5 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

While discussing the topic of New Year’s Resolutions, health-related resolutions must be the most popular. With this in mind, hownew years resolution many of these resolutions are actually kept through the year’s end?   This is a list of healthy resolutions that involve small changes and have a significant impact on health.  These resolutions are achievable if you are able to make them a priority. One or more of these habits can become your new lifestyle in 2013.

5 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Eat vegetables at least twice a day. We are aiming to be realistic. Many individuals do not get veggies at least once per day. Eat one of these fresh veggies as opposed to cooked or canned. If you are already eating vegetables twice a day, increase it to three times per day. For the kids, the goal is to offer vegetables at least twice a day and model the good habit. Here are some ideas to incorporate more vegetables into your diet:
    1. Roasted vegetables. Chop a variety of colors, such as red or green peppers, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, etc. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and any of your favorite spices. Put in the oven at 375 until softened and slightly browned. Great for dinner or leftover for lunch.
    2. Have plenty of prepared vegetables available for quick snacks or lunches. This can be sliced carrots, pre-washed salad greens, sliced or diced broccoli and cauliflower, snow peas, sugar snap peas or roasted vegetables leftover from dinner.
    3. Spinach or other baby greens blended in smoothies.
    4. Stir fry a variety of chopped veggies with meat, shrimp or tofu and your favorite sauce.
  2. Switch to whole grain. Once you make the switch from white to whole grain, your body will thank you. When you are used to eating whole grain products, your taste preference will adjust and the difference will not be as noticeable. Whole grain contains the fiber and nutrients that have been stripped from “white” grain products. The fiber slows the glycemic load of the carbohydrates that are digested into the blood stream so that your blood sugar does not spike and then drop as drastically after meals. Fiber also keeps things moving along in the gut as well as indirectly lowers cholesterol.
  3. Eat out once per week or less. This probably means you will need to revamp your grocery shopping routine so you always have food for meals in the house. It also means you will need to do some time management and planning so that you are able to prepare meals each week. In addition, you may need to get new recipes that will fit into this lifestyle change. Although cooking may seem more time-consuming, eating from home is one of the healthiest habits you can have. Eating out most often means consuming calories, more sodium, more additives and spending more money.
  4. Eat three meals per day, including breakfast. Eating breakfast gives your body and brain fuel to get through the day. In addition, individuals that do not eat breakfast each day tend to overeat later in the day. Aim to include whole grains, fruit and protein at each breakfast.
  5. Schedule an appointment to see a registered dietitian. All of the above ideas are great recommendations for anyone but by meeting with a dietitian, you will receive a personal assessment of your current health status. You will also receive a nutrition plan that is created just for you and your family in order to improve health and quality of life. Our dietitians can provide meal planning, recipes, grocery store meetings and in-home cooking demonstrations. They can also recommend dietary changes to improve gastrointestinal problems, food sensitivity issues, weight issues and more.

To schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian, click here.



Properly Packing Your Child’s Back Pack To Avoid Back Injuries

Pencils, pens, wide ruled paper, markers, crayons, folders, journal, daily planner, three-ring binders, stapler, staples, glue, tape and heavy back packerasers. Don’t forget to throw in the latest and greatest lunch box as well text books. Here are a few tips to help protect your child’s body from the abundance of goodies that they are carting too and from school each day:

Packing a Back Pack:

  • Your child’s backpack should not weigh more than approximately 10% of their body weight.
  • The heaviest items that your child carries should be packed closest to their back.
  • Arrange books and other school tools in a way in which they are not able to slide around in the backpack.
  • Notice the items that your child takes to and from school each day. Could your child leave some items at school in their cubby or locker?
  • To prevent a back pack from becoming too heavy or tightly packed, your child can carry a book in their arms.
  • If your child’s book bag is still too heavy or bulky after incorporating these strategies, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

Wearing a Back Pack:

  • Ensure that the weight of your child’s back pack is evenly distributed to both shoulders.
  • When choosing a back pack, select one with well-padded shoulder straps.
  • Ensure that the back pack fits snugly on your child’s back. If a waist strap is available, encourage your child to secure it while wearing their back pack.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the back pack rests in the curve of their lower back.
  • Choose the right back pack for your child’s age and size as well as one with enough room for all of their school supplies.

