5 of Our Favourite Paper Craft Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are an essential foundation skill necessary for keeping up in class. On any typical school day kids are constantly using their fine motor skills.  They have to do up their buttons and laces, use cutlery to eat breakfast, clean their teeth, open and close their school bag, complete drawing and handwriting, cut and paste worksheets, open and close lunch boxes and food packaging… the list could go on and on.

I often complete School and Kindy visits to observe how kids are coping in class. Often times I see students with poorly developed fine motor skills getting left behind.  I’ll give you an example: I watched a prep-aged student completing a task where he had to cut out pictures and sort these into categories for a science lesson.  Because it took so long for him to cut out the pictures, he hadn’t even gotten up to the sorting and learning part of the lesson before he was asked to pack away and move onto the next activity.  Another student was asked to glue in his work sheet and move onto the next task.  Because it took so long for him to glue in his worksheet and put his book away in his tidy tray, he had missed the instruction that the teacher had given for the next activity and was then having to play catch up.

Just like exercise and fitness, fine motor skills take time and practice to develop. We regularly use paper crafts as an engaging way to encourage kids to practice and develop their fine motor skills.

Printable-Shark-Cootie-Catcher

5 of our favourite paper craft activities that you can do at home:

  1. Accordion Snakes by Kidspot
  2. Helicopters by Kidspot
  3. Moving Fish by Krokotak
  4. Space Rocket by Paper Magic
  5. Shark Chatterbox by Easy Peasy and Fun kate headshot

Happy crafting!!!

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.


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Hand dominance: Is my child ambidextrous?

As a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, I frequently get asked “Is my child ambidextrous?”.  Before we answer this question, first we have to understand a little more about development.

In the first 2 years of life babies learn lots of information about how the muscles in their bodies and hands work.  First, they learn how to bring both their hands together (e.g. clapping).  Then they move onto reciprocal movements where both sides of the body complete alternating actions (e.g. crawling or climbing).  Finally, they develop the ability to use both hands simultaneously, one hand stabilising whilst the other hand works (e.g. holding the paper whilst drawing or holding a bowl still whilst eating with a spoon).

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When does hand dominance develop?

As the brain develops, one particular side emerges as being more specialised (the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa).  Hand dominance usually emerges around 2 years of age and it is clearly established in most children by 5 years of age.

Why is hand dominance important?

The more a child uses one particular hand, the more efficient and automatic the movements become which then frees up cognitive energy to focus on more complex movements or higher-level thoughts (e.g. being able to think about ideas, sentence structure and spelling rather than having to focus on pencil grasp and pencil control).

Children who switch between using their left and right hand can be described as displaying mixed hand dominance.  Children with mixed dominance may find it challenging to carry out precise fine motor skills such as cutting with scissors or handwriting.

Is my child ambidextrous?

Ambidexterity occurs when children are equally skilled in using both their left and right hand. True ambidexterity is extremely rare only occurs in 1% of the population.  Often times there is an underlying reason why a child is yet to develop a dominance hand.  Common reasons include:

  • Weak hand strength: Some children will start an activity with their preferred hand and then swap when their hand becomes tired. This isn’t a difficulty with hand dominance necessarily, they may just need to work on strengthening their hands so that they can improve their endurance for fine motor tasks.
  • Difficulty crossing the midline: We all have an invisible line down the centre of our body that is referred to as the midline of the body. Midline crossing is the ability to use one hand to work on the opposite side of the body.  Some children will pick up objects with the hand that is closest or may start an activity with one hand and switch hands if they need to work on the other side of their body.

6 Tips to try at home:

  • It is best not to bias children towards a particular side as much as possible. Place objects at the midline and encourage your child to choose if there is not a clear hand preference
  • Encourage your child to complete the activity with the hand they started (no swapping during the task) in order to encourage them to develop strength and endurance.
  • Closely watch your child and note down how often they are using each hand throughout the day. If their does appear to be a more preferred hand you can assist them by using ‘Helper Hand’ and ‘Doing Hand’ terminology.  For example “It is your Doing Hand’s job to hold the pencil and your Helper Hand’s job to hold the paper still”.
  • Work on hand strengthening tasks to ensure they are not switching hands due to fatigue.
  • Encourage your child to complete activities that require both the hands to work together:
    • Threading
    • Hammer or screwdriver games
    • Cutting with scissors
    • Playdough
    • Lego
  • Practice midline crossing:
    • Use chalk to make a large track on a concrete path. Challenge your child to drive a car along the track, only using one hand to get from one side of the track to the other.
    • Assist your child to trace over a large infinity symbol (sideways figure of 8). You could do this on a large piece of butcher’s paper on the wall or complete this activity with a stick in the sandpit. Make sure they use one hand to trace the entire way around.
    • If your you child has established a Doing Hand and Helper Hand. Set up puzzles to encourage reaching across the midline.  e.g. Assist your child into a side sitting position, leaning on their Helper Hand, position the puzzle pieces on the opposite side of their body so that they have to reach across with their Doing Hand to collect the pieces.kate headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.

