weekly header

May 20, 2011
Issue 16, Volume 5
It's All About the Choices!     

Here is our weekly newsletter!  Enjoy!
News Items: 
  • Service Dogs Teach Educators About Disabilities  
  • Feel Good Story of the Week: 12 Year Old Blind Boy with Autism Headed to College  
  • LA Times:  Revisiting ADHD and Ritalin  
  • 'Play' in the News: So You Think You Know Why Animals Play...  
  • Stem Cells - A New Frontier in Autism Research
  • Advocacy Opportunity: DSM-5 Comment Period for SPD Reopened
Therapy Activities, Tips and Resources
  • Product Review: Songames ™ for Sensory Integration  
  • Zoom!  Wake up the Hand and the Brain for Writing 
  • Suggested Activities for Speech Sounds   

Articles and Blogs

  • Guest Blog: 5 Tips for Getting Through TSA with Special Needs Kids  
  • Guest Blog: The Power of Therapeutic Play 
  • Pediatric Therapy Corner: Turn Taking and Waiting Games  
  • Worth Repeating: Raising a Son with Hearing Loss and Autism 
  • Also Worth Repeating: Oral Movements and Language Development                                                                 
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Have a great weekend and Take Care!

Heidi Kay and the PediaStaff Team

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Animal-Assisted Therapy in the News:  Service Dogs Teach Educators About Disabilities

[Source: NPR.org]


Many disabled people say that life without their service animals is unthinkable. And while public institutions are required to admit service animals without question, some public schools claim they cannot handle the disruption of a dog in a busy classroom.  


Disabled students are hoping new federal guidelines will help them avoid legal battles over their animals.

Nathan And Sylvia

Everyone at Sherando High School in Virginia knows Nathan Selove: He's the kid with the dog.

"Actually," he says, "she's the only dog in the Frederick County public school system, so far."

Sylvia is a sweet-tempered yellow Lab who accompanies Nathan to school every day. She wears a green vest that proclaims: "Don't pet me, I'm working."

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

Feel Good Story of the Week:  12 Year Old Blind Boy with Autism Headed to College
[Source: Fox News]

A 12-year-old boy from Georgia is heading to college this fall, despite being blind in one eye and having autism, MyFoxAtlanta reported.

Alex Beach, who is graduating this spring from Eaton Academy in Roswell, Ga., has the IQ of a genius, according to his mother, Melinda, despite the struggles in life. He plans to attend North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega, a short commute from his home.

Not only is Alex fluent in Japanese and Latin, but he is a master of chess and can compose music.

"I think it's kind of amazing for a 12-year-old kid like me with all my struggles to get to college," Alex said

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

ADHD in the News: Revisiting ADHD and Ritalin
[Source: The Los Angeles Times]

The doctor who in his 1996 book suggested that the hyperactivity disorder was being over-diagnosed has released a new book on the progress of some of his patients over the years.

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, a pediatrician from Walnut Creek, ignited a national debate over the steep rise in children being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and treated with stimulant medication.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
The Role of 'Play' for the Young in the News:  So You Think You Know Why Animals Play
Editor's Note: We thought many of our readers would thoroughly enjoy this article on the role of play in young animals/mammals. This article came to our attention through a Google Alert that we run on all articles that cite "occupational therapy" and "children." One of the references to this article refers to an AJOT journal article. Enjoy!

[Source: Scientific American]

The lush riverside vegetation sways as a herd of elephant wends its way between the broken pools. Standing at the top of an embankment, a half-grown male is watching a larger elephant trudge up the slope toward it.

Without warning, the youngster squats down on his haunches (just like a dog) and launches himself down the slope. Slithering at a good speed, he collides (with an audible thump) into the elephant below, sweeping them both, in a flurry of waving limbs and trunks, to the foot of the hill. There, lying on their stomachs, the pair jousts, twisting and parrying with trunk and tusk.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Autism Research in the News: Stem Cells - A New Frontier in Autism Research
[Source: Autism Speaks]

Ricardo Dolmetsch, Ph.D. has a vision for autism research. Using pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to create rare stem cells from other "common" cells of the human body cells, Dolmetsch and his lab at Stanford study neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

Unlike embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells which are isolated from existing and often difficult to obtain tissues, iPSC's are "created" from easy to obtain and plentiful sources, such as skin or hair samples. This is accomplished through a unique process where cells are developmentally regressed to an earlier state.

Read the Rest of This Article Through a Link on our Blog
Advocacy Opportunity: DSM-5 Comment Period for SPD Reopened
[Source:  The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation]

The publishers of the 2013 revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) have announced another opportunity for public comments on the proposed revisions to the DSM-5. The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation is coordinating another comment campaign to show the APA that there is widespread, informed support for including SPD in the revised DSM-5 that will be published in 2013.

Please follow the link below to find suggestions and instructions for commenting.

Additionally, please forward this page to colleagues, family members, teachers, and friends and ask them to submit a comment to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) supporting recognition of Sensory Processing Disorder in DSM-5.   We especially need comments from physicians, particularly child psychiatrists and researchers. If you have a website, blog or social networking page, those are great places to get the word out, too.


Learn How You can Comment on the DSM-5 Regarding SPD
Product Review: Songames ™ for Sensory Integration
Songames ™ for Sensory Integration is a wonderful resource for any therapist, teacher, or parent who's looking for a structured, musically-facilitated, 20-minute experience for their child or client.

