As Children Blossom Therapy Center

Pediatric Speech/Language and Occupational Therapy

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(408) 866-4700

Lisa R. Worrell, M.A, CCC-SLP
Jodi E. Huber, M.A., OTR/L
621 E. Campbell Avenue Suite 11A Campbell CA 95008

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Now Hiring:

As Children Blossom Therapy Center is looking for dynamic and energetic speech-language pathologists to join its interdisciplinary team. ACB is a highly-respected provider of early intervention, speech, and occupational therapy services to children from birth to ten years of age. Using multi-faceted, play-based approaches, ACB treats a wide variety of needs, including autism. We offer competitive compensation and flexible schedules. Therapists have the opportunity to work at our center providing group and individual treatment, and, if desired, through programs such as Early Start. Clinically certified speech therapists are preferred. Contact Lisa Worrell, M.A., CCC-SLP at lisa@aschildrenblossom.com or at (408) 866-4700 ext. 101.

5 Research-Backed Benefits of Weighted Blankets and Vests

 

 

Weighted blankets and vests have been around as a therapy tool for a while now. Many parents have observed the calming effect they can have on children with autism and sensory issues. The science behind these weighted items is called Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). This is the term for the feeling of gentle, distributed weight on the body.

You can get the benefits of DTP in a variety of ways. Hugging is one way that everyone can experience DTP. Weighted vests, blankets, stuffed animals, or lap pads are all ways to get the benefits of DTP. As long as there is gentle, distributed weight, there will be benefits from DTP.

Research into the benefits of DTP can help you find new ways to help your child with weighted items. It may also be helpful in convincing your child’s school to take these tools seriously and make them part of your child’s behavior plan. The following are some areas on which research has focused.

1. Promoting and Improving Sleep

Benefits of Weighted Blankets: Improving and Promoting Sleep

Weighted blankets have been shown to increase serotonin in the body. Serotonin is an important chemical that helps regulate mood and ease relaxation. It’s been shown that children with autism are low in serotonin. This could be one of the reasons why they see so much benefit from weighted blankets.

Serotonin is necessary to create melatonin, a chemical that tells your body when it’s time to sleep. Your body produces melatonin based on the timing of your sunlight exposure and uses that as a schedule to help your body know when it’s time to relax.

Nervous system changes

On top of the chemical changes, there are changes in the nervous system when using weighted blankets. Our nervous systems calm down when under the weight of a heavy blanket. This can be a major help for those who can’t fall asleep due to anxiety.

The weight of the blanket also helps reduce restlessness during sleep. It is harder to move around while under a blanket of the right weight. The general rule is that the weight of the blanket should be 10 percent of the individual’s body weight plus a pound or two.

Insomnia

A weighted blanket could perhaps be the non-pharmaceutical answer to getting a solid nights sleep for those struggling with insomnia. One study found that not only did participants with insomnia feel like they got “a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure sleep,” but the data from tracking their sleep showed they got better sleep as well.

2. Improving Focus in the Classroom

Benefits of Weighted Blankets: Improving Focus in the Classroom

There are quite a few studies that show that using DTP in the classroom can help improve children’s performance. One study found that children with ADHD improved their in-seat behavior, attention, and task completion while wearing a weighted vest.

Another study looked specifically at fine motor activities like writing and found that DTP had a positive effect on on-task behavior. It’s also been shown that children with autism specifically have better in-seat behavior when using DTP.

Self-Stimulatory Behaviors

Weighted vests have been found to reduce self-stimulatory behaviors, also known as fidgeting or stimming. There are many reasons why a person might engage in self-stimulatory behavior, but one of the main reasons is that they are feeling sensory overload.

Whether used in therapy or at home, a weighted blanket is a great addition to a sensory room. The extra weight adds a sensory input that allows people to feel their body. For those with sensory issues, not being able to feel where your body ends can be a challenge.

Use in Long Sitting Situations

A lot of times, simply getting your child to sit still can be a struggle. Whether it’s for a presentation, assembly, movie, or just a car or bus ride, getting your child to sit calmly can often feel impossible.

