NEW Virtual Parent Support Group!!

NEW Virtual Parent Support Group                                                         Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L


Here at Lowcountry Therapy Center, we are always striving to find a way to bring families together.  We do this all year long through events we sponsor and by promoting events that are happening in our community.  We are excited to share a new project weve started: an online virtual support group!  Here is a great link that explains some of the benefits of support groups, including; sharing frustrations, getting feedback and suggestions, sharing your knowledge with others on the same path, fostering friendships, and laughing (or even crying) together. 

To find this support group, log into Facebook, and go to Lowcountry Therapy Centers page.  Scroll down the left side of the screen and click on the Groups tab, then select Lowcountry Therapy Parents .  You can also search Lowcountry Therapy Parents using the search bar at the top of the page.  Request to join the group, and an admin will approve your request.  Approval is required so that we can maintain a certain degree of privacy. 

This group was created to provide a virtual support group for parents in this community.  While this group was initially created with parents of children with special needs in mind, it can also provide valuable insight for parents struggling with any concerns about their child, and may help guide these parents to finding the services that would benefit their children. Within this group a family can find support if they are:

-struggling with any aspect of parenting, including needing guidance through the process of determining what is typical and what may require some extra attention,

- accepting, understanding, and embracing a new diagnosis, or

- addressing and coping with issues that take a toll on you, your child, and your family.

It is great to have local, supportive parents around that can offer advice, encouragement, or even a hug, whether it be virtual or in person!!  

We would love for you to introduce yourself! Please share as much or as little of your family's story as you'd like, seek advice, share what has and has not worked well for you and your family, recommend events, products, and books that have helped you and your family, schedule meet ups and play dates, and start conversations to foster relationships!  Remember, members here are parents, not health professionals. The support here should not replace a professional evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment.

We cant wait for you to join! 

Upcoming Sensory-Friendly Film!

Upcoming Sensory-Friendly Film!                                                                    Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

Lowcountry Therapy Center is collaborating with the Cinemark Bluffton movie theater to create a sensory-friendly movie screening of Cars 3.  A sensory-friendly movie screening means:

  • The lights are dimmed (not off)
  • The volume is turned down
  • Children have the freedom to move around the theater!

This means that children with sound sensitivities are not overwhelmed by the volume of the movie, and that children that are fearful of the dark will be more comfortable.  Children that have difficulty sitting still and benefit from frequent breaks, or even movement while watching, are encouraged to give their bodies what they need!  This event provides an environment that is accepting of children with special needs, and a place where the child, their family, and their friends can enjoy time together.  Last, this is a great opportunity to network with other families!  Being able to relax and enjoy quality family time without worrying if someone will complain or be disturbed by noise or movement is a wonderful experience! 

This event will take place on Saturday, June 17th at 10:00am.  Tickets can be purchased at Lowcountry Therapy Center’s Bluffton or Port Royal locations, or can be purchased the day of the event at the theatre.  Reservations are REQUIRED for this event (even if paying the day of the event), so that appropriate planning can take place.  The cost is $10 per person and includes a ticket voucher, popcorn, drink, and snack.  For questions, please call (843) 815-6999. 

Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Physical Fitness and Sports Month

#MoveInMay is the theme created by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition (PCFSN). This month everyone is encouraged to be more active and adopt a healthier lifestyle consisting of physical activity and good nutrition.

Being more active is half of the puzzle to adopting a healthier lifestyle. Whether it is going to the gym, joining a sport or camp, or even walking the dog, it is important to stay and be active. Obesity has been on the rise and affects about one-third of adults (33.8%) and approximately 12.5 million (17%) children between the ages of 2 and 19 years old. Physical activity not only helps prevent obesity it also can improve sleep patterns, increase energy, improve brain function, reduce stress, and promote strong bone, muscle, and joint development. Don’t think that just because you can’t go to a gym and “workout” that you can’t be more physically active. Try talking walks around the neighborhood or playing some different games outside like catch or kickball. These are all great ways to improve physical activity and to help you adopt a healthier lifestyle. Here are some more ways to increase your physical activity

