Child Therapy

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.

 

LUMIERE THERAPY TEAM🖐️

 

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 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 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: 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/

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 Therapy: Holiday Parties🎉

Beth
Beth

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

1. Do your homework

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

2. Set Boundaries

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

3. Keep Schedules Consistent

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

4. Prepare in advance

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

5. At the party

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

6. Adjust your expectations

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

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

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References:

Marchenko, Gillian. “5 Tips to Help Children with Special Needs Feel Comfortable at Your Holiday Party.” Chicago Parent, 15 Dec. 2014, www.chicagoparent.com/special-needs/special-needs-holiday-party/.

Lerner , Claire, and Rebecca Parlakian . “Children with Shy or Slow to Warm Up Temperaments.” ZERO TO THREE, 18 Feb. 2016, www.zerotothree.org/resources/198-children-with-shy-or-slow-to-warm-up-temperaments.

Team, The Understood. “11 Tips to Help Kids With ADHD Manage the Holidays.” Understood.org, www.understood.org/en/family/events-outings/holidays-celebrations/11-tips-to-help-kids-with-adhd-manage-the-holiday

Child Therapy: Chicago Holiday List🎁

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

Personal Creations
Personal Creations

Outdoor Activities:

1. Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum

Nov.17- Jan. 1

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

    2. ZooLights

Nov. 24- Jan. 7

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

    3. Holiday Magic

Dec. 26-31

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

Indoor Activities:

1, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Nov. 16- Jan. 7

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

    2, Elf the Musical

November 22- January 7

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

    3. Twas the Night Before Christmas

November 12- December 31st

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

Holiday Home Activities:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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References:

“Chicago Tree Lighting and Light Fests.” Chicago Kids, 9 Nov. 2017, www.chicagokids.com/Blog/Detail/78/chicago-tree-lightings-an

Child Therapy: Toy List 2017

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

Shannon McGee
Shannon McGee

The Nice List of Toys

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

Younger children (7 & below):

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

• Toy cars

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

• Toy animals:

• Little People Farm

• Little People Zoo

 

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

• Shape Sorting Cube

• Magnetic Doodle Drawing Board

• Tool kit

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

• Toy Vacuum

• Floor scooter

• Little Tikes Toy car

Older children  (7 & up):

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

• Headbandz

• Guess Who

• Clue or Battleship

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

• Table tennis

• Legos

• Sew kit

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

• Balance beam

• Standing scooter

• Twister

The Naughty List of Toys

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

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

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References:

“The 'WRONG' Toys for Holding Your Child Back and the 'RIGHT' Toys for Building Your Child's Brain.” Integrated Learning Strategies, 1 Dec. 2016, ilslearningcorner.com/2016-12-learning-toys-the-wrong-toys-for-holding-your-child-back-and-the-right-toys-for-building-your-childs-brain/.

Child Therapy: Giving Thanks🦃

Between meal prep, holiday decorating, house cleaning, and out of town guests, the true meaning of Thanksgiving may be forgotten. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the positives in life: roof over your head, food on the table, good health, and most importantly, your family. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to model gratitude for your children, but it is important to carry over gratefulness into your weekly routines.

JustyCinMd
JustyCinMd

Expressing Gratitude on Thanksgiving

  • Donation. Donate toys, coats, and baby items to Children’s Home + Aid for their Holiday Gift Guide. Explain how some children are less fortunate and cannot afford new toys and clothes around the Holidays. Once your children understand the meaning behind the shopping, they will enjoy picking out new toys and clothes for another child!
  • The Thankfulness Jar: Create your family thankfulness jar by adding pictures, stickers, or ribbons to a glass or plastic jar. Have each family member contribute to the jar by adding what he or she is most thankful for this year on a little piece of paper. At Thanksgiving dinner, have your kids take turns reading the notes. Make it a game by seeing how many people wrote similar notes!
  • Thank you cards. Encourage your children to write a thank you card to all the people in their life they are thankful for. Cards may be given to grandparents, teachers, friends, coaches, therapists, etc.
  • Volunteer:Little Brothers of Chicago provides support to the elders in Chicago. They offer multiple volunteer opportunities over the Holidays including Thanksgiving. Some volunteer roles include setting up for Thanksgiving meal, serving food, driving elders to one of the party locations, holiday home visits, home-delivered meals, and holiday party cook.

