Monday, August 30, 2010

Caring For Boys Versus Girls

I've always known that girls and boys develop differently especially in the area of language and play. Now that my son is 26 months old this statement has become an even bigger fact in my life. It is funny to watch how long my son can play with his race track, look at his airplane and trains book, and interact with balls and other rolling toys. He will complete a puzzle, scribble, interlock toys, and build but after completing it, he moves back to his train table. At that same age, my daughter would have stuck with the developmental toys for 20-30 minutes. Here is a discussion link on this topic:

A Place of Our Own: Caring For Boys Versus Girls

"Boys will be boys":
Just remember that a boy with a significant language or fine-motor delay is not typical, just as a girl with a significant gross motor delay isn't typical just because of their sex. They will have slight differences, but should still fall within the "typical" range. So, if that is not the case for your child, please discuss your concerns with the child's doctor, and if necessary ask for an evaluation with your local early intervention program (ECI, EI) or outpatient pediatric therapy clinic (speech language pathology, occupational therapy, and/or physical therapy).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Brain Gym - a program of physical movements that enhance learning and performance in ALL areas

My daughter who is in first grade came home from school yesterday and wanted to show me what she learned in PE class and said it was going to make her smarter. She put her arms out in front of her then crossed them at the wrists, then folded them in toward her, balanced on one foot, and pushed her tongue up against the roof of her mouth. I quickly said to her, "Ahh, that's a Brain Gym movement". She was amazed I knew that movement and wanted to look at my Brain Gym books I have in our study. I love the exercises from Brain Gym, and they can be used on kids of all ages as well as adults, here is a link:

Brain Gym - a program of physical movements that enhance learning and performance in ALL areas

I have used many of the movements within my occupational therapy sessions. Some involve crossing of the midline to help integrate the two sides of the brain, deep pressure for attention span, and eye movements which aid in tracking skills needed for reading. The benefits of Brain Gym are numerous!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sensory Friendly Films

Tomorrow I am taking my daughter to go see Toy Story 3. She has seen it already with her grandparents, but she keeps saying that it is soooo good that I must go watch it with her; so I will. For her and I the loud volume, dark room, and any other extreme sensory experience is just part of the fun of going to the cinema. But for many children out there who have have special needs including sensory processing disorder (SPD) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) the whole "sensory experience" is not so fun. That is why I think it is great that AMC entertainment has at selected theaters at least once a month "sensory friendly films":

AMC Entertainment

Some people aren't lucky enough to live in one of the locations of these theaters. So if this is the case, what are some things that can be done to make the movie experience not only tolerable, but fun? I think for the older kids, you could visit the theater at a time when no shows are playing so they can get used to the room- that is if they've never been before. For any child three years of age or older, you could write a social story about the whole movie experience to let them know what to expect; predictability helps to lessen anxiety which in turn lessens sensory defensiveness. If you aren't familiar with social stories, look it up, the idea was created by Carol Gray. Just remember to make the story positive and personal.

For the children with auditory defensiveness, try to sit in an area of the theater where no one else is sitting so that the noise made by other people is not bothersome; this may require going at an unpopular time such as in the morning. Also, ear muffs or ear plugs may dampen the sound. If the child becomes over-whelmed there is no shame in leaving, maybe come back another time and try again. For some kids it may take multiple attempts before they can sit through the entire movie.

For kids on special diets, check with the staff ahead of time and bring snacks they can have on their special diet which they tend to find comforting. Of course, I am reading some people's minds and thinking that you will just sneak those snacks in your purse!

Have any other ideas that have worked for you? I would love to hear about them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nurturing Parenting Programs - Stephen J. Bavolek, Ph.D.

It seems like every time I sit down to read the newspaper, I see some HORRIBLE case of child abuse or even worse a parent killing their child or step-child. So sad because it is 100% preventable! Even though I don't work often with children who have been physically or sexually abused, I do from time to time. Unfortunately, many of the children I work with have special needs (physical and mental) and can't express this event to anyone else.

As a professional who works in the homes with families, I am put in a place of educating the parents not just on rehab. techniques, but also how to discipline and love their child. One program that is worth professionals being trained in to learn how to do this is the Nurturing Parenting Program. I love the philosophy of the Nurturing Parenting Program which emphasizes positive, nurturing interactions between parent/caregiver and children. This fits right in with my other philosophies as an early intervention occupational therapist and infant massage instructor. To find out more about the program, go to this link:

Nurturing Parenting Programs - Stephen J. Bavolek, Ph.D.

If we can help educate these parents on other ways to discipline their child other than physical harm, then maybe, just maybe, we have made the most important change in that family member's life!

In addition, those of us who are parents and/or professionals can always learn more strategies to use in our own lives!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

AAPM&R - What is a Physiatrist?

Physiatrists are doctors that help patients with their rehabiliation process. They are sometimes called "PM &R" doctors which stands for "physical medicine and rehabilitation". I often refer my clients to these doctors, especially when the child has multiple impairments including neurological, orthopedic, visual, and mental delays such as with cerebral palsy or certain syndromes. I also refer clients to them when I know something is going on with the child but I'm not sure whether to send them to an orthopedist or neurologist. I think physiatrists are well versed in different areas of disabilities therefore they may be the best professional to steer the family a particular direction. Here is a link to their professional organization:

AAPM&R - What is a Physiatrist?

I also think it is nice to have a physiatrist for the medically fragile child, because the need for adaptive equipment, assistive technology, and other functional items tends to get pushed to the bottom of the list for a sicker child, especially when the parents of the child have a variety of specialty doctors they are seeing on a regular basis. The physiatrist is the "one in charge" and facilitates the communication of all doctors and other professionals once the child is stabilized from the medical problems.