according to the Huffington Post UK, more than a quarter of a million children are not getting a decent education, including pupils at three of the Government's flagship free schools.
New figures show that hundreds of state secondary schools fell below the Government's floor targets after failing to ensure that enough pupils gained five good GCSE grades and made sufficient progress in English and maths.
An analysis of the data, conducted by the Press Association, also reveals that a child's chances of attending a decent school still depend heavily on where they live, with 10 or more under-performing secondaries in some areas, and none in others.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said that the results, based on last summer's GCSE grades, show how far the nation has come in raising standards, but added that the Government will tackle the "pockets of persistent under-performance".
Overall, 329 state secondary schools in England did not meet the minimum benchmarks this year. Of these, 312 failed to ensure that at least 40% of their pupils gained at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, and that students make good enough progress in these two core subjects.
The other 17 schools were among 327 schools that opted in to a new "Progress 8" performance measure, which looks at the progress of pupils across eight subjects and fell below a certain threshold for this target. From next year, all schools will be measured against "Progress 8".
The Department for Education (DfE) does not publish a list of schools falling below its floor targets but according to the Press Association's analysis, using the DfE's methodology for calculating under-performing schools, three of those falling below the benchmark this year were free schools - a key part of Conservative education reforms.
These schools are: Robert Owen Academy in Hereford, Saxmundham Free School in Suffolk and St Michael's Catholic Secondary School in Camborne, Cornwall, which was the only state secondary school to fall below the floor standard in the county.
A total of 188 under-performing schools are academies, the analysis shows, while 50 are council-run schools, 45 are foundation schools, 14 are voluntary-aided and the others include university technical colleges, studio schools and further education colleges catering to 14 to 16-year-olds.
A DfE spokesman said that free schools are a key part of the Government's drive for educational excellence.
"The number of free schools with exam results is still too small to allow robust conclusions to be drawn," he insisted. "But under-performance at any school is unacceptable, and one of the strengths of the free schools programme is that when we spot failure we can act quickly."
In total, 250,955 youngsters are being taught in under-performing state secondary schools, the data reveals. This is down from last year, when around 274,351 were in schools considered failing.
The Press Association's analysis also shows that five areas have at least 10 under-performing schools. These are Kent (20 schools), Birmingham (11), Lancashire (11), Lincolnshire (10) and Northamptonshire (10).
At the other end of the scale, there were 41 areas with no failing schools.
The top school for GCSE results this year was The Blue Coat School, an academy in Liverpool, where all 124 students gained at least five C grades, including English and maths, and the average points score per pupil was 696.1.
The figures also show a rise in the numbers of youngsters taking the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of English, maths, science, a language and either history or geography, the DfE said, with nearly 88,000 more teenagers taking these academic subjects compared to 2010.
Of those schools who entered all their pupils for the EBacc one reported a 100% pass rate: the Henrietta Barnett School, an academy in Hampstead, north London, according to the analysis of the figures.
At A-level, more than half of exam entries are in traditional "facilitating subjects" - the subjects which universities and employers say help to keep teenagers' options open for the future, the DfE said.
It added that more girls are choosing science and maths A-levels, while more teenagers are continuing their studies past the age of 16.
"We refuse to accept second best for any young person and we must now focus on extending opportunity for all. This government is giving all young people, irrespective of their background, a fair shot in life and we must not let up the pace of reform now.
"Through our focus on delivering educational excellence everywhere and the dedication of our schools, we will tackle those pockets of persistent underperformance so every child fulfils their potential."
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Union of Head Teachers, said: "Heads, staff and students have worked hard in every secondary school across the country to raise standards at a time of immense turmoil and disruption. We pay tribute to their dedication.
"Unfortunately there has been so much change that the national statistics generated by the government are increasingly dubious. Comparing one year with another, or one group of schools with another, is precarious at best when the very basis of measurement is different each time.
The government must be careful what conclusions it draws.
We desperately need stable measures of a stable examination system. We need this in order for data to become meaningful again. We need this, above all, so that schools and teachers can focus on teaching to the best of their ability rather than coping with constant change."
Schools that are considered under-performing face intervention, such as being turned into an academy or given a new sponsor to try to raise standards.
1. Many women do not produce enough milk. Not true! The vast majority of women produce more than enough milk. Indeed, an overabundance of milk is common. Most babies that gain too slowly, or lose weight, do so not because the mother does not have enough milk, but because the baby does not get the milk that the mother has.
The usual reason that the baby does not get the milk that is available is that he is poorly latched onto the breast. This is why it is so important that the mother be shown, on the first day, how to latch a baby on properly, by someone who knows what they are doing.
2. It is normal for breastfeeding to hurt. Not true! Though some tenderness during the first few days is relatively common, this should be a temporary situation that lasts only a few days and should never be so bad that the mother dreads breastfeeding. Any pain that is more than mild is abnormal and is almost always due to the baby latching on poorly.
Any nipple pain that is not getting better by day three or four or lasts beyond five or six days should not be ignored. A new onset of pain when things have been going well for a while may be due to a yeast infection of the nipples. Limiting feeding time does not prevent soreness. Taking the baby off the breast for the nipples to heal should be a last resort only. (See Information Sheet Sore Nipples).
3. There is no (not enough) milk during the first three or four days after birth. Not true! It often seems like that because the baby is not latched on properly and therefore is unable to get the milk that is available. When there is not a lot of milk (as there is not, normally, in the first few days), the baby must be well latched on in order to get the milk. This accounts for "but he's been on the breast for 2 hours and is still hungry when I take him off".
By not latching on well, the baby is unable to get the mother's first milk, called colostrum. Anyone who suggests you pump your milk to know how much colostrum there is, does not understand breastfeeding, and should be politely ignored. Once the mother's milk is abundant, a baby can latch on poorly and still may get plenty of milk, though good latching from the beginning, even in if the milk is abundant, prevents problems later on.
4. A baby should be on the breast 20 (10, 15, 7.6) minutes on each side. Not true! However, a distinction needs to be made between "being on the breast" and "breastfeeding". If a baby is actually drinking for most of 15-20 minutes on the first side, he may not want to take the second side at all. If he drinks only a minute on the first side, and then nibbles or sleeps, and does the same on the other, no amount of time will be enough. The baby will breastfeed better and longer if he is latched on properly.
He can also be helped to breastfeed better and longer if the mother compresses the breast to keep the flow of milk going, once he no longer drinks on his own (Information Sheet Breast Compression). Thus it is obvious that the rule of thumb that "the baby gets 90% of the milk in the breast in the first 10 minutes" is equally hopelessly wrong. To see how to know a baby is getting milk see the videos at nbci.ca.
5. A breastfeeding baby needs extra water in hot weather. Not true! Breastmilk contains all the water a baby needs.
6. Breastfeeding babies need extra vitamin D. Not true! Everyone needs vitamin D. Formula has it added at the factory. But the baby is born with a liver full of vitamin D, and breastmilk does have some vitamin D. Outside exposure allows the baby to get the rest of his vitamin D requirements from ultraviolet light even in winter.
