Friday, November 12, 2010

Attention Santa's Elves!

Every year I have parents that ask me what they should get their children for Christmas that will foster developmental skills and be fun and the same time. Before you begin your Holiday Shopping take a look at some of my favorite toys that will foster sensory integration, gross motor, bilateral integration, motor planning, fine motor and visual motor skills.
There are toys that span many age groups, as well as across many developmental categories. I have tried to limit them to two categories, although some would fit in every category! Also, shop around as I’ve noticed that prices vary considerably.

Sensory:
·        Crocodile Rocker
·        Hungry Pelican
·        Fropper
·        What’s in Ned’s Head?
·        Moon Shoes
·        Hoberman Sphere
·        Yogateers
·        Belly Bump Ball
·        Bubblin’ Glitterbug
·        Insta-Snow
·        Double Light Show
·        Pin Art
·        Glow Light Jar
·        Hop Ball
·        GBOP
·        Wheel Roller
·        Young Artist’s Toolbox (Toys to Grow On)
·        What’s Inside?  Soft Feely Box
·        Pop Up Tent
·        Inflatable Ball Pit
·        Mini-Trampoline

Gross Motor:
·        Fropper
·        Moon Shoes
·        EzyRoller
·        GBOP
·        Mini Trampline

Bilateral Integration:
·        Flying Turtle
·        Hoberman Sphere
·        EzyRoller
·        Wheel Roller
·        Ball Blaster Arcade Game

Motor Planning:
·        Flying Turtle
·        OGO Sport Disc
·        Rectangle Puzzle/Circles Puzzle
·        Yogateers
·        Color Magic Sticker Book
·        Hop Ball
·        Creative Mosaic Puzzle
·        Imaginets
·        Magnetic Mosaico
·        Rainbow Mosaic Pattern Puzzles
·        Box of Castle Blocks
·        Bristle Blocks
·        Pop Fly

Fine Motor:
·        Mighty Magnets
·        Blokus and Blokus Trigon
·        Hungry Pelican
·        Alex’s My Giant Busy Box
·        Mr. Mouth Game
·        Glide Game
·        Imaginets
·        Magnetic Mosaico
·        Avalanche Fruit Salad Game
·        Rainbow Mosaic Pattern Puzzles
·        Bristle Blocks
·        Box of Castle Blocks
·        Young Artist’s Toolbox
·        What’s Inside?  Soft Feely Box

Visual Motor/Visual Perceptual:
·        Blokus and Blokus Trigon
·        Alex’s My Giant Busy Box
·        Mr. Mouth Game
·        I Spy Eagle Eye Game
·        Rectangle Puzzle/Circles Puzzle
·        OGO Sport Disc
·        Find It
·        Color Magic Sticker Book
·        Hearth Song’s Three-In-One Doorway Target Game
·        Pin Art
·        Creative Mosaic Puzzle
·        Glide Game
·        Imaginets
·        Rainbow Mosaic Pattern Puzzles
·        LIFE Spot the Differences Puzzles
·        LIFE Picture Puzzles
·        Highlights My First Hidden Pictures Books
·        Pop Fly
·        Ball Blaster Arcade Game

If you would like us to help you identify something special for your child, just let us know!

Happy Holidays!
Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Holiday Travel

A friend of mine posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone had a portable DVD player she could borrow for her son for an upcoming plane ride.  While that is a great idea to occupy the little movers, I found that Wikki Stix can be a lifesaver, too!  They stick to the airplane tray so that you’re not constantly bending over to pick them up and you can do so much with them!  It will take some of your engagement so that you can suggest some different things to do with them:  wrap them around a finger or pencil, make jewelry, twist two of them together and shape them into a candy cane, form shapes, letters or a picture, etc.  Also, anything magnetic is good so that you have some control of all of the pieces.  Watch for Fundanoodle’s Magna Stix (www.fundanoodle.com)!  Enjoy your upcoming holiday travel!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Save the Fright for Halloween Night

I have oodles of catalogs on my kitchen counter full of Halloween Costumes.  For most kids it’s an exciting time.  For other kids with sensory issues, it’s a nightmare.  Many costumes are itchy, scratchy and even noisy.  How can we expect a child with tactile defensiveness to wear a mask?  Instead of planning a trip to the costume shop, take a look in your child’s closet and pull out some of his favorite pieces of clothing that you might be able to turn into a costume. Consider the following when choosing a costume for your sensitive dressers:
  • Wide, soft collars
  • Tagless garments
  • Flat seaming
  • No appliqu├ęs
  • Soft, elastic waists
  • Soft fabrics
  • Not too loose and not too tight
  • Seamless socks
  • Don’t plan on make up or masks

If your child has a comfy costume, it will make your Halloween parade an enjoyable time for everyone! 

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

He's Cool, Two Straps and All!



Yes, I know it’s not “cool” to wear two straps on your backpack!  I also know that if you carry a lot of heavy book with only one strap it will cause back pain!  I was at the softball field two nights ago and a friend of mine was telling me how her middle school daughter’s back hurt because of the amount of books in her backpack.  Did you know that a recent study suggested that 6 out of 10 students ages 9-20 years old complained of chronic back pain related to backpacks? Knowing this, I had to give my two cents! How appropriate, given today is National School Backpack Awareness Day!

