Fine Motor Skills: Ideas for At-Home Improvement

Fine motor coordination is the capacity of the small muscles of the upper body to allow for controlled movements of the fingers and hands. They include the ability to hold a writing utensil, eat with a fork, open containers, and fasten clothing. These small movements correspond with larger muscles such as the shoulder girdle, back, and core to provide stability for gross motor functioning and with the eyes for hand-eye coordination. Weaknesses in fine motor skills are often the result of poor hand strength and poor motor coordination.

Does My Child Need to Improve His/Her Fine Motor Skills?

For a comprehensive list of fine motor development red flags, please view my previous post, Fine Motor Skills: Is your Child Lagging Behind?

Why Should I Seek Therapy if I Notice Difficulties with Fine Motor Skills? 

  • To improve ability in and persistence with fine motor tasks
  • Increase school readiness
  • To help your child complete self-care tasks, such as buttons and zippers
  • To avoid disengagement in an academic environment due to difficulties completing fine motor activities (e.g. writing, cutting, drawing)
  • To help maintain and develop a positive sense of well-being
  • To ensure that your child doesn’t fall behind their peers in handwriting development

A Word About the Tripod Grasp

The “tripod grasp” is the way we occupational therapists describe what the fingers look like as they hold a pencil or other small utensil. Like a triangle, or a tripod, the thumb, index, and middle fingers work together to maneuver the pencil, clothespin, fork, etc. Mastering this grasp indicates a mature manner of utilizing those small hand muscles. Most kiddos have learned to utilize this grasp by the age of 5 or 6.mightyhands2

Fine Motor Toolkit

As a pediatric occupational therapist, parents continuously request ideas for easy activities to do at
home. Recently, one of my families requested ideas for the car ride to school. Introducing….the Mighty Hands kit! This bin is a fine motor development dream (from an occupational therapy standpoint), AND it’s fun! Tailor it to what you’ve got on hand, show your child how to use the items inside, place it in your home (or even your car!), and let your kiddo go to town. You can thank me later.

What’s Inside the Mighty Hands Kit and What Do I Have My Child Do with This Stuff?

Theraputty: Hide small beads in the putty to use pincer grasp to dig them out, play tug-of-war, pull and twist, but don’t use the table to help! Medium-soft (red) and Medium (green) grade.

fine-motor-theraputty

Theraputty

Clothing fasteners: Practice fastening clothing items such as buttons, zippers and laces for increased finger dexterity and independence!

Screw-top jars: Screw-top and push-top jars filled with small items such as coins, marbles, pom poms, cotton balls, small toys such as these dinosaurs. I hold all of my Mighty Hands items in jars or Tupperware for additional fine motor practice!

Play-Doh: Roll, pound, squeeze, press, pinch!

Locks puzzle: Practice opening various types of locks – a great way to strengthen fingers!

Spoons: Practice scooping small items and transferring them from jar to jar.

fine-motor-spoon

Spoon and pom poms.

Playing cards: Kept in a sandwich-sized plastic bag. Practice shuffling cards and deal them one by one.

Kiddie Tweezers: Use thumb and first two fingers to squeeze objects and transfer them to a container. Great for hand strength and coordination!

Magnetic Mini Games: Great for pincer grasp (the use of the thumb and forefinger)!

Cardstock: Kept in freezer-sized plastic bag. Tear paper into small pieces (one hand turning away from body, one hand turning toward body) using tripod grasp with thumbs at the top of the paper.

Q-Tips: Hold the Q-tip in the middle, dip either end into two different colors of paint, rotate Q-tip in hand to create fun art – make sure to use dominant hand only!

Screwdriver With Nuts & Bolts: Hold the screwdriver with dominant hand and the set with the non-dominant hand to practice turning nuts and bolts.

fine-motor-tweezers

Tweezers

Bank: Encourage your child to hold three coins in his/her hand with the ring and pinky fingers while pushing a coin through the slot one at a time without dropping the other coins.

Craft/Jewelry Sorting Case: Label individual segments 1-15. Have your child hold a few small pom poms in his/her hand (again, using the ring and pinky fingers) while placing them into the container one by one by moving a single pom pom up to the fingertips each time. Or, use the tweezers to sort!

