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! 

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:

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

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!

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
  • 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
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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.


  • 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!

Summer Fest

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

Reaching Milestones is hosting their First Annual Summer Fest this weekend!  This event will be a great opportunity for families to connect with each other!  The event will have a bounce house, face painting, water balloons, a sensory table, and so much more, including information for families on services they may benefit from for their children.  It will be from 8am-12pm on Saturday, June 24th.  It will be located in Beaufort (Belleview Business Park, across from Bi-Lo on Parris Island Gateway).

The Reaching Milestones clinic in Beaufort provides South Carolina families with expert autism programs and treatment, including Applied Behavior Analysis services, language assessments, center and home based behavioral therapy, social skills, treatment of problem behavior, and more.  At the Beaufort location, families will find a skilled team of clinicians who are dedicated to the importance of individualized treatment, parental involvement and the belief that every child, regardless of their disability or deficits, can make progress.

Find out more about Reaching Milestones here:

We hope you can join us this Saturday!

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 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

Sensory Friendly Movie

THIS SATURDAY we will be joining Cinemark for our 4th Sensory Friendly Movie Screening. We will be screening the movie Cars 3. A sensory friendly movie means that the lights are dimmed not completely off, the volume is turned down lower, and children have the freedom to get up and move around the theater.

This environment is a great place for children with sensory processing disorder. The low volume helps children with sound sensitivities, and allows them to be able to enjoy the movie without needing head phones or to cover their ears. Keeping the lights dimmed allows children who are fearful of the dark to be more comfortable and allows children with vision problems to see a little bit better. A movie is usually an hour and a half to two hours long. This is a long time for some children (and myself) to sit still for. The ability to allow children to get up and move around without worrying about disturbing other people helps to make the experience more enjoyable for them and for you as a family.

This event will take place THIS 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 theater.  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

Here is a link for the Car’s 3 trailer KACHOW!!!!!

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

Safety in Your Neighborhood

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

To continue our series on June is National Safety Month, which focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities, today I am writing about a few outdoor safety topics, including bike riding, pedestrian safety, and safety at the playground.

Bike Safety

One of the most important safety tips for bike-riding is to wear a properly-fitted helmet.  It is the best way to prevent head injuries and death.  Properly-fitted helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by at least 45 percent – yet less than half of children 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet.  Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Safe Kids recommends kids take the Helmet Fit Test:

  • EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
  • EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
  • MOUTH check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.

There are many great links with resources about safe bike-riding for the whole family!

Pedestrian Safety

Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19. Teenagers are now at greatest risk. Teens have a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

  1. Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across.
  2. Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers.
  3. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. 
  4. Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
  5. Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.

For young children, start teaching commands like “stop,” “freeze,” and “walk.”  This is very important in situations where your toddler or child may run off in a parking lot or near a street.  Playing games like ‘Red Light, Green Light,’ ‘Mother, May I?,’ and ‘Simon Says’ can teach these skills in a fun way, so children are ready to use the skill when it matters most!  More tips can be found here and here!

Safety at the Playground

Playgrounds can be a wonderful place for children to explore, play, and learn.  It is important for children to have opportunities to practice new gross motor skills and experience new sensations, like climbing, jumping, swinging, and sliding.  This blog talks about how exploring at a playground, and even “breaking some rules” (like climbing up the slide), can help foster important developmental skills and teach important life lessons.  Of course, practicing these skills can also pose a safety risk.  Sometimes it is hard to find a compromise between keeping kids safe and fostering exploration and developmental play.  The National Safety Council reports that emergency departments see more than 20,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related traumatic brain injury each year.  The link above has numerous tips about keeping playground play time safe, and warns of potential dangers to consider at the playground. While these two sources have some contradicting information, it is most important to consider your child’s skills, and always supervise your child’s play.  There is no reason that playground play can’t be both safe AND full of exploration!

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

CMV or Cytomegalovirus is a common virus and is typically harmless to the general population. A CMV infection causes cold like symptoms such as a sore throat, swollen glands, a fever, and fatigue. According to the Centers for Disease Control between 50 and 80 percent of people in the United States have had a CMV infection by the time they are 40 years old. The symptoms last for a couple weeks and are rarely a concern for healthy children and adults, according to the National CMV Foundation. CMV can cause serious problems in people with weak immune systems and in babies who were infected before birth.

CMV is the most common congenital viral infection that is transmitted before birth. 1 in 150 children is born with congenital CMV, according the National CMV Foundation. It is difficult to predict future health problems and developmental prognosis for babies because congenital CMV is very diverse and can affect people differently. 90% of babies born with CMV with appear to be asymptomatic. They tend to follow standard growth and development and live healthy lives, but can develop problems such as hearing, vision, and learning difficulties. About 10% of babies born with CMV will be symptomatic at birth and can experience some major challenges such as hearing loss, cerebral palsy, microcephaly, learning disabilities, seizures, and weight problems.

It is important to get screened for CMV before you plan to conceive. If a woman has been exposed to a recent CMV infection, it is recommended that she wait until her CMV IgM antibody levels decline to an undetectable level, and her CMV IgG avidity index climbs to a highly favorable percentage, before trying to conceive. This can take anywhere from six to twelve months. It is important to wait until the CMV infection has resolved because it minimizes the risk of CMV transmission from the pregnant woman to her baby in utero.

CMV is very easily preventable. According to National CMV Foundation, contact with children’s saliva and urine is a major cause of CMV infection among pregnant women. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant follow these easy steps.

  • Do not share food utensils, drinks, or straws
  • Do not put your child’s pacifier in your mouth
  • Avoid kissing children on the lips
  • Do not share a toothbrush
  • Wash your hands and toys that were mouthed thoroughly

If your baby is diagnosed with CMV it is important to have regular check-ups for vision and hearing. Early diagnosis of hearing and vision loss is critical and can help long term development. Therapies such as PT, OT, and ST are also important and can help with cognitive and physical disabilities such as fine motor delay, gross motor delay, feeding difficulties, and more.

For more information on CMV =

-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT

-Pediatric Physical Therapist

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