Will My Child Be Ready for School In the Fall?

Is your child scheduled to begin kindergarten in the fall? Are you concerned about the impact of preschool absence on later academic success? Do you worry about a delayed school start effecting the trajectory of your child’s education?

In Neuropsychology, we answer these questions by assessing the level of what we call, “School Readiness”. School readiness is a term used to describe essential skills and knowledge that have been identified as key factors for social-emotional and academic success. These factors are also related to healthy development in addition to the ability to function and learn within a school environment.

In order to assess School Readiness, we check to see if your child can verbally label and identify basic concepts in the following categories prior to beginning formal education:

  • Colors
  • Alphabet knowledge
  • Numbers/counting
  • Sizes/Comparisons
  • Shapes
  • Direction/Position
  • Self-/Social Awareness
  • Quantity
  • Time/Sequence

If your child has demonstrated the above milestones, they are more likely to experience a smooth and successful transition from home/preschool into kindergarten…Below, we’ve listed some activities you can do from home to help make sure your child is ready for kindergarten this fall!

Activities to support your child at home:

  • Going on a color walk outside
  • Shared reading activities to promote letter identification and letter-sound recognition
  • Count out loud when washing hands
  • Comparing sizes of different toys, people, or objects
  • Go on a shape walk through the house
  • Identify basic emotions while watching movies
  • Narrate your own and your child’s actions using descriptive vocabulary

Still concerned? NSPT is here for you! We can help assess your child’s current level of school readiness, identify areas of need, and ensure supports can be in place when your child does begin school. Neuropsychology consultations are available in person and via video chat. Contact us today to set up your appointment!

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

 

 

 

Will My Child Be Ready for School In the Fall?

Is your child scheduled to begin kindergarten in the fall? Are you concerned about the impact of preschool absence on later academic success? Do you worry about a delayed school start effecting the trajectory of your child’s education?

In Neuropsychology, we answer these questions by assessing the level of what we call, “School Readiness”. School readiness is a term used to describe essential skills and knowledge that have been identified as key factors for social-emotional and academic success. These factors are also related to healthy development in addition to the ability to function and learn within a school environment.

In order to assess School Readiness, we check to see if your child can verbally label and identify basic concepts in the following categories prior to beginning formal education:

  • Colors
  • Alphabet knowledge
  • Numbers/counting
  • Sizes/Comparisons
  • Shapes
  • Direction/Position
  • Self-/Social Awareness
  • Quantity
  • Time/Sequence

If your child has demonstrated the above milestones, they are more likely to experience a smooth and successful transition from home/preschool into kindergarten…Below, we’ve listed some activities you can do from home to help make sure your child is ready for kindergarten this fall!

Activities to support your child at home:

  • Going on a color walk outside
  • Shared reading activities to promote letter identification and letter-sound recognition
  • Count out loud when washing hands
  • Comparing sizes of different toys, people, or objects
  • Go on a shape walk through the house
  • Identify basic emotions while watching movies
  • Narrate your own and your child’s actions using descriptive vocabulary

Still concerned? NSPT is here for you! We can help assess your child’s current level of school readiness, identify areas of need, and ensure supports can be in place when your child does begin school. Neuropsychology consultations are available in person and via video chat. Contact us today to set up your appointment!

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help!Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Should My Child Be Tested for Autism?

As parents, it is natural to worry about your child’s development if he or she does not seem to be meeting developmental milestones on time. When will my child say their first word? Shouldn’t they be walking by know? Should they still be having this much trouble reading?

Children’s developmental milestones can vary greatly, and the rate of when milestones are accomplished does not always yield significant advantages or disadvantages in the long run. However, there are some early markers for Autism Spectrum Disorder that could indicate you should get them tested.

Does your child…

  • reduced eye contact
  • loss of previously acquired speech or social skills
  • delayed language development
  • resistance to minor changes in routine
  • repetitive behaviors (e.g., flapping, rocking, spinning)
  • unusual and intense reactions to smells, tastes, textures, lights

If your child demonstrate some of these early markers, a neuropsychological evaluation is helpful in identifying Autism Spectrum Disorder.

