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December 9, 2011
Issue 37, Volume 5
It's All About the Choices!     

The Holiday Season is definitely upon us and a chill is in the air, even in the south!  Please enjoy our weekly newsletter offering.   Have a wonderful weekend!
News Items: 
Therapy Activities, Tips and Resources

Articles and Blogs

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Have a great weekend and Take Care!

Heidi Kay and the PediaStaff Team

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Handwriting in the News:  Indiana Wants To Keep Cursive Handwriting On The Curriculum

Editor's Note:  With so much news about the disappearance of cursive writing in schools, this article is very nice to see!


[Source: The Chicago Tribune]


Indiana lawmakers say cursive writing has to be protected in schools and are pushing the issue in the 2012 session.


State senators Tim Skinner and Jean Leising said they were horrified when they learned the state no longer required the writing style be taught. They said this week they plan to submit bills when lawmakers return to Indianapolis in 2012.


Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Sensory Friendly Events in the News:  'Sensitive Santa' in Tulsa Caters to Children with Autism
[Source: TulsaWorld.com]

Christine McClary's kids are terrified of the mall.


Jacob, who's 8, and Emily, 7, don't do well with all the sights and sounds of a shopping center, especially this bustling time of year.


"I can't take them, ever," McClary said. "It's just because everything is over-stimulating."


Jacob and Emily have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - Jacob in 2005, Emily in 2006. Neither sibling can talk. Certain textures and colors upset them.


So sitting on Santa's lap at the mall has never been an option - or, at least, it won't be until this weekend, when Emily and Jacob will go to Tulsa Promenade for the shopping center's second annual "Sensitive Santa" event from 8 to 11 a.m. Sunday.


Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Feel Good Story of the Week : Wings for Autism Event Helps Kids with Autism Fly

[Source:  Jet Blue Blog (Blue Tales]


More than 400 people turned out for Jet Blue's second Wings for Autism event at their Boston station recently. For many families, this was the first time they stepped inside an airport, let alone onboard a plane (which meant 10 years for some people)


The idea behind Wings for Autism was to create a safe environment for families to take on the challenges of traveling with an autistic child and be surrounded by those in similar situations. By practicing the airport and flight experience (without actually leaving the airport!), both parents and their children with special needs can gain the familiarity and confidence needed to fly for real when the time comes. Families, alongside our crewmembers, practiced:

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
More Handwriting in the News: CBS News Story "Farewell to Handwriting"
Thanks to our friends at Your Therapy Source for the heads-up on this story. Its a great video to show to start a discussion at school districts debating between handwriting, cursive and keyboarding.


Watch this Video on our Blog
Technology in the News:  Tabletop PC Aids Children With Autism, Cerebral Palsy
[Source:  EWeek.com]

Microsoft has found a spot for its Surface multitouch tabletop computer in health care, as occupational therapists have developed applications for pediatric patients with autism and cerebral palsy. Surface is also used in other industries such as retail, hospitality and education. The LCD on the next generation of Surface is 4 inches thick, runs Windows 7 and has a 360-degree interface that allows users to collaborate.

The 2.0 version, the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface, is now available for preorders. Health care organizations will begin deploying them in early 2012. The large display of the new unit, at 40 inches, will be important for kids who need help exercising their limbs, experts say. With Surface's ability to respond directly to touch, natural hand gestures and physical objects-without a keyboard or mouse-pediatric patients can use their extremities, especially when one side may be impaired due to cerebral palsy.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Down Syndrome in the News: With Breakthroughs in Testing, a Tough Choice Gets Even More Complex
[Source: Time Magazine]

Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about Melanie Perkins McLaughlin is that she's not pro-life or pro-choice or pro anything - other than pro-information.


When a distraught pregnant woman phones a Massachusetts hotline for Down syndrome, agonizing over what to do with an unexpected prenatal diagnosis, she will be routed to Perkins McLaughlin, who went through the same awful calculations in 2007. When Perkins McLaughlin learned halfway through her pregnancy that her daughter would have Down syndrome, she nearly decided to end the pregnancy for fear of what it would do to her marriage and her two older children.

Read the Rest of This Article Through a Link on our Blog
ADHD in the News: Researchers ID Gene Variations in ADHD
[Source: Psych Central]

Researchers have discovered genetic variations that appear to influence important brain signaling pathways implicated in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Pediatric scientists believe the discovery could lead to a new treatment option for ADHD, a disorder that affects up to half a million U.S. children.


"At least 10 percent of the ADHD patients in our sample have these particular genetic variants," said study leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D.


Read the Rest of This Article Through a Link on our Blog
ADHD News You Can Use: Amino Acid Shortage in Children with ADHD Supports High Protein Diet Recommendation 
[Source: Science Daily]

Editor's Note:  This article would be a good one to print out and share with parents of kids with ADHD.   Anecdotal evidence has been circulating for a long time that kids with ADHD should eat a lot of protein, but these findings really help explain why.

A new study at �rebro University in Sweden shows that children with ADHD have nearly 50 percent less of a protein that is important for attention and learning. The finding may mean that there are other biochemical disturbances in the brains of individuals with ADHD than was previously believed.

"This indicates that several signal substances are implicated in ADHD and that in the future this could pave the way for other drugs than those in use today," says Jessica Johansson, who is presenting her research findings in a dissertation in medicine at �rebro University.


