Practicing Wellness

We are practicing Wellness at Lowcountry Therapy. Various Wellness models exist to make up a basic concept, which is; your overall health is more than what you do for your body physically, but rather a more holistic approach is needed for you to be healthy and happy. While some concepts may apply more deeply to adults, kids need to have a sound focus on wellness too. 

It’s never too early to begin practicing healthy habits for overall wellness. A wellness plan that focuses on a variety of key factors can help your child feel emotionally stable, calm their hyperactive behavior, and maintain mental concentration and clarity. Creating a wellness plan for your child can lead to better physical, emotional, and mental health.

This month, we are focusing on “Environmental” Wellness.

To be “Environmentally Attuned” includes interacting positively with the environment on a local, community and global level. Improving your personal imprint and understanding how your surroundings impact your personal wellness. This involves having clean air to breath, obtaining adequate sunlight, optimizing nature’s resources and engaging with blue and green spaces for rejuvenation. Avoiding toxic substances and noise pollution is also important to achieving environmental wellness. Finally, taking personal responsibility for creating sustainable communities, encouraging purchases and conveniences, based on their environmental impacts. 

Our team is participating in a photo challenge to celebrate Environmental Wellness. Tasked to “get outside” this month, the best photo out in the environment will win a $25.00 gift card. 

If you are interested in getting involved, there are multiple national events this month that may interest you and help you get on your way to focusing on your environmental wellness.

April 20th- National Pet Day- get your pouch outside for a walk!

April 22nd- Earth Day- Recycle something, Up-cycle, get outside!

April 26th- Arbor Day- Plant a tree!

April 28th- Superhero Day- Do something to help Save our World!

For tips and additional information, you can share with the whole family, check out the handouts attached below.

Want to learn more? Here is where it all started… 

The concept of Wellness emerged in the 1950’s, inspired by the World Health Organization’s 1948 constitution: “Heath is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Chief of the National Office of Vital Statistics, Halbert Dunn explained his concept of high-wellness as “an interrogated method of functioning, which oriented toward maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable,” as opposed to merely avoiding sickness. 

Tom Rath and Jim Harter, who first introduced me to Wellness, through their book Well Being, The Five Essentials Elements, Wellness or Well Being consists of 5 intertwined life elements which include the following;

  • Career Well-being- liking what you do everyday
  • Social Well-being-having strong relationships and love in your life
  • Financial Well-being- effectively managing your economic life
  • Physical Well-being- having good health and energy
  • Community Well-being-the engagement that you have in the area that you live.

In their research, Rath and Harter’s found that “66% of people are doing well in one of the essential areas and just 7% are thriving in all five.”

Dr. Bill Heltler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute (NWI), added a 6th “Dimension” of Wellness and created what is commonly known as the “Wellness Wheel.” In addition, the NWI defined Wellness as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. While the idea remained similar, the dimensions changed a bit. The NWI’s Wellness Wheel is broken down into these concepts:

  • Social- How a person contributes to their environment and community, and how to build better living spaces and social networks
  • Occupational -The enrichment of life through work, and its interconnectedness to living and playing
  • Spiritual-The development of belief system, values and creating a worldview
  • Physical- The benefits or regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, strength and vitality as well as personal responsibility, self-care and when to seek medical attention
  • Emotional- Self-esteem, self-control, and determination as a sense of direction
  • Intellectual- Creative and stimulating mental activities, sharing your gifts with others

By 2014, more than half of global employers were using health promotion strategies, while a third have invested in full-blown wellness programs (Bucks Consultants report). Medical and self-help experts who promote wellness (such as Drs. Mehmet Oz, Deepak Chopra and Andrew Weil) became household names. “Wellness,” essentially, entered the collective world psyche and vocabulary and is firmly entrenched with the media and an increasing number of medical institutions and governments.

In 2018, the Global Wellness Institute released, “Build Well to Live Well,” the first in-depth research to analyze the $143 billion global wellness real estate and communities’ sector. The report found that real estate and communities that intentionally put people’s health at the center of design, creation and redevelopment are the next frontiers in real estate. 

