Learning About Community Helpers in Team Time & Move to Talk

In Team Time and Move to Talk our theme this session is community helpers. Last week our community helper of the week was a mechanic. We learned about fixing a problem and enjoyed washing our “cars!” We took turns with the cleaning supplies, shared space when cleaning a car with a friend, participated in a variety of sensory play, requested items from others, and had a lot of FUN!

What Makes BAC Unique?

One of the most unique and beneficial aspects of the Boston Ability Center is our ability to offer co-treatment sessions for our patients. During a “co-treat” children receive two of their services together for 15, 30, or 45 minutes. Patients can target their OT and speech-therapy, OT and PT, or speech therapy and PT goals while they complete various activities in our large motor space or in one of our individual treatment rooms. This treatment model allows clinicians to collaborate as they target various aspects of treatment, and encourages our patients to utilize multiple skills at once. Co treatment sessions also provide clinicians with additional insight regarding specific activities, goals, and supports.

During a co-treat, our occupational therapists may shed light on sensory or tactile areas to consider, our speech-therapists can model language on an alternative augmentative communication device, our physical therapists can provide awareness about body positioning and strength, and much more! Co-treatment sessions also offer scheduling benefits for many of our busy families! The Boston Ability Center takes pride in this multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach to treatment.

Meet BAC’s Newest OT Student, Amanda Nardone!

Amanda Nardone, BS, OT/s, CBIS

Amanda is a student at Salem State University completing her Master’s Degree in occupational therapy. For the last four years, she has been working at Boston University, providing academic and employment support services to undergraduate students around MA with traumatic brain injuries. Amanda completed a Level I Fieldwork with Boston Ability Center in the summer of 2017, and is thrilled to be returning for a Level II placement this summer. Amanda has also volunteered at Brockton Area Multi Services Inc early intervention program and is looking forward to working with children and families at BAC. In her free time, Amanda enjoys hiking, running, concerts, trips to the cape, and spending time with family and friends – especially her 1 year old niece.

Five Fun Facts About Amanda:

  1. Mint Chip is Amanda’s Favorite Ice Cream.
  2. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Little Blue Truck are her favorite children’s books.
  3. If she could travel anywhere in the world she would go to New Zealand because of the incredible diverse scenery. Amanda would love the opportunity to hike and explore there!
  4. Clue is one of her favorite board games.
  5. If given a superhero power Amanda would choose the ability to fly!

“Braidy!”

Today in speech we made our own “Braidy”. Braidy isn’t just a string with fun pictures though, Braidy is the Story Grammar Marker’s mascot! The Story Grammar Marker is composed of visual and tactile parts to help kids identify different components of a story and improve their story recall with important details. This is great for all different type of learners with its multisensory functions!

The Importance of a Plan

Making a plan is just as important as therapy itself. Kiddos have the opportunity to self-generate ideas and organize their thoughts into a plan. The ability to follow and complete a plan is a reward in itself and allows the child to feel accomplished and in control.

Try making a plan at home! Use white board or a piece of paper. Older kiddos can draw the plan and practice their fine motor skills too 🙂 Cross off items as you complete them. For kiddos who need support generating ideas (or if you have ideas you want to get completed) provide binary choices, such as “Do you want to do X or Y?”

Why Reciprocal Conversation Matters

By: Anna Harris, MS, CCC-SLP

Back-and-forth conversation is a seemingly easy yet integral part of our daily lives. Most of our meaningful relationships were formed through this reciprocal conversation format. These interactions are even more important for our children and have been proven to have an effect on children’s overall language development.

A recent study has shown that the more children participate in reciprocal conversations with their parents and caregivers, the greater brain activity they have in the area responsible for language processing and production. This study also found a positive correlation between the number of conversational turns children engage in and their standardized test scores.

These interactions, however, cannot be from passive participation (i.e. watching TV or listening to adult conversation) but instead require an active participant. The study found that the following skills could only be learned from being an active participant in a conversation:

  • Starting an interaction
  • Learning how and when to take conversational turns
  • Learning how to send an effective message
  • Practicing use of  words and gestures
  • Learning to ask social wondering questions
  • Effective verbal problem solving skills
  • Communicating their point of view
  • Building confidence in communication skills

How to teach these skills

Practicing these skills is easy! They can be practiced in everyday situations such as going for a walk, cooking dinner, or getting dressed. Any time your child is content or in a good mood simply “observe, wait and listen”. This model helps the child initiate the conversation. By initiating a conversation, the child is significantly more likely to generate a follow up due to their interest in the subject.

First, you will need to get into an appropriate conversational position (i.e. face-to-face) and observe your child’s body language when they are engaged in an activity. Wait for them to communicate with you, whether it be via words or gestures. Listen to their message and respond. Once the child has made their communicative intent, respond immediately by doing something that is directly related to what they have just communicated. Be patient and allow for their next response while the interaction progresses.

These seemingly small steps will have a huge impact on your child’s language development. Let’s make learning fun!

References:

  1. Koohi, A. (2018) The Power of Turn-taking: How Back-and-forth Interactions Help Children Learn Language. Retrieved from: http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/power-turn-taking.aspx?_cldee=c3RlcGhhbmllQGJvc3RvbmFiaWxpdHljZW50ZXIuY29t&recipientid=contact-71d3f135de99e511b10900155db60c03-cd40a765dc04443090d8ae626b7fe19c&esid=0767f8c0-7c63-e811-b9ac-00155db63606

Treadmill for Students with Autism and Apraxia (TAAP)

Written By: Jenna Colton, DPT

I am excited to bring TAAP to the Boston Ability Center!

I recently attended a course called TAAP (Treadmill for Students with Autism and Apraxia) where I learned how to further utilize the treadmill during my physical therapy sessions to aide in improving children’s gait, coordination and visual motor skills. I then had the opportunity to educate my colleagues on the TAAP protocol during staff meeting where we discussed how all three disciplines: PT, OT and SLP can use this program to help children meet their goals.

TAAP is an eight-week program that integrates visual and gross motor learning with the use of a treadmill. This program was created by a school physical therapist who wanted to aide children in developing and improving classroom skills including visual attention, transitions, fine, and gross motor skills. Additionally, TAAP works to improve children’s academics including reading, handwriting, and mathematics.

I learned that TAPP consists of 6 sequences that become progressively more challenging as the child improves. All of the sequences involve the use of a mirror to provide ambient and focal vision, thus aiding in the fusion of their visual motor system. The sequences begin with forward and backward walking on the treadmill. As the child progresses, worksheets and ball skills are incorporated. For example, children will complete scanning worksheets to improve their reading skills while ambulating on the treadmill. Also, to improve coordination, children can play catch while walking backwards.

We are currently implementing this program at the Boston Ability Center. We are having children practice walking and running on inclines, walking backwards, and practicing ball skills while on the treadmill. Additionally, some of our Occupation Therapists are having children complete scanning worksheets while walking on the treadmill to improve their visual motor skills.

Here is a picture of one of our kiddos completing a worksheet!