Archive for: News

WHY CHOOSE US?

The Great Sasco River of Darien

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us,”

Sir Winston Churchill

_____

We officially announce the opening of our newest clinic, SRC Darien.

Sasco River Center was formed in January 2020, out of the realization that treating a whole person leads to better results than focusing on one narrow area.  While prior to that, respectively Southfield Center and Sensory Kids were both leaders in their fields, after sharing cases across our practices and then opening a shared location in Wilton, we merged to create Sasco River Center with the goal of becoming our area’s best multidisciplinary family development center.  

One important element of this goal is our clinic locations.  We realized after the experiment in Wilton that it was possible to interweave spaces for the services that we offer, and in the process, make the sum more than the parts.  We found a bucolic location at Darien Crossing, a revitalized office park campus in the heart of Darien.  After an intensely collaborative design process involving architects, contractors, landlord, gym designers, structural engineers, and too many other consultants to name, we developed a plan which has brought the concept of Sasco River Center to life.

Please take a peek at the virtual tour below.

Warm regards,

Chris & Melissa

picture of Chris and Melissa
Dr. Christopher Bogart & Melissa Kahn, MS OTR/L
Co-executive Directors

A Tour Down the Sasco River

At the heart of our clinic is one large, common hallway which runs through the clinic, metaphorically the Sasco River, which ties all of our services together.  

office layout design

We’ll start our tour at the quiet end of the river.  Here we find the subdued testing/psych offices, with their brightly colored doorways and calming floors.  Transoms of translucent glass flood the hallway with light filtered through the offices.

photo of the hallway in the office

The offices themselves are warm, comfortable and inviting.

inside of meeting room
inside of another meeting room

From there the river flows past the entry doors and into the dynamic waiting room.  On the wall is a butterfly, which symbolizes our capacity for regrowth.

.waiting room

We will tiptoe past the admin offices and then we’re greeted by the eddy swirl that is the fine motor desk and the shores of the tactile room’s rock wall beyond.

rock wall for kids
another angle of rock wall

Note the secret access to the lyca room up in the corner!

Moving down the river a litte, we see a sneak peak of the Large OT area through the porthole 

storage area

And then to the Large OT Gym  itself.  

play area for kids

The Large OT Gym has its own rock wall, zip lines, platforms and swings, all surrounding the custom swing mount system.

two kids playing
young boy playing

Did we mention the large lite-brite?

child playing with doctor

Next on our tour is the Medium OT Gym.  This gym can be accessed by heading over the up-and-over wall from the Large OT Gym, and landing in a foam pit.  

young boy climbing ladder

Other fun aspects of this gym are the trampoline, slide, cozy cave, and a specially imported system which can convert to a ropes course, large trampoline, or inclined ladder. 

three boys playing

However, the highlight of this area may be the large blue tunnel which crosses over the river/hall and drops us off in the Lycra Room.

kids play room

The Lycra room is a cozy spot where we can cover ourselves with some of the many layers of stretchy goodness as we make our way to the padded floor.

young boy playing
play area for kids

At the other end of the river are more therapeutic offices, a long lunch counter for our team to congregate.

picture of the hallway

We hope you enjoyed our tour, and can come and see us in person one day soon!

You can see the whole gallery of clinic images HERE.

June is Pride Month

Remember, June is Pride Month!

A Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month

The uprising at the Stonewall Inn in June, 1969, sparked a liberation movement — a call to action that continues to inspire us to live up to our Nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all.  Pride is a time to recall the trials the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community has endured and to rejoice in the triumphs of trailblazing individuals who have bravely fought — and continue to fight — for full equality.  Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity.  This Pride Month, we recognize the valuable contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals across America, and we reaffirm our commitment to standing in solidarity with LGBTQ+ Americans in their ongoing struggle against discrimination and injustice. [read full text in the link below].

President Joseph Biden
June is Pride Month

Career Day with Future Five

Earlier this month, Sasco River Center had the privilege of hosting Future 5 at an in-person career day at our Darien Clinic.  This event enabled  our DEI, Social and Marketing committees to work closely together to create a seamless, impactful experience.

