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Auditory Defensiveness and The Role of an Occupational Therapist

What is Auditory Defensiveness, how are some children affected, and what role does an Occupational Therapist play in treatment?

Sensory Diet with Occupational Therpist

Commonly, when parents and teachers find out that I am a Sensory Integration trained Occupational Therapist, they will ask questions about either sound sensitivity or touch sensitivity. They will tell me about a child who seems unsettled or distressed in loud environments, frequently covers their ears to sounds that other children tolerate, are bothered by noises made by everyday things like vacuum cleaners and hair dryers, or avoids activities that have loud environments such as parties, ballgames, and movies.  These children often ask, “Did you hear that? –  What’s that noise? – Who’s talking?”, when the parent doesn’t hear anything at all. Parents may also share that their child seems overly sensitive, is anxious in new environments, needs more protection from the world, and exhibits tactile and or movement sensitivity.  What these parents are describing is a condition known as “auditory defensiveness”.

When the World Gets Too Loud

Auditory defensiveness is a clinical condition in which a child is highly sensitive to sound.  This means that sounds and voices that would not register at all, or would not be perceived as irritating to a typically functioning nervous system, are perceived by the child as too loud, too high pitched, or otherwise difficult to tolerate, and so he must defend himself against them.  The child that is moving through their day in a defensive mode can often struggle to stay calm enough to play with friends, learn at school and be part of a family dynamic at home. To survive they may learn to cope by  tuning out,  hyper-focusing on something else, holding their hands over their ears, attempting to escape the situation in which they find themselves , or by acting out in such a way that the adults are left no choice but to remove them from the situation.  Many times the adults around the child will identify a behavior challenge while not always identifying the root. They may struggle to believe that the auditory issue is real for the child, as their nervous system perceives the incoming sound information differently and without struggle. It may be extremely difficult if a sibling close in age is able to process typically, and therefore presents with more flexibility, and overall, an easier child to parent.

A child with auditory sensitivity is alerted to noises that a typically functioning nervous system would recognize as irrelevant and filter out, and may respond to them as if those things were a cause for alarm.  As an adult I will equate this to the cocktail party experience. You are often juggling a plate of food, a glass of wine and a conversation with a new person. There is always a lot of back ground noise. For some adults this is not hard work for their ears. For my nervous system, on the other hand, it can be exhausting.  I often feel tired from concentrating on the conversation while simultaneously attempting to filter foreground from background sound.

It’s tough to navigate school as well, when your hearing is so sensitive.  For the pre-schooler, the classroom often sounds like a cocktail party—lots of children talking at the same time coupled with conflict situations that may include an upset child. For the elementary school aged child  the sounds of the bells, children shouting, the echoing noise of the bathrooms or auditorium, the chaos of the playground and the cafeteria, are all experienced as an assault, and will put a child whose hearing is ultra-sensitive on high alert and force him to stay in that mode.

It is very hard to stay calm, regulated and ready to learn, problem solve and share, when your nervous system is in a constant state of alert. For the majority of the school day, children are listening to a teacher’s voice (often a female voice), and for many children the most challenging types of auditory defensiveness is sensitivity to high pitched sound.  A high frequency sound dissipates in the air faster than low frequency.  Attuning to the teacher’s voice and then holding on to the directions can be difficult, creating additional learning challenges for the child.

A child with auditory defensiveness may also be experiencing other development and/or learning challenges. There are several ways that sensory integration Auditory Defensiveness-Occupational Therapytherapy can help a child with auditory defensiveness. An occupational therapist with advanced practice will be able to assess and treat by improving the ability of the inner ear to do the job of filtering and dampening sound.  This is done by providing the child with intense movement experiences.  Movement affects the workings of the inner ear, which in addition to filtering sound, is responsible for monitoring where we are in space.  As one system improves, so does the other. Occupational therapists with additional training can prescribe special filtered music, like the kind used in “The Listening Program”, that trains the ear and brain to be less sensitive to sound.  This music can be very helpful to children who have trouble attending in noisy environments.

