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Friday, October 13, 2017

Toys that Help Children Develop Creativity By Trisha Roberts

Not all toys are created equal.  As a Physical Therapist, mother and now grandmother, I am always looking for toys that stimulate and foster creativity. I love toys that make kids think…that let kids explore…that encourage an adventure…that involve more than, “push this button and get the standard response”! Children absorb so much from their environment—make it rich in learning opportunities. 

 Make learning fun!

Construction toys like blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Erector Sets allow children’s imaginations to run wild as well as develop good Fine Motor, Cognitive and Perceptual Motor Skills.
Power Clix Set

Crayons, Play Doh, Markers, Finger Paint, Colored Pencils, Stencils, and other art mediums encourage children to express themselves artistically while exploring colors, shapes and textures.

Doodle Roll

Musical Instruments, whether home-made or bought, permit and inspire children to explore the world of sound, melody, harmony and dissonance.

Microscopes, telescopes, and chemistry sets arouse curiosity and motivate children to discover, unearth, and investigate.  They open up whole new worlds to be explored and researched.


Card games, board games, and word puzzles develop thinking, strategy, and inter-personal skills that help develop an effective approach to tackling and solving problems.

Guess Who?

There are multitudes of companies and stores vying for your dollar.  Think about what to buy your child that will have lasting value in the aptitudes, competencies and abilities that toy may help to cultivate. Amplify your child’s knowledge by providing tools that will expand their thinking and promote an atmosphere of adventure and discovery in your home.  Encourage a questing spirit. Laud and applaud their creations. Encourage a lifetime journey of growth and learning!

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Low Down on W-Sitting By Trisha Roberts


W-sitting refers to a sitting posture where the buttocks are between the feet and the lower legs are bent at the knees and positioned behind the body to either side, thus forming a W shape.

When a person W-sits the medial (inside) sides of the knees are stressed.  This can lead to overstretching of the ligaments and potentially to an unstable knee and orthopedic problems.

Why do children W-sit?  Why is this bad?

Almost all children will W-sit occasionally, but persistent, prolonged W-sitting is to be discouraged because of the potential harm to the knee and hip joints.

 Children with low muscle tone frequently develop this type of sitting as their preferred method of rest.  It gives them a very large base of support, making them more stable and requiring less energy to maintain; it helps them compensate for their weak musculature. They can play and manipulate toys with their arms, using less energy to keep their trunk and pelvis controlled.   But again, reliance on this position can stress the ligaments and muscles in the hips and knees, and these children already tend to have very lax, flexible joints because of their low muscle tone.

Children with high muscle tone (hypertonia) and sometimes children with spastic Cerebral Palsy (Spastic CP) sit this way.  It should be discouraged because it feeds into their abnormal patterns of movement. W-sitting can aggravate muscle tightness, as it places hip internal rotator muscles, hip adductor muscles and heel cords in a shortened position. W-sitting can lead to more muscle tightness and possibly contractures.

When a child depends on W-sitting it can inhibit or delay them from developing the movement patterns, balance and coordination needed for higher level skills like walking, kicking, running, and skipping. They may also develop poor standing posture and gait abnormalities.

W-sitting can cause hip dislocation, especially if a child has hip dysplasia (a condition of instability, or looseness between the head of the femur and the acetabulum of the pelvis).

Children frequently move backward into a W-sitting position when they are crawling, as it is easier for them to move in and out of sitting and quadruped (all fours), requiring less energy and effort than rotating to one side or turning to sit with legs out front (long sitting).

Very little trunk rotation occurs when a child W-sits.  They are less likely to cross midline and tend instead to manipulate objects on their left side with their left hand and toys on their right side with their right hand.  This can cause delays in developing a hand preference and could lead to future coordination problems.  Additionally, because of the limited amount of trunk rotation allowed in W-sitting, children don’t practice and learn to weight shift diagonally and develop the ability to transition smoothly in and out of positions like sitting and quadruped (all fours) with good rotation.

Other sitting positions to encourage:

Long sitting:   sitting with legs straight out front

Side sitting:  both legs are to one side of the buttocks

Heel sitting:   buttocks rest on the heels (can also be referred to as low kneeling)

Sitting on heels or feet rather than between legs

Crossed Legs:  legs are crossed over each other in front (also referred to as Taylor sitting, Indian style, or “criss-cross applesauce”)

Taylor or Indian Sitting

Cue Your Child:

Children who W-sit find this position very comfortable and stable.  You will need to work with your child to change this pattern.  When you see them W-sitting, give them a positive command like, “Pretty Legs” or “Fix Your Legs”.  (You might want to try something even more meaningful to your individual child, like, “Princess Legs” or “Rocket Ship Legs”) If your child goes to a day care or school, you will want to communicate with the teachers or care providers so that everyone working with your child will be discouraging W-sitting and using the same cues.

