Speech & Occupational Therapy of North Texas offers the highest quality speech, language and occupational therapy to the pediatric population in North Texas. We provide our services with a loving, nurturing attitude toward the child and with compassionate, comprehensive support and input for the family.
Eating problems are quite common in children with autism. When your child has trouble eating, meal times can be extremely challenging. As a parent, you want your child to try new foods and have a varied diet. Your child may refuse new foods, avoid certain textures, or have trouble. This can make any meal a very stressful situation for both you and your child. There are things that you can do to help.
Create a Routine
Create a meal time routine. If your child gets anxious as meal time approaches, take a few minutes to help them relax before sitting down. This might involve something such as taking some deep breaths together. Then, when you sit down to your meal, have your child sit at the same place. A routine, as well as a schedule, can help to make things more predictable for your child.
Eating together is important for your child. Doing so can help him or her to learn what is supposed to happen during meal times. As your child watches everyone else eat, they may be more likely to follow suit. There’s also a greater chance that they’ll try new foods if they see you and other family members eating it too.
Make Sure Your Child is Supported Properly
It’s important that your child is properly supported during meal times. If your child isn’t seated properly, they may get uncomfortable or start to wriggle. This can lead to distractions. In addition to supporting their back posture, provide something for their feet if they cannot touch the ground. Good support will enable your child to more easily focus on the food in front of them.
Introduce New Foods Gradually
Children with autism are often afraid of new foods. Instead of simply presenting a new food, introduce it gradually. Start by looking at it. Then hold it. Move to smelling it. Then you can move to just a small taste, even a lick. You can present new foods alongside foods you already know that your child likes.
Another option is to cut their food into fun shapes using cookie cutters or making funny faces with it. If your child is interested, let them help. Getting involved may pique their interest.
While meal times can be stressful and even frustrating, it’s important to remain calm. Speech and OT is here to help. We have three office locations in Plano, Frisco, and McKinney. If you live in North Texas, give us a call today!
Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Toddlers
Autism is a developmental disability that happens within a person’s brain. Nobody knows for certain what causes this difference, but these differences don’t make your child look any different. Since there isn’t anything about how an autistic toddler looks that sets them apart, it’s important to understand the disability’s other signs and symptoms.
One of the most common areas where autistic children struggle is with their social skills. This is something that’s seen in everyday life. In a toddler it may exhibit itself as:
Not responding to their own name
Avoiding eye contact
A strong preference to play by themselves
Has flat facial expressions
Avoids or resists physical contact
Isn’t comforted by their parents during times of distress
A lack of interest in the world around them
Failure to copy words and actions
Not clapping or waving goodbye
Not wanting to play peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake
It’s important to understand that each person with autism has different communication skills. While some can speak fine, others can’t speak at all. It’s also quite common for children with autism to have some words by the time they’re 18-months-old then lose them. Other signs your toddler may have autism include:
Echolalia: the continued repetition of words or phrases
Not pointing at anything or responding when you point to something
Having few, if any, gestures: Not waving goodbye
Not engaging in pretend play like feeding their doll
Unusual Interests and Behaviors
People with autism are known to have unusual interests and behaviors. Your toddler may demonstrate this by:
Lining up their toys
Playing with their toys in the exact same way every time
Preferring to play with a specific part of a toy like its wheel
Getting upset by minor changes to their routine
Flapping their hands, rocking their body, or spinning in circles
Toddlers who have autism will have delays in the development of some of their skills, but not in others. The skills that are affected varies depending on the child as each one develops differently. You may also notice that they’ll learn a harder skill before learning an easier one.
Of course, it’s important to understand that each child develops at their own pace so you shouldn’t rush into making a diagnosis. However, if you have a toddler in Plano, Texas who’s exhibiting any of these signs or symptoms, you should reach out to Speech & OT for help. We have helped many parents raise successful children with autism and look forward to helping you do the same.
