Child Speech Therapy: Social Stories

Temper tantrums during transitions? Hitting during recess? Inappropriate topics during conversation? 

Social stories provide an educational visual to address specific social situations. Verbal explanation of social interactions may be difficult for children to fully comprehend, so visuals can provide additional information.

 John Morgan

John Morgan

What are Social Stories?

            Social stories were first introduced and described by Carol Gray as an intervention strategy to teach appropriate social interactions through the elements of a simple story. Social stories outline social concepts and skills in an easy step-by-step manner. They were originally developed for children with autism, but can be beneficial for any child with pragmatic and language disorders.

            Social stories can be a proactive or reactive strategy. Implementing social stories as a proactive measure involves presenting the story before an upcoming social event or situation. If a child is going on a fieldtrip, a social story can outline the new schedule for the day in order to prepare the child for the change in routine. For upcoming play dates, it can give examples on polite ways to share toys. 

            They may also be used for reactive measures, specifically for negative behaviors. For instance, if a child is hitting other kids on the playground, a social story can explain why this behavior is not appropriate while offering new, positive behaviors. They should not be the only source of intervention, especially for negative behaviors. Social stories can provided the child with positive alternatives for negative behaviors in a direct, simple fashion. After the child has been presented with the information, speech-language pathologists, teachers, and/or caregivers can help the child develop the appropriate behavior skills.   

Why do social stories work? 

            Theory of mindis the ability to understand another person’s feelings, perspective, and beliefs. Children with autism often struggle with understanding theory of mind. They can only see their perspective of the story. Consider a child grabbing a toy out of another person’s hand. The child wanted that toy and decided to take it. For a child with autism, that may be the only perspective they understand.   It may be challenging to realize that the classmate was sad when the toy was taken away. 

            Lacking theory of mind creates problems in social situations and can make social society rules seem confusing and difficult. Social stories allow children the opportunity to learn about the other person’s perspective. The stories will outline how the other child feels and why it was hurtful. It takes the guesswork out of social situations and provides strategies or skills to implement in a given situation. 

When should you use social stories?

            Social stories can be implemented in a variety of opportunities. Below are a few examples. 

·     Establish rules and expectations

·     Address negative behaviors

·     Present new social situations (birthday parties, play dates, social groups)

·     Address personal hygiene

·     Address personal space

·     Describe feelings

·     Selecting appropriate social topics

Social stories are intended for specific situations and events in the child’s life. Create or implement social stories that are relevant and meaningful in the child’s everyday activities. 

Next week on the blog, we will discuss how to create a social story. In the meantime, explore these, here.

 

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References:

Cosgrave, Gavin. “Social Stories.” Token Economy - Educate Autismwww.educateautism.com/social-stories.html.

“Social Stories.” PBIS World RSSwww.pbisworld.com/tier-2/social-stories/.

Vicker, Beverly. “Indiana University Bloomington.” IIDC - The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University

www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/Behavioral-Issues-and-the-Use-of-Social-Stories.

Child Speech Therapy: Games for Following Directions

            Last week, we discussed developmental milestones for following directionsand tips to try at home. Following directions doesn’t have to be boring; in fact, it can be a lot of fun! Games of all types require the ability to listen and follow verbal or written directions. Read below for exciting games and activities that work on direction following skills. 

Simon Says

 “Simon Says” is a great game that targets listening skills and following directions. For children struggling with following directions, play with another sibling or peer as a model.  As your child progresses, increase the difficulty of the game by adding 2-3 step directions. Take turns being Simon so your child has a chance to trick you, as well!

Obstacle Course

Obstacles courses not only work on following directions but work on gross motor skills as well.  Create an awesome obstacle course using pillows to walk across, tunnelsto climb through,  to jump on, and ball pitto end up in!  

Board games

Classic board games such asCandy LandChutes and Ladders, and Sorryare excellent ways to practice following directions and turn-taking in a fun, structured activity. Although it is tempting to let your child win every game, allow the opportunity to teach good sportsmanship after losing a round. 

Twister

 Twister targets body parts, colors, and left/right concepts all in one game! Given a verbal direction of “Right hand on blue circle”, targets following directions, working memory, and language concepts. Recommended for children 6 and older. 