Read the Rest of This Article Through a Link on our Blog
Food For Thought: Was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Bullied? Should We Stop Showing the Original 1964 Cartoon or Has Political Correctness Gone too Far? 
Editor's Note:  Political correctness gone too far or serious food for thought?   You decide.  It is important to note that this article refers to the original 1964 cartoon story.   In my opinion the song is a wonderful story of everyone coming around to celebrate Rudolph for the special gifts he has.     Don't remember enough of the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie?  Watch it (in four parts) on YouTube

[Source:  ABC]

Most people think of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" as a cute little story about a cute little reindeer with a cute shiny nose and a happy ending.  

Think again, says George Giuliani, a special ed professor at Long Island University in New York, who has written an alternative to the Christmas classic called "No More Bullies at the North Pole."


He recently went on "Fox & Friends" to discuss the issue and says the treatment Rudolph receives from jolly St. Nick and his merry band of reindeer is tantamount to bullying.


For example, when Comet, the team coach, discovers Rudolph's nose glows, he banishes him from the team and tells the other reindeer to never let him join in any reindeer games.


Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Speech Therapy Activity of the Week: Menorah Speech and Language Activity

Editor's Note:  PediaStaff asked Jenna at Speech Room News to come up with a speech-language activity for the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah, and here it is! Thanks, Jenna this is great!


It's that time of year! Hope you're looking forward to the Holidays! A few of my students celebrate Hanukkah so when Heidi over at PediaStaff asked me to create some speech or language activities that incorporated the Jewish holiday I didn't hesitate.


What I came up with is so flexible that I used it with EVERY group I saw yesterday! You can't beat that!!

Check out this Great List of Activities Through a Link on our Blog
Pinterest Holiday Activities of the Week: Reindeer Job Application and Reindeer Handprint Ornaments
Loving Pinterest for introducing us to so many wonderful teaching blogs with ideas adaptable to our kids with special needs.   A fifth grade teacher/blogger at What The Teacher Wants  posted a Reindeer Job Application that she adapted from her new "BFF" at First Grade Teaching.

See Both of this Adorable Activities on our Blog

Book Review: From Rattles to Writing (A Parent's Guide to Hand Skills)

Reviewed By: Sunita Murty, M.S. OTR/L 

Book By: Barbara A. Smith, OTR/L

Published/Produced By: Therapro, Inc   


From Rattles to Writing by Barbara A. Smith is a nice guide for parents, or anyone interacting with children, of typical and atypical development. The parent's guide nicely breaks down components of development needed for writing without putting the attention on the task of writing, but rather the important developmental components including sensorimotor development, visual motor perception, large motor development and hand skills. The book is nicely divided into developmental stages to aid in providing activities in the proper sequence to facilitate development needed to produce eye-hand coordination and visual perceptual skills, which are both essential components of writing and reading.

Check out the Rest of this Review on our Blog
Guest Blogs This Week: Activity Tailor, Kid PT   
Othello: A Speech Strategy - By: Kim Lewis, M.S. CCC-SLP

I love board games and Othello is one of those classic, perfect two player games. Do you remember this one? The board consists of 64 green felted squares and each player has 32 thick black and white disks that clack snugly into a space on each turn. The tactile aspect is hugely satisfying, in addition to encouraging fine motor skills.


You begin with four disks in the middle of the board, two whites diagonal from one another and two black diagonal from one another. Decide which player is which color (black goes first).


Read the Rest of this Guest Post on our Blog
Trunk Strengthening for Kids - by Joni Redlich, PT

Trunk or core strengthening is a need for children of various diagnoses, including coordination disorders, low tone, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. In fact most child with developmental differences regardless of diagnosis will benefit from strengthening to the trunk muscles.

Below are some ideas to get started. I have also included some tips to get children to try the activity for longer, to help you gauge progress and also what I call "concrete tips." These tips are ideas to turn the activity from an abstract play activity to an activity with a clear beginning and end and frequently with visual cues. Making an activity more concrete can help children with attention problems and autism spectrum disorders participate in an activity successfully.


Read the Rest of this Guest Post on our Blog

Pediatric Therapy Corner: Classroom Strategies for Teachers of Selectively Mute Children
By: Gail Kervatt, M.Ed.


SM children cannot talk as the result of the physical symptoms caused by the extreme anxiety they feel. They are not being defiant, stubborn, or disobedient.


Do not feel it is your job to make this child speak. It is your job to lessen the anxiety in all classroom activities for this child. Focus on reducing anxiety and not on producing speech.  


Forget the words, "yes, no, please, thank you, etc."


Seat the child to the side in the classroom.....not front and center where everyone is looking at him.


Avoid eye contact at first.


Let the child know that you will help him, but will not try to force him to talk.

Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

Worth Repeating - 10 Ways to Compare and Contrast
by:  Rachel Lynette 
Comparing and contrasting is a higher level thinking skill important across the curriculum. We compare and contrast characters in a story, word choice in writing, equations in math (think < > =, not to mention word problems ), different hypothesis in science, how holidays are celebrated in different cultures, etc. That is probably why comparing and contrasting shows up multiple times in the Common Core Standards. Here are some ideas for comparing and contrasting in your class.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Also Worth Repeating - Are Kids Suffering from 'Nature Deficit Disorder?'
[Source: The Daily Gleaner]

According to author Richard Louv, "Nature-deficit disorder describes the human costs of alienation from nature - among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illness. This disorder can be detected in individuals, families, and communities."


As children are spending an increasing amount of time indoors and becoming more plugged into technology, they're also becoming disconnected with nature and developing nature deficit disorder.


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