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The Family Center: enrichment programs for families and professionals

One in Six Men Has Been Sexually Assaulted

Ask the Experts by Mary Petersen

Q: My husband recently disclosed to me that he was sexually abused. I don't know what to think. How can I help him?

A: The best thing you can do is listen to your husband, believe him, and make efforts to comfort him. Ask what he needs without assuming. Assure him he's not alone, and the assault was not his fault - no matter what. Acknowledge how much strength it took him to open up to you, and encourage him to keep talking about it, as much as he is able, in his own time.

Male survivors of sexual abuse often feel exceptional shame, which lends itself to dangerous silence and stoicism. Society erroneously teaches that men must be strong, invincible, independent, and without emotion. Men are socialized to "fix" the problem or simply "suck it up" and move on.

When men find themselves traumatized and human, they may feel weak or broken, hurt and needing help, and it challenges their very identity. Men need to know others won't think less of them for having been assaulted and being wounded by it. Loved ones can help by making it safe for men to tell their story, express themselves, and access support to facilitate recovery.

Read more: One in Six Men Has Been Sexually Assaulted


Your Disabled Child's Special Needs and Adulthood

Ask the Experts by Michael Kelly

Q. My child with a disability is turning 18. Can he continue to get the publicly funded services we were able to get for him as a minor?

A. Once your child turns 18 your legal authority over him ends. For example, you were able to get involved in his education through development of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to assure that he received public benefits that enabled him to succeed at school. Now that he is an adult his financial and care needs are his legal responsibility.

Q. My child can't do this by herself. What can I do to help assure that she gets the services she needs?

A. A first recommended step is to have your child apply for benefits under the Social Security Income (SSI) program at your local Social Security Office if your child has less than $2,000 of property in her own name. Once SSI is obtained she will be automatically eligible for Medicaid upon applying to the Michigan Department of Human Services. This will open the door to valuable community health services not otherwise available; particularly in regard to mental health. 

Read more: Your Disabled Child's Special Needs and Adulthood


Children Need To Play

Ask the Experts by Mary Milkovie

Q. How does play prepare children for later academic learning and provide a foundation for developing vital social skills?

A. A Child processes the world he or she lives in during play. The young child, up to age seven, learns about the world through imitation and through engaging in artistic and practical activities. During play, children imitate everything in their environment; the adults they encounter and the language they hear.

It is our task as parents and teachers to be worthy of this imitation and to provide an environment rich with age appropriate experiences.

Play provides many developmental benefits for young children. It fosters cognitive, social, emotional, physical and moral development. Social skills are developed naturally in play and children begin to understand how their body works and how to move.

Read more: Children Need To Play


Geriatric Health Evaluations

Ask the Experts by Christine Chelladurai, D.O

Q.: I visit my parents, who are in their late 80s, at least once a week. Lately, I have noticed a difference in their behavior. Often, their refrigerator is nearly empty or the food is outdated or moldy. When I ask them about it, they seem angry and respond they planned to shop that day. Their home is unusually cluttered with old newspapers, sometimes the trash is overflowing and their mail goes unopened for days. My mother has always been meticulous about running her household, so this is very strange behavior. Is this the start of dementia?

A.: You are very wise to notice and question the change in your parents’ behavior. All of the examples you mentioned, in addition to missing appointments, unexpected weight loss or gain, medications not being taken, and not keeping up with personal hygiene are all warning signs they may need help.

Read more: Geriatric Health Evaluations


Senior Housing Options

Ask the Experts by Karen Adair

Q. I'm feeling confused and overwhelmed in my search for the right senior living community for my loved one's needs, can you offer direction?

A. It's important to learn the terminology and the differences between the senior care solutions available so you can make the right choice for your family. As you begin your search, use the following guidelines to learn more about the different types of senior housing options available in the United States. 

Independent Living Communities - Known As: Retirement Communities, Congregate Care, Retirement Villages, 55 + Communities, Senior Apartments, Continuing Care Retirement Community

Senior independent living communities cater to seniors who are very independent with few medical problems. Residents live in fully equipped private apartments. A variety of apartment sizes are available from studios to large two bedrooms. Fine dining services are offered with custom-designed meal packages. Often, residents can choose to pay for a specified number of meals per day. Frequently, there are numerous social outings and events to choose from for entertainment. 

Assisted Living - Also Known As: Assisted Care Community, Personal Care Home

Assisted Living communities are designed for seniors who are no longer able to live on their own safely but do not require the high level of care provided in a nursing home. Assistance with medications, activities of daily living, meals and housekeeping are routinely provided. Three meals per day are provided in a central dining room. Residents live in private apartments which frequently have a limited kitchen area.

Read more: Senior Housing Options


The College Preparation Process

Ask the Experts by Beth Walsh-Sahutske & Milissa Pierce

Striking the right balance in helping your child through the college preparation process is no simple task.

Parents want to instill a college mindset and encourage their child to maintain high standards while still keeping an eye on family/life stability. The potential to disrupt home with stress to child and parents is great.

The optimal solution is to reframe the approach that the whole family takes towards the college investigation process. If we look at it developmentally like the natural evolution of the student’s lifecycle then we can more effectively integrate the research, application and selection process into this next phase of life and the dream of college becomes to find the perfect match instead of the treasured prize.

