Cleaning Tips, Tricks and Hacks

With the joys of the holidays also comes the stress of hosting events and having people over more frequently than usual for many. While we LOVE the holidays and spending time with family and friends, hosting events can make us feel a little overwhelmed with the cleaning and prep that has to happen beforehand. Tune in all month long for tips, tricks and hacks for cleaning!! Share your ideas on our FaceBook page!

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Packing Lunch for School

It is easy to fall into a lunch rut and pack the same things each day or to rely on prepackaged foods that can be expensive. Taking a 3 step approach can help provide variety as well as balanced, healthy lunches that kids will actually eat!

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Music, Language, and Your Developing Child

We've been hearing about all of the cognitive benefits of music in the last few decades—parenting articles have been asking parents to sing to their babies, play classical music, and get their kids in music lessons as early as possible! But what are these benefits, how does music improve language skills, and what can we do at home to facilitate these benefits?

0-Birth

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We like music before we are even born! Did you know that at just 25 weeks in utero, babies are processing auditory signals? This is why newborns often prefer to hear their mother's voice over others'—it's what they've been hearing for months! Start singing, playing music for, and talking to your baby in utero—this will help prepare their auditory system to start discriminating sounds when they are born.

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Infancy

Music has incredible benefits for your infant. Singing to your baby has been shown to aid in soothing and regulating moods, strengthen the caregiver-infant emotional bond, and facilitate sleeping and feeding patterns which, in turn, improves growth and development. And don't be shy! Your little one does not care if you are the next big star on The Voice—they just want to hear your voice singing just for them and to share the musical experience with you.

Language is, in a way, very musical as well—think about how the pitch of our voices go up when we ask questions or how we lengthen a word when we are emphasizing a point (“I am soooooo tired”) By priming our kiddo's with rhythm and tones from music, we are helping their systems figure out how to organize similar traits in language.

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Growing into Toddlerhood

As your little one grows, you can use music & singing in a variety of ways to help with their development. Use songs with help introduce new vocabulary and combine phrases—there's a reason why “Twinkle Twinkle” and “Wheels on the Bus” have been around for quite some time! Try excitedly pausing during a well-known song and see if they fill in blank (e.g. “Twinkle twinkle little _________”  or “Old MacDonald had a farm. E-I-E-I-_____”). Pat your legs and use hand gestures to the beat of songs to encourage development of rhythmic skills.

One of our favorite ways to use music and singing for our younger kids is to create musical routines! All humans, particularly our little ones, feel most comfortable with predictability. Have a song for cleaning up, going to bed, washing hands, at mealtimes, or saying goodbye often helps our little ones transition from one activity to the next.

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Reaching School Age

Research has pointed to the positive effect of music education on both language and literacy development. A recent study (Kühnis et al., 2013) found that musicians were better at differentiating between subtle differences in speech sounds than non-musicians. Music stimulates many areas of the brain simultaneously. While singing or playing an instrument, we may be listening to the tones we produce, watching and feeling our fingers move across and instrument, shaping the words with our mouth, and tapping into the memory and language areas of our brains to recall the notes and words all at the same time! Language is equally complex and involves many of the same systems to understand and produce what we say on a daily basis. So it makes sense that with strong music interpretation skills, interpretation and production of slight differences in language would be strengthened as well.

A great example of this comes with music supporting early literacy skills such as phonemic awareness. All music involves rhythmic patterns, and singing often involves rhyming. Phonemic awareness is our ability to hear a speech sound, identify that sound, and then ultimately combine that with other speech sounds to make words. For example, each letter in d-o-g has a different sound, and when we combine those sounds together we make the word for our favorite furry friend. Thus, recognizing and interpreting rhythmic and rhyming patterns in music facilitates recognizing patterns in language as well!

Music and Memory

Music isn't just beneficial to our little ones in terms of language learning. As we age, some of our strongest memories are linked with music. If you read, “Gimme a break Gimme a break. Break me off a piece of that _________”  Most of us would be able to fill in “Kit-Kat bar!”  And when we are trying to alphabetize something, most of us still sing the alphabet song in our heads! This is because music is associated with so many areas of our brain that those catchy jingles become very ingrained in our memory.