An Autism evaluation includes:

  • An interview with the child’s parents/caregivers
  • Administration of a play-based test designed to evaluate the presence of the behavioral excesses and deficits found in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • A completion of rating scales that help assess your child’s level of functioning

Depending on your child’s age, a neuropsychological evaluation can also include assessment of cognitive functioning, language skills, and visual-motor skills to obtain a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s global functioning.

Should findings indicate that your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder, receiving a diagnosis will allow for treatment specifically geared towards helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as provide recommendations for school regarding your child’s needs. Should findings not reveal Autism Spectrum Disorder, recommendations are still generated based on your child’s strengths and weaknesses to maximize their opportunity to reach optimal success.

The earlier a child receives intervention, the better the outcome. We are committed to continuing to provide these diagnostic services, even during the pandemic, by  following the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. What this may look like is a tele-health diagnostic interview and feedback session, where we review the results of the evaluation. In-person sessions would involve our best efforts at social distancing and use of protective gear to minimize risk of transmission. If you believe that your child may have autism spectrum disorder, schedule a neuropsychology consultation today.

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help!Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Your Guide to Telehealth Consultations for Neuropsychology

Parents and children are faced with a variety of challenges in reacting and responding to the ways COVID-19 affects their families. Many find themselves at a loss for how to handle this crisis. We want to help. That’s why our neuropsychologists are available for consultation, via telehealth, to assist you.

What is telehealth consultation?

Telehealth are essential health services provided via phone or through a video. Telehealth allows you to get the assistance you need while also keeping your family safe. Using telehealth, our neuropsychologists can answer questions, guide services, and help your family navigate next steps.

What questions can consultation answer?

  • During e-learning, I noticed my child has a hard time in a certain subject, such as reading or math. Is this typical or should they be tested by a neuropsychologist?
  • My child has a hard time sitting still and focusing, is this ADHD or e-learning?
  • I am worried my child is falling behind developmentally, what can I do?
  • My child was already diagnosed with ADHD, how can I make sure they continue to learn and grow?
  • What are the next steps in advocating for my child to get school-based services/accommodations?
  • How can I get other services (speech, OT, ABA, etc.) started for my child?
  • My child already has school accommodations, how can I make sure they continue in the fall? How can I adapt them to reflect any new concerns from e-learning?

What we can do through consultation:

  • Provide information for you to decide whether a neuropsychological evaluation would answer questions you have about your child’s developmental needs
  • Help guide services and find appropriate supports for your child
  • Collaborate with schools to navigate how your child can successfully return to their educational setting
  • Work with service providers (OT, speech, ABA) to problem-solve any new or existing concerns
  • Answer questions about past evaluations in light of new stressors or challenges

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help!Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Managing Your Child’s Stress During COVID-19

This week, the head of our Neuropsychology Department offers some advice on how to manage the stress your child might have during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Life has changed. 

Restaurants are closed. Playdates are scheduled over zoom. The classroom is now our kitchen table. Our world has grown smaller. While this can be difficult for us, it can be even harder on children. It’s difficult for children to understand Coronoavirus and to process how and why all of this is happening. But we can adapt, we can survive, and we can help our children through this. Here are some things I’ve done to help my six year old during the pandemic.

  • Avoid the news (on television and social media).
  • Have daily/nightly routines such as family movie nights, game nights, etc.
  • Do activities that you normally would not do such as camping in the basement or in the backyard.
  • If there are multiple adults in the household, take turns with eLearning.
  • Keep a schedule for eLearning and for the entire day (we thrive with routines and structure)
  • Try to think of activities to change the day such as going for walks or car rides.

Remember, brighter days are ahead. We will all get through this together. Not everyday needs to be perfect, forgive yourself for being frustrated with this “new normal”. Patience and hope will see us through.

If there are concerns about your child’s behavior or learning, we recommend scheduling a Neuropsychology consultation to discuss any evident issues.

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help!Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

E-Learning Tips from an Occupational Therapist

We’re back with more tips on how to help your child finish the school year out from home. This week, we asked one of our Occupational Therapists for some tips on how to help structure your child’s new school day. Here’s she had to say.

