Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

Archive for the ‘Tricks of the Trade’ Category

March 21, 2017

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

Welcome Spring: Picture It!

Now that it’s spring, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the nice weather! As a speech therapist I am always looking for fun and creative crafts to do during my therapy sessions. I love when the seasons start to change, especially from winter to spring. This is a great time to work on sequencing and concepts during my therapy sessions. This “Picture It” craft uses a trick of the trade we have talked about previously: cameras.

For this activity you will need:

  • A camera (on phone or your “old school” camera)
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • A large piece of white construction paper

With spring, usually comes beautiful days outside. Before going outside, it is helpful to talk to your child about the different seasons and explain now that winter is going away, spring will be next. By using these sequence words (first, next, then, etc.) you can work on time concepts with your child. It may be helpful to talk about what spring means and what you might start to see outside as the seasons change. A book can also be a great way to introduce new concepts, there are a lot of books focusing on spring or outdoor activities. See our previous post on spring books here!

Once you have gone over this with your child, take them outside and take a picture of them in the environment. This could be in the flowers, under a tree, laying on the grass, or at the playground. If possible, print out your picture and use it when you start your “Picture It” craft. If you are unable to print it out, have the picture out so your child can reference this. Ask your child to identify what they see in the picture and draw their own picture of what “spring” looks like to them. To challenge your child, you could also talk about what you might hear or taste on a nice day! This craft can target all areas of development. For fine motor skills, have your child draw with different types of writing utensils or even cut out pieces of paper and glue. For gross motor and attention, work on your child sitting in a specific spot at the table or floor and attending enough to complete the activity. For language development, have your child tell you about what they did outside or retell what happened in a book you may have read about Spring! There are so many fun crafts, but try to use the beautiful Spring weather as a way to get your child outside!

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March 6, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

Blankets

This object is in everyone’s house, but it is not usually considered a great tool for learning – a blanket! Surprisingly, this item can provide lots of opportunities for language and movement. Here are a few ways we use a blanket at Spectrum Pediatrics:

1. Regulation – We all have our own unique ways to help ourselves cope with the sensory information that we are receiving in our daily lives. Swinging in a blanket is a great way to help calm a child that might be overwhelmed. The blanket creates a safe cocoon and the linear movement is very beneficial in helping a child overcome too much sensory input.

2. Movement – Kids can make the blanket into a parachute-type game with holding the corners and moving it up and down. Kids can have the blanket “pop” balls out the top or kids can go under the blanket when it rises up.

3. Language – A blanket can provide hours of entertainment for receptive (listening/comprehension) and expressive (speaking) language.

  • Receptive: Practice prepositions with a doll or other object. For example, “Hide the dog under to blanket, Put the doll on top of the blanket.” You can also work on following directions to play the parachute game (“Make the blanket go UP! Make the blanket go DOWN!”)
  • Expressive: Have your child hop on the blanket for a ride, and he/she must tell you where to go. (“Take a right, Go left, Take me to the kitchen!”) Try to work on the concepts of “fast” and “slow” while going for a ride.

These ideas are just the beginning! Talk to your therapist about other ways to use this simple object to create some wonderful learning opportunities!

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February 22, 2017

Tips for Improving Your Child’s Communication

At Spectrum Pediatrics, we often find ourselves talking to parents about small changes they can make during their daily routines to help build their child’s communication skills. Two of our speech therapists are sharing four of their all-time favorite tips for parents. Check out the video below to hear Jamie and Krystina discuss these tips and explain what makes them so important and how to build them into your everyday routine!

Stay posted for more helpful videos on tummy time and feeding behaviors at mealtimes!

February 6, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

Yoga

Lately, I have been doing yoga with many of my clients, and I have found that it has many benefits for speech and language. Here are a few reasons you should try with your kids today!

1. Attention and Imitation – These skills are necessary to develop verbal speech skills. A child needs to be able to look at someone and copy movements in order to copy lip movements and words.

2. Comprehension – A child must focus on the verbal instructions being given to follow along with the yoga “flow” and assume the correct positioning. This skill helps with processing language and learning new words.

3. Breath Control – Yoga focuses on breath. The deep breaths in and out that are required help a child learn how to control his/her breathing. This is important for controlling breath when producing sounds, too. Deep breaths are also a great way to help kids learn how to stay calm and “regulate” their bodies and emotions.

Some yoga resources that are great for kids are:

  • GoNoodle – available for FREE on their website or on the AppleTV app
  • Yoga Kids by Kirsten Hall
  • Once Upon a Mat… Starring Jessie Forston
  • The Kids’ Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games by Annie Buckley

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January 20, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Ashley Glasser, MS, OTR/L, CEIM

DIY Play Gyms

Out of all the toys and devices out there, especially for newborns and pre-crawlers, one of my favorites is a baby play gym or mat. They come in various shapes and sizes: colorful mats with two arches and multiple dangling toys or one simple wooden arch with two toys. No matter which one a parent chooses the benefits are endless. They help to promote cognitive skills, reaching and grasping, head turning, body turning, sensory stimulation, etc.

Recently I was working with a family where we decided the child would benefit from practicing overhead reaching so that he could strengthen his arms as he lifted them against gravity, in addition to working on the accuracy of his reach and expanding his play beyond mouthing (he could learn to bat, shake, turn, etc.). What better way to work on this than through the use of a play gym! Problem: the family doesn’t yet have a play gym. Solution: let’s create one!

