Music is powerful. Music stimulates the entire brain and has the power to improve your mood, reduce pain, and calm you down. It is also a useful tool in speech and occupational therapies. Music can be especially useful for children with autism spectrum disorder, as it provides a great vehicle for therapists to improve the development of social skills.
How can you tune into this universal language? If your child is young, sing them a lullaby to stimulate early language development. If your kiddo is ready to bang out their own beat, help them create a few instruments with items you have around the house – pots and pans or plastic bottles and rice. Holding a spoon to bang on the pot helps with gross motor development. If your child is ready to get their groove on, queue up a kid-friendly playlist on your favorite music app and start a dance party. This will work on their body awareness, coordination, and balance.
And lastly, check out the resources below and like our Facebook page for more information and activities throughout the month.
Each May we have the opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders thanks to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. This year’s theme is “Building Connections.” With speech and language disorders among the most common conditions experienced by young children, TLC Pediatric Therapy encourages parents and caregivers to learn the signs of communication disorders, and seek evaluation if they have any concerns.
Here are some signs of a speech or language disorder in a young child (age 3 and under):
- Does not smile or interact with others (birth and older)
- Does not babble (4–7 months)
- Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7–12 months)
- Does not understand what others say (7 months – 2 years)
- Says only a few words (12–18 months)
- Says words that are not easily understood by others (18 months – 2 years)
- Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5–3 years)
- Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2–3 years)
Early intervention has been proven to be beneficial to a child’s development. Here are a just a few benefits:
- Maximizes a child’s success. Treatment at any age is worthwhile, but earlier treatment can reduce the need for school-based services later.
- Saves time and money. It can take less time to treat a communication delay or disorder when families act on the early warning signs. Fewer treatment sessions can also mean fewer out-of-pocket expenses. TLC can also link you to other community supports.
- Prepares a child for kindergarten. What happens between birth and age 3 lays the foundation for kindergarten readiness. Strong speech, language, cognitive, and social skills are necessary for reading, writing, and academic success—as well as all the other demands of school.
- Sets a child on a course to school, social, and life success. All families want what’s best for their children. Acting early can have positive, long-lasting effects on your child’s communication, social relationships, learning, and daily life activities well into adulthood.
If you would like more information about receiving therapy services at TLC or have questions, visit our Getting Started page to fill out the Therapy Services Form.
Together, music, books, and play are powerful tools during your child’s early years. Nurturing a love for them early can foster many moments of happiness and enjoyment beyond childhood.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association strongly recommends the use of music activities to complement communication training methods that are typically practiced in public schools. Studies have shown music to be effective at improving speech and language output.
Additionally, reading activities help develop literacy and communication skills. Start reading to your child early, and not only will you foster a lifelong love, but you’ll also give them a headstart on building vocabulary and building self-confidence. Want to learn more about literacy? Check out this great resource page.
And lastly…PLAY! Did you know that play is so important for children that it is recognized as a right under the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights? Play has multiple benefits for both you and your child. In addition to strengthening your bond, play develops children’s skills in all areas: cognitive, communication, physical, and social/emotional. And especially relevant in today’s climate, play is a natural stress reliever and promotes healthy habits such as engaging the child in the world around them.
Here are a few different games and activities that you can try out at home:
- One of TLC’s blog posts has a great list of “play” resources to check out.
- Musical Shakers – Whether homemade or purchased, shakers can help speech language therapists to gauge listening and word identification skills. Make shakers out of used water bottles and dried pasta or beans. Thanks to In the Playroom for this idea – visit their website for additional instructions on making shakers. [source: https://txsource.com/2016/08/30/12-ways-incorporate-music-games-speech-therapy-sessions/]
- Book lists for children based on reading level and subject matter.
- More music-making instructions!
Happy New Year everyone! As we ring in 2021, winter blues and COVID surges have merged to increase the stress on our physical and mental health. While hope is on the horizon with the first phase of COVID vaccines, it is still important to build our internal strength to be able to respond to these tough times.
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as
- “The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.”
Experiencing tough times and learning how to cope and recover in a healthy way are key parts of resilience. Check out the image below for a few strategies that can help you find actions, behaviors, and thoughts to strengthen your resilience “muscle.” The more you focus on building up its components – healthy thinking, wellness, connection, and meaning – the better you can flex your muscle when you experience difficulty or stress.
Psychology Today also recommends 3 practices to help you stay resilient through the rest of winter and COVID stress.
- Practice Deep Listening: “be fully present with others and listen to them with intent.”
- Practice Gratitude: “Resilience is being present during each day of the trial, naming what is hard and painful so you waste no energy in holding on to it. Gratitude is giving yourself permission to experience light and hope before the trial ends.”
- Practice Self-Care: “a self-care toolbox filled with diverse strategies [will] tend to our whole being for various scenarios.”
