Please wait...

The Sonoran Sun Blog

Plenty of information every parent can find useful!

Understanding the difference between reinforcement and punishment –

When we think of the word reinforcement it is most likely looked at in a negative connotation; however, it didn’t start off that way! Kids thrive off of structure and rules. Yes, they like rules –even when they are not excited that dinner comes before dessert. Our friend reinforcement is a huge part of making kids’ lives better!

There is positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement, both are able to be utilized and loved at home, when they are used correctly and in a loving manner. To start, we can look at what the definition of reinforcement is: The process of encouraging or establishing a belief or pattern of behavior, especially by encouragement or reward.

In the definition it is looked at in a more positive light! How can this be? Let’s look at some ways to look at in its true positive nature.

  1. Giving stickers for going potty on the potty (positive)
  2. Getting dessert after finishing dinner (negative)
  3. Pressing a button that makes a loud scary noise (negative)

Positive reinforcement is for when a child has done a desired behavior and you give them something they desire! It is a win/win situation. Negative reinforcement is when an undesired thing is happening and it is taken/finished to make the desired behavior.

Reinforcement is supposed to increase a behavior we want to keep happening. Now, there is punishment and that is when we want to decrease a behavior we do not want to happen. Just like reinforcement has a negative and positive side, punishment does as well. Both can be effective depending on the child’s personality and how they are delivered.

Positive Punishment, adding something that is unwanted.

  1. Rocking on the chair and falling.
  2. Touching something hot and being burned.
  3. Getting in trouble and being put in time out.

Negative Punishment, taking away something that is wanted.

  1. Not behaving well at the store and no longer getting their favorite cookies.
  2. Hitting a sibling and taking the iPad away.
  3. Yelling at someone and their dessert is no longer being given after dinner.


Being able to balance both reinforcement and punishment can be tricky but watching your child’s behavior change depending on the reaction from each will help you know how to handle each situation that comes your way!


It’s Better Speech and Hearing Month and we want to Spot Light another one of our Amazing Speech Therapist!!

Kristina Burnham is our Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Therapist. She is also our Speech Department Director. Kristina graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech-Language Sciences and a Master of Science in Clinical Speech-Language Pathology. She originally started out as a music education major playing the viola until she had what she called her “mid college crisis”. She took a speech therapy class online and fell in love with the profession. Of all the areas that a speech-language pathologist may work in, her greatest interests are in early intervention and feeding therapy.

Kristina loves hanging out with her family, visiting with friends, and baking desserts. Whenever possible, she tries to escape to the mountains for vacation. One of her newer hobbies is finding the best local coffee spot that makes a good latte.

Kristina and her husband our parents to two little ones, Julie (3yrs old) and Amy (5months old). They also have a dog named Raja!


We are so lucky to have Kristina as part of our wonderful staff and have her as the leader of the ST department here at Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy!!


It’s Better Speech & Hearing Month and we want to Spot Light one of our Amazing Speech Therapist!!

Cynthia Pollard is one of our Speech-Language Pathologist. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Fullerton and her Master of Science Degree in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Northridge. Cynthia became a Speech Therapist because she was interested in helping people.  She initially took American Sign Language classes as an undergraduate because of her interest in working with the deaf, she then learned more about the field of Speech Pathology and knew that was her calling.

Cynthia’s hobbies are listening to live music, hiking in the mountains, playing pedal steel guitar, and stand up paddle boarding. Cynthia’s significant other, Rick Schmidt, is a professional musician. She also has a cat named Puff.

We are beyond lucky to have Cynthia as part of our wonderful staff here at Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy!!


It’s Better Speech & Hearing Month and we want to Spot Light one of our amazing Speech Therapist!!

Jessica Ruiz AKA Ms. Jess, is one of our Speech-Language Pathology Assistants. She received her Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Speech Language Pathology Assistant degree at EMCC in Avondale, Arizona. She has been in the field for four years, and has been working with individuals with special needs for over fourteen years. Originally, Jess wanted to be a special education teacher, but speech therapy won over her heart. She is a passionate and animated therapist who strives to create a fun learning environment tailored to each patient’s needs.

Jess has three passions in life: traveling, sports and DOGS! She is a self-proclaimed “crazy dog lady” and currently has three dogs of her own (looking to add a fourth very soon). Jess has been fortunate enough to travel quite frequently in her adult life and has visited multiple places in Asia and Hawaii. Jess is also passionate about living a healthy, active life. She played softball for 16 years of her life, landing her a full-ride softball scholarship for college. Jess currently plays in an adult co-ed dodgeball league and is constantly looking for ways to be active.

