I spy… fun and easy speech & language practice!

When it comes to activities/home programming to target speech and language skills,
at times, it may be difficult to develop tangible activities. Occupational therapy and
physical therapy can both have more concrete practice activities that are measured in
a given amount of time and trials to target various gross motor, fine motor, or sensory
processing skills.

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And while language may be more difficult to track, it is ALWAYS occurring and there
are many areas that can be targeted (increasing phrase length, speech sound production,
fluent speech, and so on).

A fun and easy way to practice is the classic game of “I spy”. It is great for many reasons:
you use the environment around you, encourage family participation, and can be done
anywhere, anytime. Tip:  books are great to use for “I spy.” Bonuses to playing this game
are that it targets multiple areas of speech and language, and it can be great for both young
and old children. The targeted areas of speech and language include articulation, expanding
utterance length, using adjectives, answering, and asking questions, understanding
categories and other attributes… the list is almost endless!

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Let’s say that your child is in early intervention (birth to three services). The purpose
of “I spy” at this level is naming what you see to give exposure to a vast vocabulary.
It will also encourage children to name what they see. As they begin to use more words,
you can target “see _” to increase phrase length, working up to “I see/spy __”.
This game can also be targeted receptively with having children find the named items,
both in the present environment or on the page of a book. Young children’s early
vocabulary consists of mostly nouns, “I spy” can target placing those identified nouns
into short sentences.

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For preschool age and up, this game can also be used to target speech sounds.
For example, change it to “I find__” to target that /f/ or see if your child can find
items based on their target sounds. Or stick with “spy” in order to target the /sp/ blend.
Any sentence practice that has your child naming items will also work on their speech
fluency and promoting slow, easy speech! The classic game of taking turns (another
important skill) to have others guess what you are “spying” is great language practice
both expressively (having to describe it by its color or other attributes) and receptively
(identifying items by attributes as well). No books and nothing fun going around you?
Try a different version of this game called “I’m thinking of a (category item)”.
This helps with inferencing skills that are important for understanding more complex
language skills. You can also have your child practice
asking yes/no questions to deduce what the item is. When it comes to expressive
skills: sentence length, speech fluency, and question answering are all targeted.

I spy… with my little eye… some great speech-language practice that will be had by all
those who read this. If you want more great ideas on how to help your little one, we
have some great blogs on toys and programming at Milestone!

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Car Seat Safety

There are many considerations when providing the best care for your baby. We think constantly of how we can help our babies learn, grow, and explore. From what toys to play with, or just how to get out of the house some days.  Possibly one of the most important factors in your baby’s life something you use almost every day-their car seat. There has been much discussion lately about what is the best way to keep a baby safe in the car. Milestone Therapy decided to do some research into what is the safest way to position your baby in a car seat. Below you will find answers to some frequently asked questions regarding car seat safety.

Q: How long should baby stay rear facing?

A: As long as possible!

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight and/or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. 

Furthermore, one study found that children under the age of two years old are 75% less likely to sustain serious or fatal injuries when they are in a rear facing seat. This is regardless of direction of crash. 

Also, don’t worry if your baby’s legs are getting a little too long, it is perfectly safe to have them folded at the base of the car seat. It is rare for a baby to sustain injury to the legs in the event of a crash.

This video demonstrates why it is important to keep your baby rear facing as long as possible. Rear facing allows for support to the neck and spine which forward facing does not.

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Q: How Do I know what kind of car seat to buy?

A: There’s an App for that!

But it costs money…so just go to this website for free. You can put in your baby’s age, height, and weight and you will be presented with the different types of car seats that may benefit your child. From there you can compare until you reach your decision.

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Q: How do I know if my seat is installed correctly?

A: Find a certified agency to check the fit and installation.

Usually any local fire station can assist you with ensuring the right fit. You can also go to this website and put in your location to find certified agencies near you.

It’s also a good idea for expecting parents to install car seats and have them checked right before baby’s arrival. It is not uncommon for a car seat to be installed incorrectly after baby’s arrival just because of time restraints and overall excitement of such a big life event!

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Q: Is it safe to have a used car seat?

A: Yes, but only if you absolutely need to, and there are some rules you should follow.  

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should not use a car seat that is more than ten years old. If you do purchase a used car seat, make sure it has a manufacturer’s label on it. 

