Tag Archives: Easterseals

Measuring Accomplishments

by Susan Lowenstein, MSPT

Booker T. Washington, American author, orator, educator, and advisor to many presidents once said, “You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you have to overcome to reach your goals.” 

So, that being said…let me tell you about a little boy I know named Miles. He is a 6 year old that is currently a student of mine at Easterseals of Southeastern PA, Bucks County Division. I have had the pleasure of watching him fight to overcome obstacles for the past 9 months, but he has been fighting an uphill battle for all 72 months of his young life.

Miles attending virtual therapy!

OBSTACLE #1: Born 8 weeks early.

OBSTACLE #2: Shared birthday with his twin brother so he was already small for his gestational size.

OBSTACLE #3: Has a mutation on his COL2A1 gene that causes several types of skeletal dysplasia, and his is closest to what is called hypochondrogenesis.

OBSTACLES #4,5,6,7 and 8: Has spinal instability, ongoing joint issues, hearing loss, significant vision issues, and a floppy airway.  

OBSTACLE#9: Intubated at birth

OBSTACLE#10: Received a tracheostomy at 3 months of age

OBSTACLE#11: Transferred to the ICU at Nemours DuPont (an hour away from home!)

So… why am I sharing all of this with you? Well, this is just the beginning of Miles’s story. He may have encountered countless obstacles… but he continues face each one head on and works to overcome them.

So…let’s look at all that Miles has ACCOMPLISHED so far in his 6 years of life.  

ACCOMPLISHMENT #1: Became strong enough to be supported by a home ventilator and home nursing support to go home, just 6 days shy of his and twin brother George’s 1st birthday! 

ACCOMPLISHMENT #2: Learned to taste foods by mouth (even though he needed a g-tube for nutrition) during the first year of his life

ACCOMPLISHMENT #3: Used his hands to gesture and request for food like yogurt and applesauce during his first year of life

ACCOMPLISHMENT #4: Re-learned how to accept some food orally again after cleft palate split at 18 months of age.  

ACCOMPLISHMENT #5:  Started sprinting (practicing time off the ventilator) when he was around 3 years old. Now he is at the point where he can spend nearly all of his waking hours without the ventilator.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #6: Sat upright in a highly supportive activity chair at 2.5 years old (despite his large head and short arms and trunk)

ACCOMPLISHMENT #7: Sat upright on the floor without any back support while playing with toys and watching the classroom smart board or TV at home at 5 years old

ACCOMPLISHMENT #8: Transitions from lying down into sitting up all by himself at almost 6 years old

And…just in the time that it has taken me to put this blog together…Miles has accomplished yet another 2 more feats!!! He can now pull himself up into a supported standing position at his walker all by himself (that’s #9), and has gotten strong enough to crawl over to a large couch cushion and pull all of his body weight up onto it (that’s #10).

Every accomplishment that Miles has achieved is testimony to his resilience, his amazing family and his team of health care and educational professionals. Together, we continue to imagine what he CAN do, not what he CANNOT do.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I am a pediatric PT that works with children with complex physical and medical needs. Frequently, I am asked, “ Doesn’t your work make you sad?”  But to the contrary, I find it wondrous to work with children like Miles who are able to overcome obstacles and accomplish so much more than some people may have ever thought would be possible.

Miles, thank you for being such a fighter. We at Easterseals are behind you 100%, and we will continue to watch you hurdle through more obstacles and accomplish so much more accomplish in your future!

Miles proudly displays a certificate of accomplishment

Communication Board for Older Students/Adults

The Assistive Technology team has created an older student/adult language board to use during this pandemic period of time. They have also created an alphabet board set in Qwerty that can be printed separately or on the back.

These visual supports can be useful in trying to facilitate communication. He hope you find this helpful.

Visual Support for Communication

 

Sleep Strategies and Toilet Training Webinars

Our Behavior Therapy Department is pleased to present training webinars for all who are interested. There are two webinars available. See below for description and registration information.

Sleep Strategies:

Learn about sensory processing and self-regulation and how it relates to sleep, as well as behavioral interventions for common sleep difficulties such as delayed sleep onset and night awakenings. Presented by Daniellle Franchini-Muir (BCBA), Adrienne Krysuik (OT), and Nequetta Alford (LBS).

 

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Jun 10, 2020 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Sleep Strategies

Toilet Training:

Learn about toileting/potty training strategies no matter where your child is developmentally! We will discuss where to start as well as readiness and motor skills. Presented by Daniellle Franchini-Muir (BCBA),Isabel Kats (LSW), Rachel Rosenblum (OT), and Braelyn Beaver (BCBA).