We are so lucky to have Jess as part of our wonderful staff here at Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy!!



Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month! Our speech team at Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy is excited to celebrate with all of our families who share their time and energy with us. It can be a lot of work, but seeing children make progress every week is so rewarding. Have you wondered what your child’s “speech teacher” is working on every week? There are so many areas of speech-language that we target with a variety of ages, ranging from Early Intervention (birth – 3 years) all the way up to teenagers. Some skills your child’s therapist may work on can include (but are not limited to):


-social skills

-problem solving

-listening comprehension

-expressive language


The amazing thing about a speech session, is that sometimes children do not even realize that they are doing “therapy”. You may see your child playing with animals to practice sounds, or going down the slide to request “more”, or blowing bubbles to say “pop”. Everything is done with purpose. If you’re not sure what skill your child is working on, please ask! We love to give recommendations for home activities to make speech practice fun and to help language skills progress quicker.

For more ideas on working with little ones at home, please visit some of my favorite websites that I frequently refer families to:


As always, if you ever have questions about your child’s speech and language development, please speak with your pediatrician or come visit us for a free screening!

Better Speech & Hearing Month


It’s Occupational Therapy Month and we want to Spotlight another one of our amazing Occupational Therapist!

Allison Heitzinger is one of our Occupational Therapist. She is a wife and mother of two young children. Allison went to A.T. Still University Arizona School of Health Sciences for her Masters Degree and completed her Bachelors in Psychology at Seattle University. Allison’s hobbies include running, hiking, gardening, cooking, and exploring the outdoors with her family. Allison also spends lots of time neck deep in toddler/preschool activities (frequenting parks, playing tag, building train sets, baking with my kids, and both making and cleaning up messes). 

We are beyond lucky to have her as part of our wonderful staff here at Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy!!



It’s Occupational Therapy Month and we want to Spot Light another one of our amazing Occupational Therapist!!

Michael Jankowski AKA Mr. Mike, is our Occupational Therapist and Department Director. He received his Masters in Occupational Therapy from Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, PA. Mike really enjoys working with people. He loves getting to hear people’s stories and learning about other people’s experiences. Mike discovered Occupational Therapy when he was in high school, and knew it was the field for him. Occupational Therapy allows him to interact and get to know many different people, while in the process of helping them live their life to the fullest and living the life they want to.

Mike’s two big passions in life are the outdoors and music. He really enjoys hiking and camping. Whenever he is near a body of water he loves to swim and surf. Mike has been fortunate enough to receive music lessons throughout his life. Mike loves listening to live music, and currently plays the guitar in his spare time.

We are so lucky to have him as part of our wonderful staff and have him as the leader of the OT department here at Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy!!



It’s Occupational Therapy Month and we want to Spot Light one of our amazing Occupational Therapist!!

Melissa McCormick is our Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, a wife, and mother of two wonderful boys. She graduated at Summa Cum Laude from Brown Mackie College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. Melissa grew up taking care of her younger sisters and helping out with the children in her mother’s in-home daycare. She developed a passion for working with children at a very young age and has been working with children ever since. When Melissa found out about Occupational Therapy, she immediately knew her purpose in life. She feels very blessed to have a career that focuses on helping amazing children develop skills and self-esteem through meaningful and fun activities. When she is not at work she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family camping in the forest or playing at the beach.

We are so lucky to have her as part of our wonderful staff here at Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy!!



With April being Autism Awareness month, we figured we could highlight how Speech Therapy can benefit children diagnosed with autism. Speech covers a wide variety of topics; however one major topic that we work on is pragmatic (social) skills. Children are taught how to handle certain social situations, how to communicate and understand others and simply learn the aspects of life as they come. Children with autism typically have an increased difficulty with communication. Speech Therapy allows them to learn how to communicate both verbally and nonverbal. Verbal communication is helping them understand language, i.e proper grammar(pronouns, irregular/regular verbs), auditory processing and figurative language(idioms, multiple meaning words). As for nonverbal communication this allows children to learn how to maintain appropriate body posture, eye contact and body awareness when in a conversation with others. Sometimes children with autism are awesome with communication and pragmatic skills. They might just have difficulty with their articulation, meaning it can be difficult for others to understand them. Speech Therapy offers children the ability to learn how to understand where their tongue, mouth and lips need to go to be able to produce certain sounds. Speech Therapy provides children with autism the gateway to being able to communicate, understand and learn about the world around them.

