted to the site in 2013 and immediately warned that the risk would increase over the coming years.

“There’s no question it’s got worse,” he said on Wednesday. “We’re seeing more and more people getting introduced to it and who have gone on to these anonymous platforms where the most horrendous things have been said to them and they’ve seen things that are hard to forget.”

He said he had seen victims of the site as young as 8.

In 2014, an 18-year-old faced sexual grooming charges after travelling from Bay of Plenty to pick up a 12-year-old at her Wairarapa home, six months after they first met on Omegle. The youth admitted indecently assaulting the girl.

NetSafe executive director Martin Cocker said: “All the system does is connect you randomly to another user, so those people could be anybody from anywhere with any intention, which is the unsafe bit of it.

“If criminals are able to establish a relationship that allows them to convince a young person to do something over the webcam, there is nothing stopping them from recording it and exploiting it.”

Another 14-year-old said she went on the site after hearing about it from school friend, and it could be “scary”.

“You don’t have to have a username and you click a button which just takes you to video chatrooms around the world.

“You usually come across people who are a bit weird so you exit out of them until you find someone that you want to talk to. It’s mainly just old men who probably just go on there for a bit of a sexual good time.”

Cocker’s advice to parents was to teach their children to use the internet ethically and safely.

“There are basic conversations that adults should have with their children about people misrepresenting themselves, and that some people would want to do you harm, and you and the child should work together to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Omegle does not pretend to be suitable for children. A warning on the site says: “Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.  Do not use Omegle if you are under 13. If you are under 18, use it only with a parent/guardian’s permission.”

Originally published in the Dominion Post.  Many thanks to Jessy Edwards who gave permission for “The Forever Years” to re-publish this article in full.  🙂

Why our family sponsor kids through “ChildFund”

HirpaTham CollageBy Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

None of us choose where we are born or what circumstances we are born into.  That’s why for me, sponsoring a child is not just an enriching experience in itself– which it most definitely is– but it is also about redressing the huge disparity that exists within our global family between the “haves” and the “have nots”.  And the “have nots” in our world lack some very basic and fundamental necessities.

Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. That is 8,500 children per day.  That means every 10 seconds, one of our children dies from hunger-related diseases.  (Source: http://thp.org/knowledge-center/know-your-world-facts-about-hunger-poverty/).  And I do view it that “we are all one” and all children are “our children”.  If it is possible then, to make a positive difference in the life of even just one child– a difference which will be carried on into the future, as that child raises his or her own children, as well as a difference which permeates the lives of others in the community surrounding that child, why wouldn’t we?  Wouldn’t we hope for the same kind of assistance in gaining independence and being able to sustain ourselves and our families if the shoe was on the other foot?  ChildFund provides the perfect vehicle for doing this in a way in which promotes independence and ensures that sponsor money goes directly to projects assisting the child in question and his or her community.

Hirpa

Hirpa, age 10 years, who lives in Ethiopia

Tham

Tham, age 5 years, who lives in Vietnam

My husband and I have four children and our goal was always to sponsor four kids of similar ages to ours, in four different parts of the world.  When our eldest son, now nearly ten, was born, we began sponsoring Hirpa, a boy the same age who lives in Ethiopia.  We then found that our finances would not stretch to sponsoring three more children, but have instead taken on one more: Tham, a five year old girl in Vietnam.  Sponsoring a child in Vietnam was important to me, as I spent three years living and working there and was treated well by Vietnamese people.  I also learned the Vietnamese language while there, so can communicate with Tham and her family in their mother tongue (although our kids write to her in English, which is translated by ChildFund in Vietnam).

A recent photo of Hirpa (3rd from left) with his mother and siblings.

A recent photo of Hirpa (3rd from left) with his mother and siblings, Ethiopia.

