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Mental Health Fraying Among Young Schoolchildren In BN

Mental health among elementary school students is a growing problem in the Twin Cities, according to the head of the Unit 5 school district.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said aggressiveness and rage can affect an entire school environment even if only two or three children per building have troubles.

“I have recently met with teachers and building-level administrators and I can tell you the physical and emotional strain on educators is noticeable. It’s visible. We need to take this very seriously,” Daniel said on GLT’s Sound Ideas.

Daniel said this is fundamentally different behavior than in the past. Kindergartners and first-graders always need to have boundaries established and teachers try to create patterns of behavior. Eventually, he said, kids learn how to sit, learn how to do small groups, and go about a day.

“But now we’re seeing very disruptive behavior, aggressive, out of control, throwing things, smashing things, they become uncontrollable and difficult to restrain,” said Daniel.

Daniel said he’s not sure about the source of the behavioral troubles. He said some childhood traumas can change the way young brains develop and if allowed to go unresolved can permanently shift how young people develop.

He said the Unit Five Education Association and its parent union, the NEA, are also looking at specific programs to implement across the country.

“Over the last five to 10 years there has been a marked difference in behavior of adolescent and early childhood populations compared to previous generations,” said Daniel.

He said the incidence of these troubles cuts across socioeconomic boundaries. These are children too young to be formally diagnosed as special needs and perhaps, he said, they would never be placed in that category.

“It’s something different,” he said.

“We’re at the point of saying how can we create an intervention program that addresses the immediate need, working not just with the child, but with wrap-around programs so we also engage the family. It happens not only at school, you know it certainly happens at home and we can’t just separate the two,” said Daniel.

Daniel said he’s talking with District 87 about intervention and mental health services for these children.

He said families must also work with schools to pinpoint what resources children need to improve behavior.

Daniel said the discussions include potentially sharing personnel or even a pullout facility that has solutions for kids. He said educators have also met with the county, which is looking at adult mental health services.

He said he is not sure whether a specialist, guidance counselor at the elementary level, a social worker or a hybrid of the two will be the path forward. He said it will require a unique person. Some school buildings already have a hybrid program to address the issue.

Daniel said the district is low on funds for behavioral interventions.

“We’re still going to have to figure out how to move other dollars or look at ways to reduce other things. We do see this as a high priority and we do need to address it,” said Daniel.

Daniel said the situation is so urgent he wants to move on it soon after the holiday break.

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.

The mental health crisis among young Americans, by the numbers

“This event should have awakened people to what can we do in our society, but too many people took the opposite tact and caused more harm to themselves and others,” David Hemenway, who conducts research on injury prevention at Harvard and was not involved in the study, tells Axios.

What they did: The researchers calculated the average rate of accidental firearm deaths for adults and children in the United States from 2008-2015, and measured deviations from that rate. They compared that to data on background checks, Google searches for ‘buy gun’ as a proxy for gun sales and searches for ‘clean gun’ to account for people taking their guns out of storage.

Finally, they broke the national data down state-by-state to check that the relationship between mass shootings, gun purchases, and gun deaths wasn’t coincidental. Because the trend was true in each individual state, and not just in the national average, the association was stronger.

What they found: Background checks and Google searches for buying guns and about gun maintenance increased following Sandy Hook, indicating increased gun exposure — the rush stopped when the legislation failed . A large jump in accidental deaths in both adults and children occurred during that time. Then, as people learned how to use their guns or put them into storage, death rates returned to normal.

“It’s really about exposure,” says study author Phillip Levine, an economist at Wellesley College. “Regardless of how many guns there are, if they’re all stored properly, the risk of accidental deaths is limited. It has to be about what’s occurring that’s leading them to not be stored properly at that moment.”

What’s happening: After mass shootings, particularly ones that raise the specter of gun control legislation, it’s well documented that gun purchases rise, though the trend appears to have stopped since the election of a congress and president that are against gun control. This is one of the first studies to link those legislative battles and gun sale trends to accidental deaths.

Yes, but: There are a lot of factors at play during these watershed events, so it’s difficult to put the blame solely on discussions of gun control, says Hemenway.

What’s next: Levine would like to parse out the long-term effects of these gun purchases. There’s little evidence of an increase in murders after shootings, but it makes sense to assume that more guns could lead to more murders or gun-involved domestic violence in the long run. But because so many other factors influence gun violence, it’s extremely difficult to sort out any trend, says Levine.

Hemenway would like to see research into the impacts of multiple guns in a household. “The difference between 0 and 1 is enormous. Between 1 and 5, we just don’t know.”

A Catch-22: There are proven ways to reduce gun violence, notes economist and sociologist Philip Cook in policy piece that ran with the study. Concealed carry laws, laws that ban those convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing guns, and extended sentences aimed at curbing armed robbery all appear to measurably reduce gun violence. But in the initial act of passing such legislation, it’s possible gun deaths may temporarily go up.

Despite this, “I don’t think one should take away that you shouldn’t bother trying,” says Levine.

Alison Snyder contributed reporting to this story.

Ralphie May’s Cause of Death Has Been Revealed. Here’s What Young People Need to Know

Two months after comedian Ralphie May was found dead in a Las Vegas private residence, the cause of his death has been revealed. May, 45, died from hypertensive cardiovascular disease, Clark County Coroner’s office confirmed today to People.

On October 6, the day May’s body was discovered, May’s manager said in a statement that the Last Comic Standing star had been battling pneumonia and had canceled several recent tour dates in an effort to recover. The coroner’s new diagnosis, however, sheds more light on the underlying cause of May’s health problems, as well as his untimely death.

It can also serve as a reminder that hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) and heart disease can affect people of all ages—and that, if left untreated, they can be deadly, even for people in their 40s or younger.

RELATED: 20 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

To learn more about these risks, Health spoke with Brandy Patterson, MD, an assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Virginia. Dr. Patterson did not treat May, but she does have many other patients, including young adults, with high blood pressure and heart disease. Here’s what she wants everyone to know about these conditions, including who’s most at risk and how you can protect yourself.

