Many parents, speech therapists and child development experts have long suspected a correlation between language delays and temper tantrums in young children. Now, a recent study by researchers at Northwestern University supports this. They found that late talkers are twice as likely to have frequent, severe temper tantrums compared to typically-developing peers. Study authors concluded that early intervention is important for toddlers with language delays, as they are at higher risk for developing mental health and language disorders.
This study of more than 2,000 children is the first to find a link between delayed vocabulary in toddlers and severe temper tantrums – including among children as young as 12-months-old. That’s a lot younger than many clinicians had thought problematic behaviors can be identified.
“Severe” tantrums were characterized as consistently doing things like hitting, kicking or holding their breath during a tantrum.
If your child isn’t sleeping well, it impacts not only their daytime functioning, but that of the family at-large. Children with special needs are at increased risk for sleep disorders and sleep disturbances, which can have a major impact on their mood, behavior, learning, physiology and just generally how well they feel. This can have a profound impact on how well a child functions each day. Occupational therapy can help.
Many people don’t consider that sleep is one of the primary occupations of children until they turn 5. Even after that, it’s critical to healthy growth and development.
According to the Sleep Help Institute, kids under 2 should be receiving anywhere from 14-16 hours of total sleep (including naps) every day. Kids 2-3 should be getting 10-11 hours at night (plus 1-2 hours of nap time). Kids 3-5 should be getting 10-13 hours of sleep with an extra hour of nap time, and kids 5-12 should be getting 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night.
Kids With Special Needs Especially Prone to Sleep Trouble
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that insufficient sleep is a serious public health problem, as it contributes to motor vehicle crashes, work-related accidents and chronic disease. “Sleep inefficiency” is understood to be a lack of restorative sleep, which includes an adequate amount of restorative sleep (meaning all five stages of it).
Childhood sleep problems are more common than you might think. They affect about 25 percent of all preschool children and 43 percent of school-age kids. Children with developmental delays and disorders are even more likely to be referred for sleep studies. One study found that 49 to 89 percent of children on the autism spectrum had trouble sleeping. Same goes for 25 to 50 percent of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and 34 to 86 percent of children with intellectual disabilities.
When you have a child with speech and communication deficits, it’s important to be a selective consumer of speech therapy services. As a parent, you are your child’s top advocate, and you’re an invaluable part of the “team” that will help your child learn to effectively communicate. It’s important to find a Cleveland speech therapist who is not only qualified, but who clicks with you and connects with your child.
Speech-language pathologists, commonly referred to as “speech therapists” or “SLPs” for short, are experts in communication issues. Some speech therapists work with adults after they have lost the ability to effectively communicate, usually due to traumatic injuries or a medical condition, such as a stroke. At Therapy & Wellness Connection, we work primarily with children (though some adults too) with a variety of delays and disorders, ranging from mild articulation issues to more complex conditions like autism, down syndrome, hearing impairment, motor speech disorders and other developmental delays.
When looking for a Cleveland speech therapist, make sure you choose someone who takes the time to listen to your concerns and thoughtfully answer all your questions.
Dining at a restaurant – even as a once-in-a-while treat – is a life skill that our Cleveland occupational therapists are dedicated to helping our clients master.
Eating out at a restaurant when you have a child with special needs can make you feel a bit like a zoo animal. Most people know that children have a tendency to draw attention to themselves at dining establishments. Kids are still learning the appropriate ways to interact and behave in various social settings. That doesn’t mean most people are kind or understanding about it. For a child with disabilities, it can be an even steeper climb (particularly when one has a condition like autism that may not be visually obvious to those outside looking in). One bad experience can leave some families understandably inclined to skip meal outings altogether.
But the earlier and often you address situations like this, the easier they’re going to be for your child as he or she gets older.
Humans are creatures of habit. Even if you’re a person who welcomes change, the fact is, it takes more effort than continuing on as you were. Our speech therapists understand that for a child, being asked to stop one thing and start another (i.e., “a transition”) is a really common trigger for problematic behaviors. This is especially true for children on the autism spectrum, who rely so heavily on routine to understand and feel comfortable with the world around them.
The anxiety and frustration of a transition can be especially overwhelming if a child is transitioning from a preferred activity (something we like and want to be doing) to a non-preferred activity (something we’d rather not be doing, even if it’s necessary).
