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Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

October is filled with so many exciting things, the start of fall weather and holidays approaching; but did you know that October is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month? Established for over 40 years, it is a time to recognize and celebrate our friends with Down Syndrome and the amazing abilities they have!

 

What is Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome is often called Trisomy 21, though there are actually three types: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) which makes up 95% of cases, translocation (4%), and mosaicism (1%). It occurs in approximately 1 out of every 691 births, and more than 400,000 people are living with Down syndrome in the United States. These individuals are born with an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. They are able to work, go to school, develop meaningful relationships, make their own decisions, and participate in society however they wish! According to the National Down Syndrome Society, “Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends, and the community enable people with Down Syndrome to lead fulfilling and productive lives.”

 

You are welcomed here!

Here at Carolina Therapy Connection, we are honored to serve our families who have children with Down Syndrome! One of our special friends, Hannah Hill, has made tremendous progress in her therapy. Her mother stated, “Because Hannah is very verbal, people often ask me if she has a ‘mild’ case of Down Syndrome. It’s not commonly known that there is no ‘spectrum’ of Down Syndrome! You either have it or you don’t! While the extra chromosome does impact their lives, people with Down Syndrome are unique, and have their own strengths and weaknesses. They have physical features, personality traits, abilities, challenges, interests, successes, and failures just like everyone else!”  

Hannah: Age 8

 

How can therapy help?

  • Speech therapy services provided by a speech-language pathologist reap great benefits. Many children with Down syndrome develop language later than same-age peers. Low muscle tone could also impact the ability to produce speech sounds accurately, and therapy is paramount to helping a child develop the ability to confidently and effectively communicate their thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs. SLPs can provide assistance with prelinguistic and oral-motor skills, as well!
  • Physical therapy can help a child with Down Syndrome starting at a young age to increase strength and gross motor development. From rolling and sitting, to developing an efficient walking pattern, and even participating in sports, physical therapy can make a huge difference in a child’s life. In a physical therapy session, our PT’s will focus on things such as: gross and fine motor development, balance, coordination, and age-appropriate daily living skills. 
  • Occupational therapy can assist people with Down Syndrome in learning to complete many everyday tasks. Occupational therapy will provide support specifically in three areas, motor, cognitive, and sensory integration. Specifically, an occupational therapy session may include activities that promote self-care, fine motor, play, and social skills!

 

A Total Communication Approach 

Many parents are excited to begin therapy and learn ways to promote and enhance communication for their children. According to our colleagues at the Boston Children’s Hospital Down Syndrome Program, a Total Communication Approach can be beneficial! The Total Communication Approach means using any functional means of communication; this could include: verbal speech, ASL, gestures, pictures, and/or simple or high-tech communication devices. Many children with Down syndrome are visual processors, and the goal of Total Communication is multi-sensory (i.e., visual, auditory, tactile, etc.) in order to encourage any form of expression. What are some ways to facilitate this approach at home?

  • Visual input: Pointing to objects and pictures that you are naming or describing. 
  • Use sign language for basic words (eat, want, bath, play, etc.). Research shows using signs increases understanding and offers an additional method for communication. 
  • Incorporate music into pretend play.
  • Joint book reading. Follow your child’s lead!

 

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

Children with Down Syndrome often benefit from therapy from skilled professionals, including speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. At Carolina Therapy Connection, our treatment is highly individualized to your child’s needs. A standardized assessment will be administered to detect any delays, and our therapists will work with you and your child to develop a plan for enhancing skills to  build confidence across all social environments (home, school, social groups, etc). If you have any concerns or questions regarding your child’s development, call our clinic at (252) 341-9944.

By Ashley Holloway, MS, CCC-SLP, CAS

CTC Ranked in North Carolina’s ‘Best Employers 2023’

Who ranks North Carolina’s Best Employers of 2023?

Carolina Therapy Connection is now ranked one of North Carolina’s Best Employers of 2023, who were ranked by market research company DataJoe in four categories! DataJoe created and implemented a survey that polled employers and their employees. The survey covered essential workplace topics, including organizational health, leadership, engagement, work-life balance, pay, training, benefits and corporate social responsibility.

See Our Ranking Below Under ‘Medium Sized Employers’

 

 

Best Employer 2023 Carolina Therapy Connection

See the FULL issue of Business North Carolina’s annual list of Best Employers HERE

What sets Carolina Therapy Connection apart from other Employers?

Carolina Therapy Connection is a therapist-owned, growing private pediatric outpatient practice with sensory clinic locations in Greenville, Goldsboro, and New Bern, North Carolina.  For the past 12 years CTC has been providing OT, PT, ST, and educational services to children of all ages and diagnoses including: autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, cerebral palsy, feeding disorders, and developmental delay. Children are served within our newly expanded, state-of-the-art sensory clinics, within the community, and within school settings. In 2023 we added Mental Wellness and Counseling to the umbrella of services CTC offers.

