help your child learn to listen

Help Your Child Learn to Listen

If you spend a frequent amount of time with a young child, you know that one of the most common directions you find yourself saying is, “LISTEN!” Telling a child to listen seems like an easy enough request, right? When in actuality, listening is a skill that children have to develop and improve upon as they age.

When a child carries out a direction incorrectly there are many different factors that could be preventinglearn to listen his or her ability to be successful. Successful listening requires adequate attention and motivation to the current situation. If those components are not present, comprehension or retention of what is said will not be optimal. The best way to help a child be more successful is to teach them how to attend to what is being said. If your child is struggling to follow directions at home or at school, use the following four strategies to help them attend to the information that is being presented to him and her, which will ultimately help them become more skilled listeners and be more successful.

Strategies to help your child attend/listen:

  1. Look at the speaker – Make eye contact with the person who is talking.
  2. Quiet body – Keep your mouth, hands and feet quiet or still.
  3. Think about what is being said – Echo the directions in your mind or out loud. Repeating directions is a good strategy as it increases the retention of the presented information.
  4. Ask if you don’t understand – It’s important for children to develop self-advocacy skills and to feel confident when asking for clarification or extra help.

Use the visual aid to the right as a remainder for kids to use their listening strategies. This can be printed off and taped on his or her desk or hung on the refrigerator. The more the strategies are referenced, the more a child will become familiar with them and start to use them.

It is possible that there may be an underlying issue behind a child’s poor listening skills, such as language comprehension deficits, an auditory processing disorder or even an undiagnosed hearing loss. Consult with your child’s speech-language pathologist if a child continues to struggle with following directions or listening in the classroom.


New Call-to-action
NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

spring speech language activities

Spring Speech-Language Activities

Spring, the season of growth and renewal, is an excellent time to foster your child’s speech and language development using these fun, season-themed activities.

The activities listed below can be completed with children of all ages. Each activity targets some or all of the following language skills: Sequencing a multi-step process, following verbal and/or written directions, describing sights, smells, and textures, and understanding and using novel vocabulary.

Spring Speech-Language Activities:

