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early autism

What Exactly is a Social Group for Children with Autism?

We interviewed Latha V. Soorya, PhD from the Rush University Medical Center to learn about the study of social skills groups for children with autism.

Many children with autism are working toward learning, building and strengthening their social skills. The Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment and Services Center (AARTS Center) at Rush University Medical Center has dedicated their mission to on-going research in hopes to find new interventions to help those with autism. Latha V. Soorya, PhD explains and answers some questions regarding their newest study on social skills and the use of Oxytocin. early autism

Oxytocin is a hormone that plays an important role in social bonding and connections. Social skills groups for children with autism are widely used and well-liked. The Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment, and Services Center at Rush is studying both of these treatments to better understand how to improve social connections in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We are looking for 8-11 year old children with ASD to participate in a unique study called ION: Integrated Oxytocin and NETT (Nonverbal synchrony, Emotion recognition, and Theory of mind Training).

What is the benefit for parents? Families will receive support from therapists and other parents during parent groups that run at the same time as the social skills groups. Qualifying families will receive evaluations and treatment from licensed psychologists, child-psychiatrists, and therapists at no-cost as part of their participation in the social skills research study. The AARTS Center has run the social thinking group in the past, and a parent shared their positive feedback with us, saying, “We liked connecting with other parents during parent group and still use the materials from group to help our son focus on other people’s thoughts and feelings.”

How can parents & clinicians use the results? Before the study is published, families will receive results from their child’s evaluations as well as information about their progress. After publication, the AARTS center will share results with participating families, community partners, and the academic/medical community. Our hope is that the ION study will target social skills development in a new way, and that parents and clinicians will see lasting changes in the way that children with ASD apply these skills across settings.

Has similar research been done in the field? This is a unique study that combines promising research from two fields. Intranasal oxytocin may increase attention to social cues (e.g. where someone is looking) and social skills groups are well-liked and may help improve some aspects of social behavior. However, research also shows that changes from social skills groups, as well as intranasal oxytocin, do not last very long. This study is the first to examine what happens when the two treatments are combined.

What are you most excited about exploring in this study? We are most excited about this study’s potential to develop a more powerful, longer-lasting treatment for critical social thinking skills—skills we know are critical to navigating many life experiences and building social relationships.

Latha V. Soorya, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, board-certified behavior analyst and assistant professor of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. Soorya serves as the research director at the AARTS Center at Rush and brings expertise in diagnosis and intervention development to the research program.

For more information on the study, please contact Anthony Burns at 312-942-6331 or email Anthony_burns@rush.edu.

North Shore Pediatric Therapy

North Shore Pediatric Therapy

North Shore Pediatric Therapy is a group of experienced and dedicated Thought Leaders in pediatric therapy. We believe passionately in helping each child blossom to their ultimate potential.

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Age Appropriate Toys for Motor Development

It’s the holiday season! As we approach the end of December, plenty of parents have been inquiring about appropriate and educational toys and games that encourage speech and language growth, blog-motor development-main-landscapefine and gross motor development, and problem solving skills. Below are some of our favorite toys that we believe would make great additions to the family toy closet:

Baby toys (birth-24 months):

  • Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack
    • Why we love it for infants: brightly lit colors encourage basic skills such as eye tracking which helps facilitate gross motor skills like rolling and reaching across the body’s midline. These multi-sized rings are also the perfect size to encourage the baby to start using a gross grasp and release pattern, which is integral for fine motor development. The baby can learn basic discrimination skills related to sizing and colors which is necessary to develop basic problem solving skills. These rings allow the baby opportunity for oral exploration without hazard of choking, and the product boasts that the material is safe for teething.
  • Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort Board – Wooden Educational Toy With 15 Solid Wood Pieces
    • Why we love it: Facilitates tactile discrimination, encourages basic language skills by introducing names of basic shapes as well as different colors, facilitates fine motor development (particularly pincer , tripod, and lateral tripod grasp usage), and requires basic eye hand coordination to stack and unstack items on and off the centerpiece.
  • More suggestions: Caterpillar Play Gym, Fisher-Price Little People Lil’ Movers Airplane, Busy Poppin’ Pals, Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Count and Color Gumball

