Managing Social Anxiety In Children With Autism

As a parent with an autistic child, you want to do everything you can to protect your child, especially in daycare. We don’t want to place our children in circumstances that scare them, however, setting your child up in a program or providing them with social activities can significantly help. Did you know autism affects male children four times more than female children? The characteristic feature of autism in children includes non-verbal and impaired verbal communication. In addition to this the autism in children creates imaginative personalities but potential social impairment. Here is some information about how to navigate autism with your daycare-aged child.  
 
Educating the Child and the Parents 
Have you ever felt difficulty in expressing yourself? Have you ever come across a point in your life when words are not enough to give justice to what you feel? For many children with autism, this is a constant feeling. Putting yourself into these shoes can help you understand what your child is going through, and it can also help educate their teachers and classmates.  

Bringing Up Bright and Happy Children with Autism 
Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that parenting a child is the most difficult task they’ve ever encountered. They’ll also tell you it’s the most rewarding. Parenting a child with autism, however, can be a little more stressful.  
 
Autism and Oxytocin 
Oxytocin is a nine amino acid peptide produced in the brain and released by the pituitary gland. It is produced in the body naturally, by both males and females, and plays a role in reproduction and may even contribute to those feelings we call love. 
 
Autism: A Brief Overview 
Autism has affected more than 1.5 children in the USA. It is a lifelong condition for which there is no cure. Autism is a disorder caused in children during the first three years of their life. Autism is essentially a brain disorder. 
 
Child Autism Behavior 
Autism is a developmental disorder and the specific cause for autism is not known. It is believed that some biochemical imbalance would have caused autism, and some believe that it is a psychological disorder. Children with autism cannot communicate as efficiently as their peers, so they may need additional assistance.  
 
Cure For Autism 
There are many methods and therapies that have been shown to improve the symptoms of autism. However, at this point in time there is no single method that has been medically proven that will cure autism. 

Hearing Aids to Best Suit Your Kid’s Needs

Studies show that one-tenth of the American population is hearing-impaired, and numbers are increasing among children. Over the years, hearing aids have helped a great deal in eliminating this deficiency, but finding an aid for your daycare-aged child can be difficult.  

Hearing aids are small audio devices which are attached to the ears. Most models now are “hidden” to a casual observer. They offer a superior sound quality which helps lessen, if not eliminate, the loss of hearing. 

As technology evolves, the science behind manufacturing hearing aids have become more and more advanced. While talking with your child about hearing aids may be difficult, technology has advanced since we were kids. Hearing aids are now much easier to maintain, and they are not as obvious. 

Here are the three basic types of hearing aids: 

1. Conventional hearing aids 

These are the very first types and brands of hearing aids which were released in the market. Although not as technologically advanced as the programmable digital hearing aids, the conventional type can be adjusted in a way that will fit the user’s needs. With this type, the volume is manually adjusted by the user. The sound can be turned up or down, depending on the softness or loudness of the source of sound. The only minor disadvantage of this type of hearing aids is that if a person’s hearing loss level improves or worsens, it must be sent back to the manufacturer so that adjustments can be made. This can be quite inconvenient for the user. A conventional hearing aid may not be the best option for children, as they may play with the volume adjuster.  

2. Programmable hearing aids 

This is more advanced in terms of technology, as compared to the conventional type. Programmable hearing aids have adjustable circuits which may be adjusted, depending on the user’s level of hearing. The volume control is automatic, making life easier for the patient. This is a great choice for children who need pre-programmed volume control.  

3. Digital hearing aids 

Depending on the patient’s needs, a digital hearing aid may be ordered to suit a specific situation. This is by far the best and most convenient type to use. There are hearing health care professionals whose job is to find the hearing aid that will be beneficial for the user. The patient’s lifestyle and level of hearing loss is considered when looking for the best hearing aid to buy. Digital hearing aids also feature an automatic volume control. 

However, it may take one or two visits to a health care professional before the settings of the hearing aid can be adjusted to the user’s satisfaction. Physically, this type of hearing aid is easier to wear and is “kinder” to the ears. The circuit within the hearing aid automatically increases or decreases the level of sound. There is a microphone and an amplifier that gathers and adjusts the sound respectively. Finally, the speaker transmits the byproduct of the altered and digitally-enhanced sound to the user’s ears. 

