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Parents’ Choice Spring 2019 Toy Awards!

Parents' Choice Spring 2019 Toy Awards!

By Parents' Choice

Without further ado, we present the Spring 2019 Parents’ Choice Toy Awards! Click here for the full list of winners.

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Just Launched! Parents’ Choice Foundation 2.0

Just Launched!
Parents’ Choice Foundation 2.0

Today’s announcement is a BIG one!

By Parents' Choice

We’ve had a little “work” done. C’mon, take a look HERE.
 
Our new site hosts Parents’ Choice Award® winners from 2018 forward.
 
The other 37,000 records will be housed in an archive HERE.
 
Our new website debuts with Parents’ Choice Award winners in our newest category: Subscription Boxes and returning champions in Audio.
 
You can see all Parents’ Choice Award winners from 2018 and 2019 (to date) here.
 
As always, please follow our social media channels (below). We’ll be adding to their play value in the weeks and months to come.
 
Questions or comments about the website? Email Krista Kane
 
Questions about the Parents’ Choice Awards program? Email Keri Zeiler.

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Girls Have Autism, Too

Girls Have Autism, Too.

This post comes from Roberta Scherf, parent of a young adult with autism, and the creator of MeMoves.

By Roberta Scherf

I’ve read a number of articles about Sesame Street’s groundbreaking introduction of Julia, a Muppet with autism.  As the mother of an incredible young woman on the autism spectrum, I think what’s most groundbreaking is that Sesame Street’s new character is a girl.

Current statistics show that of the 1 in 68 children in the US challenged by autism, boys are diagnosed five times more often than girls. 

It’s not that girls don’t have autism, they do. It’s that, for a variety of reasons, girls are often misdiagnosed.

The criteria for diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (a developmental condition marked by social and communication difficulties, repetitive/ inflexible patterns of behavior, and restricted interests/ intense fixations) are based on data derived almost entirely from studies of boys.

It can be difficult to identify girls on the spectrum. On a measure of friendship quality and empathy, research shows that girls with autism scored as high as typically developing boys of the same age – but lower than typically developing girls (Head, McGillivray, & Stokes, 2014).

Girls on the spectrum can show a much higher interest in socialization than boys, which can make them more adept socially, but also makes social exclusion (which becomes inevitable during adolescence) especially painful.

Social life does not come naturally. Girls may painstakingly study people to imitate them, developing a greater ability to hide their symptoms – yet another reason girls with autism may be hiding in plain sight.

In addition, the criteria for an autism diagnosis in girls is often masked by overlapping diagnoses. Autism and ADHD frequently occur together – and because people diagnosed with ADHD tend to have higher levels of autism traits then typical people do – girls who seem easily distracted or hyperactive may get the ADHD label, even when autism is more appropriate.

A misdiagnosis for girls on the spectrum can be particularly difficult, especially as they enter adolescence.  Meeting the “mean girls” of junior and senior high school (and trying to decipher this new behavioral code) can be incredibly painful. Moreover, puberty involves unpredictable changes (horrifying to those with autism) that include breast development, mood swings, and menstruation.

The world is more dangerous for girls with autism as they develop sexually.  Their tendency to take things literally, their social isolation, and their deep desire to connect and to belong, can make girls and women easy prey for sexual exploitation.

People with autism who do not seem interested in social life may not obsess about what they are missing – but those who want to connect socially and cannot are tormented by loneliness.  In this way, autism may be much more painful for girls – and for women.  71% of adult women with Asperger’s reported suicidal thoughts; more than 10 times higher than the general population (Cassidy, et al., 2014).

 “As the parent of a child with autism, I wished that [Julia] had come out years before, when my own child was at the Sesame Street age,” 

-Stacy Gordon, the puppeteer who plays Julia

Me too.

 About the Author: Roberta Scherf is the parent of a young adult with autism, and the creator of MeMoves. See Roberta’s work at: www.thinkingmoves.com

HEAD, AM, MCGILLIVRAY, JA, & STOKES, MA.  GENDER DIFFERENCES IN EMOTIONALITY AND SOCIABILITY IN CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS.  MOLECULAR AUTISM.  2014; 5; 19.

CASSIDY S, BRADLEY P, ROBINSON  J, ALLISON C, MCHUGH M, BARON-COHEN S. SUICIDAL IDEATION AND SUICIDE PLANS OR ATTEMPTS IN ADULTS WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME ATTENDING A SPECIALIST DIAGNOSTIC CLINIC: A CLINICAL COHORT STUDY, THE LANCET, VOLUME 1, NO. 2P142–147, JULY 2014    

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Charity Begins at Home

Charity Begins at Home

We asked financial literacy expert Susan Beacham, founder and CEO of Money Savvy Generation, to share her thoughts on teaching children the concept of charity and why helping others and the experience of feeling generous, means charity really does begin at home.  Click here to read Susan’s thoughts on why Charity Begins at Home.

By Susan Beacham

Most people think the phrase “charity begins at home” means taking care of you and your family first.  It does. And taking care of your family includes teaching your children the concept of charity – helping others and the experience of feeling generous – should be taught at home. When forming your lesson plan, consider these three thoughtful points:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” 

―Winston Churchill

“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” 

―Theodore Roosevelt

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

―Maya Angelou

Teaching our children how to be charitable, by giving to others in time, talent or money, is a wonderful and long-lasting gift both for the receiver and the giver.  To make the charitable experience more memorable, and thus more likely to happen again, turn the abstract concept of charity into a concrete experience.  Find a cause or organization where kids can have hands-on experience. 

