Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 2011

Hello, happy almost Easter !!

First, a warning that I heard yesterday that I want to share with you. Be careful with the plastic Easter eggs that you can fill with goodies. The firemen in my area said that if a child puts that in their mouth with the pointy end in first, they cannot remove it!!! And another mother shared with me that if a marshmallow gets stuck in a child's throat, the Heimlich method doesn't work. So, please keep these thoughts in mind when you are shopping for your Easter goodies.

So now on to happier thoughts. April is a known for it's "showers" and I would encourage you to use that as a fun, sensory, language filled activity. You can do so many things with rain. You can listen for the thunder ("boom"); you can watch for the lightening ("wow"); and you can play in the rain. I mentioned this before, but if it's a nice, light rain with no thunder or lightening, going for a walk is a magical experience. You can put on your puddle boots, put up umbrellas; wear your rain coats (all lovely new words to learn) and take a walk. Listen to the sound the rain makes; feel the wind on your face; feel your face and hands get wet from the rain and talk about all those things. Walk through puddles and do some splashing. Look at the rain in the drains by the curbs and then look again when the sun is out and the water is gone. Put a bucket outside and catch the rain and bring it with it, taste it, splash in it. Float things in the water outside and inside "go,go go," "oh, no" "bye bye boat", etc. Float boats, leaves, twigs, let your imagination go. And of course, for the sensory child in your house, put on some old clothes or an old swimming suit and play in the rain and in the gutters. Splash in those puddles with your bare feet. FUN!!!

The other April joy is Easter. Think about including candy like pixie stixs; sour gummy worms; or beef jerkey in all kinds of flavors. There is also a dip candy where the child gets to dip a hard candy stick into a powdery sugar.

All of these are fantastic for oral motor stimulation. Easter egg hunts are great for language development: "egg, bunny, hop, where go?; under; up; down".

Color easter eggs as a family. If you don't like the mess of the dyes you can color them with markers or put stickers on them. Crayons will work too.

Eating hard boiled eggs can be a communication time also. Let your child break the shells (they REALLY like this) and then peel off the shell together. Talk about how the shell is "hard; crack; off; broken" and then you can taste. Lots of children do not like eggs but you could try dipping some of the egg in salad dressings; salsa or whatever. Don't avoid flavors that sound weird, like melted do we know if we like these things if we don't try them (Ok, I see you questioning that one :) Also take the egg apart and find the little, yellow ball inside.

If you have some spring/easter stuffed animals, put them in an easter basket and have it to play with. Model those sound effects "baa for the sheep; peep peep for chicks; quack for the ducks; and with the bunnies I use hop, hop and wiggling my nose for them to imitate". Don't forget to add those gestures/signs!! Find the tails on the animals; talk about the eyes...all of this is wonderful for body parts; and always, always, expanding that expressive and receptive language. You can hide the bunny or sheep and go on a hunt to find them "where go? bunny where are you?"

This is a fun time for art projects also. You can add cotton balls as tails to a premade bunny picture. You can finger paint with bright colors and then cut out big easter egg shapes from the paper. Let them squeeze some glue on them and let them shake glitter or put anything fun on them to stick. Talk about the process while you are doing this...remember, it's not about how it looks, it's how it feels to do it.

I went to a Pediatric Feeding conference that showed us how to address feeding within the DIR model. This is the Greenspan approach where every interaction is relationship based. Let me know if you want any more information about's such a logical and respectful way to work on feeding when a child is anxious about feeding. Here is the new thing I learned that might be helpful. When you are exploring new foods, let the child have a cup to spit the food out in....and you have one too and show them how to spit things out. Once again, I see you all raising your eyebrows. But listen to the reasoning about this. If a child is anxious about putting new foods in their mouths, they are very against trying it. But, if they are allowed to spit it out, they are learning that they can control the food, at least well enough to spit it out. They are not being scolded for doing this activity, so there is less stress about having food in the mouth. And if the parents are doing it too, and let your child tell you to spit it out, the power is shared by the family, so stress is again, decreased. And finally, if a child is playing with a new food in their mouth, the activity is fun, they are tasting new tastes and might even swallow some because no one is demanding that they swallow the food. Plus, the ability to spit works on some oral muscles too. Let me know what you think!!!

Enough for today. Enjoy your holiday time!