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Best Apps to Reinforce Occupational Therapy Concepts

Within our day and age, technology can be used in many ways to facilitate daily functional skills. In regards to occupational therapy, there are many apps that can be used to facilitate and reinforce occupational therapy concepts at home with your child. The following apps are great for facilitating listening skills, transitions, attending to tasks, self-regulation, body awareness and handwriting skills. Blog-Occupational-Therapy-Concepts-Main-Portrait

These apps are easy to use and can be used anywhere and at any time to reinforce occupational therapy concepts:

Metronome App

  • Importance and benefits of using a metronome:
    • Help develop and improve rhythm
    • Improves listening skills
    • Facilitates the ability to attend over an extended period of time.
  • Population:
    • Any child with difficulties following directions, attention, and rhythm.

ASD Tools

  • Importance and benefits:
    • Helps with transitioning from one activity to another, attending to specific tasks, as well as, following directions.
  • Features:
    • Visual schedule
    • First-then visual
    • Timer with a visual
    • Reward system
  • Population:

Brainworks

  • Importance and benefits:
    • Great and easy way to develop activities for a sensory diet.
  • Features:
    • Organizes all the activities into what would be best for your child.
    • Provides 130 sensory activities with pictures and descriptions.
    • Provides activities that can be completed at home, school, in the community, or at a table or desk.
    • Allows you to choose whether your child is feeling “just right, slow and sluggish, fast and stressed, or fast and hyper”- a list of sensory activities will be provided based on how the child is feeling.
  • Population:

Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try

  • Importance and benefits:
    • Great app that allows children to practice handwriting.
    • Provides multisensory ways to practice correct letter formation.
  • Features:
    • Capital/lower case letters, and numbers on a chalkboard with double lines.
    • Has a left-handed setting.
    • Reports errors for extra guidance.
  • Population:
    • Helpful for children with poor handwriting skills including letter formation and sizing.

Zones of Regulation App

  • Importance and benefits:
    • Great app for developing self-regulation strategies.
    • Helps children develop skills to assist in regulating their bodies, emotions, and behaviors.
    • Helps children acknowledge how they feel and acquire the skills to create strategies to cope with their emotions.
  • Features:
    • Mini games to help facilitate learning the zones of regulation and develop strategies to facilitate emotional control and self-regulation.
  • Population:
    • Helpful for children who have difficulty with emotional control and self-regulation.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Meet-With-An-Occupational-Therapist

childhood apraxia

Childhood Apraxia: The Facts

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a neurologically-based motor speech disorder. Children with CASChildhood Apraxia: The Facts have difficulty producing speech sounds in the absence of muscle weakness or paralysis. Though a child with CAS knows what he/she wants to say, impairments in planning and/or coordinating lip, tongue, and jaw movement results in speech sound errors and differences in prosody (patterns of stress and intonation).

CAS is uncommon, occurring in 1-2 children per 1,000. It affects more boys than girls and occurs more frequently in children with galactosemia, fragile X syndrome, and Down Syndrome.

Acquired Apraxia of Speech versus CAS

There are two main types of apraxia of speech: acquired and developmental. Acquired apraxia of speech (AoS) is caused by damage to the parts of the brain involved in speech production and involves loss or impairment of existing speech skills. Causes of AoS include stroke, head injury, tumor, or illnesses affecting the brain. This disorder may occur with muscle weakness affecting speech production or language difficulties caused by brain damage. In contrast, CAS is present from birth and occurs in the absence of any muscle weakness or paralysis.

Cause of CAS

The cause of CAS is yet unknown. While some researchers believe that CAS is a disorder related to overall language development, others believe it is neurologically based and that it disrupts the brain’s ability to send signals to move muscles involved in speech production. Recent research also suggests a genetic component to this disorder, as children with CAS often have family members with a history of communication disorders or learning disabilities.

Diagnosing CAS

There is no universally agreed-upon list of diagnostic features that differentiates CAS from other childhood speech sound disorders such as phonological disorders or dysarthria. However, three characteristics of CAS are generally accepted by researchers and speech-language professionals:

  1. Inconsistent speech sound errors on consonants and vowels across repeated productions of syllables or words. While a child with an phonological or articulation disorder may make the same error each time he/she says a particular word, a child with CAS will not demonstrate a consistent pattern in his/her errors, even when repeating the same word.
  1. Longer and disrupted coarticulatory transitions between sounds and syllables. Children with CAS have difficulty combining sounds to form a word and may produce long pauses between sounds.
  1. Differences in prosody. Children with CAS produce speech that sounds choppy or monotonous, with stress on the wrong syllables.

