Tag Archives: parenting tips

Head of the Class Mom: Shira Lahav

Meet our latest Head of the Class Mom, Shira Lahav—co-founder of Embodied Minds, a public speaking company that helps kids with presentation and self-esteem—and an amazing mom!shira

Why did you start Embodied Minds Public Speaking Consultants?
I am co-founder and consultant at Embodied Minds. I am also a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist and a Psychoanalyst in training. During my time working in hospitals, I was leading communication and storytelling groups through drama. I recognized the power of expression and was helping my clients tell their stories in captivating ways, helping them connect with others. During these groups, I found myself guiding my clients therapeutically but also helping them deliver their stories in ways that engage and transmit the meaning to their audience in the most effective way. I enjoyed the process of directing and teaching my clients public speaking techniques. My business partner Leticia and I wanted to take this type of work beyond the hospital walls and so we did.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
My secret to balancing work and family life is to constantly remind myself the importance of both and how one feeds the other. If I dedicate enough time to my family, I feel more satisfied during the week, which helps me be more focused and fulfilled at work and vice versa.

I play various roles in my life: public speaking consultant, therapist, mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc. The key is to nurture each and every role and create equilibrium. This includes leaving room for self-care. It is necessary to take care of your own needs while taking care of others. In addition, I find that good time management helps, as well as scheduling quality time with my family between busy workdays. On a more practical note, twice per week I make time to take my daughter to her activities and on the weekends, we always find a fun activity to do together as a family. Additionally, my husband and I go out at least twice per week, whether with friends or on a date. Although babysitting is expensive, date nights are extremely important and we have to keep the romance going between stressful life responsibilities.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
Not only am I a mommy to my 2-year-old daughter Lianne, but I am also a mommy to a 5-year-old Shih Tzu named Gizmo. When I first became a mom, I would walk out of the house with my brand new Uppa Baby Vista stroller and would keep getting smiles from strangers. Naïvely and faltered, I thought they were smiling at my baby, but in fact they were smiling at the fact that Gizmo was in the stroller too! Sitting below my baby, with his cute face sticking out of the basket curiously observing everyone around him, my little Shih Tzu found himself the perfect solution so he wouldn’t exert himself or his little paws.

As a result, I’ve learned the importance of multi-tasking and multi-use! Whether using the stroller for my baby and dog, or using the car seat as a spot for my daughter to sit and watch her favorite cartoons, I am always trying to find unique uses for expensive baby gear to make the most of every dollar spent. After all, we must find ways to save up for those “inexpensive” preschools! We also donate a lot, if not money then clothing or baby stuff that we are no longer using. It feels good to be able to help other families.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
Even though I love my job and try to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life I still at times feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my daughter. This is probably a result of the pressure of others and my missing my daughter during workdays. At the same time, I know how important it is to teach her that a woman can do both, be a mother and have a career.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
That parenting is all about logistics and time management.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Take other people’s advice with a grain of salt.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? “Alice in Wonderland”

What has been your favorite kids’ class?  Ballet Class at City Moves Dance Studio. [Now Midtown Movement and Dance – Ed.]

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Go to Central Park and spend time on the lawn and children’s playground.

What is your favorite rainy day escape? The Children’s Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side

Learn more about Embodied Minds on Kidz Central Station and reserve your child’s spot now for their Public Speaking and Communications Skills Group, starting in the fall.

Head of the Class Mom: Leticia Warner

Meet our latest Head of the Class Mom, Leticia Warner—co-founder of Embodied Minds, a public speaking company that helps kids with presentation and self-esteem—and an amazing mom!leticia

Why did you start Embodied Minds Public Speaking Consultants?
I am co-founder of Embodied Minds as well as a consultant, Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, and Registered Drama Therapist. My co-founder Shira and I started Embodied Minds because we knew there was a lack of public speaking companies that focus on the reasons behind the fear of public speaking. A lot of companies emphasize the surface solutions but aren’t able to delve deeper. We, on the other hand, look at both the internal and external processes. When it comes to our Kids program, we focus on helping children and young adults increase self-esteem, improve their thought organization, interpersonal skills, build confidence, reduce their use of filler words, and more.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
I don’t know if I yet have a secret to balancing work and family. It’s something that I’m still figuring out! My son is 5 months old so I’m still getting used to balancing the demands of my business as well as his needs. My husband and I are lucky to have a reliable nanny so when I need to focus on my business, I know my son is in good hands. However, what I have learned so far is that it’s extremely important to spend quality time with my family as often as I possibly can. Time will not stand still and our children are only getting older. Therefore, if I have a break between clients or I can avoid working through lunch, I will take a quick trip to see my son wherever he is and that sustains me for the rest of the day.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
I’m not sure if this made me a better parent or better at my job, but it was certainly when I first experienced the two needs clashing for the first time… we had a really important workshop taking place the week I gave birth to my son. Though I couldn’t physically be there, my co-founder Shira and I were literally working on the workshop while I was in labor (!) and once I had given birth. On top of that, I was answering work e-mails while in labor and took an emergency call from one of my private clients less than 24 hours after my son was born. Obviously, the boundaries were out of control to say the least, but this story to me is the epitome of the “working mom” story. In some ways, it helped me become a better working mom because I learned to create boundaries after experiencing it!

