Making Halloween Enjoyable for Children with Autism

Making Halloween Enjoyable for Children with Autism

Medical ID.  American Medical ID features an array of medical alert jewelry for children and adults.

Your Tips for a Safe, Comfortable and Enjoyable Halloween

Trick-or-Treating:

Make a deal with neighbors to have their kids come for a ‘dress rehearsal’ day before. Your child can first practice answering the door and handing out candy to kids. Then switch and practice knocking and saying “trick or treat!”

The first two years of Halloween we just let our son dress up and walk up and down the street watching the other kids and looking at the decorations. Come our third Halloween, he went to knock on doors by himself and yelled “trick or treat” like a pro.

Be flexible, no expectations! Your child may be content stopping at five or six houses. Have quiet back up activities ready.

Be aware of which areas have displays with lots of gore and special effects so you can avoid them.

Discuss with the child safety tips for crossing the street, such as remembering to look both ways before crossing. The child may be over-stimulated from the change in schedule, so priming may be necessary.

Flashlights are a must.  My son carried one to help him see in the dark. It offered comfort and gave him a means of some control.

What helped my son most was watching children trick or treating on Youtube (Make sure you preview the video before your child sees it).

We always put plenty of glow sticks on my son in case we get separated at some of the more popular houses. You can purchase them at Wal-Mart in different shapes and colors. They make him feel more secure in the dark, too!

If your child is nonverbal, or not very verbal, make sure he or she wears some kind of identifying bracelet – it can even be part of the costume if done cleverly.

We practice trick-or-treating at our own house. Then he knows what to expect on Halloween night.

Take a route familiar to your child. Avoid homes decorated with flashing lights and loud sounds that may trigger sensory reactions. Review the day’s events when winding down. Discuss any fears about something seen or heard. Reassure him of your love and protection.

It’s a good idea to get a buddy that will make sure your child knows where he or she is going.

 

Collecting and Handing Out Candyhalloween-candy-in-bowl-590

Plan now for how you will handle candy consumption. A gluten or dairy intolerance may not be an issue with Halloween treats, but food dyes and sugar may wreak havoc with any child. Decide the candy-eating rules in advance and write them down.

After Halloween, watch the doors extra closely. My son escaped for the first time on November 1 along with his plastic pumpkin bucket from the night before.  A neighbor alerted us that he was going from house to house on his own.

When no longer appropriate to trick or treat, my son was given the honor of giving out treats to kids who came to our door. To “sweeten” the deal, each time someone came to our house he could add a piece of candy to a bowl reserved for him.

Trick or treating is too hard for my son, so I have him answer the doorbell instead when trick or treaters come.  I have taught him to open the door, take candy out of the bowl and put one in each bag, say goodbye and close the door.

 

Costumes

In lieu of a costume, try a Halloween T-shirt. There are screen-printed ones that look like Dracula’s tuxedo, complete with a jeweled medallion. There are also big orange T-shirts with a jack-o-lantern faces.

Pick a costume that may require a little face paint and is not too big or uncomfortable. Try to use a child’s own clothing. Definitely no masks or hats that might be distracting, irritating or uncomfortable to their senses.

I’m an adult who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Something I did as a kid was make sure I knew what costume I was going to wear at least four days in advance and try it on a few times. It’s also good to have a buddy that will make sure your child knows where he or she is going.

 

Themed Events

My 20-year-old son is too old for trick-or-treating and not social enough for parties. But, he is a HUGE train fanatic and is looking forward to a “Train of Terror” in our hometown. Check your community for similar events.

We had a daytime party with a bouncy house and everyone dressed up in Halloween costumes. This was safe for all the kids and not too scary for our daughter. We felt good about her not missing this fun childhood tradition.

Peanut and Tree-Nut Free Candy List

With Halloween just over a week away, it’s important for parents of children with peanut and other tree-nut allergies to know which candies are safe for their children to eat.   Here’s a list compiled by the Medical ID.  American Medical ID features an array of medical alert jewelry for children with styles to fit all personalities.