Coloring books

While your child is coloring, give directions for each page. For instance, “color the hat red” will encourage your child to identify the object and color while following 2-step directions. 

Chores

What better way to make following directions functional? Household chores. Easy household chores encourage responsibility, accountability, and time-management skills at a young age. Make the chores rewarding by finding a chore chart that works for your family. Click herefor some great ideas!

 

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References: 

“How To Get A Child Following Directions.” Speech And Language Kids, 18 Apr. 2017, www.speechandlanguagekids.com/how-to-get-your-child-to-follow-directions/.

Katie. “Five Playful Ways to Work on Listening and Following Directions.” Playing With Words 365, 19 Feb. 2018, www.playingwithwords365.com/five-playful-ways-to-work-on-listening-skills/.

 

Child Speech Therapy: Following Directions

“Wash your hands.” 

“Put your shoes on.”

“No yelling in the house.” 

These may sound like common phrases in your household. Such commands require children to interpret the meaning and follow the verbal directions accurately, which may present as a challenge for some children.  Following directions is a skill required in school, at home, and during everyday activities. Below, we’ve listed some milestones in relation to age when it comes to developing the skills for following directions.

Developmental Milestones:

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Tips to improve comprehension of directions: 

·     Simplify directions: Adults use complex language when giving directions such as, “Will you please get my shoes when you’re over there?” or “After you take out the trash, will you get the mail?” For children developing language skills, directions can be challenging to comprehend when using words such as beforeafterinsteadnext, andthen. Keep directions short and sweet when your child is young such as “get your shoes” and “open the door”

·     Visuals: Take pictures of common directions to use as a visual prompt. Determine the most frequent directions you give your child throughout the day. Take pictures of your child completing the tasks (such as putting on clothing, getting in the car, washing hands). Print the pictures and either hold them up when you give the directions or hang the pictures in the designated areas

·     First, then: When introducing 2-step directions, use word directions with first-then language. For example, “first put on socks, then shoes” or “first get your backpack, then go to the car”

·     First, then, last: When your child is ready for 3-step directions, use the phrase “first, then, last”. Your child will most likely catch on quickly since they are already familiar with the first two steps

 

Next week on the blog, we will provide fun games and activities to practice following directions! 

 

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References: 

“How To Get A Child Following Directions.” Speech And Language Kids, 18 Apr. 2017, www.speechandlanguagekids.com/how-to-get-your-child-to-follow-directions/.

Katie. “Five Playful Ways to Work on Listening and Following Directions.” Playing With Words 365, 19 Feb. 2018, www.playingwithwords365.com/five-playful-ways-to-work-on-listening-skills/.

Klarowska, Beata. “Speech and Language Development (Milestones).” Virtual Speech Center, Virtual Speech Center, Inc, 25 July 2011, www.virtualspeechcenter.com/blog/37/speech-and-language-development-milestones.

 

 

 

 

Child Speech Therapy: Colors

A newborn only sees black, white and gray during the first week of life. Throughout the next 10-12 weeks, newborns slowly adjust to color vision and the full color spectrum is developed by five months old. Around 18 months, children begin to notice similarities and differences between sizes, shapes and colors. They are able to recognize the variety of colors, and are able to accurately name at least one color by three years old.  Recognizing and naming colors is an exciting development for children since so many children’s toys are brightly colored. 

Children learn colors in three steps: matching and categorizing colors, identifying colors, and finally, naming colors. Below are toys and resources to use during each stage. 

Matching and categorizing colors

·     Puzzles are a great way to work on matching colors. Some favorites include: Melissa & Doug Colorful Fish Wooden Chunky Puzzleand The Learning Journey Lift & Learn Colors & Shapes

·     Categorize by color and shape with MoTrent Wooden Educational Preschool Shape Coloror Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort Board Wooden Educational Toy.

·     Learning Resources Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Sethelps educate children on the colors of fruit and vegetables through sorting into purple, yellow, orange, green, and red baskets. 

Identifying colors

·     Have children identify colors by pointing during a game of “I-spy”.  While grocery shopping, ask your child “point to a red apple”.  Not only are you working on colors, but food recognition as well!