Scissors: Draw straight lines across 4×6” scraps of paper and cut in half.

Clothespins: Clothespins can be used for a series of great activities that facilitate the tripod grasp, strength, and coordination. Be sure to use the pads of the thumb and forefinger.

Tennis Ball Container & Pipe Cleaners: Punch holes in the top of the container and use the dominant hand to push the pipe cleaners into the hole while stabilizing the container with the non-dominant hand.

fine-motor-tennis

Tennis ball container and pipe cleaners.

Tennis ball With Horizontal Slit: Squeeze ball open with one hand (tennis ball resting in palm) while removing small objects from its “mouth” with the other hand.

Pegboard: Stretch bands across pegs to increase hand strength and coordination.

Squigz: Adhere these toys to a wall, door, or refrigerator and pull off! It’s trickier than one might think!

Additional Activities for Around the House

Chores can be a great way to practice fine motor development – and help out mom and dad around the house! Have your child help you put away silverware, turn the door handle and lock the door when leaving the house, unscrew jars and containers while cleaning out the refrigerator, pull weeds, pour laundry detergent, refill soap bottles (be sure to have your child open and close the lid!), and close Ziploc bags.

How Will These Activities Help?

All of the items in my toolkit are designed to strengthen small hand & forearm muscles as well as improve in-hand manipulation, finger isolation and dexterity, and fine motor coordination. As your child’s fine motor skills improve, you will begin to notice an improvement in his/her larger (gross motor) movement, trunk stability, and hand-eye coordination as well. It’s a win-win-win! As always, be sure to consult with an occupational therapist to ensure proper follow-through of fine motor activities and for a more tailored plan.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

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Resources:

http://www.childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/fine-motor-skills/92

White Sox Benetti

Living the Dream | An Interview With Chicago White Sox Announcer Jason Benetti

Every day at NSPT, we welcome families into our clinics. Each child is so incredibly unique with their Jason-Benettitreatment, their diagnosis, the challenges they may face, the strengths that they have, etc. We are often told by parents that their biggest question is “what’s next for their child?” “Will they succeed in life?” At NSPT, our mission is to help each and every kiddo reach their maximum potential…whatever that may be.

Jason Benetti, the newest addition to the broadcasting team for the Chicago White Sox, is living his own childhood dream. At a young age, Jason was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Like our families, there was a point in time where maybe his family had the same questions about “what’s next?” He recalls at a young age going through a few surgeries and spending time at the Rehab Institute of Chicago. “Everyone there was just wonderful,” said Benetti. A typical week at a young age included Physical and Occupational Therapy and focusing on building range of motion.

Benetti grew up on the Southside in Homewood and is a graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Initially, he was a member of the band playing tuba. “That probably wasn’t the best thing for me to be doing,” joked Benetti. It was at that time the band director asked him if he would be interested in sitting in the press box during games and calling out the next set as the band was performing. This was the beginning of a growing passion for broadcasting. Homewood-Flossmoor was one of few high schools that had their own radio station, so Benetti was able to further pursue and develop his skills.

Upon graduation, Jason attended Syracuse University to pursue a career in broadcasting. While there, he was able to continue to build his skills as the Triple A announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays. But nothing fits quite like being able to land your dream job with your favorite team growing up. We were able to sit down with Jason and ask him about what it’s like to be a broadcaster for his hometown team, the Chicago White Sox.

Were there any broadcasters you wanted to be like growing up?

Benetti: There were a lot of people, Hawk Harrelson was the guy I would mimic with catchphrases walking around saying, and “You can put it on the board, YES!” But I’m not particularly a catch phrase guy myself. So Hawk was the guy. He has been so encouraging of me doing half of the games with Steve Stone, just genuine and kind.

When you first expressed interest, what did people around you say? Was there adversity or support?

Benetti: As a radio guy, no one cared what I looked like. Viv Bernstein did a story in early 2010 and asked me if there was a ceiling with regards to TV. It took time for people to warm up to the fact that I can’t look into the camera or have a commanding strut walking into a room, so perceptively there was an adjustment period for people. I quickly found great allies with Time Warner in Syracuse and ESPN. Once they got to know me, they were supportive. It just takes one person.

