Thursday, November 29, 2012

Alternative Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything

We all know one of those people that are impossible to buy gifts for because they buy what they want, when they want it.  You have the option of giving them a gift that they may or may not want, buying them a gift card that they may or may not use, or giving them an alternative gift.  An alternative gift is one that benefits the less fortunate and honors the receiver.  Here are some ideas for alternative gifts.
  1. Food and Shelter for Americans.  AGI (Alternative Gifts International) collects donations to make it possible to award grants to food pantries and homeless shelters for people right here in America.  It costs $45 to feed a family of 5 for one week.  It costs $5 to feed one person for a day.  Over 5 million households received food from a food pantry in 2010.
  2. Pregnant goat for people in Haiti.  Most families in rural Haiti live on $2 a day.  Many of the residents are suffering from malnutrition because they are not consuming enough protein in their diet.  One way that organizations have found they can help the Haitians is by teaching them to raise goats.  By giving the gift of a pregnant goat to a family, you could be turning their life around forever.  A pregnant goat costs $110 to give to a family.
  3. Books for Nicaragua.  More than 2 million children attend schools in Nicaragua that are so poor they have no books to teach the kids.  TFL (Trees for Life) is providing books at a deep discount.  Donate 5 books for a school or library for $30 or 1 book for $6.
  4. Rescue a girl from sex slaveryWomen and children in SE Asia and India are considered property to be bought and sold.  IJM (International Justice Mission) works to find these victims and help them.  $72 pays for an IJM lawyer to defend these girls in court to try to gain their release.  $44 will pay for 1 day of aftercare for a girl that has been saved.
  5. Save moms and babies.  CRS (Catholic Relief Services) has come up with a way to load lifesaving prenatal information onto mobile phones so that they could train expectant mothers.  The new mothers can send a text to the healthcare team once the baby is born so that a healthcare worker can visit soon after the child is born.  A preloaded phone is $88.  For pre-natal and post-partum healthcare visits it would cost only $33.
  6. Educate a girl.  For only $30 you can send an orphan to school.  Getting an education will radically improve the future for these children.  For less than many spend on lunch during the month you can educate a child and change her life forever.  Make your donation through Save the Children.
  7. Give a sheep to help a family out of povertyA sheep will supply wool for warmth, milk to drink, and fertilizer to improve the daily life of a poor family.  Any extra products can be sold at the market to further help out the family.  You will get a holiday card indicating the gift you gave in the name of someone else.  All of this for only $50.
  8. Adopt a sea turtleDefenders of Wildlife lobby to protect wildlife by protecting the nesting area of sea turtles, to educate surrounding homeowners, and to defend international laws that are being violated.  For $45 you will receive a large plush toy representing the sea turtle that you have adopted, a personalized certificate, a photo and a fact sheet.  For $25 you can get a small plush toy, certificate, photo and fact sheet.  For $15 you just get the certificate, photo and fact sheet.  Defenders offer many other types of wild animal adoptions.
  9. Give a flock of chicksHeifer International helps all over the world.  You can buy a flock of chicks for $20.  One chicken can lay 200 eggs in a year, which provides a lot of protein and nutrition for starving children.  Any extra eggs can be shared or sold to help buy other necessities.  Any offspring are to be given to another family in the community along with the training on how to care for them.  Chickens are easy to care for and help a family survive.
  10. Give food to a local food shelter.  Print up your own card and include the receipt where you donated food to a local food pantry in honor of someone else.  This gift will benefit people who truly need help.
Christmas is all about giving, and if you have someone that doesn’t really want nor need anything, you can give to a charity in their name instead.  You will feel good and so will they because you have helped someone less fortunate.

Source: (

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Signs Your Child is Addicted to Texting

Instant messaging, Twitter and unlimited texting on many cell phone plans have led to a texting craze among today’s youth. Kids will commonly communicate by texting instead of speaking, even when sitting next to each other on the couch. This texting phenomenon is something that is becoming an increasingly large concern to some parents. Instead of worrying about cigarettes, alcohol or drug addiction, they fear their children are becoming addicted to texting.

