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!
- Sitting up well
- Using two hands to hold and play with rattles & toys
- Looking at the speaker
- 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!
We 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.
Join 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.
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!
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.
Let’s face it! While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no child under two should be using any devices or viewing screens of any kind, they are! As parents we use phones, iPads and televisions to occupy these little ones daily. Children as young as two can navigate an iPhone to pull up a parents photos and scan through them like a pro! However as quickly as they learn to navigate our devices, they learn to touch the home button and exit out of apps. If this is a problem for you, follow these easy steps below to use guided access on your I devices.
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
If you have a little one with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or sensory needs, you may be curious to know what items are most recommended by Occupational Therapist’s who create sensory diets for children who need sensory input. For an extensive website on everything sensory, please check out the Sensory Processing Disorder Website. As we have worked for many years with a variety of clients who have varying degrees of sensory needs, we have found these to be the most effective. Below are 7 of our favorite items that are economical and user friendly to most families.
A swing which is easily assembled and installed in a home door frame is an easy way to calm a child who is out of sorts.
You may also enjoy reading a book byAngie Voss, OTR entitled Understanding your Child’s Sensory Signals: APractical Daily Use Guide for Parents and Teachers.
As your child ages, you may find a full size outdoor trampoline is more conducive to their size and weight.
For the most vigorous of chewers, ARK offers the XXT (extra, extra tough) blue grabber!
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!
Just last week our own Tonya Hayes had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Sara Bingham of Wee Hands! Wee Hands is Canadian based organization who exists to encourage communication in young children through sign language. Sara has a team of faculty who host and train professionals and parents alike in sign language and it’s benefits to young children.
Wee Hands also seeks to educate families and professionals who are not in the Canadian borders but are navigating I chartered waters as they live and love on their little ones who have a disability. While Sara enjoys writing a weekly blog, she also hosts a weekly Blog Talk Radio Podcast! Through social media and other relationships, Wee Hands chooses parents and professionals to interview to discuss their unique jobs and passions on air.
Our own Speech Language Assistant, Tonya Hayes, was interviewed last week and if you take a few minutes to listen you can’t help but see why we are so fortunate to have a seasoned mom who is passionate about seeing children and families make progress. Click on the link below to listen:
We hope you smiled and laughed along with us as we listened. Tonya’s heart is for each of the families she is entrusted with and we at Sprout Pediatrics hope you’ll be encouraged and inspired as you work with your therapy team.