Tag Archives: learning

Through my Parenting Eyes

By: Theresa Forthofer, CEO & President of Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley

While I am the President and CEO of Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, I also happen to be the mother of three children.  Two of my children have Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy and Autism. My oldest, Ryan, was diagnosed when he was 7 years old.  He is now 24 years old. My youngest was diagnosed with the Congenital form of Muscular Dystrophy within days of his birth and he is now 18.

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Having two boys with Muscular Dystrophy, meant lots of doctor visits and hours of therapy every week.  Throughout the years we had several different therapists and we liked them all.  They were all very nice and the boys were making progress.  Therefore, we assumed everything was great and the boys were doing the best they could.  Looking back, I sincerely wish I knew then, what I know now.  While they were progressing, they were not reaching their full potential.

I may be biased, but what I have learned since becoming President and CEO isn’t as significant as what I have learned about raising two boys with disabilities.  I share my story to help at least one other family find their child’s true potential.

For nearly 7 years, my son had (unsuccessfully) worked on putting his shoes and socks on independently.  His Early Intervention therapist worked on it, his private therapists from a nearby clinic worked on it, and his school therapists worked on it.  Over and over again we were told, he doesn’t have the strength.

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Photo by Alexi Procopos

However, when I came to Easter Seals, I asked about Occupational Therapy for Justin.  I wanted him to put his shoes and socks on independently.  In just two sessions, his therapist asked me what our next goal was because he was putting his shoes and socks on independently.  I didn’t believe her and made her show me.  He did it and is still doing it!  His therapist explained it was a motor planning issue not a strength issue for Justin.  For years, I dreaded leaving the house because putting his shoes and socks on became something to battle over. Now those days are long behind us.  No more excuses for being late!

Occupational therapy worked so well, I signed Justin up for the feeding clinic.  At 12 years old, he weighed 40 pounds and we had tried everything.  We saw an endocrinologist, feeding therapists, nutritionists, etc.  The best solution was growth hormones, but Myotonic Dystrophy has cardiac complications, so this was not advised.

After attending the feeding clinic and starting a few relatively small changes, he gained 10 pounds in three months – 25% of his body weight!  He will likely always be small for his age, but we wish it hadn’t taken us so long to figure out these needs and find the experts at Easter Seals.  They imagined a future beyond what we had been told to expect by other professionals and without any limitations.

leadership meetingI hear these same stories like mine, nearly every week.  Children who have been seen for years and aren’t reaching their fullest potential.  When they find their way to Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley they often can’t believe what they have missed out on.  The progress their children are making so quickly surprises their families, their doctors and sometimes even us.

If you are looking for a therapy center or therapist for your child, here are the top 10 questions to ask:

  1. Is the center CARF Accredited and have a Medical Advisory Board?
  2. Is the center directly affiliated with any major research hospital systems?
  3. Who are your primary referral sources?
  4. What are the published results of your satisfaction survey and where can I find them?
  5. Is the therapist NDT (Neuro-Developmental Treatment) trained?
  6. What diagnoses has the therapist personally treated?
  7. What is the average level of experience of the therapists at the center?
  8. How many children do you treat annually?
  9. What training do you receive on a regular basis?
  10. How do you support parents and siblings?

As parents, we all want the absolute best for our kids. I found it here at Easter Seals and you can too!

Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley is a CARF accredited facility with a medical advisory board and affiliations with University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University and RIC (Shirley Ryan Ability Lab). With 87 therapists and professional staff with an average tenure of 19 years, the majority of therapists are NDT trained and are required to receive on-going training. The therapists are specialized in many specific areas including feeding, motor, sensory needs and more.

Easter Seals serves more than 1,000 families a week with locations in Naperville, Villa Park and Elgin.  Through an annual client survey, 99% of families report satisfaction with the services they receive and 98% of families report progress. The parent liaisons and social workers on staff provide support and family activities for all members of the family. Learn more at eastersealsdfvr.org. 

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What is Tinnitus?

By: Cynthia Erdos, Au.D., CCC-A , Audiologist

When I was about 7 years old, I remember lying on my bed listening to my brain work. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t hear a little humming, or buzzing in my ears.  Not until I was in graduate school did I realize the sounds I heard was considered a “symptom” of a possible problem in the ear or within the entire hearing system.  When the professor starting discussing something called “tinnitus”, I turned to my fellow grad student and said, “Do you mean when it is quiet, you don’t hear anything?”  She just gave me a funny look and nodded.

