The Language of Cooking

This past week, I made my first video “Language in Boxes” and I encourage you to view it. It is posted at www.betterspeech.com and relates to how we can incorporate language learning into routine activities . They help your children learn language and don’t involve anything beyond just “living”. A part of the video relates to cooking and how it can be used in this way. In mine when we were kids, as I am sure others in homes, meals were an intrinsic part of daily life. As my older brother says – cooking is chemistry. We did a lot of that and really started from scratch,

The video below, talks about making rainbow popsicles (below) starts with a catchy tune and is a great illustration of how you can step by step make popsicles. Perhaps without intentional purpose, the song and visual images illustrates how much fun this can be and some children relate to it because they may have learned to enjoy cooking and have built memories that you can talk about, or even write about when you are done.

.

THE BRAIN AND COOKING

See that lit up area of the brain below? Cooking helps to develop that lit up area called the frontal lobe. That is the area that involves reasoning (i.e. “what do i need to make i.e. apple pie?” problem solving (“how much should I make?”) attention and drawing inferences.

A SEQUENCE IN PREPARING TO WORK:

Growing up there was a garden in my backyard, every summer. It would start with trips to the farm where dad bought milk for us at home and also manure. Awful combination! However, we learned that manure was good for growing the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, carrots and string beans. Sometimes lettuce was mixed in. My job was to weed the garden as dad fertilized the plants in the hot summer months. At summer’s end, all of the vegetable garden would wind up in a pile to be transformed into fertilizer for the following year when we would start again.

Dad taught me the language of gardening and perhaps you can as well.

Nouns: Plants, manure, soil, the names of the vegetables, slugs, beer, fertilizer and weeds

Verbs: weeding, fertilizing, growing, pulling (out carrots when you could see the orange part of the carrot popping up), digging, burying

Animals that Can Be Harmful to Plants: Then we learned all about how slugs were not good for plants..or flowers in the plot of earth that was doled out to me in the backyard. I learned how to bury cat food containers (we had two) and pour beer in them. Voila – the next morning after these were buried were a handful of slugs in each container.

Descriptive terms: colors of vegetables, ripe vegetables vs those that needed to do so.

Sequencing the Steps for Preparing to Cook: My job was to go outside and pick the ripened vegetables and I learned how to distinguish those that were or were not. Mom would give me a bag and tell me “go get some string beans and carrots for dinner!”.

Pride: Even if it was next to the garbage pail in the backyard, my marigolds were my own contribution every summer!

Cooking Helps Those With Sensory Aversions

I will talk more to you about SOS Therapy in another post; but to share with you briefly, there is a sequential hierarchy in which we learn to eat and breaking the steps up helps children learn to participate in meals. It is a sensory approach, especially helpful for those on the autism spectrum and or those with sensory challenges.

I mention it, because the feeling of the textures of ingredients for “Grandma Rose’s Oatmeal Cookies” are a very salient memory and I can still smell them.

Tasting: Go to a garden stand or farm this fall. It’s a great time of year to learn more about the appearance of fresh vegetables and fruits. There is nothing like them! You can’t forget licking the spoon after stirring the batter when a cake is made!

Tactile: Experience washing, slicing, putting food into a pan, oven or baking

Seeing: Cook with foods and enjoy the visual component of seeing them.

Smelling: After everything is in the oven or on the stove and it is cooking!

Bonding!!

https://slate.com/human-interest/2015/09/kids-become-competent-at-household-chores-when-they-learn-from-their-mistakes-at-an-early-age.html?fbclid=IwAR0DRtcTOEjTmGr5wPo4j9DgDTnL5NSBngJsy1-Y_O0AzQfI4TYc39Xi0BM

In or Out of a School Building??

yellow school bus toy

To attend or not go to school/get help for your family through home-based services. What are the ethics?? Who should decide and what to do when you consider options? To me, it’s not a one size fits all answer. I feel for some families where remote schooling would be potentially harmful to their health and the consequences that the decision may have. Each possible scenario has pluses and minutes with the Delta variant amidst us, The potential impact on language is something that we may be dealing with for quite some time Potential Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Communication and Language Skills in Children – PubMed (nih.gov)

Regardless of the research, I am concerned about this ethically. Should states allow parents to have the option of in-home schooling available to them? There are considerations.

