Tips to Improve Washing and Grooming for the Sensitive Child

Often, children get frustrated when they try to bath, wash, and groom . They don’t always know what to expect, depending on the specific sensory challenges they face. Allergies, poor balance, and fear of water are just a few of the issues they may deal with as they approach these tasks.

Here are some useful tips to help your child adjust to daily washing and grooming activities:

  • Try using a visual schedule, including picture symbols for each task. Setting predictable routines will help your child know what to expect for everyday self-care tasks.Little boy resistant to taking a bath
  • Use a heavy washcloth and slowly apply deep pressure to clean the face and body. Do the same while shampooing. Slow deep pressure is more organizing than light touch.
  • Allow the child to choose shower or bath. If your child is fearful of balance-related activities, try showering rather than bathing. If your child has poor standing endurance or visual perceptual difficulties, bathing may be more tolerable for your child.
  • Dim the lights and minimize sound if your child is easily overwhelmed.
  • Use unscented soap to decrease sensitivity towards smell. This may also help with skin irritation if your child’s skin is sensitive.
  • Use a small hand towel (again, with slow deep pressure!) to dry, as it is less bulky and easier to manage. Dry off in front of a mirror and talk about each body part as you dry it to increase your child’s body awareness.
  • Use motivators and music. Praise small accomplishments and make bath time fun with toys/ games!

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What To Expect When You Are Expecting… Special Needs

With the new movie “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” coming out based on the pregnancy bible, it is important for expectant mother’s and father’s to also familiarize themselves with the possibility that they may have a child with a special need.  Of course, the last thing we want to think about when we are What To Expect When You're Expectingpregnant is a special needs child. However, a pregnant couple can just keep in mind what to look for or ask when they are expecting:

5 Steps to take when you are expecting a baby:

  1. If the ultrasound is anything but normal, or if they see anything that raises concern, find out what can be done immediately upon birth.  You may also want to set up meetings with a therapy clinic to talk with experts and specialists.
  2. Read up on parenting, behavior management, and normal child development so that you know what to look for when the infant arrives. You do have a pediatrician, but you are the expert on your own child and even pediatricians will depend on you, the parent for providing any concern or red flags. The American Pediatric Association is a great resource as is the state association, such as the Illinois Pediatric Association.
  3. Tell your best friends and your family to let you know if they ever think something is off or up with your baby once it comes. Ask them beforehand, you may be too emotional afterwards.
  4. Eat well, exercise per doctors orders, keep yourself happy and calm, and avoid alcohol and non-advised medicine, see your OBGYN for regular pre-natal visits and stay out of trouble!
  5. If you are an expectant mom, expecting an adoptive baby, use expert websites such as the Children’s Research Triangle  in Chicago, or Northwestern Family Institute, to know what to be looking for in your child. You may not have been there for the first months and need to be a super-detective when it comes to you child.  Read the blogs here, to learn everything you can about child development!

While you need to enjoy your pregnancy, reality and knowledge is always a good thing to have just in case.  No parent is ever fully prepared for a special needs child.  However, have any knowledge prior to a diagnosis, will only help you make the right decisions for your child and family.

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Food Allergies in Children

This week is Food Allergy Awareness week (May 13-19). For many of us adults, it is surprising how many children these days have food allergies. We peanut butter allergyremember bringing birthday treats to school, and all eating at the same table in the school lunchroom. Today, many schools have banned edible birthday treats altogether, and have designated “allergen free” tables at lunchtime. The grade school my mom teaches at has signs posted on the classroom doors that read “Nut-Free Classroom.”

The answer to the question “why have food allergies become more prevalent?” is still being investigated. A food allergy involves an IgE-mediated immune response in which the immune system reacts to protein fractions in foods, producing a variety of symptoms for different people. A food intolerance does not actually involve the IgE immune response, but still produces symptoms. In either case, strictly avoiding the particular food is the best treatment.

There are eight common food allergens, which the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network estimates account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions:

8 Common Food Allergies:

  1. Wheat
  2. Soy
  3. Dairy
  4. Eggs
  5. Peanuts
  6. Treenuts
  7. Fish
  8. Shellfish

Diagnosing Food Allergies:

Diagnosing food allergies can be somewhat tricky, as blood tests that look for elevated IgE markers in response to certain foods can produce false positives and false negatives. Symptoms present differently depending on the individual, and can be severe as in the case of anaphylaxis. Other signs and symptoms are less obvious, and may be overlooked as a possible food allergy. Some I have seen in the clinical pediatric setting include:

Signs of a Food Allergy:

  • Rhinitis (aka “runny nose”) or general congestion
  • Chronic ear aches (resulting from congestion)
  • “Allergic shiners” which are dark and/or swollen circles under the eyes
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Vomiting or reflux
  • Suboptimal growth or a slowing of growth

A definitive way to determine food allergies or intolerances is through an elimination diet. A registered dietitian can educate parents and children on how to do an elimination diet successfully, which can provide clear answers and a path to better health. The elimination diet is also useful for breastfeeding mothers whose infants are showing signs of possible food allergy or intolerance.  A registered dietitian can also provide education and alternatives for infants who are formula fed and not tolerating standard infant formulas.

Once a food allergy or intolerance has been identified, a registered dietitian can also provide education and guidance for families on how to eliminate the food (and all forms of it), as well as alternatives that can be consumed.  At North Shore Pediatric Therapy,  an experienced pediatric registered dietitian can help your child feel the best he or she can, food-allergy free.

Click here to schedule a nutrition consult

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