Why Aquatic Therapy is a “Must-Have” in Your Child’s PT Plan of Care!

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Our Physical and Occupational Therapy staff uses water and aquatic therapy in a variety of creative ways, to work towards functional therapeutic goals at home, as well as through our community partnership with the YMCA.

Avery TitleWater can generally be introduced very early, before 6 months of age, to encourage independence in skills. These skills include: erect sitting, transitioning to and from the floor, all fours and protective reaching. The resistive and buoyancy properties of water aid in body awareness, as well as neutralize low core stability and hypotonia using our baby pool program. Children who have retracted and tactile defensive postures and delayed protective reactions, especially benefit from the hydro-static pressure of the water and often learn to crawl in this medium.

Float MatThese skills can also be developed using a float mat in a typical aquatics setting, creating a moving seat on top of the water that relaxes and promotes participation in a non-stressful environment. The CDC has extensive research supporting the use of water in promoting health and mental health!

aquatic therapyFrom a very early age (6 months), children can be independent, mobile participants in a pool system at home or in a typical pool, by employing cost-effective products made by Waterway Babies. These products allow us to develop independent skills in the child with low tone or poor head control, before he or she is even sitting up on land. By introducing the neck float and water at this age, we typically avoid the fear of water associated with 12-15 month old children. This tool also develops a sense of body and spatial awareness through independence in the water, as well as core and tone development. Because the system is practical and easy to use at home, children do not lose water skills during winter months and for many, this is their only means of independence early!

Using our Transition to Wellness program in partnership with the YMCA, we are able to create diagnosis- specific goals, that ultimately prepare children with disabilities for water independence and a lot of fun. This is a particular effective medium for the child with hemiplegia or hypotonia, as the resistive properties of water activate the core muscle groups and work muscle groups that are typically in an abnormal neurological pattern. By using a decreasing flotation process, we are able to prepare children for inclusion in swim lessons through the YMCA and a lifetime of enjoyment of water activities, with the possibility of inclusion in water sports with their peers!

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Sign Language: Top 10 Beginner Signs Every Child Should Learn!

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Bristol Title

Using sign language can serve as an important vehicle for tapping into functional communication, before children begin talking. There are several indicators you can look for, to know if your child may be ready!

Before children sign they usually are:
  • Sitting up well
  • Using two hands to hold and play with rattles & toys
  • Looking at the speaker
While there are multiple benefits for using sign language with your child, some may include:
  • Reducing frustration
  • Facilitating language development
  • Encouraging gesturing, pointing
  • Encouraging word approximations, labeling and eventual talking

When beginning to sign with your child, it is best to start with practical, everyday words. We find when parents and caregivers use the same sign repetitively in everyday situations, toddlers begin making connections and approximating the signs demonstrated by the parents or the caregivers.  While at first it may be a groping attempt, over time it becomes more refined and precise.  As you integrate more useful signs, like the ones listed below, your baby can communicate his or her desires.  Be consistent in using the corresponding sign and the spoken word, and before long, your child will follow suit! Laura Mize is an experienced preschool Speech Language Pathologist and she regularly impresses upon professionals and parents that imitating actions precedes imitating mouth movements or words! So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started learning signs that babies use regularly and get your little one talking!

Baylee stopWe love the Signing Time Video series and love even more that there are so many free downloads available.  Check the sight here for her top 10 signs and some free reproducibles, or buy some of the videos.  As the Speech-Language Pathologists in our group provide therapy for many children with a variety of diagnoses, we have found these signs to be the most beneficial ones for late talker’s, children with Down syndrome and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For a FREE printable of these signs, view the handout below:
Baby Signs Flyer2

These are the top 10 signs our therapist teach first for encouraging children to talk and communicate:
drinkcaption   eatcaption
morecaptionpleasecaption
gocaption downcaption
bubblescaption bookcaption
ballcaption alldonecaption

Ready to try even more signs to expand your infant/toddler’s communication? View our FREE printable of Top 10 Secondary Signs:
Secondary Signs Flyer

Chasity G. Stratton to Speak On: What is a Special Needs Trust? Do You Need One?

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challenger speakerEvery parent faces a moment in time, when they realize they need to plan for their children in case of an accident or eventual end of life season. But what about families with children who have special needs? How does one plan for them? The safest way to provide and protect children with special needs is through a special needs trust.

