Advanced Pediatric Therapies


Back to School!

Forgive me!  APT has been hard at work all summer, but your blog writer has taken a brief reprieve to soak up some rays and take some time with her own kiddos.  Rest assured, the blog is not forgotten and welcomes your ideas.

It's Back to School Time!  (photo courtesy of edulicious)

It’s Back to School Time! (photo courtesy of edulicious)

It’s nearly that time:  Back to School!  Based on how your summer has been, you may or not be cheering right now.  We wanted to give you some ideas for how to ease the transition back to school for you and your children.

1.  You know the drill:  Routine, routine, routine!  For the week before or at least a few days before your child goes back to school, keep a good predictable schedule of meals, bath tiime and bedtime.

2.  Let your child take part in purchasing school supplies.  Let them handle the supplies before you buy them and before school starts so they are not distracted by that awesome new folder or that pencil that clicks.  You can go during off times to reduce overload.

3.  Oh those new school clothes!  Kids get so excited about wearing their new duds, but for our kiddos, it may be better to let them wear those new clothes once or twice before school starts in case there are any problems with fit or comfort.

4.  Does your child need an eye exam?  Lots of fine motor or coordination problems can be traced to visual problems.  If you need a referral to a pediatric opthalmologist or developmental optometrist, let us know.

5.  If your child is entering kindergarten or going to a new classroom or has trouble with new teachers, it’s a great idea to to touch base with your child’s school before school even starts.  Many schools have kindergarten prep classes, start-up or other programs to help ease the first day jitters.  Meeting that important new person before the first day can be very helpful.

6.  Parenting for Special Needs has a great form called “Getting to Know My Child” that can help your child’s new teacher learn about your unique child.  Check it out here.

7.  An OT, Lesley Biehl, created a checklist for parents which may help your the classroom staff identify areas which can be adapted for your child.  You can download it here.

As always, you can ask any of the staff at APT for help with back to school transitions.  Encourage your child to be curious, and be open to having fun!


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Help with Sleep

Is this your kiddo?  Photo from
Is this your kiddo? Photo from

Sleep is a complicating issue in childhood.  Not getting enough can mean not being able to pay attention in school, difficulty processing new information and just general crabbiness.  And not just for your child!  Their problems with sleep can be stressful for the whole family.  There are some general things you can do to help facilitate a good night’s sleep.

First, it’s important to know how much sleep your child needs.  An infant may sleep up to 14 hours a day, but school age children need about 10 hours a night.  And don’t let late night texting fool you, adolescents require 9-10 hours of sleep as well.  After school activities, bedtimes and homework need to be monitored so you can help ensure some decent slumber.

Second, it is important to remember that calming ourselves is a self regulation tool that lots of our kids have not readily developed.  While we may have a cup of tea, take a bath or read a relaxing book, a child with SPD may not know how to wind down if revved up from a busy day.  They have trouble listening to their bodies and being able to do what they need to do in order to make a smooth transition to dreamland.

Follow these tips, some may even be useful to us as adults!  (Courtesy of North Shore Pediatric Therapy)

Strictly follow your nighttime routine as much as possible:  With siblings, practices, and crammed evening schedules this can be difficult but remember a young nervous system clings to routine.  It alleviates anxiety and is a great way to lay the groundwork for healthy habits in the future.  The predictable nature of routine lends itself to a brain that is able to calm down easier:  it doesn’t have to worry about what comes next.

Try some rocking:  There’s a reason mothers have been doing this for centuries!  Slow, linear movements are extremely calming to the central nervous system.  Rocking your child in a rocking chair is a great way to slow them down.  A swing in their room works too!  Check this one out from IKEA:

Bath Time:  It’s an easy way to incorporate calming warmth, parental bonding; not to mention removing the grime from playing in the mud all day!

Read a book:  Choose a book that is calming (save the books with lots of loud noises for daytime) and be sure to get in a good snuggle.

Avoid activities that are very exciting and alerting to your child:  This is not the time for tickles or light feathery touches, which can be too stimulating.  Also avoid jumping or spinning.  These activities are alerting for the nervous system.

No screen time before bed:  Pediatricians recommend no screens for 1-2 hours before bed.  Those little blue screens stimulate parts of the brain responsible for attention and alertness.  Better are reading, talking, playing quiet games and hugs of course!

