Are Time-Outs Not Working to Help Manage Your Child’s Behavior?

Is your child demonstrating unacceptable behaviors but time-outs don’t seem to be affective? Time-outs are part of a negative reinforcement system, which works for some children and not for others. If you are looking for another system to modify your child’s behavior, try this Puff Ball Reward System. This positive reinforcement behavior system is aimed to motivate and encourage a child, usually over four years old, to demonstrate increased appropriate behaviors and decreased negative behaviors.

Using the system:
1. Use a jar or container large enough to hold up to 30 puff balls. Begin by putting a line of tape around the jar at a point that would take 15 puff balls to reach the line.
2. Make a list of rewards that your child can work towards. Examples of rewards can include extra screen time, extra book at bedtime, one-on-one lunch date, or baking special treats. Have your child choose a reward before starting the system so he/she understands what the end goal will be.
3. Reward your child intermittently when you notice he/she is using desired appropriate behavior.  Intermittent rewards encourage behavior modification at a much faster rate than rewards given at expected times. It is important that your child earns a reward within the first three days of beginning the system (e.g. he/she will earn five puff balls during the first three days). This system is designed to experience success at a quick rate in the beginning, which will encourage your child to try his/her best so that he/she can always potentially earn a puff ball.
4. Once your child has reached the line, the reward will be earned. Each time your child reaches the line, you will move the line of tape higher on the jar so that he/she has to earn more puff balls in order to earn the next reward.

Handling misbehaviors while using this system:
There are two options to handling misbehavior with the positive reinforcement system:
1. Ignore the misbehavior-do not give attention beyond initial recognition of the behavior, assuming your child is in a safe place. You can say, “(child’s name), we do not hit.”
2. Natural consequence-give a consequence depending on the situation. For example, if you are playing a game and your child begins to yell, hit, or throw then you put the game away.
* The key is to be consistent with whichever option you choose so that your child learns that the same response will always occur.

Brittany Hill, MS, MSW, LSW, DT
Licensed Social Worker
Developmental Therapist

What is joint attention and how can I work on it with my child?

Joint attention is the shared focus of two people on an object. It is achieved when one person alerts another to an object via eye contact, pointing, or other verbal or non-verbal means. Joint attention is an important part of learning language, because we learn through interaction with other people. Language is ultimately a social way of interacting, and in order to communicate with others we must first demonstrate the social skill of jointly attending with them. When a child does not independently engage in joint attention it is important to target this skill to increase their ability to absorb language and other developmentally appropriate skills.

Strategies to encourage Joint attention include the following:

  • Give your child objects at your eye level to encourage eye contact
  • Try to be at your child’s eye level while playing
  • Play social games such as peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake, hide and seek, etc.
  • If your child becomes overly focused on a toy, tap them and say their name to remind him that you are there and playing with the toy too.
  • Use animated voices and exaggerated faces while playing. Animated voices and faces are fun for kids and will create a positive experience that may encourage future eye contact.
  • Use verbal routines such as “ready, set…go!” to alert your child that something exciting is about to happen. This should encourage them to look towards you to find out what that is.
  • Do what your child likes. They will be more likely to wish to interact with you if you are doing something that is fun for them.

Activity ideas to practice joint attention:

  • Peek-a-Boo: Peek-a-Boo is a fun social game that encourages turn taking and eye contact.
  • Bubbles: Bring the bubble wand to your eyes before blowing a bubble to encourage your child to look at you. Once they look at you blow bubbles as a reward. To make the game more interactive you can move around the room and only blow more bubbles when your child follows you and looks at you.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Hide objects around the house (or a specific room) and try to find them together. When you find an object point and say “look!” to encourage your child to jointly attend to the object with you. You can then bring the object to your eye level to encourage eye contact. If they find something celebrate while standing/sitting/laying at his or her eye level.
  • Choo-Choo Train: Lay your child on their back and hold their legs while leaning over them. Say: “the train is going up the track” while lifting their legs in the air. Say: “the train is going down the track” while bringing their legs down to the floor. Repeat this several times. Then push their legs in and out while saying “chuga chuga chuga chuga chuga chuga”. When your child makes eye contact with you say “choo-choo!” while lifting their legs into the air. (activity credit: Laura Mize teachmetotalk.com).
Katie Dabkowski, MS, CF-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech and Language Milestones: Ages 3 to 5

