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6 Tips to Having a Sensory Friendly 4th of July

6 Tips to Having a Sensory Friendly 4th of July

With parades, BBQs and professional grade firework displays, the 4th of July is, for many of us, an anticipated hot weather holiday.
Though the traditions that surround this day of celebration are generally fun for the whole family, they can be overwhelming and nearly intolerable for children with autism or Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

If your child has trouble dealing with sensory stimulation, here are some survival tips to help your whole family enjoy the day.4thbird

1. Prepare your child for the day

Whatever you’re planning for the day, make sure your child knows what to expect.  Explain that there will be a lot of people and noise, but there will also be plenty of fun activities.  If your child responds to visual cues, you can try showing him a video of fireworks (with the volume turned down at first) or a parade.  Gradually increase the volume and take note of his reaction.  Though it’s important that he knows what to expect, try not to go overboard.  Sometimes too much anticipation can be just as overwhelming.

2. Bring favorite and familiar items

Familiar toys, games and snacks can provide comfort and distraction from over-stimulating sights, sounds and smells. These favorites can also come in handy if he gets antsy while waiting for an activity, like a parade or firework show, to start.

3. Establish a safe place

Whether it’s bringing along a small tent or a blanket to hide underneath or finding a spot that allows relief from noise and people, make sure to establish a “safe place” for him when he feels like he needs a break. If it’s easier to retreat to a location, agree upon a “safe word” or visual cue that he can use to let you know that he’s feeling overwhelmed.

4. Engage in heavy work activities

Heavy work is characterized by activities that involve the whole body or parts of the body to increase attention and calm the senses.  Actions like pushing, pulling, lifting, chewing and squeezing are all meant to engage the body and, in a sense, organize the nervous system.

Have your child help you prepare for the day by packing a picnic basket or loading the car with lawn chairs.  Have fidget toys and oral motor stimulators (like straws, teethers or licorice) available during the day so he can keep his hands and mouth busy and focus his attention.

5. Bring along sunglasses and noise blocking headphones

If watching a firework show or just hanging out in a neighborhood where residents will be setting off fireworks, noise blocking headphones may be helpful to quiet any loud or unwanted sound.  Bright lights from fireworks also have the potential to stir up sensory discomfort, so having sunglasses on hand or a hat can help to ease visual overstimulation.

6. Stay mindful of the situation

Most importantly, keep an eye on how your child is handling the day.  Even if you have prepared yourself and him for every possible scenario, he may still have a difficult time engaging in activities.  Pay attention to his cues and if it’s too much for him, it may be best to remove him from the situation and go home.

Whether your child is able to engage in a full day of activities, or just visit a BBQ and spend a quiet evening at home playing board games, the 4th of July is a great day of celebration with family and friends.  The most important thing is to find a holiday tradition that allows your family to enjoy the day together.

 

Sources:
“Tips for an Autism-Friendly Fourth of July.” Autism Speaks: It’s Time to Listen. Autism Speaks, Inc., 2 July 2013. Web. 20 June 2014.http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/07/02/tips-autism-friendly-fourth-july.

“Sensory-Friendly July 4th.” Dandelion. Family Publishing, Inc., 28 June 2012. Web. 20 June 2014. http://www.godandelion.com/blog/item/92-fourthofjuly.

Taken from: http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/07/02/6-tips-to-having-a-sensory-friendly-4th-of-july/

20 Summertime Speech & Language Activities for Toddlers

Here is a list of 20 fun summertime speech and language activities to do with your toddlers.

  1. Blow bubbles– helps build vocabulary (examples: “pop” “, “blow” etc.) and strengthens muscles of the mouth
  2. Play Outside– improves fine and gross motor, social skills and language skills
  3. Read a book– builds speech and language skills
  4. Go on a scavenger hunt– builds language skills and works on following directions
  5. Eat a popsicle– strengthen the mouth muscles for speech with this summer treat
  6. Go swimming– improves gross motor skills and vocabulary
  7. Play with a friend around the same age– develops social skills and language
  8. Draw with sidewalk chalk– works on fine motor and colors
  9. Make mud pies– this is a fun sensory activity
  10. Have a picnic– builds vocabulary and how to follow directions
  11. Take a walk outside– can improve vocabulary and describing skills
  12. Plant a flower– this is a sensory activity and helps with following directions
  13. Make some cookies– targets following directions and vocabulary
  14. Finger paint– helps with learning colors and basic concepts
  15. Build a sandcastle– sensory activity
  16. Make lemonade– works on ability to follow directions and wakes up the mouth for speech
  17. Free play– this is just fun  and increases speech and language skills
  18. Play at a park– Target vocabulary and sound repetition while playing
  19. Attend story time at your local library– builds speech and social skills
  20. Visit the zoo– targets animal sounds and vocabulary

For more information contact Children’s Therapy Place

Happy Father’s Day from Children’s Therapy Place

Building Play Skills for Healthy Children & Families

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What is Play and Why Is It Important?

