Resources for Families, Individuals and Professionals

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Pediatrician to PCP

Ask the Experts by Anna Farhat, MD

Q: When is the right time to switch to a primary care physician from a pediatrician for my children?

A: This is a question many parents ask themselves as their kids grow into teenagers/young adults. Most pediatricians will see people up to 18-22 years old. At that point getting their input on recommendations for their next doctor is a great idea. Many work closely with either family or internal medicine physicians and can give firsthand advice.

It’s important to work with someone you feel comfortable with. Finding a new doctor can be a little like dating. Comfort level is extremely important to ensure communication and the best care. If your female child prefers to have a female physician to talk about when to start pap smears, or about contraceptives, that is perfectly OK.

Read more: Pediatrician to PCP

Signs of Suicide & Out of the Darkness

Ask the Experts by Megan Gunnell, LMSW

Q: I’ve been hearing more and more about suicide recently, both in our community and nationwide. Is there a trend in the spring? What are the warning signs I should be looking out for and what can we do as a community?

A: A recent publication on health.com stated: “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates spike in the spring and to a lesser extent in the fall – not around the holidays as everyone suspects. And suicides in general have increased 24% between 1999-2014, according to a CDC report last year.

The uptick begins in early April and late May. Why? Seasonal brightness may have something to do with it. In a 2016 op-ed in The Washington Post, Harvard professor Matthew Nock cited a study published in JAMA Psychiatry that found as hours of sunlight increased, so did the risk of suicide. “The authors speculate that sunlight could boost energy and motivation, thus giving people who are depressed the ability to take action and make a suicide attempt,” he wrote.

Read more: Signs of Suicide & Out of the Darkness

Making a plan for aging in place

Ask The Experts byMarianne Garascia and Cynthia Shields

Q: My father is hoping to remain in his home for as long as he can. What are some things I can do to help him prepare to stay there safely and mostly self-sufficiently?

A: The term for the future you and your father are planning for is Aging in Place. In order to accomplish this, you’ll need to plan ahead and consider all the factors.

His health (mental and physical), finances, transportation, care options, support systems, home design, etc. should all be taken into account when building a plan and making this choice. In addition, you’ll have to talk with your father about what his choices would be in the event of future financial decisions, illness, injury or housing transitions.)

Having these decisions made in advance helps deal with any issues you might encounter down the road to ease some of the burdens you and your family will experience.

Read more: Making a plan for aging in place

Understanding Opiods and teen addiction

Ask The Experts by by DeLisa Glaspie

Q: My 16yr-old l son plays multiple high school sports and I often worry about injury primarily because of the prescription pain killers and the fear of addiction. What can I do, as a parent, to become more knowledgeable about this epidemic and to protect my own child in case he needs pain medication? How can I make sure others, within my community, are aware of this frightening epidemic?

A: Understanding what opioids are is a good start. Opioids are a class of drugs that includes heroin as well as the prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. Four out of five new heroin users started out misusing prescription pain killers.

Adolescents (12-17) often become addicted because of shared unused pain relievers. Adolescents who misuse prescription pain relievers often obtain them from a friend or relative for free unaware of the dangers of nonmedical opioid use. In addition, prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents nearly doubled from 1994-2007.

Read more: Understanding Opiods and teen addiction

Why buy permanent insurance

Ask the Experts by Dan H. Tripp CLU

Q: I’m 35 and looking to buy my first life insurance policy. Why would I ever buy permanent insurance when term is so much cheaper?

A: My first thought is buy insurance that you can afford, in an amount that makes sense for your situation. And yes, term is much more affordable in terms of premium dollars. But in the words of a wise sage “price is only an issue in the absence of value.” What value would you get from each?

It helps to think about the difference between the two as the difference between renting and buying a home. Both provide shelter; require payment of utilities, maintenance, upkeep, etc. But here the similarities end. When renting, your rent may go up over time. Your landlord can refuse to renew your lease for any reason at the end of the term (notice that word?). Ownership comes with a mortgage payment that is fixed unless you change it. Ownership builds an equity position in your home, which could be leveraged at a future date. Unless you stop paying your mortgage, you can live

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Educating others about autism

Ask The Experts by April Ceno and Frank Pinkham

Q: My child is diagnosed with autism. It’s challenging to take him out in public as often-times people will stare or say rude things. How can I help educate people about autism?

A: Unfortunately, this is a common question from parents, and this sort of stigma may even make it difficult to go out in public with your child for fear of judgment by others. These social stigmas often lead parents become discouraged which can lead them to staying home instead of going out. The best way to combat stigma is with knowledge.

In order to begin educating others, it is important that you as a parent are educated about autism. There are several ways you can do this; spending some time with google looking up facts about autism, attend or review online webinars about autism, even going to your local library to find books on the diagnosis would be helpful. One of the best ways to educate yourself is to attend trainings where you can connect to other parents and community members.

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Building a strong foundation in literacy

    Ask the Experts by Angelina Spiteri

Q: My child appears to enjoy reading but seems stagnant in their development. What should I look out for to ensure my child or student is progressing in their fluency, and how can I help?

A: Reading and spelling is the end goal we all hope for, however, we may have to slow down a bit and make sure our children and students have built a strong foundation in their literacy. Continue to read books to your child that will promote a love a literature and help spark an interest in reading.

Q: What comprises a strong literacy foundation?

A: Strong phonological awareness skills are a pre-requisite to reading. Once these crucial pre-reading skills are strengthened, we know our children and students can hear and vocalize sounds to begin blending sounds into words in reading, and segmenting words into sounds in spelling.

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When Should My Child Begin Speaking Correctly?

Ask the Experts by Sara Martin, M.A. CCC – SLP

Q: I understand my 4-year-old daughter well but others don’t. She uses sounds incorrectly. She becomes easily frustrated. My friends keep telling me not to worry. I’m not so sure. Should I be concerned?

A: The short answer is yes, you should be concerned. By age 3, the majority of a child’s speech should be intelligible to strangers.

The immediate concern is determining why your daughter is not well understood by others. Her ‘incorrect use of sounds’ likely indicates she has a speech-sound disorder. An assessment would be appropriate to determine the nature of the impairment: phonological, articulation, apraxia or another type of disorder. By 4 years old, most sounds in the speech-sound system should be developed, or emerging — meaning they are present in some positions of words but necessarily all positions. Read more: When Should My Child Begin Speaking Correctly?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their Effect on Health

Ask the Experts by Dr. Jennifer Kowalkowski

Q: I’ve recently heard about the link between something called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and negative health outcomes. Given some different events in our lives, my children have at least two ACEs already. Is this something I should be concerned about?

A: ACEs are stressful or traumatic events that include abuse, neglect, and other household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence, family members with substance use disorders, or parental separation/divorce. Read more: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their Effect on Health

Spread the Message of Suicide Prevention

Ask the Experts by Amelia Lehto

Q: With what seems to be a rise in teen suicide, both across the country and locally, what should we know as parents, friends, community members, to help change this frightening trend?

A: In the past year suicide has made headlines many times, for not only the losses of iconic rock stars but also the tragic losses of our friends, neighbors and loved ones. Suicide also made headlines as the focal point of rap artist, Logic’s, record-breaking hit “1-800-273-8255” featuring Khalid and Alessia Cara. What inspired a telephone number to be the title of a rap song, you may ask? It happens to be the 24/7 direct phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Read more: Spread the Message of Suicide Prevention