What Makes a Good Toy?

Toys are the tools children use in play. Every plaything should measure up to this tall task. Below are some points to consider when purchasing toys for the little ones in your life.Is it Safe? A good toy should pass the drop test and a lot more. Be it wood, metal, plastic, or fabric, the basic material should be durable and well-finished. Avoid toys with sharp edges and long cords. Abide by any age-specific safety warnings, such as small parts which may present choking hazards for children under three years old.

Is it Age Appropriate?

The play activity should developmentally suit the child's age. Check the toy maker's recommendations and believe in the "+" sign. Ages 3+ does not mean your 4-year-old has outgrown it. If in doubt, consult with the toy experts. ASTRA specialty retailers are very astute when it comes to matching activities to specific ages.

Does it Engage the Child?

A good toy should encourage open-ended play, invite exploration, and engage a child's interest beyond a short sitting. Toys should be hands-on tools – not watch-me players. A child should be able to power a plaything – even a battery-operated toy – with his or her own ideas and imagination.

Does it Expand the Child?

A good toy with play value benefits the child at a particular stage by introducing and reinforcing age specific skills. A great toy grows with the child, helping her or him advance from one developmental stage to the next.

Does it Add to the Toy Box?

A child needs a variety of toys and different types of play activities. When selecting a new toy, consider one that adds balance to your child's busy play.

Is it Fun?

Most of all, a good toy is fun to play with. Dull and boring, regardless of benefit, have no place in a good toy box.

Taken from www.ASTRA.org

Backpack Awareness Day

This was taken from the American Occupational Therapy Association

National School Backpack Awareness Day is September 17, and occupational therapy practitioners across the United States are gearing up to help students “Pack It Light, Wear It Right!” But occupational therapists work every day in virtually every school district, providing services ranging from behavioral help to proper posture for computer use.

National School Backpack Awareness Day focuses on just one area of occupational therapy expertise—ergonomics—but occupational therapy in schools is much more. Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help children, youth, and families with a broad range of health and wellness issues that affect the ability to participate in and enjoy everyday activities. In schools, they help students develop the skills they need to learn, play, and interact with others.

Visit www.aota.org for more information on backpack awareness.

Backpack Awareness Day

The American Occupational Therapy Association has published ten tips to avoid backpack-related health problems:
Never let a child carry more than 15% of his or her body weight. This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn't wear a backpack heavier than 15 pounds.
Load heaviest items closest to the child's back and arrange books and materials to prevent them from sliding.
Always wear both shoulder straps. Wearing only one strap can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Too much pressure on shoulders and necks can cause pain and tingling.
Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child's back. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back, never more than four inches below the child's waistline.
Use the waist belt, if the backpack has one, to help distribute the pack's weight more evenly.
Check what your child carries to school and brings home to make sure the items are necessary to the day's activities.
If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child's school allows it.
Choose the right size pack for your child's back as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.
If a student is experiencing back pain or neck soreness, consult your physician or occupational therapist.

Treatment for SPD

From Kid Foundation- another great resource
Treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder is a fun, play-based intervention that takes place in a sensory-rich environment. Private clinics and practices, hospital outpatient departments, and university occupational therapy programs are typical places where treatment for SPD or for sensory issues in disorders such as ADHD and Autism may be found. Children are most commonly treated for SPD with occupational therapy (OT) that may be supplemented with listening therapy (LT) or other complementary therapies. Sometimes other professionals such as physical therapists, speech/language therapists, teachers, and/or others who have advanced training in using a sensory integration approach may be involved in treatment.
The most effective treatment for SPD is research-based. Although a great deal remains to be discovered about the disorder, scientists at SPD Foundation and elsewhere already have learned that some intervention strategies are more effective than others. Treatment from a research-based clinic or clinician ensures that these strategies will be put to work for your child or for you.
Effective treatment for SPD also is family-centered. In family-centered care, parents and therapists become partners who assume different but essential roles during treatment. Parents identify priorities and act as the experts on their child. The child's therapists have expertise in therapeutic technique and measure progress toward the family's priorities. Together, the family and the therapist collaborate to develop the best possible program that reflects the family's culture, needs, and values. Treatment from a family-centered clinic or clinician who uses quantifiable outcome measures improves the likelihood that you will benefit and be satisfied with the therapeutic program you choose for your child or yourself.

Sensory Ideas for Home

From www.kidfoundation.com a great resource for sensory questions

Incorporating Sensory Input into Daily Activities
Bath time: Scrub with washcloth or bath brush, try a variety of soaps and lotions for bathing, play on the wall with shaving cream or bathing foam, rub body with lotion after bath time (deep massage), sprinkle powder onto body and brush or rub into skin.
Meal preparation or baking: Let your child mix ingredients, especially the thick ones that will really work those muscles. Let child mix and roll dough and push flat. Allow child to help you carry pots and pans, bowls of water or ingredients (with supervision, of course). Let your child tenderize meat with the meat mallet.
Grocery shopping: Have your child push the heavy cart (as long as the weight is within their capability). Let your child help carry heavy groceries and help put them away.
Mealtime: Encourage eating of chewy foods and drinking out of a straw. Try having your child sit on an air cushion to allow some movement. A weighted lap blanket may be helpful as well.
Household chores: Allow the child to help with the vacuuming or moving the furniture. Let the child help carry the laundry basket or the detergent. Let the child help with digging for gardening or landscaping.
Play time: Reading books in a rocking chair or bean-bag chair may be beneficial. You can help your child make up obstacle courses in the house or yard using crawling, jumping, hopping, skipping, rolling, etc. Listen to soft music. Play the sandwich game (child lies in between two pillows and pretends to be the sandwich, while you provide pressure to the top pillow to the child’s desired amount). Ask them "harder or softer?" as you push on the pillow. Some children will like much more pressure than you would expect. You can also go for a neighborhood walk with a wagon and have your child pull it (make it semi-heavy by loading it with something the child would like to pull around). You can do the same with a baby-doll carriage. Swimming in a pool is a wonderful activity if you have that available, as are horseback riding and bowling. Mini or full-size trampolines are excellent for providing sensory input as well. Make sure the child is using them safely. Sandboxes, or big containers of beans or popcorn kernels can be fun play-boxes. too, if you add small cars, shovels, cups, etc.
Errands and appointments: Before visiting the dentist or hairdresser try deep massage to the head or scalp (if tolerated), or try having your child wear a weighted hat. Try chewy foods or vibration to the mouth with an electric toothbrush. Let your child wear a heavy backpack (weighted to their liking with books and with the straps padded as needed). Be sure to give the child ample warning before any changes in routine or any unscheduled trips or errands. Many children with SPD need predictability.
Other General Guidelines for the Home
Keep routines and possessions organized.
Be consistent with rules and consequences.
Keep an activity schedule or calendar posted.
Create specific routines for troublesome times of day (bedtime or getting ready for school).
Discuss upcoming anticipated changes in routine at a point in time that is beneficial for your child. You will have to experiment with how early the child "needs to know."
Try to indirectly use your child’s sensory preferences for fun rewards to help you handle behavior. For example, having your child work towards an extra trip to go bowling or horseback riding may be helpful. However, try not to restrict movement activities when your child is being disciplined. For example, taking away recess time or playground time for not sitting at the table appropriately during dinner may not be the most effective way to deal with these issues. Your child may need that movement time, and by removing it, his or her behavior may actually become more difficult later.