Carolina Therapy Connection is the first outpatient therapy clinic Certified Autism Center™  (CAC) in Eastern North Carolina. Carolina Therapy Connection covers the cost of all staff to complete this professional certification within their first year of hire. Our culture at CTC is faith-based, built around serving others while creating a fun and exciting place to work that will motivate you! 

Just a few reasons to join our team …

  • Competitive Compensation with weekly and monthly incentive bonuses (salary or pay per visit- based on yourpreference and goals!)
  • Flexible schedules perfect for therapists with families (all staff choose their own schedule- what works best for you?)
  • Fun, social clinic setting with company sponsored events every month (team building, potlucks, snack bars, ice cream socials, etc!)
  • Prizes that reward team members who carry out our core values and supportive culture (monthly core value cash prizes!)
  • Multi-disciplinary setting with supervision and mentorship programs to help you grow and based upon the support you need!
  • Supportivefaith-based culture that values teamwork as well as individual team member goals (meetings on a monthly and quarterly basis to check in on your personal and professional growth!)
  • Opportunity for growth within the company including management and leadership opportunities (clinical and administrative ladder programs)
  • Web-based, electronic documentation system (document anywhere that suits you!)
  • Simple IRA with retirement matching (no vesting period!)
  • Health, vision and dental group insurance through BCBSNC with Company contribution
  • Disability insurance
  • Life insurance and Employee Assistance Program (free mental health/wellness services) paid 100% by employer
  • PTO and all major holidays observed (let’s hear it for no weekends or holidays!)
  • Continuing education compensation and company sponsored CEU opportunities
  • We invest in every team member to receive credentialing as an Certified Autism Specialist or Autism Certificate through the IBCCES certification program
  • We credential all of our interested clinicians in becoming certified in the Interactive Metronome treatment modality
  • Private offices for speech language pathologists (and SLP assistants)
  • Clinical Fellowship program with close mentorship and training
  • Relocation assistance and sign on/retention bonuses for certain positions
  • Annual licensing fees and professional liability costs covered
  • Referral bonuses
  • Travel reimbursement
  • Computers and other technology options (iPads) for each employee
  • 15,000 sq.ft. clinic with state of the art sensory spaces for enhanced therapy experiences
  • All treatment equipment and assessments provided by company
  • Amazing administrative staff that handle all scheduling, billing and insurance authorizations (YES… Let’s hear it for less time spent documenting!)
  • A variety of settings offered based on clinician preference (schools, homes, daycares, clinic)

Interested in joining our team? Head over to our Careers Page to apply NOW!

CTC Best Employer 2023

We are GROWING in Goldsboro and New Bern!

Our Expansion in New Bern & Goldsboro, NC

Carolina Therapy Connection has been providing services in Goldsboro, NC for over 3 years and in New Bern, NC for just over 2 years. As the need for services in the Wayne and Craven County communities grow, we want to do the same! After a lot of thought, prayer, planning and time, we are excited to announce our next expansion journey! Our goal with expanding our services and clinic spaces in Goldsboro and New Bern are to offer skilled therapy to MORE families in need, decrease wait times for evaluations and treatment, develop state-of-the-art facilities with the latest equipment, and continue carrying out our mission to offer families a warm and supportive environment where they can learn about their child’s developmental needs and how to nurture their child’s capacity to succeed.

New Bern Expansion

Our current New Bern building is 2,500 square feet, which means we will TRIPLE in size to 7,000 square feet when we move into our new building! The new clinic space is also on 2.5 acres of land, which leaves ample opportunity for outdoor treatment areas, playground equipment, and MORE! Our New Bern clinic location will provide Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Mental Wellness and Counseling Services, community events (Teen Hangout Nights, Parent Support Groups etc) AND summer camps! We will have a much larger sensory gym with more fine motor rooms, physical therapy and speech therapy treatment spaces, and kitchen areas for feeding therapy. We are beginning the process of renovating the inside of the building, cleaning up the outdoor areas, and purchasing new equipment and furniture to fill the space. We are hoping to move in to the new building and begin providing services there in August, 2023! We will provide updates as we work through this process! The address is of the new clinic is 609 McCarthy Blvd., New Bern, NC 28562.

 

 

Goldsboro Expansion

We currently rent a small space in Goldsboro, providing occupational therapy services only. After we move into our new building there, we will TRIPLE in size and provide occupational therapy AND speech-language therapy! This space will entail multiple speech therapy rooms, fine motor rooms and a sensory gym with new equipment! Our new address in Goldsboro will be 1308 Wayne Memorial Dr. Suite C, Goldsboro, NC 27534. We are planning to begin providing services at our new address in late May, 2023! We will keep you updated on this process as we prepare for move-in. If you are currently receiving speech therapy services in Greenville, but would like to switch over to Goldsboro, call us at (252) 341-9944 and our staff members will be glad to help you!

