Springtime play and learning

Little girl blowing bubbles outside

While the cold, rainy days make you think you should check your calendar for when Halloween is coming, spring is really here. Soon a beautiful Michigan summer will follow. What a great opportunity to get outside and help your kids develop their motor skills under the guise of play. While kids all love their electronics, you’d be surprised how happy they are to go outside and play even the simplest of games.

Get out and play

  • Don’t sell short the importance of playing games like catch or kicking a ball; it helps build upper and lower body strength, eye-hand coordination and balance. You can mix it up too: Change the size of the ball you throw, or balance on one leg and see how long you can each stand before kicking the ball back.
  • Bubbles are great for kids and even school-age kids like them. Blowing bubbles builds oral motor and fine motor skills. The larger bubble wands are great fun for promoting running as you make bigger and bigger bubbles.
  • Kite flying is also wonderful for coordination and special time together.
  • Some more active ideas include roller skating and bike riding. Both activities are a fantastic chance to build strength, coordination, endurance and many happy memories. But don’t forget your protective gear — especially a helmet — for both you and your child.

Academics outdoors

  • If your child needs to work on more academic tasks, get out the sidewalk chalk to practice letters and math. Early learners respond well to large motor activities like drawing letters on the driveway as a way to learn letter formation.
  • Math facts can be called back and forth as you throw or kick a ball. When children have these types of sensory experiences combined with academics, they tend to have great recall and learning.
  • Speaking of sensory play, take advantage of the outdoors and enjoy messy play. Activities with shaving cream or Play-Doh (a carpet nightmare that looks so much better on your lawn) can build sensory and fine motor skills.
  • Fill a large storage tub with water and practice measuring and pouring to build coordination and math skills.

Other opportunities

As summer approaches here are some opportunities for children of varying abilities.

  • If your child struggles with handwriting skills, consider Beaumont’s eight-week summer handwriting program (for pre-writing, print or cursive). The program expands to 10 weeks during the rest of the year.
  • Have a picky eater? Try the Munchers and Crunchers group.
  • We also offer therapeutic swim programs, adapted martial arts, adapted dance, adapted yoga, and several sensory groups for children on the autistic spectrum.

Beaumont is proud to offer services in Macomb now, as well as our West Bloomfield, Royal Oak and Grosse Pointe clinics. Check out our website.

– Debbie Adsit, OTRL, is the Supervisor, Pediatric Rehabilitation at the Beaumont Center for Children’s Rehabilitation. She can be reached at (248) 655-5687.

How Do You Balance Being a Mom and Owning a Small Business?

BeaumontDonationBeing a mom is a tough job in and of itself, but add owning and running a business to that and the question of “how does she do it?” often comes up. I sat down with two moms who do just that to answer some of those questions that most of us moms often wonder on the days when we feel overwhelmed.
Meet Julie Penn and Justine Vetor. Longtime friends met when their youngest children started preschool together and instantly clicked. Today, they own Just Me Socks, creators of fun, expressive athletic and street socks and unique fundraising opportunities.
As part of their endeavor, they knew they wanted to do something to give back to the community. Keeping work and production in Michigan was a conscious decision they made during start up. Because they have a website, they are still able to sell anywhere and have had orders across the globe.
They also found a way to do something for local children. Last summer Julie’s son was sent from Troy Beaumont to Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Royal Oak for an emergency appendectomy. Although it was a routine surgery, it was a very scary time for their family. “They were so great with him and we were so thankful he was in good hands,” recalls Julie. “While my son was a patient there we saw so many sick children and I thought if there is anything we could do to make one of these children smile it would be great.” Hence, the SMILE socks were born. Both Julie and Justine delivered all of their children at Beaumont Hospital.
Q. What made you decide to start your own business?
A. Justine and I were both stay at home mothers  busy with our kids and had fulfilling lives but always would brain storm on different ideas to start our own business.  Eventually our kids were in school full time and we had more time to ourselves. We got to a point that we wanted to feel valued and contribute to our family. Our drive to succeed grew and we had full support from our husbands so we took the plunge and went for it. 
Q. Why socks?
A. That’s a question we asked ourselves as well. Our husbands love fun and crazy socks and while sitting in an airport waiting for a plane our husbands said “You guys should make socks,” and we said “Okay.” We all had a laugh and then over time and many discussions Just Me Socks came to life. We each have 2 boys and that is why we went into the sport sock direction which worked out great for us because they are walking advertisement for us.
Q. What’s it like trying to run a business AND take care of your family?
A. Busy, overwhelming, rewarding and satisfying.  Our biggest wish is that there could be more hours in a day to get everything done. I think Justine and I both agree that having an organized laundry room is never going to happen if we ever want to sleep.  Over all our families are our biggest supporters and they all are adjusting very well. 