Be Consistent!  W-sitting is a habit that needs to be eliminated for the good health of your child. 

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, September 29, 2017

What Should My Preschool-Aged Child be Able to Do? By Trisha Roberts

Infancy and early childhood are a time of great growth and new accomplishments--more than at any other time in a person’s life.  But children continue to develop and acquire new skills as they age.  Let’s discuss some of the activities and skills a preschool child should be mastering.  Preschool refers to the ages of 3 to 5 years old.
A preschooler should already be able to get to standing, walk, and run, but they will be refining these skills by getting faster, smoother, more coordinated and more controlled.  As they age, their attention span should increase and their verbal skills improve.  They will be able to jump forward for longer distances, start at to hop on 1 foot, and enjoy more active play.
At this age children are starting to engage in play with others, imitate movements, and have more goal-directed behaviors.  They are easier to guide in play and can communicate with improving clarity and content. They are learning basic skills that they will need to start kindergarten.

A Basic List of Preschool Skills Include:

3-4 years:  
Locomotor Skills: jump forward 26 inches, runs pumping arms and pushing off balls of feet with a forward lean of the trunk, able to run and make sharp turns, gallops
Climbing Skills:  climbs up and down steps alternating without holding railing or wall

One foot on each step rather than both feet on a step

Balance Skills:  walks forward on a line for 4 feet without stepping off line.  Walks backward 4 feet without stepping off line
Tricycle Skills: pedals and steers a tricycle
Ball Skills:  throw a tennis ball underhand at a target 5 feet away, throws a tennis ball overhand to a target 5 feet away, catches a large ball with hands, elbows bent, able to kick a stationary playground ball

5 years:
Locomotor skills:  hops forward on either foot for 5 hops, skips 10 feet with good rhythm
Climbing skills:  safely climbs on playground equipment with good balance

Ball Skills:  catches a tennis ball with 2 hands from a distance of 5 feet, kick a moving playground ball
Balance Skills:  stands on tip toes for at least 8 seconds, stands on 1 foot for 10 seconds, able to perform 3 sit ups


  • Button and unbutton large buttons
  • Paste things onto paper
  • Use crayons to color and draw while holding the writing instrument with thumb and fingers
  • Uses non-dominant hand to steady writing surface
  • Build a tower of 10 blocks

  • Complete puzzles of 5 or more pieces
  • Zip and unzip a zipper
  • Imitate or copy a cross or circle
  • Trace letters and begin writing their name


  • Names colors
  • Names basic shapes
  • Able to count to 10 alone and higher with help
  • Is clearly understood when speaking
  • Understands categories like animals, food, toys, clothes

  • Can remember a sequence of events with 2-3 steps 
  • Matches shapes and colors 

  • Knows some letter names
  • Sorts objects into groups
  • Enjoys imaginative play like playing house 

  • Understands concepts like “one” and “many”
  • Makes comparisons

  • wash hands
  • brush teeth                                                                           
  • Comb hair
  • put on and remove clothes
  • put shoes on the correct feet
  • use a fork and knife

Support for Your Child

Exposing your child to different activities and encouraging curiosity and exploration are wonderful ways to help your child develop these skills. Playing basic board games and puzzles like Candyland, Memory Caps, or Chutes and Ladders teach turn taking, numbers, sequences, and memory.

Some older preschoolers may enjoy participating in a sport such as Little League or soccer.  Many YMCAs or community centers have basic swim classes or gymnastics geared toward little ones. Enrolling in several short-duration classes can expose your child to lots of new movement patterns and experiences and lets them decide what type of sport they might like to pursue later.

Most community libraries have great programs including reading and listening skills, crafts, and special events. These are a fabulous way to let your child participate with peers and gain new skills.

If your child has not accomplished the majority of the above skills by five years old or the start of kindergarten, you may want to consider a screening or evaluation by a Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist or Speech and Language Pathologist (Speech Therapist). Talk with your pediatrician and access local resources for evaluation clinics or programs.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Sensory Toys
By Trisha Roberts

Sensory Toys, as their name implies, stimulate the senses. Young infants love toys with lights, music and sounds.  Toys that move, like mobiles and suspended toys, encourage ocular movement and improve vision. Toys with textured surfaces and varied shapes teach children about the world around them.
All toys are stimulating in one way or another, but Sensory Toys as a category have come to refer to a set of toys that are more therapeutic in nature. Children with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) frequently need specific stimulation in order to calm themselves.  Tactile Toys like our Squishy Nemo or Squishy Stretchable Hulk can help a child de-stress when learning a new skill.  (Remember using a Stress Ball?)

