Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

February 2, 2017

Disruptive Behaviors and Your Preschooler – A New Strategy is Revealed!

By: Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

My alma mater, The University of Virginia, just revealed new information about children and disruptive behaviors. Researchers were able to pinpoint a strategy that helps to lower disruptive behaviors in preschool students. You can read about the study here, but I will provide you some bullet points to summarize what is covered in the article.

Some background info:

  • The basis of this study was built on the knowledge that children who exhibit disruptive behaviors (such as being impulsive, oppositional, and/or aggressive) are more at risk for short and long term negative effects.
  • Kids that exhibit these beginning disruptive behaviors are most likely to have interactions with teachers (and adults) that are full of conflict. (E.g. “Sally, no, don’t do that. Jose, don’t throw that! Xavier, stop it!”)

The study:

  • The study’s main author, Amanda Willford, stated that “building a strong and supportive connection with a young child, where teachers get to know and accept the child for who they are, is important for the children’s early success in school, especially for children who sometimes act out in the classroom.”
  • The researchers created three groups to test this theory.

a. “Banking Time” group – Teachers were instructed to let the child lead the play (10-15 minutes while one-on-one).

b. “Child Time” group – Teachers were encouraged to spend time with a child but they were not given specific instructions about how to interact (10-15 minutes while one-on-one).

c. “Control” group – Teachers interacted with the child with no changes.

  • The study revealed that the “Banking Time” group had the most positive outcomes. It is interesting to note that the researchers encouraged these teachers to even refrain from positive praise, asking questions, or teaching skills when playing together.

I feel that this study can greatly help us all as we interact with our children, even if we are not preschool teachers. It exhibits the importance of just playing with your child and refraining from our adult-driven agenda through questions and praise. These researchers have proven that our kids just want us to spend time with them and let us get to know their true personality. So, what are you waiting for…go play!

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August 24, 2016

Trick of the Trade by Colleen Donley, PT, DPT

Push Toys

A typically developing child should be taking their first steps around their first birthday. Often, little ones start cruising at furniture and taking steps with their hands held around 10 or 11 months. This is a perfect age to begin introducing a push toy to your moving baby.

Pushing a push toy along puts a child’s hands in the perfect spot to learn how to walk independently: down at chest/waist height and in front of their bodies. Using a push toy will teach babies to shift their weight forward to move forward. Parents often have concerns because they see their child literally fly across the floor as they lean forward on these push toys. We want our little ones to learn how to walk in a slow and controlled manner rather than a coordinated fall for a long distance. Bring on the weights! You can add ankle weights around the bottom, go shopping for canned goods in the pantry for the shopping cart, or load up heavy baby dolls in the stroller for a ride. Adding weight to push toys makes kiddos have to activate their muscles much more, slows them down, and allows them the chance to take a coordinated step each and every time!

Don’t have space for another baby gadget in your house or your little one gravitates to anything but toys? Try diaper boxes or the laundry basket!

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July 12, 2016

Stay “Cool” this Summer with “Hot” Literacy-Building Activities

By: Brianna Craite, MS, CCC-SLP
  • While summer is a time to relax and catch up on fun activities, it also is a time when great learning happens!
  • Learning letters and numbers can be very exhausting during the school year.
  • Below are some fun ways to build your child’s letter and number recognition, and a way to ensure your child doesn’t forget all he/she has learned!

1. Make an ABC or 123 Staircase:

Place letters or numbers on the stairs and have your child identify each letter/number as they go up the stairs. This incorporates movement and a routine that your child is already doing every day. Connecting learning and routines is proven to help children learn skills within a functional context.

2. Sidewalk Water Paint:

Grab a bucket of water and paintbrushes!  Have fun outside painting/tracing letters and numbers!

3. Letter Scavenger Hunt:

When it’s too hot outside, find a letter puzzle or draw numbers on small pieces of paper. Hide the letters/numbers all over the house. Again, this helps incorporate movement with learning, and it keeps literacy-building activities fun for all!

4. Ice Play:

Use letters and numbers that are waterproof. Fill a bowl with ice and throw a few letters/numbers into the container. Have your child dig through the ice to find the letters.  This activity keeps them cool and provides a simple sensory play activity!

5.  Alphabet Goo:

Check out this website for the directions for “Alphabet Goo”

Have fun this summer with these “cool” activities!

