Starfish Therapies

February 26, 2017

Taking the Vision out of Balance

Filed under: Uncategorized — Starfish Therapies @ 12:05 am

vision-free-balance

We are finding that a lot of the kids we work with rely on their vision to help them maintain their balance.  Now this isn’t all bad, and vision is one of the inputs that our body uses to help keep us upright.  But, if all things are equal, our first line of defense should be our proprioceptive system.  This is the system in the joints and muscles that sends messages to the brain to tell it where our body is in space.  When we rely on vision we are moving that to our first line of defense.

The challenge with vision being the first line of defense, and not our proprioceptive system is that it can make balancing difficult when a child is in a busy environment, or when they are distracted and can’t visually attend to what they are doing.  This is often why you see a kiddo lose their balance more when there are a lot of people around, then when they are by themselves.  They are visually distracted so they aren’t focusing on watching what they are doing.  Since their proprioceptive system is used to vision driving the bus, it is slow to react and often its not enough time for the child to regain their balance.

So what can we do to help?  We recently bought some fun animal sleep masks that we have been using with our kids.  They can pick what animal they want to be and then we make a game out of it depending on what they are working on.  It could be as simple as walking across our large therapy room (on the mat) towards the crash pad.  One kiddo pretended he was a mouse cop and collected all the stuffed animals and brought them back to the police station.  If you just want to focus on balance while staying still, you could have them practice standing on one foot, or tandem stance (one foot in front of the other), or even just standing on two feet.  You can play statues where they have to freeze in that position, or Simon Says, to name a few ideas.

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January 22, 2017

Side-Lying -The Forgotten Position

Filed under: Uncategorized — Starfish Therapies @ 12:54 am

side-lying

When babies are first born, they are dependent on us for all movement.  They are suddenly in a world that has gravity and their muscles have to adapt.  So, any position you put them in their muscles are going to have to work.  If they are on their back, they are working their muscles on the front.  If they are on their belly (yes the dreaded Tummy Time), they are working their muscles on the back.  So how do they work the muscles on the side?  Its easy, by lying on their side.  It also serves an added benefit of getting them off of their back (decreases risk of getting a flat spot on the back of their head). These side muscles will help them with things like holding their head up, being able to sit, rolling, and many more.

By incorporating side-lying into your babies routine you are adding another position to their repertoire.  They also get a chance to bring their hands together for play (gravity helps with this).  They get a completely different perspective from which to discover the world, and you can get down face to face with them to interact.  You can put rattles, or books, or toys that they are engaged with right there at their hands and they can begin to explore, without having to lift their whole arm up against gravity.

A lot of babies will being rolling from this position.  Usually its accidental at first.  They start to get stronger (although still lack control) and may fling their arm around, or move their head, and next thing you know they are on their belly or their back.  Eventually, because babies are pretty smart, they start to refine and control their newly developing strength and realize that they can make themselves move into a new position.  The added benefit of side lying to help rolling is that it cuts it in half (and has the help of gravity).  They can start to develop independent movement without having to figure out how to move their body in a complete 180 degrees, they can cheat by starting with 90 degrees.

How have you used side-lying with your baby?

August 14, 2015

Participation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Starfish Therapies @ 7:37 pm
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scooter1

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines participation (in relationship to kids) as ‘the act of joining with others in doing something’. At one point or another during childhood, most kids may struggle to participate in an activity that they are interested in whether because of timing, funding, level of challenge, etc. For kids that have difficulty achieving their milestones or who are delayed in various areas of development, participation in day to day activities or recreational activities may feel like an insurmountable mountain to the child and/or the family. These limitations of participation can often leave them feeling different or left out.

While it’s important to aid a child in achieving milestones in development of individual skills, it is also important to look at how we can impact their participation. For example, if a child is still learning how to walk, but all their friends take dance class and that is something they really want to do, we may look at finding dance classes that allow alternative mobility, or work with the dance class that their friends are in to find ways to include the child. By looking at the big picture of how a child’s limitations are affecting their ability to participate in tasks and activities that are important to them we can make a meaningful impact on the child’s life, while continuing to work on individual skills.

This allows the child to: develop friendships with peers from a young age, interact within their family unit, continue to develop skills while seeing success in an areas of importance, and teaches them that, while they may do something different, they can do it. This also helps a child develop a set of interests and desires that can fuel their internal drive to want to learn ‘that’ skill for themselves which as pediatric therapists, we find to be one of the largest indicators of a child’s potential.

As a result, we find, in order to best serve the children and families we work with, that maintaining the focus of goals and interventions on the big picture things a child and their family want to participate in results in the most meaningful, motivating, and individualized intervention, and is the key to our success as therapists.

September 2, 2014

Accessible Beaches

Filed under: Uncategorized — Starfish Therapies @ 9:08 pm
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surf chair 1 surf chair 2

I was recently back in my home town in NJ and spent the day on the beach.  I was impressed as I saw multiple people being pushed down in ‘surf chairs’.  I thought it was great that so many families took the time to get chairs that would allow their loved ones to access the beach.  Imagine my surprise and delight when at the end of the day I was packing my stuff up and saw that these chairs were provided by the beach!  I went home and looked it up and not only does the beach provide them, but they are free of charge.  Its just recommended that you make a donation.