Toddler Toys (3-5 years):

  • Pop Up Pirate
    • Why we love it: This is a fan favorite for kids and therapists. We use it in OT, PT, and Speech, and the kids love it because of the uncertainty of who is going to make the pirate pop out of the barrel. Therapists enjoy using this toy to encourage direction following, visual motor integration skills, and fine motor coordination. When played in a small group, it provides a great opportunity to learn some basic impulse control and encourages turn taking. This is a great game for kids who may still have difficulty playing games with 2 or 3 step directions, as there are no rules other than waiting your turn to place the sword when directed.
  • Sneaky Snacky Squirrel 
    • Why we love it: Great game to address basic social skills and direction following. This game can be played with 2-4 individuals, and can help to encourage turn taking and fine motor control to manipulate a set of squirrel-shaped tweezers. This game also helps to build frustration tolerance, as children must learn how to react when losing their turn, or having a peer take away one of their acorns. It’s also easy to understand, and there is no reading required.
  • More suggestions: Wooden Shape Sorting Clock, Pop the Pig, Spot It, Zingo, Elefun, Hungry Hungry Hippos

Grade school toys and games (6-9 years):

  • Games for balance, coordination, and core strength: Zoomball, Twister, Labyrinth Balance Board
  • Games for fine motor development: Operation, Barrel of Monkeys, KerPlunk, Angry Birds, Jenga, Operation
  • Games for visual perceptual and problem solving skills: Rush Hour, Rush Hour Junior, S’Match, Marble Runs, Cartoon It
  • Games for Social skill and cooperative play: Race to the Treasure, Stone Soup, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Adolescent games (10-15):

  • Games for Executive Functioning : Logic Links, Qwirkle, Mastermind, Labyrinth
  • Games for Visual perceptual and problem solving skills: Knot so Fast, Blokus, Rush Hour
  • Games for Social development: Life, Scattergories, Scrabble, Apples to Apples

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! 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!

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Mary Kate Mulry

Mary Kate Mulry

Mary Kate Mulry is a graduate of Rush University’s occupational therapy program in Chicago, Illinois. Before becoming an OT, she received her undergraduate degree in Spanish and psychology at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Her clinical interests include working alongside children who have sensory processing disorder, feeding delays, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and overall delay in fine and gross motor development. Mary Kate has past experience working with children in an outpatient pediatric setting, and also completed fieldwork placements in adult inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. She is a recently published author in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT) and believes in the importance of integrating evidence-based practice into daily treatment activities. As a clinician, Mary Kate is dedicated to providing the best care and individualized treatment for each child on a daily basis.

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7 Tips for Working on Social Skills During School

School days can be a perfect opportunity for children to work on social skills. Children are surrounded by their peers throughout the day and there are endless opportunities for interaction.Blog-Social Skills-Tips-Main-Landscape

Here are some opportunities to promote social skills throughout the school day:

  • During circle time, snack time and lunch time, have the child sit next to different peers each day. This will promote multiple opportunities to meet new peers!
  • Assign different “peer buddies” for the child throughout the day and week. These peer buddies can help assist the child complete tasks, play games with the child, engage them in conversation and model appropriate behaviors.
  • Set up small, group structured activities such as completing puzzles, building train tracks, playing a board game or playing catch. It is often easier for children to interact and develop appropriate skills in a small group setting, rather than in a large group.
  • For older kids, during lunch time, give the table a topic of conversation to talk about that day to promote conversational skills.
  • If children need help throughout the day, prompt them to ask their peers for help, rather than always approaching an adult.
  • Set up situations where the child would need to interact with peers. For example, if there is a play dough station, have all the tools with the other peers, so that the child would need to ask their friend for tools in order to complete the activity.
  • Parents can also talk to the teacher about peers who the child gets along with, and set up play dates at home with the peers so they can practice those skills in different places.

For additional information, check out our other Autism and school blogs.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. 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!

