Resources for Families, Individuals and Professionals

Ask the Experts

Because children are not born with an owner’s manual that tells us the best way to care for them, it is often a trial and error process. Ask the Experts is a collection of articles that cover topics of interest to parents and caregivers with children from infancy through adolescence.

Articles are organized by age in the categories below.
Early Years 0-6
Middle Years 6-12
Teen Years 13-19
All Ages

When to Consider an Occupational Therapy Evaluation

Ask the Experts by Lauren Vanderlist

Q: When should I consider an occupational therapy evaluation for my child? Are there symptoms or red flags that I should be concerned about?

A: When your child has difficulty with activities of daily living (e.g. dressing, grooming, eating), play activities (e.g. toy play, coloring, building, playing games), or participation in learning environments (e.g. writing, staying attentive, following directions) an occupational therapy evaluation may be necessary. Your child’s strength and coordination, sensory processing, social-emotional development, fine and visual motor skills will be assessed to determine why they are having difficulty.

Below are examples of behaviors that may warrant an evaluation. Please reach out to a professional to discuss your concerns further.

Read more: When to Consider an Occupational Therapy Evaluation

Steps to help Improve your Self-esteem

Ask the Experts by Amy Lawrence-Skwiers

Q: How do I improve my self-esteem?

A: To change anything, we must first understand it. Self-esteem reflects the confidence we have in our own abilities and worth. It is not inherited but learned and can fluctuate between high and low depending on circumstances. Those with high self-esteem typically believe in themselves, recognize where they are successful, make assertive decisions, trust their own judgement and have a strong sense of self-worth. On the flipside, those with low self-esteem tend to be highly self-critical, hypersensitive, have a need to please people and struggle to enjoy life due to feelings of unworthiness.

Read more: Steps to help Improve your Self-esteem

Making all the Arrangements

Ask the Experts by George Horattas

Q: I’ve heard of people making all the arrangements for when they die. I understand, but are there specific reasons why I should preplan my cemetery property?

A: Making final arrangements is far more difficult when a loved one has passed than if you plan for it now. By preplanning you will be relieving loved ones from making a sudden & emotional decision.

Read more: Making all the Arrangements

Dealing with the stress of trying to find the right house

Ask the Experts by Suzanne O’Brien

Q: My family is considering a move to a bigger house. I’m worried about the stress of trying to find the right house, understanding the financials, and making the best choice for everyone. Do you have any tips on how to do this with less stress and confusion?

A: This decision can be a tough one for families. And now, many folks have told us that they are ready to make a move since values have recovered, and interest rates remain at an all-time low. Finding the right living situation can present a challenge based on what is available. When options are scarce, the decision to move can a very stressful one that often results in frustration and defeat and can cause some turmoil at home.

However, there are ways to take advantage of this kind of real estate market and approach it differently both as a homeowner looking for a different way to live or an investor. Think of it, first, in terms of the homeowner. The secret is to get ahead of the inventory and be the first to know when an option that fits will become available. For this reason, we have tapped into state of the art technology and can reach out to folks who are the next most likely to move. It’s a simple concept when you consider traditional real estate marketing typically involves marketing a home to prospective purchasers. Read more: Dealing with the stress of trying to find the right house

Summer Presence

Ask the Experts by Jennifer Raybaud

Q: I love summer but feel I’m too distracted to make the most of it. Are there things I can do to enjoy the upcoming season even more?”

A: Yes! There are many wonderful things you can do to slow down and take advantage of the season fast approaching. One way is through learning more about how things like mindfulness – intentionally practicing how to better “zone in” at a time when so many of us are “zoned out” – can make even the most seemingly mundane things or experiences this season, come to life. In fact, I’m thrilled to share some great opportunities, right down the road.

Read more: Summer Presence

Keeping Reading Skills Sharp

Ask the Experts by Nick Smith

Q: My child has worked so hard during the school year to become a stronger reader. How do I keep his reading skills sharp, during the summer months, especially when he does not enjoy reading?

A: A common concern among parents, especially those who have children that struggle with reading, is what to do over the summer months so that the skills attained during the school year do not regress. According to a report released by RAND Corporation, the average summer learning loss in reading for American students amounts to one month per year.

Eventually, year-round schools will be the norm, and there will be no need for concern. Indeed there are already year-round choices in many districts. Slowly but surely, the realization that children are no longer needed to tend to the crops during the summer months is resulting in reform. Until that time, reading routines that had been established during the school year should continue without interruption during the summer months.

Read more: Keeping Reading Skills Sharp

Reduce Age-related Memory Loss

Ask the Experts by David Gilboe

Q: Sometimes I worry about my memory.  I know that everyone says your memory gets worse as you get older, but is that true?  If so, is there anything I can do?

A: We all have skips in our memory sometimes— misplacing our keys, forgetting an appointment. As we age, we wonder if these small lapses in our memory are signs of something more serious, like Alzheimer’s, or dementia.

While not everyone will develop dementia or Alzheimer’s, some memory loss is common as we age. That being said, we can reduce age-related memory loss and improve how our brain works. Here are 5 excellent tips from the Mayo Clinic and the American Psychological Association:

Read more: Reduce Age-related Memory Loss

Oversharenting

Ask the Experts by Nicole Runyon, LMSW

Q: I often share photos and stories of my children on social media. The term, “oversharenting” was just brought to my attention, along with the thought that posting about my children may not be ok with them. I had never thought about it before, but I wonder if my posts are upsetting to my children. Can you shed some light on this?

A: Your social media posts about your children may be upsetting to them. Depending on their age they may see it as an invasion of privacy and may experience a range of feelings from embarrassment to anger at having their lives become public without their permission.

Furthermore, the Internet is permanent, once something is posted it does not go away, even if you delete it. It is important to be mindful about what you are posting. Ask yourself how your child will feel about your post in the future, 5 years from now, or 10 years from now. Read more: Oversharenting

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