How do you know if your kid’s texting is getting out of hand? Here are 10 signs your child may be addicted to texting:
  1. Calluses on thumbs – Check your child’s thumbs for calluses. This is a clear sign that texting is getting out of hand. Your kid may also start complaining about pain or cramps in the thumbs. This can be caused by severe overuse of the common digits used for texting, and warning bells should be ringing.
  2. Runs into things – Is your child constantly running into things? Kids who are addicted to texting pay more attention to their phones than where they’re going, and take little notice of any obstacles that may be in their way.
  3. Deformed neck – Does your child have a permanently bowed head because of a neck deformity? By looking down at a phone for extended periods of time, growing children can end up with a deformed neck.
  4. Speaks in acronyms – When your kids actually talk to you instead of texting, do they speak in acronyms? Are they commonly saying things like OMG and LOL? If you find yourself beginning to wonder if they’ve learned a new language, you’re right. The inability to speak in complete sentences using real words is a clear sign of texting addiction.
  5. Attached to phone – Has your child’s phone become a part of their anatomy? Are they continually within arm’s reach of their phone at all times? Are they constantly checking it for new messages? This is another sign you should be concerned.
  6. Unaware of surroundings – Are your kids completely oblivious to their surroundings? Are they unaware of spectacular sunsets or a giraffe in the back yard? Children who are addicted to texting become so focused on their phones they ignore everything else.
  7. Takes phone to bed – Is your child taking his phone to bed? Some kids will spend all night texting with their friends while their parents are completely unaware. This can lead to serious sleep deprivation and teachers will find them nodding off at school. If you suspect this, you may need to confiscate the phone at bedtime.
  8. Panics attacks – If your son or daughter loses their phone, do they go into a panic attack? Kids who are addicted to texting become completely unhinged when separated from their phones. This is a serious sign of addiction that needs to be addressed.
  9. Unable to function otherwise – If you take the phone away from your child, is he completely unable to function without it? Kids with serious texting addictions can have trouble functioning without the constant connection to others texting gives them.
  10. Combative behavior – Does your child become combative when you confront him with his texting problem? This behavior is another sign of addiction. If this happens, you may need to schedule an intervention.
Can this texting epidemic be stopped, or is it too late? Is our youth condemned to deformed necks and callused thumbs, spending their lives completely oblivious to their surroundings? Even though this article is meant to be tongue in cheek, parents do have some reason to be concerned about their children and texting. If your child is displaying unusual behavior you may need to intervene. Remember that you are the parent and you pay the phone bill. Take action before your child is consumed by the texting craze. Kids these days may need a reminder that there is a world beyond their cell phone.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Things Kids are Normally Very Sensitive To

Even though no two kids are alike, there are some things that are fairly predictable with most kids. For example, most girls don’t like squirmy things like worms whereas most boys are fascinated with creepy crawly critters. It’s a stereotype, but it also happens to be pretty accurate. Some kids tend to be sensitive to certain things and other kids, maybe not so much. Here are 10 things that most kids are normally very sensitive to.
  1. Yelling in a negative way – Unless a child is brought up in a home where yelling is the norm, young kids have a tendency to be sensitive to this kind of yelling; particularly if it is harsh and directed at them.
  2. Mean expressions – It’s interesting to note that babies will often cry if someone looks at them in a mean way. Kids in general react to negative facial expressions.
  3. Another child in need – When kids see another child who needs help, they will often try to help the other child. Toddlers will try to comfort babies who are crying, and older kids will often try to assist a toddler who is having difficulty with something. Kids can be selfish and bossy, but they can also be compassionate toward one another.
  4. Their mother’s moods – Most moms will agree that their kids will react to their moods with predictability. When Mom needs alone time, that’s when the kids will cling to her even more. When she’s sad, they will get quiet and try to cheer her up. When she’s happy, they are happy too. And when she’s tired, they will drive her bonkers!
  5. Harsh words – Kids can be very sensitive to harsh words, especially when they come from their parents. Kids like to please adults and want to know that they are loved and accepted. Harsh words can leave them feeling rejected and worthless.
  6. Kind words – Just as kids can be sensitive to harsh words, kind words can have the opposite effect. A few kind words spoken to a kid can make all the difference in the world. Many kids don’t get to hear kind things spoken to them on a regular basis, so when they do hear them, oftentimes, they will treasure those words like precious gems.
  7. Clothing tags – Fortunately, many companies have stopped putting tags on clothing and imprint the information directly on garments instead. Many kids can’t tolerate the tags rubbing against their necks and have to have the tags cut out prior to wearing.
  8. Over stimulation – Most kids can handle only so much stimulation. When there is too much going on – when all the senses are assaulted at once – many kids will go into sensory overload. Then they will act out, cry, and get cranky or hyper.
  9. Loose teeth – When kids begin to lose their baby teeth, they can get sensitive about the prospect of the tooth coming out. Some kids get worried about the blood they will lose, others worry about whether or not it will hurt and how much; some even worry about needing to wear false teeth! Assuring the child that losing teeth is part of growing up might help to quell some of their fears.
  10. Food preferences – Food can be a very touchy subject for some youngsters. They can get very particular and very vocal about their likes and dislikes, and even joking around with them about it can get a rise out of them. As kids grow, their taste buds mature, so rest assured that their tastes will change as time goes on.
Kids can get sensitive about so many things that sometimes parents are in a quandary as to what to do. Just be patient and try to help your child deal with their sensitivities. Realizing that certain sensitivities are perfectly normal and will be resolved as your kid gets older can give you some peace of mind.

