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Bedtime routine

Bedtime Routines

Bedtime routines are essential for getting the appropriate amount of sleep each night. Lack of sleep within children can disrupt the important cycles their bodies go through to help with development, attention and so much more. Creating a bedtime routine doesn’t have to be difficult, just utilize these tips and your child will be snoozing in no time.  

Consistency

Whichever tip you decide to implement, the most important is consistency. Providing a predictable bedtime routine that is consistent allows your child to understand the sequence of events that lead up to the point of going to sleep. Utilizing verbal reminders, prompts or a visual schedule of the tasks that need to be completed before bed, help with active engagement as well as relieving anxiety. 

 

Calm Down Time

Relaxation is an important step in falling asleep. Provide a time before bed where your child is away from alerting stimuli like a TV, iPad, or phone screen. Reading books, picking up toys, or listening to calming music is much more appropriate for a bedtime routine. 

 

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to clear the mind to decrease anxiety before going to sleep. Here are some examples to implement within your bedtime routine:

  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery

 

Environmental Changes

Changes to your child’s sleep environment is an easy and great way to make your child comfortable enough to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Weighted blanket/compression sheets: Utilizing a weighted blanket or compression sheets can provide the proprioceptive input children crave as they sleep. This simple change can decrease anxiety and provide a calming effect to better facilitate a good night’s sleep. 
  • Light level: Utilize curtains to block out light. A dark room helps the body recognize that it is time to sleep.
  • White noise: Static noise can block out other sounds within the environment that may be disruptive.
  • Soothing Scents: Scents like lavender or other calming smells can help relax your child before bedtime. 

 

If your child has difficulty following a bedtime routine or has continued trouble falling asleep, please do not hesitate to contact the office at BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy to receive a free occupational therapy screening

Written by Kiersten Robertson, MOT, OTR/L

Elbow

Hypermobility in Children

What is Hypermobility?

Hypermobility is a term used to describe joints that move more than normal and can place the joints in increased stress.  

How can Hypermobility affect my child?

Risk of Injury

Increased joint movement can cause joints, ligaments, and tendons to be at higher risk of injury.  Joints are less stable and can strain all the structures attempting to make the joint more stable.  In addition to joints moving more than normal the signals to the brain about where the body is in space can be impaired due to the ligaments requiring increased stretch before the message is sent to the brain making it harder for children to know where they are in space and making it harder for them to correct the joint position prior to exposure to extremes of  range of motion.  

 

What are the common signs of hypermobility in children?

Knee HyperextensionElbow HyperextensionHands to the Floor with

Straight Knees

Flat Feet
ELBOWHands to floorflat feet

NOTE: These are all postures that can occur in typically developing children with no cause for concern.  However, when multiple joints are impacted and your child twists their ankles or knees frequently, or reports leg pain this may be a sign to follow-up with your physician. 

Who can help my child?

BDI Pediatric Physical Therapists create a strengthening and proprioception program that can improve your child’s participation in recreational activities as well as lower their risk of injuries. Exercises consist of 

  • strengthening the muscles around the joints
  • working on postural control
  • sport specific training 

 

Next Steps

Do you think your child is at risk for injury due to hypermobility?  Schedule a free screening with one of our pediatric physical therapists.  When hypermobility is identified and treated with a proper development regimen, your child will report less pain, improve balance, strength, and functional performance.  In addition, your child can prevent future pain. 

Written by: Lisa M. Wood, PT, DPT

Potty Accidents

Potty Accidents

Why is my child having potty accidents?

Potty accidents aren’t fun for anyone. It can impact a child’s relationships with their family and friends.  Here are 5 common reasons children have accidents

Constipation 

Chronic constipation is the main cause of pee and poop accidents in children that have been potty trained. This is a great handout to see if your child has any of the main signs of constipation. Did you know that pooping every day doesn’t mean they aren’t constipated? “The Poo in You” is a video with a great explanation of what happens inside the body. 

Lack of Awareness 

Many kids may not have any idea that they have to go. They may not realize that they have to use the bathroom until it’s too late, or until they’ve already gone. Knowing what is happening inside the body can be a hard concept for kids with difficulty with sensory awareness. 

Poor Potty Posture 

Poor potty posture makes it hard to clear out the bladder and bowels. The Squatty Potty  or other step stool helps support the feet which lets the pelvic floor muscles relax. Therapists can also help with postural awareness and strength to help with the proper potty posture for successful toileting.

Scary Bathrooms

The bathroom can be a scary place for kids! Sitting with dangling feet, the noise, and the smell can all make kids avoid the potty. Many children avoid public bathrooms because of these fears. 

Medical Reasons

There could be a medical reason your child is having accidents. If you have concerns about your child’s accidents talk to your pediatrician. They can help decide if a referral to gastroenterology or urology is needed.

 

Who can help my child?

If you think your child might have constipation or is struggling with accidents, please reach out for a free screening! Sometimes, you may need the help of a physical, speech, or occupational therapist to help identify the reasons for your child’s accidents and/or constipation. 

Pediatric Therapists

Therapists trained in pediatric incontinence can provide treatment with:

    • Core strengthening
    • Biofeedback
    • Bladder re-training
    • Behavior and diet strategies
    • Body awareness to help realize the urge to go 
    • Posture training
    • Increasing fiber rich food intake 
    • Increasing variety of foods
Halloween

Halloween Activity

Happy Halloween month! At BDI, the therapists have been incorporating Halloween vocabulary throughout their sessions!  This simple activity of stickers and real image vocabulary card can be used to target all different areas of communication, fine motor skills, and visual processing.  Targeting holiday specific vocabulary can help your child communicate in their community.  Why?  Because our kiddos are seeing Halloween items everywhere (i.e pumpkins on walks in their neighborhood to spooky spider displays at the grocery store)!   The following are examples of ways to achieve different developmental goals by using the same activity.

