School Conferences: 3 Topics That Must Be Discussed

Parent teacher ConferenceParent and teacher conferences are soon approaching.  This is an exciting time for parents, as it serves as the first means of identifying how their children have been progressing thus far in the school year.  However, too many times parents leave the conferences with more questions than answers.  This is a hectic time; teachers are extremely busy, as they have twenty some conferences to prepare for themselves, and parents are often in a rush and feel unprepared.  Here are several ideas and guidelines for making the most out of a conference.

It is important for parents to make the most of the fifteen or so minutes that are planned for the conference.  Teachers usually have an idea of what they want to discuss during the meeting, and more often than not, the focus is on the child’s academic work and behavior within the classroom.  Parents, please develop and write down an outline of what you want to discuss during the meeting.  Like any structured meeting, the agenda must be decided by both parties.  It is important to identify what the current concerns are, as well as what your (as parents) ideal outcome is from having the meeting with the teacher.  Read more

Head and Brain Injuries in Children

David HuffMany of you have probably seen the highlights about David Huff; he is a pitcher on the Cleveland Indians, who got hit directly in the head by a line drive from Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez a few months ago (http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/news/story?id=5232792). Luckily, Mr. Huff was not seriously injured from this. However, many children are not as lucky and sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) each year. Current estimates indicate that approximately 180 out of 100,000 children will attain a TBI during their lifetimes.

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Halloween Tips For Children With Sensory Processing Disorder

Halloween SPDHalloween parties, costumes, make-up, masks, trick-or-treating, and treats. This all sounds like fun to many children, but Halloween “fun” can be a sensory nightmare for children with sensory issues. Fortunately, there are ways to help make Halloween more enjoyable for the child who struggles with sensory issues.

SPD For Halloween Tip 1 – Exposure to Halloween early and often

Start early in explaining Halloween to your children to ensure a successful night. Repetition helps kids with sensory processing difficulties understand an event or holiday.

SPD For Halloween Tip 2 – Pick the right costume

  • Choose a non-scary costume
  • Let your child help select a costume. A bumblebee suit with wings and bobbing antennae may be too much to handle, but a silly shirt or a handheld prop might be perfect.
  • Try out the costumes, make sure they are a good fit.
  • Practice walking and sitting while wearing the costume.
  • Wearing a mask may be uncomfortable. He may prefer to hold the mask or just skip it. 
  • If costumed, make sure it’s something she can partially or fully remove so she doesn’t have to go home if she becomes uncomfortable.
  • If your child is not wearing a costume, make sure they know there is nothing wrong with them.
  • If your child is afraid of trick-or-treating and seeing others dressed up in costumes, stay home and hand out candy from the front yard or the doorway.  
  • Your child can wear his costume in safe and familiar environments such as the neighbors’ and relatives’ houses. 
  • Never force your child to wear a costume. If they do not want to wear one at all, that’s okay!
  • Experiment with face make-up as tactile exploration. However, bring baby wipes to remove it just in case.

 

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Auditory Processing and Language Processing: What’s the Difference?

Understanding Language Processing

Boy in Speech Therapy

Language comprehension…language processing…auditory processing… what does it all mean? The various terminology used to describe a child’s difficulty with listening can be overwhelming to say the least. A first encounter with these terms might feel perplexing as parents search for the best possible help to meet their child’s needs.

A recent surge in public awareness of auditory processing disorders has led to many misconceptions about what this disorder really is (and what it is not). The term “auditory processing disorder” is frequently applied loosely, and often incorrectly, to any individuals having trouble with listening and processing spoken language. However, there are several possible underlying causes for listening difficulty. Read more

Symptoms and Treatment of Childhood Depression

We all know when an adult is sad and depressed – they cry easily, prefer to be alone, and can verbally express their feelings. It is often hard, however, to identify depression in young children because it often mimics other disorders and concerns, including inattention, impulsively, aggression and learning problems. Some warning signs that parents and teachers should look out for include:

Symptoms of Childhood Depression:Depressed Boy

  • Easily comes to tears, feeling sad
  • Feeling worthless
  • Not interested in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Irritable and often in a bad mood
  • Increase in aggressive and externalizing behaviors
  • Changes in sleep behavior (either sleeping more or less than normal)
  • Changes in eating behavior (either dramatic increase or decrease)
  • Decrease in energy and easily fatigued
  • Frequently turned away and neglected by peers
  • Decrease with academic performance
  • Difficulty staying still

As you can see, there are a plethora of symptoms of depression and every child who is depressed will express a variety of the above symptoms. If you notice changes with your child’s behavior and the onset of any of the above symptoms, the first thing that you should do is contact your child’s pediatrician. It is always important to identify whether or not there are medical concerns at the root of the symptoms. Read more

Back To School: Help your child defeat anxiety and go back strong!