Sponsoring Hirpa and Tham has been a really good experience for our four children here in New Zealand.  We have tried to write to them as regularly as we are able and the kids like to draw pictures for them and ask them about their countries, cultures and families.  Around the world there are commonalities of childhood which transcend the barriers of language, race and distance.  Hirpa has three siblings and likes playing soccer with his friends. Tham paints pictures at her kindergarten (some of which she has sent to us) : these are the kinds of things our children can readily relate to and enjoy doing too.

In part because of my own experiences working abroad and travelling, I believe that forming friendships and links with individuals is important in helping our children become “global citizens” and developing a notion of the world as their “global family”.  Through technology, our world is becoming smaller and smaller.  I believe there are ways in which we can improve our world for future generations.  Instilling our children with a “global view” of life and an understanding of how their peers around the world live, why there are inequalities (both at home and abroad) and the human side of our history and our present is integral to achieving this (as is having faith that such improvement is possible).  Although young, our four children realise, through my stories of experiences overseas and through their contact with Hirpa and Tham, that poverty effects individuals, including kids like themselves.  Hirpa and Tham and their familes are kind of honourary members of our family: whenever we receive new pictures of them we put them up for a while in our lounge and talk about how they are doing.  I believe that this has instilled a level of emotional intelligence and global awareness in our kids.

Tham & Mum FY

A recent photo of Tham, our sponsored child in Vietnam, with her mother.

We enjoy hearing about the special festivals and cultural events in Hirpa and Tham’s lives which are so very different from our own.  Tham’s family are rice farmers, while Hirpa’s herd cattle.  Both children have to take an active part in helping their parents with these occupations.

I remember, some years back, when Hirpa (perhaps age three or so) was really ill and had to be taken to hospital.  His medical care was covered through our sponsorship of him with ChildFund.  My eldest son was most concerned and drew pictures for Hirpa and we prayed for him and his family together.  We often remember Hirpa and Tham in our prayers.  Fortunately, Hirpa came through his illness.

I know there are people out there who don’t agree with the idea of child sponsorship and I honestly can’t understand why.  During my time living in Vietnam, I worked for another child sponsorship organisation, Plan International.  Through this I saw first hand the difference that having a one on one sponsor made to the lives of children in the poorer communities.  Just the psychology behind knowing that someone in a completely different country and culture, who has never met you, is prepared to offer support of this nature has been shown to be a tremendous source of encouragement to sponsored children.  Letters, photographs and gifts received by children are often treasured for a lifetime.  Sometimes a sponsor will visit a child, which always creates great excitement in the whole community.  Putting an individual face to a situation (rather than just a label, such as “poverty in Africa/ Asia”) goes a long way towards making people care.  And, in my experience, when people care enough, good things start happening.

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xdrchan.jpg.pagespeed.ic.5AByOHBhD_A Brief History of ChildFund

ChildFund was founded on October 6, 1938 as China’s Children Fund by an American Presbyterian minister Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke to aid Chinese children displaced by the Second Sino-Japanese War. As the mission expanded to other countries, the name was changed on February 6, 1951 to Christian Children’s Fund.  ChildFund International changed its name in 2009 but ChildFund New Zealand changed its name in 2005.  The name change came about because ChildFund was never a Christian mission organisation and didn’t evangelise. However, because of the name, people wrongly believed that’s what we did. Rather our organisation’s purpose was based on the Christian values of its founder.   A decision was made very early on to not proselytise, so as to be accepted in any community where children needed our help.  [Source: Wikipedia and ChildFund New Zealand].

Why our family likes ChildFund in Particular

There are a number of excellent child sponsorship organisations out there.  We like ChildFund because it is a strong, international organisation which has been assisting children in poverty and their communities for over 75 years.  Sponsoring children in 30 countries and reaching 18.1 million kids and their family members, ChildFund works in places where poverty’ s grasp is strongest.  ChildFund has a history of reliably making sure that the maximum possible amount of sponsor’s funds goes to the children, their families and their communities.

