Some people may wonder “Why would a child need occupational therapy? Kids do not have jobs.” A child actually has many jobs throughout his day, including: playing, interacting with peers and adults, following directions, sitting down and paying attention, completing school work, completing self-help tasks (bathing, dressing, eating, managing belongings), engaging in fine motor and gross motor activities, and regulating emotions. When a child has a challenge in one or more of these areas, then he may benefit from occupational therapy. At Leaps and Bounds, we assess a child to determine the underlying causes of the challenges and we provide fun, play-based therapy to improve skills. Please refer to our Development Checklist (Does My Child Need Help?) or call our office for a free consultation if you have concerns about your child.
Articles By Carrie Salyer
Looking for the perfect gift for that special child in your life? What IS the perfect gift? If you ask the therapists at Leaps and Bounds, we will tell you that the gift should be a toy or game that will encourage the use of the senses, promote motor skill development, and facilitate language skills. While that may not sound like fun, that is what makes it a perfect gift. It provides opportunities for learning and development, while a child will simply see the toy as fun, unadulterated play. So, what is this toy you ask? Well, it may be any one of many toys or games sitting on the shelves of your local store.
The tendency today is to buy electronic toys. Everything is focused on technological advancement. Even for the smallest of babies, toys light up, make noise, speak different languages, you name it. While these toys have their benefits, they offer limited interactive sensory experiences. The more a child can engage his senses, the more learning and development will occur. When a child is able to hold and feel an object, use his proprioceptive sense to get feedback about force and direction, or use his eyes when looking at a three-dimensional object, then his brain is making sense of his body and the world around him. This helps a child to better develop fine motor and gross motor skills, social skills, language skills, attention, and self-regulation.
A popular electronic game such as Angry Birds may hold a child’s attention, but it offers limited sensory experiences. While a child must learn to change his force as he drags his finger back to launch the bird, it does not offer much more for tactile and proprioceptive feedback. The visual input from the screen is only two-dimensional, which limits visual development.
On the other hand, let’s talk about good old-fashioned toys, such as building blocks or Legos®. What can a child do with these? He can build a fort, a cave, a castle, a garage, a house, a fire station, do I need to go on?? The options are endless. What does it take to build a structure? It requires the creation of an idea, the motor plan to build it, and the strength, control and visual motor coordination to place the blocks where they are intended. Vision, touch, and proprioception help the body to stack and create. The child gets feedback about how much force to use to place the blocks so they do not fall over, as well as how to control his arm and hand to place the block. The child can develop language skills by learning and understanding spatial concepts such as stacking “on, behind, up, etc.” If a child builds a structure with a peer, he must learn cooperative play, turn-taking, negotiating, compromising, and other social skills. The development of skills with such a simple activity can be limitless.
A nice alternative to modern technology with the benefits of a traditional toy is the Angry Birds Board Game. This game requires that the child build with blocks and then use a three-dimensional sling to launch birds to knock down the tower. This game will provide him with skill-building sensory experiences (and lots of fun!).
You know what my 6 month old loves to play with more than anything? Paper. She can entertain herself for 20 minutes by just ripping and scrunching and dropping and banging paper. What does she learn? She learns how it feels and sounds when she uses it for different actions. Every now and then as it creeps up to her mouth, she learns how it tastes! She is developing fine motor strength and control as she scrunches it, drops it and picks it back up. She is learning how to use both of her hands together and how to coordinate her eyes with her hands. She is discovering cause and effect and the impact she can have on her environment. While we will not give her paper as a gift, we realize that the choice of toys for her can greatly impact her skill development. The more she can explore on her own, the more learning and growth that will occur. She can learn a lot more from playing with paper than from slapping a button that will make lights, music, and animal sounds (which usually happens all at once and is over-stimulating). How many times have you purchased an expensive gift, and a child spends more time playing with the box? Just think about all of the sensory experiences and the learning and development that can occur with that simple box and a child’s vivid imagination!
So, as you are searching for that perfect gift idea, consider how a toy can stimulate the senses, enhance motor development, and challenge thinking. Look no further than some of the great, traditional toys and games that can provide oodles of fun and tons of development opportunities.
Click on this link for a list of toys and games that make great gifts.
