Saturday, December 30, 2006

Parents Eat More Than Childless Couples


Every parent knows the temptation of eating up their children's leftovers. But all those bits of ice cream, crisps and other salty snacks are taking their toll.

New research shows it adds up to the equivalent in saturated fat of an entire pepperoni pizza a week.

For the first time researchers have counted up the fat consumed by adults living with children and compared it to the amount eaten by those living in child-free homes.

They found parents eat an extra 5 grams of fat daily - including 1.7 grams of the most unhealthy saturated fat linked to heart disease. That's around one-quarter of the total 'permitted' amount of fat an adult should be eating a day - and equivalent to a pepperoni pizza a week in saturated fat alone.

Living with children also means you are more likely to eat foods such as cheese, ice cream, beef, pizza and salty snacks, says a report in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Dr Helena Laroche of the University of Iowa led the study, which looked at questionnaires completed by 6,600 adults living with and without children who were asked about their consumption of high-fat foods.

She said 'Adults' fat intake, particularly saturated fat, is higher for those who live with children compared with those who don't live with children.

'It appears to be a combination of being tempted by the food left over by children and having this kind of food easily available in the home.

'They ate more snacks and convenience foods - and it's probably time pressures that are responsible.

'There's also a perception that children will only eat hot dogs or macaroni and cheese - but once these foods are in their house even if bought for the children, adults appear more likely to eat them' she said.

Dr Laroche said the study showed all adults ate more fat than recommended for a healthy heart.

Healthy eating guidelines recommend no more than 10 per cent of calories a day should come from fat, which means around 20 grams a day at most for someone eating 2,000 calories, she said.

'But adults living with children ate the most fat, including extra saturated fat' she added.

Dr Laroche, who specialises in children's medicine, said the study showed how the family's eating habits were shaped by children's food choices.

She said: 'An important implication of the study is that healthy changes in eating need to focus on the entire household, not just individuals, especially when there is so much obesity among the young.

'Often children demand these less healthy foods but everyone's eating them and it's a pattern we've got to change by helping everyone think more about their dietary choices' she added.

Source: The Daily Mail (UK)

Can we all say Duh! I'm certainly one that indulges in excuses like "not wasting" food. I've had my share of chips, crackers, and other salty high carb snacks!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Fun With Organic Facts

U.S. Farmland- Organic 0.2% and Traditional: 99.8%

U.S. Food Consumption- Organic 2.5% and Traditional: 97.5%

Share consumed by U.S.: 42%
Share consumed by rest of world: 58%

U.S. Organic Food Sales: 1997 $3.6B, 2005:$13.8B

Source courtesy of Wired magazine (sources from Nutrition Business Journal, Organic Monitor, OTA, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, US Dept of Ag.) Love it!

Can one tell that I've caught up on my reading pile this week? :)

Powdered Nondairy Creamers and Fertilizers, What Do They Have In Common?

According to Wired magazine's article about Nestle Coffee-Mate (yes, I certainly have some in my cabinet for those milkless emergencies, this product contains Dipotassium Phosphate, a common fertilizer and pesticide (for fungal diseases. Natch, Coffee-Mate also contains other lovely ingredients like corn syrup (sugar), vegetable oil solids, sodium caseinate, monglycerides and diglycerides, sodium alumionosilicate, artificial flavors, and annato (for coloring so it looks more, you know, dairy-ish). Since I rarely believe anything at face value, I spent some time this morning learning about this fertilizer. It's all good.

According to the EPA's Fact Sheet, this fertilizer "ingredient" as summarized below:
This active ingredient is commonly sprayed on leaves as a fertilizer, and seems also to help control certain fungal diseases on ornamentals. When used in association with another fertilizer, dipotassium phosphate is approved for use in the manufacturing of pesticide products intended to control certain fungal diseases on ornamentals. When label directions are followed, this active ingredient is not expected to harm people or the environment.

And even more interestingly, item 3 assesses risks to human health:

Based on the known properties of this commonly used fertilizer and the results of toxicity tests conducted on the end-use product, no risks to human health are expected from exposure to this fungicide.

And I repeat. Where are the studies backing this statement of risk? Oh, right. According to the FDA, they only refer to science when we try to advocate for special needs children.

