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Jenni JWOWW

Jenni 'JWoww' Farley opens up about her son being diagnosed with autism

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According to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 in 40 children in America are diagnosed with autism. And Jersery Shore's Jenni 'JWoww' Farley recently shared that her 2-year-old son Greyson Mathews is among them.

"Grey was recently diagnosed with autism. He's also been in early intervention for over 6 months now and doing amazing," Farley captioned a Instagram photo of Greyson with his ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapist.

"This is a new realm for us. One filled with tons of information and different theory's of treatments. So grateful Grey chose me to be his mommy and @rogermathewsnj to be his daddy đź’™," Farley captioned an earlier video post showing Greyson in his new "sensory room."

Farley has been very open about how her family has been trying to help Greyson after she and his dad, Roger Matthews, noticed differences in development. In an episode of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation that aired back in August, Farley spoke candidly about Greyson's speech delays and was touched when, after the episode aired, many fans reached out to her with stories about how they've helped their own children through developmental delays.

"I cant thank you enough," Farley wrote to her fans at the time. "To find out Greyson is 'behind' or 'delayed' crushed me... but only for a moment…"

The mother of two (Greyson has an older sister, 4-year-old Meilani) explained that she had felt some disappointment related to her son's delays, and honestly stated that she believed this feeling was linked to a desire to have "perfect children"—she then went on to explain that her son is perfect the way he is. ❤️

"I've had almost every test done you can think of," Farley, wrote, telling fans that she chose to speak about this issue on reality television because she knew she couldn't be the only one to be dealing with these feelings.

Screening, diagnosis and early intervention 

Now that Farley's son has a diagnosis, she can rest assured that she is far from alone. With 1 in 40 kids in the U.S. living with autism, the diagnosis is very common—which hopefully means the stigma is being torn down, as well as the barriers to treatment.

According to the Autism Society of America, early intervention is crucial for kids who have autistic spectrum disorder. Access to early intervention services "can have a huge impact on a child's behavior, functioning and future well-being" the society notes.

Unfortunately, not all kids are as lucky as Greyson, who is benefiting from early intervention therapies already, at just 2-and-a-half. Historically, more than half of kids with autism haven't been diagnosed until after they were already in school, but in recent years pediatricians, autism researchers and advocates have been making efforts to get more kids diagnosed at younger ages.

According to Autism Speaks, "Autism's hallmark signs usually appear by age 2 to 3." In some kids it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months, and even if it's not clearly diagnosed yet, associated developmental delays can be identified and treated earlier.

"For some kids, we see symptoms in infancy—even before they're a year old," says Cleveland Clinic pediatric behavioral health specialist Dr. Veena Ahuja.

"For most kids, somewhere between 12 and 24 months is where we really start to see symptoms because they're not engaging in talking and imitating adults like other kids are."

According to Autism Speaks, early signs include:

At 6 months old:

  • No or limited eye contact.
  • No social smiles or joyful expressions directed at others.

At 12 months old:

  • Not babbling.
  • Not pointing, reaching, waving or using gestures to communicate.
  • Not responding to name.

At 16 months old:

  • Not having any words is a sign.

At 24 months old:

  • No meaningful 2-word phrases.

This is why the AAP recommends pediatricians screen for autism between 18 and 24 months. Research proves that parents often pick up on the signs first, but professional evaluation is critical for accessing diagnosis and treatment. So if you do suspect your child may have autism, tell your pediatrician, and advocate for further investigation, screening and evaluation.

Autism Speaks offers a scientifically validated online screening tool for screening children between 16 and 30 months of age that assesses risk for autism spectrum disorder. The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised (M-CHAT-R), comprised of a series of 20 questions about your child's behavior and can be accessed here.

In a recent Instagram post Farley expressed regret about how her son's diagnosis (something she mentioned during an interview about her upcoming personal care product line, Naturally Woww, but did not intend to be the focus of the article) became a news story.

"His story is too precious, no single article could capture that," she wrote.

It is true that every child with autism has a personal story that cannot be told in a 900-word article, and Greyson is certainly no exception. There are parts of his journey that no one, except for maybe his parents, will ever understand.

But it is also true that by speaking out about her son's diagnosis and his early intervention treatments, Farley is likely changing the lives of other children because she is breaking down the stigma.

She is part of a growing wave of parents who are letting the parents who come after them know that there is a way forward after an ASD diagnosis.

"When a family receives a diagnosis today, now they are saying, 'We're getting the diagnosis and we're also getting a list of resources, we're getting sent out into the community, to the right providers and we're getting early intervention,'" the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Veena Ahuja explains, adding, "People also know more about autism because it's in the media, so that's a huge change as well."

And Greyson's story is part of that change, so thank you for sharing it, Jenni.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

Speaking to the nation Tuesday evening, President Trump addressed something that has been on the minds of pregnant people for weeks: Keeping newborns protected in hospitals that are also treating COVID-19 patients.

"I know many expectant mothers are understandably concerned about exposing their newborn babies to the virus," the President said.

According to President Trump, actions taken by his administration—including the development of field hospitals—this week will help keep delivery wards and COVID-19 patients "totally separate."

