Developmental Milestones | Concepts

Children’s first words are generally composed of nouns: the people and things in their lives.  Children start to understand and use verbs more frequently as their vocabularies build.  They then begin to use modifiers and adjectives.  Concepts are among these early modifiers and adjectives.  Children acquire these concepts at different stages in their development.  Read on for conceptual milestones for children ages 1 through 6.

Conceptual milestones for children ages 1 through 6:

Ages 1-2

  • Follows simple commands using spatial terms in or on
  • Uses a few spatial terms such as in or on
  • Uses simple directional terms such as up or down

Ages 2-3

  • Understands number concepts such as 1 or 2
  • Understanding of spatial terms become mastered with in, on, off, under, out
  • Begins to understand same/different
  • Time concepts begin to emerge, specifically with soon, later, wait
  • Begins to use color and size vocabulary

Ages 3-4

  • Advances spatial terms to understanding next to, besides, between
  • Uses spatial terms behind, in front, around
  • Begins to follow quantity directions such as a lot and empty
  • Identifies colors
  • Identifies what is different Read more

How to Use Theraputty to Develop Hand Strength

You may have seen your child’s occupational therapist (OT) using a tool that looks like a chunk of clay during your child’s therapy sessions and wondered, “What is that?!” This tool, called theraputty, is a resistant play dough that works on strengthening the small muscles of the hands and fingers. Theraputty can be used in a variety of ways to improve hand strength, while also being highly motivating for children.

Ways to Use Theraputty to Develop Hand Strength:

  • Hide marbles or buttons in the putty, and have your child go on a treasure hunt to find the items.
  • After your child finds the objects in the putty, have him hide them in the putty and give the putty to a sibling to go on a treasure hunt.
  • Hide coins in the putty. What your child finds, he can keep! Read more

What to Do When Your Child has a Potty Accident

Potty training can be difficult.  Throughout the process there can be slip-ups and accidents.  If you have a child who is already potty training, or if you have a child who exhibits signs that he or she is ready to start potty training, then keep these helpful strategies in mind for when an unavoidable accident occurs.

Strategies for dealing with a potty accident:

Potty

  1. Environment:  Create a friendly and inviting bathroom environment.  Provide different books that your child can read while she sits on the toilet.  You can even offer to play different songs while your child sits on the toilet and tries to go potty.
  2. Schedule:  Make sure that you, along with everyone who is with your child throughout the day, is on the same potty schedule.  Using this potty schedule, select a certain amount of time that you want your child to practice going on the potty.  You can start with having your child go to the potty every 30 minutes.  Set a timer. When it goes off, have your child stop what she is doing and try to go to the potty.  After she tries, reset the timer and wait for the next 30 minute potty try.  If your child is still having accidents on a 30-minute schedule, switch to 15 minutes intervals to catch the accident before it happens. Read more

Create a ‘Fidget’ to Help Your Child Focus This School Year

Markers. Crayons. Pencils. Book-bag. Pens. Glue. Ruler. Scissors. Calculator. Folders. Tennis Shoes. 3-Ring Binder. Notebooks. Etc. The “Back-to-School Checklist” seems to grow longer and longer each year. However, there is one useful item that often does not appear on this list which can help your child to stay focused throughout the ups and downs of the school day.   This item is known as a fidget.

As your child picks, pushes and squeezes his fidget, it will be provide his fingers, hands, and wrists with proprioceptive input. This input is extremely regulating for a lot of children, which can help them to stay focused during class.  Read on for simple instructions to make your own fidget at home.

Simple instructions to make your very own fidget:

  1. Encourage your child to choose his favorite colored balloon.
  2. Use a funnel to fill the balloon with rice or sand so that it is about the size of a baseball.
  3. Tie the balloon’s end into a knot.
  4. With markers, encourage your child to decorate his new fidget as desired. Read more

3 Clues Your Child May Have an Eating Disorder

As a parent, there are countless matters in your child’s life that bring joy, happiness, and excitement. There are eating disordersalso a myriad of matters in your child’s life that can raise concern and cause alarm. In our youth and appearance based culture, one of these alarming matters is eating disorders.  Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia, along with more general disordered eating, are commonly thought of as a problem that affects teen girls.  Teen girls are historically most affected by these disorders, but boys and younger/older children can also develop these issues.  Read on for 3 clues that may indicate your child is on a path toward an eating disorder.

3 Clues Your Child May Have an Eating Disorder:

  1. Your child is constantly looking in the mirror. Do you notice that your child seems obsessed with the mirror? Does your child appear to be scrutinizing her face and body? Children with body image concerns will often spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, which may take away from homework, family time and other necessary or enjoyed activities.
  2. Your child is overly focused on glamorous images from the media. If your child appears to be fixated on certain celebrity icons, and more specifically, the appearance of these icons, she may also be struggling with her own body image.  Some children pull out magazine photos of a current celebrity obsession and create a shrine of the image. While celebrity crazes are common among children and adults alike, if your child seems to idolize the physical appearance rather than the talents of celebrities, it may be a sign that your child is unhappy with her own image. Read more

Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Through Salient Features

salient featuresLabeling an item and expecting your child to remember the word is not as easy as 1, 2, 3.  In order to map new words into your child’s lexicon (i.e., his/her word dictionary), particularly if he or she has a language disorder, teaching salient features is essential for word understanding, use, and retrieval.  The following are key salient features when teaching new vocabulary, maintaining previously learned words, and expanding vocabulary.

