texture aversion

Help! My Child Has a Texture Aversion

“Just take a bite!” “Just try it!” “One bite and you can eat the rest of your food.”

Does this sound all too familiar to you? Do you recognize this battle during mealtime? Your child may have a food texture aversion.

Signs your child may have a texture aversion:

  • Only accepting a narrow range of food choices
  • Extreme preference for certain brands of food
  • Anxiety when faced with a new food item
  • Inability to eat any foods, including foods regularly chosen within the home, when not at home
  • Preference toward avoiding food, often for an entire day, instead of trying something new
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Frequent gagging when served certain foods
  • Facial grimacing or spitting out foods
  • Vomiting when new food is introduced
  • Refusal of food is not related to a food allergy
  • Prolonged mealtimes

What you can do to help with a texture aversion:

  • Reactions
    • Keep a journal of the types of foods your child eats and his reactions to these specific foods. This list will be extremely helpful for the speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist when taking your child in for a feeding evaluation.
  • Don’t push
    • Don’t reinforce the food aversion. Many parents believe that withholding favorite foods as punishment will force the child to give in, but this will only worsen the problem. Also, promising rewards for trying disliked foods will also reinforce food aversions.
  • Modeling and fun
    • Model the behavior you want to instill in your child by eating a wide variety of foods. Children will often adopt the behaviors they are exposed to. With positive reinforcement your child will reduce stress around new foods. Also, get your child involved in meal preparation. Make playing with new types of food fun. Learn about foods and where they come from. Teach your child how foods help our bodies. Expose your child to new foods or averted foods in a fun, stress-free environment.
  • Evaluation
    • Take your child for a feeding evaluation with a speech and language pathologist or occupational therapist. These professionals will help you determine if further therapy is necessary and can introduce the concept of food chaining to your child.
      • Food chaining is the systematic process of slowly introducing averted or new foods to your child. This should be done with professional guidance.

If you believe your child may have a texture or food aversion consult with a professional feeding therapist. Remember, take the stress out of eating for your child and make eating foods a fun and exciting activity. The goal is to reduce stress for you and your child.



lisps: why they happen

Lisps: Why They Happen

Lisps, or /s/ and /z/ distortions, can happen for a variety of reasons. In younger children, these distortions are expected, but once children reach 5 years old, these distortions are no longer age-appropriate. These sounds can be difficult for children to produce, and require 3 main factors for accuracy: tongue placement (behind the teeth), manner of production (fricative, or pushing air out continuously through a small opening), and voicing (voiceless for /s/, and voiced or vibrating vocal chords for /z/).

The problem with lisps:lisps: why they happen

/s/ and /z/ lisps can negatively impact a child’s overall speech intelligibility, which can make communication difficult. At an age of rapid speech and language growth, children with lisps may find it challenging to communicate with peers and family.

The most common lisp types are interdental and lateral:

  • Interdental: An interdental lisp occurs when a child’s tongue is placed between his teeth (similar to a /th/ sound), as opposed to staying behind his teeth. This placement is very common in younger children and is age-appropriate until around 5 years old. Interdental lisps can be treated through targeting tongue placement and working to keep a child’s tongue back behind his teeth.
  • Lateral: A lateral lisp occurs when a child has difficulty with /s/ and /z/ manner of production. For these children, air flow is escaping out the sides of their mouth, as opposed to through the middle. This production is never age-appropriate, and therapy is necessary to modulate air flow to a more accurate placement.

Children with /s/ and /z/ lisps are at greater risk for distortions on /ch/ (church), /sh/ (shoe), and /dz/ (jump), and /jz/ (treasure). Should you have concerns about your child’s speech abilities and how a lisp may be impacting his intelligibility, a licensed speech-language pathologist can help!

Click here to read Tipper vs. Dipper: How to Produce the /s/ and /z/ Sounds.



time outs done right

Time-Outs: Discipline Done Right

Many parents express concern that their time-out strategies do not work.  However, when implemented appropriately, time-outs can be a useful tool for managing problematic behavior in children.  Instead of a time-out being a punishment, it can be viewed as a means to teach children how to “take a break” from a situation in order to self-regulate and calm their bodies and thoughts.  Time-outs can be an effective discipline technique when done right.

