Our very own physical therapists, Lily and Emily would like to tell you more about their work here at Amaryllis Therapy Network. Check it out by clicking on the video above!
It’s spring in Denver and finally safe to put all of those starters and veggie and flower seeds in the soil. This is a wonderful opportunity for a fun, stress-free, joyful time with your kids. No matter their age, they can get involved.
“Messy play” provides much needed touch sensory input. As your child plays in the dirt, they can improve their ability to tolerate other textures, from the food they eat to the textures of their clothing. A picky eater can become more interested in the food they see in the refrigerator when they get to watch it grow from the ground and pick it fresh from the garden. If they are wary of getting their hands in the soil, you can provide them with some “heavy work” prior to working in the soil. Heavy work can be anything from carrying pots or bags of soil, to pushing a wheelbarrow, to even doing animal walks.
Watching a plant grow from a seed is very magical for children. In addition, if you plant some flowers that birds love you can entice more birds to your yard, which is such a benefit for you, your kids, and the birds!
You don’t need a lot of space, but you do need sun. If you have space outside, think of setting aside a small area just for your child. Containers are a great option if your space or sunlight are limited. If you use containers, you can increase the fun and your child’s ownership by letting them decorate their pots. Most of all, let them get dirty and don’t get worried about cleaning them up right afterward. Their immune system will thank you — the benefits of getting dirty are immense!
You might want to plant some vegetables or flowers that respond quickly, including sugar snap peas, lettuce, kale, and sunflowers. If you have room, pumpkins can be very rewarding to watch grow. There are some great ideas for gardening with children on Planet Natural.
Written By: Robin Hoffman OTR/L
IBCLC Ran Baby Feeding Support Groups or One-on-One Consultations
Breastfeeding can be a beautiful and bonding experience for both you and your baby. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always reach a level of ease for the mother-baby dyad immediately. From slow weight gain and low milk supply, to sore nipples and mastitis, we are here to support you. If you need help with any step along the way, need a weight/feeding transfer weight or just need to know that there are other mothers out there experiencing the same things you are, please join Katie, our in-house International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), for our breastfeeding support groups or a one-on-one consultation.
The Dirt on Dirt!
It’s summer and time for fun with dirt! It turns out that playing in dirt is actually important for all of us. We reap many benefits! These include a stronger immune system, fewer allergies, better digestion, less heart disease, better stress management and contact with soil is a natural anti-depressant agent according to a 2018 article in Family Time and research by the National Wildlife Federation. Contact with dirt has been found to improve mood, facilitate learning, and reduce anxiety! Check out this article from Gardening Know How and learn more about how dirt makes us happy! https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil- fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm
So, get out there and get in the dirt with your kids! Some ideas include:
A Family Garden – Benefits here are reaped multifold as you get your kids involved in planting the food they eat – great for all kids, but also really great for the picky eaters we know. There is nothing like watching something you have planted from a seed emerge. Kids of all ages can dig and water and pull weeds.
Mud Kitchen – Use rocks, twigs, and of course dirt and mud to make culinary delights for pretend play extraordinaire!
Mud Art – Make sculpture or paint on sidewalks!
Written By: Robin Hoffman OTR/L
A key part of every BODY’s regulation is breath. While it may seem inherent to remember to breathe, stress to the body can easily stifle the natural breath pattern, causing us to hold our breath or shorten our breath as a reaction to feeling anxious. This can happen to our kids when entering an unfamiliar environment, when a change in schedule occurs, or during times of sensory overload. Here’s the kicker…when this happens telling our kids to “just take a breath” is about as helpful as feeding a thirsty puppy peanut butter.
So, what can we do? Let’s make breathing fun and exciting! Here are a few ideas to reload the steam in your kid’s engine through the power of good ol’ O2.
• Have a cotton ball race: blow cotton balls or other small items across a table through a straw and across a finish line
• Blow up balloons and play keep it up
• Blow bubbles and use your breath to keep them up in the air
• Make some music! Play harmonicas, whistles or small flutes
• Breathe like your favorite animals
o Lion’s breath – inhale deeply and on your exhale stick out your tongue and let out a roar!
o Snake breath – inhale deeply and on your exhale push the air through closed teeth to make a hissing noise.
o Bumble bee breath – inhale deeply and on your exhale cover your ears and hum with your lips closed, feeling a buzz with your breath.
• Check out the free Breathe, Think, Do phone app from Sesame Street. Help the monster calm down by taking deep belly breaths!
May is better speech and hearing month! Here are some ideas to help your child practice his/her articulation and language skills over the summer.
- Read books aloud together
- Listen for your child’s target sound and have him/her repeat words
- Ask who, what, where, how, and why questions about the story
- Ask your child to re-tell the story chapter focusing on event sequencing, main idea, and important details
- Pick an object/idea from the story to describe (category, function, additional attributes, parts, location, materials, etc.
- Drawing pictures together
- Have your child follow verbal directions using concepts like: first, before, big, small, purple, beside, around, middle, above, several, many, etc. (e.g. first draw a big blue house in the middle of the page, then draw a little yellow flower next to the house)
- Look for objects within the picture with targeted speech sounds and repeat his/her words
- Field trip
- Draw a map of your neighborhood/town and go on a “field trip”
- Have your child sequence directions to get from one place to another
- Follow his/her directions (even if they are incorrect) and see if your child can get to the correct place (this targets problem solving, directional skills, grammar, and descriptive skills)
- Also have your child practice his/her targeted speech sounds when giving directions (if applicable)
- Cooking together
- Choose a fun recipe to make with your child
- Decide what supplies are needed, what steps need to be completed, and the order of steps
- Have your child re-tell the cooking sequence focusing on proper sequence of events, grammar, and targeted speech sounds
- Vacation postcard
- If you go on vacation this summer have your child fill out a postcard (highlighting some of the most important things they did/activities they liked the most)
- You can do this if you stay home too (have them make your own postcard and write their favorite parts of the summer)
- You can mail them off to a friend or family member for a fun surprise!