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Rachel Nitekman

Rachel Nitekman

Rachel is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with over 10 years of experience working with children with autism, Down syndrome, and other developmental delays. After graduating from the Blitstein Institute in 2011, she went on to receive her Masters in Psychology specializing in ABA, from Kaplan University, while working full time as a pediatric behavior therapist. Rachel has worked with children in a variety of settings, including home, camp and school. She also worked for KESHET, an organization that provides services for children and young adults with varying developmental delays. Rachel is passionate about her work in helping children succeed to their fullest potentials in life.

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Make the Summer Olympics Come to Life in Your Own Home

With the Summer Olympics just days away, what could be a better time to engage your kids in fun Summer Olympicsactivities to promote physical activity, social interaction, a healthy lifestyle, and improve their overall development? Many kids dream of becoming a gold-medalist in the Olympics and with these activities, you can make your child feel as if they are standing on top of that podium while assisting in their skill development without them even realizing it! There are endless opportunities to promote your child’s well-being. Be creative! Below are a list of easy-to-do Olympic related activities to get you started:

Focus on Fine, Visual, and Gross Motor Skills:

Table time activities

  • Print off Summer Olympic word searches, mazes, and coloring pages.
  • Create the Olympic rings (Cut strips of paper, form them in to circles, and connect them).
  • Olympic torch craft (create an Olympic torch using a paper towel roll, covering it with tin foil, and cutting/taping flames to the roll using red, orange, and yellow tissue paper).
  • Origami Olympic Rings (http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/origami-olympic-rings)
  • Create gold, silver, and bronze medals using paper, clay, tin foil, or paper plates. Then connect them to a string or ribbon to wear during your Olympic games.
  • Write about a favorite sport, Olympian, or your child’s Olympic dream.

Play Sports and Competitive Activities:

  • Basketball, swimming, running, simple gymnastics tricks, volleyball, soccer, hockey, mini-golf, etc.
  • Water balloon toss or ring toss
  • Races (three legged races, sack races, spoon, or relay races)
  • Obstacle course
  • Throwing a ball through a hoop or at a target,
  • Create a long/high jump

Focus on Social-emotional Skills:

  • Model good sportsmanship- Play the Olympic games with family and friends. This gives you the opportunity to model good sportsmanship when losing, working as a team, and how to support/encourage others for your child.
  • Promote social interaction with others, sharing, and taking turns – these are all important for building friendships and play skills.
  • Use positive self-talk– “I can do it,” “I will try my best,” “The more I practice, the better I will get.” Promoting positive self-talk will help improve self-confidence, increase positive thoughts, and will help improve performance during tasks.
  • Create rules for the games to teach direction following and playing fair with others.
  • Celebrate differences– the Olympics are a time of celebration, unity, and peace. Take this time to teach your child about different cultures and countries from around the world and that we accept our differences and treat everyone equally.
  • Promote friendly competition– While playing games, time your child and see how fast they can complete the game. Then see if your child can beat their score every trial. This will promote focus, improve overall attention, and assist in friendly competition with themselves or others.
  • Identify feelings of others– Find pictures of athletes in the Olympics on the internet or in magazines which portray emotions on the athletes faces and ask your kids how they think the athletes are feeling.

Focus on Sensory Processing:

  • Tactile input
    • Create the Olympic rings with finger paint- have the child create a circle with their thumb and index finger and with a paint brush, paint their hand. Then print on to the paper and repeat with the next color (this is a great tactile play activity for the tactile defensive child)
    • Bake cookies and decorate them to look like the Olympic rings, medals, basketballs, etc. Have your child mix the dough with their hands and decorate with frosting, sprinkles, or candies. This way your child is engaging with all different textures.
  • Proprioceptive input with heavy work– Have races, whether it be while pushing a laundry basket, running around a track outside, or animal walk races (these are great activities to help regulate the sensory seeking child or increase arousal levels)
  • Oral and tactile input-Engage with and try different foods from different countries and cultures from around the world- maybe your picky eater will try something you never though they would!

