Monday, July 25, 2011

Food Colorings in major restaurant chain's pastries can be harmful to children.

Taken From Men's Health Online

16 Restaurant Industry Secrets

We scrambled behind the counters, dug under the drive-thrus, and plunged into the
deep fryers to find out what's really going into our meals

#11.  Panera Bread
...doesn't want you to know that the synthetic food colorings in its pastries have
 been linked to irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbances in children. And
British researchers found that artificial food colorings and preservatives in the
diets of 3-year-olds caused an increase in hyperactive behavior. (The same
ingredients appear in fast-food items like mayonnaise, M&M Blizzards, and
McDonald's shakes.) To its credit, Chipotle uses no artificial colorings or flavorings.

July 2008 Update: On Panera's Web site, you can track down calories, fat, sugar,
 and other nutritional numbers. If you look hard enough you'll find ingredient
lists, too—and note that a few items still contain artificial coloring. Disappointing.
Kasting Connections' Comment

I didn't check Panera's website to see if the artificial coloring is still found in
their pasteries, but I do know for sure that food coloring has been linked to
 many side effects in children like irritability, sleeplessness, hyperactivity,
 etc.  Here is a collection of some of the articles that I was able to read
regarding the subject.  It appears that the more neurologically sensitive
a child is, the more sensitive he or she is to food coloring.  Buyer beware! 
Read the labels, look for natural food colorings...
FDA Food Coloring Lawsuit:

Lance Armstrong Foundation:

Columbia University Medical Center: Columbia Psychiatry

Behavior Advisor:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Physical Education Needed in the School Day

From TODAYonline:

Too little time to play in school

Letter from Ho Kong Loon

Play as a form of exercise, relaxation, character building and camaraderie trumps almost any other educational or social activity.

Children are bursting with energy. They should be given the time, the space and opportunity to stretch their limbs, strengthen their bodies, toughen their minds, acquire good social skills and build sound character traits.

In some schools, children are directed to the school hall the moment they set foot in the school compound. Sitting cross-legged and packed like sardines in the school hall, the pupils spend time before class doing silent reading.

Recess time should be at least 30 minutes long, to allow children to do what they inherently love to do: Play. However, the present recess period of 20 minutes is often curtailed for various reasons. Often children have to gobble their food and gulp down their drinks in great haste, before they are corralled, five minutes before the end of recess, back to the classroom.

The abundant reservoir of pent-up energy is often negatively discharged in restlessness and hyperactivity during lessons.

When my sons were in school in the '70s and '80s, I allowed, in fact encouraged them to have three hours of outdoor fun and engage in activities in the company of their friends, from 4pm to 7pm.

The three hours of unsupervised playtime was on condition that they completed their schoolwork satisfactorily.

To see them trudging home weary but contented and happy was very heart-warming indeed.

Many professionals have been writing about and doing research on the very same topic:  Children must move to develop academicaly, socially, psychologically, etc.
These are some of my favorite books to learn more about how and why children should be moving.  With budget cuts, many schools are cutting out daily physical education along with their fine arts programs.  It is these very
programs that help develop children's minds to problem solve, adapt, and mature. 
Talk to your schools, find out what you can do to add
physical education back into the school day, along with
 at least 15-20 minute recess times throughout the school
day.  Develop our students' minds...
                                                                                                    S'cool Moves for Learning (book)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Loans, Scholarships, and Financial Aid for Students

Wrights Law, one of my favorite sites for up to date information on Special Education Law has posted information on loans, scholarships, and financial aid for students, particularly students receiving special education.  Click on the link below, there is an abundance of information/links contained in the article!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Visual Processing Affects On Reading, Part 2: Symptoms of Poor Eye Tracking Skills

The last post referred to visual processing deficits, particularly poor eye tracking skills, which impact a child's ability to read and/or learn how to read. My colleagues and I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Dr. Kristy M. Remick, a developmental optometrist, and her vision therapist, Vicki Bedes, in regards to vision therapy. They published a book, Eyes on Track: A Missing Link to Successful Learning which gives practical visual development activities that can be done by parents and teachers to help students with poor visual processing skills. While working with students in the clinic setting, many of the activities suggested in Eyes on Track were used successfully in conjunction with occupational therapy with a sensory integration focus.  Much of the following information is summarized from Dr. Remick and Mrs. Bedes’ book.

 Students give us clues on a daily basis which display their difficulty processing visual information on a page.  They may say:

            “I lose my place when I read.”

            “I have to blink when I read.”

            “The words and letters are blurry.”

            “I have to use my finer or I lose my place.”

            “I reread lines sometimes.”

            “My eyes get tired when I read.”

            “I can’t remember what I’m reading.”

 Teachers should be looking for the following performance based symptoms of poor eye tracking skills that students display in the classroom:

             Avoids near-point work

            Poor posture while reading

            Head tilting when reading or writing

            Holds book too close to eyes

            Homework requiring reading takes a long time

            Poor attention during work time

            Loses place when reading

            Uses a marker or finger to keep place

            Moves head when reading

            Omits, re-reads words/letters

            Re-reads lines

            Repeats letters within words

            Reads big words, but misreads/misses smaller words (and, but, if, the)

            Difficulty copying form chalkboard/loses place

            Avoids reading out loud

Enjoys being read to/avoids self-reading

Poor reading comprehension

            Comprehension declines as reading continues

            Misaligns numbers in math

            Does not look directly into speaker’s eyes

            Easily distracted

Students can have both eye tracking difficulties and poor vision perception.  The following performance symptoms reflect a vision perception deficit which impacts performance in other areas.  Teachers should look for the following signs of poor vision perception:

            Letter reversals in reading or writing (b,d,q,p)

            Number reversals

            Repeatedly confuses right/left direction

            Word reversals (saw/was, on/no)

            Grips pencil too tightly/poor grip (thumbs crossed over fingers)

            Poor handwriting

            Poor spacing when writing

            Uses other hand as “spacer” to control spacing when writing

            Writes uphill or downhill

            Orients drawings/writing poorly on page

            Poor shape recognition/difficulty copying shapes

            Confuses similar words

            Failure to recognize same word in next sentence

            Poor visualization/spells words based on sounds only

            Poor comprehension/unable to describe what has been read

            May comprehend better when someone reads to them

            Difficulty with sports/poor motor skills

            Frustration with school work

Students who display similar symptoms in the classroom are probably suffering from vision deficits and should be evaluated by a Developmental Optometrist and receive intervention.  The activities found in  Eyes on Track: A Missing Link to Successful Learning can be beneficial to those families who don’t have the financial means to access Vision Therapy and/or Occupational Therapy with a Sensory Integration focus. 

Parents Active for Vision Education (P.A.V.E.) have an excellent website to inform and guide parents (and teachers) on the relationship between vision and achievement.