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Triston Kee

Thank you from PTN
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You from PTN!
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You from PTN! 1000 600 Triston Kee

The year is coming to a close, and 2018 certainly seemed to fly by. As we enter the season of family, of connection, and of cozying up around blazing fires, we wanted to take a moment to thank you all for everything that you’ve done this year.

To the children we work with…

Thank you for your spirit. You show us every day what it means to live a life of joy and courage.

Thank you for your bravery. Whenever we ask you to try something new, to attempt something a little scary or a little uncomfortable, we see the bravery in your eyes and are inspired by it.

Thank you for your persistence. Sometimes you may have to work harder and longer than others, but you never let that slow you down. Your dedication and tenacity could move mountains.

To your parents…

Thank you for your trust. We are so grateful for every opportunity that we have to engage with you and your children. Thank you for putting your faith in us. We truly treasure it.

Thank you for your support. Both the support that you show us and your unending support for your children. You make sacrifices of your time, your energy, and your goals for the sake of your children, and that is an incredibly noble thing.

To your siblings…

Thank you for your patience. It’s not always easy having a brother or sister, but the love that you show for your siblings through your actions and words has such a big impact upon their confidence and wellbeing. Thank you for loving your siblings and supporting them through thick and thin.

Thank you for being a role model. Your siblings watch everything you do, and they learn so much from you. Thank you for everything that you teach your siblings just by being you.

To your whole team…

Thank you to the teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends, occupational therapists, speech therapists, doctors, social workers and others who put their time and heart into helping the amazing children in our network thrive. You are each part of a beautiful web of support and caring that cannot be broken.

And finally, we’d like to thank everyone who works at the Pediatric Therapy Network.  Everyone on our team does such an amazing job and truly cares about what we’re accomplishing together.

We hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Gobble gobble!

Trick or Treating with Special Needs Children
Simple Tips for a Fun and Safe Halloween with Your Special Needs Child
Simple Tips for a Fun and Safe Halloween with Your Special Needs Child 1000 1000 Triston Kee

Halloween is a favorite holiday that only seems to be growing in popularity – where we live, it seems like just as many people decorate their homes for Halloween as for Christmas! But when you have a child with special needs, all the jumps and scares of October 31 can be more than a little overwhelming. If you’re worried about how your little one will handle trick-or-treating, or if you’ve had tough Halloweens in years past, here are a few tips that will hopefully make this holiday all “treat” and no “trick.”

Costume Tips

When selecting or making a costume for your child, consider their comfort and safety above all else. A lot of very cute costumes aren’t well made and use rough Velcro, poorly fitted elastic, sharp plastic, and/or cheap fabrics. If you have the time, consider putting together a costume out of clothes or fabrics that you already know your child likes. A scratchy tag or uncomfortable hat can make the anxiety of Halloween that much worse for a child with special needs.

Likewise, try to avoid costumes that use masks and dark colors. The brighter the costume, the safer your child will be while you walk around with them in your neighborhood. Maybe your little one would make a darling bumble bee or a beautiful, bright jack-o-lantern.

Trick-or-Treating Tips

If you decide to trick-or-treat around your neighborhood, there are a few different things that you can do to make the experience more enjoyable. First, go before dark. Crowds will be less intense, scary decorations will seem a lot less scary, and homeowners will be a lot more relaxed and accommodating.

You should also consider going out with at least one other adult and one other child, if possible. that way the other adult and child can approach doors first so that if anyone answers the door in a particularly frightening costume, or if they have a decoration that makes a scary noise, you’ll have a heads up and can skip that house or appropriately prepare your child for the experience.

You might also want to consider practicing the route with your child earlier in the week if you don’t go for walks often. And be aware that they may be perfectly happy going to just four or five houses to get the experience, especially if you have other activities planned at home.

Tips for Trick-or-Treating Alternatives

While the idea of not trick-or-treating may have broken your heart as a child, recognize that your own child may feel differently. He or she might have just as much fun enjoying an alternative Halloween experience.

For example, a lot of local libraries put on afternoon events on Halloween with craft making, carnival games, and story time. A special Halloween activity at the library or your local community center could be the perfect way to celebrate in a controlled, well-lit environment.

You could also consider putting on your own Halloween party with family members, friends from your neighborhood, or parents and kids from your child’s daycare or classroom, if they are old enough. This is obviously the option that takes the most work, but it also lets you control the environment and create an experience tailored to the needs of your child. Check out this blog for great tips on art projects that your child and his or her friends can enjoy together this Halloween.

