The Studio Blog Archive
A few posts we've written over the years
Children’s Mental Health
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are potentially traumatic events experienced in childhood. Experiencing traumatic events in childhood is linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (“Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences”, 2019), about 61% of adults report experiencing at least one type of Adverse Childhood experience.
The types of ACES are categorized into 3 groups: Abuse, Neglect, and Household Challenges (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “About the CDC-Kaiser ACE Study”, 2019). These categories are further explained with the following examples below.
• Emotional Abuse
• Physical Abuse
• Sexual Abuse
• Physical neglect
• Emotional neglect
• Mother treated violently
• Substance abuse in the household
• Mental illness in the household
• Parental separation or divorce
• Incarcerated household member
Why is this information important? Chances are that each of us come into contact with children who have had one or more adverse childhood experiences. Even one positive, nurturing, and safe relationship with an adult, can make a huge difference for these children.
Protective factors, especially safe, stable, and nurturing relationships, can help foster resiliency and lessen the impact of ACEs. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (Resilience to ACEs), protective factors help a child feel safe more quickly after experiencing the toxic stress of ACEs and help to neutralize the physical changes that naturally occur during and after the trauma. Other protective factors they mention include:
• Parent resilience
• Caregiver knowledge and application of positive parenting skills
• Identifying and cultivating a sense of purpose (faith, culture, identity)
• Individual developmental competencies (problem solving skills, self–regulation, agency)
• Children’s social and emotional health
• Social connections
• Socioeconomic advantages and concrete support for parents and families
• Communities and social systems that support health and development, and nurture human capital
For more information on building a positive, healthy, and nurturing relationship with your child, visit the CDC’s webpage, Essentials for Parenting Toddler and Preschoolers at https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/.
Emily Jensby, LCMFT, RPT became a Mental Health Specialist at Rainbows United in September of 2018. She currently works in local child care centers where she provides classroom consultation services for teachers and individual therapeutic services to children and their families.
If your child has a developmental delay, do not be embarrassed about it.
“The day Ryan took his first few steps (January 8, 2019) we cried the happiest, ugliest tears and thank goodness for technology because we could film it and practically sent it to everyone in our contacts list,” said Allison, Ryan’s mom. “We were so proud to send it to Jamee knowing how hard Ryan had worked with her to get to that point.”
Jamee Funk is Ryan’s physical therapist and also his primary therapist. Ryan sees multiple therapists including Nicole Nickel, speech language pathologist, and Leslie English, early childhood teacher, for joint visits every month as a part of the multidisciplinary team approach Rainbows offers all of its families.
Ryan was diagnosed with seizures at 4 months of age and a B12 deficiency. At 6 months, Ryan developed Infantile Spasms. Since December of 2018 he has been one- year seizure free and is still on seizure medications. Ryan’s seizures happened when the family was living briefly in Columbus, Ohio. They ended up at Nationwide Children’s hospital and before they were discharged, the hospital helped them set up all of the services and/ or doctors Ryan would need to follow up with in Wichita.
“We were familiar with the name Rainbows,” said Allison, “but it would be later that we would find out that we could not have made it through this journey with Ryan without Rainbows.”
The family has worked with Jamee the longest and very much think of her and talk about her like she is a member of their family. “When Ryan first had his Infantile Spasms, we had no idea what they were,” said Allison. “It was Jamee who identified them and recommended calling our Primary Care Physician. That then led us to KC Mercy where Ryan was properly treated for Infantile Spasms. Jamee would check in with us; check in on how Ryan was and give us different suggestions of stretches and exercises we could be doing with Ryan during our stay at Children’s Mercy. She was the support we needed and all she was doing was reaching out and being a good person.”
“Rainbows has very much become a huge part of our lives and anytime Ryan does something new we’re trying to get it on camera so that we can share our good news with Rainbows staff because we know they’ll share in our joy” said Allison. “They have been Ryan’s strongest advocates and his loudest cheerleaders.”
Ryan has made tremendous changes- and still does to this day. “I’ll be honest, for a little bit it felt like Ryan was just at a standstill and we would just never get past all these hurdles,” said Allison. “It felt like we were working with him so hard, and he had all of these lab and doctors’ appointments and we just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for the next milestone. It was the positivity from Ryan’s therapists that got us through and kept pushing us to push and encourage him.”
“Ryan's progress has been huge because his family embraced our coaching model from our first visit,” said Jamee. “His parents use strategies we talk about and practice during visits during play and routines throughout their day. It's been exciting see Ryan's growth and the smiles on his parents' faces every time he does something new. The family is awesome and I can't wait to see what Ryan does next.”
“I truly wish every family had the opportunity to work with Rainbows’ staff members,” said Allison. Every staff member we have met so far- even students- have been tremendous and they each go above and beyond to make sure you are getting every resource possible for your child.”
“If your child has a developmental delay, do not be embarrassed about it,” said Allison. “Get them help- they deserve it. Get them the help they deserve from Rainbows. These therapists and staff members are what any parent would dream of when working with your child. They give you the resources and tools to work with your child when they’re not there but are 100% available via phone or email if you need encouragement or have questions. Ryan’s therapy team has always made us feel like he’s number one, encouraging and cheering on Ryan and his milestones and accomplishments.”
“Ryan is Ryan and he’s going to do everything and anything on his time- and he has shown us that even at a young age,” said Allison. “We do not want Ryan’s delays, health issues, or whatever is to become of Ryan as he keeps developing and growing to define him. We want Ryan to always be given an opportunity by teachers, by the community, by friends and family. I never want him to think he’s different because of the way the world might treat him, someone might stare at him in the grocery store, or make a comment about why he’s not talking or running because of any current or further developmental delay he currently has or potentially will in the future. As long as he is kind and hardworking, that is all you should care about when you see or meet Ryan.”