Try implementing these tips for effective time-outs:

  • Give your child a warning for non-physical behaviors (e.g., yelling) that warrant a time-out. time outs done rightCounting to three can be an effective means to teach children that they are displaying inappropriate behaviors which will lead to a time-out if they choose to continue.  For physically aggressive behaviors, children should be immediately sent to time-out.
  • Location, location, location. Time-out should involve a child being placed in a chair facing a wall, preferably in a room that limits distractions. Parents will often place children in their rooms which can be fun and counterproductive. In the world of time-out, boring is better!
  • Do not provide any social attention such as eye-contact or verbal remarks when the child is in time-out.
  • But my child will not stay in the time-out chair! At times, parents may need to prompt their children to stay seated. This could involve physically redirecting your child to the time-out chair, or standing in front of their chair similarly to a guard.  Remember, do not provide any social attention when your child is in time-out.
  • Use a timer. Set a timer somewhere within the child’s view, but not within their reach. A good rule of thumb is to use your child’s age to determine the number of minutes for the timer to be set (5 years would be 5 minutes).  However, the time-out period can be brief, as long as the child is calm and not exhibiting any negative behaviors.  The key is that children do not need to stay in time-out the entire time. This will teach your child that it is up to them to determine that they are relaxed, ready, and able to reintegrate into their previous setting.  If your child continues to display tantrum behaviors after the timer is up, re-set the timer for the same amount of time and tell your child, “Oh, it seems like you are still not ready to leave your time-out chair. We need to set it for another 5 minutes.”
  • Once time-out is finished, your child should be instructed to engage in a remediation behavior (e.g., clean up toys previously thrown), or prompted to show some type of pro-social behavior toward the person target of their aggression (e.g., hand shake, a hug, saying “Sorry”).

Extra Food For Thought in using Time-Outs:

  • Think of alternative behaviors to teach. Underlying all problem behaviors is a function.  If triggers have been identified for your child’s misbehavior, teach them adaptive ways of obtaining what they want.
  • Catch them when they are good! Kids love attention, so make every effort to praise them when they behave appropriately. We want your children to learn that you are like a light switch that turns on for good behaviors, but off for bad behaviors.

Click here to read more about positive v. negative punishment.






Crossing the Midline

MORE Activities for Crossing the Midline

As discussed in last week’s post, crossing the midline is an essential skill that affects a person’s efficiency in many of life’s everyday tasks. By engaging your child in activities that promote this skill, you are helping her to create pathways in her developing brain that can benefit her motor abilities, learning capacity, and behavior.

10 Activities to Promote Crossing the Midline:Crossing the Midline

  1. Dance! Get your child moving to a rhythm with her entire body and you will promote coordination and crossing over midline with big body movements.
  2. Play Twister.
  3. Do karaoke or grapevine walks.
  4. Engage in bimanual activities such as stringing beads, playing Pick Up Sticks, cutting with scissors, creating crafts or other projects with stamps, stickers, glue, etc.
  5. Play clapping games such as pat-a-cake or row, row, row your boat.
  6. Create a secret handshake that involves tapping feet, knees, or elbows to that of the other person.
  7. Involve him in baking! Let him stir the ingredients into a big bowl that he will have to help stabilize with one hand in front of his body, while the other makes big circular motions with the spoon.
  8. Engage him in a sorting game and encourage him to complete rounds of sorting using only one hand at a time.
  9. Play Simon Says. You could even take this up a notch and specify right or left side.
  10. Help with chores! Have her help you wipe off tables, mirrors, dishes, etc.

General recommendations to encourage crossing the midline:

  1. Always encourage children to complete self-care tasks such as dressing, eating, and bathing to the fullest extent they are capable. So many of these everyday tasks require us to spontaneously and purposefully use both hands together and to move one hand to the other side of the body.
  2. Before hand dominance is established, always present utensils (spoons, markers, etc.) at the child’s midline. Encourage the child to complete the task with whichever hand he initiates use of that utensil. Be sure he uses the other hand as the “helper” to stabilize the bowl or paper.
  3. Discourage w-sitting! W-sitting (where a child sits with his knees bent and feet out to either side of his body so that his legs form a “W” shape) has many negative implications. One of these is that the child is unable to cross midline as easily. When engaging in an activity on the floor, help your child sit “criss cross” instead.
  4. When completing work at a table, encourage your child to keep herself in the center of her work rather than scooting herself (or what she’s working on) to the left or right.
  5. Make it fun! Working on the development of midline crossing does not need to be a tedious exercise. As you engage in the fun activities listed here, you will begin to see how easy it is to adapt games and other tasks with this skill in mind. Don’t be afraid to get creative and let us know what you come up with!

