Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lots of kids get jitters; some are overwhelmed

This is an excerpt from an article written by Ana Veciana-Suarez, originally published on August 22, 2009 in the Miami Herald:

Wendy K. Silverman, director of the Child Anxiety and Phobia Program at Florida International University, has been teaching children how to conquer their fears for more than 20 years. As a researcher and board-certified clinical child and adolescent psychologist, she sees youngsters whose extreme anxiety can keep them out of the classroom. With school about to resume, we talked to Silverman about her research and about what parents can do to help fearful students.

Q: What is school anxiety and how prevalent is it?

There is no formal disorder known as 'school anxiety disorder' or 'school phobia.' Rather, as many as 5 percent of school-age children exhibit severe anxiety relating to school, including refusal to attend school. (The prevalence of any anxiety disorder is about 10 percent among children and adolescents.)

For the full article go to Lots of kids get jitters; some are overwhelmed

Friday, July 17, 2009

Could your child be depressed?

This is an excerpt from an article originallty published on July 16, 2009 by the San Francisco Chronicle:

"At first, Andrea Carpenter blamed preadolescent hormones for her 10-year-old daughter's moodiness. "Allie was extremely irritable at home, and she'd get snippy with her dad and me for no apparent reason," says the Marietta, GA, mom. Life at the Carpenters' home grew so tense that the family started seeing a counselor who, after a few sessions, recommended that Allie visit a psychiatrist. "He mentioned depression, but I thought it was just puberty," Andrea says. Her thinking quickly changed after Allie said she wished she was never alive and talked about cutting her throat. "I was devastated -- I knew she wasn't a happy-go-lucky kid, but I never thought a 10-year-old could be suicidal."

In fact, depression is the second most common childhood mental health problem. (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is number one.) An estimated one in 33 children and one in eight teens are depressed, and the World Health Organization predicts that the number of kids -- and adults -- diagnosed with the disorder could double by the year 2020. Fewer than a fourth of the estimated 12 million kids in the United States who suffer from psychiatric disorders receive treatment, however, which places them at high risk for failing school, abusing drugs and alcohol, and committing crimes. Kids with untreated depression also are 12 times more likely to commit suicide. The nation's suicide rate for children jumped nearly 10 percent from 2003 to 2004, the largest increase in 14 years."

For the full article please visit Could your child be depressed?.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Stress of Autism

This is an excerpt from an article originally published on July 14, 2009 in the New York Times:

Raising a child with any developmental disability or behavior problem is difficult. But is there something uniquely stressful about autism? That is the question researchers at the University of Washington Autism Center tried to answer in a study of mothers of children with developmental disabilities.

I spoke with Annette Estes, associate director of the center, about the research and how it might make a difference for parents of children with autism. Here’s our conversation.

Q Isn’t it obvious that having a child with autism would be stressful for parents?

A What we were interested in is the evidence that is starting to come out that parents of children with autism were reporting higher levels of stress than parents of children with developmental delays. We know parents who have children with any kind of disability have more requirements and more demands on them than parents of typically developing children. We wanted to better understand what was making the added difference for parents of children with autism.

For the full interview and article go to The Stress of Autism.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tweens starving for perfection

This is an exceprt from an article that orginally appeared on CBS News on June 30, 2009:

"A recent study found that 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of becoming fat, and that many feel better about themselves when they're on a diet.

Anorexia is affecting pre-teens more than ever, CBS News correspondent Terrell Brown reported on "The Early Show" Tuesday. And the battle to overcome the eating disorder for "tweens" can be devastating, Brown says.

Ten-year-old Shae Walker was an accomplished gymnast, practicing up to 16 hours a day. But when she decided to quit and focus on her studies and social life, Shae said, she began to have bad thoughts about her weight.

"Probably a month after quitting," Shae's mother, Michele Walker, said, "she would look in the mirror and make comments to me saying she was fat."

Michele told her daughter that was ridiculous.