Hypertension and heart disease are different, but related

Hypertensive cardiovascular disease, which May was diagnosed with after his death, is a broad term that could mean a few different things, says Dr. Patterson. Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart or vascular disease in several different ways: It can cause hardening of the arteries or a thickening of the heart muscle itself. It can also cause the heart’s chambers to become dilated, which keeps it from pumping blood and oxygen effectively.

“All of these things make it harder for the heart to work and can lead to heart failure,” says Dr. Patterson. Clogged arteries can also trigger blood clots, she adds, which can block the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. “If the heart muscle is starved of nutrients, that can trigger a heart attack or even death.”

There’s good reason hypertension is called the “silent killer”

Blood pressure, simply put, is the amount of force on the walls of your arteries by the blood flowing through them. If blood pressure gets too high, it strains the walls of the arteries—which can lead to thickening—and puts excess pressure on the heart.

But one big problem, says Dr. Patterson, is that blood pressure isn’t something people can feel on a day-to-day basis. “Nobody feels the force of blood against their artery walls,” she says, “so it’s possible to have no idea this is going on for a long time, until your organs and your heart have been badly damaged.”

RELATED: What Is Cardiac Arrest–and How Is It Different From a Heart Attack?

Once damage to the heart becomes severe, people may begin to have symptoms, like chest pain or trouble breathing while walking or lying down. High blood pressure can also damage other organs, like the kidneys, leading to swelling and rapid weight gain due to fluid retention. It’s possible, though, for this type of damage to build up over years of high blood pressure without any symptoms at all, or for a sudden event like a heart attack or stroke to occur with no warning at all. 

Nearly half of American adults now have hypertension

Just weeks after May’s death, an announcement from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology highlighted the fact that high blood pressure is not just an issue for older people. Under new guidelines issued in November, the threshold for high blood pressure is now 130/80, down from the previous level of 140/90.

That means that about 103 million Americans—about 46% of the adult population—now meet the criteria for high blood pressure, which should be monitored and treated by a doctor. “The number of men under 55 with hypertension is now triple under these new guidelines, and the number of women under 55 is now double,” says Dr. Patterson.

Diet, exercise, weight, and stress levels affect a person’s risk

Dr. Patterson says physicians are seeing more and more people under the age of 55 with high blood pressure and heart disease, and it’s not just because of changing medical definitions. America’s ongoing obesity epidemic also plays a large role. (May once described himself as a “comedian who happens to be fat,” and he occasionally referenced his weight in his stand-up routines.)

A family history, lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking, and heavy alcohol use are also risk factors for both high blood pressure and heart disease, says Dr. Patterson. “And let’s not forget about stress, which changes the neurotransmitters in the brain and triggers the adrenal glands to produce hormones that increase blood pressure,” she says. “Think about what a comedian does every night: He’s up on stage and everyone’s laughing, but is it stressful? I would imagine so.”

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Know your blood pressure, and your risk factors

May’s death should be a wake-up call to anyone who hasn’t seen a doctor in recent years or doesn’t know their own blood pressure—especially if they have any of the risk factors above, says Dr. Patterson. When caught early, high blood pressure can be treated and managed with medications and lifestyle changes, and many adults with high blood pressure can live long and healthy lives.

Without treatment, however, high blood pressure can wreak havoc throughout the body, she says. “We should be checking patients with risk factors as early as possible,” says Dr. Patterson, “because the damage can start as early as adolescence, and it’s important to address these problems sooner rather than later.”

Health Insurance Challenges for Young People Off Obamacare | Time

Marguerite Moniot felt frustrated and flummoxed, despite the many hours she spent in front of the computer this year reading consumer reviews of health insurance plans offered on the individual market in Virginia. Moniot was preparing to buy a policy of her own, knowing she would age out of her parent’s plan when she turned 26 in October.

She asked her parents for help and advice. But they, too, ran into trouble trying to decipher which policy would work best for their daughter. The family had relied on her father’s employer-sponsored plan through his work as an architect for years, so no one had spent much time sifting through policies.

“Honestly, my parents were just as confused as I was,” said Moniot, a restaurant server in Roanoke.

In defeat, just before Thanksgiving, she went with her mother to meet a certified health insurance navigator, buying a policy that allowed her to keep her current doctors.

A new crop of young people like Moniot are falling off their parents’ insurance plans when they turn 26 — the age when the Affordable Care Act stipulates that children must leave family policies.

They were then expected to be able to shop relatively easily for their own insurance on Obamacare marketplaces. But with Trump administration revisions to the law and congressional bills injecting uncertainty into state insurance markets, that task of buying insurance for the first time this year is anything but simple.

The shortened sign-up period, which started Nov. 1, runs through Dec. 15. That window is half as long as last year’s, hampering those who wait until the last minute to obtain insurance.

Reminders and help are scarcer than before: The federal government cut marketing and outreach funds by $90 million, and federal funding to groups providing in-person assistance was whacked by 40 percent.

“I think it’s definitely going to be difficult. There’s just additional barriers with [less] in-person help, just fewer resources going around,” said Erin Hemlin, director of training and consumer education for Young Invincibles, an advocacy group for young adults.

Emily Curran, a research fellow at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, said those actions combined with the Trump administration’s vigorous criticism of the health law could further handicap the uphill battle to entice young people to enroll. As of Nov. 25, nearly 2.8 million people had enrolled through the federal marketplace, according to the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services. The data were not sorted by age.

“There’s already a barrier where young adults are having difficulty understanding what the value of insurance is,” she said. “Coming out … and saying prices are going up, choice is going down and this law is a mess doesn’t really get at the young adult population.”

Trouble attracting young ddults

Before the Affordable Care Act, young adults had the highest uninsured rate of any age group.

The ACA made coverage more affordable and accessible. It allowed states to expand Medicaid to cover single, childless adults. Tax credits to help pay for premiums made plans on the individual market more affordable for people whose incomes fell between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (between $12,060 and $48,240 for an individual). And young adults were allowed to stay on their parents’ plan until their 26th birthday.

