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Apps for your Special Needs Child

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Technology has brought about many different tools that help special needs children. The market is saturated with apps for every possible need. From entertainment to education purposes apps have become an integral part of living in the digital world. Filtering through the different apps from paid and free can be overwhelming.

There are many different apps specifically to help children with special needs, but here are a few of our favorites:

1.    ProloQuo2Go - This app is a favorite among speech therapists. Although the high price tag ($249.99) might seem a bit steep, it is one of the leading programs for speech improvement. The app is meant to help those with speech or communication issues to practice their communication and language skills. The app also has customization in that it can be adapted for different levels as well as can be adjusted for different fine-motor, visual, and cognitive skills.

2.    Story builder - This app is an all-around great education app for children. The app is meant to help students put together paragraphs and boosts their reading skills. This particular app is great for children with autism because it extensively uses audio clips in aiding with the storytelling process. This audio feature enhances audio-lingual processing and gives children with special needs another way of stimulating their sensory learning.

3.    Speech with Milo - This is another app that is great for enhancing speech and communication skills. Developed by a speech therapist, the app is great for not only education purposes but for entertainment purposes as well. Children become in engaged in the learning process with the help of the animated mouse, Milo. 

1.    Dexteria - Another top app for special needs children is Dexteria. This app helps with fine motor skills as well as develop handwriting readiness. By taking full advantage of the multi-touch surface of a smartphone or tablet, Dexteria uses a series of games and activities to practice fine motor skills and build control as well as strength and accuracy.

2.    Abilipad - Developed by an occupational therapist, the app is a great way to develop handwriting skills as well as can function as a form of communication because of the text-to-speech feature. The app is essentially a keyboard app that can be customized to the user.

3.    See.Touch.Learn- An interactive learning tool designed specifically for children with autism or special needs. The app takes the initial idea behind picture flash cards and uses technology to enhance the benefits of this simple exercise. Users can create custom flashcards, but also comes with a vast starter set with high quality photos. Other sets are also available to purchase within the app.

4.    The Social Express - The online interactive program is used to help develop social skills with children. The app uses animation and high quality visual presentations to get children to be interactive in learning.

These are just some of the apps that are available to help special needs children develop their various skills and enhance learning. There are plenty of others for parents and children to practice with to find the right ones that work for their family.

Hilary Smith is a freelance journalist based out of Chicago. Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary attended St. Stephen's Episcopal School and Northwestern University's school of journalism. Upon graduation, she turned her love of technology into a freelance writing career. After becoming a mother, she began focusing on writing about family and parenting in the digital age.

Tags:  apps  special needs children 

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PAMP Holds Another Fun Day at the Farm!

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 9, 2017

PAMP held another fantastic and fun day at Pastorino Farms in Half Moon Bay on June 3. In the second farm event of the year, Summer Fun Day at the Farm gave PAMP families and friends of PAMP families the opportunity to ride ponies, pet farm animals, go on a hayride bounce in the bouncy house and take a tour of the farm.

Hosted by Friendly Pony Parties, Summer Fun Day at the Farm provided all of the entertainment that has come to be expected from this popular PAMP event.

PAMP member Mariza Kim attended with her three and six year old. “The farm day was quiet and not too crowded,” she said. Although somewhat frustrated by a seemingly longer setup time than she had anticipated, she said her kids “enjoyed the baby animals and the ponies.”

Mom of four-year-old triples and PAMP member Melaine Hennessey attended the Fall Fun Day at the Farm event with her family last year and although her husband joked that the Halloween decorations still on display, they had a great time and plan to attend the next PAMP event at Pastorino Farms.

“My family loved the event,” she said. “I was surprised it wasn’t better attended … [My kids] loved the pony rides, the petting zoo, and the train. Really, everything! They also mentioned the hay ride.”

PAMP will hold another Fun Day at the Farm this fall, but if your kids need a petting zoo fix sooner, make sure to sign up for Family Day on July 30 at Mitchell Park. The event is free to all PAMP families.