 

 

Give us a call at (252) 341-9944 OR email us at info@carolinatherapyconnection.com if you have ANY questions or concerns about our moving process or would like to switch services to one of our New Bern or Goldsboro clinics! We are so excited to bring you alongside this new chapter with us!

 

New Bern and Goldsboro NC Expansion Carolina Therapy Connection

Mealtime Tips For Your Picky Eater

Why Is Mealtime So Important For Children?

The 3 most important things for humans to survive is: food, water and oxygen. For some parents, the concern for their kiddos health and well-being becomes heightened when they notice their kiddo isn’t eating as much food or as many types of foods as they may have at one time. Some kiddos who are referred to Occupational Therapy are considered “Picky Eaters” and others may be referred to as a “Problem Feeder”. We all know a picky eater. This is a person/kiddo who has at least 30 foods in their repertoire. Whereas a “Problem Feeder” is a person/kiddo who has less than 20 foods in their repertoire. There are many reasons this could happen such as trauma, sensory related challenges, anxiety, behavioral challenges, and more. As Occupational Therapists, we are trained to assist these kiddos by addressing these challenges which can increase their tolerance for trying new foods! Keep reading to learn more picky eater tips we have below!

So why is MEALTIME so important to assist with this?

One of the first things we will ask as OTRs or COTAs is “What does mealtime look like at home?” Some parents may say, 

“We all sit down as a family every night for dinner but we are busy or gone for breakfast and lunch”, “We are so busy that we are lucky to eat all at the same time”, or “(The child) eats all day but won’t eat the food I cook at dinner”. Of course these are just examples, but can you relate to any of them? It’s a possibility! 

Asking about mealtimes is very important to your therapist because this gives us an idea of how your child eats during the day. Kiddos need fuel to keep their bodies going. However, WHAT they are taking in and HOW/WHEN they are taking it in will make a huge difference in behavior, attention, ability to process/retain information and regulate emotions/emotional responses. To give you an idea of why the “what”, “how” and “when” are so important, I’ll follow up on the questions above.

1. “We all sit down as a family every night for dinner but we are busy or gone for breakfast and lunch”

This could be a beneficial time to incorporate feeding techniques and build interest in the foods around the table. Interest always comes before action. A child must first be interested in the food before they will interact with it. This is one reason that mealtime is so important for kiddos. It can be an opportunity to build interest in various smells, sights, and textures of foods provided by parents in a supportive and positive manner.

2. “We are so busy that we are lucky to eat all at the same time”

How can you work your schedule to have a least one meal together every other day? We understand that this busy world requires busy people to keep it going. However, when you are overwhelmed and exhausted your child may pick up on that. Children are very intuitive. Incorporating as many mealtimes as possible may assist with parent/child interaction and decreasing anxiety and overwhelming emotions in adults which can in turn make eating less stressful for a “picky eater”.

3. “(The child) eats all day but won’t eat the food I cook at dinner”

Grazing is when a kiddo eating little snacks all throughout the day. Have you ever seen a child leave a snack on the table, go play for 30 minutes, then return to finish the snack? If your child is doing this all day, it may explain why they are not eating at mealtimes. Typically, the brain lets us know when we need to refuel because the digestive system sends signals saying, “I’m empty in here!”. When grazing, a child’s brain will begin to have a hard time distinguishing when the child is hungry due to constantly having food in the digestive system. This can effect metabolism and the ability to regulate hunger. When given mealtimes, the body has time to regulate, digest and filter out what it needs for fuel. Additionally, if given processed snacks that are high in sugar or carbohydrates throughout the day, the body will begin to crave them. This can create a difficult loop to break when introducing thing like vegetables, meats and some fruits. Positive interactions at mealtimes can assist with parent/child interactions, lowering anxiety and stress levels, giving the child’s body time to process what it needs for fuel and providing learning opportunities for the sensory system. This can be a major changing factor in how your child engages with food! 

Additional Mealtime Picky Eater Tips

Picky Eater Tips #1: Don’t force foods on children

As parents, we want our children to eat a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits and other healthy snacks to help them grow to be strong and healthy. Studies show that forcing a child to sit and eat until they have cleared their entire plate is not the best method for achieving this goal. Instead, parents should promote foods that may have not been a hit the first time around. You can model this yourself by trying a food you haven’t liked in the past, and explain that you’re giving it another chance because your tastes may have changed. We want to show kids that we are adaptable. Remember: It can take as many as 10 or more times tasting a food before a toddler’s taste buds accept it. 

Picky Eater Tips #2: Get Creative With Food Bingo

You can also put together a list of new foods for the family to try and make a game out of it—what will we try tonight? You can make it interactive and fun by doing something creative like Food Bingo. There are many free printable online similar to the image shown below. You can even make your own! Hang it on the fridge and have your child place a sticker or check off the new foods they have tried. You can even add in a reward for them getting “bingo” – a trip to their favorite place, a new toy, a play date, or something else they really enjoy!

