The Child & Family Development team in Charlotte, NC, is growing! We have two Full-Time clinical opportunities:
The Child & Family Development team in Charlotte, NC, is growing! We have two Full-Time clinical opportunities:
In an occupational therapy evaluation at Child and Family Development, we use a holistic approach and look at the whole child. This may mean that we will include a vision screening.
In a screening, we don't determine whether or not a child's vision is 20/20 or if their eyes are healthy. We determine whether or not the eyes work together as a team, such as while tracking moving objects while the head remains still or moving smoothly without any jumps.
If we do suspect that eye movements may be a contributing factor to a child's skill difficulties or visual understanding of what they see, we may recommend a full developmental optometry evaluation.
One of the community providers who our team works closely with is Dr. Philip Bugaiski at the Developmental Vision Center in Charlotte. Click here to read some information that Dr. Bugaiski offers parents about vision therapy and vision assessments.
If you are concerned about your child's handwriting, fine motor coordination, cutting, or visual skills, an occupational therapy evaluation may be helpful to narrow down the contributing factors. After we find the underlying difficulties, skill develoment can be targeted so that your child can be more successful.
Marion Wilm, Occupational Therapist at our South Charlotte office, notes 19 years of tenure at Child and Family Development on June 6.
Her colleague, Kati Berlin, reviews the things that we have known and loved about Marion for a long, long time. They’re all still true!
Marion is caring, dedicated and experienced.
She has never wavered in her desire to continue to expand her clinical expertise or her willingness to share it with others.
She can help kids with a wide variety of difficulties- and does.
Marion loves to have fun. She enjoys traveling, gardening and eating yummy foods.
Happy C&FD Anniversary!
An recent article on Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, examine the value of regular physical activity for children. This article highlights objective research that shows without a doubt that there are big benefits to this heavy work activity that we recommend for our kids. The benefits are not just for the kids with sensory or self-regulation challenges, but for all kids.
Click the following link to read the full article: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_137130.html
Here is an excerpt: “Since the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001, 44 percent of school officials have cut back on physical education to devote more time to reading and mathematics in the classroom," according to the report.
However, research suggests that regular physical activity may actually improve academic performance, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) noted. For instance, aerobic fitness is linked to working memory and problem solving. Recess offers children the opportunity to develop social skills and use their imaginations. Benefits of physical activity during the school day are greater than the benefits of exclusive use of classroom time for academics, the authors concluded.”
This is especially relevant to OT because we frequently treat children who have difficulty with self-regulation. These are kids who are getting all of the sensory inputs that the world has to offer but they can’t seem to handle it all and so their systems get disorganized. This results in all kinds of challenges for them to function successfully in their daily settings. We frequently recommend what we call “heavy work” activities to help with this outside of what we do in the clinic environment.
Heavy work is essentially physical activity that grown-ups would call exercise. It’s generally anything that makes your heart beat faster, makes you sweat, and makes you breathe heavier.
In my work as an Occupational Therapist at Child and Family Development, I hear often from children that they “didn’t have to do anything” in gym class or they didn’t have to participate. Even if your child has a regular hour of gym class every day, which is not so common anymore it seems, it is still important to help them move around outside of school.
The research shows exercise is not just good for your children’s physical health but perhaps even more importantly it’s beneficial for their emotional and mental health as well.
We are glad to be celebrating 3 years in our South Charlotte office.
We moved into the 7000 square foot space back in 2010 and have covered every inch of it with therapy materials and equipment for kids, adolescents and young adults.
All 5 of our core services- Education, Psychology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy- are offered here from the team of about 16 therapists.
Give us a call if you like a tour.
Courtney Stanley, Occupational Therapist at our South Charlotte office, marks 4 years of tenure at Child and Family Development on June 1.
Her fellow OT, Mary Helen Bailey, helps me brag on her a bit- something for each year that she’s been here.