Halloween Bingo

Matching

Starting out, simply matching the animated sticker to the real image is a perfect way to help teach reality vs. fantasy and to make sure the child isn’t just memorizing one specific image!

Imitation

The child imitates the vocabulary word and receives the sticker to mark as “complete”.

Independent labeling

The child labels the Halloween card or sticker independently

Receptive identification

If your child is a great talker but needs to work on his/her listening skills, you can ask your child questions!  For example, you can ask your child “where is the cat?” or “which one is round and orange?”.  Columns or rows can be covered to reduce the amount of items he or she is scanning.

Image description

After basic labeling is mastered, you can have your child be more descriptive with their request.  The child can request the “black cat” sticker, “scary spider”, “two bats”, “silly pumpkin” etc.

Simple requesting

“I want + vocabulary word” or “Can I have + vocabulary word”

Complex requesting

“I want the purple hat”; “I want the scary ghost”

Articulation

Try finding all the final /t/ sounds in these fun Halloween words!

Are you looking for more ideas on how to make every day activities a little more festive?  Join our Talk and Groove class to learn about more ways to help your child develop their language and fine motor skills at home!

hitting

My Kid Keeps Hitting

Does your child keep hitting others when he wants what they are playing with? Grab toys away from other children? Kick over other’s toys? These are all considered undesirable behaviors and can be frustrating to watch your child do at home, in their community, or at school.  Here are some strategies to help your child with undesired behaviors. 

Step 1- Hands are not for hitting

Remind your child what their hands are for. Hands are for waving, washing, clapping, counting, drawing, doodling, holding, hugging and eating. Hands are not for hitting. Hitting hurts!

Step 2- Use these words

Teach your child the words to use when wanting something from someone else. Can I please have a turn? Could I see that toy? Let your child know they have to wait for the answer. This may be the hardest part. If a child will not share a toy provide suggestions for another toy to play with.

Kids Fighting

Step 3- Hitting hurts

If a child does hit, have the injured child tell that child,” I don’t like that, that hurts!” 

Step 4- Don’t force apologies

Do not make your child apologize for undesired behaviors. Making a child apologize has no meaning behind it if they are just saying it because you told them too. Some children may use this to their advantage and think, “It’s OK to hit if I apologize afterwards.” Remind your child that it hurts others and our hands are not for hitting. We must use our words to ask for what we want.

If hitting persists or your child is unable to utilize the strategies, call to schedule a free screening with one of our pediatric therapists.  Sometimes, hitting occurs when a child does not have an ample vocabulary or language to make requests or negotiate.  It can also occur when a child excites easily or seeks input.  Our trained therapists will be able to give additional recommendations unique to your child’s needs!

Written by: Jessica Frederick, COTA/L

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

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 Can I Get My Child to Talk?

Learning to talk is a complex task!  It’s no wonder some kids take awhile to get started.  Most of us think of talking as just saying words but it involves much more than that. 

Would you like to help your child say their first words? 

Try out some of these tips.

Play with your child

A child must possess certain cognitive abilities before they are able to communicate. Laura Mize, SLP and author of Teach Me to Talk, suggests building blocks to a child’s first words include the ability to understand cause and effect and comprehend object permanence. Does your child understand that their actions can cause something to happen? Playing with toys such as Jack in the Box, Busy boxes, and musical instruments will help teach these skills. Try playing games such as peek a boo, and hide and seek to build object permanence. Through these activities your child will learn that they can use words or actions to cause an adult to do something for them. 

Engage your child

In order for a child to imitate your words or actions, you must be able to get their attention. You can gauge your child’s ability to attend by answering the following questions: Does your child attend to your face? Will your child try to play with you? Does your little one enjoy being with people?

It is necessary to get your child engaged before you begin to model gestures or words for them.

Look for things they are interested in and follow their lead. Get down on their level, use exaggerated facial expressions, try a sing -songy voice, and exaggerate your actions so you are impossible to miss! 

Imitation

Copying movements and sounds is one of the most important steps for developing words.  Start with getting your child to imitate movements (i.e. waving, clapping, banging on objects, throwing a ball).  Pair a sound with an action; such as “boom boom while hitting a drum, or “whee” when going down a slide. These types of copying should eventually  lead to imitation of real words and phrases. 

Baby signs

Signs have been shown to help reduce a child’s frustrations, build bonds between parent and child, and bridge the communication gap before your child is able to talk .  Signing will not deter language development.  Choose baby signs that are functional and versatile such as “milk”, “eat”, “mom”  and “dad”.  Keep in mind that just as kids’ first words don’t always sound perfect, neither will their signs be perfect.  Reward their efforts!

Model appropriate language for your child

Children typically learn the meaning of words before they say the word.  Talk to your toddler throughout the day using simplified language to label objects, and to describe what’s  going on around them. Imitate their attempts to “talk”,  to teach them the back and forth nature of communication.

Read to your child

Reading to your child will help build key language skills.  Choose books with large, colorful pictures and actions.  Label each word while pointing to each one. Help your child to begin pointing  to them as you read.  Choose books that have predictable text such as Brown Bear Brown Bear. or 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and omit predictable words, giving your child an opportunity to “fill in the blank”. 

If you continue to have concerns about whether your child’s language is progressing appropriately, BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy,  offers free screenings by certified Speech-Language Pathologists.  Check out our website for Parent and Child Classes, which  provide a fun learning environment for you and your child to practice new language strategies.

 

Written by: Sheila Trout M.A.; CCC-Speech-Language Pathologist