set up a routine for homework success

Set-Up a Routine for Homework Happiness

 

 

 

Children with attentional problems or issues with executive functioning often have difficulties with homework completion. Several issues associated with executive functioning lead to concerns with the ability to complete daily work including the following:

  • Initiation on work
  • Organization concerns
  • Time management
  • Difficulty transitioning

When is the best time for my child to do homework?

Oftentimes children will want to have a break from school work when they come home. They want to play for a while before doing work. I would actually recommend that the child immediately start homework when he gets home. Research has indicated that children with attentional problems and poor executive functioning have difficulty transitioning between tasks. The child is still in the school mindset when he arrives home. Having the child take a break and then later transition back to homework likely will prove difficult. Instead, I would recommend that the child have a light snack and then immediately start the work.

How should I structure the homework space?

Organization, or lack thereof, is a hallmark feature of poor executive functioning. With that in mind, I would highly recommend that the homework environment in which the child is working be as organized and structured as possible. Have a specific desk or table where work is to be done. Keep the table as clean as possible with a minimal amount of distractions in the room. Oftentimes, having the child complete homework in his room proves to be a disaster. There are too many distractions that keep the child’s interest away from the homework assignment. It may prove best to select a quiet room away from family members with the fewest distractions possible.  Click here to watch a Pediatric TV Episode on setting up a homework station.

How do I work on time management with my child?

Parents often state that the child has no idea about time management or how long tasks should last. I often recommend that parents have the child provide an estimate of how long he perceives a task should last. Time the child and then provide the difference as to how long he thought the work would last and how long it actually lasted. Then the next day, have the child again provide an estimate as to how long the task will last. If the child is way off with the estimate, pull out the data from the night before and ask if he wants to revise his estimate. Keep this going until the child starts to develop an actual idea of how long tasks should last.

These are just a few tips to keep homework as structured as possible. Help the child start homework right away as it will help with initiation on tasks as well as ensuring a smooth transition between demands. Keep the room and desk as organized as possible to limit distractions and off-task behaviors. Provide some guidance with time management by helping identify how long tasks and assignments should last.

Read here for 8 more tips to ease homework time stress!





Epilepsy brain

Diagnosing and Treating Epilepsy

 

 

Epilepsy is diagnosed when the child experiences two or more seizures with no known cause (e.g. no significant illness, no known fever, or no known physical hit to the head).  Epilepsy is fairly common and it is estimated that 1 in 26 individuals will develop epilepsy over their lifetime (Epilepsy Foundation of America, 2014).

Seizure activity is typically identified by characteristics of an electroencephalogram (EEG).  An EEG is when the individual has several electrodes placed on their head which measures electrical activity.  Seizures are identified by having sudden changes in electrical activity in either the entire brain or specific regions.

There are two main types of seizures with several subtypes underneath them.  Generalized seizures are when there are abnormal
findings on an EEG in all parts of the brain at the same time.  Children who exhibit generalized seizures will lose consciousness.  Partial seizures are when there is limited EEG findings to only one single area in the brain.  Children with partial seizures typically do not lose consciousness.

Epilepsy brainThe usual front line treatment of epilepsy is pharmacological intervention.  Some children do not respond to the anti-epileptic medications and may require surgery to help address seizure activity.

There are numerous cognitive and academic concerns associated with epilepsy.  There is some indication that IQ can be effected by seizure activity.  It is hard to classify specifically what effect there might be with IQ as research has indicated that seizure location as well as age of onset of seizure activity have a major impact on changes in IQ.  Studies have indicated that memory, attention, and executive functioning are often impacted by seizures.  Research has also indicated that children with epilepsy have a much higher rate of special education services for learning issues in the school setting.

It is important that if a child has epilepsy, a comprehensive evaluation be conducted in order to monitor IQ, academic achievement, attention, executive functioning, and memory in order to ensure that he or she is receiving the most efficacious interventions in the classroom setting.
Yeates, Ris, Taylor, & Pennington (2010), Pediatric Neuropsychology: research, theory, and practice

Hunter & Donders (2007), Pediatric Neuropsychology Intervention

What is Co-Treating?

You may have heard your therapist say, “I think a co-treat would be a great option for your child!” But what does that really entail? Will your child still be getting a full treatment session? Will his current and most important goals be worked on? Will he benefit as much as a one-on-one session? When a co-treatment session is appropriate, the answer to all of those questions is…YES!

