Q&A: Coping With Anxiety in Our Difficult Economy

Parent & Child Magazine welcomes Denise Daniels, child development authority and author who specializes in helping parents and children deal with emotions, health, and wellness. She holds a masters degree in Pediatric Psychology and Counseling.Denise_web

  • Co-founder of the National Childhood Grief Institute.

  • Has appeared on The View, Larry King Live, and NBC's Nightly News.

  • Her advice has appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, and People Magazine, among other publications.

Do you have a question about how the economy is affecting your child, or another about a sensitive topic? Submit it in the "add comment" section below. Denise will post answers to select questions twice during May.

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The Joys of Summer...Reading

This is the time of year when a children's librarian's mind lightly-- or not so lightly--turns to thoughts of summer, and, specifically, thoughts of summer reading programs. Summer reading programs have become a staple of public libraries all over the English-speaking world, and maybe beyond. The basics are simple, and don't vary too much from program to program: generally, kids are given a form of some kind with which to keep track of their reading, and then collect rewards from the library--anything from stickers to iPods--when they reach a reading goal.

The specifics vary: Usually there's a theme of some kind, with a catchy slogan, but not always. The reading goal can be expressed in number of books, number of pages, days of reading, minutes of reading, or maybe some other standard that I haven't even thought of. The materials--reading forms, posters, maybe other stuff like bookmarks, postcards or activity booklets--can be simple or elaborate. Often, the libraries incorporate programming--entertainment, visiting authors, completion ceremonies, even sleepover parties--into the summer's plans. Some libraries emphasize completion of the goal, and some focus on participation rather than finishing.

No matter what the details, though, the purpose is the same: to encourage kids to read for pleasure, and to read books of their own choosing; to build connections between families and libraries; and to address the "summer slide"-- the documented drop in reading abilities of the average kid over the long summer vacation.

I've promoted summer reading programs in three different library systems, and ran one at my old school. I even work for a summer reading program; I'm the coordinator for the amazing province-wide British Columbia Summer Reading Club. When I'm on the desk, checking lists and giving out stickers, I love seeing kids get enthusiastic about books over the summer, and I get a big kick out of seeing what they're reading. It's a great time to talk about books, swap recommendations, and just get a chance to revel in the joy of reading.

This year, Scholastic is getting in on the party, with the Scholastic Summer Challenge, a web-based program with booklists, activities, rewards--all designed to encourage kids to "Read 4 or More" books. The program kicks off tomorrow, April 30, at 1 PM Eastern time (10 AM Pacific) with a live webcast game show.

It strikes me that an enterprising kid could sign up for the Scholastic challenge and the program at their local public library--chances are, your library has a Summer Reading Program and is gearing up, even as you read, to put it into action come June. Then kids can have double the incentive, and double the fun. (And you don't even have to tell them it's good for their reading level.)

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Top 10 Picture Books: My Brother Weighs In

My erstwhile little brother (now about 6 inches taller than me), a mild-mannered lawyer by day but with an alternate identity as a spouse, parent, and children's book afficionado, sent me the following email the other night. My response was to write back that it seems the wrong person in the family went into the kidlit blogging business. Here, see for yourself:


Hi Els!
I've been eagerly following the countdown of the 100 favorite picture books over at Fuse #8, and I'm trying to come up with a list of my own. I didn't vote at the time, but why not now?
Of course, I won't send it to Ms. Bird, since the voting's closed over there, but I thought I'd send my ballot to you, just so you'd know.
I decided to limit myself to books I was had read before the list came out. (Shaun Tan's The Arrival certainly would have made my list, but I only read it because I saw it on the Fuse #8 results. Truly amazing, though.) I also don't know what counts as a picture book, versus an early reader, versus a board book, versus illustrated nonfiction, versus whatever, so some of my titles may not, ahem, qualify. And, of course, I don't have a librarian's knowledge of the canon. Nonetheless, here goes:
You think you're embarrassed shouting at the television? Wait till you catch yourself shouting at a book. The best read-aloud. Ever.
2. The Osbick Bird (Edward Gorey)
Yes, it's Gorey, with everything macabre, absurd, and arbitrary that that entails. And it all serves a lovely tale of friendship and companionship.
Made me cry when I first read it.
Beautiful, silly, and heroic.
5. My New York (Kathy Jakobsen)
And it should be on your list, too, based on your recent blog posts. :-)
6. But Not the Hippopotamus (Sandra Boynton)
Boynton! BOYNTON! BOYYYYNNN-TOOOONNNNNN!!! Who cares if they're categorized as board books or whatever? Give Ms. Boynton some love, people. I suppose her votes were split twenty ways, or it fell into the wrong category, or maybe there's a snob factor at work because her lesser stuff sometimes feels less like "art" or "literature" and more like "product." I don't care. And the verses all scan. And the illustrations are funnier than Dr. Seuss'.
Such expressiveness.
8. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (Scieszka/Smith)
9. Great Moments in Architecture (David Macauley)
Tee-hee, again. I worship the illustration entitled "Finding the Vanishing Point."
10. Good Night, Gorilla (Peggy Rathmann)
Yes, she can be on the list twice. It's a tricky feat to be both cozy and hilarious, but she pulls it off here.
Honorable mention:
Irving and Muktuk: Two Bad Bears (Daniel Pinkwater)
The Piggy in the Puddle (Pomerantz/Marshall)
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch... (Noble/Ross)
To Market, To Market (Miranda/Stevens)
Max's Breakfast (Rosemary Wells)
Song of Night (Nakamura/Riley)
The Dumb Bunnies Go to the Zoo (Dav Pilkey)
And of course, if I chose my list tomorrow it would look different. I'd bet all of the voters felt this way.
Enjoy, and love to all,


Sheesh. I haven't even read three of these books. Let this be a warning to older siblings every where: the little sibs can catch up mightily. Even if they work in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FIELD. Bravo, James! And thanks for writing my post for me ;-)

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Up, Up, and Away

We flew to California recently, and yes, now we are all home in one piece.

Before we left I felt ridiculously nervous. I imagined H freaking out on the plane. She'd wail pathetically and twist and turn in her seat. The people around us would tisk softly under their breath, shake their heads, and cast "bad parent" looks in our direction. We'd try toy after toy, book after book, and nothing would work. Then we'd have to circle SFO for three hours because of fog and, well, we'd vow never to leave the house again.

Guess what? She did great. She was awesome, tremendous, a real trooper. Whoever invented back-of-the-seat personal TVs has my sincere gratitude. We didn't even haul out the big backpack full of chotchkies. Two items we purchased for the trip really paid off: a bag designed to fit the car seat so we could confidently check it through, and the CARES harness for H to use on takeoff and landing – fabulous.

But it's never that simple, right? How could it be? This happy little story just has to have a twist, right? It took us a week to realize. I still cannot believe we did this. But we did. (Wait for it…) We left the car seat in the cab coming back from the airport. Yep. More than a week later, that cab is not coming back (damn them). If it weren't so ridiculous, so patently absurd, I'd feel worse. Happily the seat was a hand-me-down and our old model still works for another 5+ pounds. But truly! Who does that? Well, apparently we do!

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Three Cheers for the Garden State

It was a very long time ago, but my memory of the incident remains crystal clear. My two young children and I were enjoying a brief vacation in Disney World. The rides were as much fun for me as they were for the kids. What artistry there was in every last detail.  And staff members (not only Mickey and Donald) connected with visitors in a welcoming way.

The incident that sticks in my mind occurred when we boarded a boat for a special ride. The Captain asked each group aboard to name its home state.  When my two proudly called out, “New Jersey”, everyone laughed and laughed even louder when the Captain offered, “Don’t feel bad. We won’t hold your New Jersey roots against you!”