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Jun 9, 2020 03:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Toilet Training

Mindfulness Activities for All!

by Lisa S. Wzorek, MA, OTR/L

I wanted to share a few activities that can be done to help our children (and ourselves) practice mindfulness, based on last week’s post.  One activity is a tried and true one in my family, and the other is a new one that we tried over this past week.

One thing that I loved doing as a shy and introverted kid to be calm and away from my loud family was building a fort.  It was usually a small, dark space but it was my own space and a great getaway.  Lots of people and classrooms these days use tents as a “calm corner” for our children to have a place to be calm.  When my son was younger, I discovered a fun and easy way to make a tent without the need to purchase another item:  simply putting a sheet over our table!  Then we would pile blankets, pillows and stuffed animals inside.  Calm and relaxing!  The one we made in the picture below is using a lighter sheet.  You can make use a dark sheet or blanket to make the space darker.  You can also put your child’s favorite toys, books, light up toys and wands, and flashlights.

Screen Shot 2020-05-28 at 11.18.51 AM

Another activity is making a Mindfulness Jar.  You can google this and find different names for it, such as Calming Jar, Meditation Jar, Time-Out Jar, etc.  I found two simple recipes that work really well and, if you are a crafter, you may already have all of the ingredients at home.

Screen Shot 2020-05-28 at 11.19.13 AM

 

For the calming jar, you can use an empty plastic bottle or a glass jar.  If you have a child that tends to throw objects, the plastic bottle may be your best option.  You can use white glue if that is what you have, too.  This activity is, in itself, very calming!  Fill your container about 1/3 of the way with glue, add about 2 tablespoons of glitter (or however much you want!), then fill the rest of the way with warm water from the tap.  At this time, you can add 1-2 drops of food coloring into the mix if you like.  Cap it and shake it up until all of the ingredients are mixed together.  Here are some of our finished products:

You may be wondering…what do you do with the jars and how do they work?  Sit with the jars when you need a calm moment and give them a good shake.  Set the jar down and watch the glitter swirl.  Focus on the movement of the glitter and take some nice, deep breaths.  Focusing and breathing helps to calm our brains and our bodies.  Do this until the glitter settles down; then do it again, if you like!  When you do this with your child, describe what is happening in the jar.  This will help them to focus just on the movement of the glitter and to be mindful.

The act of “doing” with both of these activities has both strengthening and healing components.  We’ve already pointed out the aspect of mindfulness and calming.  But making our tent and our jars also taps into problem-solving, motor planning, visual motor skills, visual perceptual skills and fine motor skills.   Maybe even some math if you are able to work on measuring with your child.  If your child cannot participate in building the tent or making the jars, talk out the steps you are doing and bring them into the activity in this way.  Talk about the colors you are using, the textures (sticky, wet, warm, messy) and help them to experience it, too.  Maybe you can try different positioning with your child inside the tent to read books together and play flashlight tag.  Hope you enjoy these mindful activities!

Mini Music Session

Miss Amanda has another mini music session to share! And since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we are especially loving “It’s Okay Not to be Okay”

– Hello (with scavenger hunt)

 

– Snail and Mouse:

 

– 5 Green and Speckled Frogs:

 

– Play the Drum:

 

– It’s Okay Not to Be Okay:

 

– Ili Ili Tulog Anay:

– Goodbye (with scavenger hunt):

 

May is Mental Health Month……OT Mental Health Series Part 1

by Lisa S. Wzorek, MA, OTR/L

As we enter another month in quarantine due to Covid-19 and our focus on maintaining our physical health continues, what about our mental health? Making sure we are mentally healthy is equally important, and many of us are facing challenges in doing just this.  Our mental health is being challenged whether you are an essential worker and must be away from your family, or you are a stay at home parent navigating distance learning or are working from home while navigating distance learning with your children.  Maybe you have a child with special needs or medical needs that causes you extra worry during this time.  These, and there are many more, can challenge the mental health of any individual.

May is Mental Health Month, and I wanted to talk about this very important issue.  Our mental health is always important but seems to be extra important during the Covid-19 quarantine.  But let’s talk about it from the perspective of maintaining mental health of an occupational therapist.  Occupational Therapists see “occupations” as a way to health and well-being.  Occupations are not just our “job”, but the things we do throughout the day.  These could be our morning routines, caring for our children, distance learning, exercising, leisure activities, etc.  To help us engage in our occupations throughout the day, I’m suggesting that we take a few moments to focus on our breathing.  Breathing sounds like such a simple and basic thing, but how we breath can have either a negative or positive effect on our well-being.  We don’t pay much attention to our breath, but if you take a moment to do so right now, you may notice that your breathing is short and shallow.  What if you expand that breath, taking in a full deep breath and feel your lungs fill? How does this make you feel?  Often when we are stressed, angry, frustrated, sad, etc., our breath becomes shallow.  Taking some deep breaths can help calm the mind and the body before we act on our feelings.  Being in a more calm and relaxed state can help us engage in our occupations more successfully and purposefully.