Food from cloned animals safe to eat: FDA

Food from cloned animals safe to eat: FDA
By Missy Ryan

Milk and meat from some cloned animals is safe to eat and can be sold in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday in a landmark draft ruling that brings the controversial technology one step closer to Americans' grocery carts.
If given final approval, the ruling would allow the sale of food from cloned cattle, pigs and goats, but not sheep, for the first time in the United States.
The agency said it would be unlikely to recommend special labels for the cloned food, but would not decide on the labeling issue until after it gets public comment.
"No unique risks for human food consumption were identified in cattle, swine or goat clones," the FDA said in a draft risk assessment, which now enters a public comment period before the agency makes its final decision.
The agency said it did not have enough information to rule on sheep clones. But it said food from cloned cattle, pigs, goats or sheep did not need additional safeguards.
Cloning to make genetic copies of animals works by taking cells from an adult and fusing them with other cells before implanting them in a surrogate mother. Hundreds of copied livestock already exist, but most producers have agreed not to sell them ahead of the FDA decision.
Advocates of livestock cloning hope the technology will help produce more milk and lean, tender meat by creating more disease-resistant animals.
But some consumer and religious groups strongly oppose the idea, arguing that scientists don't know enough yet about the effect of cloning on nutrition or biology. They also want more time for public debate on cloning ethics.
A handful of U.S. companies now clone animals, and there are only about 150 cloned cattle in the country.
Even if the FDA does issue a final approval for cloned food, consumers may be wary. More than half of consumers polled in a survey released last month by the International Food Information Council said they were unlikely to buy food made from cloned animals, no matter what the government says.
Some affected industries have also expressed fear that doubts about cloning could turn away consumers.
"Animal cloning is a relatively new technology, and it's important that we have a thorough, deliberative dialogue where people can openly discuss any concerns," the International Dairy Food Association said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey)
Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.

Wow. Another mindblowing move by the FDA. No unique risks? Do they really think the American public is that stupid? I mean really!

Let's point out what's obviously missing. Studies anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
For a government that stands only behind "science", WHERE IN THE HELL IS IT?

Oh, right. What am I thinking? That the FDA's MO will change? They just throw known neurotoxins and newly formed animals into the system and wait and see what happens ONLY when there are ramifications that can't be ignored.

Pretending I'm not a human being for this really an economically wise choice for the FDA to make based on past history? Introducing something and recalling it later after irreversable/unforseen damage has been done? Can we all see the exponential costs for this behavior?

Maybe the FDA could use a good behavior modification program!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

ABA and Science

Today I read a beautifully written response to a post about ABA and if it's scientifically proven. I got very inspired to share this! One of those hot topics that often result in high emotions and my least favorite Autism activity, Therapy Bashing. As we all know, there are gobs to say about ABA - pro, con, bad, good, science to back it up, no science to back it up.

See below:

A therapist wrote, "I think that an important question to ask is "Scientifically Proven" to do what? If someone says that ABA is scientifically proven to: Cure autism? No. Improve IQ? No. Alleviate some of the symptoms of autism? Yes. Alleviate all of the symptoms of autism? No.

When discussing treatment options with parents, I phrase it in this way:
ABA is not a cure. Some children are able to become indistinguishable from
their peers but many do not. However, the scientific nature of a good
program should ensure progress at your child's level because data is
collected and used on a regular basis to make decisions. If you watch a
video of "Floortime" and an ABA session in the "NET", you would not be able
to tell the two apart. It is the data and careful analysis of the data that
sets ABA apart from other "therapies".

I think that the next set of studies from the ABA community should focus
more on specific outcomes of the individual students instead of trying to
reach "normalcy". How many of the kids we treat are unable to request their
wants and needs prior to intervention? How many kids are able to get
dressed independently, are potty trained, and eat with utensils? Would they
be able to do those things without ABA intervention? We have many (did you
say 800?) single subject designed studies that look at specific strategies.
Can't we expand upon them to show how beneficial ABA can be even if students
aren't "cured"?

Thankfully, because of ABA (NET style) and other interventions, my son is no longer disabled by autism. (he still has autism) And yes, it's painful to know that for others, this isn't the case. Many "try everything" to help support their children to no avail. This fact keeps me awake some nights.

