To Worry or Not To Worry, That is the Question!

Ok, who am I kidding?!  Us Moms all worry, but the question is when to worry and then put it aside and when to get some extra help.

Every child develops along their own timeline.  It can be challenging to watch your child having a harder time developing their skills compared to other children their age.  Sometimes playgroups, park visits, dance classes and soccer games are the first time a difference becomes apparent. Some children will hide their challenges by being super chatty with adults and others may act out with behaviors.  

I wanted to share some of our past blog posts that can give you insight into when to give your child more time to develop new skills and when to seek out extra help.

 

When there are challenges to development, whether it is moving, speaking, or learning, it is important to look at the roots of the tree.  Without strong roots, children have to compensate to work at the higher levels up in the tree. 

The amazing this is that once we identify missing or weakened roots, we can build them up and the child will spontaneously improve in the skills moving up along the tree!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For babies in their first year, here are some tips of what to look for when it comes to milestones. Have concerns about your child’s ability to look both way or hold their head up straight?  Check out our Paren’ts Guide to Torticollis.

There are so many options when it comes to baby equipment and new inventions come out every year.  It’s hard for me to keep up now with new baby options now that my kids are older! My advice is to skip most of them though!  A blanket on the floor and a good old fashioned play pen are great for baby. Babywearing is also fantastic!

As children get older, many parents will be concerned about w-sitting and flat feet. Check out information on both of these!

As children start school, a common area of concern is a child’s ability to cross midline.  This is such an important skill for writing as well as sports skills.  Most children who have difficulty crossing midline are given extra practice doing so.  Although this advice is well intentioned, it is often missing the source of the problem which I talk about in the Crossing Midline Secret.

Practicing a hard skill can be important, but eliminating the blocks that made it hard in the first place can be an super fast and much less stressful strategy!

If you think your child might need some extra help, check out one of our free reports and see if some of our tips can help you get started right away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Week I Got the Flu

This week I got the flu.

Not fun for anyone, I know. Then I started to feel better, awesome.  

But then I started to feel dizzy, crap.  Some of you know about my history of vestibular (inner ear) disorders that caused me years of dizziness.

I’ve solved this dizzy problem (yay!), so why was I dizzy? After testing some things on myself (yes, I’m my own physical therapist!) I came to the same conclusion that I have several times before.

My sensory systems got out of sync.

Why?  Because I was in bed for several days doing nothing.  Watching Netflix doesn’t require much from the vestibular system.

My body had been used to a lazy vestibular system for years (because it wasn’t working right) and so it took in more information from my eyes and somatosensory (touch and body position) system for balance and body awareness. Without being challenged, my sensory systems slid back to old habits.  

Many things can cause these kinds of shifts.  Since my vestibular system is my weakness, being sedentary can cause a shift.  For children, growth spurts can be a bigee to send the sensory systems out of whack.  Getting glasses or a change of prescription can change things. An injury, such as a concussion can make a large impact.

For a child who has differences in their sensory or motor systems to begin with, such as a child with cerebral palsy or autism, something seemingly small like a growth spurt can have a powerful impact.

Our bodies are a complex amazing collection of systems that dynamically interact so that we can move, play and learn.

For some, one change can throw the rest of it out of whack, needing time or therapeutic intervention to reorganize.  So if you seen a big change in your child’s abilities, there may have been a period of growth or an experience that’s causing the system to reorganize. Perhaps it will also be a window for your child grow even stronger and more resilient than ever.

 

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Cyberbullying

Please welcome back our guest blogger, Janice Russell, of Parenting Disasters,  for a very important topic.  As parents, it can be hard to keep up with the changing technologies and how it can affect our children.  Here’s a good place to get started.

Cyberbullying can be a scary subject for most parents. While we can understand the emotions behind bullying, it can be difficult to grasp the implications of bullying in today’s modern age, when children are exceptionally vulnerable through their use of technology. Statistics show that only 7 percent of American parents are worried about it, but 33 percent of children have suffered from it. This disparity shows that parents still have a long way to go when it comes to educating themselves on the matter. Here are some things to keep in mind.

How Is Cyberbullying Different Than Regular Bullying?

In many ways, it’s not. It is still a form of intimidation and aggression intended to cause physical or psychological harm. However, the main differences lie in the implications of the technological medium and in the social environment kids live in today.

First of all, the internet allows for some level of anonymity for the bully. It’s also much harder to hide from cyberbullying, as it can happen anytime, and it has the potential to grow virally and spin out of control. There is also the wider context of the internet, which can be a toxic place where hateful messages are spread without fear of repercussion. Most importantly, it can’t realistically be ignored or cut out of the child’s life. A large part of a child’s social life plays out online, and to cut them off completely would be alienating and counterproductive.

