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  • Wild Spirit

    Wild Spirit Client: Matthew Wagner Year: 2023 This is placeholder text. To change this content, double-click on the element and click Change Content. To manage all your collections, click on the Content Manager button in the Add panel on the left. Previous Next

  • Under the Sun

    Under the Sun Client: Kasta Travel Year: 2023 This is placeholder text. To change this content, double-click on the element and click Change Content. To manage all your collections, click on the Content Manager button in the Add panel on the left. Previous Next

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Blog Posts (73)

  • Know the Signs

    April is international autism awareness month. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 in 68 children worldwide. I am dedicating my posts this month to increasing acceptance, awareness, and most importantly increasing knowledge. When tracking a child's development, pediatricians rely on YOU to report delays in development or atypical behavior to assist in making the proper recommendations and referrals. A diagnosis (or lack thereof) comes from the doctor's observations as well as what you report your child can and cannot do. But if you don’t know what to look for, how do you know when to report a concern? The major signs of ASD are difficulty with language and social communication. Restricted behaviors, repetitive behaviors and impairments in behavioral and emotional regulation may also be present. For example, children with typical play skills will play with a variety of toys and engage in cooperative play with others. They will feed their baby doll, roll a truck and make it crash, play dress up in costumes and build with legos. A child with rigid or restricted play skills may sit alone and unoccupied while others play. He may have an interest in only trains and roll all objects as if it were a car/ train. Read more about play skills here Below is a short list of signs to look for; however, every individual with ASD is different and may not present with all of these signs. The lack of a “normal behavior” DOES NOT denote a diagnosis, but it is a reason to talk to your pediatrician. 1. Lack of smiling or difficulty orienting to people in a social environment Babies begin to smile as early 6 weeks and should smile and laugh in response to others. Lack of this social response by 9 months is a red flag. 2. Delayed language acquisition Your baby should babble and coo (babababa/ badaga) between 6-9 months. He should have his first true word by 12-15 months 3. Delays in play skills or abnormal play 4. Does not seek attention Does your child gesture to be picked up or vocalize to get your attention? Does he initiate cuddling from you? 5. Repetitive behaviors or unusual body movements Does your child sit in unusual positions or make unusual movements with her arms, hands, wrists or legs? 6. Limited eye contact Does your baby visually track objects and people? Does your child maintain eye contact with you and others? People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can have a range of abilities and impairments. This is why it is called a spectrum. Some individuals have above average cognitive and language abilities and others have significant cognitive deficits and may not speak at all (nonverbal.) I cannot emphasize enough how imperative it is that you monitor your child’s development and share your concerns. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions about your child’s development. Trust me I reported lots of things to my daughters’ pediatrician and he was happy to address all of my concerns. If you have concerns regarding language or overall communication, an ASHA-certified SLP can identify a language delay or disorder. For more information or if you have questions, send a message and we will help you get the answers you need. #autism #socialcommunication #playskills

  • Back to School Tips

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is summer 2021 is winding down and kids (and staff) will return to school very soon. *Some of you may have already returned depending on where you live. As I sit here typing, I am looking at my daughter's school uniform order that just arrived and later we will buy the rest of their supplies. At some point, I will prepare for my own return to school, but I am delaying that for as long as possible lol. As we prepare to return to in-person school and our "new normal," I wanted to share a few tips for parents. This school year will come with unique challenges, but we still want to ensure that we are setting our children and students up for a successful year. One of the best ways to do that is to advocate for your child and be an active (and vocal) part of the team. Often times, parents do not realize that they are part of the school team, especially when their child receives special services like speech and language therapy. I want you to know that the TEAM includes YOU, as well as case managers, therapists, and specialists. We are all experts in our respective fields, but parents are the experts on their children. We, the school staff and therapists, need your input as we decide the best plan for your child. When you advocate for your child and remain involved in the team process, you can make sure your child is receiving the services they need and strengthen the relationship between home and school. Here are a few tips for what you can do as a parent: Ask for an assessment or reassessment. If you have concerns and your child is not currently receiving speech and language (or OT/PT) services, you can request an evaluation. You can also request a re-evaluation if your child has not received one in a few years and you want to see how they are progressing. Learn who your child's therapists are. Every September, I send home a letter to the families of the children on my caseload. I introduce myself as their child's speech language pathologist for the year and share my contact information. If you don't receive communication from your child's therapist, make a point to reach out to your child's teachers and therapists. Let them know early on that you want to stay connected and involved. And if your child receives private services, be sure to connect your school providers with your private practitioners. This may require signing a release, but your child benefits when all providers are able to collaborate. Ask questions. As a parent, you have the right to know what is going on at all times. There is no such thing as a silly question. If anything is unclear, ask for clarification, especially before signing documents. Create a program for home. Children who practice skills at home make progress faster and are able to carry over learned information to multiple settings. Ask your teachers and therapists what you can work on/ do at home to help reinforce skills taught in school. You are your child's best advocate and you when you speak up for them, you teach them how to one day become their own advocate. I know it is not always easy to speak up, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It may sound corny, but it is true! I hope these tips help you get off to a successful school year! All the best,

  • Holiday Survival for Children with Special Needs

    I cannot believe that we are entering the holiday season. The stores are decorated and so are many of the homes in my neighborhood, but it still seems like the year has flown by. Feels like we just said goodbye to summer and in a few days we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. I love the holiday season- the music, the decorations, celebrating family traditions and spending time with friends. It’s the most wonderful time of year, but the holiday season can also bring about stress and anxiety. Large family gatherings and social events can be unpleasant for children, especially children with special needs. As you prepare for the holiday season, here are a few tips to help your children prepare for and engage in the holidays too: Use a schedule or calendar to help him/ her countdown to the holidays your family will be celebrating. Talk about how you will celebrate the day. Will you stay at home? Will you host guests at your house? Will you be visiting someone else’s home? Use photos to help him/ her visualize who will be participating in the holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving is a day when we give thanks for the people and things in our lives that we appreciate. Take some time and talk to your little one about what you appreciate. Have some extra time or an extra set of hands to help? Browse these Pinterest boards for some easy and fun Thanksgiving activities for preschoolers Make holiday wish lists. This can be a list of gifts to purchase for others or a list of things your child is hoping to receive. Use catalogs and circulars and cut out pictures to create a wish list. Do you have specific family traditions? Give your little one a kid-friendly introduction to some of the things your family has done since you were his age. The kitchen will be a busy place for the next few weeks. Kids love to cook! Find a small task that he/she can help with in the kitchen. Maybe it’s counting out the measurements for Nana’s gravy recipe, or stirring the cake batter- but your child will enjoy having a kitchen duty of his or her own. If you don’t want to involve him/ her in cooking food, here is a fun recipe for pumpkin pie playdough that will do the trick too! Discuss socially appropriate behavior. Try using a social story like this Thanksgiving social story from Autism Speaks. Social stories are an illustrated visual support to teach children what to expect in specific situations and will help them understand the change from their usual routine. When the actual day comes around remember who your child is! If your child doesn’t tolerate different textures or layers of clothing this will also hold true on special occasions. Dress him/ her comfortably! Table manners are important. Although your family will be understanding if your child impatiently grabs food before being served, it is a good idea to teach table manners early and reinforce them often. Table manners are important in being socially accepted. For tips on teaching table manners check out these tips for children with special needs and autism. Children with autism and their families may encounter specific challenges. Happy Holiday Resources offers 12 great tips full of guidance and support during this time of year. I hope these tips are helpful, but more importantly I wish you and your family a happy and wonderful holiday season!

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