Book Review: Yummy Tummy Rainbow Garden

The Yummy Tummy Rainbow Garden was written by Karen Leonetti as a teaching tool for children of all ages.  Her wish is that all children may have healthy bodies and brains from eating “Grow Foods” everyday!  With childhood obesity at an all-time high, Karen set out to educate children and adults regarding healthy eating.  This book takes you on the journey of two children (with the help of a treasure map) on the way to the Yummy Tummy Rainbow Garden.  Once in the garden, the children discover various signs that state the name and function of each food item.  This book is wonderfully illustrated as the fresh fruits and vegetables will make your mouth water!  Comparing a balanced diet to all the colors of the rainbow is sure to give your child a visual they won’t forget.  Decreasing screen time and enhancing outdoor play is also a constant theme throughout the book.   At the end of the book, Karen included recipes, notes, and hints to make healthy eating fun and easy.  We hope you enjoy this book as much as we did!

Rating: 5/5



Strategies to Encourage Expressive Language Development

  • Give Your Child a Reason to Talk

Knowing your child well is a great thing, but anticipating your child’s every need gives them no reason to have to communicate.  Instead of automatically giving your child a drink, snack, or even a toy that’s out of reach, wait and give him/her a chance to attempt to ask for it.  Even reaching, grunting, and pointing is a great start if they are not able to produce words.  Model the words for him/her.  “Do you want a drink?” and even add the sign for “drink” if you’re working on using some basic sign language.  Reward these attempts at early communication, by granting the request when appropriate and redirecting when it is not. 


  •  Offer Choices/ Pretend to not Understand Request

When your child communicates that he/she wants something, the next step is to offer a choice of two items.  This encourages further communication and also allows the opportunity for further modeling the vocabulary and language of requesting.  You can even offer the wrong item.  If you know your child wants the car, offer him/her the ball.  This provides further opportunities for modeling and encouraging language. Be sure not to do this during every requesting attempt as this may cause frustration instead of communication.


  •  Control the Activity

Engage your child in activities that you control.  A perfect example is bubbles.  You hold the bubbles and the wand, but don’t blow until the child says “b”, “bubble”, “blow”, or makes some attempt to communicate.  That attempt could be a sign, a grunt, or a squeal. Initially, perfect speech is not the goal, the goal is to teach children the power of speech and communication.  When you do blow the bubbles, don’t forget to model the word “pop” every time you or your child pops a bubble! 


 Other activities can be controlled by providing a limited quantity and waiting for your child to ask for “more”.  Coloring, blocks, craft activities, and interactive games are all perfect opportunities for practicing “more”. 

 In both examples, the important thing is that your child makes an attempt to communicate before you (the parent, caregiver, or peer) initiate the action.

  •  Opportunities throughout the Day

Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing at every possible opportunity.  When your child makes a sound, approximates a word, or says a word, repeat back what you heard or give meaning to what he/she said.   

Everyday activities or “chores” can even be language building opportunities.  Have your child help prepare something in the kitchen, or sort laundry.  Turn the steps into a song or simply narrate each step.  This will help your child learn action words like “open”, “put”, or “stir” and other basic concepts such as “in”, “out”, “on”, “off”, etc. 

  •  Expand on what your child is saying

Your child might make a “b” sound while playing with bubbles or blocks.  Repeat back “Blocks!  Look at the blocks.” or “Bubbles!  You want more bubbles? OK!”  If your child is a more advanced talker, but still working on some of the grammatical rules of speech, model the correct speech back to him/her.  If your child says “Me want that” when pointing to a favorite toy truck, you could repeat back “Oh, you want the red truck?  What a big truck!  Let’s get the truck and play together!”  Repetition like this will help your child learn language.

A toddler with an expressive language delay may already have a small vocabulary to pull from. Those words may include mama, dada, baby, etc. When the toddler uses one of those words, repeat it and add another word. Make new connections for them with a new word and the “old” word.

  • Use those “speech muscles”

If your child is able to blow bubbles, this is a great way to work the “speech muscles”.  Party horns, straws, or whistles can also be lots of fun! We like to use along with  

 Instead of a sippy cup, offer your child his/her drink in a small open cup or in a cup that requires a straw.  This encourages use of other muscles in the mouth that are important for speech.

 Make silly faces in the mirror with your child – stick out your tongue, move it from side to side, make it go up and down, puff up your cheeks with air, make “kiss” faces and “fish” faces, open wide, and smile!