  1. Plant A Seed Without Dirt: As the weather gets warmer, all sorts of plants are starting to growspring speech and language activities again. Let your child experience this process firsthand – without the mess – by planting a bean in a plastic baggie and watching it grow. This interesting project will help your child develop direction-following and sequencing skills, expand and encourage use of new vocabulary, and provide opportunities to describe their experience.
  • Materials: Beans, zip lock bag, paper towel, water
  • Directions: Dampen a paper towel, fold it, and place it in the zip lock bag. Place a dry bean on top of the damp paper towel and seal the bag. Tape each bag to a window or wall which gets sunlight. The seed should begin to germinate in three to five days.
  1. No-Bake Dirt Pie: Have fun fostering language skills such as vocabulary, sequencing, literacy, and describing by making some delicious Dirt Pie. Following a recipe (see http://familiestogetherinc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/picrecipes.pdf for a free, printable visual recipe) and talking your way through the process will expose your child to a language-rich experience that will yield a tasty treat:
  • Ingredients: Instant chocolate pudding, milk, oreos, gummy worms
  • Directions: Mix instant pudding with milk, put it in a bowl or cup, cover pudding in Oreo crumbs, put gummy worms on top, eat and enjoy!
  1. Outdoor Scavenger Hunt: Expand your child’s receptive vocabulary, encourage literacy, and expose them to new describing words (adjectives) by sending them on an outdoor scavenger hunt!
  • Materials: Pen, check-list of items, a safe place to walk around outdoors
  • Directions: Write a list of items to find that includes describing words (e.g., something rough, something smooth, something fuzzy, etc). Give your child the check-list of items and head to the park or your own back yard to find them!
  1. Read Spring Poetry: The beauty of spring has inspired many poets. Have your child close his or her eyes, listen to a spring-themed poem, and visualize what the words describe. Together, draw pictures of what each of you imagined while listening to the poem.
  • Materials: Poem(s), paper, markers
  • Directions: Go to the web site http://www.apples4theteacher.com/ and print out a spring-themed poem for free. Enjoy reading with or to your child. Draw pictures of what you visualized while reading the poem!
  1. Scented Painting: With the changing of the seasons, flowers bloom and the scents of spring surround us. Make art inspired by this colorful and sweet-smelling change. Foster creativity and description skills by painting with different flavors of Cool Aid.
  • Materials: 3-5 flavors of Cool Aid, paper, paintbrush
  • Directions: Mix Cool Aid with water, paint with the different flavors, talk about what your child sees and smells during the process.
  1. Grass Heads: Your child will have a blast designing his or her own silly face, using a variety of materials, then watching green hair grow out of its head! Use this activity to practice following directions and describing sights, smells, and textures.
  • Materials: Old pair of nylon legs, grass seed, soil, small plastic containers (e.g., jar), elastic bands, googly eyes/permanent marker, pipe cleaners, spray bottle
  • Directions: Cut nylon at the knee then scoop in 1 TBSP grass seed. Scoop soil in on top of seeds and tie the opening of the nylon tight. Snip excess nylon, but leave about 3 inches dangling. Draw or sew on googlie eyes and decorate head with pipe cleaners. Place grass head on top of small container with the bottom 3 inches of nylon dangling into the container. Pour ½ inch of water in container every couple of days. Spray water gently over grass seeds twice daily. Watch the grass grow and have your child create new grass head hair styles!
  1. Kool Aid Play Dough: Have fun improving your child’s ability to sequence an activity and follow directions by making some spring-colored play dough:
  1. Color Changing Carnation: Bring the bright colors of spring inside by watching a white carnation change color when food coloring is added to its water. Foster your child’s expressive language by encouraging your child to describe what they see before and after the carnation’s color changes.
  • Materials: Food coloring, carnation, water, cup
  • Directions: Pour water into the cup, add a few drops of food coloring, then place the white carnation in the water and watch it change color over the course of the day!
  1. Homemade Birdfeeder: As the weather warms, birds begin to nest. Get your child excited about seeing his or her feathered friends by making a birdfeeder. Once the birdfeeder has been hung outside, watch as birds start stopping by for tasty treats – creating plenty of opportunities to describe the appearance and actions of your new feathered friends!
  • Materials: Peanut butter, pinecone, string, birdseed
  • Directions: Cover the pinecone with peanut butter, then roll the pinecone in birdseed. Tie a string to the birdfeeder and then hang it outside near a window. Watch and wait as birds stop by for a tasty treat. Observe the birds with your child and take turns talking about what each of you see.
  1. Star Art: Choose a spring constellation and read the myth behind it. Then, recreate the constellation using marshmallows and toothpicks. When night falls, look up and match your child’s marshmallow and toothpick creation with the actual pattern of stars in the sky. Throughout the process, have fun practicing comprehension and description skills by talking about the myth and sharing what each of you see.
  • Materials: Marshmallows, toothpicks, sky map (print for free at http://www.kidsastronomy.com/), constellation stories
  • Directions: Read the story behind a constellation (e.g., Orion). Use the marshmallows as stars and toothpicks as connecting lines in the same pattern as your chosen constellation.

Click here to read about 5 quick and easy speech and language activities.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

 

Squeeze! You’re Under Arrest: Potential Pitfalls of Squeezable Food Pouches

At a time when fast, convenient, and easy rule the world, it follows that parents would want to minimize hassle and make meal times as efficient as possible. This attitude has brought about foods such as Go-Gurt and GoGo SqueeZ, pouches of yogurt or pureed foods on-the-go, for home and away. These foods allow children to self-feed, reducing the need for direct parent contact (depending on age), and promoting independence amongst toddlers. Sounds great, right?