Source: (

5 Books on Getting Kids to Go to Bed

For many parents, bedtime is a time of stress and strife. Many kids simply won’t give in to the Sandman when it comes time to end the day and crawl into bed. Their reasons range from fear of the dark to fear of missing out on some exciting late-night adventure that they’re sure will begin just as soon as they drift off to slumberland. For some kids, it may be a matter of asserting control, and for others it’s a tooth-and-nail struggle against sleepiness. Whatever the root cause, the result is the same – a prolonged and tiresome bedtime ritual. Proper rest is an essential component for kids’ health and growth, so you’ve both got a stake in making sure you win the bedtime battle. To help tip the scales in your favor, we’ve assembled a list of five books that cover this very subject.
  1. The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family -by William Sears, M.D. – Here you’ll find tips on how to set up a nighttime ritual that fosters a better sleep environment for your baby and recommendations for when and where to bed your child down. The book addresses sleep issues for babies from infancy through pre-school age, naps, night-feeding, and moving the baby from your bed to her own. And as the title suggests, there are a whole host of tips on how to salvage your own much-needed rest as well.
  1. The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy – by Kim West, LCSW-C – The Sleep Lady®, Ms. West, provides valuable information in this updated edition of her 2004 best-seller. In it, you’ll find suggestions about pacifier use, toddler naps, and even baby yoga positions. Chapters dealing with night terrors, sleepwalking, medical issues and bed-sharing are also included. Of particular note is the Sleep Lady system’s concept of sleep as a learned skill, and its refutation of the cry-it-out credo of other sleep experts.
  1. The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5 – by Jennifer Waldberger, LCSW and Jill Spivack, LMSW – A direct correlation is drawn for parents between developmental issues and how they affect sleep for each stage of development covered in the book, from birth through the age of 5 years. These psychotherapists have worked together and with Hollywood A-list clients to develop a system they claim will have your baby sleeping soundly within as little as three days’ time. 
  1. The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems: Sleeping, Feeding, and Behavior–Beyond the Basics from Infancy Through Toddlerhood – by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Beau – The key to a good night’s sleep for baby and you, according to Trogg, is learning to speak banguage, or baby language. Once you understand what’s keeping baby awake, the battle is half over already. Using the E.A.S.Y. System – Eat, engage in someActivity, Sleep, resulting in time for You – provides a routine that will lead to more restful sleep for both baby and you.
  1. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child – by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. – PediatricianWeissbluth sets down steps for parents to take that will help cope with crybaby syndrome, bedwetting, and common mistakes parents make when trying to get their baby to sleep. He also explains how daytime sleep and nighttime sleep differ from one another, and why both are important to your child’s development.

Source: (

How to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables Without Complaining

