Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to School: Making the Transition From Summer to School

Summer has come to a close and school is about to start again. Here are a few tips to help make the transition back to school more bearable for you and your child. 

Review your child's current IEP or 504 plan. 
  • Schedule an appointment with your child's team at school to go over goals and to make a plan for the year. 
  • Start a communication log with each member of your child's team. Make sure everyone is always on the same page. 
  • Keep an ongoing list of questions!

Attend school events
  • If possible, schedule a time prior to or after a 'Back to School Night' to avoid crowds and the potential for a high anxiety situation for your child. 
  • Create a relationship with your child's new teacher. Make sure his/her teacher is prepared for your child and is aware of needs and accommodations. 

  • Talk to your child, your child's teacher, doctor, and even school nurse
  • Begin preparing your child for what is coming up. Address their concerns and provide information slowly to prevent them from being bombarded with too much at once. 
  • Talk to your child's doctor to make sure all medications are up to date and correct dosages are prescribed.
  • Talk to your child's school nurse to make sure any paper work is filled out to receive medications and they are aware of any medical concerns. 

Establish a routine
  • Create a master visual schedule for everyone at home. 
  • High light areas that are specific to your child. 
  • Post a visual picture and written routine so there is no confusion. 
  • Begin practicing before school starts to avoid surprises. 
  • Create positive incentives or reward system ahead of time. 
  • Gradually begin to adjust bed time if there was a change over summer. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

The 4th of July and Your Sensory Kiddo

Summer is in full swing, temperatures are beyond high, and the 4th of July is quickly approaching. As you begin to plan for the big weekend, here are some tips to help you and your child cope with the sun, food, and unavoidable over stimulation. 

Possible Instigators: 

  • Sand or grass in their toes
  • Loud and bright fireworks
  • Large display of foods
  • Itchy swimsuits and large bodies of water
  • Large crowds
  • Late nights and delayed bed times
  • Disruption in routine

Here's some ways we can help prepare your child for the festivities
Create a picture schedule and talk about what the day/weekend may entail

  • Squeeze in some nap time! This may be especially helpful when the nights get later than usual and their routine is out of whack. 
  • Bring familiar foods along in a cooler to avoid the dreaded pot luck that has nothing they will eat. 
  • Identify a safe spot that they can meet you when they are feeling overwhelmed. 
  • Bring the ear buds or head phones to help soften the sound of the those loud fireworks that go 'boom'! 
  • Provide them with calming techniques prior to heading outside. 
  • Discuss safety in situations with water nearby. 
  • Wear the right gear! Ensure their swimsuit or shoes are good to go for the day to keep things moving smoothly. Bring a preferred change of clothes just in case.
  • If you are avoiding the crowds and staying in, look into a white noise machine to help them sleep through all the noise. 
  • Don't forget the sunscreen and plenty of water! 
Be safe and have fun! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Therapeutic Benefits of Swimming for EVERYONE!

It's that time of year! The kids are out of school, temperatures are soaring, and all the local pools are open for business. If you are finding the kids are cooped up indoors, head outside and take full advantage of all the swimming pool has to offer for all of your kids! 

Swimming has so many therapeutic benefits for all kids including those with sensory processing disorders, cerebral palsy, congenital diagnoses, and even the typically functioning. 

Swimming is multi-sensory experience for the whole body including: 

  • Proprioceptive input: This involves the input of the muscle and bones and their relation to another. The continuous sensation of water all over the body assists in increasing body awareness. The weight of the water can provide a calming experience. 
  • Vestibular input: Just a few hand stands, somersaults, and jumps into the pool can quickly satisfy vestibular input!
  • Auditory processing: This involves all of the sounds of the pool environment such as splashes of water, laughter, yells, and music at the pool. 

Swimming also helps with gross motor skills such as strength, endurance, and coordination. We all know how tiring swimming can get! Constant movement and the resistance of the water can help increase strength and endurance. Swimming takes skills. Actually performing swimming strokes takes great coordination. AND of course, swimming is great for heart and lung health!

The buoyancy of water can assist patients to learn to walk as it slows movement and takes gravity out of the picture allowing patients with physical disabilities to move in ways they typically cannot. 

Did you know that a day at the pool can even increase oral motor skills?! Blowing bubbles and and using water whistles can increase oral motor strength. 

Add in pool toys to enhance coordination and play skills! Bring your kids friends and encourage them to meet new friends at the pool to increase socialization and play skills. 

Always remember safety and teach your kids about following rules and listening to the lifeguard. Don't forget the sunscreen and hats! Have fun!

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!