Set the Expectations

  • Create daily, morning, or afternoon visual schedules or calendars and include e-learning subjects (math, reading, OT, PT, SLP, etc.) – Utilize pictures or words depending on the child’s reading abilities.
  • Review expectations before e-learning sessions begin (i.e. whole body listening techniques, sitting quietly, keeping hands to self, staying in our seat).
  • Post expectations or rules for e-learning on a wall next to the child’s e-learning space. For example, post a visual display of whole body listening techniques or hang a list of 5 rules written or created by the child.
  • Discuss incentives for following the expectations/rules throughout an entire e-learning session.

Set up a Designated Environment

  • Create a work space that is special for e-learning. If you can set up a particular desk or table that is only used for e-learning, this can help children set expectations and boundaries in the home setting. If a separate space is not available, utilize an “e-learning clipboard” or other materials that will make this space particularly special and unique for e-learning opportunities.
  • Place all necessary materials in reach (pencils, paper, crayons, scissors, workbooks).
  • Provide special writing utensils or materials that can only be used during e-learning (i.e. smelly markers, colored pencils, etc.).
  • Minimize distractions. An e-learning workspace should be far from TV, toys, etc. to improve focus and attention. Position the child’s workspace in a clutter-free area with minimal visual distractions. If necessary, provide headphones to minimize auditory distractions.

Provide Opportunities for Movement

  • Before an e-learning session begins, provide at least five to ten minutes of sensory opportunities for heavy work or general gross motor movement. These can include: animal walks, yoga poses, or other proprioceptive activities.
  • Allow opportunities for movement during e-learning sessions (i.e. stretch breaks, chewable pencil topperwiggle cushion, etc.)

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Ways to Maintain Language Skills During Social Distancing

Social distancing may be challenging for children with speech and language disorders, as it limits decreases their daily opportunities to practice language with others. In addition, having to transition to phone calls and text messaging as opposed to face to face communication may be overwhelming for our kiddos with speech and language disorders.

Never fear! We’ve outlined 5 ways to stay connected and practice pragmatic language while maintaining social distance.

  1. Virtual connectivity. Facetime or Zoom friends, grandparents, and others! Virtual connectivity with a visual, socially interactive interface provides a multi sensory input for kids to socially interact while maintaining physical distance
  2. Physical exercise! There are many free programs offering online classes right now for physical exercise. Try out an aerobics class at home with your child in the house. Turn it into a language opportunity (i.e. sequencing activities you did in the class, how it felt to exercise, etc).
  3. Spring cleaning. Spending more time in the house we have increased opportunities to organize our homes. Have your child put items into groups, sorting, organizing, and sequencing to practice their language skills.
  4. Daily routine and structure. Establish several times a day where everyone in your home will complete an activity together each day to reduce the thoughts and feelings of social isolation (i.e. having one meal together a day, going for a walk at a certain time each day, reading a book together at the same time each night).
  5. Creative activities. Encourage interactive activities that involve interactive social exchanges at home. Turn your living room into a “park” and have a picnic on the floor, build blanket forts, and encourage other creative activities your child may be interested in to promote language and social connection with the family.

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 At Home Speech Language Activities

Social distancing proves to be a challenge for families with children who rely heavily on structure and consistency in their daily schedules. That’s why the implementation of parent home programs is essential now more than ever to maintain carry over of learned therapy skills. Here are some tips to make therapy at home fun while providing structure.