1 Courtney is happy. She almost always has a smile and a song to share.
2 Courtney is personable and animated with her colleagues and clients alike.
3 Courtney makes therapy look more like play than work. Kids love that!
4 Courtney is reliable and available to offer her expertise and professional opinion with the other members of our pediatric therapy team.
Happy C&FD Anniversary!
Happy C&FD Anniversary to Ellen Bruce!
May 9, 2013 marks six years of tenure as an Occupational Therapist at the Midtown office of Child and Family Development.
It’s been a true pleasure to work with her and a joy to watch her grow from a newlywed to a mom of 2 and from long locks (of love) to a short and sassy haircut.
Another OT, Maria Morellino, agrees with me and notes Ellen’s client-focused work ethic, approachability and helpfulness. Maria enjoys seeing and hearing Ellen interact with kids each day. If only our walls could talk…
Thanks Ellen, we are so glad you are here!
An intervention plan for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders requires a multidisciplinary team of professionals to create and tailor a plan to fit a child with ASD. This team approach typically includes speech and language therapy and occupational therapy.
Physical therapy is often a missing piece in a child with ASDs treatment intervention. I believe children are often are not referred to physical therapy because gross motor skills are not uncommonly their highest area of function. However, they cannot perform these skills on request or imitation. This affects their ability to play interactively with other children. Gross motor skills are critical on the “playing ground” of learning socially and interactively with other children. Physical therapy is an excellent option in addressing the core deficits of autism.
These limitations can include:
Sensory processing: These challenges can cause a child to be overly or under sensitive to certain areas of the environment such as light, touch, noise, smell or movement. They may avoid or excessively seek out certain sensations.
Communication: Expressive and Receptive language limitations with both verbal and nonverbal behavior can be associated with a delay or total lack of spoken language, involving initiating or sustaining a conversation with others.
Social interaction: Deficits in nonverbal behavior such as eye to eye contact, referencing, learning imitation skills and turn taking.
Motor planning: Motor planning delays may limit a child’s ability to conceive of movements, retrieve the correct plans for that movement from the brain, perform that movement especially in interaction with others, correct errors in that movement, and remember what worked in the plan so the movement could be more accurately and efficiently performed in the future.
Decreased muscle tone: Decreased or low muscle tone causes poor body mechanics. Low tone or muscle stiffness requires a child to expend more energy to perform movements. This can result in lack of coordination, clumsiness, gross motor skill delays, poor posture, poor walking mechanics, etc.
When I perform a physical therapy evaluation with an individual on the spectrum, I usually perform a standardized gross motor skills assessment. I pay particular attention to the following:
If you want help with these suggestions or notice any of the above mentioned difficulties, a Physical Therapy evaluation can determine if your child is simply showing normal variability in gross motor development or if your child can benefit from intervention. Call me today at (704) 332-4834 ext. 114 to set up an evaluation.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has been working on a project to help OTs begin to organize all of the research we’ve done over the course of our profession. The goal of the AOTA Critically Appraised Topics (CAT) and Papers Series is to allow us to reference this research and use it to show evidence -- which insurance companies look for -- of what types of treatments are effective for what types of difficulties and disabilities.
This CAT is focused on finding out: What types of treatment are effective for children with Sensory Processing Disorder?
It is important to remember, as is the case with much of current research, that when there is a lot of diversity within a study -- i.e. kids have different needs and different settings to learn in and different diagnoses -- it limits the way that we can apply research. Basically, it’s harder to say “it worked for those kids, it will work for this one”. Rather, we can say “it seemed to work for those kids, it might work for this one”.
The research shows that, depending on the needs and circumstances for the child, two general methods of providing or delivering treatment can be equally effective: directly treating a child, and providing consultative services such as to a teacher or parent to allow them to treat the child.
One perspective to treating children begins with a motor learning approach. Motor learning is an approach in which we teach a child a specific movement pattern, such as specifically how to make a letter "a," and then we repeat that movement or motor plan until the child begins to memorize it and can do it “on autopilot” or it becomes natural for them.