If you could call a game for any baseball player, who would it be? Retired or current.

Benetti: Growing up Robin Ventura was my favorite player, so in a way, I now get to call games for him.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Benetti: I’m looking forward to the development of the rapport between myself and Steve Stone. We have only had one game so far, but I felt comfortable after and am excited to have the partnership develop. Steve has such a wealth of knowledge. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

What was it like sitting in the booth at US Cellular Field for the first time?

Benetti: It was just like another game, but with way more people interested. I’ve done so many baseball games and baseball is baseball. There weren’t really nerves, just a new experience.

What is it like working alongside hall of fame broadcaster Steve Stone?

Benetti: Anyone who is creative grows up wanting to be around other people like that. Steve Stone and crew fulfills that 100 percent. To be in a room with everyone wanting to do great work, to work with someone who expands like Steve, is everything anyone could want in a partner doing games.

Do you ever meet with or talk to young athletes? Or young individuals with CP or other disabilities? What is the one thing you tell them?

Benetti: I would tell them if you think people perceive you a certain way, you are not crazy and they might be, but do everything you can to disregard that and get past it, it could be damaging to the relationship. It is happening, but trust yourself to get past it.

And one final question…you heard it here first…Prediction…will it be a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series?

Benetti: I’m going to say yeah, it would be great fun. The Billy Goat couldn’t be blamed. Someone would have huge bragging rights for a long time.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

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What is the Function of My Child’s Behavior?

As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who continues to work with the pediatric population, I have often heard parents or loved one’s say, “I have no idea why he/she does this” or “It just happens out of nowhere,” when describing a specific behavior their child engages in. Blog-Behavior-Functions-Main-Landscape

Unfortunately, I can tell you that all behavior does in fact have a function, whether that behavior is an undesirable behavior or an appropriate behavior. More importantly, identifying that behavior function is an important part of effective behavior change.

In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), behavior can be defined as having one of these four functions:

  1. Attention: This function is a means of gaining attention from another person or people and can take many forms. It can be provided by eye contact, a facial expression, telling someone “no,” laughter, or specific comments about a behavior. It is important to note that telling a child, “No,” “Stop,” or “I’m ignoring you,” after engaging in an inappropriate behavior is still in fact attending to the behavior despite the content of the words.
  2. Access to tangibles: This function is maintained by gaining access to a specific item or activity. Access to these preferred items may be for a leisure purpose (e.g. playing with a toy, going to the park, etc.) or a functional purpose (e.g. accessing a toothbrush to brush your teeth).
  3. Automatic: This function is maintained by automatic reinforcement in that the behavior in itself provides the reinforcement. Some examples of these behaviors may be thumb sucking or nail biting. If a child enjoys the oral sensation that is produced from these behaviors, you may see an increase in that behavior.
  4. Escape or Avoidance: This function is to escape or avoid an unwanted event or activity. Often behaviors of non-compliance may post-pone or even terminate the completion of an unwanted task, putting your hands over your ears may terminate the sound of a non-preferred noise, or scratching your skin may terminate the pain of an itch.

It is important to note that all individuals engage in behavior despite physical or intellectual capabilities. As previously mentioned, that behavior does in fact have a function, and it is through the relationship between the behavior and its environment (people, places, things) to which that function is identified.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst
Resource:

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T.E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Dealing with Divorce: Creating Stability No Matter How Unstable You Might Feel

Divorce can be scary, filled with uncertainty, and will ultimately lead to a ‘new’ family structure. It is Blog-Divorce-Main-Landscapeimportant to be mindful of how uncertainty can feel to your children and to proactively take steps to create stability for your children during the divorce process.

Below are some suggestions to improve your child’s sense of stability during a divorce:

Create a Visual Calendar

As you and your family navigate the divorce process, one concern your children may have could be around their living arrangements. If your children have friends with divorced parents they may be familiar with what custody arrangements look like, however, every family is different. Early on in the process, it is important that your child understands what his or her living arrangements will look like. Moreover, one way to reduce your children’s uncertainty is to create a visual calendar for them so they know when they will be at mom or dad’s house. Involve your child in creating the calendar and making it their own by adding drawings, stickers, and favorite colors. Also, remember to update the calendar as needed – change happens and it’s important to communicate this.

