Category Archives: Parents

Sensory integration, Sensory Parenting, Parent partnerships and collaboration, home carryover, sensory diets and sensory lifestyles, parents know their child best.

Tips for Left-Handers

How to Help Left-Handers with Writing and Fine Motor Tasks? 

I just learned that 13th August is Lefties Day.  I never knew this till now. 🙂 

So, in celebration of Lefties, I thought I’d share some of my top tips: 

  1. While sitting at a table or in a classroom, it is best when Lefties sit on the left side of the table or even the room as they tend to turn their body a bit to the right.  This way if seated on the left side, they can more easily turn toward others and the teacher to see what’s going on. 
  2. If you’re a rightie and want to teach your leftie an activity, have them sit in front of you and mirror you. 
  3. The top of their paper will be tilted about 20-30 ish degrees to the right.  You can put a piece of tape on their desk to show where to place the top of the paper.
  4. Make sure to have access to left-handed tools such as pencils (esp if using Stabilo etc), scissors, tools with handles, potato peelers, and sports equipment such as gloves and rackets.  If using pencil grips, just check if there’s a leftie version needed (some do and some don’t). **See note below. 
  5. Explore which pens and markers to use as there’s likely some ‘smudging’ due to the way the left hand will rub over the writing as it goes across the lines.  Explore felt tip markers versus fountain pens for instance. 
  6. Check out www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk for more information and to see their ‘store’ where everything is easily accessible in one place
  7. Note that lefties will sometimes cross their letters from right-to-left
  8.  Lefties will naturally hook their wrist a bit while writing, some more than others.
  9. Consider notebooks used when writing as any rubbing of binder edges will be uncomfortable on the left hand.  Perhaps flip-top ones may be better or turning the spiral bound so you write towards it instead.  

If children are able to figure out how to use ‘regular’ utensils, this may be ideal because then they can use whatever is available wherever they go.  E.g. Scissors.  However, for some children who struggle with strength and coordination, it may be easier for them to use special left-handed items.  For those who want to be very skilled in certain sports, they may also look for a specifically left-handed tool as this may allow them to be even more dexterous in that sport.  

There are lots of things to consider really while writing and manipulating objects based on the child’s strengths, needs, and interests.  

As always, there’s never just one way, and we must take into consideration the child’s individual needs. 

Hope this is useful. Do share if you have any other tips.  If you’d like to receive some free tips on fine motor and hand strengthening activities, do sign up here for my free tips and news. 

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Writing Mini-Series till 9th August, ’20

Hi Everybody.

I’m offering a writing mini-series only for PARENTS and TEACHERS to help you learn how to identify the sensory and motor skills your child needs to develop to improve their pencil control for writing through the power of fun and connection.  

I have too often seen children being given pencil grips and writing worksheets to improve their writing, which ultimately causes stress and pain in their hands. 

I want to show a better way where we can work from the child’s foundational sensory and motor skills to improve their pencil control for writing in a way that will have a bigger impact and last longer, and most importantly, whilst preserving their self-esteem and confidence.  All this in a way that is fun for your child. 

I’d love to see as many teachers as possible sign-up for this mini-series so that we can better understand why kids are struggling.  

I hugely believe that children are not lazy or not interested in writing, and we need to dive deeper to learn why they are struggling with these skills.  

This mini-series will help you figure that out. It’s only available till 9th August.  

Sign-up above! 

Munira

How Do Paediatric Occupational Therapists Partner With Parents?

Usually, when people think about paediatric Occupational Therapy, the first thing that comes to mind is dropping your child off to see an OT who will do 1:1 treatment with them.  Sometimes parents aren’t present which means that they may not fully understand what the OT is working on with their child, and more importantly, don’t know how to support their child in their daily lives.  

How do OT’s help parents support their kids? 

At ot4kids, we have always valued working closely with parents in these ways:

  • Parents or caregivers are present throughout our sessions
  • We have regular parent-ONLY coaching sessions (similar to a teacher-parent conference but not rushed and more often) to review how things are going at home, identify areas of continued concern, understand rationale behind certain ‘behaviours’ and why certain sensory tools are effective and how to use them.  
  • Some parents do only parent consultations where they learn about sensory processing and motor skills, learn simple strategies to do with their child, and review in their OT consultations
  • Sometimes even grandparents and nannies have joined coaching and / or treatment sessions which has been so fantastic

What do parents think of 1:1 coaching sessions with their OT? 

Parents often find these consultation meetings to be the most helpful to them in understanding their child’s needs, and parenting their kids in a way that supports them developmentally and emotionally versus using traditional parenting techniques.  

How do parent coaching sessions / consultations help us (OT’s) help you? 

As an OT, I find the parent consultations really effective as:

1) parents know their child best so their input and feedback are great clues into figuring out effective ways to help their child

2) it’s important to know how the child fares in their daily lives as we want them to develop skills beyond the clinic and into their ‘real’ environments for the best impact

The aim of parent consultations / coaching

Our aim is to help reduce the overwhelm that parents can feel, and to help you find simple and effective ways in helping nurture your kids.  

My message to parents is that you know your child best, follow your gut instinct, and know that we can help you to be confident in helping your child to be coordinated, calm, and connected.  

Sign up here to learn more about parent coaching / consultation sessions. http://www.ot4kids.co.uk/occupational-therapy/parent-group-coaching-sessions

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How is Teletherapy and Working Closely with Parents Helping Kids? 

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Can you believe we have been doing Teletherapy and parent consultations for three months now?

