preschool therapy chicago

Lumiere Physical Therapy: What is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly, or “flat head syndrome” is a condition in infants that is more common than you think. In a study done in 2013 and published in Pediatrics, the incidence of plagiocephaly in infants 7-12 weeks old was 46.6%¹. That means that this condition affects ~1 in every 2 infants. Read below to learn more about this common diagnosis, the causes, and which medical professionals can help.

What is Plagiocephaly (Flat Head Syndrome)?

Plagiocephaly, also known as “flat head syndrome”, means that your child’s head has flattened due to the fact that your child’s skull sutures have not yet closed. This may be caused by an infant spending too much time on his back, especially looking only to one side, resulting in a flat spot on one side of the head. This also may be due to Torticollis, which involves a child only looking to one side due to muscular tightness in the neck/trunk/pelvis. If this is the case, it is important to begin to work on opposite head rotation as well as positioning, to help get your child off his back. A physical therapist can help with this. (Check out our previous blog post on torticollis which helps with specific exercises/positions.)

Once a flat spot develops, it will be more difficult for your child to look the other way due to the flattening, which further exacerbates the issue, creating a type of ridge on the back of your child’s head. There also can be facial asymmetries associated with the flattening. On the same side as the flattening, your child’s eye and cheek may be slightly larger, with a slight forward bossing on the same side of the forehead, and the same side ear may also be pushed forward. Facial asymmetries are typically corrected when the skull is properly aligned, which will depend on the severity of the head flattening.


What is Brachycephaly?

Additionally, your child may develop a flat spot on the entire back of the head (not just only one side), which is called Brachycephaly. This is also caused by an infant spending too much time on his back, or in equipment such as car seats or bouncers². A shaping helmet may be indicated for both plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, depending on your child’s age and the severity of the flattening, described below.



Who can I see about my child’s flat head?

If you’re concerned about your child’s head shape, first talk with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician may refer him to a plastic surgeon or an orthotist. A specialist can measure your child’s head shape manually or using a scan. Depending on the results, they may recommend a shaping helmet, physical therapy, or both. It will depend on your child’s age and the severity of the flattening. The ideal window of time to receive a shaping helmet is around 6 months of age, however a child can receive and wear a shaping helmet up to 12 months old. After 12 months of age, there is minimal benefit to wearing a helmet.



A few places you can go in the Chicago area:

  • Scheck and Siress

  • Transcend Orthotics

  • Dr. Frank Vicari at Advocate

  • Head Shape Evaluation Program at Lurie Children’s Hospital

  • Cranial Technologies



How long will my child wear a shaping helmet?

This will again depend on your child’s age and severity of the flatness. Your orthotist or plastic surgeon will decide based on your child’s progress with subsequent scans. Helmets are typically to be worn 23 hours a day, with two 30-minute breaks permitted. A child may wear a helmet for as long as in indicated to correct the head shape, which can be anywhere from 4-6 weeks on.


Will it make my child’s head harder to lift?

The shaping helmets are pretty lightweight. A child will not receive a shaping helmet until he has enough head control. There may be an adjustment period while your child gets used to wearing it, however some infants do not tend to notice.

How can a physical therapist help?

A physical therapist can help with the underlying muscular factors such as muscular tightness that causes your child to look one way (torticollis), or low muscle tone that makes it more difficult for your child to move around and transition to different positions. A physical therapist can help with strengthening your child’s muscles during tummy time, as well as help your child with positioning and exercises to teach your child to roll and sit on his own and tolerate more time on his tummy.


If you have any additional questions about your child’s head shape or alignment, you can call our office at Lumiere Children’s Therapy and speak with a physical therapist.






References:

  1. Mawji A, Vollman AR, Hatfield J,McNeil DA, Sauvé R. The Incidence of Positional Plagiocephaly: A Cohort Study. Pediatrics. 132 (2). August 2013.

  2. https://www.cranialtech.com/my-babys-head-shape/


Lumiere Children’s Therapy: Autism and Physical Therapy

Happy Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) awareness month! Many recognize speech therapy as an important component of the overall treatment plan for ASD due to difficulty with spoken language, eye contact, facial expressions, and emotional recognition. Although language deficits are a core symptom of autism, children may also demonstrate difficulty with coordination, motor planning, and hand-eye coordination. Therefore, physical therapy can help facilitate gross motor development to increase participation in everyday activities and social activities such as gym class, sports, playing, etc.

Lecates - Flickr

Lecates - Flickr

What are the signs and symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?


  • Social communication challenges

    • Difficulty with social interaction including initiating and maintaining topics during conversation

  • Pragmatic difficulties

    • Children with ASD may present with poor eye contact, difficulty gauging personal space, and decreased facial expressions

  • Difficulty identifying emotions

    • Difficulties may include recognizing one’s own emotions as well as the feelings of others. They experience trouble expressing their emotions during a variety of situations. Also, children may lack knowledge of when to seek emotional support or provide emotional comfort to others.

