Congratulations to Katie Kennedy, DPT and Kati Berlin, MS OTR/L, who recently completed a course on practical and effective strategies for integrating sensory and motor learning. Through this professional development course, these clinicians focused on strengthening their skills in the following areas.
In summer 2017, Child and Family Development offers a sensory-language social skills group built around LEGO® fun!
Sessions are co-led by a Speech Therapist and an Occupational Therapist.
The program is based on a LEGO® curriculum as well as LEGO®- Based Therapy: How to build social competence through LEGO®-based clubs for children with autism and other related conditions by Daniel LeGoff, Gina Gomez de la Cuesta, GW Krauss and Simon Baron-Cohen. Main topics are:
- WHOLE BODY LISTENING
- BUILDING WITH A GROUP
- READING & SHOWING EMOTIONS
- GIVING & RECEIVING DIRECTIONS
Our group is open to all children who are verbal and can follow simple multi-step directions. A diagnosis is not required nor restricted to participation.
At the end of the week, kids will go home with a special toy to be enjoyed!
Each child is screened by a therapist before being placed into a group. The groups are formed based on each child’s communication skills, social ability and age. To participate, a child must be able to follow basic Lego directions independently or with minimal help.
The group meets for four 50-minute sessions, Monday-Thursday at the Pineville office. Based on interest, there will be up to 4 groups:
- GROUP #1: July 24-July 27 from 11-12
- GROUP #2: July 24-July 27 from 1-2
- GROUP #3: July 31-August 3 from 11-12
- GROUP #4: July 31-August 3 from 1-2
The cost is $220.00. All LEGO® materials are included. Payment is due at the time of registration.
- Kati Berlin, MS OTR/L, Occupational Therapist, 704.541.9080 ext. 210
- Kristin Lyman, MA CCC-SLP, Speech Therapist, 704.541.9080 ext. 213
Click here to print the info page.
Katie Berlin MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at Child and Family Development- Pineville, recently completed attended an introductory level online course about the Stanley Greenspan DIR Floortime® approach from ICDL.
According to the DIR Floortime® website, DIR is the Developmental, Individual-differences, & Relationship-based model that has become the foundation for understanding child development and providing support and intervention that helps children reach their fullest potential. The DIR® model is a framework that helps therapists, parents and educators conduct comprehensive assessments and develop educational and/or intervention programs tailored to the unique challenges and strengths of each child.
Kati shares that the approach is focused on bolstering foundational skills in cognition, language, social and emotional skills. Typically, it is used with children on the autism spectrum, but can also be used with other children with decreased emotional regulation and social skill difficulties. The course has greatly impacted her perspective on development of social skills and self regulation. It has also altered the way that she might plan and implement treatment with occupational therapy clients who present with significant functional deficits. Now, her focus is on engagement, imitation, and social reciprocity, rather than skill acquisition.
She encourages families and colleagues to learn more from their free parent education course here.
Read more about our pediatric occupational therapy services, here.
Kati Berlin MS OTR/L works at Child and Family Development- Pineville as an occupational therapist.
Recently, a mother and preschool teacher gave Kati an excellent grade via this compliment: "Both my child and I loved occupational therapy with Kati. She made it fun for everyone! She's great!"
Read more about Kati's expertise and approach here.
Katie Berlin MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at Child and Family Development- Pineville, reviewed a common sense article titled "5 Brain-Based Reasons To Teach Handwriting In Schools" from Psychology Today. Believe it or not, this is a debate!
Katie shares that the information is a breath of fresh air to the occupational therapists who have observed some schools opting out of introducing pre-writing, printing and cursive to elementary aged students. The author, J. Richard Gentry, Ph.D, offers supporting research that highlights the benefits of handwriting, including that it helps kids to learn their letters for reading, be better writers and spellers. His main points include:
- Handwriting helps kids develop reading circuitry in their brains.
- Handwriting makes better writers and spellers and predicts reading and academic success.
- Handwriting makes both children—and adults—smarter! Close those laptops!
- Start out with teacher modeling.
- Teach handwriting directly and explicitly.
