weekly header

March 18, 2011
Issue 8, Volume 5

It's All About the Choices!     


We have lots of great content for you this week from all corners and disciplines!  Hope you enjoy it.

Please remember this is YOUR newsletter.  If you have some ideas of sites we should be looking at for our weekly research, or know of a great blog that you think we should get permission to consider for reprinting, please email me anytime at heidi@pediastaff.com 
News Items: 
  • Kids with Cerebral Palsy May Have Asymmetric Pelvic Bones 
  • Animal-Assisted Therapy Featured in the New York Times 
  • Feel Good Story of the Week: Teaching a Love for Language  
  • New Study Proves the Brain has 3 Layers of Working Memory  
  • Pediatric MS in the News:  "Yes, Kids Can get Multiple Sclerosis"  
  • Disability Advocates At Odds Over 'Wandering' Proposal for Autism Diagnostic Coding  
Therapy Activities, Tips and Resources
  • Bubble Wrap Fun 
  • Free, Printable Resources from LakeShore Learning 
  • Scoliosis in Rett Syndrome 

Upcoming Events

  • Live Webinar:  Helping Children with Organizational, Planning,
    and Other Executive Function Skills  


Articles and Blogs 

  • Guest Blog: Puppet Making: Imagination and Learning for Children with Autism    
  • Guest Blog: Top Preschool Books to Encourage Language Development   
  • Pediatric Therapy Corner: Speaking Sensory-Ease (Part Two)   
  • Worth Repeating: Down Syndrome and Stuttering 
  • Also Worth Repeating:  What Are Social Thinking Challenges?                                                                                                       
Feel free to contact us with any questions about our openings or items in these pages. Have you discovered our RSS feed? Click on the orange button below to subscribe to all our openings and have them delivered to your Feed Reader!  Don't have an RSS Feed Reader set up? Sign up at
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Have a great weekend and Take Care!

Heidi Kay and the PediaStaff Team

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Cerebral Palsy in the News:  Kids With Cerebral Palsy May Have Asymmetric Pelvic Bones  
[Source: HealthDay]

Most children with severe cerebral palsy have asymmetric pelvic bones that surgeons should adjust for when they perform surgeries of the pelvis, spine and surrounding structures, say researchers.

Previous studies have found that cerebral palsy patients have asymmetry above the pelvis and misalignment of the hips, but this is the first study to find misalignment between the two sides of the pelvic bone itself, said the team at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

They conducted 3-D CT scans on 27 children with severe cerebral palsy and found that all of them had a greater than 10 degree misalignment of the pelvic bones.

The study appears online March 10 in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics .

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

Animal-Assisted Therapy in the News: Easing the Way in Therapy With the Aid of an Animal 
[Source: The New York Times]

We've all seen guide dogs that can direct blind people around obstacles and tell them when it is safe to cross the street. Perhaps you also know of guide dogs for the deaf, which can alert people to a ringing phone, a doorbell or a smoke alarm, or dogs that can warn people with epilepsy of an incipient seizure, giving them time to get to a safe place before they lose consciousness.

Dr. Marty Becker, veterinarian and author (with Danelle Morton) of "The Healing Power of Pets" (Hyperion, 2002), tells of a golden retriever named Dakota, who was able to warn his master, Mike Lingenfelter, that a heart attack was imminent and alert Mr. Lingenfelter to the need to leave a stressful situation and take preventive medication.

"This dog is leading me through life," Mr. Lingenfelter told Dr. Becker. "All I'm doing is following the dog."

In recent decades, there have been countless such stories of animals helping to improve and even preserve the lives of children and adults with all manner of diseases and disabilities. Trained dogs are being used to help keep children with autism safe and to break the "freeze" that can afflict people with Parkinson's disease when they try to walk. And dogs, cats, bunnies and birds are often brought to schools and institutions, as well as to hospitals and nursing homes, where they help to relax and inspire residents and distract patients from their health problems.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Feel Good Story of the Week: Teaching a Love for Language
[Source: news@Northeastern]

"Green Eggs and Ham" and puppets sound more like they belong in a pre-school classroom than in the hands of a college student, but Northeastern's associate professor and graduate director of speech language pathology, Therese O'Neil-Pirozzi, would beg to differ.

For the past 13 years, she has been overseeing a weekly program for undergraduate and graduate students, who help expand the language literacy of children in Boston homeless shelters by reading and engaging them in arts and crafts that will improve their motor skills.

O'Neil-Pirozzi's research in this area, funded in part by Northeastern's Institute on Urban Health Research, shows that language delays in preschool children living in homeless shelters are associated with similar deficits in their mothers. The student storytelling group project is one approach that she is using to address the issue.

"We want to teach the children a love of language, a love of reading, and also serve as role models for the parents and the volunteers and staff at the shelters so that they can help the children become academically successful down the road," she said.

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

Cognition Research in the News:  New Study Proves the Brain has 3 Layers of Working Memory  
[Source: E! Science News]

Researchers from Rice University and Georgia Institute of Technology have found support for the theory that the brain has three concentric layers of working memory where it stores readily available items. Memory researchers have long debated whether there are two or three layers and what the capacity and function of each layer is.

