Transition Back To School

back to school

The transition back to school after two months of holidays can be a struggle for all kids, especially those on the spectrum or those with other developmental disabilities. Here are a few tips to help ease the transition for both parents and kiddos this September.

  1. Prime you child for the Transition – Talk to your child about going back to school a few weeks before school starts. Putting the event on a calendar or using a countdown can help kids anticipate the start of a new school year. Some children will benefit from a discussion about what will be different come September versus what will be the same. If you know the details about the child’s teacher, educational assistant or classroom use these details to discuss what they can expect come September. Remember to keep the conversation fun and positive!
  1. Get into the School Year Routine – Adjust bedtime and wake up time according to the school year schedule a few weeks before classes start in September. Practice getting ready for school (e.g. waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast and brushing teeth) so that come September, you can ensure you give your child adequate time to prepare for their day.
  1. Establish Consistent Communication with your Child’s School – Ensure that you are communicating with your child’s school enough to help both your child and his or her teachers succeed. When a teacher is familiar with a student (e.g. their learning profile, interests, strengths, triggers and areas in which they need a little extra help) they can prepare the environment and lessons to set your child up for success.

As a parent, you know your child best! Anticipate any anxiety or struggles they might have with the transition back to school and be proactive! Wishing everyone a happy, safe and productive school year!​ Canoe Therapy provides comprehensive paediatric therapy care including, occupational, behaviour and speech therapy as well as psychology and physiotherapy. We also provide assessment and diagnostic testing and documentation for additional school or insurance benefits. Contact our Burlington therapy office today!

Robin Williams and Suicide Prevention

The death of Robin Williams this week has taken the world by surprise. How could a man who has made us laugh so hard be in such a rough place that he decides to end it all? My personal favourite was his role in Patch Adams…he was a wonderful, caring and creative doctor who got that kids needed more than medications to feel better.

While he referred to his history of substance abuse and depression in his stand-up comedy, it is hard to reconcile how happy he made us, yet how unhappy he felt. Robin Williams first battled addictions in his late 20s. After more than twenty years of sobriety, he fell again in 2003. He went back in rehab in 2006, and then again earlier this year. He suffered from a severe depression, which led him to commit suicide.

According to Statistics Canada, there were a total of 3,890 suicides in 2009. The suicide rate for males was found to be three times that of females, with the highest rates for males between the ages of 40 to 59. Suicide was also found to be a leading cause of death in young people; 202 individuals aged 15 to 19 died by suicide during that year, which represents 25% of all deaths for that age group . According to the World Health Organization (2012), ‘depression is the first leading cause of disability when measured in years lived with disability.’  Depressing, isn’t it?

Today, the world talks about mental health and the importance of prevention. I cannot stress how important prevention and early intervention are. Depression has been found to be a recurring disorder which often starts during adolescence (Birmaher et al., 1996). During the transition from childhood to adolescence, depression rates triple to reach up to  18% by late adolescence (yes, this means that over a period of one year, 18% of the population age 18 suffered from a significant level of depressive symptoms which impacted on their functioning) (Birmaher et al., 1996; Hankin et al., 1998). This makes depression the most frequent mental disorder in adolescents (Keenan & Hipwell, 2005).

What does that mean? It means that in the memory of Robin Williams, and too many others who have left too early (for example, Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, two teens who committed suicide after being victims of cyberbullying), we need to encourage those we love, young and old, to seek help. How can we do that? A great first step would be to help reducing stigma around mental health issues, which can be as simple as not calling people ‘crazy’. No one would think twice about telling a friend who has cancer to get treatment. Why should it be different if they have depression?

Our thoughts are with Robin’s family and friends and all those impacted by his passing. If you or a loved one are experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, we encourage you to seek help from a qualified professional. If you need help now, call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

“You treat a disease, you win you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you win no matter the outcome”– Robin Williams as Patch Adams

Importance of Play

With the rise of video and computer games, we sometimes lose sight of how crucial good ol’ fashion playtime is for childhood development. Nancianne Chin, a Speech-Language Pathologist here at Canoe Therapy, is here to share the many ways that play helps children grow.

This past long weekend has been a wonderful time to witness parents taking their kids to parks, teaching them how to rollerblade, watch nature, and run around with friends. The speech-language pathologist in me just can’t help but very enthusiastically tell these parents; Great job! You’re helping your children learn to use language! Kids having opportunities to play is a very important component to supporting their language development. It’s as important as letting kids move to develop their physical strength and coordination.

When babies touch textures, sort shapes, and bang pots together, their young brains are noting the different elements of touch, sight and sound. They then learn the language that connects to all of these experiences; This cat is soft, this star twinkles and the banging that mommy calls ‘loud’ makes her laugh and cover her ears.

When children make believe, they are practicing the social scenarios they have heard in their environment for later use. ‘Thank you for coming to our tea party, ladies. Would you like me to pour you some tea?’

The new experiences that children encounter, such as a trip to Lego Land or a Splash Pad, are often verbally shared with other family members and friends at a later time. This sharing of information is called ‘story retell.’ Times spent sharing experiences may be fun, but it is also helping a child share relevant information in a sequential order to support listener comprehension. Parents supporting children with story retell are teaching them about what details are important, and how to organize events when sharing.

My own weekend was similar. The young people at my home had limited video game time. We taught them how to make sushi and ate together. New vocabulary learned included ‘wasabi’, ‘ginger’ and ‘nori’.  I explained that outside of the home, it’s not socially appropriate to load up on wasabi and start banging on the table or exclaiming ‘Ugh!! It’s burning my nose!’ That is only okay at home. Also, it is likely an experience that will be shared with friends at a later time. Just as I’m sharing it now.

If you are interested in Speech-Language Therapy for your child, or any of our other therapy services, please contact our Burlington therapy center today!

Help! I have a Picky Eater!

Dealing with a picky eater can be stressful and frustrating, but we’re here to help! Diesje Hiltmann, one of our incredible occupational therapists, specializes in feeding difficulties and has some helpful tips.

Have you ever thought: “Why can you just not eat what we all eat!” or “I’m tired of making different meals for everyone!!

Guess what: You’re So Not Alone

The likelihood of having a picky eater in your house is high. Statistics show that 40% of typically developing children and 80% of children with disabilities have some form of feeding difficulty ranging from being a mild picky eater to more severe feeding difficulties resulting in malnutrition. This isn’t due to poor parenting, although parents often have the tendency to feel like failures.  Rest assured that you’re not failing to take care of your child’s nutritional needs, but there’s a chance that your child may have some underlying sensory-motor difficulties that prevent them from managing certain foods.

Check out this great website I found that does a great job at answering a lot of questions we’ve all had about our kids and their eating habits…and if you still have any questions or concerns, give us a call at Canoe and ask to speak with your favorite feeding expert, Diesje.  Yep, that’s me!!

If you are interested in occupational therapy for your child or any of our other services, please don’t hesitate to contact our Burlington therapy center.