Other interesting research

When I was in elementary school, we had an awesome playground. We called it the big toy. It was this massive wooden fortress. One side had rows and rows of monkey bars and rings. We had bars we could swing around on and dangle upside down from. We had multiple slides, tires to climb, bridges to cross, fire poles, and it was the perfect set up for playing tag. I’ve since been back to that same school and the playground made me want to cry a little. I’m not even sure you could consider the current playground as being a quarter of the size of the old one. They have a few low slides, very little to climb, no rings, no bars to dangle from and tag is out of the question. It’s very safe and also very boring.

So it’s no surprise to me to see a rise in the reports of children with ADHD diagnoses and learning disabilities, and to hear kids proficient in school claiming it’s boring. Playground free-play stimulates the vestibular system. The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, is responsible for balance and coordination. Carol Stock Kranowitz in the Out of Sync Child, says, “The vestibular system tells us where our heads and bodies are in relation to the surface of the earth. It tells us whether we are upright, upside down, or at a tilt; and whether objects are moving or motionless in relation to our body. It also informs us where we are going and how fast, and if we are in danger or in a relaxing place.”

With the decrease in play that is taking place between the increases in screen time and the excessive need to make playgrounds “safe,” vestibular systems aren’t getting the movement necessary for proper development. Children with under developed vestibular systems “do not function properly, making it difficult for them to modulate, discriminate, coordinate, or organize balance and movement sensations adaptively,” Kranowitz said.

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More and source: http://ilslearningcorner.com/2016-01-vestibular-system-bring-back-playground-equipment-with-a-little-danger/

Inside a handful of public kindergartens in Sweden, toys are never divided into traditional gender camps. Dolls and baby strollers mingle freely with cars and wooden blocks. In posters, dump trucks haul around beaded jewelry, a bionic robot wears a tutu, and it’s not a female or male Barbie who does the dishes—that’s left to a skeleton.

These are Sweden’s gender-neutral kindergartens, administered by Lotta Rajalin, who shared photos of the toyscapes and posters described above in a recent Tedx Talk. She also explained that at her schools, children can dabble in all kinds of activities, and are encouraged to explore their full range of emotions. Girls are not expected to suppress anger, and boys are not pressured to swallow their tears. All students are welcome to be as messy or tidy, rowdy, or passive as suits them.

“What we do in our schools, we [don’t] put labels on the children. We don’t say, ‘Frida, she’s so beautiful, cute and helpful,’ and ‘Mohammed is so wild and tough.’” Rajalin tells the audience.

Teachers are also trained to avoid talking about boys or girls, and instead speak of people, kids, humans and friends. “Hen,” a still rarely used gender-neutral pronoun that first came into use in the 1960s, but only made the official dictionary two years ago, has replaced han (he) and hon (she).

Such efforts are probably paying off. In a small study published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden report that children who attended one gender-neutral preschool were more likely to play with unfamiliar children of the opposite gender, and less likely to be influenced by culturally enforced gender stereotypes, compared to children enrolled at other pre-schools. Tests showed that the kids from the gender-neutral school were as likely as other children to group people by gender, but didn’t attach traditional associations to the concepts of “male” or “female” children to the same degree. During a matching task, for instance, they were less likely to make choices in line with cultural norms when shown images of boys or girls and jeans or dresses.

 

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More and source: https://qz.com/1006928/swedens-gender-neutral-preschools-produce-kids-who-are-more-likely-to-succeed/

Abstract

Engagement in meaningful activities is essential to development and is often reduced in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who have limited engagement in activities or relationships. A multiple-baseline design was used with 7 children with ASD ages 4-8 yr to assess the effect of including a horse in occupational therapy intervention on task engagement. The children showed improvements in engagement. Including horses in occupational therapy sessions may be a valuable addition to conventional treatments to increase task engagement of children with ASD. Factors related to the environment, therapeutic strategies, and individual participation need to be considered in understanding why this intervention may be effective and developing a theoretical basis for implementation.