Encourage thankfulness not only during the Holidays:

  • Model gratitude by showing appreciation for the little things in life. Talk about the beautiful weather, sharing time together at dinner, or playing in the backyard. Children imitate adults often, so make it positive!
  • Give your children responsibilities around the house. Even if it takes double the time to complete a chore, your children will learn how much effort chores require. They will appreciate everything you do for them with nothing in return.
  • Incorporate ‘high and low’ into dinner routine. During each dinner, go around the table and mention the best and worst part of the day.
  • Reduce the amount of stuff accumulating in your home. Gifts should be reserved for special occasions. Resist the urge to give in every time they want something. Children will have more appreciate for their things if it was given to them on a special occasion or for a specific purpose.
  • If your children get an allowance, have them contribute to buying a new toy or treat. This is a great way to teach the importance of working and saving for desired items.
  • Give back to the community. If your children are old enough, urge them to help out a neighbor with a household chore or yard work. Volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen or nursing home.
  • Thank you cards. As mentioned above, handwritten cards are important to teach children the importance of saying thanks.

Children learn more from what you do than what you teach. Show gratitude and give thanks often at home. Children will learn to find happiness for the important aspects of life more so than the materialistic. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from Lumiere Children’s Therapy.

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References:

Latvala, Charlotte. “Teaching Children to Be Grateful.” Parents , www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/teaching-children-to-be-grateful/.

Reiser, Andrea. “11 Tips for Instilling True Gratitude in Your Kids.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 5 Feb. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/andrea-reiser/11-tips-for-instilling-true-gratitude-in-your-kids_b_4708019.html.

Child Therapy: Bullying and Stuttering

         Bullying is a problem for many school-aged children, and often times the target is a child who differs from their peers in some way. Unfortunately, incidences of teasing and bullying are significantly high for children who stutter. Any form of teasing can cause damage to a child, so parents often feel angry, helpless, and concerned for their child. As much as a parent would love to march right up to the bully himself, teaching children how to appropriately handle bullying situations will prepare them for any future encounters.

Lance Neilson
Lance Neilson

          Many children may feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit they are being teased. Children who stutter may also avoid confiding in their teacher because they are embarrassed they may stutter while explaining the situation. Avoiding school or social functions by making excuses, grades dropping, losing or gaining weight, depression or irritability are all common signs of bullying. If you notice any of these signs, talk to your child first.

Next, address the bullying head on. Educate your child on appropriate ways to interact with a bully without resorting to their poor behavior. Role-playing is an effective way to prepare your child for situations in a safe and comfortable environment. Role-playing may include rehearsing what to say to the bully, approaching a teacher or principle, or walking away from a negative situation. Rehearsing prewritten lines may help a child who stutters feel at ease when the moment arrives. For examples of role-playing, visit the International Stuttering Association website.  As a parent, you may feel responsible to address the situation as well.  Avoid addressing the situation with the bully’s parents; instead, reach out to the principle of the school. The principle and teacher will be able to observe the children interacting and handle the situation appropriately. A discussion with the speech-language pathologist (SLP) in the school may be beneficial as well. The SLP can address the situation with your child, and practice the role-playing at school. The SLP may also chose to talk to his/her class as a whole about stuttering and how to best react to a child stuttering. Always ask the child for permission before sending the SLP to the classroom.

            Make your child feel important and loved at home. Plan a day filled with their favorite activities, or spend a few hours one-on-one with them to make them feel special. Bullying and teasing can be detrimental to a child’s self-esteem. Reach out to Lumiere Children’s Therapy to talk to our family counselor about bullying.

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References:

Lew, Gail Wilson. “What Parents Can Do For Your Child When He Is Being Teased for Stuttering.” Parents Main Page, International Stuttering Association, www.isastutter.org/CDRomProject/parent/parent_main.html.

Child Therapy: Fall activities

Ben
Ben

Ben

With Halloween only a week away, get in the spirit with some Halloween-themed crafts and activities. We compiled our top 10 crafts and activities targeting gross and fine motor, sensory, music, and speech!

  • Pumpkin seeds count: Pumpkin seeds, ice tray, and tweezers are all you need for this fine motor and counting activity. On the bottom of an empty ice tray label the numbers 1-10. Have your child add the amount of pumpkin seeds to each hole using a pair of tweezers.
  • Spider races: Ready, set, go! See which spider can cross the finish line first by blowing through a straw to move the plastic spider. This oral motor activity encourages lip closure and breath support.
  • Pumpkin pie play dough: Not only is this play dough fun, but it smells amazing too! Let your children participate in making the play dough by following directions to measure, pour, and stir. Model cooking language and vocabulary throughout activity. Once the play dough is cooled, roll out the dough and use cookie cutters as a fine motor exercise!
  • Pumpkin Apple Stamp: Create cute pumpkins by stamping half of an apple with orange paint onto the paper! Add a stem with green paint and a face with black marker! This fine motor activity is fun and engaging for all ages!
  • Letter writing with spiders: Practice alphabet writing by tracing letters with plastic spiders or pumpkin seeds. After tracing a prewritten letter, have your child create their own letters or spell their name with spiders or pumpkin seeds.
  • Googly Eye Sensory bag: Simple, spooky, and slimy sensory bag! With only three ingredients necessary, this is a go-to activity. Sensory bags allow children to explore and learn while engaging in their senses.
  • Apple Pie in a cup: Delicious kid-friendly apple pie recipe! Write out the directions or a picture for each step on a piece of paper. Teach your children how to read and follow directions to make this treat. They will love smashing the graham crackers and topping with whipped cream!
  • Spider web walking: Practice balancing skills by following a spider web made of painters tape on the floor from start to finish. Incorporate language goals by sprinkling Halloween objects around the web, and having your child label each object as they pass!
  • Spider Speech Sounds: We can’t have a spider web without a spider! Outline the legs and body of a spider on a piece of black construction paper. Your child will cut out the parts and glue them together; add googly eyes to create an adorable spider! In white crayon write their target speech words on each leg and encourage your child to name each leg before gluing.
  • Corn Shakers: Simply add popping corn to a screw-top bottle or jar for an instant musical instrument! Play a few Halloween songs and have your child shake along to the beat. Use a variety of containers (empty spice jar, toothpick jar, mason jar, water bottle, baby food jar) and compare the sounds made from different containers.