  • Repetitive behaviors

    • Repetitive behaviors present differently for each individual but some examples may include repetitive body movements (arm flapping, spinning), motions with objects (spinning wheels), staring at lights, and/or ritualistic behaviors (lining up toys in order)

What physical difficulties may a child with autism experience?

Children with ASD may present with the following physical challenges:


  • Developmental Delay:

    A developmental delay is when a child is lacking the age-appropriate skills in one or more of the developmental areas: cognitive, social-emotional, speech and language, fine and gross motor. If a child demonstrates a physical developmental delay, they may have difficulty rolling over, holding up their head, sitting up, crawling, and eventually walking and jumping.


  • Low muscle tone:

    Muscle tone is the amount of tension in muscles used to hold up our bodies while sitting or standing. Low muscle tone is when the muscles require more effort to move properly while doing an activity. They may have difficulty maintaining good posture when standing and sitting, and often affects their overall gross motor development.


  • Difficulty with motor planning.

    Motor planning is the ability to conceive, plan, and then execute the physical skill in the correct sequence. Motor planning assists children in attempting new tasks without the need to consciously learn the steps to each new task. Motor planning arises from organizing sensory input from the body, and having adequate body awareness and environmental perception. Children who have trouble with motor planning may experience difficulty carrying out new tasks, following physical commands when given verbal instructions, and appearing clumsy while executing new tasks.


  • Decreased body awareness.

    Children with ASD may lack awareness of where their bodies are in relation to their environment, causing children to become accident-prone or present clumsy.

Who is a Physical Therapist?

Physical therapists, often referred to as PTs, are professionals that help people gain strength, mobility and gross motor skills. They are experts in motor development, body function, strength, and movement. Pediatric physical therapists can help children with a variety of disorders gain functional physical skills so they can participate in everyday activities.

What does physical therapy target?

  • Basic skills. Physical therapists can help children develop the primary gross motor skills of sitting, rolling, standing and running if they are experiencing a developmental delay.

  • Coordination. Physical therapists focus on the necessary muscles and skills to improve balance and coordination in everyday activities.

  • Improve reciprocal-play skills. Help children use motor planning to coordination throwing and catching a ball, and other activities that involves interacting and reacting to another person.

  • Development of motor imitation skills. In order to learn new skills, a child must be efficient in imitation and following physical directions. PTs can offer strategies and practice of imitating movements.

  • Increasing stamina and fitness. For older children, physical therapy may focus on skills required to participate in play and sports such as kicking, throwing, catching, and running.

  • Parent education. PTs create home exercise programs so that family members can help facilitate building on strength, coordination, and development of specific goals into their natural environments and routines.


Why is physical activity important for children with ASD?

Physical therapy increases a child’s ability to participate in physical activities by improving strength and coordination. Once a child is able to functionally participate in physical activities, they are able to reap the many benefits of daily exercise.


  • Social skills. Gym class, playgrounds, and organized sports teams offer opportunities for children to develop friendships and social skills. For children with ASD, physical activity programs provide a fun, safe environment to develop and practice social interaction skills.

  • Improvement in behaviors. Physical activity may help decrease maladaptive behaviors and aggression. Children with ASD have difficulty expressing and understanding their feelings. Physical activity can aid in reducing stress and frustration in children, often helping them adjust in different activities without aggression.

  • Overall health improvements. Staying active and participating in daily physical activities can decrease the risk of general health problems in individuals with ASD, including obesity.

  • Increase quality of life. Daily activities such as climbing stairs, walking on the sidewalk, and going grocery shopping require the use of gross motor skills. Improving one’s strength and stamina can positively affect their participation in everyday chores and activities.


If your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and is experiencing difficulty with coordination, strength, and motor planning, physical therapy might be right for you. Our physical therapists at Lumiere Children’s Therapy can offer evaluations, customized treatment plans, and home exercise programs for carryover into the home.





References:

“Does Physical Activity Have Special Benefits for People with Autism?” Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/expert-opinion/does-physical-activity-have-special-benefits-people-autism.

Morin, Amanda. “What You Need to Know About Developmental Delays.” Understood.org, www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/treatments-approaches/early-intervention/what-you-need-to-know-about-developmental-delays.

“Motor Planning.” North Shore Pediatric Therapy, nspt4kids.com/healthtopics-and-conditions-database/motor-planning/.

“Physical Deficits.” Mental Help Physical Deficits Comments, www.mentalhelp.net/articles/physical-deficits/.