Sensory integration therapy works on improving the way that the nervous system function registers, integrates and processes sensory input.   An occupational therapist trained in sensory processing employs specific techniques that may include integrating primitive reflex patterns that can often support development.

There are also strategies, that when designed for the individual child and his/her environment, are often referred to as a sensory diet. These strategies may include:

  • Modifying the environment (such as in a school) by considering the acoustics in the classroom. Changing seating arrangements may be beneficial and limiting extraneous noise from the hallway by closing the door or windows is also helpful. It may be necessary to cover the loud speaker with material to tone down the volume.
  • Having rugs or carpet on the floor will decrease echo and extraneous noises.
  • Whenever possible, children should be given advance notice about bells, announcements, fire drills, etc.
  • Having the child wear headphones or earmuffs that cover the entire ear to filter out extraneous background noises.
  • Playing calming music such as Mozart in the headphones or as background music.
  • If concentration is an issue, the child should chew gum, suck on sour candies, and/or eat fruit roll ups, or crunchy snacks.

Generally speaking, a smaller, quieter, more structured classroom is a better fit for a sensory defensive child. I also advise parents not to expect their child to be able to tolerate concerts or to endure long stays at noisy family gatherings until the problem is corrected.

I am often asked if the problem is permanent.  Auditory sensitivity may or may not go away, but  with appropriate intervention, it should at least, diminish.  Sometimes children grow out of their defensiveness and sometimes sensory integration therapy can eradicate it completely. Devising coping strategies, like keeping earplugs  and something to chew on in your child’s backpack, helps him feel more in control.

Remember our children need us to play detective. Find out the reason for the behavior. Believe that is it often real for them, even if you don’t feel it, and try to put strategies in place to keep their nervous system calm.

And, as always, you’re not alone. If you have any concerns about your child’s auditory sensitivities, seek out the expertise of a sensory integration trained occupational therapist – they can help make life better for your child and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Role of the Occupational Therapist in Sensory Integration

 

What is a Sensory Diet?

Sensory Diet – Ways an OT (Occupational Therapist) works with Children and Families to Support Regulation

What really is a sensory diet?

Many occupational therapists use the term, “sensory diet”, when working with children with developmental and/or learning challenges. The term sensory diet was coined by Patricia Wilbarger, M.Ed., FAOTA, OTR in 1984 to indicate the use of a combination of sensory strategies to keep a person at the optimal level of arousal. All human beings unconsciously use sensory diets every day. We exercise, drink coffee, listen to music, retreat to a quiet space when the world gets overwhelming, chew/crunch and eat foods that often make us happy.

Self-regulation is something everyone continually works on, whether we are cognizant of it or not.

Sensory Diet with Occupational Therpist

Children who are struggling with self-regulation and utilizing the “just right” behaviors that are expected in different environments do not have the mindfulness, resources or control to seek out the activities that may help them shift from the Red Zone (mad, angry) or the Yellow Zone (silly, out of control, anxious) to the Green Zone (ready to listen and learn).  Learn more about the Zones of Regulation.

Sensory modulation” is a therapeutic term used to describe one’s inability to respond appropriately to sensory input and to stay focused on the activity at hand. It may be used with regard to children and adults who may be under- responsive, sensory seeking and or over responsive. It is never black and white. Working with an occupational therapist will help parents and teachers get a better understanding of the why, what and how of “sensory modulation”. The OT will help parents understand the behaviors of a child, help to identify and remove triggers from their environment and better equip the child’s nervous system to cope with the highly sensory world we live in.

An occupational therapist that has spent time assessing a child’s responses to various sensory information, known as “sensory processing/integration” , will design a sensory diet tailored to that child’s needs.  This “diet” will include the tools required, (deep pressure,  hugging, taking a break, belly breathing, drinking water, wall pushes) and a schedule outlining when to use them, that will support a child’s overall regulatory state and therefore ability to engage in relationships and his/her environment in a successful way.