If you haven’t purchased a play gym, don’t fret. A piece of string or rope tied between two pieces of furniture will do the trick for now! In the moment two adults sitting on couches facing each other worked just fine. A rattle was strung onto the string and the adults held the string over the baby while he laid on his back on the floor. Within seconds the baby immediately reached up for the rattle, batted at it, and pulled it down to his chest. Exactly what we wanted! A little ingenuity and the child is already developing new skills that will benefit him immensely.

Note that care should be taken in regards to what you decide to put on the string – be mindful of choking hazards for babies that are reaching and mouthing. And always monitor, but also have fun!

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January 17, 2017

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

Videos

As a speech therapist I am often working on articulation or development of speech sounds with children between the ages of 5-8. After this holiday season, I noticed that so many of the children I see received some form of technology for Christmas, whether it was an iPad or a different type of tablet. Although it is important to set boundaries on the amount of technology your child uses, it actually can be helpful when working on articulation and home practice. This provides a motivating and fun way for children to want to participate in articulation therapy, which is not always the most fun.

Lately, I have started to use the video or camera feature on the tablet to have the child record how they are producing the sounds. This provides the opportunity for the parents to see how therapy is going if they are unable to be home. It also gives the child a chance to see how they produce each sound and “rate” their sounds. If a child is able to hear the difference in their sound production it often helps them to fix their errors and accurately produce the sound. Another way to have this video feature used in therapy is to record activities so the child can continue to practice throughout the week. The most important part of articulation therapy is the carryover while at home.

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December 2, 2016

Trick of the Trade from Colleen Donley, PT, DPT

Crawling Up the Stairs

I love to work on crawling up the stairs with a baby that is crawling and moving around. This is an especially great activity for a baby who may have difficulty pulling to stand at their activity table or your coffee table. Sometimes those tables are a little too high to reach up from hands and knees. A stair is a much more reasonable height, most are typically less than 8 inches.

I work on having the baby practice the same motion:

  • Going from hands and knees to a half-kneel position
  • Pushing up through their arms to bring that second foot up
  • Have both hands on the top step and both feet flat in a supported standing position

You might need to be hands-on at first to teach them the motor pattern or provide a little support for their confidence since stairs are a scary place. You might also need to help them figure out how to negotiate moving their hands up to the next step or how to bring their knees up. This will help reinforce the motor pattern to pull to stand at the taller heights, such as their musical activity table, while building the strength in the legs needed for this movement. Crawling up the steps is an easy activity to incorporate into your already-busy days!

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November 28, 2016

Trick of the Trade from Brianna Craite, MS, CCC-SLP

Movement, Music, and Language

There is a lot of research explaining how children need to move more and sit less throughout their day. This recently made me re-think the way I am expecting children to learn while completing language activities. A little trick I started using is to incorporate movement and music during my language activities. When my kiddos are allowed to move a bit I have found that their ability to listen and learn improves. One particular song I like to practice with all my kiddos is “If you’re happy and you know it”. First, I start by singing the original lyrics to clap hands, stomp feet, say Hooray! Once a child can complete these tasks I like to add my own directions based on what we are working on. For example if we are working on body parts “If you’re happy and you know it touch your head.” For older children try a more complex direction like “If you’re happy and you know it give a thumbs up”. Try it out! See how incorporating movement and music with language development helps your little one!

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November 23, 2016

Trick of the Trade: Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our previous post about Thanksgiving traditions made the entire Spectrum Staff start to think about traditions in their own house for the holidays! Although every staff member had a different tradition to remember, they all had one in common and that was spending time with their family! During this Thanksgiving weekend we hope you are all spending time with your loved ones and having fun! Whether that means playing outside, watching football, or helping in the kitchen, there are always ways to build memories with your little ones! Take the time to have your child be involved with the cooking. Our feeding therapist, Heidi, talks more about this in her previous post about helping your child pick out foods in the grocery store or count how many potatoes will be needed for the mashed potatoes.

Most children love to do crafts and this can be a great time to work on some of those developmental milestones. This website gives some great ideas for crafts around being “thankful”. For working on fine motor skills have your child help you cut the different pieces and squeeze the glue to put the craft together. If you are targeting receptive language skills, print out visual directions if your child needs it or break down the craft into multiple verbal steps. To target turn taking or general social skills, have your child use words to request turns from their siblings or cousins.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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November 15, 2016

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

Go For an Adventure!

With the Fall weather in full swing, it is a good time to get outside with your child and do a fun activity before the cold weather comes! While talking with families about their weekend family adventures recently, I thought it might be helpful to talk about some ways to incorporate developmental goals while out and about. If you are thinking about taking a day trip somewhere, maybe into the city, or out for a hike, it is important to talk about this with your child before hand. Most children benefit from knowing what to expect, and when there is a change in routine, it can be helpful to briefly talk to your child about where you are going, who you are going with, and how you will get there. If you know your child benefits specifically from visuals, try finding a picture of where you are going to show them what to expect.

For the day of the trip, try to involve your child in the “packing”. This could help with building receptive language and following directions outside of your normal routine. Children love to help, so it could help you by giving each child a different job, such as bringing a bag out to the car, or putting their shoes on! On your way to this adventure, you can practice expressive language by labeling what you see or talking about what you are going to do when you get there. If you are on the metro or somewhere else that might be loud, this could be a great opportunity to practice transitions.

If you are looking for some adventure ideas check out this website!

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