We’re concluding our discussion of typical language development and red flags for communication difficulties for children ages birth to 5! Below you will find a list of age-appropriate speech and language skills for children 3 to 5 years old (36 to 60-months). If you have questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language development, feel free to contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439 to set up an evaluation.

 

Kelly Fridholm, MCD, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech and Language Milestones: 30-36 Month Development

We’re continuing our discussion of typical language development and red flags for communication difficulties for children ages birth to 5! Below you will find a list of age-appropriate speech and language skills for children ages 30- to 36-months. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language development, feel free to contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439 to set up an evaluation.

Stay tuned: “Speech and Language Milestones: Ages 3 to 5” is up next!

Autumn Smith, MS, CCC-SLP
Director of Speech-Language Services

ADHD and the Classroom: Strategies for a Successful Day

An Environment for Success

How can teachers setup their classroom to create a positive learning environment?

An organized classroom promotes organization habits among students and makes the teacher’s job easier.

  • Ensure that the children’s chairs and desks are arranged in a way that allows for flexibility to fit group instruction as well as small group work.
  • It is helpful for students to have a supply center, which allows them to independently prepare and manage their materials. It may contain items such as scissors, hole punchers, pencil sharpeners, etc. Provide visual cues for gathering materials needed for projects. Keep containers, such as shower caddies, handy to transport materials back and forth to the supply center.
  • A homework center allows for a designated area where homework-related activities to be centralized and turned in.

Homework Management

How can teachers develop effective systems for managing homework?

A clear routine and system for assigning, collecting, and storing homework will make managing homework assignments easier.

  • Designate a regular place for recording homework, whether a portion of the chalkboard, whiteboard, or online so that it is easily accessible to all students.
  • Establish a regular time for assigning homework. It may be beneficial to assign homework at the beginning of a lesson, so that students are not writing the assignment down as class is ending. This also allows for time to answer any questions regarding the assignment and can greatly increase homework completion rates.
  • Keep a master planner and homework log in which all assignments are recorded by the teacher or a responsible student. This can be a class resource for students who are absent or are missing assignments.
  • Extra handouts can be kept in a folder, a file organizer, or online. This way, students who miss or lose assignments have the responsibility of obtaining the necessary papers.
  • Designate a physical structure, such as a paper tray, to collect homework rather than using class time to collect papers.
  • Establish a regular time for collecting homework. Consider using a “5 in 5” reminder, requiring students to complete 5 tasks in the first 5 minutes of class, such as turning in homework and writing down new assignments.
  • File graded work in individual hanging folders to decrease class time devoted to handing out papers.
  • To encourage organization, have students designate sections of their binder for (1) homework to be complete, (2) graded work, (3) notes, and (4) handouts. Consider periodic checks and provide feedback.
  • Have students track their grades on grade logs to provide them with the opportunity to calculate grades and reflect on performance.
  • At the end of a grading period, encourage students to clean out their binders, and discuss which papers are worth keeping and why. Encourage them to invest in an accordion file or crate for hanging files to keep important papers.

Time Management

How can teachers structure classroom time efficiently and teach students time management skills?

  • Timers (such as the Time Timer or sand timers) provide students with a concrete visual reminder of the amount of time remaining for a task. They are a great tool for group work, timed tests, or silent reading.
  • Post a daily schedule in a visible place to establish the day’s plan. Present the schedule to the students, and refer to the schedule when making modifications to model time management skills.
  • Display a monthly calendar to provide students with regular visual reminders of upcoming events. These calendars are also beneficial for modeling backwards planning.
  • Carve out time for organization. Devote a short amount of time for students at the end of the day to reflect on their learning, manage their materials, prioritize homework assignments, and make a plan for their completion.

