To my Superstars…

July 24, 2017By adminUncategorized

This is a thank you to my superstars, my little heroes and my buddies. To all the wonderful, terrific, awe-inspiring children that I work with, you are my heroes. I consider myself unbelievably lucky that I get to come to work every day and see your smiling faces, and even on those days when you aren’t too happy to come to therapy, you still manage to smile and in turn brighten my day.

Not only have you taught me the difference between a Teratosaurus and an Allosaurus, or the correct sound to make when playing star wars, or why Spiderman would beat Batman every time in a fight…. you have taught me strength, creativity and joy.

It amazes me the constant endurance, resilience and desire you all show in every little task, be it to complete a ring stacker, finish reading a book or complete a sentence; you never stop until you can do it yourself. I see those little cogs turning and churning in every activity, you may be tired and may be a bit grumpy or frustrated that it just isn’t falling into place, but still you persist. You are GREAT!

I love your straight forward manner, you have the ability to say what is really happening “it is too hard Renee” “your hair looks funny today” or questions that make me think “why is there three different ways to spell poor/pour/paw?” I thank you for always telling the truth, even when it is my hair that is out of place!

Your creativity….wow! You can look at an object and it can be a robot, a space craft, a castle and a school in the space of a minute. You can create amazing wonderful stories that truly make you smile. Thank you for letting me be a part of those stories.

Finally, thank you for never giving up, even on those days when it is hard and I am asking you to just do one more activity. You are all unbelievably amazing kids, you show me strength, determination, joy and creativity every session, and I know my job is to teach you but every day you teach me something new. Thanks superstars!!!!

Assume Ability

July 24, 2017By adminUncategorized

Often I find that with a diagnosis there comes a lot of assumptions and preconceived ideas of what that child can achieve and what they are capable of doing. I have found that children are placed into a box based on their diagnosis and due to this initial assumption their therapy goals, communication goals and school goals are decided for them, often because another child with the same diagnosis completed the same goals. However as we know everyone is different, within a diagnosis there is a scale; everyone presents differently and is unique. Therefore their goals and therapy approach should also be tailored.

Why do these assumptions occur? Too often not enough questions are asked, too often not enough methods are trialled and too often we are setting children up to fail because they aren’t supported correctly or given enough pre-teaching. I often see an approach chosen because it is easiest as it fits in with the classroom or therapy environment. However does this necessarily mean just because it is easiest it is the best approach for that child?

It is important as a therapist, but also for everyone who works with or cares for one of these remarkable children that we assume ability. If I met an adult who had never played an instrument before and I made the assumption of “you could never play a guitar” I would be met with annoyance, anger and in some cases a decision to prove me wrong. It is not ok in this instance to assume what the adult can do, but it is often deemed ok to assume a child cannot learn a new concept, or a child cannot use a certain communication device, based on preconceived ideas around their diagnosis.

Similar to someone learning to play a guitar, I wouldn’t just hand you a guitar and say “ok prove me wrong, play this song.” I would start by teaching you the parts of a guitar, how to hold the guitar and how to play each note before expecting you to achieve a song. It is the same with a child, if you want them to learn a new concept; how to count, how to use an AAC device, how to bounce a ball, we must first start with support. Provide scaffolds and a step by step approach until you reach the final goal. On no occasion should we say “they can’t do this”, “they aren’t capable” or “they won’t use it”. Instead we need to be saying “how can I adapt this?” “how can I support them?” in order for them to achieve the goal. Yes it may take time, it may require a breakdown of tasks into smaller goals, but surely the end result is worth it? The brain is plastic and therefore everyone is capable of learning, but in order to allow them to succeed we first need to allow for them to have ago.

Screen Time – The Importance of Boredom

July 22, 2017By adminUncategorized

As a child my mum would always say to stop watching the television as I would end up with square eyes. Although I doubt whether my eyes would have changed shape, perhaps my mum was on to something??? More so now, the technology age, it is important to ask ourselves how much screen time is too much? Not just for our kids but for adults also. Often people discuss the implications on attention in regards to screen time but today I am going to discuss the implications on creativity.

Televisions, smart phones, tablets and DVD players in the car, the availability of technology is never ending. But how much is it impacting on us? The other day, I was at the doctors sitting in the waiting room, and straight away I found myself taking my phone out of my pocket to scroll through emails, photos and text messages. It has become habit to pick up my phone instead of picking up a magazine, reading a newspaper article, talking to the person next to me or simply sitting in the chair and day dreaming. I had recently watched a program on the ABC, Life at 9, where they discussed the importance of children knowing how to be bored. They made the point that with readily available technology children are losing the ability to be bored. So why does that matter? Boredom is important as it encourages imagination and promotes creativity, all of which are important skills not only for school but for life. If children aren’t able to imagine and create, how will they complete written expression tasks, how will they visualise the latest story they read? As they grow, how will they become an individual and separate themselves from the pack when searching for jobs???

As a child I can remember sitting in the waiting room at the doctors and creating houses out of books, making trains from the blocks and also making my own movies in my head. I can remember the endless road trips where I was wedged between my brothers with nothing more than the surrounding landscape to entertain us (that and my parents’ choice of music). I don’t know if my parents somehow knew, but these experiences helped my brain learn how to generate individual thought, to be creative and to think for myself.

Though unfortunately now as an adult I find myself giving in to the technology around me, and I am someone who grew up with minimal exposure to technology, how is this new generation supposed to resist it? How will they generate their own imagination and creativity?

Since seeing this program and watching how boredom is actually important I have made a conscious effort to leave my phone at home.  I have also found as a therapist I am using less technology recently in therapy and pleasingly I am seeing my clients really engage in play – they too like making houses with books.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is great, it has allowed us to be connected with people all over the world, it allows for a new and interesting way to teach. But I think it is also important that we think about the consequence of too much screen time, it might not be square eyes, but instead a loss of creativity in ourselves and our kids.