Create Comfort in Both Homes

Another way to create a sense of stability is to reduce the feeling your children may have that they are living out of a backpack as they transition between parent households. One way to do this is to make sure each household has a set of your child’s essentials (i.e. daily routine items, clothing, stuffed animals, homework supplies, etc.). This can create comfort for your child as well as prevent unnecessary moments of frustration. Involve your child in this process by creating a list of needs together, then finding these items within your home or shopping together for them at the store.

Create Positive Experiences

While your child is settling into this ‘new’ family structure it is important to continue to create positive experiences. This might look like exploring new neighborhoods, finding new parks and ice cream shops – if one parent has moved to an unfamiliar area. Or creating a Wednesday night pizza tradition. Or finding a Sunday morning breakfast spot. Although learning to manage change and uncertainty is healthy and a necessary part of emotional growth, predictability can be just as helpful during times of heightened stress. Allowing your child to look forward to your new family traditions and experiences can create a sense of comfort and excitement.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

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The Best Games for Language and Social Skill Development

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good family game night? A little friendly competition, some yummy Blog-Language-Development-Main-Landscapesnacks and, of course, fun! As a pediatric speech therapist, I use games every day in my speech sessions. To be honest, I would be lost without them. Games are exciting, motivating, and best of all, they help children learn important speech and language skills without even realizing it!  There are many games that encourage the development of speech, language, and social skills. You can work on everything from learning how to take turns, to categorizing, making inferences, and oral narratives (i.e. story telling). Grab one of the following games for your next family game (and learning!) night!

These first few games are perfect for children who are just learning to play games as they are not language heavy. These games are great for promoting skills such as joint attention, turn-taking, cause and effect, commenting, and learning basic vocabulary and concepts (i.e. on, off, in, out, next). Some of these games introduce letter, shape and number concepts as well.

  • Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel by Educational Insights
  • Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco by Educational Insights
  • Frida’s Fruit Fiesta by Educational Insights
  • Hoot, Owl, Hoot by Peaceable Kingdom
  • Feed the Woozle by Peaceable Kingdom
  • Pop-Up Pirate by TOMY
  • Pop the Pig by Goliath Games
  • Zingo by Think Fun
    • There are many varieties of Zingo including numbers, letters, and telling time.

The next few games support turn-taking and overall social skills, but delve a little deeper into specific language skills.

Categorizing

  • Spot It! by Blue Orange
    • There are many varieties of Spot It, from Junior Edition to the special Frozen Spot It
  • Scattegories Junior
  • Speedeebee by Blue Orange
  • Rally Up by Blue Orange
  • HedBanz by Spin Master

Following Directions

  • Hullabaloo by Cranium
  • Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That! by Wonder Forge
  • Roll and Play by Think Fun
  • Ring It! by Blue Orange

Story Telling

  • Rory’s Story Cubes by Gamewright
  • Tell Tale by Blue Orange

Grab a game and have some fun!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

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Springtime Activities in the Suburbs

After a long and dreary winter, it’s finally springtime in Chicago! With warmer weather on the way and Blog-springtime-activities-Main-Landscapesummer just around the corner, parents and children alike are looking forward to heading back outdoors for springtime activities. While the city has endless parks, museums, and theaters to choose from, the north shore and western suburbs also have a plethora of well-known play places, as well as hidden gems for suburban families. If you are looking for a quick answer to the “What are we doing today?” question, here are some great places that your kids will love! All of the locations mentioned would be fantastic places for both toddlers, as well as older children to discover.

If you are looking for a little inspiration for your budding Picasso, or your superstar just needs to burn off some additional energy, here are some great locations for the arts as well as sports-themed venues.

Arts & Sports:

Color Me Mine – Glenview

Sunshine Arts & Crafts – Highland Park

Art Reach – Palatine/Schaumberg

Marriott Theater – Lincolnshire

Fairytale Ballet & Academy – Evanston

Hi Five Sports Camp – Highland Park

Rec Center of Highland Park

North Suburban YMCA – Northbrook

Arctic Splash – Wheeling

Splash Landings – Glenview

Key Lime Cove – Gurnee

Big Blue Swim School – Select locations

Foss Swim School – Select locations

If your family is still recovering from the cabin fever experience all winter long, below are some great fun and educational locations you can explore.