Parents work hard to help their autistic children be successful in life. However, there are so many things that you must do to ensure that your child thrives that it can be easy to overlook some of them sometimes. With this in mind, here are some of the most important things for you to not overlook.
Provide Your Child with Structure and Safety
Consistency is important for autistic children because the world already feels like an unpredictable place. By sticking to a highly structured schedule with regular times for things like meals, therapy or school, and bedtime your child will know what to expect and when to expect it. Once you’ve created this schedule, it’s important to keep any disruptions of it to a minimum. Of course, there are bound to be some unavoidable schedule changes that happen along the way. When you know that these are coming, make sure you take time to prepare your child for them ahead of time.
Learn to Connect with Your Child in Nonverbal Ways
It’s challenging to connect with your autistic child. Remember, communication goes much further and deeper than simply talking or touching. Communication also includes how you look at your child, your tone of voice, nonverbal cues, and your body language. Your child also uses these things to communicate with you every day. Once you realize this, you can understand the importance of learning this “language.” It will help you figure out what your child does and doesn’t like so that you can avoid their tantrums.
Personalize Your Child’s Treatment Plan
There are so many different types of treatments available for autism today. While this is great news for you as a parent, it can also make it harder for you to decide what will work best for you and your child. This is made even more challenging by the fact that there are conflicting recommendations out there from parents, teachers, and medical professionals. What all this means is that you must always remember that there isn’t one approach that’s works correctly for everyone because each person who’s on the autism spectrum is different, especially when it comes to their strengths and weaknesses.
Get the Help and Support You need
If you’re the parent of an autistic child living in Plano, Texas, it’s important for you to get the support that you need. One such place you can find this support is at Speech & OT. Make sure you reach out to us today.
What is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) and Diagnostic Criteria?
Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD – a.k.a. Heller’s syndrome, disintegrative psychosis, dementia infntilis) is a rare condition with only one case in 100,000 children. One of its main characteristics is the late onset of developmental delays, but some children will suddenly or severely reverse in these areas which include language, motor skills, and social functioning. Unfortunately, researchers have no idea why this happens.
CDD vs. Autism
Although there are some similarities between CDD and autism, Theodor Heller formulated CDD 35 years prior to (in 1908) the formulation of autism. Nevertheless, some clinicians still feel as though CDD is a lower functioning type of autism. This is why it was included under the “autism spectrum disorder” in the DSM-5 manual that was released in May 2013. Herein, it’s termed “regressive autism” – a form of autism involving regression.
With CDD children undergo what seems like a typical developmental stage before there’s regression seen in their skills. Precisely when this regression starts will vary, but it will typically occur after three years of normal development. Sometimes this regression is so dramatic that even the child knows it’s happened and may even ask what’s happening. This is why many psychiatrists feel that this condition is so devastating.
Unfortunately, many children who are diagnosed with CDD are already somewhat delayed when the CDD becomes apparent. However, in younger children this isn’t always the case. Sometimes these children will also appear to be reacting to hallucinations.
Diagnostic Criteria for CDD
Children who are officially diagnosed with CDD must meet the following diagnostic criteria:
Normal, age-appropriate development until between the ages of 2-years-old and 10-years-old when they almost completely lose skills in at least two of the 6 functional areas which include expressive language, receptive language, social and self-care skills, controlling their bowel and bladder movements, playing, and motor skills.
Impairment or the lack of normal functioning will occur in their social interaction, communication, and repetitive patterns.
They’ll have more severe sensory processing issues than children who are diagnosed with autism, but children with CDD won’t have as severe of issues when it comes to the area of cognition. Additionally, children with CDD have more severe issues with their speech, which don’t respond well to stimulants.
Now that you understand what CDD is, if you feel that your child may have it, you shouldn’t feel all alone. You have a partner in Plano, Texas. Make sure you contact Speech & OT today.
