Evidence Based Treatment at the Boston Ability Center: Torticollis and Plagiocephaly

I recently traveled to Connecticut to attend the “Torticollis & Plagiocephaly: Assessment & Treatment of Infants & Children, Pulling It Together” course by Cindy Miles. Congenital Muscular Torticollis is characterized by side bending of the head to one side and rotation of the head to the opposite side due to a tight sternocleidomastoid muscle.  You may see your child preferring to tilt to one side and/or preferring to turn their head to one side.  Plagiocephaly is flattening of the head on one side.   

The incidence of Torticollis and Plagiocephaly has increased since the rise of the Back to Sleep campaign.  There are estimates that 1/6 infants have Torticollis.  Torticollis affects the entire child including visual tracking, sensory awareness, gross motor skills, head shape, feeding, and the vestibular system.  To decrease an infant’s risk for Torticollis and Plagiocephaly, parents should place their infant on their tummy to play starting on day one of their life.  Additionally, an infant should receive at least 60 minutes of supervised tummy time per day.  This position increases the baby’s strength and control of their muscles as well as provides sensory input to the face and oral motor area. 

During this course, I learned additional examination techniques as well as interventions including stretching, positioning, and strengthening to help infants with these diagnoses.  Receiving physical therapy early leads to good outcomes.  If you suspect your child has Torticollis and/or Plagiocephaly, come see us at the Boston Ability Center to schedule an initial physical therapy evaluation.

Jenna Szilagyi, PT, DPT

Learning Never Stops At BAC!

The Boston Ability Center takes pride in completing additional specialized trainings and learning about new research to provide best patient care. Last week, three of our BAC clinicians traveled to Portland, ME to take part in a four day training in the SOS Approach To Feeding.

The SOS Approach focuses on increasing a child’s comfort level by exploring and learning about the different properties of food. The program allows a child to interact with food in a playful, non-stressful way, beginning with the ability to tolerate the food in the room and in front of him/her; then moving on to touching, putting on lips, and eventually tasting and eating foods.

At the conference, clinicians learned that children who participated in a twelve week feeding group that used the SOS method increased their number of accepted foods by 41% (Boyd, 2007).

Whether your child is a picky eater, problem feeder, or somewhere in between, come see us at the Boston Ability Center to schedule a feeding evaluation and learn more.

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A Special Visitor Comes to BAC Social-Motor Groups

Last week BAC Social-Motor Groups had the honor of having a visit from a wonderful firefighter! This session’s theme has been focused on community helpers so it was only natural to learn about one our favorite people! The children learned about teamwork, self-generated social wondering questions, took turns and even got to try on some firefighter gear!

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!

Guest Speaker: Jess Wilson Presents at BAC Staff Meetings

Over the last few months, Jess Wilson, writer of “Diary of a Mom”, has presented the BAC staff with a five-part lecture series. Jess stimulated thought provoking discussion among clinicians and provided a multitude of resources for our occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists. Through lecture, readings, and discussion, Jess helped staff to integrate ideas surrounding inclusion for those with disabilities into our current therapy practice. She offered a unique perspective as both a mother and friend to individuals with disabilities. Topics have included neuropsychological evaluations, language surrounding professional feedback to families and caregivers, as well as specific treatment suggestions. Jess provided the BAC with exceptional understanding, awareness, and insight. Our staff is incredibly thankful to have learned from her!


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:




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.

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

In-Services in Our Community

On Monday, October 23, 2017, an enthusiastic group of preschool teachers and directors met at the Carter Center for Children in Needham, MA for a workshop. Lauren Alves, Co-Director at the Carter Center organized the evening workshop which was titled From Here to There: Transitions Throughout the School Day. Clinicians, Janet Schmidt, MA, CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist and Elvira Fulchino, MS. OTR/L, MSW, LICSW, Occupational Therapist, from the Boston Ability Center conducted the workshop.

The focus of the workshop was for the participants to identify and plan for successful transitions in order to facilitate the children’s success throughout their school day. The impact of individual factors on successful transitions, such as, changes in the child’s schedule, routine, sleep difficulty, sensory sensitivities, physical limitations, and language difficulties were also addressed. Interventions such as, using First/Then language, Visual supports, Zones of Regulation and Whole Body Listening strategies to facilitate coping skills in young children were introduced.

The format allowed for large and small group discussion which provided the opportunity for the participants to ask questions, view materials and learn more about specific strategies.

Elvira Fulchino, MS, OTR/L, MSW

Janet Schmidt, MA, CCC-SLP







See below for a link to an article on transitions and additional references:


References: Dewdney, Anna, Llama Llama Misses Mama, 2009, Scholastic Inc. www.scholastic.com

Kuypers, Leah M. Ed. OTR/L, The Zones of Regulation, 2011, Think Social Publishing, Inc. www.zonesofregulation.com S’cool Moves, I Can Calm Myself, S’cool Moves, Inc. www.schoolmoves.com

Wilson, Kristen, Sautter, Elizabeth, Whole Body Listening Larry at home, Whole Body Listening Larry at school, Second Edition, 2016. www.socialthinking.com