For these situations, a weighted blanket would be a great option. Not only would it help calm the nervous system and release serotonin, but the sensory input of the fabric could give your child something to play with for an extended period of time.

While you could bring a weighted blanket with you wherever you go, this would be a good time to have a weighted lap pad on hand. Since you’ll be out and about, we’d recommend getting a blanket or lap pad that is easy to wash.

3. Reducing Anxiety

Benefits of Weighted Blankets: Reducing Anxiety

This may be an overall theme to all of the other benefits of weighted blankets. A lot of them stem from the fact that weighted blankets have been shown to reduce anxiety.

One study looked specifically at dental patients and used weighted blankets as a way to reduce their anxiety in a high-anxiety situation. The study showed that the weighted blanket caused physiological changes on the patients’ nervous system, helping them feel calmer at the dentist.

Another study found that even short periods of DTP brought about a reduction in sympathetic arousal, which generally means a calming-down effect. If anxiety is an issue for your child, a weighted blanket could be a good tool to have on hand.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

One of the common ways to help alleviate OCD anxiety is to improve serotonin production through pharmaceuticals. However, since weighted blankets have been shown to improve serotonin production, they can be used to help alleviate OCD anxiety as well. There are a lot of disorders that are related to low serotonin in which a weighted blanket could be useful, including depression, aggression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.

4. Calming Meltdowns

Benefits of Weighted Blankets: Calming Meltdowns

If you’re raising a child with special needs, meltdowns are something that you will most likely have to deal with. Whether due to sensory overload or an unexpected change, meltdowns can be very difficult to deal with.

Fortunately, a lot of what we’ve already talked about can be related to meltdowns. Calming the nervous system, producing serotonin, and feeling a “hug” from the blanket can all help wind down a meltdown or even prevent it.

A related study found that the use of a sensory room led to significant reductions in distress and improvements of disturbed behaviors of individuals in an acute inpatient psychiatric unit. They specifically mention that those patients who “used the weighted blanket reported significantly greater reductions in distress and clinician-rated anxiety than those who did not.”

5. Making Transitions Easier

Benefits of Weighted Blankets: Making Transitions Easier

Struggling to get children with autism to change from one activity to another is a common theme among teachers and parents. In some special education classrooms, teachers have turned to weighted blankets to help make this transition easier. It works especially well when coming in from recess. The teachers give the children who need extra help a weighted blanket and dim the lights for five to ten minutes.

This is one of the practices that the University of Washington Autism Center helps implement in schools around the state of Washington. The strategy can be used at home for when your child comes home from school or inside from playing, or has just finished an activity and is overexcited. Since children with autism tend to do better with transitions when they have a routine, you can even work the weighted blanket into the routine. Let them know it’s time to transition when you get it out.

To find a weighted blanket or other weighted items to help your child, consult “Weighted Blankets: 13 Stores to Choose From.” Pictured at the top of this post is a weighted blanket in a dotted minky fabric from Harkla.

 

 

National Sleep Foundation Completes Rigorous Study and Updates Recommended Sleep Times at Each Life Stage

WASHINGTON, DC, (February 2, 2015)--The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel, issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep durations. The report recommends wider appropriate sleep ranges for most age groups. The results are published in Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.The National Sleep Foundation convened experts from sleep, anatomy and physiology, as well as pediatrics, neurology, gerontology and gynecology to reach a consensus from the broadest range of scientific disciplines. The panel revised the recommended sleep ranges for all six children and teen age groups. A summary of the new recommendations includes:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

“This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety,” said Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, chief of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.  “The National Sleep Foundation is providing these scientifically grounded guidelines on the amount of sleep we need each night to improve the sleep health of the millions of individuals and parents who rely on us for this information.”