Click here for a refresher on the 1st article to promote crossing the midline.

Preschool Playdate

Let’s Play! 5 Tips for a Successful Preschool Playdate

Are you considering planning a preschool playdate for your son or daughter?  That’s great!  Peer-to-peer play helps aid children in the development of their social-emotional abilities.  They learn things like problem solving, how to communicate their ideas, and how to overcome social obstacles.

5 Tips for a Successful Preschool Playdate:Preschool Playdate

Observe closely but don’t hover– Many parents have trouble deciding how involved they should be in their children’s interactions with peers.  The answer?  It depends!  The younger your children are, the more you’ll need to participate.  Children three and four years old may not need you to participate as actively, but they still need you close by.  Observe how the children play with each other.  Who takes the lead?  How do they handle disagreements?  Does anything surprise you about their play?  Remember, children behave differently depending on whom they think is watching.  So observe closely, but don’t hover.

Set expectations- Let both children know what is expected during play.  These expectations may be different depending on where in the house they play, or if they’re spending time outside vs. inside.  Keep expectations to a minimum (2 or 3 at a time).  To ensure that the kids understand, have them repeat the expectations back to you.  Then, when an issue arises you can remind them of the expectations that have been set.

Give plenty of warning before the end of the playdate- Transitions can be tough for little ones.  Let your kids know about 20 minutes prior to the end that in 10 minutes it will be clean-up time.  If you know your child has particular difficulty transitioning from social time or his favorite activity, give him more warning.

Help the children build problem-solving skills, don’t solve the problem for them – If the children playing aren’t agreeing on which toy to play with, rather than saying, “Ok, play with this toy for X amount of minutes and then play with that toy”, say something like “So you want to play with the trucks, but you want to build with blocks.  What should we do about this?”  By putting the dilemma into words, you help them recognize that there is a conflict, and that conflicts have resolutions.  If you put the question back on them and they are unable to figure something out, or if you notice emotions rising, only then should you provide a solution.

Communicate with the other child’s caregiver- If your child is going to another person’s house, let the other parent know what your child needs to be most successful when playing with others.  For example, if your child is quick to get frustrated, let the other parent know what helps your little one calm down.  Food is often involved in preschool playdates, so be sure to inform the other parent of any food restrictions or allergies.  If you’re hosting the playdate, ask the other caregiver about her child.  You may even want to invite the other parent in for coffee while the kids play.

Click here for activities to promote reading at your preschool playdates.

how tp prep your child for a new sibling

How to Prep Your Child for a New Sibling

Have a little one at home and another one on the way?  You might be thinking, “No problem, I’ve done this before!” However, this time may be a little different.  Through all of your doctor’s appointments, new room preparations, and pregnancy aches, you have a child who may be feeling any number of ways as she prepares for her new baby brother or sister.  If there’s already more than one little one at home, one might expect that reactions to the third or fourth child will be the same as when your second one came.  But beware…things change. Here is how to prep your child for a new sibling.

My primary piece of advice when preparing your child for a new sibling is to follow her lead.  Some kids might have lots of questions and show great interest in talking about the new baby.  Others might act as if you never even told them the news.  Don’t worry, kids react to these changes in all different ways.  Make yourself available to your son or daughter, while never forcing the topic.

With so much going on in your life right now, it can feel overwhelming to stay on top of all of this.

Below are some tips that parents have found helpful when preparing their child for a new sibling:

  1. Discuss changes that will occur when the newborn arrives, and start early! A newborn will bring how tp prep your child for a new siblingmany changes to the entire family, such as different responsibilities for all members of the household.  If your child will have to make significant changes such as moving his/her bedroom, try to make this change long before the newborn arrives.  This will help your little one not feel like they are being displaced by their new brother or sister.  While sharing is expected among siblings, let your son/daughter know about things that will remain theirs and stay constant.
  1. Read books about welcoming new brothers and sisters. Your local librarian is a great resource for age-appropriate books about the arrival of a newborn and books are a great way to learn about life transitions. While reading a book on the topic may spark rich discussion, it also may not.  Don’t be discouraged though; give your child time to let the changes sink in.
  1. Allow your son or daughter to be part of the planning and preparation for the newborn. Whether it’s setting up the baby’s room, looking at ultrasound pictures, or purchasing items for the nursery, having your son or daughter participate in the preparations, may help ease some of their anxiety.
  1. Expect some mixed feelings. Children’s emotions often seem all over the place. One minute they may be talking excitedly about their role as a big brother/sister and the next minute showing zero interest or even stating that they do not want to be an older sibling.  People’s emotions are often mixed about life transitions/changes, so remember to let your child know that it’s normal to have some mixed feelings about the new addition to the family.
  1. Lastly, be prepared to provide some extra support to your son or daughter, possibly more so than he or she typically requires. Of course this depends on each parents individual schedule and what time/life permits. However, spending lots of family time together and focusing on this special time you have together before the new addition arrives is important. If your child seems anxious about the arrival of the new sibling, reassuring him or her of their relationship with you will be helpful.  Maybe show them pictures from when they were a baby, so they see what it was like. While there may be lots of time and attention given to the newborn, let them know you’ll still be sure to make time for them.

Click here for 5 Roles to Assign a Sibling of a New Baby!

If you have concerns about how your child is adjusting to a new baby in the family, click here to meet with a social worker.

 

10 Great Speech and Language Apps

10 Great Apps for Speech and Language Development

These days, kids can work an iPad or iPhone before they even say their first words, and they can definitely navigate technology better than Grandma or Grandpa can. There are a number of benefits to using apps for speech and language development. First and foremost, kids love using the iPad. It’s shiny, animated, and it makes noise. It can help them maintain attention to an activity or speech and language task that they otherwise might not be interested in. And, it’s highly portable. However, the most important thing to remember when turning to the iPad for speech and language work, is that the iPad itself will NOT teach your child. Your interaction and engagement with your child and the application will be where the magic happens.

Here is a list of 10 great applications for speech and language development:

 

Name Age Range Focus Cost
Peekaboo Barn 6 months to 3 years Spatial concepts, vocabulary, animal sounds, turn-taking etc. Lite version or $1.99
Duck Duck Moose

(10 different apps)

6 months + Interactive apps, spatial concepts, vocabulary, categories, turn-taking etc. $1.99
Articulation Station All ages Speech sounds in words, sentences, stories Free download, sound packages are $2.99
Easy-Bake Treats 3+ “Wh-” questions, turn-taking, concepts, categories Free
Speech with Milo (15 different apps) 3+ Varied. Apps include focus on sequencing, articulation, prepositions, etc. $2.99
Sentence Creator 4+ Syntax (sentence structure) Free
Toca Boca

(over 15 different apps)

3+ Dependent on app. Mostly play-based but these apps are great for turn-taking, concepts, “wh-“ questions, categories, vocabulary, etc. Free – $2.99
Super Duper – Name that Category 3+ Categorization $3.99
Super Duper – Making Inferences 4+ Inferencing, answering “wh-” questions, reading, reasoning $3.99
Super Duper – Practicing Pragmatics 5+ Social language skills (i.e. politeness, solving problems, feelings, requesting, etc.) $3.99






articulation norms

Articulation Norms

Children acquire language in a typical pattern – first making isolated sounds, next syllables, followed by words, and eventually children begin to combine words into sentences to express their wants and needs. During this time of language acquisition, children are rapidly learning new sounds. Parents will notice that children don’t yet speak in adult-like dialogue and much of what a child is saying may be unintelligible to unfamiliar listeners. Rapid speech-language development can leave parents wondering, is my child developing appropriately?

The chart below represents ages that most children will acquire certain sounds. Some children will begin to use sounds earlier, and some later.

