Is There a Real Baby Sitter in the House?

Monday, March 30th, 2015


In The Face Time Baby Sitter, Jennifer Saranow Schultz touts the notion of  FaceTime as a virtual babysitter. While at first the idea of the iPad qua babysitter seems to be a tantalizing for young parents (I have 4 daughters who fit this category), at second blush it is downright alarming. First, while not nearly as passive as watching a video, FaceTime communication should not be mistaken for quality human interaction. The humans involved cannot physically connect,  and do not command eye contact or conversation outside of a very limited  (6-8 inch?) range.

Second, it provides a false sense of security.  If mom is in the laundry room, and Grandma is chatting with her grandchild or reading him a book, there is nothing to prevent that toddler or pre-schooler from putting the iPad down and wandering around the house unsupervised.  The iPad is not everywhere and cannot see everything. And third, young children are sensorimotor learners, who develop skills by physically engaging with their environments, not by watching screens.  Cooking, laundry and putting away groceries are opportunities for hands-on learning about categorizing, size, shape, weight, sequencing; experiencing a variety of textures;  and developing strength and coordination. My advice: take advantage of FaceTime to visit with far flung relatives as a parent-child team. Have Grandma read Junior a book while snuggling in Mom or Dad’s arms to foster a close warm connection that engages more of the senses.  Leave babysitting to an onsite human

This entry was posted on Monday, March 30th, 2015 and is filed under High Tech Parenting, Infants & Toddlers, News and Views, Parenting.

In The News: Parents create custom jobs for their adult children with autism

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

The USA TODAY article “Parents create custom jobs for adult kids with autism,” by Karen Weintraub is a must read for parents of children with special needs!











At POTS we stress the importance of finding and developing your child’s unique passions and talents. This article describes how Lori Ireland and a group of parents of children with autism took this concept to the next level and began Extraordinary Ventures (EV). EV, an employer of autistic adults, creates jobs that match the unique skills of their employees and fills a need in society. For example, cleaning rows of bus seats and providing laundry services provides consistency, a quality which many adults with autism look for in a job, and require repetition, which the employees do not mind and usually prefer.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 and is filed under Autism, News and Views, The Special Needs Child.

Is there a Biological Basis for Sensory Processing Disorder?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Cutting edge research at the University of California San Francisco uncovered a biological basis for Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD). According to a recent article written by Juliana Bunim, “Breakthrough Study Reveals Biological Basis for Sensory Processing Disorders in Kids,” researchers analyzed MRIs for white matter fibers. White matter is crucial in perceiving, thinking, and learning. The study found abnormal white matter in the SPD subjects, specifically the tracts that connect the auditory, visual, and tactile systems. Dr. Elysa Marco, who ran the study, stated “we are just at the beginning, because people didn’t believe this <SPD> existed…this shows it <SPD> is a brain-based disorder and gives us a way to evaluate them <children with SPD>s in clinic.”

Read the article to learn more about the study and how this can effect future evaluations of those with SPD.

Submitted by: Sarah Small

This entry was posted on Monday, July 29th, 2013 and is filed under News and Views, Sensory Integration.

ADHD Drugs Don’t Boost Kids’ Grades

Monday, July 15th, 2013

In her article in The Wall Street Journal “ADHD Drugs Don’t Boost Kids’ Grades,” Shirley S. Wang, a former researcher, points out that recent studies show that drugs do not improve academic outcomes in the long run. Shirley suggests that medication alone isn’t enough. Medicine needs to be “coupled with skills training, such as learning how to organize or prioritize.” Many parents bring children with ADHD to POTS for occupational therapy to help them develop “student skills” such as organizing a desk or a backpack and learning strategies for completing homework. Take a look at the article and tell us what you think.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 15th, 2013 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, News and Views.

Talking Up a Storm

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Parents: keep on talking! Don’t underestimate the power of speech and conversation with your kids!

Take a look at this New York Times editorial, “The Power of Talking to Your Baby,” by Tina Rosenberg, for more.

