One of the hardest things for children with special needs or high sensitivity to do is handle transitions. Any child recognizes the difficulties of heading back to school in the fall. New teachers, new classrooms, new assignments, and new friends can turn what should be a happy time into an anxiety-filled few weeks – through no fault of your child’s, and no fault of your own.
Mitigating turbulent transitions through therapy
When you are helping your child start a new school year, there are some tips from the experts that can prove to be therapeutic. First, acknowledge your child’s emotions. Ask your child how he or she is feeling. Is it nervous, frightened, or confused? Sometimes, children may not be able to verbally communicate how they are feeling. You can use keen observation to help you understand, and spending time with your child through this period will go a long way. Work with your child’s therapist and care team to develop some child-focused coping mechanisms and routines throughout the back-to-school transition.
One way to mitigate school-based apprehension is to engage in some role play with children. Walk them through a typical day, role-playing a teacher and student. You can also role play as peers, which aids in the development of making friends.
Showing children that it’s okay to laugh in the face of adversity can help usher in a smooth transition. Additionally, you’ll certainly want to show them that they can learn from each moment. There’s no need for your child to feel shame about not knowing something or even being nervous – that’s part of the experience, and can be part of the fun. Lastly, sensitive children can benefit from breathing exercises and encouragement to self-soothe. If loud noises, bright lights, and overstimulation are an issue, remind your child that deep breathing or “taking a break” are always options. Keep calm and help your child do the same.
Tiny Tots Therapy wants to help your child feel ready and excited for the school days ahead. We service children of all ages and offer child-based therapies at our locations throughout New Jersey. We practice a team model in the therapy process to drive children to the next level and to assist their integration into the community. To learn more, call us at 1-888-951-TOTS (8687).
Taking a family vacation is an incredibly exciting time, but getting to your destination can be a challenge, particularly if you have to fly. Navigating airports, boarding the plane, and gathering your luggage can present unique challenges when you have a child with special needs. We’ve put together some tips for you to make traveling an easier process for you and your family.
Traveling with a child with disabilities
- Plan ahead. Call the airport and airline officials in advance to check on things that are important to you and your child. If your child isn’t accustomed to crowds and a lack of privacy, find out where people with disabilities can receive their security screening. When speaking with the airport, security, or airline personnel, don’t use highly technical terms. By law, “disabled” or “special needs” is all you are required to say.
- Give your family adequate time. Get to the airport early, and when you’ve passed through security, leave plenty of time to walk around and get acclimated to the high-sensory input environment. Getting a little exercise can also help tire your child out for a long plane flight.
- Schedule flights strategically. Make sure you have scheduled your flight, if at all possible, at one of the calmest and most typically serene times of your child’s day. If your child still naps at a reasonable time, booking your flight during that time would be advised.
- Prepare for picky eaters. It is also best to make sure that you have adequate snacks or meals planned for your child, as picky eaters tend to shy away from airport and airplane food.
- Keep your child occupied. Long flights can be difficult for a child with special needs. Let your child pick a movie, book, or self-contained toy to play with on the airplane.
Our team at Tiny Tots Therapy loves to work with schools, families, and individuals, in order to provide the best family therapy in New Jersey. Our child-focused care is cutting edge, and our clients and instructors have had great results. As one of the most trustworthy and well-regarded therapy practices in New Jersey, we have locations throughout the state. To learn more about what Tiny Tots can do for your child, call us at 1-888-951-TOTS (8687).
Field trips are those rare and wonderful breaks from the relative monotony of a school day. They can be educational, hands-on, and facilitate all types of learning environments. For some students, however, they can be overstimulating, anxiety-inducing, and cause a complete shut down or regression. At Tiny Tots Therapy, we use a teamwork-based model. If your little one is having trouble adjusting to field trips, we recommend working with your child’s care team.
Working through your child’s emotions
Sometimes children don’t feel ready to take on a new challenge. Other times overstimulation can be the root cause of field-trip anxiety. When you’re working with a child with special needs, you want to make sure you’re helping him or her name the emotion. Once you know what your child is feeling, you can help create a world of support.