One parent told me that she would rather have her son (who has ADHD) have services in speech therapy unmasked virtually vs. masked and in person. Interesting statement to ponder. Those with a social communication disorder or an autism spectrum disorder in which social interaction difficulties, problems in verbal and nonverbal communication may be prevalent. Sensory challenges may also play a role with these people and some will undoubtedly have trouble wearing masks. How do you deal with that? There are children who have never been in school – “started”; but never in a school building!

I’m not envious of those needing to make this decision now. There is a lot to think about.

Resource: Impact of Online Education on Families | Maryville Online

Teach by Doing!

If you are concerned about the Delta variant and may be keeping a child home from school – or preschool know that there are options for your child to learn communication skills at home by infusing, or embedding teaching moments into your day – your daily routines.

To embed involves “learning by doing”. For example, here are some examples of ways that you can help your son or daughter to develop speech and language at home by DOING to give you food for thought so you can consider how aspects of your routines, when we are or are not socially distanced can become teachable ones. At the bottom of this post are some additional insights for how to teach language in the below stated areas of daily life.

Groceries:

Teach Vocabulary: food names and actions

Follow Directions by having them “give me the red pepper.” , have the child find and place the red pepper where it goes.

Answer questions by saying “what is this?” as you pick up i.e. a box of their favorite cereal. You could ask them to tell you “where does it go”

Sequencing the steps: You can teach this by modeling what you are doing in the process of unpacking groceries as you do it. For examplel: starting with saying “Thank you” to whomever has delivered your package. Discuss that you need to “pick up” the bag and “bring it to the kitchen” “unpack “(define that), “put the cereal …” etc.

Doing the Laundry:

Teach Vocabulary: clothing and action words

Sorting – all the dark colored clothes in one pile and the light ones in another Have your child help by putting “all the shirts go here. all the pants go in this pile.

Follow Directions: Ask your toddler or school ages child to “put a pod of soap into the machine” with your supervision.

Sequence: You can teach this by modeling or having your child hear/see the steps being performed: “open the door”-washing machine, “put clothes in” “put in the soap” “close the door”

——————————————————————————–

The idea of embedding activities into daily routines so that parents can help to facilitate development in language with their children in the 0-3 age range and actually beyond is widely used. It appears that in an age of a pandemic, social distancing and altered lifestyles that the need for inclusion of embedding activities into daily living has become even more important. You are your child’s first teacher and that job does not end – pandemic or not, 24/7. Hopefully, these suggestions can help.

Additional Resources:

https://selfsufficientkids.com/how-to-do-laundry-kids-teens/

Teaching Executive Function through daily routines

On youtube or in the library re books that you can read to your child about this and other daily activities. It’s worth taking a look and previewing reading about each activity even before you do it – or at a quiet time of the day.

The 5K Step Rule!

Schools are closed and there is still a pandemic brewing in our midst. Some remain unvaccinated and the question of what will come next has arrived. Technology will most likely be on the minds of students who now have more free time and ideas for developing routines and rules around it abound. However, I have another one for you and it came out of the blue in a discussion within the past two weeks.

I asked a parent, as a part of an evaluation that I was conducting about how much screen time their eight-year-old has. The answer was an awesome idea to consider.. the 5K rule “For every 5,000 steps she moves she get a half hour. The most she can get is one hour of time using her tablet”.

You are probably thinking.. how is this measured? That was my question.. and the parent had a marvelous idea. An exercise tracker. They are very easy to get, so click on the green link!

How life has changed!

I recall struggling with the one-hour rule of television unless there was a special program on or one that we had to watch for school. What did my brothers and I think of doing???? Perhaps I can share some ideas with your family. I was raised before computers and summertimes were different, to say the least. It gives me an opportunity to share another way to have fun! We had a different way of talking one another and still do – bringing new experiences to the next generation.

