What Is Hippotherapy?

By Barbara Smith

Horses are essential in hippotherapy, a form of neuromuscular therapy that can improve the posture and coordination of a child with disabilities.

Horses are special animals and their healing powers have been recognized for thousands of years. Hippos is the Greek word for horse and hippotherapy means the therapeutic use of horses. But hippotherapy shouldn’t be confused with therapeutic riding — hippotherapy is a medically based treatment tool, whereas therapeutic riding involves teaching people with disabilities equestrian skills. Although Hippocrates first mentioned using horses therapeutically in his ancient Greek writings around 400 B.C., it wasn’t until the 1960s that physical therapists (PTs) in Europe began using horses to help patients with neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy or brain injury. Physical therapists believed that the horse’s movement created neurological changes that helped improve a person’s postural control, strength, and coordination.

Read more on Parents.com >>

Iron Chef, Dysphagia Style

By Melanie Potock

Picadillo ground beef from the Dining With Dysphagia cookbook.

What do a coconut-milk-infused shake, spicy risotto, and macaroni and cheese have in common? They are just a few examples of the winning recipes from a cooking competition created for people who have difficulty swallowing. Sampled by professional and celebrity chefs in New York City, these culinary creations were developed by students taking Interdisciplinary Care-Based Management of Dysphagia.

Read more on the ASHA LEADER BLOG >>

7 Surprising Baby Safety Mistakes You Might (Still) Be Making

By Tamekia Reece

September is National Baby Safety Month. Check out these surprising “don’ts” that many parents still do.

Picky Eating Prevention Plan

With Nancy Ripton, co-author of Melanie’s baby book, Baby Self-Feeding

Many times parents don’t worry about picky eaters until it’s too late. Once you already have a picky eater, it’s much more difficult to change the way your child looks at food. The good news for parents who haven’t yet started solids is that you can do a whole lot to prevent picky eating by the way you introduce first foods. 

Read more on Just the Facts Baby >>

5 Tips to Make the Kitchen Connection for Kids with Autism

By Melanie Potock

As a speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding treatment, I work mostly with kids, food and creating happier mealtimes for families. I often find the kitchen is the heart of the home, where parents are most relaxed and where we can build relationships with kids with autism, especially if they are hesitant eaters.

To help SLPs and parents embark on their food adventure, I offer five tips to make the kitchen connection for kids with autism.

Read More on The ASHA Leader Blog >>

 

The Cooking Connection

By Melanie Potock

I once had a client with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), age 10, who had a history of picky eating and feeding difficulties. He also had an affinity for movie production logos, from the iconic roaring lion that represents MGM to the letters and swing-arm white desk lamp that form the Pixar logo. Based on my experience with tackling such feeding difficulties, I sought to merge his interest in logos with exploring new foods.

Read More on The ASHA Leader Blog >>

Seven Surprising Things You Can Do at Home to Help Your Child Eat New Foods

By Melanie Potock

1. Explore Food away from Meals: Use food for other purposes than eating to increase the child’s exposure to the food in fun, interactive ways.  For example, learning to match colors with orange carrots & red bell peppers gets those nutritious foods in your child’s hands and that’s a safe, fun place to start!  Here’s a video demonstrating that process.

Read More on Generation Rescue >>

Better therapy sessions for kids with special needs: therapists share!

By Ellen Seidman

I recently asked a bunch of pediatric therapists how kids can get the maximum benefits from therapies: speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, ABA therapy, whatever therapy! All of these experts are contributing columnists to PediaStaff, and they didn’t hold back on advice or honesty. Hope you find their words as helpful as I did!

Read more on Love that Max >>

What to Do When Baby Refuses a Bottle

By Kara Mayer Robinson

Not all babies take to a bottle right away. Try these tips to turn your feeding problems around.

Try When Your Baby’s a ‘Little’ Hungry

“Ideally, a baby needs to be alert and just hungry enough to be interested, but not so hungry that baby will become frustrated and upset,” says Melanie Potock, MA, a pediatric feeding specialist in Longmont, CO.

Look for hunger cues. Give it a try when your baby is hungry but not starving. A frantic baby and a sense of urgency make it harder.

Read more on WebMD >>

What Is Speech Therapy?

By Barbara Smith

Photo by Aimee Herring

If your child has a speech disability that includes trouble pronouncing words, speech therapy may help improve language development, communication, and pragmatic language skills.

Speech therapy is an intervention service that focuses on improving a child’s speech and abilities to understand and express language, including nonverbal language. Speech therapists, or speech and language pathologists (SLPs), are the professionals who provide these services. Speech therapy includes two components: 1) coordinating the mouth to produce sounds to form words and sentences (to address articulation, fluency, and voice volume regulation); and 2) understanding and expressing language (to address the use of language through written, pictorial, body, and sign forms, and the use of language through alternative communication systems such as social media, computers, and iPads). In addition, the role of SLPs in treating swallowing disorders has broadened to include all aspects of feeding.

Read more on Parents.com >>