So, why is the loss of unstructured play so important?
Written by: Emily Swogger, OTR, MS
At Therapy Center of Buda we feel strongly about outdoor free play and providing our kiddos with a safe outdoor play space. Why are we so passionate about play? Because a child’s main occupation is to play. Play is how they learn new information in the most efficient manner. Yet in a world where children can spend up to 1200 per year on average in front of a screen, play time is rapidly being replaced with screen time. Time spent outside for children, research has shown, can be as little as 7 minutes per day! Time spent in play in general can be as low as 30 minutes per day. Play-based activities are being decreased for a variety of reasons. On the early education front, a societal emphasis on increasing test scores or meeting Common Core requirements has shifted the focus of early learning and preschool from social emotional skills to building math and reading skills. After-school the amount of play time is decreased due to lack of time to engage in play between longer work hours and the nightly routines of dinner, homework, and bath time. For some, lack of a safe place to play in neighborhood playgrounds and parks is also contributing factor to a decrease in outside play time.
So, why is the loss of unstructured play so important?
Teaching our kiddos to use a zipper can be a difficult task. The truth is, it’s a very complex skill that encompasses many developmental areas! To zip a zipper up/down you must be able to motor plan, have bilateral coordination, display finger isolation, separate the two sides of the hand, have eye-hand coordination, have a strong pinch, and master the pincer and tripod grasps.
Looking for zipper tools? Try a zipper board, a clothing fastener vest, or a fun cargo vest with zippers for creative play and zipper practice.
Questions? Ask one of our awesome occupational therapists or contact us to schedule an evaluation!
April is Occupational Therapy month! We want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for our amazing occupational therapists and commend them for all they do! We also think this is a wonderful time to explain… What is Occupational Therapy?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is combined array (a.k.a. spectrum) of disorders which were formally diagnosed separately as Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
People with ASD may have difficulty in the areas of social skills, communication, self-care, sensory integration, fine/gross motor skills, and behavior. These difficulties can range from mild to severe A person on the spectrum might be non-verbal and unresponsive to their name or speak eloquently and possess an extensive vocabulary and early literacy. Knowing the signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the first step to early identification.
Some of the most noticeable symptoms of ASD, according to the CDC are:
For many children with Dysgraphia, just holding a pencil and organizing letters on a line is extremely challenging. Many struggle with spelling and putting thoughts on paper. It is important that we remember Dysgraphia is not “laziness” or “sloppiness,” using these terms in from of your child with Dysgraphia can negatively impact their self-esteem and increase their anxiety resulting in refusal to write. Many children diagnosed or suspected of having Dyslexia also exhibit symptoms of Dysgraphia. Symptoms of Dysgraphia include:
Meet the newest addition to my therapy room… WATER BEADS! They are squishy, bouncy, and great for playful learning. There are so many ways to use water beads in order to develop speech and language. I created a sensory bin with my water beads and I wanted to share my ideas with you!
1. Place your child’s favorite toys in the sensory bin to target requesting, spatial concepts, following directions, identifying, answering questions, and labeling. “Can you find the cow? Where does a cow live? What does a cow say? Can you put the cow at the bottom?”
2. It is so easy to target articulation goals with a sensory bin. Place laminated flashcards inside and have children say the word using their “good sounds” when they find it. This is much more fun than sitting at a table and doing boring homework. :-)
3. Let your child explore! Teach verbs (digging, pouring, mixing), adjectives (slimy, bouncy, squishy, wet), colors, and sizes. Use kitchen utensils for pretend play. Get creative and have fun!
I purchased a package of water beads on Amazon, a container from Dollar Tree, and used flashcards and toys we have around the clinic. This is an inexpensive project that can make targeting speech and language goals more fun and engaging. I hope you enjoy the water beads as much as I do!
Meagan Milligan, B.S., SLP-A
While playing with playdoh can give optimal time to address receptive language, expressive language, pragmatic language, sensory, fine motor, gross motor, and handwriting development not all kiddos are able to safely play with it. Sometimes kiddos eat the playdoh or they are gluten sensitivity. Well, we have the solution! Follow the recipe below for some EDIBLE GLUTEN FREE PLAYDOH!
Edible Gluten Free Playdoh Recipe
-Baby rice cereal
-Cornstarch(or gluten-free cornflour if you are in the UK or Australia)
-Unsweetened Applesauce (you can substitute water if you don't have applesauce)
-Food coloring (optional)
It's never too early to start tracking your baby's development. Although all children develop at different rates, there are development milestones widely accepted as a good benchmark for determining if your child is developing within generally accepted time frames.
Our Clinic Director, Amy Grant, has taken the most credible and accepted lists and compiled our own checklists for parents to download for ages 6 months to 5 years old.
If you are concerned about your child's development, early intervention is the key to getting them on track to developing their essential life skills for life. We offer free consultations - contact us today if you are concerned or uncertain if your child might benefit from Speech-Language or Occupational Therapy. We are here to help.
Download Therapy Center of Buda's Developmental Checklists to track your child's progress at home.
An occupational therapist is a medical professional who evaluates and treats children and adults who have difficulty participating in “occupations” or meaningful activities relevant to their daily lives. A common misconception is that occupational therapy is specifically for adults as children do not have “occupations,” but a child’s main job is playing and learning. An occupational therapist evaluates a child’s skills for playing, school performance, and daily activities and compares them with what is developmentally appropriate for that age group.
When doctors recommend occupational or speech therapy for school-aged patients, some parents may respond that their children already receive therapy through the public school system. However, a doctor’s medical goals or the family’s functional goals and the goals of the school’s therapist often differ. Understanding the difference between school-based therapy and clinic-based therapy will help families avoid the false impression that services are being duplicated. More importantly, understanding the difference will help families avoid the pitfall of refusing helpful, clinic-based therapy because of the false impression.
I have parents coming to see me frequently asking me about two buzz words they were told by a friend, another parent, a therapist, a doctor, or a teacher. These words are Perseveration and Echolalia. Let’s simplify these terms.
Perseveration (pronounced: per•sev•er•a•tion) is the repetition of a particular response such as a word, phrase, ritual, or gesture (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition). An example of this would be if a child fears the vacuum and continually asks if it is put away. Another example, which I see regularly is an apparent “obsession” with cars and/or trains, specifically with television/movies and/or the actual toy. Perhaps a child will ONLY play with his train set and when he plays with it he is uninterested in anything else, playing with it for hours on end.
Amy Grant is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist, Certified Autism Specialist and Clinic Director of Therapy Center of Buda.
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