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Why Is My Child Picky About Clothing?

Is your child picky about clothing? It is common for children to have a favorite shirt, blanket, or pants, but what if they refuse to wear anything besides their one outfit of choice? In the pediatric world of occupational therapy, we often work with children who cannot tolerate wearing various clothing items. We have seen the stress of dressing tasks for children and their caregivers. The intended purpose of this blog is to educate parents on why a child may be sensitive to clothing and point caregivers in the right direction to address these concerns.

Why is My Child Picky About Their Clothing?

Every child processes sensory information differently. Children who demonstrate intolerance to various clothing textures may often have sensory sensitivities to tactile (touch) information, also known as tactile defensiveness. This indicates that the neurons responsible for processing tactile information have lower neurological thresholds, meaning more sensory information reaches their brain quicker, which can cause children to become overwhelmed by the stimulus. This results in heightened responses (ex., Crying, screaming, itching) when a child is prompted to wear clothing that feels uncomfortable to them. Another underlying reason for tactile sensitivities can be connected to retained primitive reflexes. Retained primitive reflexes often contribute to a child’s hypersensitivity to general sensory information and can make clothing items with tags or tight waistbands challenging to wear. 

When Should I Be Concerned About My Child’s Intolerance for Clothing?

It can be hard to discern when a child’s intolerance to clothing is a behavioral or sensory concern. A child who doesn’t “like” to wear a particular clothing item or texture is very different from a child who physically cannot tolerate certain textures. True sensory concerns will present with consistent behaviors across settings. For example, a child with true tactile defensiveness will have difficulty wearing a non-preferred clothing item at home or daycare. Additionally, consulting a professional is not customarily warranted if their limited clothing items do not impact a child’s performance and participation in meaningful activities. However, if a child’s clothing sensitivities are impacting their meaningful activities, then it may be beneficial to talk with a pediatric occupational therapist to determine what options or strategies are appropriate. An example could be a child who wants to play soccer but cannot tolerate wearing soccer cleats or sneakers and, therefore, refuses to play. Another example would be a child or adolescent who refuses to wear clothing to match the temperature outside, such as refusing to wear gloves or mittens in the middle of winter.

Strategies to Expand A Child’s Wardrobe

  • Keep a diary/log:
    • Children will normally demonstrate a pattern of behaviors to show caregivers what types of clothing are uncomfortable. It will be essential to keep a log of what items/fabrics are preferred to limit the child’s discomfort when presented with new clothing items to try on. 
  • Present sensory-friendly clothing:
    • There are common characteristics of clothing that can be aversive to children with tactile defensiveness. For these reasons, we have provided a list of clothing items that are often more tolerable for sensory-sensitive children:
      • Clothing without seams
      • Clothing without tags
      • Loose fitting clothing
      • Soft/smooth fabric
      • Breathable clothing: avoid clothing that holds moisture
  • Invite them into the process:
    • Providing the child with autonomy in choosing their clothing will help remove feelings of stress that surround dressing activities. One way to do this is to take them shopping and ask them what clothing they want. Depending on the child’s comfort level, it can also be beneficial to have them choose a variety of clothing to try on and have a “fashion show” in the dressing room.

 

What Other Concerns Can arise with Children Being Picky About Clothing, and How Can Carolina Therapy Connection Help?

Tactile defensiveness does not only impact a child’s ability to tolerate various clothing items. Typical areas of difficulty for tactilely defensive children include, but are not limited to, difficulty with hair brushing/washing, hair cuts, tooth brushing, nail clipping, and bathing. If your child has difficulty tolerating any of the above activities, then it may be beneficial to meet with a pediatric occupational therapist to discuss the best care plan for the child. Call our clinic at (252) 341-9944! Your child may benefit from an occupational therapy screening or formal evaluation!

 

By: Emily Britt

 

Spring Activities For All Ages!

Join us as we welcome spring!

As the world outside bursts into color and warmth, it’s the perfect time to dive into some fun activities that celebrate the season. We’ve put together a bunch of excellent OT spring activities for all ages that you can do that are fun and help you learn and grow.

From making yummy flower-shaped snacks to crafting bird feeders and sensory bottles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a parent looking for fun OT activities with your kids at home or a teacher searching for exciting activities, you’ve come to the right place!

