Raleigh Therapy Services

A Not-So-Scary Halloween

Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls may soon be making their debut, but that doesn’t mean your child can’t enjoy a not-so-scary Halloween.

For many young children, especially those with special needs, Halloween excitement can turn into total overload causing unnecessary angst and anxiety.

Your child will be introduced to new sights, sounds, tastes and activities during this haunting holiday that may cause him to become overwhelmed. All of those sensory elements combined with the social demands of trick-or-treating can turn a fun night into a frightening and frustrating experience. However, by planning ahead and anticipating some challenges that may arise, you can avoid the “tricks” to ensure your child experiences the “treats.”

Talk about talking

Trick-or-treating gives your child the opportunity to exchange dialogue in a friendly setting. Let him ring the doorbell and practice his greeting over and over again. As you practice, ask him about his costume or his favorite candy to engage him further as a neighbor may do on Halloween night.

Let him glow

Planning to be out after dark? Most “scary” sights are much less concerning during the day but may take on a new look after the sun goes down. Give your son a glow stick or a flashlight to carry to illuminate his path and shed light into the night.

Allow him to give out candy

If donning a costume and hearing new noises will be too much for your son, let him stay home and hand out candy with you by his side. Give him directions about how much candy to give out and what greetings he should use as the costumed children approach for treats.

Trade in the candy

Is your child highly sensitive to sugar and dyes? Does he have food allergies? Let him trade the candy he collects for a special toy. Make sure to have the toy ready to give to him when you offer the exchange.

With positive plans in place, Halloween can be an enjoyable day for you and your child. Have fun!

  Filed under: Parenting Tips, Raleigh Therapy Services

Dealing with a Picky Eater

Are meal times a struggle for you and your little one? You are not alone. The struggle to get your child to eat is very real and quite often a frequent frustration for parents of toddlers.

You may have noticed that your child’s picky eating surfaced after she turned one and gained new skills like feeding herself. She’s now aware that she can choose what and how much of something she wants to eat. She now has more “control” over her plate and portions. Some days she may choose to eat a lot, others days she may refuse items that she usually eats without fuss.

Another tactic newly independent eaters may employ is eating only familiar foods or refusing to eat certain foods for silly reasons like color or shape. This behavior happens when a child attempts to create “sameness” to promote feelings of safety and security.

Fortunately, for most children, picky eating is merely a developmental stage that will quickly pass. In the meanwhile, you can help your child get through this pretentious palate phase for more enjoyable mealtime experiences.

Say No to Bribes and Force-Feeding

As easy as it is to offer up a bribe to convince your daughter to eat her vegetables to earn dessert, do your best to resist the urge and endless plate pleas. A child who learns to make deals about eating will also discover the power to make deals and ask for rewards for doing other tasks. Bribes at the dinner table may lead to your child expecting rewards for other things like brushing her teeth, picking up her toys, or cooperating with the task at hand.

You should also avoid forcing your daughter to eat if she isn’t interested or hungry. At her young age, her stomach is about the size of a small, clenched fist; it doesn’t take much to fill it. Force-feeding her will teach her to rely on others to tell her how much to eat and when she is full. Force-feeding can also lead her to eat less and make her picky eating behaviors worse.

Present New Foods Again and Again (and Again)

Research shows that children need to see a new food at least 10 times before they may be willing to try it. Increase your daughter’s exposure to new foods by asking her to help you prepare meals. Give her the chance to touch the food, help measure and stir. She’ll be excited to see and taste the foods she creates.

You can also implement food crafts as part of your daughter’s playtime activities. Let your daughter touch, smell and play with different snack items like pretzels, carrot sticks, raisins, puffs, whatever you have around the house. Seeing different foods in a new light will help her become comfortable with the idea of eating them.

Build A Routine

Toddlers like predictability. Establishing a structured feeding routine with timely snacks and meals will help curb your daughter’s grazing behaviors and allow her to feel hunger that will likely lead her to eat to fullness during meal times.

Serve It All Up

Do your best to offer up a mix of foods with different textures, tastes and smells that your daughter likes and dislikes. Introduce new foods along with the foods she already likes to eat. Give her the same foods the rest of the family is eating in small, toddler-sized portions. Over time, these new choices should become as liked and familiar as her favorite foods.

When is picky eating more than picky eating?

While it is common for toddlers to go through a picky eating phase, it’s important to remember that it shouldn’t last long. If it does, you may want to speak with your pediatrician to determine if your child’s behavior is stemming from underlying medical, oral motor or developmental issues.