  1. Provide correct modeling of speech and language
    Turn ordinary conversation into opportunities to practice speech and language goals. Provide correct models whether it be articulation, language and grammar skills, or social pragmatic skills. If your child makes a mistake, (i.e. incorrect usage of speech sound) rather than correcting their error, continue to provide the correct model of the desired speech sound.
  1. Create visual schedules
    Many of our kiddos can benefit from visual schedules. Advantages of using a visual schedule include but are not limited to: helping remaining calm/maintaining self regulation, providing the child with a positive routine with predictability of what to expect next, increasing receptive language skills with the use of visuals, increasing language processing skills with the use of both visuals and written text, promoting sequencing skills (first, second, now, later), and providing structure in the child’s day to day life.
  1. Practice verbal routines
    Using verbal routines for children with language disorders is an excellent way for children to foster language development in their daily lives. Verbal routines are when you use the same words/phrases in an activity every time (i.e 1, 2, 3 or ready, set, go!). These routines are predicable and provide opportunities for the child to enhance their language skills. Verbal routines can be applied in both unstructured and structured tasks such as playing with bubbles, playing catch with a ball, or higher level cognitive tasks such as saying “my turn” before every turn in a family board game night at home.
    In addition, functional language routines can be found in nursery rhymes and songs. These songs additionally provide opportunities for labeling, object identification, and sequencing. (i.e. head, shoulders, knees and toes, if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, row row row your boat).
  1. Provide opportunities for children to ask questions and make comments
    Set the stage for your child to ask questions during functional tasks that will give them the opportunity to ask questions or make comments. For example, if your child wants to draw or write provide them the piece of paper but leave out the pen or pencil to provide them the opportunity to ask questions in relation to the task.
  1. Read books out loud together!
    Reading books is a wonderful and fun way to practice language at home. Use books with predictable patterns that can be easily learned and require active participation from the reader.

Whether you are continuing face to face therapy at one of our clinics or beginning telehealth with one of our therapists, we are here to continue to serve you.

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Ways to Practice Imitation with Your Child

Think back to a time you were trying to learn a new skill… whether that be how to complete a math problem, re-create a recipe or craft you saw on Pinterest, or navigate the depths of Microsoft excel. One of the first things we do is ask someone to show us or model the steps for us (or if you are me, search YouTube for videos demonstrating the steps)! Developing the skill to imitate others is crucial to our development, especially for children with ASD. That’s why we’ve provided you with 5 ways to practice imitation with your child! 

  1. Dancing
    Imitating dance moves in songs is such a great way to teach your child to imitate gross and fine motor movements. You can play the song and demonstrate the moves yourself or find some videos where the person singing will imitate them on screen.
    We use this technique in our school readiness program at NSPT- Blossom Prep School and found it helped preschoolers not only learn the moves to the songs but also how to behave and collaborate in a learning environment. These were just a few of the songs we used.

  1. Playtime
    One thing some kids with ASD struggle with is the ability to functionally play with toys or games. Stacking blocks, rolling a car down a ramp, rocking or feeding a baby doll, stringing beads, or rolling playdoh, children may have trouble understanding what these toys are used for. One way you can teach this skill is through… You guessed it- Imitation! By teaching a kiddos to play with a toys according to its function you can open the door to so many more social play and independent play skills.
    This is something that we cover extensively in Blossom Prep School, taking our kids from station to station and modeling play with various toys and pretend scenarios, like they would with their peers.
  2. Daily Routines and Activities
    You can also use imitation to teach your child to complete tasks such as brushing your teeth, self-feeding, or washing their hands. By modeling the steps and having them imitate you during natural routines and activities, you can strengthen imitation skills while simultaneously teaching your child to independently complete important daily living skills.
    Here are a few fun ways we like to incorporate this type of teaching into Blossom Prep School:

    • Imitating a peer or adult using utensils to eat snack
    • Imitating a peer or adult while cleaning up an activity or game
    • Imitating a peer or adult putting on shoes or other clothing items
  1. Arts and Crafts
    Similar to teaching children to functionally play with toys and games through imitation, you can also teach them to complete different arts and crafts projects. You can do this by modeling each step or modeling multiple steps at a time for children with more established imitation repertoires.
    Here are a few fun examples of crafts that work well with imitation that we have used in Blossom Prep School:

  1. Singing Songs & Saying Fun Phrases
    Another form of imitation that is important is vocal imitation. The ability to vocally imitate others is needed not only to be able to learn to say or pronounce certain words and phrases, but to learn how to engage in social conversation! One way to work on this skill is through having your child vocally imitate you saying funny words and phrases or singing songs. In Blossom Prep School we work on vocally imitation throughout the lesson, repeating funny phrases in songs or books or repeating the teacher in order to teach a vocal response to a question.