As your autistic child becomes a teen, you’ll want to do everything within your power to help them feel “normal” so they can have a successful life. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do around your home to make this happen.
Have Your Teen Read Simple, but Interesting Books
Reading is important because it keeps your teen’s brain active by improving their listening and comprehension skills. It also enhances their cognitive functioning. This is especially true of educational, nonfiction, and scientific books. Make sure you include this in your teen’s routine.
Encourage Your Teen to Listen to Music or Take Part in Music Therapy
Music is therapeutic. It also helps with the efficient development of speech and language, as well as memory abilities while improving your teen’s life and encouraging better behavior from them. All this happens because music is relaxing so it reduces anxiety. There are several ways you can incorporate music into your daily routine by encouraging your teen to listen to several interesting songs each day.
Give Your Teen Puzzles to Do in Their Free Time
Puzzles teach teens how to put the different parts together to create something that’s meaningful. Most autistic teens are quite skilled visually, so they will enjoy working on puzzles. Their hyper-focus will enable them to sit for hours, until the puzzle is finally solved, which is why it’s great to have them on hand when your teen is feeling restless. Puzzles can also help your teen with their creative, cognitive, speech, and communication skills. Make sure you choose a puzzle that is appropriately difficult for your teen. When your teen is engaging in putting the puzzle together, make sure that you discuss what he’s thinking and doing so that you help him strengthen his communication skills, but never push or rush him.
Encourage Your Teen to Draw
Art is therapeutic, but when done with friends, it’s also a great social outlet. Now, thanks to technology, you can combine both with the Draw Something app that lets you send messages back and forth with friends and family members in the form of pictures you draw. It’s a great way to help your teen be creative and express themselves while also learning to understand what other people are saying.
While these activities will help your autistic teen around the house, you may find that they still need additional help with their daily activities. If you live near Plano, Texas your additional help should come from Speech & OT. Over the years they’ve helped numerous families. Give them a call so they can help yours, too.
What Are the Early Signs of Apraxia? How to Overcome It?
Apraxia is a neurological condition that isn’t well understood currently. This also means that treatment modalities haven’t been fully investigated either. As such, therapists are still trying to determine what approach will work best. Partially this is because there’s still some debate as to what symptoms and characteristics merit an apraxia diagnosis.
Neurologists realize that when someone has apraxia, they will find it difficult, if not impossible, to make certain motor movements. This isn’t because their muscles are malformed because their muscles are quite normal. There are various forms of this disorder.
Understanding Orofacial Apraxia
When someone has orofacial apraxia, they can’t voluntarily perform certain movements that involve their facial muscles. An example of this happens when a person is unable to lick their lips or wink their eyes.
Understanding Apraxia of Speech
When someone has apraxia of speech, they’ll find it difficult, if not impossible, to move their mouth and tongue so that they can speak. This isn’t because a person doesn’t want to speak or that the muscles in their mouth or their tongue can’t physically form the words they’re trying to say.
Sometimes apraxia will spontaneously resolve itself. However, this won’t happen when your child has developmental apraxia of speech. This form of apraxia will require treatment. The treatment’s effectiveness will depend upon the nature of the apraxia – something that varies from one person to the next. To get the best results, the treatment plan must be developed to meet each individual’s specific needs. However, treatment will typically involve meeting with a speech language pathologist three to five times each week. As a parent you’ll also want to work with your child on the skills they’re developing in these sessions.
Improving Speech Coordination
When your child works with a therapist they’ll be repeatedly practicing forming and pronouncing various sounds and words. They’ll also practice stringing together the sounds that make speech. This involves a variety of multisensory approaches, including watching themselves in a mirror and touching their face while speaking.
Sometimes in truly severe cases of apraxia sign language is taught so the child can be clearly understood. However, most therapists will still have the child attempt to say the words they’re signing so they can practice making any necessary movements with their mouths.