As a parent, you should routinely look for signs, including aching backs and shoulders, tingling arms, weakened muscles and a stooped posture that may result from a back pack that is too heavy or ineffectively packed. For additional tips, speak with a North Shore Pediatric Therapy Occupational Therapist.

*Back Pack Strategies for Parents and Students. The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
Retrieved from http://www.aota.org/DocumentVault/Backpack/44388.aspx


How to Make School Breaks Easier on Your Child and Your Family

School breaks can be a fun and exciting time for children, but they may be chaotic, stressful and dysregulating for them as well. The messy houseschool day is full of structure and predictability. While some kids may enjoy the continuous free time that vacations offer, other children may thrive during the school year and may regress academically, behaviorally and in their overall daily functioning and independence.

Here are some suggestions to help your child stay happy and continue to feel great during vacations from school:

  • Create a Daily Schedule: Outline a basic daily schedule for your child to follow. This can include an early time for them to wake-up, any household responsibilities they may have and activities that are planned for that day (grocery store, mall, movie theater, etc). Depending upon the age of your child, you may want to include precise times for the day. Pictures of the basic plan may be sufficient. This provides a level of predictability
    and structure that your child is accustomed to during a typical school day.
  • Provide responsibilities: Assigning your child specific responsibilities will give them a tangible task to not only be responsible for, but something they can also be proud of as well. It will also be a way for them to feel successful. When children are in school, they often have a classroom “job” as well as being responsible for their individual belongings. This helps them to improve their confidence and feelings of success and pride throughout the day. These feelings can easily be transferred to the home environment by assigning household chores (cleaning or organizing) For older children, writing the grocery list and having them help at the market are acceptable responsibilities.
  • Physical activity: Participating in heavy physical activity is a great way to help your child get and remain regulated. The school day offers multiple opportunities for kids to get up and move their bodies (recess, gym class, etc.). It can be simple to incorporate physical activity into your child’s day:
    • Animal walks
    • Push a full laundry basket around the house (to make it more fun setup a race course to push the laundry basket through)
    • Jumping jacks
  • Provide assignments/projects: Kids are accustomed to sitting at a desk and completing assignments each day that they are in school. They are given the opportunity to learn new information and then show what they know through their work sheets, quizzes and projects. This is another great structured activity that can also improve self-esteem and confidence in your child. A simple way to get assignments or projects for your child is to ask their teacher for any worksheets or ideas of tasks that can be done at home (worksheets, flash cards, reading). You can also incorporate more hands-on activities such as cooking, easy at-home science experiments, etc. If your child’s teacher does not have anything to help you, you can search the Internet for age/grade-appropriate projects and assignments.
  • Projects (younger kids vs older kids) cooking, art, science


Best Time to Teach a Child a Second Language | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric speech therapist will explain useful strategies to use when teaching a second language to a child.

In this video you will learn:

  • When is the right time to teach your child a second language
  • Effective tactics to use when teaching your child a second language

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’m your host Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m standing here today with a Pediatric
Speech Pathologist, Katie Secrest. Katie, can you tell our
viewers when the best time to introduce a second language

Katie: Sure. So, just like when you teach your child their native
language, you want to teach the child a second language as
early as you possibly can. The later in life, or the older
your child is, the more difficult it will be for them to
learn that second language. You’re also going to use
similar techniques when you’re teaching a second language,
just like you would their native language. You want to
model, repeat and expand, and use visuals when you can.

So, for instance, if I was teaching a child the word “ball”
in English, I would model and say, “Ball.” I would repeat
and expand, and say, “Red ball. My ball. Bounce ball,” and
then I would use a visual, just like I am here, using the
actual object.

Robyn: All right, well 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 learnmore.me. That’s

Speech and Language: What is the Difference?