Tags:  pamp events  summer fun at the farm 

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Study: Infant and Young Toddler Screen Time May Lead to Speech Delays

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017

We’ve all been there. It’s almost dinnertime and you’re standing in the kitchen, baby in tow, wondering what you’re going to make for dinner and how you’re going to handle watching your little while cooking. You’ve heard time and time again that screen time prior to age two is detrimental, but part of you wonders if it’s an over exaggeration. Could it really be that the hour or two you set your child in front of a YouTube channel or iPad each day to keep them entertained while you’re checking off chores is really that bad?

A new study being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting says yes. Conducted by Dr. Catherine Birken, a pediatrician at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the study found that the more time children between the ages of six months and two years spent using handheld screens the more likely they were to experience speech delays.

Nearly 900 children were studied to obtain the findings. Parents reported the amount of screen time their children had at 18 months. Researchers then used a validated infant toddler checklist to assess their language development while looking at whether or not the child used sounds or words to get attention, as well as how many words are in their vocabulary.

Parents reported that the average participant spent around 28 minutes using screens. Every 30-minute increment of daily screen time resulted in a 49 percent increased risk of speech delay. Interestingly, the study found no link between device use and a delay in body language, gestures and social interaction.

More research needs to be done but the findings backup the American Academy of Pediatrics claim that children under a year and a half should avoid televisions, tables and other screened devices. Read more at CNN.

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Welcome to the New PAMP Board of Directors

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017

PAMP Members have spoken! This week the new PAMP Board of Directors takes their roles and will look forward to building on the work of the previous board in an effort to make PAMP even better. We want to give a heartfelt thank you to the outgoing board for all of their hard work over the past two years and in the coming weeks we will individually profile each of the new members, but, if you’re new to PAMP or were unable to vote, we’d like to introduce you to the 2017-2018 Board of Directors.

Alice Chao

Alice joined PAMP in 2015 when her daughter was 6 months old. As a new mom, PAMP provided the support she needed and because of her experiences, she began volunteering with the organization. She’s currently the Associate Director at Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy and served as the Membership Director for the 2016-2017 year.


Mary Kate Stimmler
Soon after Mary Kate found out she was going to be a parent, she joined PAMP. In the year she has been a member, PAMP has helped her find a nanny, carrier and members have answered any questions she had. The support she received drove her to want to help build the PAMP community. She has a PhD from UC Berkeley and works at Google where she is responsible for using social science to understand and improve employee engagement.


Sarah Mitchell

A transplant from Canada, Sarah moved to the Bay Area in 2014 where she quickly joined PAMP and made friends at PAMP playdates. Over the years, she has been an active PAMP volunteer and values the resource PAMP has become for her. She’s a trained chiropractor and has worked in business to business sales, but currently tries to empower parents to teach their children to sleep. Sarah recently wrote an article for our blog on surviving the four month sleep regression. 


Emily Chu

Emily joined PAMP in 2016, soon after the birth of her son, and found the events calendar useful in finding activities. She’s a controller at a private partnership in Palo Alto. Emily joined the board as a Member at Large in 2017 and is now expanding her role to utilize her accounting background as the organization’s treasurer.



Lisa Liu

After having her son, Lisa moved to Menlo Park and joined PAMP to get to know other parents nearby. Currently she’s a partner at The Mitzel Group, LLP where she heads up the business and corporate transactions practice.





Marketing & Communications
Liz Austin

A recent transplant to the Bay Area, Liz has over 15 years of international experience in marketing and communications. Her prior positions have included working as the marketing and communications manager for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival from 2014-2016 and she is currently a brand and marketing consultant. She is also developing and writing an culture blog for Silicon Valley – Ulterior Life.



Melissa McAlpine

Mom of twin girls, Melissa joined PAMP in 2016 when she and her husband moved to Maountain View from San Francisco. Melissa has spent the past eight years working in product management and user experience at a variety of consumer-facing companies in the media, travel and wearable tech industries.









Rebecca Cafiero

Rebecca joined PAMP after her son was born in early 2016 and made great friends through PAMP events. She has a 15 year background in real estate and residential development and owns a boutique real estate brokerage. Rebecca is a certified in holistic health and nutrition and has an online wellness company that has served more than 5,000 customers and put together dozens of social and philanthropy events. She is also the president for the Northern California chapter of a non-profit health education group where she plans and executes educational events.



