Posts found under: Speech and Language Archives - CDI Kids

Developmental Screeners. Have you had your child’s development checked?

294711029_ade8697076_bPediatricians follow a schedule of recommended visits for children from 0-18 years of age. at each visit, the doctor pays attention to the child’s development, growth and general health. But when it comes to developmental milestones and sensory integration a lot can be missed in such a short visit. In a perfect world, every child
would be evaluated not only by the pediatrician, but also by a team of pediatric therapists specialized in child development and sensory integration.

Imagine a child who does not crawl by the age of one. His parents may describe him as a calm child who likes to visually study the world around him rather than physically explore it. What about the toddler who bumps into things, or stumbles often? His parents joke that their little tyke is so clumsy, but his lack of coordination might be due to a poor body awareness, or difficulties in the sensory system, especially visual, vestibular (balance and spatial sense) or proprioceptive (registers force and where body is in space). How about the child who screams when he touches a viscous substance, such as liquid soap? Most parents, and doctors, would assume that this is just their preference or temperament, but an occupational therapist might see these behaviors as a red flag for sensory integration difficulties and/or developmental delays. When paired with developmental delays, sensory integration difficulties can amplify a child’s inability to meet his milestones.

Our current system does not provide an easy and systematic way to screen all children at regular intervals. Parents might not realize that their child is struggling until years later when problem arise usually in school. Perhaps the child will struggle with social relationships on the playground, will be labeled as inattentive by a teacher, or will struggle academically. Children, especially the ones who show more subtle processing issues and developmental delays, too often can fall through the cracks.  These delays can increase over time, making them even more challenging to overcome. Early intervention is essential to help support both children and caregivers. Screenings are essential to identify families and children who need support.

CDI offers screenings, assessments and evaluations for young children in the community. We believe that every child should have the opportunities to thrive. If difficulties are caught early, therapists can help families and children overcome or improve them.  Developmental screening are not meant to diagnose, but they do provide an overview of a child’s strengths and possible struggles. It’s a helpful way to bring awareness to issues that could possibly one day affect the child’s ability to thrive in a school, community or social environment. Assessments are in-depth and specific to a particular domain, such as speech and language, physical development, sensory processing, social-emotional (behavioral), and feeding. Evaluations are also very thorough, and assess a child’s overall performance and development. Therapists, through specialized observation and testing, can identify a disability or developmental delay. They look at the child’s language skills (both receptive and expressive), cognitive abilities, physical development, social-emotional development, self-help, and behavior.
CDI routinely offers free developmental screening at our Early Learning Center. We are also available for more in-depth assessment and evaluations in all domains. Our services are designed to help children meet their full potential. Please contact us for more information.


Back To School Tips for a Great School Year

By the end of the summer, parents either look forward to or dread their children going back to school. The change of pace brings new challenges for families, especially if their children have sensory issues. With a little preparation, however, you can make this the best school year ever for you and your children.

Keep Things StructuredAll children, whether they have developmental challenges or not, feel safer around a firm structure. There is an innate feeling of safety around predictability, understanding the rules and knowing what comes next. Speak to your children about their daily routines. Explain things in terms of: first this, then that. Keep it simple, but predictable: First, we will go home and eat a snack, then we will do homework. When were all done with homework, you can play in your room.

Make Your Kids Part of the Decision ProcessWe all need to feel a sense of control, and children are no different. A great way to give them a sense of control and to help them develop critical thinking skills, is to involve them in the planning process for a smooth school year. Ask questions like: how can we make breakfast time easier?, how will you deal with homework?, what are someways we can all relax before bedtime? or what activities help you concentrate?If your child cannot answer these questions try guiding her by saying things like: I noticed that when you jump on the trampoline for ten minutes, you seem to concentrate much better afterwards. Do you think we should do that before or after doing your homework?

Allow for Down TimeExperts agree that children these days are too scheduled. Going from one activity to the next stresses a childs nervous system and impedes healthy development. After a day at school, children need time to be inside their own heads, to pretend play, to explore their world, and to be creative on their own terms. Keep after school activities to a minimum and instead encourage your child to play with friends, to play alone, and to enjoy quiet time. One caveat, though, is that screen time should not count as down time. Studies show that the benefits of down time are negated by too much time in front of a TV, computer, or handheld device screens.