Focus on Speech and Language:

  • Incorporate your child’s target sounds in the context of the Olympics. For example, if your child is working on his or her “L” sound, have them practice saying: Summer Olympics, medal, or basketball.
  • Improve expressive language by describing/explaining as well as answering open ended questions, you can ask you child some of these questions:
    1. How hard do you think the athletes work to be able to compete in the Summer Olympics?
    2. How do you think the athletes feel on the day when they will be competing in the Olympics?
    3. What types of things would you do on that big day to prepare?
    4. How do you think an athlete would feel if they took last place in the Olympic Games?
    5. If you were going to compete in the Summer Olympics, which sport would you chose and why?

Make it even more fun by making a whole day out of it and creating your own Olympic Games! Create an athlete registration table, make teams, dress up, and don’t forget the award ceremonies. Enjoy and may the odds be ever in your favor!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. 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!

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Taylor Reckert

Taylor Reckert

Taylor Reckert specializes in pediatric occupational therapy. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University where she received her bachelor’s degree of science and master‘s degree of occupational therapy. Taylor has always had a passion for working with children. In high school she worked at an occupational therapy pediatric clinic which solidified her love for the profession and working in pediatrics. While in college Taylor was part of a research team that studied the effects of integrated play groups on children with autism spectrum disorders. She completed an internship at the Detroit Institute for Children where she worked with children and gained experience with various diagnoses. Taylor's other internship was at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where she worked with people who had experienced a spinal cord injury. She is an upbeat, active, energetic person that enjoys helping children reach their fullest potential!

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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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Jessica Jamicich

Jessica Jamicich

Jessica Jamicich, Speech-Language Pathologist, earned her Masters of Science in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences from Purdue University. She gained valuable experience during the summer of 2007 when she volunteered at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. This is also where she continued her education with a medical externship in 2011 where she assisted with inpatient placement, NICU feeding and swallowing practices, videofluoroscopic swallow studies, and interpreted fiber optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing exams. There, she also helped to assess and treat pediatric tracheotomy patients in feeding, swallowing and communication skills. After graduation, Jessica began full-time employment at Beth Osten & Associates, where she worked on the evaluation and treatment of a diverse pediatric client population ranging from 2 to 10 years of age. Some of the treatment areas she worked on included receptive and expressive language, language processing, pragmatics, articulation, apraxia and fluency. She also collaborated with multidisciplinary teams to support families and establish effective and functional treatment plans for a variety of clients. Recently, Jessica participated in in DIR®/Floortime™ training and earned the Illinois Early Intervention Licensed Speech-Language Pathology Credential. Working with children has truly given Jessica great pleasure, especially when she sees patient’s success through treatment.

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Transitioning from the School Year to Summer Break

Another school year is coming to a close before we know it. By this time of the academic year, your child has most likely become accustomed to his routine, the structure of the school day, the set-up of the classroom and the schedule of the day from breakfast to bed. Just as the beginning of the year was a hard change, the beginning of summer can bring its own challenges.

While children are excited for the beginning of summer break, many parents experience anxiety. This is because the school year provides nine to ten months of structured activities, allowing your child to build academic skills, executive functioning skills, and social skills. The summer, in turn, provides the perfect time to practice and perfect these skills.  With the proper preparation and planning, the transition to summer can be eased.

Here are a few tips to transition from the busy school days to the relaxing days of summer:

