Video Games That Get You Moving

Getting your child off the couch and active can be challenging. With video games and iPads, it can be hard to pry your child away from the screens. But what if the screens can work for you? There are many video games on various systems that get your body moving, heart rate up, and can be a lot of fun!

Here are a few games on different systems that will surely make your child break a sweat while having a great time!Blog-Video-Games-Main-Portrait

  1. Xbox – Kinect Sports

Kinect Sports uses a sensor to track your body movements while playing fun sports games including soccer, volleyball, baseball and more. Unlike other systems that only track your upper body, Kinect Sports also tracks your legs for a full body workout!

If you are looking for more intense activities, try Track and Field. Go for the gold in sprints, hurdles, the long jump, and discus – you’ll feel like you’re in the Olympics!

  1. Wii Sports

Wii Sports uses a wand controller to simulate the real game. This systems features games like baseball, golf, tennis, boxing and bowling. The greatest part: you can play against a friend!

  1. PlayStation Move + Eye

The PlayStation Move is a wand controller that works with the PlayStation Eye camera to track the player’s movements. Because some of the games use both the wand and the Eye, you will be put into the game, literally! The PlayStation Move features games such as soccer, tennis, bowling, golf, dancing, and more.

  1. Just Dance – Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation

Just Dance is compatible with many systems that use a camera to track your movements. You can dance with three of your friends to today’s top hits and yesterday’s classics. This is my personal favorite to have fun and exercise in a creative way.

Now that you have a list of some awesome, fun games for your home system, it’s time to get active and move your body!

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!

Teaching A Child Ownership of Their Home Routine

Routines are an important part of everyone’s daily life, but they are especially important for children. Routines allow a child to have a sense of control over their environment and learn responsibility. Routines can help improve regulation, transitions, and decrease stress and anxiety surrounded by change and uncertainty. Blog-Home-Routine-Main-Landscape

Children learn to become emotionally ready for what is to come next when a routine is established. Routines allow for a child to learn in comfortable and safe boundaries and gain satisfaction and confidence in learning these routines independently. But with today’s busy lifestyle, family routines are changing on a daily basis which can impact the child’s ability to become independent and successful with their home routine.

Below are some tips to help improve your child’s confidence and success in their home routine:

Create a visual schedule

Depending on your child’s age, you can use pictures or written words to outline your home routine. Break the routine down in to easy steps for your child to follow. You can also have your child check off each step once completed to give your child a sense of accomplishment. This also allows your child to visually see their success, which will help provide motivation.

Be consistent

This is key! Don’t give up after a few failed attempts. Your child needs to know what to do at what time of day in order to learn the routine and become successful independently.

Be positive and provide rewards

Do not reprimand your child. This will increase the chances that your child will lose motivation and not complete their routine. Mistakes and bad behavior will occur, but reinforce only the positive things they do throughout completing the routine. As they become more confident and successful in their routine, you can begin to fade out the rewards.

Model the routine

Show your child the correct way to do each step of the routine and assist them if need be. Many children are visual learners and will learn by doing. With practice, they will become more independent in each step.

Provide choice within the routine

Allow your child to choose parts of the routine. For example, which shampoo or toothpaste they want to use. This will give your child a sense of control during the routine and motivate them to complete the tasks given.

Prepare the night before

Pack backpacks, lay out clothes, make lunches, etc. Involve your child in the preparation and tell your child what is expected of them the next day so they can begin to mentally prepare.

Build in extra time

When first learning to complete routines independently, your child may require additional time to get through the routine. As we all know, practice makes perfect, so make sure you plan enough time to allow for mistakes.

If your child has difficulty with completing their home routines successfully and independently, seek guidance of an occupational therapist.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, 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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Smart Technology Guidelines for Kids

Like it or not, our world has changed especially in the realm of digital technology and our kids are the pioneers of this new adventure. Technology guidelines are becoming more and more important. I have had parents ask if they are “bad parents” for letting their kids have screen time and I am here to tell you that: Blog-Technology Guidelines-Main-Landscape

You most certainly are not a bad parent!