Share your spookiest pictures and best Halloween crafts on our Facebook page!

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Resources:

Editor. “Corn Shakers Music Activity.” Pre-K Pages, 11 Oct. 2017, www.pre-kpages.com/corn-shakers-music-activity/.

“Montessori Activity Trays.” AlenaSani, www.alenasani.com/products/montessori-activity-trays.

“Spectacular Spider Activities for Kids.” Early Learning Ideas, 7 Oct. 2017, earlylearningideas.com/spider-activities/.

“Spider Web Walking Halloween Game.” No Time For Flash Cards, 9 Oct. 2017, www.notimeforflashcards.com/2011/10/spider-web-gross-motor-activity.html.

Child Therapy: Feeding and Fine Motor Development

When your child starts to feed himself, he is tapping into his fine motor skills.  Every time he smashes bananas all over his face or spoons his favorite veggies into his mouth, he's actually cementing muscle strength and coordination into his memory. The emergence of self-feeding facilitates improvements of fine motor skills needed for writing, cutting with scissors, etc. Fine motor ability is also the foundation for independent self-feeding. Below is a normal developing timeline outlining the fine motor development related to self-feeding.

Mark Doliner
Mark Doliner

3-4 Months

• Fine motor/oral motor: Hands are starting to rest on the bottle during feeding.

• Food intake: Breast milk and/or formula. At 4 months, puree or baby cereal may be introduced if approved by your pediatrician.

5-6 months

• Fine motor/oral motor: Your child should be independently holding the bottle with both hands. With the introduction of purees, co-feeding develops. Co-feeding is the positive interaction between the caregiver and child during mealtimes.

• Food intake: Continue with breast milk and/or formula, as puree, cereals, and possibly lumpy solids are introduced into the diet.

6-9 months

• Fine motor/ oral motor: Pincher grasp (index finger and thumb) emerges allowing children to begin to finger feed. Posture is more upright allowing for independent sitting during mealtimes. Vertical chewing pattern (munching) emerges.

• Food intake: Provide more finger foods to encourage self-feeding such as pieces of cereal, teething crackers, or pieces of cooked pasta. Continue with breast milk and/or formula.

9-12 months

• Fine motor/ oral motor: Your child will begin to purposefully reach for a spoon and attempt to spoon-feed. Pincher grasp becomes more refined. With the help of a caregiver, your child will be able to drink out of a cup. Munching pattern matures into rotary chew.

• Food intake: Increase solid intake in diet including bite-sized fruit, cooked vegetables, and cheeses. Begin introducing thicker combination foods such as mac and cheese, casseroles, etc.

12-18 months

• Fine motor/ oral motor: Child can grasps spoon with both hands for self-feeding. Drinks from cup with both hands placed.

• Food intake: At 12 months, the switch from breast milk/formula to whole milk occurs. Continue with soft solids including vegetables, fruits, and meats.

18-24 months

• Fine motor/ oral motor: Independently self-feeds and chews a variety of textures. Grasps spoon with whole hand.

• Food intake: At this age, your child should be eating the family meals.

24- 36 months

• Fine motor/oral motor: Drinks from a cup with only one hand, and uses a fork and spoon.

            If you feel your child is significantly behind in fine motor development, an Occupational therapist can help! If your child is having difficulty with chewing and/or food acceptance, a speech therapist can best meet your child’s needs. Contact Lumiere Children’s therapy for a consolation with one of our occupational or speech therapists.

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Resources:

Mattingly, Rhonda. “Typical Feeding Development.” 26 Sept. 2017, Louisville, University of Louisville .

