27 Mar 2012

Son2's leg pains are a severe vitamin D deficiency!

Son2 (12) has been suffering with leg pains for the past few weeks. He's been limping around, unable to take part in PE and has had a lot of time off school. He's also been very low and irritable for a few months and we had put this down to being part of his Asperger's, but I had him referred back to the paediatrician because I wanted to make sure that we weren't missing some other medical reason.
An initial blood test showed nothing but, some weeks ater, Son2's legs started to hurt. At first, we thought it might be a tactic to avoid school but when the pains got worse, I took him back to the GP.
She checked over the last set of blood tests and realised that the paediatrician had missed some important tests. and so ordered a fresh batch.
Now, Son2 and blood tests do NOT go together well. When he got to the nurse, to be told there was no anaesthetic or any kind, he hopped off the bed and decided she wouldn't be taking any blood from him today, thank you very much.
She instead, made him out a prescription for anaesthetic cream, which we had filled, applied and then waited 45 minutes for it to take effect. 
Armed with a test-distracting "Where's Wally" the blood was duly taken and within three days, we had the answer.
He had about half the level of Vitamin D in his blood that he should have. Severe deficiency can cause irritability, depression, muscle pains and in the very worst cases, rickets. Luckily, it hadn't got that bad.
He's now on a high dose of Vitamin D supplement for three months.
He's not alone in his deficiency either - parents are encouraged to slap Factor 50 on to their children and keep them out of the sun for fear of melanoma and the increase in fears over child safety and the explosion of computer and console gaming means kids are spending more time indoors. And of course, it's been winter, which doesn't help.
In fact, the BBC recently reported:
The chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, is to contact medical staff about concerns young children and some adults are not getting enough vitamin D.
Government guidelines recommend some groups, including the under-fives, should take a daily supplement. However, recent research found that many parents and health professionals were unaware of the advice.
There has been an increase in childhood rickets over the past 15 years.
According to Dr Benjamin Jacobs, from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, links to heart disease and some cancers are also being investigated. The consultant paediatrician told BBC Breakfast that the hospital saw about one severe case a month of rickets - softening of bones through lack of vitamin D in childhood.
He said: "There are many other children who have less severe problems - muscle weakness, delay in walking, bone pains - and research indicates that in many parts of the country the majority of children have a low level of vitamin D."
The Feeding for Life Foundation report, published in October last year, suggested one in four toddlers in the UK is vitamin D deficient.
The problem with Son2 is that he doesn't like the outdoors much. He doesn't like to be near strangers - he doesn't particularly like being with people he knows either.
He prefers to spend his leisure time in his purple walled, black curtained, disco-balled TechnoLair and attempts to encourage him to go out are usually met with point blank refusal.
The GP, when she looked at Son2's results, said her son was the same so she was going to get him some Vitamin D supplement as well.
I am going to have to try harder not to just let him be in his room, where he's happiest and be tougher on getting him to go out. In fact, I'm just about to send him off to the post box for me on this lovely spring day and I might even go with him as I'm a bit concerned about my own Vitamin D levels. 
So, if you're concerned your own kids might be deficient, it wouldn't hurt to get them checked out, or just up their intake of VitD rich food and supplements. 
Thank goodness summer's around the corner!

Read More »

25 Mar 2012

Silent Sunday - The Colour of English Spring

Read More »

18 Mar 2012

Mothers' Day - cards no longer required

Today we'll be celebrating Mothers' day with my in-laws, who are bringing round a meal, ready cooked. I'm looking forward to it very much.
This is the sixth Mothers' Day that I haven't sent a card to my own mother. She passed away after beating, then succumbing to pancreatic cancer at the end of 2006. She was a bright and vivacious woman, intelligent and gregarious. She would have been the first to admit that she wasn't always the perfect mother - but then, are any of us? But she tried her best under sometimes difficult circumstances and that's all you can do.
It's been sixteen years since I sent a Mothers' Day card to my beloved Grandmother, the rock of my young life.   She always said she would never live to see my children and she didn't. I married my husband a year to the day after her death and my mother later took the bouquet to lay where her ashes had been scattered.
Today, I remember them both with a few of my favourite photographs of them. Happy Mothers' Day.
Mum and Gran c 1960

Mum and Gran in the late 40s

Mum and her two grandsons

Read More »

Silent (Mothering) Sunday

Read More »

