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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.

Friday, September 1, 2017

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

Apraxia is a neurological motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to plan and execute a motor movement, even though their muscles are normal.  The posterior parietal cortex of the brain is responsible for assisting a person in motor planning and the completion of a motor task with good control.  If this area of the brain does not develop normally or is damage, it can cause a disruption of the messages from the brain to the muscles, resulting in an inability to perform the task requested. It doesn’t mean that your child has low intelligence or muscle weakness, but a “disconnect”,  if you will, between the synchronization of the brain and muscles.

A mild form of apraxia can also be called dyspraxia. Other names for apraxia include developmental coordination disorder, motor planning difficulty, or motor learning difficulty. Some professionals may use terms like:
  • Ideomotor dyspraxia: Makes it hard to complete single-step motor tasks such as combing hair and waving goodbye.
  • Ideational dyspraxia: Makes it more difficult to perform a sequence of movements, like brushing teeth or making a bed.
  • Oromotor dyspraxia, also called verbal apraxia or apraxia of speech: Makes it difficult to coordinate muscle movements needed to pronounce words. Kids with dyspraxia may have speech that is slurred and difficult to understand because they’re unable to enunciate.
  • Constructional dyspraxia: Makes it harder to understand spatial relationships. Kids with this type of dyspraxia may have difficulty copying geometric drawings or using building blocks. (Understanding Apraxia by Erica Patino)

  Apraxia may be seen at birth or acquired later in life.  In a young child the symptoms of ataxia become apparent as the child develops and grows.  Acquired apraxia is the term given to an apraxia that develops in a person who was previously able to perform the motor task. Some of the more common causes of acquired apraxia are traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, stroke, or a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

A child with a speech apraxia has difficulty saying words or making sounds correctly because they cannot move their tongue or lips to the correct position; their speech may be slurred or difficult to understand.  In another form of motor apraxia affecting the extremities (arms and leg), a child may have difficulty figuring out how to move through an obstacle course, how to hold and manipulate a pencil, how to put on and button a shirt, etc.

Next week we will feature Part II of “Apraxia—What is It? How Can I Get Help for my Child?”

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Get Ready for School--Start your Bedtime Routine now! by Trisha Roberts

If your child has not already started the school year, they will be shortly! It is extremely helpful to get them into a Bedtime Routine now--ideally a week or two before school starts. Much of this information was presented in my post last year, "Beat the Bedtime Battles", but it bears repeating.

One frustration I hear expressed repeatedly by parents is, “I have such a hard time getting my kids to go to sleep—it is a Battle!” From my own experience I have found that having a nighttime routine is very helpful.  Children learn the routine and are much more likely to fall asleep when they know what to anticipate. A scheduled bedtime also ensures that your child is getting the necessary hours of sleep required for good health.

 Your routine can be anything you want depending on the age of your child and the amount of time you feel that you can spend each evening.  The goal is to be CONSISTENT. When each activity has been completed, they know that sleep time has arrived!  It is like reading a book:  there is a beginning, a middle and an end.  When the routine ends, it is time to sleep! This was my Bedtime Routine:

·         BATHTIME:  Taking an evening bath is a great way to let a child relax and unwind.  They have a final time to play in a restricted environment (as opposed to running all over the house!).  For me, evening baths were always easier than morning baths when everyone is on a tight schedule for getting out the door to work, school, or appointments.

·         PREPARATION FOR TOMMOROW: After bath, while kids are putting on their PJ’s, I found it helpful to plan my child’s outfit for the next day.  I would offer 2 options (which were perfectly acceptable to me), and then let my child choose which outfit they wanted.  This allowed them an opportunity to learn decision making and also eliminated a fight in the morning!

·         SNUGGLE TIME: I loved having a large rocking chair in my children’s room when they were young.  It was a great place to curl up together, to experience cuddles, kisses and connection.  People need touch.  Children need touch—recent studies have shown that it is critical to a child’s development.  (See our blog post from last week regarding the importance of touch!)  Gently rubbing or massaging your child’s back, arm or legs can help them relax as well as feel loved and cared for.

·        SHARING:  Talk about their day.  Ask open-ended questions like, “What was the best thing that happened today?”  “What did you see today that made you happy/sad?” “What did you learn today?”

·         READ: Let your child pick 2 or 3 books to read. Many studies have shown the correlation of early exposure to books and stories with earlier and higher levels of literacy and success in school.  Children who love reading tend to learn to read earlier.  Children who read well usually do better in school. (See our blog post, "The Importance of Reading to Your Children," by Guest Blogger Meghan Ames).

·         SING: Sing 1-2 songs together.  Children’s songs, hymns, pop music, whatever you and your child like.  We have several great products at our retail site: 

·         PRAY:  Give your child an opportunity to express thankfulness. Let your child think about others and their needs. Help them recognize that God created them, cares about them and wants to be their Forever Friend.

