Thursday, June 30, 2011

Homemade Air Purifier: Reduces 90% of allergen particles

Many people with sinus problems have underlying allergies to dust, pollen, mold or animal dander. All of these can build up in the air inside homes.

One of the best ways to get rid of allergy symptoms is to avoid allergens in the first place, says Jeffery E. Terrell, M.D., director of the University of Michigan Health System’s Michigan Sinus Center. To avoid indoor allergens, many doctors recommend using an air purifier with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter.

The cost of these machines can run from $75 up to $800 for high-end systems.

For those who are looking for a cheaper alternative for high-use rooms such as the bedroom, Terrell offers a do-it-yourself solution at a fraction of the cost.

“This is a filtration system that you can put together with items from your local hardware store for $25 to $30 and use in your home to cut indoor allergens by about 90 percent,” says Terrell.

Start with a 20-inch by 20-inch box fan, which often retails for about $12. To the front of it, tape a 20-inch by 20-inch by 1-inch furnace filter.

Good Parenting Builds Self Esteem

If you want to learn more about 1-2-3 Parenting Skills visit their website here

Plus we are also happy to discuss your issues. Please feel free to contact us via the blog.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Preventing Summer Reading Loss

Research has shown that the few months of loss in reading skills over the summer months compounds over the years; by the time children reach middle school, those who haven’t read during their summer breaks may have lost as much as two years worth of achievement.

Trying to balance the busy, physical activities that the warm summer weather brings with quiet reading time, is not an easy task for most parents. Some children welcome the idea of reading books during the summer months, while others, particularly weak or reluctant readers, will find this a tedious chore and will make many creative excuses to avoid doing it.

The good news is that if children read just six books over summer vacation, they will likely avoid summer reading loss! Try some of these tips to make sure your child’s summer reading goes smoothly:
  • Set aside a consistent time each day for reading. Summer camps, play dates, and videos are all fun things kids like to do during the summer. However, by the end of the day, children may be too tired to pick up a book and read. When planning summer time activities for your child, remember to leave some time in their schedules for reading. Find a convenient time each day – before bedtime or over breakfast.
  • Help your child select books at a comfortable level. If you are having trouble judging, consult your local librarian who is likely to be an expert in matching books to reading levels. Another great source is the Lexile Framework for Reading. This website will give you a Lexile Measure from a reading test. You can then look up books according to your child’s lexile measure. If your child makes 5 or more errors in reading a page of around 50 words – the book is too challenging.
  • Become a reader yourself and lead by example! Read the newspaper at breakfast, pick up a magazine at the doctor’s office, and take a book to the beach or on your family picnics. If kids see adults around them reading often, they will understand that reading can be a fun and important part of their summer days.
  • Read about your vacation destination before you go. Have your child read about your travel spots ahead of time and help plan the trip for you. If you go camping, explore the wildlife and scenery on-line.
  • Read a book that is now a movie, and then take them to see the movie!
  • Make sure to bring books on vacation, outings and errands to keep your children occupied and entertained with great stories. Pack books in your beach bag and picnic baskets instead of electronic game devices.
  • Connect books with activities! Read a story that mentions something yummy to eat and then try out a recipe at home. Try some exotic foods from stories from other countries.

Dyslexia: ChromaGen lenses offer hope to some with reading disorders

Many endure hours of expensive tutoring or special education to manage the learning difficulty.

A dyslexic may see words in a very confusing way: Letters might appear to be backwards, upside-down, jumbled up, or jump off the page.

"It just gave me headaches," said 12-year old Sullivan Sheahan. "I would zone out and then I would try to focus too hard and then I would start seeing double and the words would get blurry."

That was before Sullivan slipped on a pair of special shades.

ChromaGen lenses are coloured filters that change the wavelength of light going into the eyes. In dyslexics, some experts believe both eyes don't process information at the same speed.

