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Navigating Early Speech & Language Milestones: What to expect between age 1 and 2

Parents often wonder if their child’s skills are developing typically.  Between gross motor skills, fine motor skills, speech-language skills, social-emotional functioning, and overall growth, there’s a lot to keep track of!  In fact, it might feel overwhelming.  Mother communicating with infantIt’s important for parents to remember that every child develops at their own rate, with some skills emerging faster, and other skills taking more time.  When considering your child’s development, referring to developmental milestones can be an excellent guide.  In Part 1 of this blog, we reviewed speech and language milestones to expect during the first year of your baby’s life.  In Part 2, we’ll review communication milestones you might expect to see between age 1 and 2.  If you begin to feel concerned regarding your child’s development, seek help from a licensed professional right away.  A trained therapist will give you accurate information, ease your worries, and if needed, give your child any help they might need.

Speech & Language Skills Emerging Between 1 and 2 Years

1 – 1½ years

Your child might:

  • easily understand his own speech
  • use a variety of words (between about 3-20) to communicate
  • understand between 50-75 words to communicate
  • be able to point to various objects or body parts as you say them
  • be able to follow simple 1-step directions
  • use words that contain a consonant + vowel (e.g. “bo” for boat)
  • be eager to imitate words they hear others say
  • use some jargon when they’re communicating
  • request things by pointing or vocalizing
  • let you know what they don’t want, by shaking their head “no” or pushing objects away

1½ – 2 years

Your child might:

  • be likely using more true words, and less jargon to communicate
  • be asking questions by using a rising intonation
  • begin to include sounds at the end of their words (e.g. hot)
  • use more than 50 words to communicate
  • understand about 300 words to communicate
  • begin to combine words into simple phrases
  • be able to follow 2-step related directions (e.g. “open the box and give me the bear.”)
  • begin to respond to yes/no questions
  • understand location concepts “in” and “on”
  • begin using words to tell you when they don’t want something (e.g. “no bed”)

For more information about speech and language development in childhood, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Your Child Should Practice Mazes at Home

Mazes are a huge hit with therapists and children alike!  While mazes are lots of fun and provide a sufficient challenge for children, they also help therapists to address a variety of skills within your child’s therapy session.  Mazes can be taped to a wall at your child’s eye-level so that he can work on a vertical surface.  This mimics a chalkboard or an easel board and promotes wrist extension and copying from a board (like in a classroom).

Mouse and cheese maze

Below are several reasons to practice mazes with your child at home:

  • Problem solving:  Mazes help your child to work on his executive functioning skills, such as planning and brainstorming various strategies (e.g. starting from the beginning of the maze or working backwards from the end of maze).
  • Fine motor control:  Mazes require your child to control his pencil through the maze without hitting the black lines. This means that he must take his time rather than rushing, in order to have greater success.  Progress can be observed as your child bumps into the black lines less and less as he gains greater control of his writing utensil.  Children use fine motor control in order to produce correct letter formation and legible handwriting.
  • Visual motor:  Mazes require your child to use his eyes to scan the worksheet in order to find possible solutions.  Scanning is a great skill used for reading and writing, as it is important to scan from the left side of the paper to the right side.
  • Grading of an activity:  Mazes can be broken down into different steps.  For instance, first have your child start by moving his finger, next a pencil, then a marker through the maze.  This helps your child to solve the same maze three times consecutively, which allows the skill to sink-in better.
  • Confidence:  Mazes are perfect fine motor activities to help boost your child’s confidence.  Have your child begin with a simple maze to provide immediate success, and then have him work towards completing mazes of increased difficulty.

Fine motor and visual motor skills can be practiced in a wide variety of ways, including mazes.  Mazes are a great way to work on handwriting without just writing letters and words. There are many websites that offer free printable maze worksheets for a variety of age levels and themes.  An internet search such as, “simple mazes for 4-year-olds,” will produce a variety of mazes and printable activities that are perfect for practicing these important skills at home!

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Differences and Similarities Between Occupational and Physical Therapy | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric occupational therapist explains ways to distinguish between occupational and physical therapy and how they are similar.

In this video you will learn:

  • To determine the differences between physical and occupational therapy
  • How the two disciplines are alike
  • What types of therapies are used for the different disciplines

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m standing here with Lindsay Miller, a Pediatric
Occupational Therapist. Lindsay, people are often confused between physical
therapy and occupational therapy. Can you explain with the differences and
similarities are between OT and PT?