Rudy, Lisa Jo. “What Can a Physical Therapist Do for a Your Autistic Child?” Verywell Health, 24 July 2018, www.verywellhealth.com/physical-therapy-as-a-treatment-for-autism-260052.

Ries, Eric. “Physical Therapy for People With Autism.” Physical Therapy for People With Autism, www.apta.org/PTinMotion/2018/7/Feature/Autism/.

“What Are the Symptoms of Autism?” Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/what-are-symptoms-autism.






Autism: Recognizing & Managing Challenging Behaviors

Did you know that a big part of your child’s behavior, positive or challenging, is a reaction to something that is happening in their immediate environment?


Sometimes we inadvertently reinforce challenging behaviors but knowing the ABCs can help prevent inadvertent reinforcement. By recognizing the ABCs of behavior, you may be able to help prevent and better de-escalate challenging behaviors with your child. 

 A) Antecedent- This is what happens just before the behavior to provoke it.  

B)  Behavior-This is what you can see your child doing. 

C) Consequence-This is how you react the behavior.  The consequence will determine whether or not that behavior will reoccur. 

When thinking about how to intervene your child’s behavior, it is important to look at why the behavior is occurring, also known as identifying thefunction.  This is much more important than what the behavior looks like.  By recognizing which function the challenging behavior serves, you can begin to understand how to intervene.  The four main functions of behavior are:

 

Sensory - These behaviors are occurring because they feel good.  Stereotypy, or self-stimulatory behavior, is a common sensory behavior that children with autism often engage in. 

 

Escape - These are behaviors occur when your child wants to get out of doing something they don’t want to do.  This is often the root cause of difficulty with transitions, with which many children with autism have difficulty.

 

Attention - These behaviors occur to gain attention from somebody.  Attention-based behaviors can be easily inadvertently reinforced, so it is important to remember that negative attention is still attention!

 

Tangible - These are behaviors that your child engages in when they are told they can’t have something they want or if something they like is taken from them. By identifying common things that provoke behavior, we can arrange the environment to prevent behaviors in the first place.  By knowing why your child is engaging in a challenging behavior, you can begin to understand how to respond to your child. 

 

General Preventative Strategies

  • Give your child choices throughout the day.  This gives them a sense of control in their environment.  You can give them a “choice” when there may not actually be one.  An example of this is, “Which shoe do you want to put on first?” or “Do you want to go potty in 2 minutes or 4 minutes?”

  • If you would like for your child to do something, present it as a choice via instruction.  It is important that instructions are followed through. An example of this is, “Are you ready to put on your shoes?” vs. “It’s time to put your shoes on.” 

  • Prepare your child for transitions.  Instead of abruptly telling them that it is time to transition away from a preferred task, give them a visual or verbal countdown

  • Reward the positives!  Point out when you see your child making good choices.  Throw a party if they engage in a difficult and desirable behavior.  Some children with autism may not be motivated by social praise.  If this is the case, allow your child time with a favorite toy or sensory input (tickles, hugs, squeezes etc.)

  • Encourage flexibility!  Many children with autism can be rigid, so encouraging your child to play with different toys, try different foods, and pointing out when unexpected changes occur, can help prevent challenging behavior related to rigidity

  • Make sure your child has meaningful breaks throughout the day to engage in preferred activities

  • Teach appropriate behaviors when your child is calm and not engaging in challenging behavior 

 

General Consequence Strategies

 

 Sensory

  • Give your child something similar to do/have instead of the inappropriate behavior.  An example of this may be to offer your child a chewy snack instead of putting toys in their mouth

Escape

  • Be sure to follow through when an instruction is given

  • Validate your child’s frustration and let them know that you understand that they are upset, but they do need to complete whatever task is at hand

  • Try not to force your child to comply.  Have them complete the task at hand when they are calm and ready

  • Remember what the original instruction was and stick with it

  • Reward your child as soon as they complete the non-preferred task

Attention

  • Ignore attention-seeking behavior as much as possible.  Sometimes this is not 100% doable.  If you must provide your child with attention, minimize verbal attention and remain neutral

  • Do not show frustration or anger.  Children with autism sometimes think this is “funny” and may not have the social awareness to truly understand your frustration.  Emotions should be taught when your child is calm and regulated

 

Tangible

  • Not allowing the child to have access until they ask calmly or show that they are calm (if they do not have the language to ask)

  • If you are unable to provide your child access to the preferred item, acknowledge their emotion and their feelings

  • Do not go back on your word.  If you told your child that they cannot have an item, do not give your child that item, especially if they engage in challenging behavior

 

 

Tips provided by Lumiere therapist, Jacqueline M., M.A., BCBA, (Lead Board Certified Behavior Analyst)

 

 

Lumiere Children’s Therapy: Asking and Answering Questions

“Hi, how are you doing?”

