February is National Children’s
Dental Health Month
Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. If teeth brushing is a struggle, consult your occupational or speech therapist for some tips for success. Children who are experiencing distress or pain from poor dental health, struggle with eating, and may exhibit poor behavi ors. Nonverbal children may not be able to express that they have a tooth ache or are experiencing hypersensitiveness. For the best dental health, schedule regular visits to your favorite pediatric dentist. Treasured Smiles in Frankfort, IL is one of our favorites!
Indoor Ice Skating
This is a great way to get some energy out on those cold winter days. Empty shoe boxes work great on carpet and for smooth floors use paper plates or make wax paper boots. This activity can help improve leg strength, endurance, and motor planning when skating though an obstacle course! Encourage participation by joining in on the fun!
“Jillian has really come out of her shell. She is able to express herself so much better now. In addition, her fine motor skills have dramatically improved. When she first started therapy she was unable to use scissors well at all. She cuts like a champ now! She struggled with grasping her pencil correctly and spacing letters when writing, she doesn’t have a problem anymore. She had low muscle tone, too. She is so much stronger now and does so much more than she could do 3 years ago! She has gained so much confidence. She tries new things that she would have balked at before. Her focus and attention has improved tenfold, which has made a positive impact on her school work. I can’t say enough about how much occupational therapy has helped Jillian and ho w lucky we are to have Sarah in our lives.”
~ Lisa K.
“My 3 year old son, Charlie, has made huge improvements since starting occupational therapy at CTC. He has difficulty with sleeping and aggression (hit, bite, pinching) towards family members during morning routine, when overwhelmed in public, or tough transitions at home. Trish, our OT, helped me realize Charlie was experiencing sensory processing difficulties and also had difficulty with fine motor tasks such as stacking blocks and picking up small objects. With recommendations of a daily sensory diet of heavy work and various other activities and strategies, Charlie is now able sleep through most of the night and tantrums are less aggressive and frequent. He does not aggressively seek out to hurt his older sisters. He is now m seeking more puzzles and other fine motor manipulative games to play. Things are getting better!!!”
~ Patricia P. Physical Therapist
We first started at CTC because we had concerns about Lucy’s speech; she wasn’t speaking and mostly grunted for what she wanted. Then our speech therapist notice she was also having difficulty with her play skills and coordination, and recommended a Occupational Therapy evaluation. OT was concerned with Lucy’s ability to process the information coming in from her environment, and then being able to engage in age appropriate play skills. Ever since we have been doing a combination of speech and occupational therapy, Lucy has been making huge strides in all areas. She has had an enormous jump in speech since we have been addressing her sensory processing difficulties. I am so grateful for the therapist at CTC for making sure my daughter gets what she needs.
~ Maria K. Kindergarten teacher
ESTABLISHING BEDTIME ROUTINES
The Importance of Sleep.
Every living creature needs to sleep. It is an essential part of our day ensuring we are healthy and ready for what life has in store for us. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development. Going to sleep and getting enough sleep are important skills for children to learn. Optimal sleep helps to ensure that children are able to play and are ready to participate in daily activities at school or at home. Parents often struggle with bedtime and making sure children go to bed at a reasonable time. A bedtime routine can help both parents and children make this daily activity a pleasant experience. Sleep is one of the many daily occupations (activities) that occupational therapy practitioners help to promote. The following tips are from pediatric occupational therapy practitioners who have experience with educating parents on promoting healthy daily routines, including bedtime.
Establish a specific bedtime and a bedtime routine.
Select a bedtime that you feel is appropriate for your child based on his or her age and schedule, and be consistent, even on weekends and during vacations. Establish a predictable, regular sequence of events to help your child relax and prepare for sleep. Begin the bedtime routine approximately 45 minutes to an hour before bed. If your child is able to talk, give them reminders about when bedtime is coming. Encourage your child to be part of the process by asking what step comes next, offering choices of books and/ or songs. Use a transitional item such as a special blanket or soft toy. Avoid vigorous exercise or “rough housing” as these are alerting activities. As part of the routine, have your child pick up and put away toys. Reducing visual clutter can help your child focus on bedtime. Consider playing calming music while engaged in your bedtime routine.
Sensory Considerations at Bedtime.
Reduce environmental input and noises that can be over stimulating. Start by turning down lights during your routine. “Unplug” from electronics. Be aware that light from electronics can interrupt the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. All screen time heavily stimulates the brain for hours afterwards, which creates difficulty regulating and calming the nervous system, which largely associated with sensory processing difficulties. This over stimulation also prevents the natural development of cognitive abilities such as focus, impulse control, calming, sleep patterns, etc… Limit daytime TV watching to age appropriate shows and keep in mind, all young children (under 6) should have minimal exposure to all “screen time” (phones, televisions, IPads, etc…). Minimal constitutes 1-2 hours a day of cumulative exposure.
Consider soft velour sheets, micro fleece sheets, flannel sheets or sensory lycra “compression” sheets, as cotton sheets are cold and can alert the sensory system. Weighted blankets can help calm the nervous system, blankets are custom made according to your child’s weight.
Consider placing a heavy pillow over their feet and/ or have them sleep with snug fitting socks…studies show that warmth and pressure on the feet help induce and prolong sleep. Try blackout curtains to stop unwanted light from waking them.
White noise is best to reduce environmental noises that interrupt sleep. Fan type sounds work best, rather than ocean or nature. Try spraying a calming scent like lavender essential oil spray in their room, be mindful if your child has allergies or is hypersensitivity to smells.
If a night light is needed, red light is recommended. Red is the only color that does not disrupt melatonin production. Turn the night light off as soon as the child falls asleep.
Keep room temperature cooler, approximately 65 degrees.
A restful child and family is the best strategy for a healthy life! Happy sleeping……
Need More Information?
At Children’s Therapy Connections we can evaluate your child for any issues underlying his or her ability to go to sleep and stay asleep, and then create an intervention plan to address them. For example, an evaluation could reveal that the child is particularly sensitive to noise, textures, or odors, making it very difficult to relax enough for routine sleep. Our therapists can work with your entire family to help create an individualized strategy based on your child’s particular situation and needs.