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:
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gocaption downcaption
bubblescaption bookcaption
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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

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 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.

Teenage Boy with Autism Discovers the YMCA 5K is Fun!

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Last year Sprout Pediatrics started something new…well we started three something news! Pardon the grammar, but we are thrilled to share what last years Pumpkin Run birthed! First of all it was our first time partnering with the Northwest Family YMCA to sponsor a race.  It was fun to encourage folks to be part of our team and be active.  Our desire is to see everyone being active and ultimately healthy!  Second, it was the launch of being #Sproutfit.  Our hash tag was introduced and we intended to use it to highlight Adaptive fitness in and around the Midlands.  While we did that, something bigger is happening! We realized that being #Sproutfit is about being healthy physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.  Our organization wants encourage all aspects of healthy living so #Sproutfit is much broader than we originally intended!

Continue reading

NorthWest Family YMCA Pumkin Run 5K and Kids Fun Run

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Hi Friends of Sprout!

It is that time again when we are creating a team to participate in the NW YMCA Pumpkin Run! Sprout Pediatrics once again is a sponsor for this great race that involves the whole family and includes a 5K run/walk ($20) and a kids fun run ($10 and less than a mile long). Last year our team had 100 participants from ages 2 to 70 including adults and children with disabilities doing the kids fun run with a chaperone. Our goal was to create a buzz through our #Sproutfit campaign for more inclusion, adaptive sports and programming. Did we ever! We had a great turn out and some heartwarming stories that followed.

Throughout this past year, we have met with the NW YMCA branch to develop plans and are very close to making some big announcements that will focus on serving families with special needs in our community with intentional programming! We have initiated a pilot program this fall that allows four children with special needs to participate in a regular soccer league with the aid of a volunteer called a Buddy!

Your participation in the race will help us move towards our goal to birth this program that will be funded by donors and events such as the Pumpkin Run.

Our goal for this year’s race is a team with 200 members made up by children and adults able and challenged. Sprout Pediatrics is committing additional funds that will be earmarked for this programming! Will you help us?

THE DEADLINE TO SIGN UP IS OCTOBER 10TH
We are creating Team Sprout stickers for race day to designate our team this year.  Hope to see you all there!!

Instructions to sign up with Team Sprout for the 2014 Pumpkin Run:
-Go to: http://www.strictlyrunning.com/gpscrlgnReg-9f.asp
-Click on YMCA Northwest Pumpkin Run, first, last name and date of birth
-Click on Group Registration and add to an existing group/team
-Click on Team Sprout and enter Captain name/email “rhyno77@gmail.com”
-Fill out your personal information and choose 5k run, 5k walk or kid fun run (if you are doing this with your young child as a helper you only need to register the child), T-shirt size
-Go to the next screen and pay to check out.

Thanks again for your support in this endeavor!

Sprout Pediatrics: On a mission!

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"Cultivating hope in children & families for a full life experience!"

“Cultivating hope in children & families for a full life experience!”

Sprout Pediatrics exists to cultivate hope in children and their families for a full life experience by surrounding them with  innovative therapy, education and connection within their community.

 

 It has been said that necessity is the mother of all invention and this is very true for an organization such as ours. For this reason we press the refresh button every once in a while to evaluate our purpose and path to successfully help children and their families with complex challenges.

For some time we have been trying to refine our mission statement as a reflection of our vision in an attempt to shape our organizational identity.

Starting with the end in mind, we strive towards a full life experience for our clients and their families to meet their full potential not just in therapy outcomes, but in living life to its fullest purpose and pleasure despite a possible disability.

In this endeavor it is easy to recognize that we are in a marathon and not a sprint. We often see families get tired, give up, become isolated and feel hopeless. If we are going to be successful, the tools we use must cultivate hope by using a more comprehensive approach through a variety of tools including innovative therapy, education and community connection.

As we continue to grow and develop our conventional therapy skills in the natural setting we are looking for new ways to innovate and educate our staff to achieve better outcomes. We believe by adding wellness opportunities through our relationship with organizations such as the YMCA we can transition children from a “staged” setting of activity into a more organic setting of activity that will create healthy habits for a lifetime. Additional benefits include socialization and community connection for child and family that will be supplemented through parent support groups that we are creating in partnership with the YMCA. Future plans will involve inclusion of children in regular activities through a “buddy” volunteer system wherever possible before delving into creating programs specially designed for people with developmental disabilities into early adulthood.

By investing time and effort in our social media outlets we hope to develop opportunities to educate and connect parents with each other and our staff in a way that does more than just disseminate information. We hope to be a vehicle for the exchange of ideas between families and amongst clinicians as we develop our clinical think tanks as well as screening services to the general public.

As we conclude our assessment, we feel affirmed in our plans that we must pursue a multi-tool approach for the best outcomes possible. Some of these tools are billable and some must be benevolent with the help of our community in order to make them cost effective. In the end, we believe that a full life is to be experienced by child, family and our organization alike and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out!

 

Will you join us?

