Where To Go If Your Child Has Been Misdiagnosed

Parents come to professionals in order to ascertain what is going on with their child.  As a neuropsychologist, the two most common questions I hearmother upset with child are:What is wrong with my child? And How do I fix it?  

A diagnosis will help clarify the symptom characteristics that the child exhibits which in turn will lead to developing the most effective interventions and accommodations for that child within the home, school, and private clinic settings.

Many times parents question the appropriateness of a diagnosis that was given to their child.  It is important to understand that there are several factors that can lead a clinician towards an inappropriate diagnosis or a diagnosis that is not the best fitting based upon the child’s symptom characteristics.

How Assessments Are Conducted:

An evaluation constitutes several hours out of one day of your child’s life.  Many factors impact the child’s performance during the testing, including;

  • Lack of appropriate sleep the night before
  • Being hungry during the evaluation
  • Anxiety over the testing situation

How many of those factors contributed to the diagnosis that was handed to the child?  Second, did the diagnostician receive or ascertain all appropriate information.  Did that individual receive information from the school, past medical records, detailed information regarding the child’s early development?  You are your child’s best advocate.  As much as any diagnostician may know about the responses on the testing, the response to the testing as well as explanations for the testing has to gel with you.  If you are uncomfortable with a diagnosis, ask questions.  Explain to the diagnostician that the behaviors that were observed are not consistent with what is observed on a daily basis.  Work as a team to figure out what lead to the discrepancy between actual behavior and observed behavior/test scores.

If you do not feel that your questions were answered with a diagnosis or are hesitant to follow through with the interventions that were offered, it is then recommended to seek a second opinion.  Oftentimes a second set of eyes, even in the form of reviewing the report/test performance can help solidify the diagnosis that was given or help establish what additional testing/information would be needed.




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How to Use a BOSU for Exercise with Children

BOSU BallA Bosu, also known as a “blue moon” during Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, is a great piece of exercise equipment for adults and children alike. A Bosu helps to work on balance, trunk control, strength, endurance, motor planning and body awareness. A Bosu is flat on the bottom and round on the top; and it can be used either with the flat side down on the floor or with the round side on the floor. Even a more simple body position, such as lying in prone (on stomach) over the Bosu, with your hands flat on the floor, and arms and shoulders supporting your body in an extended position, really helps to work on your upper back and neck strength, endurance, and weight bearing through your upper body. Listed below are several activities to try out at home or at the gym; let the workout begin!

Standing Exercises with a Bosu:

The activities below can be used in a standing position on top of the Bosu, either with both feet on the Bosu, or balancing on one leg to really challenge your balance

  • Balloon volleyball: see how long you can keep the balloon in the air before it hits the ground and before you lose your balance
  • Catch: use a variety of size/weighted balls to throw and catch with a partner; by mixing it up, you will more greatly challenge your center of gravity
  • Crossing midline: have game pieces to the right side and left side of the Bosu, have child use opposite arm/hand to pick-up game pieces reaching across their body
  • Inverted bowling: stand with head between legs, using one hand lightly to support self if needed, and using the other hand to toss/roll the ball towards the pins (you could also create your own bowling pins using plastic cups, toilet paper tubes, empty plastic bottles, etc.)

Yoga Poses with a Bosu:

The activities below incorporate traditional yoga poses on top of the Bosu. To start off, try out the yoga pose on the floor next to the Bosu first, and then build-up to maintaining the yoga poses on top of the Bosu once you are ready to challenge yourself. See pictures below for examples of these positions.

  • Boat: Seated on Bosu, lean backwards slightly and lift legs into 90 degree angle, with arms lifted straight in front
  • Plank: Place both hands or both elbows onto the top of the Bosu, tuck toes under and lift back and bottom towards theceiling,keeping your entire body in a straight line like a table
  • 4 point (contralateral limb extension): Place your right knee onto the center of the bosu, and place your left handonto the Bosu for support; then extend your right arm and left leg, keeping your head and neck neutral with your spine **Then make sure to switch sides, placing your left knee onto the center of the Bosu, and using your right hand for support

  • Airplane: Step onto the center of the Bosu with one foot, resting the opposite foot lightly on the floor until you are ready to lift it off the ground behind you; lean slightly forward, bringing arms out to the side like airplane wings, and then slowly lift the leg (resting on the floor) up behind you

Note: Make sure to have adult supervision when trying these activities, as it is easy to lose your balance. Also, it is always a good idea to have mats or pillows nearby, in case you fall. Lastly, ask your occupational therapist or physical therapist if you have any further questions on how to correctly position your body for the exercises above.