But Shae began to believe she was getting fat.

"I would pinch the fat on my stomach or what was probably skin," she said. "When I looked in the mirror, it looked to me that I was getting fatter or I was fat. ... I was seeing every imperfection that I had. ... I got a feeling like I wasn't good enough anymore."

Shae refused to eat anything but salad. She exercised compulsively and wore baggy clothes to hide her shrinking frame from family and friends. In just three months, Brown reported, she dropped from a healthy weight of 85 pounds to just 68."


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The battle against obesity must begin in childhood

This is an excerpt from a article written by Devon McGregor, originally published on

"Childhood obesity is at an all-time high in North America. Researchers believe that an early start on physical activity is the only way to keep kids fit and healthy as they reach adulthood.

The state of health for kids is becoming troublesome for both health experts and economists. Since the 1970s, the percentage of children and adolescents who are defined as overweight has nearly tripled. Today, one in five children is overweight, 15% of children and adolescents aged six to nine are seriously overweight and more than 10% of preschool children between ages two and five are in the same category. The increase in obesity levels has led some experts to call the issue a pandemic.

The potential risk factors associated with obesity are plenty: High blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes have all been linked directly to being severely overweight.

Obesity sharply increases the probability of congestive heart failure, heart attacks, sudden cardiac death, angina and abnormal heart rhythm. There is a strong connection between obesity and stroke, especially for people whose fat is situated predominantly in the abdominal area. Obesity is also a likely factor in the development of osteoarthritis, especially of the knee and particularly in women. Cancers, such as endometrial, breast, prostate and colon are more likely among obese people. Psychological disorders, including depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, and low self-esteem are common among obese people."

For the full article please visit The battle against obesity must begin in childhood.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parenting a child with Asperger syndrome

This is an excerpt from an article written by Lila Havens, originally published from content available on

"Asperger syndrome is considered an autism-spectrum disorder. It's similar to autism, but less severe. Unlike many children with autism, children with Asperger talk at the expected age and usually have normal or even high intelligence.

As the parent of a child with Asperger, you want to know how to help your child. One key is to learn all you can about Asperger syndrome. By being well-informed, you'll help yourself and also be able to give the support your child needs to thrive.

Recognizing Asperger syndrome

Children with Asperger syndrome have poor social skills. They have trouble making friends because they talk at rather than to others. They aren't good at making eye contact, reading facial expressions or understanding how other people feel. They prefer sameness and may have rituals or routines that are important to them.

Physically, they are often clumsy. They may have poor handwriting or trouble catching a ball or riding a bike. Many are very sensitive to textures, light and noise. A scratchy tag in a shirt or the flickering of a fluorescent light may bring on a tantrum.

One of the hallmarks of this syndrome is a child's keen interest in one subject. Children with Asperger become experts in their chosen subject, and that's all they want to talk about. They may recite endless facts about New York subway schedules, dinosaurs or ancient Egyptian dynasties. They often sound like "little professors" because they use big words and have a formal way of speaking. Adults may be charmed by this, but other kids may think they're strange. As a result, they may be teased or bullied.

Many children with Asperger also have another problem, such as depression, anxiety or hyperactivity.

Living with Asperger syndrome

While kids with Asperger have many things in common, they are individuals, with their own gifts and shortcomings. Treatment can help your child make the most of his or her abilities and learn better ways to relate to others."

For the full article please visit Parenting a child with Asperger syndrome.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

U.S. spends $9 billion on child mental illness

This is an excerpt from an article written by Maggie Fox, originally published on on April 22, 2009:

"Treating depression and other mental disorders in U.S. children cost $8.9 billion in 2006, making mental illness the most expensive condition to treat in childhood, U.S. government researchers reported on Wednesday.

An estimated 4.6 million children were treated for mental disorders in 2006 at an average cost of $1,931 per child, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported."

For the full article go to U.S. spends $9 billion on child mental illness.

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