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How the Movie Buck Changed Me as a Parent

July 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Monica Lee, MD

I get really frustrated with my son. He is five and has autism, and it has been really difficult for the last three years. He was diagnosed when he was two years old when he started to lose words. A friend noticed and sent us a long e-mail about how he needed to be tested. At first we were taken aback, but we knew she was right. It took us several months to make sure he didn’t have hearing problems. We got him ear tubes and sedated him for a complicated hearing test. Then we had him see a neurologist and a psychologist. But we still couldn’t believe our son had autism. So nine months after the first diagnosis, we finally saw a more “traditional” pediatric neurologist than the first “maverick” one and got basically the same diagnosis.

At least that helped explain why he never asked for anything with words, but would pull our hands to what he wanted. But what hurt the most was when he was stubborn and didn’t want to do something that we thought was necessary, like brush his teeth or get into his car seat when we had to go somewhere. He didn’t have the words to tell us why. When he was younger, we just kind of made him do our bidding. I remember when we would have to hold him still to brush his teeth. Or the time when, unbeknownst to us, he put a piece of foam in his ear and, weeks later, I could smell something rotting. We had to straitjacket him for the doctor to remove it.

A friend made me watch a movie one day, and it changed my perspective on getting the behaviors I wanted. The movie was Buck. It is a documentary based on the real-life horse whisperer. It is about a man who was severely abused as a child and who used that knowledge to help people train horses. He uses only gentle persuasion and never a hard hand. He gently tugs the reins to help guide the horse to his bidding. Anytime he sees a violent and fearful horse, he recognizes that the horse has been abused. The friend who showed me the movie is a golf instructor, and he uses the same principles as a guide in his life and with his clients on a daily basis. After watching this film two years ago, I have let go of my frustrations and tried to use only gentleness and reasoning when dealing with my son. I think it has brought us closer together. Now when I want him to do something, I whisper gently in his ear and am patient if he doesn’t want to do things the first, second, or third time I ask him. The trick is to make him understand that it won’t hurt, and that it is good for him and might actually be fun. He is less frustrated, and so am I.

My son now gets intensive applied behavioral analysis therapy six days a week, and he is showing improvement on his monthly evaluations. The therapists use the same positive reinforcement principles I’ve learned to guide behavior changes because science shows that they produce longer-lasting change than negative reinforcement does.

I think that this principle of positive reinforcement can be used to improve any child’s behavior, including those without learning or behavioral challenges. Some ideas of positive reinforcement include:

  1. Giving a reward for A’s on a report card.
  2. A hug and a kiss for any kind act they might perform, such as sharing toys.
  3. Taking a child to a homeless shelter to give to those in need so that they understand the intrinsic feeling of good that comes from charitable giving.
  4. A monetary reward for chores they might do around the house.

There are so many ways, can you think of others?

About the Author: Monica Lee, MD, is a mom to a 5-year-old son and ob-gyn practicing in the LA Metro area.


Your Less-Than Fertile Forties

August 1, 2013 by  
Filed under J.Bright

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Jennifer Bright Reich

My thirties totally snuck up on me. I was busy transitioning from being a Lieutenant in the Army to civilian life back home, gearing up my job with a publishing company, and enjoying married life. It’s amazing how fast the time went.

Finally, at age 35, I was ready to start a family. Fortunately, my fertility cooperated, and I got pregnant easily. Sadly, I watched as many of my friends who were my age and older didn’t have the same experience.

It turns out that I had plenty of company with many women waiting like I did to try to get pregnant. Approximately 20 percent of women wait until age 35 to start trying to get pregnant.

Yet ironically, the time is ticking away much faster than our own biological clocks are. Fertility begins to decline as early as the late 20s. A healthy 30-year-old woman has a 20 percent chance per month to get pregnant. A healthy 40-year-old woman, on the other hand, has only a 5 percent chance of getting pregnant per month according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

So it’s not surprising that Mother Nature needs some help now and then. More than 6.7 million women (almost 11 percent of US women), ages 15 to 44, have impaired fertility or ability to carry a baby to term, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 7.4 million women in the United States have used infertility services, according to the CDC.

Fortunately, infertility specialists, such as the physicians at HRC Fertility’s Pacadena, California, Fertility Clinics, have treatments designed specifically for women in this age group. They understand the diminished fertility of women in their forties and also the additional pregnancy risks women in this age group face. Physicians such as HRC’s Bradford A. Kolb, MD, FACOGJeffrey R. Nelson, DO, FACOOG; and John Wilcox, MD, FACOG, offer help—and hope. HRC has a second office, HRC Fertility’s Rancho Cucamonga, California, Fertility Clinic, where physicians such as  John M. Norian, MD, FACOG, and Jeffrey R. Nelson, DO, FACOOG, work with patients.