Mom was a librarian …there were always trips to the library. My dad taught us to work in the backyard and we weeded the area where he was growing vegetables. I even had my own area for marigolds. It is heartwarming to me to know that in my own home city of NY that there are Community gardens in New York City (dailykos.com) so that these skills can be learned. Check with the parks department in your area I learned that cat food cans filled with beer attracted slugs and collected a lot of them that way because slugs would ruin the crop. We went to the park and raced after the Good Humour truck to get an ice cream pop down the street as the bell of the truck was heard when we finished dinner. You can have a lemonade stand at a city park in NYC, perhaps in other areas as well. We went to the local pool, drew pictures, and I kept a diary. Playing in the park or backyard was always an idea. The very fondest memories were those that last a lifetime… family vacations. To this very day, we talk about our childhood trips. We still have them and share our memories with a new generation of family members. I hope that they will have the same experience as we did…

Oh! Please don’t forget to take pictures and perhaps write a story about the details so that you can continue with new traditions and remember the old. It will give you more about which to talk and even share virtually during that half or whole hour 🙂

https://bestoflifemag.com/activities-for-kids-before-electronics-printable-checklist/

COVID19 and ASD

Why is Autism called Autism Spectrum Disorder? - The Carmen B. Pingree  Autism Center of Learning
https://carmenbpingree.com/blog/what-is-autism-spectrum-disorder/

We have all been preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic, but how can we not be. Good news is that this year, one since this post was originally written, we have a vaccine! I’ve re-written it with reflection in mind and the fact that there is concern. April is also Autism Awareness month and April 2nd is World Autism Day. In that spirit, I wanted to start this month off with a post along that theme.

Many have resorted to using more and more technology with their children. The paper, “Association of Early-Life Social and Digital Media Experiences With Development of Autism Spectrum Disorder–Like Symptoms,” was published online in JAMA Pediatrics and is available at this link. Don’t be alarmed, in response to comments about this article, it is noted that there is more need for research.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2772821?resultClick=1. Look at how the spectrum of online relationships has changed us. How does this impact your family and how does it impact development of relationships in which communication is already a challenge?

Social Media Monitoring and the Spectrum of online relationships

The impact of COVID19 on development of social skills has not yet been measured yet. This is a significant area of concern for those who live on the autism spectrum. As a result, continued monitoring milestones of your child is imperative, Parents can do so using a screening tool that I have referenced below. There are also resources for adults.

ROUTINES:

Especially during a pandemic and increased social isolations there are challenges to disrupted routines. Yet, this is so important, especially for a child or adult struggling with the symptoms of a spectrum disorder. So many have told me that it is just too hard to schedule appointments, or that they are overwhelmed and having trouble working. Temple Grandin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Grandin has some thoughts that I still think might help others. Take a look: https://parade.com/1019088/debrawallace/temple-grandin-tips-children-with-autism-coronavirus-quarantine/?fbclid=IwAR1L8M8petdXfGQyZdPhyx51viLP1usEaEOzhHHVEgWOH-o6rqu9SOKvtnA.

Back to School???

In a matter of speaking … yes! Wow!!!   Blended learning students in grades 9-12 return to buildings beginning 03/22 (at least in NYC). Speech-language pathologists help others with organizational skills so in that spirit here are some reminders

Get back into that routine now! Resume the routine bedtime, preparing lunch the night before, laying out clothing etc. Whatever the routine – especially with students who are special needs, that will be important. Since we are talking about older students returning, maybe a chart as below with their routine would be helpful to write out now.. 

Self-care daily routine schedule for tweens. Gentle reminder for your tween  to establish a good daily routin… | Daily routine schedule, Daily routine,  Night routine

Once your son or daughter is back – in-person.. 

  • Please communicate face to face if possible – not through facetime; but in-person and it will be important to show up with your son or daughter’s paperwork in hand.  I’d suggest that you hand it to the special education supervisor as soon as your high school student enters the door.  They may be pulling away during their adolescent years; which we’d typically expect. However, they won’t tell you – you are needed!  Just like at the beginning in September – here is a checklist:
  • Set up a meeting or call your child’s lead teacher and introduce yourself. If possible go to school in person as it is the parent who makes themselves known that gets the help!  
  • Make sure that your child’s therapy schedule is in place as times may change ..???  perhaps…  
  • If your son or daughter needs any adaptive equipment – communication boards or FM systems and these are typically at school – make sure they are there and also any eyeglasses!

***If your son or daughter can help with the very last item above it may be wonderful so that you guide them in self advocacy skills!

Remember that it is not just your child who needs the help.  Your child's teacher needs the support from the school therapist so that they know how to support him or her and they need you too as the "team leader". Your son or daughter needs guidance too!


Resources: The impact that changes in kids since the pandemic necessitated social distancing cannot be understated.

Do We Hear??

Listen, Listen To, Listeners, Therapist

World Hearing Day was March 3rd and I wonder-do we really hear each other???