At a time when families are seeking treatment for their children, they may hear terms like “speech” or “language” and wonder, what’s mother and daughter talkingthe difference?  Many children will struggle with both speech and language aspects of communication, and it is important that families understand the distinction.


“Speech” can be thought of as verbal communication. It is the set of sounds that we make (using our voice and our articulators) that comprise syllables, words, and sentences. Speech alone carries no meaning; it is merely sound.

There are three main components of speech:

  • Articulation (how we make each sound)
  • Voicing (using our “vocal cords”)
  • Fluency (intonation and rhythm)

Speech sounds emerge at different ages, and most children have all sounds mastered by age 9. Common speech errors occur when a child omits sounds (ex. “ba” for “ball”)  or substitutes one sound for another (ex. “wabbit” for “rabbit”). If you have questions about typical speech milestones, please see this blog


“Language” encompasses how we use speech to formulate sentences in order to communicate.  Language also consists of three parts:

Children may have difficulty with one or more components of language, as indicated by children choosing the wrong word, having a difficult time understanding ideas and concepts, and struggling with appropriate grammar when speaking or writing. Many older children may have difficulty decoding social language such as irony, sarcasm, or hidden meanings, which can negatively affect their ability to make and maintain friendships.

Communication is comprised of speech and language. Children struggling in one or more areas of communication may have difficulty being understood by both familiar and unfamiliar communication partners, making it more difficult for their wants and needs to be met. These difficulties may also create problems in school, both academically and socially.

Intervention can help children with difficulties in these areas. Speech-language pathologists can conduct evaluations and create plans that help to reduce both short-term and long-term effects of speech and/or language disorders. At NSPT, we want to see your children blossom, so please contact us if you have any questions about your child’s speech and/or language development!


6 Fine Motor Toys

When your child has challenges in some domain of their development, you may have questions as to what toys you should purchase art easel that will captivate your child’s creativity, allow for hours of good fun and facilitate the opportunity for your child to expand their skills.

Below is a list of toys that may enhance your child’s fine motor development this holiday season:

  1. An Easel: Easels are frequently used throughout the therapy gym to enhance fine motor skills. Their inverted plane helps your child stabilize their wrist in the correct position while completing fine motor tasks. Allow your child to exercise their creative side by coloring, drawing and writing with paint, markers, crayons and colored pencils.
  2. Piano Keyboard: Keyboards are an excellent way for your child to solidify their ability to isolate finger movements. This fine motor movement pattern is important for your child as they learn to complete self-care tasks and as they learn to manipulate their pencil. Provide your child with a workbook to teach them some of the basics of
    keyboarding skills. Simple songs to begin playing include “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Twinkle, Twinkle.”
  3. Mr. Bucket Game: This game is a wonderful way to work on turning your child’s wrist to the sky and to the floor as well as utensil manipulation.
  4. Operation: Gather around the table to see who has the steadiest of hands in this hilarious family board game. Children of all ages can work to improve their hand strength and fine motor precision while using tweezers to remove silly game pieces from the body of their “patient.” Don’t get too close to the sides or you’ll hear a big “buzz!”
  5. Scramble: This game will allow your child to practice their fine pincer grasp as they race time to fit all of the pieces into the game board before the timer runs out. As an added bonus, it gives your child the opportunity to practice their ability to visually discriminate between shapes.
  6. Wipe Clean Board Book: This booklet allows your child to become the teacher while practicing their letters and numbers on a dry erase board. These boards offer the opportunity for a great number of repetitions while first learning to write. These repetitions will lead to improved overall fine motor control and letter formation at school as well as on paper!

These are just a few examples of games and toys that could be used to enhance your child’s fine motor development. For additional examples, feel free to ask your skilled occupational therapist. Happy Holidays!


Signs That Your Child May Need Occupational Therapy

Young Girl Writing in Her Exercise Book in the ClassroomAt school, you or your child’s teacher may be noticing difficulties in your child’s school performance. Although you may not be able to see your child work in the classroom, there are some things that you can look for outside of school that  suggest your child could benefit from occupational therapy services.