Choose When Your Child Does Homework StrategicallyIf you want your child to do her homework without a fuss, youll want to prepare her for it.  Make sure that you provide water and snacks after school. Then allow her to wiggle and move her body before you try to sit her down for homework. After a whole day sitting down at a desk, childrens brains need movement. Activities that allow them to push and pull on their joints are particularly beneficial. Jumping on a trampoline, climbing playground equipment, doing an obstacle course, or rock climbing will do wonders to prepare her for homework time. Only when her needs for movement have been met, should you attempt to sit her down to finish her schoolwork.

Prepare for the Next Day the Night BeforeNothing ever goes as we expect. Prepare lunches, backpacks and clothing the night before. This way, youll increase the odds that youll leave the house on time and get the kids to school before the first bell. Enlist your children in this effort: With some guidance, they can help pack lunches and backpacks, and choose their clothes for the next day.

Have a Firm Bedtime RoutineWe talk a lot about the importance of sleep at CDI. More and more studies are coming out everyday showing how crucial sleep is to our development. Sleep helps solidify our memories, create new connections, integrate newly learned skills, and recalibrate our nervous system. It is needed at all levels of cognitive function, and physical rewiring and healing. Researchers recommend that a bedtime routine start with an early dinner (at least 3 hours prior to bedtime), no screen time (at least two hours prior to bedtime), as well as activities that help wind the body down, such as bath time, reading books, cuddling, gentle massage with lavender oil (if tolerated), or listening to soothing music. Once you find the nighttime  routine that works best for your family, commit to it.

Three Things that Went Wellwhen kids are tired they tend to focus on the negative. At the end of each day, always ask your child to list three things that went well. Of course this does not mean that your child cannot talk with you about things that might be bothering her at school, after all children need to know they can count on their parents for support. Its just a technique used to help reroute our human tendency to get stuck on the negative at the cost of the positive. Make it a family event, where everyone in the family has to share their three things that went well.

With these tips, your family should be off to a great start this new school year! CDI is always here to help you address any concerns you may have about your childs development and wellbeing.


5 Techniques to Reduce Biting in Children

Some children bite themselves or others when frustrated. I’ve seen a lot of this in children on the autism spectrum, but it can happen with any child–including those with sensory issues. Stopping this behavior can be quite a challenge for parents and caregivers. Let’s take a look at why children bite and what can be done about it.

Often the biting behavior is not due to aggression but rather by an imbalance to the sensory system and poor self-regulation. 2314757943_b34f59eaaa_qChewing and biting are sensory activities. They tap into the proprioceptive system that registers pressure in the joints. The resulting information goes to the brain for processing, which has a regulating effect on the nervous system. In other words, the child bites because he finds it soothing. Knowing this gives us clues to what we can do to address the child’s real sensory needs and reduce biting.

5 Techniques to Reduce Biting

1.  Jumping, pushing, lifting. Activities that place strong input on the child’s joint receptors will help lessen the need to chew and bite. Structure the child’s day, to make sure he gets to play on trampolines, does obstacle courses, and explores playground equipment. The more regular these activities become, the more they are likely to alleviate his need to bite himself or others.

2.  Provide plenty of oral experiences. Games and activities that engage the oral muscles will go a long way to reducing biting. Try to have him blow bubbles, start with soap bubbles with a wand. Then move on to blowing bubbles using a big straw in a bowl full of milk or fruit shake. The effort needed to produce bubbles will help provide strong input to his brain.

3.  Let him chew crunchy foods. Food items such as licorice sticks, carrot and celery sticks, pretzel sticks, crusty bread will provide great proprioceptive input. Some parents place a clean wet cotton rag in the freezer (make sure to wash the rag in non-toxic soap) for their child to chew on when he needs the extra input. If using food, always be mindful of the child’s food allergies, sensitivities and aversions. This should be pleasant and fun for the child.

4.  Growling, mad faces, stomping feet and emotional play. Kids love it when adults enter their play or mirror their emotions. You can help your child by acting mad, and stomping your feet when he is frustrated. Tell him: “ I can see you’re frustrated. When I am frustrated I feel like stomping my feet, I growl GRRRR!” Mirror his face, so he gets validated and acquires a vocabulary around his emotion. Come up with more ways to mirror and educate your child about his emotions.

