Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

The Truth About Autism and Vaccines

posted by Linda Mintle

Mary’s son is autistic. She desperately wants to believe that the vaccinations her child received as a toddler triggered the disorder. Toddlers receive the MMR  vaccine around the same time as autistic symptoms begin to be noticed by parents. Because of her son’s diagnosis, Mary has not vaccinated any of her other children.

So what is the latest on autism and vaccinations?

Historically, the tie to autism and vaccines originated out of a 1998 small study in England. The study claimed that vaccines caused a gastrointestinal complication that triggered autism.

The report was published in a medical journal, The Lancet. However, in 2010, The Lancet retracted the study and the lead author lost his medical license because of fraud. Multiple studies on autism and vaccines have been conducted and continue to show no link. Furthermore, the ingredient (thimerosal) parents’ fear in the MMR vaccine was removed in 2001.

Yet, inflammatory rhetoric towards vaccinations and autism continues because we have celebrities insisting on causes that have not been proven and courts awarding damages to parents who sue. Neither is about science.

Like so many of you, I have a family member affected by autism. And this is what motivates me to get the facts straight. Research, such as the studies at Eastern Virginia Medical School on autism will continue to unlock the complicated door of these spectrum disorders.

Is Facebook Promoting Porn? 8 Guidelines for Parents

posted by Linda Mintle

Facebook has massive appeal. It allows us to stay in touch with friends, re-connect with people with whom we’ve lost contact, communicate with relatives, be aware of the needs of others and so much more that is good and healthy.

But Facebook has a dark side. It has become a place for child predators to group. Child predators look for places where children can be found and this technology has given them a breeding ground. With millions of children on Facebook, an investigative report on WND.com found Facebook groups with titles like Kidsex Young, Preteen Lesbians, Love Little Kids and more.

And even though efforts are made with photo software designed to filter illegal child abuse images, it doesn’t stop the predators from using Facebook as a platform. WND.com determined that the sites are being used to trade and post child pornography.

Parents, what can you do to protect your kids from pedophiles who may pose as their “friend?”

1) Follow the guidelines. Children under 13 are not supposed to have their own Facebook pages.

2) Friend your child so you can supervise his or her account. Because of the dangers involved, this is not a place you want to give your child complete privacy. You pay the bill for the Internet. Predators often pose as friends.

3) Reconsider allowing posting of photos. Pedophiles can take them and use them on pornography sites. Once the photo is public, you have no control.

4) Don’t give a young child a mobile smart phone.  Facebook has mobile apps that pose a risk.

5) Customize the settings. Do what you can to protect if you give them an account. Use the family’s email address.

6) Keep the computer in a public space in your home and monitor usage.

7) Teach your child to NEVER share private information.

8) Teach your child to ignore anyone who is not a personal friend that the family knows. “Friend” has a different meaning than a real friend.

If You Give a CHILD a Cookie…

posted by Linda Mintle

A friendly elderly man brings cookies and candy to the Y every day.

As soon as the children walk in the door, he offers the treats. Again, on the way out the door, the same treats are offered. And he makes it really hard to say NO.  I’ve seen some of the children say NO THANK YOU, only to be pressured to take the cookies.

Maybe this behavior seems harmless to you and you are thinking, cut the guy a break, he is just trying to be nice.

I think he is trying to be nice.

However, I sit on a community coalition that works hard at changing eating habits in children. With record rates of childhood obesity, we don’t want children associating exercise at the Y with unhealthy snacks as rewards. Those children then grow up to be adults who reward themselves with empty calorie food. The seemingly harmless behavior is teaching children the wrong eating habits. And some of the parents do not want the cookies offered by a stranger.

People have complained. I’ve suggested a compromise. How about if he brings small oranges, grapes, bananas or nuts and seeds instead. Or the money he spends on cookies and candy could be spent on stickers, sugar-free gum or something else if he is wants to engage the children. Or make a policy that junk food is not offered when you walk in the door.

Nothing has changed.

You might think, what is the big deal? Aren’t there more important issues to face in life?

The big deal is that so many people I work with have to change their relationship with food and stop rewarding themselves with treats every time they do something that requires physical discipline. This “food as reward” habit is often learned in childhood and carries over to adult life. Praise, activities, stickers, high five, anything else can be used to reward behavior without teaching bad eating habits.

Being nice to kids doesn’t have to include giving them daily cookies and candy at a place trying to promote healthy habits in kids and adults.

If we change these small unhealthy habits, they lead to bigger changes.

 

 

 

 

Dogs at Work: A Surprise Benefit!

posted by Linda Mintle

When I say goodbye in the morning and see those sad black eyes looking up at me, I want to tell my dog to get in the car–she’s heading out with me. I’ve often wished I could take my dog to the workplace. She would be great. She rarely barks, is very obedient and would sit most of the day and watch me work. At noon and at breaks, the two of us would motivate each other to get up and take a quick walk. Seems like a win win. This is how it works when she is in my home office. Well, apparently my fantasy has merit!

A new study by Dr. Barker (I am not kidding, that is his name) at Virginia Commonwealth University, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management  found that dog owners who brought their pet to work, lowered their stress. And that stress stayed low throughout the day. In contrast, those pet owners whose dogs stayed home, not only increased their stress during the day, but doubled it by day’s end. It turns out that man’s best friend is also a stress reducer!

Some of the dogs in the study were noisy (imagine the routine barker), not so clean, and at times, destructive. So the idea of the quiet pup who sits by your side lovingly gazing into your face is not always reality. But some employers might institute the take your doggy to work day when they learn that workers felt more productive. And the people who came in contact with the dogs at work were more satisfied on the job.

Try talking about increasing productivity, workplace satisfaction and stress reduction and see if your employer invites Fido to join your morning coffee!

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