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Archive for category: Kids

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The A to Z of OT: K is For… Kids Health

Occupational Therapists work with people of any age, including children.  Occupational Therapists can assist children in many ways including, growth and development, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, overcoming eating issues and more.  Learn about some of the many ways an OT can help children in our post, Occupational Therapy Works for Kids.

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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The A to Z of OT: H is For… Handwriting Help

One of the main reasons that parents seek Occupational Therapy services for their children arises from problems with printing and handwriting.   Although once taught in schools, the learning of this basic and essential skill is no longer part of curriculums.  While many children quickly take to printing, many have difficulties.  When difficulties arise, an Occupational Therapist can help.  Learn how Occupational Therapists help provide solutions to printing problems and make learning creative and fun in the following video from our OT-V video series

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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Beat Bullying with a Little Help From OT

Despite a huge focus on kindness, acceptance, and belonging, bullying still exists.  Young children, adolescents and even adults who find themselves being bullied by their peers often struggle through these traumatic experiences.  When it comes to “beating bullying” OT can help!  Occupational Therapists in South Africa who founded BullyBusters recently presented their helpful methods at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists conference in Cape Town.  Learn more about BullyBusters and their top tips to both bully-proof yourself and to overcome bullying if you’re already a victim in the following article.

Parent 24:  Practical tips on how to deal with bullying, the OT way

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Let’s Talk About Sex… and Education

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Sexuality is an integral part of being human and is another one of those concepts that exists on a spectrum.  It contains with it physical, emotional, social, behavioral and relational elements that impact us all at various levels and times in our lives.  As an occupational therapist, I have had many conversations with clients about changes in sexual activity post-disability, injury or trauma.  Some of these conversations are as simple as “sex is the last thing on my mind” to “I would just like to sleep beside my spouse again”…to “do you have any resources or devices you can suggest to help me re-engage sexually”…

It was in 2000 when, during my OT training, we had a lecture designed to educate and inform us about adaptive sexuality and sexual activity.  The lecturer was perfect – he was a social worker, openly gay, and owned a retail store for adult intimacy items.  He was very knowledgeable about the topic of adaptive sexuality, counselled people at his store, and the topic clearly did not make him at all uncomfortable.  But that was not true of our class.  Soon after he started his lecture and produced some adaptive items that his clients have found helpful, half of our class got up and left (in fairness, he told us all if the topic made us uncomfortable he would not be offended if we left).  I was amazed and disappointed at the same time.  Here we were, in the process of being trained to help people function in all areas of life after disability, and some members of my class were not open to learning about this.  I guess that explains why the spectrum exists – because we all have various levels of comfort with such a vulnerable, intrusive and often “taboo” topic.  

Fast forward almost 20 years to the first weeks of school, I can understand the current debate in Ontario over the topic of sex and sex education and fully appreciate both sides of the argument.  But as a parent of four teenage girls, I must ask: “what is best for the kids”?  Well, that answer too will be complicated – for some, it will be best for them to learn from their parents and for others, the school will do a better job of educating them in a way that is respectful, honest, inclusive and forthcoming.  What I think we don’t want as parents, educators, or as a society, is for kids to “figure it out on their own” and turn to the internet and social media to get answers to their important questions.  As we all know, the internet contains a lot of harmful images, video, and opinions that could negatively impact them if they go looking.

Of greatest concern, however, is the mental health of the kids who have thoughts, feelings, emotions or experiences with sexuality that are unconventional, confusing, violating or just plain scary.  If these kids are not given the proper channels, at home or school, to talk and sort-through, understand, cope with and manage these, how will they adjust?  We know kids today are increasingly anxious and depressed, we know suicidal ideation and risk is high in youth, so how can we best support them?  I personally don’t think that is through undermining research that tells us these conversations need to happen, or by resurrecting outdated anything that we know is obsolete to appease those (like half of my OT class) who find these topics, and the evolution of sexuality over the last 20 years, uncomfortable.  Kids are smart and instinctive – if adults are fighting over this, the entire concept of helping them through the many phases of sexual development may become something they won’t allow any caring and responsible adult to be a part of.  That would be a poor outcome for us all.

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I Already Passed Kindergarten: A Responsibility Lesson for Kids

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

When my children were young, each September I would take some time to write letters to the teachers my children would have for the upcoming year.  I have found this to be an effective way to help the teacher get to know my child more quickly, and to understand who they are beyond their informal and scripted report card from the year before.

In this letter I would describe my child – what they are like as a student and a person, and what they do and don’t do well.  But beyond this, I also explain the culture of our family when it comes to homework.  I remember when my daughter was in kindergarten she didn’t finish a homework assignment.  I got a note home from the teacher highlighting this.  It was written to me.  I responded with: “I already passed kindergarten, please hold my child responsible for not meeting her classroom expectations”.   I have enough to do.  I have to parent them, keep them safe, plan for the present and future, make sure they get along with their siblings, ensure they become responsible and respectful adults, have clean clothes, food to eat.  I really don’t need to do their homework.

My children know my philosophy on schoolwork.  This is for them, not me.  It is up to them to know what is due and when, and to ask for help if they need it.  They are not to cram and ask for things the night before.  Bedtime is bedtime, not to be extended because of homework procrastination.  When I help them this is in the form of assisting them to organize the work, break it into manageable chunks, showing them simple ways to understand the content, and asking them if they feel this will meet the expectations of the classroom.