At the event, we hosted 15 Future 5 students.  The students broke into small groups to meet with representatives of each of our departments and fields, where they learned about what’s involved in the day to day of different careers within Sasco River Center via breakout sessions.  We discussed the in’s and outs of life in administration, occupational therapy, psychology, psychiatry, holistic supports, learning services, coaching and language therapy.  The students were left with knowledge and insights into various career paths through personal anecdotes from many of our clinicians and professionals who facilitated the discussions.

The event was topped off with very fun cookies and gift bags for our guests. (The cookies were delicious!)

If you don’t know about Future 5, please take the time to learn more on their website at: www.futurefive.orgFuture 5 helps motivated Stamford students find their path to success by helping them connect to their full potential. Their goal is to connect students to the people, resources, and experiences essential to making the transition to post-secondary education and careers.

Many thanks to our own Kelly Kelly for the introduction to Future 5, and to their Director, Beth Williams, for making this event possible.

We are grateful for the chance to host this event with Future 5, and we hope that it broadened the scope of opportunities that lie ahead for these talented and motivated individuals.

Regards, Sasco River Center

Anniversary Reaction

It’s March again. Especially for those of us who live in the Northeast, March often brings with it the promise of better days: the sun shines longer each day, buds are slowly peeking out on the trees, and the mercury begins to slowly and more consistently creep up, taunting us with promises of spring after the seemingly eternal winter.

Except, it’s March again. March.

Happy Anniversary

White and Grey Kitten Smelling White Daisy Flower

March: the month the world shut down a year ago. If you’re even remotely active on social media, it’s likely you’ve been privy to the various memes circulating about how naïve we were a year ago this week, how we couldn’t have imagined what was coming, how “feral” we’ve become since a year ago.  Personally, I’ve spent the past week vacillating between feelings of optimism and pangs of angst I can feel deep in my gut when I think about what we didn’t know yet was to come a year ago. I recently resumed a show I’d began watching maybe a month into the shutdown, and, just hearing the theme music, I felt a sense of dread. 

So here it is: the anniversary reaction.

The Anniversary Reaction

The anniversary reaction sounds pretty innocuous, on the surface. For many of us, anniversaries are celebrations: of milestones we’ve achieved, connections we’ve made, or challenges we’ve overcome. But there are times when we can find ourselves approaching the anniversary of an event and feeling anxious, unsettled, angry, on edge, confused, and sad.  It’s as though our brains can sense by the angle of the sun, “This time last year I was made to feel scared. So this is now the time of year I’ll feel scared, even when there’s no apparent external threat.”  And we may have no idea why we’re feeling this way, because our brain doesn’t remind us to connect the dots and doesn’t listen when we remind it we’re actually safe.  Interestingly, often the feelings that come with an anniversary reaction disappear as quickly as they came on, once the days and weeks surrounding the date of the event pass.

This week, as we approach the one-year anniversary (Friday the 13th—how fitting) of the official declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, I imagine many of us are feeling more anxious or on edge than we have in recent weeks and months.  It’s been a long winter—one of the longest I can remember—and the pandemic-based restrictions certainly did not help the days go by any faster.  And yet March is here again.  There is promise of spring.  The sun is hitting at a different angle.  And we’re still in this pandemic.  We are exhausted.  We are tapped out.  And now we’re being reminded constantly, by virtue of the calendar, that we’ve been at this for a YEAR.  But there is reason to hope.

The Road Ahead

Person Standing on Road

Indeed, the days are getting longer and warmer, which brings with it its own optimism.  We can get outside more readily.  Vaccination production and distribution is ramping up.  There is promise that we are approaching the end of this tunnel. 

Let’s keep this in mind as we navigate the unexpected emotions we may experience over the next week/month/season.  We will get through this.  Just because the calendar (and our tricky brains) may say so, we’re not where we were a year ago.  And maybe in coming years, March will be the month we get to remind ourselves how far we’ve come in our resilience.  Let’s plan for it. 

In the meantime, hang in there.

SRC Studios

Hello! We have a number of helpful videos and recorderings of our presentations over on our YouTube video channel. Check them out here:

See you there! If you want to keep up with our newest videos, make sure to subscribe.

Benefits of Heavy Work

Think about the feeling that you have after exercising or doing yard work: your body is more awake, you’re aware of all the muscles you were using, and your mood improves. These incredible benefits are produced through the work of proprioceptive input and heavy work!

