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Wrapping Presents for all Abilities

“Rocking (and unwrapping) around the Christmas Tree” – with Glee

green present

You’ve been plotting, planning, shopping and ordering fabulous holiday gifts for your little one. Now, it’s time to wrap up that pile of goodies! Here are a few tips to make the unwrapping process by your child easier and more fun for everyone!

  1. Use a single piece of tape while wrapping:

    Little fingers have a hard time pinching and pulling long edges of perfectly secured wrapping paper, make the wrapping/unwrapping process easier on both you and your child by securing sides with a single small piece of tape. The easier to unwrap, the less you have to help and the greater independence you foster in your child!

  2. Use festive bags:

    Avoid the hassle and frustration of unwrapping challenges all together by placing your child’s gifts in holiday bags! The ease of reaching in and removing their special gifts makes the moment more magical!

  3. Skip the wrapping, use a blanket, bag or box:

    Instead of wrapping presents, allow for an “unveiling” of gifts done by the child or parent with a “cover and lift” method. Simple placement of a cover leads to easy removal, decreasing the frustration of small eager hands without spoiling the surprise!

  4. Have toys and objects ready for use:

    The morning of a holiday brings chaos. The anticipation of gifts can lead to high tensions in the home. Make the moment more enjoyable for both of you by setting up toys or gifts ahead of time for prompt use. This means ditching the cardboard boxes, cutting through the tough zip ties, and inserting batteries (when required) before wrapping. Your child will delight in being able to promptly play with their new items while you relax and soak up the smiles!

  5. Scraps saved for learning:

    When the gifts have been opened and the bags, wrapping paper and tissue paper have been strewn about the room, collect the remnants in a box for later use. These various textures, colors and papers provide an excellent opportunity to work on skill building such as digging/finding, texture exposure, cutting with scissors, ripping/tearing, sorting, color identification, and other fun play and learning activities!  

Really let yourselves enjoy the holiday season by removing the stress of present unwrapping with these helpful tips! If your child is having difficulty around the holidays with motor skills for unwrapping and/or management of emotions or expectations impacting sleep, behavior or play, BDI therapists are here to help, offering free consultations for families all year round. We are wishing you the happiest of holidays!

Written by: Maggie Lord, MS, OTR/L

 

Gift Guide 2020

BDI Playhouse is thrilled to share its 2020 gift guide.  This list is compiled by BDI Playhouse’s therapists specifically for children of all abilities.  The toys are shown through an Amazon Idea List but shopping around and shopping second-hand is highly encouraged!  A variation of each one of these toys can be found at BDI Playhouse’s clinics and are used on a daily basis.  The first list contains items that can be bought at the store or sent straight to your house.  The second list contains experience based gifts.  Both are intended to help your child grow in many areas!

Gifts for Growing Minds and Bodies

Amazon Gift Guide

Gifts that Keep on Giving

  1. Season passes: zoo, museum, aquarium
  2. One-time passes: movies, bowling, swimming, theatre performance, Disney on ice, circus, ice skating, roller skating
  3. Subscriptions: KiwiCo, National Geographic Kids Magazine, Little Passports
  4. Class/Season of Lessons: swimming, sports, gymnastics, dance, karate, musical instrument, pottery class, art class, craft class, horseback riding lessons

Thanks for stopping by!  If you have any questions on the best way to use these toys, check out one of BDI Playhouse classes where we demonstrate how to use these materials or schedule a free screening to talk to one of our therapists!

 

TURKEY TIME TROUBLES?

Turkey Time (as referred to by many of our kiddos) is just around the corner and it is either met with happy or anxious anticipation by children and adults!  A family member announces every Thanksgiving that this is her least favorite holiday because of how overwhelmed she feels with all the food options.  She says the anxiety starts weeks before the big day.  She has the ability to identify, process and express her anxiety related around a holiday.  Imagine, now, a child with the same feelings.  What might his or her anxiety look like?

