Posts

Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy Your Very Own Body Pillow

Throughout the clinic, the options are endless as far as games to play, equipment to climb, and toys to use. With all the available choices, onebody pillow item continues to be a favorite of children of all ages and interests: the body pillow. For all of you craft-loving parents, as well as those (like me) who are “creatively challenged,” here are DIY instructions for creating your very own, personalized body pillow.

Step 1: Cut a large foam block into tons of little pieces varying in shape and size. Most pieces should be about four inches in diameter. Set these pieces aside for later.

Step 2: Next, choose a simple twin-sized duvet cover. Fill this cover with the foam pieces as full as you see fit. This will create the body of the pillow. Some kids prefer the pillows to be overflowing with foam pieces so that they can sit high up on top, while others prefer to sink into the crevices of a pillow that is less full. Once the foam is in the cover, secure it tightly by using the buttons and by tying the ends into knots.

Step 3: Once the body of the pillow is filled to your child’s preference and tightly secured, slip it into a second duvet cover. This is where you can add a personal touch by choosing a fabric that is your child’s favorite color, has her favorite movie character, or matches the interior decoration scheme in her room. Once again, make sure this casing is secured tightly to prevent the foam from escaping. A second cover also gives you the opportunity to wash the outermost layer of your new pillow without emptying the foam.

Step 4: Kick back and relax on your very own personalized body pillow.

Here at NSPT, we use the encapsulating body pillows for an endless amount of activities. At home, you can use the new comfort havens in a quiet place where your child can go to be by herself, calm down after an argument, or read a book.  She may feel a sense of comfort and ownership if she has a safe place that is designated as her own. The pillow can also be used for various activities that can provide your child with deep proprioceptive input to help her self-regulate. In the clinic, for example, we frequently use the pillow to help us create “Kiddo Sandwiches.” In this activity, the children lay on a soft surface under the pillow while their therapist “squishes” their bodies with quick and rhythmic pushes on the pillow. Kids really get into this activity and frequently tell their therapist what ingredient should be squished into their body sandwich next (e.g., cheese, turkey, or mustard).

Whether you use the pillow as a place to lounge, a self-regulation tool, or just a cool piece of furniture, it is sure to become a family favorite in no time. This is a great craft to save for a rainy day and a great one to get the whole family involved.

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

Sample Activities to Increase Oral Awareness!

Development of oral facial muscles is important for a child to accurately produce speech sounds. Poor coordination and strength of articulators can adversely affect skill development for speech sound production. When looking at oral development it is important to ensure the child is provided a variety of movement opportunities to build a variety of oral skills. Movements should include movements of the jaw, tongue, and cheeks to build strength and coordination.

Father practicing oral awareness with child

Below are sample activities to do at home to increase oral awareness and movement

  1. Gather two sets of 5 items varying in size, texture, shape, and temperature. For example; ice, a tongue depressor, straw, teething toy, and straw. Encourage your child to use each of the objects in oral-exploratory play. Imitate your child’s movements and comment on what your child is doing and how it makes the mouth feel.
  2. Mirror play! Have your child sit with you in front of a mirror. Explain that you will be playing a “clown” game. Feel free to dress up in silly hats or clothes to play the game! Instruct your child that you will be taking turns making silly faces in the mirror and copying each other. With your models, make sure you do a variety of tongue movements. Stick your tongue out, move it side to side, lift up the tip up to touch your nose. Have your child practice the movement 2-3 times before it is his or her turn to put the clown hat on.
  3. Play musical “chairs”. Choose objects around the house that include a target sound. For example if the target sound is “b” you could find a book, bear, bottle, bread, and bowl. Place pieces of paper on the floor, with the item on the paper, in a circle. Have the child walk from sheet to sheet until the music stops. Once the music stops, have your child say the target word they land on. You can also write the word on the pieces of paper to increase print sound awareness.
  4. Cut an egg carton in half lengthwise, turn it upside down, and color or paint each of the 6 protruding sections a different color. Next, find a puppet or an animal with a large mouth. Find small “food” items to feed the puppet. These could be marbles or pretend food. Tell your child that you are going to sing silly songs to help feed the very hungry animal! Model a sequence of three sounds varying in intonation tapping the egg cartons to pace each sound as they are sung. Different intonation patterns can include rising/falling pitch or increase/decreased loudness on individual sounds. For example, “ ba BA ba”. Think of the NBC studio signature tone. Once the silly song is imitated you can feed the hungry animal! Using rhythm and a singsong voice has been proven to help facilitate speech output.