5.  Pay attention to triggers. Changes in a child’s environment or interaction with others can impact a child’s nervous system. Stress reduces a child’s ability to react appropriately to a situation. The child has not yet acquired a toolkit to deal with his frustrations, new situation or sensory over-stimulation. Things like perfumes, lighting, crowds, or even lack of stimulation, can provoke the unwanted behavior in a child with sensory challenges. Parents and caregivers can look for patterns in their child’s environment to figure out what is triggering a melt-down or his biting. Often, an aggravating factor emerges. Figuring it out allows you to get to the root of the problem and fix it.

A child who bites is sending a message about his boundaries, his nervous system and his needs. By looking at biting as a form of communication, we can address the underlying issues that make a child bite himself or others. Occupational therapists have many tricks in their toolkits, sensory and otherwise, to help reduce biting behaviors.


Ten Activities to Promote Your Child’s Speech and Hearing Skills

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. MayCDI’s speech therapists work with children and their families to improve communication, reduce auditory delays, and tackle oral-motor and feeding challenges. Parents often wonder what they can do at home to improve their child’s communication skills.

Here are ten activities to promote your childs speech and hearing skills:

Treasure hunt with words or pictures. You can do this around the house of garden. Keep it simple. Give your child some hints. When he finds a card, have him say the item written or drawn on the card while looking at you. Continue until all the cards have been found. This helps develop eye contact, communication, pronunciation and symbol or word recognition.

Involve your child in activities of everyday life. Any interaction between parent and child is an opportunity to improve communication. Housekeeping, cooking, grocery shopping are all activities that a child can actively participate in. Talk through your process, and ask your child questions about what he sees or does.

Public places I-Spy game. Parks, malls and beaches are all great venues for people-watching. Point out people, objects and actions you notice. Have your child take turns with you, and turn it into an “I-Spy” game. This activity will promote social observations, descriptive vocabulary and turn-taking.

Tell Me What to Do. This game is fun for kids. Pick an activity your child knows how to do. Tell your child that you need to do the activity but you don’t remember how. He has to tell you exactly what to do. The activity can be a game you play, or an object you have to seek and fetch. Get him to give you detailed instructions.

Whats that sound.  This is a great listening game. Take turn making an animal sound and the other person has to guess what animal the sound belongs to. You can also cut out images from magazines of things and animals that make sounds and glue them onto little cards. These can be used as prompts for the game.

Finish the story. Come up with a simple story, and take turns adding to it with your child. For example, you might open with “Once upon a time there was a prince.” The child would then add something about the prince. You might follow with something about the setting. Your child could then say something about the plot, and so on…

Talk, Talk, Talk. When it comes to babies, experts agree that parents should spend time face to face with their child, talking and sharing the world in a descriptive and engaging manner. Babies love to have their sounds echoed back at them. It’s also important to speak about emotions. Children need to see their emotions reflected back to them, and they need to hear the words that explain how they feel. This simple technique can help them develop an emotional vocabulary and regulation.

Swing and talk. If your child tolerates swinging, consider working on speech skills while he swings. You can sing the alphabet song. Face him so that there’s eye contact, every time he comes towards you say one letter, or take turns with him saying one letter at a time. You can do the same thing with songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” counting from 0-10, or touching a part of your body that your child then has to name.

Flashlight game. This is another favorite! Tape pictures or words (if your child reads) on a wall. Make the room dark. Take turn with your child holding a flashlight and lighting up a picture or word. Have your child say the word he sees.

Bubbles. Children of all ages love bubbles! Therapists love them because it’s a fun way to work on many essential skills. Bubbles promote eye-contact through anticipation. It can be used to promote speech by making the child request more or telling you where he wants the bubbles. Teaching how to blow bubbles also works on your child’s oral-motor skills.

We hope you’ll have fun with some of these activities. Speech, hearing and feeding delays are best addressed as early as possible. If you suspect your child has some speech, hearing or feeding challenges, please contact CDI for more information.