With childhood obesity rates in the United States skyrocketing, it should come as no real surprise that more American kids are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and other health problems related to poor dietary habits than ever before. Unfortunately, getting picky kids to willingly eat vegetables instead of the high-fat foods that are actively marketed towards them can be quite a challenge. Most modern parents are well-acquainted with the struggle of maintaining a healthy diet for their children in a society that seems determined to provide them with more sugar and empty calories than nutrition, but there are ways to help your children form good eating habits.
  • Start Early – Introducing your toddler to fruits and vegetables rather than chicken nuggets and French fries can make instilling good habits much easier as they get older. Breaking a bad habit is much more difficult than avoiding the acquisition of one, so limiting your little one’s exposure to unhealthy convenience food from early childhood is best.
  • Limit Unhealthy Purchases – Convincing a child to eat his carrots is sure to be difficult when he knows that there are tater tots in the freezer. Limit the availability of unhealthy options, and make a habit of preparing healthful fare at every opportunity. When there are unhealthy, albeit appealing, foods lurking in the pantry, kids aren’t as likely to complain and beg for those things.
  • Model Good Eating Habits – Kids mimic the adults around them, and they quickly pick up the habits that their grown-up loved ones exhibit. Bemoaning the necessity of a diet rich in fresh produce and vocally yearning for a drive-thru cheeseburger won’t help your child appreciate healthy food as a tasty and nutritious choice, it’ll make eating well seem like an unpleasant task. If choosing broccoli over chili dogs is a chore for you, it’s best to keep that attitude from showing when dinnertime rolls around. Remember, you can’t expect a child not to complain when they hear you doing just that.
  • Be Firm – When a child throws a tantrum and refuses to eat her vegetables, many parents simply relent to avoid difficulty. Though it’s infinitely easier to cave under pressure and provide your child with the unhealthy foods she demands than it is to stand firm, it’s ultimately detrimental to her health and discipline to continually give in to her. Forcing a child to choke down foods that they truly dislike, however, will only breed resentment. Experiment with different preparations, combinations, and types of vegetables until you find what works for your family, and resist the temptation to take the easier path. When good habits have been established, the number of dinnertime complaints will drop dramatically.
  • Get Kids in the Kitchen – Young children love to help, and meal preparation is no exception. Furthermore, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from knowing that they aided in the creation of the meal makes healthy food more appealing. The ability to make good choices stems from a good education, and that education begins in the home. Rather than making the kitchen off-limits for your kids, get them in on the action and take every available opportunity to teach them about the importance of a good diet.
  • Presentation is Key – Even adults are likely to turn their noses up at poorly presented, unappetizing fare, and kids tend to be far pickier. Getting kids to willingly eat their vegetables can be as simple as presenting them in a way that’s both tasty and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Adopt a “No Hiding” Policy – Sneaking vegetables into foods that your kids already love will certainly make them a part of their diet, but it won’t help them acquire the good eating habits that are essential to maintaining health as they get older. Kids will still plead and pout when spinach shows up on the dinner table, regardless of how much you’ve been hiding in their smoothies.
  • Start and Maintain a Family Garden – Researchers at the Department of Endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic have determined that kids who are actively involved in maintaining a family vegetable garden are more likely to enjoy the results than their non-gardening peers. Even a small plot can help generate excitement and make kids eager to eat food that they’ve helped to grow, so consider starting a garden if at all possible. In addition to boosting kids’ likelihood of willingly eating fresh produce, gardening also serves as a physically active hobby.
Kids who have grown accustomed to a diet comprised mainly of processed food will almost certainly be resistant to a move in a healthier direction initially. Though complaints will be common when you first begin to integrate fresh produce after a long period of unhealthy eating, it’s important to maintain a firm stance. In no time at all, your kids will be on a path to healthier eating without complaints.

Source:  (

How Technology Impacts Academic Success

Undergraduate Students & Technology
Presented By: Please Include Attribution to With This Graphic

What is ANDROID?

Just Got Your First Android Device? Here Are Simple Answers To Your Everyday Questions

The popularity of Android has been on a slow but steady rise. If you aren’t using an iPhone, then your options are pretty limited: Blackberry for the business folk, Android for the everyday iPhone equivalent, then Windows Phone for the rest. Of those 3 alternatives, Android is the most popular. So if you’re just starting off with an Android device, you probably have a few questions on how to proceed.
I’ll be honest–I was a latecomer to the world of smartphones. Yep, I was using an old Samsung flip-phone until Fall 2011 when my contract renewed and I was able to grab an Android phone for free. As a newbie, I had a ton of questions. How do I do this? Where can I get that? The learning process was frustrating, but fun.
Here are some common questions that Android newbies might ask. If you’re new to Android, the answers may help to ease your transition.

1. What is Android?

Android is an operating system based on Linux that has been designed for use in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The chief developer behind Android is Google, though they work in conjunction with the Open Handset Alliance, an organization that aims to develop and maintain standards for mobile devices.