McCarthy , Jessica L. “Feeding Infants and Toddlers.” Mosaic Childhood Project, Inc.

Child Therapy: Tips for Transitions

Tom Reynolds
Tom Reynolds

Starting your day might be as simple as a wave goodbye, or as difficult as a tantrum. Transitions can be challenging for many children, whether it may be going to the doctors, leaving a birthday party, or washing hands for dinner.

Keep some of these tips and strategies in your toolbox when a transition issue occurs in your daily routine:

Smooth Transition Tips

• Fair warning. Allowing at least 5 minutes before an activity ends. This prepares your child for a quick transition. Make it visible by using a timer on your phone or Ipad so your child can easily determine how much time is left. If appropriate, keep a timer going for the entire activity and refer to the clock periodically giving verbal reminders, “we are halfway done”, “10 more minutes”, “Time to clean up in 2 minutes”

• Concrete number. If a timer is not available or needed, use backwards counting as a reminder. For example, “Five more pushes on the swing, 5-4-3-2-1 all done”. Stick to the number you decided on to reinforce consistency even if your child asks for the inevitable “one more"

• Special signal. Determine a shared signal to indicate when an activity is over. Examples include turning off the lights, singing the clean up song, or signing ‘all done’

• Visual schedule. A visual schedule is a great tool for your child to visualize the finished activities, and prepare them for the future activities. If the day includes some non-preferred activities, add in a few preferred activities (snack break, 5 minute screen time, play outside, etc) so your child has something to work towards. Choicework is a great resource to create a visual schedule on the iPad.

• Transition toy. Bringing along a familiar toy or object can help children remain calm and feel safe during a period of change.

• Waiting game. Transitions can become even harder if there is a waiting period involved. Come up with some fun waiting games (I spy and Simon Says) during stressful moments. Games may also be used to distract during transitions, for example racing to the car, counting your steps, or singing a familiar song as you are walking.

• Social stories. Transitions are difficult because they involve change from a familiar activity to something new. Talk through new situations with a visual storyboard. If making a storyboard seems daunting, practice acting out the situation ahead of time!

• Transition words. Children need to learn concepts such as first, then, next, later, and now before they can understand the words used during transitions. Use the words in less stressful situations such as playing, “First you throw the ball, then I catch the ball”. Once they understand the words during play, these words will become easier to comprehend during transitions.

            It may take a few trials and errors before finding the best strategy for your family. Be sure to allot enough time during transitions in case of possible setbacks. It is important to keep a consistent schedule. Once your child becomes familiar with the weekly routine, transitions will start to become second nature.

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Resources:

Heffron, Claire. “10 Calming Techniques and Transition Strategies for Kids.” The Inspired Treehouse, 20 Sept. 2017, theinspiredtreehouse.com/transition-strategies-preventing-tantrums-during-daily-routine/.

Oakley , Bec. “18 Tips To Make Transitions Easier.” Snagglebox, www.snagglebox.com/article/autism-transitions-tips.

Child therapy: What is ABA therapy?

Lumiere Children’s therapy now offers Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy services as part of its comprehensive programming.  ABA is an evidence-based therapy that uses motivation and interests unique to each child in order to teach new skills across all domains. ABA therapy focuses on positive reinforcement to encourage beneficial behaviors and reduce ones that may be harmful or interfere with new learning. ABA is most successful when all parents and caregivers are educated and informed on the components and techniques of ABA therapy for their child.

Picture1iii
Picture1iii

What does ABA therapy involve?

ABA therapy focuses on individualized intervention based on the learner’s motivators, skills, needs, interest, and family/caregiver situation. Therefore sessions will look different from person to person, but each approach will consist of common components: discrete trail teaching, programming for generalization to natural environment, reinforcement, prompting and fading strategies, and outcome-based decision making.

• Discrete trail teaching: Discrete trail teaching involves taking a task and breaking it down into smaller parts in order to teach and reinforce a behavior. Breaking a task into steps allows for recognition of underlying skill deficits that need to be addressed in order to successfully complete the given task.

• Programming for generalization: Sessions will initially occur in a calm, isolated environment to eliminate all distractions or barriers in order to facilitate new learning. Once the skill is learned in a quiet, structured environment, the child will practice the new skills across all daily environments. The new skill is considered mastered once a child is able to successfully generalize the skill across all environments.

• Reinforcement: ABA focuses on the principle of positive reinforcement to encourage new learning. Therapist will take a reinforcer assessment to determine the child’s preferred activities and items. Multiple reinforcer assessments will be completed throughout the program to continue to implement appropriate and desired motivators.

• Prompting and fading strategies: As new skills are introduced, therapist and caregivers provide multiple cues and prompts to help a child be successful. As the child continues to show progress in learning a skill, prompts will begin to decrease until the child can independently demonstrate understanding.