Materials Management

How can teachers help students manage their materials?

  • Designate a short amount of time once a week for students to dump out and reorganize backpacks and clean up lockers.
  • When students finish tests or tasks early encourage them to use the downtime to organize their materials.
  • Have students use labels, racks, or dividers to keep items clean and organized.

 

Jen Brown, MS, OTR/L
Director of Occupational Therapy Services

Resources:

Rush NeuroBehavioral Center. (2006, 2007). Executive Functions Curriculum.

Apraxia vs. Phonological Disorder: How can I tell the difference?

“Help! My child has a lot to say, but only his father and I can understand him. What’s wrong with his speech?”

“My three-year old understands everything we say, but she rarely makes any sounds at all! What’s going on?”

Pediatric speech-language pathologists spend a lot of time working with families who have these same questions. The answer to these questions is likely that your child has a phonological disorder or a motor speech disorder. But, what’s the difference between the two? Read on.

Phonology is the sound system of a language. Oftentimes, as a kiddo’s speech is beginning to develop, they will use a series of phonological processes to simplify word production. These kiddos may consistently substitute one sound for another, they might make all the sounds in their words the same, or they might delete certain sounds and/or syllables in a word. These speech sound substitutions are tricky because they can often result in significantly decreased intelligibility. For example, a child with a phonological disorder might consistently substitute his “t” sound for a “k” sound. So, “cat” becomes “cack.”

Unlike phonological-based disorders, childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder. This means that a child is having difficulties transmitting a speech signal from their brain to their mouths. A child who is diagnosed with apraxia of speech may produce frequent vowel distortions, speech sound distortions, and inconsistent productions of the same speech sound. Speech production for these children can additionally be characterized at perseverative and effortful.

Diagnoses of either a phonological disorder or a motor speech disorder should only be made by a speech-language pathologist. If you have concerns regarding your child’s speech sound development, please contact PlayWorks Therapy, Inc. for a comprehensive speech-language evaluation.

Julie Euyoque MA CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Joint Attention: How to Engage in Joint Attention with Your Child

Joint attention uses shared gaze and/or behaviors to communicate with a social partner. Joint attention is an important developmental skill that helps develop a child’s social language. This social developmental skill shows that a child is not only interested in objects in their environment, but in people too.

Joint attention usually first occurs between a child and their caretaker. A child can indicate, to their caretaker, their interest in an object or activity through gaze. A child can also use gestures such as pointing to engage their social partner in communication.

Social referencing: occurs when a child looks at an object, then back to the caretaker to see their reaction to the object

Milestones of Joint Attention

  1. 2 Months: taking turns with looks, noises, and/or mouth movements
  2. 6 Months: following caretakers gaze
  3. 8 Months: pointing
  4. 9 Months: gestures and social referencing
  5. 12 Months: point intentionally
  6. 12-14 Months: direct attention through pointing and then looking back at caretaker

Tips for engaging your child in joint attention

  • Follow your lead: Use vocal engagement to have your child share enjoyment with you. Pointing to an object such as a ball or a toy will teach your child to share in your enjoyment.
  • Establish your child’s interest: experiment with different toys, books, or movement activities (ex: tickling). Discover which activities seem to get your child’s attention best.
  • Reinforce Proximity: reinforce your child’s interest by engaging them in an activity. Place the toy or walk away from the activity a couple of feet. To reengage the child wait for them to come towards you and engage you before beginning the activity again.
  • Level of engagement: have your child increase their level of engagement with you
    1. Looking directly at you or the object
    2. Reaching for the object
    3. Pointing for the object
    4. Pointing at the object and looking at you
  • Increase the amount of time the child is engaged
  • You choose: Interest your child in a variety of activities and toys to open their interest in an activity that is something of your choosing.

