Keep Your Child Happy and Healthy This Winter

The colder air and gloomy winter skies can sometimes cause children to be temperamental.  An inconsistent schedule due to holidays, weather delays and school closings may also spike anxiety and onset challenging behaviors. Occupational therapists can help create tools such as social stories and visual supports to help children understand these changes. Here are some simple ways to keep your child happy and healthy this winter season.

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Tips for a Sensory Friendly Holiday

The holiday season can be frustrating and confusing for a child with common sensory sensitivities.  Bright lights, loud music, new foods, crowded rooms, gift giving and different expectations can cause meltdowns and other disruptive behaviors.

We have some tips to help prepare your child for the excitement of the season, and a joyful December!

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Help Your Child Prepare for the Holidays

The holidays are often a time to gather with friends and family to share a special meal, but for children with eating challenges a change in routine and environment, along with the sights and smells of new foods can be overwhelming. 

Preparation for the holidays is helpful for any child, but is particularly important for children with feeding and swallowing disorders. Talking about what to expect during the family visit, and looking at pictures of food and exploring scents beforehand can go a long way.

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Handwriting Without Tears

In this technological age, it’s easy to overlook the importance of handwriting. Pen and paper are no longer the primary means by which most people write. Instead, we favor keyboards and touchpads to communicate. While these modes are certainly less messy and more convenient, studies show that children who do most of their reading and writing on the computer have a harder time retaining and processing information. (American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2006). For this reason, educators and occupational therapists alike are encouraging children and their parents to make building handwriting skills a priority.

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JCFS Programs Working Together to Support At-Risk Moms and Babies

For most newborns and toddlers, routine doctor visits are part of their formative years. At these early wellness check-ups, babies and young children are assessed to see if they are meeting major developmental milestones such as walking and talking.  If a child is diagnosed with a developmental delay, parents and caregivers are provided with available resources that can help improve their child’s condition. 

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First Steps After Receiving an Autism Diagnosis

You have just learned that your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. For some parents, the news comes as a shock, while other parents may have been expecting it. However, almost all parents who receive this diagnosis for their child struggle with reimagining their child’s future with this pervasive developmental disability. You are not alone, and it is normal to feel this way. The important thing to know is that, although there is no known “cure” for autism, there is hope. Your child will be able to learn, grow and gain new skills within their potential. The important first steps are educating yourself about the diagnosis, adjusting the child’s home environment to best meet their needs, and seeking professional therapeutic services.

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Come Fly With Me: Travel Tips for Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Air travel can be an exciting, yet anxiety provoking experience. This may be particularly true for a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) because of factors connected to flying, including a change in routine, navigating unfamiliar environments and considerable sensory stimulation.

“Airplane travel presents many new sensory experiences including noisy environments, many visual distractions and new smells.  The inner-ear disturbances that occur at take-off and landing can impact vestibular processing disrupting how a child interprets their own body’s movements, which can be very disorienting," comments Haley Bartz, an Occupational Therapist with the Integrated Pediatric Interventions program at Jewish Child & Family Services. "Fortunately, there are numerous ways that a family can help to make air travel a less stressful experience for their child.”

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Give Your Child a Boost in Their Language and Thinking Skills This Summer

Summer doesn’t have to be a time for children to fall behind in their speech and language skills. Although school therapy sessions have ended, continued intervention with a speech therapist can maximize a child’s communication growth.

An intense 1-2 hours per week in a pediatric clinic during summer break can enhance their understanding of language, including following directions and improving their ability to express their thoughts.  These skills can help children relate better to friends and share information with their parents, in addition to providing a jump-start for the next school year.  

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