Like most everything, moderation is the key to having success in building children’s much needed strength in digital technology while still keeping them involved in school, making friends, finding a talent and being an active part of the family.

Here are some easy to follow technology guidelines for families:

  1. Have family discussions about screen time and internet safety
  2. Limit screen time. Set a limit before your kids plug in and stick to it!
  3. Create rules about technology usage. Technology is a large part of how kids now socialize but they still need our help to develop the skills to think before acting. Here is a great contract to use with older kids.
  4. Be the example. Your kids will notice if you don’t walk the walk. Be aware of your own technology use and find balance in your own usage and family engagement.
  5. Have technology free zones. Two examples of having technology free zones are at meal times and bedtime. Direct your child towards content that engages them while using as many senses as possible.
  6. Approve the Apps! In 2014 there were 1.3 million apps in the Apple app store. Help your child choose apps that promote learning and create mindfulness rather than mindless play. There are tons of reviews for guidance on age appropriate/suitable content to find online! It is okay to make an unpopular decision about an app or video!
  7. Most importantly, be involved! Talk to your kids about internet safety, the family rules about technology and which apps they are choosing. Talk to your kids about what they are playing! Ask them to show you their latest creation or how they beat a level in their favorite game. The more your child feels comfortable talking with you about their technology usage the more you will know and hopefully there will be more communication and less fighting!

More Technology Guidelines Tips for Preschool Aged Children:

  • Create limits on usage and be consistent!
  • Play games and or watch together! Make sure to ask questions and have conversations about content. There are great learning and discussion opportunities to be had.

More Technology Guidelines Tips for Elementary Aged Children:

  • Kids this age are more able to download and access more, making it more difficult for parents and increasing the need for limits and increased discussion about content and meaning.
  • Filter sites and internet content, such as YouTube, using age appropriate guidelines.
  • Remember those limits that are set and stick to them.
  • Model limited use

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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Teacher Tips: Accommodating an Anxious Child

Sometimes anxiety can be easy to identify, such as when a child is feeling nervous before a test. Blog-Teacher-Tips-Anxiety-Main-LandscapeHowever, in some children anxiety may look like something else, such as ADHD or a learning disorder.

The following is a list of tips to use in the classroom to accommodate a child with anxiety:

  • Some children may participate in therapeutic services. Therefore, it is imperative to talk with parents/guardian about strategies that work (and do not work) at home. Teachers can use and modify those strategies to help in the classroom.
  • Also, checking in with parents regularly is important to ensure that accommodations are helping and determine necessary adjustments

Homework & Assignments

  • Check that assignments are written down correctly
  • Using daily schedules
  • Modifying assignments and reducing workloads when possible
  • Allowing the child to take unfinished assignments home to complete

In the Classroom

  • Preferential seating that is less distracting
  • With regard to class participation
    • Determine a child’s comfort level with closed ended questions
    • Use signals to let the child know his/her turn is coming
    • Provide opportunities to share knowledge on topics he/she is most confident
    • If possible, only call on the child when he/she raises his/her hand
  • Extended time on tests
  • Provide word banks, equation sheets, and cues when possible
  • Allow for movements breaks throughout the day & relaxation techniques
  • Determine a discreet way the child can indicate he/she needs a break, such as a colored card the child places on his/her desk to signal he/she needs a drink of water, to use the restroom, or any other strategy to lessen feelings of anxiety
  • Allow the use of a fidget for children who have difficulty paying attention

Please refer to the following websites for additional information about anxiety in children and accommodations that can be used, or modified for use, in the classroom.

Resources:

http://www.worrywisekids.org
http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2015-4-13-anxiety-classroom
http://kidshealth.org/parent/classroom/factsheet/anxiety-factsheet.html
http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/anxiety-disorders-school

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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Biting, Hitting and Pushing: Bad Behavior or Sensory Processing Disorder?