Peanut and Tree-Nut Free Candy

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♦ DIVVIES (anything made by Divvies) – www.divvies.com
♦ Haribo Gummi Candies (anything made by Haribo)
♦ Surf Sweets Natural gummies & jelly beans – www.surfsweets.com
♦ Vermont Nut Free Chocolates
♦ Skittles
♦ Peeps
♦ Swedish Fish
♦ Altoids Mints, Original & Cinnamon (not Chocolate variety)
♦ Mike and Ikes
♦ Hershey (plain) chocolate bars, personal size only (not King size, not Minis) 
♦ Hershey (plain) chocolate Kisses (not King Size, not Holiday/Seasonal Bags)
♦ Wonka’s Nerds & Nerds Rope
♦ Laffy Taffy
♦ Runts
♦ Dubble Bubble gum
♦ Tootsie Pops & Tootsie Rolls (anything made by Tootsie) Tootsie-rolls-4256
♦ Junior Mints
♦ Lifesaver Gummies
♦ Smarties
♦ Sour Patch Kids – all varieties
♦ Whoppers
♦ Sweet Tarts
♦ Dum Dum lollipops
♦ Bottle Caps
♦ Pop Rocks
♦ Now and Laters
♦ Zours
♦ Hot Tamales
♦ Red Vines
♦ Jolly Rancher hard candy, lollipops and gummi candy
♦ York Peppermint Patties
♦ Twizzlers
♦ Rolos
♦ Starburst fruit chew, lollipops and jelly beans
♦ Kraft Marshmallows
♦ Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Chips, Trader Joe’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Chipslicorice

Peanut and Tree Nut Free Ice Creams & Baked Goods

♦ Sweet Alexis Cookies & Breads
♦ Haagen Dazs Ice Creams – which do not contain nuts as ingredient
♦ Dreyer’s Ice Creams – which do not contain nuts as ingredient
♦ Strauss Family Creamery Ice Creams
♦ Safeway ICEE frozen fruit pops
♦ Cake mixes and frostings from Pillsbury, but check labels: some contain nuts but are manufactured separately.

Please consult your physician if you have concerns about how these products may relate to you or your family member’s specific condition.

List courtesy of Bay Area Allergy Advisory BoardFor the full article, click here.

Nut-Free Halloween: Tips & Treats to Keep Allergic Children Safe

This is a re-post of an article on Veria Living, written by Katie Ginder-Vogel.  The complete article can be found here.

Halloween can be very frightening for children with food allergies and their parents.  With a little planning, Halloween can be both fun and safe.  Be sure your child is also wearing a medical ID.  Here’s to a very Happy Halloween to all!

Nut-Free Halloween: Tips & Treats to Keep Allergic Children Safe

momkidspumpkincarvingHalloween can seem like a minefield to families of children with severe nut allergies. An estimated 2.1 percent of children in the U.S. are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts (peanuts are a legume, unlike a tree nut). In some cases, children have severe anaphylactic reactions to the initial exposure and experience a second reaction several hours later—a terrifying ordeal for them and their parents.

With so many items – especially Halloween candy – made in facilities that process nuts, it can be problematic to take a child trick-or-treating. Not to mention the anxiety of trying to keep that child safe at school, at Halloween parties and anywhere else he might be.

“The biggest risks on Halloween are exposure and reaction,” says Jennifer Lucas, whose nine-year-old son is severely allergic to peanuts. “There’s a lot of unsafe candy; it’s dark; it’s a fun night, and it could be easy to get carried away and not thoroughly check for safety.”

For parents of children with allergies, the key to managing Halloween is to take precautionary measures. Lucas’ son usually wears a costume with gloves to protect him from a contact reaction during trick-or-treating.

“We have a strict no eating policy while we are out collecting,” says Lucas. “When he was younger, and there was less ‘safe’ candy available, we still went trick or treating, but when we came home, I had a fun “exchange” bag of safe candy that I bought from Canada or other places online. His entire bag went immediately into his dad’s work bag, and my husband got it out of the house the next morning. Now, we dump, sort, and toss anything I’m not 100% sure about.”

Lucas cautions that the smaller “fun size” candy isn’t always individually labeled, and some companies make all of Halloween-size products – with and without nuts – on the same line, just for the giant Halloween bags.

“This can be scary and confusing,” says Lucas. “For example, individual normal-size Hershey bars are safe, but they make their small ones on the same line as tree nuts. You just have to be hyper-vigilant on Halloween.”

As with most things, awareness and education are the keys to increasing safety, and when the community gets involved to help families, everyone benefits.

“It’s a huge night,” says Lucas. “It’s a pinnacle of childhood fun, and we don’t want to squash that in any way, but it’s a very difficult night for parents of a severely allergic child. We’re grateful for any awareness and compassion.”

