What is the vestibular sense and why is it important?

What is the Vestibular Sense:

sit and spin

An example of a Sit-and-Spin

The vestibular sense responds to a change in your head position or having your feet lifted off of the ground. It also contributes to balance and equilibrium.

Why is the Vestibular Sense Important:

Vestibular input is important for children’s development because it helps them maintain balance and trunk control and also helps them to successfully interact with their environment for fine motor, visual motor (e.g. tracking a moving object), gross motor, sports activities and self-care activities (e.g. tilting the head back to rinse shampoo out of their hair). Vestibular input can also help a child to feel regulated in order to keep them focused and attentive.

Activities to provide vestibular input:

  • Somersaults
  • Log rolls
  • Rolling inside of a barrel/tunnel
  • Prone (on stomach) or inverted (upside down) on top of a large exercise ball
  • Swinging
  • Hanging upside down from a trapeze bar or monkey bars
  • Sit-n-Spin
  • Merry-go-round
  • Hammock
  • Roller coasters

Bond With Your Child Through An Amelia Bedelia Book!

Do you need some time to bond with a child? “Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off” can help! Amelia not only is a great book to read and teach kids that being an Out of Sync Sensory Integration guru of a child can be oh so cool, but this book is a great way to spend quality time baking with your child as well!

Amelia Bedelia  Amelia Bedelia Ingredients

In the book, Amelia bakes a bed cake with pillows and a blanket! This is so exciting! Teachers can use this book to read and bake with the class!

So, now you have taught the child a lesson, bonded, and worked on fine motor skills with the stirring, math skills with the measuring, reading skills (click here tto learn about Orton Gillingham Reading)with the recipe and the book, tolerance for any child, and more! MMM..smells good!

daughter baking

My daughter and I baking the bed cake together!

Daughter with Cake

Finished product with my happy daughter!












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How To Tie A Shoe Part 1 | Pediatric Therapy TV

In today’s webisode, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist shows us the first steps in teaching a child “How To Tie Their Shoes”.   Click here to read a blog with how to steps on shoe tying:

Click Here For Part 2 Of Shoe Tying

In this Video You Will Learn:

  • When your child is ready to tie shoes
  • What materials you need to prepare your child for shoe tying
  • What story you should use when teaching your child to tie shoes

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. In today’s segment, Marissa Edwards, Pediatric
Occupational Therapist, will be showing us how to teach tying a
shoe. Marissa?

Marissa: Hi. The first part of today’s how-to, which is shoelace tying,
is how to prepare your child to be able to accomplish this
skill. First of all, shoelace tying is an expected skill for a
child to achieve by the age of 7 years old. So just keep that in
mind. Kids a lot younger than that can also tie their shoes, but
it is expected by 7.

Kids are going to need a lot of repetition in order to learn how
to do this skill. All kids are different. Some kids may need six
months or more of repetition in order to get it. Some kids may
need just a few weeks. It’s all based on their own abilities.

A strategy I use to help kids start to learn this skill is I
teach them how to make friendship bracelets. Just by doing that
initial knot over and over and over, they get that skill down
and mastered. Another strategy that I will use sometimes is
using two different colored laces because that will help the
child to remember which lace does what.

Then the way that I teach kids is I use a pirate story, which
was actually published in the Advanced Magazine for Occupational
Therapists. In the next part of this segment I am going to
actually show you the story.

Robyn: Thank you, Marissa, and thank you to our viewers. And remember,
keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Tips on How to Get your Child to Walk

Children generally learn to walk on their own; however, some children need a little bit of assistance in order to take those first few steps. Below are some ideas on how to help encourage your little one to take those first few steps.

Tips To Encourage Your Toddler To Walk

  • Make sure that your child has plenty of ‘floor time’ so that they can use their bodies to explore their environment around them. Children that sit in bumbo seats, car seats or jumpers often are more delayed in their gross motor skills baby walkingbecause they rely on ‘containers’ to support them and their posture muscles do not have to work hard to support them. Pack-and-Plays and other play pens are great and safe place for your children to play in if you need some time to make dinner, fold laundry, etc.
  • When first assisting your child to walk, hold them higher on their trunk, like at their rib cage. As your child becomes more upright and stable, hold your child lower at their hips so they can use their core muscles to help their stability. Holding your child’s fingers above them can encourage a forward base of support and can lead to early toe-walking.
  • When a child is cruising at a coffee table, stand behind them so that they have to rotate their trunk away from the table. This will also help them lessen their support as they may take a hand off the table and stand more independently.
  • When your child is standing supported at the couch or coffee table, place a toy at their knee level and encourage them to squat down to get the toy. Repetitive squats will help strengthen their hip muscles and help them gain more stability on their feet.
  • Use a motivator, such as a puff , small snack, or favorite toy to motivate the child to walk to you. Stand just a few feet away from them on a carpeted surface so that they have plenty of support and traction.
  • When the child is inside, have the child just in a diaper when taking early steps. Bulky, winter clothing may be cumbersome and we want the hips and feet to move freely when learning a new gross motor milestone, such as walking.

Most children learn to walk independently between 10 and 15 months. If you or your pediatrician is concerned about your child’s development, feel free to contact a physical therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy for an evaluation.

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Holiday Gifts Promote Smiles and Skills!

Holiday gift giving can elevate much more than your child’s spirit. In fact, you can use the holidays as an opportunity to stock up on toys and games that will facilitate your child’s development. A bean bag chair isn’t just cozy and fun; it also provides deep pressure during movie night or bedtime reading. Beads provide not only a creative craft project but a chance to promote fine motor skills. Clearly, these examples and more-such as Wii Fit, which fosters gross motor development-indicate items that may already be on your child’s holiday wish list!

Sensory Games For Childrenplaydoh

 Gross Motor Games For Children

  • Scooter board
  • Therapy ball (or peanut ball)
  • Hippity Hop
  • Big foot stilts or pogo stick
  • Balls or sports equipment
  • Lacrosse sticks
  • Zoom ball
  • Mini trampoline
  • Twister
  • Bosu ball
  • Balance beam or balance board
  • Wii Fit

Fine Motor Toys For Children

  • Wikki Stix
  • Squiggle Wiggle Writer
  • Coloring and activity books
  • Slant board for writing
  • Beads (pop beads, jewelry beads)
  • Games with small pieces (Mancala, dice games, clothespins, pegs, Lite Brite)
  • Tricky Fingers game
  • Friendship bracelet kit
  • Weaving loom
  • Dressing boards
  • Lacing games

Visual Motor/Visual Perceptual Toys For Children

  • Mazes, dot-to-dot, and hidden pictures books
  • “I Spy” games
  • Pictureka
  • Speedy Match
  • Blocks Rock
  • Tangoes
  • Jump-a-peg or Hoppers
  • Thataway!
  • Space Faces
  • Set or Blink
  • Kanoodle-Lonpos
  • Rush Hour Jr.
  • Simon
  • Drill and Design
  • Hyperslide


Kids playing Football

5 Heavy Work Activities For Your Child

Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas can be overwhelming for adults and children alike, especially children with sensory processing  disorders (SPD). Holidays entail being around a lot of family and friends, eating lots of different foods, and oftentimes getting off of a “typical” daily routine. Here are some great heavy work activities to help your child feel more regulated:

5 Activities For Children To Regulate Themselves:

1. Raking leaves: Have your child help you rake leaves in the yard or at a park nearby; once they create a sufficient pile of leaves, have your child take a big jump into the leaves to give them lots of proprioceptive input. Change up this activity a little bit by having your child log roll through the pile of leaves to provide them withKids playing Football vestibular input and helps to work on their motor planning skills.

2. Pulling wagon/stroller: After a long day full of eating and socializing, take your child outside for some fresh air by going for a walk around the neighborhood. Have your child push/pull a younger sibling in a wagon or a stroller to provide them with heavy work, and help improve trunk control and upper body strength. If there is not a younger sibling to push/pull, feel free to place household items into a wagon instead to increase the load (e.g. lots of blankets, dumbbells, balls etc).

3. Stirring recipes: Involve your child in preparing your  feast by allowing them to stir the batter and/or roll out the dough for your favorite recipes (e.g. pie crust, potatoes, stuffing, cookies etc.) Stirring resistive batter provides your child with heavy work, and also helps to work on hand and upper body strength, motor planning, and following directions.

4. Building a scarecrow: Bring out your family’s creative side by building a scarecrow together. Have your child create a cardboard scarecrow for an inside project, decorating it with glitter and puffballs. Cardboard provides a resistive material for your child to cut through, making it more of a challenge, and helping to work on hand and upper body strength. A life-size scarecrow can also be made by using old clothes stuffed with straw or crumpled newspaper for an outside project. Stuffing old clothing works on motor planning, heavy work, and fasteners depending on the clothing used (e.g. buttons, ties, and zippers).

5. Football: Fall is the perfect time of year to get outside and work on ball skills and hand-eye coordination by tossing a football around. Teaching your child the rules of football and the goals of the game help to work on following directions and being okay with winning/losing. Add resistance by having your child wear wrist or ankle weights or carry a filled backpack (e.g. folded blanket, books, stuffed animals etc). Add an extra challenge by incorporating various ways to get across the football field, such as: single-leg hops, frog jumps, skipping, and galloping; this will help your child work on motor planning, body awareness, and trunk control.


What Happens If Torticollis Goes Untreated | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In todays Pediatric Therapy Tv Webisode, a Pediatric Physical Therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy explains what happens if the condition of Torticollis goes untreated.

Click here to read more about Torticollis

5 Ways to Get Moving with Your Kids

Why not get moving with your kid instead of sitting around watching tv?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of going to a movie?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of baking a cake?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of playing on social media sites and tweeting?

Listen, watching t.v. can be fun, movies can be enriching, baking can be bonding, and tweeting can be exhilarating, but, it is so important to move and it puts everyone in a good mood. Here are five ideas to get you boogying with the boys or get flipping with the females!

 5 Ways To Get Up and Moving With Your Child:

1) Make an obstacle course. Winter? Make it inside. Use pillows, exercise equipment in the house, tables can be tunnels, brooms for jumping over, step stools to do step ups, etc. Think out of the box! Summer? Go outside and have fun with big rocks, bikes, jump ropes, etc. as part of the most fun obstacle course you have ever seen!family swimming

2) Turn up the music and dance! Winter? Dance Dance Revolution OR just boogie to the beat at home! Summer? Bring the music outside to the backyard and have fun!

3) Choose to swim in a pool durin downtime. Winter? Go to the YMCA, Lifetime Fitness, or if someone has an indoor pool in their building, ask to borrow it. Take a daytime room in a nearby hotel! Summer? try different pools and even hire a high school or college swim coach to get everyone doing laps! Have your own pool? Turn on some music and a timer and swim for exercise and fun!

4) Bike! Winter? Did you know you can buy a bike stand for your bike and bike as if you were outside all winter or on a rainy day? Summer? Get outside! Get lost a little and find your way back! Try different destinations each time!

5) Get back to your youth. Play a game of tag, freeze dance, red rover, simon says, mommy please, and other wonderful games that require you to move your body!

Your endorphins will be running wild! It will make your family so much happier!

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The weather is getting chilly again, and Halloween is almost here! Here are some great ideas for indoor fun that will help children develop their fine motor strength and coordination skills.

5 Fun Fine Motor Activities For Halloween:

Tissue Paper Pumpkin:

Supplies: construction paper, markers, tissue paper, gluegirl carving a pumpkin

*Draw a pumpkin on construction paper. Tear small pieces of tissue paper, and using one hand, scrunch up the pieces with your thumb, index and middle fingers. Dip the tissue paper into glue and place it on the construction paper to fill in the pumpkin.

Haunted House:

Supplies: popsicle sticks, glue or superglue (use with supervision), construction paper, paint

Use construction paper as a base for the popsicle stick house, as the glue may get messy on a table. *Make a floor out of popsicle sticks and secure it with glue to the construction paper. Glue popsicle sticks together to make the walls and the roof. To make a slanted roof, secure the roof to the walls on a diagonal. Once the glue on the house is dry, you can paint it black and paint on ghosts and goblins.


Supplies: kleenex or paper towel (to make a bigger ghost), cotton balls, thread, marker

*Place a few cotton balls in the center of the kleenex or paper towel for the head of the ghost. Next, fold the napkin in to wrap it around the cotton ball, and secure the head by tying a thread around it while letting the rest of the napkin flow.

To hang it up, pull a threaded needle through the top of the ghost’s head. Make sure the thread is long enough to hang to hang on something, and loop it through to make a knot.

Pumpkin Carving:

Supplies: pumpkin, marker, pumpkin carver (it is easier and safer to use than a knife, and you can buy one at walmart, stencils (optional)

*Draw a face on the pumpkin with stencils or free-hand, and carve away! This is a great activity to develop motor control and strength.

Halloween Necklace:

Supplies: Halloween colored beads of all shapes and sizes, beading wire or thread

*Make a knot on one of the thread, and start stringing the beads! Using small beads is great for fine motor control and precision. For additional coordination and fine motor muscle development, instruct your child to hold 3-5 beads in the palm of their hand, and as they need the next bead, have them use their thumb, index and middle finger to get the bead out of their palm. Make sure their palm is facing up so that they cannot compensate and use gravity to help them get the beads!

Slings, Swings and Jumpers and Your Infant’s Development

In regard to the use of these devices I am of two minds, one as a clinician and one as a parent.  Let me present the evidence and then make my recommendations.


  • The primary concern about them decreasing the oxygen that your child can breath or suffocating the infant have not been proven through the research. baby in carrier Babies do have a decrease in the oxygen in their blood when being carried in a sling, but the same phenomenon occurs when placing a baby on their backs in a stroller.  This occurrence primarily affects pre-term babies.
  • The other concern about them putting too much strain on your joints and back may be avoided by following the instructions, and ensuring there is support around your hips.

Swings and car carriers:

  • These devices, by design, decrease the child’s ability to move which can keep them safe and in one place, but overuse of these devices have been shown to slow motor development.
  • Due to the position of the baby and the weight placed on the back of their head, prolonged use may lead to brachycephaly, a flattening of the back of the babies head.


  • Allow the baby to stand more easily by rotating their hips back and forcing a slouched posture which enables them to stand up before they have the core control to stand erect.  This rotation of the hips also changes the mechanics of their leg and hip joints.

With this information in front of me, as a clinician I can advocate the use of slings with very young babies who need that skin-to-skin contact, and with decreasing frequency of use as they get older.  I do not advocate the use of swings, jumpers and (outside of the car) car carriers as places to put babies.  Click here to read about the container baby “lifestyle”.

As a parent, I recognize the need for a safe place for your child while you do a sink load of dishes, or when trying to get a quick shower.  I can tell you that, at times, I have foraged like a ravenous squirrel for a place to safely put my daughter when making dinner, or a load of laundry that I trust she will be safe, and will prevent any screaming or crying (sometimes from her).  In these moments I see the need for a swing, or bouncy seat where she will be safe and contained.  I have used and loved slings and other carriers to keep her near me, and in emergencies, to assist her into that elusive state, sleep.

Overall, the BEST places for your child are: in your arms, or placed on their back or tummy on a safe flat surface.  Babies should be getting as much time on their tummy as they, and you, tolerate on a firm, safe surface.  Lack of time on their tummy has been consistently linked to slowed acquisition of gross motor milestones.

When you need a hands-free alternative, slings can be a great tool.  Regarding any other piece of equipment to put your child, my rule of thumb is: use as sparingly as possible, and the more concerns there are about your child’s development, hypotonia, torticollis, etc., the less you should utilize these pieces of equipment.

*Important safety note: Babies must always be placed to bed on their backs, and always use car carriers when in the car no matter how far.