Posts Tagged "child"


Like mother, like child: Living with the same disease as your mom – National

by BBG Hub

When Vishma Sookdeo’s mother was 25 in Trinidad, she almost had a near-death experience.

Kamla Sookdeo was battling an ongoing chronic kidney disease, and as result was taking medications every day to avoid relapse.

Living in a country with not as much access to adequate healthcare, in the early days, Vishma told Global News her mother was told to “go home and make [her] will.”

“She didn’t have as much research or technology to help diagnose her [condition] earlier,” she said.

Today, Kamla, 67, has been diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s immune system. People with the condition can experience fatigue, joint pain, chest pain and sometimes butterfly-shaped rashes on their face.

READ MORE: Cystic fibrosis is still the No. 1 fatal genetic disease for Canadian kids – here’s why

When Vishma turned 27, she got seriously ill.

“My story kind of began around the same age as my mom’s did,” she explained. Her condition sent her to five hospitals in Toronto between the months of August 2016 and December 2016. In that short period of time, Vishma had no idea what was happening to her body — and rightfully so, she was terrified.

“I almost died from this mysterious illness [at that time, doctors were unsure of her condition] that damaged my kidneys to about 30 per cent and gave me a stroke and vision loss,” she said. “I lost my ability to walk and had to relearn using a walker for a while.”

A mother herself, she was later diagnosed with ANCA Vasculitis, an autoimmune disease that causes the swelling of blood vessels.

Kamla Sookdeo (left) and Vishma Sookdeo (right). Photo provided by Sookdeo family. 

“I was scared,” she said. “During that time my mom really gave me the strength to know that survival and healing your body and mind was a choice. I remember thinking that as close to death as my mom was, she still survives… knowing her journey gave me hope.”

It’s common for parents and their children to have the same illnesses or diseases. According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information in the U.S., common diseases that run in the family can include everything from coronary artery disease to Type 1 diabetes to types of cancer.

Heart-wrenching for parent and child

This process can be stressful for both the child and the parent. Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts, the founder of parenting resource website Family Sparks, based in B.C., said it can be “heart-wrenching.”

“While it is essential that you do not dismiss or downplay [your children’s] pain and unique challenges, it is also vital, however, that you emphasize that they are strong, capable, and are only getting stronger and more resilient as a result of their illness,” she continued.

READ MORE: Baby born without skin, undergoing treatment that could save his life

She said it’s important to remember you were family before the illness.

“You need to remain a family first, and cope with the illness second,” she said. “The illness should not commandeer your family: stick to your normal rules and routines to help contribute to a sense of normalcy for all your family members, including yourself.”

She added children need to remember that their only job is to be a child, and to do this they need to be encouraged to play, laugh, create, and explore as they normally would.

WATCH: The high cost of rare diseases

Sometimes, children can be resentful towards their parent for “passing down” an illness. “If your child is resentful, it is important that you both empathize with them, and validate their feelings,” she continued. “Think about incorporating phrases such as, ‘I know this is really, really hard. You are very strong for going through this.’”

For some parent and child relationships, Roberts added there can be a special bond. “This gives you a special sense of empathy, and better than anyone else, you know what you child is going through. Use this opportunity to strengthen the bond between yourselves, and re-frame the situation to focus on the positive when you can.”

And through those days that feel extra tough, parents should take a break. “It is not necessary to prove that you can do this on your own. In fact, it can be harmful to both you and your child as your stress can seep into other areas of your life, and manifest in unproductive, harmful ways.”

‘I was kind of in shock’

Kendra Dempsey of Hamilton, Ont. was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes before she was four in 2000. “I [wasn’t eating] for about a week, I was constantly thirsty, and always running to the bathroom,” she told Global News. “My nanny [grandmother] came to visit and said that I had lost significant, noticeable weight in such a short period of time — that’s when my parents brought me to the doctor.”

But the 23-year-old’s mother, Marie Dempsey, 52, was diagnosed with the same illness last year — an extremely uncommon diagnosis.

“Despite the familiarity with the disease and how it presents itself, due to caring for me for so many years, my mum didn’t assume she had Type 1 Diabetes, and just attributed these symptoms to aging,” she said. “It wasn’t until one morning that she noticed her legs really hurt that she was concerned.”

Marie used one of her daughter’s old glucometers to test her blood sugar. Turns out, it was high. 

Marie Dempsey (left) and Kendra Dempsey (middle). Photo provided by Dempsey family. 

Due to her age, the doctors in the emergency room thought my mom would have Type 2 Diabetes, but her health profile from a very recent physical examination by her [doctor] would indicate that she must have Type 1,” Kendra continued.

“Ultimately, the doctors in the emergency room sent my mom home and said the local diabetes clinic would follow up with her in a couple days to sort things out. I was furious when I heard this.”

READ MORE: McGill research offers hope for curing rare genetic disease affecting Quebec children

Marie would have needed insulin to treat herself, and after more back-and-forth with the hospital, she was officially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

I was kind of in shock — in all honesty I still am, months later,” Kendra said. “Normally, when a parent-child pair both have Type 1 Diabetes, the parent was diagnosed prior to ever having children, and there’s a genetic aspect to the disease.”

Marie Dempsey (left) and Kendra Dempsey (right). Photo provided by Dempsey family.

These days, the two’s medical journeys seem to overlap. “It’s strange that I’m in a role now where I’m the one who gives her diabetes advice, when for so many years she was the one teaching me,” she said.

“We’ll chat about how high or low blood glucose symptoms present themselves for us if our blood glucose level, discuss what foods seem to impact our blood glucose levels the most no matter how much insulin we receive and just vent to each other about the general frustrations of living with this disease.”

‘She truly is my hero’

For both Vishma and Kendra, Mother’s Day feels extra special every year. “Mother’s Day to us both as moms and as daughters is a day that we hold so dear as we get to honour our closeness,” Visham said.

“I know that without my mother’s strength, positivity and love I wouldn’t be here, let alone alive. We get to take a day to truly appreciate the genuine and deep connection that makes our lives worth living.”

