Many children and adults have trouble getting thoughts onto paper. It is common to be caught staring at the page with nothing coming out. So how can we help kids order their thoughts and ideas to take that next step of putting pen to paper? Here are some in the moment strategies that may help children with planning and ideation difficulties to streamline their thoughts through other means before then having the cohesiveness to write it down.
Children with auditory processing difficulties often have difficulty understanding instructions that they have been given. It may be that due to too much competing background noise, internal processing difficulties, they were not ready to receive the information or the way that the instruction was given. Here are some in the moment tips that may help a child to understand the information that they have been given:
When OT’s look at handwriting, they are assessing a wide range of skills. All of these skills are needed to do something as simple as write your own name. This infographic looks at the different levels of skills needed for handwriting success:
(1) Foundational skills of being able to complete academic tasks; body regulation, sensory processing and engagement/motivation. These skills allow us to stay seated at our desk, feel calm and alert, be willing to engage in the activity and work in the surrounding space.
(2) Systems skills needed to carry out the more complex skills; posture, vision and listening. These skills allow us to be physically orientated to the task, be ready to take in the information needed and feel comfortable at our desk.
(3) Higher level motor skills needed to carry out the task: bilateral skills (two hands), coordination and fine motor skills. These allow us to do things such as hold a pencil, manoeuvre the page and write letters with precision.
(4) These are called executive functioning skills; attention, memory, planning. These skills allow us to think through a task, solve any problems, come up with ideas and work out what we are going to do next.
Depending on the difficulty that a child may be having, an OT may start at any level of skill. Each of these skill areas contribute to the overall success of handwriting at home and school!
Have any questions or comments? Get in touch by emailing calmandconnected.com.au or call 0430 645 086
Patricia Oetter, Eileen Richter & Sheila Frick are amazing therapists that support kids who have difficulty with posture, regulation, attention and oral motor (feeding, talking, breathing). They talk all about using the mouth (breathing, biting, chewing, blowing etc) to help calm the nervous system down and develop posture.
From birth, a babies movement is driven by their mouth with their need to feed. Then as children become more mobile, what happens to everything? It ends up in their mouth. As an adult when you put on mascara, whats keeps your face stable? your mouth drops open or locked to help hold the face muscles still. So unsurprisingly, the mouth is plays many essential roles, why not unlock its potential therapeutically?
I highly recommended looking at the below resources to learn more about how oral motor and respiration can used to improve kids posture and self regulation:
For therapists – The Motor, Oral, Respiration, Eyes (M.O.R.E.)Book, Integrating the mouth with sensory and postural functions, By Patricia Oetter, Eileen Richter & Sheila Frick. http://shopau.sensorytools.net/as_books?productID=2851
For parents – “Out of the Mouths of Babes” By Patricia Oetter, Eileen Richter & Sheila Frick.
If you would like to learn more please check out our courses or therapy options on our website calmandconnected.com.au.
Families that live in a Fly In Fly Out lifestyle can find it difficult to manage a consistent routine and feel connected to the family member when they are absent. This can cause stress or anxiety among the adults and/or children in the family. Therefore the following are some ideas of ways to maintain a routine and ensure that all members of the family can have a presence despite being away at work.
Routine ideas to build in consistency despite rosters:
Calming ideas to reduce anxiety in children affected by disruption:
Connection ideas to foster strong relationships:
Check out some picture cards that can be printed out and put on the fridge as ideas to use at home, found on my website in the downloads section.
Want to learn more or get support for your family? Contact us to get an appointment with one of our therapists. We have no waitlist!
What is listening?
Listening is detecting sounds through the ear, the brain organizing the sound and combining it with information from all our other senses. Listening includes:
What is Therapeutic Listening?
Therapeutic Listening is a structured program using specifically composed music to develop a person’s ability to tune into and respond to their world. Here are some of the aspects found in the music:
Physical exercise not only puts energy into the tank, it also reduces the impact of those factors that drain energy from the tank. This allows for more energy to cope with stress and do the things that we enjoy. Exercise works on a number of areas in our body all at the same time:
Sensory diets are specific individualized programs written by an Occupational Therapist (OT). They are designed to help a person with Sensory Processing difficulties manage their symptoms so that they can function in their daily routine. The concept ‘sensory diet’ was termed by OT Patricia Wilbarger in the late 1970’s. It refers to having regular sensory input throughout the day, consisting of intensive large amounts (main meals) and smaller top ups (snacks). An Occupational Therapist develops a sensory diet with the child and supporting adults to determine what ‘nutritional’ sensory input their nervous system needs to function. Activities are chosen according to the individuals preferences usually determined by interview, observation and often formal assessment (such as Sensory Profiles or Sensory Processing Measures). Each activity is strategically placed in the child’s daily routine considering the following:
When used correctly the most powerful and long lasting activities include; movement, deep pressure touch, joint compression and heavy work. With the right amount of intensity, duration and frequency, these activities can have an impact for 2 to 4 hours. It is highly recommended that trialing sensory activities is done in collaboration with an OT trained in this area, as when not done correctly can have a negative impact for 2-4 hours!
Often a family is provided with a Sensory Program or some Sensory Strategies. These are usually more flexible and less targeted then a Sensory Diet. I find it is the process of putting together a Sensory Program with a therapist that families find most helpful. As this gives lots of opportunity to learn about what sensory processing is, about their child’s specific needs and allows for problem solving along the way.
Sleep restores the body’s resources that have been used up during the day (such as the immune system which is needed for healing and fighting illness). While sleeping the brain processes and retains information that was learned from the day and stores it into long-term memory. The common sleep issues that children may experience are:
It is important to address any sleep issues as they greatly affect performance during the day.
How much sleep do you need?
Research has shown that it is the first 4 hours of sleep that are the most important. This is when we are in our deepest sleep and therefore the most restoration/healing occurs. There are seven main factors that impact quality of sleep: routine, diet, light exposure, exercise, environment, health/stress and sensory input.
Register for the online training module to learn more about how these areas impact our sleep and can be used to develop healthy sleep practices. Alternatively, give me a call book a session to tailor these strategies to your family.
There is much more to vision then simply being able to see something clearly. Vision is a fundamental factor in the learning process; it is required for reading and handwriting tasks. Current research indicates that 1 in 4 children have visual skill problems. Possible indicators that a child is having difficulty with visual skills are:
There are 4 levels of vision that we need to see and use the information around us:
If you would like to discuss your child’s visual skills please do not hesitate to contact me. Online training on this topic is coming soon!