5 Qualities of a Strong Parent-Child Relationship

Relationship building takes time and effort. Parents must work hard at developing a strong and dynamic relationship with each of their children. Our children grow and change with each new stage of development, which challenges us to adapt to new rules and circumstances. Strong parent-child relationships, however, familyhave certain qualities that remain constant. They are built on safety, unconditional love, mutual respect, acceptance and flexibility.


Safety is at the core of bonding and self-regulation. It starts when a newborn infant’s needs are met by his parents. He learns then that his parents are consistently there for him, providing food, warmth, comfort, love and stimulation. Through these interactions, a trust is built that will last a lifetime. It forms the solid ground of the parent-child relationship and the child’s emotional wellbeing.

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is a direct result of the trust that was built. Children need to know that that love will not falter through their ups and downs, and that their parents will always be there to support them emotionally no matter what. They need to feel that failures do not dictate whether they are worthy of the love they receive from their parents. Parents can nurture this quality by being emotionally available for their children, trusting them to explore their world, and allowing them to learn from mistakes.

Mutual Respect

Parents often feel that their children should respect them. The respect needs to be reciprocal. Children need to know that their opinion, feelings, and rights matter. Respect starts with good communication. When you truly listen to your child’s needs and let him know that he is being heard, you are showing respect to your child. When you acknowledge his individuality, even when it differs from yours, you are letting him know that you respect who he is. When you set clear expectations and provide explanations and guidance when they are not met, you are reinforcing the mutual respect between you and your child. When you expect him to treat you with kindness, and you show him the same consideration, you are fostering a relationship based on mutual respect.


Acceptance is an open-ended concept. It means embracing your child’s individuality, meeting him where he is at, and cherishing his unique qualities. It also means accepting his limitations and flaws while gently helping him through hurdles.


Flexibility means accepting that your child tomorrow might be different from who he is today. Only the child he is in that moment can guide your approach and your parenting. It also means parenting mindfully with an understanding that nothing in raising kids is ever set in stone. Techniques that work for someone else’s child might not work for our own children. Parents always have to adjust their parenting with the evolution of their child. When something does not work we keep looking for possible solutions. We should stay open to new approaches and possibilities.

The parent-child relationship is a complex one. A solid foundation can help make it stronger with each stage of child development. CDI’s therapy team is well versed in parenting techniques and creative approaches. We can help you find parenting solutions uniquely tailored to your child and your family’s needs.


The Power of Attunement

Attunement is our ability to be aware of and respond to our child’s needs. It is deeply connected to emotional attachment. Some children may have a very different temperament than that of a parent, or may not communicate affection in the same way, which can interfere with the quality of their emotional relationship. Parents can use a variety of techniques to increase their level of attunement.

Attunement starts with meeting an infant’s basic needs for warmth, food, sleep, safety and love. The gentle touch and voice used by a caregiver builds a child’s sense of security. A parent can pay attention to how their child feels by NOPH-00023303-001looking at how their little one responds to stimuli (e.g. likes to be touched firmly rather than softly, likes soft lights instead of bright lights, or doesn’t tolerate crowds). They can also look for and respect their child’s natural rhythms (e.g. needs to eat every 2 hours, needs naps every three hours, or needs a set bedtime schedule). Kids will thrive on structure and routine. Food is another area that can affect a child’s wellbeing. It’s helpful to pay attention to how food (especially new foods and additives) affects them—if you suspect a food allergy or sensitivity, speak to your pediatrician. Food allergies can cause a child to be fussy, overly tired, or hyper.

Children need your help to understand their own emotions. Mirroring and emotional labeling are techniques used to help children make sense of their feelings. They often respond to non-verbal communication first. If a child hurts himself and you respond with a big smile when he looks to you for comfort, you are unwittingly confusing his emotional lexicon. It is best if your face reflects the emotion they feel inside, followed by a label, such as: “Ouch! That hurts!”, and then reassure him. Children especially need help with strong emotions such as frustration and anger. A phrase like, “You’re mad! It’s hard to share your toys,” along with a facial expression reflecting his emotion, will go a long way to reassure him that emotions are part of normal life and therefore don’t have to feel unsafe. As they get older, you can help them to communicate more complex feelings.

