Monday, July 30, 2012

School Bound Vaccinations

In a few short weeks you will have to once again begin packing your child’s lunch as they prepare to walk up the street, jump on the bus and go off to school. Besides thinking about whether your child will prefer ham or turkey on their sandwich you will also have to think about what vaccinations your school requires before your child attends in the fall.

Before we get to a list of commonly required vaccines, here’s a lesson on what a vaccine is:

A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a certain disease. Vaccines typically contain an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, often made from weakened or killed forms of the organism. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as foreign, destroy it, and "remember" it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters. A Vaccination is the administration of that vaccine. Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate the effects of infection by the particular pathogen. In general, vaccination is considered to be the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases.

In US schools there are typically 9 vaccines that may be required before your child attends school. Some vaccination protocols begin soon after birth and some will be administered throughout a person’s life. The 9 common vaccination's are Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella (chickenpox). These are recommended to be used between Kindergarten and 12th grade, so your child may already be protected. To view a scheduler for children aged 7-18yrs and to learn more about immunizations go to

Here is a list and some short descriptions of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases:

• Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
• Hepatitis A Most often: spread by the fecal-oral route (An object contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A is put into another person's mouth.) Vaccine is recommended for all children at age 1 year.
• Hepatitis B All children should get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth and should have completed the vaccine series by 6 through 18 months of age.
• Children and adolescents through 18 years of age who did not get the vaccine when they were younger should also be vaccinated.
• Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).
• Influenza
• Measles
• Meningococcal  As a result, college students living in dormitories are at slightly increased risk compared with other persons of the same age. A vaccine is available and recommended for all college freshmen living in a dorm. However, any college student can receive the vaccine to decrease their chances of getting meningococcal disease
• Mumps
• Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. In many people, it's marked by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like "whoop."
• Pneumococcal
• Polio
• Rotavirus
• Rubella (German measles)
• Tetanus (lockjaw)
• Varicella (chickenpox) the best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Before the vaccine, about 4 million people would get chickenpox each year in the United States. Also, about 10,600 people were hospitalized and 100 to 150 died each year as a result of chickenpox.
• Diphtheria

Is your child protected?

Required vaccinations may vary state-to-state so ask your school district which vaccines are required in advance of your child’s start date and also ask if they have further recommendations! As will all information of this type, be sure to consult your child's physician before initiating action.

-Maxwell Law

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Therapeutic Art Journaling

We know through experience and clinical research that telling “our story” is fundamental to developing relationships, fostering growth, and promoting healing from traumatic experience. Yet, how often have you been in a session when a consumer smiles inappropriately with an emotionless retelling of a traumatic event as if they were reporting what they had for lunch that day? You may ask yourself; are they minimizing, disassociating….. ? A moment such as this is when an ARTC intervention can make the difference between re-telling a story and re-inventing the story.

I remember Madonna, a trauma survivor herself, coming out with a song in the 90’s based around her frustration with using expressive spoken language in the song Bedtime Stories:

"Today is the last day that I'm using words

They've gone out, lost their meaning

Don't function anymore

Words are useless, especially sentences

They don't stand for anything

How could they explain how I feel".

Even Madge, the queen of “express yourself” found herself in a drought of dry meaningless words and sentences. The next time you run into this barrier I would suggest using an Art Journal Project in which the consumer will tell their story using photography, illustration, mosaic, poetry, short story and any other medium you or they can think of. All you need is in an old book to serve as the journal and some basic art supplies. The consumer will then upcycle the old book and creatively (re-cover) each page as they emotionally (recover) memories. It does not have to be a cohesive story with beginning, middle, and end. Neither does it have to move in chronological order. One page of the journal can represent anywhere from one minute to one decade. The only restriction is that it should move according to the motivation and comfort of the consumer. This intervention has great potential and the best part is that they can keep adding entries indefinitely and also have a visual to share their story with others in an expressive meaningful way that will foster continued healing and the nurturing of new relationships. For further instructional guidance I have included a link below with directions, photographs, and a video tutorial.

