A Therapists Guide to Fix the Developmental Delay of Baby Milestones

Child Mind Institute’ Speak up for Kids

Thursday, April 26, 2012@ 4:45 PM

Child Mind Institute’s Speak Up for Kids!

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 6-12, 2012)

Fifteen million children in the United States have psychiatric and learning disorders, but very few of them will be identified and get the help they need. Stigma, lack of awareness, and misinformation about diagnosis and treatment mean kids miss out on early intervention we know can transform lives. The Child Mind Institute’s Speak Up for Kids is about standing with these kids and families so our message is heard: childhood mental health matters and treatment works.

During National Children’s Mental Health Week (May 6-12, 2012), Speak Up for Kids helps to break down the barriers of that prevent millions of children from getting the early intervention they deserve. Without treatment, children with psychiatric disorders are more at risk for school failure, bullying, substance abuse, incarceration, and suicide.

Join us! Help us to ensure that every child receives the early intervention that we know is crucial to transforming lives. Speaking up is the first step.

Visit childmind.org/speakup to add your voice to this important cause. Our goal is to turn the globe green—the color of children’s mental health.

As part of Speak Up for Kids, mental health professionals will give free talks in their communities to share helpful information about childhood mental health disorders and other topics relating to raising healthy, happy kids. Topics include: ADHD, anxiety, behavioral challenges, bullying,depression, trauma, and social media.

Find a talk near you: childmind.org/map

If you cannot attend a talk, participate in our Live Web Events. On Monday, May 7th, Dr. Steven Kurtz will present “Is it ADHD or Just Inattention?” LIVE on Facebook. We’re also hosting a live Facebook talk on Friday, May 11th with Dr. Melanie Fernandez, who will present “The Difficult Child: Managing Behavior.” The Child … Read more

bay massage and therapyThis week is Infant Massage Awareness Week in certain areas, so it reminded me of the many benefits fo massage.

 Touching therapeutically is physcially and emotionally helpful. Who doesn’t feel better after a relaxing massage? Well, infant massage fosters good parent-child interaction, helps with eye contact, improves sensory responses and can actually help with muscle tone and development.

When my son was a baby, he developed eczema very early. Eczema is always problematic, but was especially so with my son because he had it around his rectum. The skin would be irritated, cracked and often oozing. As a result, he started to hold back his bowel movements because they were painful when they touched his wounded skin. Elimination problems led to constipation and other gastro-intestinal problems. To help calm my son’s distress I would perform tummy massage and he would calm. Interestingly enough, my son constantly asks to have his tummy rubbed or his back massaged. He is now 6.

Although I am primarily my son’s mom, I am also his  therapist. He is ADHD combined type. He is hyperactive and inattentive and spends his days constantly chewing items he shouldn’t be chewing. When his kindergarten nap blanket was sent home at the end of the year, it was misshaped and ragged from chewing. He managed to chew the entire blanket! He seeks the input he senses his body needs. I understand his cravings. Massage is one of my favorite techniques for addressing these needs and helping him to get calm and organized. My son loves getting massaged and the interaction strengthens our relationship. Touch used therapeutically helps my son cope. I credit this to starting massage for him when he was a baby.

I located a blog post which describes why infant massage can make a difference in … Read more

 Parenting a child with special needs can bring joy in unexpected ways.  It can also bring frustration, anger,and denial.  It can make parents question their faith and sensitize them to circumstances they never imagined would be part of theirlives. 

Facing some hard truths about your child who has a developmental problem isn’t easy.  The following is intended to shed some light on different therapies and what they actually can help with.  

This article was originally published a year ago.  It is offered as part of Best of the Best, so I wanted to make it available to those who may not have already read it.

I consider my son to be “special needs” . He was recently diagnosed with ADHD combined type. He has trouble adhering to a structured protocol, and needs re-direction and supervision to ensure that he is paying proper attention. My son has a never ending urge to chew on a variety of things: clothes, blankets, Legos and more. 