The second half of the puzzle is to create good nutritional habits. Good nutrition combined with physical activity can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and help reduce our risk for developing chronic diseases. You don’t need to make drastic changes to your diet or eat all different foods to improve your nutrition. Here are a few quick tips to help improve your diet. First start by making half of your plate consist of fruits and vegetables. Try to add all different color fruits and vegetables to help get a good mix of different vitamins and minerals. Secondly, try to drink more water. Start by cutting out 1-2 sugary drinks a day and substituting it for water. Finally, cutting back on deserts and other sugary treats can help reduce the amount of fats you take in. Here are some more tips for developing a better diet

Here is more information on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

Better Hearing and Speech Month

Better Hearing and Speech Month

May is designated as better hearing and speech month. The theme this year is “Communication: The Key to Connection.” According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 15% of American adults (37.5 million people) report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation from family, friends, and the community. It is important to get regular hearing checks and to contact your physician if you feel you are experiencing hearing loss.

Approximately 46 million Americans experience some form of communication disorder. These disorders can affect physical and emotional health. Augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) is one way to help people with communication disorders. When a person is unable to speak, or communicate clearly, other people often mistakenly think that they are also unable to comprehend or understand what someone is saying. By giving someone with a communication disorder an AAC device you allow them to communicate, make decisions, demonstrate understanding, and to be able to express themselves in different situations. AAC can help decrease frustration among families. It allows people with communication disorders to be able to express what they are feeling and allows friends and family to better understand, and this helps to decrease frustration among both sides.

Here are more information and resources for better hearing and speech

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day                           Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

The month of May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and May 4th is Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.  Children's Mental Health Awareness Day promotes positive youth development, resiliency, and recovery, along with the transformation of mental health service delivery for youth, adolescents, and their families. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health in childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones, and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems.  Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities. 

Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day.  Among the more common mental disorders that can be diagnosed in childhood are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and behavior disorders.  Other childhood disorders and concerns that affect how children learn, behave, or handle their emotions can include learning and developmental disabilities, autism, and risk factors like substance use and self-harm. 

Below are some links to resources that can be beneficial to families:

OT’s Role in Children’s Mental Health: Participation in meaningful roles and activities leads to enhancement of emotional well-being, mental health, and social competence. Social competence for children and adolescents includes doing what is necessary to get along with others, making and keeping friends, coping with frustration and anger, solving problems, understanding social etiquette, and following school rules. Recent studies indicate that behavior and social interaction skills are stronger indicators of academic and lifelong success than academic skills.  Occupational therapists evaluate all the components of social competence, and determine whether a child’s motor, social-emotional, and cognitive skills; ability to interpret sensory information; and the influence from home, school, and community environments have an impact on his or her ability to meet the demands of everyday life.

For Military Families: This brief tip sheet outlines the top ten things to keep in mind when working with military families and, for each key concept, includes links to additional information.

SAMHSA’s Building Blocks for a Healthy Future website incorporates the latest evidence-based strategies and programs on early childhood health promotion and substance abuse prevention. These materials support parents, educators, and others working with young children, as part of SAMHSA’s effort to advance the behavioral health of the nation and its mission to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! is a coordinated federal effort to encourage healthy child development, universal developmental and behavioral screening for children, and support for the families and providers who care for them.

Some apps that can help your family plan for and cope with problems, big and small:

Help Kids Cope: (available on apple and android devices): Help Kids Cope is an app designed to assist parents in talking to their children about different disasters they may experience or have already experienced. This app includes 10 different disaster types with sections in each on how to explain, prepare, respond, and heal from the event their family is concerned with. Each section gives guidance on talking to preschool, school-age, and adolescent children, as well as, includes ways parents can help themselves cope and support their children’s reactions.

Daniel Tiger for Parents: The Daniel Tiger for Parents app empowers parents and caregivers with songs and videos from the hit PBS KIDS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  It features over two dozen Daniel Tiger songs, supporting videos from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and helpful hints for parents about the important skills children need to be ready for school and life.

