Posts Tagged ‘ New Jersey ’

Jacqueline Laurita of ‘Real Housewives:’ My Son is Autistic

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Reality star Jacqueline Laurita of the Bravo show “Real Housewives of New Jersey” has announced that her son, Nicholas, 3, has autism.

Laurita, 42, revealed in the print edition of People magazine that when Nicholas was around 18 months old, she and her husband Chris, 46, began to notice regression in his speech and motor skills. “He wasn’t answering to his name or noticing people come into the room. He couldn’t follow a simple command,” she said. “We had no idea what was going on.”

A family friend suggested that the devastating symptoms might point to autism, and the couple began to research the condition. They found that Nicholas had many of the warning signs, and doctors confirmed their suspicions with an official diagnosis.

Laurita said she is pursuing multiple treatments for Nicholas, including a gluten- and dairy-free diet. “As a parent, you want to try every avenue you can find,” she said. She reported that the diet has improved his focus and concentration.

Laurita and her husband worked hard to keep their son’s struggles private and off-camera during the fourth season of “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” If they do appear in the fifth season, Laurita said she would be open about his condition. “If I could help one person by showing this, it would be worth it,” she said.

For more on the signs of autism, click here.

Image: Jacqueline Laurita via Shutterstock.

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New Jersey School Tests Will No Longer Include ‘Secret’ Question

Monday, May 14th, 2012

A standardized test given to New Jersey third-graders will no longer include a question that asks students to reveal a secret and write about why it was difficult to keep.  NBC News reports that the school board decided to remove the question after parents voiced concern that the question was intrusive and inappropriate:

“We’ve looked at this question in light of concerns raised by parents, and it is clear that this is not an appropriate question for a state test,” [Department of Education spokesman Justin] Barra said, adding that about 4,000 students in 15 districts had the question.

Marlboro dentist Richard Goldberg was among the parents who had raised concerns about the question.

Goldberg said he was appalled when he asked his twin 9-year-old sons about the standardized tests they were taking and they told him about the question. He said he felt it ventured into topics that would best be kept quiet and it could raise some serious complications, so he wasn’t surprised to hear the state decided to eliminate it from future tests.

“I got a lot of feedback from parents who also were outraged” about the matter, Goldberg told Neptune’s the Asbury Park Press newspaper. “All of a sudden now you have thousands and thousands of children possibly revealing things that now these people have to report, when the purpose of the exam was to see what the children’s critical reading skills were.”

Image: Students taking test, via Shutterstock.

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Father Alleges Teachers ‘Bullied’ Autistic Child

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

After sending his 10-year-old son to school with a hidden recording device, a New Jersey man is alleging that teachers at his son’s elementary school shouted, insulted and otherwise “bullied” the child because he has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  CNN.com reports:

Stuart Chaifetz said he placed the recorder in the pocket of his 10-year-old son, Akian, in an attempt to find out why staffers at Horace Mann Elementary School had reported that the boy had been acting out and hitting his teachers.

What surfaced was more than six hours of recordings of what he says are teachers and aides apparently talking about alcohol and sex in front of the class, punctuated by yelling at his son to “shut your mouth.”

Chaifetz posted the recording online Monday, which has since led to disciplinary actions, including the removal of at least one teacher, school officials said.

Image: Blackboard, via Shutterstock.

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Flouride in Water Raises Health Concerns for Some in New Jersey

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Residents of New Jersey are embroiled in a debate over whether the state should require each town to fluoridate its water, something that almost every other state does as a matter of routine.  The New York Times reports on the debate between medical groups, who say that fluoride is the best way to prevent tooth decay in children, and opponents who make arguments–based, officials say, on questionable science–including that fluoride is a carcinogen and it lowers I.Q. in children.

From the Times:

Similar bills have failed in the state since 2005, under pressure from the public utilities lobby and municipalities that argue that fluoridation costs too much, environmentalists who say it pollutes the water supply, and antifluoride activists who argue that it causes cancer, lowers I.Q. and amounts to government-forced medicine.

Public health officials argue that the evidence does not support any of those arguments — and to the contrary, that fluoridating the water is the single best weapon in fighting tooth decay, the most prevalent disease among children.

But they also say they are fighting a proliferation of misleading information. While conspiracy theories about fluoride in public water supplies have circulated since the early days of the John Birch Society, they now thrive online, where anyone, with a little help from Google, can suddenly become a medical authority.

“In the age of the Internet, it’s very easy to spread many of these rumors,” said Barbara F. Gooch, the associate director for science in the Oral Health Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “People go looking for information about why this is bad, and they find it pretty easily.”

So while William Bailey, the acting director of the Oral Health Division and the chief dental officer of the United States Public Health Service, calls it “the ideal public health measure,” opponents online argue the unproven allegation that the Nazis used fluoride to sedate concentration camp victims.

Image: Girl brushing her teeth, via Shutterstock.

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New Bullying Law May Be Too Tough, Schools Say

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

school-bullyingA tough new law cracking down on school bullies takes effect today in New Jersey.

Called the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, the law was sparked by the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi last year, The New York Times reports. Clementi jumped off a bridge after his college roommate secretly used a webcam to film him in bed with another man and stream it over the Internet.

Parents and educators welcome the effort to stop bullies, and supporters of the new law say it has to be tough to cope with kids who can now be especially mean and damaging on online sites like Facebook.

But some school administrators say the new rules are too strict to enforce properly. “I think this has gone well overboard,” Richard G. Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, told The Times. “Now we have to police the community 24 hours a day. Where are the people and the resources to do this?”

Under the new law, school districts will be monitored and graded by the State Education Department on their efforts to deal with bullies, and each school must appoint a team to deal with bullying complaints. From the Times:

The law … orders principals to begin an investigation within one school day of a bullying episode, and superintendents to provide reports to [the State Education Department] twice a year detailing all episodes. Statewide, there were 2,846 such reports in 2008-9, the most recent year for which a total was available.

What do you think? Is this new law the right way to deal with bullies?

(image via: http://www.accessmovement.org)

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