Parent Self-Care: How to care for YOU while you care for your child

Some parents feel guilty if they purposefully take time away from their kids to pursue their own interests. On the other hand, turning yourself down from these opportunities may mean you have less and less to give of yourself to your kids. Mothers who make time to pursue relaxing activities and/or favorite hobbies not only feel happier day to day, but their kids feel it too! It has a calming effect on your children and also provides you with more energy to tend to daily tasks. You need time to re-energize from the world’s hardest but most rewarding job! Here are some pointers for getting started. Please add a comment below if you have your own great idea to add!

How To Care For Yourself When You Have Children:happy parents

  • Seek out hobbies that “feed your soul”
  • Revisit your old childhood hobbies and passions
  • Wake up earlier or go to bed later than your family for alone time
  • Take bubble baths or extra long showers
  • Trade massages with your partner (or go professional)
  • Take long walks (alone or with a companion)
  • Call at least one friend per week
  • Organize “Moms only” nights with friends
  • Date night with your partner
  • Eat healthy and exercise
  • Write in a journal
  • Practice meditation and mindfulness

*Kvols, K.J. (1998). Redirecting children’s behavior. Seattle, Washington: Parenting Press, Inc. a

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North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).  Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses.  No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT  to people submitting questions.  Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.

7 Things Every Parent Should Consider When Hiring a Tutor

Whether your teacher suggests you seek additional tutoring services to help your child or you are faced with the diagnosis of a learning or behavioral disorder, finding a tutor can become an intimidating experience.

An academic tutor can be the solution to tackling reading and writing difficulties or mastering skills, but with so many tutoring centers, private tutors, on-line sources, what is the best solution for your child? What kind of tutor will best address your child’s needs? Who will best help your child become academically successful and happy?

7 Things Every Parent Should Consider When Hiring a Tutor

1.  Experience & Credentials:

How long has he or she been a teacher or academic tutor? What is his or her educational background, degrees, additional training and/or professional experience? Is his or her teaching method(s) based on proven research?

2.  Rapport:tutor reading with girl

Sounds basic, but does your child like the tutor? No one wants to please someone they don’t like or respect and this is the same for your child and their tutor. An open, caring relationship is vital to ensure your child’s dedication to achieve hard to reach goals and provide the motivation needed, especially to a child who could be lacking in faith. Oftentimes, when a parent is seeking out a tutor a child knows failure all too well. A tutor is an opportunity for a child to not only gain knowledge, but also be successful. Success will lead to more confidence and a greater intent on learning. Tutoring can be a great step in helping your child achieve his or her academic goals and become a happy, confident learner.

3.  Academic Plan:

Ask for an overview of what the tutor plans to do with your child.

Is it a computer based program or individual instruction? What materials or program will be used? What assessment will be used to create a tutoring plan that is specific and unique to your child? What feedback will be used to keep you informed of progress?

4.  One-on-One:

Does the tutoring take place one-on-one or in a group setting? One-on-one tutoring may cost more but far outweighs a group setting in terms of academic progress. Every child is different and one-on-one tutoring provides direct, focused instruction. This is especially important if your child has a condition such as ADHD and/or dyslexia.

5.  Commitment:

Is the tutor passionate about helping your child reach their goals? Are they dedicated and determined to make needed changes, accept feedback, and adjust instruction according to your child’s needs?

6.  Location & Environment:

Where does the tutoring take place? Is it in your home, at the library, in a tutoring center? Is the location convenient for you and conducive to your child’s learning?

7.  Cost & Fees:

Ask the tutor or tutoring center about costs and fees. How long is a session? What is the cost? Be sure to find out about payments and any miscellaneous fees for supplies or testing. What is the policy for missed appointments?

To meet with a trained and certified tutor, click here!

