Prioritizing Revisited

by Patricia S. Lemer, M. Ed., NCC

"In raising your children, spend half as much money and twice as much time." Anonymous

The horrific events of 9/11 threw everyone into a state of counting blessings and reordering priorities. DDR shares the shock and grief of those affected. Because the editorial I wrote almost two years ago on Prioritizing Therapies received so much positive response, I’m using the terrorist attacks as an opportunity to expand upon that theme. I have categorized my thoughts into specific areas important for children with special needs. Let me know your ideas.

FOOD: Restaurants are half full. I hope that means people have rediscovered cooking. Take time to bake gluten-free bread (use mixes from Miss Robens or Gluten-Free Pantry), make pureed soup (hide the vegetables and EFAs) and can tomatoes. We now have time to cook and eat. Try out some new recipes from the great cookbooks we offer. Sit down at the table to eat. Add a prayer. Children with the most severe special needs can benefit from sharing a meal with their families.

NUTRIENTS: Up the antioxidants. Vitamins C, E, DMG, Calcium and Magnesium are not only protection against the flu and other winter bugs, but could protect small bodies against biological warfare. At DAN!, Dr. Rimland told of a rabbit study where those that took DMG and Vitamin C did not get anthrax. If your children do get sick this winter, try natural alternatives to antibiotics. If you need an antibiotic for an infection, always combine it with a probiotic to replenish the good bacteria in the gut.

EFAS: It is impossible to argue with the benefits of essential fatty acids. Fish oils are key to brain development, sound mental health and appropriate behavior. EFAs are probably deficient in most people with mental illness and in the breast milk of mothers whose children are delayed. DDR is honored to have Coromega as this issue’s sponsor. Buy their premiere product from Kirkman, the Apothecary Pharmacy or your local vitamin store. In his illuminating talk at last months DAN! Conference, Dr. Andrew Stoll shared information destined to rank among the most important biological findings to date. Learn more about Omega 3 from his new book. (See booklist.) Grandma was right! Take your fish oils. Use only products that are free of heavy metal contamination and have minimal oxidation, like Coromega.

EXERCISE: You don’t have to wait for the first of the year to start that fitness regime. Get a head start on the holidays by raking leaves and hiking in the fall beauty. Put well balanced backpacks on the kids. Keep them moving. Movement is food for their nervous systems. They’ll eat and sleep better after vigorous exercise. For those fortunate enough to live in the north, try some cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. You’ll be amazed how well our youngest children do downhill without poles. Their low centers of gravity help them stay balanced.

TV & VIDEO GAMES: Turn them off now more than ever. The endless news of terrorism, anthrax and potential vaccines is as toxic as the chemicals in the air and food.

REDISCOVER BOARD AND PARLOR GAMES: When was the last time you played Charades or Pictionary? Remember how much fun they are? Laughing along with family and friends is a boost for the immune system. Pull out the checker board or that dusty game of Clue. In addition to the obvious positive interactions, kids learn the questions, visual-spatial skills and taking turns.

HOMEWORK: Encourage exercise, not TV breaks. Play Mozart, not rap for background music. Remember proper positioning: feet touching the floor, desk hitting the middle of the torso. Provide supportive structure, then let children do their own work. You did fifth grade already; you don’t need to do it again. Communicate with teachers through e-mail or notes, rather than through the child.

SLEEP: Many of our children are sleep deprived. Teens need ten hours to function well; most are getting far less. Lack of sleep adds to total load risk factors. Tired bodies make less melatonin, which in turn confuses other hormones. Now is a good time to establish sleep routines for our youngest: bath, pjs, story, song, kiss, lights out, good-night. Allow older children to set their own alarms and awake on their own rather than depend upon parental nudging.

Turn today’s rage and fear into an opportunity to reconsider priorities at home and at work. To quote Billy Ray Cyrus’ country song, Busy Man, "No one ever died wishing they had spent more time at work." Spend these precious days with your family!

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 7, Number 1 - Fall, 2001]

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