 

Additional Resources for Sensory Processing Disorder and Sensory Integration

 

Sensory Processing-videoSensory Processing/Sensory Integration 

What is Sensory Processing?

What is Sensory Integration – Video

 

Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation 

More Resources

 

 

 

Kindergarten Readiness Summer Camp 2015

Is your pre-schooler ready for Kindergarten in the Fall? Child Success Center is happy to announce our 6th consecutive summer of Kindergarten Readiness Camp!

While you might not even be thinking about summer vacation yet, it is definitely the time to start asking yourself if your pre-schooler will be ready for the move up to Kindergarten in the Fall. There’s more to it than you might imagine.  Many parents  are under the impression that Kindergarten is somewhat akin to preschool and that significant academics really don’t kick in until 1st or 2nd grade, but in newer times that is far from reality.

In recent years, California Kindergarten curriculum has shifted to become far more academically skewed than in past decades and now more than ever, it’s very important to have all children properly prepared for these greater new challenges.  To successfully excel in their new setting, children must achieve and master certain educational and social skills to adequately adapt and grow in a more accountable and often faster paced setting.

Additionally, there are many aspects of kindergarten that will be new for your child. The school is bigger, there is more time sitting at a table, more focus on letters and numbers, time spent learning handwriting skills, more time listening and a lot more structure. The days are longer and there is often more independence required.

 

Kindergarten image

Parents might consider seeking counsel or advice from teachers or experts and possibly even have an evaluation for their child to ensure that educational and social skill development is on track for entry into Kindergarten in the fall. To help those who may need additional support, Child Success Center is happy to announce our 6th consecutive summer of  Kindergarten Readiness Camp.  This camp is designed to not only teach and prepare little ones, but also provide tons of fun while they’re learning.

Presented as individual weekly camps or a 2-week session, campers, in small groups of up to 8 children, will spend over 20 hours involved in activities designed to help them develop the foundational learning needed to feel confident entering Kindergarten.  The program will help children develop confidence when taking the first steps toward reading, writing, attending to a new routine and making new friends. The huge gymnasium at Child Success Center will be turned into a summer fun learning camp with the aim of turning “learning” into “play”.  The camp will feature swings, a trampoline, climbing wall and monkey bars, which will take children on an adventure and build up their kindergarten readiness skills.  The program will also feature art, music and science activities that will inspire creative interests and will offer hands-on fun through touching, exploring and games.

Parents can enroll their children in a single weekly program, but enrollment in two or three week sessions will build stronger, lasting skills.  Also, as a bonus, multiple week enrollees and those who bring a friend may be eligible for special discounts, so be sure to inquire when you call.

Each Week-long Session Will Teach Your Child To:

Kindergarten Readiness Camp-Child Success Center 2015

  • Recognize letters and match them with a name and sound
  • Master holding a pencil, marker or crayon
  • Develop attention and listening skills
  • Socialize and communicate
  • Enjoy learning

LEARN MORE>

DATES: Dates:  Session 1:  July 27 – July 31, 2015

Session 2:  August 3 – Aug 7, 2015

Session 3: August 10 – August 14, 2015

TIMES: 8:45AM – 1 PM, Monday through Friday

AGE: Starting Kindergarten in the Fall

ENROLLMENT: Call the Child Success Center on 310.899.9597 or email: officemanager@childsuccesscenter.com

COST: Full Fee is $574 per week.

DISCOUNTS:

  • Early Bird Discount: $495.00 per week, if registration and payment are received by Friday March 15, 2015.
  • Multiple week discounts are available.  Call for details.
  • Discounts are also available if you bring along a sibling or friend.  Call for details.

Is Play Really Just Playing?

What are the skills a child develops through play?

child at play

A child playing with blocks is not just playing. As he is nesting blocks, he is learning size relationship. He learns that smaller blocks fit inside larger ones. He learns cause and effect as he builds his blocks higher and higher until they come crashing down. As the blocks are tumbling down, he can describe it using language. It is while playing that children test ideas, ask questions, and come up with answers.

