Please help us to welcome Dr. Kay Sackaloo to the Lamp Post Team! Kay graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and worked in mental health before entering OT school. She earned her Doctorate Degree in Occupational Therapy from The University of Toledo, Ohio in 2013. In OT school Kay completed Level II fieldwork with older adults and in school based pediatrics. After graduating, she moved to Tennessee and began her career working with older adult populations. Having recently relocated back to Florida, Kay is excited to now be pursuing her interest in pediatrics and honing her competencies in the area of sensory integration. Kay is also a Certified Health Coach and fascinated by the interaction of the sensory, mental, and physical systems as they relate to human function. She is honored be a new member of the Lamp Post Team and spreading its mission of bringing light to families and individuals with sensory processing disorders.
Lillian was born and raised in Port St. Lucie, FL but as a child would often visit family in Gainesville to attend Gator football games. She was able to continue the family legacy by attending and graduating from the University of Florida with her Bachelor’s in Health Science and her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in December 2014. After graduating, she moved to the Tampa area where she worked as a pediatric occupational therapist serving children with a wide range of diagnoses and in a variety of settings (i.e. home, school, and clinic). She has also been responsible for supervising occupational therapy assistants and training a Level II Fieldwork OT student. Having a loved one on the Autism Spectrum, has driven Lillian to pursue more training and experience in the art and science of sensory integration therapy. She is excited to be a new member of The Lamp Post Therapy Team and eager to work closely with families to assist with their child’s sensory processing needs.
On the nights and weekends, Lillian enjoys spending every moment she can with her niece, family, and pets.
We are excited to welcome Hanna Olsson to our team at the Lamp Post! She brings a wealth of experience in mental health and is a beautiful person inside and out:
As a recent masters graduate of Adventist University of Health Sciences, I am both honored and excited to be joining The Lamp Post team. I have over four years of psychiatric experience, treating both children and adults of varying disorders. I also had the privilege to complete a 12 week internship at Florida Hospital Outpatient Pediatric Clinic where I learned how to implement sensory integration into treatment approaches.
My love of OT started as a child. I received rehabilitation services when I was younger which has prompted me to help our future generation become more functionally independent. My experience in mental health has also provided me with a wonderful building block to understanding individual differences and provide unparalleled client care.
I look forward to growing with The Lamp Post and extending my knowledge to better serve its clients.
The end of summer can be such a bittersweet time. The lazier days are winding down, but the excitement of a new school year is on the horizon. For some kids and parents, a new school year invokes more anxiety than excitement. For whatever reason that may be, here are some tips to reduce anxiety and boost excitement.
Children will mirror what they sense from you. As a parent you must choose how you will respond to a new school year. Your child is looking to you for leadership.
It may be touch, but a difficult school year does not determine a lifetime. Character and perseverance are developed through overcoming difficult circumstances. Choose to use any struggles as teachable moments in showing your child that no matter what you love them, are there to support them, and are proud of them for their courage in overcoming difficult situations.
Talk to the teacher about your concerns
- I am often asked the teacher should be approached before the school year or to wait and see if problems occur. Talk to the teacher as soon as possible. They want to understand, want to anticipate any snags, and can begin to work out solutions before an issue even arises.
- Provide any helpful information about your child such as reports from professionalswho already know your child, any testing, a note from an understanding former teacher, babysitter, or caregiver.
- Make sure to communicate your child’s strengths and interests. Some people are naturally talented at finding the good in people and teachers tend to be just that type. But just in case your teacher is still learning this talent, give him or her a cheat sheet. (Our secret!)
Make it easy for the teacher to connect with you and keep you up to date by providing your email and phone numbers. For bonus points, hand write it in your best penmanship on a nice card. If you really want to be the teacher’s pet, add a gift card! Make a plan for communication (a note in the backpack, folder, email, etc) that is easy to implement. Together, you could make a note template that the teacher can just check off items or write a quick note. Provide plenty of copies so the teacher might slip it into a folder or backpack. As the year goes on, you may need to adjust the template as you find what works best. If your child will have multiple teachers, provide a packet for each (might get expensive with the whole gift card thing so maybe settle for star student with candy, a flower, or the classic red apple!).
Know your school’s resources
Every school can be different. Get to know the rest of the staff as well. Finding out who the right person for the right issue or concern can be key. Check out the playground, classrooms, and other areas for physical resources that might meet your child’s sensory needs. Think about opportunities for proprioceptive input (heavy muscle use such as climbing equipment), vestibular (movement like swings), and touch (sandboxes, etc). Also note what might be missing that supports your child. For example, the playground has swings, but nothing to climb on for proprioceptive input. Creative solutions can then be found.