In all, the uninsured rate dropped to roughly 15 percent among 19- to 34-year-olds in 2016. Still, young adults have not joined the individual market in the numbers as expected. About a quarter of marketplace customers in 2016 were ages 18-34, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But that age group makes up about 40 percent of the exchanges’ potential market, according to researchers and federal officials.

If the Trump administration’s moves dampen enrollment, insurers could face additional challenges in attracting healthy adults to balance those with illnesses, who drive up costs.

“When you’re relatively healthy, it’s not something that you’re thinking about,” said Sandy Ahn, associate research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.

But illness does not recognize age. Dominique Ridley, who turns 26 on Dec. 6, knows this all too well.

Ridley has asthma. She always carries an inhaler and sees a doctor when she feels her chest tighten. The student at Radford University in Virginia relies on her mother’s employer-sponsored plan for coverage.

Ridley started peppering her parents with questions about health insurance as soon as she started seeing ads for this year’s open enrollment.

“I don’t want to just go out there and apply for health insurance, and it be all kinds of wrong and I can’t afford it,” she said.

Her parents didn’t have the answers, but her mother linked up Ridley with a friend that runs a marketing company tailored to promoting the Affordable Care Act. Ridley then connected with a broker who signed her up for a silver plan that will cost her less than $4 per month, after receiving a premium subsidy of more than $500 a month.

“If you don’t have health insurance, you don’t have anything,” Ridley said.

A digital campaign

The Obama administration relied in part on partnerships to attract young enrollees to sign up. Last year, it collaborated with national organizations like Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Young Invincibles on a social media campaign called #HealthyAdulting. Emails, according to Joshua Peck, former chief marketing officer for healthcare.gov, were particularly effective for recruitment.

The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, which oversees the marketplaces, said it will focus this year’s resources on “digital media, email and text messages.”

Hemlin said the government has not asked Young Invincibles to assist in marketing. Her group will use its own resources to pay for targeted ads on social media to reach the target demographic, she said.

“But obviously we can’t make up for $90 million in advertising” that’s been cut, said Hemlin.

One factor that might compensate is that 20-somethings are facile at shopping online, said Jill Hanken, director of Enroll! Virginia, a statewide navigator program.

“Our job is to make sure they understand to look at provider networks and drug formularies if they have health concerns. But they’re able to do the mechanics of enrollment on their own very often.”

James Rowley, a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Fairfax, Va., is among those who signed up without help. He started his own company two years ago while covered under his father’s health plan. When he turned 26, he signed up for health insurance on his own through a special enrollment period this year. When general enrollment opened, he once again picked a plan.

“I might not 100 percent need it now, but there will come a time where health insurance is important,” said Rowley.

This story was produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Carmen Heredia Rodriguez is a Kaiser Health News reporter.

Young students start from Scratch to learn computer coding

Fulton Elementary School students (from left) Jax Stage, Mavrick Hamstra, Owen Boonstra and Chase Glazier go over the lessons they learned during a 5-week program where they used computer coding to animate characters from PBS television shows. The students showed off what they learned Monday.
Fulton Elementary School students Andrew Betts and Natalee Doty work on a tablet with the programming software. The program, brought to the school by WQPT Quad Cities PBS and funded by a Fulton resident, has students working with 30 Kindle Fire tablets. The students received 225 minutes of coding instruction.
Michael Carton, WQPT education and outreach director, speaks Monday about the results of a computer programming initiative that was started at Fulton Elementary School.

FULTON – Computers are everywhere, accessible to nearly everyone of any age these days.

But kindergarteners doing code?

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Some kindergarten through second-grade students at Fulton Elementary School are getting ahead of the learning curve.

About 170 students picked up basic computer coding skills from Oct. 10 through Nov. 15 in an initiative using the PBS Kids Scratch Jr. computer app. The storytelling program lets children use simple coding instructions to animate characters from PBS shows.

WQPT Quad Cities PBS partnered with teachers at the school, with funding from Fulton resident Rosemary Huisingh, 69, who knows Mary Pruess, general manager at the station.

“When Mary told me this started in kindergarten, I wanted to give back,” Huisingh said at a news conference Monday at the school.

The students use symbols on the screen to create the instructions for the characters to act in certain ways. WQPT brought 30 Kindle Fire tablets to the school, with each of the nine classes receiving 225 minutes of coding instruction.

Michael Carton, WQPT’s education and outreach director, said the students learned both the app’s interface and how to determine which symbols would make a character do a certain action.

“The biggest thing is, it’s another literacy skill that kids in the 21st century will use,” Carton said.

Tests were given before and after the five sessions, with a 286 percent increase in scores from the pre-test to the post-test.

Some of the students showed off their skills Monday with the tablets. Andrew Betts, 6, of Albany, worked on animating a bat racing a green-skinned character.

“I like coding,” Andrew said.

Jax Stage, 5, of Fulton, also liked making characters race each other.

“My favorite is a cheetah,” he said.

Nadalee Doty, 5, of Fulton, shared which code was her favorite – “the code that makes people small.”

WQPT will continue to work with Fulton teachers to include the app in lessons. Carton hopes to expand the program to other schools in Whiteside County.

DOWNLOAD THE APP

Go to pbskids.org/apps/pbs-kids-scratchjr.html to download the PBS Kids Scratch Jr. free app.

Call Michael Carton, WQPT’s education and outreach director, at 309-764-2400 for more information on integrating the program into schools.

Internet trolls ’caused’ young mum’s post natal depression after mocking her as ‘too posh to push’ when she had …

A young mum who suffered post-natal depression after her C section claims internet trolls who branded her ‘too posh to push’ brought on the debilitating condition.

Abbie Lever, 21, gave birth to her daughter Daisy, now three months old, by emergency caesarean following complications.

She described the experience as traumatic and says she felt like her body had ‘failed’ her daughter.

But, after sharing her experience on Facebook , trolls mocked her C-section as a ‘cop out’.

The online comments- from other mothers – caused her self-esteem to plummet and led to post-natal depression, Abbie said.