“I’m doing well, just got back from vacation”

“Where did you go?”

“Florida”

“Nice. Who did you go with?”

“My daughter”

“How did you get there”

“We drove.”


The above dialogue is an example of a typical conversation between two people discussing a recent vacation. The person asking the questions is showing interest and gaining more information by asking informative questions. The person answering questions is providing additional information about their trip by adequately answering the questions. Asking and answering questions appropriately is an important skill in order to participate in social conversation with others and build relationships.  It also aids in comprehension of spoken and/or written language by learning information through the form of questions and demonstrating understanding by answering comprehension questions.



What is Involved in Asking and Answering Questions?

Steps to adequately answer questions include:

  1. Hearing the question correctly

  2. Thinking about the meaning by deciphering the difference between who, what, where, when, why, and how

  3. Understanding the meaning or context

  4. Forming a suitable answer

  5. Articulate the answer in a grammatically correct sentence


Steps to adequately asking questions include:

  1. Determining the information you would like to receive

  2. Formulating a cohesive, grammatically correct question in your head

  3. Articulating the question to another person using adequate social skills

There is a hierarchy for answering and asking questions during development. “What” questions are the easiest to learn, use, and answer in language development. “Where” questions are next, followed by “who” questions. Lastly, the hardest questions to answer are “when” and “why”. When teaching children how to answer questions, start with “What” and “where” questions until fully mastered.


Milestones for Asking and Answering Questions

1-2 years old:

Answering:

  • Answers simple “what” questions like “what’s that?” while pointing at common objects

  • Answers simple “where” questions by pointing to objects or pictures in a book, such as “where are your shoes?”

  • Responds to yes/no questions with a nod or word

Asking:

  • Starts to add rising intonation to the end of phrases to indicate questions. For instance, “cookie?” may stand for, “Can I have a cookie?”

  • May start to ask “what’s that?” to unknown objects



2-3 years old:


Answering

  • Point to objects when described in questions such as “where do you sleep?” or “What do you wear on your feet?”

  • Answers simple wh-questions (what, where, who) logically

  • Follows directions when asked “Can you..” such as, “Can you give me the brush?”

Asking

  • Asks basic “where”, “what”, and “what are you doing”.. questions independently, “Where daddy?”



3-4 years old:

Answering

  • Appropriately answers more complex /wh/ questions such as “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “how”

  • Answers questions about objects function such as “what do we do with a towel?”

  • Answers hypothetical questions. For instance, “If your sick, where do you go?”

Asking

  • Uses correct syntax while phrasing questions such as “where is sister going?” instead of “sister going where?”

  • Starts to ask “why” questions about everyday life

  • Asks the following types of questions using correct grammar:

    • Early infinitive “Do you want to go to the zoo?”

    • Future “Are we going to school?”

    • Modal can/may “Can I use the bathroom?”



4 years old:

Answering

  • At this age, children should appropriately answer all wh-questions including “when” questions. For instance, “when do you brush your teeth?”

Asking

  • Asks questions using age-appropriate structure including “ Can I…”, “Do you want to…”, and “Are we going…”


Activities to Try at Home:

  • For 1-2 year olds, asking questions should remain at the basic level. Line up favorite toys or household items and ask the child to name each by asking “What’s that?” Play with animal figurines and ask your children, “What sound does a pig make?” and so on. Books are great to use so that children can point to the answers for “What’s that” questions. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy is a favorite book of speech therapists.

  • In order to work on yes/no questions, ask preferential questions in that format. For instance, “Do you want yogurt? Yes or no?”. Nod your head accordingly while saying yes versus no so that your child fully understands.

  • Car rides provide ample time to address “wh” questions revolving daily activities. If headed to the grocery store, questions may include “Where do we go to buy food?”, “What should we buy for breakfast”, or “Where do they keep the milk?”. After school, ask more specific questions about the day, “What did you eat for lunch?”, “Who did you sit next to in class?”, or “Where did you play during recess?”.

  • Make a wh- poster board. Split the poster into thirds (what, where, who) or fourths (what, where, who, when) depending on your child’s age. Look through old magazines and cut out pictures to glue into the corresponding spots. “What” pictures may include clothing, food, or toys. “Where” pictures would include indoor or outdoor places. “Who” pictures would be people. “When” pictures can feature seasons, holidays, or time of day.

  • Create your own story books. First, decide what the story is going to be about (vacation, dance class, school, shopping, getting a pet, etc). Next, ask your child questions about the story in order to write a plot, such as “Who is the story about”, “Where are they going?”, “What are they doing there?”, “When does it take place?”, and “How does it end”. Have your child draw a picture on each page to go along with the text.

  • For older children, games can be used to encourage asking questions. The following games encourage the development of asking and answering questions.