What are the Skills that a child develops through Play?

During child development, the following skills are developed through play:

Language – Enhances ability to describe what is happening, ask for help and wonder why toys work like they do.

Physical – Enhances fine and gross motor through picking up blocks, putting legos together and jumping around on a trampoline.

Emotional – Ability to work out frustrations by getting a heart shape into the corresponding shape or making a social scenario with dolls to work out conflicts with friends. .

Cognitive/Intellectual – Enhances a child’s ability to think, understand and eventually reason things out while taking in new information about a toy or game.

Social – Socially, children work on managing their feelings, learning skills like sharing and taking turns, and empathizing with other people’s feelings and thoughts.

How can you help?

Try not to involve your children in so many activities that there is no time for play. Creativity takes time to develop, and children can have difficulties entertaining themselves if they are not given time to use their imagination.

1. Show that play is valuable by playing with your children. Children realize that play is important if adults pay attention to them while they are playing and even engaging with them in play.

2. Appreciate and talk to your children about their play. We often say, “You are doing a great job working,” but we may never say, “You are doing a great job playing!”

3. Create an environment for play. It is important for adults to provide materials that children can explore and adapt in play, and if possible,  provide a special “play place” or designated area for the pretend play and all the inspiring props. Adults should monitor play, so that when play appears to be “stuck” or unproductive, they can suggest new character roles.

4. Children get ideas for their play from books, movies, field trips, and everyday life.  For instance, if your children are interested in a particular topic, such as animals, take them to the zoo, read them abook about farm animals, or watch a movie about animals – they will be filled with ideas for pretend play. You might see your children reenacting the trip or scenes from the movie with friends. This helps them to better remember the experience, and it reinforces all of their newly learned information.

Examples of appropriate toddler toys: pull-push toys; blocks; an assortment of balls; Play-Doh with simple tools (craft sticks and wooden rollers); picture books; containers, scoops, sifters, and other objects for sand and water play; toys and props for dramatic play like scarves, hats.

Reference:

Imagine The Possibilities with Pretend Play, Amber Hodgson, M.A. CCC-SLP

The New Language of Toys by Sue Schwartz, Ph. D.

Identifying a Child’s Learning Style

Take a look at your child’s pattern of learning. Are his learning skills comparable to other children in his class? Has your child been working with a tutor without measurable improvement?

Child Success Center - Learning StyleAll children learn differently. Each child has his or her own unique learning and processing style. Some children learn better when they hear information, others when they see it. Still others learn best when they hear and see information simultaneously. In addition, some children face learning challenges that make it difficult to learn the foundational skills necessary to read, write or calculate.

It is the Educational Therapist who helps identify how your child learns best and determine the stumbling blocks that may be preventing your child from reaching his/her potential. The Educational Therapist works in partnership with parents and other professionals working with your child, to ensure that your child gets the right start and continues to grow as a life-long, independent learner.

The educational therapeutic process includes individual interventions designed to remediate areas of challenge in regard to learning, as well as help the child begin to learn about his or her unique learning style. As the child becomes aware of his strengths, he can begin to utilize them in strengthening areas of challenge.

This is an ongoing process which can last anywhere from 3 months to several years. Areas of intervention can include, but are not limited to reading, writing, mathematics, communication and language skills, processing skills, and executive functioning skills. Following the assessment or records review, a program will be recommended if appropriate. For many students the program will be designed in 2 phases.

Learn more about the Educational Therapeutic Process.

Your child may benefit from Educational Therapeutic Services if you recognize any of these Common Signs and Indicators.

Executive Function and Time Management Skills

Mastering Executive Function and Organization Skills

A new program offered this summer for Middle School and High School Students at Child Success Center

Is your son or daughter preparing to enter middle or high school in the fall and struggling to stay organized? Does he forget to turn in assignments? Does she feel lost when it comes to planning out long-range assignments?  If this sounds like your child, he might have challenges with “executive function and time management skills”. Child Success Center offers an opportunity for you and your child this summer to help improve these skills.