Prevention is the best strategy:  Start off with a good sensory diet which balances alerting and calming activities throughout the day.  You can head off a lot of problems with a plan which incorporates activities in a way that supports both rest and play.

As always, ask your therapist if you have any questions.  We are here to help!

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Rainy Day Activities

There's still lots to do, even if it's rainy outside.

There’s still lots to do, even if it’s rainy outside.

If you are like many parents I have seen lately (including myself!), you are in need of some ideas of activities for your children that you can do during those all too frequent rainy days.   First, find yourself a bucket, bin or other container.  You can label it whatever you like:  “Rainy day ideas,”  “I’m Bored Bucket,” let your child guide you to what it is called.  Within the jar, place folded up paper suggestions for what to do.  You can take ideas from what you have seen your child do in OT or here are some other thoughts from the folks at Sensory Spectrum, Parenting, Real Simple and the tool kit of your OT’s at APT:

1.Visual Scavenger Hunt:  Look outside your window and take inventory of things you see.  Make a list.  It could be a type of tree, a car, a bird nest, a house number etc.  Then let your child take a turn and cross things off the list.  It’s a great visual scanning and visual motor task.  

2.Paper Airplane Race:  Make a paper airplane and have a contest to see whose plane can go the furthest.  Making a paper airplane incorporates many fine motor skills into a fun game.

3.Be a movie director:  Give the kids an idea of something to do.  Give them a chance to plan it out, then shoot the movie!  It’s fun to ask kids how many different ways they can spin, how high they can jump, how many push ups they can do.  They are sure to ham it up for the camera.

4.Whole House Obstacle Course:  Even if your house is small, there are things you can do to make the movements BIG.  For example, jump on bed, roll around room, crawl under table, run up stairs, lie down without moving (often the toughest challenge of all!)

5.Cotton Ball Challenges:  Blow them for a race, crawl while holding the cotton ball on a spoon, running while trying to keep the cotton ball on your head.  All are distinctly challenging to motor planning.

6.Indoor Camping: Making forts are some of the greatest memories and fun of childhood.  Small and enclosed spaces are often very calming to an overworked nervous system.  Try out one for a peaceful refuge or for a picnic.

7.Snuggles:  Always encouraged.  Frequently, but not always welcome by your child.  Squeezes are a super way to spend an afternoon.

8.Puddle Jumping:  In our climate, puddles are a common occurrence.  But instead of yelling at your kids to stay away from them, gear them up and encourage them to make a big splash!  Great, fun way to get proprioceptive input.

9.Draw on the windows and french doors with dry erase/window markers:  Writing on a vertical surface is a fun way to encourage proper writing technique.

10.Make some sensory bins:  Dried beans, cooked spaghetti, foam peanuts, whatever you’ve got.  Hide toys in it.  It doesn’t have to be large.

11.Go Swimming!  Chances are your local indoor pool is open despite the weather.  Swimming is a perfect deep pressure activity, incorporating resistance naturally to any movement in the water.

12.Play Charades:  It’s social, motor, visual: whatever you want it to be.

13.Get Dancing:  Turn up the music!  You can incorporate some play wrestling by pushing on each others hands while dancing.

14.Slow Motion Tag:  A motor planning challenge that’s harder than it seems.  Chase your child in slow motion, talk in slow motion, react in slow motion.

15.Pretend to be a…  Using the idea of starting small and slow, then coming back down.  Pretend to be a seed, then grow and stretch.  Pretend to be a kernel of popcorn then turn into a popping piece, then slow down again.

16.Stand Together:  Sit back to back on the floor, loop arms together, then try to stand up.  Talk to each other to work it out.  Other two person:  Hip waddle:  stand side to side with one arm around the other.  Put a ball between you.  Try to move around the house without dropping the ball.  Rainbow:  Lie down on your backs and push your feet together to arc into a rainbow, touching floor on one side and swooping over to the other.

17.Mud Pies:  That old childhood favorite!  Kids can use out of season sand buckets and shovels to shovel mud and form into “cakes” and “pies” using decor such as rocks, shells.  Digging is deep pressure at it’s best and so is carrying all those heavy treasures!  Yum!

Or if you just want to be left alone for awhile:  There are lots of great kid exercise DVD’s on Amazon.  Read the reviews and find one based on your kids natural interests:  yoga, kickboxing etc.

Have Fun!

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