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The Sonoran Sun Blog

Plenty of information every parent can find useful!

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


It is becoming more and more common for Occupational Therapists to include pets in their therapy sessions. Studies have shown the use of pets (dogs, cats, fish, and horses) can be very beneficial in treating for several conditions or diagnoses. The simple acts of observing a fish swim or petting a dog can have a great impact on patients who have anxiety and high blood pressure. For some patients who have a difficult time with social settings, having interactions with a pet may ease the mood and help them feel more comfortable when doing therapeutic activities due to the presence of acceptance and affection.

Some other benefits pet therapy can help patient make improvements on are:

  • Self-esteem
  • Self-worth
  • Building trust
  • Expressing feelings in appropriate ways
  • Communication

Incorporating pets in therapy may not always be the right way to go. You must always consider whether it will be a good experience for the patient. Keep in mind that if someone has a traumatic past with an animal, fear or paranoia with certain animals, it may create more anxiety and be a negative experience for the patient. The last thing to keep in mind is if the patient has any allergies to animals because that may also cause a negative experience.

If you are considering incorporating pets with your child’s therapy, always run it be their therapist first to see if they feel it would be a great fit, especially to make sure it will help with the goals they are working towards.

Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy has partnered with someone who can bring in a therapy dog for patients as needed! Ask us for more information.



If you think your child might have hearing loss or even if your child has been diagnosed with hearing loss, parents often don’t know what to do. Speak with your pediatrician to come up with a plan for your child if they have any type of hearing loss. Seeing an audiologist and a Speech-Language Pathologist should help you through that decision-making process.

A Speech-Language Pathologist can help your child with their language skills to communicate. The key is early intervention with hearing loss. A child with mild hearing loss may not be hearing certain sounds in the English language. Whether it is through sign language, cued speech, oral communication or a mixture, communication is key for living with hearing loss.

Seeing a Speech-Language Pathologist on a weekly basis can provide support for your child and teach your child speech and listening skills. Even if your child has a IEP with in the school system and is receiving help in school, seeing a Speech-Language Pathologists one-on-one will provide your child with tools to communicate.

A Speech-Language Pathologist will work on helping your child expand their vocabulary. They will work on exercises that help them learn the individual sounds of each letter in a word and how to pronounce the word. Speech-Language Pathologists also work on visual cues to help listen in situations that can be helpful for a hard-of-hearing child.

Having a child with hearing loss can be frustrating and concerning, but with a plan and proper help your child can learn to communicate and be successful in everyday activities.



How to Use “Indirect Correction” to Improve Speech and Language Skills

Does your child become frustrated when you correct his or her speech?  If so, would you like to try a technique other than direct correction?  When corrected, some children become really frustrated and will say “Never mind” or “That’s what I said!”.  You can try what is called “Indirect Correction” to help your child and avoid some of the frustration!

With direct correction, you let your child know that what they have said is not clear or grammatically complete.  For example, with direct correction, if your child says “I like tars” you say, “No they are not ‘tars’ they are “cars”.  With direct correction, if your child says “Her is my friend”, you say “No, it is not ‘her’, it is ‘she’”.  Although direct correction provides instruction, it can make children feel like their message is not being listened to and they are being criticized when they attempt to communicate.

With indirect correction, you conversationally repeat back what your child has said, with correct use of grammar and pronunciation.  This way, your child is able to hear the correct way to say something, without interrupting the flow of conversation and causing frustration.   This article will now give examples of indirect correction for articulation and indirect correction for language.

With indirect correction of articulation, you can repeat back conversationally what your child has said but without the articulation errors.  For example, if your child says “The wabbit is wunning”, you can repeat it back conversationally with “Yes, the rabbit is running”, placing emphasis on the “R” sound.  If your child says “I wanna rea the cah in the hah”, you can say “Great, I love to read the Cat in the Hat!”, with emphasis on the final consonants.  By doing this you are acknowledging your child’s statement, giving them a chance to let you know if you did not understand them, and you are modelling the correct pronunciation.