Child Success Center uses an effective and proven program based upon the Sklar Process™ that helps your child learn and understand time management and executive functioning skills that are critical for success in all aspects of life. The curriculum teaches both you and your child how to use a variety of visual tools tailored to those with challenges in executive functioning and time management. An Educational Therapist who is trained in this life-changing curriculum will lead 10-12 sessions designed to foster a lifetime of effective behavioral changes for improved time management and organizational skills.  This course is the beginning of an ongoing conversation between parent and child about how to effectively and more easily manage school and life.

The program will help the student and parent:

  • Increase awareness about procrastination and explore ways to minimize its effect
  • Learn how to organize large projects into an action plan within a functional time frame
  • Explore the use of visual aids to coordinate a weekly schedule
  • Dive into the brain to begin to understand how we process and organize information when managing tasks and keeping to a time schedule
  • Improve self-awareness and metacognition in an effort to utilize strengths to support areas of challenge
  • Learn about and create tools to manage time, tasks and organizational skills
  • Improve communication with others for better time and task management at home and at school

Our Summer Program is now enrolling. Make this the summer for change. Learn more about the Child Success Center’s “Organizational and Executive Function Groups” on our website or contact Maria Fagan Hassani, M.A., ET/P at Child Success Center – 310-899-9597.

Teens learn executive function skills at Child Success Center

Kindergarten Readiness – A Checklist for Parents

Kindergarten Readiness means possessing the skills that will make the transition from pre-school and the school year a success.

How do I know if my child is ready for Kindergarten? What should my child know before entering kindergarten?

If you are asking yourself these questions it probably means that you either have a child whose birthday is in the spring and/or has had some challenges at preschool. Perhaps you feel your child needs more support, protection, adult guidance and is struggling to follow directions, attend, sit still, communicate, hold a pencil, and make friends . The preschool years provide opportunity for a child to grow and develop social communication skills, pre- academic skills, emotional regulation, motor skills and transition from whole body learning to the ability to sit and listen and learn. Often parents are not sure if over the 6 months from spring to fall their child will  grow out of their challenges or grow into the skills that they feel are needed for the transition to kindergarten. So if you are one of these parents here are some questions to ask yourself and some information to gather to help in both making a decision and helping your child “Get set for Kindergarten”.

These are some of the questions I ask parents when helping then decide between a developmental kindergarten year or kindergarten.

1. First we review medical history? Think back to your pregnancy and your child’s birth and infant history: where there any issues such as IVF, bed rest, long labor, prematurity, time in the NICU, difficulty breast feeding, colic, poor sleeping patterns, reflux. Our children are hard wired in utero and understanding your child’s neurological full picture from birth is often helpful in understanding your child at age 5.

2. Motor Milestones- Did your baby crawl? When, for how long and what did the crawling look like ( on all 4’s versus  commando crawling)? Were there any delays with walking, running, jumping, climbing and do they seem at ease with moving their bodies through space? Is your child a movement seeker, avoider or neither? These questions help you understand the child’s sensory motor wiring and if sitting in a chair for a lot of the school day will be a challenge. For a child to be ready to learn with their eyes and ears and brain their body needs to be ready to sit upright and stay calm for long periods of time.

3. The next set of questions relate to cognitive and emotional development. Babies arrive with fundamental neurologically based social capacities, which are shaped, encouraged and developed through experiential learning and the brains physical development. Did your child have a very challenging time separating from you in the first year of preschool? Do they have good awareness of other’s thoughts and feelings and are they able to talk about them? Do they infer emotions from other children’s facial expressions and can they share in group imaginative play? Do they have a lot of anxiety when going to birthday parties and new places?

