Metro Therapy Special Children's Center

Winter 2015 Newsletter

A Note from the Office

Beginning Dec 15th, 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 with your child’s care without interruption.

Toys to Promote Speech & Language Growth

mess in child's room

As the holidays approach, many parents, friends, and family members wonder if there are specific toys that will captivate their little ones as well as help enhance early speech and language skills. Look for toys that:

Are open-ended: Open-ended toys can be played with in a variety of ways and encourage imagination, creativity, and language growth. Open-ended toys encourage the child to do the playing (example: constructing a bridge and tunnel with blocks for cars to drive through), as opposed the toy just doing one specific function (example: push a button and it makes a sound or lights up)

Introduce new concepts: Toys can teach and reinforce concepts such as cause and effect, different textures, spatial concepts, and quantity concepts.

Encourage interaction between the child and a caregiver: Young children learn language through play and by playing with a caregiver. The toy itself is not as important as what you and the child can do together while playing with it.

Some examples of toys that follow one or more of these recommendations include:

  • Building blocks
  • Car tracks
  • Doll house
  • Musical instruments
  • Play kitchen with food and dishes
  • Ball and hammer or ball popper
  • Baby doll and accessories
  • Outdoor toys such as sand toys, water table, balls, sidewalk chalk
  • Farm or other animal sets
  • Songs and finger play books/CDs
  • Tool sets
  • Play-doh

Sometimes you just need an activity QUICK.

When energies are spiraling downwards into chaos the best option is to refocus with a little sensory play. Here is a list of indoor water and tactile sensory activity ideas to keep in mind

Water Play:

  • Bath time
  • Finger paint the tub– A natural extension of bath time, or a way to extend bath time: give drops of finger paint on sides of the tub and have the kids paint the sides. It cleans up right down the drain.
  • Washing– Have the kids grab a few of their toy cars and put soap or shaving cream in the bathroom sink. They can use rags or sponges to give the cars a bath. Set up a stool at the kitchen counter and let them wash dishes, just the tupperware if need be!
  • Blowing bowl bubbles– Get out the largest mixing bowl or empty plastic food jug, you have and fill it part way with water. Add a dab of dish soap and get out the straws and show how to blow out to make bubbles. Once you have a mountain of bubbles you can do fun things like blowing into a bubble and making it bigger or hiding a toy under the bubbles. Blowing can be a very calming activity for kids

Sensory Tubs:

Putting out any of these items to swish fingers through, drive toy cars through or hide small treasure in can be fun. Putting a smaller tub inside a larger tub on the floor can keep the mess contained, so you might try that. With items like beans or rice spread a blanket out under the play area and any over-spill can be swooped up at the end by lifting the blanket corners.

  • Plain Cornmeal or Cornmeal “Sandcastle dough”
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Oats
  • Make a treasure hunt with rice or Moon Dough ( flour and oil)
  • Shaving cream– Some kids are hesitant to get fingers messy- you may want to try just a little bit of shaving cream at first, or get play going by bringing out a plastic animal or other toy they can dip in. Keep a napkin nearby for the first tentative touches, but soon the kids don’t care about the shaving cream on their fingers.
  • Water and cornstarch

Community Activities:

Two local theater companies are now offering sensory friendly performances. These performances include: reduction of lights and sound, less crowds and increased staff. Contact the theaters below for more information on performance times and dates.

Meet the Team

Becka Haensel

Hi, I am Becka Haensel. I am a new COTA/L here at Metro Therapy. I recently graduated this last spring from Anoka Technical College, and am very happy to be here. Some of my favorite things to do is gardening, camping, and hiking in the summer. In my down time I enjoy drawing and painting. I love working with my hands and be creative. OT has given me the ability to truly use my skills and be creative in so many ways.

Dorthy Mattson

My name is Dorothy Mattson and I began working at Metro Therapy on October 12, 2015. I have been so happily greeted at Metro Therapy by many familiar children from the Fridley Schools where I previously worked as a school occupational therapist. It was very fun to watch them try to figure out why and how I was at Metro Therapy and not in their school setting.

I have been employed as a registered occupational therapist since 1979. I did my pre-clinical affiliation at the University of MN and worked with children at that hospital on a psychiatric unit as well as on a physical disability unit. That was followed by my first clinical fieldwork at St. Cloud Hospital where I worked with adults and teens on their psychiatric and chemical dependency units. After working at St. Cloud Hospital I completed my second clinical on an adult rehabilitation unit at the University of MN. Since then I have enjoyed working in hospitals, a nursing home, outpatient therapy clinics, and public schools. It has been a truly amazing journey to see so many children, teens, and adults achieve so much on their life journeys.

I have also been blessed with a husband, two children, and one granddaughter. I also enjoy gardening, sewing, traveling, knitting, reading, and hiking as well many other craft activities.

Metro Therapy Staff Continuing Education

Our speech therapists Brittany Ahlskog and Sarah Hetz attended the following continuing education courses recently: An Overview of the AAC Assessment Process and Practical Tips to Differentiate Social Communication Disorder From Autism Spectrum Disorder


Metro Therapy will be closed December 25th for Christmas, and January 1st for New Years. Please call the office if you would like to reschedule for any clinic closure dates or any missed sessions due to illness.

Newer post December 8, 2015 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