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I often have teachers and parents ask me if a child’s sensory Blog-Bad-Behavior-or-SPD-Main-Landscapeprocessing is causing them to behave badly in school. In kindergarten especially, we often see “bad behavior” manifest in many ways: kicking or hitting peers, biting friends, spitting, or yelling at others. In some cases, the child’s sensory system may be to blame. In others, bad behavior could be contributed to the child seeking out attention, or avoiding work or non-preferred play. Read below to help identify and understand the difference between the two.

Sensory Processing:

When a child’s nervous system cannot respond logically to incoming sensory input (such as loud talking in the cafeteria), the result may cause the child to appear disorganized, clumsy, or disobedient. Oftentimes, children who are seeking out movement (vestibular input) or body position (proprioceptive input) are often the children who crave bear hugs or body squeezes. These are the climbers, the explorers, and the daredevils as they are attempting to seek out extra information from the environment to feel more organized. When they are not given these opportunities, they may resort to inefficient ways to help seek out information which may manifest into tackling, hitting or biting friends. When these children are given ways to regulate efficiently, such as 10 minutes of heavy work activities on the playground, or intense proprioceptive or vestibular input before sitting down at the table to complete the day’s activities, they are much better able to respond and attend to the activities.

Behavior:

Behavior, which can be defined as the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others, often is the result of a conglomeration of events. For example, a child’s bad behavior may be a response to a negative sensory experience, or it may be the child’s way of receiving more attention from parents, teachers and friends, or it may be both. A child with sensory concerns who often tackles peers or siblings may be attempting to receive feedback from the environment. However, it’s also possible he is looking for ways to get attention from others in his environment. When this is the case, it is important to follow up with a strategic plan. Experts recommend attempting to ignore the behavior as much as possible (not overreacting to the situation, ensuring the child follows through on the task required of them no matter what behavior they are exhibiting, ignoring disrespectful behavior and not responding until the child appropriately requests for help). Rewarding good behavior via a positive reinforcement chart, acknowledgement of a job well done, and praise for completing the task at hand are all examples of ways to reward good behavior.

There is no easy solution for recognizing the difference between bad behavior and sensory processing disorder. Oftentimes, parents and teachers may need to take each event on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not the breakdown occurred as a result of a sensory processing difficulty. To help decipher the difference between the two, I recommend keeping track of the specific behaviors in a journal to help identify any triggers or common events that provoke the child and cause the disruption.

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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At Home Speech and Language Games

Who says that practicing speech and language skills can’t be fun? While most games were not created Blog-Speech-and-Language-Games-Main-Portrait (1)with the intent to work on speech and language skills, there are many games that can actually be used for this reason. In fact, you may be targeting these skills at home without even knowing!

The following is a list of games that can be used and various skills that can be targeted for at home speech and language development:

  1. Go Fish
    • F or SH sound – Your child will get a lot of practice when saying “go fish!”
    • Asking questions – Your child will need to think of what card he needs and request the card by asking an appropriate question (e.g. “Do you have a four?”).
  2. Twister
    • Following directions – Your child will need to follow directions that contain three components (right vs. left, body part, color). If three components is too complex, the directions can be modified to have two components by eliminating right vs. left and only using the body part and color. An example containing three components would be “put your right foot on blue” and two components would be “put your foot on blue.”
  3. Hedbanz
    • Asking questions – Your child will work on asking yes/no questions to figure out what picture is on his or her head.
    • Word finding – The game can be altered where one person is describing the picture for someone else to name. When your child describes pictures and names, he or she can work on various word finding techniques such as identifying categories and attributes.
  4. Jenga
    • Jenga can be used to work on numerous speech and language skills by writing target skills on the Jenga blocks.
      • Speech – Any speech sound can be targeted by writing words, phrases, or sentences containing the specific sound(s) on the blocks. When your child removes a Jenga block from the stack, he will practice his sounds by reading what is written on the block.
      • Language – Many language skills can be targeted in the same way by writing various targets on the blocks. For instance, wh- questions (e.g. who, what, where) can be targeted by writing one wh- question on each block. Another language skill that can be targeted is categories. This can be done by writing a category name (e.g. animals) for your child to name or write items that are associated or writing items in the category (e.g. dog, cat, elephant) and having your child name the category.