With indirect correction of language, you can repeat back conversationally what your child has said with correct grammar.  For example, if your child says “Her running”, you can repeat it back conversationally with “Yes, she is running.”, with emphasis on the words “she” and “is”.  If your child says “I falled down”, you can repeat it back conversationally with “Uh-oh, you fell down.”, with emphasis on the word “fell”.  This acknowledges your child’s statement and what your child wants you to know without interrupting the flow of conversation, while helping your child hear correct grammar.

Although direct correction can be useful, especially during speech and language homework practice time, it can be overwhelming when used frequently during conversation.  If your child is becoming frustrated by direct correction during conversation, you might want to give indirect correction a try!

Cynthia Pollard MS, CCC-SLP


Milestone Tracker app by the CDC

A new app created by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) called Milestone Tracker makes it easier to keep track of how your child is developing from ages 2 months through 5 years, a very critical period of development!

This app is available for both Apple and Android and is absolutely FREE! You choose your child’s age and it goes through a few skills that he/she is expected to have achieved. Your answers are then summarized into a list that you can email yourself or even show your doctor/therapist if you have any concerns. The app also gives tips and activities that are appropriate to your child’s age to continue to support development. You can review milestones in specific developmental areas including: Social/Emotional, Language/Communication, Movement/Physical, and Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving). A bonus: you can add multiple children to the app to track all of their milestones separately as well as track appointments, such as doctor visits.

Milestone Tracker:

The CDC has additional resources that are extremely useful in tracking, supporting, and advocating for your child’s development. “Learn the Signs. Act Early.”

As always, if you have any concerns for your child’s development, you should speak with his/her primary healthcare provider and/or therapist right away.



(This blog post is part 4 of 4 in the short mini-series about therapy processes)

If it is determined by the evaluating therapist that the patient would benefit from ongoing therapy, the next step would be scheduling the patient for ongoing therapy.  As previously mentioned in our prior blog post, due to therapist’s schedule and availability, the evaluating therapist may not always be the therapist who treats the patient. It is not uncommon for this to happen, and if it does, the treating therapist/assistant will be given a copy of the patient’s evaluation and plan of care. This way the treating therapist/assistant knows what the patient’s plan of care and goals are, in addition to how to set up for the patient’s sessions. While the OT completes the initial evaluation, both Occupational Therapists (OT) & Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) are licensed and trained to provide ongoing therapy. The same goes for Speech, while the SLP completes the initial evaluation, both Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) & Speech Language Pathologist Assisant (SLPA) are licensed and trained to provide ongoing therapy. Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy is truly blessed to have amazing, knowledgeable, kind, and caring therapist and assistants to meet any patient’s needs.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns regarding scheduling ongoing therapy.

Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
Occupational Therapy Director


(This blog post is part 3 of 4 in a short mini-series about therapy processes)

The Evaluation Process can be an exciting time for a patient. Exciting for them to get to experience a new place and meet new people, exciting for their parents/guardians to know that they will be able to get answers to questions and help if needed. This process can be little confusing though with all the moving parts and questions you may have regarding your concerns, scheduling, insurance, etc. Hopefully this blog post will be able to answer some of your questions and get you excited for your evaluation at Sonoran Sun Therapy.

Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy offers Speech Therapy, Feeding Therapy, and Occupational Therapy. All disciplines have specific evaluation protocols they follow and standardized assessments they can administer. During the Evaluation process the patient and their parents/guardians will come back to the evaluating therapist’s treatment room. The evaluating therapist may have toys and/or materials laid out in their room that will be utilized during the evaluation process. The evaluating therapist may decide to use a combination of standardized and unstandardized assessments during this evaluation process. During the evaluation, the evaluating therapist will probably be taking notes regarding the patient’s abilities. This information along with the parents/ guardians concerns and standardized & unstandardized assessments will be analyzed at the end of the patient’s evaluation and typed up into an evaluation report. The evaluation report gives information regarding the patient’s current abilities, any concerns regarding the patient’s abilities, in addition to the plan of care and goals for the patient. Once the evaluation report is complete, the report is submitted to the patient’s parents/guardians, patient’s doctor, treating therapist, and patient’s insurance company if needed.

