Tag Archives: health

Autism on the Hill – April 2

Did you know that 1 in 88 children have autism? And if you’re looking at stats for boys (it is more common for boys to be diagnosed with autism than girls), the number jumps to 1 in 54. This statistics are from the U.S., but are often quoted her in Canada because the prevalence of autism isn’t being monitored here. These stats are from 2012, so speculation is that these numbers have likely increased.

Province to province there are vast differences in the amount and type of support that parents receive. If you start to look at what’s going on, it can make your head spin. This is why it’s important for government leaders to be aware of what families are facing – both on the federal and provincial levels.

Autism on the Hill is a peaceful event designed to raise awareness about autism. On April 2, families and friends of children and adults who are affected by autism will gather at Parliament Hill for the second year in a row. This event is being coordinated by Suzanne Jacobson of QuickStart – Early Intervention for Autism (a fantastic organization you’ll want to connect with if you have a young child on the spectrum).



brandon-aviationBefore I ever had kids, I knew there was a chance I’d have a child with ASD because I have three families members who are all on the spectrum. Autism has brought a lot of unexpected challenges into our life, but I wouldn’t wish it away for even a minute. My son wouldn’t be the person he is if he didn’t have autism and I adore my sweet little boy.

More and more children are having special needs identified – from developmental disorders (like autism) to food allergies and intolerances. The more we raise awareness of the diversity of needs to be met amongst our young children, the easier it will be for them to find support and understanding within the community as they grow into adulthood.


Karen Wilson is a mom to Brandon, wife to Matt and business owner trying to juggle all three while laughing through each day at the antics of her husband and son. So, it’s understandable when she drops a ball here and there. Right?

Getting Sick: Before and After Kids

Getting sick in my pre-kid days was a simple, three-step process:

1) Get sick

2) Lie in bed. Moan. Coerce loved ones to take good care of me, bringing cool cloths and ginger ale.

3) Get better.

Getting sick with kids is slightly more complicated:

1) Feel the onset of sickness. Panic slightly.

2) In anticipation of sickness, rearrange all plans – find alternative rides to school, reschedule appointments and cancel all extracurricular activities.

3) Get sick.

4) Keep taking care of kids and cleaning house, despite horrible sickness. Lie on the couch only when children are occupied by the television, lest they try to destroy the house. Carry plastic bags with you for school drop-offs, just in case of sudden bout of vomiting.

5) Husband stays home and lets you lie down. Baby needs to be nursed every 2 hours, and 3 year old bursts in on you several times throughout the day asking for random stuff. “Where is that pink shape I cut out yesterday?” To which you answer, “I don’t know, jerk, go away!” Or if you’re a really Good Mother like I am, you say “I’m not sure, sweetie, why don’t you go ask Daddy?”

6) Continue to nurse throughout the night, while running out of the room several times to get sick. Wake baby more often by running out of room.

7) Begin to feel slightly better.

8) Get a sore throat instead.

9) Get woken up in the night by vomiting 3 year-old.

10) Seven days later, your family is finally healthy…

Until next week of course!

Hoping your family is happy and healthy this Spring Season!


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The Allergic March

Earlier this month I wrote about the ups and downs of peanut allergy diagnosis in our family. On one medical visit for my son Dexter’s lingering cough,  the doctor used a term I had not heard before, but have since come to know well, “The Allergic March”.

The Allergic March refers to a cluster of allergy-related diseases that occur in childhood. These often occur in a typical se­quence, appearing early in life, continuing for many years, but often disappearing or lessening with age.

Here is an example of a typical sequence of Allergic March conditions  and symptoms. My son’s Allergic March followed this typical pattern:

  1. Infant eczema
  2. Food allergy
  3. Environmental allergy and associated stuffy nose
  4. Childhood asthma
In our case, the infant eczema was not severe. It appeared simply as very dry, chapped skin. Now, at age 7, he still gets very dry wrists and hands in the winter, but my home remedy of olive oil and aloe seems to help.
I have already written about the food allergy and while we had been cautious about introducing nuts early because of a familial predisposition to food allergies, I am sure we did not expect that he would actually have an allergy.
The asthma was a surprise and took several months to diagnose at the age of 5.
Dex never had what I would characterize as an asthma attack. It was simply a lingering dry cough for several months that bothered him at night and upon any, and I mean ANY, physical exertion. For instance, a 10 minute walk to school would set off a cough every 10 seconds for a good hour.
On a vacation to Mexico, I finally clued in to the cough’s duration and implications when I kept asking him to sit down for a minute until he stopped coughing. At one point in my life I suffered from exercise-induced asthma, and genius that I am, I had never made the connection between my post-exercise coughing asthma fits and his.
Treatment with inhaled-corticosteroids (flovent in the orange puffer), was effective within 2 weeks and he stayed on the medication until the end of that winter.
Since then, the asthma seems to only show up after he has a cold. That annoying cough comes back. We have explored various treatments with both our family doctor and our allergist. We were given the following therapies to consider:
1) Singulair – a once daily pill
2) Flovent (fluticasone: orange puffer) – an inhaled corticosteroid taken once-daily
3) Ventolin (salbutamol: blue puffer) – taken as needed up to 4 times per week, sometimes more during a cold.
We looked at the various options. Singulair, while not a steroid and good prevention, has some rare mood-altering side effects. Our son is moody on his best days and this slight risk was a strong deterrent for us.
Inhaled corticosteroids were effective for us, but studies have shown that long-term use of Flovent can cause statistically significant differences in height. My husband wants my son to play in the NBA (or at least the NBL), so growing to his full potential is important to us.

Asthma medication may help Dex work to capacity during a hockey game; this week he earned his hockey team's hard hat as "hardest working player of the game"

We have chosen option number 3. Dex uses his blue puffer (Ventolin) during a cold to prevent coughing and bronchial irritation. He uses it no more than four times a week before hockey games or practices where the cold plus the exercise is likely to set him off coughing. So far this year, we are happy with this course of action.

So, asthma under control for now, we now march on to the next issues: the anxiety associated with the food allergy and the recommended influenza immunization (flu shot) which will bring on an anxiety of its own. Stay tuned.
While this describes our family’s account of asthma diagnosis, treatment, and management, every individual is different. Please consult with your family physician for any asthma or allergy-related concerns.
  1. A Liu. The Allergic March of Childhood. Medical Scientific Update: The National Jewish Medical and Research Center. 2006; 23(1):1-7.
  2. The Canadian Lung Association
  3. BR Gordon. The allergic march: can we prevent allergies and asthma? Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2011;44(3):765-77.
Liisa is mom to 2 boys, ages 5 and 7. She is a medical writer and a book lover. She blogs at FitforKid.net andLittleBookLovers.Wordpress.com.


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