Play can be defined as “any spontaneous or organized activity that provides enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, or diversion” (Parham and Fazio, 2008, p. 448). Play is one of children’s major jobs—how they occupy their free time and learn. It’s an important activity for your child because play helps to facilitate positive growth and development. Physical health, social and emotional well-being, and positive mental health are also promoted through play. When a child plays, he or she experiences new ways to solve problems and learn skills needed to become a healthy adult. Research has shown that children who participate in play frequently grow quickly, experience higher achievement in school, and develop healthy habits for adulthood. A study of 11,000 third graders found those who participated in more than 15 minutes of recess per day behaved better in the classroom and were more likely to learn than their peers who had little to no recess opportunities. (Barros, Silver, & Stein, 2009). Using daily routines and activities during the day, encouraging the happiness and joy that can be experienced through play, and simply allowing children to be playful can enhance their health and well-being.

How can families develop play skills to promote health and well-being?
Early Childhood
Play teaches infants, toddlers, and preschoolers about their bodies and about the effects of their actions on the world around them. Play promotes growth and development through movement and exploration. Family members are a child’s first playmates.

· During their first few months, babies enjoy colorful mobiles, rattles, vocal play such as talking and singing, and games involving moving their arms and legs. Encourage your baby to participate while lying on his or her back, belly, side, or while supported on your lap.
· As babies learn to reach, grasp, and sit on their own, they will enjoy mirror play, balls, and toys that involve squeezing, stacking, and pulling apart. Babies also enjoy interactive games like peek-a-boo, music, and books. Water play with toys that float and plastic letters to stick on tile walls provides bath time fun.
· Since babies enjoy and learn through putting toys in their mouths, make sure they play with toys that are age specific and are made without small parts.
· As children learn to walk and run, they enjoy climbing, chasing, hide-n-seek, and pull toys.
· Toddlers develop hand skills by dropping shape toys into slots and scribbling with crayons. They also enjoy books and toys that make sounds. They begin to imitate by using, for example, a toy telephone or hammer.
· Imitation and pretend play increases during the preschool years, through use of dress-up, puppets, and toy cars and trains. Preschoolers enjoy construction games such as building toys and puzzles, which further develop their coordination skills. Playground time and riding toys encourage large muscle movement. Playing with materials with different textures such as finger paints and sand allow sensory introduction. Games during the preschool years teach turn-taking and getting along with others. These activities also help children develop language skills.
Elementary school
The elementary school years are an important time for learning to play by rules and participating in cooperative activities such as sports teams. Motor skills are being fine tuned, and there is an increased interest in developing hobbies. Play often serves as a way of developing friendships and expressing one’s unique personality. Finding a balance between formal play (e.g., participating on a sports team) and informal play (e.g., participating on the playground) allows for play time to be both active and creative.

Try these ideas to build skills and expression:
· Participate in board games and sports activities with your child; this helps your child to learn to follow rules.
· Have various craft materials available to spark creativity and interest.
· Offer options for extracurricular activities that include both physical and creative exploration (e.g., sports teams or performing arts experiences).
· Provide play options that include both structured and less structured choices (e.g., being on a school team or playing soccer in the yard with neighborhood friends).
· Encourage your school to support recess as a necessary part of every child’s day. This is a good time for physical movement that can promote learning and positive behavior.
· Like recess, active play before homework time can prepare your child for learning.
· Don’t forget to keep play activities fun! If you lose that element, it is no longer play.
Middle School
The early teen years mark a time of exploring social relationships. This is a teens’ form of play. Teens tend to like group activities, such as spending time with friends, listening to music, talking, and going to the mall. This time with friends allows them to improve social, movement, and mental skills; gain an understanding of themselves as individuals; and practice new skills in different environments without continuous parental supervision. These opportunities can promote a sense of wellbeing. Young and older teens also enjoy after-school activities, such as clubs (drama, music, art, athletics) and work (volunteer and paid).