It is important to note that evaluations are not like typical treatment sessions. Evaluations require the patient to do more sitting, and completion of test materials. Patient’s ongoing sessions will incorporate play, exploration, movement, problem solving, and will be more fun. The evaluation is simply a way for the evaluating therapist to collect data to come up with a plan of care and goals for the patient.

Once the evaluation is complete, if the patient would benefit from therapy the evaluating therapist will make that recommendation and will have the patient’s parents/guardians discuss scheduling with the office staff. It is important to note that due to scheduling and therapist availability, the evaluating therapist may not always be the therapist who treats the patient. It is not uncommon for this to happen, and if it does, the treating therapist/ assistant will be given a copy of the patient’s evaluation and plan of care, so the treating therapist/assistant know how to set up for the patient’s sessions.

Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
Occupational Therapy Director


(This blog post is part 2 of 4 in a short mini-series about therapy processes)

Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy offers Free Screenings for all of our therapies (Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Feeding Therapy)

A screening is simply when a Therapist or Assistant will observe a patient, ask clarifying questions to the parents/guardians, answer any questions the parents/guardians may have, and determine whether the patient would benefit from a formal Evaluation and ongoing therapy. The screening process if FREE and usually takes 10-15 minutes.  Think of a screening as a FREE “pre-evaluation” and determination of whether the patient requires ongoing therapy or whether the Therapist or Assistant may be able to make some suggestions to the parents/guardians to help with their concerns.

It is also possible that a current patient receiving therapy may be recommended for a screening by another discipline of therapy. For example, a Speech Therapist may notice that one of their patients potentially has some sensory concerns and may recommend the patient receive a Free Occupational Therapy Screening. If this happens, this is nothing to be alarmed or concerned about. This simply means that the patient’s therapist wants to make sure the patient has all the tools they need for success, and that the patient may benefit from guidance or therapy from another discipline.

Since Screenings are FREE, they do not require any insurance authorization. You can simply call or email Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy to schedule a screening with which discipline you think the patient may benefit from. Not sure what discipline the patient may benefit from? Then simply give us a call and we’ll steer you in the right direction.

Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
Occupational Therapy Director


(This blog post is part 1 of 4 in a short mini-series about Occupational Therapist)

While there are some differences between an Occupational Therapist (OT) and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) there are much more similarities. OT’s and COTA’s work together as a team to make sure that a patient receives the best possible care and is provided with the tools to help them meet their goals and engage in meaningful occupations. OT’s are required to have a Master’s Degree, and COTA’s are required to have an Associate’s Degree. OT’s are involved in the process of evaluating a patient, establishing a plan of care, and setting goals for a patient. COTA’s take the information the OT gathered from the evaluation then plan and implement the patient’s treatment sessions in addition to working with patients on achieving their goals. OT’s and COTA’s work as a team to make sure every patient gets the help they need. Both OT’s & COTA’s are extensively trained and able to work with patients with all types of diagnoses and from different backgrounds.

It is important to note that:

  • Both OT’s & COTA’s have attended a college, university, or institute and have received a degree as an OT or COTA.
  • Both OT’s & COTA’s are trained and have received an education in working with the pediatric population.
  • Both OT’s & COTA’s are trained and have received an education in working with diagnoses specific to the pediatric population.
  • Both OT’s & COTA’s have had to take and pass a board exam regulated by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT)
  • Both OT’s & COTA’s have to be licensed as an OT or COTA by the state they are working in (verifying they have graduated from an accredited program, have passed their board exam, and are in good legal standing).
  • Both OT’s & COTA’s are required to attend continuing education classes to continue to learn about the pediatric population and to maintain their licensure.

Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
Occupational Therapy Director


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.


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