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
I adore what I do and I’m so lucky to own a business, as it provides me with flexibility and freedom. But, I would be lying if I said I don’t feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my son. I have to keep reminding myself that I am doing this for him, to model proper work ethic and make a living doing what I love.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
That there’s no way to plan for the overwhelming feeling of being a parent; the awe-inspiring love mixed with the chaos. I also wish I knew how quickly kids grow out of clothes! I had an idea, but could never have anticipated the speed at which it happens.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we try really hard to be the “perfect mom” and do it all on our own, but there’s no such thing as a perfect mom and there’s no shame in asking for help and support. If in the end it will keep you sane and allow you to spend more quality time with your child, why not?

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? “The Little Boy Who Lost His Name” (Personalized Book).

What has been your favorite kids’ class?  “Rockin’ Railroad” at Kidville, but I’m moving to Long Island City and bet I’ll have a ton of new favorites!

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? My son is currently 5 months old so if at home, my husband and I like to pull out the playmat and play with him. If we’re going out, we love to take walks and go to the park with him.

What is your favorite rainy day escape? Any New York Public Library or bookstore that’s nearby.

Learn more about Embodied Minds on Kidz Central Station and reserve your child’s spot now for their Public Speaking and Communications Skills Group, starting in the fall.

Understanding Our Kids: The Power of Validation


We’ve all experienced frustration when someone minimizes our concerns or tunes us out. And most of us are guilty as well, perhaps more often than we realize. But when we do it to our kids—when we fail to hear them and validate their feelings—we are in danger of damaging one of the most important relationships of all.

What validation is . . .
Put simply, validation is the acknowledgement and acceptance of another’s thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It can be particularly effective with adolescents who are navigating the complicated road to adulthood. As parents, we want to know what our teenage children are thinking and doing, while their inclination, as they test new boundaries, may be to withhold their emotional struggles from us.

Validation techniques can help bridge that chasm by showing our children that we are listening to them without judgment, and that their feelings make sense. In turn, parental validation helps children manage their emotions, decreases conflict, and improves the parent-child relationship. It can also help build self-confidence and teach coping techniques they will rely on throughout their lives.

. . . And what it is not.
In order to understand what validation is, we must also clarify what it is not. The “no judgment” aspect alarms some parents and gives rise to the misconception that validation involves permissiveness and leniency. It does not. Validation is neither agreement with nor approval of what your child is saying. Nor is it encouragement, reassurance, or praise—other parenting tools that are helpful but distinct. And validation is most emphatically not excessive permissiveness or reinforcement of bad behavior.

Instead, it’s a parenting tool that helps show your child that you hear what he is really saying, and gives him the confidence to engage with you on an emotional level. For example, if your child is upset by his curfew, you can let him know that you understand how hard that restriction feels, especially when your rules are different from other parents’, and yet also hold to your limits. He may still be angry, but he may also be more likely to discuss his feelings in the future, lessening the likelihood of a larger argument. While he knows you understand and accept his feelings, he also realizes that the curfew stands.

The Six Levels of Validation
Validation takes practice. It will probably not feel natural at first, especially during a tense time when you and your child are under stress. Keep at it!

Here is a summary of the six levels of validation developed by Marsha Linehan (1993), the creator of Dialectical Behavior Theory. It is generally recommended that parents use the highest level of validation they can within the situation.

1. Be present. Stop what you’re doing, put down your iPhone, and give your child your undivided attention.

2. Reflect accurately. Repeat what you believe your child has said and is feeling.

3. Read minds. Guess how your child is feeling, and ask him if you are right.

4. Put it in context. Understand your child’s reactions in the context of his past experiences.

5. Convey your understanding. Let your child know that his reactions and feelings are normal, and that anyone would feel the same way in the situation.

