Occupational Therapy Month

April is Occupational Therapy Month!

As Occupational Therapy Month comes to a close, we wanted to provide some tips for fine motor development that you can use as a parent over the summer.  Try to limit your child’s time with electronics; opt instead for some fine motor games and activities!  Here are some examples to try:

  • Board games (most board games have a fine motor component to them; you can also have your child play the game with tweezers to move the pieces)
  • Arts and crafts (making necklaces, playing Legos, stickers, painting using a q-tip as the paintbrush, hole puncher, cutting and gluing crafts, etc.)
  • Make homemade play-dough or slime. Here are some recipes:
  • Make rice krispie treats or cookies having your child stir and form the shapes
  • Head to the park to climb on a playground

Try to turn an activity your child already likes to do into a fine motor activity to promote development while still having fun!

Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month.  Individuals around the country are working hard to spread awareness for kids and adults on the autism spectrum.  As a speech-language pathologist and Special Olympics swim coach, I get the opportunity to work with individuals on the spectrum almost every day.  To do my part to help promote education and understanding, I decided to put together a little dictionary of terms that parents might be exposed to as they begin the speech journey with their child.  I also hope that anyone who stumbles upon this post will learn a little something that will deepen his or her understanding of individuals on the spectrum.

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder:  a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interactions and the presence of restrictive, repetitive behaviors.  (definition by the American Speech and Hearing Association as taken from the DSM-5).
  • Joint Attention:  an early developing social communication skill where two individuals share focus on an item or actions (e.g. “are you seeing this!?”).
  • Social Reciprocity:   the back-and-forth flow of social communication.  This is most commonly seen as turn-taking within verbal conversation; however, this back-and-forth nature of communication is very important to our children’s understanding of what communication is, even before they are verbal.
  • Nonverbal Communication:  the transfer of information through visual, auditory, or tactile means (e.g. thumbs up means ‘good’, a frown means ‘sad or mad’, peeking at the clock during a conversation means ‘bored’ or ‘I need to leave the conversation’).
  • Emotional Regulation:  an individual’s ability to respond to an ever changing environment in order to control or maintain appropriate behavioral responses.
  • Echolalia:  the repeating of sounds, words, or phrases.  Individuals using echolalia may appear to be communicating using multi-word, seemingly age-level sentences to communicate, but are not able to effectively share their own thoughts.
  • Scripting:  repetition of words, phrases, or longer passages with consistent intonation to the original source (e.g. a communication partner, video, game, etc.).  Scripting is considered a type of echolalia.
  • Receptive Language:  all language being received by an individual, whether it be in the form of directions, vocabulary, a story, reading comprehension, etc.
  • Expressive Language:  verbal or written use of words to communicate including vocabulary, sentence building skills, grammar, etc.
  • Developmental Pediatrician:  a board-accredited pediatrician who has also received specialty training and certification in developmental-behavioral pediatrics.  A developmental pediatrician can provide an autism spectrum diagnosis.
  • Pediatric Neurologist:  doctor who specializes in treating children who have problems with their nervous system (e.g. seizures, headaches, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, etc.).  A pediatric neurologist can provide an autism spectrum diagnosis.
  • Child Psychologist:  an individual who studies the psychological processes of children and how they develop from birth to the end of adolescence.  A child psychologist can provide an autism spectrum diagnosis.
  • Child Psychiatrist:  a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating behavioral and thought disorders in children.  They are able to create treatment plans and may include medication as a part of their plan for a child.  A child psychiatrist can provide an autism spectrum diagnosis.
  • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA):  a therapy type based on the science of learning and behaviors with the goal of increasing behaviors that are helpful and decreasing behaviors that are harmful or impacting an individual’s ability to learn.  Goals are determined on a very individual basis.   This is a therapy type that has become increasingly popular for kiddos on the spectrum in the past 10 years.

For more information on autism and its relationship to the world of speech-language pathology, please visit:  https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/autism/

For information and resources on autism, please visit:  https://www.autismspeaks.org

Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month!!

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and summer break is approaching! Time for family vacations, day trips to local attractions, and who can forget about all the swimming!!! With all the fun things planned, it is important to remember that children need continued language-enriched activities to keep their minds active while they’re not in school. Think of it as exercising….if you do it daily, or even weekly, it is much easier for your body to respond to all of the physical activity. On the other hand, if you stop for a month (or two, or three) your leg muscles will have a hard time remembering how to run on the…what’s that thing called again??? The same goes for our brains. Here are some suggestions on how to stay mentally active for the summer…