Community members can help by offering nut-free candy that hasn’t been processed anywhere near nuts. Or, better yet, offer alternative treats, like small toys that kids can play with as they’re out trick-or-treating.

“I would recommend homes have a non-nut or non-chocolate option available or purchase bags that have clear labels on individual pieces, so there isn’t any second guessing for parents and older kids who can read labels,” says Lucas. “A non-food option could be anything, from temporary tattoos or pencils to stickers or glow sticks.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katie Ginder-Vogel is a freelance writer and editor based in Madison, WI. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in English from Stanford University. An avid runner, hiker, and swimmer, Katie writes regularly about health and wellness. She has two children and a dog, who keep her company on the trail, on the road, and in the pool.

 

 

 

12 Halloween Tips for Parents of Children with Food Allergies

This article is re-posted from www.kidswithfoodallergies.org.  For the complete article, click Medical ID.  American Medical ID features an array of medical alert jewelry for children with styles to fit all personalities.

How to take the tricks out of treats when your child has food allergies 

pumpkinsHalloween can be a tricky time for a growing number of children who have food allergies. Today, one in 12 children, or six to eight million kids, are affected by allergies to foods such as milk, peanuts and tree nuts, ingredients commonly found in candy. Often the most life-threatening, peanut allergy, for example, has doubled in the last five years.

“Children with food allergies can enjoy Halloween just as much as other kids but it takes planning and vigilance,” notes Lynda Mitchell, president of Kids With Food Allergies. “When my son was a toddler, he had a severe reaction on Halloween because I unknowingly allowed him to carry a treat that included ingredients he was allergic to, not realizing that he would try to bite right through the paper wrapper while we were walking. I learned firsthand the importance of preparing in advance – such as supplying neighbors with safe candy for my son – and closely watching him as he trick-or-treated.”

As the number of food-allergic children continues to rise, more and more parents are challenged with keeping their kids and neighbor children safe this Halloween.

 How you can make Halloween safer for allergic children:

  • Purchase a variety of candy, including some that do not include any milk, soy, peanuts or tree nuts.  Read labels carefully as some ingredients may be hidden.
  • Let children pick out the candy that’s suited for them.
  • Consider having non-food items on hand, including stickers, fun pencils, small toys or even coins for the child’s piggy bank.
Tips for parents of food allergic children:
  • Plan an alternate activity, such as going to the movies, hosting a slumber party, or having a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood for safe treats or other items.

pumpkin2

  • When trick-or-treating, carry your child’s emergency medicines.
  • Let the kids dress up and run house to house, while you carry a safe snack in case they want one. Bring wipes to clean the little hands first! [Idea courtesy of Jason]
  • Give neighbors safe Halloween treats in advance to hand out to your food allergic child.
  • Prepare a container filled with safe treats in advance, and then swap it for the treats collected.
  • Try a variation of the Tooth Fairy: Sort through unsafe candy, then leave it in a safe spot for a “Sugar Sprite” or “Candy Fairy” who exchanges it for a small gift, toy, or money. [Idea courtesy of Rachel]
  • Trade unsafe candy for allergen-safe treats or age-appropriate non-food items once your children return home. Non-food ideas include coloring books, storybooks, pencils, stickers, stuffed animals, toys, cash and play dough.
  • If permissible, donate leftover candy to children who may not be able to go out and trick or treat. [Idea courtesy of Rhonda]
  • Check all ingredients. Remember that treat-size candy may have different ingredients or may be made on different machinery than the same regular-size candy.

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Why are medical IDs critical?

Perhaps your doctor, nurse or pharmacist advised you to obtain a medical ID for your child. Why is it important?

  • In an emergency, when you might not be able to speak for your child, a kid’s medical ID bracelet or necklace can speak for them.
  • Symptoms of common ailments can easily be misdiagnosed. Prompt diagnosis is critical to effective treatment. A brief description of vital medical facts engraved on your child’s medical ID ensures appropriate and timely medical care.
  • According to a published study, half of all medical errors occur because of mistakes made upon admission or discharge from the hospital.Wearing a medical ID protects against potentially harmful medical errors.
  • More than 95 percent of emergency responders look for a medical ID; more than 75 percent check for a medical ID immediately upon assessing the patient. If your child is wearing a medical ID, it won`t be missed.
  • Medical IDs can eliminate trips to the hospital, reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and prevent minor emergencies from becoming major ones. Medical IDs save lives! One day, a medical ID may save your child.