4. Language Acquisition: At what age did your child babble and use words, sentences and complex social language to share ideas and problem solve with a peer? Your child’s language prior to kindergarten should be fully functionally. This means they should be using language to ask and answer questions, use appropriate grammar, connect and organize their thoughts, talk about their own personal events and share stories in an organized manner.

5. Handwriting: Does your child have a hand dominance and when did this start? Does he hold the pencil with an adult tripod grasp and is he comfortable drawing shapes and making simple pictures?

6. Letters and numbers: Do they recognize the majority of the upper case letters and has this been a very slow or easy learning process? Are they interested in print material and realize that letters make up words and tell stories?

7. The final question: Is there a family history of challenges with academic or social learning, attention or memory?

All children benefit from learning in an environment that is emotionally safe and provides them the “just right learning challenge”, a challenge that is only slightly above their current capacity and one that is attainable. For many children the transition from preschool to kindergarten offers challenges that are not “the just right” challenge. So how do we help these children? Getting accurate information is key before making decisions. The professionals that are skilled to assess the roots of learning are occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and learning specialists. It is important to take into consideration the whole child including the social emotional systems prior to making this decision. Once an assessment has been made then filling your child’s learning “tool belt” so they feel confident when entering kindergarten becomes the primary objective. Kindergarten readiness camps and individual sessions tailored to the child’s needs are great ways to ensure Kindergarten success.

Ways to gather insight and information.

1- Kindergarten readiness assessments

2- Speech therapy and or occupational therapy assessments

3- Get set for Kindergarten camp

To prepare kids for their new challenges, Child Success Center will be holding Kindergarten Readiness Camp in the summer of 2014, which will offer a play based learning environment designed to help children acquire skills in problem solving, flexible thinking, group collaboration and pre-reading and writing through the use of Zoo Phonics, Handwriting Without Tears and Social Thinking. Our exciting indoor gym will be turned into a fun learning camp with swings, a trampoline, climbing wall and monkey bars to take campers on an adventure while building up their kindergarten skills.

Kindergarten Readiness Camp 2014 - Child Success Center

Presented as either individual weekly “Camps,” or a 2 week session, kids will spend over 20 hours a week involved in activities designed to help them develop the skills needed to excel in kindergarten. The program will help children develop confidence when taking the first steps toward making new friends, attending to a new routine, handwriting and reading.

Program Highlights:

For the young children who lack interest or capacity for writing, letters and numbers can seem daunting. To make this learning fun we love Zoo Phonics. Phonics is the learning of letters and words through sound and it’s taught using a cast of zoo animals. Letters come alive as the children learn to recognize and match them with sounds, then write them with ease. Multisensory activates such as drawing and writing on the walls with shaving cream make this fun and a joyful experience.

Goals will be dependent on the needs of the group of children signed up for the week.; each child will have the ability to participate in activities that will focus on their needs as well as the needs of the other children in the group.

Areas covered include but are not limited to:

1. Social thinking: social skills required to play with others and learn in a group- listening with your whole body, perspective taking, sharing thoughts and ideas, social problem solving,

2. Identifying Upper case letters and match them with a name and sound using using the Zoo Phonics program

3. Learn how to correctly form upper case letters (and lower case letters if they show an interest) using the Handwriting without Tears program

4. Fine motor skills: Master holding a pencil, marker or crayon and handwriting skills

5. Develop attention and listening skills for success in a Kindergarten classroom

6. Promote body awareness through creative play and movement

Begin their love for learning

________________________________________

 

Handwriting – Dying Art or Important Skill?

Child Success Center - Handwriting Skills

Is handwriting a dying art or is it still an important skill to master?

“My child’s handwriting is illegible. Do I need to do anything about this? Why do many children struggle with handwriting legibility? Does my child really need to learn handwriting?”

There has been some discussion recently about the viability and necessity of learning penmanship skills. Yet research shows that writing by hand engages the brain and is a vital component of literacy. Since handwritten testing throughout the school system is unlikely to change any time soon, learning to write quickly and clearly is an important means to an end. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, the emphasis and expectations placed on classroom note-taking and expository writing in grades K–5 is greater than ever.

