August 8, 2014
Issue 32, Volume 7
It's All About the Choices!     
Greetings and Happy Friday!  

To those of you already back to school in the south, Welcome Back!  To the rest of you, enjoy those last couple of weeks!
News Items:
  • Scientists Unravel Neural Circuit That Could be Key in Autism
  • New Frontiers for Cerebral Palsy Treatment Identified
  • Loud Noises Change How Brain Processes Speech
  • In Children with Autism, Blood-Oxytocin Levels Found to be in Normal Range
  • Study Shows ABA Helps Children with Autism
  • Inclusive Play for Children with Physical Disabilities
PediaStaff News
Therapy Activities, Tips and Resources
  • Book Review: The Special Needs School Survival Guide
  • Activity of the Week: Minecraft Emotions
  • OT Activities of the Week  3 Hand Strengthening Activities in the Kitchen
  • Speech Activity of the Week: Initial Sound Blackout

Articles and Special Features 

  • OT/PT Corner: Yoga an Effective Therapy for Down Syndrome
  • SLP Corner: A Case for Caring about Categorization in Speech Therapy -Your Other CCCs
  • Career Corner:  Top 5 Tips for Your First 5 Years on the Job
  • Worth Repeating: The Kids Who Beat Autism
  • Also Worth Repeating: Toys to Elicit Language from Birth to Three
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 Blogtrottr and have our blog posts delivered right to your email.

Have a great weekend and Take Care!

Heidi Kay and the PediaStaff Team

The Career Center

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Scientists Unravel Neural Circuit That Could be Key in Autism  

[Source: Medical News Today]


The insular cortex is an integral "hub", combining sensory, emotional and cognitive content. Not surprisingly, alterations in insular structure and function have been reported in many psychiatric disorders, such s anxiety disorders, depression, addiction and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 


Scientists from Harvard University and the Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried now describe consistent alterations in integrative processing of the insular cortex across autism mouse models of diverse etiologies. In particular, the delicate balance between excitation and inhibition in the autistic brains was disturbed, but could be pharmacologically re-adjusted. The results could help the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. 


 Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link our Blog

New Frontiers for Cerebral Palsy Treatment

[Source: Science]


Of  cerebral palsy, caregivers and patients know this is an understatement: it's not easy. The permanently debilitating condition, which occurs in babies from the prenatal stage to toddlers, comes with more than its fair share of lifelong challenges - from mobility problems to developmental setbacks.


One of the biggest challenges posed to physicians when treating cerebral palsy patients is the problem of gait, or a patient's movement patterns. In those patients, brain damage limits their arm and leg motor functions, which affects posture and free movement in the limbs.


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

Loud Noises Change How Brain Processes Speech

[Source:  Medical News Today]


A new study shows for the first time that prolonged exposure to loud noise changes how the brain processes speech, suggesting the damage such exposure causes is not limited to physical changes in the ear itself.


According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the organization that funded the study, prolonged exposure to noise levels at 85 decibels and above increases people's risk for hearing loss.


And it is a sobering thought that many devices children use today have noise levels much higher than this threshold - for example an MP3 player on its loudest setting is giving out sound at 105 decibels, which is 100 times more intense than 85 decibels.


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

In Kids w/Autism, Blood-Oxytocin Levels are in Normal Range 

[Source:  Health Day via]


The "love hormone" oxytocin has a tremendous effect on kids' ability to function socially, Stanford University researchers report.


Children blessed with naturally high levels of oxytocin are more savvy at communicating with others and interpreting social signals or situations, said study author Karen Parker, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Stanford.


Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link our Blog

Study Shows ABA Helps Children with Autism 

Editor's Note:  Great research result!

[Source:  Science Daily]


Vanderbilt researchers this week reported updated findings regarding the benefits of behavior-focused therapies for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).The review, conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC), updates a prior systematic review of interventions for children (up to age 12) with a focus on recent studies of behavioral interventions.


Study authors said the quality of research studies has improved dramatically since AHRQ's 2011 review of studies on ASD, when authors reported that there were significant gaps in research available to document the benefits of treatments.


Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link our Blog

Inclusive Play for Children with Physical Disabilities

[Source: Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics via Your Therapy Source]


Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics published research on including children with physical disabilities during play. A comprehensive review of the research was completed to determine what factors help children with physical disabilities participate in play in childcare centers.

The following results were reported: 

1. Strategies were grouped into role of the adult facilitator and environmental factors.

2. The role of the adult facilitator included customizing approaches to a specific child's needs, being self aware of their (meaning adult facilitator) prescence, prompting and praise and promoting fairness, equity and play interaction.


Read the Rest of this Abstract Through a Link our Blog

Interview Question of the Week:  Tests and Assessments  

What tests/assessments do you have experience with? How will you handle a situation when a standardized assessment doesn't go as planned?


What alternatives to standardized assessments are there that you like or have used? How have you adapted testing situations when a child cannot 


Featured Jobs of the Week:  SLPs for San Antonio Area Schools  

Are you looking for a job where you can really make a difference?   If so...this could be your lucky day!    If you have a Master's Degree and are looking to work in the public schools in the San Antonio area, then we need to talk.   You could be part of a team of 50+ professionals that offer mentorship and professional growth. .


