Fruits & Veggies More Matters

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

September is Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month, organized to help you focus your attention on eating MORE fruits and vegetables!  More than 90% of both adults and children do not eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate nutrition guide. 

Why eat MORE fruits and veggies?

  1. Color & Texture. Fruits and veggies add color, texture … and appeal…  to your plate.
  2. Convenience. Fruits and veggies are nutritious in any form – fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice, so they’re ready when you are!
  3. Fiber. Fruits and veggies provide fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your digestive system happy.
  4. Low in Calories. Fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories.
    1. May Reduce Disease Risk. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
    2. Vitamins & Minerals. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized.
    3. Variety. Fruits and veggies are available in an almost infinite variety…there’s always something new to try!
    4. Quick, Natural Snack. Fruits and veggies are nature’s treat and easy to grab for a snack.
    5. Fun to Eat! Some crunch, some squirt, some you peel … some you don’t, and some grow right in your own backyard!

10.  Fruits & Veggies are Nutritious AND Delicious!

Don’t forget!  Tomorrow is the last day to post a picture on your Instagram of you or your child trying a new food.  Use #IheartLTC and @lowcountrytherapycenter to be entered to win a Pikachu lunchbox! 

A note on feeding therapy:

A feeding disorder occurs when an infant or child has difficulty eating or refusing to eat. Feeding problems can be a result of underlying medical complications, but can also be related to hidden sensory and/or behavioral issues, or oral-motor deficits.  Symptoms of a feeding disorder may include: refusal, swallowing difficulty, taking a long time to eat/drink, vomiting, choking, gagging, behavioral problems during mealtimes, or just being a "picky" eater.  Lowcountry Therapy Center conducts feeding evaluations using a multi-disciplinary team approach that involves an occupational therapist and also a speech-language pathologist.  Sometimes a “behavior” (like refusal, picky eating, or meltdowns during mealtime) can be the result of underlying sensory or oral-motor deficits.  For example, jaw weakness can make chewing meat very difficult.  If a child refuses meat and fibrous vegetables, and is made to eat it anyway, it can cause fatigue or frustration, which will lead to behaviors!  Similarly, if a child has poor sensory processing to detect where a food is within the mouth, it can lead to gagging: a very scary experience when oral motor control is lacking!  By addressing these underlying problems, children will have the skills necessary to handle food, which will help them to be successful at trying new foods.  

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This month we want to raise awareness about childhood cancer. Cancer in children occur when formerly-healthy cells mutate, and replicate much more than they should. When that happens, they can also destroy nearby healthy cells and invade different parts of the body. Most children’s cancers are caused by random genetic mutations.

Each year 15,700 children are diagnosed with cancer. 50 years ago, childhood cancer had a 10% survival rate. Today the survival rate is 90%!

Cancer, and the treatments that cure it, can be accompanied with many symptoms that therapy can help with.  For example, physical therapy can help children maintain or get back strength, endurance, and movement skills.  Occupational therapy can help children to participate in self-care, play, and fine motor skills.  Speech therapy can help with language/communication and swallowing problems.  

There are many organizations that support and advocate for families affected by childhood cancer through research and events.  To learn more about them and to find out how you can get involved, check out their websites.  American Childhood Cancer Organization, Go Gold Fund, and Children’s Cancer Research Fund are just a few.

This year the MLB is joining the fight against childhood cancer. On Friday September 1st all Major League players, coaches, umpires, and grounds crew members with wear gold ribbon decals and wristbands. Each club will also be hosting different events throughout the month to help raise awareness about childhood cancer.

Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

National Yoga Month

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

September is National Yoga Month, designed to educate about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle.  The following are just some of the recognized benefits of yoga for children (and adults):


  • Assists neuromuscular-development
  • Promotes development of the vestibular system
  • Encourages midline crossing motions; motor development on both sides of the body
  • Develops a strong and flexible body
  • Increases balance, body awareness and coordination
  • Improves posture and alignment
  • Develops core strength, essential for good posture and correct physical alignment
  • Reduces injuries and improves performance
  • Improves digestion, circulation and elimination
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Relaxes the body, promoting better sleep


  • Calms and clears the mind, bringing us into the present moment
  • Relieves tension and stress
  • Increases concentration, focus and attention span
  • Promotes thinking and memory
  • Stimulates auditory processing and responsiveness
  • Expands imagination and creativity
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves ability to be less reactive; more mindful of thoughts, words and actions
  • Balances energy (high or low)


