Cards for Hospitalized Kids

This month The Boston Ability Center is excited to send a bundle of handmade cards to send to Cards for Hospitalized Kids (CFHK).

Children at the Boston Ability Center will have the opportunity to decorate cards as a simple, yet meaningful way to make a difference in the lives of children who cannot be home this holiday season.

CFHK distributes cards to children’s hospitals across all 50 states as well as Ronald McDonald Houses.

Winter Fun in the Speech Department at BAC

Our speech-language pathologists are having fun using theme based learning with the upcoming holidays and cold, winter weather. This week clinicians focused on winter/snow theme!

Below is a picture of a kiddo who is using his AAC Device to build his expressive and receptive vocabulary, increase length of utterances and utilize prepositions in a phrase. Following language generation, the kiddo placed the item in the wintery scene.

Some kiddos read the story “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow” (if you haven’t read this book, it is a great one! Lots of choral responses, theme based vocabulary, opportunities for predictions, and more!) After reading the story, kiddos followed directions of varying length and complexity and made a snowman! Not only was the activity a great reinforcer but it also supported expressive and receptive language development.

One Night Out: December

All the kids and staff had so much fun at this past weekend’s One Night Out at the Boston Ability Center. The theme was all about Winter, which was perfect with the snow in Boston!

The children signed in using watercolor paint over “mystery” winter pictures that were drawn in white crayon. When the children signed in using the paint, the picture underneath magically appeared. It was a lot of fun for the kids to guess what the picture was going to be.

We read the book There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow By: Lucille Colandro and made two corresponding crafts. The first craft was ooey gooey fun– we made snow slime! We also made an ooblek filled snowman stress ball. Not only was it fun to make but also a good tool to use during the holidays.

Cooking is such a fun activity for the kids! They love being involved and making new recipes. This past weekend we made hot chocolate mix cones, which consisted of hot chocolate mix, crushed candy canes, mini chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. We also made chocolate and sprinkle dipped marshmallows sticks to go in our cozy hot chocolate. They were delicious!

The next One Night Out is scheduled for Saturday, January 6th!

Holiday Tips and Strategies for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder

The holidays are here and with this very special time of year comes holiday parties, music, dressing up, lots of food, visitors and traveling! While these can be very exciting things to some people, to a child with sensory processing issues the holidays can feel more like loud noises, uncomfortable clothing, sitting for long periods of time at dinner, unfamiliar foods, unexpected hugs and a change in routine. For those of us who are challenged adjusting to day light savings time when that alarm clock goes off 1 hour earlier, imagine the challenges of the holidays when a typical day suddenly doesn’t feel quite so typical. Thankfully, there are ways to prepare and navigate these changes so that everyone can participate in the holiday cheer.

In order to prepare for travel:

Discuss the specifics of traveling before the trip. This will help your child prepare for what to expect on a plane, train or car including when to sit with a seatbelt on, when they can get up and walk around, and when they have to stand in a line, etc. See your occupational or speech therapist for additional ideas on stories that may help guide your travels.

If possible, visit the airport or train station in advance. Visit the ticket counter and watch the planes take off and land.

Make a scrap book with your child that includes one page per day of your travels. Each page should include the people that you may meet (use real photos if you can) and places that you may go. Review the book before your trip and then take it with you. While you are on your trip, take some time at the end of the day to reflect and have your child draw a picture of their favorite thing they did or saw! This may help motivate them to continue to use it throughout their trip.

If your child has difficulties with dressing or wearing certain clothing, have them help pack their clothes. Trial the clothes at home so that they know what they have packed and also that the clothing items are tolerable. If the weather will be different than home, show them a visual of the weather at your vacation spot. This may help guide your packing and help them understand why shorts may be necessary over snow boots.

If your child has sensitivities to clothing and you purchase new clothes for your trip be sure to wash the clothes several times before trialing and wearing them.

Prepare with reading materials, fidgets and comfort items such as blankets during the flight or drive.

Make a calendar countdown to your trip. Take a calendar with you to help them visualize how long the trip will be and to assist in transitioning back home.

In order to prepare for the return home:

Use the calendar to prepare for which day you are leaving to head back home. Discuss how many days before you get home, return to school and back to your regular schedule.

Gather souvenirs during your trip to add to the scrap book. Discuss bringing it in to show friends, other family members or bringing the book into show-and-tell at school.

In order to prepare for Religious Services:

If your family is planning on attending services in a temple, church, mosque, etc., prior exposure to the religious environment can be helpful for your child. Every location has its own practices and rules.

Rehearsing routines that your family may encounter, including singing songs and prayers, sitting on tight benches, etc. will create an opportunity for your family to participate in the religious community and feel pride.

In order to prepare for mealtime and family gatherings:

Provide movement breaks as often as possible, especially before mealtime and traveling which should include 5-10 minutes of heavy work. Finding a quiet space for a break may be beneficial as well. *See list of heavy work ideas below.

Allow your child to assist with setting the table (plates, soda bottles), cooking (stirring, kneading dough), and moving chairs to the correct placements (or pushing them in/out). Set up a designated space for the children to help that includes extra dough, cookie decorating and/or different textured items to provide tactile experiences for them.

Determine a signal (secret code) between you and your child that will indicate that they need a break when they are in an environment that is challenging for them.

Prepare other family members of your child’s needs by explaining the implications of loud voices and unexpected touch.