If you live in Plano, Texas and are concerned that your child may have apraxia, you should contact Speech & OT. Over the years they’ve helped many children overcome this challenge in their lives. They can help your child too, so reach out to them today.
Receptive language disorder occurs when a child has difficulty understanding what’s being said to them. This is because they have a difficulty in processing and retaining auditory information. For this reason, they struggle to follow instructions or directions. Although therapy is highly recommended to help your child overcome receptive language disorder, there are also some things you can do to help them along the way as well.
Although this may sound obvious, some parents take a “wait and see” attitude. This is because they’re told by their pediatrician that their child might outgrow it. Unfortunately, as your child grows older the problem will grow worse. Due to the way the brain develops, it’s easier to learn language skills before you’re 5-years-old. It’s also easier to break bad habits (a.k.a. articulation errors) when they first begin – before they grow ingrained.
Get Adequate Speech and Language Therapy
The more therapy your child gets, the better their likelihood of success. Studies show that children who get therapy at least twice a week are more likely to be able to start annunciating better faster.
Choosing Between Group and Individual Therapy
It’s important to provide speech therapy (especially articulation therapy) on an individual basis as this has been proven to be more effective for articulation disorders. This is primarily because children don’t get as much individual therapy while in a group. As such, it’s easy to miss what’s causing the articulation error – something that’s different for each child. It’s also important to note that each child also learns differently, which is also something that groups aren’t created to address.
Making Sure you Have a Highly-Equipped Therapist
Bad therapy wastes time and can worsen the problem. It’s important to choose a therapist who is highly skilled in receptive language disorder and can develop good rapport with your child. When either component is missing, you’ll have issues. Sometimes this can even cause your child to become fearful to the point they’re resistant to therapy. This will then take the right therapist a lot of additional time to warm up to your child before they can even start therapy with them.
When you’re ready to find high-quality therapy in Plano, Texas to help your child overcome receptive language disorder make sure you contact Speech & OT. Over the years their therapists have been successful in helping many children overcome this disorder. Your child should be next.
What is the Difference Between Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism?
There are two disorders that children are commonly diagnosed with today that are seemingly one in the same: sensory processing disorder and autism. While this may seem true to you, there are some differences between these disorders that you should know about.
Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Originally coined “Sensory Integration Dysfunction,” this is a neurological disorder. Children who are diagnosed with SPD perceive information in a way that results in them abnormally responding to it. Their reactions are different than what you’d “expect.” For instance, they may:
Be afraid of sudden, high-pitched, or loud noises
Notice background noises that people around them don’t hear
Avoid physical contact
Fear being in a crowd, climbing, falling (may even have poor balance), or playing on the playground
Instead of being a neurological disorder, autism is defined as a developmental disorder. There are various levels of severity that a child may encounter here. However, it always has the same characteristics, which include:
Behavioral difficulties: Children will behave in ways that are socially inappropriate (e.g. taking their clothes off in public, being aggressive, having tantrums) and self-stimulating (e.g. rocking, hand flicking, hurting themselves, head banging, biting)
Issues with social interaction, including being unable to carry on a conversation or play with others, the inability to deal with changes in routines
Sensory sensitivities that result in unusually strong reactions, whether this is regarding sight, sound, touch, smell, or hearing, which are then expressed in an unusual way
Understanding the Difference Between Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism
There definitely seems to be some areas in which SPD and autism are very much alike. However, there is one major difference between the two. While people with SPD will outgrow some of their issues as they grow older, if they receive the appropriate therapy, children who are diagnosed with autism will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Another important difference to understand here is that SPD affects how your child’s central nervous systems receives messages from their senses because of their brain’s inability to process them correctly. In some cases, this results in overreaction while in others it’s under-reaction, but either way it still happens.
Parents who live in McKinney, Texas have a great resource available to help them – Speech & OT. Over the years, we’ve helped many parents reach a successful diagnosis for their child and we look forward to helping you, too.