Among the things we teach at Money Savvy Generation is to put the “do” in donate. Do what you can, not what you can’t. Charitable donations aren’t only for the mega rich.  Give a pair of socks, a package of crayons, or pet food to a local animal shelter. Shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk, bring the newspaper closer to their front door, or mow their lawn

Put screen time to good use. While wrapping presents, enlist your children to find a cause that resonates. Begin your search by reading the ConsumerReports article on charities. And before you finalize your giving, visit a charity watchdog  like BBB Wise Giving Alliance,Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to help you and your family research the organization’s financial soundness. 

Here are three organizations that help others near and far, and in different ways. DonorsChooseKivaUnicefMarketplace  

Happy Giving!

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Parents’ Choice Foundation/Michael Cohen Group Survey

Parents' Choice Foundation & MCG Survey Shows Similarities in How Parents Select and Choose Toys

Findings from a recent Parents’ Choice Foundation/Michael Cohen Group survey highlight the similarities in parental and caregiver concerns about their children – and their recognition of the positive role of toys and play in their children’s’ development and learning.

By Parents' Choice

Timonium, MD — February 12, 2019 – Parents’ Choice Foundation and the Michael Cohen Group (MCG) have released the findings from an online quantitative survey of 332 primary caregivers (parents, grandparents and teachers) of children (ages 1-10) conducted in December 2018. Focused on toys and learning, the survey findings reveal a striking consensus regarding parental concerns about their children, the role of toys, and toy purchasing behaviors. Key findings include the following.

Shared beliefs, concerns, and purchase behaviors across all demographic variables


A major finding is that the vast majority of parents – regardless of age, locale, or household income – share similar concerns about their children, have similar expectations and goals for the toys they buy, and report similar shopping and purchase behaviors.

Shared emphasis on safety, fun, and learning

The top three criteria that parents and caregivers use when selecting toys for their children are “toys that are safe” (90%), “toys that are fun” (80%), and toys that “help children learn” (72%).

Widespread belief that toys contribute to learning 
The vast majority of parents (over 80%) believe that toys facilitate their child’s learning of important skills and knowledge. Seventy percent (70%) classify the toys that they purchased during the past year as “educational” or “learning” toys. Overall, parents report the highest interest in toys that facilitate the acquisition of problem-solving skills (72%) and engender positive social-emotional development (69%).

A growing concern about children’s social and emotional development
Two-thirds of parents (65%) report that the development of “social and emotional skills” represents their greatest concern regarding their children’s learning and development, followed by “problem-solving skills (51%), “school-related language and early reading” (35%), and “school-related STEM” (30%). These findings support other recent MCG research findings highlighting parent and educator concerns regarding young children’s social skills and social-emotional development.

Widespread interest in third-party labeling
The majority of parents (71%) report that they would welcome a “third-party labeling system that displays the learning value of toys.” Two-thirds of parents (63%) report a preference for third-party labeling displayed directly on the packaging. This finding supports the recent activities and efforts of Parents’ Choice Foundation to meet this need.

“For the past five years, we’ve been developing and refining the PlayAbility Scale ™, a scientifically based measurement tool – akin to nutrition labeling – for toys and games. We’re delighted that the survey data confirm parents’ interest in using the PlayAbility Scale to help with toy and game purchasing decisions.”

Claire Green, Parents’ Choice Foundation president

“These findings highlight several important trends. The first is that parents – no matter where they live or where they fall on the income scale – are more like each other than not — they share similar concerns. The second is parents’ universal appreciation of the role of toys in their children’s development and learning. The third provides confirmation for the increasing concern about young children’s social-emotional development. The fourth is parents’ desire for third-party assessment and package labeling of toys’ play and learning value.”

Michael Cohen, PhD, President, MCG

Note on the sample for the survey: The survey was conducted with 332 U.S. primary caregivers (including parents and grandparents), representing toy purchasers for 453 children. The sample, which was recruited from Parents’ Choice Foundation’s subscribers and followers represented the full range of socioeconomic status; locale (urban, suburban and rural); children’s ages from 0 to 10; familial configurations (single-parent and dual-parent households); number of children per household (1-5); and preschool and non-preschool attendance.

About Parents’ Choice Foundation
Established in 1978 as a 501c3, Parents’ Choice Foundation is the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality children’s media and toys. Best known for the Parents’ Choice Awards® program, the Parents’ Choice Award® Seals are the Foundation’s internationally recognized and respected icons of quality. The PlayAbility Scale ™ is a scientifically based tool that measures the skill building properties of toys and games.

About the Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG) 
The Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG) is an applied research, evaluation and consulting firm headquartered in NYC. MCG has conducted research in over fifty countries with children, parents, and educators on a range of topics, including: toys & play; education & learning; media: entertainment; and health & safety. MCG clients include The U.S. Department of Education; YouTube; LEGO; The New York State Department of Education; Nickelodeon; and Hasbro.

For additional information please contact:

Claire Green
President, Parents’ Choice Foundation
www.parents-choice.org
claire@parents-choice.org
+1 410-308-3858

Michael Cohen, PhD
President, Michael Cohen Group LLC
www.mcgrc.com
mcohen@mcgrc.com
+1 212-431-2252

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