Archive for May, 2013

Helpful Hints for Dental Appointments

Dentist

Dentist appointments are often difficult for children, regardless of sensory difficulties. Imposed touch in the mouth can be overwhelming and children with vestibular processing difficulty may have a hard time with the tilting of the chair. Here are some tips to help your child have a successful visit.

  • Try and schedule the appointment for first thing in the morning or right after lunch to avoid extra waiting time.
  • If your child benefits from deep pressure, ask if your child can wear the x-ray shield throughout the appointment.
  • Before the appointment, ask for a sample x-ray film so your child can get used to the feel of the film in their mouth. Have the dentist  show you how to safely place the film in your child’s mouth. Practice holding still and counting to 10 with it in their mouth.
  • Take a trip to the dentist’s office for a tour. This will introduce your child to the sounds, smells and look of the office in a non-threatening manner.
  • Relaxing music played with headphones or a portable DVD player with a favorite movie can go a long way to helping your child stay calm.
  • Let your child wear sunglasses if they are sensitive to the lights.
  • If your child becomes distressed by imposed movement, have the dentist tilt the examination chair to the correct position before your child climbs up.
  • Ask if you can bring a towel or handkerchief from home to drape around your child’s neck if the paper bib is bothersome.

References:

Top 10 Tips, Cardon

Autism Speaks

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Why Childhood Games Matter: Hopscotch

In an age of electronic entertainment and plugged-in play, many classic childhood games are being pushed aside. However, these classic games provide key benefits for child development. In this series of posts, we will explore how these “unplugged” activities are more than just child’s play.

hopscotch

Hopscotch

Dig out that sidewalk chalk!  Creating a hopscotch grid requires the child to maintain grasp on a piece of chalk while drawing shapes and numbers.  Tossing a bean bag onto the grid addresses force grading, timing and release.  Playing hopscotch encourages development of bilateral coordination skills such as hopping and is a great motivation to improve standing balance on one foot. Ankle reactions and other postural reactions help the child to start and stop moving as they move across the area.  The child will receive proprioceptive input and linear vestibular input from jumping.  Children who are sensitive to changes in head position may be motivated to tolerate brief periods of head inversion when bending over to pick up the bean bag tossed onto the grid.  For children who struggle with acquiring new motor plans, hopscotch provides the opportunity to practice the movements repeatedly in a structured manner until they master the movement.

Visual Schedules

Helpful Hints for Using Visual Schedules

Imagine you have to give a two hour presentation in front of your collegues and boss. Now imagine you’re given notice of this presentation with only 30 minutes to prepare.

How would you feel? Unprepared? Flustered? Angry? Panicked? For many children with sensory processing difficulties, changes in routine or a novel activity can be just as difficult to handle. These children often benefit from a clear visual schedule of the day’s events so they can prepare themselves for the sensory demands of the activities they are expected to complete.

Visual schedules are a great way to help your child understand the daily tasks, challenges and fun activities that the day will bring. Using picture schedules may help reinforce routines, such as getting ready for school, or assist with transitions during the day. Even children who can read can benefit from the use of pictures, as it may be faster for them to comprehend the schedule visually.

Decide how much detail your child requires. Is “Get Dressed” sufficient? Or does your child need a picture for each article of clothing to help with sequencing? Does your child have difficulty with changes in routine? You may want to add a symbol such as a star to represent a change in typical routines. Talk to your therapist for tips to best support your child.

visual schedule

Games We Love – Cat in the Hat: I Can Do That!

Cat in the Hat

This is an adorable game perfect for preschoolers or early elementary school children who are learning to follow multi-step directions, identify right vs. left, and understand how to move their body in relation to objects.  The game includes items found in the Cat in the Hat books, such as a fish tank, a boat, and a birthday cake.  On his turn, your child picks from three piles of cards: a movement card, a prop card, and how to interact with the prop card.  Your child may be challenged to walk backwards with the fish on his head, or crawl under a foam tube with a boat under his right arm.  You could even add extra cards with new props and actions to further focus on areas that are challenging for your child.  This game is sure to bring on the giggles if you join in and try the actions along with your child.  What a fun way to work on difficult motor planning skills!

4 Fun Visual Perceptual Activities

Visual perceptual skills allow the individual to be aware of, interpret and put to use the visual information around them in order to participate in functional and meaningful daily activities.  Here are some quick activities you can do at home today – no special books, apps or equipment needed.

Visual Memory This is the skill required to retain visual information in memory for later recall. This skill is frequently used in the classroom, such as copying work from the board or copying spelling words from a book.

Activity:  Lay out 3-4 small items, such as a toy, a pencil, a sock, etc. and have your child memorize them.  Then, when your child’s eyes are closed, add one item or take one away and ask your child to be a detective to figure out what has been added or has gone missing.  To increase the challenge start with more items, or have your child try to name all the items from memory.

Visual ClosureThis skill allows a person to visually identify an item when part of the object is occluded. For example, being able to identify a shoe that is partly hidden under the bed.  This skill is also involved in reading sight words quickly and accurately.

Activity:  There are endless supplies of dot-to-dot pictures available free online. Search “printable dot-to-dot” in your search engine and you can pick from any number of themes.  Have your child try to guess what the image will be before they complete the activity.

Figure-GroundHidden picture activities are a perfect example of figure-ground skills.  This skill involves differentiating between non-essential background information and key forms and objects.  This is closely linked to visual closure and it used for daily skills such as locating a toy in a toybox or finding a pair of shoes among many.

Activity:  Time for a scavenger hunt – use puzzle pieces, board game pieces, non-perishable ingredients needed for a recipe, stuffed animals, etc.  Start by hiding the objects in one room only, or one part of the room and work towards larger areas.  To increase the challenge, look for color similarities, such as  placing a blue game piece on or around a blue pillow.

Visual Tracking This is an occulomotor skill that allows the individual to fixate on a moving object, such as a ball being thrown, or to fluidly move the eyes across a line of text without losing his place.

Activity:  Play “torch tag”.  Gather two flashlights and sit together in a darkened room.  Have your flashlights play tag.  Start by having your child’s flashlight be “It” and try to tag your light beam on the ceiling or walls.  Switch roles after you have been tagged.