What is a co-treatment session?

Co-treatment sessions are when two therapists from different disciplines (Speech Therapy (SLP), Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT), etc.) work together with your child to maximize therapeutic goals and progress.

When is a co-treatment session appropriate?

When the two disciplines share complimentary or similar goals.

EXAMPLE: Maintaining attention to task, executive functioning, pragmatics, etc. Playing a game where the child needs to interact with and attend to multiple people while sitting on a stability ball for balance. [all disciplines]
*When children have difficulty sustaining attention and arousal needed to participate in back-to-back therapy sessions.
EXAMPLE: Working on endurance/strength/coordination while simultaneously addressing language skills. Obstacle courses through the gym while working on verbal sequencing and following directions. [SLP + PT or OT]
*When activities within the co-treatment session can address goals of both disciplines.
EXAMPLE: Art projects can address fine motor functioning as well as language tasks like sequencing, verbal reasoning, and categorizing.
*When a child needs motivations or distractions. [OT + SLP]
EXAMPLE: Research has shown that physical activity increases expressive output. Playing catch while naming items in category or earning “tickets” for the swing by practicing speech sounds.  [PT or OT + SLP]
EXAMPLE: PT’s need distraction for some of their little clients who are working on standing or walking and working on language through play during these activities works well. [PT + SLP]

Why co-treat?

  • Allows therapists to create cohesive treatment plans that work towards both discipline’s goal in a shorter amount of time.
  • Allows for therapists to use similar strategies to encourage participation and good behavior in their one-on-one sessions with the child.
  • Allows for therapists to collaborate and discuss the child’s goals, treatment, and progress throughout the therapy process. Together, they can consistently update and generate plans and goals as the child succeeds.
  • Aids in generalization of skills to different environments, contexts, and communication partners.
  • Allows for problem-solving to take place in the moment. For example, an extra set of hands to teach or demonstrate a skill or utilizing a strategy to address a negative behavior.

Co-treatments sessions can be extremely beneficial for a child. There are endless ways therapists can work together to promote progress and success towards a child’s therapeutic goals.. However, co-treatments may not always be appropriate and are only done when the decision to do so is made collaboratively with the therapists and the parents.

Contact us for more information on the benefits of co-treating in therapy sessions.

Learning Disabilities Demystified

Learning concerns are one of the most common neurological issues with which children and adolescents present.  It has been estimated that approximately six percent of the general population meet the clinical criteria for a diagnosis of a learning disability.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), which is the guide book for psychologists and psychiatrists that provides information regarding diagnostic information, indicates that there are several essential features of specific learning disabilities in children.

5 Features of Learning Disabilities in Children:

  1. Persistent difficulties learning basic foundational academic skills with onset during the early elementary years.  The manual indicates that these foundation academic skills include: reading of single words accurately and fluently, reading comprehension, written expression and spelling, arithmetic computation, and mathematical reasoning.
  2. A child’s performance is well below average for his or her age.
  3. Learning difficulties are readily apparent in the early school years in most individuals.  That being said, there are some instances in which the concerns are not fully evident until later in the individual’s academic life.
  4. The learning disorder is specific in that it is not attributed to other factors such as intellectual disability, socio-economic status, medical conditions, or environmental factors.
  5. The deficit may be restricted only one academic skill or domain.

Prior studies have indicated that learning disorders are more common in males than females.  There are several long-term consequences associated with learning disorders in which the individual never receives any intervention, including:  lower academic achievement, higher rates of high school dropout, higher levels of psychological distress, higher rates of unemployment, and lower incomes.
Data has indicated that children with learning disabilities are often at risk for a variety of co-existing conditions including ADHD and social-emotional concerns.  Click here for more information on learning disabilities.


What to Expect After Neuropsychological Testing

The process of going through a neuropsychological evaluation can be tiring and time consuming.  This process is long-starting fromWhat to expect from neuropsychological testing concerns brought up by the teacher, sharing the information with the pediatrician, getting a referral, meeting with the neuropsychologist, having the child participate in the comprehensive evaluation, and meeting at the end for feedback.  This process may take weeks or months to fully complete.

It is important to understand that the neuropsychological evaluation is really the start of the process.