These activities will encourage oral motor development in a fun and exciting way. Your child will be learning and exploring and improve his oral awareness in the process!




Up Up and Move Away with Kids!

Moving is already a stressful process without adding children into the equation.family moving day

Here is a list of life-saving tips that may help to ease both you and your children throughout the transition!

  • Before the move, start preparing the children by showing them books about moving to a new home. Show them pictures of the new city, the schools, the playground, the pool, etc. You should also discuss any feelings that the children may have regarding the move.
  • The day before the move, make sure the children have enough sleep.  Tired children will make the moving experience much more difficult for the entire family.
  • During the day of the move, have a backpack ready for each child that includes music, books, activities and additional batteries to keep them busy throughout the day.  Remember to pack snacks as well as the day will become quite busy. Hungry kids =cranky kids
  • Take a log of pictures of the entire experience, from packing and moving days to the first few weeks og living in the new house.  Make the experience very exciting!
  • Once you arrive at your new home, remember the needs of your children. You are bound to encounter issues that will most likely exhaust you. Consider hiring a babysitter for the first few days of the transition. An extra adult to have around will be able to give your children the attention they need while you are packing and unpacking.
  • Plan to take a day off from everything once you are finished with the move. This will allow the family to reconnect and recharge.

If your child is in therapy, ask your therapists for home program information so that you may continue the therapy on a daily basis.

Enjoy your new home!

LOVE WHAT YOU READ?  CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOGS VIA EMAIL!

Keeping Up Behavior Goals at Home and at School

You have already taken the first positive step to developing a set of behavior goals for your child; however, as it is true with many of life’s most boy yellingimportant projects, follow-up is equally important as the initial step.

This blog offers suggestions relating to meeting those behavior goals you have set for your child by using three basic techniques:

  • Making Tracking Behavior Fun
  • Using Public Posting as a Motivator
  • Involving your child in the process of tracking behavior.

Making Tracking Behavior

The task of tracking behavior is much more effective (and pleasant) when you and your child cooperate as a team.  For instance, allowing your child to participate in making or decorating their behavior goal chart may make the process more fun.  Sit down with your child with a poster board and crafts materials to come up with the chart as a team!

Using Public Posting as a Motivator

It is important to understand that public posting should be used to motivate, rather than punish your child.  For that reason, using a reward-based system, such as giving gold star stickers, is a great way to get results. It also allows your child to see their progress he has made.

Involving Your Child in the Process of Tracking Behavior

Children respond best to behavior goal programs when they are involved in the data tracking.  Whichever system you are using, be sure to involve your child in the data tracking element.  For example, if you are using a chart in which behaviors are tracked with a tally system, allow your child to make the tally marks and be sure that they understand what the marks signify.  By doing this, they will be more involved in the process of tracking behavior and they will better understand the goals they are trying to achieve!

Get Teachers involved in Tracking Behavior

Consistency is crucial when it comes to reaching behavioral goals.  This implies that the behaviors need to be tracked and addressed at school as well as at home.  Teachers are a great resource that can help your child reach behavioral goals. Open a dialogue with them and do not be afraid to discuss any behavioral issues that you are trying to address.  Goal-based programs are much more successful when all of the child’s caretakers are on the same page!

LOVE WHAT YOU READ?  CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOGS VIA EMAIL!

Household Chores for Children by Age

Children doing household choresWith school, holidays and less time to keep up with household chores, parents everywhere are looking for a few more helping hands to keep “home base” spick and span. Here is a brief overview of developmentally appropriate household chores:

Here is a brief overview of the developmental sequence of household chores:

Chores for a 13 month old:

Your child should begin to imitate you completing household chores. Pushing a pretend vacuum cleaner over the carpeting or helping you wipe up their craft table are excellent examples.