  1. Create a daily schedule: this can be visual or verbal, providing your child with the overview of the day. Thetransitioning to summer daily schedule can include the morning routine, daily activities, camps, a menu for dinner, and the bedtime routine. Providing this schedule helps to mimic the routine that the school day offers, allowing a child to process the idea of consistency. This can also assist in self-regulation and executive functioning skills, including attention, memory and sequencing. Implement the idea of a schedule during the last few weeks of school as to get your child accustomed to it as they separate from the school year.
  2. Plan play dates: Play dates are essential to childhood development. The planning of these social get-togethers can be easier during the school year as parents often see each other during drop-off/pick-up times or during school sponsored events. The planning can seem more daunting over the summer but make sure you keep in contact with the families of your child’s friends. This will allow a child to still feel connected to their school year and help to build excitement for the year to come. In addition, play-dates with same-aged peers allows for sharing of skills learned at school, the peer modeling of skill, and continued practice of social skills.
  3. Organize summer academic activities: The summer is a great time to look into library programs, create summer crafts that work on fine motor and executive functioning skills, and create children’s reading clubs. Just as the academic year is meant for brains to grow and blossom, the summer is an opportunity to build on those skills. Turn math problems into summer themed scavenger hunts, take coloring and writing activities to the sidewalks, read a book about a child experiencing the school year and encourage imaginative thinking, fine motor skills and problem-solving skills.

And remember, have some fun in the sun!

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!

Monal Patel

Monal Patel

Monal Patel graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her Master’s in Occupational Therapy. Prior to graduate school she attended The Ohio State University where she earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology with a focus on child development along with a minor in human development and family science. Monal has Occupational Therapy experience working in an acute care hospital setting with adults, an outpatient pediatric therapy clinic and a hospital setting with children aged 0-3. She also has experience in leading therapy groups in both professional and volunteer capacities, including a Chicagoland Children’s Crisis Nursery. Monal’s continued passion for Pediatric Occupational Therapy was reinforced while working privately for a family with a child with special needs, where she learned the importance of growth, collaboration and, above all else, advocacy.

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ADHD and Social Skills

Social Skills And ADHD

Many children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) exhibit significant concerns with regard to their social and emotional functioning.  Research has indicated that there is a high correlation between children who have ADHD and their social skills.  What is important to understand is that many of these children do not have specific social deficits (such as those often associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder); however, the issues with impulsivity and attention to detail impact the social success of the child.

Social Concerns for Kids with ADHDADHD and social skills

Children with impulse control issues and inattention are often at risk for social concerns because of the impact that these issues have on the child’s socialization.  Oftentimes the children have difficulty ‘putting the brakes on’ when playing with peers and struggle with regulating behavior.  The other children might become upset and shy away in future social events.  These children are also at risk for missing social cues when engaging peers which might lead to rejection or neglect in future interactions.

Strategies to Build Social Skills in Kids with ADHD

It is important to provide strategies and support to improve the socialization of children who have ADHD.  These children often need extra support in non-structured situations such as the playground, recess, gym time.  Parents and teachers should work closely with the children to ensure that they are able to provide extra guidance during these activities.  Provide the child with immediate feedback about how his or her behavior is impacting the social environment as well as how to better handle the situation in the future.

Oftentimes with ADHD we are worried about a child’s academic performance; however, we must also be concerned and intervene for his or her socialization and emotional functioning.

Click here to read more about how ADHD affects your child’s social skills and friendships.


ADHD Resource Center
NSPT offers Behavior Therapy in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood (coming soon), Glenview and the Neuropsychology Diagnostic and Testing Center in 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!

Dr. Greg Stasi

Gregory Stasi, Ph.D., is a licensed Clinical Psychologist who graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor Degree in Psychology. He went on to earn his Masters and Doctorate at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he made his decision to focus his career on pediatric neuropsychology. Dr. Stasi has worked and studied at numerous medical centers including: The University of Chicago Medical Center and the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Prior to working at North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Dr. Stasi was a faculty member at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital and was a neuropsychologist at the Rush Neurobehavioral Center. Dr. Stasi has extensive experience with the assessment and diagnosis of a variety of conditions including: learning disorder, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and social/emotional concerns. Dr. Stasi also serves as a school advocate for parents by providing assistance and case management in order for children with special needs to obtain the most effective school accommodations possible.

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Toddler Won't Listen

Help! My Toddler Won’t Listen!