Stories and narratives are key to emotional intelligence and communication. They help kids build empathy, and understand choices and consequences. Your children learn from hearing how others experienced a situation. The more you read and share your own stories with your child, the more they will understand themselves and others. Stories and narrative also help them learn to communicate how they feel.

Make discipline about their actions, not them. Kids need fair rules and consistent consequences. Tell them exactly what they did wrong, and why it was not acceptable. The consequence should be tied to their actions, not failure to meet your expectations. You should also sound firm, but not angry. The minute a child hears the anger in his caregiver’s voice, he is too busy dealing with his fear response to hear the lesson at hand.

Our society is very focused on goals and milestones, but it is the small stepping stones in between that make the experience memorable. Your child may have her limits but she tries hard every day. Take a moment to honor that, and praise her effort instead of the result. This helps create the foundation for respect, self-worth and resilience. It also helps you accept your child for what she is capable of doing in that moment.

And finally, attunement is built through respect: physical, emotional and spatial. We have covered parenting techniques to improve attunement to your child’s emotional and physical needs above, but what does respecting their spatial needs mean? It means letting go of your worries, letting your children have their space, and allowing them free-unstructured playtime and quiet time. We all need space in order to grow. Kids learn from their mistakes, and being allowed to figure things out for themselves. They feel safer when their parents trust them to explore, experience and grow.

We hope this article helps increase your understanding of your child’s individuality. CDI’s therapy team is great resource for parents who want to learn more about attunement, emotional attachment, mirroring, emotional labeling and parenting.


Self Regulation: Important Predictor of Success

What do you think of when you hear the term self-regulation? Parents usually envision a well behaved child: calm and obedient. For a therapist, self-regulation sits at the intersection53
of a child’s neurological and biological function, emotional regulation, and cognitive and social abilities. These abilities allow a child to function appropriately socially, emotionally and intellectually in a variety of environments. CDI’s approach to therapy is centered around helping children develop the underlying skills necessary for self-regulation.
Self-regulation is the first set of skills children need to master. It starts with the infant’s ability to process all of his/her senses, modulate sensations and self-soothe. When the nervous system is calibrated, we are able to adapt to changing situations, connect with others, communicate clearly, and focus our attention on the task at hand. We are less likely to show frustration, poor impulse control and inappropriate social behaviors. Children who master this crucial set of skills also show more organized thinking, focused attention, and better executive function. They are able to perform academic tasks that children with self-regulation challenges cannot.
Kids who struggle with self-regulation also experience poor emotional processing. These children don’t understand their own emotions, and are therefore unable to label them. This hampers their ability to communicate their feelings, thereby increasing their frustration and anxiety. They also lack the internal awareness needed to focus their attention and control their impulses. Transitions from one activity to the next are especially challenging for them, provoking fear and tantrum-like reactions. They also tend to be very sensitive to stimuli.
Children with sensory processing challenges often show self-regulation issues. Their inability to process their sensory world efficiently can make them appear hyper-reactive, unfocused or tuned out. It’s easy to interpret these states as poor behavior. Self-control, however, cannot happen without self-regulation. CDI’s therapists have many strategies to individualize treatments that will not only help with self-regulation but also improve emotional outcomes. Our sensory integration and relationship based approaches are especially well suited to help children facing these developmental challenges. Our treatments are designed to help improve sensory processing, develop bonding, emotional resilience and communication, as well as focused attention and organized thinking. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate in therapy to improve their child’s regulation at home, at school and in the community. Our therapists evaluate the whole child, including his/her ability to self-regulate. The therapeutic treatments we provide are individualized, and support the child and his/her parents and caregivers. Contact CDI for more information on self-regulation, or to schedule an evaluation for your child.

Vision Deficits and ADD/ADHD in Children

Vision deficits can mimic and/or contribute to behaviors observed in children with ADD and ADHD. The classic symptoms of attention disorders are hyperactivity, an inability to focus, poor impulse control, task avoidance and disruptive behaviors. In order to diagnose these conditions, the medical practitioner looks at a series of subjective markers. Medicines are given to treat the symptoms, but they do not cure the cause.