Chores for a 2 year old:

Your child should demonstrate the ability to pick up and put away their toys with verbal reminders (e.g. clean-up your puzzle before lunch).

Chores for a 3 year old:

Your child should be able to carry things without dropping them; dusting, drying dishes, and gardening. They should also be able to wipe up their spills.

Chores for a 4 year old:

Your child should be able to prepare dry cereal and snacks for themselves. They should also be able to help sort laundry before washing.

Chores for a 5 year old:

Your child should be able to put their toys away neatly, make a sandwich, take out the trash, make their bed, put dirty clothes in their hamper, and appropriately answer the telephone.

Chores for a 6 year old:

Your child should be able to help you with simple errands: complete household chores without redoing them, clean the sink, wash dishes with assistance, and cross the street safely.

Chores for a 7-9 year old:

Around 7-9 years of age, your child should begin to cook simple meals, put clean clothes away, hang up their clothes, manage small amounts of money, and use a telephone correctly.

Chores for a 10-12 year old:

Your child should have the ability to cook simple meals with supervision, complete simple household repairs with appropriate tools, begin doing laundry, set the table, wash dishes, and care for a family pet with reminders.

Chores for a 13-14 year old:

Your child should be able to independently do laundry and cook meals. By expecting your child to complete daily chores before moving onto their preferred activities, it is a wonderful way to prepare them for the demands of homework and other activities when they return to school.

Children of all ages can contribute to keeping up with housework. In addition to keeping your house clean, chores are also an excellent way to instill a sense of ownership and responsibility into your child’s daily routine. Your child could be responsible for one or two chores each day, or each week, depending on the time they have available. Create your own system for keeping track of the chores your child has completed (ex. sticker chart or a marble jar). Each time your child completes their chore, reward them with one token (ex. one sticker or one marble). When they reach 10 tokens, reward them with a bigger prize of their choosing (ex. an ice cream treat or a trip to the zoo). Be sure to verbally praise your child with each attempt at completing a chore and assist them as needed, especially while they work to complete a novel duty. Your verbal encouragement paired with the reward system will only help to motivate your child to take on more and more responsibility at home.

Fleming-Castaldy, R. P. (2009). National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam: Review and
Study Guide. Evanston, IL: International Educational Resources, Ltd.

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

Developmental and Therapeutic Uses for Playdoh

There are so many common household items and children’s toys that have great therapeutic value when used or playedLittle girl playing Play-doh with in certain ways.  Playdoh may seem like an item that children use solely for creative play, but it can be a therapist’s and parent’s go-to activity that is both fun and extremely beneficial to a child’s development.

Developmental Skills that can be optimized through the use of Playdoh:

  • Hand Strength Whether your child is smashing the Playdoh into pancakes, squishing it so it explodes through their fingers, or using the Playdoh tools to create a spaghetti dinner, the muscles in the hand are constantly working and the Playdoh acts as a resistive force.  This is a great activity for kids who have handwriting difficulties, complain of getting tired while writing, don’t have a clearly defined hand dominance or have overall fine motor delays.
  • Bilateral Coordination Activities that target bilateral coordination and are fun to do at home may be difficult to come up with, but Playdoh is a great solution.  Many kids who have challenges with bilateral coordination often have difficulty with daily tasks like using a knife and fork to cut food and tying their shoes.  Kids can roll the Playdoh out into a flat “pancake-like” shape and then practice using a knife and fork to cut the food into small pieces.  This is a safe way to practice cutting foods as plastic utensil can be used and doesn’t waste food.  Cookie cutters or actual Playdoh toys with imprints of real food can also be used to add another layer to this activity.
  • Practicing Writing and Drawing Writing or drawing shapes in Playdoh is a great alternative to traditional writing activities; it may be more motivating for some kids who have difficulty with writing tasks while offering a resistive surface which improves hands strength at the same time.  Roll out Playdoh (modeling clay can be substituted for older kids who may benefit from a more resistive surface) onto a cookie sheet or similar surface and use a chopstick, pencil, or even the child’s finger to write letters.  For kids who are just learning to write or have a hard time with letter formation, shapes can be substituted, or an adult or older child can make a light impression of the letter and the child can trace using their full force.
  • Tactile Sensitivities For children  with tactile sensitivities, they are often fearful of or hesitant to touch a variety of textures.  Playdoh is a great transition item to use to bridge the gap between common firm/hard surfaces which are often “comfortable” and the textures which a child is sensitive to, such a soft, sticky and/or mushy to name a few.  Playdoh is easy to clean up and can be used in a variety of ways (cookie cutters, incorporate it with a child’s trains or action figures, have a tea party, etc), making it the perfect tool to introduce to a child who may have tactile sensitivities.  A great way to progress after becoming comfortable with store bought Playdoh is to find a recipe online for making your own Playdoh at home. These are often quick and easy recipes using common household items and can usually be colored in a fun way; some are even edible making this a total sensory experience and a lot of fun!