Vishma Sookdeo as a child with her mother. Photo provided by Sookdeo family. 

This year, like other years, Kendra will write a note to her mother ans shower her with a small gift.

READ MORE: 17-year-old Toronto girl living life to the fullest with Cystic Fibrosis

“Any day I get to spend with my mum is a great day in my books — she truly is my hero,” she said. “She is so smart, so caring, hardworking and considerate. She does so much for myself and my dad, and also does so much for the rest of her family.

“There are no words for me to express just how incredible of a person, friend, and mother she is, and I like to use Mother’s Day as an opportunity to try and remind her just how much I love her, and how thankful I am that she is my mum.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Parents, do you ever pick a favourite child? Experts say it can hurt siblings – National

by BBG Hub

It’s a truth some parents may not want to admit, but at some point, some experts suggests parents do have a “favourite” child.

While it may not be the type of “favourite” a kid has when they choose a parent, sometimes parents give more attention to one child compared to the other.

According to a poll by British parenting site Mumsnet in 2018, 23 per cent of parents said they “favoured” one child more than the other, often the new baby, New York Post reported.

The poll, which looked at data of 1,000 people, found parents were more likely to favour the youngest child. About a quarter said they favoured the eldest child, while middle children came in last place. Most respondents (64 per cent), on the other hand, said they had no favourite child.

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Dr. Barbara Howard, a developmental behavioural pediatrician, previously told the New York Times there can be behavioural problems for the child who doesn’t feel like they are the “favourite.”

“It’s impossible not to have favorites, and we do know that the perception of favouritism is one of the biggest factors in sibling rivalry,” she told the site.

“Often the child is trying to get the attention of the parent who is rejecting them — the more you push a kid away, the more he will come at you.”

And when the child becomes needy or seeks too much attention, she said, the parent doesn’t respond well.

“Often the parent doesn’t like the kid that much, or the kid perceives it.”

Is it really favouritism?

Maureen Dennis, a parenting and lifestyle expert based in Toronto, told Global News that sometimes one child needs more attention than the other, but this isn’t favouritsim.

“There could be any number of reasons why that child needs a little more attention,” she explained. “They may have a medical reason, they may be going through something, or they just might be the kind of kid who needs a little more support in life.”

Sometimes, parents relate more to one child than the other.

“If you love playing hockey and one of your kids also loves playing hockey, it’s natural to be excited to share that together,” she said. “But it can also make it hard for another sibling that doesn’t enjoy the same things as you but still wants to have the same opportunities for your attention.”

She added it’s not that the parent loves the hockey player any more than the other child — they’re just easier to relate to.

WATCH: Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids (April 2)

READ MORE: Kids often pick a favourite parent — don’t let it ruin your relationship

“It could also be more about personalities. You might have one child that is very outgoing and doesn’t need as much of your attention and another child who is more dependent on you in certain situations,” she continued. “The greatest and hardest things about kids is that they are all different and just when you feel like you’ve figured them out, they surprise you.”

Dennis said parents also have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to giving attention.

“We have to go beyond our own feelings to figure out how to relate to each child and to understand why they are either seeking more attention or why they are complaining they are not getting enough attention.”

The risks of having favourites

Often, when parents show favour for one child over an another — intentionally or not — there could be a risk of ruining your relationship with your child.

“It takes time and patience as a parent to understand your own kids and to find the time to truly enjoy what they enjoy,” she said. “Playing Barbies, watching football, bird watching, playing basketball or practicing ballet might not be your thing, but you need to make yourself available to them and share in their interests.”

Another risk is creating sibling rivalry and jealousy.

“Some siblings get along better than others, but it is pretty hard to keep every thing ‘even and fair’ all the time in daily family life,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘I have no regrets’: What it’s like to be estranged from family

“If a child needs some additional attention and the other child is feeling left out or jealous, that is the time to have a conversation about why they are feeling that way and what they both need at that moment. It can also be as simple as explaining that everything doesn’t need to be fair in the moment but over time we each get special time and moments together.”

And if your child does call you out on your picking a favourite, rework how you spend time with them.

“One of the best ways of making sure you are on top this is to spend time with each child one-on-one,” she said. “Have conversations, laugh and enjoy each other, make memories — this is really important to start when they are young.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Competitive sports can be life-changing. Is your child ready to take part? – National

by BBG Hub

Eight-year-old James had only been doing recreational gymnastics for six months when his coach asked him if he wanted to compete.

According to his mom, Jackie Patrick, James was always very athletic and competitive. He loved skiing, soccer and basketball, but he never found a sport he really loved — until gymnastics.

“My older son was very content doing more solitary things, like reading… but [James] liked to be among other people in an environment that was active, with lots of things moving around,” his mom said — so the gym was a good fit.

READ MORE: Why ‘no-cut sports programs’ can benefit students and school

By the time he was nine, James was spending six to nine hours per week in the gym on training alone — and that was before the time spent actually competing.

Because of the time investment, Patrick made a concerted effort to get her family involved.

She joined the board at James’ gymnastics club, she brought her older son to competitions as much as possible — she liked to make those weekends away “bonding time” — and she made sure James truly understood what he was committing to.

“It’s very important to open up the doors of communication with your child [and] discuss what it is that they want,” said Patrick.

WATCH BELOW: 1 in 3 families going into debt for children’s extracurricular activities: Ipsos poll

Parenting expert Gail Bell agrees — communication is key.

“You need to make sure your child wants to do this,” said Bell. “Sit down beforehand to lay out the expectations and make it very clear.”

For Bell, it’s most helpful to write down the schedule on a piece of paper or a calendar.

“Kids are very visual,” Bell said. “For example, explain that on Wednesdays, they must be at the swimming pool by four. That means they can’t stay on the playground and play after school.”

Whether your child is thinking about playing a competitive sport or is already, there are some things you should consider.

Is your child old enough to compete?

According to Richard Monette, managing director of Active For Life, children shouldn’t specialize in most sports until they’ve reached the age of puberty. (Although there are some exceptions, like gymnastics.)

“Every sport in Canada is mandated by a long-term athlete development model specific to that sport,” said Monette. “That’s mandated by Sport Canada, and that dictates… what each child should do within their involvement in their sport at a specific age.”

The model is based on science, and it exists to prevent children from being injured, among other things.

READ MORE: 41-0? Minor hockey groups say kids’ games should be about fun, not scores

“When you overtax certain parts of your body when you’re younger, you’re [more prone to injury],” said Monette.

“As well, if they specialize early and they get to age 14 and they’re sick of that sport or they’re burnt out, then they have no other options.”

When children do a multitude of activities, they develop many different skills. This will help them stay active well into adulthood because they will have more options for engaging with sport.

Is your child actually having fun?

“Is your child running out of school, eager to go? That’s a kid that’s having fun,” said Bell.

Bell recommends choosing a trial period. That way, both you and your child have a date when you can quit if it’s not working for your family.

“I highly encourage parents to re-evaluate every term or semester,” said Bell.

Coaches can also have a big impact on whether a child is enjoying themselves.

WATCH BELOW: The cheapest, most expensive extracurriculars in Canada: Ipsos poll

That’s why, for Patrick, it was crucial to constantly check in with James about how he was getting along with his coaches.

“There are different types of coaches: Some are overly competitive and very self-absorbed, and others are [focused] on the growth of the athlete,” said Patrick.

“You want a coach who has your child’s best interests at heart.”

Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons

“‘Is this for me or my child?’ That’s a key question to ask,” said Monette. “For some parents, it’s difficult to remove their own ego from the equation.”

Bell has seen this happen many times in her line of work.

READ MORE: ‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning ‘basic life skills’

“In competitive sports, we know that a lot of parents are over-involved,” said Bell. “I would strongly suggest the parents ask why they want this for their kids.”

If it’s because you’re living vicariously through your child, then it’s probably not the best scenario.

It’s all about striking a balance

You should also ensure your child has enough time to do other things outside of the sport they play at a competitive level.

“When is their downtime? When are they getting to the park, just to play? What other sports are they playing? Is this impeding on their sleep time? Their homework time?” Bell said.

In the same vein, kids shouldn’t be allowed to shirk responsibilities because they play a competitive sport.

WATCH BELOW: How to keep your kid’s schedule from getting out of hand

“That’s not creating a balanced child,” said Bell.

“If the whole world becomes about that sport, and that sport doesn’t turn out for them, or they get injured, or they realize they don’t love it as much… there’s a big hole in their life. We don’t want to make it all about [that one sport]. That’s just one thing they do within their whole life.”

Competitive sports aren’t the only option

Patrick said her son learnt most of his transferrable life skills from his time as a gymnast.

“Commitment, dedication, persistence and resiliency… and those attributes really transfer to university studies and to the workplace,” Patrick said.

Bell agreed that competitive sports can teach a child several great skills, but she emphasized that those shouldn’t come at the cost of the child’s happiness.

READ MORE: ‘Bitter, angry and frustrated’: Why some parents don’t enjoy spending time with their kids

“There are tons of values that kids learn from sports… that we can apply to real life, but it’s not the only place you can learn them,” said Bell.

You can also learn these skills from other activities, such as music or school work.

“If a child has talent, that’s great, but it has to be kid-driven. And if you have a very driven kid, it’s the parents’ responsibility to talk to them about other aspects of life,” said Bell.

“Sports can be a lifelong joy… but they should be for enjoyment.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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When should your child stop using a stroller? – National

by BBG Hub

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, of Jersey Shore fame, was on vacation with her family at Disney World when she posted a photo of her kids Giovanna, four, and Lorenzo, six, seated in strollers.

The photo, shared to Instagram on Wednesday, sparked debate about whether Polizzi’s kids are too old to be pushed around.

Some users suggested Giovanna and Lorenzo were too big for strollers, while others defended Polizzi, saying: “If she wants to put her kids in a stroller, let her!”

Polizzi, who is expecting her third child this summer, wrote back: “They walk! But in large crowds, I prefer they sit their a****s down. Saves me the stress of not losing my offspring.”

Polizzi has since deleted the comment.

One user said the photo was “a perfect example of why Disney is enforcing stricter guidelines on strollers,” referring to Disney’s new stroller policy, which will take effect May 1.

According to Disney World, strollers greater than 31 inches in width and 52 inches in length will be prohibited. “Stroller wagons” will also be banned.

READ MORE: ‘It has made me a better person’: What it’s like to raise a child with autism

While strollers can be great for outings that require lots of walking, parenting expert Alyson Schafer cautions against overuse.

“Out of context, I don’t think anyone should judge anyone who’s got a kid in a stroller because we don’t know the situation,” said Schafer.

“Whether it’s a stroller or putting kids in a pull wagon… all of those things are called ‘passive transport,’ and if it means that the entire vacation… is going to be better accommodated by younger kids, I think it’s a really fantastic idea.”

WATCH: Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids

However, Schafer is worried that using strollers all the time can become unhealthy.

“We have a crisis of obesity,” said Schafer. “We do not put demands on our kids to actually walk, including four-year-olds being carried everywhere or put in strollers for short distances even though they can walk.”

Parenting coach Robina Uddin thinks you should encourage your child to walk whenever they can, but training is required before they can go long distances without help.

“I don’t think a child should be in a stroller beyond three years,” said Uddin. “After 24 months, you should be weaning your child [off the stroller] with little bursts of walk that lead up to longer walking periods.”

Otherwise, Uddin said, you’re not giving the child the exercise they need.

READ MORE: ‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning basic life skills

For Schafer, it’s up to parents to get kids doing more active — rather than passive — transport.

“They’re not going to get any stronger and be able to actually walk a farther distance if we don’t train them, just like us training for a 10-kilometre run,” said Schafer.

The age at which your child is ready to graduate from stroller to walking will depend solely on their physical development.

“A rule of thumb: take time for training and then never do for a child what a child can do for themselves,” Schafer said. “If your four-year-old can walk to the mailbox and you know they can and they’ve done it before then that’s it. It’s no longer a stroller option.”

WATCH: Tips for parents who hate parenting

According to Uddin, a big issue is when the stroller becomes less a comfort for the child and more a crutch for the parents.

“Parents will go to the mall and put the kids in the wagon because they’re not walking fast enough, and that’s a disservice to the children,” said Uddin. “The child will not really develop the strength and conditioning if they’re not allowed to do the walking.”

Your child’s legs may get tired after 30 minutes, but if you don’t ask them to walk one hour now, they won’t be able to walk one hour later, Uddin told Global News. At some point, she explains, parents need to put in the work.

READ MORE: ‘Bitter, angry and frustrated’ — Why some parents don’t enjoy spending time with their kids

If your child is confused about why their little brother or sister still gets to use the stroller, explain that everyone in the family plays a role.

“There are some brilliant devices out there right now. There are strollers where a baby can go in the stroller part but there’s a standing part at the back so older kids aren’t being infantilized,” said Schafer.

Another good option is to allow the older child to use a scooter alongside the stroller.

“[That way], they can keep up with the parents, and it feels a little more independent,” Schafer added.

Ultimately, it’s important to teach your child that different people have different needs.

WATCH: Walking to school — Less popular but better, safer choice

If your child puts up a fuss about not being allowed to take the stroller, try to put a fun spin on their new mode of transportation.

“You could say ‘let’s race home,’” said Uddin. “Distract them every time they want to go into the stroller with something fun you’re doing on the way.”

READ MORE: Should we f**king swear around our kids? Parenting experts weigh in

Whether your child loves to be carried, pushed in a stroller or pulled in a wagon, there will come a time when they’re too old.

“You can speak to any doctor, and they’ll tell you that one of the biggest things we’re doing wrong is carrying our kids when they’re way too old,” said Schafer. Not only do the children get too heavy to be lifted, but they come to rely on being carried for when they’re feeling lazy, she explains.

“Make [walking] a non-negotiable. They’ll get it if you’re consistent.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘It has made me a better person’: What it’s like to raise a child with autism – National

by BBG Hub

Miles Clayton was two years old when his mom, Christine, started to notice subtle behavioural differences between him and his twin brother, Benjamin.

“He wasn’t using his language as much… he wasn’t responding to his name very often… [and] he would do a 300-piece puzzle in 40 minutes. That’s amazing, but it’s not normal for a two-year-old,” Clayton told Global News.

Miles was diagnosed with autism shortly before his third birthday, and that’s when everything changed for his family.

READ MORE: Canadian autism group calls on federal government for national strategy

“The diagnosis opened up the doors to get into the Ontario Autism Program. That’s where you get [financial] support, but to get that support, there was a wait list for three years,” said Clayton, who lives in Ottawa with her family.

In the meantime, Miles required around-the-clock care. He needed therapy to teach him basic life skills like looking somebody in the eye or laughing appropriately. He also needed speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

While the Claytons waited to reach the end of the wait list, they were faced with a decision: place Miles in the public education system or pay for private care.

WATCH (March 21, 2019): Mother of child with severe autism says Ford government’s ‘enhanced’ plan leads to ‘generation of lost children’

“If you go into the public school system, you’re not paying for anything because they’ll give you an educational assistant,” said Clayton. “The challenge is that an educational assistant is not a therapist, and, unless you have a very severe child, usually the assistant is looking after your child and maybe three others.”

For these reasons, the Claytons paid for Miles’ private care out of pocket for three years.

“We were fortunate. We had the financial resources that we were able to pay for things privately… but [it] was really expensive. It was about $85,000 a year,” said Clayton. “Most people are in a different financial position. I recognize how fortunate we are.”

READ MORE: Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study

“Like many parents, we remortgaged our house, we took out our RRSPs and we borrowed from family. You do what you have to do for your kids.”

Clayton says the costs are so high because Miles is on the severe end of the spectrum, but it’s different for everybody.

“Some kids need a lot less, but Miles [needs] a one-on-one, dedicated teacher all day, every day,” Clayton said.

As with anything, there are positive and negative aspects to having a child with autism. At present, parents across the country are most concerned about the quality and cost of care provided to children on the spectrum.

The same kind of therapy doesn’t work for every child

While Miles was on the wait list for the Ontario Autism Program, he underwent Floortime therapy.

“Floortime… is based on the premise that kids with autism do certain things, like not look you in the eye, because they have sensory needs that aren’t being met. And Miles certainly had a lot of that,” said Clayton.

“Imagine there’s an editor in your brain, and that editor in your brain filters out all the noise.”

For a lot of kids with autism, says Clayton, there is no editor. Suddenly, the footsteps of the person walking past you are just as loud as the person you’re talking to.

During Floortime, a parent or therapist gets down on the floor with the child to play and interact with them at their level in an effort to reduce distractions and let the child control his or her surroundings.

READ MORE: Understanding ABA therapy for children with autism

However, Floortime isn’t funded by the Ontario Autism Program. Once accepted, the Claytons were given direct funding for Miles to do applied behaviour analysis (ABA), which he does now.

ABA is one of the most common types of autism therapy, and it’s based on the principle that if you do a certain behaviour, you get a reward.

“[It’s] learning life skills through behaviour modification,” Clayton said.

Floortime helped Miles manage his sensory needs so that when he was accepted into the Ontario Autism Program, he was ready to advance to ABA — but Clayton isn’t sure he would be where he is today without what he learned in Floortime.

“There are a lot of other [therapies] in use that aren’t funded but work very well,” said Clayton.

WATCH (March 21, 2019): Amy Schumer speaks out about husband’s autism

Lisa Palasti, director of RDI Professional Training Canada, can attest to that. She teaches parents and children Relationship Development Intervention, another form of therapy that teaches those with autism the foundations for forming social connections.

“[In RDI], we’re developing the mind. We’re developing the mental tools and the mental habits that are going to help an individual develop dynamic intelligence,” said Palasti. “That’s the ability to flexibly think, to plan, to predict, to widen your perspective, to learn from your experiences and to develop a strong sense of self.”

Although this form of autism therapy could be a good fit for many children across the country, it’s currently only funded in British Columbia and Alberta, said Palasti.

“What a child might need at the age of 10 might be much more involved than what a child might need at the age of four,” Palasti said. Until more kinds of therapy are funded in more places, kids could be missing out on the treatment that fits them best.

READ MORE: ‘Autism Reality Experience’ helps people understand what it’s like to live with autism

Funding continues to be a major issue across Canada

Living in Ontario, Clayton is extremely concerned about what will happen to Miles’ care when the new Ontario Autism Program takes effect.

“Right now, Miles’ therapy is funded, and based on the recent announcement from the minister, that funding will be extended for six months,” said Clayton. “After that, Miles will be allowed access to $5,000 a year, but he needs $80,000 a year. We have no more house to mortgage, we have no RRSP to draw upon.”

For Clayton, this policy change will affect Miles’ health care and his education.

“The last thing we want to do is stop his therapy because right now… it’s working. He’s clearly in this period of having a developmental leap, and I don’t want to take that away from him. His therapy is not just therapy — it’s how he learns.”

WATCH (Feb. 25, 2019): Family with 2 children with autism react to long wait times for ABA therapy

But the concern about funding isn’t limited to Ontario.

Kelly Johnson, who lives in Montreal, has a nine-year-old son on the spectrum. She’s also concerned about her child’s access to services.

“[If a child was] already able to get public services… once they get diagnosed with autism, they go onto a separate wait list, and all of a sudden, the same services that would’ve been applicable (like speech therapy or occupational therapy) disappear,” said Johnson. “It’s almost like you go into a black hole of wait lists.”

READ MORE: Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 66 Canadian children, report says

Johnson’s son goes to a special semi-private school that focuses on children with autism. It’s called Giant Steps, and there are only two in Canada — one in Montreal and one in Toronto.

Giant Steps is partially subsidized so Johnson has to pay for part of her son’s education. She also pays for most of his speech therapy and occupational therapy, too.

“The typical health insurance plan will cover up to $500 a year, and to give you an idea, an average speech or occupational therapy session is between $80 to $150,” said Johnson. Her son needs one session of each per week, which means she maxes out her coverage in the first month of every year.

Autism is only a difference, not a disability

Having a child with autism comes with its challenges, but Clayton says it has many beautiful parts, too.

“[It has] made me a better person,” Clayton said. “I’ve learned that laughter and looking on the bright side of things can really get you through anything. I’ve learned to be much more accepting of others and not to judge people the way I might’ve in the past.”

Miles has brought Clayton’s family closer together, and his autism has taught her more about other people.

“Having a kid with autism has really strengthened the bond in my family. I have a wonderful husband… and I could not imagine going through this journey with anybody else,” said Clayton. “It’s tough to have a sibling with autism, let alone a twin. But at seven, [Benjamin] shows a maturity and a kindness towards his brother that inspires me every day.”

WATCH (Aug. 30, 2018): Lethbridge car wash a soothing experience for five-year-old boy with autism

Miles loves to be hugged, he loves to be cuddled and he loves to be chased, Clayton said.

“Having a back-and-forth verbal conversation with my child — which Miles just had with me for the first time last week — that’s a miracle. A week ago, we put on the song Happy, and he started to dance. That has never happened before. That’s a miracle,” said Clayton.

“When he looks me in the eye… when he tells me he loves me… when he laughs at something funny… for us, those are miracles, and I get to experience those every day.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘They know what they’re doing’: Why do some parents intentionally make their child sick? – National

by BBG Hub

Gypsy Rose Blanchard murdered her mother in 2015.

The 23-year-old Missouri woman had spent most of her life in a wheelchair, told by her mother, Dee Dee, that she had muscular dystrophy and was unable to walk. Gypsy was also led to believe that she had a long list of other illnesses and ailments — cancer, brain damage, epilepsy, sleep apnea, eye problems — and subsequently underwent various surgeries and invasive treatments.

But, it turns out Gypsy was not, in fact, sick.

After she secretly started dating a man named Nicholas Godejohn she met online, the couple plotted to kill Dee Dee so Gypsy could be free from her control. Dee Dee’s murder garnered much media attention due to the nature of the crime, but also because it raised awareness of a lesser-known condition called factitious disorder imposed on another, or Munchausen by proxy.

The story of Dee Dee and Gypsy is the subject of a new television series called The Act.

WATCH BELOW: Study links exposure to infection in the womb to increased risk of autism, depression

What is factitious disorder imposed on another?

Factitious disorder imposed on another is when a person fakes or lies about a loved one’s health. It’s related to factitious disorder, which is when someone falsifies symptoms or lies about their own health.

“Factitious disorder imposed on another is a type of mental illness in which a caregiver intentional creates, causes, or exaggerates illness or injury in another person,” Karen Salerno, a social worker at the Cleveland Clinic who works with people affected by factitious disorder, told Global News.

“They change test results to make someone appear ill, they can physically induce symptoms, such as poising, suffocation and inducing infection. They may also try to falsify medical records.”

READ MORE: A bestselling author faked having cancer, but he’s not the first. Why do people do it?

While factitious disorder imposed on another is often discussed in terms of parents (usually a mother) lying about their children’s health, Salerno says it can happen to anyone at any age. She’s seen cases where an adult child has intentionally lied about their elderly parent’s health, and caused them harm.

When it comes to parents inflicting this abuse onto their child, the kids are most often under the age of six, Salerno said. The Cleveland Clinic says factitious disorder imposed on another is rare, and affects an estimated 2 out of 100,000 children.

