Play Activities To Help With The Winter Blues!

As OT’s we can’t stress enough how much movement is essential to your child’s development. As your child moves and plays, their nervous systems are continuously re-organizing and developing endless skills including motor planning and coordination, emotional regulation, and attention. However, we understand how challenging it can be to give your kid the opportunities for movement and play during the winter time… it is freezing outside!!! Have no fear though, there are plenty of indoor activities that can be used to effectively calm your child’s nervous systems as well as help release all that built up energy!!! Implement a few of these games into your daily routine to help your children sustain a calm, alert emotional state, facilitate motor planning and coordination skills, and most importantly… have fun!

Obstacle Courses– Duration: 15 to 20 minutes. No need for any fancy equipment, use the furniture in your own house! Obstacle courses are all about using the whole body to complete a sequence of motor patterns. Create a 3 to 5 step obstacle course for your kids to complete.Examples of obstacles include climb over the back of a couch, crawl under a table, jump on a bed, jump on or over objects, crawl down steps, etc.

Rough and Tumble Play– Duration: 10 to 15 minutes. This activity is a therapist favorite because not only does it bring out a lot of laughs and giggles, but it is also extremely effective in facilitating a calm, alert state of arousal when done correctly! The idea is to safely wrestle each other to provide resistant feedback to the whole body needed to facilitate a sense of groundedness. General rules is each person participating needs to say “start” for the wrestling to begin, if one person says “stop” the wrestling stops immediately. Be goofy with grunting or laughter as this will ensure proper breath release. You can wrestle in a variety of positions to keep it novel and fun:Standing with hands only

  • Standing with arms crossed, pushing against each others shoulders and back only
  • Down in 4 point quadruped position facing same directions, pushing against each other’s sides using shoulders and hips
  • Laying down on floor with legs straight and arms crossed, roll into each other in log roll motion

Animal Walk Reg Light/Green Light– Duration: 10 to 15 minutes. Follow the rules of red light/green light with a start and finish line. Players go when directed with “green light” and stops immediately when directed with “red light”. If one moves when red light is called then they have to return to the starting line. First one to cross the finish line wins. To add resistance and heavy work into this game, have participants perform various animal walk and core activation patterns.

  • Puppy crawl- crawling on hands and knees (can be forward or backwards)
  • Bear walk- walking on hands and feet with belly towards floor
  • Crab walk- walking on hands and feet with belly towards ceiling
  • Frog jump- full squat and jump forward
  • Bunny hops- standing and quick 2 foot hops forward
  • Skipping- alternating hop and knee lift forward
  • Galloping- Moving forward with same foot in the lead
  • Army crawls- Laying on belly, using alternating arm and leg movements to move forward

Train/Car Ride– Duration: 5 to 10 minutes. This activity involves heavy pushing and/or pulling. The idea is to facilitate a car or train ride with one person sitting inside a laundry basket, and the other pushing/pulling the basket. With siblings, each person can take a turn being the passenger with the other pushing/pulling. If there are no siblings, then have your kid utilize his/her imagination to take their friends (i.e. stuffed animals, star war characters, barbies, etc) on a ride… add things to the basket for their “vacation” to add weight and resistance to the activity.

Puppy Crawl Tag– Duration: 8 to 10 minutes. Follow the game of tag with one family member/friend being “it” trying to tag someone else. Instead of walking or running, play the game crawling on hands and knees to add more resistance to the activity.

 

 

Developmental Delays- Will My Child Grow Out Of It?

Rebecca floor time with patientIt is such a beautiful and amazing experience observing your child grow and develop from infancy. The first time they smile, reach out for you, turn his/her head, each moment is a huge accomplishment! It is important to know that your child’s development is not a race. Each of these experiences has a huge impact on your child’s development of their nervous system and understanding of themselves, others, and their environment. Trying to rush your child through development interferes with their opportunity to fully connect their nervous system and body with his/her environment. The challenge is knowing when something is not quite right with your child’s development.

Most of the time your intuition is correct! You sense something is not quite right… BUT when you ask your pediatrician you can get the response of, “Don’t worry, they will grow out of it” or “They will catch up”.

Here are a list of “red flags” to look out for in relation to your child’s development:

  • Motor Patterns
    • Reaching each motor milestone later than recommended
    • Quickly transitioning from crawling to standing to walking
    • Skipping crawling
    • Displaying increased crying and avoidance during tummy time
    • Awkward or asymmetrical body movements (i.e. his/her leg stretched out during crawling)
    • Difficulty with running, jumping, climbing, catching and/or throwing
    • Difficulty isolating fingers to grasp and release objects
    • Limited fine motor skills to manage dressing fasteners, color, write, and/or cut
  • Social/Play Interactions
    • Appearing very blunted in his/her affect
    • Not reacting to your facial expressions and/or verbal interactions
    • Exhibiting delayed vocalizations and/or talking
    • Avoiding play/interactions with peers
    • Difficulties sharing or taking turn with others
  • Sensory Experiences
    • Avoiding movements- becomes distressed when head is tilt backwards, avoids playground equipment, etc.
    • Appearing clumsy or uncoordinated
    • Avoiding textures/tactile input- includes food, type of clothing or fabrics, messy play, etc.
    • Becoming distressed by loud, unexpected noises and/or everyday sounds (toilet flushing, vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, etc.)
    • Always appearing to be on the go, difficulty remaining seated, always seeking movement
    • Appearing very distracted when there are numerous things to look at
    • Bumping into walls or others without noticing

If you identify 1 or more of these delays in your child’s development, then occupational therapy can help! My Kids Therapy is an outpatient pediatric occupational therapy practice that offers a whole-person approach to therapy focused on promoting the growth and development of your child within his/her family.