• Outcome-based decision-making: ABA relies on objective information from concrete data to guide therapy session goals. Therapy goals will emphasize appropriate skills needed to be successful in a variety of areas including communication, sociability, self-care, play and leisure, motor development and academic skills. The intervention involves ongoing objective measurement throughout sessions, which is frequently analyzed to determine progress and adjust procedures and goals as needed.

For more information on ABA therapy and to register for our program, visit  Lumiere Children’s therapy website here. Our knowledgeable ABA therapist will put your child and family’s needs first to ensure progress and successful outcomes!

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References:

What is ABA therapy? . (n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2017, from http://www.appliedbehavioralstrategies.com/basics-of-aba.html

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). (2012, July 24). Retrieved August 24, 2017, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba

Child Therapy: Healthy Eating

             It may come as no surprise that childhood obesity numbers continue to increase. Between TV commercials and online ads, kids are presented with unhealthy foods daily. Childhood obesity affects 12.7 million children and adolescents in the United States. Obesity in childhood may lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, risk of diabetes, breathing problems, joint problems, and/or liver problems down the road.  Childhood obesity may also have a negative effect on your child’s mental and emotional well being, possibly leading to anxiety and depression.

Most children have little control over the food they are fed at home, daycare, and school. It is the parent and caregivers’ responsibility to educate and model healthy eating for children.  Read more about tips to implement at home to encourage healthy eating!

U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture

At-home tips:

• Buy more real food. We all love the convenience of cereal, cookies, chips, and granola bars, but processed food provides little to no nutritional value and are high in calories and sugar. Opt for natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats. Create your own on-the-go snacks including apples and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or peppers and guacamole.

• Limit sweetened beverages. Instead of fruit juice, soda, and energy drinks, keep a pitcher of water with fresh fruit in the fridge. Other tasty options include flavored sparkling water such as LaCroix or blending milk with bananas or berries for a delicious smoothie!

• Limit Fast food trips to special occasions only. If it is unreasonable to cut back on eating out, make good choices at restaurants such as swapping out French fries for fruits or vegetables. Instead of ordering the macaroni and cheese off the kid’s menu, chose a lighter choice such as chicken and vegetables. Be aware that the portion sizes at restaurants are sometimes double what one should eat. Box up half your child’s dinner to save for dinner the next night.

• Eat meals together. Make dinner a family event by preparing and eating the meal together. Share stories during dinnertime instead of watching TV or playing on the tablet. Eating together can decrease mindless eating.

• No more clean plate club. Allow children to determine when they are full, instead of encouraging finishing the entire plate. Save the leftovers for later if your child becomes hungry again.

• Don’t become a short order cook. Instead of cooking a separate dinner for your kids, make one dinner for all. Create a balanced meal with whole-grain, fruit or vegetable, and a protein. Serve the dishes family style so kids can pick and chose what they want to eat. Kids tend to mimic their parents, so set a good example by eating a little of each dish!

• Get active! Limit TV, computer, and tablet time to 1-2 hours a day and spend the rest of the day playing with your children outdoor riding bikes or swimming at the pool. Click here for outdoor activities

Allow treats. Banning certain types of food will only make your child want to eat them more. A child can still eat healthy and enjoy some cake and ice cream once in while. Balance is key.

            Make eating fun by cooking new recipes together, exploring local farmer markets, and having your child pick out their favorite fruits and vegetables! If you are concerned about your child’s weight, contact your pediatrician today.

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Resources:

"Childhood Obesity Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Apr. 2017. Web. 18 July 2017.

"Healthy Food for Kids." Help Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2017.

Julie Burns. "15 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Better." Parents. Parents, 11 May 2017. Web. 19 July 2017.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Childhood Obesity." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 18 July 2017.

Child Therapy: Summer Activities

With the Fourth of July over and a month left of summer, the mid summer rut maybe kicking in. Making each day different and exciting for kids can be challenging!  Today’s blog is geared towards helping you shake up the summer routine. Each activity offers a brief description, but click on the provided links for more thorough directions.

Suzette - www.suzette.nu
Suzette - www.suzette.nu

Speech- Language Activities

1. Sensory bin I-spy: Fill a plastic bin with colorful plastic straw pieces (cut straws into thirds or fourths). The straws are the sensory fillers. Then add small toys from around the house such as Barbie clothes, racecars, animals, toy foods, buttons, bracelets, etc. Once the sensory bin is filled, your child will be able to search for the toys by digging through the straws. Say an I-spy clue such as “I spy something that is red” or “I spy a vehicle” and let your child search for a matching object. Once your child has found all the objects, encourage them to create the clues!

2. Sight word bingo: Download the free bingo card in the provided link. Make learning sight words fun by turning it into a bingo game! Involve other members of the family for some friendly competition!