Overstimulation is a bit different from anxiety, though it can lead to anxiety and shut down. Sensory processing problems can come in the form of reactions to sound, light, touch, and other sensory input, like taste. If your child is bothered by things like lights, loud noises, or changes in scenery, it could be due to a sensory processing disorder.
Field trips can be a world of fear-inducing stimulation, even for kids without sensory issues. If your child uses a tool to help him or her calm down – such as a blanket, bubbles, or headphones – ensure that these items are allowed during field trips. When your child is leaving or returning, make sure that he or she feels calm, in control of the environment, safe enough to process the big day and comfortable sharing details about the experience. If possible, when your child is very young, it’s ideal that you or another caretaker accompany your child on a field trip. It is not always necessary or advisable as they grow older.
The most important element of preparing for a field trip is working with your child’s care team to give your child a fair sense of what to expect during the day. Don’t become upset if he or she obsessively wants to discuss the details of the day with you. You, your child’s therapist, and the teacher should be ready to assist as needed throughout this process.
Tiny Tots Therapy is committed to teaching coping skills and individualized therapy modalities to children who are easily overstimulated. We serve children of all ages and offer child-based therapies that make us one of the most beloved therapy practices throughout New Jersey. To learn more about what Tiny Tots Therapy can do for your child, call us at 1-888-951-TOTS (8687), or contact us online.
What’s your name? Arielle Harris
What’s your role at Tiny Tots Therapy? School and outpatient clinic-based Occupational Therapist
What’s are you favorite hobbies? Crafting and going to the beach
Why do you do what you do? I love teaching kids skills through playing that help improve their lives and increase their independence.
What do you love about Tiny Tots Therapy? I love being able to work with kids and how involved and passionate the employees are- top to bottom!
What’s an example of a time you felt you made a difference and how did it make you feel? Honestly, I feel that I make a difference every day and that is why I love my job. Just making the kids smile, makes the day worth it.
What is involved in an initial evaluation? The purpose of the initial evaluation is to get a baseline understanding of a child’s current functioning. We then determine whether he or she is appropriate for treatment and in what ways Tiny Tots Therapy professionals can help. We conduct a parent interview to get a full picture of the child’s medical history. From there, our therapists complete a functional analysis with the assistance of standardized assessments and observation of the child. This is all done through play, so children will feel comfortable through any of the assessment process. Once the assessments are complete, a member of ours will meet with the parent to discuss the findings and explain what the next steps in the process will be–whether that is to schedule their next appointment with Tiny Tots; or to make a referral to another professional that provides services not offered by us.
Can you describe the evaluation process? In order to treat children, our professionals must have a clear understanding of their current functioning–both strengths and deficits. At Tiny Tots Therapy, we know that children are their truest self when they are engrossed in play, so we incorporate fun into all aspects of the assessment process. The child will engage in a variety of activities that assess their speech, motor, sensory, social, and other abilities. Activities might include writing, getting dressed, or storytelling. As the child completes each task, the therapist makes observations which will be used to analyze the child’s current ability levels and determine his or her treatment needs. This information will let us know whether or not the child’s needs can be met by our service offerings. If they can, this information will be utilized to develop a treatment plan for the child. If the child’s needs exceed the level of service we provide, our therapists will provide a referral to another service provider that is a more appropriate fit. The entire process typically takes less than an hour.
How long will my kid need therapy? Essentially, a child should remain in therapy for as long as it takes to achieve an appropriate and desired level of functioning. Every child is different, so his or her course of treatment will depend on a number of factors. First, the severity of the child’s functional deficits when they begin therapy will determine how much treatment will be needed, at minimum, to get him or her to where they need to be. During treatment, consistency of attendance, parent involvement, reinforcement and practice at home outside of treatment sessions will all promote faster and more sustainable improvements. There is an opportunity after each therapy session for parents to discuss their child’s performance and strategies for at-home implementation of the skills learned that day. We strongly encourage parents to get their children to all sessions on time, to ask questions and understand the tools the child is learning, and to practice with them at home in order to get the best and fastest outcomes from therapy. Readiness for discharge from treatment is determined by both the parent and the therapist who will discuss whether goals have been met and their confidence in the child’s ability to maintain those gains in the absence of ongoing treatment.