He emphasizes that keyboarding- rather than writing new information- is less effective when it comes to remembering information and “synthesizing” it, or building the new information into what you already know. Of course, an occupational therapist will recommend keyboarding for those who are unable to learn manuscript, but this article helps to support the idea that keyboarding should be an accommodation and not the norm in the classroom.
Katie and our other occupational therapy team members offer evaluations and treatment options that determine strength and coordination for pre-writing, printing, cursive and keyboarding. Handwriting Without Tears® (HWT) is one popular program. Read more about our HWT services here.
Read full article here.
Happy C&FD Anniversary to Kati Berlin
Kati Berlin MS OTR/L is an occupational therapist at the Pineville office. She is celebrating 5 years at Child and Family Development this month.
Kati has a number of specialty trainings, including but not limited to Handwriting Without Tears®, Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding™(SOS), Therapeutic Listening® and Zones of Regulation®. She enjoys and has experience in helping children and teens with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays, fine motor difficulties, handwriting difficulties, sensory processing difficulties, feeding difficulties and visual perceptual difficulties.
A colleague shares:
Kati is an excellent clinician who cares deeply about her clients and colleagues. She is always willing to collaborate and listen to her coworkers when there is a complex case, and she is always thoughtful when considering interventions for her own clients. Kati is a key part of our occupational therapy team!
Occupational therapy is all about the "job of living".
The primary role of the occupational therapist in pediatrics is to help children play, grow, and develop many of the skills that will enable them to enjoy a satisfying adult life. OTs do this through the knowledgeable selection and use of everyday activities (occupations) to evaluate and enhance children’s development and competence.
We help children, teens and young adults with behavioral, developmental, neurological and physical deficits gain skills and learn to function with as much independence as possible. Therapy visits might focus on helping kids learn to eat, hold a pencil, write letters and words, cut a straight line, get dressed, brush teeth, stay organized and focused in the classroom or on the playground, manage sensory input and their own behaviors, as well as stretch and strengthen their muscles. In other words, we help children with everyday activities.
If you notice difficulties in one or more of these areas, an evaluation and treatment may be appropriate:
- Developmental Skill Acquisition
- Delayed motor or self-care skills
- Motor Planning
- Sensory Processing
- Visual Perception
Some of our occupational therapy specialty services are:
- Constraint Induced Movement Therapy
- Cranio-sacral Treatment (CST)
- Feeding Groups
- Handwriting Without Tears® (HWT)
- Interactive Metronome™ (IM)
- Neuro-Developmental Treatment™ (NDT)
- Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES)
- Saebo® Arm Training Program
- Sensory Integration
- Sequential Oral Sensory Approach™ (SOS) to feeding
- Therapeutic Listening®
- Total Motion Release® (TMR)
- Visual Processing
- Zones of Regulation
April is Occupational Therapy Month and we are celebrating with our team. Visit our Charlotte and Pineville lobbies to add a note of THANKS for the wonderful work they do!
Kati Berlin MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development, helps the rest of us stay up to date with the latest apps and technology options for pediatric therapy. Recently, she discovered a resource with various features that she has already used and recommended.
Child Lock has a feature and guided access that allows a parent/caregiver to lock a child into a specific application so they can’t float around the app or the device as they please.
- With the IOS 8 update you can set time limits without an additional app: http://www.cnet.com/how-to/lock-the-ipad-to-just-one-app
Occupational therapy intervention always includes recommendations for outside the session, such as things to do at home, school and beyond. Call us to get started with a free phone intake.
Kati Berlin MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development, enjoyed this information about weighted blankets. The article provides a good explanation of why this type of sensory input is helpful, who can benefit from one, how to get and use a blanket, as well as the importance of sleep.
Kati especially appreciates the nod to Temple Grandin, a pioneer in sensory processing and autism and the suggestions on using a weighted blanket.
Click here for the full article.
An occupational therapy evaluation will provide standardized and normed data that highlight a person's sensory processing preferences and difficulties across all senses. Call us to get started with a free phone intake.
Kati Berlin MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Pineville office, has some tips for meals with families who have picky eaters at the holiday table.
- Do a dry run with new or unusual foods in a typical mealtime environment, rather than waiting until the hectic holiday meal.