·     Books are a great way to identify colors. Some of our favorites are Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr,Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra BoyntonThe Mixed-up Chameleon by Eric Carle,and Bright Baby Colors by Roger Priddy

·     If your child enjoys arts and crafts, participate in painting and coloring with your child. Ask your child to hand you different colored art materials such as blue paper, a purple crayon or a red sticker. 

Naming colors

·     Encourage naming colors during coloring activities by having the caregiver hold the crayon box, and requiring your child to request each color. Let your child reach for the requested crayon to ensure they are asking for the desired color. 

·     The Learning Journey Learn with Me Color Fun Fish Bowltargets recognition and identification of colors. The first setting identifies the color of fish inserted, and the second setting will request a specific color. 

·     Continue to ask your child about colors during play. Most toys are very colorful, so you can ask, “What color is this?” throughout the game.

·     Great colorful toys: YIRAN wooden pounding benchThe First Years Stack Up Cups, and Melissa & Dough Shape Sorting Cube.

 

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References:

Hudson, Judith. “When Will My 2-Year-Old Know His Colors?” BabyCenter, 3 Apr. 2018, www.babycenter.com/404_when-will-my-2-year-old-know-his-colors_69360.bc.

“When to Teach Kids Colors?” New Kids Center, www.newkidscenter.com/When-Do-Kids-Learn-Colors.html.

“Your Baby's Eye Development.” Bausch + Lomb, www.bausch.com/vision-and-age/infant-eyes/eye-development.

 

Child Physical Therapy: Jumping!

Jumping feet first into muddy puddles as water splashed onto our rain boots is a fond childhood memory many of us experienced. Even though jumping in puddles creates a dirty, wet mess for many parents, jumping is an important gross motor milestone for children. 

 trec_lit

trec_lit

Toddlers first learn how to jump off low surfaces such as the last step or curb around 24 months. Between 26- 36 months, children will gain the strength and confidence to jump up from a leveled surface, the ground. Jumping requires balance, coordination, strength, and courage. The first step to learning to jump is exploration of balance. 2-year-olds may begin by shifting their weight back and forth to experience the sensation of one foot in the air.

            Each child learns to jump differently as they explore one’s body weight and balance. Some may jump with both feet on first jump, and others mays jump with one foot in front of the other. Most children learn to jump through exploration, but for children that seem reluctant or uninterested, here are some tips to encourage their first jump!   

·     Model

Make jumping look fun and adventurous by squatting really low and jumping off the ground. Model jumping over a toy, jumping to touch the ceiling, or jumping on a trampoline. Your child will begin to show more interest after watching family members model the skill. 

·     Teach squats

The first step to learning to jump is bending your knees low to the ground and standing back up. Squats not only mimic the movement of jumping, but they provide strengthening of the necessary muscles.

·     Frog jumps

The next step to learning to jump is squatting low and hopping off the ground. This version is slightly easier than jumping from standing tall, and provides more visuals. Pretend to be frogs jumping from one lily pad to the next! Make it more fun by dressing in green and shouting “ribbit ribbit”.

·     Hold hands

Holding your child’s hand as they jump off a small step or sidewalk curb can provide a steady support. Jumping off of a higher ground requires less strength and skills but allows the child to explore jumping. 

·     Motivate

Provide targets such as neon tape around and encourage your child to jump from spot to spot. Draw a line with a chalk on the sidewalk for your child to jump over or draw a full hopscotch board!

·     Feedback

As with any new skill, give your child positive accolades along the way. “Wow, look at you bend your knees” or “Look how high you jump” can go a long way!

·     Make room

Clear an open space in the house or spend time outdoors for your child to explore gross motor activities without fear of hurting oneself. 

Read more about physical milestones in our post Gross Motor Development.If you feel your child is behind in gross motor development, contact Lumiere Children’s Therapyfor an evaluation. 

 

 

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References:

Drobnjak, Lauren. “CHILD DEVELOPMENT QUICK TIP: LEARNING HOW TO JUMP.” The Inspired Treehouse, 24 Sept. 2014, theinspiredtreehouse.com/child-development-quick-tip-learning-how-to-jump/.

WhattoExpect. “Running, Climbing, Jumping and Kicking.” Whattoexpect, WhattoExpect, 21 Oct. 2014, www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/run-jump/.