In a paper in the March issue of the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, researchers found that short-term memory is made up of three areas: a core focusing on one active item, a surrounding area holding at least three more active items, and a wider region containing passive items that have been tagged for later retrieval or "put on the back burner." But more importantly, they found that the core region, called the focus of attention, has three roles -- not two as proposed by previous researchers. First, this core focus directs attention to the correct item, which is affected by predictability of input pattern. Then it retrieves the item and subsequently, when needed, updates it.

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

Pediatric MS in the News: "Yes, Kids Can get Multiple Sclerosis"
[Source: MyFoxDetroit.com]

Like the archeologist who discovers rare fossils, Claire Flaherty hopes someday someone will discover something else.  "I hope after we raise enough money that they can find a cure for MS," she said.

It started years ago. She was healthy and happy until suddenly life changed.  "She had swelling in every area of the brain," said Kathleen Flaherty, Claire's mother.

"At times, you were wondering whether or not your child's going to survive," said Michael Flaherty, Claire's father.   And no doctor could figure out what was wrong.   "What we were told repeatedly by every doctor was kids don't get MS. There's no way that children get MS," Kathleen Flaherty said.

Read the Rest of This Article Through a Link on our Blog
Autism Advocacy in the News: Disability Advocates At Odds Over 'Wandering' Proposal for Autism Diagnostic Coding
[Source: Disability Scoop]

Disability advocates are divided over a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proposal to add wandering to the menu of descriptors doctors can use to diagnose individuals with autism, intellectual disability and other conditions.

Under the proposal, which is up for public comment through April 1, wandering would be added to the CDC's diagnostic coding system as a secondary classification that could be applied to individuals with developmental disabilities.

But whether or not a person's tendency to wander away from home or school should be considered a medical issue is proving contentious.

Advocates for the proposal say that creating a diagnostic code for wandering would increase awareness and force schools, clinicians and the community at large to address the issue.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Therapy Activity of the Week: Bubble Wrap Fun 
Special Thanks to Your Therapy Source for this great activity. Please support our contributors and visit Your Therapy Source

We all know the usual "therapy" uses for bubble wrap - popping the bubbles with the fingers or the feet. Here are some creative crafty ideas to extend the proprioceptive benefits of bubble wrap!

Watch a Video Demonstration of this Activity on our Blog 
Therapy Resource of the Week: Free, Printable Resources from LakeShore Learning  
Editor's Note:  This 'resource' of the week is actually a guest blog post but fits better in this section than the blog articles section of our newsletter this week.  

by:  Leah Musgrave and Dean Trout

Today we kick off a two-part series on printable resources with the spotlight on the fine people at LakeShore Learning. They have a Free Resources tab on their website that is definitely worth mentioning. Here is the link http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/general...dMaker.jsp

I want to specifically target a few areas that we find useful. First is their Award Maker. They share with us 24 different awards that are not only cute, but can be personalized. We love that feature because regular academic awards usually do not fit the bill for speech-language praise. We also love that these awards are designed to print on letter-size paper. These are two great features in our opinion.

Read About the Rest of These Tools Through a Link on our Blog

Therapist Resource of the Week: Scoliosis in Rett Syndrome

Editor's Note: Our friends at the International Rett Syndrome Federation have endorsed this resource, "Scoliolis in Rett Syndrome."


From the 'About' page: There is limited information in the medical literature regarding the management of scoliosis. We have therefore developed some guidelines to provide information for parents and caregivers and to be helpful to doctors caring for girls and women with Rett syndrome. The main aim of managing scoliosis is to maximise function whilst preventing the progression of the spinal curve. These guidelines are not a formula for every girl with Rett syndrome who develops scoliosis but rather, they highlight the key features of accepted current best practice. They are based on the available medical literature and on expert clinical opinions from various fields.

Read the Rest of this Introduction and Download the Booklet 'Scoliosis in Rett Syndrome'

Upcoming Webinar / CEU Event: Helping Children with Organizational, Planning, and Other Executive Function Skills
CASANA LIVE Webinar:  Helping Children with Organizational, Planning, and Other Executive Function Skills

Thursday, March 24, 2011 @ 7:00 PM (EST)  or Friday, March 25, 2011 @ 9:00 AM (U.S. EST)

*ASHA CEUs Are Available*

Webinar Overview
Being well organized can help children to succeed at home, school, and eventually in the workplace. It can help to offset the increased risk for academic struggle that may be related to early problems with speech and language skills. These skills can be taught from a young age continue to be useful into adulthood. Does your preschooler have age-appropriate problem-solving skills? Does your elementary student or teen lose track of assignments, have trouble starting or finishing school work, or lose it before it gets to the teacher? Do they lose track of time or misjudge how much time a project will take to complete? In this session, learn about executive function skills and how you can help children learn to be better at planning, initiating, and finishing tasks.

Ruth Stoeckel, Ph.D, CCC-SLP, from Rochester, Minnesota, is a clinical speech-language pathologist at Mayo Clinic. She has presented nationally and internationally on topics including childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) and related problems. She has had her research on treatment of childhood apraxia of speech published in several professional journals. Dr. Stoeckel is on the professional advisory board of the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA).

