Swim Your Way To A Stronger Body

Summer is quickly approaching, and swimming pools can be used for much more than tanning and floating! Get those muscles and joints working with these simple games that you can play with common pool toys.

The following activities target strength, endurance, body awareness, trunk control, breath control and motor planning. As always, make sure safety is your first priority:

1. Noodle Races: sit on foam noodles, using your arms to pull yourself across the length of the pool .

**Try a variety of movements with your arms such as front crawls, breast strokes, and doggy paddling to incorporate different reaching and pulling methods. You can also sit on a tube or raft rather than a noodle to play this game!

2. Noodle Volleyball/Basketball: sit on foam noodles, passing a beach ball back and forth or aiming for a hoop.

**Try to keep the ball in the air without hitting the water for as long as possible. This is a great challenge that incorporates hand-eye coordination. Read more

Why Does My Child Need a Diagnosis?

-“I don’t want to label my child.”

-“Teachers are biased against diagnosed children.”

-“My son doesn’t act like most kids with _________ (particular diagnosis).”

 

These are statements that I hear on a routine basis, and they are all valid points. Any diagnosis that a child or adolescent may have carries a certain stigma to it. This is human nature. As a neuropsychologist, one of my biggest tasks is to develop the most appropriate and effective diagnosis for any child. My goal with writing this blog is to help identify the importance of an appropriate diagnosis.

How A Diagnosis Can Help Your Child:

First and foremost, an appropriate diagnosis will help explain and answer the “why” questions. Why does my child continue to struggle to read? Why is it impossible for my child to sit still? Why is it that my child cannot make friends? Once we identify the “whys,” we are on our way to solving the problems.  An appropriate diagnosis is intended to help develop the most effective means of intervention. If I diagnosis a child with Dyslexia, I know that traditional teaching of reading and phonics wouldn’t do much good. I would know instead to utilize an empirical approach consistent with the disorder at hand. Read more

4 Quick Tips To Getting Your Child Organized

Helping your child or student get organized can sometime feel like an uphill battle. For many children the problem isn’t that they won’t organize their bedroom, binder, desk, or backpack but truly that they can’t. For example, many children lack the ability to visualize what their desk is “supposed to” look like when it is clean and organized. Difficulty with organization may be hard to understand, especially if you consider yourself to be an organizational expert.

The following tips can help begin the process of teaching organization skills:

• Take a picture of their desk when it is organized and post the picture inside of the desk. Have your child refer to this visual example when it is time to clean the desk. This strategy can also be to help clean up a bedroom (be sure to take pictures of specific parts of the room – i.e. an organized dresser drawer etc.)

• Give your child very specific and concrete directions when asking them to organize. “First pick up all of the dirty clothes from your bedroom floor. Second, put the dirty clothes in the laundry basket.”

• Create a checklist to guide your child through the process of organizing. This can be helpful for children that tend to get distracted, or children that have difficulty initiating tasks.

• Don’t forget to be your child’s cheerleader as they learn how to become an organizational master – give them praise with every small accomplishment!

 Click Here To Download Our Free Executive Functioning Skills Checklist

Transition Trouble | How Family Routines and Rituals Can Help

If your child experiences difficulty with transitions, changes or any activity requiring flexibility, you may be wondering what’s making it so hard.

Your child may be hypersensitive to changes in routines or unexpected events for a variety of reasons. Some possibilities include poor organization orplanning skills, sensory issues, developmental delays, inadequate coping mechanisms, maladjustment or an anxiety disorder. If your child also exhibits any of the following symptoms, it could be anxiety that is causing all the commotion:

Symptoms of Transition Caused Anxiety:

• Negative, rigid, perfectionistic or unrealistic thinking patterns

• Irritability, tantrums, anger or aggression

• Constant worry about what might happen

• Avoiding new or unfamiliar people, places or activities

• Excessive clinginess or withdrawal from activities and socialinteractions

• Interruption in sleeping or eating habits

• Psychosomatic complaints such as stomach aches, headaches and fatigue

All children and adults experience anxiety at a natural level, and it’s considered normal until it negatively impacts a child’s functioning at school, home or with friends. If your child is overly anxious for what is expected at their age, it is likely interfering with family life. Adding routine and structure into your home, wherever the opportunity lies, will surely help an anxious child be more successful across his environments. Read more

Hitting, Biting, Pushing, and Shoving | How to Handle your Child’s Aggressive Behavior

As a parent, it can be both frustrating and upsetting when dealing with a child who is exhibiting aggressive behaviors. Parents may feel that they cannot enroll their child in certain activities and/or groups because they fear that their child will be aggressive towards the other children. Also, some parents might even feel worried or embarrassed about receiving phone calls from daycare or school, reporting the aggressive behaviors that their child displayed.

Step 1: Addressing Your Child’s Behavior:

The first step to addressing your child’s aggressive behaviors is figuring out why your child is acting like this. A child can become aggressive for several different reasons.

Some children may exhibit aggressive behaviors because of:

  • Insufficient speech development
  • Lack of routine Read more

Developmental Skills While Playing With Dolls

Playing is a child’s primary job, and a beneficial one at that.  Through play, children develop fine and gross motor skills, practice language and develop new vocabulary, and begin to understand new learning concepts. 

Below is a sample of all that is involved and developing when your child plays with dolls.

 Cognition

  •      Develops imaginative play skills as your child cares for her doll.
  •     Teaches different emotions and relationships as child role plays. Read more

W-Sitting And Your Child’s Growth

W-sitting is a position that is too commonly used by children when seated on the ground. In this position, a child sits on their bottom, with knees bent, feet tucked under, and legs splayed out to each side in a “W” configuration. Because this position is so common, most adults do not realize that use of this position can have negative ramifications on a child’s growth and development. 

