Child Physical Therapy: Autism and Physical Therapy

Children with autism spectrum disorder present with challenges related to social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and language, and sensory processing. Speech, behavior, and occupational therapy is recommended to improve communication, behavior, and sensory deficits in children with autism spectrum disorder. Along with these disciplines, physical therapy is a crucial component of an autism treatment team. Physical therapists focus on improving a child’s balance, posture, and incoordination to improve engagement and participation in everyday activities.

 Jake Guild - Flickr

Jake Guild - Flickr

What is physical therapy?

Pediatric physical therapists help guide children through physical milestones. Areas of intervention include gross motor skills, balance/coordination skills, strengthening, and functional mobility. 

What are common physical deficits in ASD?

Children with autism spectrum disorder may experience some of the following physical challenges:

·      Decreased eye-hand coordination

·      Difficulty controlling posture

·      Lack of Coordination

·      Poor balance and instability

·      Low muscle tone

Research has shown that children with autism may also demonstrate toe-walking ankle stiffness, and motor apraxia.

Physical Therapy treatment for ASD

Pediatric physical therapy utilizes play and therapy techniques to improve balance and posture in children with autism. Improving posture in sitting, standing, and walking can build endurance and increase attention during school-time activities. Once a child feels secured and balanced, they can focus on other areas such as socializing, interacting, and playing. Physical therapists improve the lives of Children with ASD by improving their day-to-day functioning.


Learn more about Autism on our blog: Autism and Sensory Integration, Autism Awareness, Art and Autism, and many more articles!





“Autism Spectrum Disorder.” American Physical Therapy Association, 31 Oct. 2014,

“The Role of the Pediatric Physical Therapist for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”Center for Autism Research,

Wang, Judy. “Physical Therapy for Children with Autism.” North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Judy Wang, PT, DPT Http://nspt4kids.Com/Wp-Content/Uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-Color-logo_noclaims.Png, 13 Jan. 2015,


Child Therapy: Autism and Sensory Integration🗣️

Imagine walking into your grocery store for your weekly shopping. The bright glow of florescent lights, the loud noises from people and shopping carts, and the strong smells coming from multiple food groups may not bother you, but for children with Autism it may be an overwhelming experience. Children with Autism frequently experience difficulty with sensory integration.

Sensory integration is the interpretation of sensory stimulation by the brain. Sensory integration dysfunction is a neurological disorder that affects processing information from the five senses: vision, auditory, touch, smell, and taste. Due to the disorganization of the senses in the brain, varying problems in development and behavior may arise. Sensory processing disorder may affect one or more senses.

            Sensory integration dysfunction often co-occurs with Autism. Individuals may seek or avoid certain sensory situations. Children who crave sensory input may excessively touch objects, crash into furniture, and/or fixate on objects with lights and textures. Children who avoid sensory input may cover one’s ears, avoid personal touch, and/or experience discomfort with certain clothes. Sensory problems may be underlying reasons for behaviors such as rocking, spinning, and hand flapping.

Occupational therapists provide sensory integration to children in order to regulate and activate senses. Therapy activities are focused on arousing a child’s alertness by targeting appropriate sensory regulation. Below are a few of our favorite products targeting sensory regulation.

Sensory-seeking products:

1.     Weighted blanket: A weighted blanket can provide the tactile sensation a child is craving. A weighted blanket can be used at night to improve sleep as well!

2.     Weighted compression vest: Similar to a weighted blanket, a compression vest provides tactile stimulation throughout the day. Compression vests may be worn under clothing during stressful activities to provide comfort and ease for a child.

3.     Therapy ball: Rolling on a therapy ball can provide tactile as well as vestibular sensation.

4.     Fidget pencil toppers: These toppers are great for school! They fit on the top of a pencil, and act as a fidget for children requiring constant tactile sensation and movement.

5.     Resistance Tunnel: The resistance tunnel encourages heavy work while integrating sensory integration. Try to roll the therapy ball through the tunnel for extra heavy work!


            For sensory avoiders, auditory sensation may cause frustration and uneasiness. Noise Reducing Earmuffs are a great product to own for loud situations that may be overwhelming for your child, such as flying, sports games, or grocery stores.


Check in next week for another post about children with Autism in honor of Autism Awareness month!


Lumiere Children's Therapy Team🖐️



Ford-Lanza, Alescia. “The 10 Best Sensory Products for Children with Autism.” Harkla, Harkla, 19 Apr. 2017,


Hatch-Rasmussen, Cindy. “Sensory Integration .” Autism Research Institute,


Child Therapy: Traveling Tips

Spring break for many people is a time to relax and rewind on a beautiful beach or lively city, but for children with Autism it may be associated with broken routines and sensory overload. Flying with children with Autism can present many challenges from the airport security, moving sidewalks, tight spaces, and loud noises. Below are some tips to make your travel experience as comfortable as possible for you and your family:

1.     Wings for Autism:

Wings for Autism is a program that provides a “rehearsal” airport experience for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities. Families are able to practice going through airport security and boarding an airplane with first time flyers. It is a great way to help your child become familiar with the process without the added stressors of making a flight in time. For more information, visit The Arc to see when they are visiting your city!

2.    Rehearsal at home.

Recreate the airport experience at home by packing bags, role-playing security, and setting up chairs in the living room as an airplane. The more familiar your child is with the new routine, the more comfortable they will feel.

3.    Apps.

Off We Go: Going on a Plane is an interactive app that takes a child through the steps of flying with realistic airport noises.

4.    Explore the airport.

A few days leading up to your trip, take a visit to your airport with your child. Let them experience the lobby of the airport, watch the planes take off, and listen to the noises associated with traveling.

5.    Read books about flying

My First Airplane Ride, Maisy Goes on a Plane: A Maisy First Experiences Book, and Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport are all great books to introduce the experience of flying.

6.    TSA Cares:

72 hours prior to traveling contact Transportation Security Administration’s hot line, TSA cares, for priority check-in and boarding for travelers with disabilities. For more information, click here.

7.    Pack the essentials.

Pack a carry-on with all the essentials to make your child most comfortable. Noise-canceling headphones, snacks, empty water bottle, books, and electronics may all come in handy.

8.    Taste of Home.

Don’t forget your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket from home. Dress your child in their favorite, most comfortable outfit.

9.    New toy.

Surprise your child with a new toy or movie to open when they get on the plane. This will serve as a motivator for your child through airport security and provide them with a distraction on the plane ride.

10.  Take breaks.

Allow enough time to take breaks throughout the process. Find a quiet corner for your child to decompress after a stressful activity such as airport security.