Educational/Farms:

Kohl Children’s Museum – Glenview

DuPage Children’s Museum – Naperville

Chicago Botanic Garden – Glencoe

Lambs Farm – Libertyville

Wagner Farm – Glenview

Elawa Farm – Lake Forest

Morton Arboretum – Lisle

Cantigny Park – Wheaton

The Grove – Glenview

Independence Grove – Libertyville

Cosley Zoo – Wheaton

Naper Settlement – Naperville

Spring Valley Nature Center – Schaumburg

Since the start of spring brought Chicagoans a few additional snowy days, springtime weather can be somewhat unpredictable. Below are some suggestions of places to visit when the weather turns sour.

Indoor Play Places:

The Chicago TreeHouse – Lake Zurich

Little Beans – Evanston

Jammin’ Jungle – Highland Park

Gymboree – Select locations

Pump It Up – Select locations

Jump Zone – Buffalo Grove

Lego Land – Schaumburg

Exploritorium – Skokie (Part of the Park District)

Go Bananas – Norridge

*Opening Soon: Funtopia – Glenview

In addition to the above mentioned locations, the park districts and libraries in the northern suburbs have plenty of fantastic resources for toddlers and their older siblings. With sunnier days on the horizon, most cities offer outdoor festivals, special events, and farmers markets, so be sure to check out what your town is offering. If you and your family have another favorite hot spot that you would love to share with others, please let us know about it in the comments below.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

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Fine Motor Skills: Is Your Child Lagging Behind?

Fine motor coordination is the capacity of the small muscles of the upper body to allow Blog-fine-motor-skills-Main-Portraitfor controlled movements of the fingers and hands. They include the ability to hold a writing utensil, eat with a fork, open containers, and fasten clothing. These small movements correspond with larger muscles such as the shoulder girdle, back, and core to provide stability for gross motor functioning and with the eyes for hand-eye coordination. Weaknesses in fine motor skills are often the result of poor hand strength and poor motor coordination.

Red Flags for School-Aged Children

As a former Kindergarten teacher, at the start of each school year, I received a group of children with an assortment of fine motor skill-sets. Because children have such different preschool experiences, their skills will vary based on the activities to which they have been exposed. If a child has had the opportunity to practice cutting with scissors, for example, he or she will likely be able to accomplish snipping a piece of paper by 2.5 years old. Fine motor development occurs at an irregular pace, but follows a step-by-step progression and builds onto previously acquired skills.

By the approximate ages listed below, your child should be able to demonstrate these fine motor skills:

2 to 2.5 Years

  • Puts on and takes off socks and shoes
  • Can use a spoon by himself, keeping it upright
  • Draws a vertical line when given a visual example or after an adult demonstrates
  • Holds crayon with fingers, not fist

2.5 to 3 Years

  • Builds a tower of blocks
  • Draws horizontal & vertical lines when given a visual example or after an adult demonstrates
  • Unscrews a lid from a jar
  • Snips paper with scissors
  • Able to string large beads
  • Drinks from an open cup with two hands, may spill occasionally

3 to 3.5 Years

  • Can get himself dressed & undressed independently, still needs help with buttons, may confuse front/back of clothes and right/left shoe
  • Draws a circle when given a visual example or after an adult demonstrates
  • Can feed himself solid foods with little to no spilling, using a spoon or fork
  • Drinks from an open cup with one hand
  • Cuts 8×11” paper in half with scissors

3.5 to 4 Years

  • Can pour water from a half-filled pitcher
  • Able to string small beads
  • Uses a “tripod” grasp (thumb and tips of first two fingers) to draw, but moves forearm and wrist as a unit
  • Uses fork or spoon to scoop food away from self and maneuver to mouth without using other hand to help food onto fork/spoon

4 to 4.5 Years

  • Maneuvers scissors to cut both straight and curved lines
  • Manages zippers and snaps independently, buttons and unbuttons with minimal assistance
  • Draws and copies a square and a cross
  • Uses a “tripod” grasp (thumb and tips of first two fingers) to draw, but begins to move hand independently from forearm
  • Writes first name with or without visual example

