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

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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!

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.

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

Meet Ray: Our Lead Pediatric Physical Therapist

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Rhyno Coetsee, CEO   Lead Physical Therapist

Rhyno Coetsee, CEO
Lead Physical Therapist

Rhyno (Ray) is the founder of Sprout Pediatrics and Chief Executive officer as well as our lead Physical Therapist.  Rhyno attended the College of Charleston and later transferred to the Medial University of South Carolina and graduated with his BSPT degree in 1996.  Most recently, Rhyno completed an aquatics therapy course and an adaptive equipment review with Rifton Equipment Company. He enjoys growing professionally as a part of a PT/OT think tank that discusses current topics in therapy on a monthly basis and collaborating with other clinicians on difficult cases.

Rhyno has vast experience in the home setting for many populations. In recent years has worked on developing aquatic systems for the early intervention population and creating adaptive wellness programs for children through our Sproutfit awareness campaign. Though a working relationship with the YMCA he was named 2013 Volunteer of the year and is currently initiating transition and inclusion  programs for children with special needs into their youth team sports and lesson programs. This program continues to be in a pilot phase as we start support groups, club meetings, adaptive wellness opportunities and respite services for families of children with special needs in a cost neutral way.

Rhyno shares, “I love seeing children and their parents take joy in small successes as they work towards functions that typically developing children achieve automatically. I enjoy the challenges and uniqueness of each family and home environment allowing me to be creative with their environment and using the resources in their community to make therapy natural. Kids make me feel like a hero with their excitement as they greet me at the door.”

“As the founder of Sprout Pediatrics I have always shrived to lead our organization to help each child and family experience the hope of a full life. During the early stages of this quest we developed a culture of innovation among our employees through technology and equipment and generated new opportunities for wellness and aquatics to become a diverse and impactful organization.”

Rhyno is married to his beautiful wife Melanie for 15 years. She is Sprout Pediatrics lead Speech Language Pathologist.  They have 3 boys ages 4, 8 and 10.  Rhyno enjoy sports, reading and spending quality time with his family.

The Food Behavior Connection

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Jennifer Tardy Administrative Assistant jennifer@sproutpeds.com

Jennifer Tardy
Administrative Assistant
jennifer@sproutpeds.com

Challenger Club is sponsored by the The North West Family YMCA.  They host monthly meetings for families who have children with special needs.  This month the topic is about the connection between the food we eat and behavior. Jennifer will cover topics such as how to make eating healthy, affordable, and fun. She will explain how to read labels, what food ingredients to avoid, and how healthy eating will allow you to see an improvement in negative behaviors.  Jennifer’s life experience as a parent of 2 special needs children, coupled with her formal education, promise to make this month’s meeting rewarding for anyone who attends!

Jennifer is an experienced Certified Holistic Health Coach, having a passion for nutrition that goes back almost 20 years working in health-related fields. She currently works with families and children of all ages and stages to educate, inspire, and encourage healthy habits that will last a lifetime through her business, East Coast Food Snob.  Jennifer also works part-time with Sprout Pediatrics LLC as a Referral and Information Specialist, will soon be Board Certified through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and is a full-time student majoring in Business Administration.

Please feel free to share this post with your friends on Facebook and other Social Media outlets! Childcare will also be provided for this event! The meeting will begin at 6:30 pm.

Flyer for Challenger Club Jan. 22! Please Share!

Next Month’s Meeting

February 19
The speaker in February will be Kim Conant, a special needs nurse for Palmetto Pediatrics, who take care of 1,000 families in the Midlands. She is highly respected in our community and has helped many parents of special needs get necessary services over the past 20 years!

Our Own Jennifer Tardy to Speak on The Food Behavior Connection Jan. 22nd! Don’t Miss it!

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Jennifer Tardy Administrative Assistant jennifer@sproutpeds.com

Jennifer Tardy
Referral & Information Specialist
jennifer@sproutpeds.com

Challenger Club is sponsored by the The North West Family YMCA.  They host monthly meetings for families who have children with special needs.  This month the topic is about the connection between the food we eat and behavior. Jennifer will cover topics such as how to make eating healthy, affordable, and fun. She will explain how to read labels, what food ingredients to avoid, and how healthy eating will allow you to see an improvement in negative behaviors.  Jennifer’s life experience as a parent of 2 special needs children, coupled with her formal education, promise to make this month’s meeting rewarding for anyone who attends!

Jennifer is an experienced Certified Holistic Health Coach, having a passion for nutrition that goes back almost 20 years working in health-related fields. She currently works with families and children of all ages and stages to educate, inspire, and encourage healthy habits that will last a lifetime through her business, East Coast Food Snob.  Jennifer also works part-time with Sprout Pediatrics LLC as a Referral and Information Specialist, will soon be Board Certified through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and is a full-time student majoring in Business Administration.

Please feel free to share this post with your friends on Facebook and other Social Media outlets! Childcare will also be provided for this event! The meeting will begin at 6:30 pm.

Flyer for Challenger Club Jan. 22! Please Share!

Next Month’s Meeting

February 19
The speaker in February will be Kim Conant, a special needs nurse for Palmetto Pediatrics, who take care of 1,000 families in the Midlands. She is highly respected in our community and has helped many parents of special needs get necessary services over the past 20 years!

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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