Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month is a public health and awareness campaign focusing on the leading genetic cause of the death in babies younger than two years of age. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disease that affects the parts of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. SMA is a genetic mutation of the 5th chromosome.

The goal of spinal muscular atrophy month is to raise awareness about screenings to find out if you are a carrier of the SMA mutation. 1 in 40 Americans (7 million) are carriers for the disease according to Consumer Digest. The American College of Medical Genetics believes that all couples who are planning a pregnancy should be offered SMA carrier testing. This is in order to give families enough time to make informed decisions when it comes to reproduction. However, the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology still has not made a formal statement in connection to SMA screening. Thus, there are varying practices among physicians with some offering it and others not offering it.

The goal for the awareness is also for strengthening the fight against the deadly disease and supporting research for the purpose of finding a cure. It is also a time for supporting individuals suffering from the disease along with their families who suffer with them.

Physical therapy and occupational therapy programs can help children and adults learn the best ways to maximize their muscle function and accomplish activities of daily living. An array of assistive technology products can help even very young children explore the world despite having very weak muscles. Standers, walkers, various kinds of powered and manual wheeled vehicles, and braces (orthoses) can help with standing and moving around. Therapists also can help teachers and parents find the best physical solutions for the school environment. Speech therapy can help with breathing, swallowing, and communication problems in both children and adults with SMA

For more information on SMA





-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month—an observance by individuals and organizations to help make people more aware of and give them information about cleft and craniofacial defects and other conditions that can affect the head and face.  This July, treatment specialists, support organizations, advocacy groups, and affected individuals and families are joining forces to encourage awareness of cleft and craniofacial conditions, and we need your help to spread the word.

Craniofacial defects are conditions present at birth that affect the structure and function of a baby’s head and face. Two of the most common craniofacial defects are orofacial clefts, which occur when the lip and mouth do not form properly, and craniosynostosis, which happens when the bones in the baby’s skull fuse too early.  Treatments and services for children with craniofacial defects can vary depending on the severity of the defect; the presence of associated syndromes or other birth defects, or both; as well as the child’s age and other medical or developmental needs. Children with certain craniofacial defects can have a greater risk for physical, learning, developmental, or social challenges, or a mix of these. Craniofacial defects have significant effects on families and the health care system:

  • Each year, about 4,400 infants in the United States are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate and about 2,700 infants are born with a cleft palate alone.
  • About 4 infants per 10,000 live-births in the metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, area are born with craniosynostosis.
  • Recent studies have found that direct medical and health care use and average costs per child were a lot higher for children with orofacial clefts than for children of the same age without these conditions.

It is common for children who are born with a cleft palate to have speech problems at some time in their lives.  In addition to evaluating speech, the speech and language pathologist can help you and your child minimize feeding difficulties, possibly offering guidance on adapted feeding techniques.

For more information, check out these links, which provide additional information and resources for families of children affected by craniofacial defects:




Beginning the IEP Process: Part 1

This week, Barbara Helms, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is sharing some great information about the IEP process!  With so much to share, we couldn't fit it all in one post, so stay tuned for more!

As a former school speech language pathologist, I am often asked questions concerning Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s).    “How do I get services for my child at school?” is one of those questions.  To gain a better understanding, I have broken down the process in 7 steps, to include:

  1. Pre-referral/RTI
  2. Referral
  3. Identification
  4. Eligibility
  5. Development of the IEP
  6. Implementation of the IEP
  7. Evaluation and reviews

Step 1: Pre-Referral and RTI (Response to Intervention)

The IEP process begins with interventions (also referred to as RTI).  Interventions are designed to help struggling students catch up and allow the school to see which students need more academic support.  Interventions are used to document and explain difficulties, test classroom accommodations and/or modifications, assess intervention strategies and monitor progress. 

The RTI process is flexible and designed by school districts to meet the needs of the individual student.  The RTI process TYPICALLY has three tiers. Each tier provides different levels of support.  

  1. In Tier I, all students receive instruction in the regular education classroom; the teacher helps all learners.
  2. In Tier II, the school provides interventions to students who need more support than they are currently receiving in the general education classroom.
  3. In Tier III, students are given individualized instruction.

RTI does not replace the special education process. If at any time parents believe their child has an educational disability and needs special education, they have a right to request an evaluation for special education. RTI cannot be used to delay or deny that evaluation. In addition to the information gathered during the RTI process, other forms of evaluation must occur to determine if a child is eligible for special education and parent’s written consent is required.

Step 2: Referral

If pre-referral interventions are NOT successful, the student is referred for special education services.  A REFERRAL CAN COME FROM MANY DIFFERENT SOURCES.  For infants, toddlers and preschoolers, Beaufort County has “child find”.  The child find process is intended to identify children who may be in need of special education services. (For more information contact Office of Early Childhood, Parenting and Family Literacy 843-521-2399 or Ashley.Hutchison@beaufort.k12.sc.us ).  In the school environment, other examples of referral sources include: parent, teacher, guidance counselor, school nurse or para-professional. 