“7 Tips for Flying with an Autistic Child | Travel with a Special Needs Child.” MiniTime,

Harris, Meg. “Top 10 Tips for Flying With Special Needs Children.” The Huffington Post,, 9 July 2014,

“National Initiatives.” The Arc | Wings for Autism®,

Child Speech Therapy: Childhood Voice Disorders

 Adam Levine

Adam Levine

Does your child’s voice sound raspy, hoarse, strained, and/or frequent pitch breaks when he or she talks or sings? These are signs and symptoms of a common voice disorder, vocal cord nodules. Nodules are noncancerous growths that form on the vocal cords or the source for voicing. Nodules affect both children and adult, and are the most common voice disorder among children. 

What causes vocal cord nodules?

Nodules are developed due to vocal abuse over a period of time. Vocal abuse refers to behaviors that harm the vocal cords such as yelling, frequent coughing, crying, dehydration, or excessive singing. Children often develop nodules due to screaming during playtime, sports, or recess.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Vocal cord nodules demonstrate the following characteristics:

·      Hoarse sounding voice

·      Pitch breaks during singing or talking

·      Effortful or strained voice

·      Excessively loud or high pitch voice

·      Child may strain their neck and shoulder muscles while producing speech

·      May experience a frequent sore throat

·      Coughing due to feeling like something is “stuck” in their throat

What is the treatment of vocal cord nodules?

Treatment involves vocal hygiene to heal the voice, and voice therapy to decrease vocal abuse and sustain healthy voicing.

·      Vocal hygiene is recommend to rest and heal the voice box. Vocal hygiene includes the following:

o   Voice rest. Taking a break from excessive talking, yelling, screaming, and singing may be necessary for up to 2 weeks post diagnosis.

o   Increase water intake and avoid caffeine. 

o   Maintain healthy diet. Hydration can be obtained through a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables.

o   Eliminate frequent throat clearing or coughing. Throat clearing can become habitual, so breaking the habit may be difficult. Develop a plan by taking a sip of water every time they feel like coughing.

o   Avoid whispering. Whispering puts extra strain on the vocal cords and may dry them out. Model appropriate volume level and encourage children to use their “indoor voice”.

o   Minimize screaming. Develop new ways to express feelings of excitement or anger during sporting events, playtime, etc. Encourage your children to clap their hands when they score a touchdown instead of screaming with excitement.

o   Role model. Children learn through imitation so be a role model for your children by implementing these strategies into your own life.

·      Voice therapy may be appropriate for children with chronic voice abuse. Voice therapy is a specific aspect of speech-language therapy conducted by a speech-language pathologist. Voice therapy focuses on eliminating vocal abuse by using an easy, relaxed voice. Voice therapy works on maintaining good vocal hygiene and sustaining an easy, relaxed voice in all settings and situations.

            With vocal hygiene, vocal rest, and voice therapy, vocal nodules will eventually heal and voice problems will resolve. Surgery is not recommended for children until first implementing vocal hygiene and voice therapy. For professional voice users such as singers and actors, surgery may be warranted.


Lumiere Therapy Team🖐️



Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of. “Vocal Cord Nodules.” The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 15 Mar. 2016,

Swallow, Deanna. “Kids & Vocal Nodules: What Parents Should Know.” North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Deanna Swallow Http://nspt4kids.Com/Wp-Content/Uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-Color-logo_noclaims.Png, 27 Apr. 2014, 

Child Therapy: Story Telling

Narrative skills allow us to understand and express information. We tell stories everyday by introducing ourselves, retelling memories, providing directions, reporting news, describing an event, and persuading others. Good storytellers are able to capture an audience with a compelling and fascinating story. Children experience storytelling first hand through caregivers, teachers, movies, books, etc. Children learn to determine the plot, characters, climax, and conclusion by listening to stories. Eventually, children will develop the skills to retell stories in a cohesive and sequential manner.



If a child demonstrates difficulty with reading comprehension in school, they may experience poor narrative skills as well. The child may have trouble detecting key parts of the story such as the main idea and character development. Problems with verbal narrative skills may include poor topic maintenance, deletion of important details, and poor sentence structure. Below are tips to incorporate at home to increase story telling. Continue to share memories, read books, and create playful stories with your children!


Improving Story Telling:

·      Bedtime stories: Creating a consistent routine of nightly story time instills the importance of reading and story telling at a young age.

·      Narrate routines: Verbalize the steps to everyday activities in front of your children. For example, at bath time narrate, “First I turn on the hot water, then add the soap, and finally step into the bathtub”. Once children learn sequencing, they will be able to provide verbal directions or steps.

·      Imaginary play: Play pretend with your child by creating a story line with dolls, figurines, or dress-up. Create a clear plot with characters, conflict and resolution.

·      Ask “wh” questions. Ask specific questions that start with who, what, where, or when instead of black and white questions requiring only a yes or no response. While reading a book, ask “wh” questions throughout to encourage reading comprehension and expressive language.

·      Summarize shows and movies: After watching a TV show or movie, ask your child to explain what happened. Guide your child’s response by asking about the characters, scene, conflict, and resolutions.  

·      Reminisce about the past. Children love to hear stories about themselves. Tell funny stories about them as a child, or reminisce together about fun family activities or vacations.


Story games to encourage storytelling:

·      Rory’s Story Cubes: Roll 9 cubes to generate 9 random images and create a story beginning with “Once upon a time...” by incorporating all 9 image elements. 

·      eeBoo Create and Tell Me A Story Cards:  These cards incorporate elements of a fairy tale into beautifully designed cards. Play the game as a group by taking turns adding to the story. The cards inspire story telling, language elements, and imagination.  

·      Tell Tale Card Game: Consists of 120 illustrations of characters, settings, objects, and emotions for endless imaginary possibilities. 

·      Good Dog, Carl: A Classic Board Book: This wordless picture book provides children with an opportunity to create their own story line.


Lumiere Therapy Team🖐️



“Storytelling: Why Narrative Skills Are Essential to Communication.” Integrated Children's Therapy, 1 Mar. 2018,

Child Therapy: Preventing Hearing loss


Have you ever been to a concert, firework show, or sporting event with excessively high noises? You may have covered your ears, taken a break, or moved back a few rows. Unfortunately, babies do not have the ability to communicate when a noise is too loud or walk away from the situation. One cause of acquired hearing loss is due to exposure to loud noises. This type of acquired hearing loss is cumulative and irreversible, so appropriate noise-blocking equipment is necessary.


Why are babies at a higher risk?