For more tips specific to the unique needs of your child, feel free to give our office a call. We offer speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy in Chicago for all sorts of wonderful kids. We’d be happy to tell you more about what we do or answer any questions you may have.

Happy Halloween!

Chicago Social Worker
Top 4 Ways in Which Our Social Workers Support Your Child and YOU
Top 4 Ways in Which Our Social Workers Support Your Child and YOU 1197 877 Triston Kee

It takes a village. That’s how the saying goes, and it’s no less true today than it was thousands of years ago. Parenting was never something that we were meant to do alone. Whether you have a partner, friends, siblings, parents, older children, or even paid helpers like day care teachers, nannies, and/or medical professionals at your side, you have a team. And that team is there for you just as much as they are there for your child.

The role of social workers is often misunderstood by people who have never had a social worker in their life. You might have an image in your mind of social workers at Child Protective Services, but Chicago social workers can also work with children in loving homes who need a little extra support.

If you have a child with special needs, hopefully you already have a social worker on your “team.” You might have come into contact with a social worker through your child’s doctor or their school. Or a social worker could be recommended by your child’s occupational or physical therapist. Here at PTN, we have a highly experienced social worker on our team who regularly supports families with special needs children.

But what does a social worker actually do? Here are four broad ways that a social worker could support your child and, just as importantly, you.

  1. Social workers connect you with services.

One of the main jobs of an early intervention social worker is to make sure that you have the resources that you need and are entitled to in order to properly care for your child. Social workers have deep knowledge of federal, state, and local programs that could offer help paying medical bills, support getting your child into an appropriate school, and even provide equipment you might need at home.

  1. Social workers help you navigate the system.

One of the most frustrating parts of being a parent of a special needs child is all of the people who will tell you “no.” Your child can’t do this. Your child doesn’t qualify for that. Whatever it may be, a social worker can help you overcome obstacles and find new paths to the services and programs that you need.

  1. Social workers provide parenting support.

What should you do when your child bites? How should you respond when they start screaming in public? These sorts of situations are complicated and stressful, but a social worker can help teach you proven methods for parenting your special needs child in a loving and supportive manner.

  1. Social workers provide emotional support.

Your child’s social worker is there for you, too. They’re a shoulder to lean on, a sounding board to trust. They want your child to be happy and healthy, and supporting your emotional journey is a big part of that.

If you’re interested in meeting with social workers in Chicago, contact the PTN team. We can provide you with more information and set up an appointment to learn first hand how a social worker could become part of your team.

occupational therapy and autism
How Our Occupational Therapists Support Children with Autism
How Our Occupational Therapists Support Children with Autism 1000 750 Triston Kee

Being a parent is never easy. It comes with its own rewards and challenges, and those rewards and challenges can be significantly amplified when you have a child with autism. Fortunately, many children on the autism spectrum have a legally protected right to occupational therapy through public schools, and many more can receive fully covered private occupational therapy through health insurance and federal and state programs. This therapy can be incredibly helpful for both the children and their parents.

Occupational therapy focuses on helping people perform everyday activities that are needed to get by. People recovering from injuries, dealing with mental illness, and people with developmental delays can all benefit from occupational therapy.

In the context of autism, occupational therapy can be an important tool for gaining skills that might come more readily to children who aren’t on the autism spectrum. These skills can include learning to play with other children, learning to listen to instructions, communicating basic needs, and feeding, bathing, and dressing oneself.

In our Chicago pediatric therapy practice, we regularly work with families who are affected by autism. The process starts with assessment. An initial assessment can include discussion with the parents and teachers about behavior patterns, observed problem areas, any diagnosed medical conditions, and questions and concerns. The goal is to determine where the biggest concerns lie and to create an intervention plan that will work for both the child and the family.

Meeting Children and Families Where They’re At

When working with kids with autism, we like to meet with them in environments where they feel most comfortable to help reduce stress, encourage positive associations, and make the whole process easier for everyone. We’ll often work with children in their homes, back yards, or even favorite local parks.

Specific therapies that can be helpful for children with autism often start with identifying any underlying sensory issues and creating games or routines that help address those issues. An estimated 80% of children with autism have sensory processing issues, which means that these children have trouble filtering out sounds, sensations, and/or sights that overwhelm them. (Imagine listening to thumping music all day with a strobe light blaring in your vision, and you might begin to understand why some children with autism act out.) Understanding what sensory issues may be at play makes it easier to address those issues with tools like weighted blankets, massage, and soft tag-free clothing that help children feel more relaxed and at ease in their own skins.