For More Information:
Go to the Apraxia-Kids website page about the webinar or contact Education Director Kathy Hennessy at kathyh@apraxia-kids.org

Guest Blogs This Week: Full Spectrum, Play on Words
Puppet Making: Imagination and Learning for Children with Autism - Pamela Ullmann

Most typical children naturally love to pretend play and intuitively use their imaginations at a relatively early age. We see this in normal development the strongest around 3-6 years of age. A child may pick up a toy car and "pretend" it is driving up and down the furniture; he may joyfully make sounds to indicate the car's speed and motor. As the child becomes more mature and develops relationships in the world, he might race the car and tell us a story about who is in the car, where they are going and other details. Children learn about their world through play and then are able to develop healthy imaginations.

Children with Autism very often have challenges in developing healthy imaginations as well as engaging in purposeful or imaginative play. This, in addition to communication and socialization is an area that the creative therapies can help with. By engaging the child creatively and meeting them where they are, we can bring out their own interests and help them develop this skill in fun ways.

Read the Rest of this Guest Post on our Blog
Top Preschool Books to Encourage Language Development - By: Sherry Artemenko M.A., CCC-SLP

The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens. Check out my review. Kids love this book for the zany antics of the prairie dogs with their fuzz and the wild vocabulary and comical alliteration.

Clancy the Courageous Cow by Lachie Hume. This is a new book with a clever story about being different, discrimination, and grace. There is lots to talk about as you encourage your child to predict what will happen, talk about feelings, solutions, and how to react to someone who is different.

Amos and Boris by William Steig. This is a clever book about adventure, rescue, friendship, and sacrifice. It is packed with good vocabulary. Try other books by this author.

Learn about More Great Books in the Rest of this Post on our Blog

Pediatric Therapy Corner: - Speaking Sensory-Ease (Part 2 of 2)  
By: Jackie Linder Olson


Editor's Note: Part one of this article can be found HERE

Dear Therapists (Continued),
To quickly recap last week's letter - you've now armed your parent's with homework, explained why they're doing the homework, and have set up realistic expectations. Now what?

Free Items and Therapy Tools We Already Have Around the House:
Parents love to use items around the house that they already own to be incorporated into therapy and their homework. Perhaps you want them to use the couch and chairs as an obstacle course. How exciting to actually get to climb on the furniture with a parent's supervision! Do they have a stone walkway where they could practice jumping from stone to stone? Are their stairs to climb up and down while alternating legs either inside or outside an apartment building? Forts are fun! What kid doesn't love draping the furniture with a sheet or blanket and making a tunnel to crawl through?

Doing chores can also be a sensory integration activity in disguise. Instruct your parent to have their child carry the laundry basket (lightly loaded) into another room, giving them deep pressure proprioception feedback. Hand the child a washcloth or sponge in the bathtub and tell them to "clean" the surrounding walls, working those arms, shoulders and trunk muscles. Making cookies for a school bake sale is an excellent sensory activity that includes stirring ingredients, kneading dough, rolling dough, using cookie cutters and then yummy tasting.

Read the Rest of this Article on our Blog

Worth Repeating: Down Syndrome and Stuttering
[Source: Stuttering Foundation of America]

By: Monica Bray Senior Lecturer in Speech Pathology, Leeds Metropolitan University

This leaflet is designed to help people who have Down's syndrome, or who care for and work with people who have Down's syndrome to understand the problem of dysfluency in speech. People with Down's syndrome are born with an extra chromosome as a result of a genetic accident before or around the time of conception (1). This results in a certain degree of learning difficulty which can affect the ability to understand and produce speech and language. One of the biggest problems for many people with Down's syndrome is the unintelligibility of their speech to others. Unintelligibility and disfluency often go hand-in-hand.

People with Down's syndrome may find some or all of these steps particularly difficult. Ideas may not be clearly formed; the language plan and/or the speech movement plan may not be well established; the actual process of speech may be a problem. As well as this, hearing loss, which is quite common in people with Down's syndrome, makes learning and understanding language difficult. Also, the individual may lack the social awareness needed to know when or where it is appropriate to say what is wanted.

Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

Also Worth Repeating - What Are Social Thinking Challenges?

By: Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP


A classic example of a person with a social thinking challenge is that of my friend Ian who is entering into 4th grade. He has excellent language skills and has amazing abilities to learn information about topics of his interest, such as American History. He enjoys learning topics that are factual in nature and in fact excels in these academic tasks. Regardless of his strong academic abilities in most areas of math and language he struggles considerably focusing his attention in his mainstream classroom, participating as part of a group, explaining his ideas to others in writing and making friends during recess and lunch. He prefers talking to adults, rather than his peers, since adults will discuss with him his areas of interest. When adults are not available to talk to, he goes to the library to read a book. While his teacher enjoys his knowledge, she is mystified by his difficulties at school given that he scores in the fine to superior on academic testing. It is difficult for his teacher to understand that he does not have a behavior problem; instead he has social thinking challenges, which makes it difficult for him to deal with all aspects of the expectations across his school and home day. His mother describes him as "bright but clueless" 


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

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