The baby does not need a lot of outside exposure and does not need outside exposure every day. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and is stored in the body. In some circumstances (for example, if the mother herself was vitamin D deficient during the pregnancy) it may be prudent to supplement the baby with vitamin D. Exposing the baby to sunlight through a closed window does not work to get the baby more vitamin D.
7. A mother should wash her nipples each time before feeding the baby. Not true! Formula feeding requires careful attention to cleanliness because formula not only does not protect the baby against infection, but also is actually a good breeding ground for bacteria and can also be easily contaminated. On the other hand, breastmilk protects the baby against infection. Washing nipples before each feeding makes breastfeeding unnecessarily complicated and washes away protective oils from the nipple.
8. Pumping is a good way of knowing how much milk the mother has. Not true! How much milk can be pumped depends on many factors, including the mother's stress level. The baby who breastfeeds well can get much more milk than his mother can pump. Pumping only tells you have much you can pump.
9. Breastmilk does not contain enough iron for the baby's needs. Not true! Breastmilk contains just enough iron for the baby's needs. If the baby is full term he will get enough iron from breastmilk to last him at least the first six months. Formulas contain too much iron, but this quantity may be necessary to ensure the baby absorbs enough to prevent iron deficiency. The iron in formula is poorly absorbed, and the baby poops out most of it. Generally, there is no need to add other foods to breastmilk before about 6 months of age.
10. It is easier to bottle feed than to breastfeed. Not true! Or, this should not be true. However, breastfeeding is made difficult because women often do not receive the help they should to get started properly. A poor start can indeed make breastfeeding difficult. But a poor start can also be overcome. Breastfeeding is often more difficult at first, due to a poor start, but usually becomes easier later.
11. Breastfeeding ties the mother down. Not true! But it depends how you look at it. A baby can be breastfed anywhere, anytime, and thus breastfeeding is liberating for the mother. No need to drag around bottles or formula. No need to worry about where to warm up the milk. No need to worry about sterility. No need to worry about how your baby is, because he is with you.
12. There is no way to know how much breastmilk the baby is getting. Not true! There is no easy way to measure how much the baby is getting, but this does not mean that you cannot know if the baby is getting enough. The best way to know is that the baby actually drinks at the breast for several minutes at each feeding (open mouth wide—pause—close mouth type of suck). Other ways also help show that the baby is getting plenty (Information Sheet Is my Baby Getting Enough Milk?). Also see the videos at nbci.ca.
13. Modern formulas are almost the same as breastmilk. Not true! The same claim was made in 1900 and before. Modern formulas are only superficially similar to breastmilk. Every correction of a deficiency in formulas is advertised as an advance. Fundamentally, formulas are inexact copies based on outdated and incomplete knowledge of what breastmilk is. Formulas contain no antibodies, no living cells, no enzymes, no hormones.
They contain much more aluminium, manganese, cadmium, lead and iron than breastmilk. They contain significantly more protein than breastmilk. The proteins and fats are fundamentally different from those in breastmilk. Formulas do not vary from the beginning of the feed to the end of the feed, or from day 1 to day 7 to day 30, or from woman to woman, or from baby to baby. Your breastmilk is made as required to suit your baby. Formulas are made to suit every baby, and thus no baby. Formulas succeed only at making babies grow well, usually, but there is more to breastfeeding than nutrients.
14. If the mother has an infection she should stop breastfeeding. Not true! With very, very few exceptions, the mother’s continuing to breastfeed will actually protect the baby. By the time the mother has fever (or cough, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, etc) she has already given the baby the infection, since she has been infectious for several days before she even knew she was sick.
The baby's best protection against getting the infection is for the mother to continue breastfeeding. If the baby does get sick, he will be less sick if the mother continues breastfeeding. Besides, maybe it was the baby who gave the infection to the mother, but the baby did not show signs of illness because he was breastfeeding. Also, breast infections, including breast abscess, though painful, are not reasons to stop breastfeeding. Indeed, the infection is likely to settle more quickly if the mother continues breastfeeding on the affected side. (Information Sheets Breastfeeding and Medication and Breastfeeding and Illness).
15. If the baby has diarrhoea or vomiting, the mother should stop breastfeeding. Not true! The best medicine for a baby's gut infection is breastfeeding. Stop other foods for a short time, but continue breastfeeding. Breastmilk is the only fluid your baby requires when he has diarrhoea and/or vomiting, except under exceptional circumstances. The push to use "oral rehydrating solutions" is mainly a push by the formula manufacturers (who also make oral rehydrating solutions) to make even more money. The baby is comforted by the breastfeeding, and the mother is comforted by the baby's breastfeeding. (Information Sheets Breastfeeding and Medication and Breastfeeding and Illness).
16. If the mother is taking medicine she should not breastfeed. Not true! There are very few medicines that a mother cannot take safely while breastfeeding. A very small amount of most medicines appears in the milk, but usually in such small quantities that there is no concern. If a medicine is truly of concern, there are usually equally effective, alternative medicines that are safe.
The risks of artificial feeding for both the mother and the baby must be taken into account when weighing if breastfeeding should be continued (Information Sheets Breastfeeding and Medication and Breastfeeding and Illness).
17. A breastfeeding mother has to be obsessive about what she eats. Not true! A breastfeeding mother should try to eat a balanced diet, but neither needs to eat any special foods nor avoid certain foods. A breastfeeding mother does not need to drink milk in order to make milk. A breastfeeding mother does not need to avoid spicy foods, garlic, cabbage or alcohol.
A breastfeeding mother should eat a normal healthful diet. Although there are situations when something the mother eats may affect the baby, this is unusual. Most commonly, "colic", "gassiness" and crying can be improved by changing breastfeeding techniques, rather than changing the mother's diet. (Information Sheet Colic in the Breastfed Baby).
18. A breastfeeding mother has to eat more in order to make enough milk. Not true! Women on even very low calorie diets usually make enough milk, at least until the mother's calorie intake becomes critically low for a prolonged period of time. Generally, the baby will get what he needs. Some women worry that if they eat poorly for a few days this also will affect their milk.
There is no need for concern. Such variations will not affect milk supply or quality. It is commonly said that women need to eat 500 extra calories a day in order to breastfeed. This is not true. Some women do eat more when they breastfeed, but others do not, and some even eat less, without any harm done to the mother or baby or the milk supply. The mother should eat a balanced diet dictated by her appetite. Rules about eating just make breastfeeding unnecessarily complicated.
19. A breastfeeding mother has to drink lots of fluids. Not true! The mother should drink according to her thirst. Some mothers feel they are thirsty all the time, but many others do not drink more than usual. The mother's body knows if she needs more fluids, and tells her by making her feel thirsty. Do not believe that you have to drink at least a certain number of glasses a day. Rules about drinking just make breastfeeding unnecessarily complicated.