Anxiety signs in kids:

  • Crying
  • Fleeing the table
  • Poor Sleep
  • Upset/outbursts more frequently or higher intensity than is typical
  • Irritability
  • Grimacing
  • Sweating
  • Yelling
  • Wide eyes
  • Gagging or vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Tense or jittery body
  • Frequent urination

So, what can you do to help make this time less anxious for your child?

How you can help:

  • Take the pressure off! No need to focus on or force the idea of sitting down for a large meal with relatives!  Keep it casual for your kid
  • Validate feelings of discomfort around the holiday
  • Brainstorm food avoidance strategies for use at the Thanksgiving table with your child
  • Interact with Thanksgiving foods without eating them
  • Talk about it- set expectations and boundaries for the holiday festivities
  • Take breaks from the commotion 
  • Turn the focus- make the focus of the holiday less about the food and more about family, crafting/decorations, gratitude, whatever is important to your family!
  • Engage in calming strategies throughout the month.  Examples of calming strategies include heavy work, deep pressure, auditory supports, movement strategies, deep breathing/relaxation strategies, tactile bins, lighting adjustments, and visual toys.  These strategies can be used around meal time and outside of meal time.

Turkey time can be a successful holiday for your entire family, especially if you identify and prepare for the day ahead of time!  If you’d like additional resources, please set up a free screening with one of our occupational therapists at BDI playhouse!

Written by Maggie Lord MS, OTR/L, and Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, CLC

Spooky Speech

Speech Language Pathologists love a good theme!  Themes can unite all of our kiddos but allow scaffolding for every child’s needs.  They also allow for perfect home carryover for all our families!  Here are a few spooky speech activities that you can do with your children at home or in your community to promote speech and language development.

 

Books:

Books are fabulous!  You can target specific vocabulary, different grammar (i.e. prepositions), comprehension, sequencing, feelings, and speech sounds!  An example of a spooky themed book is Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete, an interactive book with flaps.  We love to practice our speech sounds with this particular book!  For example, the t sound is on every page with CAT and PETE!  

 

Sensory Bins:  

You cannot go wrong with a sensory bin!  They hold children’s attention and their bodies in one space.  Sensory bins can also encourage some spooky speech with what we call “focused stimulation”, when you pick a few words to target over and over again during play!  Spooky speech sensory bins can easily be made from items around your house or a few clicks from amazon! If you are in need of some inspiration Busy Toddler has fantastic options. 

 

Youtube: 

Technology does not have to be a curse if used correctly!  There are so many books and programs that provide ample spooky speech opportunities! You can play Peppa Pig Pumpkin Party and pause the video, ask simple wh questions, name vocabulary items, make predictions, and try to recall details of the program!

 

Bingo Card:

A fan favorite at the clinic is using a free printable Halloween Bingo Card.  We use these for matching, naming, identifying, and speech sounds!  You can take the Bingo Card into your community (i.e. grocery store, on a walk, flashlight to find items around the house) for a scavenger hunt.  Target and Michaels have Halloween dollar-sticker-books that we use to say the spooky words as we match them to the bingo card. 

 

Halloween SweaterFestive Wear and Decor:

As cheesy as it may seem, children LOVE pointing out spooky vocabulary on clothing items and decorations.  If you are trying to be eco and/or budget friendly, we highly recommend looking at your local thrift store, facebook marketplace, or your parent’s house for the clothing and decorations!  Some of the best items come second hand!  Another more eco friendly, minimalist approach would be to get items that will be re-purposed or consumed!  I.E. a pie pumpkin, a wreath that can be decorated for all season with items found in nature! 

If you feel like your child’s speech and language development isn’t spook-tacular and you’d like to speak with someone about your pumpkin’s speech and language development, please call 708-478-1820 or visit our website to schedule a free screening

 

Written by Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, inspired by Kristen Santoro, MA, CCC-SLP/L

How does Posture Impact Scoliosis?