Referrals are made by contacting the school's administrator of special education, or Student Intervention Team leader and asking for an evaluation for special education eligibility. No matter who makes a referral, the parent must give informed written consent before a special education evaluation can begin.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

The Beaufort Water Festival

The Beaufort Water Festival starts this Friday July 14th and runs until next Sunday July 21st. Below highlights some of the events that will be going on. Please check out their website for a full list of events. https://www.bftwaterfestival.com/full-festival-schedule.html

Friday July 14th

  • FREE
  • Opening ceremony
  • Arts and Crafts Market = noon – 7pm at the waterfront park
  • Paris Island Marine Band
  • Fireworks at dusk
  • Gates open at 6pm and ceremony starts at 7pm

Saturday July 15th

  • FREE until 7pm
  • Arts and Crafts market = noon – 7pm at waterfront park
  • Raft race = 8:30am – noon
  • Children’s Toad Fishing Tournament
    • FREE
    • 12 and under
    • Bring your own rod and reel
    • 10am – Noon
    • Bait is provided
    • Shrimp Boat Tour = Noon – 4pm (FREE)
    • Ski Show 1:30pm and 3pm

Sunday July 16th

  • Arts and Crafts market = noon – 5pm at waterfront park
  • Children’s Day
    • FREE
    • 11am – 3pm
    • Games, activities, shows, bounce house, and prizes
    • Shrimp Boar Tour = Noon – 4pm (Free)
    • Teen Dance
      • $10
      • Ages 13 – 17
      • 6pm – 9pm

Wednesday July 19th

  • Talent Show
  • $10 or FREE with Official 2017 62nd Annual Water Festival T-Shirt
  • Gates open at 6pm and show starts at 7pm
  • Children under 5 are free

Thursday July 20th

  • Lowcountry Supper
  • $15
  • Gates open at 6pm and supper is served from 6pm – 7:30pm
  • Children under 5 are free

Friday July 21st

  • Bed Race
    • $25 per team
    • 4:30 pm check in and 5pm start time

Saturday July 22

  • FREE
  • Arts and Crafts market = 9am – 7pm at waterfront park
  • Water Festival Grand Parade
    • Downtown Beaufort
    • 10am – Noon
    • Air Show = 1pm – 4pm

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

Summer Reading

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

Back to School will be here before you know it, but it’s not too late to participate in some of the summer reading programs going on! 

The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program is here to help you on your way, encouraging you to read books of your own choosing and earn a FREE book, simply by following these three easy steps:

  1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (English or Español). Tell us which part of the book is your favorite, and why.
  2. Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 16th and September 5th, 2017. Find a Store (there are stores on Hilton Head and in Savannah).
  3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

The Beaufort County Library also has a summer reading program, but hurry, because this one ends soon!

  1. Visit your local Beaufort County Library branch to register.
  2. Read books -- to earn points -- to win prizes! Earn points to receive your reading medal, certificate, and entry for a grand prize! (Tip: Attend library events to earn bonus points!)
  3. Return your reading log to your library to receive your prizes! 

It’s not too late to join in on some of the online reading programs as well!  Scholastic invites you to join the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge by grabbing your favorite books, logging your reading minutes, and most importantly, having fun all summer long!  Their website has book lists for all ages, and a sweepstakes to win cool prizes!

Get reading! 

Staying Cool

The best way to beat the heat this summer is to stay cool at the pool. Here are some fun games to play that can also work on developing your child’s gross motor skills.

Strengthening Activities

  • Holding a kickboard or noodle in front of you and doing flutter or frog kicks. You can make this into a race or a timed game. This helps strengthen the leg muscles
  • Playing tag in the shallow end but only using your arms to move. This helps build upper body strength as well as neck strength.
  • Climbing in and out of the pool and having them jump over targets. The climbing and jumping help to strengthen the upper body, lower body, and core muscles.

Hand eye coordination

  • Have a water balloon toss. This works on improving kids hand eye coordination along with teaching them how to catch and throw.
  • Jumping into the pool while catching objects. This helps to not only work on hand eye coordination but also lower body strengthening.

Visual Motor Activities

  • Get a squirt gun and have kids shoot different targets around the pool. You can also use the squirt gun to write letters or draw shapes on a wall or the sidewalk. This will help improve communication between the eyes and hands.
  • Take a container and draw a line on it. Have kids pour water into the container with 1 pour and try to get as close to the line as possible. The winner can dump the water on the other player’s heads. This helps with visual motor skills as well as force grading, accuracy, and precision.  