4.5 to 5 Years

  • Can feed himself soup with little to no spilling
  • Folds paper in half with edges meeting
  • Puts key in a lock and opens it

5 to 6 Years

  • Can get dressed completely independently, including buttons and snaps, able to tie shoelaces
  • Cuts square, triangle, circle, and simple pictures with scissors
  • Draws and copies a diagonal line and a triangle
  • Uses a knife to spread food items
  • Consistently uses “tripod” grasp to write, draw, and hold feeding utensils while moving hand independently from forearm
  • Colors inside the lines
  • Writes first name without a visual example, last name may be written with visual
  • Handedness well established

By age 7, children are usually adept at most fine motor skills, but refinement continues into late childhood. If you notice your young child demonstrating difficulties in the above “red flag” areas, it may be time to consult with an occupational therapist. For at-home ideas to improve hand strength and fine motor abilities, read my other blog, Fine Motor Skills: Ideas for At-Home Improvement.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

Meet-With-An-Occupational-Therapist
Resources:

Beery, K.E., & Beery, N.A. (2006). The Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration. Minneapolis: NSC Pearson

Folio, M.R., & Fewell, R.R. (2000). Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, 2nd Ed. Austin: Pro-Ed.

Retherford, K.S. (1996). Normal Development: A Database of Communication and Related Behaviors. Greenville, SC: Super Duper Publications

Reasons to Seek a Neuropsychological Evaluation for Your Child

Neuropsychology is a field of psychology that focuses on the relationship between learning, behavior, and brain functioning. A child may be referred for a Blog-Neuropsychological-Evaluation-Main-Landscapeneuropsychological evaluation when there are concerns about one or more areas of their development. This can include a child’s cognitive, academic, memory, language, social, self-regulatory, emotional, behavioral, motor, visual-spatial, and adaptive functioning.

This type of evaluation can help rule out diagnoses such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disorder, Language Disorder, as well as various emotional and behavioral disorders. A neuropsychological evaluation can also be helpful if your child has been diagnosed with a medical condition such as Down Syndrome or other genetic disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Epilepsy. The purpose of the evaluation is to identify a child’s patterns of strengths and challenges in order to provide parents, schools, and other providers with strategies to help them succeed across contexts. It can also be used to track a child’s progress and response to targeted interventions.

In order to assess whether a neuropsychological evaluation may be helpful for a child, a family may identify concerns in the following areas:

  • Cognitive
    • Difficulties with verbal and nonverbal reasoning and problem solving
    • Requiring a significant amount of repetition and/or additional time when learning
    • Delays in adaptive functioning
  • Academic
    • Grades below peers
    • Concerns with reading (phonetic development, fluency, comprehension), mathematics (calculation, word problems), or writing (spelling, content, organization)
    • Needing additional time to complete schoolwork, homework, or tests
    • Frustration with academic work
  • Language
    • Expressive (output of language) or receptive (understanding of language) difficulties
    • Challenges initiating or maintaining a conversation
    • Difficulties with sarcasm or non-literal language (e.g, “It’s raining cats and dogs”)
    • Repetitive or odd language usage (e.g., repeating lengthy scripts heard from television or news programs)
    • Pronoun reversals or odd use of language
  • Self-Regulation
    • Difficulty paying attention or sitting still
    • Needing frequent prompts or reminders to complete tasks
    • Difficulty with multiple-step commands
    • Losing or misplacing items
    • Forgetting to turn in completed assignments
  • Social
    • Poor peer relations
    • Inappropriate response when approached by peers
    • Difficulty with imaginative, functional, or reciprocal play
    • Limited interest in peers or preference for solitary play
  • Repetitive Behaviors
    • Repetitive vocalizations
    • Repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand flapping, finger flicking, body rocking)
    • Lining up toys, spinning wheels of cars, sorting objects for prolonged periods of time
  • Behavioral Dysregulation
    • Physical or verbal aggression
    • Defiance or non-compliance
    • Difficulties with transitions or changes in routine
    • Self-injury (e.g., head banging)
  • Emotional
    • Poor frustration tolerance
    • Irritability or easily upset
    • Eating or sleeping difficulties
    • Somatic complaints
    • Negative self-statements
    • Lack of interest in things he/she used to enjoy
  • Visual-Spatial, Visual-Motor, and Motor
    • Poor handwriting
    • Trouble with fine motor tasks (e.g., unwrapping small items, buttoning or zipping clothing, tying shoe laces)
    • Difficulty transferring information from the classroom board to a notepad, or transferring information from a test booklet to a scantron/bubble sheet
    • Difficulty with overwhelming visual displays (e.g., computer screen with several icons; homework with several problems on one sheet; a book with several colors and pictures)