You can trust your pediatrician to assess your concerns and help determine if a pediatric feeding therapist should evaluate your daughter to offer further insight into the situation.


Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

  Filed under: Feeding Development, Parent Education, Raleigh Therapy Services

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Summer is flying by quickly making way for schools supplies, lunch money, and homework. Some seasoned parents are counting down the days ready for the return of the routine, while others are beginning to prepare their soon-to-be kindergarteners for this new life adventure.

If you are among the latter, we want you to know you’ve got mama friends, family and our entire Raleigh Therapy Services team cheering you and your new student on to school success.

“The start of the school year can cause any parent to stress and panic, especially those sending their little ones off to kindergarten,” said Allison Crumpler, Raleigh Therapy Services Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Clinical Compliance. “These new students will find themselves in a different learning environment with new teachers, unfamiliar classmates and a wealth of information to learn and retain—who wouldn’t find that overwhelming?”

Fortunately, there are many activities and skills you can introduce now to give your child a head start on all that awaits her in kindergarten:

Holding a Pencil and Cutting

Children entering kindergarten should be able to hold a pencil and cut with scissors correctly. You can help your daughter perfect these tasks by:

  • Helping her strengthen her fine motor skills by stringing beads, picking up small pieces of paper using their index finger and thumb, etc.
  • Working on using the appropriate three-finger grasp when using pencils, crayons, and scissors
  • Letting her practice cutting by asking her to cut pictures out of old magazines and coloring books

Buttoning and Zipping

Kindergarten teachers like students to be able to button, zip, and fasten their clothing before and after using the restroom. Some children will also be ready to learn how to tie their shoes. Help your student grasp these tasks by:

  • Practicing buttoning and zipping clothing items she isn’t wearing
  • Wearing her “school clothes” around the house ahead of time to practice taking on and off, buttoning and zipping
  • Using a shoelace board or box to practice tying shoes

Remembering an Address and Phone Number

In addition to knowing their first and last names, children entering kindergarten should also learn their home address and phone number. Help your daughter retain this information by:

  • Repetition—say it over and over and over again and asking you’re her repeat after you
  • Making up a catchy, rhyming tune that incorporates her phone number and address

Name Writing

A kindergarten teacher will want your child to be able to write their first name on the first day of school. While the writing will not be perfect at this age, it should be legible. You can help her practice writing her name by:

  • Letting her trace her name to become more familiar with the letters and shapes of the letters
  • Using a dry erase board or chalkboard to write her name as it makes it easy to wipe off and start again

Recognizing Letters

Your daughter will learn the letters of the alphabet, including lower- and upper-case letters, during her kindergarten year. You can give her a leg up on letter identification by:

  • Asking her to point out letters in the books you read during story time
  • Using letter flashcards
  • Tracing letters in the sand at the beach or the playground
  • Playing with magnetic letters on the fridge and asking her to find named letters
  • Going on an alphabet hunt through the house to find toys and objects that start with the same letter

Identifying Letter Sounds

In addition to knowing the alphabet letters, your daughter will also benefit from knowing the sounds* that the letters make. Activities you can use to work on letter sound recognition include:

  • Going on a scavenger hunt around the house to find objects that start with named sounds
  • Using letter flash cards to make the sound of the pictured letter
  • Playing rhyming games or asking her to say words that all start with a certain letter sound

As you share letter sounds with your child, be sure to model the sounds correctly. For example, “t” is “t-t-t” and not “tuh-tuh-tuh.”

Print Concepts

Your student will need to know the front, back, and spine of a book along with being able to identify the author, title, and illustrator. She’ll also need to recognize that pages are read from left to right. Help her expand her knowledge of print concepts by:

  • Pointing out the parts of the book and then asking her to identify them
  • Demonstrating that words and pages are read from left to right by using your finger to move along the words as you say them


Your student will know how to count to 100 by the end of the kindergarten school year. Help your child hone in on her counting skills now by:

  • Asking her to count all sorts of items throughout her daily routine—blueberries on her plate, her building blocks, her pile of stuffed animals and more
  • Showing her number flash cards and working with her to put them in order
  • Looking at numbers on a digital clock and talking about the numbers that come next

“Kindergarten is a big milestone for children and their parents. Incorporating some of the anticipated kindergarten learnings at home, will help in the preparation process and hopefully instill confidence in new students,” added Crumpler.


Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

  Filed under: Education & School, Parent Education, Raleigh Therapy Services