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When to Take the Pacifier Away

From the first trimester in utero, each of us seeks oral stimulation for comfort. Babies seek pacifiers often for comfort. Pacifiers are a personal choice for self soothing, therefore I will not provide a definitive age as to when the use of pacifiers should discontinue but provide insight on limitations pacifiers may have on oral development and some suggestions to reduce potential speech and feeding difficulties.pacifier

Pacifiers become problematic for two reasons. The first being the amount of time the pacifier is used, second the size and shape of the pacifier. As the baby matures, the input to the mouth changes. This especially happens during the transition to chewing. During this time the increase in jaw stability is important. Sucking on a pacifier shows minimal jaw movement, reducing opportunities for development of oral patters towards sides and back portions of the mouth causing weakness in those muscles this could potentially cause future speech and feeding complications. Second the shape of the pacifier is important to consider. The pacifiers with the large rounded shape on the top and flat surface on the bottom limits the variety of tongue movement.

2 Pacifier Tips:

1. Limit the amount of time the pacifier is used. The goal is to provide a variety of movement opportunities to build a variety of oral skills. If the pacifier is used the majority of the day and night, important opportunities for oral development are lost.
2. Use the pacifiers that have the shape that is rounded on all sides. This allows for a more natural positioning of the tongue during no nutritive sucking.

Watch this webisode of Pediatric Therapy Tv about taking away a pacifier


How To Prepare Your Child With SPD For a Birthday Party | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode a Pediatric Occupational Therapist gives practical tips for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder to get the most out of attending birthday parties. To read a blog on SPD and parties click here.

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • How to prepare your child with SPD prior to the party
  • Strategies on how to calm your child down during the party
  • How to make your child feel involved at the party

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host,
Robyn Ackerman, and today I’m standing with Marissa Edwards, a
Pediatric Occupational Therapist. Marissa, our viewers would
love to know how you can best prepare a child with sensory
processing disorder to go to a birthday party.

Marissa: Every child is going to be different. So different sensory
strategies are going to work with different kids, but these are
some general things that you can try out.

So, first of all, help the child to get lots of heavy work and
movement in before the party. It’s going to help their body to
feel very regulated, and it’s going to help them to participate
too. You want to talk with your child ahead of time about what
to expect at the party, what’s going to happen. It would
probably be helpful if you could get a hold of the birthday
child’s parents ahead of time and ask them what is going to
happen at the party, so that you can review all of those things
with your child, they know what to expect.

If any games are going to be played during the party, you can
practice those games ahead of time. If the birthday party is
going to take place at a venue other than the birthday child’s
house, you could take you child to go visit the venue ahead of
time, so that they can scope out the place, they can see what
the environment’s like, see what the energy is like inside the
place, and that will help them to feel prepared.

If your child does become overwhelmed at the party, you want to
come up with some strategies ahead of time so that your child
has some ideas in their head before the party of things that
they can do to help themselves calm down. One thing that they
could do is they could have a fidget with them. This can be
anything. It could be a stuffed animal. It could be like a
little koosh ball that they can play with. It could be putty,
something to just help their fingers and hands to be occupied.
It can help to calm them down.

Another thing that you can let you child know, as a strategy, is
that if they do feel uncomfortable, if they do feel overwhelmed,
they can remove themselves from the group and go to the bathroom
for a minute, just to kind of, you know, regroup themselves.
They also can know that they don’t have to participate in
everything that’s happening in the party. If they want to sit
out, that’s fine. If they don’t want to sing the happy birthday
song, because a lot of times that can be very overwhelming for
kids, they don’t have to sing with the rest of the kids. It’s

Another idea is that you can have your child help to pick out
the birthday present ahead of time. By involving them in that
process, that can create some investment with your child in
what’s happening so that once they get into that situation
which, you know the opening presents time is often very exciting
and loud, they will know what’s happening, they can maybe be
excited about having their friend open their present, which can
help them feel involved and excited.

Robyn: All right, thank you. It sounds like a lot of preparation is
needed to make these children feel more comfortable.

Marissa: Yeah, it really kind of is, and hopefully as they get older and
they get more birthday party experiences under their belt and
they know more of what to expect, it will get easier as they get
older and mature.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, Marissa.

Marissa: You’re welcome.

Robyn: And thank you to our viewers and remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at That’s,

Feeding Difficulty in Children- How Common Is It?