· Encourage your child to join school and community-based clubs and after-school activities.
· Participate in leisure activities with your teen, such as table tennis or biking, to help strengthen family ties and offer opportunities to build communication.
· Ask questions about your child’s preferences in movies or music to indicate your interest and to spark conversation.
· Consider your own habits and routines of leisure and whether they include physical activities and model a balanced lifestyle of work and play. You are a role model for your teen.
High School and Beyond
During the high school years, play promotes cooperation and opportunities for teamwork. Through play, older teens are able to get to know themselves better and pinpoint their interests and their strengths. As school and social pressures increase at the high school level and beyond, leisure activities can reduce stress and offer a sense of belonging and a chance to develop their goals.

· Encourage your teen to balance homework with leisure time to promote a healthy lifestyle that addresses both mental and physical wellness.
· Encourage limited screen time (TV, computers, and iPod/iPhones) and increased physical activity to help prevent or reduce problems that are associated with obesity and depression.
· Find a good fit between the demands of the leisure activity and the skills and interests of your teen. For example, depending on your child’s personality, physical abilities, and interests, he or she may prefer more physically demanding activities like swimming, whereas other children may prefer debate or drama clubs that challenge verbal and other cognitive skills.
· For all age groups, offer healthy, balanced meals as the fuel needed for physical activity.
· To prevent injury for all age groups, be mindful about the use and proper maintenance of appropriate safety equipment, such as helmets for biking. Know the signs of concussions. Encourage stretching before and after vigorous exercise.
· Low-cost, easily accessible leisure pursuits such as chess or basketball offer lifelong participation through community leagues and recreational centers.
Play shouldn’t stop in childhood. It continues to help build coordination and strength as well as creativity and social skills in all ages. Play also helps to develop emotional well-being and increases a child’s ability to explore, problem solve, and create.

What can parents do early on?
· Encourage sensory rich play by using balls, sand and water toys, slides, swings, finger paints, and magnets. During sensory play, children use their senses to incorporate smell, touch, sound, vision, and movement.
· Encourage manipulative play, such as using play dough, LEGOs, and board games. Toys such as puzzles, pegboards, beads, and lacing cards help improve the child’s eye–hand coordination and dexterity
· Promote imaginative or pretend play with things like dolls and stuffed animals, toy furniture, puppets, and telephones. Pretend play encourages creativity and role playing and provides an opportunity to rehearse social skills.
· Choose toys that are appropriate to the child’s age and/or maturity level. They do not have to be expensive or complicated to be beneficial. Common objects, such as pots and pans, empty boxes, spools of thread, shoelaces, and wooden spoons are readily accessible and encourage children to use their imagination.
What can occupational therapists do?
· Help modify the environment or adapt toys to provide optimal sensory input without overwhelming the child.
· Recommend toys and play activities that provide the right amount of challenge for the child, so he or she learns while having fun. The occupational therapy practitioner can also recommend ways to build on the child’s strengths and abilities.
· Offer play opportunities that encourage turn taking and problem solving. Consider family routines and priorities when recommending play strategies. Observe, identify, and develop play strategies that promote a healthy lifestyle and relationships.
References

1. Barros, R. M., Silver, E. J., & Stein, R. E. K. (2009). School recess and group classroom behavior. Pediatrics, 123, 431–436. Retrieved March 22, 2011, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/123/2/431

2. Parham, L. D., & Fazio, L. (2008). Play in occupational therapy for children (2nd ed.) St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Copyright © 2011 by the American Occupational Therapy Association. This material may be copied and distributed for personal or educational uses without written consent. For all other uses, contact copyright@aota.org.

2016 Language Groups for Toddlers and Preschool

image001Children’s Therapy Place is now offering dynamic language group therapy to address the multi-faceted needs of our clients.

These language groups are designed to improve communication skills through play-based group therapy for children with speech-language goals.  Led by a licensed speech/language pathologist, children will enjoy participation in weekly, hour long sessions to improve expressive, receptive, and pragmatic (social skills) language goals.

Sessions will include activities such as arts/crafts, interactive games, songs, free play, and more! Adult participation is required and encouraged for coaching on specific strategies and techniques that can be utilized within the home and community environments.