The downside is that this type of hearing aid is more expensive than the programmable and conventional hearing aids. However, this is an excellent choice for young children who need hearing aids. Once you have invested in a digital hearing aid, it will surely be convenient for you and will fit into any lifestyle. 

4. Disposable hearing aids 

This type offers the sound quality of a conventional hearing aid and is more cost-effective than its more technologically advanced counterparts. Disposable hearing aids have a shorter shelf-life. They can last 40 days at most, and once the battery expires, a new one should be purchased. This is not a great option for children, as they can easily destroy the disposable aid.  

To choose a hearing aid that is right for you, make sure that you consult your ear doctor or otologist/audiologist. When consulting a professional to choose the right hearing aid for you, give them an overview of your lifestyle and budget to determine the best hearing aid that will suit your needs. 

Finally, try it out for a few days and if you find that the hearing aid that you bought does not fit your ear, your needs and your way of living, go back to your health care professional so that another type can be purchased. 

Waiting for Day Care

Earlier this year, the National Association for Family Child Care published a list of ten child care trends on the rise in the United States. A few things stick out on this list, specifically numbers 1 and 6. 

  1. “Competition from other child care programs will continue to increase. 

6.     “It will take longer to fill child care openings.” 

These forecasts point to a growing problem among child care providers and seekers: there are fewer spaces available than there are children who need care. This issue is amplified in high-population-density areas, where multiple families of similar socioeconomic backgrounds may be vying for the same spot at the neighborhood daycare. This results in long wait lists and an increasingly stressful experience for the parents and providers.  

Wall Street Journal story illustrated how wait-list pressures had turned one day care worker into “a spreadsheet geek.” The woman, Susan Herbert of Mableton, GA, now spends a significant portion of her day tracking data to help avoid making promises to parents that she can’t keep. She records things like birthdays, projected enrollment dates for wait-listed kids, and information based on projected first step or bottles needed for babies already enrolled at her facility. These variables help her predict openings with some accuracy, a necessity when she gets daily calls from parents begging for admission. 

So, why is this happening? And what can parents do to ensure their little ones get spots at nearby centers? We’ll break it down. 

What’s Going On? 

Parents are more intent than ever on getting high-quality child care for their children. They are so intent, in fact, that some sign up at popular centers within days of finding out they are expecting. To make things easier on the care providers, some child care centers don’t even offer paper applications, opting instead to hand parents wait-list forms when they arrive.  

There are a few reasons for this boom, but one of the most important has to do with changes in the work force. There are more women than ever working, which means there are fewer parents staying home to be full-time care providers. Infant care spots usually have the longest wait lists, indicating a general shortage of maternal and paternal leave. With more people in the workforce, and without generous parental leave laws, new parents are pressured to get back to work as soon as possible. This means they will seek out child care earlier.  

What Can You Do? 

It sounds crazy, but some child-care centers allow parents to wait-list children before they are even conceived. Directors will often accept a wait-list entry before conception so long as they pay an often-refundable deposit. Some directors will accept wait-list entries with no questions asked.  

However, we want to note that most parents don’t have the ability to plan their children with this type of accuracy, and putting down a deposit might not be feasible for some families. We have a few tips that might help you get into your preferred day care center, whether it’s the one with the best services or the one closest to your home or workplace. 

  • Visit several centers and try to get on more than one wait list. Ask about deposits and whether they are required or suggested. 
  • Register for child care at least one year before you will need it. This doesn’t have to be the moment you conceive, but you should start thinking about it while planning for the baby and sorting out parental leave. 
  • If you get on a wait list, call the center every month or two to ensure your status is accurate.  
  • Plan to enroll in summer, if possible. This is when more slots tend to open. 
  • Stay on the wait list at your first-choice provider even if you enroll elsewhere.  

Growing Evidence Suggests Benefits of Redshirting Pre-School and Kindergarten

Redshirting, or waiting to start your child’s academic education, is growing in popularity, and further evidence suggests the benefits of the practice may outweigh the drawbacks. Estimates of redshirting rates often fall between 3.3 and 5.5 percent of children eligible to enroll in kindergarten based on their age.  

What is Redshirting? 

As a term, redshirting has its origins in collegiate sports. The term is applied to an athlete who is kept out of competition to develop skills and develop additional eligibility. The term comes from the red shirts typically worn in practice by athletes training with the team but who may not participate in competition themselves.  

