Laura Farmer

The Importance of Early Diagnosis of Autism

During Maya’s* first birthday celebration, her mother knew something was different. “We were singing ‘Happy Birthday,’ and she had such a blank stare. In that moment, I knew something was off,” recalls Elizabeth Chaillou, who perhaps had special insight into typical childhood milestones given that Maya is the youngest of her five children. Chaillou also noticed for several months that …

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Calming Kids’ Fears About Disturbing Events

Sad little girl and boy with smartphone

The news of tragic deaths of children and adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, is harrowing and heartbreaking. The deaths of innocent young people is indeed horrific and incomprehensible, even as we are still crawling out of a massive global pandemic and reeling from its aftermath. Our kids have felt the weight of these …

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Benefits of Special Needs Summer Camps

As the chilly winds of winter blow through the mid-Atlantic region, many of us long for the sunny days of summer. For our kids, it’s not only the warmer weather that boosts summer’s appeal. They look forward to swapping school days for pool days at summer camp. Attending summer camps has long been a part of the quintessential childhood experience. …

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U.S. Surgeon General Advisory Warns Against Ignoring Youth Mental Health Crisis

Sad little girl and boy with smartphone

  First, the good news: Mental illness in children and adolescents is often treatable and preventable. Unfortunately, the mental health of our country’s youth is in crisis, according to a recently released advisory from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. The advisory states that this youth mental health crisis occurred long before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. In Murthy’s introduction, he shares, …

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Finding Their Rhythm: Help Your Child Choose a Musical Instrument

For the Withers family of Abingdon, the house rule is if you want to live here, you have to learn to play a musical instrument. “We said, ‘We don’t care which instrument. Just pick one you like!’” says Cheri Withers, a mother of two school-aged children. Like many musically inclined families, Cheri and her husband Jared believe that learning to …

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Spotting a Speech Disorder in Children

When my son was a toddler, he couldn’t pronounce the letter “R.” Words like “river” were “wivuh” and “crab” became “cwab.” At the time, I thought these speech errors only made his chubby-cheeked baby-talk ramblings all the more endearing. As he entered kindergarten, he learned to read and write, but not how to pronounce his “R’s.” My husband and I …

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