So, What’s The Problem with Squeezable Food Pouches?

These foods are quick and easy, but no real “work” is required for children to advance their developing
pouches-Portrait
oral-motor skills. Sucking is one of the earliest skills a child acquires (e.g., breast/bottle feeding), and these pouches require little or nothing more. Children tend to transition from liquids to pureed foods around six months; however, pureed foods should no longer be the primary form of nutrition (for typically developing children) beyond 12 to 18 months. Purees can be used as snacks, of course, so long as children are eating solids (e.g., chicken nuggets, etc.) during regular mealtimes.

The ideal feeding experience is multisensory. Children often use their fingers (touch) to feed, they are able to smell and see what’s on their plate, and, ultimately, food reaches the lips and mouth (taste). This multisensory cycle promotes development, allowing children to interact with their food and take a more active role in feeding. Using squeezable pouches alone removes the multisensory experience, as children are not seeing food, touching food, or even using their lips to scrape their food off a spoon. Blocking this sensory input can result in difficulties once new textures are introduced (e.g., aversion to crunchy foods, or difficulty with chewing).

What Can Parents Do?

Keep squeezable food consumption to a minimum. There is no question that they are a very convenient option, but as they are encouraging walking and talking skills, parents should also be introducing a variety of textures and foods. There are also ways to make squeezable food pouches a little more challenging in order to further feeding development while still allowing children to self-feed on textures they are comfortable with. Spoon attachments, for example, require that children involve their lips to scrape food off the spoon, allowing for greater sensory input!

Use squeezable pouches with attachments. The three options below offer great additions to squeezable food pouches. These spoon attachments fit onto most squeezable snack pouches, promoting oral-motor development.

The link below is a great alternative to food pouches. This spoon is still a self-feeder, allowing children to control the amount of food squeezed onto the spoon. Parents can fill the spoon with whatever pureed food they desire, either home-made or packaged!

Boon Squirt Spoon

What If Parents Need Help With Feeding?

Speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists are here to help! If children are struggling with a transition from purees to more solid foods, these therapists can educate families on appropriate foods to try, reduce stressors around meal time, and provide direct therapy to children who require it!

/r/ pronunciation

Why Is Pronouncing /r/ So Hard?

Because of the difficulty of producing them correctly and on command, /r/ sounds tend to develop relatively late in a child’s speech development. These sounds are typically misarticulated throughout childhood, with mastery emerging close to seven years of age. Misarticulations can vary widely, but the most common /r/ errors involve /w/ substitutions (e.g., “wabbit” for “rabbit”) or distortions (e.g., “watuh” for “water”).

Why is it so hard to pronounce /r/?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), parents, and researchers have found that /r/ can be challenging/r/ pronunciation due to a variety of conditions. In clinical practice, SLPs have found that the motor movement (i.e., correct use and cooperation of lips, teeth, tongue, and airway) for /r/ articulation tends to be the most difficult aspect of proper production. Coordinating all of the articulators used in motor movement can be challenging for a child. For example, problems with airflow modulation can occur when a child unintentionally blocks the back of his or her mouth, causing a distorted production. The object of speech-language therapy is to get those parts moving together! In sessions, SLPs often use a multisensory approach (e.g., verbal, visual, and tactile feedback) to elicit accurate /r/ sounds. Current research is pushing for ultrasound technology so children can have a better view of what is actually going on with their own tongue placement.

How is the /r/ sound made?

When producing accurate /r/ sounds, the two most common ways are:

  • Bunched: This /r/ production involves creating a “basket” with one’s tongue.
  • Retroflexed: This /r/ production involves having the base of the tongue rise up.

Both manners of producing an /r/ sound involve a variety of components. They require, for example, both the creation of a ridge or hump in the tongue to modulate airflow, as well as contact between the base of the tongue and the upper molars on both sides. Oftentimes, children will produce /r/ sounds with rounded lips (e.g., try saying “red”), which can be an effective teaching strategy, so long as the tongue remains engaged and the initial /r/ does not distort into /w/.