The product comes with 2 CDs and a 66-page instructional booklet. I was highly impressed with the booklet, which includes:
  • a brief history of how Songames came to be;a description of the Circle Form concept and the 5 different Circle Form experiences included in the product;
  • ideas for how to use Songames individually, at home, in a classroom, and in a group;
  • variation ideas for each song and experience;
  • a glossary of terms; and
  • a lengthy reference section
Read the Rest of this Review on our Blog
Therapy Activity of the Week: 'Zoom' - Wake Up the Hand and Brain for Writing 
Special Thanks to our friends at SensoryFlow.com for permission to reprint this excellent video! Please support our contributors and visit SensoryFlow.com

Let's do ZOOM!

John Murray, Occupational Therapist, has been teaching parents and teachers this easy fast technique to increase successful writing in kids! He has it down to 52 seconds after a few practice tries. Any teacher in any class can incorporate this before any writing activity takes place.

The purpose of ZOOM! is to wake up the nerves in the hands, separate the left and right sides of the brain and to get kids fingers in the right position for optimal writing position.

Read More and Watch this Video on our Blog
Therapy Activity/Resource of the Week: Suggested Activities for Speech Sounds
Special Thanks to Literacy Speaks for suggesting this week's Therapy Resource of the Week - Suggested Activities with Speech Sounds

[Source: Reading Rockets]

Children must understand how speech sounds work to be ready for instruction in reading and writing. There are many activities that you can do with your students to help them increase their knowledge of speech sounds and their relationship to letters.

Check out These Activities Through a Link on our Blog
Guest Blogs This Week: Family Trek, Full Spectrum   
5 Tips for Getting Through TSA with Special Needs Kids - By:  Stephanie Yost Hicks

Editor's Note: This blog post was written for parents of special needs children. With the summer vacation season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a nice article to share with the parents of your kiddos.

Last July I traveled to Philadelphia for the annual Juvenile Arthritis Conference. My then 2-year-old has Juvenile Arthritis and this was our first big trip across country. She has traveled many times, but her health had kept us home for quite some time. I knew this trip was going to be difficult for her and tricky to navigate the airline regulations with her special needs. I made several phone calls to TSA and the airlines on what could be done to ensure a smooth trip, unlike so many other trips we had taken.

Read the Rest of this Article on our Blog
The Power of Therapeutic Play - By:  Pamela Ullmann, ATR-BC, LCAT

Children with Autism have many challenges with socialization and communication. They find it extremely difficult to relate to others; especially to their peers. Instead of playing with toys in imaginative ways (such as pretending a doll is really "my baby") they may use toys for self-stimulation, perseverate on objects, and become entirely self-absorbed.

For typical children, play allows learning and social skills to build naturally. We usually do not have to "teach" children to play. However, a child on the spectrum may need some guidance. Play can be a great tool for helping children to go beyond autism's self-absorption into a real and shared interaction. When directed properly, creative play can also help children explore their feelings and their environment. Eventually this can lead to stronger relationships with parents, siblings and peers.

Read the Rest of this Guest Post on our Blog

Pediatric Therapy Corner: Turn Taking and Waiting Games  
By: Marinet vanVuren

Turn-taking is an important social skill to learn. Communication involves listening, waiting and taking turns. Two people having a conversation take turns to speak, gesture and make eye contact. If two people talk at once, communication breaks down. Many young children find it difficult to learn to wait, share and take turns. A child with a communication difficulty may find it particularly hard to accept the rules of turn-taking and sharing.

Turn taking begins very early, long before children learn to talk. Parents respond to sounds which their baby makes, and the baby repeats the sound again, resulting in a 'conversation' where the two speakers listen to each other and take their turn. Turn taking skills should be encouraged early on, to help develop an understanding of the rules of conversational turn-taking as well as promoting good standards of behaviour.

Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

Worth Repeating: - Amy Lapain's Story: Raising a Son with Hearing Loss and Autism
By: Amy Lapain

Editor's Note: Thanks to our friends at CASPLA for calling this article on Cochlear Implant Online to our attention!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away... well that is how it seems. As I prepared to write this article, I was sent searching through my pictures to find one the day Andrew was diagnosed as profoundly hearing impaired. You see, he was born before the digital age, so I had to go through a few boxes of actual print pictures to find it! I was recalling all the fun, and difficult times we have had over the last 10 years as I thumbed through the pictures.

Andrew was born with a profound sensorineural hearing loss and was implanted at 13 months of age. He was born early, received the proper hearing test in the NICU and I was told by the pediatrician that he might "grow into his hearing." I was a new, first time mom. This, my dear friends, is not the case and I find it difficult to believe that such a good doctor could even utter those words. Thankfully, I am a pursuer. And pursue I did. We went ahead with the appropriate testing and on October 31, 2000, just two months after Andrew was born, we had a confirmed diagnosis.

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

Also Worth RepeatingOral Movements and Language Development
by:  by Katie Alcock

How are Language Development and Motor Development Linked?

Editor's Note:  We wish to thank Apraxia-Kids for allowing us to link to their useful articles.

People have been asking for a long time whether children who are good, or poor, at motor (movement) skills are likely to be good, or poor, at language skills. Here's what we know so far. When you look at walking, running, jumping and other gross motor skills you don't find any link between these and language - children who are slow or fast to walk are not necessarily slow or fast to talk. However there is a lot of evidence that hand gestures (including things like waving bye-bye and pointing - communicative gestures - and things like showing what you do with scissors or a comb, without having them in your hand - symbolic gestures) are linked to language abilities. Children who use hand gestures early are likely to be early talkers. Children who are late to use gestures are likely to be late talkers, and are more likely than children whose gestures are on schedule to remain delayed in their language use. There is also an association in older children between having disordered or delayed language development and having difficulties with control of limb movements - it is not just a link in early life.

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

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