  • Builds confidence and self-esteem
  • Supports character development and emotional intelligence
  • Enhances team skills and social interaction
  • Develops discipline and self-control
  • Supports individuality and self-expression
  • Encourages social and environmental awareness and responsibility
  • Supports a sense of universal connectedness
  • Inspires respect for self and others


  • Improves mind/body connection  
  • Encourages a fit and healthy lifestyle
  • Promotes an overall sense of well-being

Yoga can also have specific benefits for children with special needs:

  • Increases attention, focus and concentration
  • Builds self-esteem and confidence
  • Develops strong muscles
  • Strengthens hypotonic body parts
  • Loosens tight limbs
  • Fosters language and social skills

For more information, including additional reading and videos, check out some of this resources:

Each September, community events are organized nationwide in celebration of National Yoga Month.  Stay tuned we will post about any yoga-related community events that are free or discounted as we learn about them!  

Autism Giving Tree

The Autism Giving Tree is a local organization that is dedicated to educating professionals, families, and community members on autism. Their goal is to make the Lowcountry as autism friendly and inclusive as possible. The Autism Giving Tree Association works on expanding access to quality educational, recreational, and therapeutic opportunities for individuals with ASD, family members and care takers of individuals with ASD, and professionals working with individuals with ASD. Their company offers a wide range of fundraising events to help provide these services. I have listed the details of their next event below:

When: Friday September 8th 4:00pm – 8:00pm

Where: Chipotle (1250 Fording Island Road Suite A)

What: Get dinner at chipotle and show the flyer, show a picture of the flyer, or just mention it to the cashier and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Autism Giving Tree

Be sure to check out their website, their facebook page, and our facebook page for more events!

Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

Surfers for Autism

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

Surfers For Autism is coming to Tybee Island on September 16th!  This event is dedicated to the introduction of the sport of surfing to children with special needs.  At a SFA event, our surfers are provided a safe environment where two to four highly skilled and trained surf instructors carefully guide them into waves. Our surfers and their families are treated like rock stars and enjoy a day filled with a range of activities including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, live music, face-painting, games, bounce houses, fire engine tours and much more. A catered lunch is also provided, all at no cost. This is a very special day where children with ASD interact with typical peers and wow families with their capabilities. These events are examples of inclusion at the highest level. 

For more details on this event, and to sign up as a surfer or as a volunteer, follow this link here

Additional information for first-time participants and first-time volunteers can be found at this links. 

You can also follow their Facebook page to see pictures, videos, and testimonials, as well as to receive updates and interact within the community!  

Child Eye Health and Safety Month

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L


For many local families, school begins this week!  While you prepare to head back to school, you have probably made an appointment for your childs annual physical, or well-child visit.  It is important to remember that your childrens eyes and vision should also be evaluated regularly.  August is Child Eye Health and Safety Month, so its the perfect time to talk about vision screens, eye exams, and eye safety. 

  • The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that infants have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age.  InfantSEE is a program that offers free eye exams to children ages 6-12 months.  Check out their website to find a local optometrist that participates. 
  • Children should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6. 
  • For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually, or as recommended by their optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Early eye examinations are crucial to make sure children have normal, healthy vision so they can perform better at school and play!  Common signs of vision troubles in children include: frequently rubbing eyes, squinting, tilting or turning head to look at objects, wandering eyes, or squeezing eyes. If you're child displays any of these symptoms, please schedule an appointment to have their eyes checked. Amblyopia (lazy eye), Strabismus (crossed eyes), color deficiency (color blindness), and refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) are the most common conditions that can affect a child's vision. Many of these conditions, if diagnosed early, can be treated and vision can be restored. If the condition is not diagnosed until later in life, treatment will not be as effective.

While school vision screenings are a helpful tool that can detect some vision problems, there are limitations to these screenings.  An in-school vision screen should not replace comprehensive eye exams at regular intervals as outlined above.   If a vision screening detects problems, or if you have concerns, you may be referred to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, depending on the concerns you have.  To read about what to expect at your childs eye exam, check out this website.

For more information on childrens vision development, signs of problems, and ideas to support and improve vision development, check out the American Optometric Associations website and the College of Optometrists in Vision Developments website.