  1. Difficulty Focusing – If your child is having trouble focusing on her homework, it may be a sign that she’s also having trouble focusing in class. If she gets distracted by noises or people moving about at home, she might also have difficulty paying attention at school and may not be getting the most out of her education.
  2. Difficulty Starting Homework – Your child may have trouble with task initiation if she needs help from you to start her homework or if she   can’t start without having someone present.  Occupational therapists (OT), can help your child work on task initiation so she can be independent with her schoolwork.
  3. Math Problems Don’t Line Up – If your child is consistently getting the wrong answers with math problems, it may be because she has a hard time lining up the numbers correctly. This may be an issue with organization or spatial organization.
  4. Typing Difficulties – Does your child have trouble remembering where the letters are on the keyboard, moving her fingers, typing quickly (in comparison to her peers), or staying error-free when typing? These are all components of manual dexterity and visual memory, which occupational therapists can help improve.
  5. Handwriting Issues – If your child has a hard time writing quickly and neatly, reverses letters, doesn’t form letters correctly, adds too little or too much space between words, or confuses upper and lower case letters, she may need OT to improve her handwriting skills.
  6. Messy Backpack or Folders – This may be a sign that your child has decreased organizational skills, which can affect her ability to complete the correct homework each day.
  7. Forgotten Homework – Your child may benefit from using a planner or calendar system to help keep track of when her homework and projects are due, as well as dates of tests and quizzes. An occupational therapist can help assess her organization and planning deficits and find specific strategies to help her manage her homework.
  8. Lack of Time Management – Does your child have difficulty scheduling her time? Does she spend the majority of her time on leisure activities, while not leaving enough time for homework and getting to bed at a decent hour? If your child is in middle school or older, she should be able to manage her time with little help from her parents.
  9. Poor Fine Motor Skills and Coordination – If your child has difficulty holding a pencil correctly, erasing completely, cutting, folding, or coloring, this may be an indication that your child could benefit from OT. Read our blog addressing daily activities for fine motor strength

These are just a few of the things that may indicate your child could benefit from occupational therapy. Occupational therapists can work on fine motor skills and handwriting, time management, manual dexterity, organization, spatial relationships, memory, and more. By improving these skills, your child will have a greater chance of succeeding in school!

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Strategies to Replace Hand Flapping

As I mentioned in my previous blog, hand flapping behavior from a child can occur for many different reasons and not only in childrengirl stimming with Autism. It is important to keep in mind that every child is unique and reacts to various situations in a different manner as well as with different mannerisms. Children may use hand flapping when they are overly excited, nervous or if they are demonstrating increased fidgeting.

Below are a few strategies which can be used to decrease hand flapping across environments, at home, school, and in the therapy setting:

  • Squeezing a ball or small fidget toy
  • Squeezing “theraputty”, playdough or clay
  • Pressing hands together firmly (in a prayer position)
  • Pressing hands firmly against another person’s hands, such as a long sustained high five
  • Wall push-ups
  • Give self a “bear hug” or ask an adult for a “bear hug”
  • Wash hands or rub-in lotion or hand sanitizer (this will provide deep pressure into the hands and provide increased body awareness as to what your hands are doing)
  • Verbal re-direction from adult (e.g. “It looks like your body is feeling really excited; instead of waving your hands, can you try squishing some putty or give yourself a bear hug?”)

To summarize, it is important to help your child to identify when the hand flapping behavior is occurring and what he/she can do to replace this behavior so that he does not become self-conscious or stand out from his peers. It is also important to provide consistent strategies across different environments so that the child does not become confused. These strategies can become concrete for the child. If you have any concerns regarding hand flapping and your child, please reach out to your occupational therapist to find an individualized plan that will work for you and your entire family.


All about Vitamins and Supplements for Kids

There are many vitamins and supplements that are marketed towards children and parents. Do all children need vitamins? Which oneschild with vitamin should they have? Are the gummy vitamins just as effective as the non-gummy vitamins? The following questions will help clarify when at what vitamins may be appropriate for your kids:

What vitamins should I give to my children?

