Ohio kids eagerly look forward to summer camp every year. It’s a unique opportunity to enjoy beautiful weather, make new friends and mentors, see cool places, learn new skills and leave with a treasure trove of memories. This year, emerging from a pandemic that has been especially difficult for families of kids who are differently-abled, summer camp is going to be extra special. At Therapy & Wellness Connection, we offer an inclusive Brecksville summer camp for kids of all ages and abilities. It’s more than just a benefit to the families of the patients we serve in speech, occupational, ABA and physical therapy. We truly believe that when we bring kids of all abilities together, everyone is better for it.
In the U.S., 1 in 7 kids has a developmental disability. Although the Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits exclusion of a child from a summer camp program on the basis of disabilities, the truth of the matter is it can be difficult to find a summer camp you trust with your child.
We’re committed to creating a Brecksville summer camp that is not only dynamic and fun for all kids of all abilities, but that is therapist-led and helps keep all kids safe, engaged and learning.
Kids with disabilities should experience summer camp as fully and joyfully as their typically-developing peers. Research shows that when kids get a chance to participate in activities and games with their peers on a daily basis, they learn and develop both individual and teamwork skills. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that interactions in these non-academic settings are extremely important in promoting many positive outcomes for participants – including improvement of social skills, communication, self-esteem and, ultimately, social acceptance.
There are only five vowel letters in the English alphabet (six if you count y) but more than 20 vowel sounds we use in everyday speech. Vowels are critical to language, and are among the first babbled by babies when they’re first learning to talk. But some children struggle with them. It could be a condition like childhood apraxia of speech. It could be difficulty with the shape of the mouth and positioning of the tongue and lips. Kids who have a hard time saying vowels properly will have a tough time communicating and (eventually) spelling the proper sounds. Cleveland speech therapy for kids can help.
April is Occupational Therapy Month. Children who need the assistance of an Akron occupational therapist may be diagnosed with any number of conditions, from down syndrome to autism spectrum disorder to traumatic injury. The goal of a pediatric occupational therapist is to help kids who struggle with everyday tasks due to poor motor skills. This can include tasks that are a part of learning and functioning well at school, home and recreation – anything from handwriting to walking to zipping their coats to staying on task.
As providers of occupational therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville and Broadview Heights, we are occasionally asked what is the difference between an “OTR” and a “COTA.” These are two different titles you may see after the names of your Akron occupational therapist.
Essentially, it comes down to education and training, though there are also differences in responsibilities too. OT(R) stands for Registered Occupational Therapist. Registration only happens after an occupational therapist passes the state boards following graduate school. It requires at least a 2.5-3-year Master’s or Doctorate degree in occupational therapy.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same principle applies when it comes to pediatric speech therapy. Our Akron speech therapists are committed to working with your child through thick and thin, and we won’t give up when it gets hard.
That said, study after study has shown optimal outcomes when parents and speech-language pathologists work together to help practice skills in as many environments and with as much consistency as possible to improve carryover. In one recent analysis published last year in the International Journal of Language & Communication Disorder, collaboration with parents was found to be a common theme among kids who made greater strides.
It’s estimated approximately 1 in 12 kids have a disorder related to speech, voice, language or swallowing. Pediatric speech therapy can help kids make enormous progress. Sometimes in the end, you would never know the child received speech therapy. But involving parents can accelerate the process and make the experience easier for the child.
Here, our Akron pediatric speech therapy explain some of the key benefits of therapists and parents being on the same page:
Registration for Thrive & TWC Summer Camp 2021 is now officially open! Our camp is therapist-led with a high staff-to-camper ratio, and kids of all ages & abilities are welcome! New themes and field trips are scheduled for each week, and families can choose to sign up for just one week, a few weeks or join us for the whole summer!
Weekly themes for 2021 are as follows:
- Week 1 (June 7-11) Around the World
- Week 2 (June 14-18) Glow
- Week 3 (June 21-25) Grow
- Week 4 (June 28-July 2) Fishing [lower levels] & Outer Space [upper levels]
- Week 5 (July 5-9) Bill Nye
- Week 6 (July 12-16) Nature & Me
- Week 7 (July 19-23) Carnival
- Week 8 (July 26-30) Under the Sea
- Week 9 (Aug. 2-6) Habitats & Farm Life
- Week 10 (Aug. 9-13) Water Week
- Week 11 (Aug. 16-20) Water Week
To learn more, check out our new Thrive Summer Camp page. The online registration form is available for submission at the bottom of that page. You can also find it at the bottom of the New Patient Forms page.
If you have additional questions, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (330) 748-4807.