For me, the humming or sounds of crickets is just something I have always heard. If the sounds were suddenly gone, I might be worried and wonder what was happening.  I can only imagine if your ears have been quiet since you can remember, and suddenly you heard a buzzing, humming, ringing or any new sound in your ears, it could be disturbing.  The American Tinnitus Association reports over 45 million Americans struggle with tinnitus, making it one of the most common health conditions in the United States.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the clinical term used for a sound heard in the head or ear when no external source is present.  It can be constant or intermittent and can be heard in one ear or both ears.  Tinnitus is usually not a sign of something serious.  Tinnitus is a symptom of a dysfunction with the auditory (hearing) system and is usually associated with some degree of hearing loss.

For some individuals, tinnitus can be a debilitating condition.  It can negatively affect a person’s overall health and social well-being.  Tinnitus has been associated with distress, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances or even poor concentration.

What causes tinnitus?

There are many causes for tinnitus.  Almost any condition that can cause hearing loss can cause tinnitus.

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The most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noise-it is very important to protect your ears from noise.  Some other causes include:

  • Meniere’s disease
  • TMJ disorders
  • Head injuries or neck injuries
  • Obstructions in the middle ear
  • Ear wax
  • Middle ear fluid
  • Tumors of the head or neck
  • Blood vessel disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Medications, including over the counter
    • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Certain antibiotics
    • Certain cancer medications
    • Water pills and diuretics
    • Quinine-based medications

Treating the cause of tinnitus often eliminates tinnitus.  Unfortunately, often the cause of tinnitus is related to permanent damage to the hearing system, such a noise exposure, or the cause is unknown.

Is there a cure for tinnitus?

It is important to understand that tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease or condition.  The most effective way to treat tinnitus is to treat the underlying cause of the tinnitus.  For many people, however, it is impossible to know the exact cause of tinnitus.  If you have tinnitus, you should be evaluated to determine if there is a treatable medical condition.  A thorough tinnitus evaluation often includes a medical examination by an otolaryngologist and a hearing evaluation by an audiologist.   Currently, there is no safe and consistent way to cure tinnitus.  There are evidence-based practices to help patients improve quality of life by learning to manage tinnitus, or manage their reactions to the tinnitus.

There are many ways to learn to manage tinnitus.  Research studies show the best ways to manage tinnitus include education, sound therapies and counseling. For example, be aware of the toys your child plays with, as some can be very loud for little ears. The Sight & Hearing Association releases an annual list of the loudest toys that you can check before making holiday or birthday gift lists.

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If you or a loved one is suffering from tinnitus, the first step is a complete hearing evaluation.  To find out more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s audiology services and scheduling an evaluation visit our website: http://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/audiology.html .

Myths and Facts About Raising Bilingual Children

By: Jessica Drake-Simmons, M.S. CCC-SLP

There are many misconceptions about raising bilingual children.  Many well-meaning professionals can perpetuate myths that scare parents away from speaking to their children in their native language.  However, research supports the many benefits of being bilingual.  Let’s disprove some of these perpetuated myths:

MYTH: Parents should primarily speak English to their children regardless of their native language.

01_Lucas_VasquezFACT: Parents should be supported to speak in the language they feel most comfortable.  Speaking their primary language will provide the most complex language models.  If a parent is learning English himself, he will not provide rich vocabulary and grammar models.  The child will be exposed to simpler linguistic models than if the parent spoke to the child in their stronger language.  Providing a more complex model in the stronger language is more beneficial to the child than reducing to just speaking English.

MYTH: Raising my child bilingual will cause a delay in language development.

FACT:  Children all over the world learn more than one language without developing speech or language problems. Bilingual children develop language skills just as other children do. If a child has a speech or language disorder it will show up in both languages.  However, these problems are not caused by learning two languages.

MYTH: Raising my child bilingual will cause him to suffer academically.

FACT:  Research indicates that being bilingual makes your brain healthier and more actively engaged.  It leads to better executive functioning skills, enables one to learn more languages easily and have more job opportunities in the future.

MYTH: My child will feel different than his classmates if he speaks another language.

FACT: Your family’s heritage and culture is a valuable part of who your child is.  Keeping him connected to your community and feeling secure in his identity will give him more self-confidence.

MYTH:  I shouldn’t expose my child to my family’s native language because he has a language disorder.

FACT:  It is a common misperception that when a child has a language disorder, its better to reduce to one language.   It may seem counterintuitive to continue to expose the child to two languages but the evidence does not indicate that bilingualism will impede a child’s English language learning growth.  If it is important to the family, they should feel supported in their decision to raise their child with two languages.

MYTH: I should only speak English to my child until he starts school so that he is ready academically.