As speech therapists, we’ve seen trouble with transitions manifest in a number of ways, including:
- Full-blown meltdown
Although it can seem like the child is simply overwhelmed by their emotions (and sometimes, they are), the ABA therapists at Therapy & Wellness Connection recognize that these are often the responses the child has learned to have been successful in helping them delay or avoid a transition.
One of the earliest clues that a child might have autism is a speech delay. As our Akron ABA therapists can explain, children with autism tend to be less socially motivated than their typically-developing peers, which is why many parents’ instincts about how to engage their children in speech often don’t work. But with a combination of intensive, early intervention therapy and parental involvement/consistency, many children with autism can and do learn to speak, socialize and function independently in society.
Discovering the best approach for each individual child is a big part of what our Akron ABA therapists do. A new study by researchers at Standford University revealed that pivotal response treatment that involves parents works better than many other approaches to engaging a child on the autism spectrum.
ABA Therapists Explain: What is Pivotal Response Treatment?
Pivotal response treatment, or PRT, is play-based, initiated by the child and based on the core principals of Applied Behavior Analysis/ABA therapy.
If you love a child with autism, ADHD or any condition associated with sensory processing disorder, our Akron occupational therapists have some tips for sensory toy gifts this holiday season.
Child development toys are beginning to dominate the toy industry in general – which is great news. The fact is, ALL kids can benefit from various sensory toys, which focus on stimulating or calming the five main senses – sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell. Some of the best sensory toys for children with special needs also focus on two others: Balance and body awareness.
Benefits of Sensory Toys
Toys are a great way to promote development because children learn best through play. That’s why sensory toys are so effective in:
- Promoting focus. Sensory toys are a great way to help children hone their concentration skills. A child with difficulty concentrating or a learning disability will spend more time engaged with a sensory toys than they will other tasks, so this helps them build their concentration.
- Reducing anxiety. Playing with sensory toys can be calming because it can help regulate internal discomfort, whether it stems from boredom, agitation or some other type of agitation.
- Building fine motor skills. Sensory play that involves exploring their environment by use of pouring, pinching, lacing, etc. can help build these small muscle groups, important for skills like writing, zipping, buttoning or tying.
- Supporting language. When children play with objects of varying tastes, textures, sounds and colors, we can practice describing each aspect in detail, which helps them develop new ways of talking about the world around them.
Sensory Toy Tips for “Santa”
Many sensory toys are fairly simple by design, and often can be created using common household supplies.
However, if you’re looking to buy something for a special child in your life, we have a few suggestions.
Jumping Board. Children who love to move, wiggle and jump will love this board, which wobbles when you balance your weigh on it. Our Akron occupational therapists think it’s great for helping kids develop balance skills and overcome fear of heights. (Fold & go trampolines are great for this as well!)
Sensory Hammock Swing. Kids who love pressure, snuggling or swinging will enjoy a hammock swing. Some brands can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Sand & Water Play Table. These are great for helping kids develop tactile skills, like pouring, scooping, pinching, stacking, etc. You can fill them with sand, water or just about anything (bubbles, beans, water beads, Play-Doh, playfoam, etc.)
Builder Marble Run. This kind of creative construction helps children build fine motor skills, visual spacial skills, three-dimensional thinking, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Kids are delighted when they finish & get to watch the marbles wind their way down the track. Some models even play music.
Chewelry. Jewelry that is chewable (and non-toxic) is a great alternative for kids who tend to stick everything in their mouths. If they’re constantly biting on their pencil, shirt, fingers, etc., these will be much-appreciated.
Headphones. Noise-reducing or noise-canceling headphones can be an excellent way for children overwhelmed with noises to catch a break. They can also be used to stimulate the hearing sense with music or Audible books.
If you have questions about what would be best for a specific child (every child’s sensory diet needs are different!) our Akron occupational therapists are happy to help!
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides occupational therapy to children in Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Akron and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Why Sensory Play Is Important, Sept. 16, 2019, By Amanda Morin, VeryWellFamily.com
More Blog Entries:
Cleveland OT Talk: “Why Would My Child Need Occupational Therapy? June 19, 2019, Therapy & Wellness Connection Occupational Therapy Blog
Those of us who work in the ABA therapy field with children on the autism spectrum know that holidays present some special challenges.