My children were stunned and a little bit hurt. They were proud of their state; and no one had ever questioned their pride before. Later while sharing a tank of popcorn, I tried my best to explain why N.J. had become a national joke, mostly among people who had never gotten off the Turnpike to see the real “Garden State”. Hearing people pronounce N.J. home evoked the question, “What Exit?”.  But that only meant the listeners were ignorant of our state’s fine qualities, including its generous spirit.

Today, I am especially proud of the news that N.J will be supporting (and that means funding in hard times) preschool programs, particularly for children of poverty. Our governor, Jon Corzine, had hoped to provide all day pre-school for all of N. J.’s children. That hope will have to be compromised.  There will not be funding enough for all. But the Governor understands the potential life long benefits of a good preschool experience. He plans to use federal stimulus funds and an additional 25 million already set aside for preschool programs. Since the funds are still limited, he plans to focus on the most needy---the most at risk kids.  While many other states are cutting back on preschool programs, N. J. is enriching theirs. Hip hip hurray for the Garden State.

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Whose Bragging Rights?

It’s been some time; but I know I did share at least one story about my oldest grandchild’s social skills.  It’s the honest truth that he began to reach out to other people the minute he emerged from the womb. I saw him about 10 minutes later when he was being wheeled in a newborn’s warmer to get his wrist I.D. (My son-in-law wouldn’t let the newborn out of his sight until that I.D. was secured.) But the little boy himself was busy looking the world over, making eye contact, bundled up but bursting with the energy to reach out and “touch someone”.

A few years later at a community pool, he approached a little girl about his size.  “Hi, what’s your name?” he asked without a hint of shyness.  The other child responded, “Marianne”.  “Oh, hi, Marianne. I’m ‘B’, the landscaper.”

When he was about 8 and just entering a new school, he knocked on the door of the athletic director. “Excuse me, Mr. M”, he said apologetically; “I hope I am not disturbing you. I am BB; Just wanted to say ‘hello’, and tell you how happy I am to be at ______ (school’s name).  His parents were shocked and unequivocally denied having suggested that he do this.  It was all his idea and the first they had heard of it.

Now he has a two year old cousin, who is showing similar signs of social precocity. When his family of four goes out to eat, L often flirts with the diners at the next table, and often breaks out with easy introductions. “This is Mommy; this is Daddy;  that is C., and I am L.”

Handshakes and self-conscious smiles all around among the adults. The origin of the socio-political ease shared by these first cousins is a mystery to us all. Grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles alike, protest, “He doesn’t get that from me!”

Whatever it’s genetic source, it’s a very special gift.

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Wonderful Town

I’m back from a whirlwind trip to my hometown, including three (yes, three) Passover seders, one jaunt to Central Park, and a long afternoon waiting in line (followed by a couple of short elevator rides) at the ultimate New York tourist destination, the Empire State Building, where I’d actually never been before. I had an excellent Szechuan dinner and saw a grown-up Broadway show with an old friend, my daughter and my cousins and I went to a circus performance, we did a lot of window-shopping and ate a lot of street food and rode a lot of subways and saw a lot of relatives.

And on the very first day, before we’d even completely slept off our jet lag, we stopped by the main branch of the New York Public Library, posed under the lions, then went inside and met the kidlitosphere’s own Betsy Bird, live on the reference desk. She is swell, by the way, and gamely discussed the Top 100 Picture Books Poll and the virtues of various blogging platforms while simultaneously keeping an eye out for real, actual patrons who might have non-blogging-related questions.

It was a great visit. I love where I live, but I miss New York.