Child Speech Therapy: Grammar Elements: Verbs

As your child develops language, the first few words are usually names and objects (nouns) such as Dada,ball, and dog.  Around 24 months, the child’s vocabulary repertoire starts to include verbs. Verbs are action words such as gowalk,jumpeat, and come.  Understanding and using verbs allow the child to communicate in sentences rather than 1- word phrases. 

 amg1994

amg1994

Language acquisition varies among children, but by 24 months children typically express around 40 verbs. Children with an increased verb acquisition by 24 months typically have more advanced grammatical skills six months later. For children producing less than 10 verbs at 24 months, it is not a concern as long the child is learning several new verbs every month. If you are concerned about your child’s language acquisition, contact Lumiere Children’s Therapyfor a speech evaluation. 

Below are some strategies to help your child learn more verbs:

·     Books. Creating an opportunity for story time in your day, whether morning or night, is fundamental for language development. Here are some great books to introduce verbs: To Root, To Toot, to Parachute: What Is a Verb? By Brain P. ClearlySlide and Slurp, Scratch and Burpy by Brian P Clearlyand Nouns and Verbs have a Field Day by Robin Pulver.

·     Pretend Play. Imaginary play is a great chance to label everyday action verbs. Model verb phrases throughout play, for instance, feedingand changinga baby doll, flying an airplane, or cooking in a play kitchen

·     Modified Charades. Play the video Actions 2 Verbs with Lyrics, and act out the actions with your child as it pops up on the screen. Once your child is familiar with a few verbs, practice by asking “show me dance’. If there are more children in the household, have one person act out the verb while the others guess. 

·     Children’s preferences. Identify the toys and activities your child shows interest in and figure out a list of verbs that are associated. For instance, if your child likes to play soccer, auditory bombard your child with verbs associated with the sport: kickpass, and shoot.

·     Flashcards: Verb flashcards are a great tool to demonstrate pictures of unfamiliar verbs. Make your own cards by printing off doubles of each action picture to play memory! 

 

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References:

“8 Fun Activities for Teaching Verbs .” Reach to Teachwww.reachtoteachrecruiting.com/blog/fun-activities-teaching-verbs+http://www.theroadmap.ualberta.ca/understandings/parents/25-36#1.

Gotzke, C. & Sample Gosse, H. (2007). Parent Narrative: Language 25 - 36 Months. In L.M. Phillips (Ed.), Handbook of language and literacy development: A Roadmap from 0 - 60 Months. 

Hadley, P. A., Rispoli, M., & Hsua, N. (2016). Toddlers’ Verb Lexicon Diversity and Grammatical Outcomes. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 47, 44–58.

Tara, and Rhonda Griswol. “Teaching Verbs with Picture Books.” Embark on the Journey, 21 Mar. 2018, embarkonthejourney.com/teaching-verbs-with-picture-books/.

“Verbs Pave the Way for Language Development.” Does Child Care Make a Difference to Children's Development?, www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Verbs-Pave-the-Way-for-Language-Development.aspx.

 

Child Speech Therapy: Grammar Elements: Preposition

Prepositions are words that provide information on how objects are related to the rest of the sentence. “The candy is in the bowl,” explains where the candy is in relation to the bowl. Common prepositions include inonnext toin front ofclose to, and beside. Between the ages of 24-36 months, grammar becomes more precise in a child’s vocabulary. The first prepositions comprehended areinon,andunder. By 40 months, children understand the prepositional phrase next to,and at 4 years old, children understand behindin back of,and in front of

Below are some games and activities to help your children learn prepositions. 

·     Model:

While playing with your children, model grammatically correct sentences. For example, while playing with an animal farm model, “Look, the cow is inthe barn” or “the cow is besidethe horse”. 

·     Simon Says: 

Play a fun game of Simon Says at your local playground. Use phrases such as “Simon says, go underthe slide”, or “Simon says, swing besidethe tree”. Simon says at the playground will keep your kids active while learning prepositions!

·     Egg Hunt: 

Create an Easter egg hunt around the house with your leftover plastic eggs! Every time your child sees an egg, encourage them to use a prepositional phrase, such as “the egg is under the couch” before opening.