2. Why Android?

There are a number of reasons why users could prefer Android over competing mobile operating systems:
  • User choice. Android can be used on hundreds of handsets and tablets. Instead of being pigeonholed into a particular device, users have the option of choosingwhich device they would prefer to use.
  • Customization. Because Android is an open source operating system, it can be modified by users. If you have the required expertise, you could very well change fundamental functions of the phone to fit your own desires.
  • Google. As the number two largest tech company in the world, Google has proven itself as a competent business. It’s competitors–Microsoft and Apple–are also competent businesses, but some users prefer the way Google does business.
Of course, there are other reasons, too, but these are the main ones that often win users over. None of this is to say that Android is the best mobile operating system–that would be up to personal preference.

3. Where do Android’s version names come from?

You may have noticed a delicious trend in the way Android likes to name its versions: Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean. As I type them right now, my mouth is starting to water.
In essence, Android names each successive version after a dessert that starts with the next letter of the English alphabet. That’s all.

4. Do I need a Google account to use an Android phone?

Technically? No. The phone itself will work just fine without a Google account. However, if you want to take advantage of Google Play–to download apps–then yes, you will need a Google account.
Furthermore, Android actually uses Google accounts to sync phone data if you allow it to. This means that your phone setup is stored on Google’s servers in case something goes wrong and you lose all of your data or something, you’ll be able to go back to a previous version.

5. What are these buttons on my Android phone?

The majority of Android devices come with 4 hardware buttons that are built into the phone. These buttons are (in the sequence shown above):
  • Back: This button will take you back one step to whatever you were doing before your current step. For example, in a web browser, it’ll take you back to the previous page.
  • Menu: Depending on when you tap this button, something will happen. Usually, if you’re inside an app, you’ll be presented with a number of choices. For the most part, it’s used for accessing an app’s settings.
  • Search: If you’re on the home screen, this button will show you a search bar that takes you to search results in a web browser. If you’re in a program, however, usually it will result in finding a specific phrase in that program (like the Find function in Word).
  • Home: If you single tap, this button will take you back to the home screen. If you hold the button, however, it’ll show you a list of all running apps, allowing you to quickly switch between them or close them.

6. How customizable is Android?

The answer is, of course, very customizable. Once you get past the numerous choices of which device you want, you’ll then be able to ponder just which software you want.
Like other mobile operating systems, Android has app functionality. Through Google Play, you can download and install various apps that improve your phone in different ways. There are: games to stave off boredom; productivity apps to keep you sharp and punctual; themes and skins that change how things look; and more.
But unlike other mobile operating systems, Android gives you the freedom to install new ROMs. ROMs are basically other versions of Android. Each ROM is unique in that they are each designed for different purposes. Some ROMs are designed to be fast at the cost of features; others are designed to pack in as many features as they can.
If you know anything about Linux, you can think of ROMs as different flavors of Linux. One ROM might be a Fedora, another could be Red Hat, while another ROM could be Ubuntu. Each is Linux, but they’re all different in noticeable ways. Same with Android and its ROMs.

7. How can I customize my Android home screen?

You can customize your home screen by holding down on icons and moving them around or deleting them. There are three main ways to customize the home screen: wallpapers, app shortcuts from the app drawer, and widgets.

8. What’s the difference between “home screen” and “app drawer”?

This distinction is one of the big differences between Android and iOS. In iOS, when you install new apps, they are placed directly on the home screen. If you fill up your screen, the app icons overflow into the next page. If you want to hide those icons, you can’t–at least not without fiddling with your phone in ways that could void your warranty.
In Android, however, all of your apps are kept in the app drawer. The home screen, then, only contains shortcut icons to the actual apps. Think of it like a Windows PC: your programs are installed into various locations on your computer, but only the shortcuts that you want appear on the desktop. In the screenshot above you can see a home screen to the left (emptier), and an app drawer to the right (a grid full of icons).

9. And what are widgets?

Widgets are dynamic elements that operate directly on the home screen. Every widget looks different and can do pretty much anything that the programmer wants it to do. It sounds confusing, I know, but hopefully I can clear it up.
One widget that you might know is the weather widget. This widget sits on your home screen and displays the current temperature and current weather conditions. It updates over time depending on weather changes.
Another widget you might know is an email inbox widget. This one sits on your home screen and updates every time you receive a new email, allowing you to stay on top of your email as soon as it comes in.
Android comes with a few default widgets, but most of the popular ones are developed by hobby programmers and third-party developers. Widgets can be downloaded on Google Play.