What is a special needs trust? Is this something I need now, or how can it affect my family? If these are questions you have, be sure to join us for our next Challenger Club Meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 16th at 6:30 pm. Chasity G. Stratton, Esq of Stratton and Reynolds, LCC, will answer these questions and share insight from her experience in special needs planning.

Mrs. Stratton’s credentials include: membership in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the SC Bar Association, the Lexington County Bar Association, and the Lexington County Probate Committee. As a long-term native of Columbia, SC, graduate of University of South Carolina School of Law, and current resident of Lexington, SC, she is familiar with the area and serves as an active volunteer with the SC Special Olympics.

Be sure to join us at the Northwest Family YMCA on the third Thursday of each month. Challenger Club Meetings provide information specific to the special needs community, as well create a support network with other families. Childcare is provided!

Questions about TEFRA, Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act? Join us March 19th for Challenger Club!

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head shot 1Join us for our next Challenger Club Meeting scheduled on Thursday, March 19 at 6:30 pm.

Are you curious what questions to ask, or how to best access the healthcare needed for a special needs child? Shannon Staley, LMSW, is the Healthcare Connection Coordinator at Family Connection of South Carolina, and she will be focusing on these topics at the next meeting. She has created a network where families with similar situations can exchange resources, as well as create a community that will enrich their family’s life. Families are matched to their “best fit,” in order to create a network of advocates for your child.

Shannon will also target topics such as Medicaid, TEFRA, Affordable Care Act, and privately purchased insurance. She will present a base knowledge for each of these, so you can go forward and ask the right questions and have the confidence needed to ensure the best care for your child.

This is sure to be an informative session with valuable information that you don’t want to miss. We look forward to seeing each of you there! These meetings are held at the Northwest Family YMCA and free childcare is provided! The goal of each Challenger Club Meeting is to provide information relevant to the special needs community, as well as form connections with resources and families within the community.

Meet Our Lead Pediatric Feeding & Speech-Language Pathologist: Melanie Coetsee

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Melanie Coetsee, SLP-CCC Lead Speech Language Pathologist

Melanie Coetsee, SLP-CCC
Lead Speech Language Pathologist

Melanie graduated from Erskine College with a BS in Biology in 1997 and received her Master of Speech Pathology from the University of South Carolina in 1999.  As our lead SLP Melanie has extensive experience in feeding therapy and has completed numerous oral motor and feeding conferences and is known in our area for her skills as a feeding specialist.  She is trained in The Beckman Oral Motor Assessment & Intervention, Talktools Sensory Motor Approach to Feeding, as well as the Talktools Oral Placement Therapy for Speech Clarity and Feeding.  Additionally, Melanie is gifted in working with clients with Down Syndrome, Childhood Apraxia of Speech and early language development.  She is also trained in Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (PROMPT) as well as the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol for children with Apraxia of speech.

Melanie served as a school based Speech Language Pathologist prior to joining her husband in the pediatric home based setting five years ago.  While working for ten years at C.C. Pinckney Elementary on the Fort Jackson Army base, she was named Teacher of the year 2006-2007.  Melanie is passionate about learning and started the Midlands SLP Think Tank for Speech Language Professionals to have an ongoing avenue to share ideas and new approaches to providing therapy.

Melanie says, “I love being a part of “firsts” for so many children as they learn to speak and communicate.  Seeing a child say her first word after months of hard work, or accept food from a spoon after months of oral defensiveness, pre-chaining, and food play is so rewarding!”  She also shares that she truly enjoys the sense of community we have with our staff and the families we serve.  Every therapist on the Sprout Pediatrics team brings unique experiences and gifts to the table and desires to know more.  Sharing expertise and therapy strategies within our speech therapy team helps us positively impact more kids and families.

Melanie is married to Rhyno Coetsee.  They have been married for 15 years and have three boys, Noah (10), Landon (9) and Bennett (4).  She enjoys cycling, swimming, running and watching her boys play ball!

Sprout Pediatrics Welcomes Pediatric Dysphagia & Feeding Therapist Rachael Whitaker to the Team!

