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Adolescent Scoliosis

By Richard Geshel, D.O. Many of us take symmetric body movement for granted as we go about our everyday tasks, especially during strenuous physical activities. For some, such motion may be a problem undetectable to the naked eye, or become so pronounced that it becomes the object of scrutiny. Scoliosis is just such a condition. What is scoliosis and how is it identified? Scoliosis is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine and is believed to occur in approximately three to four percent of the adolescent population. Girls tend to experience a tenfold increase in curvature progression, according to the American Family Physician. The reason for scoliosis in more than 80% of the cases isn’t really known, which is commonly referred to as idiopathic. Often, scoliosis is identified as a curvature of the spine in a sideways direction, and is easily seen when a child bends forward, creating a ‘hump’ in the back. This is the means by which it is initially screened, and if necessary, followed by obtaining spinal X-rays in order to determine the angle of the curve. In addition, a thorough evaluation of the individual vertebral segments is performed to ensure optimal motion of the vertebrae. An evaluation of the pelvis and lower extremities is equally important. Pelvic obliquity, short leg syndrome, knock-knees, ankle instability, and flat feet can all contribute to and accentuate a spinal curvature. Why are periodic examinations necessary? Adolescents with scoliosis need periodic re-evaluations at six-month intervals, as teens undergo torso growth. Spinal X-rays can help to determine if the curve has stabilized or progressed. During a physical examination, physicians can...

Parents Ask: ADHD

Q. My child’s teacher has told me that she thinks my child has ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Is there anything I can do other than medication? Malinda – Phoenix A. One of the biggest concerns with a diagnosis of ADHD is lack of attention or ability to focus and “be still.” Having had a child who climbed through the Mount Everest of an autistic diagnosis then subsequent ADD/ADHD diagnosis, I know what it “looks like” to have a child who is unable to pay attention in class. However, this same child can attend to the most mundane and minutia of detail, when interested. He memorized details about the planets, distances from the sun and now has moved onto other interesting things such as sports. He’s a walking sports trivia manual; I seriously doubt anyone knows more than he does about the topic. Essentially, “attention” is relative. Watch any child with ADD/ADHD nail a video game with the attention of a chess champ in a sudden death game. But the ability of your child to direct his focus to the task at hand can be disruptive for learning. In addition to lack of attention at school, a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD includes hyperactivity, impulsiveness, emotional instability, an inability to finish tasks, poor listening skills, speech and hearing disorders and EEG (electroencephalogram) irregularities. I have reviewed more than 90 studies that confirm that dietary changes can positively affect the behaviors, increase attention and sleep of children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Research indicates that 79% of hyperactive children showed improvements when sugar and artificial colors and flavors were removed from their diet. The research found...

Adoption Awareness

By Michelle Lunka November is National Adoption Month and it is a time to honor and celebrate our adoptive families both in Arizona and nationwide. The Children’s Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, funds the National Adoption Month initiative each November through a partnership with AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway. This year’s slogan is “We never outgrow the need for family.” This is especially true in Arizona where there is a staggering need for both foster and adoptive families. Our Department of Child Safety has increased the number of children in foster care over 8 percent in the last year; we are approaching 18,000 children in out of home care statewide. Between January and March this year, 700 kids went straight into a shelter or group home after being removed from dangerous situations because we have a shortage of foster homes. Imagine, these children were just removed from everyone they know and now have no parents to tuck them in, no family dinner table, no toys or clothes with them, just a rotation of well-meaning volunteers and staff members coming and going. While the community needs these emergency shelters and group homes, children need families to care for them until they can safely return home. Perhaps you have the time and resources to join the forces and care for a child directly as a foster parent. Our foster and adoptive parents are the people making a difference one hug, one tear, and one child at a time. These are our unsung heroes! More than 4,600 families in Arizona have stepped up to care for...

Have the Drug Talk

By Kristen L. Polin, MAEd. We love our kids and want the very best for them the moment they are born. Through the many stages of childhood, parents experience the highs and lows of childrearing in this fast paced world. It’s safe to assume that no one envisions a future for their child that is destroyed by drugs or alcohol, and definitely, not your kid. We do our best to prepare our children for life’s predictable and sometimes unpredictable challenges. We hope they make the right choices and you can be the one to help them navigate their way. While there is no exact script or guarantee for preventing adolescent drug use, we know there are effective ways to keep the lines of communication open and remain knowledgeable about the risk factors that are in play. Adolescence is a critical time of important physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. It’s a time when your child is learning how to make important decisions, build close friendships, solve problems and handle real life responsibilities. Drug and alcohol use interferes with an adolescent’s ability to learn and improve those skills. Have “The Talk.” It may be an uncomfortable conversation to have but not having the conversation could lead to much bigger problems. Here are some of the top risk factors to consider when taking a closer look at your teens level of exposure and the environment they live in: • Access to prescription medications, alcohol and other drugs. Teens who are actively using tend to abuse whatever substances are close at hand. If you have prescription medications around the house that could...

