weekly header

May 6, 2011
Issue 14, Volume 5
It's All About the Choices!     

Wow, how did it get to be May already?  And if it's May, it's Better Hearing and Speech Month.  Please enjoy this year's ASHA Video contest winner and our annual list of BHSM resources.

Have a great weekend!

News Items: 
  • Linked Wii Balance Boards Help Children Learn Balance Skills  
  • Update:  Paralyzed Rutgers Defensive Tackle Believes He Will One Day Walk Again  
  • School Based OT in the News
  • Newest Robots Dance, Help Children with Special Needs 
  • Stuttering Foundation Gets Starring Role on The King's Speech DVD  
  • Brain Overgrowth in Tots Is Linked to Autism  
  • Early Surgery Boosts Outcomes for Babies With Cleft Palate  
  • Better Hearing and Speech Month Video Winner 
Therapy Activities, Tips and Resources
  • Resources for Better Hearing and Speech Month 
  • Book Review:  Learn to Have Fun with Your Senses:  The Sensory Avoider's Survival Guide
  • Bilateral Coordination Activity - String Designs

Articles and Blogs

  • Guest Blog: How a Child's Lifestyle is Part of his Therapy  
  • Guest Blog: Eyes and Hands are Attached to the Body 
  • Pediatric Therapy Corner: Service Dogs for Autism / Questions to Ask When Selecting a Service Dog  
  • Worth Repeating: Why We Hate Forward Facing Strollers 
  • Also Worth Repeating: Guidelines for Choosing a Speech-Language Pathologist                                                                
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Have a great weekend and Take Care!

Heidi Kay and the PediaStaff Team

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Cool University Research in the News:  Linked Wii Balance Boards Help Children Learn Balance Skills
[Source: Gizmag.com]

Can killing monsters help physically-challenged children learn to walk? It can if they're virtual monsters, that are part of a balance-developing system created by engineering and computer game design students from Houston's Rice University. Called the Equiliberator, the system consists of five linked Wii Balance Boards with two pressure-sensitive hand rails running along either side, all of which are linked by Bluetooth to a PC running a custom-designed video game. Children using the setup are able to kill on-screen monsters, by successfully performing exercises that build their balance skills.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog

News Update:  Paralyzed Rutgers Defensive Tackle Believes He Will Walk Again
[Source: NY Daily News]

Eric LeGrand still occasionally takes a peek at the video of his worst nightmare. He still finds it difficult to believe it's him lying motionless on the field at the Meadowlands. He was supposed to be indestructible.

One step left, one step right and life might not have changed as dramatically as it did for Rutgers' 6-2, 275 pound junior defensive tackle last Oct. 16.

The 20-year-old, soft spoken LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down, fracturing his C-3 and C-4 vertebrae while making a tackle on special teams in a game against Army.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog

School Based OT in the News - Play Ball Children's Therapy Helps Families in At-Home Setting
Editor's Note: We do not know this therapist, but can't help but be excited to see such enthusiasm in the field, so we thought we would share this article!

[Source: The Tennesean.com]

Occupational therapist Andrea Ball has worked in the Nashville Public School system since 2006, and she has spent additional time after school and during the summer working for an agency that put her to work with children in their own home.

Using her skills to help her patients determine what their goals were ? from relearning old skills after an injury to helping those with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations ? Ball soon realized that the time spent working with a child in their own home was so helpful in getting that child to succeed.

"I would see children in their home setting with this agency, and it was a really great idea because you were able to serve the child in their natural setting, the home setting," Ball says. "In the school setting, you are limited to working with just them, and it is a different type of therapy model."

Read this Story Through a Link on our Blog
Technology in the News - Newest Robots Dance, Help Children with Special Needs
[Source: CNN]

The future arrives at American Morning's set this morning.

They're two feet tall, nine pounds, equipped with touch sensors and Wi-Fi, and they just might be able to beat you at soccer.

These bots, the Nao, made by Intel and Aldebaran Robotics, are the robots of the future. Intel General Manager Frank Soqui brings his robots on set and shows Ali Velshi and Christine Romans how they will be changing the future in schools and hospitals

Watch this Video Story on our Blog
Stuttering Foundation in the News:  Stuttering Foundation Gets Starring Role on The King's Speech DVD
[Source: The Stuttering Foundation]

The Stuttering Foundation's captivating public service announcement plays a starring role on every copy of The King's Speech DVD, which was released in April.

The 60-second PSA will let millions of people who view the movie in the years to come know that the Foundation offers free resources.