Furthermore, we often take the complexity of /r/ (and many other sounds) for granted. There are a variety of different /r/ sounds to master. In a clinical sense, /r/ sounds are broken down to “prevocalic” (before the vowel), “postvocalic” (after the vowel), and r-blends. Prevocalic (or initial) /r/ sounds are those that begin words (e.g., rain, road, radish). Postvocalic /r/ sounds occur when /r/ is paired with a vowel sound, typically at the middle or end of word (e.g., bear, bird, tiger). Finally, r-blends involve /r/ following a consonant sound (e.g., brush, drum, frog). It is important to remember, though, that mastery of one of these varieties does not necessarily translate to mastery of them all. A child may struggle with r-blends even though she has no trouble with the word “rare,” or vice versa, or any other combination.

What can parents do to help with /r/ pronunciation?

Parents can monitor their children’s /r/ production throughout early childhood. If a child continues to produce errors as he gets closer to seven years of age, remediation may be warranted from a licensed speech-language pathologist. SLPs will often provide homework for children to continue practicing between sessions in order to increase the rate of mastery. Strategies such as this can help your child increase his intelligibility!

Click here to download our new Knowledge Nugget on Phonological Processes!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

ADHD and medication

Medication and ADHD

As a pediatric psychologist, I am often asked the question: “Do you think medications are over-prescribed in children with ADHD?”  The question is a valid one and the numbers are pretty clear: the rates of stimulant medication prescriptions in children rose dramatically in the 1990s (from under 1% to 2.7%) and have been rising at a more modest rate ever since (Zuvekas & Vitiello, 2012).  The most recent rate of prescription in children and adolescents was 3.5% in 2008 (nimh.org).  This sounds like a lot but the truth is, this number is still lower than the 5% prevalence rate of ADHD (American Psychiatric Association, 2014).  What this suggests is that, while the majority of children with ADHD are on medication, there remains a large number who are not.

Medication and ADHD-What We Know:

What we know about stimulant medications is that they can be very effective in treating the coreADHD and medication symptoms of ADHD (inattention, distractibility, and hyperactivity).  What we also know about these medications, which is equally as important, is that they do not do much to impact the long-term course of ADHD (Molina, Hinshaw, Swanson, Arnold, Vitiello, Jensen, Epstein, Hoza, Hechtman, Abikoff, Elliott, Greenhill, Newcorn, Wells, Wigal, Severe, Gibbons, Hur, Houck, and the MTA Cooperate Group, 2009.)  Furthermore, for reasons that remain unclear, the maintenance of medication treatment over time is not well sustained despite the fact that we know ADHD tends to be a chronic condition (Molina et al., 2009 and American Psychiatric Association, 2014).

Other Treatment for ADHD:

This is where additional intervention approaches are vital to supporting children with ADHD and thus far the consensus is a prolonged multi-modal treatment approach that adapts as the child progresses through differing developmental stages.  Such approaches include behavior therapy with the child that focuses on specific skill building and self-awareness, parent training and psycho-education, teacher consultation, and classroom accommodations.  As children enter middle school, it can also be beneficial to spend time with an executive function tutor to begin to lay the foundation for keeping oneself organized, compensate for weaknesses, and feel a sense of control in their lives.

Medication is often an essential part of the treatment plan but to just treat the core symptoms of ADHD, without attention to the functional impairments it creates or the additional psychiatric conditions that often accompany it (learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, and conduct problem), would be remiss.

Click here to listen to Dr. Amy Wolok discuss ADHD and medication in an interview on Bloomberg radio.


ADHD

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

the history of autism

The History of Autism

Over the last 10 years the word autism has become a very well-known term. With the rates of autism steadily on the rise, most people are now at least somewhat familiar with it. But many people probably don’t know when autism officially become a recognized disorder, and how it evolved into what we know today? Below is a time-line of the history of autism.

