Why Aquatic Therapy is a “Must-Have” in Your Child’s PT Plan of Care!


Our Physical and Occupational Therapy staff uses water and aquatic therapy in a variety of creative ways, to work towards functional therapeutic goals at home, as well as through our community partnership with the YMCA.

Avery TitleWater can generally be introduced very early, before 6 months of age, to encourage independence in skills. These skills include: erect sitting, transitioning to and from the floor, all fours and protective reaching. The resistive and buoyancy properties of water aid in body awareness, as well as neutralize low core stability and hypotonia using our baby pool program. Children who have retracted and tactile defensive postures and delayed protective reactions, especially benefit from the hydro-static pressure of the water and often learn to crawl in this medium.

Float MatThese skills can also be developed using a float mat in a typical aquatics setting, creating a moving seat on top of the water that relaxes and promotes participation in a non-stressful environment. The CDC has extensive research supporting the use of water in promoting health and mental health!

aquatic therapyFrom a very early age (6 months), children can be independent, mobile participants in a pool system at home or in a typical pool, by employing cost-effective products made by Waterway Babies. These products allow us to develop independent skills in the child with low tone or poor head control, before he or she is even sitting up on land. By introducing the neck float and water at this age, we typically avoid the fear of water associated with 12-15 month old children. This tool also develops a sense of body and spatial awareness through independence in the water, as well as core and tone development. Because the system is practical and easy to use at home, children do not lose water skills during winter months and for many, this is their only means of independence early!

Using our Transition to Wellness program in partnership with the YMCA, we are able to create diagnosis- specific goals, that ultimately prepare children with disabilities for water independence and a lot of fun. This is a particular effective medium for the child with hemiplegia or hypotonia, as the resistive properties of water activate the core muscle groups and work muscle groups that are typically in an abnormal neurological pattern. By using a decreasing flotation process, we are able to prepare children for inclusion in swim lessons through the YMCA and a lifetime of enjoyment of water activities, with the possibility of inclusion in water sports with their peers!


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


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
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

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

Jennifer Tardy Administrative Assistant jennifer@sproutpeds.com

Jennifer Tardy
Referral & Information Specialist

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!

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


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?

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!

How to Make & Use Colored Rice!


Title 2

Our lead Occupational Therapist was getting bored with her white rice bins so she decided to spice it up a bit and add color! Below are several recipes but the last one has step by step directions for making a kaboodle full for your therapy toy library!

Easy Colored Rice:

1 pound bag of long grain rice

1 food coloring tube of your choice

Large zip top bagmadelyns rice

Place bag of uncooked rice in zip top bag.

Add 3 tablespoons to 1/2 a tube of food coloring to uncooked rice in zip top bag.

If you desire a deeper yellow or orange, add more coloring.

Seal bag and shake to evenly color your rice.

Spread colored rice on a cookie sheet over night to allow food coloring to dry.

Store in plastic boxes with lids for easy clean up and use.

Kaboodle fulls of Colored Rice!

To make large quantities of rice, you may want to follow this recipe as it disperses and sets the food coloring for pounds of rice!  We have seen recipes with vinegar in the place of the alcohol but then the vinegar smell is present in the containers.  Once the alcohol dries, the odor is gone.


5 lbs of rice

1 cup of rubbing alcohol (we made 10 lbs so we used 1 bottle of alcohol)

1/2 to 1 tube of food coloring (You can mix colors! We added yellow to the green to get our “Sprout” green!)

Large mix bowl or storage box with lid.

Plastic trash bag cut open or shower liner for rice to dry on over night.

Step 1 Supplies

Step 2 mix

Step 3 pour

Step 4 coat

Step 5 dry

Colored rice is a great therapy tool.  Here are 10 ways we use rice on a weekly basis at Sprout Pediatrics!

1.  Let children who have busy hands and like to touch everything – dig, pour, measure and play!

2.  Children who seem uneasy or whiny often times calm down to enjoy rice.  Hide small plastic food in the rice for discovery and describing!

3.  Hide farm animals and zoo animals for them to find and as they find them have them sort into a basket for categorizing!

4.  Bury various sizes of beads in the rice and as they find the beads have them string them for fine motor skills!

5.  Create a themed rice boxes that correspond to various holidays.  Use red rice, hearts, cards, etc. for Valentine’s Day!

6.  Have the rice on top of an outside stoop.  As they practice their stepping skills they have an opportunity to play in the rice for a minute!

7.  Talk about action words like pouring, dumping, covering, sifting, hiding as they play.  Say, “You are pouring, I am hiding.” Model simple sentences with action words.

8.  Provide spoons, old medicine cups, measuring cups for practice in scooping and filling various sizes of containers.

9.  Hide marbles or glass beads of different colors for some Math fun!  Ask “How many blue marbles did you find?” “How many green ones?” “How many all together?” 

10.  Don’t forget the funnels! You will love playing with the funnels as much as your child.  Laugh and Enjoy!

Last but not least, use recycled soda bottles and create I spy bottles.  Funnel rice in and find small objects your child will enjoy finding and put them in the bottle.  Super glue the top for safety!

I spy

Teenager with Autism Given Confidence Through YMCA 5K


Chase title

Meet Chase! A 13 year old teenage boy who is full of life.  He loves the drums and is taking piano, but he and his family discovered a new area of confidence this fall, running! In the fall of 2013 our organization embarked on a journey to raise awareness about the needs and lack of opportunities for physical wellness for those with special needs in our community by creating our #sproutfit campaign.