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a curve in your spine that visually appears to move from side to side. A common misconception is that a scoliosis curve is 1 or 2-dimensional. It actually occurs through a 3-dimensional curve with changes in the bones at the apex of the curve. This 3-dimensional shape is seen all throughout the body! It is similar to the 3-dimensional shape that allows your hips and lower back to move in separate directions. These 3-dimensional changes occur all the way from when and how your foot contacts the floor to how your head and neck are positioned.  

Impact of Scoliosis in Children and Teenagers

Children and teenagers who have scoliosis will notice that these changes impact their posture and how they move.  Normally, the bones in the spine are rectangular and are evenly spaced from side to side. Children and teens who have scoliosis will have at least three bones in their spine that are larger on one side than the other. This is what contributes to the shape of the spine.   

Due to structural and postural abnormalities associated with scoliosis, it is important to maintain an upright posture and to avoid repetitive bending and twisting at the spine.  If your child maintains poor posture or rests into their curve, they can experience back pain and their curve may even worsen.   This will also cause more rotation of and stress on the bones of the spine. Your child or teen will need to maintain a neutral pelvis and upright posture.  This will prevent the worsening of scoliosis and overall posture.  A skilled Schroth-certified therapist can create a customized treatment program to help them learn how to use healthy posture and movement habits during their everyday activities.

Importance of Posture

So why is it important to develop and maintain a neutral posture? Think of a spine and the way it moves like a broken pearl necklace like in the image below. In this picture, the pelvis is the triangle and the spine is the string of pearls. Without a stable pelvis, the bones in the spine follow the path of least resistance and move further into a curve like when you drag the end of a pearl necklace and all the beads follow the path of the first bead.

However, if you take the end of the pearl necklace and hold it with one hand and then pull the other end with the other hand the pearl necklace will straighten. The same thing will happen when you learn to find a neutral pelvis and work on lengthening your spine with an upright posture.

Physical Therapy for Scoliosis

At BDI Playhouse, a Schroth-certified physical therapist can work with you and your child to learn ways to improve their posture while playing, doing sports, socializing, and during everyday activities at school and home. Schroth-certified therapists have special training to help children incorporate good posture into their everyday activities. This will stop curve progression, improve physical appearance, and improve health and functional abilities. We can work with you and your child to achieve any goal through the development of a healthy posture. To learn more about how we can work together to make those goals a reality, schedule a free screening  or call us at (708) 478-1820. 

Winter Blues? GET UP AND MOVE!

Do your kids have the Winter Blues? Once the cold weather hits, it’s easy to make excuses for missing opportunities to get out and play outdoors.  But, soon we notice our kiddos in a rut: feeling moodier, not sleeping well, disengaging, increased screen time, etc.  However, research shows that physical activity can actually turn these frowns upside down!

WHY IS IT GOOD TO MOVE ANYWAY?!

  • Self-esteem
  • Communication
  • Balance
  • Muscle strength
  • Coordination
  • Endurance 
  • Memory 
  • Problem solving 
  • Emotional regulation 

Here are some suggestions to beat the winter blues and get up and move!

INDOOR

  • Yoga (Cosmic kids yoga videos are a top choice!)
  • Workout videos (GoNoodle has millions to choose from!)
  • Family game night (charades!)
  • Animal walks 
  • Rearrange furniture 
  • Push/pull laundry basket 
  • Freeze Dance 
  • Musical Chairs
  • BDI playhouse offers low cost classes
  • Local Library (Naperville, Aurora, Orland Park)

OUTDOOR 

  • Make a snowman 
  • Make a snow angel
  • Pull someone/something in a sled
  • Shovel snow
  • Bury your legs in the snow
  • Make a snow fort
  • Push or pull something through the snow
  • Dust the snow off the of the car
  • Dig a hole in the snow
  • Jump into a pile of snow
  • Sweep snow off of the sidewalk
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Make snowballs and stomp on them 
  • Make a snow maze
  • Carry buckets filled with snow

Don’t let your kiddos succumb to the winter blues!  Try out these awesome indoor and outdoor activities!  If you feel like your kiddo still can’t beat the blues and might need some help from a therapist, please set up a free screening at BDI Playhouse!