Lindsay: Sure. With occupational therapy, we usually work on independence
with self-care skills, and these are skills like dressing and bathing. We
also work a lot on fine motor skills as well. So that’s any sort of
movement using your hands and fingers like writing, coloring, using
scissors, using a fork and knife, those types of things. Traditionally,
physical therapists work on mobility, so that’s walking, running, jumping,
and other gross motor tasks that use the larger muscles of the body. In the
pediatric realm, occupational therapists also work on executive functioning
skills, so those are our thinking skills and our thinking processes, and we
also work on sensory processing as well, so that’s how children react
emotionally and behaviorally to their environment and their surroundings.
In the pediatric world, physical therapists also work a lot on mobility
again and also gross motor development. So that’s, can your child crawl and
can they get themself up into standing and those sorts of things.

Some of the similarities are that occupational and physical therapy both
can look at muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, and muscle tone,
but the biggest difference is really how we look at those things and in
what context. So occupational therapists look at those muscle strength and
flexibility and those types of things and how they affect functioning and
daily life whereas physical therapists look at those things and how it
affects mobility and gross motor skills. So overall, there is some overlap
between occupational and physical therapy, but the biggest difference is
really how they look at it in terms of functioning.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, Lindsay, and thank you to our viewers.
And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

Daily Activities to Improve Fine Motor Strength

Decreased hand strength can make participating in fine motor activities very difficult for a child.

Here are some activities to help improve hand strength:

  1. Stirring batter or dough with a large spoon: This activity will help improve your child’s grip strength in both hands; one holding the bowl and one stirring with the spoon. The child will be motivated by the desirable end product, which could be brownies, cookies, or even play-doh.Child pressing a paint glue
  2. Squeeze, roll, and play with play-doh or silly putty: Play-doh and silly putty can be used to encourage pinch and grip strength by having your child make balls, pinch them into pancakes, squeeze them into a long snake, etc.
  3. Climbing up ladders or playground equipment: Holding on to ladders, monkey bars or climbing equipment will help improve functional grip strength, as the child must support their body with their hands.
  4. Buckles and snaps on clothing, helmets, etc.: Encourage your child to learn and complete difficult fasteners on their clothing and accessories. This will help promote independence and hand strength for everyday tasks.
  5. Tennis ball friend: Cut a slit in a tennis ball and draw eyes on it to make a puppet. Have your child ‘feed’ the tennis ball different small objects by squeezing the tennis ball with their hand to open the slit.
  6. Craft projects with hole punchers/ staplers: Using hole punchers and staplers are difficult hand tasks that require a lot of strength. Challenge your child to create a whole art project using only these two items.
  7. Cutting different thicknesses of paper: Using different thicknesses of paper will turn a cutting activity into a strengthening activity. Challenge your child to progress from thinner to thicker papers (for example, computer paper, to construction paper, to poster board, to cardboard, etc).
  8. Squeezing a glue bottle: Create a raised maze with glue and when it is dry, have your child color it in. Another option is to put paint in old glue bottles and have your child squeeze the paint out to make a picture.
  9. Putting together and taking apart Legos: Legos are a great activity for strengthening all fine motor skills. To add an extra challenge, push two legos together very tightly and then have the child try to pull them apart.
  10. Play with clothespins: This will promote the strengthening of small muscles in the fingers for improved pinch strength. Some ideas for clothespin use are: hanging things on a string, moving game pieces, and picking up small snacks.

Performing these activities will help encourage proper finger strength, which promotes independent self-care, academic success, good play skills, and overall improved function on a daily basis. If you have concerns regarding your child’s finger and hand strength or fine motor performance, please seek out an occupational therapist for a consultation or an evaluation in order to help your child achieve their potential.

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Got Chopsticks? A Great Tool For Improving Hand Skills

Colorful Assortment Of Chopsticks

Chopsticks are a great utensil to use during mealtime and for a variety of creative games and activities. Chopsticks can help children to work on hand-dominance, pre-handwriting/handwriting skills, and improving their grasp in a fun and exciting manner.

Games with chopsticks

Relay race:

Place a bucket at one end of the room and the objects to be picked-up on the other side of the room (e.g. marbles, beads, cotton balls, dry cereal). Read more