            Young children have smaller ear canals so the sound pressure entering the ear is greater. Excessive exposure to loud noises overtime can lead to hearing loss. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 12.5% of children age 6-19 years has suffered permanent damage to hearing loss from excessive exposure to noise. If children are unprotected at a young age, they are at higher risk due to repetitive exposure. Babies or young children cannot communicate when the noise is too loud for them. Some babies may become fussy or cry, but others may sit contently without showing any distress.

What situations are dangerous?

            If an event or venue seems loud to the adults attending, children’s ears should be protected. A rule of thumb is if you are at an arms length and have to shout to be heard, it is too loud.  Examples of loud noise environments include:

·      Concerts

·      Sporting Events (professional or amateur)

·      Firework shows

·      Weddings with DJ or band

·      Air shows

·      County fairs

·      Neighborhood block parties or street festival

·      Race cars or horse races 

How to monitor hearing development:

Below are the developmentally appropriate milestones for speech and hearing development. If you feel your child is behind in any area, contact your pediatrician.

·      Birth to 4 months

o   Startles at loud sounds

o   Becomes alert or wakes up to loud noises

o   Responds through smiling or cooing to your voice

o   Calms down at a familiar voice

·      4-9 months

o   Smiles when spoken to

o   Notice and prefers toys that make sounds

o   Turn its head toward familiar sounds

o   Make babbling noises

·      9-12 months

o   Increased babbling and jargon

o   Understands basic requests

o   Uses voicing to get attention

For more information on speech/hearing milestones read our article on speech development.

What type of protection is best for babies?

            Earplugs are dangerous for babies because they are often too big for a baby’s ear canal and can be a potential choking hazard. Headphones are the best option for full coverage. Here are some options of appropriate baby headphones:

·      Baby Banz Size 0-2

·      Peltor Sport Earmuffs

·      Snug Kids Earmuffs

Protect your children’s ears now, so they can enjoy the wonderful sounds the world has to offer!



Cohen, Joyce. “Want a Better Listener? Protect Those Ears.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Mar. 2010,

“Hearing Loss in Children.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Sept. 2016,

Mroz,, Mandy. “Hearing Loss in Children: Everything You Need to Know.” Healthy Hearing, 8 Feb. 2018,

“Top 5 Noise Cancelling Headphones/Ear-Muffs for Babies and Kids in 2018.” Tech News Central, 2 Jan. 2018,

“When to Protect Your Child's Ears.” Parkview Health, 31 July 2017,

Child Therapy: Importance of Hydration💦

You have heard it over and over again to drink more water, but what about your children? Children are at a higher risk of dehydration than adults because of their smaller size. Children also have difficulty identifying thirst. Our bodies are made up of approximately 70% water. Water has many body functions such as regulating body’s temperature, digesting food, and removing toxins from the body.

What is dehydration?

 Aqua Mechanical

Aqua Mechanical

            Dehydration occurs when the body is not receiving enough water, or losing fluids too quickly. Dehydration is usually due to an illness and/or fluid loss from diarrhea or vomiting. Dehydration may also be due to decreased fluid intake. Water is eliminated from the body through sweat, breathing, and urination. Due to the active lifestyle of most children, they are more susceptible to losing excessive amounts of fluid during the day. It is important to encourage adequate water intake during meals and playtime. Children older than 8 year old require 6-8 glasses of water, and children under 8 years old need 4-6 glasses of water per day.

Signs of dehydration in children:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Reduced bathroom breaks
  • Dry lips or mouth
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • No tears when crying

Tips to increase water intake: 

  • Add a slice of lemon or lime to flavor the water.
  • Keep infused water pitchers in the fridge for accessibility. Some favorites include raspberry-mint, lemon-cucumber, blueberry-lime, and strawberry-basil.
  • Freeze berries into ice cube trays for flavored ice-cubes.
  • Use crazy straws to make water glasses more fun.
  • Have your child pick out a water bottle of their choice. ContigoPura kikiManna Moda, or Polar Bottle are all great options.
  • Be a role model by frequently drinking water around your children.
  • Make a water chart. Every time your child drinks 1 glass of water, they can put a sticker on the chart.
  • Limit Juice, soda, and energy drinks to special occasions only.


“Children & Hydration.” Healthy Kids,

“Dehydration.” About Kids Health

Gladwell, Megan. “4 Reasons Your Kids Should Drink Water.” FamilyShare – Discover How to Improve Your

Family Life and More,

Jr., Robert Ferry. “Dehydration in Children: Symptoms, Signs & Reaction.” EMedicineHealth, 21 Nov. 2017,

“Water.” Healthy Kids,

Occupational Therapy: Sensory Bins

Imagine dipping your hands into a bin full of marbles. The rainbow colors striking your eyes as your hands rake smoothly through the marbles discovering new small objects, and your nose smells the soothing lavender oil covering the marbles. Sounds relaxing and stimulating, right? All of these senses (& some others!) are activated during sensory bin play.  Sensory bins are hands-on tools for children to explore their world through senses. Sensory plan may calm, focus, and engage a child.

 Lumiere Children’s Therapy

Lumiere Children’s Therapy

Benefits of Sensory Bins:

  • Sensory exploration: Sensory bins may incorporate a variety of senses: touch, sight, sounds, taste, and smell for children to learn and explore.
  • Play skills: Sensory bins are a great opportunity for children to learn cooperative play. Bins may be used in class, group therapy sessions, or at-home with friends to encourage socialization and conversation. Children can learn how to share, communicate, and participate in exploratory play with others.
  • Language development: Sensory bins may be filled with a variety of items to increase language development. The bins can provide opportunities to discuss hidden objects.
  • Fine motor skills: Children can improve fine motor skills through scooping, grasping, stirring, and pouring with a variety of tools. Tools may include shovels, spoons, tongs, measuring cups, etc.
  • Cognitive task: Create a learning experience with a sensory box filled with objects. Encourage your children to sort and categorize items by color, shape, and size. Play I-spy with the sensory bin and have your children search for hidden items. Create a counting game by counting the amount of items in the bin.

How to make a sensory bin:

  • Choose a bin. Clear storage containers work the best so children can see inside.
  • Choose the filler: Our favorites include rice, water beads, water, sand, beans, cereal, marbles, shredded paper, popcorn kernels, pasta, Easter grass, and birdseeds.
  • Add tools. Small shovel, spoon, tongs, measuring cups, cookie cutters, and/or small rake.
  • Add objects. Create themes for bins with small animal figurinesmagnetic alphabet lettersmagnet numberscolorful buttons, and toy cars. Look around the house for small objects to encourage naming and exploration of household items such as rubber bands, paper clip, buttons, coins, etc.
 Lumiere Children's Therapy

Lumiere Children's Therapy

Check out Little Bins for Little Hands for great examples of sensory bins. Have fun creating unique sensory bins your children will love!