Written by Jamie Blough, COTA/L

Be Your Child’s Best Valentine

Love is in the air, and Valentine’s day is the perfect opportunity to show your child just how much you love them! While February can be a busy time for families, building in a little extra love for your little one this Valentine’s day can be easy and fun, in addition to bringing you closer together while progressing development and growth!

 

  1. Gratitude Attitude:

    Experiencing gratitude is more than just saying “thank you” when handed something. It’s a strategy to reset even the youngest minds and focus on favorable aspects of life! Modeling appreciation for what you have will build your child’s ability to focus thoughts on thankfulness and positivity. You can do this for your child by pointing out your grateful outlook on items, people, actions, by having your children assist you in giving/donating, and asking your child to reflect on meaningful aspects of their day! In addition, you can thank your child for what they bring you sincerely and often.

  2. Be Present:

    In a world of distraction and instant-gratification, taking time to be “in the moment” with your child is irreplaceable. Put the technology away for a few minutes a day, take your child’s lead in a game, and bring yourself into the moment with intention! Teaching your child to be mindful and present during play is as easy as leading by example. Your child will find deeper connection with you as you are finding meaning in your time together.

  3. Giving Guidelines:

    Being your child’s best Valentine does not mean giving your child gifts or giving in to their every demand. Children thrive on clear expectations and rules, as they use consistent guidelines to determine how to best behave and make choices. Without these clear guidelines, your child will have to work extra hard to grow and learn. Allowing your child to guide their play, interactions and behaviors within the parameters you have set will let them truly shine in a confident manner!

  4. Perfecting your Praise:

    We can show our love for our kids by reminding them how fabulous they are, but the more specific we are the greater love they feel! Your child craves attention from you, and the best way to give it is highlighting specifics within their performance that you loved the most! Instead of saying “Good job”, you can comment that “I really liked how you brought your bowl to the sink after you were finished”, or “You worked hard on that project, I especially like the extra glitter you added!” These specific praise phrases, when offered appropriately and often, increase your child’s sense of accomplishment and foster a greater sense of self!

  5. Calming the System:

    Showing love for your child by being with them in their hardest moments can be challenging, but understanding what your child’s body needs is the first step! Some simple ways to help your child calm their body and their mind when things are escalating include letting them push/carry heavy objects, playing in various textures (play dough, rice and beans, water), bear hugs, turning down the lights, putting on some lovely smelling lotion, or putting on a quiet song. Valentine’s day will be especially positive with a relaxed and calm system.

  6. Taking Pause:

    True love leaves you feeling confident and supported, and sometimes that means letting your child find success in the little things. Before rushing to your child’s aid with stubborn socks or a collapsed block tower, take pause. Give your child a moment to problem solve, and allow them miniature failures within the safety of your love, because the love they will feel for themselves when they overcome a challenge will be magical!

  7. Building “Occupations”:

    For children, finding occupations (or things they want and have to do in their day) can require some assistance from you. Some children do not have enough of a role in the household management or responsibilities, and others have too little time for free play. Finding love through engagement with your child is a special way to be together. Learning to love something while working alongside your child will let your love grow! Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new occupation or hobby too!

So, while the candies and treats are tempting, allow your child to feel a more significant and unending love through their favorite Valentine–YOU!

Written by: Maggie Lord, MS, OTR/L

 

My Child Cries At Drop-Off and I Want to Too!

What should you do if your child cries at drop-off?  Dropping your child off at preschool, daycare or a babysitter can be a time of anxiety for both parent and child but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some do’s and don’ts of dropping off your teary-eyed child.

    1. Do – Leave- This is huge! If your child cries at drop-off, the longer you linger and extend that goodbye the harder it is for your child to adjust to drop off. This makes your child think they may not have to stay or you will stay with him or her. As a former preschool teacher, one of the most effective ways to leave is to have a short goodbye ritual, for example, “one hug, one kiss, I love you!  Then, mom, you’re out the door. “But my child is clinging to me for dear life or chasing after me, what should I do?” You can let your child’s teacher know you may need some help with separation. Preschool teachers are very creative and can usually find a way to redirect or help your child make a smooth transition. 

