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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!

when will my child be done with speech language therapy

When Will My Child Be Done With Speech-Language Therapy?

Society as a whole is goal-oriented; as human beings we want to have a plan for the future. The unknown is anxiety-provoking, and people want straight answers. Therefore it is no surprise that a common question when a child is first recommended for speech-language therapy is how long will my child need speech-language therapy? The tough answer to this challenging question is there is no scientific way to determine a child’s timeline for speech-language therapy. However, there are a several components to speech-language therapy that can facilitate greater progress in therapy, possibly resulting in faster discharge.

These Components Will Help Determine How Long a Child Will Need Speech-Language Therapy:

  • Early identification is a key component for success in intervention. It is highly recognized that when speech and language disorders when will my child be done with speech language therapyare identified and treated as early as possible, there is a better prognosis. Developmental milestones can be helpful in identifying children who may be in need of speech-language intervention.
  • With any speech-language disorder there is a spectrum of severity that can occur. Often with a more severe speech-language disorder, therapy will be more intensive and may require a longer treatment period. Looking at the percentile ranking of your child’s score on a standardized test is helpful at determining where your child’s skills are in relation to the typical population.
  • There are several components of a therapy plan which can affect the rate of progress. Receiving consistent and frequent therapy can both positively impact a child’s progress. The greater amount of time a child is spent working on a skill, the faster that skill is likely to improve. Additionally, completing home programs or home activities given by your child’s therapist will facilitate carryover of the child’s targeted skills into other environments.
  • Lastly, every child is different in their areas of need for speech-language therapy. Therefore, each child’s therapy approach will be unique to him or her. A child’s diagnosis will ultimately affect what skills will be targeted and how many target areas there will be. Concomitant issues may also affect a child’s therapeutic approach, resulting in additional goal areas to target through therapy. The presence of multiple diagnoses does not necessarily mean slow progress, but may correlate with the reality that there may be more goals to be met before discharge.

This list is by no means all-encompassing of components which could facilitate faster progress in speech-language therapy. Overall, it is important that the child, family and clinician become a team to target that child’s speech and language needs. Then as a team, goals can be addressed positively in a variety of environments and communication situations.

Click here for more help understanding a speech-language evaluation.




5 Uses for a Large Floor Pillow

As I mentioned in my previous blog “how to make a large Floor Pillow”, there are several different reasons that therapists use floor pillows during your child’s therapy sessions.  Floor pillows are a wonderful tool and provide a relaxation spot for children of all ages. Below are several ways your large floor pillow can be used with your child at home:.

5 Uses For  Large Floor Pillow:boy reading on giant pillow

  1. Kid sandwich: have your child lay in the middle of the pillow, either on his stomach or on his back. Either fold the pillow in half over your child, or place another pillow on top of your child (if you have two). Apply gentle consistent pressure onto the pillow, to feel like a ‘good squish’. Your child can then request to have harder squishes (more pressure) or softer squishes (less pressure). This is a great calming and self-regulation strategy, which can be useful when your child’s body is moving too quickly (to slow him down) or too slowly (to ‘wake’ him up).
  2. Jumping into the pillow (proprioceptive input): place the pillow at the end of a hallway or across the room, and then have your child run towards the pillow and jump into the pillow (kind of like a ‘cannon ball’). Similarly, you could have your child do an animal walk to get over to the pillow (e.g. bear walk; crab walk; wheelbarrow walk), which would provide more strengthening and proprioceptive input.
  3. Quiet spot: a large pillow can be the perfect place to ‘take a break’. It can be used as a quiet spot for your child to read a book or listen to calming music to relax and unwind. It can also be a designated spot for your child to take some deep breaths when he is feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Try to work towards having your child recognize when his body needs a break, and have him request some quiet time in a large pillow. This helps to work on body awareness and self-calming.
  4. Pillow mountain: a pillow mountain is a fun way to work on strengthening and balance. It is especially beneficial when using more than one pillow; however, one pillow will work just fine. If using more than one, place the pillows in a line, overlapping each other a little bit to form a ‘mountain’. Have your child climb from one side of the pillow mountain to the next by either walking, crawling or using animal walks. You can also add in a board game by placing the game pieces at one side of the mountain and the game board at the other side. Then have your child cross the mountain in order to retrieve the game pieces; moving back and forth will also help to work on his endurance.
  5. Heavy work (pulling pillow across room): have your child pull the large pillow down a hallway or across a room using both of his hands together. This helps to work on bilateral skills (using both hands together) and also works on upper body strength. Similarly, this type of activity qualifies as ‘heavy work’, meaning that it provides a high amount of input for your child’s body, and can be calming and self-regulating for your child.

While many materials used in the clinic during your child’s therapy session cannot always be replicated at home, a large floor pillow can be integrated into your daily activities! There are several different ways in which you can use a large floor pillow with your child in order to help him with a variety of skills and purposes. Feel free to reach out to your child’s therapist for more ideas or take a peak at the floor pillows used around the gym next time you are at the clinic!

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