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

UV Safety Month

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared July UV Safety Month.  We all love to take in those warm summer rays, but everyone must remember to protect their skin and eyes from the damaging effects of the sun.  Here are the harmful things unprotected sun exposure can do:

  • Cause vision problems and damage to your eyes
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Premature aging of the skin
  • Skin cancer

By learning the risks associated with too much sun exposure and taking the right precautions to protect you and your family from UV rays, everyone can enjoy the sun and outdoors safely.  Below are things you can do to minimize the risk that comes with sun exposure:

  1. Cover Up: Wearing a Hat (preferably wide brimmed) or other shade-protective clothing can partly shield your skin from the harmful effects of UV ray exposure. Proper clothing may include long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses - for eye protection.
  2. Stay in the Shade: The sun's glare is most intense at midday. Staying in the shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. will further protect your skin. The sun can still damage your skin on cloudy days or in the winter. For this reason, it is important to stay protected throughout the year.
  3. Choose the Right Sunscreen: This is extremely important. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) new regulations for sunscreen labeling recommend that your sunscreen have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and should protect against both Ultraviolet A (UV-A) and Ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays.
  4. Use the Right Amount of Sunscreen: According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, most people apply only 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. When out in the sun, it's important that you apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. You should apply it more often if you are sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.

Enjoy the outdoors this summer and remember to protect your eyes and the skin you're in!

For more information and resources, check out these links:



4th of July Celebrations

There is a lot to do this year for the 4th. Below is a list of activities happening in the Lowcountry. Be sure to also read Krista’s blog for some sensory strategies to help make the 4th of July activities enjoyable for your child and the whole family. Also we have some great 4th of July themed crafts on our pinterest page! https://www.pinterest.com/lowcountrytxcen/occupational-therapy/

Hilton Head Island

  • Skull Creek Boat House Fireworks
    • 7pm – 10 pm with live music and fireworks at sunset
    • Here is a link to the event on Facebook
  • Harbor Town 4th of July Parade
    • Show off your red, white and blue spirit by decorating your bicycle, wagon, dog or kids for a fun-filled parade around Harbour Town! Meet at the parking lot adjacent to the Harbour Town Lighthouse at 8:30am to register and pick up decorating supplies. Parade line-up begins promptly at 9:30am, and entries will be judged on patriotism. Supplies limited to the first 100 registered.
    • Following the parade, join us for some holiday fun and activities.
    • Fireworks start at 9:15 pm
    • There is a $6 gate pass fee to enter the Sea Pines Resort
    • https://www.seapines.com/events/July-4th-Parade/July-2017
    • https://www.seapines.com/events/Fireworks-at-Harbour-Town/July-2017
  • Pop goes the Sandbox
    • 10 am – 2pm
    • Take part in a special holiday craft, 4th of July Fun Fact Handout and show-your-colors cookie decorating thru 2pm but we will stay open til 5pm.
    • General Admission is $6 per person, FREE for Members. Military and senior discounts are available.
    • Here is a link to the event on Facebook
  • Shelter Cove
    • Fireworks begin at dusk
    • Waterside walk sale is from 9 am – 6 pm
    • A live concert will be from 5pm – 9pm
    • Kids activities will be taking place all day
    • http://www.sheltercovetownecentre.com/events/
  • Firecracker 5K Run
    • Begins at 8am at Shelter Cove Park
    • $30 for adults $25 for children 12 and under
    • Post-race celebration with music, food, prizes and more!
    • http://www.bearfootsports.com/heels_race_info.htm
  • One Island Community Picnic
    • Free 4th of July Picnic from 11am – 2pm
    • Located on Gum Tree Road
    • Food, bounce houses, dunk tank, music and more!
    • https://www.facebook.com/onehiltonhead/
  • Frosty Frog
    • Hotdog and frozen t-shirt competition
    • 10am – 1pm
    • Frozen t-shirt competition starts at 10:45am
    • Women’s hotdog contest at 11:30am
    • Men’s hotdog contest at 12:00pm
    • Here is a link to the event on Facebook
  • Salute From the Shore
    • The eighth annual Salute from the Shore will begin at 1 p.m. July 4 in Cherry Grove, just north of Myrtle Beach and conclude over Bluffton about 1:30 p.m.
    • http://salutefromtheshore.org
    • http://salutefromtheshore.org/2017-flyover-schedule/


  • The Sands of Port Royal
    • Holiday celebration beginning at 5 p.m.
    • Food, face painting, Tux the clown, live music and a DJ
    • Fireworks at dusk
  • Paris Island
    • Independence day celebration
    • Free and starts at 5pm
    • Performance by the Marine Corps Recruit Depot band at 6:30 p.m., followed by fireworks at about 9:15 p.m.
    • The Parris Island Museum is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m throughout the holiday weekend.
    • Here is a link to the event on Facebook

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

Sensory Friendly 4th of July

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

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!

Helen Keller Deaf and Blind Awareness Week

In 1984 president Ronald Regan declared that the last week in June would be Helen Keller Deaf and Blind Awareness week. This year it will take place from June 25th to July 1st and the theme is promoting the power of touch, according to Helenkeller.org. Communication technology has evolved dramatically, however there is a place and time for technology and a time and place to put it down. This year they are focused on the power of touch because the best connection will always be human connection.

The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of the issues that the deaf and blind face each day. It is also a chance to educate the public deaf blindness. From June 26th till June 30th we will have some different stations around LTC simulating everyday activities thru the perspective of being deaf and blind. We will also have some different fact posted throughout the clinic.

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

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