Eye safety is just as important as eye health.  Every year thousands of children sustain an eye injury - 90 percent of which can be prevented if suitable protective eyewear is used.  Check out Matts blog this week to read about the eclipse, including how to protect your eyes from irreversible damage! 

Solar Eclipse

On August 21 we will experience a total solar eclipse. The last total solar eclipse to pass through the continental United States was 99 years ago. What is a solar eclipse? A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and the earth causing part or all of the sun to be blocked. The eclipse will start in our area at about 1:13pm and end at 4:06pm.

Seeing an eclipse is something that happens once in a lifetime, but it is important to follow proper safety guidelines when viewing the eclipse. You never want to look directly into the sun without appropriate protection except when the sun is totally covered by the moon. This phase only lasts about 2 minutes long. Regular sunglasses are not strong enough during an eclipse. In order to look directly at the sun during an eclipse you need special eclipse glasses to protect your eyes. The glasses should be worn at all times while outside during the eclipse.

What happens if I look directly at the sun without glasses? Yes, you will go blind if you manage to endure the pain and stare at the sun for long enough. The pain from the visible part of the light spectrum could be extreme, but ultraviolet light - which we can't see - is what actually ruins the eye. It literally gives your eye a sunburn. Depending on the sky conditions, it only takes about a minute and a half for your eyes to be permanently damaged, and the damage is cumulative, meaning you don't have to stare at the sun without looking away for it to be harmful - you may just be taking quick glances, but it's still damaging your eye.

Here is a chart for when to wear your eclipse glasses: 

For more information on the eclipse

Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

Homework Breaks - Gross motor activities

School is back and that means so is homework. For some kids sitting in a class room all day is hard, and then to come home and sit some more to do homework seems next to impossible. Incorporating small gross motor breaks can help increase your child’s attention and make homework time go much smoother. A study done in 2011 showed that kids concentrate better after some form of physical activity. “Specifically, our preliminary work suggests that sustained involvement in structured physical activity may offer benefits to motor, cognitive, social, and behavioral functioning in young people exhibiting ADHD symptoms” (Smith et al., 2011). When sitting down to do homework, give your child a specific number of problems to complete, and then after they hit the target number have them get up and step away. Have them complete a quick heavy work activity before continuing the homework. Here are a few ideas.

  • Different animal walks (crab, bear, frog, etc.)
  • Carrying heavy objects through a maze
  • Play statue (adult stands as straight as possible and child tries to push adult)
  • Play tug of war
  • Wheelbarrow walking
  • Place pillows on the floor and have them jump from pillow to pillow
  • Wrestle/rough house
  • Jump on a trampoline

These are just a few of the thousands of different heavy work activities for children that will help increase focus and attention. The key is to set a number of problems, items, questions etc. to complete and then set a timer for the heavy work activity.

Here are some links for different heavy work activities

Here is a link to the article

Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

School Supply Recommendations

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

It’s almost time for school to start, and I’m sure the back-to-school shopping has begun!  Before you go out and buy those sparkly pencils, read on for tips on choosing the right school supplies to help your child succeed at school.  Links provided are examples only.  Many of these products can be found in various brands, and can be found both online and in local stores, like Staples, Target, Walmart, etc.

Triangular pencils are a great tool to encourage a tripod grasp, which can impact handwriting by reducing fatigue and cramps and increasing control.  The triangle shape helps fingers fall just in the right spot, and can be enough to correct subtle inefficient grasps.  These come in standard size and thick, and many crayons can even be found in this shape.  Some children need more support, which can come from various pencil grips, but talk to your OT before selecting one!

Thick pencils (like these, or crayons and markers, too!) are nice for children that have low tone in their hands, and have trouble stabilizing a thin utensil.  Of course, it can sometimes hinder development of those tiny hand and finger muscles, so talk to your child’s OT to decide if this will be a help or a hindrance!

Before you throw away those broken crayons and golf pencils, remember that shorter utensils encourage a more mature grasp pattern.  Rather than using your whole hand in a fisted grasp, a short utensil requires you to use your fingers!  Markerscrayonscolored pencils, and pencils can be found in mini sizes (or again, keep those golf pencils and broken crayons!).   Crayon rocks encourage using a pinching grip, rather than a whole fist!