The King's Speech has raised awareness of stuttering beyond any level we could ever have imagined. The actors' incredibly accurate portrayal of the anguish faced by people who stutter has been instrumental in opening up honest dialogue about stuttering and its treatment," said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. She also thanked the film's director and screenwriter "for giving us a hero and a movie we can look to for inspiration, much as my father looked to King George VI more than six decades ago."

"We hope a copy of The King's Speech DVD will end up in the home of every person who stutters and in schools and universities around the world," added Fraser. "It is a story worth seeing over and over again for years to come."


Visit the Stuttering Foundation's SLP Page Through a Link on our Blog
Autism in the News: Brain Overgrowth in Tots Is Linked to Autism
[Source: Yahoo News/LiveScience.com]

The brains of children who have autism spectrum disorder are larger than those of other children, a difference that seems to arise before they are 2 years old, according to a new study.

In 2005, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 2-year-old children with autism had brains up to 10 percent larger than other children of the same age. This new study reveals that the children with enlarged brains at age 2 continued to have enlarged brains at ages 4 and 5, but by no more than the amount at age 2.

"Brain enlargement resulting from increased folding on the surface of the brain is most likely genetic in origin and a result of an increase in the proliferation of neurons in the developing brain," study researcher Heather Cody Hazlett, an assistant professor in UNC's Department of Psychiatry, said in a statement.


Read the Rest of This Article Through a Link on our Blog
Cleft Palate in the News: Early Surgery Boosts Outcomes for Babies With Cleft Palate
[Source: Yahoo News/HealthDay]

Prenatal diagnosis, early surgery and well-coordinated care by a team of specialists are vital for children born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate, experts say.

Cleft lip and/or palate - which occur in the first trimester of pregnancy when the roof of the mouth fails to fuse properly - affects more than 7,000 babies born in the United States each year and is the second most common birth defect.

Prenatal ultrasounds can detect the majority of cases. As soon as a diagnosis is made, doctors should counsel parents in order to give them time to prepare emotionally before the birth of the baby, experts say. Doctors and parents also need to develop a treatment plan, according to Dr. Richard Redett, a pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon and co-director of the Cleft & Craniofacial Clinic at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.


Read the Rest of This Article Through a Link on our Blog
Better Hearing and Speech Month in the News: 2011 Video Winner 
[Source:  ASHA]

To celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), ASHA sponsored its annual video contest. The inspiration for this year's theme was the Oscar-award-winning movie "The King's Speech." Contestants were tasked with making an original video about what it is like to be a person who has difficulty speaking or hearing, to show how important it is to understand how that person feels, and how to help them. Videos were evaluated on originality, creativity, and relevance to the topic. Congratulations to the winners!


Read the Watch the Winning Entry on our Blog
Therapist Resources: Better Hearing and Speech Month Resources

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Here are some great resources from ASHA and Beyond to Help you spread the word!

  • Activity Books, Coloring Pages, Bookmarks, Fact Sheets and More BHSM Resources from ASHA 
  • Listen to Your Buds 
  • The Michigan State University BHSM Page 
  • The American Academy of Audiology BHSM Resources for Kids and Teens 
  • The Starkey Hearing Foundation 'Listen Carefully' Sweepstakes with Miley Cyrus 
  • PediaStaff's 2010 BHSM Resources Page  
Access all These Resources Through a Link on our Blog
Book Review: Learn to Have Fun with Your Senses: The Sensory Avoider's Survival Guide 
By: John Taylor, PhD; Illustrations by: Lynda Farrington Wilson
Reviewed By: Susan N. Schriber Orloff, OTR/L

This is a wonderful book for children with sensory avoiding issues. Not only is this book applicable to children, it is also helpful for parents and practitioners working with children who struggle with sensory processing disorder.

The book simplifies sensory problems in a way that gives children a way to understand what is happening in their brains and bodies.

Most children are unaware that their brain is not processing senses the way it needs to, but instead just feel different. This book provides a simplified explanation children can understand and helps them realize there are many people who feel the way they do.

Read the Rest of This Review on our Blog
Therapy Activity of the Week: Bilateral Coordination Activity - String Designs 
Thanks to our great friends at Your Therapy Source for this week's Therapy Tip.

The purpose of this activity is to encourage fine motor, visual motor and bilateral coordination skills. Materials needed include heavy duty cardboard, scissors, colored string, yarn or floss.

Please visit YourTherapySource.com for more GREAT ideas!