Brittany. “Sensory Bin 101- What Is Sensory Play and Sensory Bins.” Love Play Learn, 23 Feb. 2017,

littlebins. “About Sensory Bins and Everything You Need To Know To Make One.” Little Bins for Little Hands, 5 Sept. 2017,

Heffron, Claire. “Simple (but Effective) Upgrades for Sensory Tables and Sensory Bins.” The Inspired Treehouse, 20 Oct. 2017,

Child Therapy: Valentine’s Day❤️

 Mateus Lunardi Dutra

Mateus Lunardi Dutra

Valentine’s Day is a not about the candy, cards, teddy bears, nor flowers. It is a day to spread love and happiness. It is a day to tell the people close to you how much you appreciate and love them. Below are some cute and simple ways to communicate how much you love your children.

Valentine’s Day

Express your love for your children through these small but meaningful gestures.

  • Send a notecard with a sweet message in their lunch or backpack.
  • Write a short “I love you” on the bathroom mirror with lipstick to brighten their morning.
  • Decorate the bedroom door with heart-shaped notes with messages of things you love about your child.
  • Spend the morning browsing through old baby books and picture albums. Your children will love looking at their baby pictures.
  • Make new Valentine’s Day traditions as family. Some fun activities include making heart-shaped pancakes, baking cookies, getting a sweet treat after school, playing a game or seeing a movie.
  • Give back to others as a family. Create valentines to bring to a neighbor, nursing home, or children’s hospital. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or donate to a charity.

The other 364 days of the year

Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to express love to others, but showing gratitude and love should be a daily practice. Show your children how much you care for them through time and attention, nutrition, and teaching.

  • Your time is the most valuable gift you can give your children. Put away the phone, to-do list, and work deadlines to make a daily commitment of uninterrupted engagement. Read stories, play a board game, and/or engage in a meaningful conversation. Each day the length of time and activity may differ, but your children will appreciate the undivided attention.
  • Nutrition. Give your children the gift of a healthy life by providing nutritious and well-balanced meals. Although your children may not realize the importance of a healthy lifestyle, they will thank you in the long run. Finding a balance between nutritious meals and special treats is important for young children. Too much sugar can cause irritation, fatigue, and mood swings affecting your child’s cognition and attention.
  • Valentine’s day is an excellent opportunity to discuss what it means to love. Love is an abstract concept that may be hard for children to fully understand, but give examples on how your family members express love to one another. Love and gratitude go hand in hand. Make a list of the most important people in your lives and what they mean to your family.
  • Most importantly, tell them you love them every day.

We love and appreciate our Lumiere Children’s family! Wishing you all a happy Valentine’s Day!



Sheff, Jean. “4 Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them.” Westchester Family , 28 June 2017,

Lindsay. “12 Ways to Make Your Child Feel Loved on Valentine’s Day (& Every Day).” The Family Room, 8 Feb. 2017,

Child Speech Therapy: Advanced Reading Skills📚

 Monica H

Monica H

As discussed last week, pre-reading skills emerge as early as 1 year old. Formal reading instruction begins as children enter elementary school. By 3rd grade, children are expected to use reading skills to learn new content in all school subjects including science, social studies, language arts, and math. Incorporating reading activities into home activities can help children advance their reading abilities needed to excel in all subject areas.  

1) Kindergarten: The alphabet is learned and rehearsed daily in kindergarten. Children begin to decode the alphabetic system by knowing the sounds of each. Children can start to identify sight words by memorizing a combination of word shapes and letters.

 Strategies to incorporate at home:

  • Ask the teacher for the sight words of the week and incorporate them into games at home (I-spy, goldfish).
  • Read alphabet books, such as Seuss’s ABC, and point out words that begin with the same letter.

2) Late kindergarten-1st grade: Reading instruction begins through sound-letter correspondence (phonics) and sight words. By the end of kindergarten, reading becomes more automatic. Children learn that words can be broken down, recombined, and create new words. As children enter first grade, they learn that text explains more than the corresponding picture. Children are able to retell parts of the story including main idea, identify details, and arrange the events in sequence.

 Strategies to incorporate at home:

  • Take turns reading pages of books during story time. If your child has difficulty with a word, model sounding it out.
  • Make your own books by encouraging your children to create or tell stories. Write the story on a piece of paper as they share. They can draw pictures to go along with the story.
  • Join a local library. Motivate your child to learn to read by picking out new stories each week!

3) 2nd–3rd grade:  By age 7-8, children are competent readers with the ability to read longer books independently. They are able to use context and pictures to decipher unknown words. The shift from learning to read to reading to learn begins in 3rd grade. Children are expected to read a variety of text to learn new information in all subjects.

 Strategies to incorporate at home:

  • Pick a series to read together. Here are some great series: Henry and MudgeFrog and Toad are friendsThe Magic Tree HouseJune B. Jones, and A to Z Mysteries.
  • Look up words online or in the dictionary if your child encounters an unfamiliar word. Keep a vocabulary journal with all the new words you look up by writing the word, definition, and picture.

4) 4th–8th grade: Reading shifts to reading comprehension. Children are expected to understand and explore a variety of writing such as expository, narrative, and persuasive text. Textbooks are used across all subjects to extract and learn specific vocabulary and information.

 Strategies to incorporate at home:

  • Research topics together. Topics may range from dinosaurs, technology, dolphins, cooking, etc. Find a variety of books (fictional and nonfictional) to learn more about the topic. Discuss your findings together as well as the different types of text read.
  • Read magazines and newspaper articles. Explain how charts and graphs teach information.

For more information on school age reading, check out Reading Comprehension.



Ackerman, Shira. “The Guide to 3rd Grade.”,

Ackerman, Shira. “The Guide to 4th Grade.”,

Becky. “Favorite Chapter Books & Series.” This Reading Mama, 11 Aug. 2016,

Owens, Robert E. “School-Age Literacy Development.” Language Development: an Introduction, 9th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 342–347.

Quick , Carol A. “Reading Milestones.” KidsHealth, May 2013,

Child Speech Therapy: Emerging Reading Skills

Although most children learn to read between 6-7 years old, pre-reading skills emerge at as early as 1 years old. Incorporating reading into your daily routine encourages print awareness at an early age. Learn about the emerging literacy skills at each age and strategies to aide in the reading process at home.

 Donnie Ray Jones

Donnie Ray Jones

1 year old: Reading development begins around 1 year old through caregiver and child interaction. Books serve as the focus point for communication. As the child begins labeling objects, caregivers can use books to facilitate conversation. For example,

  • Caregiver: What do you see?
  • Child: dog
  • Caregiver: Yes! What sound does a dog make?
  • Child: woof woof

Picture books are a great teaching tool for caregivers to introduce new objects into the child’s vocabulary repertoire. 

