Posted by: cawnkrantz | May 10, 2012

“Perceptual Charades” Social Group

For many of us, “perception” is one of those innate processes that we take for granted. We see somebody crying, we assume they are sad. Perhaps we take it one step further and ask how they are feeling. We see somebody decked out in “Cubs” paraphernalia, it’s often safe to assume they are a Chicago Cubs fan. Maybe we ask them what they thought of the latest game. We hear somebody complaining that they missed lunch, most likely they are hungry. If we are feeling generous, we might offer them half of our sandwich. How we perceive another individual, through what they say, do or wear can shape both our internal judgments and how we act on those judgments. But what happens when that process is not innate? We might laugh at the person who is crying, bad mouth the Cubs’ coach, or greedily savor our sandwich without hesitation.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a social group at Cawn/Krantz. The activities introduced by the therapists provided some insight into how this perception might be explained or taught to 9 and 10 year old children for whom it is not natural. The four group members were first given some examples of things a person might say, do or wear. They were then asked to interpret those characteristics, actions or statements. The therapists assisted the children in developing their own perceptions, and seeing how they might relate to another individual’s interpretation.

Looking back at this first activity, one moment really sticks out in my memory. While sitting next to one of the boys in the group, I was attempting to assist him by whispering suggestions or hints in his ear. After about five minutes of this, he turned to me and asked “Are you, like, my guide or something?” What I didn’t realize then was how perceptive this question really was. Brian* had taken what I said, and how I said it (whispering just to him), and interpreted this action/vocalization. I regret not noticing this, and acknowledging it, during the group.

After the children had a grasp on the concept of perception, we moved onto a game which utilized these newly introduced skills, and gave the group an opportunity to both act them out and interpret them. Let’s call it “Perceptual Charades.” The therapists chose 8 different animals and 8 different emotions that could be used in the game. Each turn (2 per child) was two-fold. First, the child had to act in some way (through actions, vocalizations, or a combination) for the rest of the group to guess the animal he/she chose. A leaping, “ribbit”-ing boy? You guessed it – a frog. Next, the therapists gave the child one of the 8 emotions, which their animal needed to display in some way. When that same “frog” hid behind pillows with a worried look on his face, the rest of the group correctly guessed that he was nervous. When the frowning cat’s “meow” became sharp and loud, the other children accurately concluded that she was angry. Without much assistance from the therapists, the children were able to use their new knowledge of how we interpret our perceptions, and generate accurate appraisals of simulated emotions.

At the end of group, the children were given the opportunity to discuss what they had learned that day. The therapists asked the children to consider which mode of obtaining information generated a more precise appraisal of the situation: what somebody said, did, or wore. They quickly agreed that what a person wore did not give as much information, but were split between “say” and “do.” The group’s indecisiveness led to an interesting discussion when one of the children posed this question: what if different, and perhaps contradictory, messages are conveyed through these two types of communication (verbal language vs body language)? Which holds more merit? Take the crying person who says “I’m fine.” Or the self-professed good Samaritan who steals from his elderly neighbor. We did not end in unanimous agreement, and I’m hesitant to think there is an objective, correct, answer to this question. However, this did raise my consciousness to be more open-minded in interpreting conflicting verbal and physical cues.


What do you think? 


Posted by: cawnkrantz | April 10, 2012

Social Groups at Cawn/Krantz! Lights, Camera, Action!

In our social development groups, we create a fun, safe, and interactive environment for children. We introduce activities that foster cooperative play and meaningful interactions among peers and adults. One such activity that we love to do is making movies. That’s right! The kids in the group become writers, directors, actors, and editors of their own film! The multi-session project culminates with a movie premier, complete with a red carpet and popcorn! This project builds stronger relationships, develops flexibility, and improves skills in all areas of language. Lights, Camera, Action! 

Posted by: cawnkrantz | February 29, 2012

Get Moving!

This summer Cawn/Krantz is excited to offer   through our “Move and Groove” group.  Zumbatomic is a high-energy fitness party for kids.  Kids will get focused and fit while practicing listening skills, learning various rhythms and develop confidence and coordination.  According to Russell A. Barkley, PH.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, has proven regular physical exercise as part of treatment for ADHD.  Kids will dance, listen and play games while having fun and working together.  What a great way to encourage aerobic exercising!

