Advanced Pediatric Therapies


What Can you do to help your child to thrive?


Have you ever heard the term “Emotional Intelligence”?  It was a buzzword back in the ’90’s when the book by Daniel Goleman came out.  It continues forward into today on the website/movement Six Seconds.  As a global movement, it focuses on helping people to know themselves, exercise self awareness and self management and build others up in the process.  It is a natural tool for both teaching and parenting.

In a recent post on the website, Six Seconds describes what kids need to be able to thrive, and how you can support them in doing just that.

It basically breaks down three skills that kids need to flourish. The first is “engaging intrinsic motivation.”  In other words, doing something because they want to, not necessarily because you want them to! It’s inner motivation.  The second is “exercising optimism.”  This means the child has a sense of hope for the future.  And the third is “pursuing noble goals.”  This means they experience that it feels good to be part of a larger purpose.

Sounds like a tall order, eh?  Yes, but to help kids get there (and you, for that matter), they suggest a few simple steps for you to be aware of in your daily life with your little ones, on up to your teens.

1. Give kids the space and power to choose what they want.  Okay, within reason.  It means let them try that gymnastics class even if you think they are not coordinated enough.  It means letting them have more control in their lives at home and at school.  This is a building block of well being for all of us:  being able to choose what we think will work for us.

2. Model what it’s like to focus on these well being skills yourself.  What does that look like?  Try new things, follow your passions, get excited about doing something.  Let them see this in you.  For example, you don’t have to yell at the guy who cuts you off in traffic.  And if you do, you can point out that you maybe didn’t have to let that get you upset.  Find ways to take care of yourself.  Remember, they are ALWAYS WATCHING.

3.  Encourage your kids to have down time.  The lives of many kids, even preschoolers, can be very overscheduled.  Reexamine your family time and see if maybe just one activity at a time could be doable.  Model taking your own downtime.  Resist the pressure that can come from others.  Know what works for your family.

Finally, it should be noted that well being begins a downward trend from ages 7-18.  Practitioners of emotional intelligence want you to know that you can help your child develop these skills.  Their research and data appear on their website



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Is Your Child Getting Enough Exercise?

happy kids , jumping

A recent article in the Journal Pediatrics uncovered a growing problem among preschoolers that has already affected elementary and high school age kids.  Researchers studied the amount of active play that preschoolers engaged in during a typical day at a child care programs in Seattle.  The kids averaged 48 minutes per day, despite ongoing recommendations that kids engage in 2 hours per day of activity.  Pooja Tandon, a professor at the University of Washington and a researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital cites the worrisome statistics.  Childhood obesity has increased to 18% in kids aged 6 to 11 from 7% in 1980.  Preschoolers have been studied less, but habits developed at this age are likely to follow them to elementary school and beyond.  Day care providers who are more in line with the 2 hour recommendations for active play report improved behavior and even improved sleep at nap time.

What can you do?  Talk to your day care center about how much physical activity is part of their daily schedule.  This includes outdoor time even if it’s raining!

For elementary aged kids, the statistics are daunting.

  • 74% of families say that “family time” is spent in front of a television set
  • 52% of parents say technology is getting in the way of physical activity.
  • 58% of parents say their kids get outside less than 3 days a week.
  • 38% of parents say there is not enough time in the day to achieve physical activity standards.
  • 38% of parents say they can’t afford extracurricular activities to improve physical fitness
  • 41% of families get less than 60 minutes of exercise one day per week.
  • 50% of kids are spending a minimum of 3 hours a day in front of a screen.

With so many kids adopting such low expectations regarding physical activity, their chances for developing chronic diseases like diabetes are increasing.

Consider the following:

  • Most parks and recreation programs have scholarships set up for families who can’t afford extracurricular activities.
  • Kids do what they see:  make sure you have an activity program in place, even if it’s just walking the dog after dinner.
  • Play games that are physical like charades, Twister or Wii.
  • Go outside.  Even if it’s raining.  Kids love puddles!
  • Consider using incentives and think outside the box.  Redefine what it means to “play.”

If you need help setting up an activity program with your child, please ask.  We can help figure out ways to work it into your routine.






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Get Outside!

Every summer, I’m asked to compile a list of outdoor activities for families.  Our service model changes over the summer from weekly visits to intensives.  During that time, we encourage families to get outside to play and to MOVE!  There are so many fun games and activities to choose from.  Here is just a partial list:


For the little ones:

  1.  Crawl around with your mason jar and find some cool bugs and leaves.
  2. Dig in the dirt, use a shovel and get messy!
  3. Play in the sandbox, making sure to have buckets and cups to lift the sand.
  4. Water the plants with heavy buckets of water.
  5. Use an old sprayer to mist the plants or “paint” a brick wall.
  6. Dig up some rocks that you can then paint.
  7. Put some rags in a bucket of water.  Make a chalkboard target on an outside wall.  Throw!!
  8. Climb a tree.
  9. Help Dad wash the car.
  10. Take the dog for a walk, the more pulling the better!
  11. Play tug o’ war.
  12. Go on a nature scavenger hunt.
  13. Jump rope.
  14. Stack rocks and make a sculpture garden.
  15. Make a mud pie.
  16. Run through the sprinkler, then spin through the sprinkler, then jump through the sprinkler, get creative!
  17. Blow bubbles outside and watch them fly away.


For older kids:

  1. Set up a zip line in the back yard.
  2. A slack line is also great for older kids.
  3. Ride your bike around the neighborhood, try to balance on a chalkboard line in the street.
  4. Go for a swim.
  5. Power wash the back deck. Take some before and after photos.
  6. Hang wet clothes outside on the line.  Or hang artwork, or photos. Host an art show.
  7. Go skateboarding or scootering around the neighborhood.
  8. Play bocce ball in the yard with friends.
  9. Play hopscotch or foursquare in the driveway.
  10. Bring fresh flowers or veggies to a friend.
  11. Deliver newspapers.
  12. With supervision, climb a ladder and wipe some windows.
  13. Play some kickball!  Or volleyball!  Or tennis!
  14. Set up a tent (by themselves) and sleep in it in the backyard.
  15. Do a potato sack race.

Give us some of your own ideas!


Update:  If you have younger kids, check out these cool articles from PBS Kids on Sneaking in Learning over the summer and Best Free Apps to get kids outside.

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OT Favorites you can DIY!

We often get requests from families for equipment that we use in the clinic.  When we refer them to equipment suppliers, they are often unable to afford the high price tag.  Here are some items we often use in the clinic that you can make at home (disclaimer: these have not been made by the therapists here, these are moms who are handy and want to share how they fabricated their own equipment).



This swing was fabricated by a mom who has a blog about her child with autism.  It looks pretty simple to make.  Let us know if you give it a try!  Find the link here.


Sensory hack for kids: how to make a DIY no sew crash mat using items from around the house from And Next Comes L

This mom explains how to make your own crash pad like we have in our gym.  I love her ideas for getting the kids involved.  Find the link here.



How about this cool body sock?  We have a couple here but if you have seen them, they are a fun way to incorporate heavy work into playtime.  This mom shows you how to turn a piece of lycra into your child’s very own body sock!  Fun!  Find the link here.



This mom made a pressure vest for her daughter.  If your therapist has recommended a pressure vest at any time, this may work for you.  We would like you to talk to your therapist before you make one so you know prescriptively exactly what your child would benefit from.  But if you can make it yourself, that would be great!  Find the link here.



This mom made stretchy resistance bands for her kids to help with heavy work play for her kiddos.  This is something that would be really fun for siblings.  Find the link here.



This mom used polyfil to make a weighted blanket.  There are lots of links out there for making your own weighted blankets.  Etsy sells some too.  This seems like it would be good because of the individual pillows holding it all together.  Find the link here.



So many of our kids have trouble quieting their bodies to go to sleep at night.  Sometimes  a super stretchy sheet can help.  This mom made one using stretchy material.  Seems pretty easy!  Find the link here.

If you have made something you would like to share, please do so below in the comments section or share with your OT.  Also if you try any of these, let us know!



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Advocate for Recess!


I remember being in school and the teacher calling this out to us in the lunchroom or class.  It meant (hooray!) it was time to get outside and get all our wiggles out.  Recess means a break from having to sit in one place, use our brains intensely and not having to listen closely to a teacher.  It meant fun, movement and a sort of freedom from the monotony of the school day.  What we didn’t know at the time was that our brains and bodies needed a reset button.  Recess was not a reward, but rather a reserved time just like art, math or lunch.  In our current test-driven educational environment, not only is recess in jeopardy, but it’s value has been called into question.  Recess is not a privilege for kids who are well behaved or get good grades.  Research has shown it to be essential to your child’s development.

Recess in recent years has been limited and even cancelled.  Schools are feeling stress to improve kids’ grades and test scores and the more time spent in the classroom, in their opinion, the better.  Leading educators have been calling this into question more and more in recent years, citing many studies that say that by doing so, we are putting the health of kids at risk.

Research has yet to prove that removing recess with raise test scores, but the following benefits have been proven for kids.  Kids who have recess:

  • Are less fidgety and more on task
  • Have improved memory and more focused attention
  • Develop more brain connections
  • Learn negotiation skills
  • Exercise leadership, teach games, take turns, and learn to resolve conflicts

The American Academy of Pediatrics put out a policy statement in 2013 advocating for the “Crucial Role of Recess” in the development of children.  It is required reading for parents and educators alike.  The paper discusses the cognitive, physical and social benefits of recess in great detail.  In addition, it states that the removal of recess should NEVER be used as punishment.

What can you as a parent do?  The excellent website Peaceful Playgrounds provides handouts, guides and presentations which are easy to download and offer lots of other resources too.  Together, we can take back recess!


from an article I wrote for
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Chore Ideas for the Summer


Ah summer!  Kids get to revel in their school free days.  They sleep late and play all day (depending on their age…your older kids may be more sedentary).  But kids should also be responsible for helping out around the house as well.  Developmentally, kids of different ages should be given appropriate tasks.  In previous posts, we’ve discussed the benefits of “heavy work” in growing a healthy body in terms of neuromuscular development.  Here’s an age by age guide to help you assign tasks that are doubly beneficial:  Both for your family and for the emotional/physical growth of your child.  For each age group, they can also do all earlier age group chores.

Ages two to three:

  • Make your bed with heavy blankets
  • Pick up and put away clothes
  • Collect dirty clothes and bring them to the laundry room.  (Can use a bag and drag them)
  • Wipe cabinets/tables/baseboards.

*Note to parents:  Please remember that your toddler, preschooler or school age child will not be doing these chores the way you do them (sometimes not even high schoolers!).  They will not be perfect. Don’t allow that to stop you.  It will always be easier to do it yourself.  But by allowing them to do these things themselves, you are showing them how to contribute, how to be part of a team and nurturing skills which will make them more independent in the future.

Ages four to five:

  • Put dirty dishes in dishwasher
  • Vaccuum or dust buster small carpets moving up to larger ones, then furniture cushions etc.
  • Roll out recycling bin and trash bin
  • Set and clear table
  • Roll out dough
  • Weeding the garden
  • Water plants inside and out
  • Carry their own books to the library

Ages six to eight:

  •  Meal prep assistance
  • Wipe down bathroom counters and tub
  • Sweep
  • Hang laundry on the line with clothespins
  • Rake leaves

Ages nine to eleven:

  • Fully clean tub and shower
  • Plan and make a simple meal
  • Clean out frig and freezer, wipe down and replace
  • Wash, dry and fold clothes
  • Clean toilets

Ages twelve and up:

  • Mow the lawn (older kids can ask neighbors to do theirs if they’d like to earn extra money)
  • Fully clean the bathroom
  • Shovel snow
  • Iron clothes
  • Vaccuum all floors, mop all floors
  • Straighten and organize closets

There are all kinds of chore charts and ways to keep track with a simple internet search.  Playtime is incredibly important, but so is being part of a family who all do things to help out.  Let us know if there are other chore ideas you have, the list is endless!


From my article in
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The Amazing Vestibular System

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Hello from the APT book club!

apt photoWe recently met at Tamar’s lovely home to discuss “The Whole Brain Child” by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.

The Whole Brain Child provides 12 strategies to “nurture” the child’s mind as they grow and mature.  It’s an extremely user-friendly book that makes the neurology easy to understand and the strategies easy to implement.  We have been using some in the clinic (and with our own kids!) since reading the book, many of us for the 2nd time.  We have been using the Wheel of Awareness, “What would you do?” questions, engage don’t enrage and S.I.F.T. most specifically.  Feel free to ask about the book or borrow one of our copies.  We’re here for you!

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Sensory Processing 101: What does it mean?

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Clothing for Sensory Kids!

A parent shared the link for this clothing line called “Independence Day” for her son with autism.  Getting dressed with all the belts, snaps etc. was causing her to set her alarm for an hour earlier just to help him get ready for school.  In addition, the fasteners were irritating to him.  She discovered this line of clothes for young adults which are fashionable, comfortable and you can even purchase a GPS tracker for kids who are at risk for wandering.  The line includes t-shirts, dresses, tunics, leggings and cargo pants.

If you are looking for other sensory friendly clothing for other ages, check out this blog post on Friendship Circle.  These include soft clothes, swimwear, shoes and easy to put on socks.  Check it out!  Please speak to your occupational therapist before ordering any specialized clothing.  We can help you figure out if pressure garments or compression vests are right for your child.


from the Independence Day website

from the Independence Day website





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