Strategies to incorporate at home:

  • Read picture books with a variety of nouns: everyday objects, animals, transportation, people, places, etc.
  • Point to the pictures as you are reading.
  • Involve the child by having them point and name familiar objects.
  • Instead of reading the story word for word, discuss the pictures using simple language.

2 years old: The child begins to learn that writing and text conveys information. Late into the child’s second year, they are able to follow the story of a book.

Strategies to incorporate at home:

  • Read everything to your child, including street signs, cereal boxes, toys, etc.
  • Write hand-written letters to family members. Read the letters out loud as your child draws pictures on the card.
  • Read simple picture books with large print. Follow along with your finger as you read.
  • If the story is too complicated, your child may lose interest. Shorten the text as you are reading to keep it engaging.

3 years old: Books become an integral part of daily routine, especially bedtime. Your child will start to request their favorite books. Between 2.5-4 years old, children may pretend to read books by reciting memorized words and phrases.

Strategies to incorporate at home:

4 years old: Children begin to remember and repeat new words learned through story telling. At this age, children begin to differentiate words that sound similar or rhyme. These skills are important prerequisites to reading.

Strategies to incorporate at home:

  • Identify when words start with the same sounds. For example, “Your hat is on your head. Hat and head both start with the letter ‘h’.
  • Incorporate rhyming at home. Create a rhyming game by choosing a word and seeing how many words rhyme with it.
  • Rhyming books include Goodnight Moon, Green Eggs and HamSheep in a Jeep, and Room on the Broom.

            Check out Preparing for Reading and Importance of Reading for more information on emerging reading skills! Next week, we will discuss the milestones for independent readers!



Owens, Robert E. “School-Age Literacy Development.” Language Development: an Introduction, 9th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 342–347.

Occupational Therapy: Shoe Laces👟

 David Sifry

David Sifry

Goodbye Velcro shoes, hello laces! As children enter elementary school, they become more independent with self-dressing. Children begin to learn how to tie their own shoes between 5-7 years old. Tying shoe laces requires strong fine motor skills including finger isolation, bilateral hand coordination, visual perceptual skills, hand-eye coordination and hand strength.

            Learning to tie shoelaces for the first time can be very rewarding. It may also be frustrating for kids if they become overwhelmed. For a positive shoe tying experience, follow these tips:

  • Let your child pick out their first pair of tennis shoes. The new pair of shoes will help motivate your child!
  • Do not practice shoe tying when you are in a rush. Try practicing after school instead of during the morning rush.
  • Remain calm and relaxed while practicing. Model the process on your own shoes.
  • Practice one step at a time. Do not move on until your child has conquered the current step.
  • Be consistent with word choice: Loops, bunny ears, twist, knot, etc.
  • Begin with the shoe off until the skill is mastered. Laces become tight when on the foot, making tying more difficult.
  • Avoid using the words ‘left’ and ‘right’ unless your child is proficient at distinguishing the two. Instead put a sticker or sharpie dot on the child’s dominant side, and refer to the ‘sticker’ or ‘non-sticker’ side. Using two different colored laces is a great alternative as well.
  • Print off a visual step-by-step picture and hang it near the shoes.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. Continue to encourage your child to keep working at tying his/her own shoes. Below are some resources to help ease the process.

YouTube Educational videos:

Introducing shoe lacing without the pressure of a real shoe:

Make your own practice materials:

  • Egg Carton Shoe tying: Punch holes into the tops of an egg carton and string two different color laces through the holes as if you are lacing a shoe. Use the laces to practice tying a shoe.
  • Shoe-tying practice board: Watch this tutorial for an easy and effective way to make a practice shoe board using cardboard and laces!


Henry, Sarah. “Developmental Milestone: Self-Care (Age 5).” BabyCenter, 30 Sept. 2015,

Kiley, Christie. “Clever Ways to Teach Shoe Tying for Kids (Tips & Modifications).” Mama OT, 22 July 2016,

“Shoe Tying Methods.” Therapy Fun Zone, Therapy Fun Zone Https://, 19 July 2014,

“Shoe Tying Tips and Tools for Kids.” The OT Toolbox, 5 Oct. 2015,

Child Speech Therapy: Cleft Lip/Palate

Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most frequent birth defects in the US. Cleft lip and palate occurs in 1 in 940 births in the United States according to ASHA. It is usually diagnosed at birth or within the first year and is treatable with surgical intervention. The following information will define cleft lip/palate, describe health problems associated with cleft palate, and provide appropriate treatment options.

Ashley Campbell
Ashley Campbell

Cleft lip and/or palate defined

            A child may present with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. Cleft lip and/or palate are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Cleft lip is defined as the separation of the sides of the upper lip on one side or both. It often includes bones of the upper jaw and/or gum. Cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth caused by an underdeveloped joining of the palate in utero. In some cases, the cleft on the palate is covered by mucous membrane defined as a submucous cleft. A submucous cleft is harder to detect but common symptoms include bifid uvula, midline groove of the hard palate, and/or nasal sounding speech.

Feeding Problems

            Children with only a cleft lip usually do not experience feeding problems. On the other hand, children with a cleft palate may have difficulty with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.  Some difficulties include,

• Poor suction
• Prolonged feeding times with decreased intake
• Milk/formula escaping through nose
• Excessive air intake
• Choking or gagging during feedings

A speech-language pathologist may provide specialty nipples and bottles to assist with bottle-feeding.

Hearing problems

Children with a cleft palate may be at a higher risk for middle ear infections. The Eustachian tube is the canal that connects the middle ear to the throat and the back of the nose. Children with cleft palates often have poor function of the Eustachian tube leading to frequent infections.  Over time, excess infection may lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss affecting speech and language in young children.

Speech Problems

Depending on the severity of the cleft, speech sound disorders may present. To produce most speech sounds (with the exception of nasal sounds such as ‘m’ and ‘n’) the soft palate elevates and moves to the back of the throat. This movement stops air from escaping into the nose. Cleft palates affect the movement and efficiency of the soft palate causing more air to escape through the nose. The speech may sound hypernasal like the child is talking through their nose. Cleft lip and palate may also affect dental alignment affecting certain speech sounds such as ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘ch’, and ‘j’.