Academic redshirting means allowing a student or child an additional year to gain different skills. This could mean anything from taking time to improve reading comprehension to instilling social skills before sending them off to school. 

Making the choice to redshirt a child is never easy, and it should be a constant conversation between parents, school administrators and the kids themselves. Redshirting often happens if a child’s birthday is close to the cutoff date for a school year. In these cases, the decision determines whether the child will be the oldest or youngest student in the class. It will affect their learning and social education. 

However, it is important to note that redshirting appears to be a luxury item. The phenomenon is almost twice as prevalent in schools serving affluent student bodies as it is among those whose mean household income is close to the poverty line, and it is significantly more common among white students. This is unsurprising, as redshirting also implies an additional financial burden.  

Earlier Isn’t Always Better 

There is a modest but significant correlation between the initial age difference in children and student performance, but many have proven the relative-age effect to be negligible. If there is a benefit, it often diminishes with time. Still, there are several reasons aside from academic performance that could warrant redshirting, especially when it comes to child development.  

Redshirting a child or student can help with social skills. If a student attends school when they are not ready, it will affect the way they interact with other students, possibly changing the relationships they carry with them through their social and academic career. Redshirting can increase social confidence and provide the advantage of gaining popularity among peers when they eventually enter school. This can be especially important for children with forms of autism and/or personality disorders.  

Redshirting can also be extremely beneficial for children who have ADHD or other neurodevelopmental disorders. Taking an additional year to develop focus and attention skills and have benefits that extend beyond your child’s grade school years.  

Making the Decision 

If you are considering redshirting your child, meet with the school before you enroll. This will provide you the opportunity to ask the teacher for the curriculum they plan to teach for the year. Speak with school administrators, other parents, and your child to gather as much data as possible. 

It is important to remember that redshirting a child does not guarantee failure or success. Most kids are afraid to attend a new school, especially if they’re entering kindergarten. Regardless, it is important to be an invested, supportive parent. Assess your child’s needs, talk to them about it, and make the decision together.  

Understanding Cost vs. Value

If you spend any time researching day care and child care, you’re likely familiar with the contentious side of the industry: Regulation. Child care is currently regulated via accreditation; the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association for Family Child Care are the two most common accrediting organizations, but in some states, the Quality Rating and Improvement System is mandatory for licensed providers and programs that receive state subsidies.  

The added pressure on child care facilities and providers to maintain these strict licensures and accreditations translates to a higher cost of serving children. This cost is, in turn, passed on to the parents paying for day care.  

But doesn’t higher cost translate to a better value? And shouldn’t we hold day care facilities to the highest standards possible? Of course, but the issue is more nuanced than that.  

The Difference Between Cost and Quality 

GOVERNING article recently used a helpful example when explaining the issue. If the staff-to-child ration is more stringent (I.e. there are fewer children per staff member) and directors’ qualification requirements are increased, the quality of care provided would theoretically be higher. There might be more and better interactions between staff and kids, leading to a better learning and care environment.  

However, these regulations raise the cost of serving the children. These costs reduce supply (the number of children able to attend), increase prices, and encourage parents to use cheaper alternatives. Rather than passing this cost to parents, child care centers could try to pay staff lower wages, but that translates to attracting lower-quality providers to the industry. Plus, that could lower the quality of care instead of increasing it.  

So, what does this mean for parents? High cost doesn’t necessarily translate to higher quality care. In fact, high cost is becoming the baseline for most day care facilities as they struggle to maintain accreditation by cutting costs elsewhere. 

What Needs to Happen? 

In a perfect world, child care would be free and open to everyone. We’re pretty far away from that ideal, but in the meantime, there are a few things happening to help providers and parents alike.  

There is a strong push for state legislatures and regulators to liberalize day care regulations. That sounds dangerous – after all, regulations are designed to increase quality and safety – but it allows providers to operate more efficiently based on what the parents need and request. There is also a push for more widespread sliding scale options, which allow providers to retain accreditation while giving lower-income families the ability to pay what they can afford.  Federal subsidies can also help these providers supply high-quality care while decreasing the price passed to parents. 

Child care is a contentious issue, and there is no correct answer to funding, regulating, and subsidizing. More than anything, though, it helps to know the issues, especially if you’re about to enter the wild world of day care research.