TLC is Now Blogging at Our NEW Website

TLC has launched a new website at www.LearningWithTLC.org and our blog has moved along with it, and can now be found at www.LearningWithTLC.org/Blog 

All of our previous posts can now be easily found at our new address.

Please update your bookmarks to be sure you never miss a great post from TLC teachers and therapists. Recent posts at our new address include:

Teaching Literacy with Zoo-phonics

The Importance of Crossing the Mid-line in Infants

Calming Choice Boards for Kids

Cold Weather Speech and Language Activities for Kids

Thank you for reading and following!

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Cold Weather Speech and Language Activities for Kids

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By Fawn Gold, TLC SpeechTherapist

January in Colorado is a chilly month! And with cold temperatures, ice, and snow, comes the need for indoor activities with children. Find a whole month’s worth of indoor speech and language activities to help keep kids busy (and having fun!) while developing speech/language acquisition skills, and oral motor skills in the chart below:

 Make hot chocolate and talk about each step involved in preparation (first, second, third, etc.).  When getting ready to go outside, talk about the purpose of coats, hats, scarves, and why we need to wear them. Name four animals you see in the winter/cold climates and find pictures to discuss how they are similar and different from each other.   Act out and talk about the verbs jump, crawl, kick, throw, catch, and other movements that can be demonstrated in the living room.  Race cars on a table and talk about the differences between fast and slow.
 Read a book about winter and ask your child to recall five details from the story. Find items of different textures (rough, soft, hard, etc.) and put them in a bag and have your child guess what they are. Use silverware to make a pattern and talk about what’s first, last, and what will come next.  Take turns thinking of things that are white like the snow. Where can you find each of the things you list? Help your child find 10 words in a book or magazine that start with the same letter as your child’s name
 Find five things in the kitchen and talk about how they are used, and what you can make with them.  Make snowballs of various sizes and talk about the differences between big and small. Find all the tables in your house and talk about their sizes and shapes. Ask your child, what can you do on each table? Make a grilled cheese sandwich and label and talk about the ingredients. During a meal, include a variety of food textures and talk about soft, crunchy, chewy, etc.
 Have your child help sort the laundry and match colors. Write the names of all family members and then count the letters and talk about long and short.  Find several pairs of shoes and arrange them from biggest to smallest. Have your child go to three rooms in your house and find five things in each room that are blue While driving, ask your child about all of the different colors of houses, buildings, etc. that they see.
Walk between two buckets transferring cotton balls on a spoon and talk about full and empty. Take turns hiding a small object under one of three bowls and guessing which bowl it’s under (1st, 2nd, or 3rd). During bath time, talk about which toys or objects float and sink.  Use play-doh to make a snowman and talk about all of the body parts. Take turns naming as many different animals as you can.

Are you looking for a pediatric speech, physical, or occupational therapist for your child? TLC Learning Center has a highly rated pediatric therapy center, in addition to our 4 Star ranked preschool education and infant care center. Call us at (303)776-7417) to learn more.

The Importance of Community Involvement and Non-profit Organizations

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By Biff Chrisman, TLC Board Member

Winton Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” It is easy to get caught up the hustle and bustle of our lives and simply look past non-profit organizations and the benefit they provide to our communities. These benefits are far reaching, but can include children receiving better educations, homeless animals finding loving homes, children receiving quality medical care, and people in need being fed and sheltered. These are just a few examples of the many great services that are provided by non-profits. Our community is stronger because of the programs non-profits put in place, and help from the community, both financially and through volunteers, is always needed and appreciated.

We are all constantly adhering to busy schedules and the many demands pulling our attention and time in different directions. The programs in place in our community are only successful because of the caring individuals that find a little extra time to put the framework into place, implement the services, and stay the course to make sure that the mission and vision of an organization are being met. The success of the non-profits in our community can be accomplished by a group of people working together to better the lives of everyone that call the community home.

There are many great non-profit organizations in our community of Boulder County and Longmont that could use your help. Simply look at what is important to you and what you believe in, and reach out and give…maybe from your pocket… or maybe by volunteering an hour of your time to help the organization’s effort.  Everyone has needs, what can you do to help meet the needs of others in your community? Our community is only as strong as its members, and it takes a combined effort to ensure the future success for generations to come. 