Fortunately for someone like me, who finds comfort in virtual travel through books, there is no better place to miss than New York City. I don’t think there’s any other single locale in the world that has been the setting for more books, especially children’s books. There are probably thousands of them. I featured several last year when writing about city books for kids. Here are five more that might ease the pains of homesickness if, like me, you miss the place where the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down:

Here’s the setup: a yellow-balloon-toting little girl is visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her grandmother, but, oh, no! balloons aren’t allowed into the building. A friendly guard saves the day by promising to look after the tethered balloon until the girl can retrieve it, but, oh, no! the balloon flies away. The guard runs after it, and the balloon leads him a merry chase through many of the city’s landmarks. Meanwhile, the girl is looking at some famous pieces of art, each of whose composition echoes the various shenanegans witnessed by the balloon and its pursuers (for example, a painting of Washington crossing the Delaware is shown opposite the scene in which a motley group piles into a small boat to chase the balloon across the pond in Central Park). Great fun, and would make an excellent to NYC for a kid who’s visiting for the first time.

This flat-out gorgeous picture book, adapted from a quilt created by the author-illustrator, is the story of Cassie and her family and their summer nights up on their roof, the “tar beach” of the title. Life is not easy for this family: Cassie’s dad, a construction worker, can’t get into the union because of his race. But at its heart, this book is a tribute to one child’s imagination, and her love of the city; over which she imagines she can fly, soaring over the buildings and bridges and transcending all the problems and worries of everyday reality.

A rebellious child of wealth skates through 1890’s Manhattan during one precious year of freedom, and never really returns. Full of fascinating glimpses of long-vanished sights, like Bryant Park before it was the site of the New York Public Library. And you just have to root for Lucinda all the way.

Tourist suggestion: read this book, and then the sequels, which are, in order, All of a Kind Family Downtown, More All of a Kind Family, and All of a Kind Family Uptown (don’t make the mistake I did and read More AOAKF right after the first one or you’ll get all confused). Then, book a tour of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to see the tiny spaces that large immigrant families like the one in this book really lived in (though I always got the sense that this family’s apartment was slightly larger than the ones in the Tenement Museum—after all, they had that beautiful parlor that was dusted every day by a different sister!) An American family classic, right up there with the Little House books, Little Women, Betsy-Tacy, and The Birchbark House.

(Full disclosure: I have a family connection with the author. But even if I didn’t, this book would have me wishing I knew her.)

New York City feels like a place where anything can happen, where almost too much life, too much variety, too many different things and people and thoughts, are packed into one small space. Changeling gives that magic another dimension, depicting a city in which fairies and other mythical beings of all cultures, imported to New York along with immigrants from all over the globe, coexist in uneasy harmony (and disharmony) with regular folk and literary creations. I’m rereading it now, in hopes of keeping that magical feeling from fading just a little bit longer.

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Brother, Can you Spare a Cup

This is really puzzling to me. Something must have happened when I wasn’t paying attention to the waves of cultural changes affecting every day life.  I am too busy focusing on newspapers barely clinging to life, books and music finding their way to the internet’s instant cost-free availability, wondering what to do with my Webster’s all print dictionary. Probably I’ll keep it for old times’ sake, as I did my Selectric typewriter gathering dust for years before I moved and threw it on the truck of “1-800 Junk” along with an old black and white tv set. There is a fine line between Junk and retro-ware status. I’m sure I always pick the moment before my junk would have become a valuable piece of memorabilia to discard it.  But that’s water over the dam, and not my focus today.

What I want to know now is whatever happened to the plain plastic bathroom cup. I have been searching the vast canyons of mini-malls, the big chain pharmacies, the rare independent drug stores, the “we have everything for the home” chains, even the going out of business novelty stores that always answered “Yes” to any question that began with “Do you carry…?”.  What has happened that I missed? Have Americans given up on rinsing their teeth after brushing?  Are they sucking mouthwash directly from the bottle?  How do they take their plethora of pills, vitamins and cure or prevent-alls?

Confession: I did find a plastic bathroom cup in one large home styles store; but it was made in China and labeled “not safe for the dishwasher”.  Couldn’t risk that one.   Well, anyway, whatever cultural force has crushed the market for bathroom cups in America, it has yet to hit China. When Chinese plastic cups disappear entirely from our marketplace, we will know another mysterious, yet very bad blow has befallen the world economy.