It is often assumed that eating is a natural instinct children are born with and that difficulties in this area are rare. Not so. Various studies into boy wont eat his vegetablesfeeding disorders have identified a wide variety of prevalence statistics. It is known that some children are at an increased risk for feeding difficulty; those who are born prematurely, experience early medical complications, or children with neurological disorders. But even for children without any medical or developmental diagnoses, feeding may be a very tricky skill to acquire.

Currently available data suggests the incidence of children who experience feeding difficulty is as follows:

  • Manikam & Perman, 2000: Pediatric feeding disorders are common. 25% of children are reported to present with some form of feeding disorder. This number increases to 80% in developmentally delayed children.
  • Lewinsohn et al 2005: up to 45% of children at 36 months of age exhibit some “picky eating” as defined by food refusal, or accepting food one day and denying it another.
  • Emond, Emmett, Steer, & Golding, 2010: This study compared the eating habits of children diagnosed with Autism to a sample of typically developing children at multiple ages. Children with ASD experienced feeding difficulty much more frequently and to a greater degree. Using a parent-completed questionnaire, typically developing children were identified as “very choosy” eaters as follows:
    • o 15 months: 5.4%
    • 24 months: 9.5%
    • 38 months: 15.5%
    • 54 months: 13.9%

Parents of picky eaters, the underlying message here is: you are not alone. If your child is experiencing feeding difficulty, seek out the advice of a professional- your pediatrician, an occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, and nutritionist are among the qualified individuals who can help you to better understand and navigate the factors that impact your child’s feeding abilities.


Emond, A., Emmett, P., Steer, C., & Golding, J. (2010). Feeding symptoms, dietary patterns, and growth in young children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 26, 337-342.

Lewinsohn et al. (2005). Prblematic eating and feeding behaviors of 36-month-old children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 38, 208-219.

Manikam, R., & Perman, J. (2000). Pediatric feeding disorders. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 30, 34-46.

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Dyslexia Signs and Characteristics

Dyslexia, also known as developmental reading disorder, refers to child’s difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling due to the brain’s decreased recognition of symbols (such as letters and numbers).  Read below for more information on Signs and Characteristics of Dyslexia

Signs of Dyslexia:girl reading

  • Difficulty reading single words, such as a word on a flashcard
  • Difficulty learning the connection between letters and sounds
  • Confusing small words, such as at and to
  • Letter reversals, such as d for b
  • Word reversals, such as tip for pit
  • Frequently adds and/or forgets letters in a word
  • Remembering simple sequences, for example names of people, telephone numbers
  • Difficulty understanding rhyming words
  • Recognize words that begin with the same sound
  • Easily clap hands to the rhythm of a song
  • Show understanding of right-left, up-down, front-back
  • Sit still for a reasonable period of time
  • Have difficulty with handwriting
  • Other members of your family having similar problems
  • Dreads verbal instructions
  • Difficulty keeping place when reading

Common Characteristics of Dyslexia Include:

  • Often gifted and creative
  • Difficulty rhyming words and sounds
  • Poor sequencing of numbers (12 for 21) and words (was for saw)
  • Poor spelling
  • Avoids reading aloud
  • Difficulty organizing ideas to speak or write
  • Avoids writing tasks
  • Left/right confusion
  • Slow to memorize alphabet and math facts
  • Reading comprehension difficulties
  • Trouble following oral instructions
  • Appearing restless or easily distracted

For more information on Dyslexia Treatment, please click here.

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Checklist References:

Take the Battle out of Brushing | 5 Strategies to More Successful Tooth Brushing!

Is tooth-brushing ever a battle in your household? Have you bought every sort of toothbrush and toothpaste out there, and nothing seems to help the process go smoother? Some children may have sensory aversions to brushing their teeth (e.g. scratchy bristles and gritty toothpaste), while some children may have behavioral aversions to brushing their teeth (e.g. fear, anxiety, or control). Either way, try some of the strategies below to help your child be on their way to a brighter, healthier smile!