  •  Encourage imitation of all kinds

Make animal sounds, car sounds, or train sounds and encourage your child to imitate these.  These sounds contain the basic vowel sounds that are a part of speech (“moooo”, “baaaa”).  Blowing raspberries, clicking your tongue, or “popping” your lips are fun to copy too!

  •  Read with your child

Read books to and with your child every day.  Let your child pick out the book he/she wants to read.  Even if you make up your own words or story to go with the pictures, or just point to pictures and talk about what you see. This is great language practice for your child!

Blog By: Rebekah Greer

For further information contact us at 360-0200 or visit us at


Strategies to Encourage Receptive Language


  • Condense your words- It’s great to speak to your child in an adult way, that’s how he/she learns new vocabulary! Some children, especially those with receptive language delays, can benefit from shorter, more concise directions to aid in their comprehension.  Instead of using several longer sentences, provide directions or ask questions using shorter phrases and sentences.  As your child’s comprehension increases, you can add complexity to the direction.  Emphasizing certain key words can also aid in comprehension, such as “Put the ball on the table.”
  •  Use Visual Cues- Provide visual cues to help your child follow directions.  Point directly to objects you are speaking about, or make gestures to match your speech.  Point to pictures in books as you are reading.  Demonstrate what you’re asking your child to do, if needed.  This helps your child connect what you’re saying to the request or action.  Provide a lot of praise when your child completes the action.  Be sure to fade these “cues” as your child’s comprehension increases to increase independent and unprompted use of speech.

  • Photos and Pictures- Use photos or pictures to improve your child’s comprehension.  Have photos of your child doing activities or going places that will be meaningful to them.  When you say to your child “Time to wash hands”, show your child the picture of him/her washing hands to provide the extra cue.  You can also use these photos in a photo album or book.  Look at the photos with your child to help increase both receptive and expressive language.  Include photos of family members to help your child increase his/her knowledge of “who” some of those people are.
  • Hide and Seek- Have your child hide a favorite toy in a specific location – “Put the bear on the table/under the chair/in the box”.  This helps increase your child’s understanding of spatial concepts and prepositions.  You can expand this further by hiding preferred items and asking your child “Where is the bear?”. Initiating them to respond with “I don’t know.”, or “Bear where are you?” etc. and then stating “The bear is on the bookshelf.” types of responses to provide additional cueing for spatial concepts.


  • Ask yes/no questions- During the day, ask your child questions that require a simple yes or no response.  Encourage both nodding and saying “yes”, and do the same for “no”.  Start with basic yes/no questions like “Do you want…”, then move on to questions like “Is this a ball? Are you a boy/girl? Eventually you can move on to more complex questions like “Does a cow bark?”
  • Use as many scenarios as you are able, throughout the day, to increase your child’s communicative interactions. This may encourage further speech development across multiple environments.

    Blog By: Rebekah Greer

    For further information contact us at 360-0200 or visit us at


Book Review-”The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism”

Written by Naoki Higashida and Translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell

This book was written by a 13-year-old child diagnosed with Autism who lives in Japan.  Naoki Higashida uses an alphabet grid to communicate and answer questions set forth.  The book is set-up in an interview-like fashion with over 100 pages of questions.  Naoki’s raw answers to questions, we all wish we could ask of our children on the Autism Spectrum, were nothing short of thought provoking.  Examples of such questions include: “Why do you need cues and prompts?” “Why do you flap your fingers and hands in front of your face?” and “Why are you too sensitive or insensitive to pain?” Naoki’s responses are written referring to both himself, specifically, and children with Autism as a whole. One verse that is repeated and underlying in most answered questions was simply this, “We don’t want you to give up on us.  Please, keep battling alongside us.”  Tearing jerking at times, this book was a good read for insight.  Some points were well-received, but some were questioned and very subjective in nature.  Overall, we give The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism 3.5/5 stars.


“One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.”—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

Why Can’t My Child Say That?-Childhood Apraxia of Speech

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)?

  • CAS is a motor speech disorder that affects a child’s ability to clearly and correctly produce syllables and words. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words. The child may have significantly limited and/or unclear speech.

 What Causes CAS?

  • Currently the cause of CAS is unknown. Most often no specific cause is found. Some children may, however, have CAS as a part of a larger neurological diagnosis or as part of a genetic or mitochondrial disorder, (2009. Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America).

