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Welcome to Center for Pediatric Therapy’s blog! Check back often for clinic announcements, useful articles and information about upcoming events, sensory processing disorder and more.

Winter isn’t quite ready to leave yet. That means a lot of time stuck indoors with the kids and we need to find fun ways to occupy their time. The good news is that practicing speech can be done just about anywhere with minimal prep time and clean up required. Here are some fun ways to practice speech while the weather keeps you indoors.

1. Speech Sound Scavenger Hunt: Go through the house and find as many items as you can with your child’s target speech sound. Have your child practice saying each item they find in a short phrase (ie: I found a ____). You can even take pictures on your phone of these items and print them out to make a short book to practice.

2. Speech Sounds with Playdough: Have a list of words containing your child’s target speech sound. Have your child create one of the items from the list out of playdough. You then have to guess what your child has created. You can then switch roles with mom or dad creating words out of playdough and your child guessing the target word. Only accept an answer as correct if your child uses their “good” speech sounds.

3. Speech Sound Story time: Go through picture books and have your child point out words and pictures containing their speech sound. Have your child practice these words in short phrases (ie: I see a ____ or Look there is a _____).

4. Speech Sound Flashlight Hide and Seek: Place words or pictures with your child’s target sound on the walls throughout the house. Turn off the lights and have your child “seek” the pictures hung up throughout the house by using their flashlight. Have your child say each target word when they find it.

5. Speech Sound Pictionary: Have your child draw a picture of a word containing their target speech sound. Guess what your child drew, make sure you enunciate your child’s target speech sound. Then switch roles and draw a picture with your child’s target speech sound. Have your child guess what you have drawn. Only accept an answer as correct if your child uses their “good” speech sounds.

Sensitive Sam by Marla Roth-Fisch

sam cover Sensitive Sam is the story of Sam, a young boy with sensory over-responsivity. He is more sensitive to the way things smell, sound and feel and has difficulty with daily life activities such as getting ready in the morning and playing at school. The book describes many of the sensations that Sam experiences as overwhelming. At times, the language can sound a little negative, but by the end of the book Sam works with an occupational therapist and discovers sensory diet techniques that help him tolerate the sensations inherent in his day. In the end, Sam concludes: Take it from me, Sensitive Sam, That things will be okay. By doing things a little differently, I can have fun EVERY day! Sensitive Sam would be an appropriate book for children who have sensory over-responsivity. They may feel alone in their experiences, and the book offers comfort that they are not the only ones who hate the feel of clay or the sound of a toilet flushing. We appreciate the author writing this story about a boy with sensitivities, as young boys may face more social stigma than girls with sensitivities. The book does not go into detail about the sensory diet activities Sam uses to help with regulation, but the book would be a great jumping off point for a family to discuss the sensory strategies that work for their child.

Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload

by Jennifer Veenendallizzy cover

Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? is a thoughtfully written children’s book by a school based occupational therapist. It is told from the perspective of Izzy, a first grader with sensory processing disorder (SPD). Izzy finds many everyday sensory experiences, from the sound of peers talking, to being bumped in the hallway to be completely overwhelming. Izzy is able to explain how her sensory system reacts in concrete, easy to understand language.

I’m a smart kid, but my brain messes up the signals sometimes. I have

a sensory processing disorder. When a friend brushes up against me,

sometimes my brain can’t tell the difference between a bump that

happened by accident and a threat to hurt me. That’s why I hit Alexander

one time, I didn’t mean to hurt him, but my brain thought I was in danger

so I defended myself by hitting.

The majority of the book is focused on the environmental changes and sensory diet activities that help Izzy to better cope with her classroom and be an active and happy learner. Her teacher is flexible and adjusts the decorations in the room and allows Izzy to switch the location of her desk. Izzy uses simple adaptations such as earplugs when she needs them and she discusses activities that help her with regulation in the class and in the OT room.

This book would be an empowering resource for elementary school aged children who deal with sensory over-responsiveness. A child with SPD may feel that he or she is the only one who struggles with the way things sound, feel or move, but this book may help to show that there are many children who experience the world in this particular way. This book would also be useful for siblings or friends of a child with SPD, to help them be more understanding and supportive. Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? is a must read for any family with a child with sensory sensitivities.

Arnie and His School Tools: Simple Sensory Solutions that Build Success

by Jennifer Veenendall

arnie cover

Arnie and His School Tools is a charming children’s book about a boy with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). The book was written by a school based occupational therapist and describes the difficulties a child with sensory under-responsiveness faces in the classroom. Arnie is a mover. He is a wiggler and a fidgeter who is easily distracted by sounds and sights within his classroom. Arnie explains his challenges and sensory solutions in clear language with examples children can relate to:

Recess is easy! I love to jump and climb and swing. But coming back

Inside is not always so easy. That’s when I have what we call my “job

time.” Mr. Dave is our custodian, and I am his special helper. Sometimes

I help him sweep the cafeteria floor. I also push a heavy cart to deliver

boxes of mail to teachers. Then when I go back to my class, my motor

isn’t running too high anymore, and I am ready to concentrate and do

my work.