I have been a resident of Longmont, CO for over 30 years and have seen first-hand the positive impacts that TLC Learning Center has had on both the community and children that I personally know.  I fully support providing all children in our community, with typical and non-typical needs, a higher standard of early education. It is a privilege and pleasure to be able to give back to my community through sitting on the Board of Directors of TLC Learning Center. Being a TLC Board Member lets me give back to the community that I love and call home. I challenge everyone in our community to find a way to do the same, whether by doing something small or something big. Doing SOMETHING is the greatest start.

It is time for all of us to reach out a helping hand and give back to our community. By doing so, we will all wake up feeling better about ourselves, and be happier with the person staring back at us in the mirror. One of our greatest leaders gave us this advice over 100 years ago:

“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in”    – Theodore Roosevelt

Being a part of TLC Learning Center is one of the ways I hope to help make the world not just a good place to live in, but a great place to live in. I hope you’ll consider joining me in supporting TLC Learning Center, or another community non-profit that inspires passion through their vision of a better place for all of us.

Holiday Stress Reduction Tips for Kids & Parents

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Happy Thanksgiving holidays to everyone from TLC! The TLC staff of teachers and therapists have pooled a few of their tips on how to have a happy, fun, and low-stress holiday break with your special kiddos.

Ashlee Andrews, TLC Teacher:

To help children adjust to the busy-ness and disruption from daily activities brought by the holidays, try to keep the daily schedule as normal as possible for children. Tell your child about the upcoming events so they have time to prepare for changes in their routine and schedules. With that, I think it’s important not to throw out ‘typical’ things just because it’s the holidays. For example, if it’s a routine for you to go to the library once a week or have a designated homework time, make sure to keep those designated activity times going. Priority lists are also great tools for making sure the most meaningful routines are taken care of, just in case you have to weed out a few activities and/or to-do’s due to a time crunch.

Shari Karmen, TLC Occupational Therapist:

Help children prepare for unfamiliar faces and situations by creating a “family & friends” book full of family member names and information, or flip through a photo album that includes photos of relatives the child will see and remind them who each person is. Help kids stay in touch with far-away family throughout the year by helping the child exchange letters with the family they will see over the holidays. Teach children what to expect at holiday gatherings by practicing at home. For example, if the family meal will be a buffet and the child hasn’t served themselves before, have a family buffet night at home before the event, and practice serving with special utensils and recognizing appropriate portion sizes. If a child is shy, help them initiate social interactions by letting them bring a toy, game, or other item they can show to family and explain the significance. The item can be both a conversation starter and a comforting presence for the child. Get more ideas like these at Sandbox Learning.

Amy Kuesel, TLC  Teacher:

During the holidays, it’s important for kids to get enough sleep to help them stay happy and calm during the excitement of the busy days. Have a quiet time mid-afternoon even if children do not nap. Get cozy in bed and read a book or listen to music to help create a calming, quiet space. In addition to excitement, the holidays can entice both kids and adults with lots of sugary foods. To help kids stay regulated in their behavior, be sure to balance the extra sweet foods with plenty of nourishing, healthy food.

Christy Griffith, TLC Occupational Therapist

Help children engage in focused, fun, and helpful activities through sensory-oriented tasks like kneading and rolling dough, washing windows, carrying weighted packages, or playing on a playground to make use of their energy. If going to an event, let children know what to expect, and how many minutes they may need to sit still for. Sensory pressure can help some children feel calm when events become over-stimulating: wrap your child snugly in a blanket so they feel safe and secure, or help them roll up “like a hotdog” in a blanket. The pressure and warmth of the blanket can be calming to some children when they become overwhelmed. Find more ideas at ATeachAbout.com

Do you have any tips for helping children and families enjoy the most out of the holidays possible? Let us know in the comments! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Welcoming Mothers to Breastfeed

By Cindy Wickham, TLC Educational Services Manager

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Did you know that breastfeeding helps reduce SIDS, illness, ear infection, and upset tummies in babies? And that despite all of the health benefits of breastfeeding for both infants and their mothers, it can still be challenging for a mother to find a safe, welcoming environment in which to breastfeed or pump?

TLC welcomes breastfeeding and pumping mothers, and is undergoing Breastfeeding Friendly training to further improve our ability to accommodate mother’s with nursing infants who are part of our infant & toddlers childcare program.