  • Do not use a car seat that is over 10 years old. 
  • Always buy a seat that has a manufacturer’s label, otherwise you can’t check for recalls and user manuals. 
  • Don’t buy a used car seat with cracks in the frame. It may have been damaged in a crash.
  • Don’t use a car seat with missing parts. 

Q: What if the straps don’t fit after putting on a winter jacket?

A: Put coats and jackets on OVER straps and buckles. Putting jackets on underneath buckles and straps is unsafe because it can cause slippage, and then your child is no longer secure in their seat. Read more here

Now that you’ve got safety covered, let’s look at the fun stuff – toys! Check out one of our latest blogs all about TOYS!

Early Intervention Initial Evaluation: What to expect and how to prepare

A child is typically referred for an Early Intervention (EI) Initial Evaluation to look further into any concerns with overall development a pediatrician, parent or other specialist may have. The initial evaluation is done to determine whether or not the child qualifies for therapies through the EI program and can be a helpful tool in giving some parent suggestions to assist a child in maximizing their overall developmental potential even if they do not qualify for services. The process can seem intimidating but shouldn’t be! This post will attempt to outline the initial evaluation for the parent/caregiver and help demystify the process step-by-step.

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Step 1: Intake Meeting with the Service Coordinator

Each child upon being referred to EI is assigned a Service Coordinator. This person will explain the EI process in detail and assist the family each step of the way through initial evaluation to finding providers if the child qualifies. Any questions the parent has about the process (insurance, eligibility, finding providers, etc) will be answered at the intake meeting.

Step 2: Initial Evaluation/Assessment

At the initial evaluation, specialized therapists will come to the home to assess the child’s development in a number of areas. Each team will consist of a therapist that looks at overall development as well as a number of other therapists based on need that can include:

  • Developmental therapist: looks at overall development as well as cognitive/play skills/social emotional development
  • Physical therapist: looks at gross motor development
  • Occupational therapist: looks at fine motor development and sensory processing
  • Speech therapist: looks at communication and feeding skills
  • Nutritionist: looks at diet intake
  • Social Worker: looks at family dynamics/addresses behaviorial concerns/financial need

During the initial evaluation, the parent/caregiver will have an opportunity to express any concerns they might have as related to their child’s development. The team of therapists will ask questions related to birth/medical history and observe the child at play. They will then conduct play-based evaluations in which they will assess the child’s specific skills during a number of tasks and identify areas of developmental need, if any.

Step 3: Eligibility Meeting/IFSP

After the evaluation of the child is complete, the team of therapists will review all findings with the parents and discuss the child’s performance in each area. If any areas of developmental need are identified and the child is found eligible for therapies, an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is written. The IFSP outlines exactly what therapies would be beneficial for the child and at what frequency they should be provided. Together with the parent/caregiver, goals will be written for the child in each area of need that is included in the IFSP as well. The coordinator will then discuss details of finding a therapist/scheduling with the family.

Tips to Prepare:

While not a requirement, there are things that a parent/caregiver can do proactively to ensure that the evaluation runs smoothly/best addresses their needs:

  • Locate all medical documents/past evaluations from birth on: having these on hand can assist the providers in taking medical history and ensuring that they have the most detailed background in assessing the child
  • Make a list of questions/concerns you may have ahead of time: it can be easy to forget concerns you may have during the evaluation, try to keep a list handy so that you don’t forget them while the therapists are present
  • Make a list of developmental milestones/words your child has achieved: the therapists will want to know when your child has achieved major developmental milestones and what words, if any, they are saying (verbally or signing) in order to get a better overall picture of the child
  • Schedule the initial evaluation at a time best for your child: try to schedule the initial evaluation at a time when your child will be the most available to actively play. This may mean scheduling around naptime and/or around feeding schedule so that the therapists can get a good picture of your child at their best

If you are in need of early intervention and are in Indiana, please click here to find your way to your local CFC for Indiana.

If you are in need of early intervention and are in Illinois, please click here to find your way to your local CFC for Illinois.

If you have been wait-listed for early intervention services, please call us direct at
(219) 513-8311 to reach a specialist at either one of our Illinois or Indiana offices right away. Let’s take advantage of the most important developmental time for your child together
 and see if one of our clinics might have an opening that can help you start sooner than later.