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Answers to Your Questions About Autism (part 2)


Q: I am interested in your profile information that your daughter Sarah is now 'thriving' To what do you attribute her current condition? What therapies helped her reach the point she is at now? What kind of expectations do you hold for her future?

Posted by: Cathy Mealey

Dear Cathy,

I am happy to share with you what worked for my daughter, but please keep in mind that what works for one child may not necessarily work for another. It’s critical that a treatment program be tailored to the individual needs of a child.

My daughter was diagnosed with mild-to-moderate autism at the age of two, and subsequently, with colitis at the age of 6, and PANDAS at the age of 7. PANDAS stands for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections and it is a bacteria-triggered autoimmune disorder that can result in a sudden onset of symptoms, including tics, obsessions and/or compulsions, anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, and a mood disorder. During the first year, we received Early Intervention services for about 11 hours per week with several clinicians who came into our home and in a playgroup setting. I began putting together a strong team of professionals that understood my daughter’s individual needs and could help me build a comprehensive program using the framework of DIR®/Floortime™, a model that I felt would work well for my daughter.

Our program consisted of 6-8 Floortime sessions each day, lasting 20-30 minutes apiece; speech/language therapy, play therapy, and occupational therapy 3-4 times per week; a daily sensory diet; and as many play dates with typical peer models as I could manage. I enrolled my daughter in a full-time specialized school program with lots of structure and opportunities to explore and interact. Her biomedical treatment included dietary and nutritional interventions, medication, and detoxification.

My daughter is 13 now and although she still has a ways to go (medically, we are still treating the PANDAS), she is very connected and social,she can relate to people with a deep sense of warmth and intimacy, and she can argue anyone into the ground on almost any topic. She’s making solid academic progress, is an avid reader, figure skater, rides horseback nearly every day, and has a few good friends.

To see what she has gone through, day in and day out, over the past 11 years with all the educational, therapeutic, and biomedical interventions (not to mention all the invasive tests, blood work, and IVs) and to see how far she has come despite the odds and the many roadblocks she has faced, it is mind blowing. My daughter is my inspiration!


Nancy D. Wiseman



Q: What age should I start looking for signs of autism in my baby?

Posted by: Caroline R.

Dear Caroline,

Long before you sense there is something wrong, you should be monitoring your child’s key developmental milestones and watch for early signs of delay, because if you intervene early enough, you may be able to prevent a developmental delay from progressing into a full-blown disorder and get your child back on a healthy developmental path. Please go to the First Signs website at www.firstsigns.org and look for our Hallmark Developmental Milestones. Second, you should begin screening your child’s development with a validated screening tool as early as 4 months. Please see the Screening section of the First Signs website for more information.

To meet the diagnostic criteria for an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you must have three core features: impairment in social interaction, impairment in verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior or interests. Some of the early warning signs to watch for in the second year of life (Wetherby & Woods, 2004) are:

  • Lack of appropriate eye gaze
  • Lack of warm, joyful expressions
  • Lack of sharing interest or enjoyment
  • Lack of response to name
  • Lack of showing gestures
  • Lack of coordination of nonverbal communication
  • Unusual prosody (little variation in pitch, odd intonation, irregular rhythm, unusual voice quality)
  • Repetitive movements with objects
  • Repetitive movements or posturing of body, arms, hands, or fingers

I encourage you to check out the ASD Video Glossary, an online video glossary that Amy Wetherby, PhD (Florida State University) and I developed in collaboration with Autism Speaks to help parents and professionals learn more about the early signs and features of ASD. This glossary is linked from our home page at www.firstsigns.org. Here, you will see side-by-side video clips of children with typical behaviors in comparison with children who present red flags for autism. But please understand, there are many presenting features associated with ASD that are depicted in the video clips. Most children do not show all of the features all of the time. Instead, many children have some of the features some of the time. Awareness of these common presenting features may help to heighten your index of suspicion. Individually, these features may not indicate a problem; but in combination, they may indicate a need for a diagnostic evaluation.