I expect teachers to hold my children accountable for completing their assignments.  If this means no recess, extra homework, a failing grade, a trip to the principal’s office, so be it.  I trust the school system and the measures they have in place to educate my children – if I didn’t, I would pursue other options.  Learning, like working, involves responsibility, commitment, accountability, organization, planning and time-management.  Kindergarten and beyond is the perfect place to accumulate these skills, as I feel the true value of school is not in the content, but in learning how to learn, be around others, and manage the expectations of someone in charge.

In Kindergarten my girls had to participate in a car rally.  The task was simple – make a car, and parade around the school in a foot race, holding the car around your waist.  One kid arrived with a car made of wood.  It had working lights, mirrors, and tires that rotated on a functional axle.  He couldn’t even lift it.  I wonder if his parent failed the assignment?

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What to Look for in a Backpack

Backpacks are a staple for every student. They travel back and forth between home and school, lugging books and school supplies. They are put through the unavoidable daily abuse of being thrown on the ground, trampled on, stuffed into a cubby or locker, saving a spot in line, and become over-stretched and over-used with the necessities of school. They are a necessary part of your child’s education, yet how much thought do you really put into the backpack your child wears aside from maybe price or color?  Have you considered the health implications of an improperly worn, fitted, or poorly supportive backpack?

Learn what to look for in a backpack to ensure optimal support in the following infographic:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on how to select a backpack, proper fit and use watch our OT-V episode, Backpack Safety Guidelines.

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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No You May NOT Wait in the Car

Have your children ever asked you if they could just wait in the car while you run into the bank, grocery store or post office?  Though it may seem like a short trip where kids would be safe, they may not be.

In keeping with our posts about summer health and safety, I thought I would touch on another very tragic, but preventable, circumstance surrounding cars and children.  It was the first very hot and humid day a few summers ago when I heard of the death of a two-year-old after his grandmother left him in the car.  She just forgot he was there and went about her day.  While it might seem inconceivable that this could happen to any caring and well-intentioned adult, I read an article recently that helped me to understand how possible this is.

Several years ago a mother in Calgary was returning to her job as a University Professor after a one-year maternity leave following the birth of her second child.  She was a well-educated and diligent mother that did everything she could to protect the safety of her children during pregnancy, at home, and in the community. With her return to work the family had to adopt a new routine.  She dropped her older child at day care and proceeded to take her daughter (11 months) to her new child care provider.  The mother and daughter were singing and laughing in the car when the child fell asleep.  The mother then spent the next several minutes putting together a very detailed mental plan of how she was going to get her child out of the car seat and into the day care without waking her.  Once she visualized that process, and understood how it would all work, her mind rapidly switched to thoughts about her first week back at work and all the things she needed to accomplish.  She arrived at work, went about her day, and realized when she came to her car to go home that her daughter was still in the car seat.

Her purpose of engaging in the interview and having the article published was to help people understand how this could happen and how it can be prevented.  For her, she believes that the process of “visualizing” the drop off of her daughter made her mind believe that it actually happened.  When her mind switched to thinking about work, it was convinced that her other responsibilities had been completed.  This is the power of visualization, and of a distracted mind.

But I feel the most important aspect of the article were the strategies for prevention.  The mother went on to have other children and talked openly about the steps she now takes to ensure she does not relive this tragedy.  She explained that she always makes sure she puts something in the back seat with her children.  Her purse, work bag, lunch. This requires her to enter the back seat of her car when getting out.  Or, the opposite could also work – put a diaper bag, toy or child backpack in the front seat to cue you to their presence.  This mother also said she has asked her child care providers to call her directly if her children are not dropped off on time, as expected.  Lastly, when putting her children in their car seat she puts on a bracelet that is kept in the seat.  She takes it off when getting them out. This serves as a visual cue, but has also become part of her new car seat routine that will reinforce a new behavior (put the bracelet back in the car seat when leaving the vehicle, making her access the seat).

According to WebMD “there is no safe amount of time to leave a child (or pet) in a car”.  The temperature inside a car can rise or fall exponentially faster than the temperature outside, as your car functions as a greenhouse.  Just get in your car on a hot day and try to breathe.  Preventing child death from being left in a car is possible, and parents need to be wary of new routines, changes in schedules, and the cognitive process of remembering multiple things.  And most of all, don’t be naïve enough to believe the self-fulfilling “this could never happen to me” phenomenon.  Any oversight, regardless of how significant, can happen to us all.

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Swimming Safety: Rules for Pools

In celebration of summer, I wanted to re-share this infographic on pool safety. These helpful tips and tools are good things to review and consider, ensuring you, your friends and loved ones are safe and enjoy some fun in the sun this summer!  Remember, when it comes to children, nothing is safer than diligent and attentive supervision.

 

Previously posted July 2017

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Summer Reading Challenge

It can be difficult to keep children’s minds stimulated during the summer months and often many children suffer summer brain drain.  One of the best ways to put a plug on this drain is to encourage regular reading.  Encourage your child to set a SMART Goal for how many books they plan to read this summer and keep track using our free printable summer reading log.  Be sure to build in rewards when your child is on track and when they meet their goal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.