            A Multidisciplinary team determines the most appropriate treatment for your child. The core team typically consists of a plastic surgeon, orthodontist, and speech-language pathologist. Additional professionals include pediatricians, nurses, ear-nose and throat doctors, audiologists, psychologist, social workers and nutritionists. Surgery to repair the cleft lip and/or palate is usually completed in the first year. The speech-language pathologist will assist with feeding during infancy. As the child develops speech and language, the speech-language pathologist may provide articulation therapy. If speech problems are related to structural deficiency, speech therapy is only appropriate after surgical or orthodontic intervention.

            If your child demonstrates difficulty with speech and language after a cleft lip and/or palate repair, please contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy for a speech-language evaluation.



“Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA,

“Cleft Lip and Palate.” Edited by Rupal Christine Gupta, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Oct. 2014,

Meredith, Amy Skinder. “Speech Sounds Affected by VPI Amy Skinder Meredith.”,

Vissing, Amy. “Cleft Lip and Palate: The Role of the SLP

Child Speech Therapy: Speech Sound Development

“Dat wabbit eat tarrot”. This phrase may be easily translated into “that rabbit eats a carrot” by parents who are familiar with toddler speech. Although pronunciation errors may be part of normal speech development, when is it considered an articulation problem? Learn more about the acquisition sequence of speech sounds, signs of an articulation problem, and tips to encourage speech at home. 

 Aubrey Kilian

Aubrey Kilian

Normal Acquisition of Speech Sounds

The acquisition of speech sounds does not necessarily follow a strict hierarchy. For instance, not all children learn the /p/ sound before the /b/ sound. Although the order may differ, speech sounds are developed and mastered in a developmental sequence. Shriberg (1993) classifies the development of speech sounds into three groups of eight: early, middle, and late.

  • Early 8- m, b, y, n, w, d, p, h
  • Middle 8- t, k, g, ng, f, v, ch, j
  • Late 8: sh, s, z, l, r, th (voiced ‘bathe’ and voiceless ‘bath’)

Speech sounds are typically mastered between the ages 2-8 years old. The following chart outlines the speech sounds mastered by the corresponding age.


*For more information on emergence and mastery ages of speech sounds click here.

Speech Therapy

As children develop language, they will experience different speech errors but most children will learn to correct errors. For some children, the problem may persist making it hard for people to understand them.  If a child has difficulty being understood they may become frustrated. To determine if your child has an articulation (pronunciation and talking) problem, first look at the previous chart to see if your child is using most or all of the sounds for his/her age. Other indications of an articulation disorder include:

  • Child’s speech is difficult to understand by familiar and unfamiliar listeners. By age 4, a child should have clear speech understood by all listeners.
  • Child uses primarily vowel sounds with limited consonants after the age 2.
  • Difficulty moving jaw and tongue.
  • Child becomes frustrated when others cannot understand them.

If you are concerned about your child’s speech, contact Lumiere Children’s Therapyfor a speech evaluation.

Improving articulation at home

  • Model correct pronunciation of words by talking to your child throughout the day.
  • Reduce background noise (television, radio, music) during play.
  • Make silly faces in front of the mirror (smiling, kissy, tongue out). Incorporate speech sounds during the silly faces so your child has a visual model through the mirror.
  • Read books that incorporate the targeted speech sound. For example, if working on the/g/ sound Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker is a great book.
  • Listen and respond to your child even if it is hard to understand their speech.
  • Repeat your child’s sentence using correct pronunciation. Avoid family and friends imitating incorrect pronunciations even if it sounds ‘cute’.
  • Avoid over-correcting your child’s speech. A rule of thumb is to correct 1 in 5 mispronunciations.


“Articulation (Pronunciation and Talking).” Kid Sense Child Development,

“Policy Development.” International Regulation of Underwater Sound, pp. 121–168., doi:10.1007/1-4020-8078-6_4. 

“Speech Sound Disorders.” NW Speech Therapy,

Yeh, Katie. “Articulation Development: What’s Normal? (& What Isn’t).” Playing With Words 365, 10 Apr. 2017,

Child Speech Therapy: Teaching Feelings

Phillip Dean
Phillip Dean

Identifying one’s feelings and emotions can be challenging for children, sometimes resulting in inappropriate reactions such as hitting or biting. The strategies below aim towards education and identification of common feelings to help provide the appropriate language to express one’s emotions.

1. Label your child’s feelings. As your child expresses a type of feeling, narrate what they are experiencing to help develop a stronger feelings vocabulary repertoire.

  • If your child lost a soccer game, comment that it is normal to feel sad after losing a game.
  • On the way to a movie or amusement park, describe that your child is feeling happy and excited.

    2. Children’s literature. Identify and discuss the different feelings experienced by the characters in your child’s favorite story. Other books to teach feelings include:
  • When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang
  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner
  • Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods that Make the Day by Jamie Lee Curtis

    3. Feelings Sort. Create a fun card game by printing off a variety of facial expression pictures (anger, sad, happy, silly, surprised, scared). Before starting, discuss each type of feeling and imitate the different faces in front of a mirror. Scatter the pictures on the table for your child to divide into groups or create a game by assigning each person a feeling and seeing who can collect the matching pictures first!

    4. Charades with feelings. Practice acting out feelings with a family-fun game of charades. Use the same picture cards from feeling sort game or this free feeling cube to determine which feeling to act out. The other members in the family get the chance to guess.

    5. Movies and Youtube videos. Inside Out is an animated film highlighting the core feelings of joy, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. It will soon become a family favorite! There are also kid-friendly videos on YouTube that can provide a visual representation of feelings. Some favorites include:
  • Elf Feelings Video
  • The Feelings Song
  • If You’re Happy

            Continue to discuss feelings with your children during experiences. Children will begin to associate innate feelings with expressed emotions. Once the child can identify their own emotions, they will begin to develop theory of mind to understand the feelings of others.



Chambers, Yanique. “9 Ways To Teach Children About Feelings.” Kiddie Matters, 14 Dec. 2017,

Katie. “4 feelings activities for kids.” Gift of Curiosity, 3 May 2017,

Child Therapy: Holiday Parties🎉


Holiday season can be overwhelming for anyone, but it is especially hard on children. Anticipation for the magic of Christmas begins at Thanksgiving and continues for many weeks. Throughout the many holiday traditions, family gatherings, and celebrations, children are expected to be happy and excited all season long. These gatherings can be even harder for children with special needs, shy temperaments, or young children. Learn how to make this special season relaxing and inviting for you and your family.

1. Do your homework

Observe your child in social situations leading up to the holidays. There may be certain times of the day your child is more outgoing and playful compared to others. Determine the people your child is most comfortable around, whether it be close family members, grandma and grandpa, or kids their age. Identify the environments your child prefers. Some children have difficulty with excess stimulation like lights and music. Determine if your child can adjust to new environments easily or prefers to stay at home. Knowing when and where your child feels most comfortable will help to plan out your holiday excursions.

