Developmental Delays Interventions and Balance

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC, M.S. Bus., Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers All living things strive for balance. Healthy organisms manifest balance by being flexible, never static. As day follows night, calm follows a storm and death comes after birth, nature maintains balance with constant change. For humans, being in balance is more difficult. For those living and working with children who have developmental delays, making balance can be a huge challenge. How do parents balance their personal needs with those of their children? How can therapists and teachers balance work and relaxation? How do we balance lesson plans and unstructured exploration? Listening with talking? Being and doing? Thinking and feeling? Giving and receiving? An endless array of balance questions confronts us every day. Bringing these choices into consciousness may help us deal with them more effectively. Here are some ideas for balancing developmental delays interventions. Balancing Food Our bodies seek a balance of flavors, textures and tastes….

Yoga for Children

Why yoga for children? Ten years ago we were asking that question about martial arts. Now there are classes for children at martial arts studios on every corner. Although yoga has enjoyed popularity with adults for many years, we have only recently come to understand how helpful it can be for young children. Yoga postures and angles create pressures that stimulate the body and brain, enhancing fitness, confidence, self-discipline and focus. Yoga helps children become aware of themselves from the inside out. From this awareness, changes and growth in new and positive directions can blossom. Benefits for All Children As a Montessori teacher I learned that typical children and those with special needs are all capable of much more than we think they are. Given the right environment, they excel beyond our belief. Many professionals who work with autism, sensory integration, learning disabilities, and ADD/ADHD are using children’s yoga with great results. There is a natural affinity between these children…

Been There, Done That

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC, M.S. Bus. Annette and Tom were stunned by an article they read in “Parents’ Magazine”.  A boy just like their Skyler had improved markedly on a special diet for children with autism.  When his family removed foods containing gluten (protein found in grains) and casein (protein found in dairy products) from his diet, he had begun speaking and was now considered “typical.” At first, Annette and Tom were skeptical and apprehensive about taking away Skyler’s cereal and milk.  He could starve!  But the immediate differences they saw were encouraging.  He looked at them now, spoke in sentences and slept better.  He still hated those tags and twiddled his fingers in front of his eyes when he was tired.  They contacted me for suggestions. Debbie called from Maine.  She’d read The Out-of-Sync Child.  “It was as if Carol Kranowitz had spent a day with my Sarah.  I found a good OT nearby who knew about…

Special Needs Summer Camps or ESY?

Special Needs Summer Camps or ESY?

Special Needs Summer Camps or ESY?

Patricia S. Lemer, M.S.Bus., NCC, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers, fills us in on special needs summer camps. Parents frequently ask me to make recommendations about summer programming for their children with special needs. They are torn between using the season for intensifying therapy programs or giving the child a break from routine. Any child who has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is eligible for an Extended School Year (ESY) program. ­ First, “critical life skills” are identified in the IEP. Next, a committee determines if the child’s critical life skills, without ESY services: Will regress and not be recovered in a reasonable amount of time Are emerging and at a breakthrough point Are impeded by stereotypic, ritualistic or self-injurious behaviors If an interruption in programming is likely to prevent a student from receiving some benefit from the educational program during the regular school year, the school system must provide ESY services. IEP goals for ESY are carried over…

Using a Multidisciplinary Approach for Autism and Other Spectrum Disorders

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers Recently I returned to Boston for my 30th college reunion.  I was disappointed to find that some of my old haunts had vanished, but thrilled to find that others were still there. A visit to what was once Kennedy Hospital for Children, where I began my first job in 1969 as a staff psychologist, resulted in my reminiscing about my career odyssey. It was here that the dream that was to become Developmental Delay Resources, my former non-profit, began to percolate.  This remarkable institution was the genesis of my focus on the concept of a multi-disciplinary team.  How fortunate I  was to have worked with the best doctors and therapists. Every Monday a group of five children entered the hospital as inpatients. Each department did a comprehensive evaluation and on Friday met to discuss findings.  An overall treatment plan included such innovative techniques as a ketogenic nutrition diet,…