"The lenses work by synchronising the information between the left and the right eyes, so that it arrives at the brain in a synchronised fashion," explained inventor David Harris. "In that way, it makes reading easier for many people who have difficulty reading."

ChromaGen Lenses were developed at the Corneal Laser Centre for colour blindness at Clattersbridge Hospital, Wirral. The Lens is similar to ordinary soft contact lenses, but has a tiny speck of colour that is almost invisible.
Harris originally invented the lenses for people with colour-blindness. Then, eye doctors in England saw success in certain people with reading disorders.

On this side of the pond in Plano, Dr. Charles Shidlofsky decided to give ChromaGen lenses a try for some of his young patients.

"We have heard from kids who say, 'I see words in rivers,'" Dr. Shidlofsky said. "What happens is, you put on the glasses and the 'rivers' stop and they finally see the words standing still, so they are better able to view the words and read the words more efficiently."

The glasses are not a cure; some critics question if they help at all.

A pair of ChromaGen lenses will cost more than $700, and they are not covered by insurance. Many people spend thousands of dollars on various dyslexia treatments and tutoring.

The lenses made a big difference to Sullivan Sheahan.

"When I got them, the first six weeks I made straight A's," he said.

Sullivan plans to take his glasses all the way to the honor roll next year, in 7th grade.

You can find a list of these by going to our Online Directory, click on the assessment / test your requirements, which is on the left hand of the screen, and then click on the area you require.

Read more here about the NIH Paper Titled: The ChromaGen contact lens system: colour vision test results and subjective responses

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Autism Video: The boy who Loves Lamposts

Todd Drezner received his MFA in film from Columbia University and is the editor of several documentaries that have been shown worldwide. Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic is the first film Todd has directed.

The film was screened at the United Nations as part of its World Autism Awareness Day observance in April 2011.

It earned Best Feature Documentary at the Peace on Earth Film Festival in Chicago, the Social Consciousness Award at the VisionFest Film Festival in New York, and the Audience Award for Documentary at the Show Me Social Justice Festival in Warrensburg, MO.

"My son's obsession with lampposts was a great way into this debate. How should I have responded to what was clearly autistic behaviour? By trying to get rid of it? Or by accepting it?

"I wanted to make a film that respected both sides of the debate and allowed each of them to tell their stories. At the same time, I come down firmly on the side of neurodiversity.

I believe that neurodiversity is often misinterpreted as 'giving up' on treating autism. It's nothing of the sort.

Neurodiversity is simply about recognizing that autistic people will always be autistic. Each autistic person will need different levels and types of support, and some will function better in the world than others.

But we don't gain anything by trying to 'recover' someone from autism. It's far better to try to provide autistic people the support they need to live as fully as they can."

Read More

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Born Liars Podcast: Why we can't live without deceit?

Listen to a 15 min BBC Podcast. Extracts from the book on children and lies, narrated by Tim McInnerny :

Ian Leslie traces the line from the great apes - who are no mean liars themselves - to humans and documents studies which suggest that becoming human wasn't a simple evolutionary process of the best forager and builder surviving, but the building blocks came from our social contacts and our understanding of deceit.

'Consistently startling and fascinating. Most popular psychology books follow a depressingly familiar path: there's some dodgy theorising at the beginning, then a raft of dubious statistics with a few anecdotes to back them up.

Born Liars, however, is in quite a different league. It's erudite yet wears its learning lightly and is full of terrific stories. It will also make you see yourself, and the world around you, in a new light.' - 'Book of the Week', in the Daily Mail (not necessarily a good thing)

Ian Leslie was born in 1972 and lives in London. He combines careers in advertising and writing. His first book, To be President (Politicos, 2008), an account of the 2008 US presidential election, was described by Adam Boulton as 'brilliantly capturing the drama and emotion of Obama's successful run for the White House' and was extracted by Granta.

He regularly appears as an analyst of American politics on Sky and the BBC. He has written about politics, culture, marketing and psychology for Prospect, the Guardian, the Times and the BBC.