Bring preferred food items to family gatherings to ensure your child has an option to eat. Try to encourage healthier options as this time of year can be filled with an abundance of sugary treats.

Inquire about interests of other children attending the gatherings to see if they share common interests with your child – you may also find new activities that might be intriguing to your child!

Heavy work ideas:

– Any activity that involves pushing, pulling, dragging, lifting or jumping- carrying laundry, boxes with books, grocery bags, pushing vacuum, etc

– Pull or push boxes (more resistance on a carpeted floor)

– Carry boxes of items to donate

– Play “magic carpet” and have a sibling or family member pull the child on a sheet, mat or small rug

– Play Twister!

– Have a dance party to holiday music

– Practice cooking with your child – have them stir the pot or knead thick dough.

– Make holiday themed play dough, such as gingerbread or pumpkin spice.

– Have the child pull pillows or couch cushions into a “mountain” pile in a safe place for them to jump in and climb through and under.

– Roll your child up in a blanket or yoga mat like a burrito or hot dog

– “Make a pizza” by rolling a large yoga/therapy ball over your child while they lay flat

– Pull weighted items in a wagon or cart

– Make a “sandwich” with them in between two pillows while pressure is provided

– Give big hugs and squeezes

– Wheel barrow walking or animal walks- bear walk, frog jump, commando crawl, or log roll

– Engage in exercises such as wall push-ups, sit ups, planks, or jumping-jacks – incorporate exercises into a game of “Santa Says!”

Final Thoughts:

Keep in mind what your child might need in order to be comfortable. Be prepared to review your plans with your child several times as they might need the repetition in order to feel comfortable with the change of routine. Children need structure and routine and benefit tremendously from maintaining eating and sleeping schedules. We hope that these suggestions will help support your child and your family throughout the holiday season. We wish you all safe travels, happy holidays and a healthy, joyful new year!

 

 

Look Who is Joining Our Team!

We are very excited to announce that Dr. Jillian Bennett, Neuropsychologist, is officially joining the Boston Ability Center!

Dr. Jillian Bennett

Dr. Bennett obtained her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and completed training at major hospitals, such as Bradley Children’s Hospital, and private institutions, such as the May Institute. She specializes in treating children, 0-7 years old, with autism and other developmental disabilities. Although her main area of interest is children with autism, she sees children with a variety of challenges, such as those with attention difficulties, learning problems, anxiety, and other emotional or behavioral disorders.

Her approach is very family oriented, culturally sensitive, and child-focused. As a mother, she understands how difficult it is to see your child struggle and she does her best to not only provide families with a comprehensive report to help their child get what he or she needs, but also guides families through the next several years. According to Dr. Bennett, she sees her role as not only a neuropsychologist, but also an advocate for the child. In fact,she states one of the greatest parts of her job, is the ability to follow children over time and help families with questions about their child’s development as they mature.

Dr. Bennett will be seeing patients at the Boston Ability Center. To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact Dr. Bennett directly at 781-591-7475 or via email bennett.psychology@gmail.com.

Click here to read about services offered!

Read About Dr. Bennett in the Media: 

Meet Dr. Jillian Bennett of Wellesley

 

 

 

One Night Out: November

We had so much fun during November’s One Night Out! The children LOVED playing in the large motor room with their peers and had so much fun making turkeys out of paper bags. While making the turkeys, we discussed things that we were thankful for and wrote them on our turkey to take home! The next One Night Out is scheduled for Saturday, December 9th.

CPR Training at BAC

A few weeks ago, BAC staff participated in CPR training. This is a training that all staff participate in every year to retain their skills and ensure that they are prepared if anything was to take place. We recognize the importance of being educated CPR and First Aid.

Ways to find a locations to learn CPR:

http://www.redcross.org/local/massachusetts/take-a-class

 

 

Clinician Spotlight: Anna Gray, Physical Therapist

Anna Gray, physical therapist, recently attended the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to get the latest evidence based techniques and treatments. She had the opportunity to take courses on hypermobility syndromes, toe walking, cerebral palsy, congenital muscular torticollis  and much, much more. Anna was able to connect with physical therapists around the country!” (Anna)

We look forward to Anna bringing new research back to BAC and continuing to pride top quality care for her patients she serves.

The BAC Thankful Tree

We have been busy making a “Thankful Tree” with all the kids at the BAC.  The Thankful Tree is posted on our office door for patients and their siblings to do while waiting in the waiting room. It has also been a fun, motivating activity for patients to put their leaf on the tree.  Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on all the things you are thankful for and let your loved ones know how much you appreciate them. We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and safe travels!

BAC Thankful Tree

Special Guest at BAC

Every Wednesday BAC staff participate in a staff meeting in which we discuss new research, recently attended presentations/lectures, and case studies.

This Wednesday we are very fortunate to have Jess Wilson present a five part staff meeting series for us! She is the voice behind Diary of a Mom, a community of over 330,000 dedicated, highly engaged members who are as passionate as she is about making the world a more inclusive, welcoming place for those with disabilities. She has taken her message everywhere from her local school board meetings to college lecture halls and even the White House, amplifying the voices of those whose lived experiences drive her work.

Jess lives in Boston with her husband, Luau, their two teenage daughters, Katie and Brooke, and their dogs, Winston and Lucy.

Jess with her two daughters, Katie and Brooke