Monday, December 15, 2014

The Therapists' Guide to Holiday Gift Shopping

Its that time of year already and let me guess, you're stumped on what to get your child this year? Let us help! We have collaborated a list of our favorite and most educational toys this season to keep your child on track for success.

Our Speech Therapists are talking about...


  • Cause and effect toys (i.e. you put something in/push something and there is an effect: i.e. lights/sounds)
  • Ring stacker
  • Pig with coins
  • Ball popper
  • Soft touch book
  • Shape sorter
  • Toy phone
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • Baby doll
  • Food/Kitchen accessories
  • Playdoh and cookie cutters


  • Brown Bear
  • Dr. Seuss
  • There was an Old Lady Who...
  • Very Hungry Catepillar

School Age:

  • I-Spy Books
  • Red Rover game
  • Short books
  • Highlights Magazine subscription
  • Dress up clothes


  • Taboo
  • Apples to Apples
  • Rory's Story cubes
  • Quia Language lab (online)
  • Cookbook (beginner) 

Our Physical Therapists are jumping about...


  • Linking rings 
  • Car seat positioner: Snuggin Go
  • Bumbo seat
  • Cause and Effect toys: Star stacker rings with music and pop up toys
  • Push toys (~10 months)
  • Ball poppers

Young Child: 

  • Tricycle and protective equipment: helmet and guards
  • Playground balls
  • Ride-on toys
  • Game: Silly Pins
  • Jungle gym: Backyard set
  • Balance beam

School Age: 

  • Bike and protective equipment: helmet and guards
  • Skip-It
  • Hula hoops
  • Jump ropes
  • Twister 
  • HullaBaloo
  • Hyper Dash
  • Trampoline: with protective sides


  • Bike and helmet
  • Trampoline with protective sides
  • Skates: roller skates, roller blades, and protective gear
  • Skate board with protective gear 

Our Occupational Therapists are stoked about...


  • Teething links
  • Finger puppets
  • Jingle bells for wrists and ankles
  • Activity cubes
  • Tobbles
  • Busy ball drop
  • Ring stacker
  • Baby play cube
  • Shape sorter
  • Wok 'N Roll
  • Puzzles with knobs
  • Snap lock beads
  • Mr. Potato Head
Preschool- School Age: 
  • Puzzles
  • Pretend play sets
  • Lacing beads
  • Hungry Monkey Motor Skills
  • Play Doh

For the ultimate guide to gifts for all our sensory kiddos we found this amazing blog that sums it all up!

Have a safe and happy holiday season! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vietnam: Behind the scenes with Beth

This past October I had the opportunity to head overseas, once again, for the Spoon Foundation, except this time to Vietnam. The orphanage I had the pleasure of spending time in was located in Binh, about an hour outside of Ho Chi Minh.

The purpose of this specific trip was to gather information of what these orphanages need so that the Spoon Foundation can prepare for training next time I return in June. I wanted to find out how the cultural beliefs of Vietnam impact how they treat and view children with disabilities. I spent my days interviewing staff members and observing children eating. The professionals at Spoon Foundation will take the information I gathered and customize the training to best meet the cultural needs of the trainees. I wasn't able to sit and take notes all day, but I was able to snap a few photos of some of the children I worked with. 

Due to lack of resources and knowledge, therapy is not readily accessible for all the kids who need it in this orphanage. Only 1 in 40 special needs children are able to receive therapy. A powerful way to assist children in receiving therapy is sponsoring a child. To cover one child's therapy it is about $10 US dollars a week. I have agreed to sponsor a child for a year and am asking the Fiesta Family in joining me to help. Our wonderful young boy, Thong, is 9 year old and he always has such a great smile on his adorable face. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sensory Friendly Halloween Fun

As Halloween is quickly approaching, here's a few quick tips to help your sensory-kiddo get through the holiday without a hitch. 

  1. Make a schedule of events. Provide a picture schedule and talk about what your child should expect from the day/night. Consider an organized smaller trick or treating option during the day.
  2. Practice for the night out. Plan a dress rehearsal, full costume and all. 
  3. Take a break throughout the night. Too much sensory stimuli, are we overwhelmed? Take a break! Make sure to include your sensory tools typically used with your child.  
  4. Alternatives to non-allergy friendly candy. Plan to provide snacks that your kiddos can eat that are not smothered in ingredients on your child's food allergy list. 
  5. The perfect costume.
    1. Avoid masks at all costs. 
    2. Wear layers of comfortable clothing under the potentially scratchy costume. 
    3. Avoid sensory triggers. 
  6. And when its all said and about it! What did your child like, not like? Take notes for next year. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Word from Speech: Tips for literacy and utterance length

For those of you with Preschool-age children, we wanted to share a few tips to improve literacy as well as increase their utterance length (number of words they use). This allows them to be more expressive and engage in more success conversations with adults.

PEER is a technique that allows the child to become the teller of the story and the adult becomes the listener, the questioner, and audience. Use this strategy when you want your child to tell you a story or a personal experience
Prompts the child to say something
Evaluates the child’s response
Expands the child’s utterance.
Repeat the phrase.