 


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W-sitting…what is all the fuss about?

So w-sitting… what is all the fuss about? A quick google search of the term reveals a myriad of articles written by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, teachers and parents. Many of these popular articles say that w-sitting should be avoided at all costs! But do we need to demonise w-sitting?

The w-sitting posture is sitting on the floor with both thighs rotated inwards and the feet outwards on both sides of the body (the legs make a W shape, hence the name). This posture is usually difficult for adults to achieve, because as we grow, we gradually lose mobility in our hips (partly due to the way our muscles and bones grow and partly because in Western cultures we don’t spend a lot of time in postures of extreme hip flexion).

kid playing toy blocks

Children, on the other hand, can achieve the w-sitting posture more easily. Their hip joints have more mobility and they often spend a lot of time with flexed hips. Many, but not all typically developing children will move through this posture occasionally in their play. Children with low resting muscle tone (“floppy” muscles) and/or joint hypermobility usually find w-sitting very easy to achieve, even to the point of comfort. For children with tight leg muscles, such as those with cerebral palsy, the w-sitting posture may be the only one they are able to sustain.

Given that w-sitting can be part of the normal repertoire of movement during childhood, why do so many recommend it be reduced, if not eliminated? The reason is that children with low resting muscle tone and/or hypermobility tend to choose w-sitting ALL or MOST of the time, when it should only be ONE of a number of different sitting postures used during play. W-sitting has a wide “base of support” making it a very stable shape (imagine how difficult it is to topple a pyramid versus a cylinder). It also requires less trunk muscle control to maintain, meaning that the child is free to play and enjoy what they are doing or watching for a long time, without as much fatigue. This is a great problem solving strategy – children are natural problem solvers!

What are the consequences of this prolonged and repeated w-sitting? Surprisingly, scientific research is lacking in this area. Anecdotally, children who predominantly w-sit may have less opportunities to develop more advanced postural control strategies, have delayed motor milestones, walk with more internal rotation (legs turned in), and could complain of hip problems later in life. It is unlikely that w-sitting is the main culprit, but part of the story. W-sitting might impact a child’s ability to participate in more advanced types of play (collaborative and imaginative play). Imagine a collaborative building project – children need to get up and down, shift their weight, and reach in all directions. All of these things are more difficult when w-sitting.

If you notice your child is w-sitting a lot of the time, it’s not necessary to constantly bug them about it. You could try moving their toys/tablet to a table so they have to kneel or sit on a chair to play. Tummy time is not just for babies – older kids can also benefit from short periods of play whilst on their tummies, supported by their arms and shoulders. Playing some active games involving balancing on one leg, running, kneeling or jumping is also a fun and useful way to break up long periods of sitting still!

In conclusion… W-sitting is not all bad news, but when it is the only posture favoured by your child it could be an indicator of other problems. If your child’s w-sitting is worrying you, or you have concerns about your child’s movement, posture, or development, do seek help from a health professional such as a physiotherapist with experience in paediatric and developmental practice.Q paediatrics

Sarah Reedman, Physiotherapist, Q Paediatrics

http://www.allsportsphysio.com.au/our-locations/qpaediatrics/


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Preparing for the NDIS: What I need to know for my child

Synchrony Occupational Therapy have recently undergone the process of becoming registered to deliver services under the NDIS.

What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a new way of providing disability support.  It provides people with a permanent and significant disability, access to support to help them take part in everyday activities and to achieve their individual goals and aspirations.

ndis

What type of support can my child receive under the NDIS?

Supports must be deemed to be ‘reasonable and necessary’ and must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Help my child reach their goals and aspirations
  • Develop my child’s capacity to actively take part in the community
  • Foster greater independence for my child
  • Increase my child’s social participation
  • Represent value for money
  • Supports can assist your child with areas such as learning, daily living, accommodation, equipment/assistive technology, health, transport and hobbies.