Additional information about Children's Mental Health Awareness Day and mental health concerns can be found here:

Increasing Success with Screen Free Week

Increasing Success with Screen Free Week                          Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L     On May 1-7, children, families, schools, and communities will rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen.  This nationwide event promotes completely unplugging from digital entertainment and spending all that free time playing, daydreaming, creating, exploring and connecting with family and friends!  While that is a wonderful goal to strive for, and we encourage you to try, we also understand that, for some families, this adjustment is just too big to tackle.  To participate in this year’s event at Lowcountry Therapy Center, we encourage you to set a goal that is reasonable and achievable for your family.  Here are some suggestions: ·Set a goal for the amount of time per day that can be spent on screen time.  Event cutting the usual amount of time in half can be a challenge, but you may be surprised with the other fun things you can find to spend time on.  - Limit a specific device or game.  If you feel that your child is becoming “obsessed” with a specific show or game, try making that specific title off limits for the week.  For some, this alone is a big adjustment, and might be a small step towards reducing overall screen time.

·        -Limit options to educational games and shows only.  There are plenty of shows and games with educational benefits, and those have more to gain, and less negative impacts, than those intended for entertainment only.

·        - Schedule in time for the absolute favorite shows or games, but skip the rest!

·         -Find a fun way for children to earn screen time.  You can find downloadable charts to earn minutes (like this one) or to complete specific tasks prior to any screen time (like this).  Make your own for extra customized options!   Tools to help:

·         -Lock up the electronics!  This can be literal (placing them in a safe, out of reach box, etc., or figurative, by downloading apps that track and limit activity (a few are mentioned here).  

·         -Be a good role model.  Take this challenge with your child and for one week, say goodbye, or limit, your own screen time.  Try to keep work at work (within reason), get off social media, and live in the moment.  Let your kids teach you their games, read a book together, or have a family outing.

·         -Make a Boredom Jar.  Make a list of all the things that can be done INSTEAD of screen time.  Write down ideas and place them in the boredom jar, pulling an idea out each time you are tempted to turn on the TV or get out the iPad. 

Screen Free Week!

Screen Free Week!

Screen free week is back! LTC will be holding a contest again this year for kids who participate in screen free week. This year families are encouraged to either give up screens or reduce the amount of screen time for a whole week. Screen free week runs from May 1st to May 7th this year. We have some great prizes to give away this year! Here is how to participate:

  1. Ask your therapist for a pledge card
  2. Fill out the pledge card and give it back to the therapist to be eligible for prizes
  3. Reduce or cut out screen time each day from May 1st to May 7th
  4. Fill out the activity log with non-screen activities that you completed each day
  5. Turn the log back in after May 7th and collect your prize

You don’t have to completely cut out screens in order to participate. Even just reducing screen time by 1 hour a day is enough.

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

Lowcountry Autism Foundation Programs and Resources

Lowcountry Autism Foundation Programs and Resources

Lowcountry Autism Foundation (LAF) is located on Hilton Head Island and helps to provide resources for children with autism and their families. All programs and resources are FREE and covered by LAF. Click here ( to sign up and receive free programs and resources. Below is a list of the different resources and programs offered by LAF.

Family Support Services

This program provides families with multiple resources based on the specific diagnosis a child receives. The program features a one on one relationship with you and a LAF representative. LAF provides information, service coordination, and direct assistance to families affected by autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. The group meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month from 6-8 in Summerville, SC, and childcare and refreshments are provided. For more information on this program click here

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals. The Art Therapy Program integrates the fields of human development, visual art, and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is provided with a standard of 10 hours. After the 10 hours the therapist will re-evaluate the child to see if additional sessions are necessary. For more information on this program click here

These are just a few of the programs and resources available thru the Lowcountry Autism Foundation. For more information on LAF and the programs they offer click here

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

The OT Lens

The OT Lens                       Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