Example of PEER use: 
Adult: What does the pig want with his pancake?  
Child: Wants syrup 
Adult: That’s right, the pig wants syrup.  
Child repeats: The pig wants syrup.

SEER is a strategy that is used to teach new words.
Say the word in context
E Provide a child-friendly explanation of the word using Tier 1 (basic) vocab
E Give an example from your experiences or the child’s experiences.
R Ask the child to repeat the word after you.

Use these techniques to help your child grow their expressive vocabulary and ability to engage in storytelling. Watch your child’s language grow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

YOGA is for KIDS too!

 September is National Yoga Month, therefore here are some key reasons why we say, 'yes' to yoga for the kiddos. 

  • Kids get stressed too! 
  • Improve overall strength, coordination and balance
  • Increase body awareness and breathing patterns
  • Increase focus and concentration
  • Flexibility
  • Can be adapted for the individual child

Ask your therapist if yoga may be appropriate for your child!

For more resources check out the following resources: 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Word From Speech: Imitation Skills

Many late talking toddlers need to practice imitation skills.  If your toddler is not yet copying words, take a step back and try some Copy Cat games with actions and funny sounds / noises.  Lots of young children love these Simon Says games and it is a great way to help them ‘have a go‘ at copying sounds.

Here's a list of appealing books for 1-3 year old kiddos: 

1.  Baby’s First Sounds -  this is a simple book of different photo images (one picture to a page).  Lots of different sounds can be made throughout the book.  Bell = ling a ling,  Cat = meow,  Drum = bang bang

3.  Uh Oh, I’m sorry –  uh oh /oh no

4.  Baby Faces Peek a Boo - Adult says peeka……….. and child lifts the flap and says ‘boo!’

5.  Sleepy Baby -  sssh!  or eyes shut and snoring noises


Why do we love these books!? 
1.  You can repeat the same noise or sound many times through the book
2.  The pictures are simple and lend themselves to a particular sound
3.  Many of the books have flaps or tactile pieces to keep toddlers engaged

Make sure that you use the books as a fun way to make playsounds and focus on these rather than the story.  Praise your toddler for any attempts at making the sound – don’t worry if it is mispronounced!

Information borrowed from :
You can find 20 more books to add to this list on that website!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Back to School Series: HOMEWORK HAVOC

School is in full swing and so are the other things that come along with homework. Homework serves a great purpose, however it can be difficult to transition back into the routine of work after school. Here are some tips to help soften the reality of homework each night. 

  • Allow time after school for a break. After spending 7-8 hours at school your kiddo needs a brain break. This may include a snack, physical activity, or any form of structured free time.
  • Provide a structured schedule where homework is completed at the same time each night. Set expectations. Establish a routine!
  • If necessary, set a visual timer so they know how long they will be spending on the assignment.
  • Look over the content prior to starting to prioritize homework based on level of difficulty. Ask your child where they would like to start.
  • Provide a motivator to finish homework. This can vary. No rewards prior to completion.
  • Stay calm. If your child becomes emotional during the homework process it is your job to stay calm and work through the situation. Do not threaten your child to get it done.
  • Establish a homework area. This should be a low traffic area with minimal distractions.
  • Create a homework bin to organize homework and/or projects so it is all in one place.
  • Show interest in their work!
  • Be realistic.
  • Collaborate with the school to ensure that they have provided the best plan for your child to be successful. Adapt the course load to your child’s needs.
  • Avoid burnout. Yes, their work needs to get done. But, they are still kids!
  • Make a visual calendar where everyone at home can see. This can have all the extracurricular activities as well as test days, events, etc. This will assist everyone on being on the same page. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014


It's here! School is back and everyone is excited, even parents, therapists, and educators! But, the transition back is not always so sweet. So, here are some simple tips to keep your kiddos moving and grooving back into the school routine. 
  • Set expectations. Let your kids know what will change now that summer is over and school is back in session. 
  • Set a bed time and don't budge! Gradually adjust to the new time 10 minutes at a time. 
  • Make a visual schedule chart. Laminate the schedule or make it on a white board or chalk board so that your  kids can check off each task as they are completed. 
  • Get things ready for the next day, the night before. This will help decrease the amount of chaos in the morning. 
  • Allow your kids to have a say (within reason) as to what is in their lunches and what they wear (if they don't have uniforms). 
  • Schedule a homework routine for the same time each night so there are no surprises. 
  • Allow your kids to have some free time at night to decompress from the day to prevent burn out early. 
  • Practice the new routine a couple times so everyone is on the same page. 
  • Cut off tags on the inside of clothing prior to wearing to decrease defensiveness against their clothes. 
  • Talk about any changes ahead of time. Surprises are not always a good thing. 
  • If your child has difficulty with transitions, contact the school to ask for a private visit to walk through the school and meet the teacher without the crowd. 
  • COMMUNICATE! Be sure to start off with good communication between you and the teacher. Inform the teach with both written and verbal information that may be important throughout the transition and school year.  

Next on the 'Back to School Series: Homework Havoc'!