Visit www.havingbabies.com for more information on getting pregnant, infertility treatments, and more.


About the author: Jennifer Bright Reich is coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, cofounder of MommyMDGuides.com, and a mom of two sons, in Allentown, PA. She was compensated by HRC for this blog but feels so passionately about the topic would have written about it for free.

Some Rules Are Meant to Be Changed

October 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

We tell our kids lots of things. Life is full of do’s and don’ts.

We explain to our children that they should be proud of who they are. They are to hold their head high and not hide their faces.

Wearing appropriate clothing is a must. Nothing outrageous or inappropriate.

Our children have been taught the dangers of talking to strangers. They know not to go to a stranger’s house and never take gifts from them.

Playing in the dark not acceptable. It just doesn’t make sense. What’s to see?

Most of us have instilled a strong work ethic in our children. They have learned to work hard. Nothing is free.

We have explained to our kids that it isn’t nice to scare people. It’s just, well, scary.

And thank goodness for the dentists, who back us up on the dangers of sugar. Simply said: Sugar will make your teeth rot. We tell our kids they can practice on the first set, but after the second set comes in, that’s it.

And just when we think we have the rules and do’s and don’ts covered, it’s Halloween and parents around the country find themselves having this conversation with their kids:

“Go cover your face and put on the craziest outfit you can find. Now head outside. Yes, I know it is dark. Don’t worry, none of the other hundreds of kids can see either. I understand the label says the material says flammable… just stay clear of the yards with fire pits and candles along the walkway. But do make sure to make really annoying and scary gestures along the way. And go to all the houses you can, even if you don’t know people and beg for candy. Lots of candy.

We adjust our rules for lots of things, including Halloween. Of course we do. And after the little ghosts and goblins are in bed, it’s our jobs as parents to go through the bucket loads of candy they got. Each and every piece.

Don’t Let a Baby Bump Stop You!

October 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

It’s kind of amazing at what you can do while pregnant. Shame on me for underestimating what you could do while housing another being inside your body. Because it’s not uncommon to stay home if you get a cold or the flu, right?  And one ill-placed pimple can make you think twice about leaving the house. So the idea of carrying on as usual with something growing inside just seems even more remarkable.

During pregnancy, you’re sort of a like a machine. Copiers and cars are machines. But even machines need a rest. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve jammed up the copy machine at work, only to try and fix it and make things even worse. And on one occasion, an auto mechanic kindly reminded me, “You really shouldn’t wait 8,000 miles to get your oil changed.”  See? Machines break down.  They need upkeep.  Being pregnant can bring on concern of not being able to take care of things.

So what are your choices?  I used to think it would be best just to avoid doing anything that was already difficult. I mean being with child wasn’t going to make it easier, was it?  Maybe you could just stop working.

Here is a sample letter you could forward to your boss:

Dear boss,

You may have already witnessed the fact that I am an emotional rollercoaster and could break down at anytime. I am unable to stay awake past 1:00 in the afternoon, and my bed is so much more comfy than that cold cubicle.  And I’m getting granny ankles, so instead of having the skin of my feet ooze over the sides of my office-appropriate footwear, I’m opting for slippers. And from what I understand, in a few months my midsection will protrude even more, and I won’t be able to belly up (literally) to my desk.  I would hate to get stuck and have the dude in maintenance have to try to get me out of there.  So I’m taking off the next nine months.  ‘K? Bye!

So there is a chance that if you wrote that letter you’d get a whole lot more than nine months off.  Perhaps you could wear a medallion that read, “I am pregnant.  Please speak nicely to me.  I will not be offended by offers of food.  Or money.  If the line is long, please let me cut in.  Proceed with caution.”

But before you panic and fire off letters of resignation or wear a billboard around town, consider that every day women are pregnant and keep on doing what they normally do.  Like US women’s volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings.  She played in the Olympics while she was pregnant.  I can’t even get the ball over the net when I’m not pregnant.  QVC host, Cassie Slane fainted while on camera. And they kept rolling film. Marissa Mayer took over duties as CEO of Yahoo when she was about six months pregnant.

So give it a try. Scoot your chair as close as you can to your desk.  And know that throughout the universe are other moms-to-be trudging forward. When it gets really rough, go ahead wear your favorite fuzzy slippers to work.

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.