Personally, as a busy Mum with four active children, I like that ChildFund makes it easy for us to sponsor Hirpa in Ethiopia and Tham in Vietnam.  Not only are we sent regular reminders of things like birthdays, but are also given cards to sign and freepost envelopes to return them in, making it easy for us to maintain regular contact with the kids we sponsor, particularly at times when it is important.  I also like that ChildFund send us regular progress reports about how our sponsored children are doing, as well as up to date photos.  This helps maintain the connection from both sides, as well as showing us how the children’s lives are being improved through their sponsorship.  It is easy to call ChildFund at any time, should concerns or questions arise, and I have found them to be efficient, professional and always willing to put the needs of the children first.

Some ideas which might be helpful when sponsoring a child…

Child-Fund-cap*  Try to write to your sponsored child regularly: they LOVE to hear from you.  Letters don’t necessarily need to be long and, as the old saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words”: so a brief note and a photograph of you and your family will always be treasured.  People have busy lives, but I’ve found it’s possible to write to our sponsored children 3-4 times a year.  As I’ve said above, ChildFund are great at providing cards and so on to send too.

*  If you feel you can’t afford to sponsor a child, there are other options, such as joining with other families or friends and sharing sponsorship.  Some schools, kindergartens, churches and offices also sponsor kids.  It is good for the sponsor child to know the names of one or two individuals among a group of sponsors and, of course, receive letters and pictures (see above).

*  If you begin sponsoring a child and your circumstances change to a point where you feel you can’t continue, don’t feel bad.  Do explain to your child what is happening and perhaps look for other individuals or groups who might be willing to sponsor him or her.  Having said this, I know a number of people who have continued sponsoring children, despite tough times in their own lives, including some of those who lived through the Christchurch earthquakes: some people find continuing sponsorship in tough times a motivating and strengthening experience– it has to be your call.

*  Some people like to send their sponsored child a gift from time to time.  Gifts needn’t be particularly expensive and Free-Shipping-Gel-Ink-Pen-Neutral-Cartoon-Smoothly-Minions-Stationery-School-Office-Kids-Prize-Gift-24pcslarge, costly items (aside from being expensive to post) can cause jealousy and disharmony within your sponsor child’s family and community.  There are lots of small light-weight items which will be really appreciated by your sponsored child.  These include: t-shirts, shorts, undies, toy cars, hair clips, hair ties, notebooks, pens, stickers, balloons, small soft toys and light weight story or colouring books, coloured pencils or crayons (wax crayons seem to be more durable than oil ones), pens or pencils (if sending any kind of pencil, don’t forget a sharpener and rubber).    Keep in mind your sponsored child’s mother tongue if sending story books.  We have sent some to Tham translated into Vietnamese or you can send very simple ones with more pictures and few words: they will still enjoy looking at them and can write the words in in their own language.  If your sponsored child has siblings (as in the case of Hirpa, the boy we sponsor in Ethipoia) learn their names too and send a small gift for them also.  Items such as hard soap, facecloths, pencil cases, foldable, light cloth bags and toothbrushes also go down well.  Don’t send anything which might melt, leak or break– things such as toothpaste, shampoo, playdough and bubble mixture are best avoided.

Two Short Videos about ChildFund:

 

Related Links:

https://www.childfund.org.nz/

https://www.childfund.org.nz/childfund-history

https://www.childfund.org.au/

http://www.ccfcanada.ca/about-us.html?gclid=CPjq0LjG28UCFQsHvAodX5AAow

https://www.childfund.org/united-states/

http://www.childfund.ie/

http://www.childfund.or.jp/other/english.html

 

 

Tech Savvy – Danger Ignorant: Kids and the Internet, by John Somerfield, Senior Constable and School Community Officer, New Zealand Police

 

Girls on net Collage FY1

For  young  people,  the  internet  has  become  an  important  source  of entertainment  and  leisure,  a  means  to  communicate  and  form meaningful relationships with others, and a platform for creativity and self expression (www.netsafe.org.nz).