Reading Comprehension Milestones

As children enter school-age, asking and answering question skills are applied to reading comprehension. Children begin to understand what they are reading through determining the elements of a story (character, setting, plot, main idea, rising action, and resolution). Below outlines a typical development of reading comprehension skills, and strategies to aid in development to try at home.

Kindergarten (5 years old)

  • Kindergarteners can start to retell details of a story read out loud by stating the who, what, when, where, and why of the plot

  • Children can retell the main idea of simple stories

  • Children can arrange story events in sequential order

  • They are able to answer simple “what” questions about the story read to them

First and Second Grade (6-7 years old)

  • Children are able to read simple, familiar stories themselves

  • Answer questions about a story that requires them to think about what they have read

  • Demonstrate understanding of a story through drawings

  • Children can create their own stories by organizing thoughts in a logical sequence of beginning, middle, and end

Second and Third Grade (7-8 year old)

  • Children are able to read longer books independently

  • Able to identify unfamiliar words through context and pictures

  • Apply reading skills to writing skills by forming complete paragraphs


Fourth through Eighth Grade (9-13)

  • Able to read and explore variety of texts including narratives, poetry, fiction, and biographies

  • Identify the elements of the story such as time, setting, characters, plot, problem and resolution

  • Analyze texts for meanings, use inferencing skills, and make predictions.

Strategy for Home

Make reading a part of your daily routine, whether it is a book in the morning, after school, or before bed. Stop periodically throughout the book to check for comprehension by asking “What is happening?”, “Who is this about?”, and “What do you think will happen next?”. For younger children, fold paper into three creases and have the child draw three pictures to represent the story.

If your child demonstrates difficulty answering or asking questions or seems behind on the language development milestones, Lumiere Children’s Therapy can provide the appropriate intervention to improve language skills.

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References:

“Asking and Answering Questions.” Speech And Language Kids, www.speechandlanguagekids.com/questions-resource-page/.

Lanza, Janet R, and Lynn K Flashive. “Question Answering and Asking Milestones.” Parent Resources Blog, LinguiSystems, Inc., 2008, parentresourcesblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/questions-development.pdf.

Morin, Amanda. “Reading Skills: What to Expect at Different Ages.” Understood.org, \www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/signs-symptoms/age-by-age-learning-skills/reading-skills-what-to-expect-at-different-ages.

“Reading Milestones (for Parents).” Edited by Cynthia M. Zettler-Greeley, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, June 2018, kidshealth.org/en/parents/milestones.html.

Spivey, Becky L. “How to Help Your Child Understand and Produce ‘WH’ Questions.” Super Duper Handy Handouts, 2006 Super Duper Publications, 2006, www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/110_wh_questions.pdf.

“Teaching Your Toddler to Answer Questions - Receptive and Expressive Language Delay Issues.” Teachmetotalk.com, 13 Sept. 2017, teachmetotalk.com/2008/02/26/techniques-to-work-on-answering-questions-with-language-delayed-toddlers/.

“Why Is Asking and Answering Questions Important?” ABC Pediatric Therapy, 11 Mar. 2018, www.abcpediatrictherapy.com/why-is-asking-and-answering-questions-important/.


Lumiere Children’s Therapy: Breathing Difficulties in Children

Examine your breathing for a minute. Are you breathing through your nose or mouth? Is your mouth open or closed? Is your tongue on the bottom or roof of your mouth? Optimal breathing should be effortless and quiet through the nostrils with the tongue suctioned to the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth and the lips should be gently closed. Nasal breathing positively affects swallowing patterns, chewing, speaking, voicing and body posture. If nasal breathing is compromised for any reason, orofacial myofunctional disorders and/or airway function disorders may arise. This article focuses on descriptions of airway function disorders, including pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, and treatment options.

Airway Function Disorders (AFD)

AFD occur when the airway function is obstructed at any level of the airway, affecting a range of human functions. Sleep disorder breathing such as pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, is a collapse at any level of the upper airway resulting in abnormal breathing during sleep. Pediatric sleep apnea will be discussed further in this article. Sleep disordered breathing is initially impacted by daytime breathing specifically in children who mouth breath.

Signs of mouth breathing include the following:

  • Open lips

  • Low or forward tongue posture

  • Short upper lip

  • Forward head posture (protruding from neck)

  • Frequently dry lips

  • Misaligned teeth requiring orthodontics

  • Dry mouth

  • Hyponasal speech (speech that sounds nasal like they have a cold)

  • Drooling

  • Nasal congestion or constant runny nose


Impact of AFD

Airway function disorders may impact a variety of functions in a child’s life. It may interfere with language development, learning and academics, memory, attention, socialization, and self-regulation. Children with AFD may exhibit primary behavior characteristics of excessive fidgeting, hyperactivity, decreased attention and emotional outburst.

airway

AFD may also impact a child’s speech and swallow function. Some children with AFD present with an interdentalized (tongue between teeth) on the following sounds /s, z, t, d, n, l/ as those sounds are produced with tongue elevation.  Children may also experience abnormal swallowing patterns such as tongue-thrust swallows or impaired chewing.