Tips To Get Your Child To Brush His Teeth:

1. Print off or create a picture of the mouth to use as a visual model/diagram: this will help the child to see what area of the mouth the parent is going to help them to brush (e.g. front teeth, side teeth, back teeth, molars, tongue) while also helping the parent to feel in control of the situation. Similarly, one area can be focused on at a time, rather than taking on the entire mouth in one sitting. Overall, both verbal and visual strategies help a child prepare for what is coming next, as well as to reinforce (e.g. “Now Mommy is going to massage your front teeth! Can you put a sticker on the picture of the front teeth?”).

2. Use a mirror, bite block, or flavored tongue depressor to help explore their mouth: this helps to provide both visual and tactile awareness to the areas the tooth brush will be reaching.

3. Rename the task: rather than calling it tooth-brushing, rename it with something less intimidating such as “tickling” or “massaging” so that your child does not associate pain with “brushing”. Similarly, instead of using more intimidating words such as molars, create new names such as “big back teeth”.

4. Use toothpaste during a non-toothpaste time: instead of only getting the toothpaste out in the morning and before bed, pull it out at random times throughout the day and explore it with your child (e.g. squirt it onto your finger or onto a paper plate, touch it, smear it, lick it, draw a picture with it, rub it between your fingers, brush your teeth using your finger). This will help to lighten the mood and will help them to explore with each of their senses (touch, taste, sight, smell).

5. Try a musical toothbrush: this provides the child with an auditory cue as to how long they need to brush for and when they can stop. It also gives them a time expectation (when the music stops, they are done, and they know it).

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Positioning for Infants 101

Recent statistics show that 1 in 10 babies have plagiocephaly, or flatness to one side of their head. Since 1992 when the American Academy of baby on tummyPediatrics launched the “back to sleep” campaign, cases of SIDS have dramatically decreased. However, cases of plagiocephaly, or flat head, have increased. With babies spending so much of their day on their backs, in swings, car seats and bouncy chairs, babies aren’t given the proper tummy time to let their head naturally round out.

Positioning your infant to switch the direction that they are laying is recommended to prevent flatness to one side of their head. Simple positioning things that parents of little ones can do at home are:

Ways To position Your Infant:

  • Providing ample tummy time daily: start with just a few minutes and work your way up from there. By 5-6 months, aim for ½ of play time to be on the tummy.
  • Alternate the hip or arm where you carry your baby. This way, they have equal opportunity to look both ways and keep their neck muscles flexible.
  • Alternate the end of the crib each night where you place your baby to sleep. This way, if they are always looking at one part of the room, ie a nightlight, window or door, they will have a different part of their head that they are sleeping on each night.
  • Alternate the end of the changing table where you change your baby.
  • Limit use of carseats, swings, bouncy seats or any device where a child is “contained.” Excessive time in these “containers” can cause a flat head on one side and limit gross motor development.
  • When your child is in a car seat, a cushioned head support will help keep some pressure off the back of their head.

It is normal for your babies’ head shape to not be completely round following a vaginal delivery; however, head shapes usually round out from the pressures of delivery within the first 6 weeks of life. It is important to use the positioning techniques above to ensure that your baby has a nice round head shape as they continue to develop.

If you are concerned about your babies’ head shape, talk to a physical therapist or your pediatrician. Physical therapy can help round out your child’s skull and help with gross motor development.

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What is Oral Motor | Pediatric Therapy Tv

Pediatric Speech and Language Pathologist explains what Oral Motor is and how it develops in babies through childhood. For more on Oral Motor and feeding problems read this blog:

In this video you will learn:

  • What is Oral Motor
  • How babies can build oral muscles
  • How oral motor realtes to speech

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. Today I’m standing here with Allison Raino, a
pediatric speech and language pathologist.

Allison, a question we get a lot from our viewers is what
exactly is oral motor and how does it relate to speech?

Allison: Oral motor is essentially the strength and coordination of the
oral muscles in the mouth. There are thousands of receptors and
muscles in the face that all need to work in conjunction with
each other in order to say speech sounds accurately, as well as
being important for feeding and swallowing.