Watch a Video Demonstration of this Activity on our Blog
Guest Blogs This Week: Enabled Kids, PediatricOT 
How a Child's Lifestyle is Part of his Therapy - By:  Natan Gendelman, PT

As we've mentioned before, autism and autism spectrum disorders are complex conditions which are influenced by several different factors. Often, parents may bring their child to attend various therapies in hopes of improving their social, cognitive and motor function. Like I always say however, we need to realize that therapy isn't something that occurs only once or twice a week. Instead, it is an ongoing process which happens every hour, every minute, and every second of a child's life.

For both parents and therapists, this means that a child's ability to learn does not rely solely on any physical challenges he may have. What he does, what he eats, and how he interacts with his surroundings all work to influence whether a child is able to accomplish his goals and achieve independent in his everyday life. For this reason, we need to pay attention and watch how different factors can affect a child's development.


Read the Rest of this Guest Post on our Blog
Eyes and Hands Are Attached to the Body - By:  Loren Shlaes, OTR/L

I recently received a call from a mother who was referred to me by a learning specialist because her son was having problems with his handwriting. She started to mention the orthotics a physical therapist had prescribed for him due to his abnormal gait, but quickly stopped herself, saying, "You're an OT, so you are only interested in his hands." I replied that his hands were attached to his body, and that I was very interested indeed.

Although it's true that handwriting is often not given priority in schools these days, problems with the child's ability to write legibly are rarely just a pedagogical issue. When a child cannot express his thoughts on paper in a manner that is consistent with his abilities, it is a symptom of underlying physical impairments. If these are not addressed, the child's ability to improve will be limited.


Read the Rest of this Guest Post on our Blog

Pediatric Therapy Corner: Service Dogs for Autism / Questions to Ask When Selecting a Service Dog
[Source: Autism Asperger's Digest]

"Autism & Asperger's: The Way I See It," by Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is an exclusive column in every issue of the Autism Asperger's Digest. This article appears in the March/April 2011 issue and is reprinted with permission of the editor.

As I travel around the country and talk with parents of individuals with ASD, more of them are asking whether they should get a service dog for their child with autism. The use of service, or assistance, dogs with spectrum children is gaining popularity. However, this is a complicated issue. Unlike other autism interventions that can be more easily started and stopped, embarking on the journey to find an appropriate service dog for a child is a long-term commitment on the part of the entire family. A service dog is much more than a well-trained pet.

The first question I ask is, "Does your child like dogs?" If the family does not already own a dog, I suggest they see how their child will react to a friend's friendly dog first. There are three kinds of reactions the child can have. The first is an almost magical connection with dogs. The child and the dog are best buddies. They love being together. The second type of reaction is a child who may be initially hesitant but gets to really like dogs. The child should be carefully introduced to a calm, friendly dog. The third type of reaction is avoidance or fear. Often the child who avoids dogs has a sensory issue. For instance, a child with sensitive hearing may be afraid of the dog's bark because it hurts his ears.

Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

Worth Repeating: - Why We Hate Forward Facing Strollers 

This has long been a bone of contention among speech and language therapists and the basis of many a discussion between Franky and me. Here is an extract from the New York Times which sums up our concerns very well:

By Tara Parker-Pope from the New York Times

What direction does your child's stroller face? New research raises questions about stroller design and the role it may play in a child's language development.


M. Suzanne Zeedyk, a senior lecturer in developmental psychology at the University of Dundee in Scotland, studied the way 2,700 families interact with their infants and toddlers while pushing them in strollers. She found that caregivers were less likely to speak to infants when the child was facing forward, compared with strollers where the baby faces the caregiver - what she calls a toward-facing journey. In a small controlled experiment, the researchers gave 20 mothers and infants ages 9 to 24 months a chance to use both types of strollers, and recorded their conversations. She wrote about her findings in a recent Op-Ed article in The Times.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog

Also Worth Repeating - Guidelines for Choosing A Speech Language Pathologist
[Source: The Hanen Center]

by:  Toby Stephan (with suggestions from numerous Hanen Certified SLPs)

When your child has been diagnosed with a language delay, perhaps the first question that comes to mind is, "Now what?" As a parent, you want to make sure you know what steps to take next. You want to move in a direction that will help your child learn to communicate more effectively and you want to move in this direction with confidence. You shouldn't feel alone when looking for answers. Choosing the right therapist can help you begin to answer the "Now what?" question in a way that makes the most sense for your family and your child. So, a more specific question that could be answered is "What should I look for in a speech-language pathologist or therapist?"

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog 

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