Member at Large
Nicole Pollock

In August 2016 Nicole and her family moved from San Francisco to Menlo Park and she quickly joined PAMP. She has spent the past 12 years working for tech companies Adobe, SalesForce and OpenTable, and currently works at Google. 

Tags:  board of directors 

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Study: Black Children with ADHD Symptoms Less Likely to Maintain Treatment Regimen

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Updated: Sunday, May 21, 2017

While African-American children are not receiving medication for their diagnosed ADHD, it appears as if their parents are more likely to opt for psychotherapy, according to a recent study published in Pediatrics. However, psychotherapy treatments are sometimes inconsistent. 

According to the study, conducted by Janet Cummings, PhD and her team, African-American youth with ADHD were likely to receive psychotherapy than white children diagnosed with the disorder.

That being said, African-American youth were less likely to have adequate follow-up visits with medical professionals to manage their ailment.

The study noted that many parents are not seeing an immediate benefit or noticing side effects that cause them to discontinue their child’s medication. Parents are encouraged to do their research. Some parents choose alternate ways to combat ADHD symptoms, such as medication or activities that encourage concentration – like karate, and some choose to stop treatment because of the side effects. Still, there are a small group of parents who avoid medication out of fear or misinformation.

According to Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr. Erikka Dzirassa, there is a greater stigma associated with mental illness in the Black community, often causing parents to make assumptions and not trust medical professionals. There is also evidence that the disorder is being underdiagnosed in the community. A 2013 study found African-American children were less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD compared to otherwise identical white children.

Parents should be aware of ADHD warning signs and advocate for their children. They are also encouraged to maintain treatment once a diagnosis is given. If they decide not to provide medication, it is imperative for their children to remain in therapy.

Read more at NBC News

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New Event: Parents Night Out

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Updated: Sunday, May 21, 2017

If you need a night out with your spouse or just some time to interact with other adults, then look no further than PAMP’s Parents Night Out.

Organized by PAMP member Stella Lin, Parents Night Out is an informal way for parents to “meet new people and have fun conversations, most of which are not about kids,” she said.

Lin began the event last month after she and her husband decided they would get a babysitter one evening per week so they could go out together. She wanted to encourage other parents to do the same and organized the event in case anyone wanted to join them.

The first Parents Night Out was an intimate gathering of four people, but Lin said the group had a great time and has recruited a volunteer, Ling Wu, to help plan the next event, which will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31 at Trellis Restaurant, 1077 El Camino Real in downtown Menlo Park.

Lin says the event is a great way to “expand your social circle and give yourself a reason to go out,” and encourages anyone interested to register on the event page so she can call ahead and make a reservation with a headcount.

There is no fee to attend, although everyone is expected to pick up their own tab, and while the event can be used as a date night, single parents, non-PAMP member friends and any parent who can get away for a night are welcome to join.

“We decided to try different times and locations to make it available to more people,” Lin said. “I will try to do it every month on the last Wednesday of the month for the foreseeable future.”

If you’re unable to make the May 31 Parents Night Out keep checking the PAMP event calendar for information on the June event. 

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Jump Into Summer Coming Soon

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Updated: Sunday, May 21, 2017

It’s time to Jump Into Summer with PAMP! This popular event combines a variety of different bounce houses and indoor activities for those who don’t want to play in the inflatable structures.

PAMP’s Jump Into Summer will be on Sunday, June 25 at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, 700 Alma Street in Menlo Park. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and for only $10 per PAMP member family – you can also bring non-PAMP member friends for $25 – kids can jump until their heart’s content outside. Indoors, Soccer Shots Bay Area will have an indoor soccer activity prepared and La Petite Baleen will host an arts and crafts table. We’ll also have some additional games and toys to play with.

Similar to last year, PAMP will provide light snacks for nibbling, but families are welcome to bring their own food to the event. This event will likely sell out so register now to avoid missing all the fun!