·     Scavenger hunt: 

Hide a toy somewhere in the house. Provide clever clues using prepositions to find the hidden object. For older children, make it more challenging by having your children hide the toy and give you clues using prepositional phrases.  

·     Dice game:

Tape prepositions cards onto each side of a dice. Take turns rolling the dice, and demonstrating the preposition with a favorite toy and a chair, doll house, or box. If the dice lands on under, place the toy under the chair. 

·     Books: 

Picture books are great tools to explain and demonstrate prepositions. Some of our favorites include:

o  Under, Over, By the Clover by Brian P. Cleary

o  Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse by Rick Walton

o  If you were a Preposition by Nancy Loewen

Prepositions are the start of our grammar series! Check next week for activities targeting verbs. 

 

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Resources: 

“Best Children's Books for * Teaching Prepositions *.” Children's Books for Teaching Prepositions,www.the-best-childrens-books.org/teachingprepositions.html.

Cooper, Jennifer. “Playing with Prepositions.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 3 Nov. 2015, www.pbs.org/parents/adventures-in-learning/2015/11/playing-prepositions/.

“Parent Narrative.” Handbook of Language and Literacy Development - a Roadmap from 0 to 60 Monthswww.theroadmap.ualberta.ca/understandings/parents/37-60.

“Speech and Language Milestones.” About Kids Health , www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/LearningandEducation/LiteracyandNumeracy/Pages/speech-language-milestones.aspx.

 

Child therapy: Autism and Feeding Problems

While many children have picky food preferences, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have ritualistic or restrictive behaviors negatively affecting their food repertoire. Severe selectivity with food may lead to nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition. Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding feeding disorders. 

What causes food selectivity?

      Many children with ASD have limited food inventories due to oral motor deficits, sensory problems, and/or other medical complications. Children who prefer puree, soft food, and/or dissolvable foods such as Cheetos may have an underlying oral motor deficit. The child may prefer softer foods because they have not fully developed the oral motor skills to adequately chew and swallow foods. Speech language pathologists are able to evaluate for oral motor deficits, and provide appropriate therapy to increase oral motor abilities for eating and swallowing. 

      Sensory problems may limit a child’s food choices based on color or texture. A child may avoid finger foods because they refuse to touch certain types of foods. Slippery or slimy foods may create a problem for children with sensory intolerance. One characteristic of children with ASD is rigidity. If a child approves of one brand of cereal, they become fixated on that brand and may refuse the generic brand. Occupational and speech therapist can target sensory tolerance of new textures and colors, as well as help expand a child’s brand and food options. 

      In some cases, limited food preferences may be caused from other medical complications including gastrointestinal (GI) issues such as reflux and abdominal pain. Certain foods may be avoided because the child experiences pain or discomfort while consuming these foods. Children with ASD, both verbal and nonverbal, may have difficulty conveying the discomfort to parents and caregivers.  

What is the difference between a feeding disorder and picky eater? 

      Feeding disorders typically involve extreme aversion or selectivity to food tastes and/or textures. Below is a chart to distinguish the difference between picky eaters and feeding disorders based on food groups, selectivity, resistance, effect on daily life, and response to motivation. 

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My child has a feeding disorder, what is next?

            Feeding therapy involves a comprehensive team consisting of, but not limited to, a speech therapist, occupational therapist, pediatrician, GI specialists, and nutritionist. Physicians and specialists can determine underlying medical conditions contributing to food intolerance, and provide the necessary medical treatment. Nutritionists ensure the child is receiving sufficient nutrition during each stage of treatment. Lastly, speech and occupational therapists address the oral motor, sensory, and behavior problems affecting the child’s food preference. Speech therapist are trained to provide individual treatment to increase the amount of food tolerable by the child. 

Contact Lumiere Children’s Therapyfor a full feeding evaluation. For strategies to incorporate during mealtime read our article here.

 

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References: 

Nath, Sowmya. “Feeding Problems in Children with Autism.” Interactive Autism Network, 11 Feb. 2014, iancommunity.org/ssc/feeding-problems-children-autism.

“TREATMENT OF FEEDING DISORDERS IN ASD.” Interactive Autism Network, 15 June 2010, iancommunity.org/cs/therapies_treatments/treatment_of_feeding_disorders_in_as.