3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear question game: This game accompanies the wonderful children’s book, “Brown Bear, Brown, What Do You See?” By Bill Martin and illustrated by Eric Carle. Print out the free image cards in the provided link with pictures of each animal mentioned in the book. Tape one image to each person participating in the game. Each person needs to determine the animal on their back by asking yes/no questions such as “does my animal have a tail?”

Fine Motor Activities

1. Paper plate chick: Not only does this craft make an adorable chick, but it also fits perfectly with the story “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick!” by Lucille Colandro. Your child will practice fine motor skills of cutting and gluing, and all you need is a paper place, yellow tissue paper, orange cardstock, and glue.

2. Color sort with clothespins: The goal of the game is to color sort a variety of colorful pom poms. Fine motor skills are required to pinch the clothespins in order to drop the pom poms into the appropriate plastic container.

3. Cheerio stack: The best part about this game is you most likely own all the pieces! Roll a ball of play do onto a plate and place two raw spaghetti sticks in the middle. Challenge your child to stack as many cheerios they can on the spaghetti. Great for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills in order to not break the pasta.

Gross Motor Activities

1. Balloon tennis: Using a fly swatter as a tennis racquet and balloon as a tennis ball makes for an exciting indoors game. The fly swatter increases child’s gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

2. Tic-Tac-Toss: Using painters or masking tape, make a large tic-tac-toe board on the floor. Colorful beanbags will take the place as the traditional X’s and O’s. In order to mark the square, your child must throw the beanbag into the desired spot. Estimating the force and direction of the throw is a great hand-eye coordination skill.

3. Ball toss: Line plastic bins or buckets from close to far. Have your child throw ping pong balls into the buckets labeled from 100-500 points. Don’t forget to keep score!

Do you have any fun activities targeting speech/language, fine motor, and gross motor skills? Comment below! For more great ideas, check out our past blogs on indoor and outdoor activities for kids! Contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy to enroll in our therapeutic playgroups.

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Resources:

"Fun Gross Motor Activity: TIC - TAC - TOSS." Wunder-Mom.com. N.p., 08 Apr. 2017. Web. 12 July 2017.

"I Spy" Sensory Bin To Build Language." Thedabblingspeechie. N.p., 16 May 2017. Web. 12 July 2017.

Littlebins. "Balloon Tennis Indoor Gross Motor Play Activity." Little Bins for Little Hands. N.p., 08 Apr. 2017. Web. 12 July 2017.

Rachel. "Fine Motor Skills Activities: Part 1." Heaps of Laundry. N.p., 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 13 July 2017.

Stacey. "Paper Plate Chick {Kid Craft}." Glued To My Crafts. N.p., 11 Mar. 2017. Web. 13 July 2017.

"Toddler Fine Motor Skills Activity." N.p., 1 Feb. 2012. Web. 13 July 2017.

Child Therapy: Benefits of Swimming

Emran Kassim
Emran Kassim

Happy 4th of July from Lumiere Children’s Therapy! Let’s celebrate a relaxing weekend filled with friends, family, barbeque, fireworks, and swimming! With the 4th of July and summer in mind, this week we are discussing the benefits of swimming and everything you need to know to get your child in the pool!

What are the benefits of swimming?

• Strength Training: Swimming works every muscle group, so it is a great exercise to build and develop muscles. Swimming specifically targets leg, core, back, and arm muscles, which are all extremely important for gross motor development

• Low impact sport: Unlike soccer, basketball, or football, swimming is a low impact and no-contact sport. Swimming increases flexibility in order to improve balance and posture. Swimming decreases the chances of many sport-induced injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries

• Cardiovascular benefits: Swimming promotes good heart and lung health at an early age

• Coordination: Swimming requires great coordination in order to successfully synchronizing arm and leg movements while keeping a steady breathing pattern

• Water safety is extremely important for children to learn. Swimming, lessons will help prepare your child for any dangers that may occur in the water

• Mental and emotional benefits. Due to the natural buoyancy of the water, swimming may improve mental and emotional health. Swimming is much more relaxing than other types of exercise

When should my child start swimming?

• 6-18 months: American Red Cross recommends taking a baby swim class together with your child starting as early as 6 months old. The class will teach parents/caregivers ways to safety handle your child in water. Between the ages of 6-18 months, children should slowly begin to explore water. Once they are comfortable and with the assistance of a parent/caregiver, they can begin basic kicking and pulling movements, blowing bubbles, and floating

• 18 months- 3 years old: Continue to practice basic arm motions and kicking. Continue to take swim classes together until at least 3 years old. Stay in arm’s reach of your child at all times, but allow them to practice jumping into the water and submerging their head

• 3 years – 5 years: Between the ages 3-5 years old, children begin to fully learn how to swim by using their arms and legs to propel forward. Formal swimming lessons may be appropriate for your child around this age. Be sure to select a class with no more than six children per instructor

• 5 years and up: Time to piece it all together! Children will begin to implement the rhythm of swimming involving leg and arm movements coordinated with breathing. They may learn to jump or dive into the pool. Your child will slowly become a proficient swimmer, but be sure to have an active eye on him/her at all times.