I am the first to acknowledge that despite my efforts, it is likely that my son’s issues cannot be cured. Whatever combination of genes produced my wonderful child also wired his brain to work in a certain way. Once coded, the gene pattern is permanent. I can help my son learn to “harness” some of these behaviors in ways that will promote better attention and ultimately better learning. But I cannot fix or cure him of his ADHD. I can help decrease dysfunctional symptoms, and promote improvement in function, but I can’t undo what nature has done.

One of the most difficult parts of being a therapist is in talking to parents of special needs children, and explaining that I could help ameliorate the symptoms, and improve some of the movements, but I couldn’t cure … Read more

air pollution and child's healthMoms Clean Air Force (MCAF) is devoted to cleaning up the air our children and unborn babies breathe. While I don’t usually use my blog to tout political causes, I am going to make an exception for this particular issue. Clean air should be a priority if we want our children to have a healthy future.

If you knew that pollutants in the air had a direct link topremature deaths, asthma, decreased lung function, autism, ADHD and developmental delays, would you do something about it? If you had the opportunity to take measures which would improve the air quality for your unborn child or newborn infant, would you grab hold of that opportunity? Or are you the kind of person who thinks something should be done, but would rather leave the solution to others who are willing to get involved?

I am a pediatric occupational therapist with more than 16 years of clinical experience. I also have a 6 year old with ADHD combined type. In the years since I started working, there has been a marked increase in children diagnosed with asthma, autism, cerebral palsy, respiratory problems, ADHD and more. Recently I attended a panel discussion by some of the worlds’ leading experts on ADHD. They unanimously agreed that although it might seem like ADHD is currently over-diagnosed, in actuality it is probably under-diagnosed.

No one really understands the impact of these diagnoses until they have a child who has a developmental problem or who must be on life –saving medication their whole life. I understand not only because I have a son who has ADHD, but also because I treated so many of these children. Some of these problems are insidious. Children with autism and ADHD have behavior problems, socialization issues, sensory issues and cognitive … Read more

Neurofeedback or EEG biofeedback is an off-spring of biofeedback.

It arose out of our growing understanding of the brain and how the brain’s electrical activity, as measured by an EEG readout, plays a role in the creation of symptoms, such as anxiety or inattentiveness. Put another way, our brainwave patterns reveal the brain’s functioning and the field of neurofeedback is looking at how that functioning can be altered to alleviate symptoms. For example, the brainwave patterns of individuals with ADHD will be different than in those without ADHD.

From the point of view of neurofeedback– or “brain training” as some call it—we see that with certain conditions such as ADHD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or anxiety disorder, the brain is habitually making maladaptive choices. Those maladaptive choices are visible in EEG patterns.

One way of explaining this habituation is to say that the brain is not reading the environment accurately and therefore, not responding in a way that is appropriate for the individual’s here-and-now needs. Often it is just repeating a “then-and-there” need, a response that was helpful long ago but no longer useful. We have come to understand that the brain gets habituated, in an attempt to be efficient—why reinvent the wheel each time?—not realizing that it is not being effective! Many of our current mental health conditions we could describe as the result of the brain’s misperception of what it needs to do in the present in order to be efficient and effective.

With the latest research on the brain and the brain’s ability to adapt and change (neuroplasticity), we realize that the brain is much more flexible and, given the right conditions, has the ability to re-organize itself to some degree. What it needs in order to do this is 1) to see … Read more

Eating and feeding issues can be huge issues during baby and child development.

Healthy eating is essential in order for a baby to thrive and develop and achieve milestones. Refusal to eat or avoidance of food by a baby or child can be a seemingly endless nightmare for parents. The source of the problem can be difficult to determine. It could be related to swallowing problems (dysphagia) or motor planning problems (dyspraxia) or sensory problem or sucking problems or all of the above. Children who were preemies, children with autism, children with SPD, children with ADHD, children with genetic disorders and normally developing children can all make their parents anxious over their refusal to eat or their food pickiness.