What is Heavy Work?

Junge im Park zusammen mit Freunden beim Wettbewerb im Seilspringen im Sommer

Heavy work is defined as any type of activity that pushes or pulls against the body and/or lifting heavy objects or items. This specific type of movement provides proprioceptive input (sensations that underlie body awareness) to the muscles and joints. Like children need food or water to survive, their bodies require sensory input in order to stay focused throughout the day. Every child has unique sensory needs that can be assessed and discovered through clinical observation. Through the combined efforts of professional intervention and sensory tailored activities, the effects can be instantaneous, effective, and, most importantly, fun!

Who can benefit from Heavy Work?

Watch out for pool sharks though (Photo by VisionPic .net)

Everyone can benefit from heavy work activities! Especially with the sudden transition to remote learning and social distancing, everyone is spending an increasing amount of time sitting still. Movement is a critical aspect of everyone’s routine that is utilized to increase stimulation, focus, and alertness. Children and adults with sensory processing disorder and other mental health conditions in particular can especially benefit from implementing these types of activities into their daily routine.

Benefits of Heavy Work

These are all siblings, I think… (Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

There are a multitude of advantages to incorporating heavy work activities into your child’s daily routine. Heavy work can be used to calm a child’s body through organizing and regulating their sensory systems, subsequently reducing their anxiety and stress. Often times, children with sensory processing difficulties don’t know where they are in time or space. This results in children seeking input through crashing into things, typically in an unsafe and uncontrollable manner. Heavy work activities can be utilized to give children the sense of grounding they are searching for and increase their body awareness. Think about how your arms feel after you’re carrying something really heavy. Even after you put the object down, you can still feel the weight; you’re more aware of the muscles in your arms. This results in a residual effect, where given the right amount proprioceptive input, can prevent sensory overload. This can keep a child calm and focused long after the activity is completed. Additionally, heavy work activities will decrease the need to chew in children who self-regulate through chewing on objects such as their shirts or sleeves. Lastly, heavy work releases Serotonin which is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter and is responsible for improving your mood while simultaneously regulating your sensory system.

Examples of Heavy Work activities:

  • Swimming;
  • Monkey bars;
  • Wall push ups;
  • Push ups;
  • Tug of war;
  • Chewing crunchy/chewy foods;
  • Jumping on a trampoline;
  • Jump rope;
  • Doing chores;
  • Wheelbarrow walking;
  • Crab walking

Tips & Tricks

  • Finding the “just right challenge”! The goal of the “just right challenge” is choose activities for your child that is neither too easy nor too hard. The purpose of these activities is to empower, motivate, and challenge your child.
  • Make the activity functional and enjoyable! It can be difficult to engage a child in an activity if it is simply carrying something heavy. Give your activity purpose! For example, have your child help out with the gardening by carrying items over to you.
  • Don’t use these activities as punishment! Although heavy work activities can be calming for some children, it is important to not have your child associate regulating activities with negative reinforcement. It’s not their fault that they do not know how to accurately regulate their bodies.
  • Have your child complete heavy work activities prior to remote learning! This will increase your child’s arousal and help their bodies stay regulated and organized while sitting still, even for long periods of time.
  • Heavy work activities affect everyone differently! It is imperative that an adult closely watches the child’s reaction to these types of activities. As always, consult your Occupational Therapist if you have any questions about what you observed!
  • HAVE FUN! (:

Want to know more?

Email us at hello@sascoriver.com with your question!

A Letter to Our Community

The Sasco River Center team wants you to know that we, too, are feeling the crushing weight of the tumultuous events of 2020. We have all been weathering the storm of the Coronavirus pandemic for nearly three months.  And now, with the tsunami of protests, both peaceful and violent, that are occurring in response at present to the death of George Floyd but ultimately to decades of aggressive acts against people of color, many of us are left questioning our own perspectives in the face of privilege and explaining race to our kids.