The model we are currently using at LTC is known as the “8 Dimensions of Wellness,” adapted by M. Swarbick, in an article called, The Wellness Approach, published in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 2006. This approach adds both Environmental and Financial aspects of wellness.

  • Environmental- good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.
  • Financial- Satisfaction with current and future financials situations. 

The Wellness pursuit has expanded in the 21st century and a variety of break downs of the dimensions have been changed and added. You can find as many as 12 dimensions including; Self-responsibility & love, breathing, sensing, eating, moving, feeling, thinking, playing & working, communicating, intimacy finding meaning and transcending, referred to as the “Wellness Energy System.” For more information check the Wellness Inventory at 

Wellness practices can be as simple as loving your job, learning something new, getting outside and spending time with friends. The important thing is to know the dimensions, consider which aspects you may be lacking in your life and taking the time to focus on including them in your routine.


National Institute of Health- Environmental Toolkit

10 Steps to Your Personal Environmental Wellness

Healthy Steps, Stanford Healthcare- Environmental Wellness and Assessment

Check out our yoga pics from last months Physical Wellness initiative. Thank you to Karrie Comeau at Move Fitness, for proving us with this awesome yoga session!

Autism Awareness Events

There are 2 big events happening on the same day. On April 27th both the Autism 5k Bubble run and Ales for Autism will be going on.

The Autism 5K Bubble Run is an event put on by ignite the senses. The 5k race starts and ends at Red Cedar Elementary. It is a fast-flat course thru Bluffton Park in Old Town Bluffton. The race will start promptly at 8am with the Children’s DASH followed by the 5k run. There will also be a silent auction. Shirts are guaranteed if registered by April 14th. Registrations accepted until 7:45am on race day. Register now HERE.

Ales for Autism is an event hosted by the Lowcountry Autism Foundation. It will be held at Southern Barrel Brewery on April 27th from 5:00pm – 9:00pm. There will be a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction. Southern Barrel will be donating 10% of the sales from the evening to the Lowcountry Autism Foundation.

Common Tips for Better Sleep

Lowcountry Therapy is joining the National Sleep Foundation in celebrating its annual Sleep Awareness Week, March 10 to 16, 2019. This year’s theme “Begin with Sleep” highlights the importance of good sleep health for individuals to best achieve their personal, family, and professional goals.

There is nothing worst then getting a poor night’s sleep and dragging through the entire next day. Especially when the average kiddo generally has a full day of school, after school activities, sports practice and homework. Sleep allows your body to rest for the next day. 

According to, “Your body and your brain need sleep. Though no one is exactly sure what work the brain does when you're sleeping, some scientists think that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze.” When your body doesn't have enough hours to rest, you may feel tired or cranky, or you may be unable to think clearly. 

Tired kids can be impulsive and distracted. According to Judith Owens, M.D., Director of Sleep Medicine at Children's National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., “children who consistently sleep fewer than ten hours a night before age 3 are three times more likely to have hyperactivity and impulsivity problems by age 6. Symptoms of sleep-deprivation and ADHD, including impulsivity and distractibility, mirror each other almost exactly," In other words, poor sleep could lead to a misdiagnosis of ADHD. 

Aside from cranky, distracted, impulsive kids, researchers believe too little sleep can also affect Brain Development, Growth and the Immune System.  Lack of sleep can cause Depression, Anxiety and Stress.   It can lead to higher Risk of Injury and Weight issues among other things. Check out the links below for additional information on these topics.

The easiest way to improve your child’s sleep (and yours’s for that matter) is the create a solid routine. Strong routines help kids know exactly what to expect. Routines have led to increased cooperation, improved behavior, more self-confidence, security, and kids with strong routines experience less stress. It sounds easy enough, but as a parent I can attest that bedtime routines can be easier said than done. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of common tips for better sleep.

