Tips for Parents: What to Do If Your New Baby is Diagnosed with a Disability

Welcome Guest Blogger, Emily Graham, of MightMoms.net:

Preparing for a new baby takes a lot of work; in fact, it can be exhausting trying to get the house, your schedule, and your body and mind ready for all the changes a child can bring. There’s so much to think about, and it often takes weeks or even months to make sure everything is taken care of. However, when your new baby arrives and is diagnosed with a disability, your preparations must continue for the safety and well being of your child as well as your own peace of mind.

Whether your child has a physical or developmental disability, there are several things you can do to help him stay safe and comfortable in your home. It’s a good idea to do some research on the types of modifications commonly associated with your child’s specific condition; this way, you can start figuring out a budget for the changes you want to make.

For some great tips on how to get started, read on.

Take Time for Self-Care

Self-care is important, not just prior to the birth of your child, but after, as well. Getting into a routine will help you remember to stop and take deep breaths, even when things get difficult. A new baby who also has a disability is completely new territory, and comes with a long list of things to think about. You may find that you’re so busy being a new parent that taking care of your own needs won’t come easily. Set aside 10 or 15 minutes every day for yourself, whether it’s reading a book or taking a hot shower, and get into that habit.

Prepare Your Home

You’ll want your home to be safe and accessible for your child as he grows, so it’s important to do some research on which changes you can make to create the perfect environment for him. Whether you want to add a wheelchair ramp, widen doorways, or tackle DIY projects like installing a grab bar in the shower, there are many things you can do to get your home ready for an individual with a disability. While some of the bigger projects will be costly and require a contractor, there are many small modifications you can make that won’t break the bank.

Think About Insurance Needs

Many families with a child who has a disability worry about finding insurance coverage since there are many different conditions that require doctor’s visits and hospital stays and surgeries. Depending on your income level, you may qualify for Social Security Insurance for your child; check out this website to learn more. Many parents are often faced with the difficult decision to buy a life insurance policy for their child because they believe they will outlive them. There are many things to think about, so it’s important to do research and find out what your options are.

Start Thinking for the Future

It can be difficult to see into the future; as a parent, you only want the best for your child, but there may come setbacks and hardships that no one thinks to plan for. It’s a good idea to start thinking about what lies ahead, however, and starting with positive things — like where your child will go to school and how your family will help him learn and grow — will help. Look into what your child’s possible needs will be, and do some research on how to fulfill them once he’s ready to go to school. You should also consider whether a service dog, which can be trained to retrieve medication and respond to phone calls, will help your child down the road; look online to see what options are available. Preparing as much as possible now will go a long way toward helping everyone stay happy a few years from now.

Caring for a child who has a disability can be stressful, but with a solid plan, you can feel confident that your little one will have everything he needs to take on any challenge that comes his way. Garner support from friends and family and remember to take care of yourself, too.

Author Bio: Emily Graham is the creator of mightymoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Help Your Child Go From Struggle to Success in Dance Class

Your daughter begged you to sign her up for dance class.  She loves to wear tutus and dance around the house to Disney music.  You figured dance class would be heaven for her!

The first class goes well.  She looooves the teacher and can’t wait to go back.  The next few weeks don’t go as well. You watch the class and see that she just can’t keep up with the other kids.  She tries and wants to, but just can’t follow along.

Some children will respond by acting SILLY!  Others will just refuse to go in to class.

For some children, things will get better over time.  These children just need more practice. For other children the coordination, rhythm, motor planning and balance of dance class overwhelms them.  

Here are some ideas to help these children have success and get back to the FUN:

Rhythm Play

  • Play hand games
  • Tap your hands to the music
  • Play the drums and repeat rhythms back and forth to each other

Motor Planning Activities

  • Create obstacle courses around the house going over, under and through things around the house
  • Climb in and out of cardboard boxes or the laundry basket

Balance Challenges

  • Practice walking along the curb as if its a balance beam
  • Stand on one foot and kick down bowling pins or blocks
  • Stand on one foot, close your eyes, and see how high you can count

Coordination Taps

  • Practice tapping hands alternating on the table.
  • Practice tapping feet alternating on the floor.
  • Try to combine tapping same hand and same foot tapping to a beat or try doing it with opposite hand and foot.

Reach out to a physical therapist for help.

  • When home practice isn’t enough, call us at (908)-543-4390, to speak with a physical therapist.  

Dance class can be such a fun experience for children!  With some extra help, many children will be able to blossom and turn a challenge into a success!

5 Budget-Friendly Ways to Navigate Back-to-School Disasters

Please welcome our guest blogger of the month, Janice Russell.  Check out her Parenting Disasters blog!