Daisy is now three months old
(Image: Mercury Press Media)

Abbie, from Bolton, told the Manchester Evening News : “I felt like my body had failed my little girl. I felt like I was a failure. I couldn’t bond with her at first.

“[The comments] really got to me because I had such a traumatic time with my little girl. It pulled on my heartstrings.

“The comments were a trigger for the post-natal depression. I had no self-esteem and no confidence.

“Some people have said that it’s a cop out and that I’m too posh to push but it is still labour at the end of the day.”

Abbie was sent for an emergency C-section on August 18th when it was discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around Daisy’s neck and that she had turned all the way around in the womb.

When her daughter was born she wasn’t crying – leaving Abbie fearing the worst in what she calls the ‘longest five minutes of my life’.

Dad Adam Haigh with his daughter
(Image: Mercury Press Media)

However, after being resuscitated, little Daisy was completely fine – but it wasn’t until the mum’s ‘guts had been chucked back in’ that she was able to hold her daughter.

Abbie waited three weeks after the labour before sharing any photos of Daisy, so that she had enough time to recover from the birth. However when she went on Facebook and described her ordeal, she received a string of comments saying she had taken the ‘easy way out’ by having a caesarean section.

“It was quite hurtful to receive the comments especially with it being so soon after the birth”, Abbie said.

“I developed post-natal depression through it all. Now I’m getting back to myself I feel like I can help people who are going through the same thing.”

Abbie was trolled on Facebook over her C section
(Image: Mercury Press Media)

Abbie, who has two other children [Poppy, five, and Violet, three], decided to confront the trolls head on in an emotional post about how these comments made her feel to help other women who are going through the same thing.

Her post said: “Sick of seeing comments on status’ from pregnant women and also mothers, some saying a C section is the easy way out, or a cop out…That to me shows how shallow and so rude some people are just give over will you!

“Imagine waiting 9 months for the moment you hold your baby first before anyone else in this world, but instead 5 maybe 6 other people hold your princess first.

“Not being able to have skin to skin straight away, till all your guts have been chucked back in and your stomach muscles that have been ripped from bottom to top stitched back up.

“Imagine being the only one in that freezing cold theatre room behind that blue screen not knowing what’s going on when you can’t hear your baby crying and you can only imagine the worst.

“I for one had the most traumatic time from start to finishing and having an emergency C section.

“My princess was a monkey from the start and spun round and came out bum first because she was the biggest diva in the world.”

Abbie, who has two other children [Poppy, five, and Violet, three], eventually decided to confront the trolls head on
(Image: Mercury Press Media)

She continued: “To come into the world, she needed a lot of resuscitation because she was very sleepy and the cord was around the neck.

“I remember thinking and saying why isn’t she crying what’s wrong with her. Those were the worst moments and longest 5 minutes of my entire life.

“A C section is not a cop out, it’s to save a babies life, YOUR baby. It certainly saved my princess and I’ll be grateful to the midwives and doctors that helped me through the day.

“And no this post is not for attention as I don’t need any attention, this is to show you mummies that have had a C section, emergency or not, you still did it.

“You brought your special little prince or princess into this world because I was personally devastated I had to have one after I’ve had 2 vaginal births in the past but as soon as they said it was to save her life I’d do it all over again to save any of my little girls and I’d do it again!”

Abbie’s C section scar
(Image: Mercury Press Media)

Abbie said she had a good response from the post.

“I even got a message from one lady who said she felt the same way and that the post helped her,” she said.

“However, some people have said that I was just attention seeking. I just hope that this post helps other mums.

“I spoke to my family and friends about it and they told me how proud they are of how I have come through it. I do feel like the post has helped me. I get now that it isn’t just me that feels this way.

“My partner [Adam Haigh, 27] was amazing during the birth. I couldn’t have done anything without him there. I was petrified, and he was so supportive and kept me calm.

“Our little girl is beautiful. She’s doing so well.”

M-R schools introduce young students to computer science – Galesburg Register

MONMOUTH — According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for software developers is $102,280 per year, with a projected job growth of 24 percent between 2016 and 2026. Software development is just one of the many jobs that are related to coding and computer science, and while second- and third-graders may not be at the point of picking their career, many students at Harding Primary School are showing an affinity for the skill as they take coding classes.

Classrooms these days don’t look like the ones of old. Students in elementary school use Chromebooks to supplement their lessons. Students from third to eighth grade now take the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test, which is entirely on the computer. Young students are far more experienced with technology than previous generations at their age level.

With this in mind, Harding teachers Katy Morrison (second grade) and Jill Carlson (third grade) attended a coding workshop in Peoria.

“In the digital era we’re in there’s going to be a surplus of jobs in (computer science) in the future,” Morrison said. “We wanted to see how we could implement it into our weekly lessons.”

Although much of the curriculum is focused on English and math, the two subject areas most heavily tested, the school managed to find a way to fit coding in with two half-hour classes a week. Harding Principal Jeff Ewing has expressed interest in having more time for coding in the future.

“We want (the students) to get some foundational concepts of computer science and steer some of these kids towards an area where their interests may be peaked,” Ewing said. “We focus so much on English and math because that’s how we’re graded. We want to make sure we have a balance.”

Harding guidance counselor Brooke Streight, who has been teaching the coding classes along with Morrison and Carlson, says the program at the school is encouraging students to exercise mental versatility.

“I’m seeing some higher-level thinking, logic and problem solving to get through the course,” Streight said. “They’re highly engaged in the program, enjoying it, and are able to keep up with the course.”

Those students recently finished the first of four courses in the curriculum. That first course focused on algorithms, which were simplified into directions for programming, with buttons for forward, backward, left and right, and to stop. The next unit will focus on “Hour of Code,” an initiative introduced by code.org that takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week from Dec. 4 to 10. Using the tutorials from “Hour of Code,” students will be able to program themes from “Star Wars,” “Minecraft” and “Angry Birds” among others.

In the Monmouth-Roseville district, coding programs have been introduced not only at Harding but at Central Intermediate School, where they also worked with code.org. M-R Superintendent Ed Fletcher noted an interest in having computer science classes in the high school as well, but said for more advanced lessons a computer science teacher would be needed, which might be difficult to find.