- Do a taste testing with low pressure to like the food and time to adjust the flavors before the holiday meal.
- Tell the story behind the special holiday food item to create buy-in.
- Put the child to work. Being part of the preparation may build comfort and willingness to try.
- Add condiments. Kids may be more willing to try when a favorite dipping sauce is available.
- Reduce pre-meal snacks. Bring them to the table hungry!
- Create a signature dish to promote interest.
- Give the food a catchy name. Younger kids are more interested when food is fun.
- Keep servings small and simple.
- Don't serve a completely different meal, by including some familiar and favorite items.
- Don't battle over bites.
Kati also found a low cost online seminar for parents and professionals from Sensory Processing University called Surviving The Holidays With A Picky Eater and led by renowned expert Kay Toomey, PhD. The seminar promises suggestions on talking with family and friends about picky eating and how to deal with difficult situations, as well as information on the difference between picky eaters and problem feeders. Click here to learn more about the course.
Kati and other occupational therapists and speech therapists on the Child and Family Development team assess and treat kids, teens and young adults with feeding difficulties and swallowing difficulties. She is trained in the Sequential Oral Sensory approach ™ (SOS) created by Kay Toomey. The approach looks at the whole child in order to assess why a child is not eating or has a very limited diet. Intervention then begins within a child’s comfort level and children are allowed to explore and learn about food in a non-threatening way through play.
Kati Berlin MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development, reviewed an interesting article about how writing by hand is good for your brain. Being trained in Handwriting Without Tears, she was intrigued by the title. The author conferred with Dr. Marc Seifer, a graphologist and handwriting expert who wrote The Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis, about the benefits of taking a pen to paper and here is the abbreviated list:
Writing by hand:
- has a calming effect
- coordinates the left and right brain
- boosts cognitive skills
- inspires creativity
- sharpens aging minds
- improves memory
- uses more of your brain
In particular, Kati agrees that writing things down impacts our memory. Especially for kinesthetic learners, one will retain more by writing than by simply typing. For her school aged clients, Kati proposes a balance between handwriting and typing. Once you can master writing each letter without having to think much about formation, sizing, baseline, and spacing, writing is so much easier! That’s why we frequently recommend keyboarding as an accommodation to children with learning disabilities like dysgraphia and dyslexia. Keyboarding removes the need to work on actual letter formation. It lets the child think only about spelling and what they want to write, not how to write it.
Read full article here.
Kati Berlin, MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Child and Family Development Pineville office, has found another fun activity to enjoy in occupational therapy sessions! This one is an award winning book series by Melanie Watt called Scaredy Squirrel. Check out her website to learn more.
Katie thinks these books are a great laugh but are also a great resource for children with anxiety or sensory processing difficulties. The stories can help kids with situations such as dealing with nightmares, making new friends or coping with crowds. The Scaredy Squirrel stories have similar plots, in which Scaredy is prepared for the worst and then winds up finding out that things are better than he expected.
- In Scaredy Squirrel Makes A Friend, Scaredy is not very fond of leaving his tree because of the risks that it can bring. He makes a plan about how to make a “safe friend” and packs everything he needs, but his plan is foiled by sweet dog (with scary teeth) who just wants to be Scaredy’s friend.
- In Scaredy Squirrel At Night, Scaredy is afraid of going to sleep because of nightmares. The author helps teach children about the possible effects of not sleeping.
- In Scaredy Squirrel At The Beach, Scaredy does not want to go to the beach because he is afraid of being around too many people. He discovers that the beach with crowds is way more fun than the beach he created out of kitty litter under his tree.
Thank you Melanie Watt for making some awesome social stories!
Kati Berlin MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development, is excited about the Special Olympics 2015 World Games that begin on July 25.
She is inspired by how the Games spotlight individuals on a national stage and change society's perceptions about people with disabilities.
Four athletes from North Carolina will represent our state.
Learn all of the details on the Special Olympics NC website: http://sonc.net/
They will join 6,500 athletes from 177 nations as they compete in 25 Olympic-type sports at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games July 25-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles. With an anticipated 30,000 volunteers and 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, allowing all to reveal the champion within. View the ESPN broadcast schedule for World Games. Photos from the North Carolina send-off dinner are now available.
Kati Berlin, MS, OTR/L, an occupational therapist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development, recently reviewed an article.
- Tantrums and sensory meltdowns are not the same thing.
- It can be hard to tell the difference between them by just looking at an upset child.
- Knowing the causes of tantrums and meltdowns can help you learn how to manage them.
Kati likes the specific tips about how to view your child’s behavior and determine if the reaction is related to sensory overstimulation, a meltdown or a a temper tantrum. She knows first hand that this can be quite difficult, especially when Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is present.
An occupational therapy evaluation often includes a Sensory Profile which helps to determine a person's processing skills compared to peers.
Kati and the 8 other licensed occupational therapists on our team are available to share their expertise. We are in-network with many insurance plans, including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield NC, Cigna, Medcost, North Carolina Medicaid, Primary Physician Care and United Health Care. Our clients also may pay privately and access out-of-network benefits.
Read more about behavior and sensory processing on our blog.
Topics: Kati Berlin
Kati Berlin, MS, OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development, completed expanded training titled “Anxiety Disorders in Children & Adolescents, Recognizing & Treating the Emerging Epidemic”.
Kati learned more about types of anxiety that are prevalent in childhood and adolescents, including techniques for managing it. Concepts include self-regulation, self-calming strategies, breathing techniques, yoga, activities of interest, mindfulness and others. She plans to apply this knowledge to her work, especially as a part of sensory processing intervention.
Read more about sensory processing here.
Our OT team consists of 8 licensed occupational therapists, rather than assistants or aides. We are in-network with many insurance plans, including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield NC, Cigna, Medcost, North Carolina Medicaid, Primary Physician Care and United Health Care. Our clients also may pay privately and access out-of-network benefits.
Topics: Kati Berlin
Occupational therapists likes Kati Berlin often have suggestions for home and school life.
A fidget is a small object, like a koosh ball, stress ball, pencil, keychain, bracelet, paper clip, eraser, or small toy, that can be beneficial for helping a child pay attention in school, focus a need to move, or deal with anxiety. They are objects that can be pulled, squeezed or moved around with your hands or fingers while paying attention and looking at the teacher. Fidgets can be helpful for kids with ADHD, sensory processing disorders, or anxiety during classroom time or at home.
Topics: Kati Berlin
Holiday celebrations bring joy, and sometimes challenges. Excited children become noisier, decorations provide greater visual input and the lack of routine make some children more anxious and reactive. For children with sensory processing issues, the daily challenges of communication and social skills can be magnified.
Here are some suggestions to support communication and emotion regulation for successful social interactions:
- When changes in the school routine occur, it is important to compensate by providing greater predictability and structure at home.
- Make a holiday calendar. Create a list or insert pictures of planned activities that are outside the regular routine.
- Help your child learn basic phrases to use when meeting relatives that he or she hasn't seen for a while.
- Provide a break for your child by watching a DVD or quiet time when days are full and busy.
- Help your child stay regulated by watching for signs of sensory overload or emotion dis-regulation and help your child regain control before it is too late.
Read another blog post for more ideas to help kids at this time of year.
Kati Berlin, Occupational Therapist, shares ideas on how to make a fidget.
Fidget toys are small objects that can be used during school, in the classroom, or at home to focus a need to move, help kids pay attention, or help to decrease anxiety. Children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD), hyperactivity, sensory processing disorder, or anxiety may be able to benefit from a fidget toy. Fidgets should help your child focus, should not make distracting noises, and should not distract other children in your child's class. When fidgets start to interfere with focus and functioning in the classroom, they should be taken away & a new approach should be attempted. Make sure to ask your child's teacher before sending a fidget with your child to school.
Topics: Kati Berlin
Kati Berlin, OTR/L and the other occupational therapists on the Child and Family Development team often recommend adding a piece of Theraband (elastic exercise band) to the legs of a desk so that a school-aged child can “fidget” and kick the band during class instruction, rather than engaging in more disruptive activities to get in needed movement.
One draw back to using the Theraband is that they do make noise when kicked, but this new band is advertised to be silent. So, she was thrilled to find this alternative: Bouncy Band!
Topics: Kati Berlin