            Be sure a lifeguard is present before your child enters the water. If swimming is challenging for your child, contact Lumiere Children’s therapy for more information from our occupational and physical therapists. Enjoy some much needed sun and fun!

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Resources:

Hopkins, Melissa. "What Are the Benefits of Swimming for Kids?" LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 29 June 2017.

Lewis, Lisa. "Baby Swimming Lessons." Parenting. N.p., 30 June 2015. Web. 29 June 2017.

"Top 5 Benefits of Knowing How to Swim (for Kids)." Goldfish Swim School. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2017

Child Therapy: Sleep Tips for SPD

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4805816174_b2ee1edc99_b

If your child is having trouble sleeping, chances are your whole family is impacted as well. Sleep disturbances can create tension and stress among family members. Many children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) experience sleep issues due to a number of reasons.  As part of our sleep series, we will list common causes for sleep problems in children with SPD with suggestions to improve sleep.

Trouble filtering out sounds in the house, such as people talking, birds tweeting, fan blowing, ticking of a clock, etc.

• Noise cancelling headphones or earplugs may be used if your child can tolerate wearing them while sleeping.

• A white noise machine or ceiling/portable fan are great to help cancel out other noises.

Difficulties calming down before bed due to increased arousal level of the central nervous system.

• Children with SPD need vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile activities throughout the day to help regulate the nervous system.

• Add pressure to arms and legs before bedtime. Squeeze the arms and legs starting from the top to bottom.

• Slow, Gentle, rhythmic linear swinging from a single hung point for at least 15 minutes before bedtime. If a swing is not accessible, wrap your child in a burrito blanket wrap and rock back and forth or have two people hold the ends and swing.

• If your child is in a burrito blanket wrap, add extra pressure by rolling an exercise ball all over child’s body.

• Place a vibrating pillow under the mattress for diffused vibration.

• Set your child’s internal clock by establishing a bedtime routine and staying consistent with bedtime and wake up.

• Make sure your child is not hungry or thirsty before bed, and provide a light snack and water before bed if needed. Nutrition may contribute to sleeping issues as well. It is important to eat plenty of proteins, fruits, and vegetables and limit the preservatives, additives, carbs, sugars, and caffeine (including chocolate).

• Limit the bedroom to sleeping only so your child does not start to associate the bedroom as a place for play or TV.

• If your child benefits from visual stimulation to calm down, try a lava lamp or light-up aquarium as a night-light.

Low tolerance to sensation of pajamas, sheets, blankets, and mattress.

• Use unscented laundry detergent if sensitive to smell, and avoid fabric softener because it leaves residue.

• Kids with SPD may have an aversion to tags on clothes, so it is best to cut off on pajamas. Most kids prefer cotton or fleece pajama sets. Compression clothing or tight fitting pajamas may be beneficial to some children.

• Heavy blankets, quilts, or weighted blanket can help increase weight and pressure. Bedding sets from Beddy’s are design to feel like a fitted sheet, comforter, and sleeping bag all in one.

• The firmness or softness of a mattress may impact your child’s sleep. If possible have your child compare different mattresses in your house (or at the store) to find the best match.

Emotional factors such as anxiety fear of bad dreams, or the feeling of missing out on fun at night.

• Leave a closet light on or night-light, if your child is afraid of the dark.

• Discuss nightmares with your child, and try your best to explain they are not real.

• If possible, have all children go to bed around the same time. If your children are many years apart, make a quiet rule after your child goes to bed so they do not feel left out.

Long afternoon naps may impact their ability to fall asleep at night.

• Limit napping if it takes your child a long time to wake up from one, and has more difficulty falling asleep at night.

What works for one child, might not work for the next. Experiment with different strategies and see which works best for your child and family. Contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy for an individualized sleeping plan with one of our Occupational Therapists.

Check out our other sleep related blogs: Sleep tips for children with ASD, Sleep schedule, Healthy Sleep, and Child Sleep Apnea

References:

Heffron, C. (2017, March 16). Sensory-Friendly Tips for Kids Who Have Trouble Sleeping. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/sensory-smart-sleep-tips-kids/

Sweet Dreams. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2017, from https://www.sensorysmarts.com/sweet_dreams.html

Voss, A. (n.d.). Sleep Challenges. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://asensorylife.com/sleep-challenges.html

Child Therapy: Sleep Tips for Children with ASD

Does it take your child hours to fall asleep? Does your child wake up multiple times throughout the day? Does your child wake up at the crack of dawn? Many parents feel alone when it comes to their child’s poor sleeping habits, but 80% of children with autism experience sleep problems. The Standford home sleep study data revealed that children with autism took about 160 minutes to enter REM sleep compared to 10 minutes by the control group. They also found that children with autism spent 15.5% of their time in REM sleep, while their counterparts spent 25% of their sleep in REM. Improving sleep can improve cognition, mood, and behavior. We answer frequently asked questions about sleep issues of children with autism and at-home tips to improve sleep.

