Newsletter – March 2021 – Sensory & Mental Health Support
Spring is around the corner! The longer days and warmer weather brings a little reprieve from the drudgery of the winter months. Longer days seem to shed light on things we may have put on the backburner this past season. For instance, maybe you’ve been thinking about reaching out to a parent with concerns about their child not meeting milestones. Or, maybe a child is struggling with transitions and seems overwhelmed by loud noises, showing possible sensory processing concerns. We know you are often the first ones to observe these signs while children are in your care. In addition, finding resources for these concerns is not often an easy task.
This month we wanted to share some resources and tools we’ve gathered along the way in hopes that you, your staff, and families find them helpful. And, because the pandemic continues to take its toll on our overall well-being, we also wanted to share some social emotional resources to help support the mental health of your early childhood community.
Please let your Child Health Connection nurse know how she can advocate for the children in your care. And, please do not hesitate to share strategies and resources that have worked for you in the past. We are always on a mission to find the latest health-related information and resources in early childhood education to share. As always, we appreciate working with each and every one of you and we wish you and your community happiness and wellness!
Molly Orlando, RN
Co-owner/Child Care Health Consultant
Sensory Processing Resource
The Star Institute is a local organization devoted to the education, research and treatment for sensory processing disorders. Their website has many resources for your staff and families to learn more about sensory health and wellness.Star Institute
Sensory Processing Checklists
These observation checklists are tools you can use to gather information or to document your observations of a child with suspected developmental delays. They are for documentation purposes and are not intended to be given to the parent. Remember that at this stage you are using your professional judgement or a screening tool; you do not diagnose a developmental delay. The information you gather can be helpful when talking with parents or to determine if the child would benefit from a more thorough evaluation.Sensory Processing Challenges Checklist Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist
Activities for Children with
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
- Encourage fidget toy play: This will help develop hand control movements which can help decrease anxiety.
- Practice push/pull activities:
- To build strength, have the child carry something heavy such as a stack of books or basket with a book. This will help familiarize them with the pressure sensation.
- Then move on to pushing activities. Recess play is a great time for this because you can incorporate play. For example, pushing the big orange and yellow cars with a friend inside them or not.
- Decrease sudden or loud noises: Be mindful of sounds that the child is exposed to as certain sounds may cause anxiety for children with SPD. Noise cancelling headphones can be helpful.
- Provide a quiet sensory zone: Children will benefit from frequent sensory breaks in a calm and quiet area.
Developmental Delay Resources
Do you have questions about a child’s development or have observed possible developmental delays? The following programs may be able to assist you in further evaluating a child’s developmental milestones, growth or learning.
Child Find is part of Colorado’s system for identifying children suspected of having a delay in development.
Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD)
A non-profit organization as the state program lead for HealthySteps, which is the only program of its kind that places a child development specialist within a pediatric primary care team.
Early Intervention Colorado
The Colorado Early Intervention program provides supports and services to children with developmental delays or disabilities and their families from birth until the child’s third birthday. A referral can be made for an evaluation to determine whether the child may benefit from these services. Services are provided by local agencies throughout Colorado, known as Community Centered Boards. Below are links to the referral form and information to contact your local Community Centered Board:
Supporting Social Emotional Development
A child’s social emotional health starts very early with relationships and experiences that develop a foundation for lifelong mental health. In addition, social emotional skills can help children to manage their emotions and reduce challenging behaviors. The Colorado Office of Early Childhood has videos, print materials and tools to help you support social emotional development of children at your center. Check out the following link to these helpful resources:Social Emotional Resources
Early Childhood Mental Health Specialists
Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Specialists are available to work with adult caregivers and parents to foster social-emotional development to support the mental health of children. Consultation with an ECMH Specialist is a free, voluntary support program for those caring for children ages six and under. Please see the following link to sign up for a consultation and complete an online referral form:Early Childhood Mental Health Specialists
Learn more about working with an Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) consultant by taking the eLearning course on Colorado Shines PDIS:PDIS Course: Working with an ECMH
Given our topic for the month is Mental Health, we wanted to share this resource kit again!
Centers for Disease Control has developed a COVID-19 Parental Resource Kit for early childhood, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. This resource is to help support parents, caregivers, and other adults serving children and young people in recognizing children and young people’s social, emotional, and mental health challenges and helping to ensure their well-being during this time.