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If you like this post, you may also like…How To Keep Literacy & Language Skills Growing and A Playground that Can’t be Missed

 

April 26, 2016

Trick of the Trade from Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP

Handwriting Practice – Star Wars Edition

Literacy ActivitiesDoes your kiddo love Star Wars and need a little practice working on his/her letters?  This FREE handwriting packet is just the thing you need!  It features adorable drawings of the characters and traceable letters to practice all their names.  You can also find literacy activities such as word searches, matching activities, and more!  Be sure to check it out all the learning opportunities for your own Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia HERE!

 

April 26, 2016

Tips for Transitioning To and From the Car with Your Toddler

By: Lauren Foster, OTD, OTR/L
  • Walking with your children to and from a car can be scary, especially if they tend to “run.”
  • Children with autism are more “at-risk” for wandering to/from car than other children.

Few things are scarier than seeing a child “high tail it” to the street once that car or front door opens. Many parents have reported challenges with the transition from inside the house (or grocery store, office, school, etc.) to the car and vice versa. The demands of everyday life make it nearly impossible to hold onto a child’s hand every moment you are outside. Here are a few strategies and tips to support your child to safely transition from one place to another when you are outside.

  1. children street holding handsUse visuals – Humans are visual creatures and as much as we want our children to “hear” us, we often need to use visual supports to help children understand boundaries. Some ideas include: 1) using a handprint on the inside or outside of the vehicle. That way, as children head to the car they know that they need to put their hand on their handprint; 2) use “stop” and “go” signs. Practice stopping and going with a real stop sign or green light. There are many places to practice “stop” and “go” like your home, the park, and grocery store.
  2. Give the child a “job”- Is there something the child can take into the car or house? Is the child old enough to carry groceries or help mom with a chore?
  3. You can use the child’s imagination to avoid other types of behaviors – For example, “pretend you’re an airplane and fly to the car” or “let’s be bunnies and hop to the front door”.
  4. Work with a provider – Ask a teacher, speech therapist, or occupational therapist to help develop specific strategies for your child and family.

Resources:

AWAARE, The National Autism Association. http://awaare.nationalautismassociation.org/

Autism Speaks, Wandering Resources; https://www.autismspeaks.org/wandering-resources

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April 26, 2016

Technology Tuesday – GoNoodle

go noodleWe have shared about GoNoodle’s yoga program for kids, but the website has even more to offer now!  Once you sign in for the FREE program, the site has something to entertain all of your children!  It includes silly characters and activities that motivate kids to dance, practice coordination, and use positive thinking.  The activity program is great for a rainy day or you can use it as part of your daily routine to make sure that your kids get moving.  Check out the website HERE, and GoNoodle with your kids today!

Photo Credit

March 15, 2016

How to Teach Your Child about “Screen Time”

By: Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP
  • In today’s society, almost every child knows how to work the most complex technology (iPad, iPhone, TV).
  • I hear the question, “How can I limit screen time?” often during my therapy sessions.
  • Although it is a parental choice, one mom shares her story on how she managed to limit screen time AND have a happy child!

child children kid kidsWith the influx of technology within the last few years, almost every child I work with is able to turn on, off, and select specific apps from their device. Whether this is an iPad, iPhone, or other tablet, children learn to rely on these devices in certain situations. When I asked parents for the most common times they give their child a tablet, the responses were very similar. Most parents stated they used them at restaurants, long car rides, traveling on airplanes, or while waiting at a doctor’s office. It is important to limit screen time for child, as we know that children learn best from face to face interaction versus watching people on a screen.

While digging for more information, I came across this article where a mother shares how she was able to limit the screen time and eliminate the behaviors that came with these rules. She decided to clean up the device, set a limit, and talk to her child about WHY this was important. For older children, this is essential because it helps your child feel in control of the situation. The apps were divided into two sections “Junk Food” and “Brain Food.” Here are some ways to make this idea work for your family:

  1. kids kid child childrenDepending on your family environment, you can choose what to label the two different folders.
  2. Have your child help you sort the apps into the different folders to raise awareness of what apps are educational and which ones are more just for fun.
  3. The last important factor is setting a limit each day. In previous blogs, we have discussed using a timer to help with transitions. This would be a great opportunity to incorporate these visual timers into daily routines!

Tablets can be a great opportunity for learning and play, but remember to keep family face-to-face time a priority, too!