Join us as we explore the wonders of spring through activities that work on our fine motor skills and try new foods! Let’s make this season even more remarkable by having a blast with these therapeutic activities.

Spring Activities: Flower Snacks: 

This fun and creative activity works on fine motor skills, food play, and meal preparation skills. It is also a great way to introduce healthy snacks into your child’s diet. 

  • Beet slices flower snack– Use a flower-shaped cookie cutter to cut beet slices (or other soft fruit/veggies: pineapple, apples, thin potatoes…)
  • Mandarin orange flower– Peel an orange and open one end.  Add celery for a stem.
  • Orange with flair–  Add a grape tomato to the center of your orange to add a little color.  Other fruits could also be arranged into a flower shape: apple, pear, and banana slices would work.
  • Dried cranberry mini flowers– Arrange cranberries (or raisins) into petal shapes.  Add chickpeas for a center to each flower.
  • Tulip cucumbers– Cut a jagged line into cucumber slices.  Add a piece of the peel for stems for each flower.
  • Flower art–  Get the kids involved in this one!  Provide carrots, broccoli, red peppers, and grape tomatoes, and create a flower design as a family.  Enjoy!

Paint With Flowers: 

This is an easy and cheap activity to complete at home that only requires paint, paper or plate, and flowers. Use the flower as a brush and press it into the paint, then paint away!

Oral Motor Exercise With Plastic Easter Eggs: 

This is a fun activity to incorporate into your routine before feeding. Adding oral motor exercises provides sensory input and “wakes up” the muscles of the mouth. Give your child a straw and ask them to blow into the straw to push easter eggs toward a target. 

Spring Animal Walks: 

This is a fun gross motor activity that can be done in the home or outside. Have your child bunny hop, bear walk, frog jump, and snake slither from one side to the other. You can even have an animal race to see who gets to the finish line first!

Homemade Bird Feeders: 

This is a great activity to improve executive functioning skills and bilateral coordination skills. You will need toilet paper rolls, peanut butter, birdseed, and spreading tools. Spread the peanut butter on the toilet paper, roll it in the birdseed, and hang it up outside!

Spring Themed Sensory Bottle: 

Sensory bottles can provide a calming sensory experience to children by focusing on the different moving objects inside. All you need is 4 ounces of clear glue, warm water, hot glue (to seal the lid), a bottle, and any desired spring-themed objects to put inside (glitter, small toy animals, flowers, etc.). 

 

Let’s Talk Articulation!

When Do I Bring My Child for a Speech Sound Evaluation?

As our children grow and develop speech, they don’t learn to use all the speech sounds in their native language simultaneously.  That’s why my little one tells me that “it’s dart outside” when he looks out the window after dinner these days!  But how do you know when to seek out a speech therapist for your child?  

Check out the chart below, which is available as a downloadable PDF on the SLP now website at https://blog.slpnow.com/the-slps-guide-to-speech-sound-disorders-articulation-phonological-development/; when looking at the chart, understand that some children start to develop sounds before the ages listed. The ages listed represent the age at which 90% of children have mastered each sound. For many speech sounds, there is a wide range of ages at which a child may start to produce the sound or approximations inconsistently before they truly master the sound. However, it is a quick rule of thumb that if a child cannot produce one of the sounds listed under their age, speech therapy may be indicated.

 

 

What Can I Do at Home to Help My Child with Their Speech Sounds?

So, what can a parent do to help their child develop speech sounds correctly at home? The first strategy I recommend is to make sure your child is looking at your face when you’re producing words or sounds that they had difficulty with. Draw attention to your mouth by pointing.  Children learn a lot about how a sound is produced by observing you. 

Another strategy that you can use is called recasting. Recasting is when you repeat what your child says precisely, including the errors, in a questioning voice. For example, if your child says, “Look at the tar” when they mean “Look at the car,” you might respond by saying, “Tar? Is that what you meant?” When the child attempts to correct himself or herself, if he or she cannot do so, I suggest using the first strategy we discussed.  Your child may not produce the sound at that moment, but that’s okay because they are still learning from what they see and hear from you.