Photo by Pexels

Your 5-year-old has been talking about nothing but starting kindergarten all summer long. Now that the day is here, however, anxiety and shyness overwhelm your little one. Or, maybe your older child is starting a new school and is worried about fitting in. Perhaps your kids are all teenagers, and trying to keep up with the trends of high school is breaking your budget in ways you couldn’t have imagined — or prepared for. Whatever your situation, back-to-school stressors and disasters can happen at any time and at any age. Here are five ways to help your kids (and your bank account) manage these challenges.

Use Coupons for Clothes

Your teenager will likely go through many styles during his or her high school career. While this can be fun and adventurous for them, it can be a financial challenge for parents as it’s not uncommon for a teenager to change their look from minute to minute. You can manage these costs by checking out online coupons and promo codes for retailers like Old Navy.

Practice the First Day Routine

For a shy or anxious child, take time to practice — maybe even more than once — how the first day of class will go. Start the whole morning off the way you would on that first day. Let your child help pick out his or her outfit, and have a lunch and a backpack packed and ready to take. Even get in the car and drive to school. You can park and walk up to the front door. Be sure to explain that some things will be different — there will be more buses, cars, and kids. However, just going through the motions will help your child (and you!) feel more confident on that first day.

Get Savvy About School Supplies

Kids need a lot when they return to school. From clothes and pencils to crayons and calculators, the supply list seems to get bigger the older they get. Being savvy about supplies can save you big bucks. You can save a bundle with clearance sales and money-back opportunities from one-stop-shop stores like Kohl’s. If you have multiple kids, be sure to save the items the older ones used for when the younger children advance to that grade. Also, buy in bulk whenever you can, especially common supplies that get used every year.

Set Up a Special Homework Space

Few kids are excited about homework, but working on assignments at home is a natural part of going to school. You can help your kid feel more inspired and motivated by creating a special school workspace just for them. Outfit the area with a desk and an ergonomic chair so they are comfortable and not cramped. Be sure to get good lighting, and take advantage of natural light when you can. If your child works well with music, you can even set up a bluetooth speaker or, if they need total silence, grab some noise reducing headphones. Save on furniture and accessories by using promo codes and discounts at retailers like Macy’s.

Ease the Transition

Transitioning from summer to school is hard for most kids, regardless of age. They go from feeling the freedom of limitless days to the confines of a school desk without much buffer time. For some parents, this can make waking up your kids in time for school seem like moving a mountain. You can help ease the transition from summer to school by getting your kids up at the time they would need to for school about a week early. You can also provide a bit more structure in the day by limiting video games and television and encouraging them instead to read a book. Also, if you know the time your child will be eating lunch at school, eat lunch at that time over the summer whenever you can.

Back-to-school stressors can feel like a disaster to both kids and parents, especially when money is involved. Establishing a good daily routine is a key element in prioritizing your whole family’s mental health. It’s important that you pay attention to times when you or your child might be struggling, and schedule in a few mental health breaks. This will not only help your child relax and unwind, but it will also bring your whole family a little bit closer.

Sleep: Guidelines, Troubles and Solutions

Sleep, glorious, sleep!

With the back to school routines getting back in gear, many families are having to adjust their children’s sleep schedules.

Sleep is so important to development and learning.  We wanted to share some great resources to help you figure out  how much sleep your children needs, how to solves common sleep problems, and since as moms we often put ourselves last, some advice for sleeping during and after pregnancy.  We need to remember that self care is so important too!

During pregnancy our sleep needs often change as baby grows. Towards the end its like our bodies are preparing us forthe lack of sleep after baby is born.  Here are some tips for you and for Daddy too!

This sleep guide is all about how much sleep our children should be getting and how to solve common sleep challenges.  Some parents find that essential oils, such as lavender, can be calming and help their children sleep.  Melatonin and CBD oil are supplements that some parents find helpful too.

With screen time being a constant in so many of our lives, its important for us to all learn how it can impact sleep for both parents and children.  Learn more about how technology affects sleep 

We know sleep can be a huge challenge for many children with disabilities. This is an excellent guide to understanding why this is so common for children with autism.   Learn more about sensory strategies to help sleep come more naturally for children who struggle with self- regulation.  

Children with neuromotor disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, often struggle with sleep as well.  Positioning systems, such as this one, can be helpful to sustain comfortable and safe sleep positions throughout the night.

When sleep troubles arise, don’t just try to push through.  There are many resources that can help!

Our Balance Challengers Rocked Their Flamingo Poses!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Balance Awareness Week 2018 Challenge!  

If you haven’t tried it, can you stand on one foot and say or spell FLAMINGO???

We still have some flamingo prizes left for anyone who shares a photo or video of you or your family doing the challenge!

The Vestibular Disorders Association started Balance Awareness Week to bring awareness to the many vestibular disorders that affect balance.

Vestibu-WHAT, you might say?!

We all learn about the 5 senses as children, but there are 2 biggies that are left out.