FACT: The younger a child is, the easier it is for them to learn a language.  The most effective ways to raise bilingual children are:

Successive language learners: Speak to your child exclusively in your family’s native language. Developing a strong foundation in the first language will pave the way for developing the second language of English.

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Simultaneous language learners: Use two languages from the start.  Some families choose to have one parent speak their native language and the other parent speak English.  Some families choose to speak a given language on certain days of the week or certain times of the day.

If you are concerned about your child’s language or other development, take our free online developmental screening tool for children birth to age five. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) will showcase your child’s developmental milestones while uncovering any potential delays. Learn more at askeasterseals.org. 

Executive Functioning Skills: CO-OP Model Part 3: Time Robbers

By: Laura Van Zandt, OTR/L

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I was recently asked by a parent to elaborate more on a concept I integrate within GoalPlanDoCheck called “time robbers”.  The concept of “time robbers” was first introduced to me at a continuing education class taught by speech therapist Sarah Ward. A “time robber” is something which keeps us from doing other things which have more value or importance to us.

The concept of “time robbers” can be a fun way to call to attention all the little (or maybeclock not so little) things we do that take away from our goal. Time robbers can occur to everyone. They can occur anywhere. They can also be anything. Time robbers can be things we do as well as things other people do. Sometimes time robbers are imposed upon us by others or circumstances and are less in our control. Other time robbers are self-inflicted. Some examples of time robbers are being hungry, tired, or worried. They can also be sounds in our environment, noises/shows on the television, or games on the iPad.

The following is a handout I developed to help introduce the concept to children.

What? Time robbers are a little like impulses. Impulses are the feelings we have to do or say something…sometimes without even realizing! Time robbers are just like impulses. They are the things that we do that take away time from our overall goal and plan.
When? Time robbers can happen all the time. They don’t have to be limited to just school or home.
Examples? Time robbers can come in all forms. They might as easy as a thought that should remain in my thought bubble or as complicated as getting your bike out, riding to the store, buying a snack, and returning home to finish your homework. Other examples can be having the television on when doing homework, wanting to play longer with a favorite toy, arguing, changing ideas, etc.
Consequences? Time robbers are not our friends. They take away time from us getting things done. If they take away from one thing it means there is less time to do something that might be more preferred or fun.
How to fix? Practice your thought bubbles and keeping any time robbers hidden away inside our brains until we are finished with our goal and initial plan. STOP and Think – monitor your space, time, objects, and people. Think if this is an expected time to bring up your time robber.

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When beginning any new strategy or tool with your child, I often find it helpful to first identify in yourself examples and then start calling attention to different tools you use to help defeat the different time robbers. When your child is starting to recognize time robbers, then it is a good time to introduce the concept to your child to help identify and address them.

To learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s occupational therapy services visit: http://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/occupational-therapy.html. 

 

10 great books to help you talk to children about disabilities

By: Karyn Voels Malesevic, Au.D., CCC-A

Many of us have struggled to find the right words when talking to our kids.  Knowing how much to say, or how little, or what type of words to use can be a challenge.

Enter the power of a good book!

Sitting down and reading a book about a character that may have the same disability as your child can be a great way to start the conversation.  Sharing stories is also a great way to help siblings and classmates understand and appreciate differences, or to help your child(ren) prepare for a big transition or difficult news.  A good book helps finding the right words much easier.

We’ve complied a list of ten great children’s books to help confront tough issues.

To view our complete list of book recommendations for parents, caregivers and children, follow us on Goodreads.