The History of Autism:

  • Early 1900’s – The term “autism” was first used by Swiss psychiatric Eugen Bleuler to describe athe history of autism certain a sub-set of patients with schizophrenia who were severely withdrawn.
  • 1940’s – Researchers in the United States began using the term autism to describe children with emotional and/or social issues.
    • Leo Kanner – A psychiatrist from Johns Hopkin’s University studied 11 children with normal to above average IQ’s who had challenges with social skills, adapting to changes in routine, sound sensitivities, echolalia, and had difficulties engaging in spontaneous activity.
    • Hans Asperger – Also studied a group of children who were similar to the children Kanner studied except the children did not present with any language problems.
  • 1950’s – Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist coined the term “refrigerator mothers.” These mothers were described as mothers who were cold and unloving to their children. He claimed children of cold and unloving mothers were more likely to develop autism. This has since been disproven as a cause of autism due the total lack of evidence supporting such a claim.
  • 1960’s1970’s – Researchers began to separate autism from schizophrenia and began focusing their attention more on understanding autism in children. Autism also started to be considered a biological disorder of brain development. During this time, treatments for autism included various medications, electric shock, and behavioral modifications, most of which focused on punishment procedures to reduce unwanted behaviors.
  • 1980’s 1990’s – Early in the 80’s the DSM-III distinguishes autism as a disorder separating it from schizophrenia. During this time, behavioral modification became more popular as a treatment for autism. The way behavior modification was delivered began to rely more on reinforcement instead of punishment to increase desired behaviors. In 1994 the DSM-IV expands the definition of autism to include Asperger Syndrome.
  • 2000’s – present day – Rates of autism begin to rise and various campaigns have been launched to increase the awareness of autism. The prevalence of autism has increased from 1 in 150 in the year 2000, to 1 in 68 in 2014. Children are now able to be reliably diagnosed as young as 2 years of age. Due to years of research, the effectiveness of different intervention used to treat autism is better understood. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is currently considered to be the “gold standard” treatment for individuals with autism.


What to Expect When You Suspect Autism Download our free, 17-Page eBook


NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Sources:

 

the development of play

From Stacking Blocks to Tea Parties: The Development of Play

At each stage of our lives we have certain responsibilities; as adults we work, as highschoolers we went to school, as kids we played. Playing is a fundamental skill for children, and often acts as an avenue for other skills to develop. While playing, kids explore the world; they learn how things work, they arethe development of play exposed to new vocabulary and they learn to interact with other kids.

Play mirrors language development. As a child ages, their language skills develop, progressing from one word utterances to 3 – 4 word phrases and ultimately reaching conversational level skills. Along with this improvement and development of language abilities, a child’s play skills will also progress through a developmental hierarchy. Therefore, just as there are developmental steps with language development, there are certain play milestones that a child will progress through.

Use the table below as a reference to determine appropriate play skills for your own child for his or her age.

The Development of Play:

Age Play Skills
0-6 Months – Demonstrates reaching and banging behaviors for toys- Starts to momentarily look at items and smile in a mirror

– Rattles and Tummy Time mats are very popular at this age

6-12 Months – Begins to participate in adult-led routine games(e.g., Peek-a-boo).

Functional play skills are emerging at this age (i.e., playing with a toy as it is meant to be used). Examples of functional play are pushing a car or stirring with a spoon.