20. A mother who smokes is better not to breastfeed. Not true! A mother who cannot stop smoking should breastfeed. Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease the negative effects of cigarette smoke on the baby's lungs, for example. Breastfeeding confers great health benefits on both mother and baby. It would be better if the mother not smoke, but if she cannot stop or cut down, then it is better she smoke and breastfeed than smoke and formula feed.
21. A mother should not drink alcohol while breastfeeding. Not true! Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for breastfeeding mothers.
22. A mother who bleeds from her nipples should not breastfeed. Not true! Though blood makes the baby spit up more, and the blood may even show up in his bowel movements, this is not a reason to stop breastfeeding the baby. Nipples that are painful and bleeding are not worse than nipples that are painful and not bleeding. It is the pain the mother is having that is the problem. This nipple pain can often be helped considerably.
Sometimes mothers have bleeding from the nipples that is obviously coming from inside the breast and is not usually associated with pain. This often occurs in the first few days after birth and settles within a few days. The mother should not stop breastfeeding for this. If bleeding does not stop soon, the source of the problem needs to be investigated, but the mother should keep breastfeeding.
23. A woman who has had breast augmentation surgery cannot breastfeed. Not true! Most do very well. There is no evidence that breastfeeding with silicone implants is harmful to the baby. Occasionally this operation is done through the areola. These women do have often have problems with milk supply, as does any woman who has an incision around the areolar line.
24. A woman who has had breast reduction surgery cannot breastfeed. Not true! Breast reduction surgery does often decrease the mother's capacity to produce milk, but since many mothers produce more than enough milk, some mothers who have had breast reduction surgery sometimes can breastfeed exclusively. In such a situation, the establishment of breastfeeding should be done with special care to the principles mentioned in the Information Sheet Breastfeeding—Starting Out Right. However, if the mother seems not to produce enough, she can still breastfeed, supplementing with a lactation aid (so that artificial nipples do not interfere with breastfeeding). See Information Sheet Lactation Aid.
25. Premature babies need to learn to take bottles before they can start breastfeeding. Not true! Premature babies are less stressed by breastfeeding than by bottle feeding. A baby as small as 1200 grams and even smaller can start at the breast as soon as he is stable, though he may not latch on for several weeks. Still, he is learning and he is being held which is important for his wellbeing and his mother's. Actually, weight or gestational age do not matter as much as the baby's readiness to suck, as determined by his making sucking movements. There is no more reason to give bottles to premature babies than to full term babies. When supplementation is truly required there are ways to supplement without using artificial nipples.
26. Babies with cleft lip and/or palate cannot breastfeed. Not true! Some do very well. Babies with a cleft lip only usually manage fine. But many babies with cleft palate do indeed find it very difficult to latch on. There is no doubt, however, that if breastfeeding is not even tried, for sure the baby won’t breastfeed. The baby's ability to breastfeed does not always seem to depend on the severity of the cleft. Breastfeeding should be started, as much as possible, using the principles of proper establishment of breastfeeding.
If bottles are given, they will undermine the baby's ability to breastfeed. If the baby needs to be fed, but is not latching on, a cup can and should be used in preference to a bottle. Finger feeding occasionally is successful in babies with cleft lip/palate, but not usually (See Information Sheet Finger and Cup Feeding).
17. Women with small breasts produce less milk than those with large breasts. Nonsense!
128. Breastfeeding does not provide any protection against becoming pregnant. Not true! It is not a fool proof method, but no method is. In fact, breastfeeding is not a bad method of child spacing, and gives reliable protection especially during the first six months after birth. It is almost as good as the Pill if the baby is under six months of age, if breastfeeding is exclusive, and if the mother has not yet had a normal menstrual period after giving birth. After the first six months, the protection is less, but still present, and on average, women breastfeeding into the second year of life will have a baby every two to three years even without any artificial method of contraception.
29. Breastfeeding women cannot take the birth control pill. Not true! The question is not about exposure to female hormones, to which the baby is exposed anyway through breastfeeding. The baby gets only a tiny bit more from the pill. However, some women who take the pill, even the progestin only pill, find that their milk supply decreases.
Oestrogen-containing pills are more likely to decrease the milk supply. Because so many women produce more than enough, this sometimes does not matter, but sometimes it does even in the presence of an abundant supply, and the baby becomes fussy and is not satisfied by breastfeeding.
Babies respond to the rate of flow of milk, not what's "in the breast", so that even a very good milk supply may seem to cause the baby who is used to faster flow to be fussy. Stopping the pill often brings things back to normal. If possible, women who are breastfeeding should avoid the pill, or at least wait until the baby is taking other foods (usually around 6 months of age). Even if the baby is older, the milk supply may decrease significantly. If the pill must be used, it is preferable to use the progestin only pill (without oestrogen).
30. Breastfeeding babies need other types of milk after six months. Not true! Breastmilk gives the baby everything there is in other milks and more. Babies older than six months should be started on solids mainly so that they learn how to eat and so that they begin to get another source of iron, which by 7-9 months, is not supplied in sufficient quantities from breastmilk alone.
Thus cow's milk or formula will not be necessary as long as the baby is breastfeeding. However, if the mother wishes to give milk after 6 months, there is no reason that the baby cannot get cow's or goat’s milk, as long as the baby is still breastfeeding a few times a day, and is also getting a wide variety of solid foods in more than minimal amounts. Most babies older than six months who have never had formula will not accept it because of the taste.
31. Women with flat or inverted nipples cannot breastfeed. Not true! Babies do not breastfeed on nipples, they breastfeed on the breast. Though it may be easier for a baby to latch on to a breast with a prominent nipple, it is not necessary for nipples to stick out. A proper start will usually prevent problems and mothers with any shaped nipples can breastfeed perfectly adequately.
In the past, a nipple shield was frequently suggested to get the baby to take the breast. This gadget should not be used, especially in the first two weeks! Though it may seem a solution, its use can result in poor feeding and severe weight loss, and makes it even more difficult to get the baby to take the breast. (See Information Sheet Finger and Cup Feeding). If the baby does not take the breast at first, with proper help, he will often take the breast later. Breasts also change in the first few weeks, and as long as the mother maintains a good milk supply, the baby will usually latch on by 8 weeks of age no matter what, but get help and the baby may latch on before. See Information Sheet When a Baby Does not yet Latch.
32. A woman who becomes pregnant must stop breastfeeding. Not true! If the mother and child desire, breastfeeding can continue. Some continue breastfeeding the older child even after delivery of the new baby. Many women do decide to stop breastfeeding when they become pregnant because their nipples are sore, or for other reasons, but there is no rush or medical necessity to do so. In fact, there are often good reasons to continue. The milk supply will likely decrease during pregnancy, but if the baby is taking other foods, this is not a usually a problem. However, some babies will stop breastfeeding if the milk supply is low.