“When Does Autism-Related Picky Eating Cross the Line into a Feeding Disorder?” Autism Speaks, 25 July 2012, www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2016/10/28/when-does-autism-related-picky-eating-cross-line-feeding-disorder.

Child Speech Therapy: Autism and Social Skills

Socials skills (turn taking, initiating conversation, and staying on topic) are necessary to create meaningful relationships with peers. Children with autism spectrum disorder need to be explicitly taught the social skills that may come naturally to other children. Children with ASD want to have meaningful relationships with other children, but require extra help to build relationships. 

            Impairments in social functioning is a distinct feature of ASD, and may include deficits in the following:

  • Initiating interactions
  • Responding to the initiation of others
  • Taking on another person’s perspective

            Speech-language pathologists assist children with autism develop important social skills to communicate wants and needs, socialize with others, and participate in activities. Incorporating your child’s speech goals at home can reinforce and generalize social skills in everyday activities and interactions. Below are some tips and strategies to help your child improve social skills. 

1.    One skill at a time. 

Don’t try to teach all the social skills in one bundle. Children with ASD benefit from learning social skills in smaller segments and practicing one skill at a time. For instance, introduce greetings (hello, what’s up, how are you) first, and provide opportunities to greet members in the community. 

2.    Model social interactions.

Social interactions occur frequently throughout the day. After modeling appropriate social behaviors, explain the situation after the interaction. As mentioned before, children with ASD benefit from explicit instruction regarding social interaction. Explain the difference between greeting your sister versus greeting an unfamiliar communication partner. You may hug your sister but shake the hand of the unfamiliar person. 

3.    Visuals and social stories.

Visuals in the form of a comic strip can help introduce a new social skill. Children can bring the comic strip to school for a visual reminder when presented with a social interaction. Social stories present social concepts through a brief and engaging story format. Social stories through video may work best. Research has shown that children with ASD respond well to instruction via technology.

4.   Role-play.

Once the child is presented the skill, role-play different scenarios the child may be expected to use the specific skill. The more comfortable the child feels using the new skill, the more often they will implement it during everyday interactions. 

5.   Practice, practice, practice!

During childhood, many interactions revolve around play. For children with autism, learning the rules of card and board games may be challenging. Ask your child’s teacher if there are specific games children like to play during recess. Practice playing the games at home, and eventually use the game to initiate interaction with peers at school.

6.   Celebrate strengths. 

Children with ASD frequently have specific interests in hobbies that may include music, technology, or rote memorization skills. Encourage your child to use these interests and strengths to their advantage when interacting with others.   

7.   Social Group. 

Social groups are an excellent way for children to apply their social skill goals in a functional, but supportive setting.  Lumiere Children’s therapy offers social groups for all ages. Learn more here

 

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Resources:
Bellini, Scott. “Indiana University Bloomington.” IIDC - The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University, www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/Making-and-Keeping-Friends-A-Model-for-Social-Skills-Instruction.
“Helping Your Child with Autism Improve Social Skills.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 16 June 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/socioemotional-success/201706/helping-your-child-autism-improve-social-skills.
“Social Skills and Autism.” Autism Speaks, 25 July 2012, www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/community-connections/social-skills-and-autism.

 

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!

 

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Resources:

“Autism Spectrum Disorder.” American Physical Therapy Association, 31 Oct. 2014, www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx?cid=a6482e75-65c6-4c1f-be36-5f4a847b2042.

“The Role of the Pediatric Physical Therapist for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”Center for Autism Research, www.carautismroadmap.org/the-role-of-the-pediatric-physical-therapist-for-children-with-autism-spectrum-disorder/.

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, nspt4kids.com/autism/physical-therapy-children-autism/.

 

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🖐️

 

References

Ford-Lanza, Alescia. “The 10 Best Sensory Products for Children with Autism.” Harkla, Harkla, 19 Apr. 2017, harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/sensory-products-autism.

 

Hatch-Rasmussen, Cindy. “Sensory Integration .” Autism Research Institute, www.autism.com/symptoms_sensory_overview.

 

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.