2. Set Boundaries

Kids can experience stress during the holiday season with constant exposure to new places and people. Setting healthy boundaries around the holidays is important to decrease the chaos and stress of the season. Maybe skip the town’s tree lighting ceremony if it is too late or cold. Politely turn down the ornament exchange if you already committed to a party earlier in the day. If declining an invitation is not an option, consider hiring a babysitter for the night to give your kids a break.

3. Keep Schedules Consistent

Children thrive on stable schedules but the holidays are notorious for inconsistent bed times, excess food, and traveling. Try to keep sleep schedules relatively consistent during this time. Losing 10 minutes of sleep a night can add up quickly for toddlers resulting in more temper tantrums, illness, or stress. If traveling for the holidays, communicate in advance about naptime and bedtime. Bring along pajamas for the car rides to encourage sleep.  Keeping a regular mealtime is important as well. Most adults tend to indulge around the holidays resulting in one to two big meals a day. Children cannot adjust as easily to fluctuating mealtimes so keep healthy food readily available for young ones.

4. Prepare in advance

Give your child notice about what to expect from holiday parties. Show pictures of the people attending the party and explain the relationship. Describe what the party will entail (gift opening, cookie baking, tree decorating, etc). Have your child pick out their favorite toy to bring to the party to share. Discuss the house rules and expectations ahead of time with your older children.

5. At the party

Bring along a bag with your child’s favorite toy, blanket, snacks, and pajamas to change into. Designate a corner or area in the house as a quiet space for your child to retreat to. If they feel overwhelmed, they can read a book or play with a familiar toy in the corner to decompress.  If your child is slow to warm up at a party, play with your child at first. Invite another child or adult into the play to help ease the transition.

6. Adjust your expectations

Be realistic with your expectations for your children over the holidays. Kids need downtime and relaxing just as much as adults. Praise your child for good behavior, and listen to your children when they are upset. Tantrums are not necessarily a negative behavior, they are a way for children to express when they feel stressed. Hold your child close and comfort them at times of distress.

Most importantly, have fun! Enjoy this magical season with your loved ones!



Marchenko, Gillian. “5 Tips to Help Children with Special Needs Feel Comfortable at Your Holiday Party.” Chicago Parent, 15 Dec. 2014,

Lerner , Claire, and Rebecca Parlakian . “Children with Shy or Slow to Warm Up Temperaments.” ZERO TO THREE, 18 Feb. 2016,

Team, The Understood. “11 Tips to Help Kids With ADHD Manage the Holidays.”,

Child Therapy: Chicago Holiday List🎁

Toys are great tools to facilitate fine motor, gross motor, and speech development, but experiences spent as a family create memories of a lifetime! Instead of buying a toy from our 2017 toy list, give the gift of time by participating in a family-friendly holiday activities!

Personal Creations
Personal Creations

Outdoor Activities:

1. Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum

Nov.17- Jan. 1

  • The Morton Arboretum decorates 50 acres of trees with colorful light displays.
  • The lights create a majestic light show to the tunes of familiar Christmas songs!

    2. ZooLights

Nov. 24- Jan. 7

  • Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo is free event for all ages!
  • Watch the musical light shows, sip on some hot chocolate, and participate in holiday-season activities including carousel rides, live ice-sculpture carving, and free crafts!

    3. Holiday Magic

Dec. 26-31

  • Bring the whole family to Brookfield Zoo for the annual Holiday Magic light festival!
  • Enjoy nightly music and entertainment, Twinkling LED lights, train displays caroling with the animals, and so much more!

Indoor Activities:

1, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Nov. 16- Jan. 7

  • Explore rich holiday traditions from around the world at the Museum of Science and Industry.
  • Admire the four-story grand Christmas tree, and enjoy live holiday performances on the weekends.

    2, Elf the Musical

November 22- January 7

  • “Buddy the Elf, What’s your favorite color?”. Both kids and parents will be laughing along to the Christmas comedy, Elf the Musical, at Paramount Theater.

    3. Twas the Night Before Christmas

November 12- December 31st

  • Enjoy the classic Christmas play, Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Broadway Playhouse in Water Tower Place.

Holiday Home Activities:

1. Cookie Baking. Each member of the family can pick their favorite recipe for a family bake off!

2. Christmas Movie Night: Enjoy a cozy night on the couch with popcorn in hand. Watch some of the Christmas classics including the Polar Express, Elf, and Home Alone. The list goes on and on.

3. Ginger Bread House: A house made of frosting and candy? Sounds like a child’s dream! This kit provides everything you need to make your own ginger bread house.

4. Ornament painting: Decorate your Christmas tree this year with your children’s beautiful creations!

5. Snow painting: Add food dye to water bottles to make beautiful, colorful artwork in the snow!

Make time this busy holiday season to spend with your loved ones. Your children will remember the days spent together more than the toys they received. Happy Holidays!



“Chicago Tree Lighting and Light Fests.” Chicago Kids, 9 Nov. 2017,

Child Therapy: Toy List 2017

Scurrying to finish all your Christmas shopping in time? Fear not, Lumiere Children’s 2017 Christmas List is here! Purchase gifts that will help your child develop the necessary language, fine motor, and gross motor skills.

Shannon McGee
Shannon McGee

The Nice List of Toys

            The toys that made the nice list this year are geared towards language, fine motor, and gross motor development. These toys are divided into age-appropriate groups as well as the specific developmental milestones addressed.  The affiliated links are provided for easy access!

Younger children (7 & below):

Language Development: Toys that focus on identifying objects, corresponding sounds of objects or animals, imaginary play, theory of mind and cooperative play.

• Toy cars

• Pretend play: toy kitchen, doctor kit, and cash register:

• Toy animals:

• Little People Farm

• Little People Zoo


• Fine motor development: Focuses on manipulating small objects, hand-eye coordination, and handwriting development.

• Shape Sorting Cube

• Magnetic Doodle Drawing Board

• Tool kit

Gross motor development: Focuses on Heavy lifting, balance, and proprioceptive skills.

• Toy Vacuum

• Floor scooter

• Little Tikes Toy car

Older children  (7 & up):

Language development: Addresses deductive reasoning, cognitive aspects of language, and expressive and receptive language.

• Headbandz

• Guess Who

• Clue or Battleship

Fine motor: Targets hand grip, hand-eye coordination, and fine movements.

• Table tennis

• Legos

• Sew kit

Gross motor development: Focuses on balance, proprioceptive skills, right/left identification, and crossing midline.