33. A baby with diarrhoea should not breastfeed. Not true! The best treatment for a gut infection (gastroenteritis) is breastfeeding. Furthermore, it is very unusual for the baby to require fluids other than breastmilk. If lactose intolerance is a problem, the baby can receive lactase drops, available without prescription, just before or after the feeding, but this is rarely necessary in breastfeeding babies. Get information on its use from the clinic. In any case, lactose intolerance due to gastroenteritis will disappear with time. Lactose free formula is not better than breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is better than any formula.
34. Babies will stay on the breast for two hours because they like to suck. Not true! Babies need and like to suck, but how much do they need? Most babies who stay at the breast for such a long time are probably hungry, even though they may be gaining well. Being on the breast is not the same as drinking at the breast.
Latching the baby better onto the breast allows the baby to breastfeed more effectively, and thus spend more time actually drinking. You can also help the baby to drink more by expressing milk into his mouth when he no longer swallows on his own (See Information Sheet Breast Compression). Babies younger than 5-6 weeks often fall asleep at the breast because the flow of milk is slow, not necessarily because they have had enough to eat. See videos at nbci.ca.
35. Babies need to know how to take a bottle. Therefore a bottle should always be introduced before the baby refuses to take one. Not true! Though many mothers decide to introduce a bottle for various reasons, there is no reason a baby must learn how to use one. Indeed, there is no great advantage in a baby's taking a bottle. Since Canadian women are supposed to receive 52 weeks maternity leave, the baby can start eating solids around 6 months, well before the mother goes back to her outside work. The baby can even take fluids or solids that are quite liquid off a spoon.
The baby can start learning how to drink from a cup right from birth or older, and though it may take several weeks for the older baby to learn to use it efficiently, he will learn. If the mother is going to introduce a bottle, it is better she wait until the baby has been breastfeeding well for 4-6 weeks, and then give it only occasionally. Sometimes, however, babies who take the bottle well at 6 weeks, refuse it at 3 or 4 months even if they have been getting bottles regularly (smart babies). Do not worry, and proceed as above with solids and spoon. Giving a bottle when breastfeeding is not going well is not a good idea and usually makes the breastfeeding even more difficult. For your sake and the baby's do not try to "starve the baby into submission". Get help.
36. If a mother has surgery, she has to wait a day before restarting breastfeeding. Not true! The mother can breastfeed immediately after surgery, as soon as she is awake and up to it. Neither the medications used during anaesthesia, nor pain medications nor antibiotics used after surgery require the mother to interrupt breastfeeding, except under exceptional circumstances. Enlightened hospitals will accommodate breastfeeding mothers and babies when either the mother or the baby needs to be admitted to the hospital, so that breastfeeding can continue. Many rules that restrict breastfeeding are more for the convenience of staff than for the benefit of mothers and babies.
37. Breastfeeding twins is too difficult to manage. Not true! Breastfeeding twins is easier than bottle feeding twins, if breastfeeding is going well. This is why it is so important that a special effort should be made to get breastfeeding started right when the mother has had twins (See Information Sheets Breastfeeding—Starting Out Right and The Importance of Skin to Skin Contact). Some women have breastfed triplets exclusively. This obviously takes a lot of work and time, but twins and triplets take a lot of work and time no matter how the infants are fed.
38. Women whose breasts do not enlarge or enlarge only a little during pregnancy, will not produce enough milk. Not true! There are a very few women who cannot produce enough milk (though they can continue to breastfeed by supplementing with a lactation aid). Some of these women say that their breasts did not enlarge during pregnancy. However, the vast majority of women whose breasts do not seem to enlarge during pregnancy produce more than enough milk.
39. A mother whose breasts do not seem full has little milk in the breast. Not true! Breasts do not have to feel full to produce plenty of milk. It is normal that a breastfeeding woman's breasts feel less full as her body adjusts to her baby's milk intake. This can happen suddenly and may occur as early as two weeks after birth or even earlier. The breast is never "empty" and also produces milk as the baby breastfeeds. Is the baby getting milk from the breast? That’s what’s important, not how full the breast feels. Look sceptically upon anyone who squeezes your breasts to make a determination of milk sufficiency or insufficiency.
40. Breastfeeding in public is not decent. Not true! It is the humiliation and harassment of mothers who are breastfeeding their babies that is not decent. Women who are trying to do the best for their babies should not be forced by other people's hang-ups or lack of understanding to stay home or feed their babies in public washrooms.
Those who are offended need only avert their eyes. Children will not be damaged psychologically by seeing a woman breastfeeding. On the contrary, they might learn something important, beautiful and fascinating. They might even learn that breasts are not only for selling beer. Other women who have left their babies at home to be bottle fed when they went out might be encouraged to bring the baby with them the next time.
41. Breastfeeding a child until 3 or 4 years of age is abnormal and bad for the child, causing an over-dependent relationship between mother and child. Not true! Breastfeeding for 2-4 years was the rule in most cultures since the beginning of human time on this planet. Only in the last 100 years or so has breastfeeding been seen as something to be limited. Children breastfeed into the third year are not overly dependent. On the contrary, they tend to be very secure and thus more independent. They themselves will make the step to stop breastfeeding (with gentle encouragement from the mother), and thus will be secure in their accomplishment.
42. If the baby is off the breast for a few days (weeks), the mother should not restart breastfeeding because the milk sours. Not true! The milk is as good as it ever was. Breastmilk in the breast is not milk or formula in a bottle.
43. After exercise a mother should not breastfeed. Not true! There is absolutely no reason why a mother would not be able to breastfeed after exercising. The study that purported to show that babies were fussy feeding after mother exercising was poorly done and contradicts the everyday experience of millions of mothers.
44. A breastfeeding mother cannot get a permanent or dye her hair. Not true! I have no idea where this comes from.
45. Breastfeeding is blamed for everything. True! Family, health professionals, neighbours, friends and taxi drivers will blame breastfeeding if the mother is tired, nervous, weepy, sick, has pain in her knees, has difficulty sleeping, is always sleepy, feels dizzy, is anaemic, has a relapse of her arthritis (migraines, or any chronic problem) complains of hair loss, change of vision, ringing in the ears or itchy skin. Breastfeeding will be blamed as the cause of marriage problems and the other children acting up. Breastfeeding is to blame when the mortgage rates go up and the economy is faltering. And whenever there is something that does not fit the "picture book" life, the mother will be advised by everyone that it will be better if she stops breastfeeding.
46. Breastfeeding mothers cannot breastfeed if they have had X-rays. Not true! Regular X-rays such as a chest X-ray or dental X-rays do not affect the milk or the baby and the mother may breastfeed without concern. Mammograms are harder to read when the mother is lactating, but can be done and the mother should not stop breastfeeding just to get this done. Furthermore, there are other ways of investigating a breast lump. Newer imaging methods such as CT scan and MRI scans are of no concern, even if contrast is used. And special X-rays using contrast media? As long as no radioactive isotope is used there is no concern and the mother should not stop even for one feed.