He also blogs about all these things at Marbury, named one of the fifty 'Most Powerful' blogs in the world by the Observer.

Written by Ian Leslie
Abridged by Pete Nichols
Reader: Tim McInnerny
Producer: Rosalynd Ward
A Sweet Talk Production for BBC Radio 4.

The book Born Liars by Ian Leslie, is available from Amazon:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Could a whiff of oxytocin help hypnosurgery?

LOOK into my eyes and sniff: a whiff of oxytocin can make even the least suggestible people amenable to hypnotism.

Richard Bryant at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues, tried to hypnotise 40 men who scored low in an initial test for hypnotisability.

They gave 19 of the men a nasal spray containing oxytocin - a hormone involved in social bonding - and the rest a placebo.

Eight of those given oxytocin shifted from a low to medium level of hypnotisability, compared with just three using the placebo (Psychoneuroendocrinology, DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.05.010).

Bryant reckons oxytocin increases trust in the hypnotist, which may be useful for Fabienne Roelants's team at Saint-Luc University Hospital in Brussels, Belgium, who compared the outcomes of people having surgery, with or without hypnosis, to remove breast tissue or part of the thyroid gland.

Those who chose hypnosis with local anaesthesia had less pain after surgery and spent less time in hospital than those who had a general anaesthetic, says Roelants. She presented the results last week at the European Society of Anaesthesiology Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Difficulty estimating quantity linked to math learning disability - NIH

Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered that the innate ability to estimate quantities is impaired in children who have a math learning disability.

The link between difficulty estimating quantities and math difficulties was seen only in children who had a math learning disability, and not in those who did poorly in math but were not considered to be learning disabled.

"The findings suggest that students may struggle with math for very different reasons," said Kathy Mann Koepke, Ph.D., director of the Mathematics and Science Cognition and Learning program at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study.

"Research to identify these reasons may lead to new ways of identifying those at risk, and developing the means to help them."

Math learning disability is also referred to as dyscalculia.

The study was published in Child Development and was conducted by Michèle Mazzocco, Ph.D., at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and her colleagues, Lisa Feigenson, Ph.D., and Justin Halberda, Ph.D., also at Johns Hopkins.

In earlier research, Drs. Feigenson and Halberda have shown that the innate ability to estimate and compare quantities is present in infancy and improves with age.

"People rely on this ability in daily life," Dr. Mazzocco said. "A familiar example is when people size up which line will move more quickly at the grocery store, based on their perception of the number of persons and items per line."

The researchers compared children’s ability to estimate quantity with their level of mathematics achievement.

To conduct the study, the researchers gave 71 ninth graders two series of tests designed to measure their ability to estimate quantities, a capability governed by what the researchers referred to as the approximate number system (ANS).

The students were a subset of a larger sample of 161 students from Dr. Mazzocco's ongoing long-term research study. The children's math abilities had been tested at regular intervals since kindergarten.

The ninth graders were classified into four groups, based on math achievement scores they had received since kindergarten.
  • above the 95th percentile (high achieving)
  • 25th to 95th percentile (typically achieving)
  • 11th to 25th percentile (low achieving)
  • 10th percentile and below (math learning disabled)
For the first series of ANS tests, the students viewed a computer screen showing a group of blue and yellow dots, and were asked to say whether more blue or yellow dots appeared.

In the second series, nine to 15 dots of one color appeared, and the students were asked to say how many dots they saw.
Images similar to those used in the test procedure.
To measure children's ability to estimate and compare quantities, the researchers administered two series of tests. In the first, the children viewed groups of dots and were asked to say whether there were more blue or yellow dots. In the second, nine to 15 dots of one color appeared, and the children were asked to say how many dots they saw. Each screen was visible for only one fifth of a second, so the children wouldn't have time to count the dots.
Each screen flashed before their eyes for one fifth of a second, so the students did not have time to count the dots before answering. Each series of tests consisted of dozens of screens; the researchers considered the most accurate answers across the two series to indicate a more highly developed approximate number system.