For more information on the importance of teaching imitation and observational learning you can listen to a podcast by ABA Inside Track on the topic.

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Things To Consider Before Transitioning From ABA to Preschool

So, your child is doing well in ABA and you think that they’re ready to try out preschool. Luckily for you, when it comes to sending your child to school there are a lot of a lot of options! With these options, decisions that need to be made. Where does my child still need to improve? Where do they succeed? What does their ideal school look like?

The best place for your child to thrive is an environment that’s not restrictive. They should be in a classroom that supports them but also gives them some autonomy. But, just how autonomous should your child be? Depending on what your school district offers you may have a few classroom options. Some of those options will be more restrictive than others (the most restrictive being a self-contained special education classroom and the least being a blended classroom or general education classroom). The goal is ultimately to teach your child to be independent. In order to determine their best starting path toward that goal, here are a couple of things to consider.

  1. Is 1:1 support required to participate in activities?
    Is 1:1 support needed in order to participate in most activities? In Blossom Prep School, we pair all of the kids that participate with 1:1 Behavior Therapists that help to prompt them through the different activities and routines as well as take data on independent successes. With this model, we are able to teach kids how to participate while also systematically fading out the support so that they can be as independent as possible in a classroom setting. We use that data to determine when a child is ready for traditional classroom environment.
  2. Does your child generalize skills?
    Is your child able to generalize the skills that they have learned in a 1:1 setting? The two biggest skills that impact them is the classroom would be the ability to generalize following directions as well as imitation skills. One thing we work on in Blossom Prep School is the ability to follow generalized directions as well as imitation skills through dancing to different songs, lining up with our friends, turning the page of the book, participating in calendar time, raising their hand to participate, and completing various play or listener activities. We work with the supervising BCBA to make sure we know what skills have been mastered in a 1:1 setting so that we can immediately begin to work on them in a more natural setting.
  3. Can your child function on Generalized Conditioned Reinforcer (GCR)?
    A GCR is the fancy term for a secondary reinforcer such as a high five, social praise, or maybe even a token board system. In a 1:1 setting or the preschool readiness group it is a little easier to control reinforcers such as access to certain toys, games, videos, or edible reinforcers, but in a blended or general education classroom it is a little harder. It is important that your child can complete multiple activities for more natural social praise reinforcers or with delayed reinforcement that they can received after participating in several responses rather than accessing their reinforcer after each response. In the Blossom Prep School program, we work to fade tangible reinforcers and pair more generalized reinforcers such as praise from the teacher and peers or using the completion of a task as a reinforcer in itself.
  4. Does your child have any barrier to learning?
    Behavior Intervention Plans are something that are pretty commonly used in ABA programs. Most of the time, these plans are targeting behaviors that interfere with the ability to learn! So, when evaluating if your child is ready for a less restrictive classroom environment, it is also important to evaluate their ability to learn in a group format! Other barriers include severity of problem behavior, toilet training, self-help skills, prompt dependency, reinforcer effectiveness and motivation, and hyperactivity. There are several assessment measures BCBAs can use to help inform you of the barrier to learning as well as if those barriers pose a concern for transitioning into a group learning format.
  5. Can your child follow routines and schedules?
    One of the last things to consider is your child’s ability to follow common classroom routines and schedules. In any classroom if is expected that your child is at least able to follow some classroom routines with or without supports. We target this skill in Blossom Prep School by using repeated practice to practice specific routines such as lining up and transitioning from centers, snack time, using the bathroom, and circle time. We use strategies such as visual activity schedules and fading prompts to allow for independence.

As mentioned in the points above, At North Shore Pediatric Therapy we have a school readiness program called Blossom Prep School that can be offered as part of an ABA treatment plan to work on these very important skills. If any or all of these concerns seem like they relate to your child, do not hesitate to reach out to our main line to discuss your options for enrolling in Blossom Prep School today!

 

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!