Key Salient Features:

  • Category: Including the category into which a word belongs helps organize the word into a group.  This then facilitates further thought about words that are related to the target vocabulary word. For example, a pencil belongs to school supplies.  What else belongs to school supplies?
  • Place Item is Found: Identifying a location where a word may be found allows your child to visualize the target word.  For example, a pencil can be found in a pencil cup or in a drawer at home and in a desk or backpack at school.  Avoid non-specific locations such as the store or at school, as many items are found there.
  • Function:  Talk about the purpose of the item.  For example, a pencil is used for writing.   Identifying this feature allows a child to connect a noun to an action. Read more

Hearing Impairment and Language

The earlier your child is diagnosed with a hearing impairment, the earlier he can receive services to assist in the development of speech and language skills during the critical 0-3 year-old period. Children with a hearing impairment are at a disadvantage during this time frame because much of language develops from exposure to the sounds and voices around them.

Implications of a hearing impairment during early childhood can include the following:

  • A smaller base vocabulary
  • Slower acquisition of words and sentence structures
  • Some American English sounds are produced with a very high frequency which is harder for children with hearing impairments to hear.  As a result, children with hearing impairments don’t learn these sounds.
  • Difficulty hearing and/or producing the /s/, /z/, /sh/, /ch/, /f/, and /v/ sounds. Read more

Red Flags for Feeding & Swallowing Disorders in Children

Most of us taking eating and swallowing for granted.  These actions come naturally and allow us to eat our mealsfeeding and swallowing disorders peacefully.  However, for some children, feeding and swallowing disorders make these natural reflexes and muscle actions difficult.  Read on to understand more about feeding and swallowing disorders and for red flags that your child may have a problem in this area.

What are feeding & swallowing disorders?

Feeding Disorders include difficulties gathering food to suck, chew, or swallow. According to ASHA:“…a child who cannot pick up food and get it to her mouth or cannot completely close her lips to keep food from falling out of her mouth may have a feeding disorder.”

Swallowing Disorders, also known as Dysphagia, include difficulty in one of the following stages of swallowing: Read more

Help Your Child Learn to Sequence

Whether we know it or not, we are constantly sequencing throughout the day. As we tie our shoes, we sequence the steps. When we complete a project, we plan the order tasks will be accomplished. As we talk with friends, we organize our thoughts and ideas into a logical order. For some children, however, sequencing can be challenging. 

You might notice your child having difficulty verbally expressing herself. Her ideas might appear fragmented or disconnected. She may leave out important information while including irrelevant details. Or you might notice your child forgetting important steps when completing daily tasks, such as going to the bathroom. She might forget to close the door or flush the toilet. If you find this is a problem for your child, fear not. There are many ways to practice sequencing with your child.

5 fun activities to help your child develop sequence skills at home:

  1. Retell a favorite storybook. Read a book with your child. Afterwards, retell the story together while thinking about three important things that happened. This may be challenging for your child, so simplify it by using pictures as you retell the story. Photocopy pictures from the book (choose just a few important pages as opposed to every page), and have your child tape pictures on the wall in the correct order.
  2. Plan a fun recipe. Plan out the steps you will need to complete the recipe. Based on your child’s age and level, you might write the steps out or draw pictures of each step. After you’ve completed the steps to make the recipe, encourage your child to share it with others. Have her describe how she made it.
  3. Make a scrapbook from a family outing. Plan a fun outing and take pictures throughout the day. Afterwards, have your child put the pictures in the correct order (limit it to 3-5 pictures, depending on your child’s level). Glue each picture in a construction paper book and help your child write a sentence to go with each picture (first…then…etc.). Encourage your child to share her book with others and tell them about her fun day.
  4. Have your child be the “teacher” while you play a game. Choose a favorite board game, and pretend you forgot the rules. Encourage your child to be the “teacher” and tell others how to play. Guide her language by writing or drawing pictures of each step while she explains the rules.
  5. Talk about various sequence concepts. Concepts might include first, then, second, last, before, or after. Line up your child’s stuffed animals and encourage your child to find the animal who is “first.” Or you play “Simon Says” while encouraging your child to follow directions in the correct order (“Simon says first___, then___”).

Most importantly, have fun! The best kind of learning is often when your child doesn’t know she’s learning at all. By choosing fun activities, you can enjoy time with your child while still helping her learn and grow.

Do you want to learn more about sequencing?  Click here to learn about the difference between sequencing and memory.

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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Tips to Help Decrease Anxiety Levels in Preschoolers

Preschool children experience anxiety for a variety of reasons including transitions, changes to their routines or disruptions in theanxiety in preschoolers home.  Some children simply have a higher ‘set’ anxiety level than others.  If your preschooler is experiencing anxiety, try these tips to get him feeling happy and calm.

Tips to Decrease Anxiety Levels in Preschoolers:

  • Model good social skills. When a child sees his parents having meaningful friendships, he will be more inclined to want to make friends of his own.
  • Act as an intermediary for the child in social situations. Help the child introduce himself to other kids.  Encourage the kids to play with toys, or suggest a game.  Setting up regular play dates can be helpful. Even if the children don’t play directly with each other, being around other kids can help a child become less shy. Read more