Other Possible Signs/Characteristics of CAS

Young Children:

  • No cooing or babbling as an infant
  • Late development of first words
  • Production of limited set of consonant and vowel sounds

Older Children:

  • Numerous substitutions, deletions, and distortions of sounds
  • Understands language significantly more than can speak
  • Difficulty imitating speech, but imitated speech is more clear than spontaneous speech
  • Groping behavior when attempting to produce sounds
  • Saying longer words or phrases are more difficult to produce than shorter ones
  • Difficult for listeners to understand speech
  • Speech sounds choppy or monotonous or the wrong syllables are stressed
  • Distorted or inconsistent vowels

Possible Concomitant Conditions:

  • Language delay
  • Word finding or word order difficulties
  • Fine motor coordination difficulties
  • Oral hypersensitivity
  • Difficulty learning to read, spell, and write

Treatment of CAS:

Children with CAS receive frequent and intensive one-on-one therapy, tailored to their specific speech and language needs. Treatment focuses on improving speech imitation skills, speech-based motor sequences, length and complexity of producible syllable patterns, teaching rules of speech sound patterns, and, in severe cases, using augmentative communication systems (e.g., picture exchange communication system).

If you believe that your child shows signs of CAS or another speech sound disorder, do not hesitate to consult with a speech-language pathologist.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Sources:

 

Child having trouble reading

Learning Disabilities or ADHD: Which Is It?

My child is disorganized, has trouble during homework time and following directions, and doesn’t seem to be reading like other kids his age…Is it ADHD or maybe a learning issue?

ADHD and learning disabilities often co-occur. In fact, about 1/3 of children with ADHD also have an additional learning disability. Sometimes parents might wonder if the ADHD is causing the learning disability or if the learning disability causing the inattention. The fact is that they are two discrete disorders with their own set of symptoms. It is true that some of the symptoms may be common to both disorders including:

–          Poor executive functioning
–          Lack of organizational skills
–          Inefficient use of strategies (mnemonic tricks, imagery, rhymes)
–          Behavior problems
–          Low self-esteem

Learning and attention problems are on a continuum ranging from mild to severe.  With the various overlapping symptoms and the fact that behaviors, that may be a result of a learning disorder, can look like ADHD, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Although they are both neurologically based, they are assessed and treated differently. A learning disorder (i.e. dyslexia, reading, writing, math) can affect the way that information is stored and relayed back causing a breakdown in information and learning.

Intervention for learning disorders may include the following:

–          Academic skills tutoring
–          Development of compensatory strategies
–          Self-advocacy skills
–          Implementation of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or other school accommodations

Although ADHD can interfere with a child’s ability for learning, it is often treated with the following:

–          Behavioral modifications
–          Family counseling and parent training
–          Modifications to the learning environment
–          Implementation of medication
–          Classroom accommodations
–          Executive functioning tutoring

Whether your child struggles with a learning disability, ADHD or both, parent support and education are important to help your child succeed. CHADD.org  is a great website that offers resources such as training and classes that help with parenting and discipline concerns.

Child With Learning Disability

Helpful Homework Tips for Children With Learning Disabilities

If you are a parent of a child with a learning disability, you know how frustrating homework time can be. Evenings should not be spent tirelessly at the kitchen table. In fact, over involvement in your child’s homework can be counterproductive. If you sit down with your child every day at the kitchen table, who’s homework is it? “Many kids will let you do as much of their work as you’re willing to do.”

The responsibility lines can become blurred over time. Additionally, kids who are always provided a great deal of assistance, may become reliant on it and feel as though they cannot do it on their own, in turn, negatively affecting their academic confidence and self-esteem. Of course you love your child and you want to see them succeed… So what can you do?

Be specific about what kind of help you will provide during your designated homework time. Here are some helpful hints you can try out:

Help with organization:

  •  Checking assignment notebooks
  •  Going over directions and make sure they understand what is being asked of them
  •  Prioritizing tasks

Help Manage time and stay on Task:

Children with learning disabilities tend to underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks

  • Schedule Homework in shorter sessions
  • Allow mini breaks and snacks, if needed
  • Soft music or white noise
  • If you have a squirmy one on your hands, try having them sitting on an exercise ball, chewing gum or squeezing a soft ball while working

Review their work:

Children with a LD tend to prefer to not check their work

  • A child with a visual-perception problem may not be able to spot their errors or maybe it was just boring and they don’t want to see it again!

Know when to ask for help:

Sometimes as the parent you aren’t always the best one to be helping during homework time. Simply providing emotional support and guidance can prove extremely beneficial. Also, utilize your resources, talk with the teacher if your child is having trouble understanding the assignments. Considering a tutor may be an option, as well.