Nancy D. Wiseman



Q: I am the mother of a 7 year old with autism. He does a lot of running & yelling, I have a hard time getting him to focus on learning when I try to work with him, should I have on some kind of medication like for hyperactivity to help him focus better.

Posted by: Kim Casto

Dear Kim,

When you say “medication for hyperactivity” I assume you mean psychiatric medication. Have you –or your team of professionals– tried to peel apart the issues to understand the underlying cause(s) of the hyperactivity and outbursts? Have you seen a pediatric gastroenterologist or nutritionist who specializes in treating young children with autism? Or a Defeat Autism Now (DAN) specialist? I suggest you pursue this avenue before trying a psychiatric medication, which will only act as a band-aid. Oftentimes, these types of behaviors can be due to gastrointestinal or immune problems. Dietary and nutritional interventions can work well with these types of issues. My daughter was highly sensitive to gluten (protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains) and every time she ate something that was cross-contaminated with gluten, she was so hyper you could peel her off the ceiling within 20 minutes of ingesting it.

Also, does your child get sensory integration (SI) therapy a few times a week? Does he have a daily sensory diet? This can help to improve his sensory processing functions and work towards calming him down in his daily activities (such as school, play, mealtime, sleep, etc.), as well as enhance his social interactions with peers. There are several chapters in my new book (The First Year: Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed Child) that address your concerns.


Nancy D. Wiseman

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Answers to Your Questions About Autism (part 1)


Q: A few of my wife's friends who are pregnant or have newborns are really anxious about all the news they read about the increase in autism in America. Should they be worried? What can I say to reassure them?

Posted by: Jerry L.

Dear Jerry:

In general, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of childhood diseases and disorders over the past 10 years, including autism, asthma, allergies, AD/HD, bipolar, and learning disabilities. One in every six children is at risk for a developmental, behavioral, or learning problem. This is very worrisome. The question we must ask is: is this due to genetics, exposure to toxins found in the environment (such as water, air, food, and vaccines), failures in the functioning of various bodily systems (immunological, gastrointestinal, and metabolic), or a combination of the three? Until we know conclusively what causes autism (or any of the other diseases and disorders) parents should be prudent in what they put in (or on) their bodies, homes, and lawns. This is particularly important for children who are far more vulnerable while their brains are developing.

Instead of worrying and doing nothing, parents should be forewarned and armed if they have young children or are planning to get pregnant. They should become more knowledgeable about the ingredients in all products and the potential harm to their body or baby; be vigilant about monitoring their baby’s key social, emotional, and communication milestones from birth through school age; have their child’s development screened beginning at 4 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months; and when in doubt, they should check it out!


Nancy D. Wiseman



Q: I have a 6 year old son that no doctors will help with. We have tried to get Adam help since 3 when easter seals was done with him. I finally got Adam in pre school by the grace of god watching us and running into a old friend who helped. Adam has never slepted a whole night in his whole life. He ws found that at 9 months he had acid reflects and that helped for a while. He didn't speek till around 4 from 2 to 3 we did sign lanuage which we learned from easter seals. He is in kindergarden now and doing exceptionally well considering I didn't knowif he could do it he is reading and comumeticationg well with his teacher. I am very proud we need basically how to control tempers and outbursts. Is there a book with ideas and help to work around all these things

Posted by: kathy bell

Dear Kathy,

I can imagine how upsetting and frustrating this must be for you when you know in your heart something is wrong with your child and no one will step up to the plate and help. Whether it is autism or a related disorder, my new book (The First Year: Autism Spectrum Disorders) can give you the information and tools you need to get started. It will teach you how to assemble a team of professionals that can identify what is wrong with your child and recommend the types of treatments, supports, and program you need for your son. It will also help you to navigate your local school district and insurance company to get the supports and services you need.