I also recommend reading with your child regularly. Even if a child cannot read independently, draw their attention to some of the letters in the book, especially if the book has large decorative letters at the beginning of paragraphs. Talk about the sound the letters make, and again, ensure your child is watching your face. 

For emerging readers, phonics activities are an excellent time to work on articulation at home. While doing phonics homework with your child, could you talk about how each sound is made?  For example, the “T sound is made with our tongue on the roof of her mouth.” If you’re unsure how to describe how sounds are made, PeechieSpeechie.com has an excellent video library with tutorials for each sound.

If your child is receiving speech therapy services, their SLP will be able to provide you with additional, personalized resources.

How Can Carolina Therapy Connection Help? 

If you are still unsure or feel that your child’s speech is difficult to understand compared to others his/her age, Carolina Therapy Connection has licensed Speech Language Pathologists at the clinics in Greenville, Goldsboro, and New Bern that are highly qualified to evaluate and diagnose speech sound disorders.  You can schedule a speech sound evaluation at whichever clinic is most convenient for your family at 252-341-9944.  Our professionals can also provide personalized resources for your child’s needs. 

 

By Michelle Berghold

 

Syncing Success: A Better Way to Manage ADHD Without Medication

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) poses unique challenges for individuals of all ages, affecting their ability to focus, organize tasks, and regulate impulses. While traditional interventions often involve medications and behavioral therapy, a groundbreaking approach has emerged in recent years – the use of the Interactive Metronome (IM) as an innovative tool for managing ADHD symptoms. In this blog, we’ll explore the relationship between Interactive Metronome and ADHD, shedding light on how this rhythmic training can make a significant difference in the lives of those navigating the complexities of ADHD.

 

Understanding ADHD and its Challenges

 

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Individuals with ADHD may find it challenging to sustain attention, complete tasks, and regulate their behavior, impacting academic, professional, and personal aspects of their lives. Traditional treatment approaches often involve a combination of medications and behavioral therapy, but the search for non-invasive, complementary interventions has led to exploring innovative tools like the Interactive Metronome.

 

Interactive Metronome and ADHD: A Rhythmic Approach

 

The Interactive Metronome operates on the principle that precise timing and rhythmic synchronization can positively influence neural pathways related to attention, coordination, and executive functions. Here’s how IM is making waves in the realm of ADHD management:

 

  1. Enhanced Attention and Focus: IM exercises require participants to match their movements to a rhythmic beat with millisecond accuracy. This process engages the brain’s attention and timing centers, fostering sustained attention and focus improvements, essential components for managing ADHD symptoms.

 

  1. Improved Executive Functions: ADHD often involves challenges with executive functions like working memory, organization, and impulse control. The structured nature of IM exercises helps strengthen these cognitive processes, providing individuals with practical skills to navigate daily tasks more effectively.

 

  1. Sensory Integration: The combination of auditory and visual cues in IM promotes sensory integration, a critical factor in ADHD management. Individuals can develop better self-regulation and coordination by syncing sensory information with motor responses.

 

  1. Individualized Treatment Plans: Therapists at Carolina Therapy Connection can tailor IM programs to address the specific needs and challenges of individuals with ADHD. The customizable nature of IM allows for a personalized approach, ensuring that the training aligns with each participant’s unique cognitive and motor profile.

 

Real-life Success Stories 

 

The impact of Interactive Metronome on ADHD management is not just theoretical – there is a growing body of research-based evidence supporting its effectiveness. Many individuals undergoing occupational therapy at Carolina Therapy Connection have reported significant improvements in attention, impulse control, and overall quality of life after incorporating IM into their ADHD treatment plan.

 

In the evolving landscape of ADHD management, the Interactive Metronome stands out as a promising avenue for individuals seeking alternative and complementary approaches. By tapping into the power of rhythmic synchronization and precise timing, IM offers a dynamic and engaging method to address the core challenges associated with ADHD. It’s not just about keeping time; it’s about syncing success despite ADHD’s unique challenges.  Our Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants at Carolina Therapy Connection are certified in the Interactive Metronome. They can utilize this as an essential part of a child’s treatment plan.  The Interactive Metronome can be used as a standalone treatment, but we see the best results when incorporated into diverse therapeutic programs.