Visit our website for more information at

Posted by: cawnkrantz | February 20, 2012

Get Moving!

This summer Cawn/Krantz is excited to offer   through our “Move and Groove” group.  Zumbatomic is a high-energy fitness party for kids.  Kids will get focused and fit while practicing listening skills, learning various rhythms and develop confidence and coordination.  According to Russell A. Barkley, PH.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, has proven regular physical exercise as part of treatment for ADHD.  Kids will dance, listen and play games while having fun and working together.  What a great way to encourage aerobic exercising!

Visit our website for more information at

Posted by: cawnkrantz | July 14, 2011

Cawn/Krantz’s SENSE – Sational Place Mats

Gone are the days of, “I just don’t like it”. SENSE –sational Place Mats™ provide children and toddlers through school-aged, a child-friendly way of thinking about the food they eat. SENSE –sational Place Mats™ were designed for picky eaters and problem feeders that are limited not only in the number of foods they eat, but also in their ability to accurately interpret the sensory properties of the food on their plates. These colorful placemats, designed by both speech-language therapists and occupational therapists, provide children with the vocabulary needed in order to help them process and explore unfamiliar or non-preferred foods. SENSE –sational Place Mats™ can be used as a tool to help aid the feeding therapy process or as a support during mealtimes in the home. We have come to find these placemats to be extremely popular with the kids during Cawn/Krantz’s feeding therapies!

I’m sure many of us can all recall a point in our childhood where we found ourselves disagreeing with our play friend on what to play and who was going to be first. Here is one example in which I’m sure many individuals can relate to – playing “house” and deciding on who was going to be the “Mom” first (seriously, who really wanted to be the “baby” or the “daughter”), or what about playing superheroes and deciding who was going to be Batman first (again, who really wanted to be Robin). Nevertheless, despite these problematic encounters with our play partner, we always managed to communicate a fair way (many times this fair way consisted of tossing a coin, or playing “paper-scissors-rock”); regardless how it was determined fair everyone had the opportunity to play what they wanted, and be who they wanted to be. This successful problem-solving occurred because both play partners verbally expressed their ideas in a regulated state and were able to process their options. But what about those play experiences where we were forced to play a game that we didn’t want to play because our play partner started to cry, say mean comments, or physically hurt us. No matter how fair the decisions were made they were still viewed as being “unfair”. We immediately found ourselves shutting down, and playing with whatever our new friend wanted to play in order to prevent a meltdown from occurring at any second. This then became more of an inconvenience instead of something that should be seen as fun.

 So, why are peer relationships so important to a child’s developmental process? Positive peer relationships are a critical component to a child’s developmental process because they come to learn how to socially communicate in appropriate ways, and they also learn how to initiate and maintain social relationships. As children are exposed to a wider range of interactions they learn to build stable and foundational friendships, in which they come to feel safe resolving social conflicts by being able to communicate, comprise and negotiate with their peers. As children develop stronger relationships over time they are often observed demonstrating greater flexibility within play themes, display increasing sensory awareness, beginning to initiate the ability to self-regulate, and establish an improvement in their social-language skills around peers. They learn to become independent thinkers, learners, and explorers of their environment.

 Have you ever wondered what defines “good communication”? Since the beginning of my professional career in working with kids with developmental challenges I have found myself asking this question in various forms on a consistent basis – is it being able to make eye contact with an individual you are conversing with; is it being able to express your opinion using words (or to simply put it – talking?). Perhaps, it is being able to distinguish an appropriate time to talk versus moments of silence. We all know that in order to be a successful communicator we must possess a robust set of verbal skills, but is that all?I had the opportunity to observe a therapy session here at Cawn/Krantz the other day, and I was fortunate enough to be observing the cutest most adorable child (who am I kidding, their all cuties!). Prior to observing this child, I was informed that they had a very limited language and speech repertoire. So taking this information into consideration, the goal of the therapy session was to work on some speech sounds and build upon the engagement piece in order to create opportunities for circles of communication. For the next 50 minutes I sat, observed, and took note of one of the most beautiful interactions that involved: the child, the caregiver, the therapist coaching the caregiver, and a bean bag ball. Now here is the real shocker – this beautiful interaction was all NONVERBAL! Wait, nonverbal – what does that mean?  Throughout my professional career, thus far, I have come to learn the power of nonverbal communication. I have read countless articles and research papers stating that the majority of human communication is nonverbal. Wow – crazy, right? So, what exactly is nonverbal communication? Nonverbal communication or also known as body language consists of eye contact, facial expressions, bodily/facial gestures, posture, where our bodies are relative to a verbal communicative interaction (are we too close to our peer or too far), and even the tone of our voice plays an essential role. On a daily basis we are consistently interacting with others in our surrounding environments where we are continuously giving and receiving countless wordless cues. All of our nonverbal cues send strong messages. Therefore, nonverbal communication is vital to not only our developmental progress, but it is a vital piece of communication that we as humans must acquire in order to be “good communicators”.

