Stories about: Division of Developmental Medicine

‘One size fits all is not our norm.’

Mother embraces teen son with autism

The other day, I sat in a café and watched as a mom walked in with two kids in tow. I didn’t notice much while sipping my coffee, but soon the family’s conversation broke my train of thought. The girl, maybe 4, was talking to the waitress about the menu. She wanted extra bacon and a muffin with no nuts because of her allergies. She knew her limitation and could express what she needed.

I was happy for the girl and her mom, and at the same time I couldn’t stop thinking about the kids like my son, Anand, who can’t have those types of conversations. And I thought about the families like mine who care for them. Walking into a café would be such a huge struggle for many of us — the anxiety around crowds and the fear of a meltdown for unknown reasons prevents us from even thinking about going out for breakfast.

We all want the world for our children, but sometimes just surviving becomes our day-to-day life.

But yet, I marvel at human nature.

When my son was born, I experienced immediate joy and sometime later came anger, frustration, sadness and denial. For many parents of children with autism or other special needs, parenting is challenging right from the start. For others, they face challenges more gradually.

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Coming of age in a Snapchat world: How do I keep my child safe?

How to keep your kids safe on social media

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Reddit. As a parent, your instinct is always to protect your child. But how 
do you protect them in the ever-evolving digital landscape? Social media has become a part of our everyday lives and is changing the way we interact with the world around us. According to a study by Common Sense Media, teenagers use an average of nine hours of entertainment media a day and tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours per day. This does not include using media for school or homework.

What is the long-term impact of this amount of media exposure on the developing brain? We don’t yet know. What we do know is that it is impossible to prevent your child from using social media. So, how can you help them use it safely?

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‘Don’t let dyslexia hold you back’

14-year-old Josh has dyslexia

In kindergarten, while other students were beginning to read short sentences, Josh Thibeau was still learning the alphabet. “I thought, I can’t read so why even try. I thought it was a waste of time.”

Five to 17 percent of all children in the U.S. have developmental dyslexia. Josh is one of them.

Children with dyslexia — often caused by some difference in typical brain development — have trouble with comprehension because they can’t read text accurately or fluently.

Josh, now 14, has four other siblings, three of whom also have dyslexia. “We are very fortunate because if Josh had been a first child, we would not have noticed any of the signs,” says Josh’s mom Janet Thibeau.

During his early years in school, Josh found it difficult to keep up with his classmates. He was not able to associate letters to the sound they made. “I really hated it because I couldn’t show what kind of person I could be,” says Josh. “Other students were reading books I really wanted to read, but I couldn’t because I still had no idea what sound the alphabet made.”

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Ask the Expert: Is my child’s language development on track? 10 things to consider

African american toddler on phone-shutterstock_272996918It’s normal for children to acquire speech and language at different rates — just as they learn to walk at different rates. But if you feel your child is having more trouble communicating than she should, don’t ignore your concerns. Early understanding and expression of language can affect other parts of your child’s development such as play skills, social interaction and the ability to self-regulate.

When should you request an evaluation? Drs. Carol Wilkinson, of Boston Children’s Division of Developmental Medicine, and David Urion, of the Department of Neurology, offer their advice and 10 tips on things to watch for.

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