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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5 Benefits of Working with a BCBA for Your Child with Autism

Knowing what kind of services and how to navigate the ABA world can be hard, confusing and Blog-BCBA-Main-Landscapeexhausting. When looking at an ABA program, you will always want a Board Certified Behavior Analyst on your team.

Here are 5 benefits to working with a BCBA and a team approach:

  1.  A BCBA has passed an exam that ensures he or she knows how to change behavior (both increase skills and decrease behavior) according to the principles of behavior – evidence based approach.
  1.  Working with a team typically results in creating a large and strong support system for the child, parents, and the entire family.
  1.  Working with a team helps to promote generalization of skills across people.
  1.  Working with a team allows a child to receive several hours (20-30) of therapy a week with 3-4 different therapists, which helps keep sessions fun, new, and entertaining.
  1.  Working with a team allows for different ideas to make progress across different skills and targets, especially when a child gets “stuck” on a target.

Things to keep in mind when using a team: all team members should be addressing behaviors the same way as well as teaching new skills the same way. Communication between team members is key for success. Lastly, therapists are different but implementation should be the same!

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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Best Apps to Reinforce Occupational Therapy Concepts

Within our day and age, technology can be used in many ways to facilitate daily functional skills. In regards to occupational therapy, there are many apps that can be used to facilitate and reinforce occupational therapy concepts at home with your child. The following apps are great for facilitating listening skills, transitions, attending to tasks, self-regulation, body awareness and handwriting skills. Blog-Occupational-Therapy-Concepts-Main-Portrait

These apps are easy to use and can be used anywhere and at any time to reinforce occupational therapy concepts:

Metronome App

  • Importance and benefits of using a metronome:
    • Help develop and improve rhythm
    • Improves listening skills
    • Facilitates the ability to attend over an extended period of time.
  • Population:
    • Any child with difficulties following directions, attention, and rhythm.

ASD Tools

  • Importance and benefits:
    • Helps with transitioning from one activity to another, attending to specific tasks, as well as, following directions.
  • Features:
    • Visual schedule
    • First-then visual
    • Timer with a visual
    • Reward system
  • Population:

Brainworks

  • Importance and benefits:
    • Great and easy way to develop activities for a sensory diet.
  • Features:
    • Organizes all the activities into what would be best for your child.
    • Provides 130 sensory activities with pictures and descriptions.
    • Provides activities that can be completed at home, school, in the community, or at a table or desk.
    • Allows you to choose whether your child is feeling “just right, slow and sluggish, fast and stressed, or fast and hyper”- a list of sensory activities will be provided based on how the child is feeling.
  • Population:

Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try

  • Importance and benefits:
    • Great app that allows children to practice handwriting.
    • Provides multisensory ways to practice correct letter formation.
  • Features:
    • Capital/lower case letters, and numbers on a chalkboard with double lines.
    • Has a left-handed setting.
    • Reports errors for extra guidance.
  • Population:
    • Helpful for children with poor handwriting skills including letter formation and sizing.

Zones of Regulation App

  • Importance and benefits:
    • Great app for developing self-regulation strategies.
    • Helps children develop skills to assist in regulating their bodies, emotions, and behaviors.
    • Helps children acknowledge how they feel and acquire the skills to create strategies to cope with their emotions.
  • Features:
    • Mini games to help facilitate learning the zones of regulation and develop strategies to facilitate emotional control and self-regulation.
  • Population:
    • Helpful for children who have difficulty with emotional control and self-regulation.

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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