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Resources:

“7 Tips for Flying with an Autistic Child | Travel with a Special Needs Child.” MiniTime, www.minitime.com/trip-tips/7-Tips-for-Flying-with-an-Autistic-Child-article.

Harris, Meg. “Top 10 Tips for Flying With Special Needs Children.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 9 July 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/meg-harris/top-ten-tips-for-flying-w_b_5569604.html.

“National Initiatives.” The Arc | Wings for Autism®, www.thearc.org/wingsforautism.

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🖐️

 

References:

Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of. “Vocal Cord Nodules.” The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 15 Mar. 2016, www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/vocal-cord-nodules.

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, nspt4kids.com/parenting/kids-vocal-nodules-what-parents-should-know/ 

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.

 Jbird

Jbird

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🖐️

 

References:

“Storytelling: Why Narrative Skills Are Essential to Communication.” Integrated Children's Therapy, 1 Mar. 2018, integratedchildrens.com/storytelling-narrative-skills-essential-communication/.

Child Therapy: Preventing Hearing loss

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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!

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References:

Cohen, Joyce. “Want a Better Listener? Protect Those Ears.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Mar. 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/health/02baby.html.

“Hearing Loss in Children.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Sept. 2016, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/noise.html.

Mroz,, Mandy. “Hearing Loss in Children: Everything You Need to Know.” Healthy Hearing, 8 Feb. 2018, www.healthyhearing.com/help/hearing-loss/children.

“Top 5 Noise Cancelling Headphones/Ear-Muffs for Babies and Kids in 2018.” Tech News Central, 2 Jan. 2018, www.technewscentral.com/top-5-noise-cancelling-headphones-for-babies-kids/id_11106.

“When to Protect Your Child's Ears.” Parkview Health, 31 July 2017, community.parkview.com/blog/parkview-health-2/when-to-protect-your-childs-ears.

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.
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References:

“Children & Hydration.” Healthy Kids, healthy-kids.com.au/parents/children-hydration/.

“Dehydration.” About Kids Health www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/ConditionsandDiseases/Symptoms/Pages/Dehydration.aspx.

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

Family Life and More, familyshare.com/2812/4-reasons-your-kids-should-drink-water.

Jr., Robert Ferry. “Dehydration in Children: Symptoms, Signs & Reaction.” EMedicineHealth, 21 Nov. 2017, www.emedicinehealth.com/dehydration_in_children/article_em.htm#what_are_the_home_remedies_for_dehydration_in_children.

“Water.” Healthy Kids, healthy-kids.com.au/food-nutrition/

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!

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References:

Brittany. “Sensory Bin 101- What Is Sensory Play and Sensory Bins.” Love Play Learn, 23 Feb. 2017, loveplayandlearn.com/sensory-bin-101/.

littlebins. “About Sensory Bins and Everything You Need To Know To Make One.” Little Bins for Little Hands, 5 Sept. 2017, littlebinsforlittlehands.com/all-about-sensory-bins-5-things-need-know/.

Heffron, Claire. “Simple (but Effective) Upgrades for Sensory Tables and Sensory Bins.” The Inspired Treehouse, 20 Oct. 2017, theinspiredtreehouse.com/simple-effective-upgrades-sensory-tables-sensory-bins/.

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!

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Resources:

Sheff, Jean. “4 Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them.” Westchester Family , 28 June 2017, www.westchesterfamily.com/stories/2017/2/wf-fab4-valentine-2017-2.html.

Lindsay. “12 Ways to Make Your Child Feel Loved on Valentine’s Day (& Every Day).” The Family Room, 8 Feb. 2017, blogs.brighthorizons.com/familyroom/12-ways-make-child-feel-loved-valentines-day-every-day/

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.

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References:

Ackerman, Shira. “The Guide to 3rd Grade.” Scholastic.com, www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/collection/what-to-expect-grade/guide-to-3rd-grade.

Ackerman, Shira. “The Guide to 4th Grade.” Scholastic.com, www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/collection/what-to-expect-grade/guide-to-4th-grade.

Becky. “Favorite Chapter Books & Series.” This Reading Mama, 11 Aug. 2016, thisreadingmama.com/beginning-chapter-books-series/.

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, kidshealth.org/en/parents/milestones.html#.

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!

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References:

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