What is the NDIA?

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is an independent statutory agency whose role it is to implement the NDIS.

When does the NDIS start?

The NDIS is being progressively rolled out across Queensland.  On the 1st July the NDIS became available in Ipswich and the roll out will reach Brisbane in July 2018.

Is my child eligible for the NDIS?

Your child may meet the early intervention requirements if:

  • your child is aged under 6 and has a developmental delay which results in difficulties in one or more of the areas of self-care, receptive and expressive language, cognitive development or motor development.
  • your child has a disability that is likely to be permanent or early supports would reduce how much help your child needs to do things in the future.

If your child is over 6 years of age they may be eligible to receive an individual support plan if:

  • your child is an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, or New Zealand citizen who is a Protected Special Category Visa holder
  • your child has a permanent or significant disability that requires help from others to do things or requires the use of equipment or assistive technology.

Please refer to the NDIS access checklist to see if your child is eligible for the NDIS:  https://www.ndis.gov.au/ndis-access-checklist.  The NDIA can be contacted on 1800 800 110 to start the process and schedule a planning meeting.

If you currently receive disability services you will be contacted by the National Disability Insurance Agency before your area transitions.

What happens next?

The NDIS planning workbook is a helpful resource that can guide you through the 5 steps involved in developing a plan for your child: https://www.everyaustraliancounts.com.au/wp-content/uploads/NDIS-Planning-Workbook.pdf

  • Step 1 – Think about your needs and goals. Prior to your planning meeting it can be helpful to think about your child’s needs and goals.
  • Step 2 – Meet with your personal planner. It can be helpful to take your NDIS planning workbook with you to the planning meeting.  You can choose to have family, carers and friends accompany you to the meeting and assist in the decision-making process.  Your planner will assist you to develop a set of action steps to work towards achieving your goals.
  • Step 3 – Develop your plan and consider how to manage your supports. Based on the information gathered during the planning meeting your planner will determine which supports will best meet your needs.  You can choose to:
    • Manage your funding yourself
    • Nominate another person to manage your funding
    • Use a registered plan management provides
    • Ask the NDIS to manage your funding for you
  • Step 4 – Implement your plan. Following the planning meeting you will be sent a copy of your plan
  • Step 5 – Review your plan. You will review your plan with the NIDA at agreed review dates (approximately every 12 months). If your circumstances change, you can request a review at any time.

For more information please visit the NDIS website: www.ndis.gov.au

Upcoming events and information sessions can be found on the NDIS events calendar: https://www.communities.qld.gov.au/gateway/reform-renewal/disability-services/national-disability-insurance-scheme-queensland/ndis-events-calendarkate headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.


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Are birthday parties a challenge for your child? 6 Tips to make the next party run smoothly

Birthday parties are a wonderful chance to celebrate, look back over your child’s milestones from the previous year and create wonderful memories with family and friends.

However, for many of the children I work with, birthday parties can often be a very overwhelming experience.  It can be an environment that is noisy with singing, music, laughing and balloons popping and visually busy with bright colours, decorations and lots of people around.

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Parties can also be very socially demanding with lots of people and the expectation to participate in party games that require the ability to listen to instructions, follow rules, wait their turn, self-regulate and cope with losing.  Planning ahead can assist to make the next birthday party go more smoothly.

6 tips to assist your child:

  1. Don’t feel that you have to stay the entire time, maybe aim to stay just for a short while or go for the parts that you know your child can cope with. Going either a little early or later in the day, where there are less people in attendance, can be a good strategy.
  2. Have an escape plan for if things start to get too much. This could be to go to a quite room of the house or a quiet place outside.  It could be to go for a short walk and come back or it could be to retreat to the car and head to the safety of home.  It can be helpful to have some of your child’s favourite toys or activities on hand that can help to distract or calm them down if needed.
  3. Make a short story about the party. Stories are a great way to show kids the types of things that they can expect e.g. saying “Happy Birthday”, playing party games, singing Happy Birthday, party foods.  It can be helpful to discuss the escape plan as well so they know what they can do if they need a break.
  4. Use play to reinforce what might happen at the party e.g. Use puppets and figures to play out the steps in the social story.
  5. Model Me kids DVDs are simple educational videos that can help your child to be ready to cope with typical birthday party situations.

I hope that with these strategies you can work towards making the next birthday party that your child attends a success!kate headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.