Introducing new concepts with familiar songs is a great way to quickly solidify the information. Be creative with it--many children have learned their phone numbers using the jingle to either the Luna or Empire carpet theme songs!

Sign me up!

Music has a multitude of language benefits, but participating in music lessons and ensembles also gives kids of all ages the opportunity to work with others, practice listening skills, increase discipline and self-confidence and allows them to meet others with similar interests. So next time you are deciding which extracurricular activity to sign your kids up for, put music on the top!

Interested in voice lessons?

Did you know that our own Ms. Anne has a degree in Vocal Performance? Did you also know that she offers voice lessons right here at Pediatric Interactions? Click on the link below for more information:

Written by:  Anne Chapman, MA, CCC-SLP/L

Sources:

Graven, Stanley & Browne, Joy. (2008). Auditory Development in the Fetus and Infant. Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews. 8. 187-193. 10.1053/j.nainr.2008.10.010.

Kühnis, J, et al. (2013) “The Encoding of Vowels and Temporal Speech Cues in the Auditory Cortex of Professional Musicians: an EEG Study.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23664833/.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "How music lessons can improve language skills: Study links piano education with better word discrimination by kindergartners." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2018.

Trehub, S.E. (2003). Musical predispositions in infancy: An update. In I. Peretz and R. Zatorre's The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music (pgs. 3-20). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Winkler, I., Haden, G.P., Ladinig, O., Sziller, I., & Honing H. (2009). Newborn infants detect the beat in music. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106 (7), 2468-2471.

 

The Best Hobbies for Passionate Children

As a parent, it is always tempting to enroll your child in after-school organizations, sports clubs, and other similarly regulated groups to maximize their entertainment while making sure they stay safe. However, there are a number of benefits to having your child pursue a hobby of his own in his downtime. Read more about some ways you can introduce your child to an exciting new hobby.

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Got Water...

Summer is in full swing! How have you been spending your time? We have been trying to check items off our summer bucket list. This can be a great way to get outside and burn some energy off. Here are some ideas for different ways to incorporate water play this summer: 

--Go to the Beach!- Pack up the sand toys and head out. Build sand castles, play in the water, go on a scavenger hunt, read a good book, throw a ball or frisbee, etc. 
--Sprinkler- Target gross motor skills; running and jumping. Build descriptive language skills; wet/dry, fast/slow, up/down. 
--Water Table- There are many commercially available water tables available, but empty bowls and bins work great too! Add some plastic toys, sponges and cups for hours of fun. 
--Washing the car- talk about multitasking…. You can spend time having fun with your kids AND get your car cleaned. 
--Gardening- Get out the hose and water your plants and flowers. If your child doesn’t enjoy getting wet give him/her a spray bottle or watering can. 

Share photos or your ideas for water play on our "Got Water" FaceBook post for a chance to WIN! In order to win you must LIKE, SHARE and COMMENT on this post. Winner will be announced in August Newsletter.

Written by Lindsey Fry, MA, CCC-SLP/L

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Summer Bucket List

We share a few ideas for you and your family to start your SUMMER BUCKET LIST of everything you want to do. It can be a great way to involve the whole family in creating memories that will last a lifetime. It doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy, it can be as simple or involved as you’d like.

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PODD (Pragmatic Organization of Dynamic Display (PODD)

Children with complex communication needs require another way to talk and communicate with their family, peers, and caregivers. There are many options to consider. There are low-tech devices and high-tech devices. Low-tech devices are often devices made of paper and high-tech devices are technology-based (e.g., iPads, Dynavox, etc.). PODD is a paper-based device that focuses on the teaching of communicative functions (e.g., commenting, requesting, protesting, opinions, etc.), so there is no need to understand categorization prior to utilizing the device. The system also aims to provide continuous communication, a range of messages, across a variety of settings and situations. PODD can also easily allow communicators to transition into a variety of high-tech devices (e.g., GoTalk, Proloquo, etc.) and can also be used alongside the communicator’s current communication device/system.

