Spielberg’s Dyslexia, Over Drinking Water, and E-Cigarettes (Oh My!)

Spielberg, kids drinking water, young woman smoking e-cigarette

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Quinn Bradlee has a disability as does one of his more interesting interview subjects, Stephen Spielberg. But neither Bradlee or Spielberg are going to keep those difficulties from letting them live, grow, and create. Bradlee, the son of former executive editor of the Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, and bestselling author Sally Quinn, has devoted the past several years toward helping others with learning difficulties.

To that end, Quinn has written two books, one of them co-authored with his father. He also made a film for the families of those with learning differences in conjunction with HBO.  Then, of course, there’s his happening Huffpo blog on the subject of disabilities.

These are big achievements for a guy with disabilities and differences, but then getting a chance to interview the famous filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, is nothing to sneeze at, either. Steven Spielberg was diagnosed with dyslexia, a reading difficulty, in 2007. Thanks to Bradlee’s interview, we learn from Spielberg what it meant for him to be different: to be bullied, shamed in the classroom and misunderstood. 

Spielberg tells Bradlee, and us, how he found a group of friends who, like him, were all just a bit different than everyone else. His isolation as a youth had Spielberg turning to film making for consolation. (Perhaps, if you ask Spielberg, there’s something to having a learning difference after all!)

Spielberg on Dyslexia

Poly WHAT?

With disabilities and differences like those of Bradlee and Spielberg, we have a direction. There’s the possibility of  getting evaluated and getting help. But as parents, we always worry about whether our children are drinking enough fluids, especially when the weather is hot. How can we know if they’re getting enough of the stuff?

But actually, there is such a thing as being too well-hydrated. Drinking too much fluid can result in a reduction of the salt concentration in the bloodstream. The result can be swelling of the brain, also known as polydipsia. The condition, shutterstock_95715592which occurs in some people with schizophrenia and in marathon runners, has the potential to be fatal.

Happily, a collaborative study by the University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health says we may not have to worry about our children over drinking. It seems our brains know when we’ve had enough water to drink.

In this imaging study, researchers studied the brain as the participants drank. First they drank while thirsty, but then the researchers had the participants continue to drink after their thirst had been quenched. Researchers found that two different parts of the brain’s emotional decision-making region were activated depending upon whether or not an individual experienced the sensation of thirst.

The researchers discovered what they described as a “stop mechanism,” a brain signal that tells a person to stop drinking when s/he is no longer thirsty. The researchers believe this signal represents a survival mechanism or human instinct that serves to prevent dangerous over drinking that could be life-threatening.

The upshot? When you urge your teenager to drink and s/he says, “Oh MOM. I’m NOT thirsty,” you can believe her.


E-Cigarettes Vs. Real Cigarettes

Good your kid won’t drink too much water. But have you heard about or perhaps even seen friends using e-cigarettes? What’s your take on them as a parent? Would you be willing to see your child use an e-cigarette instead of actually smoking real cigarettes? Is your kid, perhaps, already a smoker and you’re looking for a way to wean him (or her) to something milder?

Well, according to most studies, there’s no proof that e-cigarettes will help someone quit smoking, so you may want to rethink that idea. And while e-cigarettes may eliminate secondhand smoke and tar, they’re still plenty dangerous. For one thing, the vapors in e-cigarettes, like those of cigarette smoke, also have a secondhand effect and can escape into the air where others can inhale the fumes.

Second of all, nicotine is a poison and if you use enough of it, a person can become shutterstock_148351595really sick. And in fact, thousands of cases of tobacco ingestion are reported to poison control centers, with the majority of cases involving babies under the age of one year. (A child is naturally more susceptible to nicotine poisoning.)

E-cigarettes are especially tempting to kids, marketed as they are in child-tempting flavors such as chocolate, caramel, strawberry, bubble gum, cotton candy, and gummy bear. The good news is that the FDA finally got involved, cracking down on sales of e-cigarettes to teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics (APA), on the other hand, says the crackdown doesn’t go nearly far enough. Not to mention that the APA also says that teens who use e-cigarettes are exposed to carcinogens. 

Need Relief?

Now that we’ve freaked you out about all these dangers, you’re probably needing some relief. So we offer a bit of fun to take you way back to your childhood and remind you what it was like to be immersed in the make-believe world of play. (So much better than over drinking and carcinogenic e-cigarettes!)

Kid Snippets videos are film clips scripted by children. In this episode, the producers asked a couple of kids to pretend they were a salesperson and a customer. The results are this debut episode of Kid Snippets, as produced by Bored Shorts TV and seamlessly acted by John Roberts and Brett Roberts. Enjoy!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published March 27, 2014, and has been completely revised and updated for accuracy and scope.


Author: Varda Epstein

Varda Meyers Epstein is a mother of 12, communications writer, and education blogger at the Kars4Kids blog.

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