 

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Contact us today for more information. 208.323.8888

Managing Technology in Tweens and Teens

Finding Opportunities for Communication with Tech-Obsessed Kids

Limiting the amount of time that tweens and teens spend using personal tech devices is often a major challenge. A digital diet can help to moderate tech use in favor of more opportunities for conversation and human interaction. These are key to children’s communication health and development. Here are some tips for putting your family on a digital diet:

  1. Create a family technology plan—together. An agreed upon set of rules around family members’ technology use (when, where, how much, for what, with whom, etc.) is a good way to keep everyone on track. By involving your kids in the process, you are more likely to achieve the results you want. Technology is often an integral part of teens’ social experience—so being respectful of this will help. Schedule regular check-ins to see how the plan is working and to determine whether you’re actually substituting tech time with more quality time together.
  2. Sign a pledge. Make your plan official by having family members sign a pledge. It helps hold everyone accountable. This is a model that has been used for years, especially when it comes to issues such as drinking and driving, texting and driving, etc. Here are some examples from Common Sense Media that you can use and modify. Focus on the positive replacements for technology, such as uninterrupted family dinners.
  3. Keep a log. How much time does everyone in your family spend online? Alternatively, how much time does the family spend talking and engaging in activities together? Just as a food diary can be eye opening, keeping a log of a typical tech week may help identify habits to change and goals to set in terms of family bonding and communication.
  4. Sponsor tech-free nights/events. Whether it’s a game night, a neighborhood block party, or another type of gathering, going tech-free on occasion can provide rich opportunities to build family and social relationships.
  5. Designate tech-free zones in the home. The kitchen, bedrooms, the family room . . . there may be one place in your home that you can keep devices out of, as a general rule. This helps with the temptation to constantly check your phone or jump at the sound of every incoming notification. It makes a difference to even have 30 minutes free from tech distractions.
  6. Talk over text, when possible. Texting offers tremendous convenience for parents to get in touch with their kids. But texting is not a replacement for verbal exchange. Tone, facial expressions, and other nonverbal signals are just some of the ways in which texting falls short (emojis don’t do the trick). Try to avoid texting your teen when both of you are at home, as a start.
  7. Take a vacation from your technology. Some parents have turned to tech-free vacations to connect more with their tweens and teens. Unplugging completely may not be realistic for everyone. However, there may be specific activities or times when you can leave the devices behind. Family communication can increase. Everyone will be “in the moment” instead of documenting the moment for Facebook or Instagram.
  8. Listen safely. Many tween and teens spend hours a day with the volume cranked up, using headphones or earbuds. Unfortunately, they are putting their hearing at serious risk. This damage is irreversible. The World Health Organization has labeled unsafe listening an international health threat—1.1 billion young people are at risk of harming their hearing from unsafe listening of personal tech devices or at noisy entertainment venues. This is a message that tweens and teens need to “hear” from their parents.

Remember that tweens and teens will be watching their parents’ habits closely. Practice what you preach when it comes to limiting tech use. Keep yourself on the same digital diet that you set for your children.

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Mental Health Facts Children and Teens

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For questions or concerns please contact our Mental Health Department at 208-323-8888.

FREE speech screenings

For the entire month of May Children’s Therapy Place will be doing FREE Speech Screenings. Are you worried about your child’s speech/language development? Take a look at this articulation chart we have provided to compare to your child’s speech sounds. If you have any concerns please do not delay to schedule a speech screening!

Call our office at 208-323-8888.

FREE speech screenings

Or use our contact form

Autism Society Treasure Valley 15th annual Run For Autism

Event Info

15th Annual * April 30, 2016 * Veterans Memorial Park, Boise, Idaho * Educate, Advocate, Support!

Join the Autism Society Treasure Valley for our 15th annual Run For Autism. Create a team, bring your family & friends, or just come along for a lovely riverside run or walk in support of autistic individuals.

REGISTER ONLINE BEFORE APRIL 1st TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EARLY-BIRD PRICING!Autism

8:00am Registration opens
9:00am Kids Course
9:15am 5K Run
9:30am 2.5 mile Family Stroll
10:30am Raffle prize winners announced

“Early-Bird” Pricing (4 and under is free)

  • Adult: $22
  • Child (ages 5-12): $15
  • Autistic individual: $7
  • Team/Group (4 or more people): $18

T-shirt sizes

Youth small, med, or large
Adult small, med, large, or x-large **2-4XL sizes cost $2 extra

Autism Society Treasure Valley is a 501-C (3) nonprofit volunteer-operated organization.

* Discount for teams of 4 and above. The discount rate of $18 applies to team members who would normally pay $22. Rates for children and autistic individuals remain the same.

* If you want to register as part of a team, simply type in the team name. This lets us know who is walking/running together.

* 1 raffle ticket is included with your registration. You may buy extra tickets at $5 per ticket.

Follow our Facebook page and subscribe to events:  Autism Society Treasure Valley

Follow us on twitter @ASATVC

REGISTER HERE

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Panama City, FL 32411

Phone 208.323.8888
Fax 208.323.8889

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info@childrenstherapyplace.com

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