“Coding is certainly playing a role in developing the thinking of kids,” Fletcher said. “I think if kids nowadays have an interest in technology, when you can teach good academic skills with something they’re interested in it’s a positive.”

“Anything is possible,” Fletcher said of having coding at the high school. “I would guess finding a teacher certified in computer science is difficult. We could look at partnering with the college to make that a reality.”

In the United District, North Elementary School has students coding robots. Technology and Library Teacher Vanessa Witherell says the school borrowed robots from mid-October to mid-November to help students get hands-on training in robotics. Those robots are called Bee-Bots and Cubelets, and are meant for beginners to learn the basics of coding.

“The students practiced basic building-block coding and explored with (the robots) to see what each device did,” Witherell said. “I put tape lines on the floor and the students had to code the Bee-Bots to follow a path on the floors with forward-forward-left, etcetera.”

The robotics portion of the curriculum worked with students from kindergarten through fifth grade. The next unit, which corresponds with Computer Science Education Week, will teach kids Hour of Code. United West Elementary will also take part as they begin to implement coding in the school.

“It’s a critical thinking tool that every student needs to have exposure to as early as possible,” Witherell said.

MR schools introduce young students to computer science – Galesburg Register

MONMOUTH — According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for software developers is $102,280 per year, with a projected job growth of 24 percent between 2016 and 2026. Software development is just one of the many jobs that are related to coding and computer science, and while second- and third-graders may not be at the point of picking their career, many students at Harding Primary School are showing an affinity for the skill as they take coding classes.

Classrooms these days don’t look like the ones of old. Students in elementary school use Chromebooks to supplement their lessons. Students from third to eighth grade now take the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test, which is entirely on the computer. Young students are far more experienced with technology than previous generations at their age level.

With this in mind, Harding teachers Katy Morrison (second grade) and Jill Carlson (third grade) attended a coding workshop in Peoria.

“In the digital era we’re in there’s going to be a surplus of jobs in (computer science) in the future,” Morrison said. “We wanted to see how we could implement it into our weekly lessons.”

Although much of the curriculum is focused on English and math, the two subject areas most heavily tested, the school managed to find a way to fit coding in with two half-hour classes a week. Harding Principal Jeff Ewing has expressed interest in having more time for coding in the future.

“We want (the students) to get some foundational concepts of computer science and steer some of these kids towards an area where their interests may be peaked,” Ewing said. “We focus so much on English and math because that’s how we’re graded. We want to make sure we have a balance.”

Harding guidance counselor Brooke Streight, who has been teaching the coding classes along with Morrison and Carlson, says the program at the school is encouraging students to exercise mental versatility.

“I’m seeing some higher-level thinking, logic and problem solving to get through the course,” Streight said. “They’re highly engaged in the program, enjoying it, and are able to keep up with the course.”

Those students recently finished the first of four courses in the curriculum. That first course focused on algorithms, which were simplified into directions for programming, with buttons for forward, backward, left and right, and to stop. The next unit will focus on “Hour of Code,” an initiative introduced by code.org that takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week from Dec. 4 to 10. Using the tutorials from “Hour of Code,” students will be able to program themes from “Star Wars,” “Minecraft” and “Angry Birds” among others.

In the Monmouth-Roseville district, coding programs have been introduced not only at Harding but at Central Intermediate School, where they also worked with code.org. M-R Superintendent Ed Fletcher noted an interest in having computer science classes in the high school as well, but said for more advanced lessons a computer science teacher would be needed, which might be difficult to find.

“Coding is certainly playing a role in developing the thinking of kids,” Fletcher said. “I think if kids nowadays have an interest in technology, when you can teach good academic skills with something they’re interested in it’s a positive.”

“Anything is possible,” Fletcher said of having coding at the high school. “I would guess finding a teacher certified in computer science is difficult. We could look at partnering with the college to make that a reality.”

In the United District, North Elementary School has students coding robots. Technology and Library Teacher Vanessa Witherell says the school borrowed robots from mid-October to mid-November to help students get hands-on training in robotics. Those robots are called Bee-Bots and Cubelets, and are meant for beginners to learn the basics of coding.

“The students practiced basic building-block coding and explored with (the robots) to see what each device did,” Witherell said. “I put tape lines on the floor and the students had to code the Bee-Bots to follow a path on the floors with forward-forward-left, etcetera.”

The robotics portion of the curriculum worked with students from kindergarten through fifth grade. The next unit, which corresponds with Computer Science Education Week, will teach kids Hour of Code. United West Elementary will also take part as they begin to implement coding in the school.

“It’s a critical thinking tool that every student needs to have exposure to as early as possible,” Witherell said.

Young Kenyan gets share of China’s internet celebrity economy

Ruth, a 22-year-old woman from Nairobi, Kenya, who studies at Tianjin Normal University, tastes food and gives her comments on a food review video in Tianjin. [Photo/IC]

“Why do Chinese people love instant noodles? We would not eat such food in Kenya because it is so long that we have to cut it with scissors.”

Ruth, a 22-year-old woman from Nairobi, Kenya, gave this comment in a food review video starring her. Her full name is not available.

She needed to taste those “weird” foods she was offered in front of the camera and comment on them. Sometimes a tiny bite of spicy food would make her burst into tears.

This is Ruth’s second year in China. She is a junior student in Tianjin Normal University and her teacher named her “Ruoxi” in Chinese, the name of a character in a famous TV series, when she just arrived here.

In her free time, Ruth, or Ruoxi, was invited by a Chinese video platform startup to take part in recording online videos twice a week.

To become an internet celebrity, she even studied crosstalk and traditional Chinese opera.

The internet celebrity economy, having developed a new business operation mode, is one of the highlights of China’s internet development last year, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The scale of internet celebrity industry reached 52.8 billion yuan ($7.98 billion) last year and is expected to surpass 100 trillion yuan in 2018, with a compound annual growth rate of 59.4 percent from 2015 to 2018, according to a report by market research company Analysys.