To begin with PODD, it is important to model the language for the communicator. Verbal communicators learn to speak by listening to others speak around them, and the best way to help a child with complex communication needs learn to use the PODD system is to use the system to model speaking through pictures throughout the day.  This will allow the child/communicator to learn the way the system works and utilize the system independently. The numbers in the upper right hand corner create links on each page, which allows for the communicator to build on the pragmatic function to communicate ideas, so that we as communication partners can also navigate the device with minimal difficulty.

PODD would be a beneficial tool for individuals who benefit from using an alternative and augmentative communication system to assist with understanding and expressing language. For more information on PODD, please visit www.poddusa.com.

Written by Thao Witbeck, MS, CCC-SLP/L after attending training by Gayle Porter and Linda Burkhart

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The 411 on PROMPT

Did you know that it takes about 100 muscles to speak? Speech is one of the most complex processes that we humans perform. Just to say “Good morning!”, we have to coordinate which of those 100 muscles to use, and then use those muscles with the correct timing, place, and tension. It's no wonder that our kiddos often have trouble with speech sounds! 

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The Do's and Don'ts of Pacifier Use

DO

  • Use a pacifier for babies to help self soothe
  • Use a pacifier until your child is 1 year
  • Use a pacifier to introduce different flavors (e.g., dunking in apple juice)
  • Use a pacifier to help with establishing an appropriate suck-swallow-breathe pattern
  • Use a pacifier for children who are getting food intake through a NG (naso-gastric) or G (gastric) tube    
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DON'T

  • Use a pacifier just because it is there
  • Use a pacifier beyond the age of 2

  • Use a pacifier while your child is walking around

  • Use a pacifier as a substitute for giving coping strategies for emotional regulation

  • Use a pacifier when your child is in an emotionally regulated state (or calm)

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Why? 

Pacifiers are a good beginning for babies to help them learn how to self-soothe.  When babies use a pacifier or a bottle they use an immature suckling pattern as they have not learned a more mature tongue movement pattern.  As kids develop, we want them to be able to explore the range of freedom that the tongue has which will be necessary for feeding, swallowing and speech production.  Use of a pacifier beyond the age of 1 can lead to dependency on the pacifier rather than learning coping strategies for self regulation.  When children walk around with pacifiers in their mouths, there are several consequences that may result: they use the pacifier as a point of stability (which can lead to impaired dissociation of the tongue/jaw or lip/jaw needed for the structures to function independent of each other for speech sound production), it encourages the child to talk around the pacifier resulting inappropriate tongue patterns for speech sounds (articulation errors) and it discourages your child from communicating.  There are varying opinions among professions (speech-language pathologists, dentists, doctors) but all agree that after age 2 the pacifier should be eliminated.  See upcoming articles for "how to eliminate your child's pacifier". 

Written by Lisa Morris, MS, CCC-SLP/L

How To Create A Safe, Fun Backyard Haven For Your Child On The Autism Spectrum

For parents of children on the autism spectrum, it can be difficult to find safe and engaging activities that aren’t overwhelming during summer months. Every child on the spectrum is different and has different needs, which can make it challenging for parents to share ideas on what works. One of the best ways to help your child have fun when the weather warms up, however, is to create an awesome backyard area that will keep him entertained but is still functional. Depending on your child’s learning needs, there could be great potential to teach him about science and other subjects right on your own lawn!

Because many kids who are on the spectrum feel easily overwhelmed by lots of noise or color, it’s important to customize your backyard as an area they can feel comfortable in, a place for them to retreat to when things are stressful. If your child loves water, create a water table for him to play on when the temperature goes up; not only will this engage him, it will keep him cool.

Read on for more tips on how to create a safe, fun backyard haven for your child this summer.

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Testimonials

Thank you to our many amazing families and professionals that have entrusted us to work with their children over the years.

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Travel, is it a "Trip" or a "Vacation"

If you’ve ever traveled with your children, you probably have a better understanding of the difference between a “trip” and a “vacation”.   The later is what I used to do before children, “trips” are what we go on now. While I immensely enjoy the time spent with my family and the memories we make, the amount of work that goes into traveling with children leads me to classifying these excursions to other places as “trips” not vacations. Here are some tips for traveling with kids that I’ve learned along the way: 

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