Breastfeeding Friendly, in addition to HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Living) training, is part of a center-wide initiative to develop an implementation plan and clear policies regarding healthy eating in our classrooms, educating families about the benefits of quality nutrition on healthy child development, and welcoming breast feeding parents and staff into our facility.

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Materials to make TLC a Breastfeeding Friendly site include books and toys to help children understand what breastfeeding is, why it is important, and to normalize seeing it.

Why Breastfeeding Friendly?

By becoming Breastfeeding Friendly certified and implementing HEAL, TLC will be able to better impact positive development in children through increased nutritional intake beginning at birth, and through monitored obesity prevention by classroom teachers, aides, and therapists. Healthy development impacts a child’s behavior in the classroom on a daily basis, as well-nourished minds and bodies are able to focus and learn better.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding and Creating a Space for Breastfeeding

Babies don’t need water or cereal, as all the liquids and nutrients they need are provided in their mother’s milk. Introducing solid foods before six months of age can replace the nutritional and caloric content provided by a mother’s milk, and should be avoided. A newborn’s brain is only about ¼ the size of an adult’s, and grows to be 80% of adult size by age three, and 90% by age five, the age when a preschooler graduates from TLC, making their time at TLC one of the most critical periods in their development for adequate nutrition acquisition, which starts in infancy. Poor nutrition contributes to delays in intellectual development by causing brain damage, illness, and delays of motor skill development. Early shortages in nutrients and exercise can reduce cell production; later shortages can affect cell size and complexity. Nutrient deficits also affect the complex chemical processes of the brain and can lead to less efficient communication between brain cells, potentially crippling a child’s cognitive potential for life.

By giving mothers who are able to breastfeed the space to do so during the day (both breastfeeding and pumping), whether on their lunch break from work, or before dropping off or picking up their child, we are helping mother’s build a solid nutritional foundation for their child. This foundation is built upon in our classrooms when TLC teachers help establish healthy eating habits and food preferences.

Infant Feedings at TLC

TLC infant room staff respond to hunger cues from infants in their care. Research shows it is best to feed a baby when it is hungry, not on a strict schedule. Babies have fluctuating appetites as they grow, and may receive different amounts of calories each time they feed, resulting in a need for more or less milk at alternating variables. Cue-feeding has been shown to help babies grow better, stay calm for feedings, and learn to eat when they are hungry, which can prevent over-eating and obesity as they grow. Cues for hunger in infants include opening mouths, sticking out tongues, or moving head side to side. Hand sucking can also be a sign of hunger, and turning away from a breast or bottle a sign of fullness. Infant room staff can store both breast milk and formula on site, and mothers are welcome to come during the day and feed their infants at any time.

Advice on Breastfeeding & Child Nutrition from Boulder County Health

The recommended minimum amount of time to breastfeed an infant is for the first six months. In this time, it is recommended to exclusively feed babies breast milk. Babies don’t need solid foods before they are six months old. Solid foods are difficult to digest before this time, and foods like cereal in a bottle can hurt baby’s teeth, upset tummies, and interrupt sleep. Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed through the child’s first birthday, and for longer if the mother wishes to do so.

A variety of positive food experiences and activities promote good eating habits and development in children. Focusing on programs about child health, breastfeeding, and healthy habits can improve a child’s cognitive development early on, and thus impact their mental processing and performance throughout life, and improve a child’s ability to make healthy choices that positively impact their own well-being. TLC’s programs for infants, toddlers, and preschool children, including the implementation of Breastfeeding Friendly, help build life-long healthy habits in kids.

“TLC” Means Excellence for ALL Children

 

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By Greg Ludlow, Vice President of TLC Board of Directors, Finance Committee member

 

TLC is One of the BEST Childcare & Preschool Centers for All Kids

The Tiny Tim Learning Center was founded many years ago by a dedicated group of parents of children with special needs. My step-daughter, Casey, was one of the early enrollees.  She is 41 today, lives on her own, and is largely self-sufficient, thanks to her involvement with places like Tiny Tim (now called TLC) and the wonderful people who worked there throughout her young life.