An estimated 20 percent of Americans are affected by dyslexia, which represents 80-90 percent of all learning disabilities, according to The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. It’s a wonder that we’ve only just begun to make the research progress we have over the last three decades. There is still much we are learning about it, but what we can say unequivocally is that working with a Cleveland speech therapist can help children with dyslexia overcome their learning deficits.
What is Dyslexia, Exactly?
The most common of all neuro-cognitive disorders, dyslexia is an unexpected learning difficulty in reading for a person with the intelligence to be a much better reader. It’s mostly attributed to trouble with phonological processing (appreciating the individual sounds of spoken language), which in turn affects one’s ability to speak, write and spell. It’s a life-long condition that occurs in different degrees of severity. The exact root cause isn’t known, but there is believed to be a strong genetic component.
As speech-language pathologists (or SLPs for short), we have a great deal of knowledge and education when it comes to identifying and treating phonological issues. We play a key role in helping these kids to read – even if the trouble is only with reading and not speech (as is sometimes the case with dyslexia). Speech therapy can help a child vastly improve their phonological skills so they can better grasp how sounds blend together – which is ultimately going to help them in their reading and writing efforts, directly impacting academic success.
It should be noted that while this condition has never been about lack of trying or intelligence, many kids with dyslexia do also have some type of language learning disorder. This can be addressed by a Cleveland speech therapist as well. In fact, we play a key role in reading intervention – even if the trouble is only with reading and not speech.
Attention is a necessary component for children’s development and academic success. But helping kids maintain attention and focus has undoubtedly gotten tougher in recent years. We’re confronted with increased screen time, compelling animations and other constant distractions. It’s especially tough when the child has an additional challenge such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism and the task is something non-preferred. As our Akron occupational therapists can explain, one of the best ways to improve attention for an important task or just throughout the day is exercise!
Research over the last 30 years has boosted our understanding of the benefits of exercise, confirming that it:
- Boosts biological chemicals essential for brain cell growth.
- Stimulates the birth of new neurons.
- Mobilizes genes believed to enhance brain plasticity (the brain’s ability to alter neural pathways).
Wearing a mask has become required in many stores, restaurants, public event sites and schools. But complying with these mandates can be very difficult for children with disabilities and/or sensory processing needs. But our Cleveland ABA therapy team knows that doesn’t mean they cannot learn to overcome these aversions, particularly when it is a public health issue.
School districts across Ohio have various degrees of restrictions (some remain closed with only virtual school provided, others give parents the option to participate in virtual or in-person schooling and some are fully open). But just recently, the CDC released a series of guidelines for what it will take to safely re-open schools. As The New York Times reports, “the point of most agreement (among pediatric experts) was requiring masks for everyone: students, teachers, administrators and other staff. All respondents said universal masking was important, and many said it was a simple solution that made the need for other preconditions to opening less essential.”
If your child struggles with mask-wearing, our Cleveland ABA therapy team can help by incorporating it into our sessions, little-by-little, with positive reinforcement. But there are also ways you as a parent can help your child with this as well.
When it comes to speech therapy, our team carefully maps out a plan of care that is specific to each individual. Kids with multiple disabilities are going to need extra consideration and planning. Many of our patients not only struggle to communicate, but they also have:
- Visual impairments.
- Hearing impairments.
- Intellectual impairments.
- Mobility impairments.
Speech therapy alone can put a lot of goals on a child’s plate. But many of these kids are also recommended for/receive all or some combination of occupational therapy, ABA therapy and physical therapy.
Working With a Collaborative Team
One of the ways Therapy & Wellness Connection is unique in the Northeast Ohio region is that we offer all of these services in one location – and we also offer in-home care, educational services, therapy groups and camps. We understand that parents of children with multiple disabilities are dealing with enough each day as it is. They want the best care for their child, but they are also just trying to get by with day-to-day life. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible on them, while also providing top quality services. The benefit of having a multi-disciplinary team is that we’re all on the same page, working together, collaborating – so parents and caregivers aren’t having to explain the same thing to five different therapists in multiple disciplines.
Our ability to collaborate and get on the same page as providers can influence how successful we are in our strategies for working with children who have numerous disabilities. Because a child isn’t just a mouth or ears or eyes. It is a whole person. We recognize that – and work to address challenges from a holistic perspective.
Modifying Akron Speech Therapy to Meet the Child’s Needs
Our speech therapy team is always looking at ways we can be the most effective. That means we’re never going to use the exact same approach for two different children. (We don’t even always use the same approach for the same child, particularly as they make progress!)