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Rachael Whitaker, CCC-SLP Speech-Language Pathologist

Rachael Whitaker, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Rachael graduated from Furman University with a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science in 2006. She later attended the University of South Carolina and received a Master of Science degree in Motor Control and Rehabilitation in 2009, as well as a Master’s of Speech Pathology in 2013. Rachael is highly qualified, as she has most recently attended continuing education classes on Dysphagia Diagnosis and Treatment in Medically Complex Patients: NICU-Teens; The Charleston Pediatric ENT Update; Application of the Passy-Muir Swallowing and Speaking Valves; Pediatric Trauma & The Road to Recovery: Infancy Through Adolescence.

Rachael comes to Sprout Pediatrics from the Children’s Hospital of Palmetto Richland. There she saw a variety complex cases stemming from multiple etiologies. She enjoyed her work there, but looks forward to being involved in her clients treatment and seeing them progress and master goals. Rachael says, ” I love kids! I love that I can teach their families about speech and language through play. I am also humbled to have the chance to give each child the tools they need for effective and safe eating, or helping them to reduce aversions and take the stress out of mealtime for the whole family.” She shares that Sprout’s mission to consider the long term application of therapy and quality of life for each child and their family is a high value for her as well. Rachael points out, “It is so important to have goals beyond just speech, language and eating and to really focus on what those skills look like once therapy is over.”

Rachael is married to Matt (2010) and has a son named Grafton who is 17 months old. They have two
dogs, Missy and Dublin. They enjoy cooking together and playing outside. She loves to read and drink
coffee!

Now Hiring! Speech-Language Pathologist for Lexington, South Carolina

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Come join this professional team and love what you do!

Sprout Pediatrics is seeking a full time Speech-Language Pathologist for the Lexington area to provide services in the home, clinic and community settings. SC state licensure and CFY/CCC’s are required. Come join our innovative and passionate team where we provide a competitive benefits package as well as participation in our STEM mentorship program to fully develop your skills.

For further information please contact Paul Tardy at 803-556-3911 or Paul@sproutpeds.com

Meet the Midlands Finest Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Sensory Processing Expert: Paul Tardy

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Paul Tardy, OTR Dir. of Development & Lead  OT paul@sproutpeds.com

Paul Tardy, OTR
Dir. of Development & Lead OT
paul@sproutpeds.com

Paul is our Director of Development and Lead Occupational Therapist.  After high school, he enlisted in the US Army. Following basic training at Ft. Dix, he was stationed at Ft. Eustis, Virginia where he became a Chinook Helicopter Mechanic.  After graduation, he hoped to be transferred to an Army post in Hawaii, but instead was sent north to Alaska! While serving in below freezing temperatures, Paul was asked to go on a ‘special duty’ assignment! He was intrigued and was told to report to the gym on post to learn how to be a lifeguard -in Alaska! He pursued on further to obtain his WSI (water safety instructor) license and taught kids how to swim as a part time job while still working on helicopters as his main duty. Paul swam daily and enjoyed working with the kids! After serving a four-year tour with the military and being honorably discharged, he was encouraged to become an occupational therapist by his brother who was studying to be a physical therapist.  After transferring his college credits from the University of Alaska, Paul earned his degree as an occupational therapist and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of New England in 1995.

As related to Pediatrics, Paul has extensive clinical expertise in Sensory Processing Disorder, sensory assessments and treatment applications to also include: therapeutic feeding; splinting; wheelchair assessments; NDT (Neuro-developmental Treatment); PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation); Rood Technique; manual therapies; ‘Wilbarger Protocol’, Brain Gym®, assistive technologies and general occupational performance applications.

Paul is a teacher/encourager at his core and is using his education as well as his passion in the development of the staff here at Sprout Pediatrics.  Paul also is our new hire contact and is responsible for interviewing and mentoring all of our new staff.  Paul believes the employees at Sprout Pediatrics are a dynamically growing, innovative team of highly skilled and caring therapists seeking to obtain the highest potential as clinicians as well as for service delivery for the families they reach.

Paul shares,   “For the first time in my career as an occupational therapist, I feel at home at Sprout Pediatrics as I am challenged to better myself as a professional and as a person on a daily basis with the potential to grow within this company! Sprout employs a group of like-minded therapists who enjoy sharing ideas ranging from the newly graduated therapists to the most seasoned therapists. This unique ‘team’ culture encourages me to become part of a ‘bigger picture’ and empowers me to perform at my best as a pediatric early intervention OT.  Not only do I get to ‘play’ all day, I have the great opportunity to become a part of many families lives while helping children with various needs maximize their potential for function and independence. I believe the greatest reward for helping children achieve their greatest potential helps me to achieve my greatest accomplishment in life!”