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Building Good Eating Habits For a Lifetime

In today’s world, choosing healthy foods for yourself and your family has become very complicated. We are constantly being told to ‘eat this!’ or ‘avoid that!’, which can take the focus away from what is truly important in raising good eaters and establishing good eating habits as a family for life.

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Many families today are time-poor, which can often lead to eating on the run, meals in the car on the way home, feeding in front of the iPad or TV and many other examples of time-saving strategies to get the family fed. Although this helps make sure meals and snacks are provided regularly (which is a good thing!), if we often eat when we are distracted, stressed, tired or just because it’s a meal time, it can make it much more difficult to stay in tune with our ‘internal’ cues for eating.

‘External’ cues for eating are abundant in our society. Food is everywhere – at the petrol station, the chemist, the sporting field, and unfortunately the healthy choices are not always the easy choices to make when having to rely on foods purchased away from the home. The old saying, ‘you have to finish what’s on your dinner plate’ to either avoid food waste or to earn dessert is another common example of how we may override our ‘internal’ appetite cues to eat past the point of comfortable fullness. Not only does this make it harder to recognize and respond to our own appetite cues, but it can also set up unhelpful beliefs around some foods being worse or better than others.

So how can we become more aware of and respond to our ‘internal’ appetite cues and teach our children these valuable eating skills too?

  • Make time to sit at the table to eat together. Kids learn and gain so much from meals when eaten and enjoyed together with parents. If eating dinner together every night isn’t feasible, aim for one or two nights each week or try having breakfast or lunch as a family on the weekend.
  • Avoid distractions when eating. Turn of the TV and all electronic devices, to shift the focus back on to the meal or the snack in front of you.
  • Avoid rushing through meals. Take time to chew and enjoy each mouthful and recognize when you are comfortably satisfied, rather than just finishing what’s been served.
  • Provide meals and snacks at regular times through the day. This helps children to learn how to regulate their appetite by providing predictable and consistent opportunities to satisfy their hunger.
  • Offer only water between meals and snacks.
  • Trust your children to know when they are hungry or full, and to decide how much food they are hungry for, at each meal and snack time.
  • Keep eating times enjoyable and relaxed. When children (or parents) are stressed, appetite and digestion are both affected.
  • Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding is a fantastic resource with many more tips, information and research on establishing good eating habits in children.

-Steph Young, Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), On Point Nutrition.steph young

If you would like more information or help with building good eating habits and skills for yourself or your family, contact Steph Young at On Point Nutrition. Steph specialises in helping individuals and families get back in touch with their appetite and build healthy eating habits and skills for life. She has clinics in Jindalee, Springfield, Ipswich and Karana Downs.

To find out more or to book an appointment, contact Ph: 0419 676 324 or email: info@onpointnutrition.com.au

6 Simple Strategies to Teach Social and Emotional Learning Skills for Kids: The Key to Positive Mental Health

Children are expected to use social and emotional skills continuously every day, however for some children these skills can be quite challenging to understand and learn.  Social and emotional learning is “the process through which children and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.”

kids happy calm self control

Having age appropriate social and emotional learning skills allows children to be successful in their relationships and play situations with others. Some of these skills include communication, cooperation, sharing, problem solving, anger management and conflict resolution. Good social and emotional skills also assist children in holding positive perceptions of themselves.

What are social and emotional learning skills?

When considering social and emotional learning skills, there are 5 key components that allow us to be successful in our day-to-day interactions with others:

  • Self-awareness: recognising our own emotions and triggers for emotions, as well as understanding our strengths and limitations
  • Self-management: managing our emotions and behaviours in order to persist and achieve our goals
  • Social awareness: recognising the emotions of others and understanding how to respond positively to others
  • Relationship skills: forming positive relationships, working with others in teams, managing conflict effectively
  • Responsible decision-making: making positive choices about personal and social behaviour

The target of social and emotional learning is the prefrontal cortex of the brain, or what we like to call “the breaks”. “The breaks” of the brain is responsible for executive functioning which assists with organisation and regulation. One of the main jobs of “the breaks” is to communicate with the limbic system, which we like to call “the accelerator”. “The accelerator” is responsible for managing emotions and reactive and impulsive behaviour. By working with children to develop their social and emotional skills, we are working on making “the breaks” stronger and more affective at communicating and controlling “the accelerator”.