My son has Autism, and mostly likely always will. He is uniquely wired and uniquely himself, thanks to genes, environment, and yes his autism. ABA has taken the disability part away, amazingly. And I wouldn't change a thing about him today.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Misinformation and the Flu Shot

Does the flu shot really decrease the number of deaths and hospital stays each year? You decide. And natch, we aren't even talking about mercury and other issues.

Each year, we see the big campaign from our government to get the shot. We see misinformation printed by the press that scares many parents into vaccinating their children. My favorite misinformation? When they print world statistics, not U.S.A. stats to scare people into submission. Most disgustingly, pregnant women are sought after.

At the end of each flu season, we see an article or two published, discreatly positioned, with a few telling lines hidden toward the bottom of these articles. They often say the number of fatalities didn't increase from the prior year significantly. There are countless articles on the subject of vaccinations as we all know. I am certainly not an expert. But I'm also not stupid. Anyway, here's a quick read for those considering a flu shot this year:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ali G/ Borat Comedian is Simon Baron Cohen's Cousin (or brother?)

Riotous, rude, controversial, even racist (or "racialist," as he might say)—these have been just a few adjectives used to describe the cultural phenomenon Ali G, the creation of British-born actor-comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

I saw an article on him where they linked him with his cousin. Then I watched his bio unfold on Barbara Walter's 10 Most Fascinating people episode. Barbara mentions Sacha has never been interviewed out of character.

Interesting. Many comedians are on the spectrum. Some say that comedy (and acting) are nice options (if one is talented). Our peeps have quite a sense of humor in my opinion! Many people are passionate about advocating for people with ASD, but none are more passionate than people with family member or a close friend that's on the spectrum. Hmm....gotta wonder where Simon gets his motivation! I love it!

FYI I orginially posted that they were brothers. I changed it based on the comments, but I didn't research the exact relation. One of these days I will, on my list.

Tonight's News on NYS Ed.'s aversive behavioral regulations

Look what just got sent to me....For more information, see the link at bottom of article.

As of now, NBC Channel 4 (NYC) news is scheduled to present a piece this
evening, Thursday, on the NYS Ed. Dept.'s aversive behavioral intervention
regulations. Of course, if Mt. Saint Helens erupts, or the war in Iraq ends
abruptly, the piece may be rescheduled for a later airing. However, at this
time, it is supposed to appear during tonight's NBC Channel 4's 6 o'clock
news. I expect the piece will document some of the kinds of serious
physical and emotional harm children with disabilities have been, are
currently, or may in the future be exposed to in NY's schools, with or
without parental knowledge or consent, due to these regulations.

Since these regulations cover every single NYS child with a disability, and
since they approve "emergency" use of "reasonable force" - even to stop a
kindergarten child from destroying a school crayon, or from annoying a
teacher with hand-flapping or verbal tics- it is important that all parents
and guardians see this show and decide whether they wish to take steps to
protect their children from "trauma, injury and sometimes death."
Unfortunately, according to the US Dept. of Health & Human Services, trauma,
injury and sometimes deaths can, and do, sometimes result from use of these
behavior control methods.

Dee Alpert, Publisher
The Special Education Muckraker

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Plastic Bags from the Gap and Children's Place

Is it me and my bionic sense of smell? These holiday bags are making me gag. I had to pull over and move my newly purchased stuff to the trunk area. I was curious to see what these bags are made of. They seem full of ink that seems to stain my hands for starters.

My question. What the heck are these bags made of???

I thought I'd trot over to the horse's mouth - the Gap online. I found very informative stuff, but no specifics about these stinkin' (pun intended) bags:

I did, however, find something interesting posted under the corporate pages of Gap Inc, under Social Responsibility: (hint: look for autism words like mercury and wheat)

Low-Toxic Materials
Lighting is one of the largest sources of mercury in the solid waste stream. We're switching from traditional fluorescent lamps to low-mercury fluorescent lamps when the old ones burn out in all locations — stores, offices and distribution centers — to reduce the amount of toxic waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators.

Our stores and distribution centers also use non-formaldehyde wheat board for stockroom and warehouse shelving and have replaced chlorinated adhesives with low-volatile organic compound adhesives.

I must have missed that one about mercury in fluorescent lights. I thought fluorescent light was horrible for a million other reasons for us and our kids. Yikes! Oh, and the wheat comment. I thought corn dominated that market. Hmm...maybe not for the Gap. So their clothing may have trace elements of wheat? Interesting.

