weekly header

April 1, 2011
Issue 9, Volume 5
It's All About the Choices!     

Happy April!   Hope you are well and enjoying spring.   Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day and the kickoff to Autism Awareness Month.   We will do our best to bring you all the great stories that come across our radar this time of year.   Let us know if you see something that we should feature here in these pages!  

Don't forget to come see us at AOTA April 14-17th and have your copy of 'Growing an In-Sync Child' signed by the authors.   Chynna Laird recently interviewed both Carol and Joye, and we have a link to a transcript of that interview below. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy our issue for you! 
News Items: 
  • PG-13 Version of 'The King's Speech' Opens Today (April 1st) 
  • Feel Good Story of the Week:  Idaho Teen Builds Machine to Help Children with Autism 
  • 'Dangerous Wandering' a Lesser Known Side of Autism  
  • Children With Tourette Syndrome Have Better Motor Control, Study Finds  
  • Twin Baby Boys Having a Conversation - the Viral Sensation!  
  • Could a Virus Possibly Cause Autism? 
Therapy Activities, Tips and Resources
  • Feed the Bunny 
  • Sounds Right - Mindfulness/Attention/Listening Game Perfect for the Easter Season  
  • 56 Phonics / Phonemic Awareness Activities 

Upcoming Events

  • Come Meet Carol Kranowitz & Joye Newman at AOTA. 
    Learn More and Read an Interview with the Authors 

Articles and Blogs 

  • Guest Blog: Playing Footsie with Little Tootsies 
  • Guest Blog: Behavioral Plans for Children with Autism
  • Guest Video:  A Physical Therapist's Perspective on Standing 
  • Pediatric Therapy Corner:  Understanding Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy  
  • Worth Repeating: Summer Camp & Spectrum Kids: Let's Create Fun                                                                                               
Feel free to contact us with any questions about our openings or items in these pages. Have you discovered our RSS feed? Click on the orange button below to subscribe to all our openings and have them delivered to your Feed Reader!  Don't have an RSS Feed Reader set up? Sign up at
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Have a great weekend and Take Care!

Heidi Kay and the PediaStaff Team

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Stuttering in the News:  Family Friendly (PG-13) Version of 'The King's Speech' Opens Friday

[Source: ComingSoon.net]


The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that THE KING'S SPEECH PG-13, the family-friendly version of its Academy Award-winning historical drama about King George VI, will open on 1,000 screens nationwide on April 1, and will be the only version available in theatres. One of the year's most celebrated, successful and beloved films, THE KING'S SPEECH was honored at the 83rd Academy Awards� with Oscars� for Best Picture, to producers Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin; Best Director, to helmer Tom Hooper; Best Actor, to star Colin Firth; and Best Original Screenplay, to screenwriter David Seidler. The announcement was made by TWC's President of Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment Eric Lomis.


Read the Rest of this Press Release and an Article on the Hollywood Reporter Through a Link on our Blog

Feel Good Story of the Week:  Idaho Teen Builds Machine to Help Children with Autism 
Editor's Note: We have changed the title of this article to reflect our preference for 'person-first' language

[Source: Idaho State Journal]

SODA SPRINGS - Nathan Bollar is 18 years old, a senior at Soda Springs High School, and anticipates receiving his Eagle Scout status soon as a result of a very unusual project: he built a hug machine.

Bollar works as a developmental therapist, working with autistic children at Grace Educational Opportunities, a Developmental Disabilities Agency in Soda Springs. His interest in helping autistic children and his need to fulfill an Eagle Scout project came together, and the result was a machine that produces a calming effect on those suffering from sensory disorders, which is typical in autism.

"I asked my boss what I could do to help the agency, and she suggested I build the machine," he said.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog

Autism in the News: 'Dangerous Wandering' a Lesser Known Side of Autism   
[Source: US News and World Report/HealthDay]

Many parents know that heart-stopping feeling of being at the park or the mall, and suddenly losing track of their child. For the parents of autistic children, those concerns can be even more intense.

Though wandering is often associated with Alzheimer's, autism experts say a tendency to wander is an under-recognized, and harrowing, facet of the neurodevelopmental disorder.

Autistic children who've wandered off may not realize they're lost, so it never occurs to them to ask for help finding their way home, said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for Autism Speaks. Some may realize they're lost but won't -- or can't -- ask for help because of the speech and social difficulties that come with disorder. Others may even hide or run if approached by a police officer or someone else trying to help.

And while typical toddlers tend to grow out of wandering and learn that it's important to tell mom or dad where they're going, autistic children's wandering may persist into adulthood.


Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Tourette's Syndrome in the News:  Children With Tourette Syndrome Have Better Motor Control, Study Finds
[Source: US News and World Report/HealthDay]

Children with Tourette syndrome perform behavioral tests of cognitive motor control more quickly and accurately than those without the disorder, a new study found.
Click here to find out more!

Tourette syndrome is characterized by repeated involuntary sounds and physical movements called tics, which may involve blinking, grimacing, shrugging, twisting, grunting or -- in rare adult cases -- blurting out swear words.

The enhanced cognitive motor control in people with Tourette syndrome arises from structural and functional changes in the brain that likely result from the need to constantly suppress tics, according to the authors of the study, which was published online March 24 in the journal Current Biology.

Read the Rest of this Article Through a Link on our Blog
Video of the Week:  Twin Baby Boys Having a Conversation - the Viral Sensation
Here's a video that has gone viral all over the internet, and most people won't even fully appreciate what it says about twins and language development.   Enjoy!!

Watch this Video on our Blog.  What a Delight!
Autism Research in the News: Could a Virus Possibly Cause Autism?
[Source: The Simmons Foundation Autism Research Initiative]

For some individuals, autism begins at conception, when an infected sperm cell transmits a virus to the egg: that is the provocative new hypothesis of a group in Italy based on data from brain tissue and semen.

Last year, Antonio Persico and colleagues reported that traces of polyomaviruses - a family of common viruses that can cause tumors - are more likely to crop up in postmortem brain tissue of individuals with autism than in that of healthy controls. In unpublished work, the researchers have also found that seminal fluid from fathers of children with autism is more likely to carry polyomavirus than is fluid from fathers of healthy children.

How a sperm might transmit a virus, and how the virus would then cause autism is unclear, which makes some experts deeply skeptical.

Read the Rest of this Story Through a Link on our Blog
Therapy Activity of the Week: 'Feed the Bunny' 

Here is a great idea from our friend Barbara Smith, the "Recycling Occupational Therapist"  


Here is one of my favorite activities and I guess its the season to share it. I made the bunny out of an oatmeal container and taped some fur to it.I cut the head out of a detergent bottle, punched two holes for the nose and attached the head to the lid with a pipe cleaner. I cut out lots of fruits and vegetables I printed from the internet and covered them with clear contact paper. 


See the Rest of this Activity on our Blog 
Therapy Activity of the Week: Sounds Right - Mindfulness / Attention / Listening Game Perfect for the Easter/Spring Season
Thanks to Donna Freeman at Yoga In My School.com for this terrific video that presents a mindful listening game which promotes conscious awareness of sounds, improves listening skills and is ideal for the Easter season.

Using a variety of commonly found items inside plastic Easter eggs students play with sound, finding the matching egg which 'sounds right.'   This game encourages children to listen attentively and effectively in order to discern subtle variations in sounds.

Watch a Video Demonstration of this Activity on our Blog
Therapist Resource of the Week: 56 Phonics and Phonemic Awareness Activities

Here is another great resource from Judith Kuster's "Internet Gold" workshop!

TampaReads.com has a nice set of 56 Phonics and Phonemic Awareness Activities on their website. The collection includes worksheets for consonant sound and consonant diagraph memorization as well as phonemic excercises for CVC words, blends, final E rule, 2 letter vowel sounds and R-controlled vowels. The sheets are well distributed with a nice mix of examples of beginning, middle, final and vowel sounds.  


Check out Tampa Reads Phonics and Phonemic Awareness Worksheets Through a Link on our Blog
Upcoming EventAOTA Convention and Conference 
PediaStaff is very excited to announce that Carol Kranowitz, and Joye Newman, will be signing copies of their new book, Growing an In-Sync Child, on Friday, April 15th, from 11:00 - 5:30 at PediaStaff's booth #413 at the AOTA Convention in Philadelphia.

Copies of Growing an In-Sync Child will be available in the exhibition hall for purchase at the Therapro Booth (#600) and the AOTA Marketplace.  Carol will also be happy to sign your copies of her classic book, the Out of Sync Child or her other books as well, so don't forget to pack your copies! 

Read the Official Press Release on This Event 

Buy Your Copy from Amazon.com Now

Sign up for or Learn More about the Conference

Check out an Interview with the Authors by Chynna Laird 

Guest Blogs This Week: PediatricOT, Autism is Not The Boss, EasyStand 
Playing Footsie with Little Tootsies - Loren Shlaes, OTR/L

Very often, the children I treat in my sensory integration practice have balance and equilibrium problems. They have an uneasy relationship with gravity and can't hold themselves up effortlessly against it. They fall easily, and they fall flat and hard. This is painful and scary, and makes them cry. This has the effect of making them seem overly emotional to the untrained observer.