When developing a child’s social and emotional skills, it is important that we remember to prepare the child for the world around them, rather than trying to protect them from challenges that might come their way. Providing children with strategies so they can tolerate low levels of stress can actually help them build their executive functioning and resilience skills.

If your child is displaying difficulties in any of the above areas, some of the following strategies may be beneficial to their social and emotional development.

6 strategies to assist your child:

  • Understanding the difference between ‘bumps’ (tolerable stress) and ‘hazards’ (toxic stress) and applying the right ‘tools’ (strategies) for the situation
    • Bumps: friendship issues, teasing, minor learning difficulties, coping with disappointment, coping with loss etc.
    • Hazards: social isolation, bullying, anxiety, depression, significant learning difficulties, big left events etc.
  • The Thinking-Feeling-Behaving Loop
    • Event – thinking – feeling – behaviour – outcome – (loop)
  • The Thinking Traffic Lanes
    • Supa Thinkin vs. Straight Thinkin vs. Stinkin Thinkin
    • Children have a choice about what lane they take and what response they have to a social situation. We can also teach them that they don’t always have to take the lane that they first think of. They can learn to be strong enough to choose another and more appropriate lane instead!
  • De-catastrophising
    • How big is the problem? Is it little, medium or big? We can help children to learn to scale their responses and try and get away from the first impulse ‘all or nothing’ response. Improving executive functioning helps with this, as we can train the brain to help manage thinking patterns and exhibit impulse control.
  • Calming down bubble breathing
  • The Triple B’s Calming Down
    • Breathing in and out slowly
    • Helping our Brain do Supa Thinkin
    • Identifying how out Body feels and continuing until our brain and heart feel calm and our arms and legs are soft and floppy (not tense)

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you think your child would benefit from any of the above strategies or if you would like to learn more about social and emotional leaKattMatthewsOccupationalTherapist-smallrning.

-Katt Matthews, Occupational Therapist

DIY Lycra Swing

By far the most popular piece of equipment in our gym is our layered lyrca swing.  Not only do kids love to swing in it like a hammock, they also love to explore and climb through the layers.

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Therapeutic Benefits:

Lycra swings are a great resource for providing calming sensory input. The resistant stretch of the lycra provides soothing deep pressure touch and slow swinging side to side or forwards and back provides calming movement input.  This is a great activity for kids to use at all different times of day:

  • Use it before school or homework to get your child’s body calm and ready to learn.
  • Use this after a long day to provide calming input to recharge their nervous system or even get them ready for bed.
  • Use as a calming strategy if you can tell that your child is starting to become upset and may need assistance to settle down.

How to make your own at home:

You will need:

  • 2 or 4 snap hooks (ours came from Bunnings)- In our space we have 4 hooks to suspend the swing from, however you can also suspend from 2 hooks if needed.
  • Rope cut into either 2 or 4 pieces depending on how many hooks you are suspending from (It is recommended to select rope that has a breaking strength of a minimum of 150kg+)
  • 3 pieces of lycra to fit you space (we used 3m and sourced ours from East Coast Fabrics).
  • A secure place to attach the hooks (either secure eyelets or load bearing beams).
  • Reasonable matting underneath for safety (our mats come from HART sports).

Steps:

  1. Lay out the lycra, one piece on top of the other.
  2. Tie off the corners.
  3. Fasten the rope underneath each knot.
  4. Fasten the rope to each snap hook (length will vary depending on your space- remember that lycra will stretch a lot so keep this in mind when selecting what height you will attach them).  It took me two goes to get the length of my ropes right! Please ensure that your knots are safe and secure and seek advice if you are unsure. A helpful guide can be found here: http://www.netknots.com/rope_knots/figure-eight
  5. Attach to your eye bolts and put safety matting underneath.
  6. Let the kids have a blast!

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Safety disclaimer!

Please ensure that children are supervised by adults at all time to ensure safety.  Ropes, hooks and materials should be routinely checked to ensure safety is maintained over time.  We only recommend using this for children up to 40 kg maximum. This information is provided with the intent that readers will use reasonable judgement to ensure that the equipment is safe.  Synchrony OT are not responsible for any injury incurred.kate headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.