Risk factors of AFD

The following is a list of risk factors associated with AFD:

  • Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids

  • Mouth breathing

  • Nasal abnormalities such as a deviated septum (Deviated septum is when the thin wall between nasal passages is displaced causing one nasal passage to be smaller)

  • Frequent nasal congestion or allergies

  • Chronic rhinitis: set of symptoms including running nose, itchy nose, post-nasal drip, congestion, and sneezing that persist for months to a year

  • Higher Body Mass Index

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): when stomach acid flows back up irritating the lining of the esophagus

  • Low muscle tone

  • Craniofacial syndromes or growth alteration

  • Prematurity

  • Traumatic birth

  • Gender (Males are two times more likely to have SBD)

  • Ethnicity (African Americans are at a higher risk)

Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Reflect on your quality of sleep the past few nights. Did you sleep soundly through the night without any disturbances and wake up rejuvenated, or did you toss and turn all night feeling distracted and lethargic in the morning? The quality and effectiveness of a good night’s sleep impacts your mood and productivity the following day. The same holds true for children; if a child experiences disturbances throughout the night, they may demonstrate difficulties in behavior and attention during the school day. Studies have suggested that as many as 25% of children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

What is OSA?

OSA is an airway function disorder that is observed during sleep. OSA is when a person has repeated episodes of partial or complete upper-airway obstruction during sleep

How prevalent is OSA in children?

Studies have shown that up to 5% of children are diagnosed with OSA, with a correction between pediatric obesity and OSA.

What are the symptoms of OSA?

The most prevalent symptom of OSA is snoring. Although some children may only demonstrate habitual snoring which consists of vibration of airway tissue with no airway obstruction, studies have found a ratio between 3:1 and 5:1 between symptomatic habitual snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Other symptoms include the following:

  • Agitated sleep

  • Nightmares

  • Mouth breathing or open mouth posture

  • Bedwetting

  • Pauses in breathing or gasping for air during sleep

  • Audible breathing

  • Grinding teeth

  • Sweating

Treatment for Airway Disorders

  1. The first step to treatment of airway disorders is to determine the function of the nasal airway. Determining structural or physiological barriers to nasal breathing is necessary to determine plan of care. An evaluation by an allergist and otolaryngologist (ENT) is necessary to determine if medications such as antihistamines, allergy medicine or surgery is required to be able to safely breath out of the mouth.

  2. Elimination of non-nutritive sucking is important for adequate growth and formation of dental structures. Non-nutritive sucking (e.g. pacifier, finger, and object sucking) is a risk factor for future dental occlusion abnormalities. Orofacial myofunctional therapist can provide strategies to eliminate the use of nonnutritive sucking.

  3. Establishing adequate oral rest posture would be the next step of therapy. Orofacial myofunctional therapy focuses on retraining the muscles to stabilize a normal rest posture between the tongue, lips, teeth and jaw. Orofacial myofunctional therapy uses oral tactile stimulation and resistance activities to help disassociate the tongue from the jaw, improve lip closure and strengthen tongue elevation.

  4. Once the resting posture has been achieved, orthodontics may be recommended for dental stability if the child presents with a malocclusion of crossbite, overjet, or underbite; this might include braces, retainer, or rapid palatal expansion depending on the occlusion.

Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

In cases of pediatric sleep apnea, the first treatment step is typically the removal of the adenoids and tonsils. As reported by American Sleep Apnea Association, the removal of the adenoids and tonsils results in complete elimination of pediatric OSA symptoms in 70-90% of uncomplicated cases. As previously mentioned, a dental evaluation should be performed to check for hard palate development to accommodate the child's tongue. If necessary a rapid palatal expander (a non-invasive fixed and/or removable dental device) can be worn for six months to one year, to expand the transverse diameter of the hard palate.The next treatment option to consider is positive airway pressure, or PAP, which is typically used as a palliative treatment for adults with sleep apnea. A PAP machine blows pressurized air into the child’s mouth to counteract the closing of the throat during sleep. The amount of pressure is determined through an overnight sleep study.

If you feel your child exhibits any of the symptoms listed above for an airway function disorder, speak with your primary care physician for adequate referrals to airway specialists. At Lumiere Children’s Therapy, our speech-language pathologist can treat speech sound disorders, swallowing disorders, and oral motor deficits associated with AFD.

