Myths and misconceptions about autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is a class of neurological conditions present from early childhood and is often identified through difficulty communicating, using language and understanding abstract concepts. The organization Autism Speaks says that an estimated one out of 42 boys and one in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States. Autism is now diagnosed in roughly one out of every 68 children in Canada, and has become the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in that country.

ASD is estimated to affect tens of millions of people worldwide. But even though ASD is widely recognized, studied and discussed, myths and misconceptions about the disorder continue to circulate. Shedding light on how ASD can help caregivers, peers and anyone who routinely interacts with individuals who fall on the spectrum.

ASD is not a single disorder

Although autism and ASD are often used interchangeably, these names do not define one specific disorder. ASD is now an umbrella term that includes autism, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett syndrome, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, 5th edition (DSM-5) revised in 2013. ASD is often perceived through communication deficits that can include misinterpreted or nonverbal interactions. Individuals also may have challenges in bonding/friendship development.

People with ASD can understand and express emotion

Although communication troubles may be present, those with ASD can and do feel emotions. But they may not be able to express these emotions the same way as others do. Also, just because someone has ASD doesn’t mean he or she is unable to understand the emotions of others. Rather, the person may need firm and direct indications of how another person is feeling to understand. Reading body language or tone of voice alone may be inadequate to someone with ASD. School-aged children can learn from this, recognizing that someone with ASD may want to have friends and socialize, but he or she may not know how to facilitate these engagements.

ASD does not produce carbon-copy symptoms

Characteristics of ASD can vary widely from person to person. One person’s limitations may not be present in another.

ASD is not just a children’s disease

There is no cure for ASD, and symptoms may not be reversible, which means that autism is a lifelong condition. Children who are diagnosed will grow into young people and adults with autism. Many treatments and therapies are geared toward early intervention, but adults can benefit from continued work as well. Adults with ASD can be successful and live independent lives.

Autism spectrum disorder is more prevalent than ever. However, despite the recognition of ASD, many people do not understand the nuances involved with a diagnosis.

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Host a successful yard sale

Instead of giving away unwanted items that have gathered dust around the house, many people turn to garage and yard sales to transform their clutter into some extra money. Yard sales may not be a “get rich quick” scheme, but they present an environmentally friendly way to clean up a home. What’s more, they can be an ideal way to connect with neighbors and meet new people. Any money earned is an added bonus.

Statistics collecting resource Statistics Brain says that roughly 165,000 yard/garage sales take place in the United States each week. Nearly 700,000 people purchase something at those sales, leading to millions of dollars exchanging hands.

Yard sales may seem straightforward, but there are a few strategies to ensure such sales go boom rather than bust.

Choose the right date and time

Plan when to hold the sale by looking at the calendar and choosing an open weekend. Many people host their yard sales on Friday, Saturday or Sunday mornings, theorizing that this is when the most people will be free to browse their wares.

Begin early in the morning so that shoppers will not need to disrupt their schedules much to visit neighborhood sales. A 7 a.m. start time will attract the early birds and free up most of the day.

Advertise the sale

To reach the maximum number of shoppers, advertise your sale in various ways. Signage around the neighborhood announcing the sale is one method. Signs should be bold, simple and easily readable for passing motorists.

Place ads in local newspapers, online and on grocery store bulletin boards, and use social media to spread the word of the sale even further. Be sure to give ample notice of the sale so that shoppers can mark their calendars.

Make for easy browsing

Arrange goods for sale into categories and pay attention to presentation. You may generate more sales if items are easy to see and browsing is made easy. Put items you expect to draw the most attention popular near the end of the driveway to entice passers-by.

A neat and inviting appearance also may convey that you’ve taken care of your home and your belongings. Play some music and offer light refreshments to create a convivial atmosphere.

Price things reasonably

It’s tempting to overprice items, but a good rule of thumb is to mark things for one-half to one-third of the original value. Be open to negotiation, but try to haggle with a “buy one get one” approach, rather than marking down the price considerably. After all, the goal is to get rid of as many items as possible, with financial gain a distant second.

Yard sales are popular ways to make money and clear homes of unwanted items. Hosts can make their sales even more successful by employing a few simple strategies.

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6/9/17 Shopper E-Edition

Check out this week’s e-edition of The Horseheads Shopper here! The Horseheads Shopper 6/9/17

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Grilling foods to be safe and healthy

People rely on indoor and outdoor grills to prepare foods all year long. Not only can menu items made on the grill taste delicious, but they also may be healthier than foods cooked via other methods. When done correctly, grilling is a versatile way to cook tasty foods relatively quickly.

One of the challenges of cooking over high, open heat is the difficulty in determining just how long to keep foods over the flame. Take them off too soon and they may be undercooked. Wait too long and items may be dry and charred. Use these tips to make grilling easy and safe.

Preheat and prepare the grill

Be sure to preheat the grill to between 400 F and 500 F. Use a nonstick spray on the grates while the grill is heating. This way foods will not stick and create a mess that will ultimately require considerable cleaning.

Buy a meat thermometer

One of the easiest ways to take the guesswork out of grilling is to use a meat thermometer. By knowing internal temperatures in a few seconds, grillmasters can have juicy foods that are cooked to the correct temperature so foodborne illnesses do not become a problem. Cooking by sight is inaccurate, as the outside of the food may look well done even though the inside is still pink. Thermometers allow cooks to avoid cutting open foods to check doneness, spilling out tasty juices in the process.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises on minimal internal temperatures for meats and poultry (https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/safe-minimum-internal-temperature-chart/ct_index). Keep in mind that food continues to cook when it is taken off the grill. Therefore, removing a few minutes before it has reached a certain temperature is ideal.