Julie's boys: Caden, 12, and Carter, 9

Julie’s boys: Caden, 12, and Carter, 9

Q. What’s it like being your own boss?
A. That is the best part about owning your own business. It gives you a drive to want more and succeed and a feeling of self fulfillment because in the end we are the ones who are rewarded for our hard work. It also allows us to be the taxi to hockey practice and the room moms at school. We haven’t had to give up any part of being an involved parent the only difference now is we go to the office during school hours. 

Justine's children: Mason, 13, Stone, 9, Meadow, 7, Harper, 5

Justine’s children: Mason, 13, Stone, 9, Meadow, 7, Harper, 5

Here are their tips for working moms:
  1. Sometimes you just have to let things go and prioritize. As working moms, we may not always have the cleanest house and we may not always be serving gourmet meals, but everyone’s happy.
  2. Enjoy those moments now. There will be time for laundry later. What matters most is that your kids grow up so fast and time with them is valuable. 
  3. Keep a positive attitude.
  4. Work life balance is important. Sometimes they have to set work aside to attend to their children, but they know the work will be there once the kids are in bed or tomorrow, even. But that’s easier when you can have flexible working hours.
—Sarah Jo Sautter, Parenting Program Blog Editor and Publisher

Share Your Parenting Expertise with New Parents

parent group pic for speaker article

Group Speaker Role for the Parenting Program

Every year, approximately 50 Parent Groups begin their six month journey of support and education. The topics presented help new parents to gain confidence and this in turn builds a strong family foundation. We are always seeking qualified individuals that can give just a few hours a month to provide the quality education that our families have come to expect. Please take a minute to consider this opportunity to volunteer.

group picture

What is involved in being a Group Speaker?

One must have knowledge or experience in the topic, for example, pediatrician, physician assistant, nurse or nurse practitioner for Common Childhood Illnesses, Feeding, Sleep or Development. Teachers, Occupational / Speech Therapists, enjoy presenting Play and Reading, Development or Speech and Language. Counselors, Therapists or Social Workers can speak on Adjustments or Our Past and Parenting. Experienced parents can present Child Safety, Travel, Baby Signs, Play and Reading. Focus on Fathers is a “dads only” topic and we welcome experienced dads to share and support new dads.

It is recommended that a new speaker observe an experienced speaker to get the feel of the group dynamic. Speaker outlines are provided, as are topic handouts for parents. The presentation is about forty five minutes to an hour

One of the greatest benefits to being a group speaker is seeing the response of parents and babies. We educate in a very informal way, whether in living rooms or classrooms, typically in a circle, with babies on a blanket on the floor. Parents are relaxed and very open to discussion. The experience is energizing and very rewarding!

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer group speaker, please call Group Coordinators Betsy or Nichole at 248-898-3233.

How To Support Families of Kids with Autism

image credit: Maegan Tintari

image credit: Maegan Tintari

Recently, we asked families who follow our HOPE Center Facebook page to tell us what they have found helpful and how others could best support them. We weren’t looking for the horror stories!  Rather, we wanted to know about the times someone really made a positive difference and showed they cared.