Food Bingo

Picky Eater Tips #3: Don’t Make a Second Meal

When you serve a meal to your family and your kiddo refuses to eat it, we recommend having simple and consistent back up options, such as yogurt, a cheese, nut & fruit snack pack, apple sauce, cereal etc. It’s important for children to know that if they can not eat the meal you have prepared, they will receive the standard option – rather than the usual chicken nuggets baked quickly in the oven. We should also teach kids that a meal isn’t ruined if it comes in contact with something they don’t like. Finding an unwanted pickle on your cheeseburger will not contaminate it. Children should be encouraged to push food they don’t like off to the side, or onto another plate, or offer to share it with someone else.

Picky Eater Tips #4: Involve Your Kiddo in the Meal Prep Process

Some cooking tasks are perfect for toddlers and small children (with supervision, of course): sifting, stirring, counting ingredients, picking fresh herbs from a garden or windowsill, and “painting” on cooking oil with a pastry brush. Allowing our children to interact with the foods they are going to eat will help to promote and encourage them to try it!

Picky Eater Tips #5: Food Chaining

Once your kiddo tries a new food and that food is accepted, use what one our Occupational Therapist’s favorite pickle eater tips call “food chaining” to introduce others with similar color, flavor and texture to help expand variety in what your child will eat. Children with sensory concerns have difficulty with leaping from the types of food they are willing/able to eat. Food chaining builds a bridge to get to those foods you really want your child to eat one step at a time through links to food they’re already eating. Examples include:

  • If your child likes pumpkin pie, for example, try mashed sweet potatoes and then mashed carrots.
  • If your child loves pretzels, try veggie straws next, and then move on to baby carrots or carrot sticks. Carrots are hard, crunchy, and stick shaped, but are cold and have a different taste.
  • If your child loves French Fries, then give a try to Zucchini fries.
  • Move from cookies to Fig Newtons, to jam toast, to jam sandwich, to bread with sliced strawberries, and lastly to fresh strawberries
  • If chicken nuggets are the fan favorite, try to first change the brand of nuggets, then move to homemade chicken nuggets, then to homemade tenders, and lastly to a baked chicken breast.
  • Maybe your kiddo love goldfish crackers. Next give Cheeze Itz a try, and then move on to saltine crackers, and lastly to saltines with cheese slices.

How Can Carolina Therapy Connection Help?

In addition to utilizing the tips above at home, we know that sometimes children need an extra push to expand their food repertoire. At Carolina Therapy Connection, our occupational and speech therapists provide feeding therapy that uses a collaborative approach to work closely with you and your child to determine the source of a child’s feeding difficulties, and develop specific intervention plans to make the entire eating process easier and more enjoyable. Often times, feeding therapy happens on a weekly basis and may consist of working on difficulty with trying new foods, chewing, swallowing, sensory issues, irritability at meal time and so much more. Our goals are to broaden your child’s scope of foods, teach them the benefits of healthy eating, and develop oral motor skills needed for optimal growth and nutrition.

Our Occupational Therapists take a sensory-based feeding approach to therapy.  They focus on: oral motor skills, sensory sensitivities, progressing through food textures, and using adaptive equipment and tools to develop self-feeding skills. They also use a process called food chaining, which is a child-friendly treatment approach that helps introduce new foods while building on the child’s past successful eating experiences. In this process, the child is presented with new foods that may be similar in taste, temperature, or texture to foods the child already likes and accepts. Our occupational therapists are certified in the SOS Feeding Approach, a nationally and internationally recognized approach for assessing and treating children with feeding difficulties.

Our feeding therapists have 15-20 years of experience with children of all ages and a variety of feeding disorders. They have certifications in SOS and AEIOU approaches and significant training from around the country on feeding approaches, treatment strategies, and focused plans. We also having consistent collaboration with other professionals in the community to guarantee the best care. Call our clinic at 252-341-9944 for a free phone screening with one of our feeding therapists and schedule an evaluation today!

Blog Written By: Shelby Godwin, COTA/L, AC & Morgan Foster, MS, OTR/L

 

Autism Center and Autism Resources

CTC Continues Commitment to Serving Autism Community and Provides Resources for Families

Since becoming a Certified Autism Center™ in 2020, Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville (CTC) has built upon the certification principals by collaborating with other resources to create a stronger community. Its therapists are now going into ABA clinics to provide occupational and physical therapy services.  As part of CTC’s ongoing commitment, team members recently completed additional training through IBCCES to meet renewal requirements and ensure staff have up-to-date knowledge and resources to enhance their skill sets.  Part of Carolina Therapy Connection’s mission is to provide valuable and specific autism resources for families that will help them throughout their daily routines.