  1. Rolling Along with Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Cindy Meyers- In this story baby bear uses a wheelchair, goes to physical therapy, and ultimately makes friends with Goldilocks. The story unfolds many of the familiar scenes of the classic tale ending on a hopeful note.349042
  2. Wonder by R.J. Palacio- August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity preventing him from going to a mainstream school that is until now. He’s about to start 5th grade and being the new kid can be hard. Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
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  3. We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve- Bodeen- Six-year-old Emma is gladly waiting for  the birth of her new baby brother or sister. She imagines all of the things they can do together. They’ll go to Grandpa’s farm to feed the calves, ride in the back of the mini-van making faces at the cars that go by, fly on airplanes, and someday, they’ll even go to Africa on a safari.264878
  4. Kids Talk about Bullying by Carrie Finn-  People make fun of me for wearing glasses. What should I do? Super Sam the problem solver will give you some strong advice on bullies.1172876
  5. The Way I Act by Steve Metzger- This vividly illustrated story is a fun way to show children how their actions may affect others. This book explores a variety of attitudes and traits, like compassion and bravery. Children will instantly recognize and identify scenarios such as meeting new kids, romping on the playground, and finishing a puzzle. Each scene illustrates proper ways to act and encourages readers to do the right thing.10253343
  6. Rolling Along: The Story of Taylor and His Wheelchair by Jamee Heelan- Taylor and Tyler are twin brothers and best friends. But the twins are different in one significant way: Taylor has cerebral palsy, while Tyler does not. Taylor explains to readers why wheelchairs allow many people to be more independent. This triumphant story offers a valuable look at both adjusting to a wheelchair and facing physical limitations with boundless energy and determination.1403392
  7. No, David! by David Shannon- When author David Shannon was five years old, he wrote a semi-autobiographical story of a little kid who broke all his mother’s rules. He chewed with his mouth open (and full of food), he jumped on the furniture, and he broke his mother’s vase! As a result, all David ever heard his mother say was “No, David!” Here is his story.1062516
  8. Nobody Knew What to Do: A Story about Bullying by Becky Ray McCain- This story tells how one child found the courage to tell a teacher about Ray, who was being picked on and bullied by other kids in school.805575
  9. Sara’s Secret by Suzanne Wanous- This author skillfully manages to go beyond the message to the heart of Sara’s guilt and embarrassment. Sara and Justin are more than stiff cardboard characters, and their humanity poignantly validates the feelings of children who have disabled siblings. Haas’ fluid, striking watercolors convey Sara’s emotions with an intensity that is well matched to the text.3937661
  10. Let’s Talk about It: Extraordinary Friends: Let’s Talk About It by Fred Rogers- How do you get to know someone in a wheelchair? Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. In his characteristically wise and gentle way, Rogers challenges the stereotypes that often plague children with special needs and celebrates six children who are extraordinary friends.

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There are many great books out there, too many to list here!
Click this link to take you to our virtual bookshelves.  Here you will find the entire list of our recommendations, all available to check out in person at our Parent Resource Library.  Your local library should have many of these as well.

Another extensive list of books can be found HERE.

If you find your family confronted with a serious  issue or unexpected change that impacts your child, it’s important to prepare yourself before having a difficult conversation.  Here are some resources to help guide your first steps in talking about illness, death, divorce or autism:

  1. Helping children when a family member has cancer HERE.
  2. Helping your child deal with death HERE.
  3. An age by age guide for talking with kids about divorce HERE.
  4. Telling your child that they have autism HERE.

It often helps to connect with a professional who can answer questions and recommend an approach.

 

To connect with a social worker or parent liaison at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley visit: http://www.easterseals.com/dfv/explore-resources/for-caregivers/family-services.html


 

SpellLinksLearn more about how Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley is supporting literacy for children with special needs, check out our latest course offering in partnership with Dr. Jan Wasowicz and SPELL-Links.
Building the Brain for Literacy: Prerequisites for Successful Spelling & Reading A Multi-Linguistic, Prescriptive Assessment and Speech to Print Instruction

How Loud is Too Loud?

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

By: Cindy Erdos, Au.D., CCC-A

The Stanley Cup playoffs are underway, and the finals start next week.  I love watching hockey and I am an audiologist, so when I came across an article titled “Can hockey playoffs harm your hearing?”  I had to read it.  The research says,  “YES,”  the level of “leisure” noise present during a hockey game is loud enough to damage your ears and hearing.  If you are lucky enough to get tickets to the Stanley Cup, or any hockey game, you should consider getting some ear plugs or earmuffs for your children.

Most people tend to think that hearing loss caused by noise only happens to adults who work in noisy environments or those who attend lots of rock concerts or elderly adults who have had a life-time of noise exposure.  Exposure to loud noise without proper protection can cause hearing damage to anyone, at any age.  There is a growing concern about noise-induced hearing loss in our children.  We need to protect our children’s ears from noise-induced hearing loss and we need to teach them to continue protecting their hearing throughout their lives.

Our Noisy World

Do you remember that last time you “heard” silence?  We live in a very noisy world.  We encounter sounds every day, all day long.  Traffic, sirens, machinery, lawn equipment, concerts, movie theaters, sporting events are just some of the sounds we encounter on a daily basis. Sound Sense points out that a lot of our children’s activities involve some degree of noise: school lunchrooms, sports and sporting arenas, movies, and electronic media.  As you look around you are likely to see children, and adults, listening to some type of personal listening devices.

Even some children’s toys produce high levels of sound.  The Sight and Hearing Association publishes the Noisy Toys List annually and recommends downloading a sound meter app on your smartphone to help measure noise.  Their rule of thumb is, “if a toy sounds too loud to you, it is too loud for the child.”