Negative Effects of W-Sitting:

The reality is that this position can cause orthopedic problems, delay development of postural control and stability, and delay development of refined motor skills. For these reasons, its use is strongly discouraged.

Excessive use of a w-sit during the growing years puts undue stress on the hip abductors, hamstrings, internal rotators and heel cords, leading to the possibility of orthopedic problems in the future. “W-sitting” can lead to hip dislocation, and for children with pre-existing orthopedic conditions, these conditions can worsen when major muscle groups are placed in shortened positions. The muscles begin to tighten, and this can lead to a permanent shortening of the muscle, which can affect coordination, balance, and development of motor skills.

The w-sit widens a child’s base of support, resulting in less need for weight shifting, postural control and stability as they are playing, moving and reaching than in other seated positions. In addition to resulting in decreased trunk control, the w-sit does not require as much trunk rotation, which helps develop midline crossing and separation of the two sides of the body needed for bilateral coordination. Good trunk control and stability, midline crossing and bilateral coordination are needed to develop refined motor skills and hand dominance.

How to Prevent W-sitting:

It is best to prevent children from developing this habit. However, we all know children who have already established this as a preferred seated position. When possible, anticipate and catch it before you see your child move into a w-sit. If and when you do see your child in a “W”, consistently encourage her to adjust to a different position by saying, “Fix your legs.”

Consistency is key. Make sure children know what some of their other options are so they can choose an alternative. Functional seated positions that will allow the child to develop trunk control and mature movement patterns include “tailor sit” (also called “criss-cross”), “long sit” and “side sit”. It is important for parents to teach and encourage alternate seated positions at home, and teachers to teach and encourage their students to use alternate seated positions at school. This encouragement will have positive effects on a child’s growth and development of foundational skills.

When playing with a child on the floor, hold his knees and feet together when kneeling or crawling – it is impossible to get into a w-sit from there. The child will either sit to one side, or sit back on his feet, and from there he can be helped to sit over to one side. Try to encourage sitting over both the right and left sides to promote bilateral development. Using various patterns of movements and positions demand trunk rotation and lateral weight shifting.

If a child is unable to sit alone in any position other than a “W”, talk with an occupational therapist about supportive seating or alternative positions such as prone and side-lying. Sitting against the couch while playing may be one alternative, as well as using a small table and chair. A therapist will have many other ideas based on each individual child.

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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The “Container Baby” Lifestyle

“Container Baby” is a relatively new term used in pediatrics to describe a baby that spends a majority of her time in some sort of enclosed space. These ‘containers’ can include car seats, bouncy swings, vibrating chairs, bumbo seats or other devices that ‘contain’ a baby’s movement. They can be used for any number of reasons, whether it be for safety or to give mom a few free minutes to cook dinner or fold laundry.

How “Containing” Your Baby Can Delay Motor Development:

Some babies spend many of their waking hours in a containing device and don’t get enough floor time to play. Floor time, where a baby is either placed on his tummy or back to play, is extremely important to help with strengthening his neck, back, tummy, arm and leg muscles. Floor time allows a child to explore her environment and provides essential sensory input, including tactile and visual information, that helps with development.

Plagiocephaly or Flatness of the Head:

Another direct cause of the “container baby” lifestyle is the increasing occurrence of plagiocephaly, or flatness of the head. Babies who are contained in the same position are at risk for developing flatness to one part of their head, which can lead to cosmetic deformities, facial asymmetry and torticollis, or the tightening of one side of the neck. Plagiocephaly often begins in-utero, Read more

Surviving Meltdowns: Supporting Children with Language Disorders During Breakdowns

Parents often tell me about the challenges they face when helping their child through a meltdown. It’s difficult to know how to help when you can’t figure out why your child is upset to begin with. Moreover, it can be discouraging when all your efforts to diffuse a situation seem to fail.

Children with speech and language difficulties often display frustration when they cannot effectively express themselves. Frustration can result in even less effective communication, which ultimately exacerbates the problem; it’s far more difficult to communicate when our emotions are heightened, whether through anxiety, fear, frustration or anger. This presents a problem for children with communication disorders, who are often less able to convey their needs in moments when they need to the most.

If you’re a parent and this issue sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Here are strategies I often encourage families to try when helping their child through a meltdown.

Strategies To Help Your Child Communicate During A Meltdown:

Use a calm voice: You may feel as frustrated as your child looks, but do your best to keep your response calm, consistent and neutral. Your tone will convey a message of safety to your child.

Use simple language: Your child may have more difficulty processing incoming language during a meltdown, so it’s important to keep you language simple. Simple language will be easier for your child to process. Instead of saying “John, you need to stop crying and put your shoes on because now it’s time to go home,” try using concise phrases such as “shoes on” or “first shoes, then go home.” Read more

How To Help Fidgety Students Pay Attention In Class

For many teachers, it can be hard to teach class when students are wiggling around in their seats or on the rug during instruction. Though it may be difficult to determine exactly why children fidget and have difficulty paying attention there are things that teachers can do to help!

Some children might fidget in an effort to pay attention to the teacher. These children are often classified as “low arousal” children who need more movement to keep their bodies upright and to participate in the classroom. Other children might be fidgety because they are constantly seeking out sensory experiences from their environment to get a better understanding of where their body is in space.

Some children might fidget because they do not have the trunk control to maintain a static muscle contraction in order to sit upright. Other children might be overly sensitive to light touch and might be bothered by the way the chair or rug feels on their body, how their clothing feels, or how close their classmate is sitting next to them.

Below are some strategies for teachers to help their students with fidgety behaviors in the classroom:

• Provide students with seating surfaces, such as a Move’N’Sit cushion or therapy ball to give their body sensory input. Read more