Mental health summit aims to help young black men, boys cope with trauma

From elected leaders to neighbors chatting across the fence, conversations in Chicago about solving poverty and violence often focus on what can be measured — the number of murders and shootings, the unemployment rate, the dropout rate.

But those numbers fail to capture the psychological toll that violence and poverty take on people living in troubled communities.

To address that issue, a veteran social worker is bringing together mental health professionals, youth advocates and activists on Saturday to discuss trauma and mental health, with a particular focus on young African-American men and boys.

Numerous studies have linked childhood trauma and exposure to violence in poor communities with post-traumatic stress disorder and increased risk of mental health problems in adulthood.

Prince William Launches Action Plan to “Empower” Young Internet Users and Tackle Cyberbullying

Natasha Lubczenko

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Utah has made computer science education a ‘key priority,’ Sarah Young says

For a glimpse into the future of computer science education, Utah might be a good place to look.

Educational technology leaders there have made it a “key priority” to bring computer science to every student in every school across the state, said Sarah Young, the coordinator for digital teaching and learning at the Utah State Board of Education.

“And I don’t think it’s just in Utah. It’s definitely happening all across the nation,” Young said in an interview with EdScoop TV at the recent State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) Leadership Summit. “We see different leaders and organizations stepping out on that.”

But unlike most states, Utah is carving out a place in the curriculum for computer science. Currently, computer science is housed in the career and technical education department, but leaders at the state board of education want it to become more available at every level.

“Our goal is we want that class and suite of classes to be available in every single high school. And then from that, also having exposure in touch points for computer science in the middle schools and the elementary schools,” Young said. “The class exists, we just want to [make] it accessible to our kids.”

Already, Utah allows computer science to count toward the state’s graduation requirements for science, right alongside courses like chemistry, biology, physics and earth science, Young said. “I think it’s those steps forward that help our schools and our counselors to be able to encourage kids to go that direction,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges with computer science education, Young said, is teacher training. Because computer science is a relatively new field, the teacher population equipped to offer those classes is quite small.

“So that’s our job, as leaders — to be able to support those teachers in getting training so we can have that opportunity for our kids,” she said.

At the same gathering of state edtech leaders, Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org and keynote speaker at the event, told EdScoop he thinks 100 percent of computer science funding in education should be spent on teacher training.

“Not because other things aren’t necessary, but because most of those other things fall into place once you focus on the professional development for teachers,” he said.

Can too much social media usage harm young adults’ mental health?


Even The Young And Invincible Need Health Insurance

Andrew had health insurance, but it wasn’t exactly high quality. Only 26, he thought he didn’t need it. His family insisted, so to make them happy he’d signed up for short-term coverage with a not very well-known company. Andrew jokes that he talked to the same two people every time he called the company, leaving him wondering if they were the only employees, perhaps operating out of a trailer.

Young people ‘not receiving mental health care they need’

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Alice Gibbs

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Alice Gibbs was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 12

Young people are facing long waiting times and unequal access to mental health services, a review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said.

The commissioner said this could be “putting young people’s lives at risk”.

The review found nearly 40% of specialist child and adolescent services needed improvement.

Alice Gibbs, who was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 12, said a lack of access to specialised services had had a long-term effect on her recovery.

She waited six months to see a mental health professional. “Knowing that we had to wait for that help and things were only getting worse was scary,” she says.

She received treatment in Leicester for several years, but it was later recommended that she get specialist treatment. At the time, the nearest specialist unit for eating disorders was in London.

“It’s a complete postcode lottery,” she says. “I was 16 years old, and apart from being really physically unwell, I was mentally unwell. I didn’t want to be away from my family.”

How long are young people waiting?

The CQC’s Dr Paul Lelliott said the “system’s complexity and fragmentation must be overcome”.

“There are many people out there working to make sure that children and young people who experience mental health issues are offered caring support. Their dedication is to be celebrated.

“However, we must also address those times when a child or young person feels let down or not listened to and make sure the same level of support is available.”

While the report could not specify exactly how long young people were waiting, an investigation by the BBC’s World at One programme using Freedom of Information requests found children were waiting up to 22 months to see a mental health professional.

Of the nine trusts that replied, the worst was Cambridgeshire Peterborough, which had an average wait of 16 weeks in 2016-2017.

The review’s findings echo issues raised by NHS England in its Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, published in February. Problems identified included long waiting times, inequalities in access to services and a lack of support while young people were waiting for care.

Dr Andrew Molodynski from the British Medical Association said: “Gaining access to necessary specialist care remains a serious concern in places. It is a need the government must address as a priority.”

‘It defined my teenage life’

Alice Gibbs made the hard decision to stay in Leicester for non-specialist treatment. Now 22, she says she’s a lot better.

But she is still receiving mental health care and thinks this may not have been the case if she had received better, more specialised care as a teenager.

“I’m lucky because I have had all of that support but it’s frustrating to think that realistically it could be a lot better than this,” she says.

Alice says she has learned how to manage her eating disorder “rather than fix it”.

“With eating disorders, it feels like it’s defining you. And it definitely has with me – it defined all of my teenage life.”

The Young and the Restless star in treatment after mental health scare

Daytime drama favorite Kristoff St. John is undergoing psychiatric treatment after a reported scare regarding his mental health, EW has confirmed.

Kristoff, who plays Neil Winters on CBS’ The Young and the Restless, has been open about his battles with depression after the loss of his son, Julian, who died by suicide nearly three years ago. It’s unclear how his current situation will affect production, though the sudser tapes way in advance of air dates.

In a statement to Entertainment Tonight, St. John’s ex-wife blasted early reports about the initial incident that led her ex to seek help.

“I want the world to know the truth about what is happening with Kristoff, because currently there is inaccurate, and fabricated information being reported by certain online outlets,” said Mia St. John. “No parent should ever have to bury their child, and for those who do, it is a nightmare that haunts you forever. The death of our beloved son Julian has taken a toll on both of us. He is an actor and while he may appear whole on the outside, his heart is broken. As a society, we need to start taking mental health seriously and realize that no one is immune.”

