November 29, 2013
Issue 41, Volume 6
It's All About the Choices!     
Greetings and Happy Thanksgiving!

Please enjoy this holiday edition of our newsletter.  PediaStaff hopes that you and yours are having a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!
News Items:
  • People With Autism Pick Up More Information From the Mouth Than From the Eyes
  • Children's Health Improved By More Frequent Breaks From Sedentary Behavior
  • Researchers Explore Links Between Dyslexia, Specific Language Impairment and Dyscalculia
  • Genetic Defect Keeps Verbal Cues from Hitting the Mark
  • Size, Connectivity of Brain Region Linked to Anxiety Level in Young Children 
  • Newborn Babies Have Built-In Body Awareness Ability
Therapy Activities, Tips and Resources
  • OT Activity of the Week: Fine Motor Bean Matching Boards
  • Gross Motor Activity of the Week: Nerf Turkey Targets
  • Book / DVD Review: The Science of Making Friends

Articles and Special Features 

  • SLP Corner:  Articulation Carryover Activities
  • OT Corner: What Do Handwriting and Optical Illusions Have in Common?
  • PT Corner: You Can't Have One Without the Other
  • School Psychology Corner:  8 Ways to Teach Children Gratitude 
  • Worth Repeating: Explaining the Death of a Loved One to Kids on the Autism Spectrum
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Have a great weekend and Take Care!

Heidi Kay and the PediaStaff Team

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Autism in the News:  People With Autism Pick Up More Information From the Mouth Than From the Eyes

[Source: LA Times]


The eyes may be the mirror of the soul, but for those with autism, the mouth will have to do.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center isolated neurons in the brain's amygdala that respond to facial expressions, and tested patients with autism against those without. Both groups could correctly identify a "happy" or "fearful" face, a function long associated with the amygdala.


But when the researchers examined which neurons fired in relation to areas of the face, they found that those with autism "read" the information from the mouth area more than from the eyes and seemed to be lacking a population of nerve cells that respond only to images of eyes.


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

Support to 'Get 'Em Moving' in the News: Children's Health Improved By More Frequent Breaks From Sedentary Behavior

[Source:  Medical News Today]


Canadian kids spend more than half their waking hours engaged in sedentary behavior - watching television, playing video games or just sitting around. Studies involving adult populations suggest that breaks in sedentary time are associated with reduced global health risks. Today these findings have been replicated in a study involving children between the ages of 8 and 11 as published in PLOS ONE.

"We already know that sitting too much is bad for kids," says Travis Saunders, who earned his PhD at the University of Ottawa and is a researcher at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)


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

Interdisciplinary Research in the News:  Researchers Explore Links Between Dyslexia, Specific Language Impairment and Dyscalculia 

[Source:  Medical News Today]


New interdisciplinary research from Western University has uncovered fundamental links among three major learning difficulties in some school-age children. Although many children have specific problems with dyslexia, specific language impairment and dyscalculia, this study is the first to show a significant portion of these children have overlapping deficits. Importantly, the research team has also devised a 10-minute screening test that could be administered broadly in primary schools to identify children at risk for the different disorders.


The collaborative project includes findings from four researchers at Western's Brain and Mind Institute BMI the Faculty of Health Sciences that independently specialize in the three key developmental disorders.


Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link our Blog

Comparative Language Development in the News:  Genetic Defect Keeps Verbal Cues from Hitting the Mark    

[Source: Science Daily]


A genetic defect that profoundly affects speech in humans also disrupts the ability of songbirds to sing effective courtship tunes. This defect in a gene called FoxP2 renders the brain circuitry insensitive to feel-good chemicals that serve as a reward for speaking the correct syllable or hitting the right note, a recent study shows.


The research, which was conducted in adult zebrafinches, gives insight into how this genetic mutation impairs a network of nerve cells to cause the stuttering and stammering typical of people with FoxP2 mutations. It appears Nov. 21 in an early online edition of the journal Neuron.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link our Blog

Anxiety Research in the News:  Size, Connectivity of Brain Region Linked to Anxiety Level in Young Children   

[Source:  Science Daily]


Prolonged stress and anxiety during childhood is a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders and depression later in life. Now, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have shown that by measuring the size and connectivity of a part of the brain associated with processing emotion - the amygdala - they can predict the degree of anxiety a young child is experiencing in daily life.

They found that the larger the amygdala and the stronger its connections with other parts of the brain involved in perception and regulation of emotion, the greater the amount of anxiety a child was experiencing.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link our Blog

Developmental Biology in the News:  Newborn Babies Have Built-In Body Awareness Ability  

[Source: Science Daily]


The ability to differentiate your own body from others is a fundamental skill, critical for humans' ability to interact with their environments and the people in them. Now, researchers reporting inCurrent Biology, a Cell Press publication, on November 21 provide some of the first evidence that newborn babies enter the world with the essential mechanisms for this kind of body awareness already in place.