Squishy, Stretchy Spiderman toy can help kids stay focused in classroomSquishy Hello KittySensory Hulk Toys   


Occupational Therapists will often prescribe a “Sensory Diet” for children with Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) that may include textured toys along with a variety of exercises and activities.  ***See our 4-Part Blog Series on SensoryProcessing Disorder*** The use of tactile toys can be a positive, helpful support in the classroom, allowing children to attend and focus on instructions and learning.

Sensory toys can provide the particular sensory input that many children with autism crave.

Some sensory toys are also excellent fidget toys that can improve focus, concentration, and attention to task in children with ADHD and others who need to keep their hands busy in order to listen and attend.

This week we feature our Sensory-Tactile Toy Packageconsisting of 7 different toys that your child with autism or ADHD may find engaging and calming. These can be helpful for sensory cravers and those with sensory challenges.

7 Sensory Toys to delight your child!

Sensory Toy Package

Stretchy Squishy Frog

Stretchy Tactile toys

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Apraxia—What is It? How Can I Get Help for my Child? Part II By Trisha Roberts

Two weeks ago we presented basic information about apraxia.  This week we continue with more specific information regarding symptoms, seeking an evaluation, and getting treatment. These problems are usually seen in early childhood.  Consider some of the common problems with Motor Apraxia and Speech Apraxia.

Symptoms of Motor Apraxia May Include:

  • Your baby may be slow to reach their milestones like rolling, sitting, or crawling
  • Walking with a wide base of support (after age 2)
  • Failure to develop a heel-toe gait pattern—a child who continues to take short steps with a flat foot
  • Doesn’t like to play with puzzles, Legos, or other construction-type toys

  • A messy eater (remember that all young children take time to learn the art of controlling a fork and spoon!)
  • Inability to run in a smooth, coordinated fashion
  • Inability to jump, gallop, or skip
  • Clumsiness
  • May have trouble with dressing and fasteners like zippers and buttons

  • Has difficulty gripping a crayon or using scissors
  • Difficulty riding a tricycle
  • A child that appears clumsy, even though their muscles are not weak
  • Difficulty learning new motor tasks
  • May not be potty-trained by age 3
  • Difficulty throwing a ball
  • May take a long time to develop a hand preference—right or left

  • Difficulty stringing syllables together in the appropriate order to make words, or inability to do so
  • Minimal babbling during infancy
  • Your baby may have difficulty eating
  • Difficulty saying long or complex words
  • May not be able to talk by age 3
  • Repeated attempts at pronunciation of words

  • Speech inconsistencies, such as being able to say a sound or word properly at certain times but not others
  • Incorrect inflections or stresses on certain sounds or words
  • Excessive use of nonverbal forms of communication
  • Distorting of vowel sounds
  • Omitting consonants at the beginnings and ends of words
  • Seeming to grope or struggle to make words

Childhood apraxia of speech rarely occurs alone. It is often accompanied by other language or cognitive deficits, which may cause:
  • Limited vocabulary
  • Grammatical problems
  • Problems with coordination and fine motor skills
  • Difficulties chewing and swallowing

In a recent study, “How Valid Is the Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder When a Child Has Apraxia of Speech?” in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the investigating team concluded that there was a high correlation between children with Autism and children with Apraxia of Speech.  Their recommendation was to monitor all children on the Autism Spectrum for problems with apraxia and to monitor or screen all children with Speech Apraxia for signs of Autism. Seeking professional help for diagnosing and treating your child is a wise move. The earlier children are diagnosed, the soon treatment can begin.  Accessing resources early can lead to better outcomes.  Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy are recommended services for children diagnosed with apraxia.  In fact, these therapists are the ones who usually make the diagnoses.


Apraxia can affect some children mildly or be more severe. If your child is exhibiting several of these symptoms, you should seek a professional evaluation.

A Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP or Speech Therapist) will be able to evaluate your child to see if they are exhibiting a Speech Apraxia.

 A Physical Therapist should be engaged to determine if your child has a Motor Apraxia; if there are more concerns regarding Fine Motor skills like hand writing, cutting, and dressing, an Occupational Therapist should be your first choice.  Children don’t outgrow apraxia, but they can be taught strategies for dealing with the symptoms.  Children with dyspraxia may improve their muscle tone and coordination over time with support and treatment.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.