If you need additional resources of information, we also have some great blog posts on mindfulness and gratitude. Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page throughout the month for other winter activities.
Hello winter! The holidays and cooler weather are officially upon us. And in Southern California at least, we are experiencing both the anxiety of another surge of COVID-19 cases and hope as the first round of vaccines makes its way to our frontline healthcare workers and most vulnerable individuals.
December is the perfect time to explore and practice mindfulness. According to Mindful.org, mindfulness is defined as:
The basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Working from home or the office, remote learning for your kids, restrictions on family holiday gatherings… These are just a few of the situations that can impact your mindset and physical health. To mitigate the effects of anxiety or feeling overwhelmed, we’ve put together a list of a few kid (and adult) friendly activities and resources to take advantage of. As always, we’ll be sharing helpful tips and activities on our Facebook page throughout the month.
The holidays are officially upon us. In this unprecedented year, your stress levels are probably higher than normal, you may be feeling anxious about the future, and isolation from friends and family is a real challenge.
When everything feels upside down, it is important to step back and center yourself. That’s why this month, TLC’s 360 theme is “Gratitude.”
The most important thing to remember is don’t force it. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having a tough time feeling grateful right now. It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re not okay – and in fact, self-compassion is key to both your emotional and physical well-being.
Express your gratitude for the simple things. Try different activities with your child – painting gratitude rocks or going on a gratitude scavenger hunt – to find joy in how they see the world. Think about what makes you happy. Is it the changing colors of tree leaves, colored markers, Netflix, or pie? These things should bring you comfort in a time where you may not know exactly how you’re feeling.
Practicing gratitude can enhance your outlook on life and influence your mental health. Don’t forget to be good to your body; your physical health starts with your mind. Choose healthy foods, make sleep a priority, and get up and move every day. Release stress and tension by finding moments of stillness. Our August blog post has some great mindfulness tips and resources. And don’t forget to share the love. Invest energy into the relationships with those you spend the most time with. We know it can be tough being with your partner and children 24/7, try to remember to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
30 Gratitude Games and Activities for Kids to Practice Thankfulness
Includes activities like a gratitude jar, scavenger hunt, and tree. Crafts can aid fine motor development while reading and writing increase exposure to language and help develop language skills.
25 Ridiculously Inspiring Activities on Gratitude for Kids
A gratitude journal is perfect for older children, while gratitude bingo is an excellent tool for articulation, vocabulary development, and more!
Have you ever wondered why your speech pathologist uses a specific toy or activity to guide their speech and/or language activities with your kiddo? Play-based speech therapy uses a fun toy or activity to keep your child engaged while practicing a target skill – vocabulary, speech sound development, and so on.
There are a few different types of play-based therapy. See if you can recognize the type of play in your next session!
- Functional play: figuring out how common objects function and are used;
- Outdoor and movement play: activities that involve physical movement;
- Construction play: building with objects like blocks;
- Game play with rules: like board games that have specific sets of rules; and
- Symbolic, dramatic, and pretend play: common activities of your normal routine done as play.
Now that fall is here, even though it may not feel like it in Southern California, we’ve come up with a list of play(ful) fall ideas for you and your child. Follow our Facebook page to see more ideas throughout the month!
- Play farm – read a book or play with a farm set to practice animal noises, which works on your child’s articulation.
- Fall word cards – use objects, food, and more to develop your child’s vocabulary.
- Coloring pages – your child can practice sounds by sounding out the names of the colors they use
- Get crafty! Autumn trees, sensory play bins, play-doh pumpkin patches, and more!
- Practice fine motor skills, teamwork, and language with this fall-themed board game for preschoolers!
- And just for fun, an amazing post of Halloween activities focused on math and literacy!
The start of the school is normally filled with first day jitters and checking supply lists to make sure your child has everything needed. This fall, many children across the country will be starting the academic year via remote learning because of health and safety concerns due to COVID.
We understand that this is a difficult time for parents, especially those with children who are juggling not only their own work, but also their child’s remote learning. It is especially important to practice mindfulness during the back to school transition to reduce stress on the whole family.
Mindfulness is intentionally focusing awareness on the present without making judgements. You may already incorporate this practice into your life without even knowing it. Active listening, characterized by patience, verbal and nonverbal listening cues, remaining neutral, and asking questions, is a great tool to help you better understand and respond to your child’s needs. By staying informed of your child’s worries or challenges, you can help them navigate back to school with minimum disruption.
Other ways for parents to be mindful throughout their day include:
- Accepting your child and yourself without judgement;
- Try to imagine how your child is feeling (especially if they are unable to communicate) and include compassion and love in your response;
- Pause before reacting to manage your own feelings;
- Practice self-compassion and show compassion for your child.
- Source: “Mindfulness for Parents,” https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2268-mindfulness-for-parents
There are a range of mindfulness activities that you can practice by yourself, with your child, or with your entire family. Here’s a list that you can check out with your family: