Blog Posts by Parents.com

  • 8 Facts About the 'Autism Diet'

    Girl with food
    By Sally Kuzemchak, R.D.

    Jacqueline Laurita, 42, mom of three and star of the reality show The Real Housewives of New Jersey, recently revealed her 3-year-old son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with autism. Since the diagnosis, Laurita has sought treatment for her son, which includes therapy and following a dairy-free, gluten-free diet that some experts believe will reduce behavioral issues associated with autism. Learn more about the special "autism diet" that Laurita is advocating.

    RELATED: The ABCs of Autism

    1. It's a strict elimination diet (with no "cheat days").
    The GFCF diet removes two proteins: casein, which is found in all milk and dairy products, and gluten, which is contained in wheat, barley, rye, and some brands of oats [that may have been cross-contaminated with gluten]. The obvious culprits, like milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, most breads, cereals, and pasta, should be avoided. But thousands of processed foods contain ingredients made from gluten or casein,

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  • Teach Your Kids How to Make Friends

    Making friends
    By Kathleen M. Reilly

    The summer before my son Patrick started kindergarten, I was obsessed with teaching him how to print his name and count into the hundreds. Looking back, I should have spent as much time getting him ready for new friendships as I did for new words. Even though he was a well-liked preschooler, kindergarten was a social shock.

    RELATED: Guide to Navigating School-Age Friendships

    "Moms play matchmaker or nurture new friendships through playdates when their kids are in preschool," says Geoffrey Putt, Psy.D., a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children's Hospital, in Ohio. "But in kindergarten, it's up to your child to find his own pals." Help your child master the grade-school social scene by practicing these five skills.

    1. Scenario: Your Daughter Forces Herself on a Team

    Summer Scenario: Your daughter spots a group of kids playing a team sport at the park. She runs over and grabs the ball.

    Buddy Builder: Talk about a smart strategy for participating. "The key is

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  • “He Doesn’t Look Autistic” and Other Misconceptions About Autism

    Norrin autism
    By Lisa Quinones-Fontanez

    I remember the first time I started questioning if Norrin had autism. We had just come back from our first visit with the developmental pediatrician and I immediately called my mother.

    "What if it's autism?" I asked.

    RELATED: The ABCs of Autism

    "Norrin's not like that," my mother said.

    And when I asked my husband, Joseph, if he thought Norrin could be autistic, Joseph said that Norrin was "just fine."

    Even I was doubtful because while Norrin wasn't talking, I told myself that it couldn't be autism because he was smart and affectionate.

    Before I became an "expert" the only frame of reference I had about autism was the 1988 movie Rain Man. (And I don't think I've seen the movie in its entirety since I was fifteen.) We all had our own myths and misconceptions about autism. And when Norrin was diagnosed we had no choice but to separate autism myth from autism reality.

    In the last four years of Norrin's diagnosis here are just a few autism myths and

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  • 8 Non-Religious Reasons to Take Your Kids to Church

    Parents with baby
    Year after year, polls like this recent one by Gallup show that "churchgoers" not only experience more positive emotions but also less negative emotions than people who do not regularly attend church, synagogue, or mosque.

    By Nick Shell

    So maybe you're not like me; having been intrigued since kindergarten on how we all got here and what happens to us after we die.

    This is for the agnostics who are curious about taking their kids to church, as well as, for those who haven't had much exposure to church but are curious enough to consider checking it out.

    RELATED: How To Help Your Kids Understand Religion

    Therefore, I am attempting to explain why going to church is a good idea for you and your kids, not from a religious perspective, but from more of a scientific one.

    1. Friends. For you as well as your kids. Most of my friends and my wife's friends are somehow traced back to our church. In fact, we met each other through a mutual friend that I met through a

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  • 11 Free Back-to-School Apps for Parents

    Mom with phone
    Turn your smartphone or tablet into command central with everything you need to plan, prep, and navigate your kid's year. The best part? These great apps for Apple and Android devices are all free!

    By Kourtney Eidam

    1. Digital Tutor
    Need a refresher course in math, English, and other subjects? School A to Z helps you answer your student's homework head-scratchers and gives project suggestions on a variety of topics.
    Download the app from iTunes

    2. Nifty Note Taker
    Evernote offers quick ways to manage your growing to-do list: Record a voice note on the go for your partner or type up some tasks for your kids. Everyone has access to the notes on any of your family's devices.
    Download the app from iTunes
    Download the app from Google Play

    3. Easy Reader
    Cut down on storytime expenses and trips to the library with OverDrive Media Console. The app lets you "borrow" e-books from a selection of public and school libraries.
    Download the app from iTunes

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  • Is Bad Parenting to Blame for the Aurora Tragedy?

    By Harley A. Rotbart, M.D.

    The horrific events at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises struck very close to home. The theater is only a few miles from where my family lives, and we have gone there many times. It is even closer to where I work, on the same medical school campus where the accused gunman was a graduate student and where more than two dozen victims were given medical care. But the Aurora tragedy also touched me deeply as a parent. My wife and I have a son who is 24 years old, the same age as the alleged shooter, and our other kids, 20 and 22 years old, were at the Batman movie screening that same night, sitting in the second row of theater 9, in a different multiplex.

    RELATED: How to handle your kids' anxieties after the Aurora massacre

    After saying a silent prayer for the victims and their families and another prayer in gratitude for our kids' safety, my thoughts were for the parents of everyone involved. My heart first went out to the parents of those who

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  • New Dolores Cortés Model Helps All Kids with Special Needs, Says Her Mom

    Valentina Guerrero
    By Ellen Seidman

    Valentina Guerrero, a 10-month old from Miami who has Down syndrome, is the new face of Dolores Cortés DC kids' swimwear line. The little girl's story has been sweeping the web since Friday, when Cortés strolled down the catwalk of her fashion show holding Valentina in her arms. The little girl is also on the cover of the company's new catalog.

    This is all major news, because Valentina is said to be the first child with Down syndrome (and probably any disabilities) chosen to be the face of a major fashion company. Which actually shouldn't be news, given that she has an exceptionally adorable face. It's no surprise that mom Cecilia Elizalde--a TV host and producer--has been flooded with calls from agents.
    Valentina Guerrero and mom
    Here's what Cecilia had to say when I got her on the phone:

    So, were you surprised by the reaction to Valentina's modeling gig?

    "Well, I did think this could be big, but I didn't know it would spread across the world, to countries whose languages I don't even

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  • The Abuse of Children with Disabilities: Sadly, This is Not News

    Crying baby

    By Ellen Seidman


    Children with disabilities are at much higher risk for experiencing violence than kids without disabilities, says a new report from the United Nation's World Health Organization (WHO). Kids with disabilities are 3.6 times more likely to be victims of physical violence and 2.9 time more likely to be the victims of sexual violence. Those with mental illness or cognitive impairment are most at risk, noted the report, just published in medical journal The Lancet.

    The review examined 17 studies, and covered date on 18,374 children in Finland, France, Israel, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. This may be making headlines but sadly, this is NOT news.

    Google around and you'll find this damning report Violence Against Disabled Children from UNICEF, back in 2005. Or the 2009 study from the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, which found that children with disabilities are abused at twice the rate of those without

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  • After Aurora, Dealing with My Son's Love of Batman

    Boy with stuffed bearOur son will turn 5 years old in two weeks and he wants a Batman-themed birthday party. We haven't mentioned the recent shootings in Colorado with him at all and we're not sure what to do. We never announced the birthday theme, but we have invited his class to the party. However, we don't know the other families at all or whether they are connected to the tragedy. Should we proceed with the Batman party as if nothing happened? Or should we steer him toward something else and tell him why?

    Dr. Elizabeth Berger: Many parents are concerned how to address the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado with their children, even without upcoming birthdays--so let me begin there. There are many serious issues that adults should ponder, and they begin with the question: "How could this have happened?" It is important to recognize that if a young child asks this question, he is really asking, "Am I safe today? Is my family safe today?" Small children can't understand social problems and they need reassurance

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  • What Summer Camp Has to Do with Obama’s Tax Plan

    Parents.com Election BloggersBy Amy Julia Becker

    My memories of summer include bug bites, games of kick-the-can, swimming lessons, and countless hours curled up in a chair reading. My kids have finally reached the age where they experience summer the way I remember it. Penny, who is 6 ½, and William, almost 4, go to camp two days a week. They swim, do arts and crafts, play on the playground, and make new friends. The highlight of camp so far has been Penny receiving her "duck badge" when she swam from one side of the pool to the other and earned the right to swim in the deep end.

    The other three weekdays vary. They've gone with their babysitter to the playground and the library. We've taken trips to the beach with plastic buckets and water shoes, and they've scraped their knees and thrown rocks and collected as many varieties of seaweed as they can find. We've created obstacle courses in the front yard. Most days they wander next door to visit their great-grandmother. They know the afternoons hold "quiet times"

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