10. What is the “notification bar”?

At the top of your screen, you’ll see a bar that stretched across. This bar will display icons for all of the services currently running on your device, as well as showing you WiFi signal strength, reception bars, time, and more.
If you press and drag the notification bar down, it’ll open up to show you a bunch of notifications (if you have any). This way, you aren’t bombarded by popups and messages every time an app wants to notify you of something.

11. How do I transfer files from my computer to my phone?

The quickest way is to connect your phone to your computer using a USB cable. Once you enable USB storage on your phone, you can freely transfer files back and forth just as if you were transferring files to an external hard drive.
There are other ways, such as through Bluetooth or WiFi, but they are more convoluted and would require an article onto themselves.

12. How do I add apps to Android?

There are two ways you can add apps to your Android device: 1) through Google Play on your phone, or 2) through Google Play on the web.
If you open the Google Play app on your device, you can search the market and find different apps, both free and paid. The operating system handles everything for you, so once you find an app that you want and you click “Install,” you won’t have to do anything else.
If you log into Google Play online using your Google account (the same one you use for your device), then you can actually install straight to your device through your browser. Very convenient.
There are other app-downloading services and markets, like Amazon App Store, but they are another topic altogether.

13. How do I install a new ROM on Android?

Our very own Ryan Dube actually wrote up a post detailing how you can install a custom ROM on your Android device. Be aware, however, that ROM installation is an advanced topic and doing it incorrectly could render your phone bricked.
What is “bricked,” you ask? It means your phone no longer starts up, making it no more useful than a paperweight. A brick, you could say. For more on Android-related terminology and jargon, check out this article with a mini Android glossary.
Hopefully these questions were pertinent to you and you have a better understanding of Android. If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, feel free to ask it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blogs for Parents of Children Who Have Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that first becomes apparent in early childhood and will affect every aspect of a child’s development. The autism spectrum is a range of neurodevelopment disorders that present themselves through repetitive behavior patterns, difficulty communicating and social impairments. Kids who have autism can fall anywhere along the autism spectrum, and those with more manageable symptoms are usually classified as “high functioning.” Parents of children with autism who are in need of support were once somewhat restricted in their ability to reach other parents with children on the spectrum, but the interactive global community created by the Internet and a legion of bloggers has helped to change that. These 30 blog entries can help you find the information you’re looking for, and can also lead you to your own online support system, which will be important as your child grows.
Dealing with a Diagnosis
Because children often begin exhibiting symptoms of autism in late infancy, but do not obtain a diagnosis until toddlerhood or later, their parents can greet an official diagnosis with feelings ranging from relief to anger and despair. These five blog entries tackle the difficult subject of coping with your child’s autism diagnosis so that you can move forward and be proactive about his treatment.
What is Autism?
The autism spectrum includes developmental disorders like Asperger’s syndrome, classical ASD, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, or PDD-NOS. These five blog entries discuss what the autism spectrum is in greater depth, and can help you understand more about what’s happening to your child from a developmental standpoint.
The Great Autism Cause Debate
Because the causes of autism spectrum disorders aren’t fully understood, there are theories blaming everything from standard childhood vaccines to dietary choices. These five blog entries discuss some of those theories and make for interesting reading. However, parents are cautioned to keep in mind that these theories are just that, and should not take the place of information provided by your child’s doctor.
Schools and Educators
Because diagnoses on the autism spectrum are becoming more common, most public schools do have a basic understanding of children’s needs and development. These five blogs are still great resources for parents who are hesitant to send their child to school, and can help to arm you with the information you need to act as an advocate for him.
Nannies, Babysitters and Childcare Providers
Entrusting your child to a new caregiver can be particularly nerve-wracking, but these five blogs are filled with information that you can pass along to them. These five posts are full of recommended reading for parents and childcare providers of children with autism.
One of the biggest challenges that parents of children with autism face is learning to communicate with a child that may have difficulty doing so or is downright unresponsive. These five blog entries discuss the various methods of communicating with your child and the stumbling blocks along the way.

