Advanced Pediatric Therapies


What are “Accommodations”?

There are lots of kids in schools who have problems paying attention and also problems with learning.  Maybe you have been told your child has a learning disability, or maybe that they have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  There are many names and diagnoses including dyslexia and ADHD.

If you have been told this but don’t know what to do next, first talk to your child’s teacher to see if simple adaptations can work in the classroom.  This may mean moving your child to the front of the classroom so they can pay attention better.  Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to see what works.  If more help is needed, talk to the teacher to find out if you can get an IEP or 504 meeting at your child’s school.  Even if they go to a private school, schedule a meeting with the counselor to get a meeting planned.

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Accommodations help your child learn what is expected.  Some parents are afraid to “dumb down” the material from the class.  If it’s a purely learning or attention issue, it’s not what they are learning but HOW they are learning that is important.  Accommodations can be anything from seat placement to building in more time to take tests to lighting and more.

If your child already has an IEP or 504 plan, be sure to check in with the teacher at the beginning of the year and periodically after that.  Some teachers are so busy that they may need reminders at times, and your child may be afraid to bring it up.  Remember, accommodations don’t change expectations of what is learned.  They change how they learn or how they can best demonstrate what they already know.

If you don’t know the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan, read this article. An IEP is a plan for how special education will serve your child.  A 504 could possibly be part of the plan.  Both are provided free of charge to students in public schools.  The above article gives a great chart of what each can contribute to your child’s education.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A teacher is your best resource and may ask for input from other professionals to devise a plan best suited to your child.

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Why Can’t My Child Focus?

As your child goes back to school, you may be concerned about his or her ability to pay attention.

As your child goes back to school, you may be concerned about his or her ability to pay attention.

At APT, we see a lot of kids who have a hard time paying attention.  They fidget, they get up, their eyes wander.  There are as many reasons for this as there are kids!  By paying attention yourself, you can help your child focus on the task at hand.

You’ve got to move it, move it…  I apologize in advance for getting that song in your head, but it’s true!  Movement kick starts the brain’s ability to pay attention.  Provided in the proper ways, movement helps a child’s focus.  A great way to start the school year is to walk to school, or if you can’t, park further away and walk.  Try and get some movement going in the morning.  Stay away from the tv.

Talk to your child’s teacher.  Giving them a head’s up on your child is important.  Lots of teachers have great expertise in helping kids to focus with such programs as BrainGym.  Doing wall push ups or dots and squeezes prior to activities which require focus is helpful.  Some teachers set aside long periods for seated work.  Let your child’s teacher know that he or she will need a movement break (which can benefit the whole class!)  If you need suggestions for how to talk to your child’s teacher, ask us!

Read to your child, or do crafts.  When kids see that if they put the time in, they will be rewarded, they are more likely to follow through.  Try your hardest to keep going even when your child wants to give up (squirming, eye-rolling…).  Your commitment to the end result (getting to the ending of the story, a complete craft project) will go a long way to helping your child know the consequences of diligence.

Pay attention to posture and breathing.  When kids are slumped or don’t otherwise have room to expand their breathing muscles, they engage in more shallow breathing.  As such, their bodies are telling them, it’s okay to relax and check out now.  When kids sit up, they are more able to breathe efficiently and thereby pay attention better.  Try it yourself.

Board games.  Those board games that are gathering dust?  Pull them out of your closet and give them a whirl.  A game with a beginning, middle and end is a great way to reward sustained concentration.  You may have more fun than you think you will!  See us for ideas on games your child might like.

Go outside and play.  Tag, hide and seek and catch are great ways to encourage longer periods of focus.  Working in the yard, garden or tool shed with dad are great ways to motivate longer periods of attention.

Rethink technology.  Many of us parents are loathe to allow a child to spend time in front of a screen.  Read this article on the Touch Screen Generation.  It may help you figure it out.  Limiting their time and having them earn screen time are good ideas.

Examine your own reactions.  Try not to let them give up, even when accompanied by whining.  Also, don’t run to help them at the first sign of frustration.  It’s good for your child to be uncomfortable and have to struggle to figure something out.  Now is the time for them to learn those skills.

As always, ask your OT to help you if you have questions or concerns.

Thanks to Pediastaff for some ideas in this post.

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