Posted by: cawnkrantz | November 17, 2010

Helping Your Child to Eat on Thanksgiving and other Holidays

    Children Who Don’t Eat:
Making the Thanksgiving Feast a Treat

Thanksgiving is most often about the food. Most of us look forward to the feast and think, Yummy!  But for many children the Thanksgiving table may be overwhelming.  The sensory system has a lot to process; it organizes and interprets many sensory sensations.  Each food has a different smell, feel, taste and look. The quantity and the accompanying festivities, which includes conversations, can also contribute to the fears and sensitivities around the Thanksgiving gathering.

For children who may experience this anxiety recommended techniques include:

  1. Present your child with an empty plate and suggest that two items will be put on the plate. Give him/her three choices (which includes one preferred food) and ask him/her to pick two.  The choices can be put on the plate together or separately.
  2. Start with a very small portion of each food. They can always, or you can always OFFER more.
  3. Talk about the food as you put it on the plate, “The sweet potatoes are so sweet and feel so good and creamy in our mouth.”
  4. Have a ‘dress rehearsal.’  Have a mini Thanksgiving feast at your home before the real thing, choosing a few of the items that might be served on Thanksgiving.
  5. If food is served family style encourage your child to participate in the passing of the various dishes.  Have them help serve the person sitting next to them.
  6. If Thanksgiving is at your home, encourage your child to help you to get ready:
  • Help set the table
  • Make table decorations
  • Help prepare one of the foods with you; perhaps a preferred food (dessert) and a non-preferred food.


Have a Wonderful Thankful Day!

                                    Jerri and Sherri

And all of us at Cawn-Krantz & Associates: Caroline F., Caroline M., Cortney, Gwen, Kim, Lauran, Mike, Meghan, Michelle, Nancy, Ryann, and Samona

In a round table discussion parents shared about how to get their children interested in food. One thought was to play restaurant with their child. This imaginative play helped them interact with food in a fun way! The child wrote down the orders on a pad of special waiter paper. They then were even able to serve their parents! We have found that having the child help talk, prepare, and serve the food creates a more positive experience for all!

What other ideas have worked for you and your child?

Posted by: cawnkrantz | October 27, 2010

Happy Halloween…And Don’t Forget Sensory Awareness Week!

Many children look forward to Halloween with anticipation and excitement, their minds envisioning oodles of goodies and becoming their favorite character for a day! What children with sensory needs don’t look forward to are the other factors that play into Halloween. These can include funny-feeling costumes and masks, sudden bursts of movement and noise, new people at every doorway, and familiar people looking very different than they normally do!

In honor of Sensory Awareness Week (October 25-31), please consider these important tips to making Halloween successful for children with sensory needs.

-Pro-actively build in quieter break times from stimulation to ward off sensory overload before your child exhibits any signs. This can include going home for a time to regroup, or choosing a less busy walking route between main streets.

-It may be helpful to hold “dress rehearsal” of sorts for everyone in the family that will be dressing up…you could even go trick-or-treating to the bedrooms in the house! This will minimize surprises on Halloween that the entire family looks so different and familiarize the child with the actual sequence of trick-or-treating. It will also give the child the ability to feel what his or her entire costume feels like on their body all together for a longer period of time

-Consider talking with your child in advance about what he or she might see (vampires, monsters, ghosts, or anything else potentially frightening) and emphasize that it’s ok because every costume has a boy or girl underneath.

Posted by: cawnkrantz | September 29, 2010

IEP Help!

 Here is a really great link on creating a IEP that will truly help your child succeed in school!

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