Copyright © 2016 by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

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More and source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27767943/

New study explains why babies calm down when they are carried

Every parent and caregiver knows from first hand experience that babies calm down when they are picked up, gently rocked, and carried around the room. New research published in the journal Current Biology on April 18, 2013 shows that this is a universal phenomenon. Infants experience an automatic calming reaction when they are being carried, whether they are mouse pups or human babies.

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The University of British Columbia is defending two of its researchers who have published vaccine-related studies discredited by the World Health Organization and described by several medical experts as weak and misleading.

Organizations that promote messages about the dangers of vaccines, such as the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI), have used the results of the UBC research as evidence that vaccines cause autism and other serious harm. The front page of the CMSRI website states that in a “landmark” 2013 paper, the two UBC researchers show that “the more children receive vaccines with aluminum adjuvants, the greater their chance is of developing autism, autoimmune diseases and neurological problems later in life.” In that study, the researchers note that the rate of autism spectrum disorders increased along with the number of pediatric vaccines that contain aluminum.

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More and source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102473744#

Washington, D.C., March 3, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Physicians and public health officials know that recently vaccinated individuals can spread disease and that contact with the immunocompromised can be especially dangerous. For example, the Johns Hopkins Patient Guide warns the immunocompromised to "Avoid contact with children who are recently vaccinated," and to "Tell friends and family who are sick, or have recently had a live vaccine (such as chicken pox, measles, rubella, intranasal influenza, polio or smallpox) not to visit."1

A statement on the website of St. Jude's Hospital warns parents not to allow people to visit children undergoing cancer treatment if they have received oral polio or smallpox vaccines within four weeks, have received the nasal flu vaccine within one week, or have rashes after receiving the chickenpox vaccine or MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.2

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Last week,a report by the University of San Diego School of Law found that about 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. Traumatic childhood events can lead to mental health and behavioral problems later in life, explains psychiatrist and traumatic stress expert Bessel van der Kolk, author of the recently published book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Children’s brains are literally shaped by traumatic experiences, which can lead to problems with anger, addiction, and even criminal activity in adulthood, says van der Kolk.Sound Medicine’sBarbara Lewis spoke with him about his book.

Sound Medicine:Can psychologically traumatic events change the physical structure of the brain?

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk:Yes, they can change the connections and activations in the brain. They shape the brain.

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Kids, beware: A new Yale research study has found a possible link between energy drinks and ADHD in middle school children.

Out of the 1,649 middle school students surveyed, those who drank beverages high in sugar and caffeine were 66 percent more likely to have symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention.

The study found that boys are more likely to consume energy drinks than girls. Black and Hispanic boys were more likely to drink the beverages than their white peers.

The findings from the Yale School of Public Health support the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to limit consumption of sweetened beverages in children. The academy also notes that children shouldn’t consume energy drinks at all.

Previous research has found links between children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and poor academic outcomes, greater difficulties with peer relationships and increased susceptibility to injuries.

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More and source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/features/south-florida-parenting/sfp-study-energy-drinks-possibly-linked-to-adhd-in-children-20150216-story.html

"Think fast!"

As kids, that's what we used to say at school recess when tossing the ball around. Is "Think fast!" what we're now saying when we read?

Historically, thinking and reading have gone hand-in-hand. Eric Havelock argued years back that development of alphabetic writing in Greece enabled a level of analysis not earlier possible. Havelock may have gilded the alpha, beta, gamma, delta lily, but no one who reads Aristotle or Aristophanes doubts these writers gave us a lot to mentally chew on.

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Pharmaceutical companies have more power than ever, and the American people are paying the price—too often with our lives.
 

By now you have probably seen John Oliver’s comic take on the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on doctors’ prescribing habits. Media outlets from Mother Jones to the Wall Street Journal commented admiringly, and even the American Medical Association felt compelled to declare they were “committed to transparency” around drug company payments to doctors.

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The Long Ride Home

The long awaited sequel of the Horse Boy.

 

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