Thanks so much to all our families who took time to respond and share their insights – it’s important that this be told from their perspective!  Although those of us who work with these amazing families may feel like we know them well and know what they are going through, we realize it’s not the same as living their lives.  I didn’t want to write about all the ways I thought others could be sensitive and kind and thoughtful; I wanted to hear it from the families themselves.  And of course not all families are alike. What feels supportive and right to one family may not sit well with another.  But in reading the responses I found some similar themes:

  1. Ask us questions (nicely). Kids with autism or other special needs are kids first and foremost. If you ask questions, you will learn why certain behaviors occur. “Feel free to ask us questions about the diagnosis or about behaviors. I’d rather clear up misconceptions,” wrote one mom. Many times, fear is based out of ignorance and misunderstanding.  Taking the time to get to know someone means you will learn about all the things you may have in common, in addition to what makes you different. You may be surprised how similar you are!
  2. Invite us to everyday functions and activities.  “While we might be living in a different way, the way we’re living is actually quite typical for us!” wrote one mom.  Knowing that a peer wants you at her birthday party or that you can be part of “regular” kid activities like going to the movies or the skating rink can make all the difference! Families told me that knowing that their child’s peers would include her or him made them feel great, and it also set a wonderful example for all the kids – it’s okay to be friends with someone who acts a little (or maybe a lot!) differently than you do. As another family said, “Invite us over, invite us out, and let us figure out how to make it work. Don’t stop calling!”
  3. Show us a small kindness.  Public places can be tough for families of kids with special needs. Several families told me how a seemingly small thing really made their day in the midst of a rough time in public.  A store employee brought one mom a bunch of flowers to the register and said they were “on him”.  Another time, a mom was cutting up her son’s food and helping him to eat while trying to eat her own meal. Someone anonymously paid for their meal and sent a message saying to “hang in there, I was doing a great job”.  Kindness doesn’t have to cost anything! Offering a smile or holding a door, maybe just letting a frazzled parent handle their child without getting involved or making them feel judged.  One mom said she’d prefer people “just walk past us when my son is having a tantrum.”
  4. Lend a listening ear, but hold back on giving us advice or judgment. This was a big one – lots of families expressed how they need and want to talk, but don’t necessarily need you to “fix” or “suggest” anything.  Just listening is sometimes the kindest, most caring thing you can do. If parents want your specific advice, they will ask for it!

— Lori Warner, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont

Are You Using the Right Words When You Praise Your Child?


Praising children comes naturally to most parents, but did you know that the type of praise you give makes a difference? It can have lasting effects on your child’s behaviors and thoughts.

Psychologists define categories of praise, including process praise and person praise. Process praise refers to the work, effort, and actions involved in an accomplishment. This type of praise suggests that there is the possibility for improvement through effort. Person praise is focused on the child him- or herself.  It tends to suggest innate abilities and fixed capacities.

Very recent research from Stanford University and the University of Chicago looked at the patterns of praise given by parents, as well as the long-term effects on thoughts, problem-solving, and motivation. The research found that young children who were given more process praise (e.g., “you worked really hard!”) led to more positive approaches to challenges, better motivation to improve, and increased resilience. Children who received more person praise (e.g., “you’re a good boy!”) responded to challenges and failures with a perspective that outcomes could not be improved by increased effort.

When attempting to increase the amount of process praise you provide to children, think about being specific. “You worked hard to get that right!” gives far more information than “You’re so smart!”

Here are some examples of process praise:

  • You worked so hard!
  • I like how you’re thinking about your answer.
  • You figured it out all by yourself!
  • Nice trying!
  • Wow, you’ve practiced so much, and now you can do it!
  • You are drawing so carefully.
  • You found a great way to do that.

For a full list — 101 ways, to be exact — see our post with more great examples.

Parents, caregivers, teachers, therapists, and friends all have opportunities to provide praise.  By supporting children’s efforts and attempts, we have the ability to promote confidence and resilience, and develop a sense of motivation to learn, improve and succeed.

Kellie Bouren, M.A., CCC-SLP, Pediatric Speech and Language Pathology Department at the Center for Childhood Speech and Language Disorders