Inclusive Programs

CTC also has a Prep Academy that provides a kindergarten readiness program that integrates typically developing children as well as children on the autism spectrum into the same learning environment.  Cindy Taylor, owner of Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville said, “The team’s hope and passion is to take the knowledge of our training and provide a safe space for kiddos to begin to engage in reciprocal play, be able to tolerate various sounds, and to begin to trust their environment.”

“Families have numerous and various reasons for the  ‘why’ behind what leads them to CTC.  Part of the ‘why’ for both the families we serve as well as potential new hires, is the Certified Autism Center™ designation and the individualized therapist training that comes with that.  Families feel comfort in knowing that owner, Cindy Taylor has taken the extra step to ensure that we as therapists receive ‘a little extra something’ to assist and better serve their kiddo,” shared Stevi M. Smith, COTA/L, AAC, HR Manager at CTC Greenville. “A lot of families who come to us may have had unpleasant experiences through other venues, be it school, a daycare, or another facility. So, when families see that we take time out to learn more about their kiddos, it means a lot to them.”

About CTC

Carolina Therapy Connection is a pediatric private practice serving children birth through adolescence and the team consists of occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, and educational specialists. Since becoming an autism certified practice employees have shared their excitement for IBCCES’ discipline specific training and certification options!  Many staff members shared comments like, “Sometimes we attend training, it’s nice and informative, but we have to think about how it applies to us professionally. This is not the case with IBCCES’ training.  Specific treatment scenarios are given throughout the training.”

  “It’s wonderful to have long-term partnerships with dedicated teams such as the professionals at Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville. Our programs require renewal and are updated with multidisciplinary experts as well as autistic individuals to ensure we can support professionals as best practices emerge” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.

For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for education, healthcare, and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES provides evidence-based training and certification programs created in conjunction with clinical experts and autistic individuals in order to provide professionals better understanding of how to communicate and interact with individuals with cognitive differences or sensory needs, industry best practices, and the latest research in these areas.

IBCCES also created CertifiedAutismCenter.com, as a free online resource for parents that lists certified locations and professionals. Each organization listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.

About IBCCES

Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are the only training and certification programs endorsed by the largest grassroots autism organization in the world, The Autism Society of America, and recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.

Autism centerAutism center greenville, nc

Autism Center

All About Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy? 

The main goal of OT is to increase quality of life so that the client can continue to participate in their personal interests as well as take care of their own needs. Through therapeutic use of self, a strong relationship of trust is built between client and therapist that will help the client to grow in skills leading to increased independence. Occupational therapists improve, rehabilitate, or maintain individuals’ performance to complete everyday occupations (IADLs & ADLs).

What is the role of an Occupational Therapist?

As an occupational therapy assistant, working in the pediatric setting, it is my responsibility to implement activities and tasks that will improve my clients ability to perform at an age-appropriate level. In this setting, you will commonly see OTs working on improving age-appropriate grasp and legibility with handwriting, sensory processing, oral motor skills for feeding, core strengthening for postural control, hand strengthening to increase fine motor skills, visual motor/perceptual skills for copying shapes and or letters.

What are IADLs?

IADL’s stands for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living that involve your home and community. Below is a list of different IADLs an individual may complete regularly.

  • Care of others
  • Care of pets
  • Communication management
  • Driving and community mobility
  • Financial management
  • Health management and maintenance
  • Housekeeping
  • Food preparation
  • Religious and spiritual activities
  • Shopping

What are ADLs?

ADL’s stands for Activities of Daily Living and are basic self-are tasks an individual engages in daily.

  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Feeding
  • Transfers
  • Abulation

How Can OT Benefit Children? 

Occupational therapy can benefit children of all ages with a variety of needs and diagnoses including:

At CTC, our occupational therapist provides screenings, assessments, consultations, and treatment for those concerned about: 

  • Cognitive skills
  • Gross & fine motor skills
  • Self-care tasks
  • Self-feeding tasks
  • Sensory processing
  • Visual processing & perception
  • Social skills

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

Our occupational therapists will complete an initial evaluation to become familiar with your child’s strengths, weaknesses and daily routine. Following the evaluation, they will create an individualized treatment plan and goals to address any concerns with development. We take pride in making therapy enjoyable and fun for your child, so that they can be motivated to live their life to their greatest potential.

We use evidence-based treatment approaches including:

If you have questions regarding your child’s development or want to learn more about occupational therapy, call our clinic today at 252-341-9944 or visit our referrals page HERE. We provide services in Greenville, Goldsboro and New Bern, North Carolina. One of our licensed and board certified therapists will be happy to provide you with a FREE developmental screening today! We can’t wait to begin this journey with your family!

Blog Written By: Lacey Smith, COTA/L 

Does My Child Need a Sensory Diet?

