• There is a new word floating around Twitter: "mong." As in, "mongoloid," a derogatory term that once referred to those with Down syndrome. Comedian Ricky Gervais is freely using it as a synonym for "misguided," "foolish" or "wrong." (Even more charmingly, he's posted photos of himself doing his impression of what he calls "monged-up poses.") Gervais has refused to apologize; his excuse is that he is not speaking to people with Down syndrome. Which is the same argument clueless/insensitive people use about the word retard. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month; in honor of it, please tweet @rickygervais and share your thoughts. Update: Gervais spoke with British blogger Nicky Clark and apologized to those hurt by his tweets, although I'm unconvinced he really understood what was so wrong—and of course, there's no explaining the photos he posted.
• October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and lots of stores are offering discounts and donating a portion of sales to raise money for b.c. research. Retail Me Not has a good listing of merchants. Oh, and I love this Swarovski Cystrallized bracelet, $58; a chunk of proceeds go to the American Breast Cancer Foundation.
• Next week is the cleverly named National Lead Poisoning Prevention week. OK, seriously, lead poisoning is a real problem; nearly a quarter of a million children living in the U.S. have blood levels high enough to cause serious damage to their health. Major sources of exposure include lead-based paint and lead-contimainted dust. If your home was built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead. On the upside, lead poisoning is preventable; check out these tips from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
• October is also Spina Bifida Awareness Month (what is it with October?!), and the Spina Bifida Association (SBA) is holding a Celebrate SB Photo Contest, created to acknowledge accomplishments of people in the community. The winner will receive a $100 American Express gift card and have their photo and story featured in the SBA's national mag.
A girl aims high at SBA Kids!Camp
• Duo Games will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for every "Like" on their Facebook page all throughout October, up to $10,000, and their also giving away prizes for every 500th "like."
• I am planning to feature moms who sell handmade stuff to pay for their children's therapies. Email me if you're interested in being included, or tell moms you know who fit the bill to get in touch.
• A few tips on trick-or-treating with kids who have autism or other sensitivity issues, from The ELIJA foundation, a nonprofit serving parents and professionals who work with kids with autism spectrum disorders (if you're in Long Island, NY, they're having a Halloween Spooktacular fundraiser at the Carltun in Eisenhower Park on October 28, from 7:00 to 11:00 pm):
Prepare kids early on to help them get comfortable with Halloween. Take them to a Halloween store and let them dress up, or create a picture story and read it together to help feel them out for what's on their mind.
* Practice dressing up and trick-or-treating around the house. Act out scenarios, like if someone asks "What are you dressed up as?"
* Do a dress rehearsal. Walk around the neighborhood and choose the homes you are going to visit; tell neighbor what to expect and approach your child. Give a wide berth to homes with too-spooky decorations or blinking lights.
Word: Try not be disappointed if your child refuses to dress up, as I learned one year. Whatever makes Halloween fun for your child is a good Halloween.