We look carefully at each patient’s level of communication as well as their comorbidities. When we’re preparing our speech therapy sessions, we look at ways we can modify our approach so that we can keep it fun and engaging, but also allow them to actively participate and reach their target goals – even if that is inch-by-inch.
- For a child with visual impairments, we would incorporate lots of tactile and auditory input as well as possibly sign language.
- For a child with auditory impairments, we would incorporate large visual aids and clear signs.
- For a child with behavioral challenges, we set clear rules and expectations and collaborate with their behavior therapist on the strategies they are using so we can stay consistent across the board.
One thing that doesn’t change is that our efforts are always based on what is going to create the best outcomes for the child.
We invite parents and caregivers of children with multiple disabilities to call us, meet with us, tour our facilities and talk with other parents of patients about their challenges and successes and why they have chosen us to help their child communicate and thrive.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and Cleveland. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Multiple Disabilities, April 19, 2019, Center for Parent Information and Resources
More Blog Entries:
Top Five Speech Teletherapy Myths, Jan. 10, 2021, Akron Speech Therapy Blog
Lots of people think the terms meltdown and tantrum are interchangeable. It’s true they look very much the same when a child is in the midst of one, but the reasons behind them – and how you respond to each – are actually quite different. As an Akron OT (occupational therapist) can explain, knowing the difference between the two can help you react in a way that’s going to best support your child.
What is a Tantrum?
Tantrums are outbursts that occur when a child is trying to get something they want or need. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, you know temper tantrums are pretty par for the course. However, they tend to taper off as children gain the language necessary to express themselves and the tools needed to self-regulate their emotional responses.
Some children find it’s tough to keep their emotions in check even once they do have the language skills to cope. They get frustrated and angry quickly. They might throw a tantrum if a sibling gets more cereal than they do or if they’re denied a candy bar at the grocery store.
Of course, screaming, yelling and throwing ones’ self on the floor aren’t socially expected or appropriate ways to get what we want, but as an Akron OT or RBT can tell you, the behavior is occurring for a reason. It is serving a functional purpose. Ultimately, the behavior is somehow being reinforced. They have learned that engaging in this behavior has a desired outcome – even if it’s not always a positive one. You may notice some kids will stop in the middle of a tantrum to see if their parent or teacher is looking at them. Tantrums stop either when a child gets what he/she wants OR they are taught that throwing a tantrum will not get them what they want.
What is a Meltdown?
Meltdowns are different from tantrums because they stem not necessarily for the purpose of a desired outcome, but because of a reaction to feeling overwhelmed. They are very common with children on the autism spectrum when they are receiving too much – or too little – sensory input. Certain textures, sights, sounds, tastes and personal interaction can lead to a kind of sensory overload.
Commotion at a grocery store or the different smells and textures of a non-preferred meal could trigger a meltdown. A sensory meltdown is a reaction of someone who is trying to process too much at once.
Think about it like this: Every person’s tolerance for sensory input is like a pitcher of water. Most of us can control the flow and fill the liquid a little at a time. Those of us with language and emotional coping skills can communicate when the pitcher is getting too full or shut the water off ourselves. A child without these skills – particularly one who is very sensitive to sensory stimuli – may not be able to control the flow before the pitcher gets too full and overflows. This is when one’s “fight or flight” response turns on – and is displayed through running away, yelling, crying or completely shutting down.
How an Akron OT Can Help With Meltdowns
An Akron OT and/or ABA therapist can work with your child to determine the root cause of your child’s outbursts. Is there a function? What is making them feel overwhelmed? We will look carefully at the antecedent (what happens just before the tantrum/meltdown), the behavior (the child’s action) and the consequence (what happens immediately after).
Sometimes, parents reinforce unexpected behaviors without realizing it. For example, if the function of a tantrum is that it allows the child to avoid a non-preferred task, parents may be unintentionally reinforcing that behavior by removing the child from the situation. If a meltdown is set off by sensory overload, we can work on self-regulation, visual schedules and other strategies to give child the tools to better cope.
Sensory meltdowns can sometimes last for hours.
Ultimately, the best thing long-term is to help children develop self-regulation skills and to practice them yourself. Deep breathing, counting to a certain number and other self-soothing methods can help you respond with both wisdom and patient and reduce the incidence of tantrums and meltdowns.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides ABA therapy to children in Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Akron and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, homeschooling, alternative schooling, virtual therapy and education, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
The 3 Main Differences Between a Sensory Meltdown and a Temper Tantrum, Feb. 12, 2020, By Sa’iyda Shabazz, FamilyEducation.com
More Blog Entries:
What to Look for in a Cleveland Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Dec. 12, 2020, Akron OT Blog