·         KISSES AND LIGHTS OUT:  A final kiss and hug and then “lights out”.  Make it clear that this is the end.  Walk out of the door and don’t return.  There may be crying at first, but your child will learn that whining and crying can’t manipulate their parents into returning!  You don’t need to feel guilty and “cave in”!  You have just spent quality one-on-one time with your child.  You are now helping them meet a very important need in their life—sleep!

Start now to prepare your child for their school schedule--don't wait until the night before! Bedtimes don’t need to be a Battle!  They can be a wonderful time to develop a strong parent-child relationship.  As you talk, laugh, share, sing, read, and pray you will create cherished memories. It is a golden opportunity to bond and connect! 

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Importance of Touch By Trisha Roberts

The sense of touch is important and conveys information to our brain and body that is used in a myriad of different ways.  Skin is the largest organ of the body.  It serves many functions, but a primary one is to sense and convey the sense of touch to our brain. Touch can express care, affection, and love.  Touch can also be noxious or warn us of danger.

Touch is defined by Webster as, “to handle or feel gently usually with the intent to understand or appreciate.”

Children are equipped at birth to feel; they learn to interpret and discriminate touch as they grow and develop. Infants have poor motor control, so they are unable to initiate touching contact—it needs to be the adult care provider that instigates or makes the first move.

 Mother-child attachment is extremely important and is developed through touch, vision, and hearing.  Many pre-mature babies are kept in the NICU for weeks and months, limiting the amount of nurturing contact they experience with their mothers.  

They are subject to harsh lights and noxious stimulation (intravenous feedings, intubation, and other vital medical procedures).  One can easily understand how some of these children develop an eversion to touch.

Studies have shown that when we are deprived of touch, severe and significant problems can result.  Harry Harlow was a famous research psychologist who used monkeys in the 1950’s and 1960’s to study the effects of touch and development. 

 Baby monkeys were raised in isolation and were deprived of their mother’s touch and other social interaction, resulting in atypical development.  Anti-social and even psychotic behavior resulted as well as poor development of interpersonal relationships throughout life.

Touch deprivation can produce developmental delays and deficiencies in children and in extreme cases lead to death.

Elderly who live alone without social or physical contact do not live as long or healthy as their peers who have more social interaction.

Babies need to be cuddled.  Children need to be snuggled.  Teens may enjoy a hug/back rub/wrestling match. Find a way to connect and affirm your child.

Physical touch strengthens emotional bonds; those bonds shapes us for the rest of our lives. 

Look for ways to convey your love, affection, concern, and care to your family members.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Featured Products: Velcro Mitt and Ball By Trisha Roberts

Velcro ball throw and catch

Teaching children to throw and catch a ball is an important skill.  Young children are able to perform a “forward fling” at 1 year of age and a true overhand throw between 1 ½ year to 2 years old with accuracy and distance increasing with age. (See our 3-Part article on the Development of Ball Skills in Children)

A great activity to improve and augment children’s throwing and catching abilities is a Velcro Mitt and Ball.  

Children can use the velcro ball and mitt to catch and toss indoors or outdoors. It is very portable and can be taken to the backyard, porch, beach, camping trip or park.  The velcro surfaces of the ball and mitt make catching easy for the beginning catcher and still very enjoyable for more advanced ball players.  Practice throwing and catching improves Gross Motor Skills and Eye-Hand Coordination; the resistance of the velcro can strengthen the small muscles in the hand which can lead to better fine motor skills like writing and cutting with scissors. 

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Physical Therapist’s Top 3 Baby Safety Tips For New Mothers By Trisha Roberts

The first year of life is so exciting for baby and parents alike! Each day you will watch your baby explore their world--discovering different ways to move, new sights, unique tastes, and exciting textures. As babies start to move they are exposed to more risk of falls and injury.  My three pieces of advice are:

 1.  Keep your infant on the floor!  Put them on their tummy on a blanket or rug from early on.  This not only works on improving the crucial skills learned in Tummy Time (see my blog about the Importance of Tummy Time) but keeps them safe from rolling off beds, chairs, or couches.  You think, “They can’t roll off of this,” but you turn your back and SMACK, they have landed on the floor.

Tummy Time on the floor

Strap babies onto the changing table to avoid falls.

2.  Babies usually start to crawl between 8-10 months of age.  When they crawl they are constantly looking for something with which to pull themselves up to standing.  All bookshelves, entertainment centers or any unstable furniture needs to be secured to the wall.  All dangling cords need to be wrapped and/or tucked out of reach or your baby will pull the cord and the attached lamp, clock, or appliance could fall on their head.  Make sure that dresser drawers can’t be opened and used for climbing, as the weight of your child could topple the entire dresser.

Dangling cords pose a safety risk to young children

Cords on any appliances should be securedKeep kids safe by securing furniture so that it can't tip over

 3.  Gate the top and bottom of your staircases.  Babies learn to crawl up stairs 1-2 months before they learn to turn backward and crawl down the stairs.  Many Emergency Room visits are due to children tumbling down stairs. Make sure to accomany your toddler as they learn to navigate the stairs; don't let them "go solo" until you are sure that they are safe.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.