The Batten family with boys Julian (7) and Chase(13) who both have Autism and participated in the one mile kids run at the event. Here is their mom’s account of their experience:

Batten boys

“When I heard there was a special needs team running at the YMCA Pumpkin Run last month, I signed the boys up on the spot! I really can’t remember the last time I saw Chase, my teenage son, actually run. Both boys were so excited to get their Team Spout shirts before the race, and pose for pictures. Both were really excited when we walked out in the bitter cold and the race began.

What happened next…you could have knocked me over with a feather! Chase saw everyone start to run, and stopped in his tracks. He turned and looked at me and I asked him, “Do you want to run too?” and he looked at me and said, “YES!” and TOOK OFF!! Kristy, the boy’s ABA therapist, and I looked at each other and our jaws dropped! In the past, Chase has been a little nervous in crowds and tends to be clingy and insecure about being out of my sight. However during the race, forget it… all bets were off!  He was out of sight and around the corner before we could even react!! The three of us took off too, but he left us in his tracks!! When we got to the part of the run where they lapped the field and turned back, Chase was already around and passing us on his way back to the finish line!! Thankfully some friends were at the finish line and got to see him cross with a huge smile on his face!! He didn’t even ask where his mom and brother were, he followed the crowd, claimed his victory cookie, and waited patiently for us slow pokes to finish!

Pumpkin Run Cookies

After all the pictures and celebration we were chatting with some friends, and Chase came over and put his hand on my shoulder. My child that didn’t speak his first word until he was 5 years old leaned in and said, “Mom, I feel great!” I have a suggestion for next year! Please have a box of tissues at the finish line!”

When we heard this account we had to share it with you because this is what we hoped would happen from our efforts of sponsoring the race.  If you are a parent or interested in helping Sprout Pediatrics host more of these races and training events, please connect with us on our Sprout Peds Facebook page by messaging us!

We would like to thank @columbiaymca for their support and willingness to touch the lives of our families. The best is yet to come!

Pumpkin Run Team Pic

4 Easy Steps to Get Your Toddler to Talk!


Will imitating scooping rice.

Lots of parents have concerns about their children’s speech and language development and deciding if you have a late talker or a child with a true speech and language issue is sometimes difficult to sort through.  While giving your child time to develop
 or even while waiting on a referral to go through the proper channels, you might try these tips!  A very important step to children learning to talk is learning to imitate! Help your child learn to talk by helping them learn to:
Imitate Actions:
As your toddler learns to imitate actions with objects they enjoy doing what you are able to do and build confidence.  Encourage them to push a car, pat the animal in a textured book or tickle the baby’s tummy.  Not only are you subtly teaching animals and body parts, you are teaching young children to learn how to play.  Using a baby or stuffed animal to imitate hugging or feeding, is very valuable to the process of eventually getting them to another stage of imitation.
Imitate Body Movements:
Encourage them to imitate body movements.  Model clapping your hands after they have done something for the first time.  Take their hands and help them clap too!  As you are cooking or getting ready, play the knock, knock game.  Show them how to knock on the door.  Say, “Knock! Knock! Who’s there?” Maybe hide a favorite toy behind the pantry or closet door for them to find.  Offer toys that they can pound a ball or peg.  Sing songs like “If you’re happy and you know it” so they can clap, stomp and do a cheering hand motion.
Imitating Gestures:
All of the imitation is ultimately designed to lead them to communicate with others in a purposeful manner.  Imitating a gesture could be something simple like waving, blowing a kiss, nodding yes or no.  All of these gestures are forms of communication!  They communicate, “hello” or “goodbye,” “I care for you.” or “I do want that!” or “I don’t want that!” Gestures can be even more purposeful if you teach specific baby signs like: more, all done, milk or cracker.
Imitating Noises and Sounds:
Sometimes just helping them begin to use sounds as they push the car or imitate a sneezing or coughing sound helps them begin to find their “voice.” You could play with animals and make various animal sounds or read a book about farm animals and have them imitate simple sounds like moo or baa.  Playing and having fun as we go about our day is the best way children learn to talk.

Books don’t have to break the Bank!


At Sprout Pediatrics we focus on therapy with developmentally appropriate practices in mind, so we love books! Books are great for expanding vocabulary and teaching language concepts.


For example, we might use the bunny book in the photo to teach animals or work on animal sounds with an Apraxia client. Or for a developmentally delayed client we might use the Dr.Seuss book to teach body parts or following directions! Our Autism clients need work on answering questions and general language development, so the Veggie Tales books are a wonderful tool.

One big thing most families forget is that having a variety of books around the home doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The Library is a wonderful resource as one can check out 30 books for 3 weeks! Pull out ten new books a week for free! Or zip by your local thrift store and check out their selection of children’s books. Often times families outgrow books and they are still in good repair. We also hit up TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Tuesday Morning as these stores often offer books at a discounted rate. Oh and don’t forget Amazon as we find books for .01 regularly…shipping is 3.99 but it’s still a good deal on most books.

Quick Tips of What to do as You Read:
Read, read, read!
Have children 18 months and younger turn the pages or pat the picture after you do.
Point to pictures and name what you see
Ask your child to point to the rabbit, the tree, or the girl.
Ask simple ‘what’ questions about the story and then ask ‘How many’ questions.