These are the VESTIBULAR and the PROPRIOCEPTIVE systems.

Along with vision, the VESTIBULAR information in our inner ears and the PROPRIOCEPTIVE system in our muscles and joints, work together to give us our sense of balance.

 

BUT that is not all…

The VESTIBULAR system also impacts soooo many other areas of our lives, such as

  • Math skills
  • Short term memory
  • Spelling
  • Reading

They say you don’t get it, till you get it.  And when it comes to vestibular dysfunction, this is SO true.  It impacts so many things!

We want to give a special shout out to our Balance Challengers this week!  Here are a few of them rocking it!!!

5 Tips to Help Your Child Have A Successful School Year!

Ready or not, the new school year is here!  My two kids have responded very differently: one is super excited and can’t wait to see what 1st grade will bring and my other daughter has been nervous about her new school and thinks everything is “boring.”  Each school year brings both excitement and nerves and as parents we can acknowledge their worries and bring calm and focus to the challenges and joys ahead.  Here are some tips that can help you get started on the right foot!  Whether your child is challenged with their attention, focus, worries or motor skills, I hope you will find a little nugget here to help.

1. Move, Move, Move!!!

 

While academics are important, the path to academic success includes a strong foundation, including an active core, good body awareness and well-developed visual skills (not just eyesight!).  

Remember that monkey bars can be better for handwriting development than just practicing to write!

 

2. Drawing and Writing on Vertical Surfaces

Easels, window markers, and wipe off boards on the wall are great tools for children developing their handwriting.  Using a vertical surface lines up the eyes, back, shoulder and wrist for writing.

You can even tape a large piece of easel paper to the wall for drawing or painting.

 

3. Combining Moving and Learning Together

 

Play math facts with chalk numbers on the driveway, jump to the sight word written on an index card or throw to a letter target on a post-it note.  The options are endless!

 

4. Morning Exercise

We know exercise is good for our bodies, but did you know how good it is for your mind? There has been as ton of research showing exercise helps memory and learning.  Can you walk with your child to school in the morning or get up 15 minutes early to have a dance party before the bus comes?

5. Deep Pressure

Deep pressure or heavy work by pushing or pulling is a great tool for a wiggly body or a nervous child.  This type of compression into the joints of the body is grounding and calming. A few easy ways to do this is the push the hands together for a count of 10, sitting in a chair place your hands next to your legs and push down for a count of 10, or do 10 wall push-ups.

 

For more guidance and individual help, reach out to us any time.  You’ll learn more about WHY your child is having difficulty and HOW to help them move forwards to discover success, confidence and independence!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Play!

by Wendy Canary, PT

Play!  Hearing this word may bring up a million different pictures in your head.  Maybe you think of a baseball game or a mound of clumsy puppies rough housing or a baby giggling at a game of peek-a boo.  No matter what the age or species, play time is an important piece of development and healthy growth.

In the first year of life, all that a baby does looks like play.  Their body proportions, big eyes and sweet smiles add to the image of a playful baby.  But those first moments of play represent important work. Babies are exploring their bodies and the world around them and in doing this developing their visual, sensory and motor skills. This exploring can take place while being held, sitting supported or during floor time on their belly and back. Floor time is where they learn to move against gravity, visually focus on objects around them, and problem solve how to explore their environment. As parents we have front row seats to watch for the sweet moments when they first turn their head to your voice, focus their eyes on the toy you are holding, lift their head and chest up off the floor to look around, or master the ability to sit themselves up!  These moments happen when they are free to explore the magical world around them that you have created. Cherish these sweet moments of floor time and watch your baby learn and master each skill!

Then it happens, your little one learns to crawl then walk and this is when the game changes!  They are able to reach new objects, push toys around, climb onto furniture and get into some mischief.  As they move and play their core stability, balance and coordination will increase and the clumsiness of their movements will improve.  Toddlers and preschoolers love to play! They will find fun in just about anything and will move from throwing, climbing, running to jumping. They are busy exploring all the ways their bodies can move, imitating all those around them and discovering ways the environment around them can be a jungle gym.  This can be an exhausting phase for parents! Take heart in knowing that they are again doing the hard work of growing their motor, visual and sensory skills. However it is okay and important to take breaks in the action and encourage quiet play as well, with building toys, dolls, reading books together, pretend play etc.   Take time each day to play on the floor with your child. They will not only be playing but they will be developing their language, social, fine motor and play skills through interacting with you. Chances are you will love this time together and find you stay longer than you expected.

Once our children enter into the structure of school, the available time for play changes.  After school hours quickly fill up with homework, recreational sports, dance, clubs etc. It can be difficult to find time for free play but it continues to be important for the development of a child.  Through play at this age, they are not only developing their coordination, strength, and balance but they are developing intellectual, social and communication skills through interactions with their family and peers. In a generation where smart phones are changing how we communicate, there is value in the face to face interactions through a backyard game of tag, or a play date at a park or a game night with the family. Creating the space in their schedule for free time allows the child to rest, decompress and find activities they enjoy!