College and Career Planning

Contributed by ExpectMoreArizona.org Parents, you have big dreams for your children—postsecondary education, a home, a great career—but how can you help them get there? Making sure they’re on track from 8th grade through high school will ensure a smoother transition into college and career and get your children closer to their dreams. Use this parent checklist to help your child dream, create a plan, work hard and keep track of his or her progress along the way. Encourage your child to visit CreateYourNext.com, an online career exploration and planning tool to create his or her own personal plan. 8th Grade • Explore the different postsecondary education options for your child and which will be the best fit to help him meet his future goals, including community college, university, the military, technical institutes, and apprenticeships. Discuss your ideas about education after high school as a family. • Encourage your child to explore careers and identify his interests. • Check in with your child’s teachers or school counselors regularly to understand where your child is doing well and where he needs to improve. • Download grade-level academic milestones and tips at ExpectMoreArizona.org to see some of the key things your child will be learning in 8th grade. • Encourage good study habits at home. • If you haven’t already, start saving money for college. Savings accounts and 529 plans are great ways to get started. 9th Grade • All Arizona students will complete an Education Career Action Plan (ECAP) in 9th grade. Make an appointment with your child and his school counselor to discuss the ECAP, and make a point to...

Holiday Traditions

By Kerrie McLoughlin Almost as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers were put away when I was a kid you could find me riding in the back of my parent’s car while we sought out holiday lights. These days you’ll see me in my “mommy van” with husband and kids in tow making several treks to look at lights—only we add the extra touch of snacks and hot chocolate. I also love to make fudge and sugar cookies with my kids to give as gifts like my mom did with me. Check out these traditions, designed to make the holidays fun for everyone. Traditions With Your Family • Drive around your city looking at holiday lights. Do something crazy like grab an ice cream cone to eat in the car while you look at lights. Play Christmas music or winter songs on the radio to get in the spirit or go just the opposite and play silly kid songs or rock-and-roll! Jot down your favorite places to go so you won’t forget to see them again next year. • Have a special meal. Kids love having company over for a special meal and some playtime. Plan a fun brunch with an egg casserole, monkey bread and juice. If this idea doesn’t thrill you, consider going out to a special kid-friendly restaurant you’ve never been to before (no cooking or cleanup for you … love it!). • Enjoy a movie night or three. Pop up some popcorn, grab those Twizzlers and drag every pillow and blanket in the house to the TV room. My movie picks for you, depending on the...


Bonds and overrides are voter-approved initiatives that generate additional tax revenue to fund projects and operations for local school districts and community colleges. Bonds and overrides are tools that a local community can use to provide funds for their local schools and colleges above and beyond what the state provides. Why are Bonds and Overrides Important? Bonds and overrides provide local funding for schools and community colleges. Over the past few years, our schools and colleges have weathered significant state funding cuts. Meanwhile, Arizona’s teachers and students have been asked to meet higher expectations and do more with less. We can’t expect our schools to provide a world-class education without the resources to do so. What is a bond? With voter approval, public school districts or community colleges may issue bonds (which are purchased by investors) to fund projects that have a useful life longer than five years. Examples include building new schools, building improvements (HVAC, roof, and lighting), technology, school buses or equipment, to name a few. Bonds are repaid over a set period of time. What is an override? Overrides are used to provide additional funding to support what happens inside school or community college classrooms (teaching, learning and operations). There are three types of overrides. A maintenance and operations override (M&O) supports things such as teacher salaries, benefits, supplies and general operations. A special override supports specific programs, such as full-day kindergarten, art, music, physical education, etc. And finally, a capital override funds equipment, furniture, technology, vehicles, etc. School districts may ask for an increase of up to 15% of their budget for their M&O override,...

Our Great State

Compiled by Michelle Talsma Everson Fall in Arizona – the perfect time of year. It’s the reason so many of us in the Valley of the Sun power through months of triple digit temperatures. With the temps just right – and fall and holiday breaks just around the corner – it’s time to start planning some sightseeing adventures right in your own backyard. Whether you’re going up north for a long weekend or day trip or are looking for something fun to do in-town, we’ve compiled some great family-friendly destinations to consider. We hope you enjoy exploring everything our great state has to offer! Northern Arizona Educational Bearizona: Voted by USA Today as one of the country’s top 10 drive through wildlife parks, Bearizona provides a great drive through park experience in addition to animals you can see when you get out to stretch your legs. Catch the Birds of Prey Show now through December. Williams; bearizona.com. Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary: With the motto “conservation through education,” Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary provides an up-close experience with animals big and small. Visit for “Breakfast with the Wolves” on October 10. Prescott; heritageparkzoo.org. Lowell Observatory: The place where Pluto was discovered, Lowell Observatory offers a variety of educational activities for space enthusiasts of all ages. There are nighttime and daytime viewings and tours available, including using the impressive Clark telescope. Flagstaff; lowell.edu. Out of Africa: Out of Africa Wildlife Park is a replica of a real African Bush Safari with “wild-by-nature” animals from all over the globe and presentations/attractions scheduled throughout each day. Camp Verde; outofafricapark.com. Museum of Northern Arizona: Known...



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