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Lumiere Children’s Therapy: Holiday Toys for All Ages

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Finding the perfect gifts for your young ones that are both fun and encourage developmental skills may seem impossible, but Lumiere Children’s Therapy is here to help!

Early Development

Throughout their early years, children develop cognitive, language and motor skills that drive their development for later years. Toys should be challenging but engaging for children at this age. Limit the amount of toys that do all the work for them, such as light-up, musical or spinning toys; instead, focus on toys that require attention and fine & gross motor skills. Here are a few examples:

Cause & effect

Cause and effect toys help children understand the concept that one action can create a reciprocating action. Understanding cause and effect is the baseline for effective communication skills. Children will understand that if they use a facial expression, gesture or vocalization, they will get something in return. Cause and effect toys also encourage the development of fine motor skills by manipulating the toy for something to happen. It also requires strong trunk control to hold oneself up while interacting with the toy.

Fine motor

Fine motor skills are necessary for eating, dressing and writing in later years. The first grasp to develop around six months of age, is the pincher grasp, which requires using the fingertips and thumb to lift smaller objects. As the fine motor skills increase, children will learn how to perfect the pincher grasp, use hands to hold bigger objects, manipulate objects by placing or retrieving from containers and play with smaller toys.  For a full description of fine motor development click here.

Animals

Animal sounds and names can promote language in small children. Often times, babies’ first few words are either an animal name or sound. Animal sounds are usually the first consonants to develop such as /n/ in “nah”, /m/ in “moo”, /w/ in “woof”, /m/ “meow”, and /t/ in “tweet”.

Imaginary Play

Imaginary play encompasses social, cognitive and language skills to emulate another person. Imaginary play skills usually develop between 18-24 months by imitating talking on the phone, driving a car or unlocking a door with a key.  By four years old, imaginary play will incorporate elaborate story plots with a variety of characters, settings, problems and resolutions.

The Arts

Music

Music aids in all areas of child development as well as preparing for school, including  intellectual, social and emotional, and language skills. Music can serve as a calming or self-regulating tool, aide in communication, and positively affect a child’s mood. Interacting with your child while playing music serves as an intimate bonding experience. Dancing along and using hand gestures (such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”) can improve fine and gross motor skills as well! Read our Music Magic post for more ways to incorporate music into your daily routine.

Blowing instruments:

Hand instruments:

Art

Art is just as important to development and school readiness as music. Dexterity skills are developed while creating art by learning how to grip a writing utensil, manipulate scissors and glue paper together. For younger children, art can also serve as a platform for language development and identification of colors, shapes and actions.



Board Games

For older children (4+), board games can serve as a way to indirectly teach educational concepts in an engaging manner. Board games can target letter, shap, and color recognition.  It also encourages social and cognitive skills such as attention, sportsmanship, turn-taking and listening.

Letters:


Shapes:


Color:


Following directions/listening games:

The most important aspect of gift giving is interacting and playing with your children, nieces/nephews and grandchildren! Children learn best from adult models and they will cherish your time spent together more than any toy. Take time away from the busy holiday schedules to enjoy time with your family.

Happy Holidays!

From the Lumiere Children’s Team.




Resources:


Children and Music: Benefits of Music in Child Development. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2010-music-and-children-rhythm-meets-child-development

ExpectEditors, W. T. (2014, October 20). Pretend Play. Retrieved from https://www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/pretend-games/

Lynch, G. H. (2012, May 25). The Importance of Art in Child Development. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-importance-of-art-in-child-development/

Staff, S. Z. (2015, April 28). Teaching baby animal names, sounds, and habits builds important skills. Retrieved from https://www.schoolzone.com/blog/teaching-baby-animal-names-sounds-and-habits-builds-important-skills



Does My Child Have Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by deficits in three keys areas: social interaction, communication with others, and repetitive or rigid behaviors.  These impairments can present themselves in a variety of ways.  

Lumiere Children’s Therapy Instagram Page

Lumiere Children’s Therapy Instagram Page

What are signs of autism in my child?  