Herein are included studies such as intravenous pyelogram, lymphangiogram, venogram, arteriogram, myelogram, etc.
What about studies using radioactive nucleotides (bone scans, lung scans, etc.)? The baby will get a little radioactive nucleotide. However, as we often do these very same tests on children, even small babies, and the potential loss of benefits if the mother stops breastfeeding are considerable, the mother should, in my opinion, continue breastfeeding.
If you feel you must stop for a period of time, express milk in advance so that the baby can be fed your milk and not formula. After two half lives, 75% of the compound will be out of your body. This is surely waiting long enough (the half life of technetium, which is used in most radioactive scans is only six hours, so that 12 hours after the injection, 75% of it will be out of your body). The exception is the thyroid scan using I131. This test must be avoided in breastfeeding mothers.
There are many ways of evaluating the thyroid, and only very occasionally does a thyroid scan truly have to be done. If the scan must be done, doing it with I123 requires the mother to stop breastfeeding for 12 to 24 hours only depending on the dose. Check first before taking the radioactive iodine—the test can wait until you know for sure. In many cases where the scan must be done, it can be put off for several months. Incidentally, lung scans with radioactive contrast no longer is the best test to rule out a lung clot. CT scan is now the preferred test to prove or disprove the diagnosis. [See also Information Sheet Breastfeeding and Medications)
47. Breastfeeding mothers' milk can "dry up" just like that. Not true! Or if this can occur, it must be a rare occurrence. Aside from day-to-day and morning-to-evening variations, milk production does not change suddenly. There are changes which occur which may make it seem as if milk production is suddenly much less:
The birth control pill may decrease your milk supply. Think about stopping the pill or changing to a progesterone only pill. Or use other methods. Other drugs that can decrease milk supply are pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), some antihistamines, and perhaps diuretics.
If the baby truly seems not to be getting enough, get help, but do not introduce a bottle that may only make things worse. If absolutely necessary, the baby can be supplemented, using a lactation aid that will not interfere with breastfeeding, or by cup if the baby will not take the aid. However, lots can be done before giving supplements. Get help. Try compressing the breast with your hand to help the baby get milk (Information Sheet Breast Compression).
48. Physicians know a lot about breastfeeding. Not true! Obviously, there are exceptions. However, very few physicians trained in North America or Western Europe learned anything at all about breastfeeding in medical school. Even fewer learned about the practical aspects of helping mothers start breastfeeding and helping them maintain breastfeeding. After medical school, most of the information physicians get regarding infant feeding comes from formula company representatives or advertisements.
49. Pediatricians, at least, know a lot about breastfeeding. Not true! Obviously, there are exceptions. However, in their post-medical school training (residency), most pediatricians learned nothing formally about breastfeeding, and what they picked up in passing was often wrong. To many trainees in pediatrics, breastfeeding is seen as an "obstacle to the good medical care" of hospitalized babies.
50. Formula company literature and formula samples do not influence how long a mother breastfeeds. Really? So why do the formula companies work so hard to make sure that new mothers are given these samples, their company's samples? Are these samples and the literature given out to encourage breastfeeding? Do formula companies take on the cost of the samples and booklets so that mothers will be encouraged to breastfeed longer? The companies often argue that, if the mother does give formula, they want the mother to use their brand. But in competing with each other, the formula companies also compete with breastfeeding. Did you believe that argument when the cigarette companies used it?
51. Breastmilk given with formula may cause problems for the baby. Not true! Most breastfeeding mothers do not need to use formula and when problems arise that seem to require artificial milk, often the problems can be resolved without resorting to formula. However, when the baby may require formula, there is no reason that breastmilk and formula cannot be given together.
52. Babies who are breastfed on demand are likely to be "colicky". Not true! "Colicky" breastfed babies often gain weight very quickly and sometimes are feeding frequently. However, many are colicky not because they are feeding frequently, but because they do not take the breastmilk as well as they should. Typically, the baby drinks very well for the first few minutes, then nibbles or sleeps. When the baby is offered the other side, he will drink well again for a short while and then nibble or sleep. The baby will fill up with relatively low fat milk and thus feed frequently.
The taking in of mostly low fat milk may also result in gas, crying and explosive watery bowel movements. The mother can urge the baby to breastfeed longer on the first side, and thus get more high fat milk, by compressing the breast once the baby sucks but does not drink. (Information Sheets Colic in the Breastfed Baby and Breast Compression). Also see videos at nbci.ca
53. Mothers who receive immunizations (tetanus, rubella, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, etc.) should stop breastfeeding for 24 hours (3 days, 2 weeks). Not true! Why should they?
There is no risk for the baby, and he may even benefit. The rare exception is the baby who has an immune deficiency. In that case the mother should not receive an immunization with a weakened live virus (e.g. oral, but not injectable polio, or measles, mumps, rubella) even if the baby is being fed artificially.
54. There is no such thing as nipple confusion. Not true! The baby is not confused, though, the baby knows exactly what he wants. A baby who is getting slow flow from the breast and then gets rapid flow from a bottle will figure that one out pretty quickly. A baby who has had only the breast for three or four months is unlikely to take the bottle. Some babies prefer the right or left breast to the other.
Bottle fed babies often prefer one artificial nipple to another. So there is such a thing as preferring one nipple to another. The only question is how quickly it can occur. Given the right set of circumstances, the preference can occur after one or two bottles.
The baby having difficulties latching on may never have had an artificial nipple, but the introduction of an artificial nipple rarely improves the situation, and often makes it much worse. Note that many who say there is no such thing as nipple confusion also advise the mother to start a bottle early so that the baby will not refuse it.
What is learning disability?
Learning disability is the current term for what is still often known as mental handicap. It implies a level of intelligence significantly below the normal range, with associated poor social skills.
In most cases, the condition is present from birth, although it is not always immediately recognised. In some cases, it results from illnesses or injuries suffered during childhood.
There are over 1 million people with some degree of learning disability, and perhaps 160,000 adults and children in England with severe learning disability.
The problem will not be identified by 7 (Intelligence Quotient) tests alone; but those with an IQ of less than 65 will usually be considered to have a learning disability. Continue reading
When Your Child’s Birth Defects Turn You into a Home Healthcare Provider
There is the misconception that birth defects are somehow only something that might make a child stick out in a crowd, such as a shortened leg, a club foot, or a missing limb. In other cases the opinion might be that a birth defect is something that affects the inner organs of a child and upon surgery is not noticeable.
Even as these scenarios are true upon occasion, when your child’s birth defects turn you into a home healthcare provider, you will most certainly battle with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, fear, and a severe lack of sleep.
Foetal (Fetal: Alternative spelling) alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a birth defect that is the result of maternal drinking of alcoholic beverages during the pregnancy.
It is a preventable birth defect in that pregnant women who avoid consuming alcohol can prevent this particular birth defect from occurring.