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Casey in preschool while attending Tiny Tim

When she entered Longmont High School, attending a few classes with typical children was called “mainstreaming.”  Today, having children with special needs in a class with typical children is referred to as an “inclusive classroom.”  The world is a better place today because of inclusive classrooms like those at TLC, where special kids like Casey aren’t locked away from their peers at a young age. This was the driving philosophy behind the founding of Tiny Tim, and remains the mission of Tiny Tim, called TLC, today: Kids with special needs and kids with typical development should learn side-by-side in inclusive classrooms to benefit both the children with special needs, and the children with typical development.

Candidly, TLC has little issue with attracting children with special needs to enroll in its programs. TLC’s long-standing reputation as a wonderful early childhood education program for children with special needs is just as well-deserved today as it was when my step-daughter attended. Even though the name has changed from “Tiny Tim” to “TLC,” the mission, the standard of care, and the quality of the education and services to families remains the same. Because of TLC’s reputation and word-of-mouth referrals, TLC almost always has a wait-list for children with special needs to enroll in its classrooms.

The wait-list stems from TLC’s commitment to classroom ratios of 6:4, meaning classrooms are comprised of 60% children with typical development, and 40% children with special needs. This is a research based best-practice ratio to ensure each child receives the maximum attention, care, and service needed to build kindergarten-readiness.

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TLC classrooms and teachers help ALL children learn positive behavior, learn critical early-learning concepts, grow up healthy, make friends, and become kindergarten-ready

 

Despite TLC’s ability to prepare EVERY child for success in kindergarten and beyond, enrolling the typical child has proven to be a difficult task for TLC. TLC’s most common feedback is that families don’t know TLC serves typical kids as well as kids with special needs. This misunderstanding is disappointing, in that TLC can only enroll more children with special-needs when there is a sufficient enrollment of typical kiddos to create the 6:4 ratio in every classroom.

Thus, the recent name change from The Tiny Tim Learning Center to TLC Learning Center. It is the Board of Director’s and the staff’s hope that the name will decrease the misconception that TLC doesn’t serve typical children with the high-quality education they need. TLC absolutely serves typical children with research-based curriculum, outstanding and caring staff, and carefully monitored progress of skill acquisition and development using the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment portfolios.

Beginning in 2013-2014, TLC teachers switched from paper portfolios to virtual portfolios, so all preschool student achievement and growth data was collected online, making it easy for data to be shared with kindergarten teachers after students graduate from TLC.  The Educational Services Manager, Cindy Wickham, collected data on TLC students for the Board in August, 2014. The data included:  percentage of TLC students leaving for kindergarten who were “kindergarten ready” based on Literacy and Math (achievement), and the number and percentage of students who were meeting or were above the expected growth. This growth data was aggregated by age (3-4 year olds, and pre-kindergarten/4-5 year olds). The growth data was collected in each of the following areas: social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, and mathematics. The results are highly indicative of TLC’s success in preparing ALL children for success upon entering kindergarten:

Achievement data: Of the eleven students who left TLC at the end of 2014 to enter kindergarten, 94% were “kindergarten-ready” based on math and literacy data collected in GOLD portfolios.

Growth data:  In the 3-4 year old group, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding growth expectations was between 87% (language) and 96% (social emotional). In the 4-5 year old group, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding growth expectations was between 94% (literacy & mathematics) and 100% (cognitive and social-emotional).

These results are especially noteworthy, when one remembers that TLC’s classrooms are not 100% typically developing children, but include 40% children with special needs.

 

Infant & Toddler Care at TLC, and Preschool Open Enrollment

The Board and staff’s desire to better share with the community our work with typical children also triggered our interest in launching Infant & Toddler childcare. TLC now provides inclusive, high-quality, Four Star Qualistar Rated Infant & Toddler childcare five days a week to better serve families, and to create a continuum of care for children from birth to five.

This is why I am writing this article. We need your help letting the community know that we serve typical children as well as special needs children, all while maintaining our same mission to provide comprehensive early childhood education and therapeutic services to assist each child in reaching his or her highest potential. Please take a moment and think of parents with newborns or infants and refer them to us, either by calling (303)776-7417 or by emailing Cindy Wickham at CWickham@LearningWithTLC.org.

While TLC is a 501(c)3 non-profit, it operates as a business in order to be able to fulfill our mission. As with any other business, operating at full capacity would allow us to both operate more efficiently and offer more children the opportunity to grow, learn, and become better prepared for entering grade school.