Learn About / Apply for This Job on our Blog

Book Review:  The Special Needs School Survival Guide

Book by Cara Koscinski, MOT, OTR/L
Review by Lindsey Biel, M.A. OTR/L


Every so often a book comes along that you know youhave to recommend to the families  and caregivers of the kids you work with. This wonderful, self-published book by OT by Cara Koscinski is one of those must-have publications that everyone involved with your school-age client will benefit from reading from cover to cover and referring to again and again.


Easy-to-use and written in a warm, accessible way through a question and answer format, The Special Needs School Survival Guide advises parents and other caregivers step-by-step as they navigate the oftentimes confusing world of educating a child with special needs. It's also a great tool for teachers and therapists working in special needs programs since it provides quick reference to some of the very best activities and techniques used to help students thrive in the classroom.


Read the Rest of this Review on our Blog

SLP Activity of the Week: Minecraft Emotions  

[Source: Miss Melissa's Speech]


For any of you that know exactly what Minecraft is, it's probably no surprise that many of our students are very "interested" in this.  They come dressed in Minecraft shirts, talk about playing Minecraft at home, and ask me if I have Minecraft on my iPad (I don't).  I've explained this before, but the curriculum 


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

OT Activities of the Week:  Hand Strengthening Activities

While it is true that a picture (collage) can paint a thousand words, I highly recommend you go on over to Your Therapy Source to read Margaret's post on three great hand strengthening activities to do in the kitchen


Read this Great Post Through a Link on our Blog

Speech Activity of the Week:  Initial Sound Blackout  

I LOVE sorting activities to reinforce letter identification and sounds.  Such activities have been wildly successful with my preschoolers in reviewing those important beginning reading skills.  Sometimes, though, it is appropriate to bring out something completely new, such as this game Initial Sound Blackout.


Read More Through a Link on our Blog

OT/PT Corner: Yoga an Effective Therapy for Down Syndrome

By: Donna Freeman

Yoga is highly effective when used as a therapy and fitness routine for children with Down Syndrome (DS). This ancient practice can easily be modified to suit various conditions and personal interests and is becoming one of the most highly recommended therapies by doctors and clinics.  

Yoga meets both the physical and mental needs of individuals with DS. It provides an activity which strengthens the body, improves self-esteem, develops concentration, and increases body awareness. Children with DS readily respond to an individually developed yoga practice. Care givers, teachers, parents and yoga instructors must, however, take care so as to ensure children do not overstretch. This is a tendency due 

Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

SLP Corner: A Case for Caring about Categorization in Speech 

[Source: Bilinguistics]


Why focus on categorization in speech therapy?
Whether a child is monolingual or bilingual, focusing on categorization in speech therapy helps us get a more thorough understanding of word knowledge than single-word vocabulary tests. How a child produces vocabulary when asked to name items related to a theme tells us about how she learns and the semantic knowledge she has.  A fellow SLP once said, "Categorization is a pivotal skill.  Once a child knows how to do this, he is catapulted to the next level of language ability.  He can now describe, compare and contrast.  From a functional standpoint, being able to put objects into categories is a big deal."


Why it's REALLY good to bother with categorization when it comes to bilingual children:
A broader measure of language knowledge not only enhances our understanding of a particular student's language abilities; it is also more appropriate when evaluating diverse populations. Research points to significant variability in vocabulary size between students of different ethnic and social backgrounds, but these differences have not been accounted for in 


Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

Career Corner: Top 5 Tips for Your First 5 Years on the Job

Editor's Note:  Nice Career article on AOTA.  Written for OTs but it works well for any therapy clinician starting out!


[Source:  AOTA - New Practitioners Forum]


by Melissa Stutzbach


Landing your first job as an OT practitioner is an exciting time, but no one ever said starting off in the field would be easy.  Managing your own caseload for the first time with little experience in a new professional environment -it is a major change from life as a student.


We talked to Tracy McLaughlin, occupational therapist at Summerville Medical Center outside of Charleston, SC, who believes that your first few years as an OT practitioner can be a lot more rewarding and less daunting with a positive attitude and a forward-thinking perspective. Here are Tracy's top 5 tips for how to make the most out of your first 5 years on the job.  


Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

Worth Repeating: The Kids Who Beat Autism

[Source:  The New York Times]

At first, everything about L.'s baby boy seemed normal. He met every developmental milestone and delighted in every discovery. But at around 12 months, B. seemed to regress, and by age 2, he had fully retreated into his own world. He no longer made eye contact, no longer seemed to hear, no longer seemed to understand the random words he sometimes spoke. His easygoing manner gave way to tantrums and head-banging. "He had been this happy, happy little guy," L. said. "All of a sudden, he was just fading away, falling apart. I can't even describe my sadness. It was unbearable." More than anything in the world, L. wanted her warm and exuberant boy back.


Worth Repeating: Toys to Elicit Language - Birth to Three

Editor's Note:  Written for parents, but an excellent list to share with your clients' families.


[Source:  North Shore Pediatric Therapy]


Your child's first three years of life are the most intensive period for speech and language development. Children learn through modeling, imitation, and most importantly; though play. Below are some examples of toys that will help elicit lanugage and communication in your child.  It's important to keep in mind that these toys will not teach your child language all on 

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

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