6. Be radically genuine. Treat your child like an equal, perhaps by sharing a similar experience you have had.

Like any other parenting strategy, validation will become easier and more natural over time—and the rewards for your child and your family are lasting, and well worth the effort.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Randi Pochtar, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The Real Facts About Celiac


May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month! If you suspect that you or your child has this disorder, your first step should be to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who can accurately diagnose your symptoms. To get you started, here are some important facts about celiac disease.

What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder affecting the gastrointestinal system. Children and adults with celiac disease cannot digest gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

How is it treated?
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease.

How do you know if you have it?
Symptoms associated with celiac disease vary widely from person to person. Everything from fatigue and headaches, to bloating, diarrhea, and constipation can be signs of the disease. Celiac disease may also be present without any symptoms at all. Blood work for elevated celiac markers, as well as genetic testing, can help rule out or establish suspicion for celiac disease. If it is suspected, an endoscopy with biopsies is recommended for definitive diagnosis.

What foods must you avoid?
The gluten-free diet eliminates all food items containing, or that have come in contact with, wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives. This includes spelt, farro, and malt. One of the biggest challenges of living with celiac disease is learning to identify all hidden sources of gluten in recipes and prepared foods. For example, soy sauce, salad dressings, and mustard often contain gluten.

What if you don’t avoid these foods?
In a person with celiac disease, failure to comply with a gluten-free diet leads to increased risk for certain cancers, poor growth and development in children, persistent abdominal pain, and nutrient deficiencies.

What sort of things need to be monitored after receiving the diagnosis?
The first step after diagnosis is initiating a gluten-free diet—a multidisciplinary approach is key to a successful transition into a gluten-free lifestyle. A dietitian helps to establish meal planning and maximize dietary intake. A nurse practitioner follows with blood work. A social worker and certified child life specialist team up to provide emotional and educational support as needed. Depending on the person and disease process, blood markers are checked every three months to yearly to ensure adequate control of the disease.

Support for children with celiac disease
Beginning and maintaining a completely gluten-free lifestyle can be challenging for children and adolescents with celiac disease. NYU Langone’s Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten-Related Disorders Program offers families the tools they need to make this transition as easy as possible. In this program, pediatric gastroenterologists, nurse practitioners, and other nursing professionals, nutritionists, and social workers focus on improving the health and quality of life of children with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Schieber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Supporting Young Adults with Autism through Life Transitions


The transition between high school and college or high school and other postsecondary opportunities brings a lot of changes to the lives of young adults and their families. In most cases, young adults suddenly experience much more flexibility in terms of daily activities and schedule—and unfortunately have fewer opportunities for structured social activities. For adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such transitions can be extremely difficult due to their specific social challenges. Such challenges may interfere with the ability to successfully form friendships and romantic relationships, navigate college, and later on, seek and maintain employment.

Parents play an important role as social coaches and facilitators of vocational and social opportunities. Below are some suggestions for parents for supporting their adolescent or young adult through the transition to adulthood and toward independence.

Make a Plan

Identify goals
Adolescents and young adults tend to show interest in employment opportunities, greater independence, and social relationships, including romantic relationships and dating. If having close friends or dating is a priority to your child with ASD, it’s important to think about how to intentionally build in more support and social experiences to help him or her to be successful and included in his or her community.

Start small
Parents and young adults don’t need to do everything all at once! Once goals are identified, think about priorities. If the goal is to make new friends and build one’s social group, work with your young adult to identify his or her interests and find social activities or groups based on those interests. For example, if your child has an interest in chess, he or she can visit gaming stores, attend tournaments, join a chess Meet Up group, or join a chess club on his/her college campus. It can be helpful to talk about how to identify individuals who may have similar interests. If the primary goal is employment, starting small may include one of the following: visiting a parent’s place of work for a day, participating in extracurricular school activities related to career interests, learning about internship or service learning opportunities, or occupational mentoring to learn and practice work behaviors and gain awareness of a potential professional niche.

Practice together
In addition to the two planning steps above, a helpful tool for young adults is practicing the different skills or scenarios that might come up in vocational or social situations. Try role-playing interview skills or having a back-and-forth conversation, and give your child feedback or coaching. Common difficulties for individuals with ASD that may need coaching include inconsistent eye contact, dominating the conversation, perseverating on topics of personal interest, talking about inappropriate topics, and body boundaries.