 

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 Home > Updates and Events > SFARI News > 2016 > SFARI launches SPARK, an online research initiative that aims to recruit 50,000 individuals with autism

SFARI launches SPARK, an online research initiative that aims to recruit 50,000 individuals with autism

21 April 2016

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The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) today announced the launch of SPARK, an online research initiative designed to become the largest autism study ever undertaken in the United States. SPARK will collect information and DNA for genetic analysis from 50,000 individuals with autism — and their families — to advance our understanding of the condition’s causes and accelerate the development of new treatments and supports.

Autism is already known to have a strong genetic component. To date, approximately 50 genes have been identified that almost certainly play a role in autism, and researchers estimate that an additional 300 or more are involved. By studying these genes, associated biological mechanisms and how genetics interact with environmental factors, researchers can better understand the condition’s causes and link them to the spectrum of symptoms, skills and challenges of those affected.

“Knowledge is power, and SPARK was created because we simply haven’t learned enough about the genetics and other possible causes of autism,” saysWendy Chung, SPARK’s principal investigator and director of clinical research at SFARI. “SPARK will help researchers make new discoveries that will ultimately lead to the development of new supports and treatments to improve the lives of people living with challenges. Together, we can ‘spark’ a movement in autism research.”

SPARK aims to speed up autism research by inviting participants from this large, diverse autism community, including individuals of both sexes and all ages, backgrounds, races, geographic locations and socioeconomic situations with a professional diagnosis of autism. The initiative catalyzes research by creating long-term access to a large number of study participants for whom detailed genomic, medical and behavioral information will be available. SPARK will connect participants to researchers, offering them the unique opportunity to impact the future of autism research by joining any of the multiple studies offered through SPARK. SPARK will also take feedback from individuals with autism and their parents to develop a robust research agenda that is meaningful for these families. 

This new initiative is funded and centrally coordinated by SFARI. A total of 21 university-affiliated clinical sites and numerous national and local autism community organizations across the U.S. are partnering with SFARI to help recruit participants and spread the word about this landmark study. De-identified genetic and phenotypic data will be made available to any qualified researcher throughout the duration of the project, and researchers will have the opportunity to contact participants for potential enrollment in their research and clinical studies.

“A major goal of SPARK is to accelerate clinical research in autism by providing a large resource to the entire research community,” says Pamela Feliciano, scientific director of SPARK and senior scientist at SFARI. “All qualified researchers will be able to access SPARK genomic, medical and behavioral data and recruit for their studies from SPARK as soon as possible.”

Anyone interested in learning more about SPARK or in participating can visit www.SPARKforAutism.org.

 

 

 

The Little Known Health Risks Of Sitting In The ‘W’ Position

 

image: http://www.sun-gazing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Screen-Shot-2015-12-25-at-5.24.02-PM.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 5.24.02 PM

 

Image via: Youtube

It is really common to see children sitting in the “W” position, and I have to admit that I always thought that indicated good flexibility.  However, this position can lead to some really serious orthopedic conditions, as it prevents kids from being able to shift their weight and achieve what is called “trunk rotation”.

Not only will this inability to rotate prevent a child from stretching to grasp things out of their immediate reach, but it will have long-term serious consequences.  In order to develop adequate balance reactions, such as the ability to catch a fall, a child needs to have developed this weight-shifting and rotating ability.  These abilities are also integral to crossing the midline, which is necessary for writing.

As children develop, each motor skill that gets mastered is necessary to go on to the next one. If bilateral coordination is interrupted because of constant sitting in this “W” position, this can very well lead to significant delays in achieving other skills, such as: developing hand dominance, skipping, throwing, kicking etc.

Additionally, W-sitting causes actual shortening and tightening of the hip and leg muscles, causing the child to be “pigeon-toed” when he walks.  This will eventually lead to complications of back and pelvic pain as they grow.  The video you are about to watch below will help to explain both the physiological dangers of allowing your child to sit in the “W” position, as well as the impairment to properly developing  motor skills.

Please SHARE this important, little-known information with your friends and family

YouTube Video Link on W Sitting

 https://youtu.be/stfK305QAdk