Top 3 Noisiest Toys via Sight & Hearing Associations Noisy Toy List 2016

WWE

 

WWE 3-Count Crushers: Roman Reigns
Ages 6+
104.4 dB(A)

 

roadripper

 

Road Rippers Rush & Rescue
Ages 3+
103.9 dB(A)

 

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My First Tonka Wobble Wheels
Ages 1+
103.2 dB(A)

 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently published an article titled, “Too Loud!  For Too Long!” The article reports that hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition and a major cause of hearing damage is noise exposure.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a billion-young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices.

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How Loud is Too Loud?

First thing to keep in mind is noise does not need to be unpleasant, or even physically uncomfortable to cause damage to your ears or hearing.   The intensity (loudness) of the sound and the time spent (duration) listening to the sound are critical. Intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB).  Conversational speech is around 60 dB; a soft whisper is around 30 dB and a shouting directly into someone’s ear can be as high as 110 dB.  Your dishwasher probably runs about 70 dB and the sound of your hair dryer is around 90 dB.  City traffic (inside your car) is around 80-85 dB, but when riding a motorcycle, you are listening to around 95 dB of noise.  Watching your favorite sports team live may expose you to as much as 100 to 120 dB – depending on if your team is winning.

So how much is too much and how long is too long?  85 dB is the “magical” number. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends any employee who is exposed to 85 dB of noise be included in a noise conservation program to ensure their hearing is monitored and they are instructed on hearing protection practices.  The American Academy of Audiology recommends any time you are exposed to 85 dB or louder you should use hearing protection.   In addition to how loud the sound, you need to be concerned about the length of time you spend listening to the sound.

The chart below gives more examples of typical sounds and the maximum recommended duration:

Leaf blower:                                       90 dB (2 hours can cause damage)

Sporting event:                                 100 dB (14 minutes can cause damage)

Rock concert:                                     110 dB (2 minutes can cause damage)

Siren:                                                    120 dB (1 minute can cause damage)

SOURCE: CDC Vital Signs, February 2017

Unless you have a sound level meter app on your phone, you may not know if a sound is 85 dB, 70 dB, or 110 dB.  Here are some signs that a noise may be too loud:

  • You need to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby
  • The noise hurts your ears
  • You have a buzzing or ringing in your ears, even temporarily
  • You don’t hear as well as you normally do until several hours after you get away from the noise
  • When listening to music through your headphones you cannot carry on a conversation without shouting

Prevention & Protection

Most of us rely on hearing to communicate and stay connected to others.  As we know hearing is critical to speech and language development, speech and language are critical for learning and academic progress.  Even mild hearing loss can affect a child’s academic success.  The damage from noise not only causes hearing loss, but it can cause tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ears) and/or hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to sounds).

The good news is ear damage due to noise exposure is almost completely preventable.  With a little knowledge, you can protect your child’s ears, as well as your own.  You can also teach your child to recognize when sounds are dangerously loud and how to protect their ears and hearing for a lifetime.  It’s a Noisy Planet has activities and suggestions for encouraging children to protect their ears.

More tips for safer listening are:

1) Turn the noise down

2) Walk away or avoid the noise

3) Take breaks from the noise

4) Block the noise or use hearing protection

5) Use the 60:60 Rule:  listen to music at 60% maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.

Putting cotton or tissue in your ears may make you feel like you are protecting your ears, but most likely you are not providing appropriate protection against sound and possibly causing more damage as you may feel like you can stay longer in the noise because you have “protected” them.  You should use products that are made specifically for protecting your ears from noise.  You can purchase disposable earplugs from a pharmacy.  You can order earmuffs for you or your children.  You can even have customized earplugs made which are often more comfortable as they fit your individual ears.
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Damage due to noise is completely preventable.  First you need to recognize when a noise could potentially be dangerous, and then take step to prevent the sound from damaging the delicate structures or your ear.


 

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have noise induced hearing damage, contact an audiologist at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley for a complete hearing evaluation and more information on how you can keep the hearing that you have. Visit our website here.

Learning-Related Vision Problems

By: Carla D. Adams, OD, FCOVD

WHAT IS THE VISION TRIANGLE?
UntitledSome parents have received a notice that their child needs a complete eye examination.
Parents often take their child to an optometrist and anxiously watch as they are asked to distinguish between lenses. “Which is better -1 or 2?” While a routine exam is a good start it should not be the only test for many students. Since vision and learning are closely linked, problems with vision can often interfere with learning. A routine eye exam alone will not always detect all problems that could affect good vision and thus good learning. Parents should be aware of the vision triangle. There are three types of vision exams, two of which are beyond the routine exam performed by eye doctors. By understanding the vision triangle, it will help avoid frustrations. Parents are armed with options if their child should have academic problems related to how he or she interprets what is being taught, especially if the problems persists with eyeglass.

