Articles by Year: 2020
Dear FOCUS Therapy Families,
If ever a year could be described as a rollercoaster, it was 2020. FOCUS Therapy is beyond grateful for the families, therapists and staff who stuck with us through whirlwind months of office closures (in accordance with CDC guidelines), rapidly-expanded teletherapy services, scheduling upheavals and enhanced safety protocols. Our services are vital to patients’ health and development, and we’re committed to delivering no matter the obstacles. Still, our success has always hinged heavily on the dedication of our FOCUS families.
As a token of our thanks, this new year we’re gifting each patient a clean slate on their appointment cancellation record. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, cancellations for the prior calendar year will not count against you or adversely impact your child’s standing as a FOCUS patient.
A friendly reminder that FOCUS Therapy will be closed December 21st through 25th for the holidays. Our clinic will also be closed for a half day on New Year’s Eve and a full day on New Year’s Day.
Individual therapists may still schedule teletherapy services for speech therapy and occupational therapy patients.
Our annual scheduled office closings can be found on our Contact Us page.
If you have any other questions, you may email us or send us a direct message on our Facebook page.
From all of us at FOCUS Therapy, we wish each of our clients and their families the happiest of holidays and a new year that is both merry and bright!
FOCUS offers speech, ABA, OT and physical therapy to children in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Usually around this time of year, kids’ backpacks are stuffed with supplies, books and “lost” homework. Our Fort Myers physical therapy team will hear complaints about sore backs and necks due to the daily weight of that being distributed incorrectly. (After all, most kids don’t give a second thought to ergonomics.) But for many kids this year, those backpacks are lying unused on the closet floor. An estimated one-third of Lee County’s 84,000 students were attending Lee Home Connect and Lee Virtual School as of late November, according to The News-Press.
Distance learning has come with its own ergonomic woes. Namely, our Fort Myers physical therapy office is seeing issues with aches and pains caused by poor posture as they sit for hours at a computer screen.
Prolonged time spent slouched over a tablet or laptop or hunched over the kitchen table is bound to impact not only a child’s body, but their academic performance as well. The benefits of addressing abnormal postures and positioning are numerous. When they’re no longer in pain, kids’ attention improves, they retain more – and get the most out of distance learning and virtual therapy.
The good news is, even minor adjustments can make a major difference in how your child feels and how well they do in school.
A new study has found that some social behaviors and reciprocal social skills associated with autism are inherited. But as children get older, their environment takes on a growing influence in how the child develops, researchers concluded.
This reinforces something our Fort Myers ABA therapy team has known for some time: The minds of children are incredibly resilient, and with appropriate early intervention, new neuropathways can be forged to help them overcome many of the deficits they face.
Conversation is something that flows naturally for many of us. But for some kids with delays and disabilities, conversational skills may be abstract and nuanced. One tool our Fort Myers speech therapists use to help practice conversational skills is through “scripts.”
Scripts can help kids learn how to appropriately initiate, maintain, extend and end social and conversational exchanges. These can be used to talk about special interests, participate in activities, engage in classroom activities and more. Conversational scripts take it a step beyond simple requesting and can help children recognize and understand the organization, guidelines and boundaries of everyday conversation.
As always, we tailor our techniques to the way each child learns, beginning with engaging topics about which they’re interested.
Yoga and occupational therapy go hand-in-hand. The word “yoga” literally means “to yoke” or “unite.” As pediatric occupational therapists, we’re often seeking to “unite” children’s physical, cognitive and emotional selves – always treating the whole child, rather than their compartmentalized sets of eyes, ears, legs and hands.
Occupational therapy focuses on the development of:
- Gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills
- Sensory processing
- Behavior regulation
- Social skills
Yoga uses breathing techniques, mindfulness and poses to help a person’s body become calm and energized. It helps to develop:
- Bilateral coordination
- Processing of sensory information
Yoga is also great for helping teach focus, self-regulation and calming the mind and body. It helps foster imagination too. Of course, kids don’t know they’re working on all of this – especially when we’re using fun games and poses and tools like Cosmic Kids Yoga. That’s why our Fort Myers occupational therapists LOVE using yoga in sessions, and encourage parents to do so at home too. Get down on the floor with your child and turn it into family fun time!
All parents struggle with problem behaviors with their children at some point. This is especially true for families with children diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, behavior challenges or related disorders. FOCUS ABA therapy promotes “expected behaviors” (and discourages “unexpected behaviors”) through consistent, positive reinforcement over a period of months or years. These methods are most effective when we have consistent parent carryover of our strategies.
We understand that lack of compliance, transition trouble and meltdowns can be incredibly frustrating for parents. Although we work on self-regulation and other skills in behavior sessions, our Fort Myers ABA therapy team have some helpful tips for how to handle these situations at home to reduce unexpected behaviors and increase positive behaviors.
Our FOCUS physical therapists have been closely watching and cheering the historic story of 21-year-old Chris Nikic in Panama City, Florida, who recently became the first person with Down syndrome to compete in and finish an Ironman competition. It’s not a feat for the faint of heart, requiring a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2 mile run – all within 17 hours.
“I am going to make history by crushing it,” the Maitland man said before the competition.
And crush it, he did.
“You have shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that Anything is Possible!” Ironman Florida posted on its Facebook page.
Nikic later attributed his accomplishment to waking up every morning and committing himself to be 1 percent better than he was the day before.
“I have to work hard and give my best every day,” he said.
Our FOCUS physical therapists believe in this message 100 percent! We also believe that reaching this level of fitness is much more likely for individuals with Down syndrome with early intervention, address the most common physical health challenges and concerns in early childhood. The sooner we start, the less they have to catch up and the healthier they’ll be.
Children are born to learn through play. Playing speech therapy games at home with your child gives them a chance to practice the speech and language skills we’re working to help them develop in therapy, while also giving you a chance to bond with them.
Chances are, you’ve already played them together before, but there are a few ways you can tweak the games so that they’re still fun but even more effective at targeting certain skills like vocabulary, attention, memory, articulation, phonics, observation, deduction and expressive/receptive language.
We like these games in particular too because not only are they free, you can introduce them almost anywhere: On a road trip, at a restaurant while you wait for food, a rainy day at home or a sunny day at the park. And siblings can join in too!