Paul and his wife, Jennifer, have been married for 7 years.  He says, “It seems like just yesterday we were sitting on the dock at camp when I asked Jennifer to marry me!”   Paul brings a unique understanding and knowledge to each family that he sees as he also has two kids with special needs.  Brady is getting ready for college next year studying to be a nurse practitioner; Riley, who has Autism, just entered into the ninth grade special education program.  He thoroughly loves animals and plans to work at the zoo after high school graduation. Halley, who has ADHD, is in the fourth grade and loves gymnastics and walking the dogs in the neighborhood.  They all enjoy trips to Maine, hiking, biking, cruises, living in South Carolina and going to their local church. They have two pets: Sgt. Pepper the tiger cat, and Molly the orange dog.

Palmetto Campout: Designed for Families with Special Needs!

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pic of flyerWow! Are we excited to tell you about a never before opportunity for us right here in Columbia, South Carolina!

  • Do you have a child with special needs that you have to have an enclosed space for safety and a good night’s rest?
  • Have you ever wanted to do a family camp out, but don’t even know where to begin?
  • Do you have children who would love to spend the night at a real campsite, but you can’t afford to travel and pay what it costs to be in a campground?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, this years Palmetto Campout: An Outdoor Adventure is just for YOU! It will be held at Sesquicentinnial State Park and the Rangers are ready and equipped to handle all the special needs you and your family might need to throw at them. In years past, this night has been for the general public, but this year they have designed it for families with special needs in mind.  They are thrilled that so many of you have already learned that the State Parks are a great way to have inexpensive family fun and get some much needed fresh air and exercise, but they also wanted to show you how to fish, geocache (it’s like a treasure hunt!), hike, canoe and lots of other fun things!

You might be wondering why we are so pumped about this opportunity.  We at Sprout Pediatrics, have one of our missional components that we will help folks have a full life experience by connecting with places within our community.  We have seen first hand, the benefit one of our clients, Isaac Slagle, has experienced as he and his family have gone through all 47 parks not one, not two, but four times! He’s a Junior Ranger and his family is experiencing family time-even their other three children-like never before! You can check out Isaac’s Facebook page here, to see all of his many adventures. Suffice it to say, it has made Isaac #Sproutfit and we wanted in on it! The Sprout Pediatrics team has agreed to lead some of the fun stations families will get to enjoy the afternoon you arrive.  We’ll be hosting a games station and a craft station! Can you believe it? It’s gonna be like camp for everyone! Songs, crafts, hiking and much, much more!

If you think this sounds like fun and you want to take advantage of it, quickly fill out the Writable Registration PDF below and send it in because spots are limited.  They will be providing food and a tent, so they need plenty of time to make arrangements for us all. We would love to see you there and share a big chocolaty S’more with you! Won’t you please give your child the opportunity to experience life to it’s fullest?

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Challenger Club Meeting: Kim Conant, Special Needs Coordinator

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kim conant

We cannot begin to tell you how thrilled we are to have this great resource come share with all of you! She is an invaluable resource to us here at Sprout Pediatrics and I know you will learn so much if you choose to invest in attending our next Challenger meeting! So won’t you please join us at the next Challenger Club meeting located at the Northwest Family YMCA. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 19 at 6:30 pm. You will have the opportunity to form connections with other special needs families, as well as acquire resources for the special needs community. Childcare will also be provided for this event.

Kim Conant (LPN), Palmetto Pediatrics’ special needs coordinator, will be discussing how to ensure your child is receiving the care that is needed, by coordinating care with your pediatrician. Kim Conant has experience working with over 1,000 special needs families at multiple offices in the area. In addition, she also has over 20 years of experience in pediatrics and the multifaceted nature of caring for families and children with special needs.

Her position allows for one person to be the primary facilitator for the care that your child receives. Kim coordinates the care of your child with the pediatrician, as well as multiple specialists within the medical community: such a therapists and physicians. She has a vast network of community resources at her disposal! Kim will also discuss the aspects of care one should expect from his or her pediatrician, in order to create the best outcome possible for your child. A family from the community will also share their experience of working with the office over the past 7 years.

Feel free to share this information with others and we look forward to seeing you there!
Challenger Club Flier