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!

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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

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.

Continue reading

NorthWest Family YMCA Pumkin Run 5K and Kids Fun Run

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Pumpkin Run Title

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

 

 

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!

Wee Hands hosts Sprout Pediatrics: Encouraging Communication

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Tonya Hayes is on the far left of this photo.

 

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:

 

http://tobtr.com/s/6271917

 

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.

 

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

Do’s and Don’ts of Sign Language with Young Children

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If you are a parent or professional working with typically developing young children or children who are challenged, you have probably been introduced to the notion of using sign language with them.  As a pediatric team of professionals, we find sign language to be the one of the most exciting skills children learn and grow from using.  We use sign language with our late talkers, our children who have signs of Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Down Syndrome, Autism, and many other developmental and genetic disorders.  Here are some do’s and don’t of using sign language with young children.

Do introduce sign language as a way to give them a way to communicate their wants and needs.  Some of the first signs we teach are milk, cracker, more and cookie! We find both the Wee Hands Online Dictionary and the Lifeprint websites to be invaluable! If a client is frustrated or expressing an extreme desire for a given object, we can quickly plug in the word and see a picture or video of the sign. While the Wee Hands Dictionary is good for the most useful toddler and children’s signs, some of our children might love grapes and this sign hasn’t quite made it to the dictionary and the Lifeprint dictionary is more exhaustive.

Don’t teach words that aren’t useful or don’t mean anything to them.  If you are interested in learning specific words from a local professional here in the Midlands of South Carolina, we recommend the Signing Time Instructor – Jill Eversmann.  Click this link to learn more about the classes she offers!

Do hand over hand demonstrate how to sign a word.  Take their hands and do it with them and then stand in front of them and sign it again so they can see you doing the sign.  It might take you doing it with them 7-10 times before you see them attempt to do it but then again, if it’s a highly motivating food, we have seen boys sign “candy or cookie” after one demonstration!

Don’t think they won’t sign if you have been trying for several months and not getting any results. Toddler’s need to be sitting up independently and be able to bring hands to mid-line to do many signs, so if you begin before these motor skills are possible, you may frustrate yourself.

Do clap and praise them as they begin imitating and using the signs spontaneously! When toddlers begin using signs spontaneously, care givers and parents can begin expanding their vocabulary to words like: stop, mine, please, thank you and night night! These powerful words give them a voice in their day to day lives and parents often report seeing their toddlers less frustrated.  If they do continue to pitch a fit or whine, encourage them to use their words.  Model the sign for what they want and make them sign so they can begin to see the usefulness.  If you had a typically developing 3 year old, you would not allow them to cry and whine but would expect them to talk to you.  Expect no less from a child who can sign, just adjust the talking to signing.

Don’t put them on display and have them perform for grandparents and friends.  Allow them to show what they know as they request and use it naturally.

Do verbally say the word you are signing and expecting your baby to sign.  As your baby begins to sign more and more and develop a vocabulary of 15-20 words, you will begin to hear some verbal approximations for the words they use most often or hear most often.  They may say “muh” for more or “bah” for ball.  Some later word approximations might include “op” for stop, “peas” for please and “tan too” for thank you!  One of the common questions we get is “Will they ever talk if we teach them signs?” Absolutely! Sign language is just a visual and kinesthetic way to help facilitate your baby’s language skills.  Teaching your baby to sign won’t keep them from talking any more than teaching them to crawl will keep them from walking!

Don’t discourage signing or verbal approximations! Toddler’s and young children often do not have the motor skills to precisely sign or say words, but accept their effort and know that they will get better and more articulate.

Take a look at this video and watch this two year old girl with Down Syndrome show you all the signs she knows on command!  It’s difficult to hear but she signs grapes, please, milk and stop!

 

A few other useful signs we encourage through therapy are: help, open, close, book, on, in, dog, bird and music!

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.