Ideally, your son should have a multidisciplinary evaluation consisting of a developmental pediatrician, gastroenterologist, child psychologist, speech and language pathologist, social worker, and educational specialist. The team approach to diagnosis and treatment is vital, as autism can manifest itself in a wide variety of ways (behavior, speech, ability to learn and relate, etc.). The reason I am suggesting a gastroenterologist is because of your son’s reflux, sleeplessness, outbursts, and temper tantrums. Often this can be due to food allergies, yeast overgrowth, or immune dysfunction. Once the team is able to identify the reason for your son’s problems, they can recommend the most appropriate course of treatment. Then you can take an active role in advocating for his needs. Best of luck to you!


Nancy D. Wiseman



Q: I'm pregnant now and thinking ahead about vaccines my baby will need, but I've read a lot of conflicting information about the link between vaccines and autism. Can you help me navigate through the arguments both for and against vaccines? I want my baby to be as healthy as possible, but I'm not sure whose advice to follow.

Posted by: Karen B.

Dear Karen,

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You are smart to be thinking about this issue now so you can plan ahead. As I’m sure you’ve seen all over the news, there is a great deal of controversy over whether or not vaccines are safe and it’s very unsettling. As I said in an earlier response, until we know conclusively what causes autism, you should be prudent in what you put in (or on) your body, home, and lawn.

The fact of the matter is, no vaccine is completely free of risk. We know that many children with autism are physically ill and once tested, they are found to have compromised immune systems, abnormal detoxification systems, and imbalanced gastrointestinal systems. Evidence shows that families of children with autism also have higher rates of autoimmune disease. This suggests that children with autism may have a genetic predisposition for immune system weakness. Immunizing a child with a weakened or dysfunctional immune system can lead to more serious health and developmental problems. One thing you should look at is your family history (and that of the baby’s father). Are there any neurological, immunological, or other health problems that run in either families (including allergies, asthma, AD/HD, and autism)?

Vaccines can be administered safely to children who are healthy. You can space them out in a way that will not overload your child’s immune system. And when it comes to boosters later on, you can conduct a simple blood test to check your child’s titers. If the test indicates your child is immune to measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, or other diseases, there is no need for a booster. This is a personal decision you will have to make, but I suggest you read the book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave, MD, so you can make an educated decision.


Nancy D. Wiseman



Q: I am a mother of a child that was diagnosis with autism within the last month. It has not only been a struggle for us to hear the news but also the support and services available for children with Autism. The doctors give their diagnosis and recommendations and we were on our own from there. I am well educated within the Autism Spectrum and yet I am having difficulty finding answers to all my questions. Where do we turn? What do we believe? Does the diets of autistic children really have an effect on their learning capacity? What can I do for my child besides therapies and diets.

Posted by: Abbey Turner

Dear Abbey,

I encourage you to read my new book (The First Year: Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed Child), as it will answer many of your questions and walk you through the most essential steps that will lift you out of your confusion and frustration, including understanding and accepting the diagnosis, how to become informed and well-connected, establishing your professional team, understanding your child’s unique profile, putting the proper supports in place, knowing and exercising your legal rights, obtaining key evaluations and reports to get the supports and services you need, learning which treatments are most appropriate for your child, and how to advocate. This journey can be very overwhelming for families. I wrote this book for parents, like yourself, who are just starting out.

Parents often ask: “how do I know which treatments will work for my child?” Well, you won’t, unless you first understand your child’s individual profile (since no two children are alike), know the issues to target, the pros and cons of each treatment, and the potential side effects. Some parents put all their eggs in one basket thinking that one method will provide the total solution, while others try everything at once. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. What seems to be most effective is finding the right balance of approaches (medical, therapeutic, and educational) that work for your child and family, and then trying them slowly and methodically.

For many children on the autism spectrum, dietary interventions can be very effective. As Kenneth Bock, MD, says: “It’s a mistake not to treat the underlying biomedical problems…to do what we can to help the neurons function so they respond to all the therapies.” I highly recommend his book, Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies.

Best of luck to you!


Nancy D. Wiseman


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