Follow their slogan, “Pack it Light and Wear it Right!”
Protect your child’s back by enforcing these guidelines:
·        Get out your tape measure and choose the appropriate size for your child’s back- many companies have various sizes to choose from.
·        Wear two well padded straps and use a waist belt if you have one
·        Wear the backpack close to your back
·        Make sure the backpack is above your bottom
·        Never carry more than 15% of your body weight (a good rule of thumb is < 15 pounds).  Fifteen pounds is heavy, that is nearly 2 gallons of milk!!!
·        Carry the largest, heaviest books closest to your back
·        If your school permits, use a book bag on wheels

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thinking Inside the Box (Hot Tamales, that is!)

I am sitting here looking at my Hot Tamales box and thinking how those letters would be great for my little boy, Owen, to write in. Owen is learning his letters and some have come easier for him than others. So, to make it fun, we have found lots of different ways to recognize and write his letters. While at the beach, recently, we discovered a fun way to use the children’s menus and the free literature in the restaurants. Since many of the menus have bubble or block lettering, he first had to find a letter that maybe looked a little different to him. If it was smaller in size he circled the letter. Many advertisements within the free publications had large letters which allowed for plenty of space to write within. Since there were only a few on each page, he felt a sense of accomplishment as he completed each page and eagerly flipped to the next for his next challenge. So, don’t worry about getting flashcards and all of the fancy supplies at the teacher’s store, take a look around. There are plenty of opportunities for learning all around you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Calm, but full of energy

Dead Bug, Butterfly, Downward Dog… These are just a few of the children’s favorite yoga poses! It is so cool to see children with such a variety of abilities make their way into these poses, and all with smiles! Really, the room is calm, but full of energy.

We are gearing up to host a Pediatric Yoga Therapy course this weekend! Taught by our own Chrys Kub, PT, ERYT and Karen Charlton, PT, RYT 200, it’s sure to be a great learning experience for physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals who are looking to integrate yoga into their existing pediatric practice.

Go to www.yogatherapycharlotte.com for more details.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tired Little Faces

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seem some tired little faces both coming off the bus at my house, as well as during the afterschool hours in the clinic. Tired leads to grumpy, and the heat certainly doesn’t help!!! This means that we, as parents, have to have greater tolerance for the meltdowns. Remember to take care of yourselves so that you can be your best when they march through your front door! Try the following stress busters while your kids are at school and especially on this holiday weekend:


• Take a walk in nature

• Practice a few yoga poses (check out www.planetyoga.com for some poses and you may see Chrys Kub, one of our PTs on there!)

• Get extra rest

• Get prepared for next week; make a list of what you need to accomplish- it always feels good to check those items off!

• Allow time for one of your hobbies: painting, gardening, crafts

• Call a friend

• Get some grown up time with your friends or spouses

• Take a bath with aromatherapy (scents like vanilla, lavender, honeysuckle are calming)

• Go dancing

• Exercise

• Get out in the sunshine

• Think positively: give a compliment, do a small favor for another grown up



Happy Labor Day!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Friday, August 27, 2010

So, it’s not what I had in mind…

It’s the first day of school for my son, who is entering Pre-K at his new big boy school. He woke me up this morning and asked if it was “morning time, yet?” After he learned it was o.k. to get up he eagerly yelled back, “good, because I don’t want to miss my bus!” (He’s been waiting to ride the bus with his big sister for several years, now.) By the time I got into his room he was halfway dressed in his plaid shorts and t-shirt, not exactly what I had in mind for his first day of school, given I had two outfits ready for him to choose from hanging on his closet door. It was hard for me, but I had to let it go. He was excited and feeling good about what he had chosen, and he had gotten dressed in record time.

It is important to give our children a sense of control or the ability to make choices (within our parameters). This is especially important for a child with sensory defensiveness as he so often feels out of control with the bombardment of incoming sensory stimuli. Throughout the day, and especially during challenging times for him (getting dressed, eating dinner, etc.), give him two options to choose from (both of which you’re o.k. with). If you’re trying to convince your child to brush his teeth, ask him, “should I sing the ABC song or count to 30 while you brush?” Often you’ll find he’ll respond, “count to 50!” and he’ll immediately begin brushing! It’s not what you had in mind, but it works!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Butterflies in your stomach…

As I got my fourth grader off to her first day of school this morning, she said, “Mom, I have butterflies in my stomach.” I remember that feeling on the first day of school each year even through high school. Most kids will experience some sort of nervousness or anxiety as they transition back to school this fall. For some, this will result in a change in behavior, especially for our children with sensory integration difficulties. It may not surface right away, but look out, because you know it’s coming! Use these tools to ease the transition back into school:
  • The night before: talk about tomorrow- this could be verbally or by use of a picture schedule
  • In the morning: review the schedule for the day- some children need specifics including times, others will be o.k. with first school, then home 
  • This is the time to ramp up heavy work! Allow your child the opportunity to run and play outside, and encourage activities where they have to push objects, pull ropes, carry weighted materials. 
  • Some children may need a time to “chill out” before beginning homework. Give your child a structured period of time to relax: one game, one show, etc. Then, prior to beginning homework, have your child get moving (chair push ups, wheelbarrow walks, animal walks, carry a laundry basket upstairs, etc.) for about ten minutes.
  • Provide Structure- this is hard for some of us, but try to have dinner at the same time, follow the same bedtime routine (bath, books, bed) and get them to bed at the same time 
  • And, as well all know…get plenty of sleep and eat right! This can be a challenge in itself for our sensory kids, so especially during this period, don’t make any changes to your child’s bedroom, sleeping habits, eating habits, etc. Save your new recipes for later and allow about a month to six weeks to pass before you begin any new vitamins or medication. 
If you need additional heavy work ideas call our office and we’ll be sure to get you a copy of our heavy work list.
  
Michelle Yoder, OTR/L