Do I need a prescription for therapy? In the clinic, a prescription is strongly advised, but not mandatory. Referral from a pediatrician or other provider can be very helpful in honing in on the specific issues that prompted the provider to make the referral during the assessment process. Additionally, if you are utilizing insurance to pay for treatment, a referral can be useful in substantiating the claim.
As many parents know, going out in public can be a stressful challenge for both you and your child with a sensory processing disability. Bright lights, loud noises, and strange smells can all be triggers that may cause your child to experience sensory overload in public. Although it is difficult to minimize exposure to these triggers, it is important to have a plan in place to handle sensory overload before it turns into a sensory meltdown. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to managing sensory overload in public with your child.
- Come prepared: Although you have little control over the sensory environment of public places, packing a few essential items may be able to help your child better cope with his or her surroundings. Bright fluorescent lights often found in grocery stores and other public places can be triggers for sensory overload in many children, but packing a pair of polarized sunglasses could help your child manage the artificial brightness. Loud noises in crowded places can also be a trigger of sensory overload; bringing noise canceling headphones or listening to soothing music can help your child handle the sensory stress.
- Have an escape route: Sometimes when your child is dealing with sensory overload in public, it’s best to take a moment to step outside, away from your current setting. While outside, your child will be in natural light and can escape the loud noise of a crowded room. This allows him or her to decompress from the situation.
- Know the triggers: Try to pay attention to what causes your child’s sensory overload. By identifying these risks, you can try to avoid certain places or environments. Knowing these triggers can help you take a proactive approach to better prepare your child and ensure you both have a more enjoyable experience!
At Tiny Tots Therapy, we help children enhance their sensory integration skills through home, school, and center-based services. Visit our website to learn more, or make an appointment with one of our passionate pediatric therapists.
Over the past few years, the video game industry has expanded exponentially, creating a variety of genres for kids of all ages including educational and movement focused games. Video games are becoming a more accepted form of therapy for children with special needs, but there is still a concern if this virtual play is truly beneficial. So we asked our team to weigh in on the debate: are video games good for my child? The list below is consolidated feedback from our experts.
Pros: One benefit to video games is that they allow children to develop their fine motor skills. Video game systems like the Nintendo Wii or XBox Kinect have dance and sports games, allowing children to work on balance, strength, and hand-eye coordination. Development of communication and understanding of social roles is another benefit of video games. Storytelling games allow children to work on conflict resolution as well as understanding language patterns. Our experts agreed that being able to practice these skills in a comfortable environment makes video games a stepping stone for improved social interaction and development.
Another advantage of video games is that they promote problem-solving, organization, reading and writing skills. The structure of levels and achievement also make video games a way to teach children skills of goal setting and task management. There are even video games that help continue education outside of the classroom.
Cons: Although video games do offer a level of social interaction and communication, they don’t allow children to practice interpersonal skills, such as making eye contact during conversation. Certain social skill development is not attainable through virtual gaming and can only be developed through face-to-face activity.
Another potential issue with children playing video games too often is their addictive nature. Obsession with video games can lead to behavioral issues, attention deficits, and even aggression when a child is forced to turn off a game. Many children who become too attached to their video games have a difficult time transitioning into other activities.
Similarly, when children are engrossed in playing video games, they may not be motivated to get outside and play. Fresh air and sunshine are essential for all children, and too much screen time can keep them cooped up in the house for too many hours during the day.
Our experts at Tiny Tots Therapy concluded that when it comes to video games and children, it seems moderation is key. If you want to give your kids a break from the screen, stop by one of our locations to enjoy our array of classes and our Fun Factory Sensory Gym!