    2. Don’t – Sneak out when they are not looking. This can be scary for your child. Always make sure you tell your child, “I have to go now but I will be back to pick you up after school.”  Always say goodbye to your child and let them know who will be back to pick them up at the end of the day.

    3. Do – Tell them they will get to do fun things in school and say it with a smile. Your child wants to feel safe in his/her preschool environment so your expression will help him/her realize it’s going to be GREAT and they will be safe and have fun!

    4. Don’t – Show fear or sadness when you are dropping off your child. If you look scared or sad, your child will be scared and sad and will continue to have a difficult time adjusting. We want our kiddos to feel safe at school so slap that smile on your face and show your excitement for them! 

    5. Do – Acknowledge your child’s tears. Tell your child you understand they are feeling sad but reassure them they are going to have fun, play with friends, make cool stuff and you will see them after school to hear all about it. Your child wants to know you think he/she is in a safe place and you care about his/her feelings and how he/she is feeling at that moment. 
    6. Don’t- Become frustrated with your child’s crying.  It can be scary leaving a parent. Your child’s fear of abandonment is real and he/she needs to know you understand his/her feelings. Acknowledge their feelings, reassure them, and leave.

Remember to give your child time to adjust to this new routine.  They may cry for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Hang in there and stay consistent with the do’s and don’ts. It can be hard for a parent to walk away when their child is crying.  But, if you make those goodbyes short and sweet you will be picking up a child that is happy to see you and excited to tell you all about their day.  

If your child continues to have difficulty during drop off please contact BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy for a free consultation. You are not alone and we can help!

Written by Jessica Frederick COTA/L

preschool circle time seating

Sit Smart, Not Still – Best Seating for Classrooms

Is it necessary for children to sit still to attend in circle time? Let’s talk about creative seating in the classroom. As adults, we make sure to “get comfortable” before focusing on things we want or have to do, whether it’s paying bills at the table or watching T.V. on the couch. We do it automatically – we shift our weight or add a pillow under our legs without even thinking about it! When your seating arrangement is comfortable, you are able to give your full attention to the task at hand without having to think twice about how your body is positioned. Like adults, kids need to be comfortable and “situated” in order to focus, especially in school. Sometimes, finding comfortable and focus-inducing seating for the classroom requires creativity and flexibility!

“Sitting Smart”- Benefits of flexible seating options: 

  • Movement Opportunities: Moving your body helps increase blood flow to the brain, which improves focus and attention & reduces stress. Movement options while sitting in the classroom can involve small, minor movements/wiggles or large bounces/shifts to facilitate organized engagement in those wiggles and promoting increased focus.
  • Something for Everyone: Providing a variety of seating options encourages kids to explore and figure out what helps them learn best – we are all different! Allow a child to select what helps them most provides a sense of ownership and self-awareness that will allow for increased engagement in their task, their way!
  • Motivation: Having fun seating options is a way to motivate kids to want to come to school and learn. Increasing the intrigue with novel seating arrangements improves a child’s willingness to approach a seated task that might otherwise be “boring” or “too hard”.

Here are some seating options to help kids improve focus and participation while seated in the classroom:

Cube Chair 

Low Table with Pillows

Floor Chair with Back Support -Postural stability is key!

Fidget Band for Chair -Gives kids an opportunity to move their legs and improve focus

Wiggle Seat – Movement and input while sitting are super motivating!

Exercise Balance BallProvides range of motion opportunities

Wedge Seat positions pelvis for upright posture

Beanbag Chair – Available at Walmart

Scoop Rocker Chair

Inflatable Chair  

Wobble Stool

If these seating options aren’t providing everything your kids need to be successful, BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy offers free screenings to give your child the necessary tools to improve participation and function at home and in school.

By Jade Pellerito, OTR

Occupational Therapist