The researchers found that students with math learning disability (math scores at or below the 10th percentile) had the poorest ANS scores. Dr. Mazzocco said that this finding suggests that problems with the ANS underlie math difficulties for children in this group.

However, children in the 11th to 25th percentile, on average, were no more likely to have poor ANS scores than were children in higher percentiles, who had no mathematical difficulties. It seems likely, Dr. Mazzocco said, that math difficulties in this group stem from a cause or causes distinct from the ANS.

"Children with mathematical learning difficulties are often viewed as a uniform group of students, for whom a single type of special instruction or math curriculum is appropriate," Dr. Mazzocco said. "Our findings suggest, however, that children have difficulty with math for different reasons."

Approximately 10 percent of school-age children have persistent and significant difficulties with math, and many more fail to achieve basic levels of mathematics achievement, Dr. Mazzocco said.

"If you have a health problem, a physician will examine you to determine the details of your condition and then will recommend a treatment plan specific to your needs," said Dr. Mazzocco.

"In the same way, educators need to be able to determine the factors underlying math difficulties so that they can tailor instructional methods to individual students’ needs.

A poor number sense seems to underlie math learning disability for many individuals, but it may not underlie poor math achievement for all students who struggle with math."

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD):

The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the US nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centres and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NIH is the primary US federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.

For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Friday, June 17, 2011

Parenting Skills: When did we start to lose them?

I can't help but feel that we started to lose direct control over our children when they lost their tails!

Do you agree or do you have another opinion?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Autism: Many DNA genetic keys needed to unlock it

Hundreds of small genetic variations are associated with autism spectrum disorders, including an area of DNA that may be a key to understanding why humans are social animals, according to a multi-site collaborative study led by researchers at Yale University.

Published in the June 9 issue of the journal Neuron, the study reinforces the theory that autism, a disorder that develops in early childhood involving impairments in social interaction, language deficits and distinctive behaviours, is not caused by one or two major genetic defects, but by many small variations, each associated with a small percentage of cases.

The study -- led by Matthew State, M.D., Ph.D., the Donald J. Cohen Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychiatry and Genetics -- looked at more than 1,000 families in which there was a single child with an autism spectrum disorder, an unaffected sibling and unaffected parents.

The team, including postdoctoral fellow and first author Stephan Sanders from Yale, compared individuals with autism to their siblings to determine what types of genetic changes distinguished the affected child from the unaffected child.

"Thanks to an ambitious collaboration among a large group of autism researchers from around the country, supported by the Simons Foundation, we were able to focus on an ideal study population," said State, who is co-director of the Yale Program on Neurogenetics. "It made all the difference in our ability to identify several regions of the genome clearly contributing to autism."

One of the most intriguing of these findings points to the same small section of the genome that causes Williams syndrome -- a developmental disorder marked by high sociability and an unusual aptitude for music.

In autism, there is an increase in the chromosomal material, an extra copy of this region, and in Williams syndrome, there's a loss of that same material," said State. "What makes this observation particularly interesting is that Williams syndrome is known for a personality type that is highly empathetic, social, and sensitive to the emotional state of others.

Individuals with autism often have difficulties in the opposite direction. This suggests that there is an important key in that region to understanding the nature of the social brain."

State and his team also found about 30 other regions in the genome that are very likely contributing to autism and are focused on about six of those regions that showed the strongest evidence.

"We're now moving on to a second phase of the study looking at an additional 1,600 families and should be able to identify multiple new regions that are strongly implicated in autism," he said.

Read More: Many genetic keys needed to unlock autism, researchers discover

Download the full article text, in PDF, from Neuron's 9th June issue

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summary of the UN World Report On Disability

Click on the Picture to read the full Summary of the UN World Report On Disability or click on this link

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Childhood Obesity: Dads more likely than moms to impact

A father’s use of restaurants and his perceptions of family meals carry more weight, so to speak, than mothers’, according to a Texas AgriLife Research study, published recently in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

“Dads who think that dinner time is a special family time certainly do not see a fast-food restaurant as an appropriate place for that special family time, so this means that his kids are spending less time in those places."