There are many factors that can make it difficult to maintain a diet that promotes wellness for children – certain health conditions, genetics, and medications are just a few. Although finding healthy foods that kids actually want to eat can be a hefty challenge, improving your child’s diet may be more important than you think. More and more researchers have found food to be an extremely successful tool in raising the quality of life for children with special needs. Let’s take a look at some of the foods that have proven to promote mind and body wellness for these children.
Studies have shown that foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for symptoms related to autism, ADHD, and neurological conditions. Some foods that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, anchovies, walnuts, flaxseeds, and spinach. According to WebMD, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease, and reduce levels of depression.
There have also been many studies looking at the effectiveness of probiotics and prebiotics in alleviating symptoms of autism. Research has shown that probiotics and prebiotics can help with gastrointestinal conditions as well as behavioral issues. Some foods high in probiotics include non-dairy yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, and kimchi. For foods rich in prebiotics, try onions, leeks, bananas, asparagus, and peas.
Foods high in dietary fiber are another healthy choice that has been shown to help with digestion. According to the Mayo Clinic, a high-fiber diet has many benefits including slower digestion, as well as lower cholesterol and blood glucose. It’s also been proven to help with bloating and constipation. Some foods that contain high levels of fiber include black beans, pears, artichokes, broccoli, avocados, raspberries, and brussels sprouts. As for foods you should try to avoid, refined sugar and additives common in processed and refined foods can be harmful to both body and brain functioning of your child.
Diet is one essential component of your child’s overall health and wellness plan. To learn more about Tiny Tots Therapy and the ways our team can help your little ones reach their potential, visit our website or stop by one of our locations today.
With summer quickly approaching, plan to use this valuable time at home to work with your children on speech development. At Tiny Tots Therapy, our experts encourage parents to get involved in their child’s therapy with lots of practice at home and on the go. Here are some of our best tips to help promote your child’s speech, growth, and development in the comfortable setting of your home this summer.
-Yoga and Speech. One fun way to incorporate speech therapy at home is to integrate movement into your activities. Speech therapy in yoga has become a growing tool that parents can easily practice with their children. This could include having your child repeat the sound they are working on as many times as they can while holding their pose. While working on balance, concentration, and fine motor skills, this type of activity integrates sound skills, listening skills, and vocabulary skills.
-Use Your Hands. Another at-home way to make speech therapy more fun is using tactile techniques. Alphabet blocks, letter puzzles, and even playdough can be used to make speech therapy a more dynamic experience. According to Speech Buddies, “tactile tools target a range of skill sets from fine and gross motor, articulation, voice and stuttering, listening and sensory skills.” Tactile strategies are also helpful with sensory integration.
-Fun and Games. Incorporating games is another great way to make at-home speech therapy fun and exciting for your children. Games such as Spot It, Headbands, or the Action Bag are some of our favorites. Your little one will look forward to speech therapy as much as any other play time!
If you are still having difficulty engaging your child in speech therapy at home, you may want to consider bringing in an expert. Tiny Tots Therapy offers home-based and center-based services to help continue your child’s growth outside of the classroom. Our expert team of speech pathologists would love to work with you and your child to find techniques for promoting growth and development at home this summer. Our team also has multilingual speech pathologists on staff. Get in touch to learn more!
As many parents know, although summer is a time for fun in the sun, finding activities to fill the days that keep your kids entertained and engaged while also supporting development can be a major challenge. We’ve compiled an ultimate guide of summer fun activities that also encourage development for your children.
Catch a Flick with the Whole Family. One activity that can be fun for the whole family includes special needs screenings at movie theaters. These events are popping up all over and can be a great experience for the entire family. This activity provides a safe space for your children to be themselves and enjoy going to the movies without the usual pressure. Beyond this, these events provide an opportunity for your children to work on their social skills and for your family to connect with other families.
Get Crafty. Another activity that can be done inside or outdoors, depending on the weather, is a weekly arts and craft day. By picking manageable projects for you and your children, at-home art activities can provide multiple benefits, including bilateral coordination, fine motor control, self-regulation, boosted self-esteem, and precious bonding time together. For some project inspiration, check out Pinterest’s board of special needs art project ideas.