 Treatment of CAS

  • Research shows the children with CAS have more success when they receive frequent (3-5 times per week) and intensive treatment. Receiving feedback from a number of senses, such as tactile/visual/verbal cues is often helpful. With this multi-sensory feedback, the child can more readily repeat syllables, words, sentences and longer utterances to improve muscle coordination and sequencing for speech(1997-2013 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association).

 Products frequently used for treating CAS

 Kaufman Speech Praxis Treatment Kit 1 (basic level)


Contains 225 visual referent speech cards targeting the syllable shapes that children with apraxia of speech need to become effective vocal/verbal communicators. The accompanying 52-page manual explains the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol (K-SLP) methods and how to get children started on the road to combining consonants and vowels to form words. 

 Word FLIPS for Learning Intelligible Production of Speech

Word FLIPS includes three sections of identical picture words with four tabs in each section that divide the words according to articulatory placement. Begin working on severe CAS by having them repeat identical earlier developing sounds, such as “boo-boo-boo.” Older or more verbal children can practice a variety of sequences, such as “tie-tea-shoe” as a warm-up to practicing sentences.


Proloquo2Go® is an award-winning Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solution for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch for people who have difficulty speaking or cannot speak at all. Providing a “voice” to over 50,000 individuals around the world, Proloquo2Go enables people to talk using symbols or typed text in a natural-sounding voice that suits their age and character.

Apps for CAS

  • Apraxia Ville has multiple levels, both vowel and consonant targets, and the ability to create custom words.


  • LinguiSystems Apraxia Cards provides sets of words organized by syllable structures. The app has two activities, a receptive activity called “touch” and an expressive activity called “say”.


  • Sly Apraxia: Provides 125 images organized into different syllable structure categories. Sly Apraxia app includes CV, VC, CVC, CVCV & Multisyllabic categories.


Blog By: Mary Williams- Anderson

How to Make Goopy Gak

First gather all of your ingredients.

~2 cups of warm water (not too hot or the gak wont set up correctly)

~1 tbsp. of Borax powder (found in the grocery store w/ laundry or cleaning supplies)

~1 cup Elmer’s Glue All liquid glue (the school glue formula doesn’t work as nicely)

~1 qt. size Ziploc bag

~1 gallon size Ziploc bag

~Optional – tempera paint for color or glitter to add sparkle.

Now that you have gathered your supplies we are ready to get start making our goopy gak.  Have fun!

How to make the perfect gak come to life.

  1. Measure out 1 cup of warm water, and pour into the quart size Ziploc.
  2. Add to this bag the 1 tbsp. of Borax powder.
  3. Zip closed and mix up until the Borax had dissolved. Set aside. *Nothing else goes in this bag.


     4. Measure out 1 cup of water and pour into gallon sized Ziploc.

     5. Measure out 1 cup of Elmer’s Glue and pour into the gallon sized Ziploc with the water.

     6. Optional- add in your squirt of tempera paint or glitter to the gallon bag now.   *It will       not mix in properly if you change your mind and try to add some later on.          

     7.Close bag and mix thoroughly.

    8.Pour the Borax mixture into the gallon sized bag with the glue mixture.

     9.Seal bag and MIX…. MIX…. Mix this bag. You should see and feel it begin to come together almost immediately. 

     10. If the gak doesn’t seem to be soaking up all the liquid, pour in into a container (I used the  blue bin pictured above). This helps it to get some air and continue to come together. 

TADA!!! You made gak. 

Place your finished product into the gallon sized baggie or get a new one. Store it in this bag. Should keep for up to a month depending on how many hands have played in it and whether there have been any accidental sneezes into it. J

*Do NOT play with gak on a wooden surface as it will remove the finish. If gak becomes stuck to clothes it will wash out, however, not from carpet or couches easily. I have kiddos play with it on a plastic tablecloth or a tray.

******Disclaimer****** Please do not have children play unsupervised with this product. It can be a choking risk or if ingested may make them sick due to the glue and soap. Thank you!

Special thanks to Ms. Joy for sharing her perfect goopy gak recipe with us, and to Ashlyn for demonstrating for our pictures.

Blog by: Laney London, COTA/L, IMC

For further information contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit


What is Speech and Language Therapy?


Here are some common questions that I run into when working in a school or a clinic setting from professionals and parents.

Q: Is there a difference between Speech and Language Therapy?

A: Yes! Speech and Language therapy two different entities. A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or appropriately putting words together to communicate ideas.