"Dads who have no trouble eating food in a fast-food restaurant are going to be more likely to have kids who do so,” said Dr. Alex McIntosh, AgriLife Research sociologist.

Childhood obesity study points to father’s role

New research indicates that father’s are more likely than mother’s to have an impact on childhood obesity. A study by Texas AgriLife Research showed that lenient fathers allow their children more trips to fast-food restaurants which have been linked to obesity in children. (Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)

The study began as a 15-month look at parents’ use of time and how that impacted meal choices. It aimed at the difference between fast-food and full-service restaurants because numerous studies have shown a correlation between fast-food consumption and weight gain.

Of particular interest for the research, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was parental choice of restaurants as a connection to childhood obesity, McIntosh said.

Almost as an afterthought, the researchers decided to ask children in these families also to record what they ate and whether it was at home or out. If a meal was eaten out, the name of the restaurant was not required.

“It never occurred to me that we would have data on them eating out and where they were eating out. But the kids — if they said they ate out, they always wrote down where they ate by the name of the restaurant,” McIntosh said. “So it was just a matter of tracking down information about the restaurant to find out if they were full-service or more like a fast-food place.”

Read more of this article here

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

UT Arlington professor’s research aimed at helping dyslexic children learn

A new MRI-based study of children with dyslexia by a UT Arlington professor could explain why a small percentage of dyslexic children don’t respond to current teaching strategies.

Assistant professor of psychology Timothy Odegard’s work was recently published online and in the latest issue of the journal Neurocase. Emily Farris, Odegard’s doctoral student, is the lead author on the paper that details the findings from Odegard’s team.

Researchers examined functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from 15 children – ages 8-14. They found that children with dyslexia who responded to treatment and non-dyslexic readers showed greater functional connections between the interior frontal regions of their brains than dyslexic children who had not responded to treatment. The tests were conducted while the children performed basic reading tasks.

“This is really looking at what predicts treatment outcomes,” said Odegard, who was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child. “We’re really looking at how the different areas of the brain work together like a network.”

Dyslexia is a brain-based learning disability that impairs reading ability.

Activities aimed at building reading skills activate regions in the front and back of the left hemisphere of the brain in typically developing children. In dyslexic children, however, frontal regions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain working together seems to compensate for deficits in the posterior portion of the left hemisphere observed in these children, Odegard said.

“The hope is if we can identify biomarkers for kids who aren’t going to respond as well to current treatment we can modify the treatments to build on their strengths and overcome their weaknesses,” Odegard said.

UT Arlington professor’s research aimed at helping dyslexic children learn | Cision Wire

Dawn French: 'Our children's inability to read is a failure we must all share'

Dawn French, the UK entertainer, today pledged her support for our literacy campaign as a host of famous names from the Bishop of London to American actor Henry Winkler urged everyone to get involved.

The star comedy actress said she was shocked by statistics showing one in four children struggles to read at age 11 - and one in three does not own a book.

Speaking after being crowned writer of the year at the Glamour women of the year awards last night, French said: "I'm shocked - I did not know how many children were affected.

"We are hampering their futures by not enabling them to be at the correct reading age. I'm not sure how we will achieve that - certainly the Standard's campaign will be a great help. We have definitely got to address it."

She has fond memories of her father and uncles reading to her when she was a child, and added: "I believe you can't have a proper, full, outer life if you don't have an inner life; and that's what reading is for me.

"Every kid is entitled to the right to read, because they're entitled to the right to an imagination."

The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, said: "Today, our church schools deliver consistently high standards. Sadly, as the Standard's important campaign highlights, literacy amongst London children is patchy and in places, disturbingly poor. This is a failure in which we must all share, and all work to address."

