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Category Archives: Research

New Research About Teen “Sexting”

The National Campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy recently published the results from a survey they commissioned in conjunction with Cosmo Girl. The survey asked teens and young adults about their use of technology to send sexually explicit pictures and messages to one another. The survey included the responses of 1,280 teens and young adults ranging in age from 13-26.

In the findings, they reported that “A significant number of teens have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves.” They go on to report that “75% of teens and 71% of young adults say sending sexually suggestive content “can have serious negative consequences.”

Given these startling statistics, it is increasingly important that parents discuss “sexting” openly with their kids. 

  1. Talk openly – Although this is a difficult topic, it is important that your kids are aware that when sending pictures or sexually explicit messages the images are not truly private.
  2. Know their friends – Just as with all other friends, it is important that parents know who their kids are connecting with and communicating with online.
  3. Think long term, even when your kids can’t – Parents often have the ability to think of the long term repercussions of their actions.
  4. Stay up on technology – In order to be able to know what your kids are posting and sending out, you must be able to understand all of their technology.  Whether its Facebook, chatting, or “texting” make sure you are as savvy as your child.
  5. Communicate your expectations – by setting some expectations for what is appropriate online your kids will understand what is allowed.
If your child is misusing technology or posting explicit pictures of themselves or others, and this is disrupting their lives, we may be able to help. Whether you or your family are looking for therapists or treatment programs, Prepare To Bloom, LLC is just a phone call away. Please contact us at (650) 888-4575 or visit us on the web at www.PrepareToBloom.com.
 
 

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New survey says half of all children with Autism try to leave safe spaces

Prepare To Bloom FlowerEarly findings by the Interactive Autism Network, the nation’s largest online autism research project, show that roughly half of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) between the ages of 4 and 10 attempt to elope. Elopement is the term the researchers settled on to describe the proclivity of children to stray, wander, run, bolt, or otherwise leave a space that is considered safe, such as with a parent or guardian. The findings are preliminary, but with over 800 families reporting, there is a markedly higher risk to elope for children of all ages who have ASD. At age 5, for example, approximately 34% of children with ASD eloped verses only about 4% of their unaffected siblings. These findings are especially worrisome considering that over a third of the families who have children who elope also report their children are “never” or “rarely” able to tell people who they are or where they live.

Over half of families reporting stated that elopement was among the most stressful of their child’s ASD behaviors. As examples of that stress, nearly a third of parents needed to call the police, and two thirds of parents had children who had a “close call” with traffic injury or drowning.

So why do children with ASD elope? This is one of the main focuses of the research, and it is still too early to tell for certain. What they have found, however, is that families report that for the most part, children are playful, happy, or focused while eloping and not as frequently eloping in an anxious, sad or confused state of mind.

For more details and the full article, please visit the Interactive Autism Network. The IAN Research article may be found here. If you are able and willing, they do accept donations through the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

If there is a child, teen, young adult, or adolescent in your life who is struggling to make their way, and you just don’t know who to contact or where to go next, consider hiring a therapeutic consultant. Consultants at Prepare To Bloom, LLC guide families in creating individual plans to help them find success. Visit our web page at http://www.preparetobloom.com, or call 650-888-4575.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Research

 

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Happier Teens are Healthier Teens

According to a study at the University of South Florida completed by Emily Shaffer-Hudkins and her team, happier teens are healthier teens.  Her findings were reported in Springer’s Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.  Shaffer-Hudkins’ used a sample of 401 students in grades 6-8 from a suburban southeastern middle school in the United States.  She had the teens rate their overall satisfaction with life.  They were asked to rate their feelings both positive and negative about their lives.  After going through these criteria, the teens discussed their physical health.

The study concludes: “Findings from the current study underscore the importance of attending to positive wellness-focused indicators of mental health among youth. Subjective well-being is a significant, unique, and primary predictor of important physical health outcomes in youth and is more strongly associated with physical functioning than is psychopathology. Examining only psychopathology may lead to an underestimation of the relationship between mental health and physical health in young people.”

If your family needs help returning to the balance of physical and emotional health, Prepare To Bloom, LLC may be able to help you create a plan.  You can learn more about how on the web at PrepareToBloom.com or call (650)888-4575.

 

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Blood Tests to Diagnose Schizophrenia

The diagnosis of schizophrenia and other mental health disorders is increasingly becoming a more scientific process.  A new blood test from veripsych looks at biomarkers found in the patients blood that are associated with schizophrenia.  The company partnered with Cambridge University in creating the new blood test.  While the blood test alone is not intended to diagnose schizophrenia, it can assist a psychiatrist in making the determination.  The plans are to continue research and develop blood tests to help identify markers for depression and bipolar disorder as well.  It is clear that the way we think about mental illness will continue to evolve as a result of these new tools.