Children on the spectrum tend to thrive on sameness and routine. Holidays – new food, new people, new sounds, new routines, new places, traffic congestion – can be wonderful experiences, but they can take children with autism far outside of their comfort zones. This can cause them to become overwhelmed, stressed and even spur meltdowns.
To ensure the holiday festivities go as smoothly as possible, our ABA therapy team complied a few ideas for tips to reduce anxiety and head off a possible crisis.
Occasionally parents are concerned when their toddlers don’t sit still and focus during their Cleveland speech therapy sessions. Sometimes, the concern extends to other settings too. They fear their child isn’t getting the most possible out of whatever the activity, anxious that they won’t be ready for day care or preschool or kindergarten.
But here’s a truth our speech therapists learned a long time ago: Whether a toddler is speech-delayed or not, you can’t force him or her to sit down, sit still and pay attention. You can’t force a toddler (or anyone, really) to do and learn something if they aren’t interested. But the fact is: That’s not how kids learn anyway – toddlers especially.
Children are Motivated By Movement, Play
We hear questions like this frequently because we are very adamant in preaching early intervention, so children younger than 5 are among our primary speech therapy patients.
Down syndrome, sometimes called Trisomy 21, is one of the most common chromosomal genetic disorders, affecting approximately 1 in every 700 babies born in the U.S. Most experience developmental and physical delays, and often have several physical conditions that require additional treatment.
There are many ways our Akron physical therapy services can help children with Down syndrome, working with them from infancy through adulthood to help them reach their maximum level of functioning and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.
How Does Down Syndrome Impair Physical Function?
Babies born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21, altering the typical development of both the brain and body and resulting in varying ranges of both intellectual and physical challenges.
Therapy & Wellness Connection offers Akron physical therapy in your home, school or work environment, working side-by-side with our patients and their families to help sidestep or minimize some of the most common complications of the condition, such as obesity and developmental delay, as well as help improve and maintain cardiovascular fitness, as between 40 and 60 percent of those with Down syndrome suffer some type of congenital heart disease.
One of the defining physical characteristics of Down syndrome is low muscle tone, lower bone density, decreased strength and trouble with posture/balance – all of which can delay motor development (movement). They also frequently have problems with feeding and hand use challenges, and sometimes intense pain from joint problems. Each of these can be addressed and improved with help from our Akron physical therapy services.
How Akron Physical Therapy Can Help Children With Down Syndrome
The good news is that many teens and adults with Down syndrome go on to be active participants in family and community activities, leading lives that are both active and productive.
Our dedicated physical therapists work with individuals, families and other health care providers to reduce the impact of these conditions – in some cases preventing them from developing in the first place. Best results are when a child is receiving adequate medical services and supportive home and educational environments that incorporate physical therapy.
Physical therapists work to help children with this condition improve their muscle strength, coordination, movement, balance and gain their peak level of independence in activities of daily life.
The Top 5 Ways Physical Therapists Treat Children With Down Syndrome:
- Strength-building. There are a number of exercises we can practice to help you child increase their strength.These can include fun games, adjusted to their abilities as they grow, to help maintain heart health and lower the risk of obesity.
- Developmental skills. Children with Down syndrome are delayed when mastering motor skills like crawling, standing, walking and safe eating. We can work on this in the clinic, as well as at home and in day care settings, giving parents and caregivers training for how to support these emerging skills in a way that’s safe and efficient.
- Improvement of balance, coordination and control of posture. This often starts quite early, with exercises like using a ball to help improve the child’s ability to hold their head up or maintain a sitting position. Other things like jumping or throwing a ball can be worked into a fun physical therapy regime.
- Improving physical fitness. Promotion of healthy living choices can help reduce some of the common complications that stem from cardiovascular problems and obesity.
- Educating parents and caregivers. Little of what we do will have the maximum impact if we don’t educate parents to carryover these skills and incorporate these exercises in everyday life. It’s a critical part of therapy and the child’s success.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides physical therapy to children with Down syndrome in Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Akron and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Facts about Down Syndrome, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
More Blog Entries:
NEW: Functional Fitness Class by Brecksville Occupational Therapist, July 25, 2019, Akron Physical Therapy Blog