Harrison is proof
On July 18, 2019, Harrison and I walked out of Rainbows United, Inc. hand in hand for the last time. He was an undeniably different child than he was when he first entered those colorful doors almost two years earlier.
Harrison was two-and-a-half years-old when Travis and I started having serious concerns about his development. It was right after his third birthday that we sought a free screening from Rainbows. Results indicated he was *this close* to meeting the minimum levels for developmental standards for his age and we were given the choice to create an IEP and enroll him in the Early Childhood Intervention Program through Wichita Public Schools, which we did gratefully.
We also were the beneficiaries of an opening at Kids' Point, where, for two wonderful years, Harrison was the recipient of patient instruction, skillful care and ceaseless praise. Saying good bye to our Rainbows' family was crushing. Everyone from the receptionists to the marketing team to the teachers and paras had become family. But we knew that, because of the expert care and education he received at Rainbows, he was more than ready to tackle Kindergarten, joining his big sister at Earhart Environmental Magnet Elementary within USD 259. More than ready is actually an understatement.
Harrison grabbed Kindergarten by the horns and didn’t let go. His IEP called for both speech and occupational therapy services. Because he had two years of pre-school and two years at Rainbows under his belt, his speech services were conducted in the classroom and only as observations. He charmed all the teachers and staff with his infectious smile and unparalleled charisma. Harrison was an instant favorite. He was also a hard worker. Even when COVID-19 closed schools in March, he remained steadfast in his efforts, meeting virtually with his occupational therapist each week.
In April, Travis, Harrison and I sat down for a video conference to review his three-year IEP. After each Earhart specialist took his or her turn summarizing Harrison’s current skill levels, the tears flowed as it was recommended he exit services because he’s a rock star six-year-old and crushed every single goal. He meets or exceeds every standard for his age.
It’s been quite the journey for our Big H. Countless teachers, paras, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, bus drivers, front desk staff, administrative assistants, latchkey supervisors, principals, custodians and more from Rainbows, Buckner Performing Arts Magnet Elementary, Gammon Elementary and Earhart have all played a role in his success. We cannot adequately convey our appreciation to everyone who has impacted Harrison’s life, but we will continue to support these programs and schools and advocate for early intervention. It is a game changer, my friends. Harrison is proof.
Written by Katie Grover, Harrison's mom
In and Around Wichita or At Home
Life has gotten a little crazy during these unprecedented times, and families may not be able to attend activities within the community due to taking precautions to prevent COVID-19 exposure. Events and classes are canceled or might be difficult to manage with toddlers safely. Since communities have changed a bit here in 2020, families are having to think a little more creatively to have some fun activities within their home or outdoors within the community.
I have compiled a list of activities that can be done to help keep your young child busy, and work on some motor skills while you are at it.
Sidewalk Obstacle Course
I created this fun obstacle course on my driveway. It is geared toward toddlers, with walking between 2 lines, walking along a diagonal line, jumping, running, marching, and spinning in a circle, but you could incorporate more challenging activities such as skipping, jumping forward, hopping on one foot, and walking backwards for preschool aged kids.
Outdoor Playgrounds Around Town
Now that playgrounds are open again, take some time to explore some of the great playgrounds around Wichita. My favorite toddler playground down south is Madison Avenue Central Park. It has turf, so it doesn't get muddy, and there are age appropriate swings and slides to play on. The Boundless Playground at Sedgwick County Park has a huge toddler playground that is perfect for new walkers to navigate safely. It is also perfect for kids with mobility issues, as strollers or wheelchairs can easily be driven over the surface. Eastborough Park also has great toddler equipment. If you live out east, check out Andover's Central Park. There is a sand box, toddler equipment with plenty of swings, and public bathrooms available.
Fine Motor Chalk Activities
While you are making an obstacle course out of chalk, encourage your child to practice drawing with chalk. The large chalks for sidewalks can be a bit difficult for little fingers to hold, so you might look for some chalkboard chalk to make it easier for them to learn to hold. If they grab the chalk with a fist, you can break it in smaller pieces. That makes it more likely that they will be able to practice a more mature grasping position. You can have them scribble on a variety of surfaces, from the sidewalk, to construction paper, or even paper towel rolls. You can dip it in water and see how it changes the chalk. Focusing on sitting to scribble for just a few minutes at a time is perfect for toddlers.
Indoor Fine Motor Play with Household Items
There are so many activities that will keep toddlers busy that you can create by using your household items and re-imagining them to be lots of fun and educational. Tape empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls to the walls and slide items through. They will have lots of fun problem solving which items fit, and which ones don't. You can place magnets on your cookie sheet or refrigerator and see which ones stick, and which ones don't. Placing small toys or snacks in ice cube trays or muffin tins are a fun way to play, and give you lots of opportunities to talk about colors, shapes, sorting, and counting while working on their grasp.
Water Fun on the Patio
This article has some fun ideas for playing with water on the patio. Draw on the concrete with chalk, and let them use paintbrushes to erase it. You can make a nature soup by gathering leaves, flowers, rocks, dirt, or anything you can find to put in the water. You can have a toy wash, and clean your washable toys with dish soap and water in a bowl.
Toddlers can have the most fun doing the most ordinary things. Allowing them to use their imaginations to explore the world is teaching them to think outside of the box, and take joy in the simplest of things.
Written by Amy Foster. Amy has been a physical therapist with Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Services for more than 20 years. She has helped bring potential to life for many children and families through the years.