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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.). 

 

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!

 

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!

 

 

 

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. 

Is My Child Ready For Potty Training?

Is My Child Ready For Potty Training?

Many parents ask the question, “Is my child ready for potty training?” Making the transition out of diapers is an important developmental milestone but it can also be a topic that causes frustration and anxiety for both children and their caregivers. Questions about when to start and how to promote a child’s success with potty training can feel overwhelming. If you are a caregiver that can relate to any of those feelings, this blog post is for you!

When Should I Start Potty Training?

This is a question that many caregivers ask themselves. A variety of factors must be considered before initiating the toilet training process. A child must be physically, emotionally, cognitively, and physiologically ready prior to  starting the process. Here are some tips to identify whether your child may be ready:

Emotional readiness – Can your child tolerate sitting on the toilet or potty training seat? Are they excited about wearing “big kid” underwear?

Cognitive readiness: Can your child follow 1-2 step directions? Can they communicate their need to use the restroom?

Physiological readiness: Are they able to stay dry up to two hours at a time or wake up from a nap with a clean pull-up?

Physical readiness: Is your child able to sit on a toilet or potty training seat without assistance? Can they get on and off the toilet with little to no assistance? Can they assist with managing their clothing during toileting tasks?

potty training, occupational therapy, tips and tricks of potty training

If you have said yes to the majority of the above questions, then your child may be ready to begin potty training! 

At what age can I expect my child to start potty training?

 The following list includes general guidelines to help establish a baseline of where a child might be on their journey towards potty training. However, each child has a different timeline in which they are emotionally, physically, cognitively, and physiologically ready for potty training. It is vital that you never push a child towards progressing through the developmental sequence. If you see meltdowns or signs of regression, it may be best to take a break and try again at a later time.

 

Developmental Sequence for Toileting:

1 year – Children indicate that they are wet/soiled through non-verbal signs of distress

2 years – Child begins to tolerate sitting on the toilet

30 months – Child communicates that they need to use the bathroom and will likely require assistance with managing their clothing and wiping

3 years – Children will initiate using the toilet independently. They may attempt to wipe but continue to require assistance for thoroughness. 

4-4.5 years – Children may have a few accidents. They are able to manage their clothing independently. 

5 years – Child is able to complete a full toilet routine independently, including washing and drying their hands. 

5-7 years – Children are consistently able to stay dry throughout the night. 

 

Tips to Help Progress Through the Potty Training Process

  • Make potty training FUN!

Whether it is the sound of the toilet flushing or the new environment, some children may have a fear of sitting on the toilet. If a child is anxious, they may be hesitant to sit on the toilet or may not even tolerate sitting on it. One method to help ease this transition is to allow the child to play with their favorite toys while sitting fully clothed on the toilet. Another method to make potty training fun is to invite the child into the process. You can do this by allowing the child to pick out their underwear and ask them to choose their potty seat. This helps address their newfound need for autonomy and allows them to take pride in the potty training process. 

  • Consistency is key. 

Establishing a consistent routine will help minimize a child’s accidents and increase their likelihood of using the toilet successfully. A general guideline is to prompt the child to sit on the toilet as soon as they wake up, after naps, and in two hour intervals throughout the day. Encourage your child to sit on the toilet for a few minutes at a time. It can be helpful to read a story to them while on the toilet or provide them with a preferred toy to make this time fun and engaging.

  • Know the signs. 

If a child is squatting, holding their genital area, or fidgeting, they may need to use the bathroom. Prompt the child to sit on the toilet when these signs occur. This can help the child become familiar with these signals to increase their ability to identify these signs as well. 

  • Celebrate the small victories. 

It is important that parents and caregivers build up a child’s confidence and self-efficacy during the potty training process. Caregivers can do this by providing their child with positive praise and celebrating the small victories! Some examples of this include praising their child for sitting on the toilet, communicating that they need to use the bathroom, successfully using the toilet, and completing all other steps in the toileting sequence (ex. Pulling up their pants, flushing the toilet, washing their hands). Sticker charts can also help motivate children to use the bathroom by providing them with a tangible reward to work towards!

  • Know there will be accidents. 

In combination with Point 4 above, it is important to know that accidents will happen and how to respond when they do. Never punish a child for soiling their clothing. Instead, always be prepared with an extra set of underwear or clothing, especially when going out in the community. 

You can find more tips on the potty training process here!

 

How can Carolina Therapy Connection Help?

If your kiddo struggles with self-regulation, completing their daily activities, or meeting developmental milestones, call our clinic at (252) 341-9944! Your child may benefit from an occupational therapy screening or formal evaluation!

Blog By: Emily Britt, OT