Cheri Fraker and Laura Walbert are speech pathologists who specialize in the treatment of pediatric feeding disorders.

They wrote a great article on therapy techniques and suggestions for introducing new foods. Click here to read the article.… Read more

How to help your child become coordinated

Thursday, July 14, 2011@ 2:44 PM

uncoordinated kidChild development is so complicated that it is a wonder most children develop without the need for intervention.

 Many children meet their milestones, and have no cognitive delays, but are challenged when it comes to anything sports related. I am talking about kids with coordination issues which can interfere with their ability to swim, dance, hit a ball, catch a ball, etc. Lack of coordination can be a symptom of motor planning problems (dyspraxia), proprioception (knowing where the body is in space) or processing problems.

My son is one of those kids who can’t seem to integrate movement patterns that are demonstrated. For example, swimming has been very hard for him to learn. The instructor will show him how to reach forward and elongate his body so he can use his arms and legs properly, and inevitably he either moves his arms or his legs, but not both at the same time. He needs hand-over-hand assistance and many repetitions before he is able to form the motor memory.

There are a variety of programs which address these types of developmental coordination issues. 

The programs use movement patterns and auditory (sometimes visual) feedback to help the child improve bilateral integration and improve timing and accuracy of the movements. Motor learning and memory occur after many repetitions of movement patterns. The idea is to teach your child to move in a specific pattern and use both sides uniformly so that a precisely timed and accurate pattern emerges. Clapping hands is a pattern which requires hands to move away from each other and then come together at exactly the same time. If timing is off, the hands don’t meet in the middle and clapping isn’t successful. I have treated many children who clap more to the left or more to … Read more

choose the right therapy for your special needs childThe special needs designation encompasses a broad spectrum of developmental disabilities.

Many of these special needs are obvious in their presentation. Children with physical disabilities and cognitive delays are easily recognized within a short time. Finding the right treatment is more clear-cut. But children who have attention issues,  self-regulation problems, processing problems and/or sensory problems are not so easily identified. That makes it difficult for them to receive appropriate intervention and treatment. Danette Schott has written an excellent article which will help both parents and caregivers decide which treatment path to take for their child with one of these “invisible” disorders.

Click here to read what Danette has to say.… Read more

Children with ADHD do well with structure, but are we failing our children by structuring their education? I happened to come across this compelling video which made me question my current belief about how my ADHD son should be taught. The video also happened to show the demographics of diagnosed ADHD children across the United States, and my eyes popped open. Please take the time to watch this video by Sir Ken Robinson.
Read more

An ADHD personal story worth reading

Thursday, July 7, 2011@ 1:15 PM

ADHD bookADHD and other cognitive disorders are hot topics these days.

 As the problem gains media attention, and as more and more children are getting diagnosed, families are searching for treatment solutions. My six year old, who is ADHD, combined type, benefits from medication and a behavior based program. I chose this protocol based on my experience as an O.T., and on the advice of his therapists at the Child Mind Institute.

Although I am confident in the efficacy of my son’s treatment protocol, I am aware that every parent has to choose according to their belief of what is best for their child. Katherine Ellison contacted me after reading my review of a lecture I attended. She asked me to read her book “Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention”. It is a book about her personal journey with her son “Buzz” who is both ADHD and ODD, and about a year devoted to coming to a better understanding of both herself and her son. Katherine discusses her suspicion that she may have ADHD as well. She acknowledges the difficult relationship she has with Buzz.

The minute I received the book I started reading. I didn’t put the book down until I finished. Katherine manages to capture the nuances of family interactions when dealing with a member who has ADHD. She exposes her family life in a way that enables you to relate to her situation. Her personal honesty is compelling. It takes a lot of courage to lay bare your own insecurities and personality issues, and to admit how they can contribute to your child’s behavior.

Children with ADHD, ODD, NLD, Asperger’s and more can frustrate and confound caregivers like no other disorders can.

Until you live with a child who has ADHD, you cannot understand … Read more