How Can Occupational Therapy Help a Child with ADHD?
To understand the benefits of occupational therapy (OT) for children who’ve been diagnosed with ADHD you must understand what both things are – ADHD and OT. Only then can you really understand how your child will benefit from it.
Understanding What ADHD Is
Children who have ADHD have several characteristics in common, including:
Not paying attention to details
Problems with listening and concentration
Inability to finish tasks because they’re easily distracted and can’t sit still
Difficulty waiting their turn leading to them interrupting others
Understanding What OT Is
OT’s primary goal is to help children who have ADHD participate in the activities that are involved with everyday living. Your child’s OT therapist will provide them with two types of strategies to help them here. These are:
Remedial strategies: Ones that help your child restore any capacity in which they’ve become impaired. This includes interventions that address your child’s inability to pay attention while in the classroom and be successful academically. For instance, an OT therapist may work with your child to create schedules, reminders, lists, and use organizational tools.
Adaptive strategies: Those that re-establish your child’s routines and habit or help them learn ways to cope with any problems they may be encountering in their daily living. An example of this is simply breaking down tasks into steps – something that’s important because most children with ADHD find it difficult to know where and how to get started on something.
How OT Benefits ADHD
Now that you have a better understanding of what your child with ADHD is facing and how they can be helped by OT, here are some of the ways they’ll benefit:
Your child will develop inner core strength. They’ll learn how to sit still and remain there for an extended period.
They will grow better when it comes to sensory processing. This is important because everything in your child’s environment (e.g. sounds, visual aspects, smells) is affecting their ability to concentrate and regulate their body so it remains calm and alert instead of becoming so excited it can no longer function.
Now that you can understand how your child who has ADHD can benefit from OT, if you live in McKinney, Texas you’ll want to check out Speech & OT. We offer top of the line OT services that many children with ADHD have benefited from over the years. Your child deserves to be next.
Eating solid foods and drinking from a cup are learned processes that children will initially struggle with, but if your child continues to have trouble, it’s possible that they have a feeding disorder. It’s important to diagnose feeding disorders as soon as possible because they could lead to issues with health, learning, and socialization.
Signs of a Feeding Disorder
There are many things you can look for to determine if your child has a feeding disorder. These include:
Arching their back, growing stiff, crying, or fussing when you feed them
Showing breathing difficulty when they’re eating or drinking
Refusing to eat or drink
Only being willing to eat foods that have certain textures (e.g. soft, crunchy)
Taking a long time to eat – oftentimes coughing, gagging, or drooling while eating
Having problems with chewing their food
Sounding gurgly, hoarse, or breathy either during or after a meal
Spitting up or throwing up a lot
Not gaining any weight or otherwise growing as other healthy children their age do
Continually showing signs of poor nutrition (e.g. being dehydrated)
Aspiring – when food or liquid enters their airway (something that can cause lung infections like pneumonia)
Refusing to eat with other people due to embarrassment
Treating Feeding Disorders
Your first point of contact if you feel that your child may have an eating disorder should be your doctor. They can test for medical issues and check their growth and weight. If they do believe that there’s a feeding issue, they will then refer you to an SLP (speech learning pathologist) who can help with some of the following treatments:
Strengthening the mouth’s muscles
Helping with tongue movement or chewing
Attempting different ways to encourage your child to try new foods and drinks so your child will get more of the calories they need
Working with your child to suck from a bottle or drink from a cup better
Dealing with sensory issues, especially in older children who often dislike how food feels in their mouth or hands
Sometimes an SLP will also show you some things you can do as the parent. For instance, they may show you new ways you can handle your child’s behavior – encouraging them to stay seated throughout a meal, not refuse food, and not fuss or cry while eating.
SLPs are the ones who can help diagnose and treat children with feeding disorders. If you live in Plano, Texas, you should seek help from the SLPs here at Speech and OT. Over the years we have helped many children with great success, and yours can be next.