Hot Weather and Your Diabetes

heat_1During the heat of the summer, it is important to consider that the ambient temperature will affect your diabetes management.

  • Heat can affect your blood glucose (sugar) levels and also increase the absorption of some fast-acting insulin, meaning you will need to test your blood glucose more often and perhaps adjust your intake of insulin, food and liquids.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to avoid dehydration. Drink a glass of (sugarfree) fluids before going outdoors and at least ever half hour when outdoors in temperature above 80 degrees F.  If your doctor has limited how much liquid you can drink, ask what to do during times of high heat.
  • Check package inserts with medications to learn when high temperatures can affect them. Take medications with you if you will need to take them while you’re away from home, and protect them from the heat.
  • Remember not to leave your blood glucose meter, insulin, or other injectable medications,  in direct sunlight or in a hot car. When travelling, keep your medications in a cooler but do not place it directly on ice or on a gel pack.
  • Heat can damage insulin pumps and other equipment. Do not leave the disconnected pump or supplies in the direct sun. Perspiration can affect the sticking quality of your patches.
  • Get physical activity in air-conditioned areas, or exercise outside early or late in the day, during cooler temperatures.
  • Beware of the major changes in humidity and temperature when travelling and then exiting a car.
  • Always wear your medical ID! Always!

Boot could save millions of diabetic people from foot amputations

NEWS from the UK, segment published on The Bucks Herald:

2220925531People with diabetes are particularly at risk of having foot amputations because bad circulation and foot ulcers can mean their feet are unable to pump blood back up their legs.

The Pulseboot works by replicating this pumping mechanism, allowing the foot to heal and preventing the need for amputation.

Pulseboot chief executive Les Lindsay said: “Each year over 6,000 people in the UK alone lose their limbs due to the complications caused by diabetes.

“Around the world, one amputation due to diabetes happens every 20 seconds.

“We’ve built this shoe to help stop this happening to those British diabetics and many thousands more around the world.”

The technology has been designed in Smeaton Close and developed around the country with the help of people from all over the world.

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It has attracted significant interest from other countries, including America, and its creators think it will have an ‘astronomical’ impact on the treatment of diabetics.

Aylesbury MP David Lidington visited Pulseboot’s base last week to view the technology and to discuss how it can be made widely available.

Mr Lidington said: “Diabetes is growing problem for many countries around the world.

“I’m pleased to see that one of our companies in Aylesbury is going to help so many people avoid one of the more devastating effects of this disease.”

The design was first conceived around five years ago and clinical trials on the prototype will begin this month.

On average, 115 diabetes-related amputations take place every week in England and a recent NHS report put the annual costs of diabetic amputations at £120 million.

Weight Loss Not Enough for Preventing Diabetes Heart Complications

heart_stethoscopeModest weight loss in obese patients with type 2 diabetes can achieve various health improvements but does not lower the risk of heart attack or stroke, according to the new findings of a landmark US study.

The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) clinical trial found that a long-term intensive lifestyle intervention program, focused on weight loss, leads to many long-term health benefits for obese diabetic patients, including better blood sugar control and improved physical quality of life.

But latest results from the multi-center study revealed the intervention did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, which was the primary goal of the study.

For the study, more than 5,000 overweight or obese US adults aged 45-76 and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to one of two programs; lifestyle intervention involving physical activity and weight loss, or diabetes support and education, involving three annual counselling sessions on nutrition, exercise and social support.

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After a median follow-up of 9.6 years, researchers found that participants in the intensive lifestyle intervention group lost 8.6% of their initial body weight after one year, versus 0.7% among the support and education (control) group, and also maintained a greater loss (6% of initial body weight versus 3.5% cent for the control group) at the end of the study.

Despite this, the risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart-related death was the same for both groups, suggesting that weight loss may not be enough to protect heart health in people with type 2 diabetes.

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However, intensive lifestyle intervention did result in a number of important health benefits such as reduced risks of kidney disease, depression and eye disease, improved glycemic control, reduced use of medications and hospitalizations, and greater initial improvements in fitness and all heart disease risk factors except LDL cholesterol.

The findings were presented this week at the American Diabetes Association’s annual scientific meeting in Chicago and published online June 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine .

American Medical ID is a proud partner of the American Diabetes Association.

What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

By medical ID bracelet.

This type of irregular heartbeat affects millions of Americans. Understanding the causes and symptoms of atrial fibrillation can help you manage the condition and prevent additional complications.

tumblr_mam3nwrqNx1qamlr8o1_400Atrial fibrillation is a condition that affects millions of Americans. This type of irregular heart rhythm, also known as an arrhythmia, is the most common serious irregular heartbeat, especially in people over 60.

Your heart’s rhythm is normally controlled by a structure in the upper part of your heart called the sinoatrial node. This node sends an electrical signal to the rest of your heart that keeps your heart beating at about 60 to 100 beats a minute. This is known as your normal sinus rhythm.

In atrial fibrillation, the sinoatrial node does not direct the heartbeat. Rather, it causes heartbeats to start from many locations in upper chambers of the heart, or the atria. “These irregular heartbeats all over the atria cause the upper part of the heart to quiver like a bag of worms,” says Danya L. Dinwoodey, MD, a cardiologist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass.

The term atrial fibrillation refers to the quivering, or fibrillation, of the upper parts of the heart. It can cause your heart to beat very quickly and inefficiently, which can be dangerous.

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Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

The cause of atrial fibrillation can vary from person to person, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine. In many cases, there is a combination of causes. “The most common causes are high blood pressure or an abnormal heart valve,” explains Dr. Dinwoodey.

Other causes of atrial fibrillation include:

  • Coronary artery disease (the clogging of the arteries of the heart that may cause a heart attack)
  • Heart failure
  • Heart defects you are born with
  • Pericarditis (an infection of the lining of the sac that surrounds the heart)
  • An overactive thyroid gland

Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation

The biggest risk factor for atrial fibrillation is age. The condition occurs more often in people over 60, and the risk for developing it increases as you get older.

Other common risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Lung disease
  • Family history of atrial fibrillation
  • Heavy use of alcohol

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Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Not everyone who has atrial fibrillation experiences symptoms. “Some people are very aware of their symptoms and can tell right away when an episode of atrial fibrillation starts and stops,” Dinwoodey says. “Other people may not notice any symptoms. For people who have symptoms, the most common ones are decreased tolerance for exercise and feeling a flutter in the chest.”

Other symptoms of atrial fibrillation may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Tiredness

There are two different types of atrial fibrillation, and the frequency of symptoms varies with each type. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation begins suddenly and often stops on its own. Persistent atrial fibrillation lasts for more than a week, and while it may stop on its own, it frequently requires treatment. Both types may become permanent over time.

If you believe that you are at risk for atrial fibrillation or if you think you’ve experienced an irregular heartbeat, make an appointment to get evaluated by your doctor. Atrial fibrillation can lead to serious problems and additional complications over time. Fortunately, there are many types of treatment that can help keep this condition under control.

The American Heart Association says in regards to Atrial Fibrillation:

Should I wear a medical alert bracelet?

In any emergency situation, having a patient’s medical history is very helpful. Be sure and write down the medication that you are taking and the dose.

Real Medical ID Life Story

medical ID bracelet alerted them to the fact that I was taking various medications and had other concerns that would need to be addressed. Because of that day, I now have my medications and medical history stored in my phone as part of the “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) contacts.

I have also experienced a Multiple Sclerosis exasperation in which I had great difficulty walking and my speech was affected. I simply couldn’t find the words to say. As I sat in a wheelchair in a local ER, slumped to one side from the weakness with my face slightly drawn and unable to clearly articulate my needs I was again very thankful for my medical ID bracelet. The triage nurse used my bracelet to help identify what was happening prior to my husband’s arrival. I had difficulty communicating with the ER physician, but because the nurse had seen (and paid attention to) my bracelet she spoke up for me. My bracelet provided her the opportunity to realize I needed an advocate at that moment. She was wonderful!

I never go anywhere without my medical bracelet. It has been invaluable to me by providing a voice when I cannot speak for myself. I now advocate for medical identification alerts for those I come in contact with who need them. I keep brochures and information about the various types of alerts (bracelets, necklace, watches, etc) so that I can provide them to others. My son, who developed a severe nut allergy, and my daughter, who has a severe reaction to an antibiotic, also wear medical ID bracelets. Our family is a huge supporter and proponent of the medical identification alerts!