Old Blog 21671


Active children

According to Dr Paola Wood, senior lecturer at the Department of Biokinetics, Sport and Leisure Studies within the University of Pretoria’s Institute for Sports Research, running and walking are excellent aerobic exercises that promote weight loss, improve sleep, elevate mood, boost energy levels, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.


Also according to Bettie Rall, counselling Psychologist who spoke at our recent info morning too much time spent on computers, iPads and watching television can cause addiction in children as these activities give instant rewards without much input from children!

We at Pokkelmander thinks that this is enough reason to get our kids active from an early age!

Because of this, we will be implementing FUN mini-aerobics classes for children next year.  Pre School Children’s classes will be during school hours and primary school children will have an opportunity in the afternoon!

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

According to the World Health Organization,  FAS is the most common birth defect in South Africa. Around 2 million South Africans are affected by it

Alcohol is a tissue toxin and interferes with cellular growth and metabolism.  Growth retardation affects height, weight, brain (microcephaly).  The effect of the alcohol is that brain cells do not form properly and alcohol kills the cells.  Not enough healthy cells are formed to produce a well formed person.Children with FAS typically have small heads, Epicanthal folds (skin fold of the upper eyelid, covering the inner corner of the eye), a flat midface, a smooth philtrum (fold in the middle of upper lip), an underdeveloped jaw and a low nasal bridge (see picture).Children with FAS have abnormal growth in their hearts, kidneys and skeletons, which impairs movement.
Central Nervous System Dysfunction includes fine and gross motor dysfunction, poor hand-eye coordination, delayed developmental milestones, an average IQ of 63 (mild mental retardation), learning difficulties, especially with maths, deficits in receptive and expressive language, short concentration span and hyperactivity.In childhood, these children are easily influenced by others, they have temper tantrums, inappropriate social behaviour, they lie and steal often.  In education, they need constant re-teaching of concepts.This is, unfortunately, an irreversible condition. so a lot of patience is needed to work with these children!

In Adolescence, these children have low self-esteem, poor motivation, poor reasoning and abstract thought. Substance abuse and gangsterism also happen often.

Adults with FAS are more likely to have problems of alcoholism or drug abuse or to have problems with the criminal justice system.

When a mother is drinking while pregnant, the alcohol interferes with cellular growth and metabolism.  During drinking, the alcohol reaches the fetus within 20 minutes!  During the first trimester of pregnancy, alcohol changes the way in which cells grow and arrange themselves.  Brain scans of children with FAS shows that these children’s brains are much smaller and missing vital parts in comparison with normal brains.

Treatment includes Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Psychological Intervention, specifically behaviour modification.

As children with FAS mature into adolescence and adulthood their facial deformities become less noticeable, but the short stature and microcephaly remain.  Educational achievement is extremely limited.  There are problems with numeracy and extreme difficulties with abstract concepts like time and space, cause and effect, as well as generalising from one situation to another.  Lack of comprehension, jucgement and attention skills cause adults born with FAS to experience major psycholsocial and adjustment problems for the rest of their lives.



Our bodies are struggling to survive without enough (good!) fats.

Fats are an important source of energy, provides a protective cushion for our bones and organs and keeps skin, hair and brains healthy.  It also helps our bodies to absorb vitamins like A, D, E and K and protects it from heart disease.Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are recommended for good health.  The first, in Canola and Olive oil have been found to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL), therefore reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.Polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3s, lower LDL as well as reduce the risk of inflammation, heart disease and many other diseases.  Omega-3s are also necessary for brain health.  They act as insulator in and between brain cells to help messages in the nerve cells to follow the right and quickest path and therefore help us to think more clearly.Remember that your body prefers good fats to bad fats and therefore it is always a good idea to drink some Omega 3 before indulging in a fatty meal!Remember to regularly include fatty fish in your diet and to take your Omega-3 supplement and…GIVE IT TO YOUR KIDS!!


Lead poisoning in children

According to Professor Angela Mathee from the Medical Research Company, lead in paint can cause behaviour problems, hyperactivity, concentration problems, aggression and violent behaviour in children.Professor Nicky Padayachee from the health department also said lead could lead to lower IQ, learning problems and poor school performance.Lead testing kits can be bought in your local hardware store.This is according to the Childmag.  Read the full article here:http://www.childmag.co.za/content/get-lead-outLead is a neurotoxin to which the developing brain is very sensitive and it can also cause autism or autistic symptoms.  It is known to negatively affect brain systems implicated in cognitive communication and social functioning.


Active Kids

A programme I watched last week made me think again about the fact that children sit still too much!  If children don’t take part in structured exercise, they will not understand how it feels to do exercise as adults and they will not like it.  This will cause them to have a poor self image.Also, if you can control your body, you will be able to manage trauma better.We must take indoor games outside and children must be facilitated by a qualified person who will keep the environment safe for our kiddies!Through group play, they learn to trust each other, they will grow into balanced individuals and this behaviour gets conveyed into adulthood.And remember my favourite piece of advice:Their brains cannot reach maturity without movement!

Seeing is believing


According to Optometrist Warren Wagner, there is a link between Developmental & Learning Problems and Visual Problems, so it is important to have your child’s eyes tested to rule out any visual problems before testing him or her for other problems.

For example, a child whose eyes cannot focus properly on a page, will show signs of ADHD, because he or she will not want to sit and read or work!

Visual problems requires visual therapy before remedial education is being applied.  According to Dr Wagner’s website, ‘society places a premium on efficient vision. Schools and most occupations require increasing amounts of printed and computer information to be handled accurately and in shorter periods of time. Vision is also a major factor in sports, crafts, and other pastimes. The efficiency of our visual system influences how we collect and process information. Repetitive demands on the visual system tend to create problems in susceptible individuals. Inefficient vision may cause an individual to slow down, be less accurate, experience excessive fatigue, or make errors. When these types of signs and symptoms appear, the individual’s conscious attention to the visual process is required. This, in turn, may interfere with speed, accuracy, and comprehension of visual tasks. Many of these visual dysfunctions are effectively treated with vision therapy.’

According to Visionhelp.com,

Convergence insufficiency, or CI, is a condition in which the patient has difficulty using both eyes together as a team in a near space, as occurs during reading or writing.

It might seem obvious that if a person has difficulty sustaining the use of both eyes together as a team for a period of time when reading, that reading would be stressful. In fact, the way many patients with this condition (CI) handle their difficulty is to frequently re-focus to a distance, look away, take breaks, or avoid the nearpoint task altogether.

Read more at: http://www.visionhelp.com/vh_add_05.html#ixzz2mCH2G0p3

So it seems very important to have your child’s eyes tested by an optometrist to rule out visual problems first!


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