- Focus on targeted speech sounds, sequencing, grammar, descriptive words, etc.
Nikki Kirchoff, MA, CCC-SLPTags: articulation, speech
Families want the holidays to be a happy time for everyone, especially their children. It is important to take a few moments and recognize that what adults view as the “hustle and bustle” of the season can be overwhelming and over-stimulating sensory input for children, especially those with Sensory Processing Disorder or other neurological challenges. Here are a few suggestions to help children and adults stay healthy and happy over the holiday season.
Laughter is the best medicine! It’s the quickest way to change everyone’s mood from bad to good. Tell silly “knock-knock” jokes with your kids or watch funny movies together.
That’s right, take a deep breath in and let your belly gently expand out. This sends a signal to your brain that it’s okay to relax and unclench those tight shoulders and jaw. Just like a yawn, belly breathing is contagious and your kids will start to copy your deep breath.
Many routines are disrupted during the holidays and this can be very upsetting for children, causing them to be cranky and complaining. Try to keep naps and meals at the same time every day. It’s okay to say “no” to invitations when your kids (and you!) are on sensory overload. Offer to get together in the New Year, instead. Try using calendars or picture schedules to help your child know what to expect. Predictability helps everyone stay calm.
Enjoy your holiday traditions with your families!
Cindy Clark, MS, OTR/L, BCP, CIMI/L
No More Manic Mornings!
Back to school time can be both exciting and stressful for children and parents. Returning to a faster pace, the morning rush, homework and after school activities can add additional stress to family life. Here are some helpful strategies you can do to relieve back to school stress in yourself and in your kids:
Let’s face it — over the summer, most families take their cues from the sun and stay up later. While it is tempting to keep the late-night fun going up until the end, starting your school routine a few weeks early can help ease the transition back to school. Starting the week before the beginning of school, start going to bed and getting up close to when you need to for school and try to eat on a more regular schedule as well. This advice isn’t just for little kids — teens and adults need quality sleep for optimal brain functioning as well, and getting your schedule straight now will help ensure that you all start the school year off more prepared and don’t feel as much anxiety over the start of school that first day.
Do a Walk-Through
It’s a good idea to visit the school before the first day. For kids who are going to be first-timers for kindergarten, first grade, middle school, or even high school, this can help them feel more comfortable with the new place and get a better idea of where to go once they’re there. With preschoolers and young grade-schoolers, take advantage of playing on the school playground. Even for returning students, it doesn’t hurt to know where the classroom is, say hello to whatever staff is there getting ready, and start getting excited about going back.
Help your Child Develop Social Skills
by Laura Behling, M.S., CCC-SLP
Humans are social creatures. We use social skills every day when communicating with one another. Building children’s social skills is a hot topic these days, but what are “social skills” really?
If you’ve had encounters with speech therapy, the terms “social communication” or “pragmatics” have probably come up. These terms refer to the way a child uses language for a variety of purposes (making requests, greeting, giving information/ sharing) while following basic rules for conversation including:
- taking turns in conversation
- introducing topics of conversation
- staying on topic and maintaining a circle of communication
- recognizing and repairing miscommunications
- rephrasing when misunderstood
- use and understanding of nonverbal signals
- personal proximity and orientation of body when speaking to others
- using facial expressions and eye contact/ eye gaze
Weaknesses in social skills create barriers to building interpersonal relationships and communication development.
Here are a few things you can do to help develop your child’s social skills:
- Encourage conversation and imaginative play. Play make-believe with your child. Build on the conversation by adding details that create more interesting story lines.
- Use puppets to develop question-asking skills. Encourage your child to have puppets ask each other questions like who?, what?, where? and why?.
- While we all try to limit screen time for our children, if you do find yourself with the TV on, ask your child what is happening during the show. Have them name characters and tell something about them. Describe their clothes. Talk about what they like to do.
- Encourage your child to talk on the phone to a relative or friend. This helps develop his ability to listen and answer questions.
- Make specific facial expressions and ask your child to tell you the feeling shown on your face. Talk about what makes you happy, sad, angry, excited, or afraid.
- Point out how we talk differently in different places. Talk about using inside voices at home, in the library, or in the preschool classroom and outside voices in the park or yard.
- Build a story together. You start and then have your child add the next sentence.
- Talk about what your child did at school. If this is challenging, they might need some scaffolding. Try to meet with his educators at pick-up and get a “quick” update on what he did. This will allow for you to prompt your child.
- Ask your child to tell a family member about an interesting experience. Encourage her to talk about what she saw and did following a visit to the park, museum, or the zoo.
- Role play greetings you use with different people. Show the difference between talking to an authority figure (using Mr. or Ms.) and talking to a playmate (using his first name).
- Encourage your child to say please and thank you to people.
- Talk about how important it is to take turns and share. Talk about things that you share with your family and friends.
- Play board games with your child. Play a few times where they get to win and you get to win. Winning is fun, but it is okay to lose.
For more information on activities to do with your child or questions regarding social pragmatic language skills, please email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.