Source: (

How To Help a Child That Can’t Get to Sleep

When bedtime rolls around and your little one has trouble falling asleep it can get distressing for both of you. Not only do you have to deal with a sleepless child at night, but in the morning you may have a grumpy kid on your hands. If you are battling sleepiness at bedtime, consider these 10 tricks to help ease your child into dreamland.
  1. Bedtime stories – Many times, a good bedtime story will do the trick. The secret is to choose a story that doesn’t have a lot of action, but that can still hold the child’s interest. When reading the story, use a voice with little modulation and use lower calming tones. A nice, slightly melodic tone may lull the little one to sleep after just a few minutes.
  2. Sing a lullaby – Singing is another age old method of helping kids to fall asleep. A soft lullaby in a minor key is a good choice to soothe a sleepless child. Of course, just about any song can work as long as it is one that doesn’t make your child more wakeful.
  3. Use a rocking chair – For some kids the rocking movement is enough to put them under. For others, it may be the rocking coupled with singing or humming or telling a story. Slow rhythmical rocking can help settle a little one down and get the child drifting off to sleep.
  4. Play soft music – Choose music that is soft and relaxing. Selections used for massage or meditation may work very well, especially if accompanied by rocking. If it’s a baby or toddler that you’re trying to get to sleep, try holding the child to your chest while rocking as the music is playing.
  5. Try a back rub – Some kids get extremely wound up during the day and, just like adults, they can get tense. A gentle back rub in some cases is all that’s needed to get the child relaxed enough to fall asleep. This is also a nice bonding time for parent and child.
  6. Aromatherapy – There are people who say this is one of the best methods for treating insomnia. There are several blends of pillow sprays that can be used to help a child get to sleep. Most will contain lavender oil. There are also oil diffusers available that can be used in the bedroom with scents that calm and relax. Candles and hot oil diffusers are not recommended to be used with kids, as they may pose a safety hazard.
  7. Warm bath before bed – For many kids, a nice warm bath before bed will ease them into a state of relaxation where they will be able to drift off to sleep without much ado. Using lavender scented lotion afterward may help them also.
  8. Chamomile tea – A warm cup of a chamomile tea blend can be soothing and gently relaxing. Some believe that it also aids in calming teething babies. Be aware that it can cause a reaction in kids who have an allergy to ragweed.
  9. A solid routine – After a long day, some kids have trouble winding down. Having a solid bedtime routine in place can help set the state for sleep time success.
  10. Use a bed tent – For older kids, particularly gifted and introverted children, a bed tent may provide the space they need to wind down and relax. Many of these children need a period of time to let their brains settle down before they can actually go to sleep.
While children may enjoy being soothed to sleep, it should be every parent’s goal to create healthy sleep habits that promote self-soothing. While rocking a child to sleep can certainly be a bonding experience, put the child into his own sleep space when he’s drowsy but still awake. Doing so will help your child form the association between bed and sleep, and will help you avoid having your child become dependent on you for getting to sleep.

Source: (

Good Ways to Teach Kids to Deal with Insults

Kids can be cruel. Name-calling, jokes and teasing are all weapons of choice in the arsenals used in the playground war of words. If your child is the target of insults, you may both rest assured that he is not alone, and it’s more than likely nothing personal. To help him deal with the insults, consider the following 10 ideas:
  1. One of the most controversial ways to deal with insults is to give them back. Having a snappy comeback at the ready can often stop teasing in its tracks. Kids often size one another up with teasing; when you have a witty response, the teaser will often back down.
  2. If it’s not your child’s nature to give and take insults, another option would be to return kindness for insults. It can be disarming, and leave the other kid feeling kind of crummy. Insults are often used to elicit a certain response from the intended victim. Taking the high road also takes the sport out of the tease for the kid doing the teasing.
  3. If possible, your child could avoid the kids that are insulting her. Taunting and put-downs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and when they’re especially cruel they aren’t fun for anyone. In those circumstances, the best course of action is to find a group of friends who aren’t so mean.
  4. Ignoring the insults is always an option. More often than not, the insults are intended to get attention, usually at someone else’s expense. Nothing defuses a caustic insult quite like letting it go unnoticed.
  5. Your child might learn to take the insults less personally if he has the chance to see the situation from a different perspective. It might be fun to watch a comedy where that kind of humor is being used. When your kid sees that it’s just harmless entertainment, he might be less inclined to take insults to heart.
  6. Share your own childhood experience about the subject. Tell your kid how you dealt with it, and talk about how it felt to be teased. Knowing you’ve been through the same thing may help her not to feel alone and encourage her to talk about her feelings.
  7. Explain to your child that some kids who tell insults are behaving that way because someone else has been mean to them, or because they just don’t know of any better ways to associate with others. Teach her to have compassion for those who can’t express themselves in a more positive and friendly way.
  8. If a kid is being overly aggressive, hurtful, or using insults that are of a racial or otherwise insensitive or prejudicial nature, your child should know who to contact should that happen at school. In any case, he needs to know that he can go to you or another adult for help.
  9. If the insults are being sent online, your child should know how to avoid websites where the behavior occurs, how to delete or block offending parties, and to advise you if any contact online is causing distress or discomfort.
  10. It is always a good idea to have regular discussions with your child about her relationships at school. Doing so can help her to work out any difficulties she’s having. It may require contacting school authorities or speaking directly with the other child’s parents to alleviate the problem.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ways Sexual Predators Troll for Kids Online