Play Chef Together. Cooking simple and fun recipes with your children is another great activity for the summer. According to WeeZee, “for children with special needs, cooking can be an opportunity to increase independence, put basic academic skills to use in a functional way, and an opportunity to learn how to eat healthy.” And on top of it being a great way to bond with your children, cooking with your kids provides a multi-sensory experience where they may practice fine motor skills and work on following directions.
Another option parents may want to consider for their children’s summer activities is to enroll them in a summer program where they may work on their development while practicing social skills. Tiny Tots Therapy offers a variety of summer programs, including Balance Bonanza, Pencil Party, Catch Me if You Can, and Just Craftin’ Around, where your children can improve their motor, cognitive, and social skills in a sensory-rich environment. Call us today at 888-951-TOTS(8687).
Summer is all about time together, getting outdoors, and engaging as a family. When not engaging in outdoor fun, there is plenty of room for fun and sensory development inside. Having awesome toys your children love on hand is key, and even better if those toys can aid in your child’s growth and development. These five toys are great for promoting development and fun for children of all needs.
First on our list is Learning Resource’s Gears! Gears! Gears! Lights & Action Building Set. This creative construction goes the extra mile in sensory stimulation, with colorful pieces, glow-in-the-dark stickers, bright lights, and spinning pieces. The control over design provides an outlet for your children to express their creativity, and with over 120 pieces your children will have unlimited possibilities to create their masterpiece.
Next up is Hasbro’s Elefun and Friends firefly-chasing game. This exciting and unpredictable game is designed to improve your children’s focus and motor skills. Kids will be jumping and laughing nonstop as they race to catch the most fireflies.
Melissa & Doug’s Fruit Cutting Set makes our list as well with its fun and educational qualities. The set provides children with the outlet to practice fine motor and social skills. And, as your children enjoy preparing fruit snacks, they’re gaining early exposure to the concept of fractions.
Monster Toss by Alex Toys Active Play is next on our list. This game is a silly and fun way to develop your children’s fine motor skills. With adjustable difficulty levels, this game can be tailored to fit your child’s developmental stage.
Last but certainly not least on our list is Vtech’s Tote & Go Laptop. This learning laptop has 20 interactive activities touching on math, reading, music, and puzzle solving. The level of difficulty increases gradually, letting your children progressively build their skills. This fun and friendly toy provides a way for your children to develop their verbal skills as well as their fine motor skills by working a mouse. Best of all, its portability allows your children to bring it anywhere they go.
We believe in the power of play. Play is an amazing way to help develop sensory skills.If your child has been diagnosed with a developmental disability, they may benefit from a variety of different toys to use at home, based off diagnosis. We are always available to discuss your child’s and family’s needs. You can get in touch with a specialist by calling Tiny Tots Therapy at 888-951-TOTS(8687).
The month of May is dedicated to pediatric stroke awareness. Unborn babies, newborns, infants, children and teenagers can all suffer from strokes. Often, children are misdiagnosed because individuals are unaware that infants and children can in fact have strokes and because these symptoms may mimic those related to other conditions. The International Alliance for Pediatric Stroke (IAPS) has partnered with the American Heart Association to create fact sheets for childhood strokes and infant (perinatal) strokes, alerting the public to the warning signs and medical conditions associated with pediatric strokes. Reviewing these facts can increase awareness among parents and caregivers, and assist physicians and medical professionals in making an accurate diagnosis.
Because strokes can occur at any age, it is important to look out for the signs and symptoms of pediatric strokes in both children/teenagers and infants.
In Children and Teenagers
-Weakness/numbness in face, arm, or leg on one side of body
-Loss of coordination and dizziness
-Seizures and paralysis
In Newborns and Infants
-Tendency to use only one side of body
National Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month aims to increase awareness, advance knowledge and initiate more research for children that are affected by pediatric strokes. According to the IAPS, stroke is one of the top ten causes of death in children, and more than half of victims experience permanent neurological and physical deficits. Such deficits include hemiplegia or hemiparesis, which involve total or partial paralysis on one side of the body. This is one of the most common forms of cerebral palsy in children born at term, with stroke as its leading cause. Other long-term disabilities caused by pediatric strokes include: cognitive and sensory impairments, epilepsy, communication disorders, visual impairments, and behavioral problems.