 Rachel Weiser, MS, DT

Developmental Therapist

Additional References:

https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/establishing-joint-attention-therapy-for-children-who-arent-tuned-in/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ab4vLMMAbY

Typical Speech-Language Development (24-30 months) & Red Flags for Communication Difficulties

Children vary in their development of speech and language, however they follow a natural progression for mastery of speech and language skills. The table below outlines speech and language skills that are typically developed between 24-30 months of age as well as red flags for communication difficulties. If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, it is recommended that you consult with a speech-language pathologist or your child’s pediatrician.

Coming up next: Typical Speech-Language Development (30-36 months) and Red Flags for Communication Difficulties. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please feel free to contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or (773) 332-9439.

Claire Kakenmaster, MS, CCC-SLP

5 Dog Days of Summer Activities!

http://brooklandpark.net/bp/2016/06/16/sprinkler-sunday-northside-childrens-house/

As summer nights grow longer I’m sure some families are looking forward to the start of the school year (or just tired of the same outdoor games). While handing over a tablet is a quick fix, Jessie highlighted research in her latest blog connecting increased screen time with expressive language delays.

 

Here are some ideas to incorporate Developmental Therapy into your summer games. (hint: you don’t need to buy all brand-new toys, use what you have!)

  1. Bubbles are great for everyone! Blow bubbles and talk with your child about size concepts (large and small). This is also a great opportunity to engage your child in joint attention and practice turn taking with the bubbles.
  2. Sights and sounds; take a trip to the zoo and make a family day out of learning. If you’ve already checked the zoo off your summer list, take a walk and discuss what you see and hear (dogs, birds, trucks, cars, and construction equipment).
  3. Lake Michigan; with our close proximity, this allows countless summer activities to enjoy with your family. Sand sculpting increase creativity, tactile sensory building, and hand-eye coordination. Building with friends and family also supports teamwork and promotes positive social interactions. Include pretend play during sand time, the more enthusiastic you are about playing the more your child will want to play! Have a kiddo who wants to keep their feet on the ground? No problem…. try boat, car, busses, and truck watching. Have discussions with your child about what you see to develop vocabulary and increase word retrieval. Incorporate colors, sounds, sizes, and anything you can think of. Don’t forget the SPF!
  4. Sprinkler/water table; a kid favorite to keep cool all summer! Grab the sprinkler out and let the kids play for gross motor and body awareness. Water table activities are great to improve fine motor skills, promote cause and effect awareness, and sensory regulation. Incorporate different objects into the table along with different friends to practice social emotional play and turn-taking. If you don’t have a water table…no problem! Use any size plastic storage container, fill it with water, and let the fun begin!
  5. Pretend play is something that can be utilized anywhere: driving in the car, playing at the playground, and at home. Use themes that your child already enjoys and has an understanding of (pirates, dragons, PowerRangers, princesses, anything!) Be enthusiastic…if you aren’t excited to use a hairbrush as a phone your child won’t be either. Don’t be afraid to talk out loud and explain what you are doing to your child (they won’t know what you are using the props for unless you tell them). Use concepts they know already, have them take their toy car and drive around to pick up grandma to make cookies in the kitchen. Using empty household items makes a child feel accomplished and proud to take part in family routines.

Kelly Scafidi, MSW, LCSW, DT

Typical Speech-Language Development (0-24 months) & Red Flags for Communication Difficulties

Children experience so much growth with regard to speech and language in this relatively short amount of time. It can be difficult to know what is expected and when. Use the chart below as a guideline to review your child’s progress or to see what skills might appear next!  If your child presents with red flags for communication difficulties, it is recommended that you seek guidance from a speech-language pathologist or your child’s pediatrician.

For those of you with children over 2 years of age, stay tuned! And as always, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding your child’s development.

Ana Thrall, MS, CF-SLP