 

6 Ways Aquatic Therapy Can Help Your Child

Aquatic therapy is a wonderful activity for children and adults of all ages. If your child likes the bath and is motivated by water, aquatic therapy is aqua therapygreat way to build their skills and confidence.

Below are 6 ways that aquatic therapy can help your child reach their full potential:

1. Gains in range of motion:

After an injury, such as a broken leg or an ankle sprain, joint movement is often limited by swelling or decreased strength to muscles. Aquatic therapy pools are generally set to a comfortable 80-90 degrees, which is warmer then a normal pool. Using the warm temperature of the water, joints will be able to be more flexible and stretch to new limits.

2. Increased strength:

Once proper range of motion is achieved at a joint, proper strengthening is needed in order for the muscle to perform well at its new length. Using the principle of resistance, muscles are able to gain strength by performing simple actions in the water, such as lifting a leg to the side of the body.

3. Achievement of gross motor milestones:

Children have an easier time completing gross motor milestones, such as rolling, walking and jumping in the water secondary to buoyancy principles. For example, a child with cerebral palsy may learn to roll in the water with the assist of a therapist and the buoyancy of the water. Once the nervous and musculoskeletal system in the child’s body learn how to roll in the water, it will be easier to learn on a mat table in the clinic and then transfer to rolling in bed at home.

4. Increased tactile input:

For kids with sensory processing disorders, the water can provide the deep pressure input that they crave. This deep pressure and overall increased tactile input will help a child who has difficulty processing sensory input transfer into a more organized, calm child.

5. Helps with breath support:

For kids with speech issues, aquatic therapy can be very helpful. By using techniques such as holding their breath under water, deep breathing and by raising their arms up and bringing them down with the resistance of water can all help with proper breath support for speaking.

6. Better social interaction:

Completing gross motor activities can often help to decrease social anxiety. Often times, jumping into the water or swimming across the length of the pool can encourage speaking in children who have anxiety. Kids can also learn a swimming stroke from watching each other, share toys and participate in fun games together in the pool setting.

Aquatic therapy can be a great way to help your child reach their full potential. Not only can it help with gross motor skills, but can also help with speech and social interaction. So, if your child is motivated by the water, encourage them to jump on in!

Have aquatic games you would like to share? Leave us a comment and let us know!

How to Prepare a Child for a Visit to the Dentist

Going to the dentist, whether for the first time or the tenth time, can be an intimidating event for both children and their parents-especially children with sensory processing disorders. Children and parents usually have a lot of questions about what is going to happen at the appointment.Kid visiting the dentist

Parents wonder: Will my child have a meltdown? Have we been brushing his teeth enough? Will my child have cavities?

Children wonder: Why do I have to go to the dentist? Will it hurt? What will is smell like? Will it be loud? How long will it take? Do I get a prize at the end?

Below are some simple tips to try out the next time a dentist appointment is approaching, so that everyone has a worry-free experience.

5 Simple Tips to prepare your child for a dentist appointment:

1. Make sure to talk to your child ahead of time. Let them know which day they will be going to the dentist and tell them some of the events that may occur (e.g. sit in a special chair, clean their teeth with toothpaste, look in their mouth with a small mirror and other silver tools).

2. Talk about their 5 senses. Let your child know what noises they may hear with their ears, see with their eyes, taste with their mouth, touch with their hands or mouth, or smell with their nose (e.g. bright lights above their chair so that the dentist can see all of their teeth; cold water from a little hose to rinse out their mouth).

3. Drive past the dentist office a day or two prior to the appointment so that your child can see where they will be going. Talk about landmarks nearby, especially if they have been to that area before or have a special interest in something nearby (e.g. “There is the grocery store we go to each week to buy our food” or “there is the post office where all of our letters go”).

4. Have your child mark off the days on the calendar or create a countdown on a wipe-off board one week prior to the appointment. This will give your child a visual cue and help them to take an active part in the upcoming appointment. Click here for more information about the benefits of visual calendars.

5. Make your child comfortable.  Allow your child to bring 1 comfort item with them (e.g. small stuffed animal/blanket, squeeze toy or favorite car etc).

Feel free to share some of your Dentist Tips with us by leaving a comment below!

OT Skill Olympics | Fine and Gross Motor Skill Building Games

Children love games and competition, and parents love when their children are active and engaged with their siblings and friends. What better way to combine social skills, turn-taking, and fine and gross motor skills than with new creative activities? Below are a few new ideas to try incorporating with your family before the summer is over. Who will win the “gold” wheelbarrow racemedal at your OT Skill Olympics?