I have been on a long crusade to cut down on children’s exposure to screens before the age of three, based largely on research that cautioned that even background TV resulted in children whose verbal skills lagged as much as 6 months behind other children because it cut down on face-time with an interactive adult. Here is the very exciting flip side.  The quantity of human interaction measured in number of words spoken correlated directly with IQ.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 11th, 2013 and is filed under News and Views, Parenting.

10 Things We Know About Autism That We Didn’t Know a Year Ago

Monday, April 8th, 2013

In her Huffington Post article “10 Things We Know About Autism That We Didn’t Know a Year Ago,” Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks, shares some of the great progress made in autism research in just the last year. As we celebrate and recognize Autism Awareness Month this April, Dawson reminds us not only of the steps forward we’ve taken, but how many more still need to be made. Take a look at her article and tell us what you think below. What are some things you’ve learned about autism this year that you didn’t know before?

This entry was posted on Monday, April 8th, 2013 and is filed under Navigating the system, News and Views.

Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

Monday, March 18th, 2013
On of the most well known and accomplished individuals with autism, Temple Grandin explains in this TED talk how her ability to “think in pictures” and attend to detail enables her to identify and solve problems differently from individual with a “neurotypical” brain. Also one of the best known individuals to recognize and come to terms with her Sensory Processing Disorder, Temple Grandin created the “squeeze machine” to provide herself with deep touch pressure device to help her overcome her over-sensitivity to touch. In this talk, she makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 18th, 2013 and is filed under News and Views, Sensory Integration.

Autism is Not a Parenting Fail

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Responding to Brenda Rothman’s “Autism is Not a Parenting Fail” on The Huffington Post.

Hopefully Brenda Rothman’s experience as a mother of a child with autism is different from that of parents of newly diagnosed children these days. At POTS, when coaching parents of children with differences, from mild to catastrophic, we emphasize that each child develops on his/her own timeline. Parents do not have the power to cause their children’s differences, but they do have the power to help them discover their unique passions and strengths and capitalize on them. It may be a lot of hard work to figure out what that is, but the end result is worth it. Working from a strength-based model rather that focusing on deficits can open up a world of possibilities to children, whose skills and interests are not those of typically developing children. Each parent will need to write his/her own child’s instruction manual, and be sure to give all of those on their team access to it.

Submitted by Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, Director of POTS

This entry was posted on Monday, February 25th, 2013 and is filed under Autism, Navigating the system, News and Views, Parenting, The Special Needs Child.

ADHD and Medication May Not Mix?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Many parents bring their children for occupational therapy as an alternative to medication to manage the symptoms of ADHD. Often medication is recommended by their child’s school (although the teacher is not a medical professional). Here is an article from MedlinePlus, the publication of the National Institute of Health, with evidence that will come as no surprise to the skeptical among us: in a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins 90 percent of the children taking ADHD medications continued to experience symptoms of the condition six years after their diagnosis and ongoing treatment. What has your experience been? Tell us in the comments.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2013 and is filed under Autism, Navigating the system, News and Views, Parenting, The Special Needs Child.

Can Autism Be Prevented?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
Responding to the article “Can Autism Be Prevented?” on Fox News.

While theories of the origin of autism sort themselves out, parents of children on the autistic spectrum (ASD) need to prioritize the services that will most benefit their children now!  At its root, ASD is a disorder of communicating and relating. Therefore to be effective, interventions need to directly target social skills, including non-verbal communication, play and language. Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD), which are present in approximately 75% of children with ASD, draw children’s attention away from the social environment and compound their inner-directedness. SPD may express itself as compelling  hypo and hyper-sensitivities to sensory stimuli and poor motor planning, dictating children’s behavior as they seek, avoid or are drawn in by stimuli that most other children ignore.

Occupational therapists at POTS treat children within a sensory integration/Floortime model to modulate children’s responses to stimuli and regulate their behavior to free them up to accurately take in information from their environment and respond to it appropriately in a timely manner.

Submitted by Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, Director of POTS

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 and is filed under Autism, News and Views, The Special Needs Child.