ROUTINE EYE EXAMS
The first part of the vision triangle is the routine eye exam (just like the example aimagebove). Routine eye exams can detect sight imperfections such as near-sighted, far-sighted and astigmatism. Routine exams can also detect more complex problems such as crossed-eyes and lazy eyes. These conditions are often diagnosed during routine eye exams and respond well to eyeglasses and contact lenses. However, if eyeglasses cured all learning related problems, then there would be an overabundance of “A” students. Clear vision or having 20/20 sight is only part of the vision triangle. Unfortunately, most optometrists and ophthalmologists do not proceed further.

FUNCTIONAL VISION
The second part of the vision triangle is centered on functional vision. To read smoothly, a child’s eyes must work well together. This is called binocularity. A depth perception test is one of several tests used to test this skill. Fine eye movements and focusing tests (accuracy, flexibility and stamina) should also be measured. There maybe deficits in this area if your child complains of readiUntitledng problems such as eye strain, fluctuating vision that will not stay clear, words that float off the page or even headaches. Maybe you even suspect that one of your child’s eyes do not look straight. These types of deficits do not always respond well to eyeglasses or contact lenses which is why some students continue to have problems after a routine exam. Vision therapy is often a good approach to treating such problems. Typically, only a few eye doctors offer therapy. More will be discussed about vision therapy later.

PERCEPTUAL VISION
Untitled1The third and final part of the vision triangle is perceptual visual testing. Visual perception involves not only the eyes but also the brain and how it interprets and organizes information. This type of disorder surfaces around the age of 6 when children first learn to read. You should consider perceptual problems if your child tends to avoid reading and writing. Children with perceptual problems may reverse letters, print poorly and have trouble learning. Eye glasses alone do not solve perceptual problems. A vision therapy consultation with a pediatric optometrist is advised when learning problems persist.

What is Vision Therapy (V.T.)?
Just as eyeglasses and contact lenses work well to treat sight imperfections (i.e., near sightedness, far sightedness, etc.), functional and perceptual problems are often best atreated with vision therapy. It is a type of physical therapy for the eyes. The purpose is to resolve visual problems that interfere with reading and learning. V.T. helps children develop or improve visual skills, read with efficiency and changes how a child processes or
interprets visual information.

Vision therapy is a progressive program of vision exercises or procedures performed under an optometrist’s supervision. The therapy sessions are individualized for each child. The meeting sessions are conducted in-office, once a week.

Following is a list of symptoms that often respond well to vision therapy:

• Blurred or double vision
• Headaches or eye strain
• Crossed eyes or strabismus
• Avoidance or dislike of reading
• Short attention span when reading
• Turning or tilting head to favor one eye
• Rubbing the eyes
• Slow reading speed
• Difficulty remembering what is read
• Omitting or repeating works or confusing letters
• Poor eye-hand coordination
• Losing one’s place while reading or using finger as a guide

For more information regarding vision visit our website:
http://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/clinics.html

Editor’s Note:
Dr. Carla Adams is a Developmental Optometrist with a specialization in pediatrics and vision therapy.  Her training includes an emphasis on serving children with special needs.  Dr. Adams is successful in treating children struggling in the classroom as well as children with attention deficit, PDD and autism.  She is a partner of the Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley Jayne Shover Center in Elgin.  Learn more about her care via  www.optique-eyecare.com

Throw Like A Pro

By: Cassidy McCoy PT, DPT

Baseball season is back, and summer is almost here, so let’s get out and get playing. Since Chicago is now home to the World Series Champions, here are some pointers to get your kids throwing like the pros.

baseball blog
Initial Position

1. Face the side so your non-throwing arm is facing the target.

2. Using your elbow or fingertips, line yourself up so you are pointing directly at the middle of the target.

 

 

baseball blog 1The Throw

1. The Wind Up: Bring your throwing arm up so your elbow is bent at a 90 degree angle and is in line with your shoulder. The majority of your weight should be in your back foot.

2. Step forward with the leg opposite your throwing arm (toes pointed forwards) as you begin to bring your arm forward gradually shifting your weight into the front foot.

3. The Release: Should occur as your arm comes over your head, slightly higher then the forehead.

 

The Follow-Through (End Position)baseball blog 2

  1. The majority of your weight should be in your front foot, with the heel of your back foot, or the entire foot, lifted off the ground.
  2. Your arm should fully move diagonally across your trunk ending at the hip/leg opposite of the throwing arm, with your trunk rotated so your shoulder are facing forwards (towards the target).

