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Archive for category: Kids

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Youth Anxiety and Depression on the Rise

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has released the results of the latest Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey and the results are showing rising instances of anxiety and depression in grades 7-12 students.  Learn more about the results and how gender may play a role in the following care of CAMH.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health:  Half of female students in Ontario experience psychological distress, CAMH study shows

 

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Give Gifts That Help Children ‘Grow’

If you’re a keen and organized shopper, I’m sure you have the majority of your holiday gifts already purchased, and if you’re anything like my Mother had everything done and wrapped in August! However, if you’re anything like my husband, you are waiting until the 24th to think about Christmas.

Although Santa and his Elves are hard at work building the toys your children put on their Christmas wish list, there may be a few items you still need to purchase.

We consulted our talented team of Pediatric Occupational Therapists and are happy to provide you with some fun but functional gift inspiration. These are gifts that are educational and stimulate child development:

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Sports Drinks vs. Energy Drinks: Can You Spot the Difference?

Are you able to spot the difference between a regular “sports drink” like a Gatorade and an “energy drink” that is full of caffeine and sugar without looking at the nutrition label?  It might be harder than you think—and if it’s hard for an adult, think of how many kids might make the mistake.  Learn more about a concerning new study warning the dangers of “energy drinks” for youth care of CBC News.

CBC News:  U of C researcher warns parents about dangers of high-caffeine energy drinks

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Sparking Change in the Wake of Tragedy – ‘Buckle up for The Broncos’

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

As a kid in the 80’s I remember seeing a newspaper article about a girl that was struck by a car after exiting a school bus.  There was a picture of the girl on the ground being attended to by emergency personnel.  It was a disturbing image and I was about her age.  After that, it seemed that school buses started to have stop signs and flashing lights, and huge fines were imposed for passing a school bus when it stopped to let children on or off.  Whether these two events are directly related or not, it is true that laws tend to change when something horrible happens and people are hurt or killed.

In April of this year, tragedy struck Saskatchewan as the Humboldt Bronco’s Junior hockey team bus was in a collision with a transport truck, killing 16 people on board and seriously injuring 13 others.  Those killed and injured were teenagers, coaches, and trainers.  Could any good come of this senseless loss of life and talent?  Maybe, as those involved are asking people to #buckleupforthebroncos by encouraging the use of seat belts on tour buses if these are present. 

Transport Canada is already responding and by 2020, all newly built transport buses will be required to have seatbelts.

So, what are the current laws in Canada for this?  Well, seatbelt use falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial and territorial governments and in most provinces the law states that seatbelts must be worn if they are provided, but of course, most motor coaches are not required to be equipped with belts, so they are not always available to be worn.  That will change in 2020.

Working in the field of auto insurance where my clients are people injured in car accidents, I can state clearly that seatbelts save lives.  Bus accidents are rare but are catastrophic when they happen.  These new laws could save many lives and hopefully will reduce the significance or impact of bus-accident-related injuries.

But all of this got me thinking…my daughter is a varsity athlete for a prominent University.  I asked her if the coach bus that transports them to games and tournaments has belts.  Her answer was “no, they do not”.  I suspect this means that most University, College or Sports teams buses don’t as well, so change is necessary and if these buses can’t be retrofitted to include belts, they need to be replaced.   I too am in the sports arena as the assistant coach of a sports team and our club also travels by coach bus.  I have asked our travel coordinators to make sure our tour operators provide buses with belts, and if they don’t, to find another vendor.  Hopefully, that can help promote change — one team at a time.

We all need to buckle-up and if belts exist, use them.  Even if you don’t feel the need to wear a belt, in the event of an impact if you are unsecured you would be tossed around the inside of the vehicle, threatening the security of others.  Secure yourself, secure your belongings, and secure your passengers.  There is no logical reason not to.

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The A to Z of OT: K is For… Kids Health

Occupational Therapists work with people of any age, including children.  Occupational Therapists can assist children in many ways including, growth and development, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, overcoming eating issues and more.  Learn about some of the many ways an OT can help children in our post, Occupational Therapy Works for Kids.

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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The A to Z of OT: H is For… Handwriting Help

One of the main reasons that parents seek Occupational Therapy services for their children arises from problems with printing and handwriting.   Although once taught in schools, the learning of this basic and essential skill is no longer part of curriculums.  While many children quickly take to printing, many have difficulties.  When difficulties arise, an Occupational Therapist can help.  Learn how Occupational Therapists help provide solutions to printing problems and make learning creative and fun in the following video from our OT-V video series

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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Beat Bullying with a Little Help From OT

Despite a huge focus on kindness, acceptance, and belonging, bullying still exists.  Young children, adolescents and even adults who find themselves being bullied by their peers often struggle through these traumatic experiences.  When it comes to “beating bullying” OT can help!  Occupational Therapists in South Africa who founded BullyBusters recently presented their helpful methods at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists conference in Cape Town.  Learn more about BullyBusters and their top tips to both bully-proof yourself and to overcome bullying if you’re already a victim in the following article.