The answer to this question needs to be from your pediatrician or a registered dietitian. It is an individualized answer that is based upon your own child’s nutrition intake as well as their medical needs. Vitamins and minerals do have recommended “upper limits” of dosage. Exceeding these upper limits can have harmful effects on the body. This is especially true of fat soluble vitamins.These fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body for a longer period of time than water soluble vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. There are many situations in which vitamin supplementation is very important. Make sure to consult with a medical professional before giving your child any vitamins or supplements.

Does The Brand Matter?

Vitamins and supplements are not tightly regulated in the United States, especially compared to other foods and pharmaceuticals. The FDA has strict guidelines as well as evaluation processes in order to ensure safety and validity of food and drugs in the U.S. On the other hand, in the case of supplements, there is no one regularly policing product to verify that what is on the label is what is actually in the bottle. There is no third party agency that verifies that every bottle of XYZ multivitamin actually contains 500 mg of Calcium in it. Similarly, there could be excipients (added ingredients used for manufacturing properties) or contaminants that are not listed on the label. Of course, a supplement company with these practices would not be ethical and, ultimately, will likely not be successful. The point is that brand and quality do matter greatly when it comes to supplements.

How Do I Know Which Vitamins are of Good Quality?

There are several supplement companies who produce good quality supplements. These companies use manufacturing standards and testing methods that are comparable to pharmaceutical companies.

Here are a few things to look for on labels to determine quality:

  • Labels that have dates and/or serial numbers that indicate batch testing, manufacture date and expiration date. Batch testing means that the company randomly selects a sample of supplements from a batch made and tests them in order to rule out contamination, verify quality, etc.
  • Labels that state that the supplements are food allergen-free. This means that the company takes great care in selecting what ingredients they put into their supplements. It also means that they are likely testing their products in order to make sure that there is no cross-contamination occurring from other food products that may be manufactured in the same facility.
  • Multivitamins that contain methylcobalamin as opposed to cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is the natural form of B12 and is metabolized and utilized more effectively in the body compared to cyanocobalamin. The latter form is a synthetic, less expensive form of B12, but it requires additional steps to convert it to methylcobalamin in the body. Both serve as the same function, but supplement companies that use methylcobalamin are carefully selecting their ingredients.
  • Those that are recommended by pediatricians and registered dietitians. I have a list of supplement brands that are well-respected in the nutrition field as well as those that I know adhere to pharmaceutical-grade practices. Pediatricians and dietitians also research which products provide the most appropriate levels of vitamins for children based upon their needs. For example, a supplement that only contains 50 mg of calcium and no iron is not the ideal choice for a picky eater who refuses dairy and meat and needs 800 mg of calcium and 10 mg of iron daily.

The main message is to make informed decisions when it comes to giving your children vitamins. The main goal is to provide adequate nutrition through food and not supplements. To discuss your child’s nutrition needs with a registered dietitian, schedule an appointment at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.


Top 5 Reasons Your Child Should Attend a Blossom Winter Camp!

North Shore Pediatric Therapy is offering over 17 unique camps this winter break for children ages 3 to high school.   Each camp focuses on strengthening different areas utilizing age appropriate fun activities!

Top 5 Reasons Your Child Should Attend a Blossom Winter Camp:

  1. The kids are on break from school and their routine has been eliminated! Help them find relief in scheduling a consistent camp throughout their winter break.
  2. Your other children, who do not currently attend therapy at North Shore Pediatric Therapy, always ask to play in the gym, and when your child’s therapist tells them that they cannot because it is not safe, they protest and say “it’s not fair”. Now ALL of your children are able to participate in what the clinic gym has to offer and can finally take a turn on that trampoline!
  3. Send all of your kids, and receive a discount for each one!
  4. You need a break from your kids!
  5. Knowledgeable and professional facilitators have created developmentally appropriate activities for your children that they will be sure to find fun and engaging.

To see a list of the camps, visit: www.Blossomgroups.com