Oftentimes, people think that OT has to be done 1:1 with an OT to help their child (and don’t get me wrong, direct treatment is really important and helpful).  Thanks to COVID-19, it has been absolutely amazing to see both parents and kids thriving.  Kids are calmer and building relationships, developing their motor skills, and problem-solving during play.   Parents are understanding their child’s ‘signs’ and needs, and as a result, figuring out what to do coming up with great strategies to support their kids.  

It has been a highlight building relationships, joining forces with parents, and having an impact in the kids’ natural environments. 

How do Occupational Therapists do Teletherapy?

Teletherapy sessions have taken a combination of two forms: 

  1. Directly working with the child via the parent 
  2. Indirectly by meeting only the parent and reviewing videos of child between sessions

What lessons have we learned (i.e. benefits gained) from teletherapy during COVID-19? 

Less is more

Kids have made great progress with what they have at home.  

Parents have been nicely surprised how much we are able to do with what they have at home, and as a result, they are more able to incorporate sensory strategies or motor activities into their days.  In many ways, I have found that children have made even more progress during their intensive blocks as we are so much more focused on certain areas and we use what they have.  

Empowering parents

For me, I have loved building relationships with the parents, and tag teaming with them to support their families and kids.  I feel that this has also been key to the progress we have made in sessions, and the support the parents feel that they are receiving.  Parents are empowered knowing that they can help their kids using their own hands and ideas.  

Learn by doing

I learn by doing things myself. 

These parent consultations and virtual sessions have enabled parents to ‘do’ with their kids themselves, and become confident in their own abilities to support their child.  Being mum to my 8-year old, I know how important this is.  

New future plans? YES!

So far, many families want to continue in this way to some capacity, and I’m fore-seeing positive changes going forwards in how we provide OT via supporting parents, whether it be directly, indirectly, through trainings and coaching, or a combination.  

Get in touch to discuss how tele-therapy can help your child.   

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Follow Your Gut, part 2.

Mums and dads know their child best! They are their child’s biggest advocate.  In a recent post I had written to ‘Follow Your Mummy Gut’ or Daddy Gut.

Sadly, in my practice I’m often told by parents that they just knew ‘something wasn’t right’ from early on however their concerns were dismissed by their doctors, health visitors or even family members. They were often told to wait and see, let him / her (child) be a kid, or they’ll grow out of it. So, what can you do as a parent if you’re in this situation?

This article offers some great suggestions to parents including:

1) Get a second opinion
2) Keep a record of behaviours via either a log, journal, photos, or even videos
3) Research – nowadays the internet is full of resources and it can at times be overwhelming, however there are some fantastic parent groups out there with other parents who are in your same shoes
4) Don’t stop, keep asking questions and get a referral for a specialist
5) I’d like to add that if you have concerns with development, behaviour, learning, social-emotional skills, sensory processing or motor milestones, have your child assessed by an Occupational Therapist experienced in these areas right away. They can assess your child’s development, let you know how it is impacting on their functional skills and start working on these areas now versus later. It’s never to early to get help.

Follow your Mommy Gut!

I recently watched Holly Robinson Peete share her family’s story about their son who has Autism. Her story sounds so much like the stories of families I work with. I loved what she had to say as it applies to families and children with all types of special needs, not just Autism.

Follow your “mommy gut!” Nobody knows your child like you do.

As health professionals and therapists, we should be listening carefully to what parents are saying as they know their child best and in effect, are telling us their child’s diagnosis. Early Intervention is key.

Check out the video:

First Signs-Early detection and intervention for Autism

I often work with parents who are concerned that their baby or child is not making eye contact, struggling to meet their motor and learning milestones, or doesn’t respond to their name.  Oftentimes, the wonder whether the child has Autism.

First Signs is a wonderful organization dedicated to educating parents and professionals about early signs of autism and the importance of Early Intervention.

They have great pages on:

  • Red Flags
  • Hallmark milestones from birth to three years
  • How to share your concerns with your doctor?
  • Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment

I love how they emphasize that paediatricians should better screen children during routine visits and the importance of partnership between parents and healthcare providers.  Parents know their child best and have a gut instinct when there is a problem.  It’s our job as healthcare providers to listen carefully to what parents are saying and make a proactive action plan. Rather than wait-and-see, let’s act early and make the most of a child’s early years when they are constantly learning and growing.  Let’s use prevention versus trying to remediate a problem later.  It’s never to early and Early Intervention is key.

Sorting Out Developmental Delay for Infants

Today I found a newsletter called A Pediatric Perspective put out by Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota, US. I really appreciate their articles focusing on Early Detection and Early Intervention.

This particular article written by a Neurodevelopmental Paediatrician, Dr. Raymond Tervo, M.S., reviews Red Flags for infants, toddlers, and preschool aged children that can indicate Developmental Delays in the areas of language, gross motor, fine motor, and cognitive skills.

The article can be slightly heavy but a great read for parents and definitely for health professionals. It was so nice to read what I say and believe on paper! 🙂

Here are the main points:

1)    PARENTS KNOW BEST!! If a parent is worried, chances are that something needs attention. Concerns may be in areas of speech and language, fine motor / hand skills, cognition, or difficulty reaching motor milestones.

2)    Early detection of problems is vital because brain development is very impressionable at an earlier age. Therefore, if you observe a delay, REFER on early for necessary medical treatments and therapy services. Early Intervention is crucial.

3)    Monitor infants with risk factors such as low birth weight, prematurity, brain bleeds, or known diagnoses including Down Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

4)    Delays in one developmental domain (e.g. language) can impair development in another area (e.g. motor skills and/or cognition).

5)    Red Flags for parents to look out for at specific ages for babies and young children.