Praise/recognize efforts
Individuals with ASD may feel misunderstood or disrespected, and become exhausted by social demands, or think of small talk as phony. It is important to praise their efforts and motivation, while continuing to coach around areas of difficulties.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Learn more online at the Autism Society.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Katherine Sullivan, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

X-Ray Vision and Our Medical Superheroes: What to Expect in Pediatric Radiology


You care about your children’s health, and it can be extremely anxiety-provoking to see them in pain or discomfort. When they need medical attention, knowing what to expect can help you manage an already-stressful situation.

At NYU Langone Pediatric Radiology, we typically see patients from the newborn period through adolescence. We understand that kids are not just small adults; they have their own needs, and our approach is tailored to children specifically. It matters to us that your child has a positive experience, so we’ve made every effort to ensure they do.

Here’s what you can expect the next time you bring your child in for an imaging appointment:

Fluoroscopy: This type of imaging uses low dose X-rays to look at the inside of the body in real time, usually using a contrast liquid that will appear on our monitors. Some of our most common types of fluoroscopic procedures in pediatrics include contrast enemas, small bowel series, upper GI series, voiding cystourethogram (VCUG), and video swallow studies. Here are some helpful tips:

•  Patients for these exams should be as comfortable as possible. Any soothing comfort items your child would like—toys, pacifiers, etc.—are welcome.
• Babies and toddlers in particular should not eat before their studies.
• Fluoroscopy uses low dose radiation. We subscribe to the Image Gently campaign’s Pause and Pulse philosophy of using the lowest radiation dose possible as described.

CT and MRI: When your child needs imaging done with CT or MRI, there are a few things to keep in mind.

• CT, which stands for Computed Tomography, uses radiation to generate very detailed 3D images of any part of your child’s body. A CT scan does involve a low dose of radiation, but we use the most state-of-the-art equipment to minimize exposure.
• MRI, which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, produces detailed 3D images of the body without using ionizing radiation. MRI takes longer than a CT scan. The decision to image with CT or MRI depends on several factors, including the anatomical location of the problem.
• In order for us to obtain the highest-quality images, it’s important for kids to stay as still as possible during imaging. When necessary, the department of anesthesia is available to provide sedation to make the experience easier.

X-ray: It’s common for pediatricians to refer kids to us for X-ray imaging, often for the evaluation of possible broken bones or pneumonia. Here are some helpful tips:

• Unless otherwise instructed, you can feed your child before the exam so that he or she is kept as comfortable as possible. Other soothers, such as pacifiers and blankets, are also allowed for the exam.
• X-rays do involve radiation, but a very small amount. These procedures are non-invasive and nothing needs to be put into the body. The radiation is isolated to the specific part of the body that needs imaging and nowhere else, making X-rays extremely safe.

Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a very common pediatric imaging procedure. It can be used to evaluate almost every part of the body. One of the most common reasons we see pediatric patients is to evaluate abdominal pain. This procedure is particularly easy for our patients. Here are some helpful tips:

• The entire process is non-invasive, so there’s no stressing out about radiation or discomfort.
• We like to consider the simple things to make our patients more comfortable during medical procedures, so we use warm jelly that will feel more pleasant for the kids.

Imaging is central to any good patient care. Our pediatric radiologists are part of the healthcare team, working closely with your referring physician to gather relevant information as quickly and accurately as possible. We know imaging studies play a huge role in helping doctors diagnose exactly what is happening to a patient and determine which treatment steps to consider.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Nancy Fefferman, MD is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, and the chief of Pediatric Radiology.

Five Important Standardized Test-Taking Strategies


test_takersBy: The Kumon Staff

There are five basic test-taking strategies that students of any age should have when approaching any exam or assessment. These strategies are applicable to students taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam in 3rd grade as well as those taking the SAT in high school.

1. Read the instructions carefully. Skipping the instructions can lead to errors. For instance, the directions may say that more than one answer is correct and you must select all answers. Or, the directions may say to select the vocabulary answer that is opposite in meaning.

2. Read each question carefully. After reading the problem carefully and paying attention to the details, underline key words that will help you to understand the question. Seek the information needed and narrow down the important information. Is the question asking for the sum? Does the answer require a synonym?
• Recognize and ignore what is unnecessary. Often math word problems will provide extra information that you don’t need in order to solve the problem.
• If you come across a difficult question, don’t spend all of your time on it. Move on and come back to it at the end.