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February 8, 2016

Spectrum Pediatrics featured in The New York Times Magazine

the new york times magazine when your child won't eatSpectrum Pediatrics is honored to announce that our Feeding Tube Weaning Program was recently featured in the New York Times Magazine.  Virginia Sole-Smith wrote a deeply personal article entitled, “When Your Baby Won’t Eat.”  She bravely shares her family’s journey to help her daughter, Violet, become tube-free and learn to enjoy a healthy relationship with food.  Virginia describes the groundbreaking approach, developed by the owner, Jennifer Berry, OTR/L, that includes using hunger, self-regulation, and play to help children learn how to eat once again.  Please click on the link HERE to read about Virginia and Violet’s journey back to typical mealtimes at the family table with the guidance of the amazing tube-weaning team here at Spectrum Pediatrics.

Following the outpouring of emotions and comments of many families in reaction to her New York Times article, Virginia Sole-Smith provided more information for parents on her personal blog.  In this follow-up article, Virginia shares numerous resources that she found empowering and beneficial when teaching her daughter how to eat again.  Her list of resources can be found HERE, and we are so thankful to be included.

At Spectrum Pediatrics, we hope that we can continue to lovingly help children and their parents around the world transition from feeding tube to the family table.

 

December 22, 2015

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” – Ears for Years

By: Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP
  • The founder of this non-profit organization, at only 17 years old, has created a hearing aid to help children in developing countries.
  • In developing nations, there is limited access to the new hearing technology.
  • Many families in countries all over the world face financial difficulties when receiving expensive hearing aids.

grace o'brienEars for Years is a non profit organization created by a 17-year old college freshman who spent time volunteering abroad with children who had varying degrees of hearing loss. After realizing the impact she made on these children, she decided to start her own non-profit organization to help families gain access to hearing aid technology. The company, Ears for Years, distributes low-cost, rechargeable, and solar powered hearing aids. A company in Brazil creates these hearing aids, but the owner of Ears for Years takes the time to distribute the hearing aids to those in need. There are ways to get involved, donate, and learn more about this amazing company at her website HERE.

Resource, Photo Credit

 

December 15, 2015

What is Theory of Mind?

By: Lauren Foster, MS, OTD, OTR/L
  • Theory of Mind is the ability to understand another person’s thoughts, plans, perceptions and feelings.
  • People with autism often struggle with understanding what another person is thinking.
  • When people struggle with Theory of Mind they may have challenges understanding social nuances, situations, and relating to others.

Autism is on a spectrum with a wide range of characteristics that vary from person to person. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), autism is characterized by deficits in social communication, restricted/repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities.

Some children with autism may also struggle with what’s called, “Theory of Mind,” or the ability to take another person’s perspective. Researchers suggest that Theory of Mind develops within the first five years of life. From a very early age, children learn to think about what others are feeling by watching facial expressions, engaging in back and forth play, and listening to the words they hear.

People with autism can learn to understand what others are thinking if they are provided with enriching and focused activities to work on this skills.  One specific intervention is “social stories.”  Social Stories (developed by Carol Gray) help children with autism understand their social world. Social stories are stories that describe social situations using visuals and words. The stories aim to describe a specific situation and provide clear directions to children, so they can understand what is expected of them.

Parents can also use strategies in their daily activities to foster Theory of Mind development for their children.  Strategies include: 1) talking about what you are feeling, 2) talking about what others may be thinking and 3) providing “rich” environments to foster pretend play.

Other activities for young children include:

  1. Playing “hiding” games (hide-and-seek or peek-a-boo)
  2. Sing songs that include imitation and copying
  3. When creating Social Stories or Social Narratives, make “thought bubbles” that show what the people are doing and thinking.
  4. Play games that require turn-taking
  5. Read books and tell stories – talk about how the characters in the story are feeling
  6. Use language such as, “I have a thought; You have a thought; I feel; etc.”

For specific suggestions for different age levels, check out a great resource HERE.

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. Association, A. P. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Astington, J.W. & Edward, J. (2010). The development of theory of mind in young children. Retrieved from: http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/social-cognition/according-experts/development-theory-mind-early-childhood

Autism Speaks (2015). Executive Function and Theory of Mind. Retrieved from: https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/tool-kits/asperger-syndrome-and-high-functioning-autism-tool-kit/executive-functioni