 

 

Call us today to learn more about the Interactive Metronome and whether your child would benefit from this amazing therapeutic intervention!

 

What is Toe Walking?

Toe walking means that a child is walking and standing on tiptoes, and their heels do not make contact with the ground. Walking up on their toes can be a normal occurrence in children aged three and under as they continue to develop their ability to walk. Beyond that age, without any definitive medical reason, it is considered idiopathic toe walking (walking on toes without a known cause).

Toe Walking Causes

To understand, what’s not so simple about toe walking is the why behind it. There are many possible reasons that children might develop this pattern:

Developmental phase: A child occasionally walking on the balls of their feet can be part of normal development.  When children first begin walking, usually between 12-15 months of age, they often try different foot positions including walking up on their toes.  However, it is expected that typically developing children will only walk on their toes occasionally.

Neurological concern:

  • Sensory processing concerns: Children with sensory issues, including those on the Autism Spectrum related to the vestibular system, have a different awareness of their body position and feel stabilized during toe walking. The tactile system includes our sense of touch, pain, and temperature. Some studies conclude that children with differences in vestibular processing can also have tactile senses that exacerbate their toe walking. They may not like the feeling of the floor touching their feet, and toe walking minimizes this contact. Children seeking proprioceptive input toe walk because the gait prolongs stimulation of joint receptors and causes their muscles to tighten. The movement provides a calming input sensation for the child. (Williams 2010)
  • Cerebral Palsy: The most common cause of toe walking in those with cerebral palsy is spasticity, which can cause stiffness and involuntary muscle contractions in calf muscles, keeping their heels from touching the ground. Over time, without proper stretching and bracing, these muscles can become shortened, making it challenging to achieve heel contact. 

 

Idiopathic toe walking: Toe walking can occur because of an underlying anatomic or neuromuscular condition, but in most cases, toe walking is idiopathic without a discernible underlying cause. Idiopathic toe walking occurs in children between 3 and 7 years old and is more commonly seen in males than females. Idiopathic toe walking is not related to any specific diagnosis and can presenty of reasons, due to a variet including decreased stability and sensory involvement. For some families, toe walking may be a cosmetic concern, whereas it can cause pain or functional issues in other cases. (Ruzbarsky, Scher, & Dodwell, 2016)

Treatment

You may wonder how to stop toe-walking with your child. Therapeutic treatment depends on the cause, how strong of a habit it is, how tight the calf muscles have become, and what other changes have occurred in the child’s foot and ankle due to walking this way. 

Treatment can include:

  • Stretching: To improve muscle length, increase ankle mobility, and promote heel contact
  • Orthoses: Ankle-foot orthotic worn to keep the foot at a 90-degree angle and promote heel contact
  • *Turtle bracing: New bracing technique utilizing a removable, re-moldable, lightweight brace to achieve optimal ankle positioning, obtain and maintain ankle mobility, and promote heel contact
  • Serial Castings: Hard cast used to obtain and maintain a 90-degree angle at the ankle joint for extended periods (1-2 weeks at a time)
  • Night splints: Braces worn at night to keep the foot in a 90-degree angle and achieve prolonged stretch
  • Botox injections are most commonly used with those dealing with spasticity; they weaken their calf muscles and make them easier to stretch and cast.

A careful history, clinical exam, and selective diagnostic testing can be used to differentiate between different types of toe walking and determine the most appropriate treatment for each child. 

 

How Can Carolina Therapy Connection Help with Toe Walking?

Being evaluated by a Physical or Occupational Therapist can further help determine which treatment routes are appropriate for your child. Call us today at 252-341-9944 for a free screening! 

 

By: Taylor Saunders

 

Stuttering: Developmental or Disordered?

Stuttering in children is a speech disorder characterized by disruptions in the natural flow of speech. Developmental stuttering is a common experience, typically emerging between the ages of 2 and 5 when children are first learning to speak fluently and developing a large repertoire of words, phrases, and sentences. While many kids experience a phase of disfluency in their normal speech development and may outgrow it, some might continue to stutter as they grow older. In this case, speech therapy may be recommended.