3. On multiple choice questions, read each answer carefully before making a selection.
• Eliminate all answers that are not correct.
• Don’t fall into the trap of looking for patterns in the answers. There really can be four “B” answers in a row.

4. Select a strategy.
• Often there is more than one way to solve a problem. Chose the strategy that will work best for you. Will you draw a picture? Will you use the regrouping method? Will you use trial and error?
• Don’t second guess yourself by changing your first answers unless you are 100% certain.

5. Use all of your time wisely.
Pay attention to time passing in relation to the time allotment.
• Don’t get distracted by other students in the room.
• If you have time, go back over as many problems as you can to make sure that the answers are correct. When finished, look closely to make sure that you have answered everything and that you haven’t overlooked any questions.

As mentioned above, an important test-taking strategy is the process of carefully examining the directions and exercises, which is routinely practiced by Kumon students. When Kumon students write an incorrect answer, they try the exercise again by carefully reviewing the directions and other given information.

Organization Frustration: Tips to Help Your Child Stay on Top of Schoolwork

Child with learning difficulties. Tired boy doing homework.
Many parents of school-aged children complain that their kids lack basic organizational skills—they forget to complete assignments, leave important materials for homework at school, have messy backpacks, take too long (or not long enough) to complete homework each evening, and fail to plan ahead for projects and tests. Organization is not an innate skill; some children easily organize their materials and juggle multiple tasks while others struggle to keep up with school-related demands. If your child shows problems with organization, time management, and planning skills, consider these concrete strategies and routines for helping children stay on top of schoolwork.

Does your child have a clear, organized method for keeping track of assignments?
Help your child develop the habit of using a planner to record assignments. Even if teachers post some or all of the assignments on a class website, keeping a personal record will help your child stay organized. Look for a planner that is broken down by subject, has enough space to write details, and has an easily accessible monthly calendar for recording long-term assignments. A space to check off items that need to come home and return to school can help kids who often forget needed materials.

Does your child often lose papers, books, and other important items?
Think about where your child runs into trouble. Is he constantly misplacing one folder? Does she stuff papers into her bag because punching holes and finding the right section in a three-ring binder takes too long? Think about how you can step it down, or simplify the routine. We have found that an accordion file works well for many children; there are no holes to punch, and papers for different subjects are easily filed within one manageable tool.

Help your child develop a routine for checking that all important items are in the bag when packing up in school and at home. A visual checklist pinned to the inside of the backpack can be a helpful cue so your child doesn’t forget critical items.

Does your child struggle to complete tasks in an appropriate amount of time?
You can help your child gain control over his or her schedule by teaching critical time estimation and planning skills. Set aside five minutes each day to review what work needs to be done (consider what is due tomorrow as well as longer-term assignments), how long each assignment should take, what other events are on the schedule (e.g., extracurricular activities), and what your child would like to do to relax. You may find it helpful to create a written schedule, where your child can map out the evening’s activities in 15-minute time increments.

Does your child have difficulty planning ahead for more complex tasks?
If your child is unsure of how to start working on multi-step tasks or if he or she struggles to produce neat, complete work in advance of deadlines, you may need to work on task planning skills. Start by helping your child state the goal for the specific task, break the task down into steps, order the steps, think about materials that are needed, consider how long each step will take, and fit the steps into the schedule. You can write down the individual steps on a calendar so your child can clearly keep track of what to do and when.

Organizational Skills Training at the NYU Child Study Center
If your child has significant difficulties with organization, time management, and planning, he or she may require more intensive intervention to get on track with schoolwork. Organizational Skills Training (OST) is a manualized, empirically supported treatment that has been proven to improve the organizational skills and academic performance of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders. For more information on OST, click here.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Elana Spira, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center. She is co-author of the treatment manual for OST, Organizational Skills Training for Children with ADHD.

Your Child Has Autism: Now What?


Your child has just been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and it may feel as though the ground has dropped out from under you. The challenges seem overwhelming at first, but you don’t have to face them alone. With so much going on, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a few ideas.

Find Professional Support
You are beginning your journey as your child’s advocate and will need to identify the resources you need as soon as possible. Your child will have symptoms, abilities, needs, and challenges that are unique to him or her. With that in mind, a little research will help you evaluate who can best help your child. Be sure to ask questions about each therapist’s approach and methodology, including whether the treatment is grounded in evidence-based practice and how parents and caregivers are included in the treatment.