Happy Days star Winkler, 65, spoke candidly about the "shame and humiliation" caused by his dyslexia, which was diagnosed when he was 31, in a bid to support our campaign.

Dawn French: 'Our children's inability to read is a failure we must all share' | News

Bipolar kids: Victims of the 'madness industry'?

THERE'S a children's picture book in the US called Brandon and the Bipolar Bear. Brandon and his bear sometimes fly into unprovoked rages.

Sometimes they're silly and overexcited. A nice doctor tells them they are ill, and gives them medicine that makes them feel much better.
The thing is, if Brandon were a real child, he would have just been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Also known as manic depression, this serious condition, involving dramatic mood swings, is increasingly being recorded in American children. And a vast number of them are being medicated for it.

The problem is, this apparent epidemic isn't real. "Bipolar emerges from late adolescence," says Ian Goodyer, a professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge who studies child and adolescent depression. "It is very, very unlikely indeed that you'll find it in children under 7 years."

How did this strange, sweeping misdiagnosis come to pass? How did it all start? These were some of the questions I explored when researching The Psychopath Test, my new book about the odder corners of the "madness industry".

Freudian slip

The answer to the second question turned out to be strikingly simple. It was really all because of one man: Robert Spitzer.

I met Spitzer in his large, airy house in Princeton, New Jersey. In his eighties now, he remembered his childhood camping trips to upstate New York. "I'd sit in the tent, looking out, writing notes about the lady campers," he said. "Their attributes." He smiled. "I've always liked to classify people."

The trips were respite from Spitzer's "very unhappy mother". In the 1940s, the only help on offer was psychoanalysis, the Freudian-based approach of exploring the patient's unconscious. "She went from one psychoanalyst to another," said Spitzer. He watched the psychoanalysts flailing uselessly. She never got better.

Spitzer grew up to be a psychiatrist at Columbia University, New York, his dislike of psychoanalysis remaining undimmed. And then, in 1973, an opportunity to change everything presented itself. There was a job going editing the next edition of a little-known spiral-bound booklet called DSM - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

DSM is simply a list of all the officially recognised mental illnesses and their symptoms. Back then it was a tiny book that reflected the Freudian thinking predominant in the 1960s. It had very few pages, and very few readers.

What nobody knew when they offered Spitzer the job was that he had a plan: to try to remove human judgement from psychiatry. He would create a whole new DSM that would eradicate all that crass sleuthing around the unconscious; it hadn't helped his mother.

Instead it would be all about checklists. Any psychiatrist could pick up the manual, and if the patient's symptoms tallied with the checklist for a particular disorder, that would be the diagnosis.
Bipolar kids: Victims of the 'madness industry'? - health - 08 June 2011 - New Scientist

Friday, June 3, 2011

Top Braille - Valleys WordWorks English

Top Braille photo. It shows the device just about the size of an office stapler
Portable device enabling access to all printed text
Read it With Braille and speech output …
Top-Braille is a revolutionary personal reading assistant ideally designed to provide vision-impaired people with instant access to all printed text. Its small size makes it convenient for all situations
Dramatic enhancement and greater freedom in daily life: Top-Braille provides increased access to the work environment, information and culture.

Top-Braille provides numerous openings to a world which has been almost inaccessible until now.

The integrated speech feature makes it a perfect pedagogical tool for learning Braille.
Discrete, lightweight and ergonomic, this device will rapidly become essential in the daily lives of vision-impaired people.

Top Braille diagram. It shows the device being held in a hand and arrows pointing to the different buttons and functions.Key Functions:
  • Recognition of all printed text with Braille and speech output;
  • Recognition of all printed text with Braille output only;
  • Colour recognition;
  • Reading of preloaded (USB) text with Braille and speech output;

An essential tool for accessing information and culture

While moving along a text line, Top Braille captures images, recognizes
printed text and sends information translated in Braille to the user.

Read more here