Another perspective is to begin with an impairment-oriented approach which looks at the underlying cause for a difficulty. An example of an impairment-oriented approach would be the perspective that a child can’t write their letters because their arm or hand is too weak to control the pencil. Treatment would focus on strengthening those weak muscles with the view that the child will ultimately be able to write their letters if their muscles are made stronger.
The research in this review is the strongest to support motor learning approaches, but says that impairment-oriented approaches should not be ignored. It is important to understand that, typically in practice, OTs use a bit of both approaches. With handwriting we will not only teach the motor plan for letters, we will also work to strengthen the muscles needed to make those letters. So we not only direct the child along the path to a successful outcome, we also ensure that we’ve set them up with the needed equipment to achieve that outcome. This is why you may hear us working on the same skill or activity over many sessions and asking you to do the same thing at home.
Ultimately the evidence shows that occupational therapy intervention is beneficial for children having sensory processing dysfunction which is impacting their performance in daily life. Motor learning approaches can be used to address specific skill deficits, and impairment oriented approaches can be used to address the underlying difficulties such as self-regulation and organization; and both types of approaches appear to be effective in treating this diagnosis.
Many years ago I chose to become an occupational therapist working in the field of pediatrics. Occupational Therapy is a medical profession that uses engaging and everyday activities to help children and adults either recover skills that were lost due to accident or injury or gain skills that are slow to develop.
I engage with children who have Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, feeding disorders, genetic disorders, metabolic disorders, sensory processing disorders and even children with mild handwriting difficulties.
Occupation refers to everyday activitie including self-care skills, school readiness skills (i.e., handwriting and cutting), play, and how we participate in family and community activities. As therapists we promote skill development in motor skills, visual skills, sensory processing skills, attention and other higher level cognitive and social skills.
With children, much of our treatment includes fun, play-based activities because this is highly motivating and the children are sometimes unaware that they are engaged in exercise or work activities that promote skill development.
If you have questions or concerns about any area of your child's development, talk to your pediatrician about referring you for an Occupational Therapy evaluation or call us at Child and Family Development (click here for locations and phone numbers) to schedule a screening or evaluation.
If you know an Occupational Therapist already, please wish them a "HAPPY OT MONTH!"
Child and Family Development therapists recently attended a great two-day course called A Dynamic Base of Support -- The Key To Enhancing Function.
It offered instruction and information about graded handling techniques and pediatric therapy strategies.
Among the therapists who attended:
Receiving comments like this one make us feel great!
My son has been seeing Stephanie Gerlich for Speech Therapy since last year. I just wanted to take a moment and let you know what a FANTASTIC job she has done with my son. My husband and I could not be happier with the progress that he has made since he began to see her. Not only has she worked with him regarding his speech, but she was also diligent enough to see other issues that we didn't even realize. Now, because of her, my son is in Occupational Therapy and Counseling to work through his anxiety issues. This has not been an easy road for us but with Stephanie's help, compassion, insight and honesty, our son is really starting to blossom. The journey is not yet complete, but we could not be happier with the progress that has been made. My family is very appreciative of all the hard work and dedication we have received from not only Stephanie but from the entire Child and Family Development team.
Looking for a social skills group for your child this summer? Check out Social Butterflies Club™ at the South Charlotte office of Child and Family Development!
Social Butterflies Club™, founded in 2004 by Rhonda Osisek M.S., CCC-SLP in Virginia, helps children learn how to interact with peers while having fun with sensory and speech activities combined.
Both an occupational therapist and speech therapist leads this club at CFD. The children in the group may have a variety of diagnoses, such as expressive and/or receptive language problems, sensory processing difficulties, and fine motor deficits. The goal of the Social Butterflies Club™ is to teach the kids how to communicate with peers in a positive way that allows them to thrive outside of therapy.
