Washington DC: Day 2!

Day Two kicked off with a session on infant and child development and the role physical therapists play in improving a parent’s ability to interact with their child. Six ideas to keep in mind when engaging in play with your child range from simple things like ensuring toys are within reach, turn taking, and limiting restrictions on the child’s movements, to more challenging pointers like sharing mutual attention and pausing to let the child explore and play on their own, all while remaining engaged in play with them. The next time you bring your child for an appointment, ask if you can observe a part of their next session and be sure to ask for tips on how to get the most out of the time you share playing with your kids.

The second course on the menu reviewed the evidence on the importance of physical therapy treatment for children with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Children with an ASD diagnosis present with a slower rate of development and low tone (or limited resting muscle strength), and often present with increased muscle tightness to compensate. This results in significant decreases in their range of motion. Activities like aquatics, yoga, and horseback riding have all proved helpful in combination with a stretching and strengthening program.

Finally, I attended a study review on the impact that an aerobic activity like cycling can have on stroke recovery and motor learning following a neurological insult. It was demonstrated that when individuals recovering from a stroke participated in a cycling program for 45 minutes three times a week, they showed improvement in practiced functional skills. 5-60 minutes after vigorous aerobic exercise, the brain even showed an improved ability to relearn tasks that had been made more difficult following a stroke.

If you have any questions or would like more information on the above information you can reach me at brian@bostonabilitycenter.com and I would be happy to help.

Greetings From Our Nation’s Capital!

Greetings from our nation’s capital where I am attending this year’s physical therapy 2019 Combined Sections Meeting! In today’s program I had the opportunity to refresh my knowledge on the vestibular system, with a particular focus on deficits and pathologies that can affect the children we treat at the BAC. The vestibular system is located in and around the inner ear and receives input from our surroundings, keeping us from falling or getting nauseous when riding in a car. Physical therapists who are well versed in the treatment of vestibular disorders are able to work with kids who have lost function due to congenital issues, drug treatments for cancer, or concussions. Treatment often involves desensitizing dizziness, balance training, and visual stabilization that can be achieved in a variety of creative ways. At the BAC,  treatment can be made more fun for children with the use of physioballs, swings, balance beams, and zip lines. Keep checking this feed for resources on the vestibular system as well as signs and symptoms that a child can present with. More info coming soon from Washington DC!

Mr. Brian

Introducing Mei-Li!

The Boston Ability Center is proud to have partnerships with local universities that have some of the best allied health programs in the country. We look forward to the opportunity to train graduate clinicians who show the same passion for working with kids as our own clinical staff. Please join us in welcoming Mei-Li to our team as she completes her 4th and final fieldwork experience in Speech and Language Pathology! 

Mei-Li is a graduate student from Northeastern University where she is enrolled in the Masters of Speech and Language Pathology program. She will be joining our team for 12 weeks beginning mid-January as part of her 4th and final fieldwork experience before her graduation this May. Her undergraduate studies at Smith College included Psychology as well as Education & Child Studies. In her junior year, she traveled abroad to Australia and completed an internship at an Early Intervention agency where she found her love for speech and language pathology. After graduating, she worked as an ABA clinician working alongside children ages 4-21 with a wide range of developmental disabilities and communication needs. Currently, she works in the field of Early Intervention as a developmental specialist serving the children and families of the Urban Boston Area. She is very excited to join our team and work alongside our seasoned clinicians. In her free time, Mei-Li enjoys going to the beach, playing volleyball, and traveling.

Meet Arielle!

The BAC team continues to grow, and we are so excited to introduce you to Arielle, the newest member of our OT crew! 

If you had to be an animal, what would be it be? I would be a horse. It’s my favorite animal because they are strong, intelligent, graceful and gentle.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Mint chocolate chip!

What is your favorite children’s book? Night of the Moonjellies, which I asked my parents to read to me over and over again. I love the story and the way the illustrations foster imagination.

What is your favorite kid’s board game? Clue

Do you have any special talents? Aerial Silks

What has been your favorite place to visit? I traveled around New Zealand for a month and did a lot of hiking. It is an absolutely beautiful country!

If given a superhero power what would you choose? Flying, because I would like seeing the world from a different perspective, feeling weightless and enjoying the wind in my hair.