Working with the family is also an important part of occupational therapy for children with autism. As a parent, caretaker, or sibling, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed and have trouble empathizing with certain behaviors. An occupational therapist can help by showing the whole family how to incorporate play therapy and more positive responses into their existing routines at home.

If you’re looking for occupational therapy in Chicago for your child, please give our office a call. We’d be happy to answer any questions and provide more information and resources.

Spring Play Therapy
It’s Time to Spring into Action!
It’s Time to Spring into Action! 1200 600 Triston Kee

The cold of winter is finally melting into the warmth of spring, and the transition couldn’t have come sooner! Your kids have probably been bouncing off the walls inside, so it’s finally time to get outdoors and enjoy some fun play therapy that will get them moving.

Here are a few of our favorite outdoor activities for speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy for kids.

Marco Polo – This is a classic version of tag in which the person who is “it” has to keep his or her eyes closed. To find the other kids, he or she yells out “Marco!” and the other kids have to respond, “Polo!”

A great way to simplify this game and make it a little less frustrating is for the “Polo” children to stay in one place. This makes them much easier to find, and it allows the game to get switched up more often, which keeps everyone happier and safer. Be sure to play this great sensory game in an open space free of tripping hazards, and always have adult supervision.

Scooting around the driveway – A fun way to practice balance skills is to hop on a balance bike, sit on a skateboard, or bring those roller boards outside and scoot around the driveway or the basketball court at the park. Draw lines with chalk to make “roads,” or follow the lines already drawn on the basketball court to add some imagination to your scooting.

Outdoor gymnastics – An open patch of grass is all you need to practice gymnastics with your children. With toddlers, you can lay down and practice rolling around on the grass. With preschoolers, you can show them how to tuck their heads and do a somersault. Your preschooler might even be ready to give hand stands or cart wheels a try (with your help, of course)!

If you make it out to your local playground, give the monkey bars a try, or even do a flip over a low bar. Both you and your little one will get a great, playful workout.

Tummy time under a tree – With your littlest little ones, getting outside for tummy time can be a great change of scenery. If your baby hates tummy time, he or she might tolerate it better when there are grass and flowers to touch, smell, and look at.

Remember to bring a blanket with you and set up under a shady tree to protect your little one from the sun. Baby will also love looking up at the leaves, birds, and swaying branches when you flip over.

For more tips on how to engage in play therapy with your children this spring, contact the PTN team today. Our Chicago occupational, speech, and physical therapists are always here to help!

Beat the Cold with these Excellent Child Development Activities
Beat the Cold with these Excellent Child Development Activities 1200 600 Triston Kee

We know that in the winter months it can feel like your options are incredibly limited in terms of play with your children. But resist the temptation to throw on a movie and call it a day! There are plenty of ways that you and your children can stay active while engaging in therapeutic activities at the same time.

Here at PTN, we believe in supporting development through play. An activity doesn’t need to be specifically designed by a therapist to benefit the development of your child. All sorts of play can incorporate learning, movement, body awareness, and social interaction. Here are some of our favorite winter activities.

If the weather permits, get outside!

If the sun makes an appearance, get your child bundled and head out the door.

  • Ice skate! If your child is a little older, take them to the local skating rink and practice those balance skills while having a great time scooting around. If skates are out of the question, you can also get on the ice in your snow boots and have fun trying to slide from side to side. Remember to make any falls as positive as possible by laughing and making it feel ok (and even fun) to fall down every now and then.
  • Throw snow balls! No need to have any fights. Rather than throwing snow balls at people, have a distance throwing contest, or practice hitting targets like fences or snowmen. Packing snowballs together is a great sensory activity, and throwing will build strength and coordination.
  • Go sledding! Even if you just have a cookie sheet or a trash can lid, sliding down hills can be a lot of fun and burn a lot of energy. Even climbing small hills can help build little leg muscles, and taking turns will help build those social skills.

Indoor fun for extra cold days and nights

When the weather forces you indoors, you can still have lots of fun playing pretend.

  • Stomp like monsters! Use blocks to build towers around the room, then stomp between them like overgrown monsters. Your child will love pretending, and he or she can even knock the towers down with their feet. This is a great way to stay active while practicing those big steps needed to make it through high snow. And building and rebuilding towers will improve those fine motor skills.
  • Put on a puppet show! Give your child finger puppets or a few stuffed animals and have him or her tell you a story using the puppets. Encourage a big imagination and help guide the story if your child gets frustrated or runs out of ideas. Just don’t take control – let them tell their story, and be sure to listen intently. You can also put on a show for your child. Take turns, and have fun with it!

For more winter activity suggestions or to learn about our therapy services, contact our team today!

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