Occupational therapy can be a very broad field, and can sometimes ‘overlap’ with other professionals, like speech and physical therapists, or even ABA therapists, special education teachers, and psychologists.  This week I want to discuss how an occupational therapist looks at some issues through their unique lens.  I’ve chosen 3 specific areas to dive deeper into:

  1. Handwriting

Handwriting is a topic that instantly comes to mind when many people think of occupational therapists.  It is true that we do work on handwriting with many children, especially in the school setting.  Occupational therapists first evaluate what is causing difficulty with handwriting.  When you sit down to write, there are many functions going on, requiring different skills areas.  Adequate fine motor skills, which include strength, coordination, and pressure grading, are necessary to control the pencil to move it in the right ways.  Visual perceptual and ocular motor skills are necessary to see the lines on the paper, space words and letters appropriately, and shift your focus between what you are copying and the paper you are writing on.  Sensory processing, attention, and executive functioning skills help us to hold the idea in our head while writing, remember what the letters should look like, and regulate our arousal level to maintain focus on our task rather than becoming distracted by other sensory input.  Knowing where the deficit lies helps us to determine what underlying skills need to develop before expecting handwriting to improve significantly 2

    2. Feeding

Eating is a complex process, but once proficient at it, it is easy to forget how complex it was to begin with.  Taking a single bite can require up to 32 steps, from using utensils to tolerating smells to coordinating lip, tongue, and jaw movements. A single swallow requires coordination of 26 muscles, 6 cranial nerves, and all 8 sensory systems.  Occupational therapy can help to strengthen muscles and improve coordination of movements in the mouth, improve awareness in the mouth to better detect where food is and where it needs to go, increase tolerance for tastes and textures that are not preferred, and improve self-feeding skills, like drinking from a cup or using a fork. 

    3. “Behaviors”

As on occupational therapist, I have learned that negative “behaviors” are often symptoms of an underlying problem.  Some of those underlying problems could be motor delays (it’s frustrating when you can’t do something expected of you!), language delays (how do you follow directions and rules if you didn’t understand them?), poor sensory processing (it’s hard to listen to what the teacher says when you need to move, or when you can’t ignore the lights buzzing, the child next to you tapping his pencil, or the smell of the teacher’s perfume), poor self-regulation (transitions and changes in the routine can cause anxiety and therefore meltdowns), and poor attention and executive functioning (planning, organizing, and initiating tasks can be so difficult, that it is just easier to refuse to do them).  Attempting to use a behavioral method without first addressing these underlying deficits will likely be met with frustration and resistance.  After addressing the underlying skills through occupational therapy, a behavioral approach can then be used more successfully.  

The Role of PT, OT, and ST for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Role of PT, OT, and ST forchildren with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Physical therapy can help children with ASD in a number of ways. In the early years (birth to 3) physical therapy can help increase a child’s participation in routines of daily life. They also help with in developing gross motor skills thru structured and free play activities. Physical therapists work on increasing strength and coordination, and walking safely and efficiently in all needed environments, such as negotiating stairs. In school age children (3-18) physical therapists help with improving the learning environment and help teach movement skills needed to participate in social games and peer interactions. They also work on body and spatial awareness in order to navigate the school such as crowded hallways, playgrounds, cafeterias, and steps onto and off of the bus. Here is more information on the role and benefits of physical therapy in children with ASD

Occupational therapy services focus on enhancing participation in the performance of activities of daily living (e.g., feeding, dressing), instrumental activities of daily living (e.g., community mobility, safety procedures), education, work, leisure, play, and social participation. They can help children respond to information they are getting from their senses such as sound, taste, feel, etc. They can help children with ASD learn to transition from place to place and person to person, and also help teach them appropriate ways to communicate and participate with peers. Here is more information on the role and benefits of occupational therapy in children with ASD

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of persons with ASD. They can help enhance a child’s communication skills and expression of their emotions. They can also help teach kids with ASD how to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices for children. This helps the child express their emotions and explain what they want and how they are feeling, and this helps to decrease frustration from both the child and the family. Here is more information on the role and benefits of speech therapy in children with ASD



-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

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