What makes Leaps and Bounds different from other therapy providers?
Leaps and Bounds was created to provide a unique therapy experience for children and their families. Our caring, well-trained professional staff provides one-of-a-kind, individualized therapy to meet the specific needs of each child and family. At Leaps and Bounds, many parents experience relief in finding professionals who understand their child and the unique struggles their family faces each day.
Each therapist at Leaps and Bounds is highly trained to provide top-quality therapy. Our therapists use a comprehensive approach to assess each child’s needs. We ensure that our therapists are trained in the latest, most up-to-date therapies, including but not limited to: Sensory Integration Therapy, The Listening Program, Therapeutic Listening, Handwriting Without Tears, Talk Tools, Beckman Oral-Motor Treatment, CranioSacral Therapy, and Myofascial Release.
We have found that children make the most progress when parents understand why their child is having difficulties. Therefore, we spend a significant amount of time educating parents about how sensory processing is impacting their child’s performance. We want parents to fully understand the underlying causes of their child’s difficulties, how therapy services would benefit their child, and strategies they can use at home, at school, and in the community.
Our center provides a safe environment for parents to express concerns, share their feelings and frustrations, and celebrate their child’s successes. Parents frequently call or stop by the center just to ask questions or to share stories. We are always ready with an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and a smile of support. We often start as a professional resource for families but remain friends long after therapy has ended.
It is our passion to provide children and families with a positive, memorable experience. We get to celebrate with families when their child can verbalize his requests, make it through a store without a meltdown, sit for a family meal, wear hair bows without tears, walk barefoot in the sand, and enjoy raindrops on her face. We can help your child succeed, and we can guarantee that you will not have a similar experience anywhere else!
Come experience the difference at Leaps and Bounds!
When: November 13, 2009 8:00am-3:45pm
Where: Marriott St. Louis Airport
Presented by Carrie Salyer and Lisa Cooseman
Handwriting is a complex task that requires the integration of our senses. In this seminar, participants will learn to look at handwriting through all of the senses. Understanding the foundational components of handwriting is critical in facilitating successful skill development. The sensory systems and their ability to process information is the center of this development. The presenter will discuss the developmental and sensory processing foundations that are necessary for production of efficient and legible handwriting. Various evaluation tools, including standardized and non-standardized assessments will be discussed to assist attendees in determining which tool may be best suited for the children they serve. This course will provide a different perspective of addressing handwriting development, as compared to traditional, direct treatment approaches. There is an emphasis on addressing the underlying skills required for efficient and legible handwriting. Specific handwriting techniques will not be taught.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are urged to register today!
They say, “Wait and see…she’ll grow out of it”, but I have concerns. What should I do?
When it comes to your child…you are the expert. Whether it is your first child, and something “just doesn’t seem quite right”, or it is your fifth child and you know that “he is just not like the others”, we believe that you as the parent know your children better than anyone else. (more…)
My child has difficulty paying attention in class. I would prefer to not use medication. Do I have other options?
Yes, there are other options. Though medication may be effective in improving attention in some children, it may not be effective for every child. Some parents may wish to avoid the side effects that accompany some medications, and prefer a more natural treatment approach. If a child’s difficulty in attending is a result of poor sensory processing, then sensory integration-based treatment will be the best option. (more…)
I have never heard of sensory processing disorder. Why has no one ever mentioned this before?
Many people simply do not know about Sensory Processing Disorder. Sensory processing is the ability of the nervous system to perceive sensory information (touch, sound, vision, movement, etc.), process it, and produce a response based on how the information is interpreted. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can be a diagnosis of its own, or it may be seen in conjunction with other diagnoses, (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, etc.). Because the signs of SPD may be similar to those seen in other diagnoses, it is often overlooked. (more…)
Established in 2005, Leaps and Bounds was the first pediatric therapy center of its kind in the Greater St. Louis area, and is the only facility of its kind in St. Charles County. Located on Jungermann Road in St. Peters, Missouri, Leaps and Bounds was formed when Occupational Therapists, Lisa Cooseman and Carrie Salyer, had a vision to help children and families who were not able to get the services they needed from other resources. Leaps and Bounds is a unique facility that embraces not only a child’s therapy needs, but provides a comprehensive program that is family-centered.