I would love to hear about other beaches in other parts of the country that have programs like this.

November 22, 2012

A Day of Thanks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Starfish Therapies @ 12:00 pm
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(I know my post is about being thankful but I think hope is part of that and I really liked this picture!)

For Thanksgiving I wanted to take a moment and acknowledge everything I am thankful for.

I am thankful for the kids we get to work/play with on a daily basis.  Their hard work and ability to never give up is what inspires each of us to keep coming up with new ideas and learn new things so we can bring our A game each day.

I am thankful for the families of these kids.  The time and  energy they put into their kids development and well being is humbling.

I am thankful for the staff I work with each day.  They put the kids and families first and this drives them to be the best therapist they can be.  They challenge each other (myself included) and always ask ‘why’ to get to an outcome that will best serve the child.  They are my extended family and I wouldn’t want to do what I do each day without them being part of it.

I am thankful for my family and friends who not only take an interest in what we do each and every day but also support what we do.  They are our biggest cheerleaders!

I am thankful that our office is in a pet friendly building because I love watching the kids interact with all of the animals that come to work with us each day.  I’m amazed at the impact an animal can make on a child.

I am thankful for the professionals throughout our area locally and throughout the country that I have come into contact with and share ideas, thoughts, concerns and ways to continually improve and grow.  The collaboration is amazing!

What are you thankful for on this day (and every day)?

October 11, 2012

The Eight Key Components to Good Handwriting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Starfish Therapies @ 12:00 pm
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This article was written for our newsletter and discusses the key components to successful handwriting and what to do if you suspect difficulties related to these components.  Many handwriting problems can be avoided or solved by teaching good strategies.  Also, consider consulting with an occupational therapist or other professional trained in handwriting assessment and remediation.

Memory refers the process of remembering and producing quick and automatic recall for letters and numbers.  Poor memory often affects production, speed and accuracy.  If you suspect problems with memory, play visual memory games with letters using flashcards or other hands-on materials to encourage letter and number discrimination.

Orientation refers to ensuring that all letters and numbers are facing the correct direction.  Errors in orientation can be distracting and often result in children frequently stopping to think about which way a letter faces.  Difficulty with letter orientation is linked to spelling errors and poor legibility.  If you suspect problems with orientation, teach your child that English is a top to bottom, left to right language.  Teach orientation for “B D E F P R N” by having your child write the big line on left edge of paper, encouraging them to start at the top.  The next component of each of the aforementioned letters will be on the right side.

Placement refers to placing letters and numbers on the baseline.  It helps with legibility.  If you suspect problems with placement, model how letters sit on lines.

Size refers to how big or how small a child writes.  Children learn to control movements in their wrist and fingers to ensure that the size of their writing is appropriate given their grade level.   If you suspect problems with size, make sure the child is using age-appropriate paper.  Provide paper that guides the size of letters until children naturally develop a sense of size.

Start refers to where each letter or number begins.  Good habits ensure that children learn to form letters in a top to bottom and left to right format.  Speed, size and spacing are often compromised with incorrect starting habits.  If you suspect problems with start, demonstrate the correct starting position and correct all bottom-up writing.

Sequence refers to the order and stroke direction of the letter and number components.  The ability to form the components of various letters and numbers is acquired through direct teaching and consistent practice.  Speed and neatness are often compromised if incorrect teaching methods are adapted.  If you suspect problems with sequence, demonstrate letter formation.  Teach letters that use a similar formation pattern in groups.  For example, letters o a d g q all begin with a c stroke then change into another letter.

Control refers to neatness and proportion of letters and numbers.  Problems with control do not always require direct remediation; rather they are almost always caused by the adaptation of poor habits and in turn will improve once better habits have been adopted.  One of the most common poor habits is an awkward and immature pencil grip.  Teach children how to hold their pencil correctly.

Spacing refers to the amount of space between letters in words, and between words in sentences.  Spacing is important to the legibility and uniformity of writing.  Avoid using poorly designed worksheets that do not give enough room, as this may lead to problems with spacing.  If you suspect problems with spacing, create and use worksheets that model good spacing.

June 18, 2012

A request for your vote of support please

Filed under: Uncategorized — Starfish Therapies @ 1:42 pm
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I know I have been MIA for a bit with blogging but I will be back shortly I promise!  Life has been hectic here with the end of the school year and changes with the company.  I have lots of ideas for new posts and would love to hear any ideas you all have.

I also wanted to take a minute and ask for some support.  Chase and Living Social have teamed up to offer a small business grant for $250,000.  In order to qualify for consideration we need 250 votes by June 30th.  If you could take a minute to vote for Starfish Therapies I, my staff and the kids and families we work with would appreciate it so much.  This money could support our growth allowing us to assist more families and their children as well as allow us to continue hire new therapists that are at the top of their game and love working with kids.  It will also allow us to continue to provide education and health promotion to families in our local community as well as across the country to support families in supporting their child to the best of their ability.

Here is how you can vote:

  1. Go to missionsmallbusiness.comclick ‘Log In & Support’ and log in using Facebook.
  2. Search for our business by name OR filter by our State and City.
  3. Click on the blue Vote button next to our business name to show your support for our business.”

Thank you so much in advance and please pass it on to others you know and ask them to take a minute to cast their vote.  You can make a difference!

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