Arielle completed her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Tufts University, where she was the Community Outreach Chair of the Student Occupational Therapy Association and organized two annual events for the Medford and Somerville communities. Arielle completed her pediatric fieldwork at Boston Children’s Hospital, working with children and their families on acute inpatient floors. She comes to Boston Ability Center with 4 years of experience as a Registered Behavior Technician, providing ABA services to children 1.5-18 years old with Autism and related diagnoses around the greater Boston area. She is passionate about working with children and their families and promoting participation in meaningful activities. As a Registered Yoga Teacher, she also incorporates wellness and mindful movement to help clients achieve their goals. Arielle is excited to join the Boston Ability Center team and continue to enrich the lives of the children she works with. 

Meet Bailee!

Get to know Bailee, one of the fabulous new OTs you might see around the BAC! 

If you had to be an animal, what would be it be? A dolphin! I love the water.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

What is your favorite children’s book? Corduroy

What is your favorite kid’s board game? Candyland

What has been your favorite place to visit? Ocean City, New Jersey

If given a superhero power what would you choose?  The ability to fly so I could visit my family and friends who live far away!

Bailee is a graduate of Bay Path University where she received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. She received her Bachelors Degree in Child Psychology from Westfield State University. Bailee’s clinical experience in Early Intervention, Outpatient, and in the Montessori schools has provided her with a wide range of expertise in the classroom, in the home, and in the community. Bailee has been a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with the Boston Public School system for the past 3 years, treating and evaluating children of all ages and abilities. Bailee has also worked in the Norwood Public schools during the summer months working with children with social-emotional disorders, and developmental and physical disabilities. Bailee is passionate about developing children’s skills while increasing their participation and performance through play, and she is very excited to join the Boston Ability Center team. In her spare time, Bailee enjoys spending time hiking with her dog Lola, snowboarding, and traveling with family and friends.

Meet Megan!

Get to know Megan, one of the fabulous new OTs you might see around the BAC! 

If you had to be an animal, what would be it be? A dolphin!

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Chocolate

What is your favorite children’s book? Matilda

What is your favorite kid’s board game? Candyland

Do you have any special talents? I am quite the cook, if I do say so myself.

What has been your favorite place to visit? Nice, France

If given a superhero power what would you choose? Super strength

Megan is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh where she received her Master of Occupational Therapy degree. Megan’s clinical experience includes working in a variety of settings with a wide range of diagnoses. Megan has extensive experience working with children in a school-based setting as well as with medically complex children in their homes and has also worked with children in the outpatient setting. She is passionate about helping individuals of all ages gain independence and confidence in activities that make their lives meaningful. She especially enjoys promoting independence in higher level life skills with children and addressing executive functioning difficulties with her clients. In her spare time, Megan can be found at the gym weight lifting, or drawing in her sketchpad while listening to music. She is eager to continue pursuing her passion of occupational therapy here at the Boston Ability Center.

BAC 2018 Holiday Toy Guide!

Wondering how you can make the most of your child’s new (or old!) toys this holiday season? The BAC team is here to help! Click on an item below to see some quick and easy ways to target your child’s goals while having FUN! Most of these tips can be applied to lots of different toys, but comment below with your child’s favorite toy to get some additional pointers from BAC’s OTs, PTs, and SLPs!

Squigz

Playdoh/Slime

Puzzles

Blocks

Pop the Pig

Lego Tape

Snap Circuits

Creature Builder

Suspend

Hedbanz

The Holidays Are Here!

Image result for snowman clipartThe 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 daylight 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 seat belt 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.Image result for airplane clipart
  • 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:Image result for calendar clipart

  • 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 scrapbook.  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:Image result for music clipart

  • 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:Image result for family dinner clipart

  • 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:Image result for child wheelbarrow walking clipart

  • Any activity that involves pushing, pulling, dragging, lifting or jumping- carrying laundry, boxes with books, grocery bags, pushing a 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
  • Wheelbarrow 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!”

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!

From your BAC Family!

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

Check it Out!

Boston Ability Center’s OT Janine Savage showed off her awesome rock climbing skills at Waypoint Adventure Annual Climb A Thon on Saturday. Janine’s participation helped Waypoint raise money to make adventure sports accessible for people of ALL abilities. Way to go Janine! Thank you Waypoint!

[Pictured: Occupational therapist, Janine Savage, rock climbing at Waypoint]