In one U.S. case, a mother claimed her young daughter had cystic fibrosis, but medical experts found she faked her child’s disease. Investigators found the mom infected her daughter with harmful bacteria, and also suspected she removed blood from the child so that she would become anemic, CNN reports.

Dr. Marc Feldman, a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama and an internationally-recognized expert in forms of medical deception, previously told the Canadian Press that parents behind this kind of abuse are typically seeking emotional gratification, but at the cost of the child’s well-being.

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“Usually that comes in the form of seeking attention and sympathy,” he told the outlet. “So they present themselves as the caregivers of terribly ill children, whose illnesses are defying diagnosis. And predictably, they get a lot of care and concern from immediate family as well as the community.”

Feldman said many of these parents are dissatisfied with how their own lives have turned out and feel out of control. Successfully manipulating the beliefs of “high-status professionals like doctors allows them to feel once again in control.”

While Salerno says factitious disorder imposed on another is a mental illness, the person on the receiving end is experiencing abuse. Experts estimate that about six to nine per cent of kids die from this abuse, and another six to nine per cent end up with long-term disability or permanent injury.

READ MORE: Meet the 71-year-old woman who doesn’t feel pain and doesn’t get anxious

“It’s typically a repeated pattern of repeated behaviour,” she said. “In my clinical experience it’s intentional … and they know what they’re doing it.”

How do caregivers get away with factious disorder imposed on another?

New show The Act, staring Patricia Arquette and Joey King, shows the depth of Dee Dee’s deception.

Dee Dee took her daughter around from doctor to doctor, lying about her health in various healthcare settings. This resulted in unnecessary medical testing, operations and treatments.

WATCH BELOW: Virginia woman facing criminal charges after allegedly faking child that California couple would adopt

Salerno said this behaviour is common in people who carry out factious disorder. When a caregivers moves a patient from hospital to hospital or across the country, it makes it difficult for healthcare professionals to know a patient’s true medical history.

This is why doctors need to be educated about the condition, researchers say.

The most obvious hint of factious disorder imposed on another is if children return to hospital with recurrent illness — they’re injured, or bleeding, or they’re fighting infection. Kids should also be interviewed individually when they’re being assessed.

What causes factitious disorder and is it treatable?

Salerno said there’s not a clear cause of factitious disorder, or factitious disorder imposed on another. What is common in a perpetrator, however, is a history of trauma.

READ MORE: These injuries are a common cause of stroke in young people: Here’s what you need to know

“There is some thought it may be linked to certain biological and psychological factors, such as experiencing — in the case of the caregiver — some sort of trauma in their childhood, either abuse or neglect, divorce of their parents, a death of a parent or interpersonal family dynamic issues,” she said.

“The caregiver is doing it for some kind of attention, and that can be different for the individual person.”

When a child is being abused, Salerno says it’s important social services intervene, and the kid receives medical treatment. For perpetrators, they need to seek psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.

Do other parents or family members know what’s going on?

In the television show Sharp Objects, based on the book of the same name, one of the main characters Adora (Patricia Clarkson) lands in jail after police discover she is deliberately poisoning her daughters, played by Amy Adams and Eliza Scanlen. (It turns out Adora is also behind her deceased daughter’s death).

WATCH BELOW: Mystery illness leaves teen blind, doctors searching for answers

Adora’s husband is quiet about his wife’s behaviour, and does not intervene. While it is unclear how much he knows, Salerno says it’s common for family members to be unaware of factious disorder imposed on another.

“In my clinical experience, when I’ve told family members, they’re usually very surprised and shocked, because it’s counter-intuitive,” she said.

“Because on the outside, it looks like the caregiver is doing everything possible to help the sick person, so they’re going to a lot of appoinments and really advocating for the person to get better.”

READ MORE: Is there a relationship between mass shootings and suicide?

As in the case of Gypsy, her parents separated when she was a young child. Gypsy’s father, Rod, also believed his daughter was sick and was unaware of Dee Dee’s abuse.

“I think Dee Dee’s problem was she started a web of lies, and there was no escaping after,” Rod told BuzzFeed.

“She got so wound up in it, it was like a tornado got started, and then once she was in so deep that there was no escaping. One lie had to cover another lie, had to cover another lie, and that was her way of life.”

With files from the Canadian Press

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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How do you know if your child is being sexually abused? Here are the warning signs – National

by BBG Hub

NOTE: This article contains graphic information about sexual abuse that may upset some readers. Please read at your own discretion.

The allegations that pop star Michael Jackson sexually abused young boys as outlined in new documentary Leaving Neverland is sparking larger conversations about childhood abuse, and, in particular, why it often takes survivors years to speak out.

In the two-part HBO doc, subjects Wade Robson and James Safechuck say that Jackson started sexually abusing them when they were young boys, and that the molestation happened “hundreds” of times. Despite the years of alleged abuse, both Robson 36, and Safechuck, 40, initially kept what was going on a secret, and even previously denied that Jackson had ever touched them inappropriately.

The men say they are now speaking out about their experiences as they are fathers themselves, and believe there are others who were abused by the star. In an interview with CBS This Morning, Safechuck said he previously “had no expectations of ever telling anyone” but his mindset changed after Jackson died in 2009.

(Jackson’s family denies all allegations and his estate is suing HBO.)

READ MORE: Michael Jackson accusers detail alleged sexual abuse in first TV interview

According to Dr. Jillian Roberts a child psychologist and associate professor at the University of Victoria, it’s not uncommon for survivors to keep childhood sexual abuse a secret.

“I believe that many, many people are abused without telling anyone,” Roberts told Global News. “Sexual abuse still has a stigma in our society.”

Because of the painful nature of abuse, Roberts says there are important warning signs adults should pay attention to that may indicate a child is in danger. “A child who is experiencing sexual abuse would likely show you some red flags in their behaviour,” she explained.

“[Their] behaviour can quickly change.”

