Metro Therapy Special Children's Center

Winter 2017 Newsletter

For kids who have problems with sensory processing, social interactions with other kids can be tough.  Going to a friend’s house for a play date or having a friend over to play may seem like an insurmountable feat for a child who has hypersensitivities or for a child who seeks out sensory input through rough play.  Here are ways to support kids to create positive social play experiences.  These are also great strategies to implement during holiday gatherings:

1. Schedule Smart Choose the day and time of your play date wisely.
Most children (with or without sensory needs) tend to have a time of day when they are at their best.  This is your best opportunity to allow your child to shine!  Also consider the day of the week.   Shoot for scheduling on a day that is otherwise free and easy. Keep it flexible.  Saying “We’ll be there between 9 and 10” gives you some wiggle room to manage any meltdowns and to make a smooth transition.

2. Encourage Smooth Transitions.
Use priming strategies, so your child knows where you are going and what they are going to do there.

3. Provide Structure
Allow your child to help you write down or draw pictures of a simple schedule of events.   Make a general timeline for example:
First – play downstairs
Next – time to eat
Last- play outside

4. Use Your Tools
Most parents of children with sensory needs know what to do to support and help calm their kids.  Why not make them part of the play date?  If you’re going to someone else’s house, throw a few favorites into a backpack and tell your child that she can share them with her friend

5. Talk it out
Whenever the opportunity presents itself, try being open with your child’s friend about what she needs and why.  For example, “Jane is going to do some jumping and crashing into the pillows because it helps her calm her body down.  Do you want to try too?”

6. Choose Your Location Wisely
Rather than playing at your house or a friend’s house, what about meeting up at a favorite place that is already designed to meet your child’s sensory needs?

7. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Talk to your child ahead of time about the sensory experiences that commonly trigger meltdowns for him (e.g. loud noises, messy activities) and about how he can appropriately get the input his body needs during the play date.  Come up with backup plans and ideas for appropriate responses to different scenarios (e.g. what to do if there is a loud sound, what to do if there is a food you don’t like, what you can do instead of tackling/pushing).

The Development and Importance of Play

Like many other skills, play is a developmental process that includes various stages. These
stages of play correspond to speech and language development.

Four Developmental Stages of Play

  • Exploratory: Exploring objects (may include banging, shaking, squeezing, and mouthing).
    • Typical Age of Emergence: 2-10 months
  • Relational: Relating objects to one another in simple ways (e.g., taking pieces of toys apart and putting them back together).
    • Typical Age of Emergence: 10-18 months
  • Functional: Using objects and toys as intended (e.g., cooking with pots and pans, rocking a baby doll).
    • Typical Age of Emergence: 12-18 months
  • Symbolic: Incorporating object substitution, pretend objects, or role play (e.g., pretend play with baby doll or action figures, pretending to be a character).
    • Typical Age of Emergence: 18-30 months

Did you know that caregivers play an important role in helping children progress through the
stages of play?

Tips for Using Play to Expand and Extend Your Child’s Speech and Language Development

  • Choose Open Ended Toys: Choose toys where your child does the doing and NOT the toy (e.g., limit toys with batteries such as noise making and light up toys).
    • Open ended toys include: blocks, play kitchen, baby doll, ball, cars, etc.
  • Don’t Worry About Gender Specific Toys (e.g., it’s okay for boys to play with dolls).
  • Set Up Open Ended Play Schemes (e.g., put trains on a track, put food in a play kitchen).
  • Play and Be Present with Your Children (don’t expect your child to play alone).

Watson, L.R., Boyd, B.A., Baranek, G.T., Crais, E.R., Odom, S.L., et al., (2011).
Advancing Social-Communication and Play (ASAP): An intervention program for preschoolers with autism. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Lindsey Brown, BA, COTA completed Sensory Processing in the schools

Becka Haensel, BA, COTA, completed Introduction to Trust Based Relational Intervention.

Brittany Ahlskog, M.S., CCC-SLP took the following CEU Courses:

  • Recognizing and Treating Toddlers and Preschoolers with Red Flags for ASD
  • Enhancing Pretend Play Skills in Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Pediatric Feeding Assessments and Interventions

A note from the office

Beginning Dec 18th, we will be updating and verifying current insurance coverage, contact information, release authorizations and other important information for each client. Please return these forms ASAP so we can continue your child’s care without interruption.

Clinic Closures

Metro Therapy will be closed Monday, December 25th in observance of Christmas and Monday, January 1st for New Years. Please call our office to reschedule your sessions for those days, or to schedule any make up session for previously missed days. We will be OPEN for MLK day, and Presidents Day.

Like us on Facebook

Metro Therapy posts relevant articles, activities, photos from our clinic day and videos several times a week. We also post about our schedule; openings for makeups, snow days and possible clinic closures. The best way to keep up-to-date with Metro happenings is through Facebook! Follow our page before Dec 15th, 2017 and you will be entered to win a gift card to Target!

Newer post December 31, 2017 Older post

Interested in more?

If you think your child might need therapeutic help, you can check out our services or we have a handy list of things you may need in getting starting with us.

Join our Newsletter

Past Posts