Please contact us with any questions regarding developmental delays or to schedule an initial evaluation: 410-451-5700 or info@MyKidsTherapyMD.com

Increasing Your Child’s Attention Through Nutrition and Sensory Tricks

Utensil use

Our nutrition, diet, and behavior go hand in hand. Food is the fuel to get our body and nervous system organized and ready for the day! You can create a huge impact on your child’s attention and state of arousal through offering specific foods during meals and snack time.

The following are research-based food items that can increase attention, memory, spatial learning, and/or sleep:

  • Omega 3 foods: Walnuts, Cashews, Almonds, Salmon, Flax seeds, Chia seeds, Dark leafy greens (like spinach, brussel sprouts, or kale)
  • Iron rich foods: Red meats, sesame seeds, lentils, spinach, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, seafood, raisins
  • Magnesium rich foods: Bananas, yogurt, dried fruits
  • Foods rich with antioxidants: Blackberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Pecans, Walnuts, Kidney Beans, Oranges
  • Proteins: Peanut Butter, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, avocado, yogurt, cheese, hummus, milk
  • High Fiber Grains: Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Chickpeas, Whole Wheat bread

You can also capitalize on tougher food items that require increased effort to chew, which provides resistance to oral motor musculature and subsequently promotes improved attention and organization:

  • Crunchy/chewy foods: granola bar, raw carrots, raw celery, thick pretzels, raw peppers, raw apples, cheese, nuts, dry cereal, raw broccoli, fruit leather/roll-ups
  • Foods and drinks that utilize strong sucking: Sugar-free hard candies, drinking yogurt/applesauce/smoothies through a straw, provide long crazy straw for drinks

 

Here are some sample diets that can be planned for your child’s school day:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas and strawberries
Lunch: Hard-boiled egg, nuts, cheese, carrots with hummus
Snacks: Celery with peanut butter and raisins, yogurt through a straw, apple slices
Dinner: Steak, brown rice, brussel sprouts or broccoli

Breakfast: Yogurt with granola, blueberries, and blackberries
Lunch: Turkey, avocado, and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread; applesauce through a straw; peppers and hummus; orange slices
Snacks: Apple with peanut butter, almonds, dried fruits
Dinner: Baked salmon, quinoa, spinach or cooked carrots

Consult your therapist at My Kids Therapy to find ways to support your child’s health and attention as part our holistic approach to treatment! 410-451-5700

 

 

Get Set For School

Molly, Vic and Lily

That’s right parents… it is that special time of year that can honestly be a love/hate relationship for everyone, Back to School! Kids are getting out of the house which is great! But at the same time, there is so much more to do. In the midst of the chaos of getting everything re-organized so your child is prepared for their first day, it is crucial to support your child’s arousal and emotional needs as he/she makes this drastic shift from their daily summer routine.

The most important thing is to be consistent! Children respond best when they know what is expected of them. Think of the main events of your daily routine: Wake-up, morning bathroom routine, getting dressed, breakfast, day activities, lunch, dinner, nighttime bathroom routine, bed time, etc. Think about the timing required for each of these events during the school year and set a schedule 1-2 weeks prior to school. Try your best to be consistent with the timing for each of these events. Don’t wait until the first day of school to implement your schedule and routine, start 1-2 weeks prior to giving your child time to adjust. This will also allow time for you to make any necessary changes.

School requires kids to sit for extended periods of time, certainly something they are not used to over the summer. It is crucial to provide movement for your kids to help them organize their arousal and attention throughout their daily routine. It is recommended for kids to move 60 minutes per day, so try to find ways to add to activities that are already planned.

Think about in your morning routine implementing a 10 minute period that provides movement-based play:

  • Play Tag in the front yard prior to the school bus arriving (to add more power you can implement different movements: e.g. bear walk, crab walk, crawling, frog jumps, etc.)
  • Engage in 5 to 10 minutes of yoga positions
  • Participate in 5 to 10 minutes of linear movement: e.g. swinging on a playground swing, rolling over therapy ball, bouncing on a trampoline, etc.
  • Engage in 5 to 10 minutes of rough and tumble play: pushing against each other’s hands, pushing through shoulders and back, pushing through shoulders and hips in on your hands and knees.
  • Play 5 to 10 minutes of Simon Says involving all movement patterns: jumping jacks, running in place, hopping like a frog, dancing, etc.

It is also crucial to provide movement after-school to support your child’s arousal and emotional needs throughout the afternoon and evening. Designate time to either play on the playground, ride bikes, play indoor football and crash into pillows! Anything fun that is going to provide high threshold of movement and resistance for the body, Be creative. 

Thumbs up for school

Lastly, school evokes a mixture of emotions, anything from feeling excited, nervous, scared, or anxious. Be an optimistic and positive force to help your child feel comfortable and ready. Any encouragement goes a long way. From all of us at My Kids Therapy, we wish you and all of your kiddos a happy first day of school!