As a child moves into their teen years, the activities they may choose in their free time will change but the need for ‘down time’ is equally as important.  Being active and engaging in activities that are enjoyable will not only provide the life skills needed for healthy living but also have the added benefit of stress management.   Young adults are feeling the pressures of expectations in so many areas of their lives, it is a gift for them to be given the permission to schedule down time without any structure or expectations.   For some this may be to play guitar, or take a run, or play a game of basketball with friends or have an impromptu dance party, but whatever their activity of choice is, it will be a time to decompress, recharge and ultimately lead to healthy mental and physical health.

No matter what the age, play is a part of life.  It is vital to the development of a child and to the health of all ages.  As parents we have the job to guide, role model and create the opportunities for exploration through play.  Whether you are on the floor with your baby, scheduling a play date at the park with your toddler or taking a hike as a family, you are modeling the importance of play.   Play is not wasted time but the building blocks of the skills our children need for their bright futures!

Let’s play!

Swimming, Swimming in the Swimming Pool!

Summer is the time to swim and the therapeutic benefits are endless to playing and moving in the pool.  Many children who have difficulty controlling their bodies for sports and gross motor activities will have success moving in the water.  Hip hip hooray for creating positive movement experiences to build confidence! But seriously, there is nothing more powerful than a positive experience to build a foundation of possibilities.

Why is it so unique?

Free stock photo of man, people, water, girl

Water  provides 30x more deep pressure to the body than air and it is in full contact input to the body. Many children who become adept at swimming underwater will find it a very calming and organizing place to be.

Moving through water creates controlled vestibular stimulation in various planes. All of this enhanced sensory input helps with body awareness development and motor learning.

In addition to swimming, children can walk, somersault, or do angels in the water when supported on their backs.

The water is a natural environment for children to improve their oral-motor skills. Blowing bubbles in the water, blowing through a straw, or blowing ping pong balls across the pool are fun ways to introduce blowing skills.

The intense sensory input in the water will often increase language and lots of singing in the pool will further enhance those opportunities!

Gross Motor Skills

Water can either assist or provide resistance to active movement through all planes of motion, facilitating gains in strength for all major muscle groups. The gravity-lessened environment of watFree stock photo of hands, people, water, blueer can help children explore and practice movements and skills they are not yet able to perform on land. Children with difficulty standing on one leg, jumping, or hopping on land can do so in the water.

Children who are learning to walk are assisted by the water because it slows down movements and gives the child more time to react.

A fun way to practice these skills is to pretend to be different animals for a length of the pool: jump like a frog, paddle like a seal, float like a fish, gallop like a horse. For children who benefit from visual cues, bring a collection of plastic animals that the child can choose from.

Motor Planning

2 Girl's Swimming during Daytime

Motor planning skills can be enhanced by experimenting with different ways to use a pool noodle, such as sitting on it like a swing, or a horse, or floating on back with the noodle under knees. Similarly, see how many ways a child can use a kickboard, from sitting to kneeling to standing to holding it and kicking legs.

Have Fun!

Even when looking at swimming and playing in the water as therapeutic, as long as the child is moving in the water, they are getting a benefit. Focus on fun and all of the other benefits will come!

 

What to do When Your Child Can’t Keep Up At Soccer

So many children participate in recreational fall and spring soccer teams.  It’s a fun intro to the game and usually results in the little kids running in large groups up and down the field!  

Soccer can be a fun experience for many children, but it can be frustrating for others.  When children struggle with running as fast as their peers or following the rules of the game, the fun can be lost. This leaves parents wondering whether they should even have signed up their child at all.

Why do some children struggle with soccer?  We can look at several different possible reasons to try to understand.

Can the child run fast enough?  If the child can’t keep up their teammates, soccer can be an exercise in frustration.  Why bother trying when you’re not having success!

Can the child stand on one leg for longer enough to kick the ball?  If the child feels like they’re going to fall over, kicking is no fun anymore!

Can the child listen, look, and move at the same time?  For some children, using more than one sense and moving at the same time is just too much!  (Think rubbing your belly and tapping your head at the same time.)

The younger we can help children find success in a movement activity the better.  Soccer may not be the best fit for your child, but they also may need some extra help to get their bodies ready to successfully participate in soccer or other recreational activities.  

Free stock photo of sky, person, sunglasses, clouds

The goal of any extra help is to get the child out participating with friends and family to do the things they love!  It is also so helpful to do so at a young age, before a child’s confidence is impacted.

Many parents will seek out extra support when their children are around 5 years old, which is perfect.  The same movement skills that need to be developed for soccer and other recreational activities are the ones that will support the child in the classroom too!  So its success all around!