Parents and adults, you may be feeling a buckling of your stance. Trying to work from home while maintaining the roles of teacher, social captain, entertainer, and counselor for your family is overwhelming in the best of times. Doing so during a time of required social distancing is daunting even for the most organized among us! We all have been charged with being “older, wiser, and stronger”. We are expected to be role models and to captain our respective ships, but what if we are not feeling confident? What if we are actually feeling terrified? Oxygen is the through-line of all we have been exposed to this year; not being able to breathe, literally or metaphorically, makes it impossible to function or focus. The question persists: as parents, are we remembering to put on our own oxygen masks first?

Our children are facing challenges not seen in our own childhoods. Being forced into distance learning and forbidden to attend school and social activities has left even the most seemingly well-adjusted feeling isolated, depressed, anxious, and angry. And now, with any exposure to the news of the past week, anxiety levels are sure heightened.  We–and they–have had our respective emotional wells tapped, so to speak.

So now what do we do? How can we fight the good fight? How can we take on one more traumatizing event? It’s more important than ever to bring awareness about racial injustice to our children.  Research has shown that children develop more open-mindedness about others when issues like racism and privilege are openly discussed at home.  These are tough discussions to have, to be sure.  But especially now, there is a wealth of resources available to help us navigate these rough waters.

Below is a list of links we have gathered from varied sources. We hope you will find these resources helpful to help educate you and your children on current events.

Resources from the Connecticut Psychological Association

ADVOCATE

EDUCATE

Educate ourselves and be willing to re-examine our views and actions to become better allies and address racism. 

COMMUNICATE

Help our youth make sense of current events and educate children of all ages about racism.

CREATE

Develop and implement healing spaces for staff, students, and clients of color.

DONATE

Donate to organizations dedicated to racial equality and justice.

Sasco River Center is a comprehensive, collaborative environment that provides evaluations and testing, psychotherapy, psychiatry and treatment, occupational therapy and sensory processing, speech and language, learning support, parenting and family support as well as many more services. Please review our website to learn more https://www.sascoriver.com

Developed by Rebecca Strang (parent Coach) and Dr. Lindsay Blass (Psychologist)

Developing Social Skills While Social Distancing

Developing Social Skills While Social Distancing

Photo by cottonbro

If your child had been working steadily on social skills before schools closed, extracurriculars vanished, and playdates ground to a halt, you might be asking yourself, “Well, now what?” Many parents are citing frustration and concern about their children’s social development in an age where socializing is extremely limited. The good news is there are plenty of ways to fill the void and help your child continue to make progress…

Stay Connected

A helpful way to think about what we are doing as a society is not so much that we are “social distancing” but rather that we are “physical distancing.” There are still plenty of safe ways to engage with people outside of the home, and maintaining a strong network of support is helpful for everybody in the family.

  • You may already be on this train, but virtual play dates are all the rage! With free videochat options from FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom, kids can get together with one or more peers for some good old fashioned bonding time. There are plenty of web sites that offer fun activities kids can do within video chats (some include Caribu, Messenger Kids, and Jackbox Games), but you can also help your kids come up with fun games they can play with their peers without depending even further on technology. For example, they can have scavenger hunts (e.g., “Find something in your house you’ve had for over 5 years and tell the other person the story of how you got it!”). Other ideas include playing “I Spy”, putting on talent shows, and even writing stories together (each person takes turn writing one sentence!).
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood
  • A great way to help your children think about and stay connected to others is to write good old-fashioned handwritten letters to loved ones. You can encourage your kids to share stories about what they’ve been doing since they’ve been home and think about what messages they’d like to send to family and friends near and far.

Learn Through Play

Photo by cottonbro

There are plenty of games (that you may already have!) that actually require a lot of social thinking skills. So time to whip out the board games and plan a family game night!

  • Apples to Apples is a great game for four or more players where players are given a prompt and have to pick from a set of cards in their hand which one best matches the prompt. The tricky part is that the person who decides the winner is a “judge” that rotates every round. This game actually requires a lot of perspective-taking skills. Your child will have to think about who is judging each round and what they know about that person in order to predict how they will behave. For example, if mom has a great sense of humor, they should play a funny card. If dad is more serious, they might try to pick a more literal descriptor. To encourage these skills even further, have each “judge” explain why they picked the card they did, so that your child can learn how each player thinks differently!
  • Guess Who is another game that encourages good social skills. Your child will practice thinking objectively about the characters, using deductive reasoning to come up with helpful questions, taking turns, and tolerating frustration if they lose.
  • Charades or Celebrity are games you can play anywhere, anytime, that also build social skills! In order to be effective at these games, one must be able to communicate skillfully while observing the rules (e.g., in charades, you have to communicate only using your body, not your words). Your child needs to think about what they know about their partner that might help (for example, if the celebrity is January Jones, it really helps to know that dad’s birthday is in January!), and they need to be flexible if they pick a strategy that just isn’t working.