It’s not uncommon for a parent to say, “My toddler won’t listen!” It’s an exciting time for parents when their little one first starts to demonstrate an understanding of what is being said to him.  I remember how impressed I was when I first saw my nephew respond to the request of his mother to bring her a book.  But as a child enters toddlerhood, the question can change from, “Does he understand what I’m asking?” to “Does he understand AND will he do what I’m asking?”.  Parents in the United States typically raise their children with a goal for them to be independent and self-sufficient.  But at the same time, they still want their kids to listen to us as the adults in charge of their safety and well-being.  So, how do we accomplish this? Here are some tips to help get your toddler to listen.

5 Tips for the Toddler that Won’t ListenToddler Won't Listen

  1. Teach expectations and reward positive behaviors. While it would be nice if all kids were able to pick up on this by themselves, it can be very important to make your expectations explicit.  Letting him know that he needs to stay with you at the grocery store, or that he should signal to you when finished eating can decrease the chances of him engaging in behavior that is unacceptable to you.
  1. Use visuals. Remember that toddlerhood is a time of rapid growth and development, especially in the language arena.  While they are not able to hold and process as much verbal information as older children, they are learning to connect words to ideas.  One way to support this development is through utilizing visual aides to encourage their understanding.
  1. Simple language, simple concepts. Have you ever thought, does he even understand what I’m saying?  Well, he might not!  Keep your language as simple as possible.  Don’t give long explanations for your rules or why you want your toddler to do something.  Rather, give a simple command and pause.
  2. First/then. As infants develop into toddlers, the development of memory and other intellectual capacities pave the way for an understanding of temporal relationships.  That is to say, children at this age can begin to understand that before Y happens, X must occur.  For example, saying to a child, “first we clean up these Legos, then we can play outside” is much easier to understand than, “we’re not going anywhere as long as these Legos are all over the rug”.  You can use this first-then model with many tasks and routines of your toddler’s day.
  1. Empathize. Lastly, and perhaps the most important tip to get your toddler to listen is to empathize. Growing up is tough!  So, try to take your little one’s perspective.  Toddlers have different ways of thinking, feeling, and interacting with the world as compared to older children.  As caregivers, we must be aware that factors like feeling hungry or missing a nap can have a huge impact on a toddler’s ability to meet the demands of his environment.

If your toddler continues to have a difficult time following your expectations and behaving in appropriate ways, it is recommended to consult with others.  While toddlerhood is a typical stage of development, if you have concerns about your young one, it is recommended to consult with a mental health professional.

Do you have other tips on how to encourage your toddler to listen?  Please leave feedback below!


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NSPT offers Social 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!

Mike Meltzer

Mike Meltzer

Mike has been working with children and their families since graduating from Bradley University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. After college, Mike spent a few years as a Head Start family service worker, and later enrolled in a dual degree program through Erickson Institute and Loyola University. Upon completing his masters' degrees in Child Development and Social Work, Mike worked as a school social worker in the Evanston public schools. In Evanston, he had the opportunity to work with both elementary and middle school students. This past August, Mike joined NSPT, and he is thrilled to be working in a clinical setting.

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social IQ

Tips to Raise Your Child’s Social IQ

 

 

Social IQ is a concept developed around the idea of social skills and how well-developed they are in social settings. So much awareness is involved in developing social skills: Tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and personal space (just to name a few). It is amazing we learn most of them through observation alone! Where is the class that teaches us how to share, compliment, join a group, manage conflict, and express and understand feelings!?
For some kids, social skills develop naturally and without much emphasis, but for others, these can be daunting skills to tackle. With the new school year upon us, the classroom is a breeding ground for social mishaps and social victories.

If you notice your child struggles in social situations, here are some things you can do to help raise his Social IQ:

  • Get to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses: Is he flexible with his friends or does he tend to be a bit bossy?
  • Discuss with them the importance of friendships and what he thinks it means to be a ‘good friend’.
  • Set realistic social goals with your child (i.e. Lilly will congratulate two classmates if they win in a game or Johnny will introduce himself to a new classmate and ask to join in on an activity at recess.).
  • Involve teachers and counselors to help reinforce and observe goals.
  • Help your child talk about and identify feelings, facial expressions, and gestures.
  • Practice conflict management: develop a plan that’s easy to remember in ‘heated’ moments.
  • Take a deep breath, count to 3, and use “ I feel ______ when _________”.
  • Practice skills at home (i.e. sharing, complimenting, asking questions, waiting her turn to talk) and be a good role model!
  • Join a social skills group.
  • Social skills go far beyond the examples mentioned here, so this can be a great opportunity to not only learn new skills, but practice them with their peers in a structured setting.