What is a Sensory Diet?

As a COTA, during my first visit with a family for Occupational Therapy Services I am looking for and asking about ways to develop a sensory diet for home, school and/or community use.

I often get the question, “What is a Sensory Diet?”

A Sensory Diet is a personalized, organized plan that provides sensory input activities that a person needs to regulate their body throughout the day.

What does it mean to “regulate”?

Sensory regulation is easier to understand once you understand how your senses impact your body. The five senses known to most people are taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. Some people are unaware that you also have two other senses: vestibular and proprioceptive. The Vestibular System is responsible for regulating spacial orientation and providing the brain with information about movement and head position so that our body’s can coordinate movements appropriately. The Proprioceptive System helps regulate body movement by providing our brain with information about force provided primarily through our joints and muscles. Now we have seven systems to look at! To understand more about children’s sensory systems, how they affect learning and sensory integration therapy, read our blog: “Making Sense of Our Experiences.”Vestibular System Carolina Therapy ConnectionProprioceptive System Carolina Therapy Connection

What can be addressed with a sensory diet?

Jumping, crashing and or falling on purpose could look like a kiddo is being too rough or is clumsy. We want to figure out why this is happening. Could this be that the kiddo’s body is not confident about where it is in space, which is regulated by the vestibular system? Could this be because the kiddo’s body is considered “under responsive”? This means simply that this kiddo’s body may not register textures or body movements on the same scale as yours or mine. They would be considered UNDER responsive because their body is always looking for MORE sensory input. If their sensory system is not regulated, it will most likely cause them to try to find ways to do that on their own. This may come out in excessive jumping, movement, crashing into things, falling on purpose, touching everything nearby, etc. This can be frustrating and scary for a parent because the last thing you want is to see your kiddo hurt!

What sensory diet look like on a day-to-day basis?

This is where a sensory diet comes into play. A sensory diet will be comprised of special exercises that are specific to your child’s age, physical and cognitive capabilities. We will also look at your schedule for the day and what items you have at your availability. This does not necessarily mean that you will need 3-4 hours of strength training with your kiddo or a gym with equipment to complete these tasks. It can as simple as using the own body in appropriate ways to provide the input needed! For example, if you are out in the community and see a lot of high energy movements coming from your kiddo, try bunny hopping all the way down the isle at the store or have them help you care bags of groceries, etc. At home, depending on the child’s age and abilities, helping with household chores such and carrying the laundry basket, vacuuming, wiping down the table after dinner, etc. Input can also be provided by drinking thick liquids like milkshakes through a straw, eating crunchy foods/snacks and chewing gum. These simple activities provide the child with the gross motor movement, deep pressure through the joints/muscles, heavy work (as long as it’s appropriate for the age) and the confidence of knowing that they CAN feel regulated!

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

Each sensory diet will be very specific to each child, so it is important that you stick with it and consult with your Occupational Therapy Practitioner before making significant changes or if it does not produce the outcomes you are expecting. Please also remember that this change does not happen over night, so please don’t be discouraged if there is not an immediate change. Think of it like a weight loss diet. You cannot expect to eat healthy and exercise for one day and reach the outcomes you want. It takes work and dedication on all parts! The important element here is that the child, with your help as parents, learns helpful and appropriate strategies to regulate their body. This will help in so many more areas such as; school performance, attention, behaviorally, emotionally, etc.

Please talk to your Occupational Therapy Practitioner about a Sensory Diet today or call our clinic at 252-341-9944 to get started!

Written by: Shelby Godwin, COTA/L, AC

Shelby Godwin Occupational Therapy Assistant Carolina Therapy Connection Sensory Diet Goldsboro NC

Image References: Tools to GrowOT

Does My Child’s Pencil Grasp Matter?

Does the way children hold their pencil really matter?

If you have a pencil handy, pick it up and notice how you hold it. Which fingers does the pencil rest between how are you supporting it? How much pressure do you use when you write? Does it really make a difference in your handwriting? The answer is YES, it does matter! How you hold your pencil really does make a difference—and it will also impact your writing. Your pencil grasp is directly related to handwriting speed and legibility, as having a mature grasp is more efficient and less tiring on your hands (Schwellnus, et al., 2012). Having a mature grasp also directly correlates with fine motor skills and your ability to manipulate other things (i.e. tying your shoes, picking up small objects, flossing, zipping up your jacket, using a fork or spoon).

Handwriting is essential for academic success and a foundation for efficient writing lies in how the child holds their pencil and the order in which letters are formed. It is important to address these concerns as early as possible. After the age of 8, changing grasp and formation patterns is difficult, but not impossible.

What are the stages of pencil grasp development?

There are several stages of pencil grasp development needed to develop a functional grasp that can be used to write efficiently and legibly. Each stage is important and helps to develop different muscles in the hand. Children typically develop control over the larger muscles of the trunk and arms before developing the smaller muscles of the hands. This is why grasp changes over time. Not all children will use all of these grasps during their fine motor development. Some children will use more than one grasp at an age as their skills develop and change. However, they should develop a functional mature grasp similar to the tripod grasp listed below.

 

Palmer grasp/Fisted grasp: typically develops between 12-18 months.

Palmer grasp/Fisted pencil grasp Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville NC

Digital pronate grasp: typically develops at 2-3 years.

Digital Pronated Pencil Grasp Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville, NC

5 finger grasp: typically develops between 3-4 years

5 Finger Pencil Grasp Carolina Therapy Connection, North Carolina

Four finger/quadrapod grasp: typically develops at 3.5-4 years

Four finger/quadrapod pencil grasp: Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville, NC

Tripod grasp: typically develops at 5-6 years

Tripod Pencil Grasp: Occupational Therapy Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville, NC

What is letter formation?

Handwriting is a complex process that involves many skills and body functions to work in a precise manner. Letter formation refers to the order in which each line segment is produced to make a single letter. Children should learn to form letters from top to bottom and from left to right. The order in which letters are formed either aids or interferes with efficient, legible writing.

Proper Letter Formation Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville NC

Why is proper letter formation important?

  • Children who have poor letter formation usually do not enjoy handwriting and/or the process takes longer than they would like.
  • Proper letter formation increases handwriting legibility, speed and accuracy.
  • Without the proper order of formation, letters are being ‘drawn’ more than formed and handwriting suffers.
  • Teaching proper letter formation can help to limit letter reversals such as b and d.
  • Practicing proper letter formation teaches higher cognitive skills ( i.e. working memory, sequencing, self-monitoring).

It’s important to note that every child’s handwriting style and process of learning is different and THAT IS OKAY! Our occupational therapists use a child-centered approach to help your kiddo become confident in their abilities while making handwriting FUN! If you are concerned about how your child forms letters or holds their pencil, an occupational therapist should evaluate your child. The therapist will determine if there are any skill or strength deficits and formulate a plan that is individualized for your child’s unique needs.

 

Written by: Amanda Easter, MS, OTR/L, CAS

Amanda Easter Blog - Does My Child's Pencil Grasp Matter? Occupational Therapy Greenville NC

References

Schwellnus, H., Carnahan, H., Kushki, A., Polatajko, H., Missiuna, C., & Chau, T. (2012). Effect of pencil grasp on the speed and legibility of handwriting in children. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66: 718–726.

Pencil Grasp Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville NC

Optimizing Therapy Progress

Competence Brings Confidence

When we begin treatment with a new patient, or we begin working on a new skill at home as a parent, we often become so excited about the goal, or the end game, that we forget about all the small steps we should take to get there. Over the past 20 years working with children and families as an SLP and raising my own children I have learned that we need to celebrate the small steps in life and for therapy progress.

At some point I started telling parents of preschoolers and early elementary students, “Competence brings confidence!”

Your child might learn a very small step toward their goal in a therapy session. This small step should bring a lot of excitement, praise, and chances to “show it off” at home. These chances are growing your child’s confidence in their abilities. Those chances are giving neural connections a chance to form. Those chances are reinforcing new motor patterns. Being competent in a new skill, no matter how small, brings confidence! Confidence gives us the drive and the will to keep working hard and keep going. It keeps us excited in our pursuit to learn something new or difficult and optimizes therapy progress.

Focus on the Small Steps for Big Victories

Often parents and practitioners focus too much on the end goal.  Young children do not even know what the end goal is. We need to celebrate each very small step along the way.

With the confidence your child has from practicing a seemingly small skill at home, they come to therapy ready to move on and add more new skills. They will have the skill they have become so good at in their tool belt, and add to it! They might have started making a speech sound with confidence in isolation. When they are confident with that skill because they have shown it off many times, they will be ready to move on to making that sound in words.

In the opposite scenario we might spend time working on the small skills, try to speed along, and forget to give praise and practice at each step. We are focused on the end goal, for example, clear speech. All along your child or patient might practice and never realize all the small gains because we forget to praise them with small steps or have them show off their small steps. In this scenario, opportunities to practice important building blocks are missed. Opportunities to build confidence are missed, and ultimately the pace of progress is slower.

In the end, learning the “end goal” should have felt like many moments of satisfaction and praise to finally reach where we wanted the child to be.  It should not feel like many moments of trying and not {quite} getting there and being corrected over and over until we {finally} get good enough.

Incidentally, this works for grown ups too! If you are trying to learn something new, give yourself some grace. Focus on a small step you have mastered and practice it or show it off many times, and then move on. In the long run, you will be smarter and stronger for building competence in the small steps all along, and you will be more confident with your goal when you get there!