The focus of the evaluation is to provide information and diagnostic clarification about what is going on with a child’s behavior or learning.  Once the evaluation is completed, the entire process of help and change begins. Read more

How Can a Neuropsychological Evaluation Help My Child?

A neuropsychological evaluation can help a child in multiple ways.  The focus of the evaluation is to provide information for parents about why a child is struggling with regards to his or her academic achievement, social engagement, and/or emotional regulation.  Parents will bring their children in for a neuropsychological evaluation when they have concerns about their performance in any of the above domains.

What is the goal of a neuropsychological evaluation?

The goal of the evaluation is to provide diagnostic clarification based upon a set of symptoms that the child exhibits.  This information is attained through the following ways:

  • Parental interview
  • Parental and teacher report
  • Behavioral observation Read more

How Does Occupational Therapy Help with ADHD?

It has been well documented that children with ADHD often struggle with maintaining focus in various areas of their day to day lives and consequently achieving their full potential. As Dr. Greg Stasi explains in his June blog, ADHD and Learning: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’s Impact on Learning, children with ADHD often exhibit impulsivity or hyperactivity, difficulty with following directions, and poor executive functioning skills. The impact of these difficulties can be extensive on a child’s success in school, relationships, and overall self esteem.

How does occupational therapy help a child with ADHD?

Occupational therapists often work with children to help them develop self-regulation and executive functioning skills. By teaching children strategies to address these challenging areas, we empower them to become more independent and self assured by targeting two important areas: Read more

What to Do When a Teacher Notices Concerns About Your Child

With the new school year well underway, teachers are beginning to gain information regarding their student’s areas of strength and weakness.  Many times teachers are hesitant to bring up concerns to parents.  Also, many parents will want to take a ‘wait and see’ approach in order to help determine whether or not these areas of concern will go away on their own.  Our advice to both parents and teachers is this: Do not wait and act now. 

Advice for teachers regarding bringing up student concerns to parents:

  • Collect anecdotal data to reveal the concern to the parents.
  • Provide the parents with the strategies that have already been tried in the classroom.
  • Provide the parents with specifics as to how the behaviors of interest are impacting the child’s learning or social needs.

Advice for parents regarding handling concerns brought up by teachers:

  •  Do not take the concern as an insult about your parenting or your child.
  • Ask the teacher questions about the frequency and duration of the behaviors.  When are they occurring? Read more

5 Tips to Help Your Child with Motor Planning

Does your child have difficulty learning or doing a new or unfamiliar task? Does he appear clumsy or avoid participating in sports or other physical activities? Does he have trouble coming up with new play ideas or knowing how to play with toys? If this sounds familiar, your child might have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is the ability of the brain to conceive of, organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions.  If your child needs help with motor planning, read on for 5 helpful tips.

5 Ways to Help Your Child with Motor Planning:

  1. Do activities that are composed of a series of steps (i.e. making a craft, making a sandwich, or creating an obstacle course).  As you do this, help your child identify, plan, and execute the steps to promote the ability to sequence and map actions. Break down the steps to make them more manageable and attainable, which can build self-esteem.
  2.  Determine what aspects of motor planning are a strength for your child (e.g. imitation, following verbal directions, timing, sequencing, coming up with ideas).  Play to these strengths when doing activities with your child to compensate for the areas of difficulty.
  3. Engage your child in activities that involve climbing over, under and around large objects.  For example, playing on playground equipment or coming up with obstacle courses will help your child gain basic knowledge of how to move his body through space.
  4. Encourage your child to come up with an idea for a new activity, or a new way to play with a toy or equipment, to promote motor planning. Read more

Strategies to Help Your Teen Make Good Decisions

The teenage years are marked with new experiences.  Teenagers want to be independent and are drawn to exciting, new opportunities.  During this time period, chemical changes in the brain also motivate teens to seek out risky behavior.  What can parents do, then, to help their teens learn to exercise good judgment despite the internal and external motivators they have to make poor choices?

Strategies parents can use to help teenagers make good decisions:

  1. Help your teen to take positive risks.  For example, encourage your teen to try out for a new sport, visit a new place, or make new friends.  This will help instill confidence and self control in your teen.  It will also satisfy your teen’s quest for new or exciting things. Read more