Data shows that about 4-12% of school aged children have ADHD. In addition, 20% of students in schools have visual problems that contribute to disruptive behaviors. It is estimated that 25% of students have visual problems that affect their ability to learn. These kids may not all demonstrate poor behavior, but they may struggle with task completion and poor attention.

What Is It Like to Have Visual Deficits When You Are a Student?

    • You find close up tasks confusing.
    • You can’t pay attention to details.
    • You are challenged by organizational tasks.
    • Words on a page appear blurry.
    • The lines on the paper seem to move or jump up.
    • You try to read, but you lose your place on the page.
    • You see everything blurry. It has always been that way, so you don’t know any better.
    • Although you get enough sleep, you’re often tired at school or when you do homework.
    • You feel dizzy, or nauseous, because words, lines, shapes move around too much.
    • You cannot read properly. When you try, it taxes your system so much you cannot sustain it.
    • It takes you longer than your classmates to realize what color is in front of you.
    • It’s easier to look out the window than at the blackboard.
    • School is boring, because you can’t do the work anyway. So you wiggle, get up, and try to get your classmates’ attention.
    • Your teacher finds your behaviour disruptive, or complains that you daydream excessively.
    • You feel different, not as smart as the other kids.
    • It’s so hard to concentrate.
    • You get frequent headaches, and eye strain.
    • Doing your homework takes you a long time.
    • You are unaware that you avoid work as a coping strategy.

The basic vision test commonly used in a doctor’s office or in school does not screen for the type of visual challenges that can contribute to a child’s poor behavior and learning difficulties. Children can test 20/20 on a vision test and still have problems with eye focusing, eye movement, eye teaming (convergence), as well as color and  visual discrimination.

Some of our young clients have convergence issues. As a matter of fact, children on the spectrum, or with sensory processing challenges, often have motor coordination difficulties which may also affect the way their eyes work together.

CDI’s occupational therapists look at a child’s performance while he does a variety of tasks. We look for signs of problems such as poor eye-hand coordination, misalignment of both eyes, poor depth perception, clumsiness and more. If we suspect a problem we will recommend a full evaluation by a developmental ophthalmologist. However, children who were born with visual issues often have developed coping strategies that make it hard for others to identify these challenges. Since behaviors can be an indicator,  any child with developmental challenges should also be evaluated for underlying visual difficulties. Experts recommend that all children with developmental delays be seen by a pediatric ophthalmologist,  especially before being diagnosed and medicated for ADD or ADHD.

Many visual deficits are easier to treat when caught early. Please speak with your doctor and your CDI therapy team for more information about the visual challenges associated with ADD/ADHD behaviors.


Why Dads Should be Involved in Their Child’s Therapy

Family dynamics can make a parent feel invisible. All families are complex and rich with unique patterns that get created early on. A dominant parent can emerge because of personality differences and family habits. Both parents, however, have an important role to play in their child’s development. Research shows that children benefit greatly when their dads participate in their lives.


Not so long ago, fathers were often kept out of the parenting loop. The growth of two-income families in our society has recently changed the rules. Biology, however, does not care about societal constraints. Just like mothers do, men undergo hormonal changes when they are about to have a baby, and in the year following the birth of their child. Their testosterone (male hormone associated with virility and aggression) goes down, while their oxytocin (so-called love hormone) goes up. These hormonal shifts make both men and women more nurturing, but there are some differences. Males make oxytocin when they physically play with their child, while females produce more of the hormone when they hug and cuddle with their offspring.

There are many reason why fathers should be involved in their child’s therapy. Studies have shown that fathers not only tend to play more physically with their children, but they approach play differently than mothers do. Rough and tumble activities can help a child who has poor body awareness or needs more tactile and proprioceptive (receptors in your joints that register pressure) input. The increased sensory activity can improve a child’s alertness and interaction. When compared to mothers, studies show that fathers are more likely to use a toy differently than for its intended purpose. The dad’s approach, in this case, is helpful to a child who needs to expand his play repertoire.