Visit our website for a list of summer community based therapy programs such as Physical Therapy to work on the fundamentals of sports, emphasizing coordination, timing, physical fitness and fun! Click here for more info.

Executive Functioning Skills: CO-OP Model Expanded

By: Laura Van Zandt, OTR/L

Recently I wrote a blog on how to develop and strengthen executive function skills using the CO-OP (GoalPlanDoCheck) model. I thought I’d take a moment and expand on a very important foundational skill.

“Do with me and not for me”

So often we have great intentions and we do for our children. This isn’t a bad thing; we want our children to succeed. It’s hard to see them struggling. When we do for our children we neglect one very important step in developing their executive function skills. We accidentally take away their ability to plan, prioritize, problem solve, manage their space/time/materials, and reflect.

If we do not expect our children to be an “active participant” in his or her life, then we take away the many opportunities to learn the daily life skills needed for adulthood and the ability for learning how to tackle and master challenges. Involving your child in daily activities and encouraging them to be an active participant builds a strong sense of competency and positive self-esteem. It helps provide the confidence that your child can do many things and learn to ask for assistance when things go wrong.

Getting your child involved doesn’t have to be an elaborate process. Take whatever you are currently doing for your child and give him/her a simple job with the task. If the child is used to doing “nothing” start very small. Any job, regardless of how small (e.g. hold the pillow and place it on the bed while you make the bed, put one or two dishes into the dishwasher, drop a few articles of clothes in the washer, raise his arms to put his shirt on, etc.) is a start.

The best therapeutic opportunities are often right in front of you. There are endless activities (e.g. cooking, laundry, shopping, bathing, etc.) that make up your day.  You can use all your little interactions for many opportunities to develop executive function skills. By taking a little more time, you can  get your child involved around the house. Instead of just doing, slow down and ask for help. You might find your child enjoys helping and you may even start making some new memories together!

Basi Family

By doing with your child, you have the opportunity to break down the task so your child can be successful. In the process your child then starts to learn that a goal (e.g. making a bed) has many steps to the plan (e.g. put on the fitted sheet, do opposite corners, put on the sheet, put on the duvet/comforter, hold open the pillow case and put in the pillow, place the pillows on the bed). When we do the goal sometimes we work with a team (e.g. you and your child) and sometimes we need to adjust our plan (e.g. having them help this time) and sometimes we check throughout the process (e.g. did we get all the pillows?). You should celebrate with your child by “doing it together” with praise, giving high fives, and other gestures of companionship that you and your child share together. In turn, your child feels productive and competent; driving a desire to learn more. Over time your child learns to feel “good” about doing, and the typical daily challenges that are now a major struggle start to melt away. The child becomes more eager to learn, rather than driven to avoid.

I briefly used GoalPlanDoCheck but let’s use the concept in two better examples. Let’s use the first example for getting your children ready for school and let’s use the second example to model tools you use to help yourself get ready. Both ways involve your children.

1) Helping Your Child Get Ready in the Morning

Goal– While first getting your child up in the morning, tell them “It’s time to get ready so our goal is for you to be at school on time.” Use the word goal so your child knows that is GettingReadyforSchoolyour expectation.

Plan– Talk to your child about the steps. “First we need to go the bathroom so we can wash your face and brush your teeth. This usually helps wake you up so you can focus on getting dressed all by yourself. When you are getting dressed all by yourself, mom and dad will be downstairs making your breakfast. You need to eat your breakfast and then grab your lunch so we can get you to school. Don’t forget to double check your backpack and make sure you have everything you need for school or any after school activities.”

Depending on your child and the age of your child, you might simplify the plan. You might use visuals to help your child remember the plan. There are tons of different strategies that can worked within each child’s individual plan that are tailored to his or her specific needs and specific interests to ensure motivation. Depending on your child you might also need to use incentives to help with motivation and time management.

Do– Divide and conquer. Depending on your child’s age, he or she would not be expected to do all the pieces of the plan.

Check– Keep talking to your child. “Did we get everything? Are we on time? What helped us stay on time? What were time robbers?”

2) Modeling Tools You Use to Get Ready in the Morning

Children learn through modeling. This is a great way to begin introducing your child to this concept as well as teach through modeling different strategies.

Goal– While first getting up in the morning and working with your child, talk aloud to them. Talking aloud is not something that comes naturally and must be practiced; however, talking aloud is a great strategy for modeling the development of executive function skills. Tell them “It’s time to get ready so our goal is for you to be at school on time.” Use the word goal so your child knows that is your expectation.