 

TLC’s Impact on My Family

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Casey and her brother, Tom

And if I might make it more meaningful by sharing a personal experience, please keep reading.  Cathy and I met and blended our existing families in 1983. She had Casey, and I had two daughters. Shortly thereafter, our son, Tom, announced his pending arrival. Fast forward to Tom’s first day of kindergarten at Hygiene Elementary. Cathy was a panic stricken mother-bird when he did not get off the afternoon bus. Tom called her a short time later to say his friend, who was born with a cranial birth defect, was being teased on the bus by some older boys, and Tom was afraid to get off and leave him alone with those boys. So Tom rode the whole way home with his friend.  I have been proud of my son many times in his life, but never more so than that day. He learned to be such a sensitive and caring person in large part by being raised with an older sister with Down syndrome. This is the type of compassionate behavior children with typical development learn in addition to literacy and math skills, by being in classrooms alongside children with special needs.

Don’t you want that same thing for your child, grandchild or just a young neighborhood kid?  That is what an inclusive classroom setting offers, among many other positive learning experiences for typical kids.

Telling the community what we do and who we serve to help us enroll more typical kids helps not only the typical kids, but the special needs kids we can take off our wait list and enroll in a classroom because of the balanced ratios created when typical kids enroll.

Could you help us spread the word?

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Casey, Tom, and Tom’s wife, Lindsay today

Surviving Halloween & Having Fun With Your Child

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By Lindsey Blechle, MOT, OTR

The excitement and anticipation of Halloween is building at TLC Learning Center, but for some children who are easily overwhelmed or with sensory processing disorder, this is a very stressful time of year. Halloween is a night that is full of novel and potentially over-stimulating sensory input, but it can be fun and successful for all children provided it is met with patience, planning and some creative thinking.

Below are some ideas to help you plan a fun Halloween, no matter what your child’s threshold for sensory input, activity, and stimulation:

  • Plan your child’s costume in advance and practice wearing it often. Choose a costume that will not irritate your child (for example, costumes with itchy or hot fabrics, scratchy tags, heavy or full-face masks, etc.), and a costume that can be easily removed if needed at some point in the night. Have your child be an active part of this process so he or she feels comfortable and confident that their costume will work for them. Remember that less is more, and that it is okay if your child would just prefer to wear a Halloween shirt, a simple cape, or attach a tail to a pair of sweats.
  • Consider building sensory strategies into your child’s costume. If your child will have a hard time with auditory input, try building headphones or ear muffs into their costume. If your child is going to need deep pressure throughout the night to remain calm, try having them wear Under Armour beneath their costume for consistent proprioceptive input.
  • Create a schedule of the day’s activities with your child so they know what to expect. See previous TLC blog posts for great ideas on creating and using visual schedules.
  • Set expectations with your family to help your child prepare for the night’s activities. Decide if you’ll be using walking feet (this is a term we use at TLC to positively discourage running in the hallways), if the family will go trick-or-treating together or if the parents will wait on the sidewalk, if candy can be eaten when received or if it has to be sorted first, how to ask for a break, etc. Setting up these expectations in advance will help avoid any meltdowns or power struggles in the moment.
  • Limit the number of houses you will visit, or stick to familiar houses if trick-or-treating. End the night successfully and when your child is ready. Honor any requests to go home and be observant of when your child has had enough.
  • Decide as a family if you’ll be out while it is dark or if you will be coming home at that time. The lights, noise, and a dark environment may be too much for your child to handle all at once. Know when to call it a night before things get overwhelming.
  • In advance, create a safe spot for a break with your child. A wagon, stroller or bike may provide your child with some quiet time and help them refocus for more activities.
  • Think creatively when decorating pumpkins. Your child may not be open to touching the inside of a pumpkin but may enjoy decorating with stickers, painting or attaching accessories.
  • End the night with some quiet time in a safe spot that your child loves. A snuggle at home with calming music and hot chocolate will help reset, calm, and end the night on a positive and peaceful note.

I hope these suggestions help make your night a Halloween success! Do you have other tips for a successful and happy Halloween?  Please share them with us in the comments!