Optimizing Therapy Progress at Carolina Therapy Connection

The key to success is realizing that our large or end goals aren’t going to happen overnight, in the next week or maybe even the next year, but this is okay. We tend to take the present moment for granted – it seems insignificant, and we believe the little things we do in the moment are not changing us. At Carolina Therapy Connection, we believe in a culture that embraces the small victories for your family! Each time your child has milestone achievement, we will find a way to celebrate. We believe it is critical to make therapy as fun and motivating as possible by celebrating the small victories as well as major achievements. After all, when children enjoy what they are doing, who they are with and the environment they are in, anything is possible! If your family has concerns regarding your child’s development or goals you would like to achieve, call us at 252-341-9944. We would love to help you and make you a part of our CTC family and culture. 

 

Written by: Susan Hill, MS, CCC-SLP

Optimizing Therapy Progress Susan Hill SLP Greenville New Bern Goldsboro NC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Optimizing Therapy Progress Greenville NC Pediatric occupational speech and physical therapy written by Susan Hill

Phonological Patterns

What are phonological patterns?

So your child’s speech-language pathologist says your child presents with phonological patterns…What does that mean? Phonological patterns are “patterns of sound errors that typically developing children use to simplify speech as they are learning to talk” (Hanks, 2013). Children often demonstrate difficulty coordinating their lips, tongue, teeth, palate, and jaw for intelligible speech. There are many different patterns that your child may demonstrate.

What is a phonological disorder?

A phonological disorder is when a pattern persists past what is considered “normal” for their age. For example, if your 4 year old still uses the phonological process of “reduplication” (saying, “wawa” for “water”) that would be considered delayed since most children stop using that process by the time they turn 3 (Hanks, 2013).

Typically, if your child is exhibiting several phonological patterns, their speech is difficult to understand or “unintelligible”. You, as a parent, may understand what they are saying because you are familiar with these speech sound patterns; however, other family members and peers demonstrate difficulty understanding your child.

As described above, a speech sound disorder is considered a phonological disorder when:

  1. Phonological processes persist beyond the typical age of development.
  2. Phonological processes are used that are not seen in typical development
  3. A child is highly unintelligible due to the excessive use of phonological processes

 

Phonological Patterns Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville NC Speech Therapy

What are common phonological patterns and what do they mean?

Assimilation: when one sound becomes the same or similar to other sounds in the same word

  • Age of Elimination: 3 years
  • Example: “I want a pip” when they meant to say “I want a sip” (the “s” becomes like the “p” at the end of the word)

Final Consonant Deletion: when a child drops off or doesn’t produce the last sound at the end of a word

  • Age of Elimination: 3 years
  • Example: “Look at the bow!” for “look at the boat!”

Devoicing: when a child produces a voiceless sound instead of the voiced sound

  • Age of Elimination: 3 years
  • Example: “Where is my back?” For “Where is my bag?”

Voicing: when a child produces a voiced sound for a voiceless sound

  • Age of Elimination: 3 years
  • Example: “I want more bees” for “I want more peas”

Stopping: when a child stops the airflow needed to produce a sound and substitutes it with another sound

  • Age of Elimination: 3-5 years
  • Example: “my two” for “my shoe”

Fronting: when a child substitutes sounds that they should be making in the back of the mouth with sounds towards the front of the mouth

  • Age of Elimination: 3.5 years
  • Example: “Daddy’s tea” for “Daddy’s key” (substituting “t” for “k”)

Cluster Reduction: when a child drops off or deletes one of the consonants in a “cluster”

  • Age of Elimination: 4 years
  • Example: “I see a nail” for “I see a snail”

Weak Syllable Deletion: when a child drops off or doesn’t say one of the syllables within a word

  • Age of Elimination: 4 years
  • Example: “I want a nana” for “I want a banana”

Deaffrication: when a child doesn’t produce the pressure sound in a combined sound

  • Age of Elimination: 4 years
  • Example: “I want ships” for “I want chips” (ch -> sh and j -> zh)

Gliding: when a child substitutes the “l” and “r” sounds for the “y” and “w” sounds

  • Age of Elimination: 5 years
  • Example: “The apple is wed” for “The apple is red”

*Examples and explanations are referenced from Adventures in Speech Pathology

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

This is a lot of information that can be overwhelming for a parent trying to help their child. We know that you want the best for your kiddo and we want to help! Our team of pediatric speech therapists provide screening, assessment, consultation, and treatment to help children overcome communication obstacles. Call Carolina Therapy Connection at 252-341-9944 to speak with one of our skilled and knowledgable speech-language pathologists. They can evaluate your child’s communication patterns, further explain phonological processes, and discuss the best treatment interventions for your family.

 

Written by: Brandi Ayscue, MS, CCC-SLP, CAS

Brandi Ayscue Phonological Patterns Blog Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville NC Speech Therapy

 

Phonological Patterns Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville New Bern NC Speech Therapy