St. John’s last tweet was on Oct. 12 to alert his followers about mental health awareness. His pinned tweet is about his son and wanting to seek “vindication.”

St. John has been on the CBS sudser since 1991.

Young jobless males might expect poorer health in adulthood

78725_hodepine_illustrasjonsfoto_shutterstock_ntb_scanpix Young jobless males might expect poorer health in adulthood

Young men who are unemployed in the age group 16 to 21 report more health problems than others as the years go by.

They are more apt to suffer from headaches, stomach troubles, muscle pains and insomnia, according to a Swedish doctoral dissertation. Such problems can sometimes be linked to mental afflictions.

Plenty of research has already linked unemployment with deficient health compared to others, both in mind and body. This was seen, for instance, in a large international study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

But the Swedish PhD dissertation indicates that the damage can be lasting. However, in generall joblessness seem to only afflict men long-term – not women.

No help in getting a job

Around 1,000 persons in Northern Sweden were asked to report their somatic afflictions at ages 16, 18, 21, 30 and 42.

Nearly all ninth-graders in the city Luleå participated, and very many of them also responded to the last questionnaire, 26 years after entering the study.

This enabled researchers to ascertain that the association between unemployment at a young age and individual health issues persists, independent of a number of factors. Among these variables, they could investigate whether the men held jobs as adults, their parents’ professions, their individual educational pursuits and compare these against their health as teenagers. These variables did not change the picture. 

However, as these were self-reported health problems, there could be differences among the participants in how they report them. Actually, a study conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has found that unemployed persons tend to report having better health than they actually enjoy.

Many young unemployed

In the Swedish study there were few who were unemployed initially as teens. But for the boys who were jobless their situation had an impact on their future.

The study started in 1981, so it is unclear whether the information from that time is still relevant for unemployed persons today. But finding jobs for youth remains a problem in Sweden, even though the rate for young persons has been reduced in recent years. Currently, 13 percent of Swedes aged 15-24 are out of work, according to Statistics Sweden.

It appears as if being a teenager or a young adult is a highly vulnerable period of person’s life, according to the Swedish researchers in an article in the European Journal of Public Health.

Yet the researchers also stress that they cannot contend that youth unemployment is the cause health problems.

There could be other conditions from childhood and further into life that is impacting the health of these men. For instance, unemployed young men are more prone to tobacco smoking and immoderate use of alcohol. 

Nor have the researchers investigated what sort of jobs these men landed as adults. Perhaps they are temporary jobs or they can be low-paying, entailing economic problems, which also impact health.

Women still have the poorest health

Among women, no such link between unemployment while young and health problems was found when the researchers looked into their levels of education. Women are more likely to get a higher education than men. Higher education levels did not appear to help men who had been unemployed in their younger days. 

Why are just men apparently affected by unemployment at an early age?

The Swedes don’t have a good answer for that.

Anna Brydsten, who just got her doctorate with work in this study, points to another possible explanation. Even though women’s health does not seem to be impaired by joblessness when they are young, this doesn’t mean that they are suffer fewer health problems than their male peers.

They tend to have more somatic afflictions than men.

Brydsten also says that Swedish women more often than men have poor working conditions.

“This is why women more often report poor health than men, despite their status as employed or unemployed,” she said in a press release from Umeå University.

Reference:

Anna Brydsten et al.: Youth unemployment and functional somatic symptoms in adulthood: results from the Northern Swedish cohort. European Journal of Public Health, vol. 25, no. 5, 15 March 2015. Doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckv038. part of a PhD dissertation Arbetslöshet och ojämlikhet i hälsa. En livsloppsstudie i norra Sverige. Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University, 2017

Many Young Adults With Autism Also Have Mental Health Issues

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College involved “many anxiety attacks and many trips home” for Daniel Share-Strom, an autistic 27-year-old motivational speaker in Bradford, Ontario. It wasn’t just the challenge of organizing his assignments and fighting the disability office for the extra time he needed for tests. It was also managing all the aspects of daily life that most people not on the autism spectrum take for granted.

“Relationships are so much harder to understand or initiate when by default you don’t really know what certain facial expressions mean or what certain actions mean,” Share-Strom says.

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Kyle Echakowitz repeated 12th grade, but he still found the first year of college overwhelming.

Courtesy of Kyle Echakowitz


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Courtesy of Kyle Echakowitz

Young adults on the autism spectrum are more likely to also have been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than are typically developing people or those with other developmental disabilities, a study finds. And managing those multiple conditions can make the transition to young adulthood especially difficult.

It’s not clear how much biological factors may contribute to the higher rates, but Share-Strom definitely sees environmental factors playing a major role.

“People with autism aren’t immediately born anxious or with depression,” Share-Strom says. “The world is fundamentally not built for us, and people are always judging and trying to change you, whether they have the best intentions or not,” he says. “Of course that’s going to cause a higher rate of anxiety and depression and even suicide rates. I’d be surprised if it didn’t.”

That makes providing resources for these young adults all the more important during that transitional period.

“When it comes to mental health diagnoses and use of psychiatric services, there’s a really strong need for the entire developmental disabilities community, but it’s an even bigger need for folks on the autism spectrum,” says Yona Lunksy, a senior scientist at York University and the Health-Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities program in Toronto and coauthor of the study. “I think sometimes people will dismiss something as being part of autism when, in fact, it’s not,” she adds. “There are people with autism who don’t have psychiatric issues.”

Lunksy’s study is not the first to find a higher prevalence of mental health conditions among those on the spectrum compared to those with typical development. But it is the first to compare autistic young adults to those with other developmental disabilities. It also uses a standard method of gathering data, relying on diagnostic codes in administrative health data instead of using surveys.

Their data came from two groups of young adults, ages 18-24, in Ontario, Canada.

One group included 5,095 young adults with an autism diagnosis and 10,487 people with another developmental disability diagnosis and no autism diagnosis. (Those with both were excluded.) The other group was a random selection of 20 percent of young adults in Ontario without a developmental disability diagnosis.