Each child is screened as part of placement. Clubs are formed based on each child’s communication skills, social ability and age. The Club meets for 1-hour sessions for four consecutive days. Several schedule options are offered this summer.
We will be offering some fun themes including Going on a Picnic, Fourth of July, Under the Sea and Back to School. The club will be led by speech therapist Michelle Pentz, MS, CCC-SLP, and occupational therapist Courtney Stanley, MS, OTR/L.
Contact Michelle Pentz, 704-541-9080 x214, firstname.lastname@example.org to register your child.
At least once a week, I hear bedtime woes from clients: “My daughter is never tired at bedtime” or “My son takes hours to fall asleep.” Given that a child’s development relies on restorative sleep patterns, these concerns about bedtime are more than matters of convenience. Unhealthy sleep patterns can cause behavioral issues, changes in appetite and difficulty acquiring new skills, to name a few things.
To improve bedtime, tap into your child’s sensory system. Children with atypical sensory processing or modulation can have an even harder time calming themselves for bed. I recently attended a course titled Effective Neurological Management of Sensory Processing Disorder presented by Charlene Young, OTR/L, CEAS. In this course, Young provided some fresh, useful sensory suggestions to prepare your child for bedtime whether they have sensory difficulties or not. Here are some of her suggestions as well as my tried-and-true methods to improve bedtime routines:
If you child still cannot regulate his sleep patterns, there may be a more significant medical issue. Consult your pediatrician and/or occupational therapist.
Have you been curious about the Dexteria app to help develop fine motor skills? The three-part app, which costs $3.99, assists fine motor training including isolated finger movements, pinching, and letter tracing. It is popular among Occupational Therapists and won an Editor's Child Award from Apps for Children with Special Needs.
Abbey Sipp, an Occupational Therapist at Child and Family Development's Midtown office, reviewed the app for the "Checking the Pulse" blog on the American Occupational Therapy Association's website.
Abbey explains in the review about her use of the app in therapy. "Children aged approximately 4 to 6 enjoyed fine tuning their skills with, especially, the “Pinch It” section of the app. Watching the crabs disappear provides invaluable reinforcement of skills and promotes endurance," she said.
While she praised two parts of the app, the "Write It" section isn't one she uses. "In practice, however, the tracing required is significantly too precise. There were even times when I became frustrated tracing the letters!"
Click here to read the full review. Have you used the app? What do you think?
Click here to read some of Abbey's Fine Motor Favorites, a collection of toys and activities which range from Play-Doh to Tennis Ball Mouth.
Visit our website or call 704.332.4834 to set up an evaluation.
Happy 5th C&FD Anniversary to Michelle Pentz, Speech Therapist.
Another South Charlotte SLP, Stephanie Gerlich, helped me with the highlights:
Michelle, thanks for being a long-time member of the Child and Family Development team. High 5!
Child and Family Development is thrilled to return at The John Crosland School to provide Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy on campus. Ellen Bruce, MS, OTR/L and Stephanie Gerlich, MS, CCC-SLP are leading our efforts.
Want to schedule a visit from our professionals? Click here to contact us.
Did you know that Child and Family Development's office in South Charlotte is less than 5 miles from the state line and easily accessible from I-77 and the I-485 loop.
Our multi-disciplinary clinic has been helping children and families since 1980. The team of experienced therapists can assess and treat a wide range of childhood concerns, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities or special needs. We participate in many insurance plans. Also, some of our Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy providers accept South Carolina Medicaid.
The Contact Us tab on our website will link you to our address and Mapquest.
Have you noticed if your child struggles with opening things, holding a writing utensil, difficulty manipulating small items? He/she could be struggling due to decreased strength in the hands and/or fingers. Lacking strength in the hands and fingers affects a child's fine motor skills, writing skills, dressing skills and much more. Belwo are easy at home activities your child can do to increase their strength.
Your child may also benefit from Occupational Therapy if they struggle with finger and grip strength. Contact our office to schedule a free Intake if you have concerns.