Click here for a list of apps to help teach social skills.

Megan Pearson

Megan Pearson

Megan Pearson is a member of the Neuropsychology team as the Lead Neuropsychology Technician at North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Over the past year, she has assessed over 200 children presenting with ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Autism, Dyslexia, social-emotional issues, and more. Megan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Illinois State University in 2007 and subsequently graduated from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago with a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology in 2011. Megan is currently in the process of obtaining her LCPC credential. Megan also manages the neuropsychology blog team in developing and organizing blogs for NSPT. Over the years, she has had many wonderful experiences working with children in different capacities with a variety of backgrounds. She had the pleasure of conducting therapy and assessments with children and teens specializing in play therapy, anxiety, depression, behavioral disorders, and ADHD.

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prepping your child for kindegarten

On the Way…Prepping Your Child for Kindergarten

 

 

 

School is just around the corner, and some kiddos will be starting their journey into formal education as they head off to Kindergarten. Here are some tips to prepare your child…and yourself for this important milestone.

Why is it important to prepare your child for Kindergarten?

It is important that your child is prepared for this transition so they can have positive interactions when learning and participating in the classroom as well as to build their self-esteem and motivation.

What are common “readiness” skills?

While every school may have their own checklist or assessments, there are some basics skills that most Kindergarten teachers will look for including the following:

Self Help Skills

  • Child is able to be independent (eating, using restroom, clean up)
  • Able to ask for help, when appropriate
  • Can follow one-step and two-step directions

Social/Emotional Skills

  • Shares with others
  • Takes turns
  • Good listener
  • Able to work independently or in small groups
  • Plays/cooperates with others
  • Able to separate from Caregiver

Gross (large) Motor Skills

  • Runs, jumps
  • Able to bounce, kick, and throw a ball
  • Able to participate in small games
  • Can stand on one foot

Fine (small) Motor Skills

Math, Language, and Literacy Skills

  • Able to count to 10
  • Recognizes 10 or more letters, especially those in own name
  • Speaks in sentences of 5+ words
  • Speech is understandable to adults
  • Identifies and names basic shapes
  • Listens attentively and can respond to stories/books
  • Recognizes rhyming words and can put words together that rhyme

How can you help your child be ready for Kindergarten?

Here are some tips to help your child be the best they can be when heading off to Kindergarten:

  • Talk about what will happen in school—what will be the new routine?
  • Arrange a visit to the school and travel the route from home to school (especially if they will be on a bus).
  • Encourage play—independently and with other children.
  • Read, Read, Read—ask questions about the book (what may happen, what they learned), and have them identify colors, shapes, letters
  • Have child practice coloring, writing, and using scissors—“practice makes perfect!”
  • Talk with your child—ask them open-ended questions and have them reciprocate.
  • Use daily activities to point out words, numbers and help child formulate sentences of 5+ words.
  • Encourage independence in your child by having them do simple chores (ex: make bed, help set table/clean up at mealtimes, help with pets in household).

***Most importantly caregivers…be careful not to transmit any anxieties or sadness you may have when your “baby” goes off to school. Children can easily pick up on the emotions of adults, so wait until the bus is out of sight, or the car door closes and THEN pull out the tissues!!





Leslee Cohen

Leslee Cohen

Leslee Cohen is excited to utilize her education and work experience in the role of Family Child Advocate. She has always had a passion for working with children. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Science with a specialization in Child and Family Studies from The Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!!) and a Master’s Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with a specialization in Child Life from Illinois State University. With her degrees, she worked for 5 years as a Certified Child Life Specialist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. As an FCA here at NSPT, she plans on using her past experiences to bring smiles, laughter, and positivity to the children and families she come across all while experiencing the same!

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