All foetuses of pregnant women who drink alcohol while pregnant are at risk for foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
The effects of FAS are irreversible and can include mental and behavioural problems.
There are as many as 40,000 (1/750) babies born each year in the United States who are diagnosed with FAS.
Symptoms of FAS:
This birth defect manifests itself in a cluster of different but related problems due to the exposure to alcohol during foetal development. The cluster of problems may be referred to as foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
Foetal alcohol syndrome is a leading cause of mental retardation and yet it is preventable and to this day is still ranking the most prevalent cause of mental retardation - a truly dismaying statement.
Small eyes, very thin upper lip and a short turned up nose
Deformity of joints, limbs and fingers
Delayed physical growth before birth and after birth
Small head circumference
Small brain size (microcephaly)
Short attention span
Poor impulse control
Extreme nervousness and anxiety
Physicians may use other terms to describe the symptoms of FAS such as: Alcohol-related neuro-developmental disorder (ARND) which refers to the mental and behavioural impairments experienced as a result of exposure to alcohol during foetal development and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBDs) which refer to the physical defects that occur as a result of FAS.
What causes FAS?
When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it enters her bloodstream, crosses over through the placenta into the baby's bloodstream.
The unborn baby has a much slower metabolism than its mother and thus the alcohol concentrations are higher.
The alcohol will impair the optimal nutrition for the baby's developing tissues and organs and can even damage brain cells. The risk increases the more alcohol the mother consumes.
Impairment to the developing baby includes facial features, organs including the heart, bones, the central nervous system and the brain.
The most damage can be done during the first trimester when some women may not even know that they are pregnant. Brain damage can be done at any stage of pregnancy.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to birth defects and it can cause miscarriage. Women who can conceive, suspect they may be pregnant or are pregnant should not consume any alcohol.
The more alcohol consumed the higher the risk for birth defects.
Birth Defect: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a congenital heart defect present at birth. It is a rare heart condition that affects the lower left chamber of the heart. the left ventricle is very small, the valves on the left side of the heart (aortic and mitral do not work properly and the main artery leaving the heart (aorta) is smaller than normal. This condition means that the left side of the heart will not be able to pump effectively to pump blood to the body, so the right side of the heart must do more work to compensate.
In a day or two after birth the natural openings between the right and left sides of the heart close. This closing which occurs naturally and normally does not affect the normal healthy new-born, can prove fatal to the baby with this congenital heart condition as now the right side of the heart no longer has a way to pump blood to the body. Medication can be given to prevent the holes from closing between the left and the right sides. A heart transplant or heart surgery will be necessary to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome if the baby is to survive. In the past, few babies survived; now the outlook is more promising for these babies.
Critically ill at birth
Greyish-blue skin colour
Rapid and difficulty breathing
Hands and feet are cold
Symptoms of shock:
Clammy and cool skin that may also be pale or grey in colour
Rapid and weak pulse
Slow, shallow or very rapid breathing
Dilated pupils (eyes)
Eyes that seem to stare (lack lustier)
May be conscious or unconscious
A baby in shock needs medical treatment right away as this is an emergency.
The causes are unknown. All that is known is that it occurs during foetal development.
Genetics does play a role in hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Having one or more children who have hypoplstic left heart syndrome
Seeking Medical Attention:
If your baby has any of these symptoms seek medical attention immediately:
Skin colour - grey or blue
Breathing that is rapid or seems difficult in any way.
Does not feed well
Hands and feet are cold
Baby is always sleepy
Shock symptoms are an emergency and must be given immediate medical care:
cold, clammy skin that is blue or grey in colour
rapid and weak pulse
breathing that is not normal (slow, shallow, or very rapid)
Pupils of the eyes are dilated
Eyes appear to be lack lustre and as if they are starring
Today there is advanced ultrasound technology that can detect heart defects like hypoplastic left heart syndrome. This condition can often by detected by ultrasound as early as the first trimester.
Diagnosis after birth:
A physician or other healthcare professional may suspect hypoplastic left heart syndrome, if the baby is grey or bluish in skin colour or has difficulty breathing or if the medical professional hears a heart murmur.
An echocardiogram will be performed to help make the diagnosis. This test will reveal the smaller than normal left ventricle and aorta and also track the blood flow from right ventricle into the aorta. Other heart defects can also be detected by the echocardiogram.
Birth Defect: Phenylketonuria (PKU)
This is a rare birth defect that can be detected by a heel prick blood test at birth. Left undetected PKU can cause mental retardation.
PKU is a genetic birth defect inherited from both parents. Babies who have PKU need a special formula (low-phenylalanine) to meet its nutritional needs that will compensate for the deficient or missing enzyme that is needed to process the essential amino acid called phenylalanine. The child will need to continue to a special diet as a child and as an adult.
Phenylketonuria is rare, but it still needs to be tested for because left untreated, serious health problems can result.
Behavioural or social problems
Jerking, tremors or seizures in the arms or legs
Small head size (microcephaly)
Musty breath, skin or urine, which is caused by too much phenylalanine in the body.
Fair skin and blue eyes
Those children with "classic PKU", which is the severest form, usually develop obvious and permanent mental retardation and behavioural problems before their first birthday.
There is also mild and moderate forms of PKU. These children have a smaller risk for brain damage. The special diet will prevent the mental retardation.
A woman who herself had PKU and becomes pregnant is at risk for another form of the condition called "maternal PKU". She will need to follow the PKU diet during pregnancy, otherwise the phenylalanine levels can become dangerously high for her foetus. Individuals are recommended to follow the PKU diet for life.
Babies born to mothers with PKU may not inherit the defect, they may however have complications at birth. They may not need to follow the PKU diet if they test normal at the PKU screening. They are however at risk for being born with microcephaly (small head) and mental retardation, low birth weight, heart defects and behavioural problems due to the high levels of phenylalanine levels in the bloodstream due to the mother's PKU.
A single mutated gene causes PKU. This mutated gene is suppose to carry instructions for making the enzyme needed to process amino acid (phenylalanine). Those who have PKU are missing this gene or have a defective gene. Without this gene to process phenylalanine, a dangerous level of phenylalanine can build up in the body when the person with PKU eats foods that are high in protein such as milk, cheese, nuts or meats. Serious health problems can result when a person with PKU consumes these foods high in protein. A person can have the defective gene but not have the disorder, this is called being a carrier. In order for a baby to have PKU, both parents must have the defective or missing gene.
An unborn baby is at risk if both parents have the missing or defective PKU gene. If only one parent has the missing or defective PKU gene than there is no risk for passing along the defect to the unborn baby.
Babies of mothers who have PKU and who did not follow the PKU diet during pregnancy are at risk for the consequences of high levels of phenylalanine in the mother's blood.
Seek Medical Attention:
Newborn - if routine PKU tests show the baby has PKU; the baby will need to be started on a special formula and may be referred to a specialist in genetics and a dietician or nutritionist who will help with the diet guidelines.