For some children, mechanical pencils can be a great tool!  If you press too hard when using a mechanical pencil, it causes the pencil lead to break, which teaches some students to press more lightly, but just frustrates other students.  Different lead thicknesses can make this very customizable to increase or decrease sensitivity.  Mechanical pencils can also be a good option for students who are easily distracted by trips to the pencil sharpener.  If you’re concerned that mechanical pencils will be too frustrating for your child, consider a small pencil sharpener like this that your child can keep at his or her desk, to minimize distraction.

For many of our kids that are impulsive and rush through work (leading to mistakes that need to be corrected), the small eraser on the end of the pencil is worn away long before the pencil lead is.  Picking out some ‘fun’ erasers that can sit on the desktop may provide a visual cue to remind children to correct mistakes, while providing motivation to do so!  Kneadable erasers add an extra element by doubling as a fidget! 

For children with fine motor weakness, cutting can be a frustrating task.  While this is a skill they need to develop, the best time to do that is when you or their OT is there to provide one-on-one support.  For classroom time, self-opening scissors like these can reduce frustration and increase independence. 

There are numerous styles of lined paper on the market, and some provide more support for your child than you may realize!  Skip-a-line paper helps with keeping organized when visual tracking is difficult.  Redi-space paper helps teach letter and word spacing.  Raised line paper helps to improve sizing and line placement when children have a hard time staying within the lines with visual clues alone.  Websites like allow you to print paper from home with various spacing and sizing options, and you can add a raised line with a little Elmer’s glue and patience!     

For children with executive functioning deficits and who have trouble staying organized, color-coding supplies can be a simple tool to embrace.  From coordinating folders and notebooks to spandex book covers, each subject/class can have its own color, so that the correct supplies make it to the right classroom!  Coordinating pouches can help keep needed supplies together, like a calculator and protractor for math, or a highlighter to mark important dates during history. 

Encourage and help your child use a planner or agenda, so that he or she can gain independence and confidence in keeping track of important dates and assignments.  This is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone, so you may need to take some time to teach him or her how to listen for important dates, where to record, and how often to check what’s coming up.

When picking out a backpack, find the right size by making sure that the backpack does not go above your child’s shoulders or below the top of the hip bones.  When packed, the backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your child’s total body weight.  Make sure to utilize all compartments and pockets of the backpack to help distribute weight, and keep the heavier items closer to the back center of the backpack.  For more information on choosing the right type and weight for your child's backpack, check out last year’s blog about backpack awareness!  Next month, we’ll post more information here about Backpack Safety Awareness Day!

I hope this blog helps you choose school supplies that will support your children so that they can have a successful school year!  If you have specific questions about which supplies would be best for your child, talk to his or her OT about options.

Back to School, Back to Routine

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

Can you believe that the first day of school is right around the corner?!  With only a few more weeks to go, its a good time to start thinking about how to make the adjustment as smooth as possible.  Here are some tips for easing the transition:

·         Start waking up earlier!  While some kids are early risers all year round, others enjoy the opportunity to stay up late and sleep in during summer.  If your child is a summertime night owl, consider slowly shifting bedtime and wake time in 15 minute increments over several days, until youre on the schedule you need to be for the school day. 

·         Think about classroom expectations that can be hard for your child, and start practicing them now.  If your child has trouble sitting still, pull out some tabletop games and activities that start to get them used to sitting in their chair for an entire activity.  If your child gets the wiggles, think about appropriate and sneaky ways for them to get movement in (stretching their fingers, giving themselves a hug, or clenching their toes can provide just a little bit of proprioceptive input that can help calm the body).  If your child needs more input than that, its a good idea to bring up your concerns to an OT.

·         Do a trial run of getting out the door on time! Go through your morning routine to get an idea of how long it takes to complete, so you arent surprised the first day by being rushed (which can be stressful), or by being done early, and left to sit and wait (providing more time for nerves to grow and wiggles to come out). 

·         Talk about it!  For many kids, talking about the upcoming school year, the new classroom, and any changes they should expect, can help them feel prepared for it.  Give them a chance to verbalize their feelings and ask questions, and try to keep the conversation calm and positive.

·         Visual Schedules and Social Stories can help ease anxieties about a new school year.  This is a simple way to help an anxious child know what to expect out of their day.  Your childs therapist can help make a social story that is customized for you, and ask us about our custom visual schedules

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