News from TLC's Pediatric Outpatient Services
It’s hard to believe that summer is over. Our outpatient clinic and camps were exciting and busy places this summer, and we have some pictures that highlight our adventures. As we shift from the carefree days of summer into the more structured days of fall, we are here to help your child transition. TLC offers various programs to enhance your child's social, play, and academic skills, so they can experience success in school and beyond. TLC is here for you when your family needs us!

Director of TLC's Clinical Programs
OT Tips for a Transition Back to School for Children with Sensory Needs
Brigid Baker, OTR/L
Director of Clinical Programs

With the change of seasons comes a change in our daily routines, and the transition from summer to fall can prove the most difficult for any child/family, but especially for those who have sensory challenges. Adjusting to earlier bedtimes, and earlier wake-up’s; transitioning from being barefoot and wearing tank tops to long sleeves, pants and socks; and trading carefree summer days for waiting at the bus stop, carrying heavy back packs and homework is hard.

There are some things that you can do to help ease your child back into the school routine. These tips are not only for our sensory kids … they can be helpful for all families.

  • Bedtime prep two weeks before – adjusting to earlier bedtimes cannot happen overnight. Begin to ‘practice’ about 2 weeks before the first day. This will help your child become accustomed to their new schedule and allow you to iron out any kinks in the routine.
  • Manage the AM and PM routines – visual schedules are helpful for kids to let them know the steps that are needed and what is coming next. For example, for the PM routine, include pictures of brushing teeth, changing into pajama’s and a bedtime story. The number of steps can be adjusted for the child’s age/developmental level.
  • Visit the school ahead of time – most schools offer a “back to school night”, but these can sometimes be crowded and anxiety-producing for our sensory kids. Arrange a time to visit the school, take pictures of their new classroom (new teacher, if possible) and other things around the school to develop a sense of familiarity.
  • Give them a sense of control – so much of their new routines will be out of their control, it’s important to let them make small choices. Make sure the choices are not open-ended, but between 2 or 3 things. For example, offer a choice between a ponytail or braids, cereal or pancakes for breakfast, ninja shirt or dinosaur shirt.
  • Provide sensory breaks/strategies throughout the day – if you have some tried and true sensory strategies that work to calm or prepare your child for the day ahead, be sure to include those into the routine. Jumping on the small trampoline before breakfast, carrying a heavy back pack, marching to the bus stop, crunchy foods for breakfast are all great things to prep their bodies for a successful day.
How to Play the Old Fashioned Way
Christina F. Morrissey, M.S., CCC-SLP
Director of Outpatient Speech-Language Pathology

Play is an important part of childhood. It is the best way for children to learn language and social skills, to develop their perseverance, to improve their attention, self-regulation, and cognitive skills, and to develop their imaginations. Toys such as dolls, blocks, books, and puzzles are important staples for play, but activity based interactions will enhance your child’s play experience and allow your child to learn by creating and experimenting. Gather items from around your house to develop novel and engaging opportunities for exploration and problem solving. Challenge your child to develop his/her flexibility by using familiar items in a different way. Before reaching for toys with buttons or screens, consider water play or shaving cream as a fun way to spend the day! Your child’s brain will thank you!

  • Make blocks out of milk cartons and cereal boxes. Tape up the sides and then stack them high!
  • Bang on pots and pans and experiment with how different spoons and surfaces make different sounds
  • Fly paper airplanes
  • Give dolls or toy animals a bath or make a car wash 
  • Spread shaving cream on paper or grass and draw silly pictures in the foam 
  • Make play doh with salt, flour, water, and food coloring 
  • Water-play: Put both toys and items from around the house in bucket of water, such as cups, yogurt containers, spoons, sponges, and spray bottles. Add bubbles with dish soap
  • Make a sensory bin with rice, beans, or noodles and discover hidden toys
  • Play with paper towel or wrapping paper tubes. Roll balls or cars through them or make microphones
  • Dig out some blankets and pillows and pile them up for hide and seek or make a fort
  • Found Art: Gather any miscellaneous stickers, stamps, foam stickers, pom poms, googly eyes from around the house and make a collage. Add macaroni, rice, or cut out pictures from old magazines
  • Make a puzzle: Glue pictures/photos to cereal boxes and cut into pieces 
  • Swap shoes, hats, gloves, socks and try to “fit” into your child’s clothing 
  • Mirror play is always a hit with toddlers. Try to make the silliest face, try on hats and glasses to add to the fun
  • “Paint” the sidewalk with paintbrushes and water
  • Play I Spy on a walk around the neighborhood 
  • Monkey See Monkey Do: Imitate each other’s silly movements, noises, or faces
  • Animal Walks: Walk like different animals such as crab, snake, rabbit. This makes transitions to bedtime, bath time, and dinner time more fun
  • Snow ball fight: Crumple up newspapers or used wrapping paper/tissue paper and throw back and forth. Great practice for winter fun! 
  • Look at photo albums of events or activities in which your child participated
  • Bumpy Ride: Put your child in a laundry basket (with or without towels, sheets, blankets), shake gently, then turn basket over to crash to the floor
  • Play with pipe cleaners and make different shapes
  • Volley Balloon: Keep the balloon in the air and don’t let it touch the floor!
But College is Important!
Am I Putting Too Much Stress on My Child?
Melissa N. Smith, Ph.D.
Director of Testing, Tutoring, and Counseling