Adults - doctors now recommend that all individuals with PKU continue the diet for life as it may improve mental functioning and behaviour and slow any damage to the central nervous system.
Women - It is important that all women especially who are of child producing age follow the diet as having high levels of phenylalanine can be dangerous to a developing foetus and not all women realize when they are pregnant until after the foetus has developed most of the major organs.
Dealing with the Deceptive Genius of Asperger’s Syndrome
Children diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome were called little professors by Dr. Asperger. This hearkens back to their ability to focus in on one subject and then learn all there is to know about it. They may read, study, hypothesize on their own, or simply take ownership of the topic in a variety of different ways. This unfortunately also points to the deceptive genius of Asperger’s Syndrome: learning by rote.
Those diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome have the singular ability to learn long lists of facts and even complex items simply through memorization. Unfortunately, they may not actually understand what they have learned, and therefore no real learning took place. Instead, the process could be compared unfavourable to someone learning a complex issue by rote in a foreign language. Although she or he may sound very knowledgeable and come across very convincing, the individual most likely does not understand what it being said.
Dealing with the deceptive genius of Asperger’s Syndrome requires a bit of savvy and also a good knowledge of the student. As a teacher you must learn to look past the unusually large vocabulary that so many students with the condition possess, and you also need to understand that the distinct way of speaking is not synonymous with expertise. Instead, it is simply one of the symptoms of the condition and a by product of the mechanics of the disease.
To this end, teachers need to know to ask for information in a number of different ways. For example, you may laud your student’s ability to recite the exact phrasing in the text books, but then ask what this means. Conversely, when explaining a subject matter, use two or three different ways of looking at the situation and then explain it in as many different ways. This fosters the understanding that there are different ways to look at a problem and if one way does not reward the student with success, another way might actually make a problem a lot easier to understand.
On the other hand, a mistake often made by novice teachers who have never encountered a child with Asperger’s Syndrome is to assume that genius in things mathematical automatically transfer to other subjects. Such teachers are frequently quite surprised to find out that instead of also dealing with a genius at literature, they are instead finding that they are face to face with someone who is not able to draw even the simplest conclusions from a fictional passage. This goes back to the inability of an Asperger’s Syndrome child to read between the lines and establish social clues, but at the same time it also points to the fact that children with this condition have one or two topics with which they will do exceptionally well while the others lag behind.
The skilled teacher will seek to draw out the child with Asperger’s Syndrome by connecting areas of interest with those in which the child shows a weakness. This of course offers a whole new possibility for class work.
Elementary School Students with Asperger’s Syndrome Face Uphill Battle
Even as parents have been alerted to the fact that Asperger’s Syndrome will make their child’s education more difficult, they may have breathed a sigh of relief when junior made it through preschool and kindergarten relatively unscathed. After all, there were few incidents and overall your child seemed to be doing remarkably well. This of course is a rather deceptive relief, especially since the real problems do not usually show up until the elementary school years, when social interactions are compounded with a more demanding academic schedule.
Elementary school students with Asperger’s Syndrome face an uphill battle in that they must now learn to contain themselves and their potential for hyperactivity and also emotion outbursts during a rigorous eight to ten hour day. Needless to say, this is where the first chinks in the armour will occur, and before long the child may realize that it is indeed markedly different from the peers and those who surround her or him. Even as intelligence is not an issue and the speech development is considered normal, the fact that Asperger’s Syndrome precludes the accurate understanding of non verbal clues renders the children almost helpless in a world that to an increases extent seems to be made up of such communications.
This is where the advocacy of parents comes to the forefront. Working together with teachers and school administrators, parents of Asperger’s Syndrome children may succeed in having the teaching methods changed to such an extent as to warrant adaptive technologies, altered curriculum studies, and even a difference in playground supervision. There is little doubt that elementary school children dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome do not have to be the odd man out they so frequently become when unskilled teachers and uninvolved parents fail to prepare them and their peers for successful interactions.
Although this only focuses on the social skills, they are a major factor in the life of any elementary school child, and wise is the parent who focuses her or his attention on this aspect of the scholastic life their child leads. The academic skills will take a bit of work as well, but most likely there it is a matter of helping the child to express their interest in certain subjects without actually disrupting the classroom setting, such as it may happen if the child calls out questions or even answered without being called upon and even after the teacher has already moved on to a difference subject matter.
Teaching a child with Asperger’s Syndrome does not have to be a complicated undertaking, but it does require some preparation, knowledge, and the support of caregivers. To this end parents and teachers are often urged to cooperate fully in the attempt to make the elementary school years as rewarding and positive for the child with Asperger’s Syndrome as is possible, and while it is simplistic to assert that there will be no problems, the fact that many of them can be nipped in the bud makes it a hopeful undertaking for those who do not want to put the child into a special education setting.
Hans Asperger and the Syndrome Named After Him
Who was Hans Asperger? His name is famous since one of the autism spectrum disorders is named after him, but what else does history teach about this great physician? Perhaps the quickest facts that sum up his life deal with his lifetime spent in Vienna where he worked as a paediatric physician at the University Children’s Hospital.
Considered a pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome – as it relates to the umbrella of disorders under which it falls, autism – was officially defined in 1944. Dr. Asperger worked with four test subjects who exhibited similar symptomatic psychopathic behaviour. He notated that they had an apparent unwillingness to interact with others and actually befriend peers, suffered from an insufficient ability to empathize with others, tended to be clumsier than other children their age, yet excelled academically in subjects that captured their interest.
He was known to refer to them repeatedly as his little professors. What sets apart Hans Asperger from contemporary physicians dealing with autism is his optimism. While his professional peers had only the direst outlooks for those individuals diagnosed in childhood with the condition, Dr. Asperger considered them uniquely able to put their special interest or talent to good use.
As other physicians sought to recommend institutionalization to parents who were unable to deal with children so different from their peers, Dr. Asperger opened the very first school for autistic children. Sadly, his early efforts were lost when the school and much of his written research burned during a bombing raid toward the end of Word War II.
Some suggest that the hospital was to help children who might have exhibited the same latent form of the disease which researchers now believe may have plagued him as a child. Although highly functioning, he might very well measure on the autism scale himself, based on some early records that describe him as a withdrawn child with an early penchant for language.
Success of his theories and recognition of his findings occurred posthumously in 1981 when his writings were translated and served another researcher to take on Leo Kanner and his rather negative slant on autism and the outlooks for individuals suffering from any form of the disorder.
A scant 10 years later his works exploded on the North American medical scene and since then he is one of the most revered autism disorder researchers recognized by families of sufferers and physicians alike, even naming a form of the disorder after him.
Now internationally recognized as denoting a highly functioning form of autism, Asperger’s Syndrome is a diagnosis that sets a child on the path to getting the highly specialized help required so as to enable her or him to lead a full and happy life. It is known that one of Dr. Asperger’s patients went on to correct a mistake made in Newton’s calculations of astronomy, while another won a Nobel Prize in literature.