 
 

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Ameliorating loneliness through the use of technology

Loneliness seems to be here to stay. Although western civilization has allowed us to connect with more people faster  and more frequently than ever before, many of us find ourselves suffering from feelings of abject solitude. Perhaps stimulating our sense of community over long distances through text, pictures, and video simply isn’t enough to deliver that feeling of well-connectedness. Shaking hands, giving a hug, or getting a real pat on the back are all impossibilities when we’re sitting at our computers, talking to someone many hundreds of miles away. What if we could use technology to help fill this seemingly impossible chasm pulling us apart?Well, a new Stanford research paper titled “Intimate Heartbeats: Opportunities for Affective Communication Technology” aims to point us in the right direction.

The research attempts to tackle the disparaging lack of a physical connection over long-distance communication by inserting the heartbeat of the communicating partner into the auditory stream. In a way, they wanted to know “What if you could hear how someone else is feeling”.  They used virtual reality to simulate how physically close participants were to each other when they communicated. How close do you stand to someone when you first meet them?  They tracked eye contact as well as responses to questions. They found that self-reported intimacy was higher when the participants could hear the other person’s heartbeat than when they couldn’t. Furthermore, the effect was equal to that of physically looking the other person in the eye.

The heartbeat doesn’t even need to be heard, either. It can be a sensation felt on the skin. The authors mention a ring, but one can also imagine something of a “heartbeat headphones” type of device that might be connected to a bracelet or even be a part of regular headphones. This is very promising research and raises many questions; Does this work equally well for all people? Can this be used as a therapeutic mechanism for people who exhibit antisocial behavior or who may have disorders with symptoms that parallel loneliness? Maybe we’ll know some of these answers soon, as the authors seem to be on the right track.

Here is their conclusion:

In this age of the Internet in which people interact more and more with their computers and less and less with each other,we need new ways to communicate emotions and maintain close connections. Decades of research have shown the importance of physiological signals for our own emotional experiences. This study presents evidence that physiological signals can be important communicative tools as well. Heartbeats are shown to be a powerful intimate nonverbal cue. Because of the intimate nature of heartbeat communication, it could potentially prove to be beneficial for social connectedness. Similarly, heartbeat communication might also improve emotion recognition and communication. This opens up a future in which we augment our natural emotion communication by new technologies that share the biosignals carrying our emotions.

Loneliness is obviously a very important topic for many of us. Google returns over 24 million results for the search term. There are countless blog articles devoted to the subject. Here are some written by people who experience or think about loneliness: Dreaming of Quiet Places, A Poem on Loneliness, Comparing Loneliness to AlonenessThe Complicated Simple Life. And a good professional read by Dr. Booth.

 

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Second Hand Smoke can Lead to Mental Health Concerns

We have heard for years now that second hand smoke can be physically deadly.  Now in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine has published research looking at the links between second hand smoke and mental health disorders in children and adolescents.  The study included nearly 3,000 kids between the ages of 8-15.  Researchers looked at the levels of cotinine and screened for mental health disorders.  The research showed that increased levels of cotinine was associated with symptoms of depression, ADHD, anxiety and conduct disorders.  The conclusions of this study are limited due to the inability of researchers to control psychiatric history of their participants, but it does add to the mounting case regarding how second hand smoke negatively effects children’s health.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Mental Health, News, Research

 

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Major Depression and the Premature Aging of Immune Cells

A new UCSF led study, published in PLoS ONE, found that people who suffer from certain cases of major depression may have an elevated risk of suffering from serious illness. Important to note is that it’s the length of time the individual goes untreated that seems to be the critical factor. People with long-term depression who go untreated for a long period of time have a higher risk of getting sick from other physical diseases because their immune cells age faster. More specifically, individuals who were tested whom had been untreated for their chronic depression for 9 years had a corresponding 7 years of “accelerated cell aging”.

As a next step, UCSF researchers plan to replicate these preliminary findings in a larger sample of depressed individuals in order to explain why certain people develop shortened telomeres and physical disease, and how that process can be combated. Depressed individuals not taking antidepressants are currently being enrolled for this ongoing study, and interested participants may inquire at (415) 476-7254 or mood@ucsf.edu.

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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Articles, News, Research

 

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