Have a Professional Meet with Your Teacher
This may cost money for a professional’s time, but if they know your child well and can advocate by communicating the specific needs of your child and offer support to the teacher (rather than a list of more things for them to do), it would be worth every penny. It can be reassuring and a relief for teachers to understand, be empowered with this understanding, and to know that there is someone they can turn to when they have questions, concerns, and need direction.
Prepare for the Changes in Routine (or from the lack of one during the summer!)
Visit the school, new classrooms, and new teachers as soon as you can. Take pictures of the people and places your child will see. If you’re creative and crafty, make a New School Year Storybook. Review and talk about the pictures often. Children who struggle with transitions will need to review it more frequently. If they become anxious reassure them with your words, your tone, and that you believe in them.
Start waking up early and practicing the morning routine several days if not a week before school starts. Changes in sleep schedules can take a long time to become accustomed to. Starting this early will help to alleviate grumpiness from sleep changes.
Practicing the morning routine will give you and your child an opportunity to see just how much time waking up, breakfast, dressing, lunch making, backpacking, driving (although traffic will inevitably be much worse when school actually starts!), and dropping off really takes. Since it is practice, the pressure of being on time is turned into a goal or a game that allows for opportunities to work together to find creative solutions to problems.
Stay Focused on the Joy of Learning
Learning is not always easy. However, being curious and creative make learning a pleasurable experience. People who enjoy learning tend to be very successful and joyful. Check this article out for how curiosity creates joy in learning. Remember, learning is for a lifetime and this school year is just one step on the journey.
Hope these are helpful tips. Let us know how they worked for you. What tips would you add to the list?
Here are some additional sensory school tips from around the internet!
Did you know that your body and your brain do a lot of the work for your eyes to see? When the eyes, body, and brain are having difficulty working as a team, problems with learning and daily living are likely to occur. Many children and adults who are highly intelligent and capable end up struggling with skills such as reading for no apparent reason.
How frustrating is that?! Hard to understand and harder to know how to help. Many times the place to start is by taking a closer look at vision.
Eyes are amazing tools that bring light to the ocular nerve, but the real fun begins when the brain begins to interpret the light. And the brain needs sensory information from the body and the ears to make sense of the light the eyes have presented.
Most of the time, vision is corrected with lenses. In this case, the correction has been on improving visual acuity, or how clearly the eyes can focus. Lenses work to direct the light coming in through the pupil as directly as possible to the fovea which are light receptors concentrated at the back of the eye. This is why acuity improves with glasses or contact lenses and always a great place to start when assessing the full range of functional vision.
Functional vision goes beyond acuity. While lenses may have improved how clearly the eyes are presenting information to the brain, the next questions to ask are what information is being presented and how is it being used?
The “what information” comes from how the eyes are able to coordinate with each other as well as how the eyes coordinate with the rest of the body. We call this ocular motor control and visual motor integration. The “how information” is what the brain does with the information or how does is visual information used for learning and in everyday living situations. We call this visual perception.
When the eyes can present accurate information to the brain, then the mind can use this information along with information from other sensory systems to make accurate perceptions about what is seen, heard, and felt. It is kind of like syncing software programs in a computer or across devices. The information programmed into the computer has to be accurate in order for the programs and devices to work together.
When vision and other sensory systems are not able to work well together, problems and glitches can occur. Often, nothing is broken but programming is necessary to sync information together. Our brain and body sync information through sensory and movement experiences.
This is also known as . . . wait for it . . . learning. Learning occurs when new connections are made in the brain. New connections are made when information “makes sense.”
So what happens when visual information is not processing well?
It looks different with every individual, but here is a list of some symptoms:
- Problems with attention and focus
- Difficulty learning to read
- Looks like dyslexia with reversals or adding letters to words
- Difficulty with motor skills such as drawing, handwriting, and ball skills
- Extremes in movement seeking:
- Impulsive, accident prone, and clumsy
- Preferring sedentary activities, avoiding movement, or overly cautious about moving
- Difficulty with dressing including orienting clothes correctly, managing fasteners, and tying shoes.
- Trouble sequencing and breaking tasks down into smaller steps.
- Trouble with spatial skills such as using a maps, difficulty following directions, or copying
Is there a solution?
Improving functional vision involves treating the whole person and all sensory systems. This is why occupational therapy with a sensory integration focus can provide a great foundation for learning and the development of visual skills. Working with a developmental or behavioral optometrist may also be helpful and/or necessary. When problems with the eyes themselves are involved (injuries, genetic disorders or disease, etc.) working with an ophthalmologist is very important. As the foundational skills for vision are improved, tutoring for reading and writing will likely be more effective.
We hope this is helpful information and a place to start for gathering information. Please stay tuned for further details and information about vision and sensory integration.
If you have more questions about vision or how to set up an assessment, please call our office (352-505-6339) or send us a message through our contact page. We hope we can help!
Here are a couple of websites to go beyond simply seeing: