Parents are facing some high expectations right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a wave of uncertainty to our homes, impacting finances, food security, health and safety. And while that would have been plenty to worry about, many parents are also required to work from home while managing their child’s education at the kitchen table.
It’s a lot.
“We know there are direct correlations between parental stress and a parent’s ability to give their child the one-on-one positive interaction that kids need to thrive,” said Dr. Megan Frye, a child psychologist at Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic. “We also know that the brain is super flexible. When we are going through stressful experiences, we as parents can learn and implement concrete skills and practices that will help us manage our own stress, connect better with our children and model what it looks like to be resilient when things are challenging.”
Reducing anxiety can feel impossible if your child care is obsolete and you don’t have time for an hour-long yoga class. On the Pulse has collaborated with Seattle Children’s experts to identify practical tips to help parents manage their stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and long after.
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In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, On the Pulse is shedding light on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on children, teens, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how we can support them through these uncertain times.
As a society, we often rely on routines. With the COVID-19 pandemic uprooting our daily activities, we are being challenged to adapt to what we’re considering the “new normal.”
This is an especially challenging time for those with autism. Routines are critical for individuals on the spectrum, as they thrive on structure and consistency.
In recent data from March 2020 released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism now affects 1 in 54 children. According to the CDC, ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Individuals often repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many also have different ways of learning, paying attention or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.
James Mancini, a speech and language pathologist with the Seattle Children’s Autism Center, and Tammy Mitchel, program director of the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center, share ways individuals with autism and their families can cope during this unique time.
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The teachers at Seattle Children’s are experts at supporting kids and their families when children and teens are suddenly out of school. Scott Hampton, manager of K-12 Education Services, shares advice to support families in the community as they adjust to a new way of life while schools are closed.
Our world is facing an extraordinary challenge right now. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, it has disrupted and influenced all aspects of life. For families with school-aged children, a primary concern in these disruptions has been the closure of schools across our region and around the world. Read full post »
As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread, adults, children and teens are trying to make sense of what the outbreak means for their families and communities. Those with anxiety disorders may feel more worry than usual.
On the Pulse asked Dr. Jennifer Blossom, a psychology postdoctoral fellow at Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Clinic, how to share information with the children and teens in your life in a way that helps prevent too much worry. The good news is that just as there are steps you can take to help you and your loved ones try to avoid the illness, there are steps you can take to help your child or teen cope with the situation.
“There are a number of ways parents can successfully help their child stay on track during this time,” Blossom said. “In general, the goal is for parents to encourage their child’s participation in routine activities, such as going to school (as informed by the most recent public health recommendations or decision by your child’s school district), while helping their child think realistically about the risks.” Read full post »
Digital devices like the iPad have only been around for about 10 years, but in that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life and research examining their impact on young children is limited.
Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was featured on the TODAY Show to discuss the evolving digital age children are growing up in. Watch as three families learn more about how their children interact with devices like the iPad and hear about the challenges Christakis faces as technology continues to advance at a much faster rate than our understanding of the impact of digital devices on a child’s developing mind.
It may seem as though digital devices and touch screens like the iPad have been around for decades, but the reality is that these devices have only been around for about 10 years. In that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life, but research on their impact is limited. What concerns researchers like Dr. Dimitri Christakis is that we don’t yet understand the effects these devices may have on young children, and so that’s why they’ve taken center stage in many of his research studies.
Christakis isn’t advocating for taking screens away from children. He simply hopes he can help parents and caregivers better understand and navigate how devices like the iPad can fit into their lives in a healthy way.
“The point isn’t that we should take away all digital devices, but rather that we should come at it from a different perspective,” Christakis said. “We should ask, ‘How can we help children live healthy lives in a digital world that they’re immersed in from birth?” Read full post »
In an episode of the popular TV show Big Little Lies, a character’s young daughter has an anxiety attack, prompted by worries about climate change. Though this may seem drastic, Dr. Kendra Read, attending psychologist and director of anxiety programs with Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine team, is having many conversations with families about how to cope with distressing news, such as mass shootings, crime, global politics and natural disasters.