Cathy Stanley-Erickson
Cathy Stanley-Erickson

What are the causes of sleep issues?

There is not a consistent etiology for sleep problems in children with autism. Sleep disturbances may be due to neurological, behavioral, and/or medical issues. Research is being conducted to evaluate the levels of hormones such as melatonin and other chemicals released by the brain that may contribute to sleeping issues in children with autism.

What should I do if I suspect my child has sleeping issues?

First, keep a sleep diary for a week to track your child’s sleeping patterns and behaviors. Calculate how much sleep your child is getting including naps. Typical amount of sleep include:

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 7.01.53 AM
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 7.01.53 AM

Also, be sure to note any disturbances, snoring, breathing patterns, unusual movements, or difficulty breathing. Once you have a detailed sleep diary, contact your child’s pediatrician for an appointment. Your child’s doctor can help determine contributing factors to your child’s sleeping issues. Factors may include but are not limited to:

• Sleep apnea

•  Epilepsy

•  Low melatonin levels

•  Environmental issues or sleep routines

Once your child’s doctor completes an evaluation, they may refer to a sleep specialist. An overnight sleep-monitoring procedure, polysomnography, is recommended for a thorough assessment. The procedure assesses behaviors during sleep and evaluates for signs of sleep apnea, periodic leg cramps, or restless leg syndrome. Once the full evaluation is competed, an individualized treatment plan will be created including behavioral therapies, medication, and/or other treatment approaches.

What are some at-home strategies I can implement?

A team of professionals will develop the best treatment approach for your child regarding his/her sleep issues. In juncture with therapy, medication, and other techniques, these at-home changes can help your child get a better night sleep.

•  Avoid stimulants before bed. Limit the amount of caffeine and sugar your child consumes close to bedtime.

•  Increase exercise and movement. During the day, encourage your child to be active and exercise. Children who exercise during the day tend to have better sleep than children who do not. Exercise should be throughout the day but not too close to bedtime.

• Consistent nighttime routine. Bedtime routine needs to be relatively short (20-30 minutes) and predicable. Click on the provided link to learn more about establishing a great bedtime routine for your child.

•  Shut down electronics. An hour before bedtime, all stimulating activities such as television, video games, tablets, and cellphones should be turned off.

•  Relax before bed. Teach your child ways to relax before going to bed. Taking a bath, reading a book, gentle back massages, or soft music are all great ways to rewind and calm-down.

•  Create a positive sleep environment. Many children with autism have sensory sensitivities. Sensory problems may negatively affect a child’s sleep. Occupational therapist may suggest weighted blankets or tight clothing while sleeping. Other suggestions include heavy or dark curtains on windows, white noise machine, humidifier, and fans or AC unit if too warm in the bedroom.

• Steady Sleep schedule. Bedtime and wake-up time should stay consistent between weekdays and weekends. Although this may be challenging for some families, going to bed later and sleeping in on weekends can negatively impact your child’s sleep patterns.

•  Do not sleep with your child. Parents often get into the routine of sleeping with their children until they fall asleep. If your child is use to falling asleep with a parent present, they may not be able to self-sooth in order to fall back asleep if they wake up in the middle of the night. Children and adults often wake up in the middle of the night, but they are able to fall back asleep by using the same strategies used at bedtime.It may be an adjustment for your child not to have you sleep next to him/her. For the first three nights, lie next to child in bed. For the next three nights, transition to sleeping on the floor or another mattress next to them. Then, sit on a chair with the door open. The last two steps involve sitting outside the room but still visible to your child and finally sitting outside the room with the door closed. 

If you are concerned about your child’s sleeping pattern, contact Lumiere Children’s therapy for a consultation with one of our occupational therapists.

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Resources:

Chen, I. (2015, October 09). Wide awake: Why children with autism struggle with sleep. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from https://spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/wide-awake-why-children-with-autism-struggle-with-sleep/

Helping Your Child With Autism Get a Good Night's Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/helping-your-child-with-autism-get-a-good-nights-sleep#2

Lamm, C. (2012, July 24). Sleep. Retrieved June 15, 2017, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/health-and-wellness/sleep

Sleep and autism: helping your child. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from http://www.autism.org.uk/about/health/child-sleep.aspx