13 Mar 2012

Why coffee mornings are good for the soul

Earl Grey and a restorative chat

Being a parent of children with special needs can be isolating. You may have found that your circle of friends has grown smaller as you've struggled with learning about and coping with your child's differences and finding the best help for them. 
Parents of 'normal' children haven't had to go through this and may find it difficult to understand. You feel like you're banging on about your disabled child and boring them to tears or, worse, making them pity you. So gradually, you withdraw and in time you may have found that you have few people outside your family to talk to - and even they may not understand.
You may even find you barely go out at all, because going out with your special needs child is like preparing for a mammoth trek across hostile terrain requiring such careful planning for unseen eventualities that you're exhausted before you get out of the front door.
Teachers may not properly understand or cater for your child's needs. Other parents, many of whom don't know you or your child, may stand in judgement of your apparently inadequate parenting skills.
You may start to feel depressed or unable to cope with the demands upon you. You may wake up every morning, open your eyes and think, "Here we go again". Some parents have described it as being like Groundhog Day and I can totally empathise with this.
I've come late to the party, but in the last few months, I've embraced a partial antidote - the special needs coffee morning. A place where no one pities you because you're all in the same boat. A place where you can discuss your child's behaviour without fear of judgement and where you may even hear some practical tips that have worked for other mums in a similar position. A place where you can talk with like-minded souls about the absurdities of trying to find the right educational provision and the hoops you have to jump through to get it. A place where friendly ears are guaranteed, along with a reviving cuppa and maybe even a yummy piece of cake.
This week (and it's only Tuesday) I've been to two - one I have been hosting at my house for NAS Surrey in Farnham and the other at St Saviour's Church in Guildford, where I was invited to speak about my Special Educational Needs Statementing book.
The women (mainly) at these groups are welcoming, determined, resilient and caring, despite the battles that they have fought or are still going through and the daily challenges that caring for often unreasonable, sometimes aggressive but always loved disabled children brings.
No one judges you, everyone swaps stories, tips, resources and support and it is such a relief to be able to share frank experiences with others, knowing they're not going to be shocked.
After I spoke at the Guildford coffee morning today, Psychologist, David Wheeler, gave a talk. He spoke about how many problems with children and adults are caused by their 'needs not being met'. We parents of special needs kids, more than most, spend so much of our time trying (and often failing) to meet the needs of our children that we have no time or energy to meet our own.
Coffee mornings like these are a good way to meet some of these needs to talk to others, share our stories and knowledge and let off steam.
If you are a special needs parent feeling isolated, why not join a group that has coffee mornings, some have creches - or if you know other parents of SEN/disabled children, have a meet up. 
If you run or know of such a group, why not leave details in the comments - you may well be helping someone.
Read More »

5 Mar 2012

Adding a G+ Badge to Blogger

Are you on Google+? See at the bottom of this post I have a G+, add to circles badge? Want one? Here's how: 1. Go to this Google developers page. Add your Google profile id (a string of numbers) into the box. It gives you the option to click a link nest to it to autofill for you, which is handy.
2. Then choose whether you want an icon or badge. It's previewed so you can see what it will look like.
3. You can then choose your size. If you want it in a sidebar, make sure you choose a size that's smaller than that.
4. Then, in the 'Get the Code' section, there are two parts to the code. The top part is to be added into your blog's section. Copy this piece of code, then go to your blog. It's always a good idea to back up your blog before you make any code alterations.
5. Next, go to Template> Edit Html (below the picture of your blog). Click that, then click 'Proceed'.
6. Scroll down past the code carefully until you see this:   . This is the closing tag for your code and you should paste the code you copied directly before this. Click Save Template.
7. Next go back to the Google developer page and copy the rest of the code. You are going to paste this where you want the badge to be, either in a text/html widget in your sidebar, or at the bottom of your post template. To post it in a widget, go to 'Layout' then 'add a gadget' where you want it and select the text widget. Paste in and save. I have added mine at the bottom of each post. To do that, I went to Settings> Posts& Comments>Post Template and pasted it there. Now every time I open a new post, the code is ready pasted in and I just add my post above it.

If you have a Google+ page, you can do the same; the customisation link is just above the profile link on the developers page.
Bear in mind, this is for Blogger. If you have a wordpress.com site, you cannot add javascript. Instead, just choose a badge image (scroll to the static badge section) and add it to an image widget in your sidebar with a link to your page - not as fancy but it still takes them there.
If you are on wordpress.org, you can find a plugin to do the job for you.
Read More »

4 Mar 2012

Silent Sunday

Read More »