WATCH BELOW: ‘Leaving Neverland’ Reaction

Differences in behaviour

According to RAINN, child sexual abuse can include sexual contact with a child, but also includes other behaviour, “like exposing oneself, sharing obscene images, or taking inappropriate photos or videos of a child.”

The organization states sexual abuse not only has an immediate impact on a child, but also their development, and can affect them into adulthood. Because sexual abuse can be very traumatizing, Roberts says that if a child is being harmed, their demenour may change.

“A child may become sullen and withdrawn or they may act out,” she explained.

READ MORE: Parents of 2-year-old diagnosed with rare ovarian cancer focus on raising awareness

“The child may [also] recreate the trauma in their play, and so you might see sexual themes in their play or the child might be trying to ‘play’ with another child in an inappropriate way.”

Other times, Roberts says a child will become preoccupied with their genital area.

WATCH BELOW: The latest concern targeting children online; The “Momo Challenge”

The age of a child also affects how they may react to abuse.

“The young child will often act out the trauma in play situations. A tween may begin experimenting sexually,” Roberts said. “An older child may also turn to drugs or they may self-harm as a way to process the pain.”

Physical warning signs

According to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aids Societies, if a child is being sexually abused, there are also often physical indicators. These include frequent sore throats or urinary infections, bedwetting or soiling the bed, thumb-sucking, changes in appetite and disturbed sleep.

A child who is being abused may also refuse to change out of their clothes for baths, for example, and may not want to be left alone with certain adults. In some cases, there may also be trauma or soreness in the child’s genital area.

READ MORE: ‘My mood plummets’: When PMS symptoms could be something more

Why kids may keep the abuse a secret

Like Roberts pointed out, children often keep sexual abuse a secret — even into their adulthood.

“People often feel like it is easier for them to simply remain quiet,” she explained. “Children have the added burden of worrying about their parent’s reaction. Often, children worry that they have done something wrong and that they will get into trouble if anyone finds out.”

WATCH BELOW: Dealing with child anxiety

According to Robson and Safechuck, Jackson frequently told them they would be in trouble if their parents or others found out about their sexual relationship. Robson, who once defended Jackson in court during his 2005 child molestation case, told CBS that the singer “trained” him on how to deny the abuse.

“Michael’s training of me to testify began the first night that he started abusing me, in the sense that you know, that right away, after the first kind of experience of sexual abuse, he started telling me that if anybody else ever finds out, we’ll both go to jail, both of our lives would be over,” he told the outlet.

READ MORE: ‘Leaving Neverland’ documentary director responds to Jackson estate

How to help a child

Even if a child initially denies abuse, if an adult is concerned a child is in danger, Roberts says it’s important for them to get support.

“I would advise [adults] to reach out to Children’s Aid, or to the equivalent ministry in their province,” Roberts said. “An experienced social worker can [also] provide a great deal of advice.”

READ MORE: From suicide tips on YouTube to the Momo challenge hoax, parents have more to worry about online

The Ontario Association of Children’s Aids Societies echoes this advice, and says that adults should report any suspected abuse to their local Children’s Aid Society. Letting authorities know of abuse can help protect a child, as well as other children who have also be experiencing abuse.

Even when survivors of child sexual abuse become adults, speaking about their experiences can be hard. As Robson said in Leaving Neverland: “I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Royal baby name: What Meghan Markle and Prince Harry may name their child – National

by BBG Hub

The royal baby is well on his or her way, but parents-to-be Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are following protocol and remaining tight-lipped when it comes to their new family member.

Markle, who is due in the spring, has confirmed neither her due date nor the sex of her child. The suspense has eager royal watchers placing bets on the baby’s name, birthday, time of birth and sex — leading favourably towards a girl, according to U.K. betting authority Ladbrokes.

While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex previously told onlookers that they hadn’t yet decided on a name, people are confident that the couple will follow Royal Family tradition and go with a regal name.

READ MORE: Beyoncé and Jay-Z ‘bow down’ to Meghan Markle at the Brit Awards

If it’s a girl …

If Markle, 37, welcomes a girl, the top pick on Ladbrokes is Victoria (8/1) after former monarch Queen Victoria. The next most popular choice is Diana (10/1) after Prince Harry’s and Prince William’s late mother, Princess Diana.

In third place is Alice (12/1), which is a significant name in the Royal Family. Prince Philip’s mother was named Alice, as was Queen Victoria’s daughter. There’s also Princess Alice, who wed Duke of Gloucester (Prince Henry) in 1935.

The fourth spot goes to Elizabeth (16/1), honouring the newborn’s great-grandmother, the Queen.

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If it’s a boy …

While the odds are not in favour of a boy — according to the betting sites, at least, even though there’s a 50 per cent chance — if 34-year-old Prince Harry fathers a son, people are confident he will be named Albert (12/1), the name of Queen Victoria’s husband. Albert was also a top pick for Kate Middleton and Prince William’s son Prince Louis, who was born in April 2018.

Philip is also a leading contender (12/1), after the child’s great-grandfather Prince Philip. Historical names Arthur (16/1) and James (16/1) are tied in second place, even though Arthur is already the middle name of cousin Louis.

In third place is the posh Alexander (20/1), which may be a nod to the Queen’s middle name Alexandra.

READ MORE: Royal protocols — why Meghan Markle always carries her purse in her hands

Markle announced her pregnancy in October last year, several months after her wedding to Prince Harry in May.

The couple recently visited Morocco for a three-day royal tour. Markle was also just in New York for her baby shower with friends Serena Williams and Amal Clooney.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Has your child posted sexualized photos of themselves online? Here’s what to do – National

by BBG Hub

People born before the age of social media grew up largely offline, experiencing coming-of-age milestones like school dances and first kisses without the presence of smart phones.

But things are very different now, and kids’ lives are incredibly intertwined with social media. And as a result of this cultural shift, more and more kids are sharing provocative images of themselves online.

According to Dr. Jillian Roberts, a registered psychologist and associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Victoria, an increasing amount of youth between the ages of nine and 11 are posting suggestive pictures on apps like Instagram.

