Friday, September 7, 2012

News Bits

I think I am going to do a bit everyday (depending on what I find) of news bits. I enjoy putting this segment together.

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So what are the President and his challenger's stance on vaccinations.  Scientific American did an article called, "Obama and Romney Tackle 14 Top Science Questions" where they specifically asked in Question 14 about Vaccination and Public Health. To me it sounds as if both Presidential contenders are pro-vaccinations.  In particular, Mitt Romney appears to be more in favor of vaccinations than President Obama but only sightly.  Personally I have stopped vaccinating my children for now.  I do not believe Joseph should be vaccinated any longer until I can determine what is wrong with him.  I am not sure if my decision to stop vaccinating him has caused this surge in language (he now talks) and other skills (he is now walking) but I would rather wait than risk him regressing.  Plus I believe that vaccinations should be a parental choice.  That the government should not have the right to force people to be vaccinated if they do not wish it.  What do you think?

 I am in the camp that think autism is often, not always, a symptom of another problem.  In an article recently published in Nature (Amino-acid Deficiency Underlies Rare Form of Autism) is a perfect example of this.  Joseph Gleeson, a child neurologist at the University of California, San Diego made this startling discovery.  Six children (who were related as 1st Cousins) of Middle Eastern descent were found to have a genetic mutation that prevented the children from breaking down branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine).  These are amino acids that the body gets only from the break down of food.  Why does this mechanism cause autism?  That is a good question.  So far researchers do not know but it was found that by modifying the diet to increase the amount of foods enriched with branched-chain amino acids the children appeared to improve.  It allowed the children to increase their blood levels of the branch-chain amino acid and the parents reported improvement in their children's autistic characteristics.

“If 5 or 10% are caused by metabolic disorders and there’s a simple imbalance that one can correct with nutrition, that’s something that human genetics will identify over the next five to ten years,” says Daniel Geschwind, a neurogeneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “That’s exciting.”Nature - doi:10.1038/nature.2012.11375

Maria Rickert Hong, a Holistic Health Counselor, is having a webinar on Gut Dysbiosis: An Underlying Factor in Autism, ADHD, Allergies, Asthma, Autoimmune and More on September 12th.  I am sure it will be great and if this topic interests you please stop by her web page and sign up to attend.

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With all the turmoil in my life at the moment I have to admit homeschooling the kiddos have taken a back seat to other issues at the moment.  I still try to do things in those "teachable" moments but nothing more than that at the moment.  With school back in session though I wanted to share with you a great article posted by Pernille Ripp titled,My Kid is Drowning in Homework - Why Parents Should Be Speaking Up and How. This article is really great and got me thinking about when my oldest children were in school.  I was actually fussed at by a teacher telling me I was not going enough to get my son to read and I had to make time at night to read to him.  Keep in mind we were struggling an hour ever night on his homework when he was in first grade, I had my daughter to help too, I was in college part-time, I was working full-time and I was a single mom.  My evening were busy with the children from the time I got home from work until they went to bed. It was rough.  The homework that Jerrin was struggling with was stuff they covered in school but he did not want to take the time to do more of it once he got home.  He wanted to sit around and relax.  I felt sorry for the kid but I stayed on him to get his assignments completed. I wish I could turn back time.  There are SO many things I would have done differently. Maybe, dear reader, you will be able to cut the homework load of your child so you can have more time to spend together in the evenings. Some ideas in the article when starting a dialogue with the teacher about homework include:
  • Get clarification on general statements
  • Ask whether there will be punishment involved
  • Figure out your parental level of involvement
  • What is the purpose of the homework
  • Search your soul
  • Ask questions
  • Stand your ground
As a final bit of advice from the article is if the staff at the school wants to go to a homework model, ask anyone in favor of this ridiculous notion to produce valid research that demonstrates a clear connection between learning and homework.

If they quote Robert Marzano or Harris Cooper, pull up this blog post, Plus, you can tell them that LA Unified Schools, the second-largest in the nation, are minimizing the value of homework and disallowing completely at some grades.

 To follow the school theme an article by Rivka Schonfeld discusses the struggles people experience with dyslexia and dysgraphia.  Having dyslexia in my family and major issues with reading and spelling as a child I can relate to the article.  It is great and gives good tips on how to identify and help children with dyslexia and dysgraphia issues.

That's all the news bits for today!  Tune in tomorrow.

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