In addition, dads have the power to influence their child’s behavior and outcome. Studies show that children who had an
involved father early on in their lives, were less likely to show behavioral problems later on. As a matter of fact, a dad’s involvement is a strong predictor of a child’s positive outcome for emotional regulation, cognition and communication. When a dad wants to spend time with his child, culturural constraints can often act as a gatekeeper. This means that a father’s participation should be encouraged through community education and early intervention services—the earlier the better. Researchers point out that with the proper professional support, fathers of children with disabilities achieve a higher level of well-being and adaptation. In addition, fathers who are supported by their partner participate more in their child’s life.


A father also has the power to alleviate stress on the whole family. Studies show that fathers process stress differently than mother’s do. They can therefore provide a calming effect on the whole family. Their active participation can bring much needed relief to their partner and their child.

Raising a child with or without developmental challenges, is a partnership.  Fathers are an important part of the solution and should be encouraged to interact with their child.  Please join us in our efforts to include fathers in their child’s therapy time and early intervention services. Talk to your CDI therapist for ideas on how to get Dad more involved.


5 Reasons Why Your Toys Are Better Than Ours

One of the questions we get asked regularly is: How come you dont always bring toys with you when you come for an in-home session? Although there are times when it is appropriate for a clinician to bring some tools/toys from our clinic into your home, there are at least 5 good reasons why your toys and resources are often better than ours.

1.  We can show you how to use the resources in your home differentlywooden-car-boy The first session is about getting to know your child, your family, and your resources (e.g. toys available, outdoor equipment, craft supplies, and more). An early interventionist might ask you to show him/her what you have available for your child. To a therapist, the toys and other resources in your home, including other family members, are so much more than meets the eye. They look at each item, or person, as a means to work with your child on skills such as communication, sensory integration, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, trunk control, coordination, focus, regulation. Using your toys and resources allows us to teach you how to look at your environment in a therapeutic way. This is the best approach to help your child. It makes your toolkit more powerful long after our session is over.

2.  Collaboration is the key ingredient
Our approach is collaborative, we therefore want parents to join us and learn how to best help their child to overcome his/her deficits. We realize that, once the session is over, the therapist leaves with the toys he/she brought. If you don’t have the same toys as your clinician, it might be challenging for you to continue an activity that worked well for your child during the session. The goal is for you to be able to continue working with your child after the therapist has left your home. If we use your toys instead of ours, you will be able to repeat the activity on your own and your little one will get the help he/she needs every day.

3.  Its not the amount of toys that makes therapy more effectivebaby-playing-blocks
Some of our most successful sessions have been with no toys at all. There are many ways to tap into a child’s motivation center and maximize therapy. Toys can sometimes distract from the actual goal. A child might benefit more from a wheel barrel race or an improvised obstacle course made from the pillows on your couch. We can use your environment in many ways to help your child. For example, pots and wooden spoons can be turned into a drum set, helping a child work on gross motor skills and coordination. Cotton balls and straws can become an improvised snowball race, giving your child a chance to work on gross motor skills and oral motor skills.

4.  Your home has what you need to help your child
No matter how little or how much you have, your home has exactly what you need to help your child. It has you and other loving family members, and it has the toys or resources you have selected especially for your child. This means that whatever is in your home has more meaning for your little one than anything our clinicians can bring into the session. Your daily routine is rich in opportunities that can be tapped into to help your child communicate, socialize and meet his/her developmental milestones. Our staff is trained to utilize the tools in your natural environment to help you and your child.

5.  The goal of therapy is generalization into your childs daily routine
Generalization, the real goal of early intervention, is the ability to take a skill learned in one environment and apply it to other situations or contexts. The toy bag comes from our clinic, therefore, it distracts from the powerful tools available to your child at all times. If we use our toys, you and your child might have fun with it during the session, but it might not lead to generalization of the skills learned. We don’t want the therapeutic outcomes to be conditional on our toys. Instead, your child’s unique environment, along with his/her family and caregivers, can help him/her reach the very best developmental results. Generalization is facilitated in a child’s natural environment, using tools, toys and resources available to him/her every day.

CDI is always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding Early Intervention and the many therapeutic services we offer (e.g. Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Child and Family Mental Health, Developmental Support, and Therapeutic Groups). Our mission is to help all children reach their full potential by supporting the relationships and environments that shape early development. We see clients in our clinic, the community and in their homes. We look forward to helping your child reach his/her developmental milestones.

  • Child Development Institute

  • Early Learning Center

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