 

 

Causes of Stuttering in Children

The exact cause remains unclear, but it’s believed to arise from a combination of genetic, neurophysiological, and environmental factors. Children with a family history of stuttering are more likely to develop it. Some kids experience stuttering due to differences in brain structure or function related to speech production. Emotional factors like stress, pressure to communicate quickly, or a hurried environment can also increase stuttering. Stuttering occurs at the initiation of voice, which is why we typically hear disfluencies at the beginning of words and phrases.

 

According to Johns Hopkins Hospital, A child is more likely to stutter if he or she has:

 

  • A family history of stuttering
  • Stuttered for 6+ months
  • Other speech or language disorders
  • Strong emotions about stuttering or family members with fears or concerns

 

Types of Disfluencies

Stuttering manifests in various ways, such as repetitions (repeating sounds, syllables, or words), prolongations (elongating sounds), and blocks (inability to produce sounds). These disruptions can lead to tension and anxiety, causing the child to avoid certain words or situations where they might feel pressured to speak.

 

Speech Therapy for Stuttering:

Speech therapists play a crucial role in assessing, diagnosing, and treating stuttering. Here are some primary approaches utilized in speech therapy:

 

Speech Modification Techniques: Therapists teach children to use gentle starts to sentences, and employ smooth, relaxed breathing patterns. This helps in reducing the frequency and severity of stuttering moments. Continuous phonation, for example, is a technique where speakers learn to keep their voice on and vocal folds vibrating throughout speech. 

 

Fluency Shaping: This technique focuses on reshaping the child’s speech patterns by teaching smoother speech movements. It involves controlled breathing, gentle voicing, and gradually increasing sentence length to enhance fluency.

 

Stuttering Modification: This approach concentrates on changing the child’s emotional and cognitive reactions to stuttering. It involves desensitizing the child to the fear and anxiety associated with stuttering and teaching strategies to manage and accept disfluency.

 

Parental Involvement: Educating parents about stuttering and how to support their child’s speech development is key to increasing the child’s success. Therapists often teach parents techniques to practice at home, creating a supportive environment for the child’s progress.

 

Communication Skills Training: This includes enhancing overall communication skills, like turn-taking and using pauses effectively. It helps in building the child’s confidence and reducing the pressure associated with speaking.

 

Long-Term Outlook

Many young children outgrow developmental stuttering; however, some might continue to stutter into adolescence and adulthood. In such cases, ongoing therapy, support groups, and strategies for managing stuttering in social and professional settings become vital.

 

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

Children who sutter often benefit from therapy from skilled Speech-Language Pathologists. Stuttering in children is a complex speech disorder that necessitates early intervention and specialized therapy. Speech therapists employ a variety of techniques focusing on speech modification, emotional support, and overall communication enhancement to help children manage and, in many cases, overcome stuttering. Family involvement and a supportive environment are fundamental in the child’s journey towards improved fluency and confidence in communication. At Carolina Therapy Connection, our treatment is highly individualized to your child’s needs. A standardized assessment will be administered to detect any disfluencies, 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

 

 

Navigating Neurodivergence

How Occupational Therapy Helps Different Brains

Occupational therapy has long been recognized as a vital therapy for providing neurodiverse individuals with the tools and strategies to lead fulfilling lives. In recent years, the focus on neurodivergent occupational therapy has gained momentum, emphasizing the unique needs and strengths of individuals with neurological differences. This blog aims to explore the transformative role of occupational therapy in supporting neurodivergent individuals on their journey toward independence, empowerment, and a higher quality of life.

 

Understanding Occupational Therapy for Neurodiverse Individuals

Occupational therapy helps neurodiverse individuals by helping them discover who they are, what they can contribute to society, and how they can live their best life.  We start by making a personalized plan with the individual on how to make their life easier for them. 

 

Taking Care of the Whole Person With Occupational Therapy 

Occupational therapy looks at everything – the body, the brain, feelings, and even how someone experiences the world around them. It’s important to consider an individual’s life’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and sensory aspects.  Together with the individual and caregivers, occupational therapists take a holistic approach to help figure out what areas of their lives are challenging and what are their strengths.