Check out these links to learn how to make you own Art Journal!

Written Tutorial:

Video Tutorial:

-Michelle Boonaerts

About the author: Michelle Boonaerts is the Eastern Regional Coordinator for Preferred Family Healthcare’s Achieving Recovery Through Creativity (A.R.T.C.) program. A.R.T.C. uses the arts in all forms as a collective, innovative, and integrated strategy for both therapy and education for youth and adults struggling with substance use disorders, mental health concerns and a variety of high risk situations.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Got the Blues?

Got The Blues? Or Is It A Deeper Issue…


According to the Centers for Disease Control around 9% of Americans are said to be depressed some of the time (that’s a whopping 28 million people!), with 3.4% suffering from major depression.

So how is depression categorized? Microsoft’s Bing Dictionary defines depression as a psychiatric disorder: showing symptoms such as persistent feelings of hopelessness, dejection, poor concentration, lack of energy, inability to sleep, and, sometimes, suicidal tendencies. And did you know depression can be inherited? According to Louise Chang, MD, “Depression is highly familial. When a parent has depression, a child faces three times the risk of becoming depressed compared to a child without a depressed parent. If the parent developed the mental illness before age 20, the child’s risk rises four- to fivefold.” You can start by asking family members if they have ever suffered from depression in their lives.

Many Americans can feel sad or lonely; we do have emotions, but can you function after you get these feelings? That is a big difference between getting through life’s difficulties and suffering from depression.  What happens when those feelings stay with you day to day, and begin interfering with your life? Seek help from your doctor. Only they can properly diagnose depression and give treatment.
According to WebMD here are some major symptoms of depression:
·         Depressed mood, sadness, or an “empty” feeling, or appearing sad or tearful to others
·         Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
·         Significant weight loss when not dieting, or significant weight gain (for example, more than 5% of body weight in a month)
·         Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping
·         Restlessness or irritation (irritable mood may be a symptom in children or adolescents too), or feelings of “dragging”
·         Fatigue or loss of energy
·         Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt
·         Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or indecisiveness
·         Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing suicide


You can help prevent some types of depression by doing healthy things for your body including eating properly, exercising daily, and taking time out to de-stress from your hectic day! These things have been proven to help alleviate symptoms and begin prevention, according to Lucy Boyd, R.N., B.S.N.

Follow us on Twitter for #wellnesswednesday where we will be posting healthy recipes, exercises, and personal development information

-Maxwell Law

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sobering Vacations

What do you do on a vacation? Many people’s answers are relax by the pool, take a walk down a beach, or eat at luxurious restaurants. But what do these have in common; did you have a drink in your hand?

People who are sober or recovering from alcohol or drug abuse now have excellent and well thought out vacation options, sobriety included.

Websites such as SVI (Sober Vacations International) have been in the “sober vacation” business for 25 years!  Every year they book people who initially were afraid to travel because of their sobriety, thinking a vacation might cause a relapse, to travel with others recovering from addictions.

"It felt a little bizarre initially, since our ski trips had always involved drinking at lunchtime as soon as we came off the slopes," said Sue. "But we were surrounded by other people in recovery, so there was no temptation to drink." says Sue in a CNN interview.

These “sober vacations” offer all the luxuries of normal vacations in exciting destinations except without the use of alcohol or drugs. The vacations can range from weekend trips, cruises, and longer week vacations. Many include speakers and guests who can help you along your path to sobriety.

I think sober traveling is an excellent option for singles, couples, and even families who have dealt with alcoholism and drug abuse. Not unlike AA meetings, you can meet and speak with people who have gone through the same struggles and share your experiences and sobriety.

What do you think of “sober vacations”? Would you ever go on one?

Please come back soon, we will have exciting posts weekly!

-Maxwell Law