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References:

Archambault, N. (n.d.). Healthy Breathing, 'Round the Clock. Retrieved from https://leader.pubs.asha.org/doi/full/10.1044/leader.FTR1.23022018.48


Capdevila, O. S., Kheirandish-Gozal, L., Dayyat, E., & Gozal, D. (2008). Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea: complications, management, and long-term outcomes. Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society, 5(2), 274-82.

Children's Sleep Apnea. (2017, February 13). Retrieved from https://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/childrens-sleep-apnea/

Deviated septum. (2018, March 03). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deviated-septum/symptoms-causes/syc-20351710

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). (2018, March 09). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940

Hayes, K. (n.d.). Coping With Chronic Rhinitis. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/coping-with-chronic-rhinitis-4160487

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders: Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589943975§ion=Treatment

Positive Airway Pressure Therapy for Sleep Apnea. (2017, February 03). Retrieved from https://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/sleep-apnea-treatment-options/positive-airway-pressure-therapy/


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



Lumiere Children’s Therapy: Swallowing Difficulties in Children

Swallowing is a complicated process that is both voluntary and involuntary. Many people take swallowing for granted since it becomes second nature to most. Observe the complexity of a swallow by paying close attention to the many stages involved when taking a bite of food or sip of water. For some children, eating and swallowing can cause numerous difficulties leading to poor growth, failure to gain weight and inadequate nutrition. The medical term for swallow difficulty is called Dysphagia.

There are three types of Dysphagia: oral, oropharyngeal and esophageal. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on oral and oropharyngeal dysphagia as speech therapists can diagnose and treat these types.

Stages of a Swallow

There are four stages to an efficient swallow: oral preparation, oral stage, pharyngeal, and esophageal. Dysphagia can occur in one or more of the four phases of a swallow, possibly leading to food or liquid entering the airway causing aspiration.

  • Oral Preparation: In this stage, the teeth chew the food as saliva adds moisture in order to create a cohesive ball or bolus.

    • Signs/symptoms of difficulty in this stage:

      • Child has trouble chewing a variety of textured food that should be age-appropriate

      • Liquid or food spills out of the mouth while eating

      • Excessive amounts of drooling during meals or between meals

      • Takes over 30 minutes to finish a meal

      • Over-stuffing their mouth with food or only allowing small amounts of food into mouth

  • Oral Stage: In this stage, the person voluntarily pushes the food to the back of the mouth by the tongue in preparation to swallow food.

    • Signs/symptoms of difficulty in this stage:

      • Child holds food in the mouth for a long time before swallowing

      • Requires multiple swallows on one piece of food

      • Some food remains in mouth after swallowing

  • Pharyngeal Stage: The food passes through the throat into the esophagus. During this stage, the windpipe or airway is protected by a flap called the epiglottis so food does not enter the lungs.

    • Signs/symptoms of difficulty in this stage:

      • Breathing difficulty during meals as noticed by skin color change, changes in heart rate, or increased breathing

      • Coughing and choking during or after meals

      • Spitting up, vomiting or gagging during meals

      • After or during meals, the child talks with a raspy or wet sounding voice

      • Frequent congestion in chest after meals

  • Esophageal stage: Food travels from the esophagus into the stomach during this stage.

    • Signs/symptoms of difficulty:

      • Frequent constipation

      • Complaints of stomach pain

      • Sensation of food coming back up the pipe

      • Excess vomiting after meals


Signs and symptoms of swallowing problems may be difficult to notice if a child does not express complaints.  Other signs to watch for during meals may include the following:

  • Crying during mealtimes because the child does not want to eat

  • Refusal of food and/or certain textures

  • Distracting behaviors such as excess talking, frequently getting up, or negative behaviors

  • Long meal times due to slow eating or refusal of meals

  • Facial grimacing during mealtime for older children and arching of the back for infants

  • For infants, decreased responsiveness such as blank stares during feedings

  • Food or liquid coming out of nose during or after feedings

Aversions

There are two other types of feeding/swallowing disorders related to the oral preparatory stage: oral and sensory aversion.

Oral aversion is usually a self-defense mechanism that kids use to avoid foods that they know they cannot process due to lack of skills. Chewing and swallowing can be a very complicated process requiring adequate jaw strength, tongue elevation and lateralization and rhythmic chewing and coordination. For children that lack strength and/or coordination in one of these areas, swallowing can be complicated and even dangerous. To assess if your child may have oral motor difficulties, take a bite of a food, such as a cookie, and count the amount of chews it takes you before swallowing. Observe your child eating the same type of cookie and count the amount of chews it takes him or her, while observing the jaw movements. Adequate jaw movements should be a circular/diagonal motion, not simply up and down as in a munching pattern.