– Demonstrates smiling and laughing during games

 

12-18 Months – Consistently demonstrates functional use of toys- Emerging symbolic play skills were be observed at this age (i.e., the use of an object to represent something else). For example, pretending a banana is a telephone or pretending to brush a doll’s hair with an imaginary brush

– A child will also ask for help from a caregiver or adult if his or her toy is not working

 

18-24 Months – Pretend/symbolic play will become more advanced with the use of multiple toys in one play situation (e.g., playing kitchen or house)- There is much more manipulation of toys at this age – grouping of like items and assembling a complex situation

– Children will also become more independent in putting toys away or repairing broken pieces

 

24-30 Months – At this age children will begin to demonstrate parallel play. In other words, children will engage in the same play activity with the absence of interacting with each other- Although at this age, children are not yet interacting together directly, they will begin to verbalize more around children as well as share toys with other peers

 

30-36 Months – Children at this age are becoming expert playmates – long play sequences will be carried out. Typically, children will begin by playing out familiar routines, such as a parent’s dinner routine. As children age, new endings to play sequences will emerge- Dolls or other play animals may become active participants in a play sequence.

 

Rossetti, L. (2006). The Rossetti Infant-Toddler Language Scale. Linguisystems, Inc.

Encourage your child to explore and interact with new toys. Try sabotaging a play sequence (e.g., putting a block on your head rather than on the floor) to add extra fun or laughs to an afternoon. While playing with your child, also encourage and add language to the situation. You can do this by asking the child, “What should the horse do next?” or even just narrating what you are doing, e.g., “First I’m going to stir my pot, then…”.

Playing is meant to be fun and enjoyable for parents and their kids. Enjoy the warm weather, encourage language and play development and go outside to play!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

the transition from preschool to kindergarten

The Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten: What Every Parent Should Know

The transition form preschool to Kindergarten is one of the first big steps a young child takes in his academic career.

As a parent, you may be wondering what the main differences are between the preschoolThe Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten and kindergarten setting and how to best equip your child for these changes. Although the change in environment reflects just a chronological year of advancement, the expectations are vastly different.

What to Expect in Preschool:

  • Children are able to expand their play to incorporate peers and develop the skills necessary to gain a greater sense of self and those around them. This might be the first time children are expected to engage with peers, follow directions, and adhere to structure.
  • Offers more play-based interventions and structured unstructured time (free play, art time where the child can choose what they want do).
  • Children learn to focus, share, take turns, and listen while others speak.
  • Language and cognitive skills emerge and strengthen.

What to Expect in Kindergarten:

  • The expectation is that the child can endure increased structure and will be able to write, utilize proper pencil grip, and engage in rote counting.
  • There is an emphasis on increased child independence as the student becomes more responsible over his choices.
  • Children are expected to implement peer problem-solving to avoid tattling and to enhance conflict resolution strategies.
  • Implementation of self-help and self-advocacy skills are expected.
  • In some cases, the length of the school day is longer.

To prepare your child for Kindergarten, utilize these strategies to create a smooth transition:

  • Explore new activities as a family to help your child adjust to change. This will help him to be okay with experiencing the unknown.
  • Read to your child for 20 minutes a day to foster listening and focusing skills.
  • Use consistent routines and disciplinary methods to get the child familiar with the fixed systems in the school setting (i.e. understand expectations and how to modify behavior).
  • Teach child independence through child-friendly clothing (pick out clothes), toileting independence, and setting the expectation that the child will put away toys and coats regularly.


Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

recreational therapies for ASD

Recreational Therapies: A Guide to Keeping Your Kids with ASD Active

Today’s guest blog by Vanessa Vogel-Farley of ACEing Autism explains the importance of recreational therapies for children with ASD.

Keeping children physically active and involved in activities outside of traditional therapies as theyrecreational therapies for ASD develop has proven to be very beneficial in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  We know that all developmental domains are intrinsically connected and impact each other, motor development is key for social communication skills, so enhancing motor skills can help in all areas of development, especially early in life. The availability of programs that specialize in the flexibility needed for children on the spectrum has increased tremendously over the past couple years.  Horseback riding, tennis, and soccer are all options. Picking the program that is right for you and your children can be tricky and expensive.