In the clinic, I often observe that they can't use their feet very well. If I ask them to frog crawl, for example, instead of pushing their toes strongly into the floor in order to use their legs to propel their bodies forward, they will pull themselves along with their arms while their legs flail behind. They'll be unable to spread their toes and dig them into the soft mats or into fabric swings to stabilize themselves while they are climbing. When toes are so weak, they are not working effectively to brace the child's body against falling.

Since our feet are our primary contact with the earth, any problems with the way they function and bear our weight is going to have a profound effect on our stability and mobility. Ever had a sore or broken toe? Such a little bone, such a lot of pain, so much difficulty trying to find a comfortable way to hold ourselves as we limp around, so much compromise in our balance as we try to maneuver without using that one small part of a foot.

Read the Rest of this Guest Article on our Blog
Behavioral Plans for Children with Autism - By: L. Mae Wilkinson

Do you remember getting presents or special privileges for making good grades in school? If so, do you remember how proud you were when your hard work paid off? Me, too, which is why I was so excited when Connor's teachers suggested we implement a behavioral incentive plan at school. And, since I am no stranger to incentive plans (considering I've spent most of my career working on points-based rewards programs for airlines, hotel chains. telecommunications firms and credit card companies), I was delighted that I could contribute to the discussion.

But school behavioral plans are quite different than any other incentive program I've ever encountered. Some examples I saw reminded me of what a warden would implement for prison inmates, not what loving parents and nurturing educators would develop for elementary school students. Fortunately, the school staff and I worked together, and we eventually came up with a program that has helped Connor make progress on a key goal of working more independently. Here are a few general rules that I would encourage all parents and educators apply when designing a behavioral plan:

Read the Rest of this Guest Post on our Blog
A Physical Therapist's Perspective on Standing - By: Stephanie Labandz, PT

Editor's Note: Easy Stand, a manufacturer of standers, created this video, but it really is a wonderful, educational and unbiased piece on standing and standers. 

"Small Steps to Standing Tall" is a Physical Therapist's perspective on the steps to take to get children with disabilities standing and the importance of standing early. Stephenie Labandz, a school-based PT, is inspired to see some of her kids with Muscular Dystrophy propel the mobile standers that the EasyStand crew brings to her school! Includes tips on picking a stander, documentation, billing insurance, and alternative funding.

Watch this Informative Video on our Blog
Pediatric Therapy Corner: - Understanding Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy  
By: Natan Gendelman


Cerebral palsy is a catchall term used to describe a wide variety of symptoms originating in the brain. The brain is the information centre of the nervous system, which governs the entire body. Therefore, once it is affected it ultimately impacts a person's daily life functions.

When a child is diagnosed, please keep in mind that it does not set anything for your child's future. The diagnosis involves just a general idea of what symptoms may arise. However, there are many factors which have to be taken into account for each individual. For example, even the most minor cerebral palsy can become severe if treated improperly or not at all. As well, a child's personality has a great impact on his condition. Therefore, one child's cerebral palsy will differ from another. The prognosis for a child with cerebral palsy will also depend on how early the disorder is detected. The younger the child is, the more likely he will be able to create alternative pathways in his brain. In some cases, with appropriate treatment, the child will be able to walk away from his cerebral palsy completely.

Read the Rest of this Article on our Blog

Worth Repeating:  Summer Camp & Spectrum Kids: Let's Create Fun!
[Source: Autism Asperger's Digest]

Excerpted from the article, "Going Off to Camp: Information and Encouragement for Parents" that appears in the March/April 2011 issue of Autism Asperger's Digest magazine. Reprinted with permission.    The magazine is offering a subscription special during April, to celebrate National Autism Awareness Month.

Editor's Note: This article was written for parents of children with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. We reprint it here so that you might share it with the families of your kiddos.

Spring has yet to arrive, so why are we talking about summer camp for kids with ASD? Because you'll need plenty of time to find a camp and then prepare your child for this important experience. But also because camps are already accepting applications and time is running out.

Whether you've made the decision to send your child with autism or Asperger's to summer camp, or you're still unsure - possibly torn between pros, cons, or where to begin - this article will help you through the process. Four camp directors shared their expertise, several parents offered advice from their camp experience, and all that information is combined here to give you tips and information to ensure a successful camp experience.

Read the Rest of This Article on our Blog

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