Are you looking for a childcare center, preschool, or therapy services that are familiar with children who experience a sensory processing disorder? TLC integrates pediatric therapy for children with sensory processing disorder and other needs into our inclusive classrooms. TLC therapists see older children and non-TLC students in their homes and on our campus. Learn more about TLC’s programs for kindergarten-readiness in all students by emailing Cindy Wickham at cwickham@learningwithtlc.org. Learn more about TLC’s pediatric therapy program for children with sensory processing disorder and other developmental delays or disabilities by emailing Shari Karmen at skarmen@learningwithtlc.org

Schedules & Routines for Children

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by Zoe Read, TLC Teaching Assistant

Schedules and routines play an important role both at home and in the classroom, helping children prepare and feel comfortable with transitions throughout the day.  At TLC, we follow the Pyramid Plus teaching model, which utilizes different methods to communicate and engage children in smooth transitions from activity to activity.

One tool TLC teachers use to aid transitions is visual cards. Visual cards have pictures depicting what the class will be doing throughout the day. The cards help children be aware of and prepare for what is going to happen next in their classroom schedule. Children also have the opportunity to make decisions regarding what activities will be part of the routine, and when the activities will happen. Cards are often Velcroed to a yard stick, and children can rearrange them with the teacher’s help and consent.  Each class has a daily Schedule Helper. When having group time, the day’s Schedule Helper communicates to the other children what has happened, and what is going to happen next, preparing his or her fellow classmates for successful transitions through out the day while working on verbal skills and public speaking.

Using these same techniques can be helpful with home routines, too. Routines like getting ready for school, getting ready for bed, or trips to the grocery store can all be pre-planned using visual cards or similar tools, so a child is better prepared to transition from activity to activity and place to place.

The following links and resources can be helpful to parents and caretakers looking for other ideas to create smooth transitions and routines at home:

Teaching Your Child to be Successful with Routines (from Vanderbilt University)

Morning and bedtime printable routine lists

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Create a Morning Schedule with Your Child:

Things you need

Universal File Folder
Visual cards (search schedule cards on Pinterest or create your own)
Velcro
Laminating is a plus (but not a must)

My daughter, Shea, decorated the file folder on the outside and helped plan and create her schedule, which allowed her to engage in the process and have buy-in to the routine.  Having your child help can give him or her a sense of ownership, and can build excitement about schedule.

To make the schedule, place the Velcro on the back of the visual cards and then in the file on the left side. Then, take one side of the Velcro and place it on the other side of the envelope so when your child finishes that part of the schedule they take the card and move it to the other side.

When using this tool, the child is part of the process of choosing and completing tasks, and can feel a sense of accomplishment at seeing what tasks they have completed. To further break down the routine into manageable parts for younger children or children with developmental delays, you can also take pictures of the different stages of the routine (for example, squeezing toothpaste onto the toothbrush as a step). The schedule is fully personalizable to your child’s needs.

Allowing your child to know and see what is going to be happening throughout their day helps them prepare and feel comfortable through transitions.

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Zoe and her daughter Shea on the TLC playground

Are you a TLC parent who wants to learn more about positive behavior reinforcement at home? Come to TLC’s Parent Toolkit Night on October 20th!

Parent Toolkit

Flu Season & Enterovirus 68 in Preschools

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By Katie Dueber, Pediatrician & TLC Board Member

As a mom of two young children and a pediatrician, this time of year always makes me nervous. As kids head back to school, they are eager to see their friends and teachers, catch up from the summer, and share their germs. Now, this may not be the first concern on everyone’s mind, but it certainly is at the forefront of mine. Being well-aware of germs is especially true this year, as we are seeing an early spike of a particularly potent respiratory virus.

Enterovirus 68 (EV-D68) is making headlines as it clears out classrooms and fills pediatric intensive care units. Its victims include our youngest patients as they are always more susceptible to respiratory illness, and also asthmatics. Kids with even mild asthma are really struggling with this illness and these are the kids that are often requiring hospitalization for supportive care. This virus is causing severe cold symptoms, cough, and in some patients, wheezing and respiratory distress.

This virus is not new, but the effect it is having on children this year seems to be. There has been a lot of media attention around this virus, adding to parental concern but also increasing awareness about the virus and precautions to take against it. The largest numbers of reported cases seem to be in Kansas City and Chicago, but Colorado certainly seems to be seeing its share. There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses and they typically cause mild diseases that are spread through the oral-fecal route. EV-D68 is also spread by mucus and droplets in the air.

Asthma is a risk factor for more severe illness. If your child is on a preventive asthma medication, please make sure that he or she is using it. If your child uses Albuterol, even occasionally, start it with any symptoms of cough or illness. Even if you child does not have asthma, this virus can make your child ill. Prevention is the best medicine, but if your child does get sick, use over the counter medications as instructed by your physician, encourage fluids, rest and keep your child at home.  This is a virus, which means antibiotics will not help, so do not expect your doctor to prescribe them, but have your child seen if he is not improving. And have him seen right away if he is having any difficulty breathing.

EV-D68 is not the same virus as influenza, but we will likely be seeing that all too soon as well! To help prevent the spread of respiratory illness, wash hands often with hot water and soap, drink plenty of fluids, keep your child home if she is sick, avoid others when they are sick and get your flu shot!

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Sophia washes her hands with soap in her preschool class to help prevent the spread of germs

Kids & Transitions

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By Kathy Keith, TLC Occupational Therapist

Transitions can be hard… for all of us. This is something I am acutely aware of during this current season we like to call “back to school.” As a mom and an Occupational Therapist, I regularly see the challenges associated with transition periods in kids (and sometimes, grown-ups too).  These can range from the transition of going from kindergarten into 1st grade, to transitioning between play activities, to transitioning from just getting out of the house and into the car. Personally, I see the flurry of disorganization and dole out hundreds of reminders trying to get my own crew out the door in the morning (do I really need to remind a 12 year old to brush her teeth?). Professionally, I often see families with children who are unable to seamlessly transition from activity to activity. 

The following strategies are a few ways that may help with difficult transition times, and will hopefully help with increasing independence as well!

  • Create a routine

Children crave routine and structure! It helps them feel safe and understand what will be happening next, or what to expect. For example, a bedtime routine could be: jammies on, brush teeth, one book, then bed.

If bedtime always looks the same, it can increase the child’s independence in completing the steps themselves, and decrease struggles with caretakers.

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A schedule to help make transitions run smoothly

  • Make a schedule

Kiddos also respond well to visual schedules. At TLC, we use pictures to show the kids what the day will look like. The pictures are arranged in order of when parts of the day happen (circle time, snack, outside, free play). If the day will look different from a typical day for any reason, the change is noted in the schedule. A child I see at TLC was very anxious about what he would be doing during our sessions. He would ask questions repeatedly and become very upset if there was something in the room that was unfamiliar to him when he walked in. We have a routine now, of sitting together first thing and drawing our schedule on the board.  It allows him to understand what his time with me will look like, gives him some control of the activities, and keeps him organized as we mark off the activities that we have completed together.  His anxiety has lessened significantly throughout his time coming to TLC, and now he is much more able to try novel things.

Schedules can be as specific or as general as you need. Some kiddos benefit from a personal schedule that they keep with them, while others can check in with a general schedule to help keep them organized and knowledgeable throughout the day. At home, you can experiment with something as simple as a white board that allows you to draw pictures or write words depending on what is appropriate or works for your child.  It can be specific like the morning routine, or it can be more broad, as in what will happen that next day, or week (or both!).

At our house, typing up a general list of “to-do’s” before getting out the door helps immensely. Instead of me needing to ask what has and has not been done (“Did you brush your teeth?  Did you pack your lunch?  Did you get your book?  Do you have your backpack?”), my one direction is: “check your list.” 

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A photo routine that can be used at home

 

  • Give consistent cues

Transitioning between activities can be challenging, too. Giving a consistent visual cue (turning off or dimming the lights), giving a “2 minute” warning or singing a transition song, can help prepare the child for change.  These transition songs are nothing complex.  Mine often consist of a silly song about what we are completing and what will be next and is regularly sung to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “BINGO”.

We all benefit from the comfort of predictability.  For our kiddos, providing routines and schedules not only helps with some of the struggles related to transitions and change, but helps them develop a sense of security and control, and supports increased confidence and independence.  This is what we all want for all our kids.

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A photo schedule on Velcro in a TLC classroom

 

To learn more about how working with an Occupational Therapist may help your child, or to learn about how our classrooms help build independence in children, contact TLC at (303)776-7417.