These activities help to address several occupational therapy skills, such as: motor planning, body awareness, hand-eye coordination, trunk control, grasping, and balance.

1. Dizzy bat baseball: The batter-up places his forehead onto the baseball bat and spins around in circles with the baseball bat on the ground and hands wrapped around the neck of the bat (approximately 10 spins). After the batter is done spinning, the pitcher pitches the ball like in a typical baseball game, and the batter runs his bases.

The challenge: to maintain balance and eye-hand coordination after making yourself dizzy!

2. Ping-pong ball races: Each player has a spoon and a ping-pong ball. They players can create many variations. For instance, players could walk across a balance beam while holding the spoon/ping-pong ball; set-up several cones or markers, and weave between the cones; or skip/gallop/bunny hop from one end of the room to the other while holding the spoon/ping-pong ball. The players could race one another or time one another using a stop watch.

The challenge: to keep the ping-pong ball on top of the spoon the entire time, holding the spoon with only one hand if possible.

3. Hula-hoop “ring of fire”: This activity should be done inside where lots of pillows and blankets can be used to jump onto. One or two players hold the hula hoop a few inches over the pillows/blankets, and another player must “dive” through the “ring of fire” onto the pile of pillows/blankets. The players can continue to raise the hula hoop a little bit higher each time; however, players should make sure to have their arms out like superman, so that the arms can help to protect the head and neck.

The challenge: to “dive” through the hula hoop without touching it with your body.

4. Relay races: Set-up two cones or markers to illustrate the starting line and the finish line. Have players choose a variety of different styles to get to the finish line: crab walks, bear walks, inch worms, wheelbarrow walking, or prone (on stomach) pulling self on scooter board or skate board.

5.Inch worms: start in the downward-facing dog yoga pose, with hands and feet on the ground, and hips and bottom raised in the air; next walk hands forward as far as they will go without falling, and then keep the hands where they are, and walk feet forwards to meet up with the hands.

The challenge: to maintain the proper body position the entire length of the course, from start to finish (e.g. crab walks: hips and bottom should be lifted off of the ground).

 Try a couple of these out and then leave a comment below with what worked best!

Go Outside! The Many Benefits Of Outdoor Play For Children

These days, technology has made everything more convenient for us, including play. Children don’t have to leave their house as they have a wide assortment of video games and educational Outdoor Play Blogcomputer games to choose from, as well as educational toys that talk and move and as a result, we see a decrease in outdoor play. These advances can be great and very beneficial for a developing child; however, technology cannot replace what is most important- the real, natural experience.

The benefits of outdoor play on children:

Children need to engage in outdoor play to experience the smells, textures, sounds and movement of the world in order to help their nervous systems develop. Children need the natural sensory experiences to learn about the world, and how to react to and adapt to their surroundings. Sometimes children really want to stay inside to play video games and sleep, but when they do this they are deprived of these developmentally important, sensory-rich experiences.

The tactile sense, for example, is a very important sense as we need steady tactile stimulation to keep us organized, functioning and healthy. Tactile information helps to develop visual perception, motor planning, body awareness, social skills and emotional security, among others. The vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, and olfactory senses are very important as well, and children need to utilitze these in order to help the development of their gross and fine motor skills.

Some fun activities to stimulate children’s senses during outside play include:

  • Splashing and playing in puddles
  • Playing in the mud and making “mud pancakes”
  • Picking flowers to make a wreathe, or to play “flower shop”
  • Climbing trees
  • Running around barefoot in the grass
  • Playing in sand and making sand castles
  • Swimming in a lake
  • Riding a bike on a bumpy driveway outside
  • Crunching dried leaves with your feet
  • Raking leaves and jumping into the piles
  • Making snow angels, snowmen, igloos, forts and having snowball fights in the winter

The benefits are many; one mother has even said that her “picky eater” child “is so much more willing to try new foods after he comes home from playing outside.” Children also need some time for relaxation and unstructured play to learn about the world and to help develop their imaginations. So go ahead, relax, and let your children go outside!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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Eight Tips For Helping Your Sensory Sensitive Child While Dining Out

Family With Young Children At RestaurantEnjoying family meals out at a restaurant can be a lot of fun. However, for some children, this experience can also be a source of sensory overload with all the sights, sounds, smells and movement throughout the restaurant. Below are a few ideas to help you and your child have a pleasurable meal at your favorite neighborhood spot!

