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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.

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.