Make Time for Yourselves
Your child’s needs are paramount, but if you are going to be able to meet them, you must also take care of yourself. As parents, you are under a tremendous strain. It’s critical that you take a deep breath, step back a bit, and process your own emotions and needs. It will be hard at first—your impulse will be to throw yourself into protecting and helping your newly diagnosed child—but it is necessary for your own long-term health and that of the rest of the family.

Be Open with Your Other Children
The diagnosis affects the whole family. Your other children will have questions and reactions, and their feelings about having a sibling with autism need to be validated. Don’t withhold information—it will neither protect them nor make them feel better. Encourage them to ask questions, and process what the diagnosis means for them.

Build a Support System
Don’t go it alone. It’s impossible to overstate how important it is to have family, close friends, parents of children with ASD, and therapists who support you as you start on this new path. Other parents will be particularly supportive—who else knows truly understands what you’re going through? They can be an invaluable source of information on family dynamics as well as on therapists and other resources.

Approach the Internet with Caution
While the Internet is a great source of information, it also contains a great deal of misinformation; you must be discerning. When reviewing websites, check to see if the author has a background in ASD and is professionally qualified to provide reliable information. Also, note whether the site’s information has been subjected to rigorous testing and research. Put another way, does the site share information on evidence-based practices?

One last, but important, note. Your child is the same child he or she was before the diagnosis and will continue to develop in his or her own way, and build unique strengths, skills, and interests for you to embrace and celebrate.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Learn more online at the Autism Society.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Sarah Kern, LCSW, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center.

Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms


Breastfeeding has proven to have wide-ranging health benefits for infants: breast milk provides essential vitamins, protein, and fat to help babies grow. It is also easier for babies to digest than formula and contains antibodies to help fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness or infection. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommend the practice. Still, breastfeeding is a personal choice that can be influenced by family support, the personal health of the mother, breastfeeding education, and the necessity for mom to return to work.

These factors can influence different cultural groups in a variety of ways, and the staff at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers’ Women, Infant, and Children’s (WIC) Program found that in particular, most Chinese moms they saw were bottle-feeding rather than breastfeeding. The WIC program collaborated with the NYU Lutheran Labor and Delivery Unit to provide Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking peer counselors five mornings a week, to facilitate prenatal discussion with Chinese moms on the importance of breastfeeding. This education resulted in a significant increase in breastfeeding among that population.

We asked two front-line community physicians, Girish Gowda, M.D., a neonatologist and partnering physician with NYU Lutheran’s WIC breastfeeding support program; and Sharon P. Joseph-Giss, M.D., medical director and pediatrician at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers Sunset Park for Women and Children for their top tips for new moms struggling to make breastfeeding work for them:

  • The first milk produced is called colostrum. It may seem like it’s not enough but it is sufficient for your baby. In fact, it is necessary to give your baby important nutrients and ingredients such as antibodies to fight infection. The full milk supply will take a day or two to begin, so put your baby to your breast—they are getting plenty of nourishment, and more milk will be produced in a couple of days.
  • Breastfeeding improves health for both mom and baby. For mom, it helps decrease uterine bleeding after giving birth. Exclusively breastfed babies have a smaller chance of ear infections and illness, as well as fewer hospitalizations in the first six months.
  • Put the baby to your breast often! Supply and demand is in effect here, and the more the baby suckles, the more milk the body will produce.
  • When your baby is hungry, make sure his mouth opens WIDE, and put as much of the dark part of your breast and nipple in his mouth as possible. This will ensure a good latch. If the baby just suckles the nipple, this will make you sore.
  • You will need to nurse about every 1.5–2 hours. Better yet, nurse on demand! This will ensure good growth for your baby, and ramp up your milk supply.
  • If your baby has six to eight wet diapers per day that means he or she is getting an adequate intake of milk.
  • Be careful of your diet. Foods that give you gas (broccoli, onions, garlic, beans) can give your baby gas as well.
  • You will know that your baby is drinking if you hear gulping sounds and the baby seems satisfied—sleepy and content—at the end of the session. Since there is no way to measure the milk your baby drinks directly from your breast, this is the best indication that she is getting enough.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Girish Gowda, M.D., is a neonatologist and partnering physician with NYU Lutheran’s WIC breastfeeding support program.

Sharon P. Joseph-Giss, M.D., is medical director and pediatrician at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers Sunset Park for Women and Children.