“It’s common for kids to be worried about events that might potentially harm them or their loved ones,” Read said. “Worrying is normal and a typical part of life, but I tend to talk to children whose anxiety over current events impacts their daily functioning. They exaggerate the likelihood of bad things happening and underestimate their ability to cope with things.”
The key is helping kids cope with the worry about these events happening, even though the likelihood is small. With school back in session, Read offers advice to families whose children might experience heightened anxiety after a frightening news event.
“We want to bolster kids’ coping abilities and teach them how they can help themselves,” Read said. Read full post »
With school back in session, families are juggling classes, homework and after-school activities. Making sure kids are up-to-date on vaccinations and prepared for the upcoming flu season is also important.
“Immunizations are our chance to prevent infections before they happen and keep our children healthy,” said Dr. Matthew Kronman, a pediatrician and associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Seattle Children’s. “Because children are around so many other kids at school, there is a high chance for passing infectious diseases from one child to the next.”
To make it easier for busy families, On the Pulse asked Kronman what parents should know about back-to-school vaccines, including recommendations for the 2019-20 flu season and information about the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which he noted is especially important after this year’s measles outbreak. Read full post »
For Shameka Cornelius, Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) is more than just a community clinic. To her, OBCC is family.
The clinic provides medical, dental, mental health and nutrition services to all families, regardless of their ability to pay. It also offers a unique model of care that addresses the socioeconomic and environmental roots of illness.
Shameka Cornelius poses with her three children, Saymirah, Shayrielle and Sy’ier.
Since Cornelius was a little girl, OBCC has been her medical home. From dental visits to well-child check-ups, Cornelius has fond memories of the clinic. She remembers walking from her grandmother’s house just blocks away in Seattle’s Central District to go to clinic appointments. For her, it never felt like going to the doctor. She was always excited to see the smiling faces of her care team.
“I still remember the very first fish tanks they had,” Cornelius said as she laughed. “Those were my first fish. You get your tokens when you go to the dentist and pick out a book after getting your shots. They even had popsicles sometimes.”
Cornelius says above all else, it’s the people that have made OBCC so special to her.
“Everyone should experience that type of service and a clinic of home and togetherness,” Cornelius said. “They actually care at OBCC. Everybody there is really friendly. For me, I wanted my kids to experience the same care that I received. The same people have been there since I was young. You can tell it’s not just work for them; they actually have a passion to be there.” Read full post »
Dr. Markus Boos, a pediatric dermatologist at Seattle Children’s, with one of his sons.
Climate change, a result of elevated carbon dioxide levels, leads to environmental changes that affect everyone, says Dr. Markus Boos, a pediatric dermatologist at Seattle Children’s. The 20 warmest years on record globally all occurred in the last 22 years, with the past 5 years being the warmest. While natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes and other forms of extreme weather can cause lasting physical, mental and emotional harm to all people, specific populations are more adversely affected. This includes the elderly, individuals with disabilities and children.
These major environmental changes put children’s health and safety at risk, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Recent reports have estimated children under age 5 bear 88% of the burden of disease due to climate change. On the Pulse talked to Boos about how climate change impacts skin conditions in children, and how parents can protect their kids from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Read full post »
Mango, fruit and crème are just a few of the nicotine flavors that may be drawing kids and teens to electronic cigarettes and vaping. In recent years, rising rates of youth in the United States using e-cigarettes has grown into a public health epidemic.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), e-cigarette use jumped 78% among high school students from 2017 to 2018. Last year, more than 3.6 million middle school and high school students in the U.S. used e-cigarettes. The products’ surge in popularity led the Food and Drug Administration to restrict fruit and candy flavored e-cigarettes at gas stations and convenience stores in 2018.
“I have absolutely seen an increase in teens using e-cigarettes, and so have hospitals and schools across the country,” said Dr. Yolanda Evans, associate professor of pediatrics in adolescent medicine at Seattle Children’s. “With these highly addictive products becoming more popular and readily available, it’s important for parents to know what e-cigarettes are and how to discuss vaping with their children.” Read full post »