Read more: The College Preparation Process


The Road to Reading Success

Ask the Experts by Stephanie Cork

Q. Is it too late to help both my middle and high school students with reading?

A. There is a misconception that older students aren't able to learn to read if they didn't master it when they were younger.

Some reading difficulties don't present themselves until the child is middle school or even high school. The difficulty may appear as a struggle with reading comprehension but often it's an issue with fluency. As the words in text becomes more complex, the student may not have the strategies to decode longer, more advanced words.

It's important to find out where the gaps lie and provide remediation to address the student's specific needs. Greek and Latin root instruction is also an important, but not commonly taught, skill for middle and high school level reading. Sixty five percent of words in higher level reading contain roots.

Read more: The Road to Reading Success


Tips for Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Ask the Experts by Dorothy Heitjan and Kristen DeVooght

Q. How can we as parents help our preschooler make a successful transition into Kindergarten?

A. It is vital in the preschool years to provide your child with the experiences that will build the foundation for later success in school. 

Kindergarten bridges preschool to elementary school. Your child moves from working one-on-one with parents and preschool staff to working together with peers in small and large groups with one teacher. In order to help your child build this foundation, parents should provide:

Read more: Tips for Getting Ready for Kindergarten


Our Toxic Stuff

Ask the Experts by Melissa Sargent

Q: What is environmental health and how does it affect my everyday life?

A. We might think of trees, parks, and wild animals when we hear the word, "environment." But the study of environmental health-how the environment affects human health-often focuses on the built environment-our homes, schools, and offices. We spend 90% of our time indoors, amongst couches, desks, carpet, curtains, paint, windows, electronics, toys, etc. Therefore it's important to consider what makes up our surroundings. Some of the stuff in our homes and buildings contains chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and cognitive impairments.

Q: What are two simple things I can do in my home to reduce my family's exposure to toxics?

A. Open the windows of your "built" environment as much as possible to allow for sufficient air exchange. Chemicals inside are not exposed to direct sunlight, wind, and rain and therefore do not break down quickly. Wiping shoes well or simply leaving them at the door keeps pesticides, oil, and other pollutants away from living spaces.

Read more: Our Toxic Stuff


What you Need to Know about Enteroviruses and Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)

Ask the Experts by Prashant V. Mahajan, MD, MPH, MBA

Does your child seem to be suffering from respiratory illness?

If so he or she is not alone. Respiratory illness is a major cause of hospitalization for children.  One of the viruses that causes respiratory illness is called Enteroviruses.

Enteroviruses are very common viruses and are the second most frequent cause of the common cold. One type of strain that is making news is called Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). This strain causes mild to unusually severe respiratory illness. EV-D68 infections occur much less often than other Enterovirus strains, but like other strains, EV-D68 spreads through close contact with infected people.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is keeping a watchful eye out for the strain because hospitals in some state are seeing more children than usual with severe respiratory illness caused by Enterovirus D68. Several other states are investigating clusters of children with severe respiratory illness, possibly due to enterovirus D68.

Read more: What you Need to Know about Enteroviruses and Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)


Time to Take Away the Keys?

Ask the Experts by Mary Ellen Brayton

Q. My mother is a very independent woman but she’s not as mentally sharp as she used to be. It took her getting lost for me to realize that we needed to hire someone to help drive her around. It’s hard for me to take off work to take her to doctor’s appointments during the day. What can I do?

A. This is a common issue facing the children of aging parents. It's not an easy time for you I'm sure because this decision affects your mother's independence.

"When elders can no longer drive, they may start to feel trapped and out of control of their lives," says Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers.

Here are some things to be aware of:

Read more: Time to Take Away the Keys?


Executive Functioning: What is it & What Can I do to Help?

Ask the Experts by Dona Johnson-Beach

Q: My child is bright but lives in the moment. My teen completes homework and then forgets to turn it in and gets frustrated. I don't understand what the problem might be. Can anything be done to address these issues?

A: Your child's difficulties could involve executive skills deficits. Executive functioning allows people to problem solve and engage in goal-directed activities. In other words - the control processes of the brain.

The frontal lobe is considered to be the center of executive functioning. Often students with ADHD have difficulties with executive functioning skills and can have a delay of 30% - affecting behavior and self-management skills. If your child sounds like the student above, executive functioning skills difficulties could be the problem.

Read more: Executive Functioning: What is it & What Can I do to Help?


Finding "Normal" in the Middle School Years

Ask the Experts by Michael Dib

Q: What is considered a normal middle school student?

A: Many times parents are worried by changes in their middle school aged child. Please keep in mind that there will be many internal chemical and hormonal changes that occur during adolescence. You will experience behaviors that were not prevalent or observable during elementary school. 

Adolescents are constantly struggling with their sense of identity as they move toward independence. Middle school students often feel awkward about their bodies and may lack confidence. As a result, peer groups tend to influence interests and clothing styles. Indeed, middle school aged children can many times be narcissistic while alternating between high expectations and poor self-concept. Complicating these struggles, it is not uncommon for middle school students to create drama and build on that drama through social media like Facebook and Instagram.

Read more: Finding "Normal" in the Middle School Years


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