Many of our responses are reflexive, such as coughing and
swallowing. Those muscles need to be strong enough. We do those
while we are sleeping so we don’t even think about those while
we are doing them. Building up their strength is important, and
is especially important for babies and toddlers. We want to
provide an environment where they are exploring the environment
orally so we are providing multiple ways to develop that oral
muscle strength and coordination.

As you know, babies stick everything that they find in their
mouth. That’s their first way of learning about their
environment – it goes right in their mouth. We want to encourage
that, because with that they are learning a variety of different
tongue movements as well as increasing their jaw strength.

How that relates to speech is we see their development grow from
the cooing stage, where it’s the very basic sounds of the vowel
sounds. As their muscles mature and they become stronger and
more coordinated, we see the babbling stage, and then eventually
the move up to true words and then to phrases. We want to
encourage them to develop those patterns and provide a variety
of opportunities for them to strengthen their muscles as well as
coordinate them.

Robyn: Great. Thank you so much. And thank you to our viewers. And
remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at That’s

iPad and iPhone Apps For Autism

What a difference one year makes in the world of technology!!.

Recently, everywhere you look, people are on their iPads, iPhones, iPods. Imagine if there was a way to help your child improve his/her social skills by using these technological advancements… well NOW THERE IS!  iPad and iPhone application developers have tons of applications to help children of all developmental levels. These applications offer a new method of teaching social and communication skills. Below are a few of my favorite applications that I use almost daily with clients here at North Shore Pediatric Therapy!

Application Name

Description of Application



Here you will find flashcards that help with language building. Most of (if not all) of the images are realistic images.* Actions   * Vehicles  * Rhyming Words  *Feature  * Healthy Habits * Functions  * Foods* Emotions  *Science  * Shapes  * Clothing * the Alphabet * Pretend Play *Zoo Animals  * Sports  *Instruments  * Places * Problem Solving* Receptive Identification. What I like most about these apps are how easy and beneficial they are. Many of the “receptive identification are Feature/Function/Class combined and it is from a field of three.


Puzzles, matching games and various word games. This application really helps with morning routines by using an interactive approach with cartoon characters.

Reward Charts

Here you can add multiple charts, configure chart numbers, add behaviors/activities. This is especially good for families with multiple children and also can be very useful in our social groups.


This is a starter album to help increase communication Parents can also download their own pictures and sounds. It is very similar to a communication device/pecs

Who Am I?

This provides the learner with 4/5 clues and the learner has to guess which animal you are describing This is great to help promote social conversation while also helping the child with clues about topics.

Animal Fun

This app says the name, the sound the animal makes, and how to spell the name It is great to help prompt social conversation while learning about animals.


A tool to help children learn the concept of taking turns Helps children cope with taking turns while practicing this skill

123 dominoes


This is a great way to teach colors, color matching, shapes and shape matching. It also has fun music to go along with it.

Learn to Talk

Helps teach children how to speak while using the natural progression of sounds and words. This application really helps with the natural progression of acquiring sounds and words.It begins with high impact words, then expanding meaning by changing intonation of speech, adding vocabulary (nouns and verbs) the developing early syntax and simple word combinations


Visual Timer This is a great tool to help children with transitions to and from any activity

Conversation Builder    

Allows your child to chose which response they feel would be the correct response and then they get to record their own voice Discriminate between subtle differences which can negatively or positively impact a conversation.
First Then Visual Schedule    Create digital visual schedules with several format options

Avakid: See Me Go Potty

This unique potty training app provides a simple cartoon avatar that resembles your child/children, and then reinforces your child to repeatedly use the potty It teaches your child to go potty . and also has “Go Potty”  narrative showing him/herself successfully complete the whole process of using the potty step by step instructions. There is also an accident scene.



All of these apps are available to download in the iTunes store. Prices are subject to change. All apps are regularly updated so be sure to check for updates!! If you find an app that you absolutely love, check out the section “Customers Also Bought” and “More iPad Apps from…”  Have fun with these!

If you know of a great app that other parents would benefit from. please leave a comment here with the details!

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