Should a child demonstrate difficulties in some of the areas listed above, he/she may benefit from further consultation or a subsequent neuropsychological evaluation. Through this process, areas of difficulty can be identified, and targeted interventions will be suggested to enhance a child’s development.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

Meet-With-A-Neuropsychologist

Get Your Baby to Start Cruising

Cruising is an important gross motor milestone that occurs when a baby steps sideways Blog-Baby-Cruising-Main-Landscapewhile holding on to a safe and stable piece of furniture. Cruising facilitates core, hip and leg muscle development, standing balance, and is a crucial stepping stone (no pun intended!) to independent standing and walking.

This is a milestone that is typically reached around 10 months of age. Before your baby can cruise, he or she needs to be able to stand, accepting weight evenly through both legs, with 1 or 2 hands supported at a safe and stable piece of furniture, such as a couch or ottoman. Many babies are excited once they can start standing on their own at a piece of large furniture, although they often do not know how to move around.

Here are a few useful tips to help your baby learn how to cruise:

  1. Place toys a few steps away in either direction. If your child has the toy she is interested in playing with right in front of her while she is standing at the couch, there will be little motivation to move. However, if you place the toy just a few steps away, your baby will be highly motivated to try and get to the toy. Make sure you don’t place the toy too far away though, as that might encourage your child to crawl to the toy instead, or your child may lose motivation due to feeling that the toy is completely out of reach.
  1. Show your baby how to cruise. Since the cruising motion is most likely different from any other movements your child has performed, he may not know that he can step sideways or how to activate the muscles required to do so. When your baby has both hands supported on the stable piece of furniture, slowly and gently elevate the lead leg off the ground, move it a small distance to the side, and then bring the other leg to meet it.
  1. Practice! Learning new gross motor skills takes lots and lots of practice. Babies learn through trial and error, so the more that they work on a new skill the better at it they will become. Give your child frequent, supervised opportunities to practice cruising.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

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Should I Be Concerned With My Child’s Speech?

As a parent, everyone wants the best for their child. They want their child to grow and Blog-Speech-Concerns-Main-Landscapedevelop appropriately, and flourish socially and academically. One component to success is your child’s ability to effectively communicate their wants, needs, and ideas. Which begs the question, when should you be concerned with your child’s speech and language development? In a world where no child is the same, one thing is for certain: early intervention is better than late intervention, and late intervention is better than no intervention at all. Look for these red flags early in development.

  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty answering questions
  • Difficulty understanding gestures and nonverbal cues
  • Difficulty engaging in conversation
  • Difficulty identifying age-appropriate vocabulary and concepts
  • Frustration when communicating

Expressive Language

More specifically, children should be babbling between 6 and 8 months, with their first words produced around the age of 12 months. By 18 months, your child should possess an expressive vocabulary (spoken words) of approximately 50 words. Two-word combinations are expected around 24 months, with an expressive vocabulary growing to about 300 words. By the time your child is 36 months old, expect 3-5 word combinations (or more!), with most adult language structures mastered around 60 months (5 years).

Receptive Language

Children should follow basic commands around 12 months (“Come here”), and use gestures to communicate along with a few real words. They should be demonstrating comprehension of common objects and animals, by following commands involving those items or identifying them in books (puppy, cup, shoes, etc.) around 18 months of age. Look for your child to answer questions, ask questions, and talk about their day around the age of 3 years.

Articulation

It is typical for a young child (1-2 years) to have some sound errors in their speech. However, by the age of 3, a child’s speech should be at least 75% intelligible to an unfamiliar listener, and more intelligible to familiar listeners. By age 3, a child should have the following sounds mastered: /b, d, h, m, n, p, f, g, k, t, w/. All speech sounds should be mastered by age 8.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff 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!

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