Sensory aversion is usually a symptom of a  sensory-processing disorder. Sensory aversions may appear as hypo-sensitivity (lack of sensory awareness) or hyper-sensitivity (excessive sensory awareness). If the child is hyposensitive, the child lacks awareness of the food impacting his/her ability to manipulate the food before swallowing. Symptoms may appear as over-stuffing the mouth, leftover food in the mouth and excess drooling. If the child is hypersensitive, symptoms may include vomiting, gagging, spitting up food or refusing behaviors at dinner.

Consequences of a swallowing disorder

Difficulty with swallowing may cause an array of complications if not properly treated. These complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Malnutrition: Malnutrition is when the body is not receiving enough nutrients and vitamins through the consumption of food needed to keep tissues and organs working properly. Malnutrition may occur due to undernourishment or overnourishment. Undernutrition is when the child is not receiving essential nutrients due to lack of food consumption. Overnutrition occurs when the child consumes an abundance of food but lacks the necessary vitamins in those foods. Overnutrition may also involve lack of exercise, excessive eating, and/or taking too many vitamin supplements.


    • Signs of malnutrition:

      • Pale and dry skin complexion

      • Easily bruises

      • Thin hair or hair loss

      • Gums that bleed easily

      • Swollen or cracked tongue

      • Sensitivity to light

      • Rashes or changes in skin pigmentation

    • Treatment for malnutrition: Pediatricians will recommend speech therapy as well as working closely with a dietician to increase oral intake of nutritious food.  If malnutrition continues, treatment may involve inserting a thin tube through the nose that carefully enters the stomach or small intestine. If long-term tube feeding is recommended, a tube may be placed directly into the stomach or small intestine through an incision in the abdomen.

  • Dehydration: Dehydration is when children lose an excessive amount of water and salts without replacing the fluids through diet.

    • Signs of dehydration:

      • Limited tears when crying

      • Decreased need to go to the bathroom

      • Irritability

      • Eyes that have a sunken look

      • Dry or sticky mouth

      • Dizziness or lethargic tendencies

    • Treatment for dehydration: Treatment varies based on the severity of dehydration. For mild cases, children will be advised to drink plenty of fluids (preferably water) and rest in a cool room. For more severe cases, children may be required to drink oral rehydration solution (ORS) which is a combination of sugar and salts that rehydrate the body. If a child refuses liquids, alternative feedings such as tube feeding may be required.

  • Aspiration pneumonia: When food, saliva or stomach acid enters your lungs, it is called pulmonary aspiration. Healthy lungs are able to clear foreign bacteria, but if the lungs are unable to clear the food or liquid, pneumonia may occur.

    • Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia:

      • Shortness of breath

      • Bad breath

      • Excessive coughing, and sometimes coughing up blood or phlegm

      • Chest pain or wheezing

      • Excessive sweating

      • Fever

    • Treatment of aspiration pneumonia: Treatment usually involves antibiotics and supportive care for breathing such as oxygen, steroids or breathing machine.

  • Ongoing need for a feeding tube. As mentioned before, a feeding tube may be deemed necessary if your child is unable to consume enough nutrition through the mouth. There are four types of feeding tubes: nasogastric tubes, nasoduodenal tubes, nasojejunal tubes and gastric or gastrostomy tubes. (Our next blog will focus on the types of feeding tubes and provide more information.)

  • Inadequate weight gain: Attending regular pediatrician check-ups can ensure your child is growing at a healthy rate.

Treatment for Swallowing Disorders

Treatment depends on the child’s age, health conditions, physical and cognitive abilities, and most importantly, specific feeding and swallowing concerns. Feeding therapy is a a team approach consisting of the child, speech therapist, dietician, occupational therapist, pediatrician and family members. The main goals of therapy are to support adequate nutrition and hydration, minimize complication risk and maximize the child and family’s quality of life.

If you feel your child may have difficulty with any stage of the swallow process, express concerns with your pediatrician immediately. Lumiere Children’s Therapy can provide feeding therapy to help your child reach their highest potential for adequate nutrition and quality of life. Contact us here.



References:

Children's Hospital. “Dysphagia.” Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 24 Aug. 2014, www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/dysphagia.

“Dehydration.” Edited by Patricia Solo-Josephson, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, June 2017, kidshealth.org/en/parents/dehydration.html.

“Pediatric Dysphagia: Causes.” Averican Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA, www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589934965§ion=Causes.

https://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589934965&section=Treatment

Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP, Debra C. “Food Refusal - Is It Oral Motor or Sensory Related?” ARK Therapeutic, 10 Nov. 2014, www.arktherapeutic.com/blog/food-refusal-is-it-oral-motor-or-sensory-related/

“Malnutrition.” Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins?, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/pediatrics/malnutrition_22,Malnutrition.
“Tube Types.” Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation, www.feedingtubeawareness.org/tube-feeding-basics/tubetypes/.