Boy going to SchoolHealthy Expression:

Start by helping your child express their worries, fears, problems and more in the comfort of their own home. Give them your undivided attention and find a private space away from siblings if needed. Help them find the correct labels for their feelings, ideally in their own words. Many children enjoy using creative methods of expression (e.g. drawing pictures, writing in journals, creating social stories) while some are able to spell it out while relaxing at bath time or bedtime.

Validate & Empathize

Showing your child that you respect, accept and understand their emotions serves as a big boost to their self-confidence! Sometimes this is enough to give your child the relief they are seeking. All feelings should be accepted (but not necessarily all behaviors that are often associated with negative feelings). Rather than reassuring them that you will keep them safe, let them know that yes, these things are scary and you hear their true feelings. Let them feel your belief in them—how proud, positive and excited you are! Read more

How to Transition Your Special Need’s Child for the New School Year

parent teacher conferenceAs summer comes to a close, the transition back to school can be difficult for just about any child. After three months of fun with no real demands, children now have to attend to teachers for six hours and following a structured routine. Children with special needs and neurodevelopmental concerns are even more likely to face difficulty here, but there are numerous strategies parents and teachers can implement to ensure the transition goes smoothly as possible.

Preparing Your Child For The New School Year

Prior to school starting, it is important to sit down with your children and explain the changes that they will be experiencing soon. Prepare your child for the school year. Explain to him or her what the school routine will look like. Give your child a schedule of what the day will entail.

Getting Your Child Acquainted With The School And New Teacher

Next, bring your child to school to meet his or her new teacher, who should be able to give further preparation and reassurance for the coming year. If your child will be attending a new school, it is recommended that he or she take a tour beforehand in order to get acclimated to the layout and surroundings of the building. Read more

Child Development: Is My Child Normal?

Mom and Baby The number one reason that parents contact myself and the various therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy is to find out whether or not their children are developing and progressing at a normal rate. When should my child crawl? When should she start speaking? At what age should he be walking? These are all questions that we find ourselves answering on a daily basis. Parents often are not privy to this information. If only children would come with an instruction manual. Each child develops at a different rate, which is found to be dependent upon several factors including environmental influence (exposure to a variety of experiences) to genetic predisposition. That being said, there are stages of development that every child will reach in a hierarchical order. The main areas of development include a child’s motor ability and his or her language functioning. Language functioning can then be broken down into two main areas: receptive language, which is the child’s ability to listen to and follow auditory demands, and expressive language, which is the ability to provide comprehensive responses. Below is a chart for the major stages of motor and language development along with typical ages in which the child should reach the stage. Read more

Promoting Speech and Language Development During Summertime Fun

Making the most of Summer vacation    

ScrapbookPlay-dates, pool parties and trips to the beach – it’s summer vacation! Sure, we delight in seeing our kids enjoy the leisurely bliss of summer break, but will all the fun come at the expense of our children learning? How can we help our kids make developmental progress and stay on target for school in the fall?  In spite of all the relaxation and play, summertime has potential to be an incredibly enriching opportunity. After all, who ever said that learning can’t be entertaining? In fact, fun experiences are often the very best occasions for your child to learn.

Here are a few tips to keep your child learning throughout the summer:

Plan family outings!  Talk about where you will go, and what you will see there. Whether you visit a museum, the zoo, or a scenic park, a family outing will provide a multisensory experience to enrich your child’s development. Describe what you see during the outing, and introduce your child to new vocabulary words in the process. Read more

Rewarding Your Child: How to Encourage Children To Behave!

Loving our kids is easy, right?  Well, we love it when we can spend quality time with them. However, there are those times when it seems that all we do with our kids is fight and scream, leaving us with nothing but a migraine headache and an upset child!

This is an ongoing negative cycle – you react to your child’s bad behavior, then they react to your reaction. As if that isn’t bad enough, you have to then go home and explain to your spouse why you can’t cook dinner, play with the other children or clean up the house. Having the knowledge, tools, and appropriate strategies for you and your child make better decisions will help break this negative cycle and encourage positive behavior.

The first thing I always asks my clients is, what are you currently doing to discipline your child? Most parents will respond by saying that they often get mad, yell, or send their child to time-out. While all of these suggestions are good, there isn’t a “cookie-cutter” method for disciplining children. We must remember that every behavior is a form of communication in itself and occurs for a specific reason.

Most parents want a happier, more peaceful relationship with their children, which is why they often give in to their negative behaviors. Alternatively, you can use the following positive reinforcement strategies to foster a peaceful relationship without enabling bad behavior.

The three most common forms of positive reinforcement strategies that I use are: Read more