He said, "We're giving hospitals the flexibility to use new facilities to treat patients who do not have COVID-19, including expectant mothers, so they can deliver babies in a different environment so as not to worry about infection."

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The President acknowledged that this is a trying time for America and certainly for its expecting mothers, who are dealing with so many worries right now.

Many are worried about having to give birth without their partner or companion (though it should be noted that the New York hospitals that banned partners and visitors were later directed by that state's government to allow partners in), others are worried about being separated from their babies (this happens, but it is rare and a last resort).

Experts admit that everything is constantly changing right now and that birth plans are being interrupted, but medical providers are still doing the very best they can under the circumstances.

"Having a partner available, having birth support, is essential," Dr. Neel Shah, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School told WBUR's Morning Edition on Tuesday.

Shah continued: "Part of the challenge in this new context that we're in, is that the services that used to be essential a few weeks ago are still essential; we're just not able to provide them in the same way. And so we've got to figure out new ways of delivering the kinds of care that people really need, like virtual prenatal visits."

Some expecting mothers are seeking different hospitals, or birthing centers to give birth in. Others are investigating home birth.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that despite the pandemic, it believes "the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center" but notes that "every woman has the right to choose where she will give birth."

As Motherly's Digital Education Editor and Midwife, Diana Spalding, previously noted: "It's important to know that [birth centers or home births] may not be available to everyone."

As Spalding explains, "home birth and birth centers are considered safe for low-risk pregnancies", but if your pregnancy has been complicated they may not be a fit for you.

"It's also key to investigate whether your insurance covers out-of-hospital birth. And certainly, you'll need to see if the midwives have availability," she explains.

The ACOG and Spalding both recommend pregnant people talk to their care provider about any fears, worries or changes in plans.

"Perhaps one of the hardest parts of this is that we are still learning. Few questions have solid answers. Still, every day we know more, and I want to assure you that although it feels scary, there is still a good chance everything will be okay, especially if you take the proper precautions," Spalding writes.

Those precautions include staying home right now, practicing good hand hygiene and communicating with your prenatal care providers.

Everyone (even up to the President of the United States) recognizes how hard it is to be pregnant right now. Lean on the people and the resources that are available to you.

If you're pregnant, Motherly has made our Becoming Mama™ Online Birth Class free in response to COVID-19.


News

Bestselling author, professor and researcher Brené Brown is well-known and loved for her inspirational approach to life's challenges (and for her Netflix special The Call to Courage)‚ but even she acknowledges that the coronavirus pandemic presents a whole new set of challenges for families.

"Collectively, what I see is a growing weariness. I think we're tired, physically, emotionally, spiritually exhausted," Brown said on Monday in an interview for the Today Show, adding that part of the challenge is acknowledging that we're in it for the long haul. "We're going to have to settle into a new normal, while grieving the old normal, which is a lot to ask of people."

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With schools and workplaces closed and social distancing measures in effect across the country, many parents are pulling triple-duty at home right now as full-time caregivers, homeschool instructors and workers. At some moments, it can (understandably) feel as if parenting through coronavirus requires more than we have to give.

Enter Brown's "family gap plan," which can help families bridge the gap during tough moments.

As Brown explains it, "I'd say (to my husband), 'Steve, all I have is 20%.' And he's like, 'Hey, I've been holding down the fort here. All I got is 20.' So we'd say, 'Okay, we've got a gaping 60%. What are our rules when we don't have 100% as a family?'"

Brown stresses the importance of keeping lines of communication open as a family: "Let people know where you are." She and her husband have a policy of being honest with their children about moments when they feel low-energy or high-stress.

"I'll say, 'We have to make 100 as a family. I've got 20, and your dad's got 20. What do we do to get to 100?' And it's about the way we talk to each other, the way we show up with each other, extra kindness...and takeout."

In fact, Brown's kids helped come up with the set of rules their family follows whenever there's a "family gap" and things aren't adding up to 100%:

  • No harsh words
  • No nice words with harsh faces
  • Say you're sorry
  • Accept apologies with a "thank you" (as opposed to "okay," which can sound frosty)
  • More knock-knock jokes and puns

Every family is different, and your family's way of bridging the gap may call for a different set of rules (and the truth is, it's okay to not be okay sometimes). But as tactical, actionable advice for keeping the peace at home goes, the more humor and kindness, the better.

News

About a week ago, it dawned on me: We don't have enough diapers on hand for my infant son to get through an extended quarantine due to coronavirus. At 9 months old, we go through about six diapers a day, which means we'd need about a pack a week to get through. Like many parents, my first thought was to stockpile diapers. My second thought was that if every parent stockpiled diapers, we would drive shortages and make it harder for families like this one to find the diapers they need—and harder for parents who cannot afford to stockpile diapers.

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Ultimately I decided to make the switch to cloth diapers for the first time, (I chose GroVia because they are simple for newbies like me), but like many families, I remain concerned about our ability to get the family supplies we need in the midst of Instacart and Amazon strikes, product outages and overall stockpiling driving up availability and prices.