The Truth About Stuttering

I receive many enquiries from parents who have noticed their child stuttering and are unsure about whether or not they should be worried. There is a great deal of information out there about stuttering and unfortunately, a large amount of it is out of date or inaccurate. As a result, many parents come to me with misconceived ideas and worries about their child’s fluency. So in this article it is my mission to provide parents with some ‘truths’ about stuttering and some clear advice about when to seek help.

stuttering

Firstly, it is important to recognise that all children have ‘disfluencies’ in their speech. Normal disfluencies happen occasionally and may come and go over time. They are usually a sign that the child is going through a period of rapid language development. Not surprisingly, stuttering is most common in children aged 3-4 years of age as they learn to use new words, tell short stories and build longer, more complex sentences.

Effortless repetitions of sounds or words (‘A-a-a big snake!’) is considered to be the ‘healthiest’ form of stuttering. Tension and struggling behaviours, such as eye twitching/closing, head movements, neck tension, ‘prolongations’ of sounds (e.g. ‘a ssssssssnake’), and pausing or appearing to hold the breath during speaking (called ‘silent blocking’) are indicators that the stutter may be more severe and more likely to persist.

Research tells us that around 75% of kindergarten children who stutter will naturally grow out of it. However, some children will not recover without necessary intervention from a Speech Pathologist. Treatment in early childhood aims to resolve or ‘get rid’ of a stutter. Intervention for adolescent and adult stuttering, however, aims to teach ways of coping with and reducing the severity of the stutter. It is therefore important to predict if your child’s stutter is likely to continue, and to seek help early if necessary.

So how do you know when to seek help, or when to ‘wait and see’? There are a number of questions that Speech Pathologists will ask when assessing a child’s ‘risk’ of persistent stuttering:

  1. Does your child have any signs of tension or struggling when they stutter?
  2. Does your child have a parent, sibling or other family member who stutters?
  3. Did you child begin stuttering after the age of 3 ½ years?
  4. Has your child been stuttering for longer than 6 months?
  5. Has your child experienced difficulties with delayed speech development? e.g. poor speech clarity or difficulty saying sounds clearly.
  6. Is your child male (boys are up to four times less likely to recover naturally)?
  7. Does your child become self conscious or frustrated when they stutter?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, my best advice is to seek advice from a qualified Speech Pathologist. We can assess the risk factors, recommend appropriate timeframes for monitoring the stutter, and provide resources such as a fluency diary to help you keep an eye on how they are progressing (and keep your mind at ease!)

For information about stuttering, check out my website: LEARN-AND-GROW-IN-BUBBLE_RGB.pngwww.learnandgrowtherapy.com.au/stuttering/
Brooke O’Brien

Speech Pathologist and Business Director

Learn and Grow Speech Pathology

Setting your child up for handwriting success: The developmental stages of drawing

Drawing is a big part of child development in the pre-school years.  It is a necessary foundation skill that allows children to develop their visual and fine motor skills prior to writing letters and numbers.  Every child develops at their own rate, however there is a general developmental sequence that all children follow.

Stages of drawing development:

Stage 1:  Exploration and Scribbling (15 months- 2 ½ years)

At this stage you can expect your child to make dots and scribbles on the page.  They will likely use a cylindrical or fisted grasp and use large whole arm movements when making pencil strokes.  Helpful activities include drawing with thick crayons on large pieces of butcher’s paper, painting at an easel, using thick chalk on driveway or using stamps on a Magna Doodle.

pencil grasp Erhardt 1982

Erhardt, 1982

Stage 2: Lines and Patterns (2 ½ – 3 ½ years)

At this stage you can expect your child to start making more controlled strokes such as circles, horizontal, vertical and curved lines.  They will now have the hand strength to start to transition to grasping the pencil between their fingertips and thumb, however their pencil strokes are still generated using large arm movements.  Activity ideas for this stage include simple colouring in books, drawing through large pathways and adding missing parts to pictures (e.g. put the legs on a caterpillar or the wheels on a car).

painting

Stage 3: Representational Drawings (3 ½ -5 years)

At this stage you can expect your child to start using basic shapes and lines to form recognisable pictures.  Drawing recognisable pictures develops their cognitive planning and spatial skills. They will now have the ability to use a refined tripod grasp and gain increased control over their pencil strokes, keeping their shoulder and forearm steady whilst making small movements with their hands and fingers.  This additional pencil control will allow them to develop skills for colouring neatly within the lines.  Activity ideas at this stage include using stencils, completing dot-to-dots, copying pictures step by step and decorating paper craft creations.

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Stage 4: Letters and numbers (4 ½ – 6 years)

Once children have been practising their drawing skills for a number of years, their planning and pencil control are at a level that is supportive of learning number and letter formations!kate headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.