I recently reviewed the average G.P.A for students admitted to the University of Maryland with my high school daughter. I was astounded. 4.1? Gone are the days when a 3.5 was considered strong. Now expectations are that you will need higher than a 4.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. If this sounds ridiculous to you as a parent, and causes increased anxiety, you are not alone. More and more parents are beginning to plan out their child’s college future when they begin kindergarten or first grade.

But are we putting too much stress on our children? News reports point to increasing levels of stress, depression, and even suicidal behavior in young children. Depression is occurring in younger ages and at higher rates. Similarly, children are reporting that school is more stressful than enjoyable in higher and higher numbers. So while we are busy planning for our child’s successful and happy future, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to avoid stressing them out in the process.
           In planning for our child’s future, parents often engage in false thinking, or what psychologists call “Cognitive Distortions.” Here are a few common ones to avoid:

1.      “Black and White” Thinking. We view our child’s academics in all or nothing terms. Either all A’s or she’s never getting to college. Remember, grades aren’t all that colleges look for when you apply. Academic success is based on multiple factors including curiosity, creativity, motivation, and work habits. 
2.      Overgeneralization. We perceive a global pattern of negatives on the basis of a single event. I fell into this trap a while back while watching my daughter’s less than exciting performance at a swim meet. Did this mean she would give up on everything when it got tough? No! It’s just a swim meet. And just a paper. And just a test.
3.      Catastrophizing. We exaggerate the importance of insignificant events to mean doom and gloom in the future. When you start to hear, “what if” too many times in your head, you may be falling into this trap. When you play the “what if something bad” card, match it with a “what if something good” card. What if he can never write a solid paper, and can’t get into college? What if he grows more in his writing over time and does just fine in college!
4.      Judgment Focus . Viewing your child in terms of evaluations as good or bad, superior or inferior, rather than simply describing, accepting, or understanding. We all know what it’s like when someone is laser-focused on your abilities and how they match up. Children are born with an innate sense of being their best selves. The best way to cultivate that self is within a loving and accepting family relationship. 

           While we’re all doing a self-check of the thoughts in our head, here are some Do’s to encourage your child in a stress-free way.

1.       Recognize the difference between personality and motivation. Sometimes children are laid-back, easy-going, and non-competitive. This is known as the Type B personality. The good news is that they are at a decreased risk for heart and stress related health problems in the future. However, if you do not share this personality trait, you may find yourself wincing every time they say, “Yeah, I’ll get it done.” Relax. This doesn’t mean they don’t care about school. In fact, your attempts to light the fire in them, may only make them pull back even more. Celebrate their laid back, easy going self, and watch their learning and curiosity grow.
2.       Focus on the joy of learning rather than future expectations. Do you remember when you had a favorite class or activity? Do you remember the joy of first learning to read. Or learning addition? I’m sure you thought, “I’ll definitely get into Harvard now!” No! Instead, you were simply loving this new thing you learned and how it was going to change your world. If you can cultivate those moments with your child, they will foster a curiosity for learning in the years to come.
3.       Begin with the End in Mind . Ok, now I’m quoting John Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People . But it works in this context too. What are you really trying to help your child attain? A college degree? A good job? A successful life? Actually, most of us view that as a means to the best end, happiness. So if our goal is to help our child find happiness in life, let’s start with happiness right now. I’m not talking about instant gratification, but actual joy in the present moment. Finding joy in life, and yes, finding joy in learning. If we listen to our child and think about what really makes him joyful, we can help him develop life-long joy that is not dependent on grades or outward success.
4.       Give yourself a portion of the acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness that your give to your child every day. This is the most important DO of all, and often the hardest for parents who are constantly concerned about helping their child succeed. You are doing a great job, and it’s okay if things aren’t turning out exactly as you have envisioned. When I saw the 4.1 average GPA for Maryland, my mind was spinning with all the ways she could make that happen. However, this is the average. That means the range of students getting into that school starts lower. Also, there are many colleges and many pathways to college and career that don’t match the plan in our head. Moreover, our child’s plan may be different from either. And In the end, that the most important plan of all.   
Coming Soon!

  • Our Fall Therapeutic Interaction Group starts the week of September 3rd

  • Groups will be Tuesday/Thursday morning 8:45-11:15 and Wednesday 1:00-3:30

  • This group is for ages 2.5-6 years old

  • Call Julie Bobrow for more information or to sign up, (301) 424-5200 x147