 

Making Senses Work Better

It’s common for neurodiverse individuals to have differences in how they experience sensations in their world- they may feel sensitive to things like touch or sounds. Occupational therapists work to identify sensory sensitivities or challenges and implement strategies to regulate and adapt to different sensory inputs. For example- working with the individual to develop adaptive strategies for sensitivities related to food textures and picky eating. Occupational therapists can help progress through different food textures using various techniques that first start with foods the individual can tolerate and eat frequently.  Then, we start adding foods that are similar in texture, color, size, etc.  

 

Skill Development and Independence

Occupational therapy helps learn practical life skills, social skills, and executive functioning abilities.  It could be learning how to tie shoelaces or even making friends. It’s essential to take a strength-based approach to help build trust, confidence, and independence with daily tasks that allow them to engage in meaningful activities.  A strength-based approach is when an occupational therapist builds upon a person’s strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses.

 

Family and Community Involvement

Families and friends are essential in the therapeutic process, too! Occupational therapists work with families to implement strategies at home and collaborate with community organizations and schools to create supportive spaces for neurodivergent individuals.

 

Technology and Innovation in Therapy

It’s common for a neurodiverse individual to process information differently than we expect; therefore, it is important to utilize various interactive tools and technology to enhance the therapeutic experience and cater to individual needs. Many apps and digital devices are available to help create independence in daily tasks.  Occupational therapists look at ways to support learning through apps, games, and other devices.

 

How Can Carolina Therapy Connection Help With Neurodiverse Individuals?

At Carolina Therapy Connection, all of our therapists are neurodiversity-affirming.  They recognize that neurodivergence is not an illness or disability that needs to be corrected or fixed. They recognize that neurodiverse individuals come with their own set of strengths that can be fostered. Occupational therapy can have a transformative impact in empowering individuals to overcome challenges, embrace their strengths, and lead fulfilling lives.  At Carolina Therapy Connection, we believe it’s all about making sure everyone, no matter how their brain works, can be a part of the fun and excitement in life!

 

 

 

Hearing Loss in Children

About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears! Hearing loss can occur gradually over time and parents may not even realize their children have it. Children may simply adjust to the changes in their hearing and not realize they are missing out on important speech sounds and words. 

What is a hearing screening

Pediatric Audiology 101: Your Child's Hearing Health

A hearing screening is frequently used to check a person’s ability to detect the loudness and pitch of sounds. You can either “pass” or “fail” the screening. If your child passes and there are no other concerns, then you can continue with your child’s regularly scheduled hearing screenings. If your child “fails”, or if you have other concerns about their hearing, then an appointment for more in-depth testing may be necessary to see if there is a hearing loss and what treatment options are best to help support your child. These hearing screenings can help identify people who may need a more thorough hearing evaluation that can be completed by medical personnel such as ENTs or audiologists. Pediatric hearing screenings may take place in early intervention, school audiology, medical, and/or home settings. 

How can I tell if my child has hearing loss? 

  • Difficulty recognizing familiar voices
  • Delayed or absent speech sounds (not making cooing noises, babbling less, few words, distorted speech sounds, etc.)
  • Not turning head toward interesting or startling sounds
  • Delayed language (difficulty understanding simple words, following directions, etc.)
  • Delayed or absent emergence of first words as by two years old children should start combining words into 2-word phrases)
  • If child is older, they may frequently asks others to repeat themselves for clarification
  • Child is speaking louder than others
  • Lack of attention to others, conversations, environmental surroundings
  • Struggles with academics

 

What causes hearing loss in young children? 

  • Frequent ear infections (otitis media; most common)
  • Measles or meningitis
  • Head injuries
  • Exposure to loud noises 
  • Genetic disorders

Interesting Fact… 5/6 children experience ear infections (otitis media) by the time they are 3 years old!

 

What should I do if I suspect my child has hearing loss? 

If you suspect your child has hearing loss, speak with your healthcare provider and discuss your child’s current hearing abilities and address your concerns if you suspect signs of hearing difficulties at home. Early hearing detection and a formal evaluation completed by an audiologist, ENT and/or other qualified medical professional can help determine specific needs and appropriate treatment goals to further support your child’s success. It is important to regularly check on your child’s hearing health to monitor potential changes in hearing!

 

How can Speech therapy help?

