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Concentrating in the classroom - What works?

Sunday, June 01, 2014

We have daily phone calls from parents identifying concentration at school as a problem for their child. There can be all sorts of contributing factors, which is why a proper assessment of the situation is always a good idea. Mat time is often a tricky time as kids may have issues with:

* touch (eg hypersensitive to other kids touching them, constantly seeking tactile input for calming),

* movement (eg need movement to stay alert, difficulty maintaining their postural control),

* auditory or visual processing (eg easily overwhelmed in a more confined area)

* and there are more reasons as well, eg language comprehension.

Tactile seekers benefit by having access to a small container of fidget items, eg pieces of satin, a sea anenome, a cobweb ball, or any of the items in our 'Sensory Seekers Pack'

Tactile avoiders are better with a small stool or a carpet square so they have their own space with less 'risk' of them being touched.

Movement seekers do very well with disco sit cushions, and kids who need movement as well has postural support do well with eithermove'n'sit cushions or the howdahug chairs.

For children who are easily overwhelmed by noise you can try setting up a quieter place for them to go, eg a beanbag a little bit seperate from the group but still within vision and hearing distance from the teacher.

These are just some simple, quick strategies which can give instant improvements and can be considered 'first line of defence'. The important thing is to identify the underlying issue and this is best done by watching the child during mat time with your 'sensory processing hat' on. This means watching carefully how they react to different sensory stimuli. There are many more factors at play and strategies to consider, and this is where you would call on an OT to give you a hand.

Getting ‘Home Programmes’ done!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Our therapist has recommended some daily activities to help our child. I know it needs to be a priority, but how on earth do we fit anything extra into our family’s hectic schedule?"

As a parent of kids who have needed to follow several home programmes, as well as a therapist, I feel very familiar with just how challenging this can be. At one point there we were working on a strengthening programme with one child and an articulation programme with another. Our family has had Speech Therapy, Physio and Occupational Therapy goals to work on at different times with each of our children. In my experience there are lots of ways to tackle this and. Like many things, it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. A big determining factor is the nature of the therapy goal and the tasks themselves, then you’ve got variable like parenting style, your child’s personality, resources/equipment available, other children’s needs, etc, etc. Some of the options below may work for you with a bit of tweaking……

  • TEACHABLE MOMENTS – this is about looking for ways to build therapy goals into your regular daily routines. This can work well for families who have regular routines! I think this is the way to go for general developmental areas, eg muscle tone, bilateral coordination – where you might get your child to bear walk from their bedroom to breakfast each morning to develop muscle tone, and have some fun 2-handed games with the bubbles in the bath each night to work on bilateral coordination.
  • SCHEDULED PRACTICE TIME – This worked best for our family! I found if I didn’t set a specific time it just didn’t happen. It also works well when you need to do specific, prescribed activities, eg literacy tasks, specific handwriting activities.
  • SETTING UP A BOX OF ACTIVITIES AND LETTING YOUR CHILD GO FOR IT. This can be brilliant! Work on finger strength, dexterity, pencil skills, sensory processing, oral motor activities can all be achieved by your child with minimal support if you set them up with fun activities. This is part of the reason we’ve made up the therapy kits you can see on the Skillbuilders website. These kits give parents (and teachers) a simple, practical option for helping kids develop specific skills. They provide a good starting point that’s easy to build on.
  • A COMBINATION OF ANY OF THE ABOVE. Sometimes you need a combination, eg when you’re working on specific muscle stretches along with general work on muscle tone, and sometimes you just need a change of approach to re-charge your enthusiasm.

A point on maintaining enthusiasm…..

For yourself – Ask yourself – “What will it look like when my child has sorted out this developmental glitch?” eg Toby will be able to use scissors as well as his peers, then break this skill down into VERY observable steps so that you can really see his progress and not be vague about it. This will help you be clear about his progress and this motivates you to keep up your efforts.

For your child – FUN FUN FUN – try really hard to incorporate fun at every opportunity. Kids will practice the activities spontaneously if they enjoy them.

  • Occupational Therapy

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    Our occupational therapy team offers extensive experience, practical skills and empathy in working with children. Our occupational therapy services include comprehensive assessment, individualised therapy, and a range of small group programmes. We have 9 Occupational Therapists offering a range of specialist skills.

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  • Physiotherapy

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    Through games and exercises, physiotherapists help babies and children learn to improve the quality of their movement. Our physiotherapy services include detailed assessment of strength, muscle tone and motor skills, tailored treatment, individually designed therapy programmes, practical advice to parents and carers, individual and group programmes.

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  • Speech Pathology

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    Early detection of communication problems is essential to each child’s development, well-being and self-esteem. Children who experience a delay in onset of talking often have difficult to detect middle ear problems, causing hearing loss. They frequently go on to have literacy problems if the underlying language difficulties are not remedied.

    If you have a child who has trouble speaking at a developmental level that is right for their age, we can help them develop speech that is clear and understandable.

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  • Educational Resources

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    Skillbuilders offers an extensive and innovative range of contemporary educational toys and learning products for children from 0 – 18 years.

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  • Payment Methods:

    You can pay for your order on-line through our web site. Alternatively you can submit your order and phone through your credit card details. Skillbuilders accepts VISA, Mastercard and Bankcard. Another option is to print out your order and post it with a cheque or money order. Please make Cheques payable to "Skillbuilders".

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    Customer information is stored securely with Skillbuilders. Credit card payment details are not stored. Credit card transactions are processed through a secure 128 bit encryption.

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    Please go ahead and download an order form from the website and fax your order to us with an order number. We will send you the goods with an invoice. You are also welcome to use your own specific order forms.

    To download our order form : order form

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    All prices quoted on our website include 10% GST and are in Australian Dollars.  Prices are updated regularly, however may be subject to change without notice.

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    Our goal is to have your order to you within 2 weeks. Please allow up to 2 weeks for weighted items to be made up for you prior to posting. We aim to keep all items in stock, however sometimes we do need to send some items on backorder. If you need a particular item by a particular date please let us know via email when you place your order. We will do our best!

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    Our freight charges are based on the value of your order. 

    Order Value Shipping Cost  
    $0 - $25 $8.25  
    $25 - $50 $14.00  
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    * Including GST
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    Postage for orders outside Australia needs to be calculated separately based on Australia Post rates. For this reason the checkout process allows us to recieve your order without taking payment details. We then email you directly with a firm price for shipping based on the weight of the items. Upon your confirmation we will contact you to arrange payment.

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  • Returns:

    Please check all items on opening. If you are not fully satisfied with any of the products you have ordered from Skillbuilders we are happy to exchange the product or arrange to refund the purchase price. Please:

    • Notify us within 7 working days by calling 1300 132 786 and receive approval for return
    • Return the goods in their original condition
    • Please send a copy of your original invoice with the item/s
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    All products on our website may be subject to design, colour variation or change at any time. We reserve the right to supply you with the current item.

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    Products must be used by children of an appropriate age and under correct adult supervision.

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