Monday, April 30, 2012

Get a GRIP! A picture guide to adapting PLAY for all!

This is a typical grip on a writing utensils.

Often children learning to write, will hold a writing utensil like this, called PALMER GRIP. This is often typical in children with atypical muscle tone as well
Most parents throw out broken crayons, but it's actually a great idea to encourage using them with children who can as it promotes development of the grip pattern progression.
Another option to adapt grips for those who have challenges is to modify the writing utensil to fit the diameter that the child can handle. This is one example using play foam. Play doh also works well and both allow easy modeling to meet the child's specific abilities. 

Anything around the home or classroom can be used to change the diameter of the utensil.  Here I used the handle of a jump rope. 35 mm film containers with poked holes or PVC pipe pieces also work well. 

Ok, so this is extremely big, but I included it to show how versatile floral foam can be in adapting writing utensils or toys. I just wish I had a smaller piece at home!

Tinker toys rock! For many many reasons, but they are also wonderful ways to customize a writing utensil.

Think outside the traditional crayon and marker box. Stampers can be an expression of artistic ability and often have larger knobs.

Sometimes it works to think about things from another angle.  If a child has trouble with vision or posture, fine motor work may be easier if you bring the writing or play surface to them.  Don't have a fancy large easel, use a binder!

Easier time gripping toys? Get those trucks dirty and dip them in paint!

A stacking ring makes a great choice for adapting grip as well.

Wine cork can be added to form a handle if small toys like trucks are hard to pick up.

Fine motor weaknesses or muscle tone can affect play beyond writing or coloring. Skills like puzzle work can be a challenge.

But even these activities can be adapted. Wine corks can be hot glued to make gripping anything easier and more accessible.  Drawer pulls from your local home improvement store also do the trick!

Have trouble picking up small toys like Mickey for role playing?

Simply add a handle! Popsicle sticks work well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mother's Day gift ideas for MEN that will make you look like a superhero

Dear Men of The World,

Mother’s Day is fast approaching. The time of year when ladies across the world expect much and you men of young children procrastinate decisions regarding just HOW to help their kiddos honor their mothers.  Wipe those sweaty palms gentleman. We are here to help. All your child’s mother wants is to be recognized and appreciated. There are simple ways to do this effectively and creatively….here are a few!

·      Take over for a day. Completely. A mother often is the planner of the day and this job encompasses more than you likely realize. Making decisions. Packing bags. Thinking about dinner hours before it’s on anyone else’s mind. Making appointments. Making sure the jersey for tomorrows game is washed today. A mother’s job requires pre planning, organization, and energy. Take those responsibilities away for the day and do it for her! I know it sounds daunting but I’m sure she’ll be happy to provide you a handy list of details to make it possible. Don’t forget dinner!

·      Make spa day appointments. Book her a massage. Or facial. Or pedicure. Or all three. Drive her there and pick her up. Or better yet, surprise her by having her own mother or best friend pick her up and pay for them both to go to lunch!

·      Leave! Take the kids out for a few hours and leave her with some new bath salts, take out lunch, and a good book. Encourage her to treat herself to a nap.

·      Hire a cleaning service! Even if it is only for one day she will adore you as if you’ve presented her with Angelina’s new rare diamond. Trust me. Mother’s dream about this.

·      You can never go wrong with jewelry. Especially something she’s had an eye on for a while. Not sure what she likes? Ask her best friend. She will know. 

·      Write a letter. I know men often have trouble expressing themselves but take your time and let her know how much you appreciate all she does for your family. List details.  She’ll love you for noticing.

·      Have your kids write a similar letter. If they can’t write, ask them questions and fill in the blank for them. This is often sweet and hilarious. “I love my Mommy because…….My Mommy is really good at…….. My Mommy always says……….” You get the picture. You can even frame the answers.

·      Book a photo session. This woman is the rock of your family. Nothing will warm her heart as much as memories of the people she loves the most.

·      Truth be told, most women appreciate the effort but don’t like you to pick out clothes for them. I know you don’t understand because you simply go into a store and pick up a pair of jeans in your width and length, but it’s not that easy for us…we have…curves. That being said, we often need new clothes that don’t have baby puke stains, holes, or aren’t stretched out and worn. Buy a gift card to her favorite clothing store, hand her a fresh cup of coffee to go, and give her the afternoon to herself.  

·      Splurge and book a night away. It doesn’t have to be far away or extravagant. And you know whether she’d appreciate going as a family, with just you, or with her friends or by herself!

·      Finish the “honey do” list without the nagging. We really don’t enjoy nagging, and nothing is more attractive than a guy unloading the dishwasher or fixing something on the list without being asked.

There you go! Pick one. Pick a few. You can thank me later, but trust me now. If you let the appreciation you have for the woman in your house be shown in these or other concrete examples of appreciation, you can’t go wrong!  And you know what they say….if Mom is happy…everyone else is too! Grab your super hero cape & happy planning!  And's only a few weeks until Father's Day!
Friday, April 6, 2012

SHOWERING with SMART LOVE: Recommended Baby Shower Gifts

The baby shower. A time to prepare the friend in your life with all they will need to raise a small person. But, what do they really need? I remember my mother and her friends laughing at my baby shower about all the "stuff" and commenting and sarcastically questioning how they ever raised my friends and I without a wipe warmer!? As much as I love new baby gear, I agree that some of it in probably unnecessary.  If you fill up a home with gadgets, gear, and too many toys to count, how will you have time or space to fully appreciate the incredible miracle that is a tiny newborn baby?