  • Read! Read! Read! Read what? Anything! Everything! Depending on the age of your child, it could be books, magazines, newspapers, comic strips, etc. Whatever would keep your child interested. Older children can read to themselves, and then tell you what they read about. You can read to your younger child and talk about what’s happening as you read the story. 10-20 minutes at least 3-4 times a week would be ideal.
  • Play entertaining memory and question/answer games during car trips.  You’d be amazed at how fun they are. For a list of car games and suitable ages, visit  http://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/ideas/8-fun-car-game-ideas/
  • Go for walks in the neighborhood and talk about your environment. This is especially great for the little ones, aged 3 and younger. Talk about everything you see and narrate what is happening (“Oh look! I see a dog. That dog is big. I like dogs.”).
  • Create a writing journal. This is great for our school-aged kiddos, 7 years and older. They could write about anything they want. I would suggest writing at least 4 or 5 sentences daily, though 3-4 times a week would be great.
  • For our kiddos in speech therapy, it is best to keep them in treatment during the summer break. Summer is a great time for boosting those speech and language skills. It could also help to get them involved in some interactive summer camps.
  • Try to limit the use of electronic devices and increase family time to play board games, have backyard picnics, or even cook together. For more information on children and use of electronic devices, please visit http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7802751-asha-risks-of-tech-overuse-poll/ and http://www.asha.org/uploadedImages/BHSM-Infographic.jpeg

Upcoming Summer Programs

Happy Teacher Appreciation week!

We appreciate all that teachers do every day to help their students grow and develop. The foundation built by teachers through social interaction, cooperative play, fine motor and gross motor skill practice, and so much more is very beneficial to a child’s overall development. Here at Village Therapy Works we support your child’s functional and academic skill development while utilizing and contributing to their teacher’s goals and input from their school environment.

Do you want to continue practicing those skills with your child over the summer to get them ready for the next school year? We will be offering some fun learning experiences this summer to do just that! A two week handwriting camp and a two week social skills camp with an emphasis on self-regulation will be starting in July. Give us a call or stop by the clinic if you would like more information on our camps or any of our services here at Village Therapy Works!

To access the printable summer camp flyers please go to our services page at….http://www.villagespeech.com/summer-programs

Happy Occupational Therapy Month!!

I have just returned from the annual American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in Chicago. What an experience! I am feeling rejuvenated, full of new ideas, and ready to advocate for this unique profession!

Typically the children who are coming into our outpatient pediatric clinic are receiving services for their gross and fine motor delays, sensory processing difficulties, and visual perception deficits. Well… that is just a small piece of the puzzle when we are looking at how we can serve our pediatric population. Today I want to talk about pediatric mental health. Typically we would assume that children receiving mental health services have a mental illness and may be being served within an inpatient setting. WRONG! Occupational therapist are here to help all children with or without a psychiatric diagnosis to maintain positive mental health.


It is important for all parents, caregivers, teachers, and therapist to understand the capacity of mental health services and what it entails. The first step is prevention by understanding signs of stress and the promotion of safe and friendly environments for children to learn and grow. This includes the classroom, playground, cafeteria, and recreational activities. Here are some areas that we can work with our children in to promote positive mental health:

  • Self-regulation skills
  • Coping Skills
  • Encourage positive self-talk
  • Bullying prevention
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Body acceptance
  • Self-Care
  • Positive communication
  • Team Work
  • Self-discovery
  • Fostering Kindness

Please click on the link below for more information on self-regulation skills and how you can help your child: http://mamaot.com/5-ways-to-improve-self-regulation-skills-in-toddlers-and-young-children/

Upcoming Parenting Education Course

Pos Disc Wed 2016

Texas State House: Continue Funding The DARS Autism Program In Texas

I am writing to express my grave concern that legislators in Texas are currently considering decreasing or totally defunding the DARS Autism Program.  ABA Therapy is a medically-necessary treatment for children with autism and it has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Moreover, several studies have shown that early and intensive ABA therapy is cost effective in the long run, saving tax payers millions of dollars.

As a mother of a 5 year old son with autism, I can personally attest to the undeniable benefits of ABA Therapy with my own son.  He is currently a recipient of ABA Therapy, made possible through DARS funding.  I am alarmed at the prospect of losing this funding and thus losing his ability to receive the therapy he so desperately needs in order to progress developmentally, socially and to learn basic skills which many of us take for granted.

Too little is being done to address the needs and requirements of this rapidly growing population.

The following statistics were obtained from Autismspeaks.org

  • Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
  • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism

Given that there are thousands of children in Texas with Autism, I strongly urge you to vote to continue to fund the DARS Autism Program.

Thank you for all that you do for young Texans with Autism.

~Beth Lilly Fort Worth, TX

Learning Disabilities & Auditory Processing Disorders

Village Therapy Works is proud to be offering this home program for the summer. Call us to find out more information.

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Welcome new Occupational Therapist, Laura Johnson

lauraWe welcome our new Occupational Therapist, Laura Johnson, to our Village Therapy Works team. She is so awesome that we are in need of a part time occupational therapist (COTA or OTR) to add to our program. If you or you know someone that is looking for a occupational therapy position that is board certified, send a resume to jdavison@vtxw.com. Read more about Mrs. Johnson and the position on our website at vtxw.com.
Welcome Laura!


Speech Buddies: Buy & Save on Speech Therapy Tools

speechbuddiesVillage Therapy Works does utilize Speech Buddies as a tool to help our clients understand where their articulators (e.g. tongue, teeth, lips) should be when they are producing their targeted speech sounds. Our children often find them fun to use in front of a mirror to better understand their speech sound disorder.


Visit website: http://www.speechbuddy.com/parents/buy?referral=e586cbbf&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=facebook-e586cbbf