Is Therapy on Hold?

Will children who are three years old on December 31st enter pre-kindergarten programs?

The rule in Early Intervention is that children are about to age out. Given that COVID19 is here and that the “aged-out” age group of toddlers have no current vaccine of which to take advantage at the writing of this blog post, there are some parents who will be opting to keep them home. They will not have their children in school and remote treatment options may not be available. If you are a parent of a disabled child who may be in this position there is something that you can and should be doing, Research shows that 90% of the brain develops in the first five years of life.

What Can Be Done????

The whole basis of the early intervention, no matter where you are located is that activities can be embedded into daily routines. Hopefully, if your child was enrolled in the program you came to understand that you as an adult are your child’s first teacher. You have learned the “tools” for how to teach language within the context of daily routines.

Toys! These are the tools for children to learn from so if you have blocks, balls, boxes, unisex doll houses, mini brooms and dusters, babies or action figures, teach your children how to use them in imaginative ways.

Target - Melissa & Doug Let's Play House! Dust, Sweep & Mop 6pc Set
Target - Tinkertoys Classic Retro Building Set
Hey! Play! Dollhouse for Kids – Classic Pretend Play 2 Story Wood Playset with Furniture Accessories and Dolls for Toddler...

I personally loved blocks, as a child. You can learn so much from them (and don’t forget the wooden family figures too!!) Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and blocks teach children counting, balancing, colors, size concepts, prepositions so they know where things are in space

Board games can teach basic concepts

Guess Who teaches children to use descriptive terms and answer/ask questions. It facilitates problem solving and reasoning.

Guess Who?

Hi Ho Cheerio teaches preschoolers (three years and up) turn taking, counting, following directions.

HiHo! Cherry-O Game by Hasbro

Chutes and Ladders: When playing this game, your child is working on counting, prepositions, turn-taking, social skills, and following directions.

Reading Skills – preschool aged children learn phonics. Phonics is essential for children to become successful readers and spellers/writers in the early years of schooling and beyond. Introductions to phonics through engaging learning experiences can start from the ages of 3 and 4.

They can also look at magazines and should be exposed to “real” (non-electronic) books. Some resources, aside from the public library are Books Scholastic book Highlights Magazine

I hope that these suggestions are helpful. The situation we are faced with due to the pandemic is nobody’s fault; but it has its consequences. I hope that this blog will empower you and leave you with knowledge of some ideas for helping your child grow. If you have any questions or additional ideas that may be helpful to share, please leave them in the comments section below. Stay well!

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”

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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.

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.

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
 
 

Play and Holidays

 

IMAGE |  EDIT

top view photography of toddler playing with toy

 

Parents ask – what can I get for my special needs child for the holidays.  The gift of sharing time and allowing for this experience is probably one of the most important.  This is well documented in the literature and even pediatricians have weighed in on the subject of play with children.

Play is important for communication development as the below blog author illustrates http://www.playingwithwords365.com/the-importance-of-play-for-speech-and-language-development/   and as you step into the shopping mall on Black Friday or you are selecting toys online consider these developmental stages in play development https://pathways.org/kids-learn-play-6-stages-play-development/.   The reason to consider this would be to make sure that your child can actually benefit from the toy being purchased,

Recognize that for children – anything can become a toy.  The box collection (by age) of 52 quick and creative idea cards is great for easy ones which can be a guide for fun activities.  If money is an issue for you – take a look. All the materials can be found at home:

If it is hard financially to purchase toys, you may wish to contact The Salvation Army for assistance.

TRADITIONAL TOYS:

To me, a traditional toy is one that is not battery operated.  I remember using these as a child. For example lincoln logs, building blocks, board puzzles, board games such as Monopoly, CandyLand, Pick Up Sticks or numerous doll teal parties with a tea set, balls, frisbees. There are many others and this site offers

https://funandfunction.com/  

https://www.target.com/s/non+battery+toys?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google&fndsrc=tgtao&CPNG=Toys_Dolls%2BPuppets%2BPlush%2BAction+Figures&adgroup=Animal+Figures_3&LID=700000001171643&LNM=non+battery+toys&MT=b&network=g&device=c&location=9067609&targetid=kwd-302805841827&ds_rl=1246978&ds_rl=1248099&gclid=Cj0KCQiAt_PuBRDcARIsAMNlBdpoEMMECWDQDfTaVdTipJsGvkDwed41JpN0uX-c9KZSZ5mCPxmFoLYaAuqgEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

The value of a traditional toy cannot be underestimated because the use o f these involves that of imagination expansion.  Here is some foood for additional thought https://www.greenchildmagazine.com/no-battery-gifts/

https://www.target.com/s/non+battery+toys?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google&fndsrc=tgtao&CPNG=Toys_Dolls%2BPuppets%2BPlush%2BAction+Figures&adgroup=Animal+Figures_3&LID=700000001171643&LNM=non+battery+toys&MT=b&network=g&device=c&location=9067609&targetid=kwd-302805841827&ds_rl=1246978&ds_rl=1248099&gclid=Cj0KCQiAt_PuBRDcARIsAMNlBdpoEMMECWDQDfTaVdTipJsGvkDwed41JpN0uX-c9KZSZ5mCPxmFoLYaAuqgEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

BATTERY OPERATED, ELECTRONIC OR TRADITIONAL TOYS:

One of my favorites is Melissa and Doug toys because they are very sturdy, last a long time and can be used in so many different ways as children grow.  A number are available on their website and here are some links on the site for those who want them toys for upcoming vacations with packing limitations: https://www.melissaanddoug.com/search/?q=puzzles%20for%20toddlers   or https://www.melissaanddoug.com/search/?q=puzzles+in+a+box&lang=default   

Other toys through Melissa and Doug are Sensory Friendly toys      as well as on these sites:

https://www.specialneedstoys.com/usa/holiday-gift-guide

Whichever toy you may choose to purchase, have fun!  Without realizing it you will be building memories that will last a lifetime!

Halloween with a Special Needs Child

Halloween is tomorrow! Are you ready??

Typically families with young children may be approaching them with excitement. In my experience, families with children who have disabilities may have apprehensions. How can you proactively approach Halloween? How can your family prepare for dealing with stimulating settings and create a more meaningful/less stressful day in this Halloween week? Here are some resources that may be of help. Firstly:

Here is a wonderful blog post with suggestions for reducing stimulation, creating costumes and preparing for the big day www.familyeducation.com .

Do you want to have a party indoors with snacks and decorations. Perhaps kids movies www.halloweenmoviesforkid would be a nice activity

Literacy is an area of interest to those of us in the area of speech-language pathology. Here is a link to some books with the Halloween theme https://www.google.com/search?q=halloween+books&rlz=1C1CAFA_enUS777US777&oq=halloween+books&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.2855j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

The best of all may be arts and crafts that are thematic for the holiday so that you can spend face time with eachother and be creative. Here is a link for some quick and easy activities to give you some ideas https://crazylittleprojects.com/halloween-crafts-for-kids/

Have fun!