Articulation Norms by Age:

 

Age Speech Sound Intelligibility Warning Signs
3-3 ½ m, n, h, w, p, t, k, b, d, g, f, y (yes), tw- (twin), kw- (quick), and most vowel sounds Approx. 75% intelligible to adults Child should be understood by parents, caregivers. Should correctly produce vowels and /p, b, m, w/ sounds. Child should repeat/clarify without frustration.
4- 4 ½ v, j (jump or giant), gl- (glow) Approx. 100% intelligible to adults, may still have errors Child should be understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners. Should correctly produce /t, d, k, f, g/ sounds. Child should repeat/clarify without frustration.
5- 5 ½ s, “sh,” “th” (they) sp-, st-, sk-, sm-, sn-, sw-, bl-, pl-, kl- (as in clap), fl-, tr-, kr- (cracker) Approx. 100% intelligible to adults, may still have errors Child should be understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners the majority of the time. Child should correctly produce the majority of speech sounds. Child should repeat/clarify without frustration.
6 years r, l, z, “ng” (wing), “th” (think), “ch” (check) 100% intelligible, most sounds should be mastered Child should be understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners the majority of the time.


1Bleile, K.M. (2004). Manual of articulation and phonological disorders: Infancy through adulthood, Second edition. Clifton Park,

NY: Delmar Learning.

Navigating the Preschool Search in Chicago

 

 

 

Finding, applying and getting into preschool in Chicago is a daunting task.  Read here for tips on navigating this difficult process from guest blogger Laura Gradman, owner of Chicago Preschool Pro.

Before you start looking for a preschool:

  • Think about your child. What type of school environment do you think he/she needs? Consider class sizes, philosophy of education, student: teacher ratio and physical environment.
  • What are your needs as a family? Consider work schedules, other children, and logistical requirements. Remember, you will be traveling this route up to 5 days/week.
  • What are your goals for your child’s preschool education? How do you assess Kindergarten readiness?
  • Determine whether you are considering public schools, private schools, or both.

When to start searching for a preschool:

  • Typically, the admissions process begins in the fall during the school year prior to the one you are applying for. For example, if you would like your child to begin school in September of 2015, you would start now.
  • Preschool programs can begin to accept children as early as 6 weeks or as late as 3 or 4 years. Do your research to decide at what age you will send your child to school.

Where to start looking for a preschool:

  • Join the conversation. Utilize online resources, friends, neighbors, moms in baby classes, school fairs/open houses and networks like Bump Club to learn your options.
  • Learn the lingo. To understand the philosophy behind each school, you must do your research to learn the meaning of terms like Montessori, play-based, Reggio Emilia, Constructivist, Progressive and Classical.
  • Do the legwork. Find out what the admissions process involves for each school you are interested in. Be mindful of dates and deadlines and stay organized.
  • Enter the physical space. Most schools require parents to take a tour of their facility as part of the application process. Even if the school you are looking at does not require you to do so, ask to go and see the school. The physical space is a very important part of the school experience.

When looking for a preschool, try not to do the following:

  • Limit yourself
  • Fall prey to parking lot talk
  • Choose a school for the wrong reasons
  • Underestimate yourself or your child

Next Steps:

  • Go to school websites and decide where you might apply.
  • Most processes begin with a school tour. Sign up or make note of when they are offered if no sign up is necessary.
  • If magnet cluster schools interest you, apply for a pin # between September 19-December 1.
  • Download/obtain applications and begin completing them.
  • Make note of other steps in the process and stay organized.

Laura Gradman is offering a free seminar on navigating the preschool process in Chicago on October 1st at 9:30 a.m. at North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Bucktown.  Click here for more details and to register.

separation anxiety

Separation Anxiety and the Young Child

 

 

 

Children can encounter many different types of anxieties and fears as they go through early childhood. Separation anxiety is one of these types of fears.

As children enter into preschool and begin the transition into kindergarten, they may begin to have fears about growing up, being away from their parents and losing their parents. It can be very typical for children between the ages of 4 and 6 to start verbalizing and expressing these fears. This age is a time of increased independence and transitions which can lead to increased anxiety for many children. Here are some strategies to help your child deal with these concerns:

Strategies for Managing Separation Anxiety in the Young Child:

  • Empathize with your child and to let them know that you are his/her forever family.
  • Let your child know that they are not alone and that many children have these same concerns and fears.
  • Avoid giving too much reassurance to your child because this can lead to increased anxiety and dependence on you.
  • Use books as a resource. Books that focus on transitions and feelings can be very helpful at this age. The Invisible String by Patrice Karst, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney are great books to use to help ease transitions and to reduce the fears of being separated from parents.

If you notice that your child exhibits worries and fears about growing up and losing his parents and these fears do not subside within several weeks, it is recommended that you seek advice from a mental health professional in order to identify if your child needs assistance from someone to reduce their fears.