Rhyno Coetsee PT, CEO

 

 

South Carolina Families with Special Needs Children May Qualify for Property Tax Exemption!

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Hunter is all boy! His limited vision isn't holding him back.

Hunter is all boy! His limited vision isn’t holding him back.

 

Gotta a great little piece of information for all you parents out there! If you live in the state of South Carolina and have a child with special needs, you may qualify for property tax exemption on the vehicle you use to transport your child.  Specifically this exemption applies to parents who own or lease a car and whose child is legally blind or uses a wheelchair.  Click here for the direct link to the South Carolina Department of Revenue’s website.  This section answers many specific ways others may qualify for exemption as well.

 

A detailed instructions sheet is provided here and will tell you specifically how to fill out the application and what you will need from your child’s primary physician.  This exemption only applies to one family vehicle and cannot be applied to step parents or foster parents.  Click here for the two page application you will need to complete and take to the tax assessor’s office in your county.  If your child would qualify for these benefits in previous years, you may also want to appeal past property tax bills by having your physician provide documentation of the date of diagnosis on his or her letter head and take that with you to the assessor’s office to determine if there is any refund available to your family.

Please feel free to share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!  Every little bit of savings helps and allows families to use this money in other areas of importance.

What One Thing Would you want if Going on a Trip?!

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WordPress has a prompt a day! This is it for today!

You’re embarking on a yearlong round-the-world adventure, and can take only one small object with you to remind you of home. What do you bring along for the trip?

What would you want?! Initially I’d say a picture of my family because after all, they are home. But after further consideration Id say my iPad! Then I could have multiple pictures, games, and tons of other cool things!

As I continued to think about this I’m faced with the daunting reality that our children would have said iPad first. You see, our children are addicted to screens! Televisions, iPads, phones… They all teach, babysit and let’s face it, give us time to get done all the things we parents need or shall I say want to do.

Did you know the Academy of American Pediatrics recommends no screens until after age 2! check out this article on guidelines for media use. Screens are also increasing our children’s inability to sit still. Listen. Stay focused.

Three suggestions for families as we navigate through using and allowing media in our homes:

Model Self Control Make sure you take time to put the phone, remote & iPad down to actually interact with your family members!

No screens before age 2 young brains are actively being wired most during this age span. As convenient as screens are to you, your child is creating a complex neuro map with synapses and connections that last the rest of their lives. The brain is being molded by the use of screens in a negative way as it relates to attention and focus abilities.

Limit Screen time to 2 hours a day after age 2 create a plan for tv and iPad usage. Let that sink in folks! Not 2 hours of iPad time, two hours of total screen time!! That means parents if you know you’ll need a little help from a screen later in the day, you’ll have to find alternative engagement for your toddler in the morning. A token, could be a bottle top or a poker chip, system where they are given time for tv and iPad but once they spend their morning tokens, no more until afternoon. You may also need to use a timer so they hear and have an auditory cue that iPad time is over. Be consistent and they’ll begin to learn their are lots of fun things to do other than screens!

5 Quick Facts about Developmental Stuttering!

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True Stuttering or Developmental Stuttering?

 

As Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist’s we are often met by frightful parents, grandparents and even Early Interventionist who fear a young one is stuttering! Just to be clear, stuttering or disfluency could be a repetition of a word or phrase such as “I-I-I wanna go. or “I wanna-I wanna-I wanna go.” to a prolongation “IIIIIIIIII wanna go.” or a block where a person opens their mouth to speak and and nothing comes out. Sometimes facial grimaces or body movements are associated with stammering.  This is not new! Some rather famous people are also known stutterers! Take for example Marilyn Monroe, who sang with a raspy voice, this was a technique she developed to help her maintain fluent speech.     John Stossel, a noted Fox News Journalist, has done several in depth stories on stuttering and manages his stuttering well enough to host a weekly show on air! Believe it or not Joe Biden overcame the embarrassment of stuttering as a child.

Okay but what about children who stutter? When as a parent you hear your young child struggle to get our a word or a thought, it’s painstakingly difficult and we just want it to stop! We often times, well meaningfully say, “STOP! Think about what you want to say then tell mommy.”  When is all actuality it’s frustrating and puts them under further stress to perform.  So how can we as parents know if our child is going through what’s known as developmental stuttering or if they are truly developing a stuttering problem? Here are 5 Facts about developmental stuttering you need to know and keep in the forefront of your mind if your child begins to be disfluent.

Fact 1:  Most children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 go through a language explosion.  During this time they are gaining understanding of words and using more words than ever before.  Because of this language explosion, their ability to talk can not keep up with their brain! Then it happens.  They stammer and repeat words or phrases over and over and they are not even aware of what they are doing.  As parents we want to say it for them or their siblings try and rescue them by telling us what they are trying to say.  This sibling interruption again only adds to their stress and frustration.