Plan– Talk to your child about the steps; however, instead of listing the steps like we did in the first example, we are going to focus on you and tools that you use. This is important for kids who just seem disorganized, can’t get their arousal level just right, and just need help. Modeling is great to let them know we all use a variety of tools and that tools can be helpful. Here is an example of a conversation you might have while getting ready with your child:

“It’s time to get ready so our goal is for you to be at school on time. I don’t know about you, but mom is feeling really tired today. I have to get up earlier than you so that I can help you get ready. Do you know what helps me wake up so I can focus on getting ready? I start my morning with a shower. Sometimes the feel of the water on my skin wakes me up. Let’s try washing your face since we don’t have time for a shower.”

Notice how in this example, you discussed with your child a tool you use (shower) and provided them with an option to try. This is a great way to model. There are lots of other dialogues you can have with your child to model tools. This was just one example.

Do– Looks the same as in the first example; however, depending on the tool you may or may not be modeling. Do in the example above was telling your child and then providing your child with an example to do together.

Check– Remains the same. In this stage, we are actively involving our child to think and problem solve.

Have fun with it and know that you are working on developing and strengthening your child’s executive function skills. Executive function skills are developmental and must be taught. When working with your child, you are setting a path toward greater independence. Start simple and build gradually.

If your child is not used to doing much, start with a couple of activities a day. Pick a time of the day when you are not feeling rushed and your child is not feeling stressed. This will give you practice in how to guide, assist, and engage your child. Once it starts to feel natural, expand the “we-dos” into many daily activities. Do them together, giving him/her a little part to play, and gradually expanding his/her role to build more competence.

You are an important part in the development of your child. The more you can help your child think about what they do and why, the more they will be able to use that thinking in any problem solving situation. As my other blog concluded, the overall goal is to teach your child how to work through a problem using a planned approach instead of acting impulsively.

To learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s occupational therapy services visit: http://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/occupational-therapy.html. 

Climbing and Bouldering Therapy: The Benefits to Rock Climbing

By: Laura Van Zandt, OTR/L

This summer, physical and occupational therapists are excited to provide therapy on the walls as part of our summer outreach program “Climbing and Bouldering.” The varied terrain offers countless opportunities for physical and sensory challenges.

Rock climbing has so many benefits for kids of all ages and abilities.15_Patrick_Krueger

  • Strengthening and endurance: Climbing walls require strength and flexibility to
    successfully maneuver. Kids develop hand and finger strength as they grasp and hang onto holds of all different shapes and sizes. Some of the holds are tiny and don’t have much to grasp. Making your way up a climbing wall also requires a great deal of core strength and leg strength as your hold yourself in space. All that movement and use of your arms, legs, and core will help develop endurance for other gross motor activities.
  • Sensory processing: Kids get great proprioceptive input (sensory input to the muscles and joints) and vestibular (movement-based) experiences as they power themselves up and over while using the different holds as well as glide back down to the floor from the top of the wall! For kids who experience gravitational insecurity, rock climbing can be an extreme challenge but can be graded to meet their needs. For example, kids who are reluctant to climb high up on the wall can work on moving from side to side first. Children who also experience tactile sensitivities could also be help by all the proprioceptive input into their hands to help desensitize prior to working with different textures.
  • Motor planning and visual spatial/perceptual skills: Climbing is an awesome way to help kids develop motor planning skills. Indoor rock climbing is a great puzzle just waiting for your child to solve! The holds are all different shapes and colors. Most climbing walls also have colored tape markings that show climbers different paths they can take up the wall. This makes it easy to give a child instructions (e.g. “step your right foot on the blue hold” or “find the next hold with green tape next to it”) to challenge their abilities. Also, climbing walls usually have “routes” with
    a variety of difficulty levels, making it easy to adjust the activity depending on the skill level of the child.

    15_Brady Pembroke

  • Bilateral coordination: When kids are rock climbing, they must use both sides of their body together, usually in an alternating pattern — right hand and right foot move up to the next level, followed by the left hand and left foot. Also, kids have to learn how to differentiate between the movements on either side of their bodies. They stabilize themselves with one foot/hand while motor planning how to grasp onto and step on the next holds with their other foot and hand.
  • Confidence: Allowing kids to move outside of their comfort zone in a safe and controlled environment will undoubtedly help to build their confidence and promote development of positive self-esteem.

If you think your child might benefit from this outreach group, please visit our website for more information on Climbing and Bouldering Therapy and check out other Community Based Therapy Programs for Summer 2017!