Common Tips for Better Sleep

  • Limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine. These include some sodas, candies and other common snacks especially in the afternoon or evening.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night (even on the weekends); this helps your body get into a routine. Wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Follow a bedtime routine that is calming, such as taking a warm bath. According to Cornell University Medical College, a nighttime drop in core temperature increases one’s chances of falling asleep and sleeping more deeply.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable place to rest. Sleep in a dark room that is not too hot or too cold. Keep it simple. Bedding and one security item (a stuffed animal or favorite blanket) are enough. Additional toys provide extra sources of distraction at a time when we don't want her to be distracted.
  • Your routine should include quiet activities that occur in the same order every night. For example, put pajamas on, brush teeth, go to the bathroom, give goodnight hugs, and read one book. It is important that this routine remains the same every night because the routine cues your child it’s time to sleep.
  • Your brain begins preparing for sleep about two hours before bed time. Give yourself time to wind-down without gadgets.
  • Spend non-sleep time out of your bedroom. Your bed is for sleeping- not for playing video games, talking on the phone, doing homework etc.
  • Don't have a TV in your room. Research shows that kids who have one in their rooms sleep less.
  • Don't watch scary TV shows or movies close to bedtime because these can sometimes make it hard to fall asleep.
  • Try essential oils for sleep. Researchers found that a blend of sleep-promoting essential oils worked effectively to improve both sleep quality and quality of life. 
  • Since Himalayan salt lamps release negative ions into the air, it encourages a relaxing atmosphere for sleep, and helps to reduce anxiety. The calming dim light from the salt lamp helps promote sleepiness. 

Not sure if your kiddo is getting enough sleep? A panel from the National Sleep Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council revised the recommended sleep ranges for all six children and teenage groups. A summary of the new recommendations include:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

In honor of Sleep Awareness Week, Lowcountry Therapy will be holding a Pajama Day, Friday, March 15th.  Wear your favorite PJ’s and let’s focus on getting some sleep!

To learn more, check out the National Sleep Foundation’s website, and follow #YourDayBeginsWithSleep 

Super Museum Sunday in Savannah

The Georgia History Festival‘s Super Museum Sunday will be held on Sunday, February 10, 2019, at participating sites throughout Georgia.

Georgians and visitors alike experience our state’s rich history and cultural life as historic sites, house museums, art museums, and other points of interest in Savannah and throughout Georgia open their doors to the public, providing an exceptional opportunity to experience the history in our own backyard. 

Free and open to the public. Sites offer free admission from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. unless alternate hours are noted. Below is a link for all the different museums that are participating in each county.

Here is a link to a printable map of Savannah and all the different museums.

-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT
Pediatric Physical Therapist

Sensory Saturdays at the Sandbox

Beginning January 2019, on the last Saturday of each month, the Sandbox will open their doors an hour early exclusively for families with children who have sensory processing differences or those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (children with other developmental challenges are also welcome).

What is the Sandbox?! 

“Hilton Head Island’s premiere destination for early childhood, hands-on play and learning,” including age-appropriate, interactive activities and exhibits that enable children to play freely while exploring their creativity and discovering the world around them.

Located just off Pope Avenue on the south end of Hilton Head Island, The Sandbox is packed with 2500 square-feet of approachable activities that are just right for busy toddlers, elementary school-aged children and their families or caregivers.


January 26, 2019 (additional dates include February 23, March 30, April 27, and May 25). The museum will open at 9:00am. Regular hours begin at 10:00am.

How much?

Reduced Admission is $5/person (1 year and up), Members are free!

What does Sensory-Friendly mean?

This event includes the following modifications and supports:

  • Designated quiet spaces
  • Dimmed lighting upstairs
  • No background music
  • Fidgets, weighted vests, headphones and other sensory resources available for use while in the museum.
  • Reduced/No volume on certain exhibits (train and airplane cockpit)
  • The entire museum is open except for the Shadow Wall.
  • A therapy dog, Trapper the Wonder Dog, may visit on some Saturday’s. He will be available to visit on the porch as you enter or exit.

The website also includes a museum social story, with pictures and helpful information to help familiarize your child and yourself with the Museum and it’s exhibits before you visit.

Good to know:

If you are unable to attend on Sensory Saturday but would like to visit another day the quieter times are first thing in the mornings when we open or after 3:00pm in the afternoons. Rainy days we are very busy during the tourist season. We will have the basket of sensory support items put away but please ask the staff for any items which may be needed during regular hours.