The differences he made in these lives when the individuals were still children are most likely contributory to their later adult success.
Facing the Facts of Asperger’s Syndrome
Whether you are a parent of a young child only recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, or the parent of a child who seems to be struggling with the symptoms of the condition on a daily basis, facing the facts of Asperger’s Syndrome is a crucial exercise for anyone who is a caretaker to an individual affected with the condition. It does not matter how the person is, how long they have lived with the diagnosis, and what the strength of the symptoms might be, the fact that this is an incurable condition that some consider a disability while others simply find it a matter of being differently able does mot make life with it any easier.
Making matters worse for the caregiver are the many misconceptions about the condition which of course cause some people you and your child will interact with to act in wholly inappropriate ways. Much like some people will speak slowly and pedantically to someone who speaks a foreign language, they also adopt annoying and downright offensive mannerism when interacting with a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Facing the facts of the condition will help you clear up some commonly held misconceptions and also enable you to hang on to your cool, should you begin to take a lot of offense at what you and your child are enduring.
Perhaps the most important fact about Asperger’s Syndrome is the lack of mental retardation. It is uncertain where this misconception comes from, but a good many people assume that the condition is synonymous with a lowered IQ, which simply is not medically accurate. Granted, children with Asperger’s Syndrome do show a shorter attention span and find may have a harder time concentrating in the classroom, but they also have the power to learn vast amounts of information by rote and often have a much larger vocabulary than their peers.
Another fact that needs to be drilled into a good many people is the notion that someone suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome is not normally reclusive but more or less resorts to this kind of behaviour as a coping mechanism to escape taunts and bullying. Too often it is assumed that leaving the child alone is the best course of action, when dealing with the bully is instead the better way of handling the problem. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome are just as eager to have a vibrant social life as those considered “normal” but because of the social backlash they experience when their symptoms expose their condition, this is sometimes not as easy.
When caregivers and parents face the facts head on, are willing to advocate for their kids in the school setting and in any other setting, and also find ways of educating teachers, family members, and parents of peers, the effect is stunning. A little bit of education goes a long way and soon the inappropriate reactions to the child’s Asperger’s Syndrome go by the wayside. Since you have nothing to lose but everything to gain, you will be wise to implement an aggressive education program that makes it possible for your child to have meaningful interactions with others.
How Do I Know If My Child Has Asperger’s Syndrome?
If you notice that something just does not seem right with your child, you are most likely quick to rush it to the paediatrician. When you notice that this something might actually be behavioural in nature, you might wonder if there is a chance that your child may be exhibiting signs of Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). There are many stern warnings that strongly urge parents to refrain from at home self diagnosis of any condition, and Asperger’s Syndrome is no different.
Rather than guessing at what could be little more than a developmental in between, you will be wise to seek out the help of a trained physician or specialist who deals in the intricacies presented by kids with AS.
Yet, how do you know if it is indeed time to visit your paediatrician and ask for an evaluation with respect to Asperger’s Syndrome?
First and foremost, you most likely noticed that the child is not as interactive with you her siblings or as you had imagined she should be. In addition to the foregoing, she may be very quiet, refrain from pointing, and has not a lot of interest in sharing things with you. In some cases your snuggling and hugging may also not be welcomed. If this child grows a bit older to show a marked difficulty in interacting with other children of her own age, you know that there is more to the problem than meets the eye. Although you cannot rule out that there are other diagnoses at hand, Asperger’s Syndrome does sound like it might be a viable solution.
Even as the child grows older, a noticeable preoccupation with one item or subject area may turn your youngster into a veritable authority on bus schedules or lions, but may prevent her from picking up other information that is common to children of her age group. She may converse at length about the feeing habits of the African lion, but not realize by virtue of the body language of her listeners, that the meticulous description of the activity is not welcomed by other little girls. This, of course, is a premier sign that your child may quite possible be a candidate for the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and you should get her evaluated at this point.
After a tentative diagnosis is made, other behaviours you may have disregarded in the past will also fall into place. There is the repetitive nature of some gestures or words and phrases, the need to rock back and forth or perform other movements for an extended period of time, and of course the child’s unwillingness and inability to deal with changes in routine.
These are the hallmark of children diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and while these symptoms alone do not make for a complete diagnosis, they do point toward an emerging picture that might quite possibly make your child a patient for the treatment and management of AS. The sooner you can get the diagnosis made, the earlier you will have the opportunity to begin a regimen of adaptive assistance that will make your child’s integration into the classroom setting a lot easier.
Helping Your Child Overcome Asperger’s Syndrome Related Apathy
Parents who have a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome become quite familiar with the apathy that threatens to overtake their child’s day to day activities. While it only appears once in a while, when it does become obvious, it is more or less a showstopper. The child with Asperger’s Syndrome who suddenly suffers from apathy is unable to comply with even the simplest requests. Initially parents may believe their child to be disobedient or defiant, but before long it becomes obvious that instead of disobedience, it is the condition that is to blame for the sudden lack of compliance.
There are steps parents can take for helping your child overcome Asperger’s Syndrome related apathy.
* Become a calm cheerleader. It may seem odd to applaud your child’s effort at making it from the bathroom to the kitchen table, but when you consider that for the child with Asperger’s Syndrome apathy this may be a huge and seemingly insurmountable hurdle, the necessity of a cheerleader soon becomes obvious. Remember that your child cannot be rushed at this point, but even the smallest advance can be lauded. Doing this has the added benefit of not causing a further shutdown in the individual, such as it is likely to occur if you, as the parent, suddenly vent your own frustrations on the subject.
* Understand that stress is the reason for apathy for those with Asperger’s Syndrome. Gaining a better understanding about what it is that may have caused the stress will go a long ways to helping you and the child understand the sudden occurrence of the apathy. In some cases the child may actually know why she or he does not wish to engage in a certain activity, but instead of sharing the feelings, the youngster may simply resolve to solve them alone by refusing to do certain things. To this end, dealing with the apathy on a verbal level may actually lead you to a number of underlying issues that also require your attention.
* Make the most of tactile stimulation. This is to be used carefully and advisedly but when you and your child work out a system that works, you will find that it is enormously effective. Combine a predetermined touch with a simple set of instructions. You may squeeze your child’s hand while suggesting that she close the closet door, if you notice her spacing out in front of the closet for a length of time.
In some cases you may have to go with your gut instinct. By and large the deceptive calm of the child with Asperger’s Syndrome who is seemingly frozen in apathy in the hallways is actually the home to a nervous and anxious mind. Help your child to relax and recuperate from the fear and anxiety he is experiencing. Suggest breathing exercises or simply massage his back while speaking to him in a calm voice. Although this is not a cure all, it goes a long way to simply ignoring the behaviour, or worse, becoming frustrated and unloading this parental frustration on the child.