Sensory Processing Disorder Early Intervention

by Carol S. Kranowitz, MA Every day, Sensory Processing Disorder receives new recognition as a common problem among children.  Recognition is good, but those of us who know about it and see the benefits of a healthy sensory diet want more.  To prevent sensory integration dysfunction from hindering our children’s development, we want Sensory Processing Disorder early intervention and identification. One way to encourage parents, teachers, and other early childhood professionals to address SI dysfunction is to help them see it as a developmental problem.  Kids don’t grow out of Sensory Processing Disorder; they grow into it, unless we spot it and treat it — the sooner, the better. Early identification is often possible if children attend a center with an occupational therapist (OT) or a savvy teacher on staff, who can observe their behavior over time. Sensory Processing Disorder can also be detected by a pediatric team using a multidisciplinary approach.  Another avenue is a screening.  A screening is…

How Sensory Integration and Nutrition Interact

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, co-founder, Developmental Delay Resources Sensory integration (SI) is a complex process that makes it possible for a person to take in, organize and interpret information from our bodies and the world.  (Is the soup hot or cold?  Did the bee sting hurt?  Where are my arms and legs?  Do I need to go to the bathroom?)  Using sensory information efficiently enables us to function smoothly in daily life. Most people naturally get a good “sensory diet,” which nourishes the nervous system and creates healthy circuits capable of relaying accurate information.  For children, ordinary touch and movement experiences, such as swinging, climbing, digging, and molding playdough, are “food” for the brain. Children with SI dysfunction, however, misread sensory input, often under- or over-reacting to it.  If a child’s sensory processing is disorganized, he may be hypo- or hypersensitive to temperature, pain, and the way his body works. If behavior becomes out of sync with life, therapy…

Interactive Metronome

The Interactive Metronome

Interactive Metronome

What Is the Interactive Metronome? The Interactive Metronome (IM) is a valuable educational tool for children with dyspraxia, language delays, attention deficits, learning, cognitive, sensory integration and motor challenges. Invented by a former rock musician, it was initially used to improve natural timing for musicians and athletes.  Interactive Metronome, the company, was founded for the purpose of developing, researching and delivering the IM to children with special needs. IM equipment consists of a computerized metronome, headsets, foot pads and hand buttons. Trainees are instructed to make smooth, controlled hand and foot motions in a continually repeating pattern, without stopping between beats.  They must focus only on the metronome beat and not be interrupted by their own thoughts or things happening around them. Attention, learning and problem-solving all depend on the capacity to plan and sequence actions and ideas.  This capacity relates directly to a child’s ability to follow directions, read, write, do math and, most importantly, think.  We have not…

The Alert Program for Self-Regulation

By Helen Rynaski, Freelance writer and speech/language pathologist.   What are you doing right now? Yes, you are reading this article, but what else are you doing? Are you chewing gum or gnawing on your pen? Are you clutching a coke or a cup of herbal tea? What parts of you are moving? Foot tapping? Rocking in your chair? Fingers drumming on the table? Do you have music on? These are just a few of the behaviors listed in the Sensory-Motor Preference Checklist (Adult), devised by Mary Sue Williams, OTR, and Sherry Shellenberger, OTR, co-owners of TherapyWorks, Inc., in Albuquerque, NM. Developed as a training tool for the Alert Program for Self-Regulation (AP), the checklist was designed to help adults understand what strategies their own nervous systems employ to achieve and maintain appropriate arousal states. This understanding by the adults (teachers, parents, therapists) of the relationship between arousal states, attention, learning and behavior in a child’s life is an important…

Sensory Integration for ADHD and Other Attention Deficit Disorders

Sensory Integration for ADHD and Other Attention Deficit Disorders

Sensory Integration for ADHD and Other Attention Deficit Disorders

Several symptoms associated with attention deficit disorders, with and without hyperactivity, respond to a sensory integrative (SI) treatment approach. These include, but are not limited to: Talking excessively Being “on the go” Demonstrating difficulty organizing tasks Fidgeting with hands and feet Children who demonstrate these and other characteristics of Attention Deficit Hyperac­tivity Disorder (ADHD) often do so early in their lives. This can be frustrating to the child, the family, and the pediatrician. Over the past few years, there has been an increasing awareness of the effects of these patterns on children’s general development and learning. These youngsters are being referred for appropriate treatment much earlier. Occupational therapy offers programming for these children and their families. In developing a treatment plan, the therapist must consider the symptoms of ADHD. Goals can be to decrease sensory sensitivities, facilitate appropriate processing of sensory input, help organize and modulate interaction with the environment and enhance self regulation and organizational skills. Sensory Sensitivity Understanding…