What Are Some of the Effects of Cyberbullying?

As with any form of bullying, the effects of cyberbullying are potentially catastrophic. In the short-term, bullying can cause problems with sleep, school, and socialization. In the long run, it can cause PTSD. It can also lead to mental health problems ranging from depression to eating disorders, both immediately and into adulthood.

The worst possible effect of bullying is suicide. This may feel like an extreme example, but the connection has been proven. Teens involved in bullying behavior — on either side — are more likely to consider suicide. This highlights the importance of identifying cyberbullying and intervening as soon as possible.

How Do I Know My Child Is Being Cyberbullied?

First off, make it very clear to your children they should come to you if they are bullied, no matter what. Have an open conversation, in which you impress the importance of both asking for help and treating others with respect on the internet. This guide by Positive Parenting Solutions has some good tips. You also need to watch out for signs of cyberbullying. If you start identifying these, ask the school if they have spotted anything unusual. If not, this may be a sign the bullying is happening online.

What Can I Do?

If you believe the bully is a classmate, your first step should be to take it to the school. However, bear in mind that without direct evidence of the child’s behavior, it can be difficult for the school to enforce any punishment. In the meantime, tell your child not to respond to harassment and save any messages. You may opt to start gathering forensic evidence, such as text messages and social media posts, to begin building a legal case. In severe cases, you may want to turn to professionals like Secure Forensics who can help you gather all the information you need.

If the bullying becomes life-threatening (death threats and suicide encouragement, for example), go straight to the police with the issue. Cyberbullying legislation varies from state to state, so it also helps to be informed about your rights.

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of cyberbullying, but as parents, it is our job to show our kids they are not powerless. To do that, we need to become comfortable talking about cyberbullying, its real-world consequences, and the options we have to fight it. Cyberbullying is relatively new and uncharted territory for most parents, kids, and schools, so education and open conversation are some of the most powerful tools available to us on the matter.

Why Won’t My Child Slow Down and Use An Inside Voice?!

Small, Tall, Big and Small

From a young age, children are introduced to opposites.  From children’s books to playtime, opposites are a fun theme with great vocabulary and concepts.  From a developmental perspective, we are showing our kids how to recognize differences in the world and in ourselves.

Our perceptions and the decisions we make are guided by recognizing differences.  We can recognize differences in the world when we learn how some things are big and some are small.  We recognize an elephant as big and a mouse as small. We recognize a Dad as tall and the child as short.  From these concrete and visual opposites we can learn to understand similar differences in our thoughts and feelings.  We can feel happy sad, hungry or full, sleepy or energetic and engaged or bored.  

At Kid PT, we often hear from parents that their child is always on the move, always running, or always soooo loud.  Often the strategy used to address these concerns, is to practice the opposite. The child is told to slow down and be quieter.

But what if we flip this strategy on its head???    

The child who is always on the move may not recognize the difference between moving fast and slow.  Asking them to move slower is not something they can truly perceive let alone do, especially on their own when no one is asking them to do it.

Instead, if we try the opposite and ask the child to move FASTER, we’re asking them to recognize a difference that is already within their world of understanding.  If we can practice fast-faster-fastest, then the child can begin to recognize the differences of different speeds. Once they do, they can then understand all of the other speeds of slow, medium and fast.  

A child that is always moving fast is like a light switch.  There is on and off. There’s no such thing as a little on or a little off.  It is one or the other. You can’t ask that light to not be so bright.

If we install a dimmer on our light switch, it can now move between bright, not so bright, a little dim and off.  Meeting our kids where THEY can recognize differences, like between fast and faster for the always-fast-moving-child, is like installing a dimmer switch.  The child can start learning to move that dimmer switch and over time they will be able to recognize all the different speeds that they can move their bodies.

The same goes for the child who is always loud.  The main strategy is usually to ask the child to be quieter.  What if we try the opposite??? Ask the child to be louder! Then have them use their regular voice (even if it’s loud).  Keep playing with the differences that are within the child’s universe. From there, you can build and build. You’ve now installed a dimmer switch that can recognize all different levels of volume and not just one the child has and the level that adults are asking of the child.

This is is just one example of how we can flip therapy on its head and work smarter instead of harder.  If we work on a child’s strengths and natural abilities, we can truly change how a child experiences the world.  Helping a child change from the inside out can then spontaneously change how they learn and how they move so that they can truly become their best selves!  

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!