WATCH BELOW: New research delves into the effect of sexting on relationships

“It’s happening with an alarming increase and frequency,” Roberts told Global News. “A lot of kids are just at the [age] where they’re exploring their own sexuality, and they’re also able to navigate the internet with more freedom.”

Roberts, who authored the upcoming book Kids, Sex & Screens: Raising Strong, Resilient Children in the Sexualized Digital Age, said she sees a spike in sexually suggestive online behaviour during the summer between grades five and six. This is particularly true in parts of Canada like B.C., where students transition to middle school at this age.

Adolescence paired with the fact that explicit content is found on many celebrities’ social media accounts has an effect on tweens’ behaviour.

READ MORE: Unplugged: Why these people deleted social media and prefer life offline

“How many likes, shares and comments you get on an Instagram post is how students are judging their own popularity against other people,” Roberts explained. “You can get a lot of likes if you post something that’s more provocative than if you don’t.”

What to do if your kid posts suggestive pictures online

While most parents hope their tweens aren’t posting provocative content, if you do discover that your child has shared suggestive photos, directly addressing the issue with them in a supportive way is the first step.

“Respond in an unconditional, loving way,” Roberts said. “Do not get angry, do not shame your child. Note that this is not appropriate, but it’s a completely understandable stage for your child to go through as they explore their own sexuality.”

WATCH BELOW: Parents get a lesson how social media awareness

When talking to your child, it’s important to explain that while sharing sexual images is not age-appropriate, you understand where they’re coming from. Roberts suggests a “hamburger” approach where you pad the important message with softer language.

Roberts suggests saying something along the lines of, “I know you really wanted to share that picture because you look older in it, however what concerns me is X, Y and Z.”

“Explain there other ways you would like them to reach out to friends, and that you have no issue with them exploring social media, but that they need to make sure they’re exploring social media appropriately,” she said.

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“If you deal with anything about sex in a shaming way, your kid will never want to talk to you about sexuality again.”

How to talk to your kids about posting on social media

Research shows that sexting — sending sexual images via text or messaging apps — is becoming more prevalent among youth. Kids are also exposed to more pornography on the internet, as stats reveal that 90 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls have seen porn before the age of 18, with boys seeing porn by the age of 12, on average.

Because of easy exposure to explicit content online, Roberts said it’s vital that parents have open and honest conversations with their kids about navigating social media before they start using it. This will help them learn proper behaviour, and in turn reduce the chances that they’ll post inappropriate content.

“The moment that a child is given their own device, or the moment when they have unlimited access to the online world, there should be a conversation and a family social media plan,” Roberts said.

WATCH BELOW: How technology, social media can amplify bad behaviour

This plan should include what apps are OK to use, a discussion about what is appropriate to post and what’s not, as well as a conversation around empathy, Roberts said. For example, “don’t like or share an embarrassing photo of someone else that they didn’t give permission to be put online,” she said.

Roberts said it’s also important to teach kids about pop-up ads and downloading from unfamiliar sites, and encourage them not to visit unknown pages.

Lastly, it’s critical that parents themselves are familiar with the apps their kids are on.

READ MORE: Mom speaks out after ranting about her ‘least liked’ child on social media

“What I encourage parents to do is not monitor [their kids] so much as to be a social media participant with them,” Robers said. “If a child is on Snapchat, parents need to get on Snapchat, too.”

“I think it’s important for parents to stay current, and be aware of what the different platforms are and how they are used.”

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© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Mom speaks out after ranting about her ‘least liked’ child on social media – National

by BBG Hub

A mom blogger who faced backlash for posting about her “least liked” child on Instagram is speaking out.

Earlier this week, Katie Bower posted a picture of her son on her Instagram page, asking her followers to wish him a happy birthday. While this isn’t out of the ordinary for mom bloggers, Bower continued to tell her followers her son “statistically” performed the worst on her social media page.

“Instagram never liked my Munchkin and it killed me inside. His photos never get as many likes. Never got comments. From a statistical point of view, he wasn’t as popular with everyone out there,” she wrote on her now-deleted post.

READ MORE: The social media contract that takes parents beyond the basics

“Can we do this right? Because I truly know that my Munch deserves all the likes… whether or not a stranger gives it to him”

Buzzfeed’s deputy director of social news, Stephanie McNeal, tweeted about Bower’s ridiculous comments earlier this week, as well as an update that the Atlanta-based mom had taken down the picture of her son.

WATCH: How much should parents share about their children on the internet?

Bower then went on Instagram to address the backlash over video, Buzzfeed reported.

“I had to learn that the likes do not reflect much to me,” she said in her Instagram story. “That I had to choose that, because I work with brands that tell you the opposite. I read an article about how to grow your Instagram that tells you the opposite.”

READ MORE: Meet the parents who love (and hate) posting pictures of their kids online

She denied that she wanted her son to get “likes” on social media but instead, she said she will use the backlash as a learning opportunity.

“Kids know there’s likes on photos and it’s very human nature to compare. So for me, my personal growth journey is teaching my kids it doesn’t matter.”

Social media users react

Many Twitter users pointed out the need of being validated online, especially when you are a parenting blogger.

Others pointed out why they don’t post pictures of their children online altogether.

Posting photos of children online

“I think that social media is here to stay and that carefully thinking about what we post online — especially as it pertains to our kids — is an incredibly important process for parents to go through,” Dr. Jillian Roberts, a child psychologist and associate professor at the University of Victoria told Global News in 2017.

“We need to think through what kinds of images we post and what kind of tone and message we want our social media posts to portray.”

READ MORE: Sharenting — Are parents sharing too much information about their kids on social media?

She added whether or not you choose to post pictures of your child online, make sure you discuss online boundaries with other family members — at the end of the day, the majority of these images are public.

“It is a good idea for parents to be a role model for their children. Therefore, it is respectful and sets a good example for parents to ask the child if it’s OK to post something. As the child gets older, encourage him or her to do the same when they engage in their own social media activity.”

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© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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