It's hard to resist the urge to stockpile when you're worried about when you'll next be able to get formula, diapers and wipes for your baby. And many families, like mine, are having a near-impossible time finding available delivery slots from grocery stores and services like Instacart.

Here's the current state of formula, diapers and wipes, and how to make sure you can get the baby goods you need.

Formula

Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics say that parents should keep 2-4 weeks of formula on hand at any given time. Dr. Steve Abrams, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition says "most families who have 2-4 weeks supply are in good shape," and asks that parents not stockpile formula so that all parents are able to access the formula that they need.

Dr. Abrams asks that parents attempt to be brand-flexible if possible, as they might have trouble getting the exact brand they usually buy. Most concerning are parents of children require specialized formula, like lactose-free formulas. In a story in The New York Times, mama Catie Weimer recounted her struggle to get sufficient amounts of specialized formula for her baby.

"Am I going to have to force him to drink a milk-based formula because that's what I can afford?" Weimer wondered.


It's a worry lots of mamas are facing.

Here's how to get access to formula:

If you're able to order online: Amazon is still selling baby formula with Amazon Prime delivery this week. Walmart is offering free delivery and free pickup at its stores, including baby formula. Target and their service Shipt, have pickup and delivery options, if you can snag a delivery slot.

If you need a specialized formula: The AAP recommends that you reach out to your pediatrician, who often have sample products on hand.

If you can't get formula: Regardless of your income or employment level, if you can't get baby formula you can find a food bank near you via Feeding America. Ask about resources for families with young children and infants. If you're previously or newly eligible for WIC due to changes in your employment, WIC offices can help you get formula if you're having trouble access or affording it. You can apply or find a local resource here. Lastly, you can dial 211 in the United States to be connected to local resources to find formula, as programs can vary from city to city.

Diapers

Some stores ran out of disposable diapers after a rush of bulk buying earlier this month, and while cloth diapers are a great alternative for some families they will not work for everyone, especially families who don't have easy access to laundry machines.

Disposable diapers can still be purchased at many stores, although you may have trouble finding your exact brand if it is popular. Walmart's website is currently showing many brands and sizes of diapers as in stock.

If coronavirus has made you or your partner unemployed or caused your pay to be reduced, check out the National Diaper Bank Network website for resources in your area, You can also dial 211 in many states to be connected to Essential Community Services, a resource that may be able to help you find diapers in your community.

Some community groups are organizing drive-by diaper giveaways, so stay tuned to your local community pages (and donate cash if you can).

Wipes

Baby wipes are hard to come by these days for a few reasons: Bulk purchasing early in the pandemic, people purchasing them when they could not find disinfectant wipes and because the toilet paper shortage made them a common second choice for people who would rather be using toilet paper.

Some parents are turning to DIY baby wipes, cutting up shirts and flannel sheets for their diapering needs, but that does not work for every family. If you need wipes and cannot find them, contact the diaper banks in your area. In some communities, grassroots organizations are even delivering wipes and other baby supplies.

Bottom line: It takes a lot more detective work to find what we need for our babies these days.

It is worth calling the smaller stores in your area to see if they have your item or brand in stock. If the big box stores are out of wipes, try calling the small pharmacies in your area to see if they have any left.

If it is possible for your family, reusable options may be a good choice to get you through.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Call the diaper banks or reach out to your local mom group to see if anyone else has an oversupply.

[This is a developing story. This page will be updated as more resources become available.]



News

Social distancing is hard on parents, kids and grandparents, but there is good news on the coronavirus front: New data reveals the restrictions and recommendations keeping people apart during the pandemic could be working. As the New York Times reports, new data from a company that makes internet-connected thermometers, Kinsa Health, is "making it clear that social distancing is saving lives."

Kinsa hosts a map of fever levels across the U.S. to track feverish illness levels across the U.S. Right now the map is suggesting that "due to widespread social distancing, school closures, stay-at-home orders, etc. feverish illness levels are dropping in many regions," Kinsa notes.

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The company adds, "This does not mean that COVID-19 cases are declining. In fact, we expect to see reported cases continue to surge in the near term, but it may indicate these measures are starting to slow the spread."

At the beginning of this week, more than three-quarters of the country showed a significant decline in fevers (Kinsa has about 1 million thermometers uploading more than 150,000 temperature readings per day).

The results of early social distancing protocols can be seen when comparing different regions in the U.S. Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco, tells The Los Angeles Times that early social distancing measures taken in California "happened closer to the introduction of the virus, so you haven't had as many generations of transmission. So there are fewer cases per capita in the population."

Rutherford is cautiously optimistic that the Bay Area will not see as many cases as New York because it seems like the early social distancing measures are working (if people keep abiding by them).

Up the coast, Jeff Duchin, Seattle & King County's Public Health Officer, says "The bottom line here should be that what we're doing now appears to be working, that we should in no way take these findings as an indication to relax our social distancing strategy, that we need to continue this for weeks."

President Trump agrees and wants people to stay home until April 30, and Virgina's Governor wants social distancing to continue in his state until June.

It's a long process and a challenging one—but it's working, mama.

News
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