Here are some guided breathing exercises that you can do yourself and with your children that are already posted on YouTube.  The videos are short, 3-5 minutes.  Doing these breathing exercises at the start of the day, when you are feeling stressed or frustrated, or just needing a break, can help you power through the next few hours of your day.  I hope you will try them and let me know what you think!  Let’s keep a focus on our mental health!

Videos for breathing exercises:

Adults:

“Stop, breathe and think” by Mindful Breathing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEfs5TJZ6Nk  Guided breathing exercises

2:1 Breathing by Tufts Medical Center

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQjGqtH-2YI

4-7-8 Breathing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=737vA-okV5E

Kid Friendly:

5 finger breathing by Mindful Breathing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSgOW879jjA

4-7-8 Breathing-geared to kids by Fablefly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmBYdfv5RSk

Rainbow Breathing by Go Noodle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O29e4rRMrV4

Breathing and Stretching by Moovlee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyvuaL_2avY

*For very young children, you can practice “smelling the flowers, hold 1-2-3, blow out the candles”

A therapeutic gift from a friend!

by Kathryn Murphy, MSPT

My name is Kathryn and I am a Physical Therapist at Bucks. With all of the virtual services going on now, I do not have all of the tools at my home that I need for my sessions. I had a friend of mine, Mike, come to my rescue. I met Mike a few years ago at the indoor rock climbing gym where I climb. He recently purchased 3-D printer. He printed me a red shaker and even did a non-contact drop off!

This shaker filled with rice will help me:

  • Get the visual attention of my students with decreased vision.
  • As a teaching aide for parents. I can now show them exactly where to place a toy with their child when working on gross motor skills. I use a doll to help teach parents and now I have a toy!
  • Get the attention of the student using their hearing.
  • Cheer for my students in a fun way when they do something great!
  • Participate in music class with Ms. Amanda 😉

 

THANK YOU MIKE!

 

Navigating Teletherapy

by Adrienne Krysiuk MS, OTR/L

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My first day of work and I was super excited to see my kiddos since it has been a few weeks since I saw them last. I was also super nervous and anxious about doing teletherapy. I kept asking the questions, how was I going to manage a caseload of 17 plus kids and manage my own five year old? Most importantly, I could not understand how I was going to effectively provide occupational therapy intervention with preschoolers who have Autism Spectrum Disorder through a little screen. As the 2019-2020 school year already had its own set of challenges, not one of us could figure out how to do this type of hands off interaction with our Easterseals kids through this platform. As we reflected, the slew of emails arrived and we really started to panic. We all started going to online trainings, reading blogs and asking questions, conducted team meetings and practice runs with our colleagues. We all became computer experts in zoom and GoTo Meeting, we connected with colleagues and families throughout the day, sitting for longer than any of us are used to and then we became the minority of people who are still part of the workforce.

Since practicing teleintervention for a few weeks now, I am still trying to manage a hectic schedule between work and family. My son at this moment is trying to lay low because he knows he is getting away with watching way too much TV and no one has been after him to do his school work for awhile. The overall challenge of teletherapy has been a good learning experience and now familiar. In fact, at this point in time, I am a proponent of teleintervention and I feel this could be offered as part of the IEP plan. Of course I would rather be working directly with my kids and coworkers, but we (the school team) have always discussed how beneficial it would be to have a better way to follow up at home. When you are working on certain skills, such as managing challenging behaviors or carrying over potty training, it would be very helpful to coach the parent more directly in the child’s home environment; to really bridge the gap between home and school and further support our kiddos success. This unfortunate pandemic event has been that opportunity, possibly causing positive change and providing more options and choices for our families.

It has been an adjustment period for the parents to say the least and I give a shout out to all of our special needs parents out there, we see you and you are doing a great job, so hang in there, we got your back. Again, looking on the bright side through this unique time, I also find myself appreciating the small things that help me get through the day, one benefit I enjoy, I know many people share this with me, is illustrated in the picture. I cannot complain about the reduction of my now nonexistent commute, being able to get ready for work in 15 minutes or even caring if my comfy uniform matches or represents the correct season; dressed in my Easterseals teletherapy uniform.

 

Communication Board for Home

Visual supports can be an important tool in helping to facilitate communication. Throughout our centers, these visual supports are everywhere. They help children understand schedules and behavior expectations. They allow children to communicate with family, teachers and therapists about their needs and feelings.

The Assistive Technology team has created a visual communication board for families to use at home. This board contains vocabulary that is most relevant to preschoolers.

We hope you find this helpful! Stay tuned for middle school and high school versions.

Covid Communication Board

 

Here is a pdf version as well

Covid Communication Board