References:

Smith,Corinne (2010). Learning Disabilities: A to Z. New York, NY: Free Press






What is a Pediatric Neuropsychologist?

Pediatric neuropsychologists are clinical psychologists who focus on completing comprehensive evaluations to ascertain the most appropriate diagnosis in order to lead to the most effective treatment outcome. All neuropsychologists have their Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology and also have several years of training with brain based behaviors, neurodevelopmental conditions, as well as effective interventions and accommodations.

The typical questions that parents will bring forth in a neuropsychology clinic are related to the child’s academic performance, behavioral regulation, social interaction, and/or emotional functioning. It is the goal of the neuropsychologist to help identify what is causing the negative behavior and what would be an effective course of action.

Conditions and diagnoses that pediatric neuropsychologists often work with include the following:

Often, it is found that a child may have multiple conditions. One of the goals of the neuropsychologist is to help determine what the main condition(s) to address are and the most effective interventions.

The interventions that are determined by a pediatric neuropsychologist are often found in the following places:

What is a Neuropsychologist?

Pediatric neuropsychologists are clinical psychologists who have extensive training in neurodevelopmental conditions.  We focus on learning disabled boythe assessment and diagnosis of such conditions and strive to develop the most effective interventions for a child within both home and school environments.

What types of testing do Neuropsychologists perform?

We conduct very extensive testing.  The focus of the testing is specific and is based upon concerns that parents have presented to us.  We evaluate children for a host of neurodevelopmental conditions, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Learning Disorders, Autism, Social/Emotional concerns, response to medication, medical issues, etc.

Testing involves the collection of information from a variety of sources, including the parents, teachers, outside therapists, pediatrician/psychiatrist/neurologist as well as quantitative testing, in which the child would participate in a full day evaluation.  The reason why this information is gathered from so many sources is to ensure that the data we receive is consistent throughout all areas of the child’s life. It will also help to identify where the child may be struggling the most.

What happens after a Neuropsychologist performs the testing?

Once the testing is complete, the neuropsychologist will spend time integrating all the information and determine which specific areas of strength and weakness are identified.  With this information, we are able to help work with the family, outside therapists and academic team in order to create the most appropriate accommodations and interventions possible.

It is vital to realize that the neuropsychological evaluation should be an on-going phenomena.  We often request that the children return for brief follow-up evaluations every three to six months in order to track progress from therapy and help to identify whether or not there are changes to be made with the current accommodations and interventions.

Click here to find out how a Neuropsychologist can help your family or to schedule a consultation.

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Diagnosing ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurological conditions that affects between 3 to 6 percent of school-aged boy jumping on couch children.  Children with this condition exhibit significant issues with their ability to pay attention to tasks, inhibit their impulses and/or regulate their behavior.   In order for the diagnosis to be made, one has to witness significant impairment in regards to attentional regulation and/or activity level within multiple settings.  This means that the child must exhibit the concerns within the home, school, after-school program, sports team, etc.  In reality, the diagnosis can be made by a pediatrician or health care provider that is able to ascertain levels of functioning in the various domains by observing behavior or collecting parent and teacher report forms.

In the Neuropsychology Department at North Shore Pediatric Therapy, we focus on a comprehensive evaluation of a child’s functioning, including cognitive functioning, academic achievement, attentional regulation, executive functioning and social/emotional functioning.  Now, if the diagnosis can be made by a parent and teacher report, one must ask why a comprehensive evaluation should be mandated.  The answer to this is that over 45% of children that have been diagnosed with ADHD meet clinical criteria for multiple neurodevelopmental conditions.  Children with ADHD often present learning disabilities, emotional concerns and deficits with social regulation.  Sole treatment of the inattention may improve attentional regulation; however, there are other unaddressed concerns that may still linger.

Research has continuously demonstrated that the most common treatment of ADHD is a combination of pharmacological intervention, behavioral therapy, parent training, and teacher education.  Pharmacological intervention consists of stimulant medications that help to improve the child’s ability to attend to tasks.  A recent research article, which was even reported in an October edition of the Chicago Tribune, indicated that the majority of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD and are prescribed medication report significant improvement within their daily lives.  In the past, the main identification of improvement within children with ADHD was based upon teacher report.  Parents can now feel comfortable when asking their child if medication is helping. Behavior therapy focuses on the modification of the child’s environment to improve the frequency and duration of positive, on-task behaviors while extinguishing negative behaviors.  Parent and teacher education has a primary intent on discussing expectations within the home and school settings as well as possible modifications to ensure success.


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