Whether a child prints or uses cursive writing, it must be legible to convey correct test answers, thoughts, instructions, etc. throughout his academic career and life.  Therefore “hand writing” is a skill that must be learned and serves many purposes besides legibility.

While we may take the ability to write correctly for granted, many support skills must first be learned requiring the hand, eyes and brain to work in harmony. This becomes more challenging when a child is experiencing a delay in certain areas of development. This in turn can leave a child with feelings of frustration, decreased confidence and success, and often results in avoidance of the very repetition necessary to build skill.

The years between the ages of 3 and 5 are the time your child will build the motor coordination required to develop the dexterity, hand strength and endurance to shift from a fisted grasp to an adult 3 finger, (tri-pod) dynamic grasp that will allow them to control the pencil with ease.

In order to successfully engage in the Kindergarten curriculum, the foundations for a successful pencil grasp and control need to be in place. Core strength for body control to sit up right and arm strength to hold the paper still and stabilize the writing arm need to be well developed before the art of learning handwriting can occur. Their eyes need to work together to hold a focal point and track and be ready to shift gaze across the paper and from the board to the paper and back with ease.  The visual memory system needs to be strong to retrieve the images of letters and begin to make sense of what they are seeing by adding meaning through the matching of sounds with each symbol. Reading and handwriting are a partnership – when one grows the other gets supported.

So why do some children struggle with handwriting and how do we help them?

When this very complicated neurological process has a hard time coming together, a child can be left with feelings of frustration and decreased confidence. Fundamental skills are often learned in the form of play for children and not work. They are driven to continue activities by feeling good and having fun. When the activities in the preschool years such as cutting, drawing, beading, climbing and catching a ball are not easy for them they often have the choice to avoid them, thus not engaging in the repetition actually needed to master the skill.

Teachers and parents may not notice that the child is avoiding these types of play especially if the child is exceptionally verbal and engaging. As adults, we need to be aware that children need to have healthy exposure to activities that will develop their nervous systems during the pre-school years in preparation for activities such as handwriting.

How do I know if my child will get past his difficulties?

Development is an individual process as each child has their own unique brain and their own sets of natural gifts and challenges. When engaging in general activities, parents and teachers can help children by:

  1. Making the child feel emotionally safe and excited to engage in the activities they may want to avoid.
  2. Grade the activity down to a level the child can easily engage in.
  3. Keep the activity as child driven as possible.
  4. If you are struggling to work with your child consult an Occupational Therapist. OT’s are highly trained in assessing the foundational neurological processes that are the base for all play and learning. They are able to let teachers and parents know if the struggle is rooted in lack of exposure, a mild delay that will catch up on its own, or truly an inefficient processing system that needs guidance and the right support to spring board into a positive outcome.
  5. If in doubt, ask.

 Simple things you can do to help your child with his handwriting skills:

  1. Make sure your child is seated in a chair and at a table that allows for an upright posture with their feet firmly on the floor. Keep the ankles, knees and hips bent at approximately 90 degrees.
  2. Encourage the non-dominant hand to support the paper.
  3. Take a small cotton ball and place it under the 4th and 5th digits and secure it into the palm to help build the separation of the 2 sides of the hand to increase pencil grasp.
  4. Play bouncing, throwing at a target and catching games.
  5. Draw letters on each other’s back and try to guess the letters.

 If left un-monitored, children may begin to:

1. Have a negative relationship with learning

  1. Have a negative relationship with learning
  2. Write a few words instead of the many ideas and thoughts they would like to share
  3. Have decreased confidence and self-image related to written work.
  4. Spend valuable brain energy on the handwriting process instead of the thoughts and ideas and learning process

Handwriting should be fun and requires the whole brain and the whole body.

The Handwriting Club” at Child Success Center is a program customized to meet each child’s needs. Program is designed and run by licensed and highly skilled Occupational Therapists and features multi-sensory strategies, whole brain learning, and the extremely successful Handwriting Without  Tears® program.