How to Make A Restaurant Manageable For Your Child

  1. Engage in heavy work at home such as frog jumps, wheelbarrow walks, or household chores before going to your meal
  2. Use a Lap Lander or Sensory Snuggle to provide deep pressure input Read more

A Little Roughhousing Goes a Long Way

As a pediatric occupational therapist, this story on The Today Show this morning caught my attention.Dad roughhousing with boys

The story illustrates that roughhousing helps “self- esteem and physical development” and that “it can actually make kids smarter, emotionally intelligent, likable — even lovable”.

For years, I have been prescribing home exercise programs to parents with children with sensory processing difficulties that include just this, a little roughhousing.

Recommended Roughhousing With Your Children:

  • I recommend pulling couch cushions on the floor and having their children jump around. I suggest squishing their child between pillows and making a “sandwich” out of them.
  • I also advise parents to wrap up their child in a blanket and have them log roll across the floor. This roughhousing is actually intense proprioceptive sensory input (the input your body receives from your muscles and joints).

This type of play provides kids with the input that they need to help them be more organized for every day activities and is regularly used in pediatric occupational therapy sessions. In fact, these activities help your child to learn and be more aware of their bodies.

So go ahead and have a little fun!

Gross Motor Skills on the Playground

Through play, children explore and learn about the world. While doing so, they also learn the gross motor skills that they need in order to successfully navigate their surroundings. Children also learn about sensory information, which allows them to react appropriately to the environment. Gross Motor Skills Blog

Children take in sensory information by touching different textures, experiencing different smells, and hearing different noises in their environments. A great place for children to practice and develop gross motor skills without even knowing it is on the playground!

Great sensory and motor activities for your children on the playground include:

Slides

Slides help in the development of the vestibular system, as the body is in motion and the head can be placed in different positions. It is also a great motor activity, as it requires the child to climb the stairs of the slide, balance on one foot and shift his weight during stair climbing.

Climbing Wall

Climbing a rock wall is great practice for coordination of the upper and lower extremities, as the child has to figure out where to place his hands and feet, and in what sequence. The wall also helps the child develop his upper body and finger strength. Some playgrounds have moveable structures to climb (for example, made out of rope or chain link), which require even greater coordination skills and balance, as the body is required to shift its weight accordingly as the structure moves. Both of these activities also provide proprioceptive input to the joints and muscles.

Tubes

Children can crawl through tubes on all fours, in a bear crawl or in the crab walk position. This helps a child develop core strength and body coordination skills.

Swings

Swings are a great source of vestibular input, as the body is in motion while the feet are off of the ground. Pumping your feet also helps to develop sequencing and motor coordination skills.

Monkey Bars

Monkey bars help to develop upper extremity and hand strength, as well as coordination. If the child hangs upside down on the monkey bars, it also provides great vestibular input!

See-Saw

The see-saw requires coordination, sequencing and cooperation of two children at the same time in order to make the see-saw move. Balance and core and upper body strength are required to hold oneself up on the see saw.

Spring Rider

A spring rider is a seat on a spring that rocks back and forth. It provides great proprioceptive input into the body’s joints, as well as vestibular input while the body is in motion and the head is placed into different positions. A child also needs to coordinate his body movements in order to make the spring rider move, and core and upper extremity strength is required to hold on to the rider.

The playground is the perfect place for children to develop their gross motor skills – skills they will need for everyday activities. These skills can help prepare them for school, as they will need the core strength to develop proper posture for table top activities, and coordination skills for writing and cutting. Gross motor skills will also prepare children for sports and cooperative play with their peers. Movement activities can help to regulate the nervous system, so that a child can be better able to pay attention during class or when doing his homework. Most importantly, movement activities encourage a healthy lifestyle and help children build confidence, as they are able to participate in a variety of activities with peers and become more self-sufficient in their daily tasks.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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How To Motivate Children With Autism Using Reinforcers

Reinforcer SetA common difference between children with autism and typically-developing children is their motivation for social feedback and other natural consequences that occur for learning to take place. Typically, developing children have an easier time learning because they are motivated by social feedback from their parents and teachers. But with a child with autism, it is not always as simple as saying “great job!” to encourage learning. Without motivation, it can be very difficult to gain the attention of an autistic child, and even more difficult for learning to take place.

So, how do you motivate a child diagnosed with autism?

Reinforcers Can Help Motivate Children!

Reinforcers motivate children to learn new skills. Often times, children with autism are not readily motivated by social feedback or other natural consequences received from parents, teachers or peers. Insensitivity to social consequences and signals is a core aspect of the disorder.

How To Find A Powerful Reinforcer: Read more