Buying your First Home

IF YOU have a steady income, and you already own a car, then buying a house is the next important milestone. To some people buying a house may signify financial success, it also allows you to exercise your independence as an individual, or as the head of a family.

However, to some people, it may seem like a complicated process. If you are new at buying a property, here are some ideas how to make a good decision.

STEPS

1. Save for the down payment. Buying a house implies making one of the biggest financial investments of your life.

Apart from having a stable job in hand and a good credit history, you need to have saved up enough money to pay the down payment for the house.

It is also advisable to start reading about how exactly mortgages work. To choose the most suitable loan, you must first know the structure, laws, terms and conditions, associated with each of the available options.

10 Reasons Why You Should Consult a Dietitian

A DIETITIAN is an individual who has completed a four-year degree programme and a minimum 800- to 900-hour attachment with a local hospital during training. He/she would have studied food nutrition, biochemistry and other related subjects.

In short, a qualified dietitian is a health professional, and food and nutrition expert.

Dietitian is a professional trained in translating the science of food, nutrition and medical nutrition therapy.

They are responsible and accountable for patient care, and are equipped with the knowledge and skills to conduct nutritional assessment, diagnosis and prescribe medical nutrition therapy, provide dietary consultation for the treatment of diseases in both acute and chronic care.

Most dietitians work in hospitals but they also work in universities, governmental agencies, health departments, health clinics, pharmaceutical companies, food companies, schools, weight management clinics, media and in private practice.

Depending on where they work, they are involved in the formulation of policies, protocols, clinical practice guidelines, planning and implementation of programmes to support healthcare needs of the population.

Libraries : A Rich Source of Knowledge

By Anushia Kandasivam ; NST

LIBRARIES have existed almost as long as civilisation. The first libraries in the world were archives, consisting of published public records - commercial transactions and inventories. Societies soon started keeping standardised practice texts for scribes, copies of religious teachings, records of discoveries in science, lists of words, and bilingual vocabularies.

A modern library contains books of history, literature, science, philosophy and everything in between, including fiction. A good one will contain public records, sound and video archives, and electronic documents. A great one will run reading and learning programmes for the public, helping to guide its members on their quest for knowledge.

Dentine Hypersensitivity : When Food is a Pain

MALAYSIANS love socialising over food. When we have guests over, they'll usually be offered a ubiquitous platter of delicacies and served drinks.

While our stomachs have adapted to the endless varieties of food available, can we say the same about our teeth? The extreme sweet and savoury sensations that we so favour can do damage to our oral and overall health, especially if not enjoyed in moderation.

Treats like cendol, ais kacang, air bandung, kuih and other delicacies are high in sugar and can contribute to cavities and deterioration of the enamel, the hard mineral layer on the teeth.

Food contributes to the loss of whiteness in teeth. Basically, any food that can stain a white T-shirt will stain your teeth. Coffee, tea, balsamic vinegar, soya sauce and smoking will stain teeth.

Inevitably, as the mineral structure of your teeth changes over time, the enamel becomes less porous. The deterioration of the enamel also means we're more susceptible to stains or yellowing of the teeth. Yes, not a great confidence booster!

The Torment of Sleepless Nights

By Audrey Vijaindren

IT'S been a long and tiring day. There's only enough energy for a shower before plunking yourself on the bed. But what happens when sleep is the last thing that comes to you? AUDREY VIJAINDREN learns that an unhealthy lifestyle may be the reason sleep disorders are creeping into Malaysian bedrooms.

Reading and hot showers may help some people wind down before getting that much-needed sleep.

But for many others, it's impossible to get some shuteye, no matter how much hot milk they drink. For these night owls, sleep is a luxury they rarely enjoy.

"Sleep disorders are so common these days, it's a big problem in many houses. Our lifestyle is mainly to blame," says Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia Sleep Laboratory coordinator, Dr Baharudin Abdullah.

"More and more Malaysians are bogged down with work and family problems. It's impossible to have restful sleep.

"Depression is another reason this ailment is on the rise. People may think sleep problems are not as bad as other sicknesses, but that's not the case."

He says an average working adult must have eight hours of sleep but many people are only getting half of that. And children are also sleeping less because of electronic gadgets and gizmos in their bedroom.

Speech Therapy for Autistic Kids


by Suzanna Pillay

WHEN a child does not talk at that normal age and seems to be in his or her own zone, speech therapy may hold the key to communication. 

EIGHT-year-old Keane, like any ordinary boy, loves potato chips but he isn't able to tell you that. Instead he lets you know this by pointing to the chips.

Keane is autistic and, like most autistic children, uses hand gestures to communicate wants and needs, as opposed to vocalising them.

After undergoing speech therapy for several years, he has made significant improvements and can now put his request in simple words, as opposed to just gesturing, says his mother Gene Ng, 36.

"Keane doesn't socialise much and is an introvert. He only communicates if he wants something and only answers if you ask questions. He used to gesture when he wanted something but now he can make a request in words. For example, if he wants to eat a potato chip, he will say "I want eat".

Keane has three other siblings. His younger brother, Ethan, 3, (Ng's third child) is also autistic.

However, despite having speech difficulties like Keane, Ethan has a milder form of autism and is more outgoing. He also interacts well with his other siblings, says Ng.

He has also benefited from speech therapy which has helped him to identify and label things (associate words with things) as opposed to using only hand gestures to communicate.

"Sometimes, when they are throwing what you think is a tantrum, they are actually trying to communicate with you. Speech therapy teaches them to speak up and also makes it easier to communicate with them," she says.

Similarly, Peggy Chai's autistic daughter has also benefited from speech therapy.

"When she turned 4 last year, she had yet to learn to talk. But within a year (of seeing the therapist), we could see a difference," says Chai.

It took half a year to get results, with a lot of extra effort from her and her husband to work on exercises with their child.

A Tale of Two Hybrids

By Grace Chen

WHAT makes the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid a favourite examination in contrast?

For one, both come with the promise of a cleaner drive, though one would carry a weightier AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) status while the other is comfortable enough with a ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) rating.

Then, there is the fuel consumption rate, a head locking factor which sees a very close fight between the two hybrids with the Prius at 38km per litre and the Civic Hybrid, which is not too far behind at 31km per litre. Fuel consumption for both cars here are rated using the 10-15 test cycle in Japan.

To be fair, it was the Prius which made its debut first in 1997, five years before Honda would introduce the Civic Hybrid, which would incidentally become the second commercially produced petrol-electric car in the market.

In terms of performance, the Prius 16-valve 1.8-litre 2ZR-FXE engine has a superior power output of 98hp.

In comparison, the Civic Hybrid's 8-valve 1.3 SOHC logs in at 94hp but with the help of the electric motor output, it is given an additional boost of 20hp, giving it a total horsepower of 114hp.