Speech-Language Pathologists can play a role in your child’s hearing health by completing hearing screenings as a part of a formal speech and language assessment. If your child does not pass a hearing screening completed by the Speech-Language Pathologist, then a referral will be made for further evaluation with audiological/medical professionals to provide the best of care to your little one. Language acquisition is an essential component of your child’s overall development. Significant hearing loss, if undetected early, can lead to a speech and language delay, further putting your child at risk of falling behind same-aged peers. Given that our hearing plays a significant role in living our daily lives, it is crucial to have your child’s hearing formally evaluated at key milestones, beginning at birth to help lead them to better speech, language, and educational outcomes in the future!

Schedule a screening at Carolina Therapy Connection today!

 

Blog By: Lindsey Bryant, SLP

Not Your Average Toy!

Not Your Average Toy offers a transformative approach to pediatric therapy, catering to the different needs of our pediatric patients in occupational, speech, and physical therapy within our clinic. These specialized toys aren’t just playthings; they motivate children to develop essential skills like fine motor control, visual perceptual abilities, grasping techniques, following multistep directions, stimulating ‘what’ questions, fostering color and shape recognition, encouraging problem-solving, and refining hand-eye coordination. What makes these toys exceptional is their unique ability to grasp the children’s attention while integrating therapeutic goals into engaging activities tailored to each child’s journey toward progress and achievement. Check out some of our favorite “Not average toys!” 

Examples of Not Your Average Toy:

Water Beads: 

What sets water beads apart? Water beads stand out for their fun way of developmental skills. They offer an enjoyable sensory and messy play while enhancing color recognition and sorting abilities. These beads serve as a tool for reaching milestones. Children can play by using a spoon for scooping into a cup, counting exercises, and even hiding items like toy fish or other objects within the beads to engage both hands in a tactile search. These toys facilitate various developmental goals, from color recognition and sorting to refining fine motor skills, in-hand manipulation, bilateral coordination, and sensory play. They also stimulate counting skills and engage in figure-ground activities.

 

Building Blocks: 

Building blocks are known for making a tower and watching it fall, but did you know that they offer various developmental opportunities? These square toys build structures with two hands, allowing a child to work towards bilateral coordination, midline crossing, and fine motor skills. Playing with blocks can also help with color recognition, shape learning, spatial orientation, and teaching concepts through block positions. 

Building blocks can also help with emotional regulation. If a task is challenging or the tower does not stay quite the way intended, this is an excellent opportunity to discuss the feelings raised and allow your child to have a voice.   

 

Puzzles: 

Puzzles are a fun, versatile learning tool for children. They can help children learn about shapes and colors, expand their vocabulary, and identify different types of animals. Puzzles also help children learn to act like put in and take out. You can add a multi-step direction to make a puzzle more challenging, like putting the cow and horse puzzle pieces together in their correct spot. For more engaging questions, ask your child, “What does a cow say?” or “Where is the cow?” Puzzle helps achieve milestones that involve enhancing visual perceptual skills, grasping technique, mastering multi-step directions, and developing problem-solving abilities. 

 

How can Carolina Therapy Connection Help? 

At CTC, we are committed to supporting our families and the child’s developmental journey and helping them achieve these goals at home. Please explore our website (https://www.carolinatherapyconnection.com/) or our Amazon Storefront (https://www.amazon.com/shop/carolinatherapyconnection). These are not your average toys; they are carefully innovative toys that can help foster growth and development. To further understand these toys’ impact, ask your therapist if you can sit in during a session. By watching the interaction between the child playing and the therapist, parents can gain insights into how effective these tools can be and bring these Not Your Average Toys into their home.

 

By: Lauren Hodges, COTA/L, and Allison Hicks

What are primitive reflexes?

A reflex is an automatic and instantaneous response to a sensory stimulus. Remember when you were a child at the doctor’s office and they tapped your knee with a small mallet to check if your leg kicked upwards? You didn’t decide to kick your leg, it just kicked. From infancy, reflexes are vitally important for proper development of the brain, nervous system, body and sensory systems. Some reflexes are meant to stay with us our whole lives. Others are designed to be dormant after their function is fulfilled – also called integration. Check out this awesome resource from Tools to Grow to learn more about specific reflexes and how they impact a child’s function during their daily life. Primitive reflexes are adaptive responses that develop before birth and typically integrate as the brain matures. Primitive reflexes are important for survival and development early in life; however, it is also important that they become integrated as the child grows. Retained reflexes can cause sensory issues, postural disorders, decreased motor skills, and attention/behavioral issues.