At Tiny Tots Therapy, we aim to increase awareness across our community, support caregivers, and dedicate time for pediatric therapy throughout the state of New Jersey. Children who have suffered a pediatric stroke will benefit from the home, school, and center-based services our team of dedicated therapists offer. Our locations include East Brunswick, Edison, and Scotch Plains. Learn more on our website: https://www.tinytotstherapy.com/.
Tiny Tots Therapy is excited to announce their participation at the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA’s) Annual Conference & Centennial Celebration March 30 – April 2 in Philadelphia, PA. Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 213,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide.
Tiny Tots Therapy is now accepting reservations for those interested in school-based and clinic-based therapy while at the conference.
Tiny Tots Therapy, leading provider of pediatric therapy in NJ, with a multi-disciplinary team of over 80 therapists, servicing over 26 school districts and 3 outpatient clinic locations, recently celebrated 10 years of exceptional service, is exhibiting at booth #1212.
Occupational therapy experts will be gathering in Philadelphia for this event. The developmental growth and enrichment of youth is at the forefront of Tiny Tots Therapy Inc. The Tiny Tots Therapy team is dedicated to maximizing the independence of life skills in children and adolescents, supporting caregivers and professionals, and increasing awareness throughout educational communities.
The conference will include more than 1,600 educational sessions covering a variety of topics, including:
-Autism spectrum disorder
-Community mobility options
-Lifelong benefits of ongoing occupational therapy
-Animal assisted therapy
-Sex and intimacy challenges for clients with physical disabilities
-Universal Design to support visitors with physical disabilities
For more information and a full listing of presentations, visit AOTA’s conference website. All sessions and the Expo will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia.
The American Occupational Therapy Association, based in Bethesda,MD, educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting professional and educational standards, and serving as an advocate to improve health care.
Teaching handwriting or handwriting remediation can be both one of the most rewarding and frustrating areas for occupational therapists. Most approaches tend to emphasize workbook-based rote skills, rather than any truly conceptual applications. Tiny Tots Therapy, Inc will be hosting Dr. Beverly Moskowitz, DOT, MS OTR/L, FAOTA, the author of Practical Strategies for Increasing the Effectiveness, Efficiency and Impact of your School-Based Occupational Therapy Practice, for a two-day workshop and SMHP certification course February 19-20 at the Renaissance Hotel in Woodbridge, NJ.
One of the many reasons Dr. Moskowitz is so highly sought and respected is that her method doesn’t rely on anecdotal or folk evidence, but rather on concrete statistics and data. The Size Matters Handwriting Program (SMHP) is not only suitable for professional therapists in clinical settings, but can be utilized by teachers in an inclusive classroom setting, in a remedial context, and even reinforced in the home. Dr. Moskowitz’s program is in use in every state, and outside of the US as well.
During the two-day workshop, Dr. Moskowitz will be offering the SMHP certification program for educators or professionals with a minimum of a two-year degree in an education or healthcare related field. A recommendation letter is also required for entry to the 2-day certification program.
Topics covered will include:
– Handwriting research
– SMHP success data
– 8 key concepts of SMHP
– Implementation strategies in different educational settings
– Lesson plans and data collection
– Treatment planning
– Varying accommodations
– Employing SMHP in classroom games
Tiny Tots Therapy, Inc hosts this and other programs throughout the year to further our primary goal of providing evidence-based services to assist every child’s learning. We emphasize a whole-child approach that includes traditional, holistic, alternative, and advanced treatment modalities combining sensory-motor integration and ABA methodology. Every child and family we work with is treated with respect for their unique personal and cultural needs.
The Size Matters Handwriting Workshop will be held February 19-20th in Woodbridge, NJ. To register online, visit the program’s website. For more information about the other services and programs Tiny Tots Therapy, Inc. offers, check our website for the latest news.