They chose age 18 as a starting place because that’s when people switch from child to adult social and mental services in Canada; they ended at age 24 because Canadians with developmental disabilities usually remain in school until age 22, providing two years of follow-up data. In the U.S., public special education services continue until high school graduation or until age 21 in most states, 22 in some others.

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Those on the spectrum were more than five times more likely to have a psychiatric diagnosis than typically developing individuals and nearly twice as likely compared to others with developmental disabilities, the study found.

While 52 percent of autistic young adults had a psychiatric diagnosis, 39 percent of those with other developmental disabilities did and 20 percent of typically developing people did. Those with an autism diagnosis were also more likely to visit the emergency department for psychiatric reasons (8 percent) than those with other developmental disabilities (7 percent) or typically developing (2 percent).

By contrast, non-psychiatric ER visits were similar between autistic and typically developing young adults: 26 percent of those on the spectrum and 25 percent of typically developing adults, compared to 34 percent of those with other disabilities. Those on the spectrum were also less likely to have asthma, high blood pressure or addiction disorders than those with other developmental disabilities.

“We weren’t doing the study to look at mental health,” Lunksy says. “It’s just what emerged. Unmet needs have a social cost, so we want to be able to recognize both physical and mental health needs for everyone and get them the right care.”

That means recognizing that symptoms and behaviors of depression and anxiety may look different in those with an autism diagnosis than in those without, she adds, and caregivers and providers need to understand that.

Indeed, it is especially important to individualize care for youth on the spectrum, according to Lynn Davidson, a pediatrician and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics executive committee on disabilities.

“Transition for youth with autism is a very challenging process,” Davidson says. “It is doable, but it takes a lot of preparation and a lot of time on the part of the families, on the part of the patient and on the part of the providers. The earlier one starts, the better.”

Research literature suggests that it’s good to start learning daily living skills, such as laundry, cooking, bathing alone and similar chores, around 12 to 14 years old, Davidson says. But she believes that should start as early as possible, depending on a child’s intellectual, social and mental health disabilities.

“Youth on the autism spectrum may need repetitive modeling and experiences so that they get those skills down and become as independent as possible,” Davidson says. Too many families, she says, do tasks for their adolescents long past when the teen could do them on their own. Other youth continue to need support for what might seem like basic tasks, so parents and care providers have to work to learn the boundaries and abilities for each person on the spectrum.

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Even more important is for parents to ensure their children have the proper diagnosis, says Jodi Echakowitz, a mother in the Toronto suburbs whose 20-year-old son Kyle was initially misdiagnosed with social anxiety disorder. He received a correct diagnosis of Asperger’s (now included under the autism diagnosis umbrella) in first grade. Diagnoses of generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, a learning disability and depression followed over time.

“A lot of parents with younger kids remain in denial and feel it’s a detriment to put a label on their child, but that does a disservice to their child,” Echakowitz says. “I say, embrace your child, embrace their differences — it’s not necessarily a negative thing — and once you understand the clinical diagnosis, then you can actually provide them with the support and services they need.”

Kyle stayed in school for a second 12th grade before college to ensure he had the support he needed, which included social workers, social skills coaches and the school board psychologist. But the transition was still rough.

“In high school, I was given a lot of accommodations and leeway, and in college, I didn’t get that,” Kyle says. “In high school, I’d never failed a class, and I failed two classes in my first semester of college, easy ones, because the sheer thought of just how much work there was in other classes prevented me from even thinking about work in the easy classes.”

Kyle agrees that getting his diagnoses early on, which opened up access to support and services, was crucial to transitioning to college at all. Just as crucial, however, is listening to what autistic young adults say they need, he says.

“Oftentimes parents, psychologists and experts who are not on the spectrum are the ones consulted, but it’s really important that the message becomes ‘nothing about us without us,'” Kyle says. “For those who are nonverbal, that’s also important — giving a platform to those who don’t speak.”

That platform could take various forms depending on each child’s needs, but that’s part of planning for transition to adulthood, determining what those needs and supports are.

In the US, formal transition planning through the school system is required, starting with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) at age 14. By age 16, the IEP legally must include information on transition services, such as postsecondary agencies and other community services, the student needs to successfully move into adulthood. But those are rarely plentiful. Resources such as Interactive Autism Network, GotTransition, The Arc, the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability/Youth, Wrightslaw, the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition and AAP resources can help.

“It is very hard to get services when patients turn to the adult world because there’s not the funding nor the orientation toward youth [with ASD],” Davidson says. She noted that subspecialties in pediatrics, such as neurodevelopmental disabilities, lack parallels in adult care fields. But the numbers of autistic people reaching adulthood is only going to grow. The CDC has reported a steady increase in autism diagnoses; currently, one in 68 children have the diagnosis.

“There needs to be an effort to train behaviorists, psychologists and psychiatrists to be available and accepting of youth with ASD and to be able to handle them in the offices where they see their patients,” Davidson says. “Whether that means funding from a government source or funding to do the training for adult providers, that’s essential.”

She also highlighted the need to provide young autistic adults with social skills training and support related to the nuances of social hierarchy and work climates that typically developing people tend to pick up on naturally.

“That’s something youth with autism don’t automatically understand, and it often can cause major disruptions and firing in job situations,” Davidson says. “The use of job coaches, who can help those kids with autism adjust to the social stress and milieu of a work environment, and ongoing counseling during the young adult transition, is very, very helpful to youth.”

Share-Strom says it took him years to get his current position, a communications coordinator at Community Living Ontario, because so many interviews ended early when he couldn’t maintain eye contact or autism came up. He talks about these experiences in his TED talk “Dear Society … Signed, Autism.”

“The thing I found most challenging about autism is that when you’re growing up, even people with the best intentions who are trying to help you are always telling you you’re wrong, that your basic instincts are incorrect, so you learn not to trust your own judgment,” Share-Strom tells NPR. “One of the biggest difficulties with transitioning to adulthood is trying to realize where you’ve been correct versus where you need to change, where the boundaries are between what you need to do to fit in and what other people need to do to accept certain things that are a part of who you are.”

Tara Haelle is the co-author of The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child’s First Four Years. She’s on Twitter: @tarahaelle




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