I'm going to send them an email in hopes I'll have an answer. If not, then I'm off to Children's Place.

Growing Up

Check Out Those ASD Kitchen

I had a VERY interesting day yesterday. Leo had his 1st grade "archnemisis" over for a play date! Could it be? Charlie (the bus taunter/teaser?) from my 1/27/06 entry on

Natch, I barely slept the night before because I was consumed by the fact that the boy that gave my son so much grief will be over! And I was nervous about handling him. The one time he was over, I failed miserably at managing him (in my defense the parents didn't give me a heads up, can we say PID??) He broke some toys, crashed Leo's bike into a tree after riding over my pumpkin vines, dumped every toy bin over, and scared Sydney on purpose among other things. How much can happen in one play date? A LOT.

Let me just say it. IT WENT WELL. SUCCESS AND NO STRESS. Woohoo! I don't know if it's going to happen often, but they do like each other and had some fun.

And now for some background on this duo...This boy Charlie and Leo were on "different teams" and "not friends" practically all last year, after their friendship quickly fizzled. Leo was quickly turned off by his very active behavior and that he got into "trouble" so much at school. Later on in the year Charlie and a mid-year transfer student Harrison became fast friends. Of course, because life is complicated, Charlie and Harrison ride the same bus and live on the same road.

So recently, Harrison didn't ride the bus for a couple of days. Charlie and Leo sat together, and I gather they "discovered" each other. They are not in the same 2nd grade class this year, although Harrison and Leo are. They both began asking for playdates, which terrified me. I knew from last year that Charlie was on different medication and doing well with listening and controlling unacceptable behavior. I'm guessing he's ADHD. So because I'd seen able to observe him, AND I really wanted success, especially with a neighbor, I wanted to make this work (like I have anything to do with it).

They didn't quite know what to do with each other for the first 20 minutes. I thought "Oh God!!!". Charlie kept walking around and around and around while Leo was patiently following him asking him if he'd like to do X, Y, or Z. Finally, with some suggestions from me, they began playing outside. Natch, Charlie found the only dangerous thing out there, a fallen tree that hadn't quite fallen completely (yes, danger danger)and decided to hang from it, and in 5 minutes, convince Sydney to climb it. Images of dead or trapped kids danced in my head. Yes, the part about keeping my eye on him the entire time...I should've kept my plan intact. But other than that, they jumped on the tramp and ran around finding stuff.

I was pretty proud of Charlie - he has learned to listen and had some self-control. He also considered Leo's feelings and preferences. Not much eye contact, actually less than last year. Towards the end, I let them play X-Box (whatever that is). It involves the T.V. is all I know.

I couldn't believe it - I had prepared myself for anything - I had all my chores done including dinner. I had prepped Sydney that I'd have no time with her as I'd be occupied with the boys' safety. And it all turned out well. His mom came to pick up, and I told her what a wonderful kid he is, and that they had to refamiliarize themselves, but after that warmup period, they got along. Clearly they don't have too much in common, but both had fun. I was so proud of Leo - he didn't mention football, soccer, or any other sports games to do since he knew Charlie wouldn't be interested.

His mom has never mentioned Charlie's differences, nor have I mentioned anything about Charlie's history with Leo. I threw out several openings, but she didn't bite. Clearly she doesn't want to share with me, which is understandable. She has no idea what people say about her son, and I know he doesn't get invited to many birthday parties, etc, because he's a behavior problem. The mom doesn't stay at parties to facilitate, which makes it even harder for other parents to learn about Charlie and keep him from becoming even more unpopular.

So that's that story.

Harrison, the other little boy that is Charlie's best pal, is a good friend of Leo's too. We even went trick-or-treating with him and his family. Anyway, Leo and Harrison got into an argument, so for about a week "they weren't friends". Again, it began as a bus issue. Every day, Harrison and Leo would race to the bus, hoping to be first in line. Many times Harrison would get there first, but if Leo did, Harrison would elbow his way ahead of Leo, pushing him out of the way so Leo would be second. Leo told Harrison every day to stop it, that he didn't like it. But Harrison ignored him and remained 1st in line.

So at the end of the week, Leo told me about it, and that he was really frustrated because Harrison wouldn't listen. I said that friends don't treat each other like that. That friendship is about respecting each other, etc. With Leo always in control, I asked him what he thought he could do to solve the problem. Talking to Harrison wasn't working. What could he do now?