Well… as a speech language pathologist this topic is near and dear to me. In fact, it is an occupational hazard… Pragmatics refers to the way in which people use language within social situations. Consider that you may use language to greet others, inform people about events, make demand, give directions or make requests. If you find that you are not able to do so and in fact may not have the focus to interact verbally with someone else and really hear, here are some ideas. After all – it is our verbal communication that separates humans from other animals

Movement or vestibular input will help your brain to calm down (this goes for adults too). For adults – think about how calm and energized or focused you may be after a work-out. For kids, consider the fact that movement can promote the use of sound. In the video below, by using a teddy bear or similar item this can be facilitated in young children. This activity promotes counting (in the video) but you can adapt it such that i.e. you sing “twinkle twinkle little star”, reciting ABCs or spelling words. For older people you can adapt a more age-appropriate strategy of using a wiggle seat cushion or exercise ball chairs gives more vestibular stimulation and promotes core strength.

*p.s. this also strengthens the muscles that we use to speak!

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/oJTLZoWkp-Y?start=14

A nice shared exercise activity for families

If you feel that you need more help in being able to focus attention, concentrate and communicate in a meaningful way, feel free to give me a call or reach out by email.

**Occupational Therapists also provide assistance in addressing these issues

Reading Suggestion:

https://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780874244373/Sensory-Integration-Child-Ayres-Jean-0874244374/plph

https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/managing-feelings/stress-anxiety/self-care-for-kids-6-ways-to-self-regulate?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter-en&utm_campaign=evergreen-mar21-fm&utm_content=send

Holiday Kid Cooks and COVID19

Thanksgiving is coming; but how do you keep safe traditions now in a socially distanced world. Cooking has always been something central to our family. I would think that this is to others as well. In my family, we sometimes share a recipe. Everyone brings something to dinner and one family member makes a main course. This year will be different. We will all be separated. Perhaps we will come together on Zoom, Facetime or someone yum y uy ittyuyuu other form of technological means to mark a few minutes of the holiday together.

You are most likely going to be cooking anyway, so why not make it into a family happening. The speech-language pathologist in me suggests to you that there is so much that can be blended into this type of activity. For example, if you choose to make a fruit or vegetable salad together you can talk about the colors and categories of fruits or vegetables, with older kids – what makes a fruit a fruit and a vegetable a vegetable, cut with math concepts of quarters, a half or eighths. You could talk about action such as cutting, with shaped fruit/vegetable cutters and fruit picks slicing, spatial concepts such as putting in, taking out, having one next to or in between. Whatever you do, there are guidelines that were developed to keep cooking as a safe activity. According to the CDC, the following guidelines for holidays are noted.

“Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs”.

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving, and eating food. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
  • Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
  • If you choose to use any items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
  • Look for healthy food and beverage options, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low or no-calorie beverages, at holiday gatherings to help maintain good health.

In terms of our fruit and vegetable – here are some reasons to make this – by color~

My personal favorite addition to the below is to add some sort of seeds for crunch – pomegranate seeds or pepitas; but regardless ……

Here is a list of fruits by color:

Purple fruit: raisins, blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes, dried and non-dried plums

Green Fruits: kiwi, green apples, honey dew, grapes. limes, avocado

Orange Fruits: mango, papaya,cantalope and oranges

Tan/Brown Fruits: dates, the skins of pears and the speckles of the skin of ripe bananas

Here is a list of vegetable by color:

Purple Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage and peppers

Green vegetables: cabbage, cucumber, asparagras, broccoli, spinach, green beans

Orange Vegetables: butternut squash, sweet potatoes and baby carrots

Tan/Brown Vegetables: potators, black eyed peas, pinto beans, garbanzo beans or chick peas

Keep safe! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Summer Tech Use?

On Facebook recently, I read the following question from a parent and had some ideas about what might be helpful:

“Anyone had success in detaching their kids from the electronic world? I have a huge concern about what this is doing to my 2 boys with multiple letters in their diagnosis…I am afraid our summer is a battle and competition with it.😑”

There is cause for concern, battles aside. According to How Technology Hinders People with ADHD: “Technology use requires balance and self-monitoring. It can be beneficial to utilize the available software to help increase productivity, but also to help decrease distraction and hyper-focus”.

The American Academy of Pediatrics provides guidelines for the use of technology that might be worthwhile to consider.

Create a Family Media Plan.