Q: Are there different types of speech disorders?

A: Yes, there are four main areas:

  • An Articulation disorder or Phonological disorder. An articulation disorder refers to incorrect sound production. A phonological disorder refers to incorrect sound patterns.  These disorders can greatly reduce intelligibility in conversation.
  • A Fluency disorder refers to stuttering. This is when the flow of speech is characterized by abnormal stops, repetitions, and/or prolonging sounds.
  • A Voice disorder refers to problems with pitch, volume, or quality of the voice.
  • Dysphagia/oral feeding disorders refer to difficulties with eating and swallowing.

Q: Are there different types of language disorders?

A: Yes, there are two main areas:

  • A Receptive disorder is characterized by difficultly understanding or processing language.
  • A Expressive disorder is characterized by difficulty expressing thoughts and wants/needs, limited vocabulary, or inability to use language in a socially appropriate way.

Q: What types of interventions are used in speech/language therapy?

A: There are numerous types of interventions based on what deficits are present. Listed below are some of the most widely used therapies.

  • Interventions for articulation and phonological disorders: minimal pair therapy, paired auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli in intensive drills, traditional articulation therapy (Van Riper, 1978), and training sound combinations (CV, VC, CVC…).
  • Interventions for fluency disorders: fluency shaping, traditional stuttering therapy (Van Riper, 1958), and diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Interventions for voice disorders: teaching good vocal hygiene, reducing/stopping vocal abusive behaviors, altering pitch, volume, or breathe support, and stress      reduction/relaxation exercises.
  • Interventions for dysphagia/oral feeding disorder: sensory stimulation, pacing/feeding strategies, oral motor exercises, maneuvers, adaptive equipment/utensils, diet modification, postural/positioning techniques, and behavioral interventions.
  • Interventions for expressive language disorders:  increasing vocabulary, teaching strategies for social language, increasing ability to answer WH questions, augmentative devices, and strategies to increase syntax skills.
  • Interventions for receptive language disorders: increasing vocabulary, strategies to improve the ability to follow directions, and strategies to improve comprehension of WH questions.

Blog By: Mary Williams- Anderson

For more Information us at 941-360-0200 or visit

What is Occupational Therapy?

- Occupational therapy helps children, who may be challenged by various conditions to participate in their “occupations”.  It assists with establishing and maintaining health, wellness, and maximizing quality of life through child and family-centered practices.  Pediatric occupational therapy promotes function and remediates disability, provides support and education to families, and integrates well with additional health care providers.


What does Occupational Therapy work on?

- Occupational therapy works on a variety of skills specific to each child we treat.

-  Fine motor, gross motor, visual motor/perceptual skills, handwriting, school reading and readiness; self-care skills, oral-motor skills, sensory integration, receptive language, expressive language, auditory processing skills, activities of daily living (ADL’s), and self-regulation/sensory modulation.
This list is not all-inclusive, but hopefully you have the idea!

What is my child’s occupation?

-Grow, explore, learn, and play! Play is the most important childhood occupation. Through play a child develops physical coordination, emotional maturity (including emotional adjustment, stability and self-regulation), social skills to interact with peers, and self-esteem to explore new experiences and environments.

-Become independent with ADL’s i.e. dressing, feeding, bathing etc.

-Participate in school and extra-curricular activities

What is sensory integration?

-Sensory integration refers to the process of the nervous system receiving messages from within the body and from the external environment and turns into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. For most of us, this sensory integration process occurs at an unconscious level. For others, this process happens inefficiently causing them to have great difficulty figuring out what is going on inside and outside their bodies.

-Sensory Dysfunction may present as defensiveness to the environment or stimuli i.e. gagging, light sensitivity, tags in clothing are bothersome, covers ears when loud sounds are present, does not accept hugs even when they like someone, irrational fear of heights, etc. Some additional signs of a child being unable to regulate/modulate themselves can be: inability to calm self after exercise or emotional situation, jumping or spinning excessively, flapping of hands when excited, over or under responsive to stimuli, displays excessive emotional or behavioral outbursts, etc.

Who should seek Occupational Therapy services?

-Children with or without a specific diagnosis.

-Exceptionalities we work with include, but are not limited to Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, genetic disorders, Cerebral Palsy, learning disabilities, developmental delay, and sensory integration disorders.

What ages qualify for services at your facility?

-0 – 18 years old.

  For more information please call 941-360-0200 or visit