Social Deficits 

Some social deficits that may be noticed with your little one, include:

·      Lack of smiling or joyful response to a parent by 6 months of age

·      Not responding to their name by looking or orienting their body in the direction their name was called, by 1 year

·      Not waving “bye-bye” by 1 year

·      No pretend or “make believe” play by 18-24 months

·      Preference to play by themselves/no desire to interact with peers by 2 ½ years

 

Communication Deficits

Some communication deficits that may be noticed with your little one, include:

·     Not making or sharing sounds with others by 9 months of age

·      Lack of pointing to items of interest by 14-16 months

·      No regularly used words by 16-18 months

·      Lack of use of 2-word utterances by age 2

 

Repetitive or Rigid Behavior

The occurrence of repetitive or rigid behavior at any time during development can be cause for concern.  Some of these behaviors include:

·     Stereotypy - the persistent repetition of movement of the body or of an object, is a big indicator of autism.  Examples of stereotypy include, but are not limited to, repetitive movement of the hands in front of the face, hand-flapping, following objects or body parts with a repetitive eye gaze, lining up toys (and becoming very upset if the line is broken in any way), and/or pulling at the hair or hair twirling

·     Echolalia - repeating back what was said to them in a non-functional way or repeating lines from movies, commercials or other outlets that have been heard previously in a non-functional context 

·     Extreme duress expressed to a change in routine or schedule; a need for “sameness” in daily routines

·     Difficulties with transitions

 

It is important to note that any of these deficits in isolation does not mean that a little one may have autism.  Typically, a combination of these deficits will be present and when combined, there may be cause for concern.  Also, loss of any skills at any point in development is a red flag and indicator.  Examples of this include, a child who used to wave “bye-bye” but no longer does, used to babble but stopped, used to respond to their name or used to speak a few words but no longer uses them.  

What do I do if I think my child may have autism? 

If your little one is displaying a combination of these behaviors or has lost any skills, please consult your pediatrician. The pediatrician should then refer to a specialist, including a developmental pediatrician, developmental psychologist, or developmental neurologist who is qualified to perform a full diagnostic evaluation.   

My child has been diagnosed with autism (ASD). What are the next steps? 

First of all, breathe. You’ve got this! There is a lot of information to take in when a diagnosis of autism is determined.  Often times, recommendations are given for up to 30 hours per week for intensive ABA therapy which leaves parents thinking, “Where can I fit 30 hours of therapy into my child’s schedule?!”  

What is ABA therapy and how can it fit into my schedule?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the scientific approach to teaching socially significant behavior by the use of behavior principles and understanding the variables responsible for lasting change. For young learners, quality ABA therapy programs focus on family-centered programming that targets pre-academic, social, communication, and self-help skills.  ABA also focuses on decreasing challenging behavior while increasing positive behaviors.  One goal of ABA is to give your child the tools they will need to feel comfortable in the community and surroundings.  This is done in a variety of ways.  

Research shows that ABA therapy is one of the most effective treatments for teaching those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Although ABA is a critical therapy for your child, it often is just one component of a multidisciplinary treatment plan.  ABA targets a wide array of skills, however, remains behavioral in nature so other therapies including physical, speech, occupational therapies may also be beneficial to your child.  Using a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach is just one effective method to treatment.

ABA therapy can be conducted across environments. Often, therapy will occur at a center, at your child’s daycare, and/or in the home.  An ABA therapist may be present during family outings to the grocery store, park, or other activity to teach appropriate behaviors in these settings. Scheduling can be flexible and can even occur on the weekends.    

Lumiere Children’s Therapy focuses on naturalistic instruction, or play-based learning for young children and offers a multidisciplinary approach to therapy, with a customized treatment plan created just for your child. If you need help with your child’s ASD diagnosis, contact us today so we can help.


 

References

Cooper, John O., Heron, Timothy E.Heward, William L.. (2007) Applied behavior analysis /Upper 

Saddle River, N.J. : Pearson/Merrill-Prentice Hall,

Green, G.  Mansfield, R. Geckeler, E.  Gardenier, N.   Anderson, J. Holcomb, W. &  Sanchez, J. 

(2007)Stereotypy in young children with autism and typically developing children, Research in Developmental Disabilities. 28 (2007) 266–277. 

Leaf, J.  Leaf, R. McEachin, J.  Taubman, M. Rosales, S. Ross, R. Smith, T. & Weiss, M. J. (2015). 

Applied Behavior Analysis is a Science and, Therefore, Progressive.  Journal of Autism 

Dev Disorders.   (46)720–731.

Ozonof, S. et al. (2010) A Prospective Study of the Emergence of Early Behavioral Signs of 

Autism.  Journal of  American Academy of Child and AdolescentPsychiatry .  49(3): 256–66.