He didn't have any ideas, and so I suggested that he "ignore" Harrison, or tell him that he's not being a friend, and until he knocks it off with the bus line, he's not going to treat him as a friend either. That he doesn't deserve Leo's friendship. Let me clarify, I was totally winging it! I knew I should keep Leo in control always, but that's all I knew to do.

The next day, Leo came home and said he "tried to ignore him, but it was just too hard mom." I can't blame the kid, he's in his class, 2 desks down. The next day after that, he managed to ignore him enough for Harrison to get the idea. And as how things work, Harrison decided to ignore Leo too. This went on for a few days, and then they finally "forgave" eachother, and are now "friends again."

That night, I asked Leo if they watched T.V. AGAIN at school. This drives me crazy. Whenever the weather is bad or something is going on in the gym, out comes the VCR. Of course, the kids love it. I asked Leo what they watched, and he said lately it's been "Reading Rainbow". I had no recollection. Leo said we had watched it at home a few times. Still didn't ring a bell - I normally only record PBS type shows, and when he was into it, Power Rangers. Leo said, "Let me sing the song for you." And he begins to sing in a lovely little boy voice, so sweet and innocent. No embarrassment. I enjoyed every second of it, also relishing how creative he was in trying to jog my memory. "NOW do you remember Mom?" And I did.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Shot Out to The Devine Miss M at Whitterer

I have been totally inspired by Madeline at I've always wanted to share pictures. I am a big shutterbug and I am indeed a very visual person. Madeline has such a way with pictures, how she can show everyday life that doesn't necessarily focus on a person to demonstrate so much about an idea. So I thought to Self. Can I try to do this?

So, in your honor Madeline, I give you some shots of my everyday life. So I hope that can hold a candle! In any event, I had great fun.

Todays Reflections

Normally, I think about the choices I've made in my life daily. Sometimes it makes me nutty (obsessed), which isn't healthy. Reflect, reflect, reflect. It's like New Years every day (364 days). Actually, on the real New Years, I make sure I take a "day off" from reflecting.

It's nothing out of the ordinary, stuff most people think about on occassion. I'll go over the kids' school situations, their health, their mental wellness. I think about what high school would be ideal. Am I crazy? I'll think about moving, a different job, different friends to focus on. I'll think about my personal life - my spouse, my family, and my relationships with them and I think about their challenges.

But I do it each day. Do other people do this? Daily? I always seem to be in evaluation mode. Note to Self: Try to "extinguish" this behavior (a shot out to the ABA people), and live more in the moment. Each day, try to stop and smell the whatever.

As far as the kids and obsessing over them, I am attempting to not think about their futures until next year. I began after the stressful event of Conferences. I needed a break! So far so good until tonight...

So my friend and I were supposed to be going to the movies tonight. Part of my personal Wellness Program (i.e. have some fun and eat better) She cancelled, but I rallied and called another friend to see if she was free. Friend #2 was dying to get out, and we both had talked about the latest Christopher Guest movie. We really wanted to see it even though the critics didn't like it (which will mean I really will...)

Anyway, friend number 2's daughter got hurt and cancelled, so I was destined to spend the evening doing something "practical", since I "goofed off" all day (did errands and laundry all day while entertaining my 5yr old, but spent 1 1/2 hours napping and reading People.

So I found myself listening to Beck at full volume while driving to my 3rd location, looking for distilled water. Eckerd, nope. Get mad because they sell bottled water for babies with flouride, next to the empty spot for distilled water. (Our food supplies have too much flouride in them which can be toxic). Anyway....Stop & Shop, nope. Get even madder that the same bottled water brand is located in the distilled water space on the shelf. CVS, bingo!

So tonight, I spend a wild Saturday mixing my newly purchased distilled water with my not-so-newly purchased homeopathic remedies. One can dilute the solutions to make it last longer or add people to the protocol. Again...I began my habit of reflecting away at life. I didn't make it till the new year, but hey, it was good. I was able to access my "former self" before kids, before my husband, way back when I was just concentrating on me - figuring out who I was. It was nice. Alone, dark out, chewing on my beloved Hot Tomales candy (think Red dye number 5), and just thinking with no distractions. And it was nice!