As a PAMP subsidized event, no refunds will be issued and walk-ins are discouraged. Walk-ins will not be eligible for the PAMP discount. More details to come soon.

Soccer Shots Bay Area is an engaging children’s soccer program with a focus on character development through age-appropriate curriculum that aligns with childhood education standards.

La Petite Baleen has been providing swimming lessons to the Peninsula since 1979 and offers year round classes in heated pools at four locations. Instructors educate and inform parents of their child’s progress through progress reports, phone conferences and newsletters. Students not only learn physical swimming skills but life skills.

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Study: The Danger of Cotton Swabs

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 15, 2017

Put down that cotton swab! A new study in the Journal of Pediatrics conducted by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that approximately 12,500 children under the age of 18 enter and get treated by emergency departments ear injuries caused by cotton swabs each day.

About 34 children are seen for injuries related to the use of swabs. While many adults believe cleaning their ears is an important part of their hygiene routine, ear cleaning is not necessary.

Research was conducted by examining hospital visit data for 20 years (between 1990 and 2010). They discovered that 260,000 children arrived at the emergency room with ear injuries, consisting of tissue ears of the tympanic membrane and problems with the ear drum. Most of the damage was caused when children were tasked with cleaning their own ears.

Cuts in the ear canals, perforated ear drums and dislocated hearing bones are all causes of cotton swab use. These injuries can lead to hearing loss, dizziness or ringing in the ears.

The ear is a self-cleaning body part and there is no need to dig out ear wax. Simply wiping away excess wax when it reaches the outer ear is enough. Doctors recommend against using ear irrigators, candles and other home remedies, as well.

The study showed that 99 percent of patients did not suffer permanent damage, but those who did had permanent hearing loss.

Read more at CNN.

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Register Now for Summer Fun Day at the Farm

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Warming weather means plenty of fun, and with the start of spring a distant memory, summer is on the horizon. Celebrate the longer days with PAMP in Half Moon Bay.

Fun Day at the Farm is back! If you missed our spring event, you’ll surely want to come out to Pastorino Farms for pony rides, hayrides, train rides, bouncy houses and a petting zoo! There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained.

Even though PAMP will provide light snacks and water, we encourage you to bring a picnic lunch and take a break at Pastorino’s dining area.

Friendly Pony Parties, as always, is a co-host and PAMP families get in for only $10! Don’t forget to tell your non-member friends about it and bring them along! Non-member families can enjoy all the fun for only $25.

PAMP members who want to attend for free, can volunteer. It’s a great way to help us out while enjoying all of activities. “I enjoy volunteering at PAMP events because it is a wonderful program and it makes me happy to help out the families and children,” says PAMP member Patty Bors. “We have been going to family day at the farm for a couple years now, and it’s one of my son's favorite events.”

Come out and enjoy all of the great activities we have planned. Spend time with fellow PAMP members and make new friends. Summer Fun Day at the Farm begins at 10 a.m., but come whenever you want and spend as much or as little time as you’d like. Children of all ages are welcome!

If you’ve recently tried to register for PAMP’s Summer Fun Day at the Farm and received a message saying the event was full, please try again. Due to a technical problem, the system closed registration. We have fixed the error and registration should be open.

Pastorino Farms is only 30 minutes from the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area. All payments are final. No refunds will be issued. Walk-ins are discouraged and not eligible for the PAMP member discounted rate.


Tags:  pamp events  summer fun at the farm 

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Study – Father’s Age May Affect Social Development in Children (although results are somewhat misleading)

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 1, 2017

Researchers at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City found that paternal age at the time of conception can influence the social development of their children.

By analyzing the social behaviors of over 15,000 twins between early childhood and adolescence (ages 4-16), researchers found that children who were born to fathers under 25 and older than 51 showed more pro-social behaviors in early development, however, once children reached adolescence they were behind in social skills to their peers who were born to fathers between 25 and 50.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, also showed that the development of social skills was influenced by genetics more than environmental factors.

According to one of the researchers, there is an increased importance on genetic factors observed in the offspring of older fathers, suggesting there may be different mechanisms behind the effects of the older and younger fathers.

Read more here 

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