What causes retention of primitive reflexes?

Some potential causes of retention of primitive reflexes include c-sections, trauma during birth, exposure to toxins, decreased tummy time during infancy, decreased time crawling, chronic ear infections, or head injuries during infancy among many other unknown causes.

Five Commonly Retained Primitive Reflexes and their Impact on Occupations

1. Moro Reflex

The Moro Reflex is known as the “startle” reflex. This reflects is a fight or flight reaction. It is present at birth and should be integrated by four months. Common effects of retention include emotional outburst, motion sickness, and difficulties with vision, reading, and writing.

2. Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) 

The Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) is known as the “Fencer’s pose”. It assists in the birthing process. It appears at birth and should be integrated by nine months. Common effects of retention include decreased eye-hand coordination, poor handwriting, poor balance, difficulty with reading and math, and difficulty focusing.

3. Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) 

The Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) is an essential foundation for crawling. It appears at six to eight months and should be integrated by nine to eleven months. Common effects of retention include poor posture, W sitting position, poor eye-hand coordination, messy eater, and low muscle tone.

4. Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) 

The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) is commonly seen in children with ADHD diagnoses. It appears before birth and should be integrated by three and a half years of age. Common effects of retention include decreased balance, poor spatial awareness, toe walking, weak muscles, poor posture, and difficulty with climbing.

5. Spinal Galant 

The Spinal Galant Reflex also assists in the birthing process. It appears at birth and should be integrated by three to nine months. Common effects of retention include bed wetting after potty training, hyperactivity, postural issues including scoliosis, attention issues, and decreased endurance.

What are integrated reflexes?

Integrated reflexes are important for developing motor control. A child needs motor control to maintain proper posture at a desk in school, ride a bike, read a book, cross midline, write, and get dressed. A child with integrated reflexes has normal movement patterns to complete these functional tasks at home and at school. A child with unintegrated reflexes could benefit from skilled reflex integration therapy which will essentially train a child’s brain by establishing an efficient movement pattern that supports higher level motor skills or cognitive tasks.

How do you know whether or not your child has integrated these reflexes?

There are many common areas of difficulty that may suggest a retained reflex including the following:

  • “Bouncing” Child: Constantly moving, can’t sit still on a chair, hyperactive
  • “Noodle” Child: Leans on everything, rests head on table
  • “Shirt Chewers”: Constantly chewing on shirts or pencils, and touches everything
  • “Emotional Child”: Challenges with regulating emotions, easily frustrated or upset, difficulty with utilizing age appropriate coping strategies to calm body
  • School Performance Challenges: difficulty with reading, handwriting, language/speech, poor sitting balance and immature grasp on writing utensils
  • Coordination Challenges: Chronic body aches, poor endurance, fatigue, muscle weakness, poor concentration, fidgeting, disorganization

How do I know If My Child Has Retained Primitive Reflexes and What Can I Do?

Once your Occupational Therapist suspects a retained reflex, he/she will educate the caregiver on the importance of carryover for treatment recommendations. Caregivers play an important role in seeing progression in their child’s everyday activities. It is typically recommended that the child completes a set of tailored exercises to meet your child’s needs, 5-10 minutes per day, for 30 consecutive days in order to see any progress. Your therapist may recommended a reward or sticker chart in order to keep your child motivated towards an end goal. Progress can be noted short term and over 9-12 months. In addition to exercises, your Occupational Therapist will make recommendations for modifications in the school and home environments which may include changing positioning during school work, movement breaks, sensory techniques, relaxation techniques, decreasing auditory and visual stimulation, and organizational skills, just to name a few!

In order to determine whether your child would benefit from direct treatment for Reflex Integration, it is recommended that your child be evaluated or screened by an Occupational Therapist at Carolina Therapy Connection. Give us a call at 252-341-9944 today to schedule your FREE occupational therapy screening with one of our experienced and knowledgable OT’s.