Arnie acknowledges the fact that it may always be more difficult for him to concentrate and pay attention in his classroom, but he feels confident in the sensory tools he has available to help him succeed. This book is a great match for any child with a high engine, to help them understand they are not alone and there are strategies that may help them participate in the classroom and in daily life.

Many of the children we see at our clinics have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is a complex skill which allows a person to generate an idea for a motor action, efficiently time and sequence the movements necessary, grade the force required, and execute the action.  Children who have a hard time with the ideation phase of motor planning may tend to play the same activities over and over or struggle to come up with multiple solutions to a problem.  Open-ended free play is a great way to stretch this ability; however, a child who truly has a motor planning deficit will likely need some guidance and encouragement along the way.   Here are some suggestions to help you look at novel ways to play with toys or items you may already have in your home.   As you’re playing, ask your child questions like “What else could this be?” and praise their efforts to think outside the box.­­­

10 Ways to Play with a Beach Ball

  1. Set up a goal to kick the ball into, or for something new, challenge your child to use a different body part, like an elbow, to knock the ball into the goal.
  2. Grab a laundry basket and play a target game.
  3. Take on a multi-step challenge. The first person picks an action, such as bouncing the ball one time.  The next person bounces the ball one time, and then adds a step, like turning around holding the ball. The game continues, adding on more and more steps.  How many can you remember?
  4. Set up an obstacle course to maneuver the ball through.
  5. Kangaroo kicks: Have your child lie down on his back and prop up his body on his elbows.  Stand a few feet away (more if you have a child who tends to use too much force) and toss the ball for him to kick with the soles of his feet back to you.
  6. Write sensory diet activities recommended by your therapist on different areas of the ball. Toss the ball back and forth a few times, then do the action written on the area facing upward.
  7. Stand up some blocks and go bowling.
  8. Play the game ”keep it up”. How many times can you tap the ball up before it falls to the ground?
  9. Team work relay. Can your child and a friend work together to get the ball across the room by holding the ball between their hips?  Behind their backs?
  10. Pool noodle hockey. Have any pool noodles that survived the summer?  Repurpose them into hockey sticks for the beach ball.beach ball

Many of the children we see at our clinics have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is a complex skill which allows a person to generate an idea for a motor action, efficiently time and sequence the movements necessary, grade the force required, and execute the action.  Children who have a hard time with the ideation phase of motor planning may tend to play the same activities over and over or struggle to come up with multiple solutions to a problem.  Open-ended free play is a great way to stretch this ability; however, a child who truly has a motor planning deficit will likely need some guidance and encouragement along the way.   Here are some suggestions to help you look at novel ways to play with toys or items you may already have in your home.   As you’re playing, ask your child questions like “What else could this be?” and praise their efforts to think outside the box.­­­

10 Ways to Play with a Jump Rope

  1. Remember any jump rope rhymes from your childhood? If not, here’s a list .
  2. Wiggle the rope along the ground like a snake. Don’t let it bite you!
  3. Tie the rope between two chairs and play limbo.
  4. Have one person stand and slowly spin holding the rope so that it drags along the ground in a circle. The other players need to jump over the rope as it comes by.
  5. Pretend to be pirates and use the rope to tie up your captives.
  6. Pretend to be a cowboy. Learn to tie a lasso here.  Wrangle up some stuffed animals before they escape the ranch.
  7. Lay the rope on the ground in a circle and play a target game.
  8. Arrange the rope on the floor in different shapes and have the other players guess what the figure is.
  9. Stretch the rope out on the ground. Can you walk across the tightrope without falling into the canyon?
  10. Have a three legged race.2895685127_d257ab23e6_z

Many of the children we see at our clinics have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is a complex skill which allows a person to generate an idea for a motor action, efficiently time and sequence the movements necessary, grade the force required, and execute the action.  Children who have a hard time with the ideation phase of motor planning may tend to play the same activities over and over or struggle to come up with multiple solutions to a problem.  Open-ended free play is a great way to stretch this ability; however, a child who truly has a motor planning deficit will likely need some guidance and encouragement along the way.   Here are some suggestions to help you look at novel ways to play with toys or items you may already have in your home.   As you’re playing, ask your child questions like “What else could this be?” and praise their efforts to think outside the box.­­­

10 Ways to Play with Pillows

  1. Pretend to be frogs and jump lily pad to lily pad.
  2. Arrange the pillows as targets and toss crumpled up paper or balled up socks.
  3. Make a pillow path on the ground and walk on top of them, making sure you don’t fall off and step in the lava.
  4. Have a red light, green light pillow fight. Everyone has to stop when “red light” is called and swing the pillows in slow motion during a “yellow light”.
  5. Grab some couch cushions and build a pillow fort.
  6. Substitute pillows for chairs and play musical pillows.
  7. Make an obstacle course with pillows to jump over, skip around, roll across, etc.
  8. Use the pillow case for a potato sack race.
  9. Sing the “Wonder Ball” song and substitute a pillow.
  10. Have a snowball fight with crumpled newspaper. Defend yourself with a pillow shield.pillow stack