More Directed Activities

And if you’d like to go a little further, you can engage your child in some of the same social skills work that a therapist would! Following are a couple of activities you might try.

  • Read books together about different social situations. Ask your child questions about the characters, what they felt during different events in the story, how their actions affected other characters, etc. A favorite book that encourages prosocial thinking is Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller.
Photo by Gustavo Fring
  • Have practice conversations. Help your child learn to have a balanced conversation by sharing information about him or herself and also asking appropriate questions to learn more about the other person. A fun way to develop conversation skills is to play a game where the goal is to have as long a back and forth conversation as possible. Stack tokens or blocks every time someone makes an utterance that keeps the conversation going, and see how tall a tower you can make! If your child has trouble moving the conversation along, pause the game and help them think about a question they could ask or a comment they could make that would help the tower grow taller.

What About You?

Finally, the best way to help your children with their social skills is to examine your own. How do you make friends? Handle conflicts? React in awkward situations? What can your children learn from watching you?

Although opportunities to be physically near others are limited, opportunities for socializing are everywhere. So fear not – with a little creativity and an open mind, you can help your child keep up all the great work on their social skills!

Hello, 2020 Graduates

Congratulations, Graduates!

kid graduating college

Although we can’t commemorate or celebrate this milestone in the usual ways, this is an amazing achievement for you and your families, and you should be proud.  We wish you the best as they move forward into the next phase of their life.

Of course, even under normal circumstances, graduating from high school or college brings with it both excitement and challenges.  We are ready to help with either (or both).

Transitions Coaching

girl smiling while studying holding her phone

High School to College

For those graduating high school and preparing for college in the Fall, there is likely to be anxiety and frustration for both the graduate and their parents around what college life will look like.  At the moment, none of us can say whether college will be on campus or virtual.  Each option has its own set of challenges and rewards, but either way our coaches are trained to help prepare for, and settle in, to the reality of the circumstances.  Our Executive Functions Coaches can help provide support to foster independent learning:

  • Time management skills
  • Maintaining focus for extended periods
  • Initiating tasks
  • Breaking down larger assignments
  • Arranging ideas in writing
  • Planning ahead

College to Work

girl sitting in bed working on laptop

For those graduating college and now looking to enter the workforce, our Career Coaches can help supply the tools you need to search for the right opportunity. Here are some of the services available to you:

  • Creating a resume that will get you noticed!  We can help you pull together the skills and qualifications that define who you are and present it in a format that aligns with the position you seek and the difference you want to make.
  • Cover letters are as important as the resume – sometimes even more so because they are the first impression made by a candidate.  We can help you tailor the cover letter to the position being sought to ensure the recruiter wants to know more about you!
  • Interview skills are essential!  Knowing how to conduct oneself in a manner that makes a good first ‘in-person’ impression is key to the interview going well.  Being able to navigate through the interview, answering key questions in a way that is informative and impressive will leave the interviewer wanting more.  We’ll review key questions usually asked and help you create your ‘story’.
  • Thank you notes – an important ending to any interview.  We can help you include the appropriate language to let the interviewer know you were ‘present’ in the interview and are very interested in the opportunity.

Student Coaching

girl posing while holding her notebook

Beyond executive functions coaching, Sasco River Center also offers Student Coaching to continuing high school and college students.  A Student Coach can support high school and college students:

  • Identify who they are, who they want to be, and the skills they need for their journey.
  • Design an inspirational and collaborative exploration.
  • Transfer meaningful learning for their personal success
  • Recognize that personality and EQ (emotional quotient) is as important as academic or athletic capability
  • Enable students to take ownership and accountability of their choices and their opportunities.

Get In Touch

For more information about these services, or other coaching services available in our Transitions Department, email Tony Bilangino at tbilangino@sascoriver.com to set up a time to talk.