This being said, the internet is like a big city. It makes sense that mums and dads would never leave a child or young person to wander about on their own.  It would be easy to imagine them turning a corner and finding themselves in a street where they are not safe.

We can be tempted to throw up our hands and say, “They know everything there is to know about this stuff. It’s a waste of time even trying to learn.”

The thing to remember is that young people may be tech savvy, but they tend to be danger ignorant. They will jump into things and sometimes the results can be less than ideal.  It is helpful to think about internet education the same as you would when teaching a child to ride a bike. You start out in the backyard, moving to the driveway and then to the footpath. Then out onto the road, with you riding behind them. You get them a good helmet and some reflectorised things to go on their bike; you tell them about the rules and about your expectations.   You know that road safety is a serious business.  Hazards on the road become clearer when we jump on our own bike and ride with our kids.

There are many internet offences that young people can get caught up in. These  include  threats,  harassment,  blackmail,  fraud,  objectionable  content and grooming, all the way down to things like miscommunications that lead to anger, and then on to physical violence in our community.  If your child gets caught up, it is important that we keep our heads. We need to count to ten before we react. We want to be the adults they trust when they go looking for advice.

# Go to www.netsafe.org.nz.   If you are not confident with computers, you can print off a copy of the Staying Safe Online booklet. Netsafe is a one-stop shop for anything internet. You can find advice on a huge range of issues including the latest scams and what to do about them.

# Have a chat to your teen about what they are doing online and who they are talking to.

# Set your family rules early. In our family we do not allow computers, Ipods or other internet capable devices in the bedroom. We use them in a place where an adult can see and help if required.

# If you don’t understand it, try it. Take the time to improve your knowledge by actually using the services, tools and apps that your kids use.

# Each device needs its own content filter. Content filters are available for sites  such  as  YouTube,  available  as  apps  on  Ipods;  and  you  can  even purchase a modem that filters everything that comes into the home.

# Remember that a red label on your movie or game means it is restricted.There are penalties for letting underage kids or teens see or play. R13  R16 R18. In New Zealand the fine is up to $3,000 even when you are unaware of the rating.Have a look at the new booklet on the NetSafe site for ways to stay safe on Facebook, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Trade Me and Twitter. http://www.netsafe.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/Staying-Safe-Online-NZ.pdf 

Originally published in the Star newspaper, Dunedin NZ, 2014.  “The Forever Years” would like to thank John Somerfield for agreeing to republish here.

The Internet NEVER Forgets, by Ginger Kadlec

Internet FYWhile a picture is worth a thousand words, a digital picture is like words spoken — once it’s ‘out there’, you can’t take it back.

Far too many tweens and teens learn this lesson the hard way. Sexting or sharing compromising (including naked) photos with boyfriends or girlfriends is a frequent practice, one that can backfire in a dangerous way.

Here’s a common scenario…

Before girl knows it, her topless picture is spread all around her school, passed to other schools and lands on a mysterious site on the Internet.

Girl likes boy. Girl and boy flirt via texts. Boy asks girl for picture in her bra. Girl is embarrassed, but really likes boy, so snaps a quick selfie and hits “send”. Boy compliments girl and flirts some more. Boy asks girl to remove her bra and send another shot, while “promising” to keep it to himself. Girl is convinced boy really likes her, trusts him, and obliges. Boy is so excited about the photo, he shares it with his closest friend. The good friend thinks it’s cool and passes the photo on to another couple of guys. And so the telephone game begins. Before girl knows it, her topless picture is spread all around her school, passed to other schools and lands on a mysterious site on the Internet.

The Internet is relentless… it never forgets.

Think this doesn’t happen? Think again. In my own community here in Indiana, a similar story sadly played itself out. According to the Indy Star, the photos of between 20 and 30 former high school girls were anonymously posted to an online image board allowing the girls to be identified by entering a state and area code.

Read more at the following link…

http://www.gingerkadlec.com/posts/the-internet-never-forgets/