Children today are growing up with the Internet as a regular part of life, yet the World-Wide-Web was fairly new when their parents were young. Along with all the fun and informative things available to children online, a serious danger also lurks. Internet predators like to use the anonymity of the Internet, and are constantly on the lookout for innocent victims.
It’s important for parents to be aware of the ways sexual predators troll for kids online. Here are 10 things to watch out for to keep your kids safe on the Internet.
  1. Online games – One place Internet predators connect with kids is online games. They will choose games that are popular with the age group they prefer and pose as other kids to foster a friendship with children. Predators will watch for gamer names that indicate the gender, location or other information that is useful to them.
  2. Chat rooms – Sexual predators will pose as kids in chat rooms that are popular with children. This is an easy way for them to garner information and target unsuspecting youngsters. Once they gain a child’s trust, they may try setting up a meeting in person.
  3. Facebook – Parents need to be very careful about whether or not they allow their children to have their own personal Facebook accounts. This is prime hunting grounds for Internet stalkers who target kids. It’s very easy for them to set up fake Facebook pages and “friend” teens and preteens.
  4. Twitter – Social media is a great way for pedophiles to connect with their victims, and Twitter is no exception. Many young people use tweeting as their primary form of communication, and predators know this and go where the kids are.
  5. Websites for kids – Parents may think websites like Disney and PBS Kids are safe for their children to frequent, but predators like to frequent them too. What better place is there to find lonely kids who want to chat?
  6. Instant messaging – Since emails will linger in an account until they’re deleted, Internet predators prefer to use instant messaging that disappears once the window is closed. This makes it harder for parents to monitor who’s talking to their kids and what they’re saying.
  7. MySpace – Some consider MySpace one of the worst sites for online predators who want to connect with children. The online surveys are fun to fill out, but they also provide lots of information that can be used to gain trust with unsuspecting youngsters.
  8. Pictures – Parents need to educate their children on how pictures posted online can be used by sexual predators. It helps them to identify kids who fit their personal preferences, and any picture posted online can be used and manipulated by anyone. Child pornographers are constantly monitoring the Internet for potentially suggestive photos of children.
  9. Target the vulnerable – Internet predators are constantly on the lookout for vulnerable children that they can exploit. Kids that are lonely, unhappy, who are having difficulty with school, or who have poor relationships with their parents are easy targets. They also like kids who are willing to keep secrets from their parents or other authorities.
  10. Use coded language – The shortcut language that kids use for texting makes it harder for parents to readily understand what they’re saying. Just glancing over their child’s shoulder, a text message can look like gobbledygook, so parents need to learn this coded language to help keep their kids safe. You better believe the Internet predators know exactly what texting shortcuts mean and how to use it to gain a child’s trust.
Being aware of the inherit risks that the Internet poses to innocent children is the first step parents who want to keep their children safe need to take. Parents need to educate themselves and their children about the dangers of Internet predators as they teach them how to use the Web. Establish rules and guidelines for computer and cell phone use, and keep the computer in a common area easily observable by parents and siblings. Use online tools for privacy settings and set up parental alerts. Parental involvement is the key to protecting your children from online sexual predators.

Source: (

Siri on Mac: 11 Ways to Get Tasks Done With Your Voice

Akshata Shanbhag , We’ve shown you  how to set up Siri on your Mac . Now here comes the tricky bit: figuring out what kind of tasks Siri...