In addition to this insight into normal human development, the researchers stress the importance of the new findings for understanding atypical development, too.


Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link our Blog

OT Activity of the Week:  Fine Motor Bean Matching Boards  

Print out the matching bean boards and read the directions to create this fine motor, visual perceptual and graded muscle control challenge.  Modifications included to add in physical activity to the task.  You can read about it and download the matching boards for free 


Download This Activity Through a Link on our Blog

Gross Motor Activity of the Week:  Nerf Turkey Targets  

This is a great motor activity to do the last day before the Thanksgiving recess, or to send home with the kids to do with their brothers, sisters and cousins on Thanksgiving Day!   The blogger uses Nerf guns but you could just as easily let the kids use nerf ball or even ping pong balls!  


Check Out This Activity Through a Link on our Blog

Book/DVD Review of the Week:  The Science of Making Friends  

by Ryan Knoblauch, MA, CCC-SLP

Don't you wish they had a class that taught kids how to make friends?  We look at our kids and hope for the best that they will fit in, make friends, and not get bullied by others.  I look back at my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood and wonder how I made it through.  Now, think about students with special needs-kids with autism; students with developmental delays; and the socially awkward, rejected, or neglected. Imagine the struggles that these kids have making friends with a lack of social skills.  

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson decided to take her research from UCLA's PEER program and offer an evidence-based step-by-step guide for parents and educators to teach young people how exactly to make and keep friends.


Read the Rest of this Book Review on our Blog

SLP Corner: Articulation Therapy Carryover Activities

by Sherry Artemenko, CCC-SLP    

I have a number of boys, ages 5-8,  currently on my caseload, who are working on improving their articulation. They have made great gains in learning to correctly produce their target sounds in words, sentences and conversation within our therapy sessions, but are having trouble making that leap to carryover.


I read with interest Pam Marshalla's "Speech Therapy Answers and Advice" which I always find incredibly practical and helpful. She heard from a parent whose 5 year-old girl is right in the spot I described above-accomplished in her target sound(s) but not moving to the next step for carryover to produce her correct sounds in everyday activities. Pam makes an excellent point that carryover needs a plan just as each other stage of therapy does. I think we often feel like we are "finished" with therapy when we get a child to the carryover stage and he should just start using his wonderful new sound. Some kids actually do make that jump easily but I find it is more common for young children to need several activities to integrate their new 


Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

OT Corner: What Do Handwriting and Optical Illusions Have in Common?

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L  

Optical illusions fascinate us with the tricks they play on our visual system.  Combinations of angles, contrasts, and geometrical shapes have the power to confuse our brain into thinking that stationary objects are moving and that flat images have 3-D qualities.  The information received through our eyes competes with the data we have stored in our brains in an attempt to make "sense" of what we are viewing.    The past struggles with the present in order to assimilate the information that we are seeing and square it with what we have previously seen.  When the brain has difficulty matching what it knows to be true (or has learned from experience to be true) 

Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

Physical Therapy Corner: You Can't Have One Without the Other

by Shelley Manell, PT, C/NDT

Each time I teach a continuing education class, there is at least one person who isn't interested in learning about pelvic and rib cage alignment.  But postural control is an essential component of every single motor skill; gross motor, fine motor, oral motor - you name it, every skill depends on our ability to control our body in space and orient to the task (1).  And we now understand better than ever before that a critical component of postural control is central stability.  Central stability, as created by the inner core team, depends on alignment (2,3).


Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

School Psychology Corner: 8 Ways to Teach Children Gratitude

by Stephanie Brown, Certified School Psychologist


If there's one concept better taught through actions than words, it's gratitude! Children can easily learn to say their please and thank you's but polite words are no substitute for real, heart-felt gratitude. Genuine thankfulness comes from the realization that, as my own mother would so candidly remind me growing up that, "No one owes you anything." I think that's an increasingly hard idea for children to grasp, especially in a world where wants so often go mistaken for needs and gratification is expected to be immediate.


We're at that time of year again when a lot of cute ideas to celebrate the idea of "being thankful" will surface on Facebook pages and Pinterest accounts everywhere. I'm resisting the urge to post a how-to for some crafty (and most likely feathered) work of art to add to your fridge's gallery. Instead, I want to go beyond commemorating a single day of gratefulness to offer some ideas that will encourage children to adapt lifestyles of gratitude. 

Worth Repeating: Explaining the Death of a Loved One to Kids on the Autism Spectrum

[Source: My Aspergers Child]  


"When should I begin to talk with my grandchild about his grandfather's (papa's) sickness that will result in death? How best to approach the subject? Thank you for your assistance."


The answer to your question would be "the sooner the better." Kids, even those on the autism spectrum, typically know more than their parents and grandparents think they do. You can gauge what your grandson knows through the questions he asks. If he asks, for example, "Is grandpa going to die?" ...he may not want to hear, "Everyone is going to die someday." Instead, this can be a signal that he knows grandpa's condition is life-threatening. 

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

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