• Balance beam

• Standing scooter

• Twister

The Naughty List of Toys

            Toys that fall under the ‘naughty’ category this year include electronics and restrictive movement toys. Although electronics may seem like an appropriate and engaging gift for most children, it often inhibits fine motor development and appropriate social interactions. Restrictive movement toys inhibit the development of gross motor skills such as rolling, sitting, and walking. Common restrictive toys include Bumbo seat, power wheel ride-ons, and exersaucer.


Happy shopping! Happy Holidays from the Lumiere Children’s Team!





“The 'WRONG' Toys for Holding Your Child Back and the 'RIGHT' Toys for Building Your Child's Brain.” Integrated Learning Strategies, 1 Dec. 2016,

Child Speech Therapy: Teaching Body Parts

There is nothing cuter than watching your child point to their button nose after the prompting, “where is your nose?” Between 3-4 months, your baby discovered their hands for the first time but when can they identify body parts on command? Children learn about body parts between 1 to 5 years old.


Typical Development

  • 1 ½ years old: Able to identify one to three body parts on command.
  • 2- 2 ½ years old: Identifies basic body parts: head, arm, legs, nose, hands, mouth, eyes, ears, and feet.
  • 5 years old: Draws a person with at least 6 body parts.
  • 5-5 ½ years old: Identifies advanced body parts: elbow, forehead, eyelashes, eyebrows, knees, wrists, and ankles. Understands the functions of basic body parts (e.g. eyes are for seeing).

            Chances are your toddler is already exploring your face as you hold them in your arms. As your child touches your facial features, name the body parts as well as the function to help your child distinguish. For example, “That is Mommy’s ears; ears help you hear”.  The following are more ideas to encourage learning body parts.

  • Sing a song. There are so many catchy and fun songs that work on identifying body parts. Start with this simple song to encourage imitation, “This is the way we touch our nose, touch our nose, touch our nose, this is the way we touch our nose, so early in the morning”. ‘Head, shoulders, knees, and toes”, “Hokey Pokey”, and “If you’re happy and you know it” are all great songs to get active while practicing body parts!
  • Utilize props. Props are a great way to indirectly target body parts. Play dress up with gloves, socks, sunglasses, earmuffs, and hats. Start with identifying where the objects go such as “the hat goes on your head” or “ put sunglasses on your eyes”. Next, incorporate direction following and color identification by giving commands such as “put the pink socks on your feet”. Finally, ask the child where the clothing pieces go, “what do you put gloves on?” or “where do you put the gloves?”
  • Friendly quiz. Simply ask your child to identify body parts by pointing. Incorporate other family members by asking, “Where is Dad’s ears?”

A great way to address learning body parts is through play. The following toys are excellent for identifying basic body parts.

  • Baby doll: Pointing out body parts on a baby doll is a great way to integrate language into pretend play. Narrate while your child is playing to encourage imitation, “Put pants on baby’s legs. Hat on Baby’s head. Baby’s eyes are blue.”
  • Potato Head: Create your own Mr. Potato head with crazy noses, mustaches, hats, and glasses. Let your child request different body parts to add to his or her Potato head.
  • Fisher-Price Laugh and learn: Not only does your child learn parts of the body with this stuffed animal dog, but it also targets A-B-Cs, counting, and colors.

Children’s Literature to teach Body parts:

            Make learning body parts fun for you and your child! If you feel your child is delayed in language acquisition, contact Lumiere Children’s therapy for a consultation with one of our speech therapists.



“Learning Body Parts.” What to Expect, WhattoExpect, 27 Feb. 2015,

Zimmerman, Irla Lee, et al. Preschool Language Scales. fifth ed., 2011.

Occupational Therapy: Conquering the Zipper

As we enter the season of snowstorms and blustering winds, puffy winter coats and warm wool sweaters quickly take over our wardrobe. As your children grow up, they may insist on becoming more independent with self-dressing. In this fast-paced world, waiting 5-10 minutes for your child to zip their coat may be unrealistic. Learn about the important milestones leading up to coat zippering, as well as activities to encourage young ones to become independent at zippering.

Philippe Put
Philippe Put

Skills Required

            Learning to zipper a jacket can be a complicated but functional skill for kids to manage. Coat zipping is an intricate motor planning process requiring significant fine motor skills. Coat zippering requires bringing hands to midline, using one hand to hold down the zipper chamber while pulling the zipper up.  Prerequisite skills for zippering include:

  • Pincer grasp and strength
  • Tripod grasp
  • Finger isolation
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Rotates forearm so palm faces up
  • Puts tiny object into small container
  • Uses both hands in midline
  • Strings 3 toddler sized beads
  • Strings at least 1 small bead

Developmental Milestones of Self-dressing

The following is the typical timeframe for self-dressing.

18 mos.- 2 years:

  • Emerging zipper skills by unzipping a zipper with large tab, and pulling larger zipper tabs up if an adult holds the bottom

2 years:

  • Unbuttons large (1 inch) button

2 ½ - 3 ½ years:

  • Buttons 3 large buttons, but not necessarily in correct order
  • With clothing on, child may unzip and unsnap clothing

3 to 4 ½ years:

  • With clothing on, able to close front snap
  • Can button and unbutton while wearing front-opening clothing

4 ½ to 5 years:

  • Child can open all fasteners on any article of clothing

5 to 6 years:

  • Around this age, children are able to hook and zip up a zipper with the clothing on

Practice Makes Perfect

            Start zipper practice with the coat or sweatshirt off. With hand over hand assistance, help your child feel and visualize how to hook the two sides of the zipper together. Incorporate other fine motor activities between practices including stringing beads, placing coins in a piggybank, or dropping buttons into a container with a slit. There are many resources available for teaching zippering including:

Make your own activities:

  • Wide ribbon with plastic bread ties is a great initial zipping activity
  • Place toys in zip-lock bags to encourage your child to unzip bag in order to play with the toys
  • Add a ribbon or string to all coats and jackets while your child is still learning

            Your child will feel a sense of accomplishment and success after their first coat zipping experience. Coat zippering takes a lot of practice, so allot 5-10 minutes in the morning for your child to explore the zipper on his or her coat. Most importantly, be patient! If your child is having trouble with self-dressing or other fine motor skills, contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy for an assessment with one of our Occupational therapists.



Heffron, Claire. “Activity to Teach Kids to Zip and Button.” The Inspired Treehouse, 15 Nov. 2016,

Kiley, Christie. “One Simple Trick for Improving Kids’ Self-Dressing Skills.” Mama OT, 19 July 2014,

Kiley, Christie. “When Can Kids Learn to Button and Zip?” Mama OT, 16 Nov. 2016,

“Teach Kids How to Use a Zipper.” The OT Toolbox, 23 May 2016,