Fish is fast

Don’t avoid grilling fish because of its delicacy. Using wood planks or any of the newer grilling gadgets available can keep flaky fish from falling through the grates. Plus, fish is an ideal go-to when one is really short on cooking time. If necessary, experiment with varieties of fish that are durable, such as salmon or tuna.

Leave an empty spot

Have an unheated area of the grill or one that is set to a low temperature so there is somewhere to move food if a flare-up occurs or if something is cooking too fast. This is also a good spot to finish foods that may need a little more time over indirect heat – such as burgers that require melted cheese.

Use sauce at the end

Avoid charring foods by using sugary sauces toward the end of cooking. Otherwise, the sauce can burn quickly and contribute to potentially carcinogenic char.

Grilling can be made easier with a few tricks of the trade. The results will be delicious, healthy and safe to enjoy.

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How businesses can get more out of social media

Social media has changed the world in myriad ways, and that impact is likely to grow in coming years. In its report titled “Social Media Trends to Watch in 2017,” the firm GlobalWebIndex found that nearly 60 percent of users of the popular smartphone instant messaging app WhatsApp used the app more than once per day. The same report revealed that more than 55 percent of Facebook users took to the popular social networking site more than once per day.

Such figures illustrate the role that social media plays in the average person’s life while suggesting that the influence of social media remains considerable. Business owners know that thriving in the 21st century and beyond requires the utilization of social media to connect with prospective customers and promote products. But the ever-changing nature of social media can make it difficult for business owners to stay abreast of the latest trends.

The following are a handful of ideas business owners can consider as they look to get more out of their social media presence.

· Periodically reassess your social media presence. A platform that’s popular today might be outdated tomorrow. Such is the nature of social media. Business owners should make a point of periodically reassessing their social media presence to ensure they’re still connecting with existing customers and enticing new customers. Follow social media trends and be sure to create profiles on new platforms that you feel can help your business grow. In addition, make sure each of your social media profiles reflects where your business is today.

· Determine what’s working. Just because there’s a new social media platform seemingly every day does not mean you need to create a new profile each day. If your business has a presence on various platforms, examine the performance of each platform, focusing on those that seem to be doing your business the most good.

· Keep your message fresh. Even your most devoted followers will grow tired of your message if it stays the same for months on end. Create social media campaigns that routinely engage your followers so they’re excited to see your updates and get involved with your business. In addition, present your campaigns differently on each platform to make the most of each platform’s particular capabilities.

· Express your appreciation to your followers. Social media is, by definition, social, so don’t forget to be sociable and thank your followers when they like a post or retweet a promotion. In addition, don’t hesitate to share a follower’s content if you find it valuable and insightful. Expressing your appreciation is a great way to build a loyal customer base, and such expressions of gratitude take just a few seconds.

Social media has changed the way the world operates, and businesses can utilize social media’s vast influence to build a loyal customer base.

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Salmonella is ‘no yolk’ when raising backyard chickens

City dwellers and suburbanites have flown the coop, so to speak. A growing interest in raising chickens has enabled coops and nesting birds to spring up in neighborhoods one would not typically associate with chickens.

Sometimes dubbed “urban homesteading” or “urban farming,” these homegrown operations enable people to enjoy fresh eggs from the comfort of home. Henhouses are just another extension of methods to reap the benefits of fresh, local and nonfactory-produced foods.

Although advocates insist that raising chickens on a small scale makes the birds less likely to carry disease than factory-farmed chickens, anyone raising chickens needs to be aware of the potential for disease – particularly salmonella. Also, it’s important to care for chickens in a manner that is humane and in line with local laws.

What is salmonella?

Salmonella is a common bacteria that lives in the intestinal tract of humans, other mammals and some birds, including chickens. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths are attributed to salmonella annually in the United States. The illness causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection and can last between four and seven days. Salmonella can cause death when not properly treated with antibiotics.

Spreading salmonella

Although humans cannot catch salmonella from chickens the way one would contract a cold, they can catch it through handling or consuming eggs of infected birds. The rural newsletter and farming resource Grit says salmonella can then be transmitted to humans who eat improperly cooked meat or eggs from infected birds or from putting their hands in your mouths after touching chickens or eggs that have come in contact with contaminated rodent or chicken feces.

The elderly, people with weakened immune systems and young children are at the highest risk for salmonella infection than others. Children who help gather eggs and do not thoroughly wash their hands afterward can be at increased risk.

Reducing risk

Maintaining clean conditions and routinely inspecting chickens for good health can help lower the risk of salmonella infection. Chicks and adult chickens that have salmonella may produce loose yellow or green droppings; have a drop in egg production, increased thirst and decreased feed consumption; and show signs of weight loss. Look for rodents in the henhouse, as infected mice or other small rodents may transmit salmonella as well.

Chickens also need safe, roomy clean conditions to remain healthy and content. According to the resource MyPetChicken, a diet of whole grains and seeds also may be associated with decreased salmonella colonies.

Some experts warn against washing eggs as a preventative method. According to a report written by Diane Schivera, an organic livestock specialist for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, thoroughly cleaning egg shells can remove a protective “bloom” that prevents bacteria from entering eggs. Eggs shouldn’t be scrubbed, but some suggest a warm water rinse that will push dirt away from the shell’s pores.

Old eggs are more susceptible to bacteria penetration. Storing eggs at room temperature may cause them to degrade faster. Once eggs are gathered, individuals should wash their hands and make sure the eggs are chilled.

Salmonella can be prevented in backyard chicken coops. Plus, it’s important to note that risk of infection is very small. The American Egg Board’s Egg Safety reference says an average consumer might encounter a contaminated egg once every 84 years.

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6/2/17 Shopper E-Edition

Check out this week’s e-edition of The Horseheads Shopper here! The Horseheads Shopper 6/2/17

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