Create three rules:

RULE ONE

“Pick One Piece of Technology to Use Today for .. (time limit) ) Pick one i.e. kindle, i-pad, computer, etc,

You might want to define clearly on a color coded wipe off board or schedule such as this for each child:

Monday =Kindle Fire;

Tuesday = iPad etc. I might want to rotate every day of the week. Monday may be kindle day, Tuesday could be i-pad day etc.

RULE TWO

Plan Media Viewing: Here is a list of acceptable programs or … decide together what will be watched (you as a parent are responsible for how technology is used and viewed at home)

RULE THREE

Talk about what you have watched with mom/dad

Technology Can Facilitate Social Interaction Graphic

**The research shows that children of different ages understand ond process what they view on computers or other electronic devices best if you as an adult watch it with them and then discuss what is being viewed.

The Ready to Learn Television Program

The Ready to Learn Program: 2010-2015 Policy Brief, published in March 2016, summarized ED’s Ready to Learn Television program research on the effectiveness of three educational television production organizations.53 The brief reported on 15 effectiveness/summative research studies with children aged 3-8 using media in informal learning settings (such as after school or child care programs); 7 of the studies focused on learning at home. From the 7 studies that focused on learning at home, positive associations were found between at-home engagement and children’s math learning with children whose parents received interventions such as content guides and suggestions for supplemental activities. The studies also found that parents’ awareness of children’s math learning increased their likeliness to engage in activities and strategies to help their children learn math.

On a personal Note:

On this Father’s Day, I remember the house rule in my family. Each of the three of us siblings was allowed to watch television for one hour per day. The rule was so ingrained into my daily life that I can even recall the names of the shows I watched and the time of day. It was always for an hour in the morning before school. It was a relaxing way to start the day. Of course, the time of day changed with advancing childhood years.

There were exceptions to that rule: My parents allowed us additional time if we had to watch something on television for school OR if there was a special program – for example watching “The Wizard of Oz” as a family was a big deal for us. It was, after all, a simpler time. Another such special additional viewing that stands out is the night that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. The LM landed on the Moon at 20:17:39 GMT (16:17:39 EDT) on 20 July 1969. That was special!… so special that we went to the neighbor’s house to watch together. We went there because they had a color television set and I imagine my parents wanted to share the occasion with other adults. For some reason, one of those memories as a little girl was that of dad carrying me home really comfortable in his arms, because I fell asleep right after the landing.

The beauty of this rule is a child was that I was forced to develop other interests and had to learn what else I could do in my free time. Mom was a librarian so we spent a lot of time picking out books and reading. I’d read two or three books at a time. I set up lemonade stands, rode my bike, learned how to draw, and write poetry. During the summer, we went to the pool. We traveled as a family, as we got older and actually may do so even now, periodically as adults. It builds bonds by sharing face time. The challenge comes when you sit down to eat and the phone has to go in a basket, away from everyone and the game is who can stay away from their phone for the longest! Technology can really be addictive!

Finally – for additional thought on the topic of how we use the brain and how it develops take note of this article and perhaps build reading time into your family’s regular routine:

https://medium.com/@alltopstartups/the-reading-brain-why-your-brain-needs-you-to-read-every-day-f5307c50d979#:~:text=Our%20brains%20change%20and%20develop%20in%20some%20fascinating%20ways%20when%20we%20read.&text=Reading%20involves%20several%20brain%20functions,something%20as%20by%20experiencing%20it.

Back to School?

What a challenging prospect in times of a pandemic.  It’s a tough decision in terms of how to educate your child whenever schools open up. Both kids and parents will have feelings. Nobody seems to be considering that, in my opinion.  There are novel CDC guidelines. In case you missed them, here is a link CDC Guidelines   Other thoughts are outlined by the  American Academy of Pediatrics. 

For starters:  How do you explain coronavirus?  In very simple terms

Your child is entitled to additional services in terms of having lost much therapy time if they have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? Check with the school special education supervisor and/or the principal.

and finally, how do you deal with the emotions that kids may experience when potentially planning for the first day back if that is your decision?  There are some ideas below:

Resources:

Know Your Rights for a Special Needs Child https://www.familyequality.org/2020/03/30/special-education-rights-during-covid-19-pandemic/

Dealing With Anxiety-Helping Kids Cope:

Give toddlers tools to ease anxieties and worries and feel better again. It’s normal for toddlers to worry and feel anxious—they have enough …
 
For older children