In addition, increased BMI in children with developmental disorders has become a huge issue that further complicates the life of the child as well as their families.  Physical activity is a solution to this growing problem, but keeping kids with ASD active is easier said than done.  As a person who has been running an Autism specific tennis program for 8 years, even getting some children on the court is nothing short of a miracle.  Below are some tips I have found to be beneficial over the years.

Tips to Keep Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Active:

  1. Continuity from program to home- Choose a sport or activity that you can enjoy as a family outside of the organized activity. Parental enthusiasm and joy in the activity has profound effects on how a child reacts to a new activity.
  1. Equipment- For some kids, the thrill of getting new equipment can be a useful tool in getting and keeping them engaged. There are programs that provide equipment while participating; asking if you are able to use that equipment between sessions can help to develop your child’s interest in that activity, while saving you the money of having to buy your own set.
  1. Down-time- There is a lot of waiting in most childhood activities and the patience that turn taking requires is even tougher in children with ASD. Attention to task and stimming behaviors become inhibitory. We have found that physical activity or routine during the time that waiting is required is helpful to keep kids engaged an attentive to the next task.  Use sit-ups, push ups, running in place, jumping jacks, toe raises, neck rolls, or anything that your child enjoys and helps to keep their heart rate up goes.
  1. Competition- Friendly competitions in safe environments can be easy ways to get kids active. Saying things like, “Beat you to the park,” “Race you to your room,” or “How many push-ups can we do in 30 seconds?” can increase physical activity on a daily basis as well as engaging you as a parent in a bit of a different light.  The aim is to have both of your giggling by the end.  Any child’s push up form is hilarious, not that mine, as an adult, is any better.
  1. Communication- If you choose an organized physical activity program, communication with the organizers and any one-on-one coach is essential.  Goals for each child can differ so much and your satisfaction with the program and the progress within that program is so important. If you do not feel like the program, which you are paying for, is working, communicating with the organizers can turn a bad experience into a successful one.

Finding a recreational program that works for you and your child may not be financially possible or if adding another thing to your family schedule makes you want to scream, increasing physical activity at home can be easy and fun.  Adding a walk after dinner or kicking a ball around for 15 minutes during the day can help to get everyone in the family more active.

Check out ACEing Autism to get your family and child with Autism moving with tennis lessons. Click here for one free class for North Shore Pediatric Therapy Affiliates!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

how to talk to your child about neuropsychological testing

What Should I Tell My Child About Neuropsychological Testing?

One question that I have parents asking me all the time about coming in for testing is this: “What do I tell my child?” There really is no universal answer to this question.  The answer has to be based upon what the child can handle.  How old is the child? What is the child’s cognitive functioning? Just to name a couple…

The goal is to speak to the child at a level that he or she can understand.  It is important to not lie or cover up the reasons for the visit.  Many times parents attend an intake session because of concerns regarding the child’s academic performance.  It is important to be upfront with the child.  Children areWhat to tell a child about Neuropsychological testing quite intuitive and know a lot more than we often give them credit for.   I would first have parents ask the child general questions (it is important to do this, even if they already know the answers since this serves to prime the child’s memory):  any combination of the below questions might serve to help guide the child.

Questions to Ask Your Child Before a Neuropsychology Evaluation:

  • “Do you like going to school?”
  • “What is hard about school?”
  • “Are you happy with your grades?”
  • “Is it hard to listen and pay attention to the teacher?”
  • “Does it bother you to have to play alone?”

Once the child admits to one or more of the questions, it is then appropriate to explain that the purpose of testing or therapy is to help address the specific issues and make school more enjoyable.

After the child understands the purpose for the testing or therapy, it is always important to explain to him or her what the actual session will look like.  I always advise parents to ask the individual that will be working with your child lots of questions.  Find out who will be doing the work, where will the work take place, how long would the child be there, are there breaks available, and what will the child actually be doing.  The goal is that the child will be ready for testing or therapy and have a basic idea of what to expect.

Click here for a guide to understanding Neuropsychological Test Results. 


Neuropsychology testing IL

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!