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

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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
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

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.

How to Lock your Toddler’s Ipad using Guided Access!

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Matthew Keisler weight bearing in his stander while enjoying his ipad!

Matthew Keisler weight bearing in his stander while enjoying his ipad!

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.

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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!

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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!

Top 4 Evaluations a Baby with Down Syndrome Needs!

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collage Lila collage Baylee From parks to grocery stores,these little faces are everywhere!  With 1 in every 691 babies in the United States born with Down Syndrome, chances are you come in contact with a person with Down Syndrome.  As more research is done, this 400,000 plus population is becoming more self sufficient and we are learning their possibilities are endless! So as a parent, how do you help your baby with Down Syndrome have a chance to excel and use all of their potential?  We recently had the opportunity to shadow one of our very own at the Palmetto Health Down Syndrome Clinic – Columbia.

While you may be referred by your physician to the clinic, it is important to know every child with Down Syndrome should receive three very important evaluations as soon as possible.  If your community does not have a clinic like the one described here, you can create your own team of therapists and gain the information critical for not only optimizing your baby’s development, but maintaining necessary reflexes and skills.

Here's Steven as happy as can be in his stroller!

Here’s Steven as happy as can be in his stroller!

This clinic is set up in a round robin fashion.  Each family has an opportunity with each specialist and every 20 minutes rotate to another until each family has had an opportunity to meet with each specialist for an evaluation and specific recommendations for further tests and therapy plans are created.  On this particular day, our client was happy and oh so spunky! Here’s Steven, 2 years old, waiting his turn to meet with the Geneticist from Greenwood Genetics Clinic. Steven and his family met Dr. E.J. Prijoles and were able to ask any question they had about Down Syndrome.  Gathering information from knowledgeable professionals about development and issues related to this particular population is empowering.  Since this was their second time, basic information was not necessary, but they were able to ask about current research and find out of any findings were relevant to Steven.

 

Second, Steven went to be evaluated by the Occupational Therapist, of Rehabilitative Care Center. The OT’s generally watch the child play with small toys and evaluate their fine motor skills as well as how well they sit up and use their upper body.  They may refer you to have an occupational evaluation or a sensory evaluation.  Each of these areas are very important to your baby using their hands and trunk appropriately so they begin to play with toys and puzzles and later have the muscle strength to self-feed and eventually to write! Steven already has an Occupational Therapist but mom was interested to hear what they thought of his Sensory Integration and what they would recommend additionally in this area.  Both of the OT’s confirmed he seemed to have sensory aversions to soft items, and because of his low tone probably would benefit from deep pressure for ultimate proprioceptive input.  (The body’s ability to know where it is in space.)  A sensory motor screening can be done, but they confirmed an ongoing relationship with an OT who is trained in this area is best as they are always doing diagnostic assessments through therapy sessions.  OT’s are able to make better recommendations and work with the team assembled for your child.

It takes a team to this right!

It takes a team to do this right!

Next Steven headed over to meet Ms. Bethany Clark, the Physical Therapist with Rehabilitative Care Center.  Bethany is young but passionate about helping families with children who are challenged.  She quickly got busy evaluating Steven’s skills to determine why he isn’t doing more crawling and walking yet.  His Physical therapist has been seeing him two times a week and he has had steady progress, but before one years of age, enjoyed taking it all in and was not very actively engaged motor wise.  After looking at Steven’s skills and how he ambulates, Bethany recommended some type of trunk support system.  A Thera Tog or a Spio suit is designed to give support, stability and tactile stimulation for children who need a little boost in this area.  These suits are available online or locally at Brace & Boot.  It is our hope that with this type of steady input and stability, Physical Therapy will be more productive and Steven will begin to crawl and walk more and more over the next 6 months.  It is important to note that many toddlers with Down Syndrome learn to walk without a product of this kind.  Even still, other children who have had access to these suits have not seen any benefit through them.  Therefore it is important that the team continue to work to explore every possible strategy to encourage physical skills.

 

Finally, the last therapist to evaluate Steven was Ms. Mandi Madden who is a Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist with Rehabilitative Care Center.  Mandi specializes in feeding disorders and is a wealth of information for therapists like ourselves.  It is important that you seek an evaluation as early as possible by a SLP who specializes in feeding and oral motor skills if you have a baby who has Down Syndrome.  There are many reflexes and skills a qualified therapist can identify and help you maintain as they continue to grow and develop that first year.  While babies are not the same, the low tone, tongue protrusion, GI issues are common with toddlers who have Down Syndrome.  Steven has had several swallow studies that determined he aspirates on liquids and has reflux.  With this knowledge and a first hand knowledge of what current therapy consists of, Mandi was able to give oral motor exercises as well as feeding tips for his SLP to try for continuing to tolerate textures and begin eating table foods.

 

Last stop was with Dr. Hawn, who is a Clinical Professor with the USC School of Medicine.  He was able to look over all the results from the team of therapist’s and discuss the findings with Steven’s mother.  As a result of the team’s evaluation, he also was able to give mom a prescription for a Spio suit and to have another scope done to look at Steven’s esophagus.  Each of these recommendations was a result of the team’s evaluation.  While most families participate in something like this clinic in the first year of their babies life, Steven’s mom chose to take advantage of the clinic again because he is growing and developing and she had areas of concern she felt might could be addressed with a separate set of eyes reviewing his case.  This ongoing ability to advocate for Steven and leave no “stone un-turned,” is what every parent of a child with special needs must be encouraged to do.

 

Steven’s team welcomed the recommendations and is actively implementing new strategies for his benefit! It is our desire that you will find this information useful and seek to take advantage of the Down Syndrome Clinic here in Columbia, South Carolina or find one in your area.

 

Program note:  This clinic, beginning in June 2014, is evaluating only children who do not already have services in place.  The OT, PT and Speech Evaluations are now done at the Rehabilitative Care Center and the doctor’s evaluation is done on a separate day for billing purposes.

 

Columbia Pediatric Therapy group Welcomes New Speech Language Pathologist – Ashley Hipp

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Ashley Hipp, MSP, CCC-SLP

Ashley Hipp, MSP, CCC-SLP

As a leading pediatric therapy company in the midlands of South Carolina, we take seriously the need to hire highly qualified individuals who will work well with our families.  We believe every child can make progress and we greatly appreciate the trust our families have in our team approach for service delivery! Sprout Pediatrics continues to grow and here is our latest team member to join the family! Here’s Ashley’s biographical information.

I am a speech-language pathologist who loves working with children. I started off my career as a speech-language pathologist in a nursing home, and it did not take long before I transitioned back. Serving children and their families is my passion.

Currently, I work in a local private practice serving children age birth-15, and I am very excited to begin working with Sprout on Fridays. My main interests with speech therapy include: expressive/receptive language disorders, speech/articulation disorders, and pragmatic deficits. I have experience working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, articulation disorders, voice disorders, apraxia, feeding difficulties, and expressive/receptive language disorders. I love to help children reach their full potential and provide parents/caregivers with the information and tools needed to do so.

Originally from Florence, SC, I attended undergraduate school at Clemson University, where I studied Early Childhood Education. From there, I attended graduate school at the University of South Carolina where I received my Master’s degree in Speech Therapy. My husband, Derek, and I got married in August 2012 and currently live in Lexington, SC. I enjoy spending time with my family, walking my dog (Tucker), and going to Clemson football games.

I am so excited to have the privilege to work with the staff at Sprout Pediatrics and strive to be a great addition to their wonderful team of therapists!