Playdoh has so many uses besides being a fun and creative tool for play for kids, but because it is fun and so versatile, it is an invaluable tool for working on therapeutic goals at home. There really isn’t a wrong way to use Playdoh as long as your kids are having fun and using their hands to explore.

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

Creative Ways to Help your Child Work on Handwriting

Working on handwriting at home can feel like a lose-lose battle for parents and children alike.  It can be a challenging and/or least preferred activity for children, which makes it hard for parents to want to implement and follow through with.  While handwriting is certainly an activity which your child’s occupational therapist or academic specialist can help with, it is extremely important to expose your child to handwriting consistently at home on a daily or weekly basis.

Boy writing

Below are different creative writing ideas to get your child practicing his handwriting with less hesitation!

  • Write the family grocery list
  • Copy a recipe onto a recipe card
  • Create a bucket list of activities or places to go
  • Make a birthday list (e.g. places to have next birthday party; themes for party)
  • Write upcoming events onto the family calendar
  • Write out personal goals for the upcoming school year (e.g. to be part of a school play; to join a new sports team; to get straight A’s)
  • Keep track of what you ate each day or plan meals for the next day
  • Help create a to-do list (e.g. chores; long-term homework assignments)
  • Keep track of a topic of interest (e.g. bird watching)
  • Write a book report on your favorite book
  • Make a comic book with drawings and short phrases
  • Copy jokes into a booklet format (e.g. from laffy taffy wrappers or popsicle sticks)
  • Create a list of potential outfits to wear to school or to pack for an upcoming vacation
  • Write out cards to send to family/friends
  • Paraphrase the rules to a favorite board game or card game

The suggestions above can help your child find a handwriting activity that he does not mind doing.  If it is still a struggle, offer him two options for the day (e.g. you can either write my grocery list for me or write out a card for Grandma’s birthday).  You can also try setting a timer and let your child know that he needs to write for 10 minutes or come up with at least 3 sentences (or whatever is age appropriate compared to his peers at school).  Lastly, for the first few trials, don’t feel like you have to edit or critique your child’s work, rather, just have him try to do his best work and praise him for being creative or trying something new.  There will be plenty of opportunities to work on sizing, spacing and spelling after handwriting becomes more of a routine at home.

Love What You Read? Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

How to Determine if a Child Has Executive Functioning Difficulties | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric neuropsychologist explains ways to tell if a child struggles with executive functioning.  Click here to download a FREE checklist on Executive Functioning Signs by age!

In this video you will learn:

  • What factors the child struggles with daily
  • How executive functioning issues start at home
  • What a child needs help with when they suffer from executive functioning

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 today I’m sitting here with Dr. Greg Stasi, a Pediatric
Neuropsychologist. Doctor, can you give us some tips on how to identify if
a child needs help with executive functioning?

Dr. Greg: Of course. When we talk about executive functioning, we’re
talking about a child who struggles with organization, initiation on tasks,
problem solving, cognitive flexibility. This is a child where the morning
routine is going to be extremely difficult. They can’t follow through on
tasks. The parent has to follow through constantly to get them out the door
in the morning. It’s a child who starts projects at the last minute,
Sunday evening, when a project is due Monday morning. If we’re seeing the
child not be able to develop strategies on how to complete homework
assignments and if the child gets frustrated easily, those are all symptoms
and characteristics of what we’d expect in a child with an executive
functioning issue.

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 learnmore.me.