As early intervention therapists and mothers, we are often asked for recommendations for gifts for new babies and growing families.  So we decided to share some of those suggestions with you in our blog today. These, of course aren't inclusive (there are others that we love), but here is our Top 10 Baby Shower Gifts:

1) Nesting Blocks: An awesome "grow with me" toy, these can be progressed from early gazing, to hide and seek games, to stacking, counting, and sorting by color, to kicking, to pretend play homes! A great bang for your buck!

2) Basket of Classic Books: With a personal message to the child from you, a basket of classic books will foster bonding and literacy.  I love reading books given to me at my baby shower to my daughters. And at 6 and 7 years old now, they enjoy reading the messages written to them from family and friends!

3) A Simple Ball: It shocks me how many houses I work in don't have a ball for play!  A simple and inexpensive gift, a toy ball can be used early on to help babies gain postural strength and later on for turn taking and coordination. Every child needs a ball.

4) Baby Carrier: I remember an early realization as a new mom. The baby carrier (otherwise known as my new best friend) was the only way I could grocery shop (ummm, the car seat fills the entire shopping cart!), get anything done around the house, or calm a fussy baby suffering from acid reflux. As a mom, I couldn't have lived without it. As a physical therapist, I love the chest to chest bonding, neutral growth fostered by the close, warm contact, and postural strengthening these provide.

5) Black And White/Geometric Mobile: My initial response when armed with the powerful "registry gun"was to go for the matchy cute pastel mobile. I'm glad my "therapy brain" overpowered that urge and we went for an awesome black and white geometric option.  Simply put, new babies see and recognize these colors and shapes easily and they enjoy them much more.

6) Baby Mirror: So many functional purposes for the baby mirror! These encourage early head control, body awareness, and social and language development and keep baby occupied gazing at their amazing selves!

7) Bumbo Seat: I'm generally not a fan of what I like to call "the baby container." You've heard it over and over - floor time is best! But, I also understand that sometimes the floor just doesn't cut it! When that's the case, and when the baby is strong enough, The Bumbo Seat is my favorite as it supports while allowing movement and strengthening.

8) Links: Cheap. Easy to clean. Easy to transport. And most importantly, easy to hold. These are my first choice of an object to place in an infants hand.  A great choice for encouraging early fine motor and hand-eye coordination. And there are so many uses for these -- dangling as a mobile on the go, counting or sorting by color as baby turns into toddler... And if you are better and not losing things than I, you could even keep these for early addition practice with an older toddler.

9) Gift Certificate for Photography: Baby comes. Money is short, but memories are precious.  Especially, with a second, third, or fourth child, a gift of photography will be a much appreciated gift.  The darling newborn photo below is graciously shared on our website by Bellies To Earth Photography (

10) 1-2-3 Just Play With Me!    At Milestones & Miracles, we believe the most important thing your baby needs is YOU! With over 22 combines years of home based intervention, we have lots of practice being creative with what is in each family's home.  We combined those creative ideas with what we know about early development and authored a product that is perfect as a shower gift for new families.  75 beautiful cards and housed in a boutique style box and are easily sorted by color (one for each developmental domain) and placed in order from birth to three.  The front of each card lists milestones for specific ages and the back pairs each with suggestions for simple play using simple objects like those listed above along with household items (Tupperware, egg cartons, and the shiniest spoon in your kitchen among a few). Gift a friend or yourself with 3 years worth of knowledge and fun today. Check out to view a sample pdf card or purchase today! We ship for FREE! Happy shopping!
Monday, April 2, 2012

Light It Up Blue! to support Autism awareness

Today, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day.  In an effort to raise awareness of this growing public health concern, Autism Speaks is asking all of us to "Light It Up Blue".  The Empire State Building will shine blue lights around its top, the Great Buddha at Hyogo in Kobe, Japan will be lit up blue and the Sydney Opera House, among many other global landmarks, will shine blue. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) just recently updated its estimate for autism prevalence to 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls).  That is a 78% increase in 6 years (2002-2008).  The president of Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, is now calling autism an epidemic in the US and calling our nation to action.

Autism, also termed Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), on the Autism Speaks website is described as "...a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome."  

Symptoms of autism typically emerge between the ages of 2 and 3.  Some "red flags" to look for are:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age
Your pediatrician can help you identify these behaviors in your child and refer you to a specialist.  But it is also important that you, as a parent, be aware of the signs and symptoms and express any concerns to your pediatrician should you suspect that your child is at risk.  Awareness of typical development between the ages of 2 and 3 is critical so that you can identify any delays in your child.  1-2-3 Just Play With Me can provide you with a guide to follow, tracking your child's development in not only language and social skills, but motor, cognitive and self-help skills as well.  Let's face it, our pediatricians are busy people and care for our children in so many ways.  Unless we express concerns to them specific to autism, your doctor may miss some signs that you could help them identify.  Early detection, intervention and proven behavior therapies improve the prognosis for children with autism.  Know the signs, familiarize yourself with typical child development and be ready to advocate for your child should you need to.  For more information on Autism visit

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Welcome to our blog! As longtime friends, we recently decided to combine our professional experience (as a speech-language pathologist and physical therapist) and "Mommy Experience" to create a company dedicated to something we are both extremely passionate about - letting kids be kids! Milestones and Miracles, LLC was formed in 2010. Our mission is to empower parents in understanding the natural progression of their child's development (and not rush it along and skip stages). We develop and provide developmental products to support this learning process, bonding families through engaging, fun, and meaningful experiences! We are thrilled to share that our first product, 1 2 3 Just Play With Me is available for sale. Visit to learn more and order a unique product for yourself & your child or as a gift! We will continue use this blog to share about topics that interest and excite us. Stay tuned!


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