Parent 24:  Practical tips on how to deal with bullying, the OT way

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Let’s Talk About Sex… and Education

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Sexuality is an integral part of being human and is another one of those concepts that exists on a spectrum.  It contains with it physical, emotional, social, behavioral and relational elements that impact us all at various levels and times in our lives.  As an occupational therapist, I have had many conversations with clients about changes in sexual activity post-disability, injury or trauma.  Some of these conversations are as simple as “sex is the last thing on my mind” to “I would just like to sleep beside my spouse again”…to “do you have any resources or devices you can suggest to help me re-engage sexually”…

It was in 2000 when, during my OT training, we had a lecture designed to educate and inform us about adaptive sexuality and sexual activity.  The lecturer was perfect – he was a social worker, openly gay, and owned a retail store for adult intimacy items.  He was very knowledgeable about the topic of adaptive sexuality, counselled people at his store, and the topic clearly did not make him at all uncomfortable.  But that was not true of our class.  Soon after he started his lecture and produced some adaptive items that his clients have found helpful, half of our class got up and left (in fairness, he told us all if the topic made us uncomfortable he would not be offended if we left).  I was amazed and disappointed at the same time.  Here we were, in the process of being trained to help people function in all areas of life after disability, and some members of my class were not open to learning about this.  I guess that explains why the spectrum exists – because we all have various levels of comfort with such a vulnerable, intrusive and often “taboo” topic.  

Fast forward almost 20 years to the first weeks of school, I can understand the current debate in Ontario over the topic of sex and sex education and fully appreciate both sides of the argument.  But as a parent of four teenage girls, I must ask: “what is best for the kids”?  Well, that answer too will be complicated – for some, it will be best for them to learn from their parents and for others, the school will do a better job of educating them in a way that is respectful, honest, inclusive and forthcoming.  What I think we don’t want as parents, educators, or as a society, is for kids to “figure it out on their own” and turn to the internet and social media to get answers to their important questions.  As we all know, the internet contains a lot of harmful images, video, and opinions that could negatively impact them if they go looking.

Of greatest concern, however, is the mental health of the kids who have thoughts, feelings, emotions or experiences with sexuality that are unconventional, confusing, violating or just plain scary.  If these kids are not given the proper channels, at home or school, to talk and sort-through, understand, cope with and manage these, how will they adjust?  We know kids today are increasingly anxious and depressed, we know suicidal ideation and risk is high in youth, so how can we best support them?  I personally don’t think that is through undermining research that tells us these conversations need to happen, or by resurrecting outdated anything that we know is obsolete to appease those (like half of my OT class) who find these topics, and the evolution of sexuality over the last 20 years, uncomfortable.  Kids are smart and instinctive – if adults are fighting over this, the entire concept of helping them through the many phases of sexual development may become something they won’t allow any caring and responsible adult to be a part of.  That would be a poor outcome for us all.

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I Already Passed Kindergarten: A Responsibility Lesson for Kids

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

When my children were young, each September I would take some time to write letters to the teachers my children would have for the upcoming year.  I have found this to be an effective way to help the teacher get to know my child more quickly, and to understand who they are beyond their informal and scripted report card from the year before.

In this letter I would describe my child – what they are like as a student and a person, and what they do and don’t do well.  But beyond this, I also explain the culture of our family when it comes to homework.  I remember when my daughter was in kindergarten she didn’t finish a homework assignment.  I got a note home from the teacher highlighting this.  It was written to me.  I responded with: “I already passed kindergarten, please hold my child responsible for not meeting her classroom expectations”.   I have enough to do.  I have to parent them, keep them safe, plan for the present and future, make sure they get along with their siblings, ensure they become responsible and respectful adults, have clean clothes, food to eat.  I really don’t need to do their homework.

My children know my philosophy on schoolwork.  This is for them, not me.  It is up to them to know what is due and when, and to ask for help if they need it.  They are not to cram and ask for things the night before.  Bedtime is bedtime, not to be extended because of homework procrastination.  When I help them this is in the form of assisting them to organize the work, break it into manageable chunks, showing them simple ways to understand the content, and asking them if they feel this will meet the expectations of the classroom.

I expect teachers to hold my children accountable for completing their assignments.  If this means no recess, extra homework, a failing grade, a trip to the principal’s office, so be it.  I trust the school system and the measures they have in place to educate my children – if I didn’t, I would pursue other options.  Learning, like working, involves responsibility, commitment, accountability, organization, planning and time-management.  Kindergarten and beyond is the perfect place to accumulate these skills, as I feel the true value of school is not in the content, but in learning how to learn, be around others, and manage the expectations of someone in charge.

In Kindergarten my girls had to participate in a car rally.  The task was simple – make a car, and parade around the school in a foot race, holding the car around your waist.  One kid arrived with a car made of wood.  It had working lights, mirrors, and tires that rotated on a functional axle.  He couldn’t even lift it.  I wonder if his parent failed the assignment?