Fact 2:  Most developmental stuttering only lasts between 3-6 months sometimes even less! If your child is experiencing repetitions or prolongations, make a note of when you began to notice them experiencing trouble.  Then move 3 months forward in your calendar and write your self a note “Still Stuttering?” and then move to 6 months forward in your calendar and write yourself another note.  If you hit these milestones and the stuttering is still present or your child began stuttering after they turned 4, seek professional help from your pediatrician or a licensed Speech Language Pathologist.

Fact 3:   Developmental stuttering is almost always worse when the child is tired, excited, upset or being rushed to speak.  When a child is stressed or pressured, their anxiety goes up and more disfluencies will occur.  Try and have time set aside daily in which your child can talk to you uninterrupted by the phone or siblings.  Use this time to read to them so they hear you model slow easy speech.  Try to evaluate your families schedule and look at what could be eliminated for a season to give them time to mature through the developmental stuttering.  You possibly could allow your spouse to attend an older siblings game and stay home and have a calm evening with the child experiencing developmental stuttering.

Fact 4:  A child with developmental stuttering typically does not have another speech disorder or a family history of stuttering.  If your child has another speech and language disorder, such as a phonological disorder or Apraxia, make sure you don’t delay sharing the disfluency your child is experiencing with his/her Speech Language Pathologist.  If you child is not being seen or is being seen infrequently, call your pediatrician to ask for a referral to a speech language pathologist who specializes in stuttering.  The Stuttering Foundation has a chart that is useful in determining the risk factors of children developing true stuttering. Click here to see the chart.

Fact 5:  A child with developmental stuttering will independently grow out of this phase and not need speech therapy.  If a child is truly experiencing an explosion of language development, they will grow out of it generally by 6 months.  Some boys may stutter a little longer to 9 months but it is rare.  Document on a family calendar when you noticed the onset and wait for a few months to see if you begin noticing them do it less or if it’s increasing.  If it is increasing, talk to your pediatrician or a friend who may know a speech language pathologist that could give you some direction as to what your next steps should include.  Different states have different laws about how they are served and when to hire a private therapist, so ask around.

 

Finally, you may want to print the handout below and post the cards around the house to help remind you of some easy things to do to help your child through this developmental phase.

Stuttering Tips

The Adventures of a Toddler with LCA: Lebra Congenital Amaurosis

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titleMany parents are forced to deal with their feelings, questions and concerns when they realize their baby or toddler has delays in development.  Listen to some of the questions Lena Amick had after learning her son Hunter had LCA or Lebra Congenital Amaurosis.  “I’m not sure how I felt … the first thing I thought about was if he will be able to go to regular school and make friends? Will he ever go hunting with his daddy?  Will he ever be able to make it out in the world when im not around?”  Such normal things we want for our children but yet when given the information your son has a rare (1 in 80,000) gene mutation that causes loss of vision at birth, we often don’t know what to do.  Lena did what most  mom’s do…reach out for help!

Because Hunter wasn’t walking, he qualified for Physical therapy with Sprout Pediatrics.  After being evaluated by Rhyno, our lead Physical Therapist, goals were written and Jessica Snipes, our Physical Therapy Assistant, began working with him.  Jessica shares, “at first I read a lot! Then we decided our priority would be helping Hunter capable of getting around in his environment.  Once Hunter had several months of PT and had learned to walk, do steps, etc we asked his EI to bring on a mobility instructor to introduce him to a cane.  It has taken some time and lots of creativity but he is starting to use it more.”

Hunter mastering steps!

Hunter mastering steps!

During therapy they would practice just walking around outside.  Giving him opportunities to learn how the ground changes, has holes and little  hills.  Jessica began to see how the cane could be used to help him explore and discover what he was near.  Jessica shares, “It is helpful for him to learn different sounds of things such as the difference of the sound of a wooden ramp vs a cement porch or brick step.  We have even started playing “hide and seek” with his cane so that he knows how to find something by sound.  I read a lot of research about how to train a child to use a cane but it also just takes a lot of repetition. His mobility instructor is training him a lot too.”

As many know, therapy is not just the hour one spends with the therapist, but the carry over practice that the family and caregiver’s do all week long that increases progress dramatically.  Hunter’s mom, Lena, is doing a great job practicing everything asked of her and every week she asks “what’s our homework this week?!” Lena shares her greatest joy has been “our PTA Jessica! Because of her, Hunter can walk, climb hills and do whatever he wants! If he didn’t have someone who truly cares, he definitely would not have come so far so quickly!”  Hunter is an explorer and confident in his abilities as just the other day he opened the door and headed outside without his mom even knowing! While he needs to be safe, it is exciting that he is independently functioning in and around his home.

Hunter heads outside down the ramp independently.

Hunter heads outside down the ramp independently.

Clearly it takes a team of professionals that deliver the total package, but Sprout Pediatrics exists to do exactly what Hunter and his family have experienced.  A caring team that pushes, encourages, researches and challenges! Both his parents are very happy with Hunters progress and are hopeful that one day Hunter will be able to see but for now they are doing a great job helping him explore his environment with touch and sound!

Below is a helpful guide to helping children with low vision.

Guide to Understanding more about helping Young Children with Low Vision