Video Games and Physical Therapy

Technology is becoming more present in people’s everyday routine. Whether it is phones, computers, video games, or tablets people are using technology more and more every day. So how do we get kids to be more active in this day and age when technology is so prevalent? One way is to limit screen time and encourage kids to play outside, but on rainy or cold days this is not always possible. Another option is to use technology to get kids more active.

Using active video games such as Xbox Kinect or the Wii are great ways to get kids up and moving. These games can help improve your child’s gross motor skills such as jumping, balance, and coordination. They can also be used to help improve your child’s body awareness. Active video games may promote physical activity in individuals striving to improve balance, undergoing rehabilitation, who have an acute or chronic illness, or who have a physical or developmental impairment, according to a 2014 study published by the NCBI. This study found promising results for improved health outcomes related to therapy, including significantly greater or comparable effects of AVG play versus usual care. 

Another study compared active video games to exercise. Japanese researchers measured the metabolic equivalent values (a standard method of estimating energy expenditure) of 12 people ages 25 to 44 as they played Wii sports games and did Wii fitness programs. Light-intensity exercise is less than three METs, moderate-intensity exercise is three to six METs and vigorous activity is more than six METs, according to the American Heart Association. The study found that 23 activities had two to three METs; nine activities had three to four METs; and five activities had more than four METs 

4th of July

While many of us look forward to the parades and fireworks on the 4th of July, it can be overwhelming and stressful for children with Autism or sensory processing difficulties.  Below are some tips for making this Independence Day enjoyable for the whole family:

Prepare your child for the day’s events.

  • Social stories work well to prepare your child for what they may experience and how it may make them feel, and provide scripts and reminders of sensory strategies that will be available to them.
  • Visual schedules can add an element of routine and predictability to the day. Seeing the day’s events and being able to refer back to it can be easier for a child to understand than being told verbally what to expect (especially if your child has language delays or deficits). Remember, visual schedules can be as structured or as flexible as you want or as your child needs/can handle. A dry erase board allows you to make quick changes for when things are not going as planned.
  • Watch videos of parades and fireworks.  Start with the volume down and gradually increase it. Talk about the crowds, the noise level, and the visual stimulation. Make sure this conversation is positive and calm, but also communicates what can be done to reduce stimulation if needed.

Come armed with sensory strategies that will help your child calm down if overstimulated.

  • Headphones or ear plugs can reduce noise.  If your child has never worn them before, try them at home in the days leading up to the event so that they are familiar.
  • Sunglasses or a billed hat can reduce visual input by dimming the light or cutting the visual field.  A small pop up tent or umbrella can provide your child with a safe space with reduced visual input and lower risk of being touched/bothered by others when he or she needs a break.
  • While crunchy snacks can be alerting, chewy snacks (or those that require a sucking motion) can be calming. Licorice, beef jerky, and bagels are foods that require heavy chewing!
  • Heavy work can help to prevent over-stimulation, and can calm your child if they get to that point despite using the above strategies.  Passive heavy work can include things like ankle weights, a weighted blanket/backpack/lap pad, or firm hugs/squishes. Get your child moving for more active heavy work options, like bear crawling, crab walking, swimming, and jumping.

Be observant, flexible, and realistic about expectations. Watch your child’s reactions; you know him or her best.  Even if you use all the tips above, your child may still become overwhelmed and overstimulated. Try not to stress about it or let it ruin your day. Watching fireworks from the car, or heading home early and playing games can still result in a fun day for all!

For some fun 4th of July themed crafts you can do at home that are OT-approved (like Star-Spangled Slime, Shaving Cream Firework Art, and Confetti Launchers), check out our Pinterest page!

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

Hurricane Preparedness Week

Governor Henry McMaster has proclaimed May 27 through June 2 to be South Carolina Hurricane Preparedness Week. SCEMD, county emergency managers and the National Weather Service urge citizens to take time now to prepare for major emergency like hurricanes by reviewing their family emergency plans, developing a disaster supplies kit and talking with family members about what could happen during a crisis.