Crystal Espinal BS, SLPA


Happy OT Month!

Here is 30 Fun Filled Days of OT Activities for all ages to Celebrate OT Month!

Week 1:  Fine Motor Strengthening Activities

April 1. Do wheelbarrow walks, bear crawls, or play in quadruped (on hands and knees)

April 2. Bath time fun with a spray bottle, water squeeze toys, or squeeze bottles with water

April 3. Pinch, pull, smoosh and smash Play-Doh, Silly Putty, or Modeling Clay

April 4. Build with Legos, Mega Blocks, K’Nex, or Pop Beads

April 5. Play Lite Brite, create a design with golf tees pushed into a foam block, or play with a peg board

April 6. Use clothes pins to pick up cotton balls to glue to a craft (or) tongs to clean up toys after play time

April 7. Complete punch art using hole punch, craft punches with fun shapes (or) stamp art with kids self-inking stampers


Week 2:  Sensory – Messy Play

April 8. Sensory bin play – Hide toys in a bin of dried pinto beans, dried rice, or cooked spaghetti

April 9. Shaving cream art – Create drawings on a cookie sheet, counter top, or window using your hands and shaving cream

April 10. Use your hands to scoop dirt and plant flowers (or) explore dirt and grass with hands and feet

April 11. Use your hands to make homemade cookies

April 12. Finger paint with your hands and feet

April 13. Make mud pies with dirt (or) explore different food textures and make food art

April 14. Make homemade slime and mix it with your hands (or) explore and play with Jello

Liquid Starch Slime Recipe Below


Washable PVA Glue

Liquid Starch


Measuring Cups



Food Coloring


Mix 1/2 C of glue and 1/2 C of water in bowl.

Add food coloring if desired.

Mix in 1/2 C of liquid starch.

Stir thoroughly.

Knead with hands.


Week 3:  Visual Motor and Fine Motor Activities

April 15. String beads, straw pieces (cut colorful straws into small pieces), cereal, or pool noodles pieces (cut pool noodle into small rings)

April 16. Complete age appropriate puzzle, shape sorter, or ring stacker

April 17. Draw a picture of your family, Color inside the lines, play a game of “I Do, You Do!” and have the child imitate your simple step-by-step drawing, or scribble with little ones

April 18. Cut paper with scissors on the line, snip paper with scissors, use scissor tongs with toys or tear paper with hands

April 19. Paint by number, dot-to-dot pages, mazes, or play with cars/trains on a road rug/train track

April 20. Make paper airplanes, make a paper fortune teller, fold paper in half and make a card for a friend, or play pop up pals with little ones

April 21. Play hand clapping games such as Miss Mary Mack, Miss Suzie or Patty Cake


Week 4 and 5:  Self Care

April 22. Buttoning skills – (use larger buttons to make the tasks easier and small buttons for an additional challenge) Activities – Dress stuffed animals in button down shirts, hide toys inside button shirts while playing table top, play with stickers, or put coins or buttons into a piggybank (Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank is great for little ones)

April 23. Scooping with a spoon – Scoop pinto beans with a spoon from a bowl into a jar or ice cube tray, wash small toys and use a spoon to put shaving cream or soap bubbles onto toys, or play with spoons, scoops, and cups in a sensory bin.

April 24. Poking with a fork –Pick up Play-Doh pieces with a fork after play, feed a mom or dad’s puppet hand Play-Doh pieces using a fork

April 25. Pouring – Have a water relay and pour water into cups using various sizes of cups and water pitchers, and then walk the cup to the end of the relay line without spilling; or water plants using a watering can


Week 4 and 5:  Gross Motor Skills

April 26. Play catch using balls, stuffed animals, or balloons, and catch with your hands or a bucket

April 27. Jump rope, jumping jacks, hop scotch, frog jumps, or jump on a trampoline

April 28. Play soccer or kick a ball to each other or to a target

April 29. Play basketball or play bean bag toss and toss bean bags, stuffed animals or balls into a laundry basket

April 30. Go to the park and run, skip, climb, slide, swing, and hanging on the monkey bars


Ideas by:

Melissa McCormick COTA/L
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant


At Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy we consider our staff members as family. Are you looking to join a therapy team to help improve the lives of as many children as possible, while working in a positive work place with ethical values? If so, please click on the link below to see if any current therapist or support staff positions are available.


From Our Blog

Mission Statement

“We provide compassionate care and hope to help every child and their families live the most fulfilling life”

Copyright Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy 2017. All rights reserved.

Powered By: AZ Web Design