For more details or to enroll, call Child Success Center at 310/899-9597 or e-mail: enroll@childsuccesscenter.com

Related articles:

Teachers Still See Need for Cursive Writing

Developing a Signature Style

 

 

 

 

Handwriting Club at Child Success Center

Child Success Center Announces “Handwriting Club” for 2014

Handwriting Club 2014 at Child Success Center in Santa Monica, California

There has been some discussion recently about the viability and necessity of learning penmanship skills. Yet research shows that writing by hand engages the brain and is a vital component of literacy. Since handwritten testing throughout the school system is unlikely to change any time soon, learning to write quickly and clearly is an important means to an end. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, the emphasis and expectations placed on classroom note-taking and expository writing in grades K–5 is greater than ever.

Whether a child prints or uses cursive writing, it must be legible to convey correct test answers, thoughts, instructions, etc. throughout his academic career and life. Therefore “hand writing” is a skill that must be learned and serves many purposes besides legibility.

While we may take the ability to write correctly for granted, many support skills must first be learned requiring the hand, eyes and brain to work in harmony. This becomes more challenging when a child is experiencing a delay in certain areas of development. This in turn can leave a child with feelings of frustration, decreased confidence and success, and often results in avoidance of the very repetition necessary to build skill.

The years between the ages of 3 and 5 are the time your child will build the motor coordination required to develop the dexterity, hand strength and endurance to shift from a fisted grasp to an adult 3 finger, (tri-pod) dynamic grasp that will allow them to control the pencil with ease.

The “Handwriting Club” at Child Success Center is a program customized to meet each child’s needs. The program is designed and run by licensed and highly skilled Occupational Therapists and features multi-sensory strategies, whole brain learning, and the extremely successful Handwriting Without Tears® program.

For more information or to enroll, call the Child Success Center – 310.899.9597 or email: Enroll@childsuccesscenter.com

Read complete article: “Handwriting – A Dying Art or Important Skill?”– by Melissa Idelson, Director, Child Success Center

 

Get Set for Kindergarten Program

Preparing your child for kindergarten.

One of the greatest challenges in the young life of most children is making that initial big step into Kindergarten.  Many parents who have had their little ones in preschool believe that Kindergarten is somewhat akin to preschool and that significant academics really don’t kick in until 1st or 2nd grade, but that is far from reality. With the introduction of the new Common Core Standards, the bar is being raised and children entering Kindergarten must be more prepared than ever.  In recent years, California Kindergarten curriculum has shifted to become far more academically skewed than in past decades and now more than ever, it’s very important to have all children properly prepared for these greater new challenges.  To successfully excel in their new setting, children must achieve and master certain educational and social skills to adequately adapt and grow in a more accountable and often faster paced setting.

Some things to look for in the “Kindergarten-ready” child:

  • Follows words left to right and top to bottom
  • Understands that words are separated by spaces in print
  • Recognizes and can name all upper and lower case letters of alphabet
  • Demonstrates basic knowledge of letter sound correspondence by producing primary sound made by most consonants
  • Holds a pencil with an adult grasp – 3 fingers with control of the pencil from the fingers

New Program to Help Kids “Be Prepared” for Kindergarten with Proper Skills

To help those who may need additional support, Child Success Center announces it’s new “Get Set For Kindergarten” program, a fun, interactive opportunity to prepare your child for Kindergarten.  The program will help children develop confidence while taking the first steps toward handwriting and reading.  The huge gymnasium at Child Success Center turns “learning” into “play” and all activities will inspire creative interests and offer hands-on fun through touching, exploring and games.

Kindergarten readiness program in Santa Monica, California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small groups are now forming – call to reserve your child’s spot and help ensure the best start possible to a positive and successful academic experience.

Child Success Center
828 Pico Blvd., Suite 7
Santa Monica, CA 90405-1350
Call 310-899-9597 to access our “warm” line.
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