The S.C. Emergency Management Division releases the official 2018 South Carolina Hurricane Guide this weekend as part of this year’s S.C. Hurricane Preparedness Week, which details useful information on what residents should do before, during and after the landfall of a major hurricane. Download the 2018 South Carolina Hurricane Guide here: 

This guide includes the following tips for residents with special needs:

  • Put your most important identification and medical records into a digital format for easy safekeeping and quicker movement because paper documents can easily get misplaced or damaged during a significant weather event. 
  • Put your name and contact information on your equipment in case it gets misplaced during the excitement of evacuation, sheltering, or shelter consolidation. 
  • Ask for help if you need it. Call your local emergency management office. Some offices have a list of people who need extra help during an emergency. 
  • Know yourself and have your plan ready and in place. Make sure other people know your plan too. Leave as soon as you can so you can reach your destination safely ahead of a storm. 
  • Review the hurricane preparation checklists in this guide. Think about any additional things you may need like batteries for hearing aids and similar devices, extra oxygen tanks, electrical backups for medical equipment or special food requirements.

Other resources:

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

The National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is Thursday May 10th, 2018, with a theme of: “Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma.” On this day, more than 1,100 communities and 170 national collaborating organizations and federal programs plan local Awareness Day activities and events around the country, including an event in Washington, DC, hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which will bring together governors’ spouses, youth and family leaders, senior federal officials, and executives from leading professional health organizations for a town hall discussion on how to transform child serving systems to be more trauma informed. Trauma-Informed Care is a hot topic in pediatric healthcare right now. The American Psychological Association defines trauma as “an emotional response to a terrible event,” which can include experiencing a natural disaster, neglect/abandonment, abuse, or witnessing violence.

Trauma-Informed Care is a paradigm shift, a lens in which past traumatic experiences are understood to have the potential to alter a person’s nervous system and development, thus impacting one’s behavior and functioning as a result. AOTA has a great factsheet regarding OT’s role in childhood trauma, which can be found here.

Below is a list of other resources relating to childhood trauma:

The primary website of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), offers information on various aspects of child traumatic stress, including trauma types, treatments and practices, and trauma-informed care; the site also provides access to over 875 free resources (including training curricula, fact sheets, resource guides, and videos) to help child-serving professionals as well as parents and caregivers better support children who have experienced trauma.

NCTSN Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma

This source for online training offers free courses and resources on various aspects of child traumatic stress, including hundreds of webinars, eLearning modules, and videos (many offered for continuing education credit) on special populations, clinical training, service systems, and Psychological First Aid.

What is Child Traumatic Stress?

This fact sheet, produced by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, provides an overview of child trauma, describes traumatic stress symptoms, and identifies ways children may be affected by trauma.

Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event

This fact sheet, produced by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, describes how young children, school-age children, and adolescents react to traumatic events and offers suggestions on how parents and caregivers can help support them.

Understanding Child Trauma and the NCTSN

This resource provides an overview of child traumatic stress and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Sensory-Friendly Kazoo Factory Tour

We have an exciting event planned for next Saturday! Kazoobie Kazoos and Lowcountry Therapy are teaming to provide a sensory-friendly tour of the kazoo factory, to see how kazoos are made, start to finish, learn about the history of the kazoo and similar instruments, and make you very own kazoo!

Did you know?! The kazoo factory in Beaufort is the largest producer of kazoos in the world. Kazoobie Kazoos has sold millions of kazoos to kazoo players all over the world. Kazoos have been sent to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Great Britain, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, and most of the United States including Hawaii and Alaska.

Our sensory-friendly event will take place Saturday May 5th from 10am-12pm at Kazoobie Kazoos. The address is 12 John Galt Rd, Beaufort, SC 29906. Tours must be scheduled in advance! This is to ensure that groups remain small. You can schedule by calling Lowcountry Therapy. Tours will cost $4 per child.

What does “sensory-friendly” look like? There are 2 options! If your child is sensitive to noises, you can request a “quiet” tour, which will avoid demonstrations of the loud instruments and equipment, while still touring the facility and making your very own kazoo to take home. If your child doesn’t mind loud noises, a sensory-friendly event can mean less waiting, less crowds, and more room to move!

Call (843)970-2899 and ask to speak to Mr. Matt to schedule!

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