Specialists' Page

2017-18 Update Info coming soon!

Hello families,
We are going to try something new this year and post together on one page. We have made a goal for ourselves of posting monthly and really taking advantage of this mode of communication. Please make a habit of checking the page often for helpful resources and handouts! We welcome your feedback as we streamline our use of the website. See below for our first post about some free opportunities for your family.
Mo (Early Childhood Special Educator - ECSE),
Leslie (Speech Language Pathologist - SLP),
Emily (Occupational Therapist - OT)

April announcement: **Need summer activities to help you child stay occupied and engaged?! Plan to attend the April 29th parent training. Mo will be helping you create a number of work drawers and activities for your child!


In Lisa Murphy on Play: The Foundation of Children's Learning, Murphy makes this observation:

"Howard Gardner tells us that at any given moment or any given day we could be facilitating an experience that makes a lifelong impact. He calls this a 'crystallizing moment.' And as teachers [and parents], we never know when one might occur. Could be Monday, Friday, the rainy day, the day we are in a good mood, the day we are in a bad mood. We cannot plan or schedule, buy or coordinate a crystallizing moment. There isn't a signal, a bell, or a loud trumpet indicating what has happened.... Ideally, crystallizing moments occur when we are at our best. Unfortunately, for some, it's when an adult was at her worst. Crystallizing moments can be happy memories or sad ones. This is only one of the reasons why we MUST be fully present when we are with children and must never, never, ever, ever underestimate the power of what we do."

Crossing Midline
    Being able to cross the midline (an imaginary line down
    the center of the body) is an important developmental
    skill.  It is needed for reading and writing, for being
    able to reach toward your foot to put on a shoe and sock
    with both hands, for participating in many sports and many other day 
    to day activities.  Children who have difficulty reaching across their 
    middle may actually get stuck in mid-reach and have to switch hands.  
    Or they may compensate by turning their trunk to reach toward the 
    opposite side.  Poor midline crossing also makes it difficult to visually 
    track a moving object from one side to the other or to fully track 
    from left to right when reading. 

    Activities to promote midline crossing 
  • Use a tennis/badminton racket to his a balloon back & forth, alternating hands
  • Scoop sand or dirt into a bucket, holding bucket with opposite hand & reaching across body
  • Push toy trucks/cars along a path made with tape that is very windy
  • Sit 'n Spins
  • Body awareness games including Simon Says, Hokey Poke, Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

Below is a link to sensory friendly events throughout the Denver area. They include movies, story time at the library, pizza nights & more!

Parent Training on Sensory Processing Disorder, given by Emily Mines, OT. Here is a link to the powerpoint https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1_VpahtU6LoAVvrmUsasvdZE19bw2QrQ3Oj1842m7nwA/edit?usp=sharing


For our gluten-free families:

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Men


Here you go: the essential holiday cookies. The wonderful aroma that fills your kitchen while gingerbread men are baking is reason enough to make them. Our gluten-free recipe also can be made with egg replacement; see instructions below.


½ cup butter or dairy-free alternative, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
1 large egg
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
½ cup potato starch (not potato flour)
½ cup arrowroot powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt


1. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium to
high speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg and beat until thoroughly

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, sorghum flour, potato
starch, arrowroot powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.

3. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture to form a dough.

4. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper into 1/8- to ¼-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut dough into gingerbread men. Pick up cookies with a metal spatula and transfer them to prepared baking sheet. If cut-outs are too sticky or soft to transfer, chill them for 5 minutes and try again. Gather scraps together and continue cutting cookies until all dough is used.

7. Place cookies in preheated oven and bake 7 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute before removing.

8. Decorate with White Icing (below) and gluten-free sprinkles, if desired.

Each cookie contains 94 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 13mg cholesterol, 89mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g sugars, 1g
protein, 10Est GL.


For Egg-Free Gingerbread Men, omit 1 egg. Mix 1 tablespoon flax meal with 2 tablespoons hot water. Add to recipe in step 1 to replace 1 egg.

Recipe by food blogger Cara Reed (forkandbeans.com), author of Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking (Page Street Publishing).


Twelve Tips for Helping People with Autism and Their Families Have a Happy Holiday (from Autism Services Foundation)

While many happily anticipate the coming holiday season, families of people on the autism spectrum also understand the special challenges that may occur when schedules are disrupted and routines broken. Our hope is that by following these few helpful tips, families may lessen the stress of the holiday season and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. The following tips were developed with input from the Autism Society, the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, Easter Seals Crossroads, the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at Logan and the Indiana Autism Leadership Network..

1. Preparation is crucial for many individuals. At the same time, it is important to determine how much preparation a specific person may need. For example, if your son or daughter has a tendency to become anxious when anticipating an event that is to occur in the future, you may want to adjust how many days in advance you prepare him or her. Preparation can occur in various ways by using a calendar and marking the dates of various holiday events, or by creating a social story that highlights what will happen at a given event.

2. Decorations around the house may be disruptive for some. It may be helpful to revisit pictures from previous holidays that show decorations in the house. If such a photo book does not exist, use this holiday season to create one. For some it may also be helpful to take them shopping with you for holiday decorations so that they are engaged in the process. Or involve them in the process of decorating the house. And once holiday decorations have been put up, you may need to create rules about those that can and cannot be touched. Be direct, specific and consistent.

3. If a person with autism has difficulty with change, you may want to gradually decorate the house. For example, on the first day, put up the Christmas tree, then on the next day, decorate the tree and so on. And again, engage them as much as possible in this process. It may be helpful to develop a visual schedule or calendar that shows what will be done on each day.

4. If a person with autism begins to obsess about a particular gift or item they want, it may be helpful to be specific and direct about the number of times they can mention the gift. One suggestion is to give them five chips. They are allowed to exchange one chip for five minutes of talking about the desired gift. Also, if you have no intention of purchasing a specific item, it serves no purpose to tell them that maybe they will get the gift. This will only lead to problems in the future. Always choose to be direct and specific about your intentions.

5. Teach them how to leave a situation and/or how to access support when an event becomes overwhelming. For example, if you are having visitors, have a space set aside for the child as his/her safe/calm space. The individual should be taught ahead of time that they should go to their space when feeling overwhelmed. This self-management tool will serve the individual into adulthood. For those who are not at that level of self-management, develop a signal or cue for them to show when they are getting anxious, and prompt them to use the space. For individuals with more significant challenges, practice using this space in a calm manner at various times prior to your guests’ arrival. Take them into the room and engage them in calming activities (e.g., play soft music, rub his/her back, turn down the lights, etc.). Then when you notice the individual becoming anxious, calmly remove him/her from the anxiety-provoking setting immediately and take him/her into the calming environment.

6. If you are traveling for the holidays, make sure you have their favorite foods or items available. Having familiar items readily available can help to calm stressful situations. Also, prepare them via social stories or other communication systems for any unexpected delays in travel. If you are flying for the first time, it may be helpful to bring the individual to the airport in advance and help him/her to become accustomed to airports and planes. Use social stories and pictures to rehearse what will happen when boarding and flying.

7. Know your loved one with autism and how much noise and activity they can tolerate. If you detect that a situation may be becoming overwhelming, help them find a quiet area in which to regroup. And there may be some situations that you simply avoid (e.g., crowded shopping malls the day after Thanksgiving).

8. Prepare a photo album in advance of the relatives and other guests who will be visiting during the holidays. Allow the person with autism access to these photos at all times and also go through the photo album with him/her while talking briefly about each family member.

9. Practice opening gifts, taking turns and waiting for others, and giving gifts.Role play scenarios with your child in preparation for him/her getting a gift they do not want. Talk through this process to avoid embarrassing moments with family members. You might also choose to practice certain religious rituals. Work with a speech language pathologist to construct pages of vocabulary or topic boards that relate to the holidays and family traditions.

10. Prepare family members for strategies to use to minimize anxiety or behavioral incidents, and to enhance participation. Help them to understand if the person with autism prefers to be hugged or not, needs calm discussions or provide other suggestions that will facilitate a smoother holiday season.

11. If the person with autism is on special diet, make sure there is food available that he/she can eat. And even if they are not on a special diet, be cautious of the amount of sugar consumed. And try to maintain a sleep and meal routine.

12. Above all, know your loved one with autism. Know how much noise and other sensory input they can take. Know their level of anxiety and the amount of preparation it may take. Know their fears and those things that will make the season more enjoyable for them.


The topic of our parent training next week (11/6/15) will be regulation. Mo and Leslie will present Autism in the Preschool Classroom: Cognitive/Language Strategies for Supporting Emotional Regulation. In preparation for that presentation, we have created a parent handout outlining the strategies that might be most useful to you at home. You will find the handout linked at the bottom of this page. Take a look!


The annual conference of the Autism Society of America was held in Denver this year on July 9th, 10th, and 11th. Some highlights from that conference:

Autism Society Conference

2015 Highlights

Thursday, July 9th

Keynote Speaker

Michelle Garcia Winner – Founder of Social Thinking (www.socialthinking.com)

*Spoke on the topic of media and technology use by children with ASD

·         ASD – needs face-to-face interactions because there is difficulty interpreting social cues

·         Kids all over the world are on screens 6 hours/day

·         Kids are having a harder time staying engaged in groups and working in groups

·         School districts jumping on technology bandwagon – teachers actually being asked to step aside and let technology do the work

·         Sees many young adults in her practice that have fun in video games, but are so lonely in life

·         Screens are taking time away from relationship building

·         Concern about social skills of all children – they learn how other people work together by watching – if they’re watching a screen, they are missing all that vital information

·         We all feel best when we actually have someone in the room with us who cares about us

·         There is nothing more important that face-to-face contact

·         We must be cautious and keep technology in its place, as a secondary tool!


Sesame Street

·         Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children

·         Initiative being launched September 30th targeting children 2-5

·         Via free app: See Amazing

·         More info: sesameworkshop.org/autism

New FilmJust Like You: Autism

Friday, July 10

Keynote Speakers

Margaret Bauman, M.D. – Associate Professor of Anatomy and Laboratory Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine

·         ASD is heterogeneous disorder. Involves multiple regions of the brain, multiple causes, multiple organ systems

·         DSM V – everyone confused and people being left out of treatment who need it

·         Years of scientific research were based on DSM IV categories of diagnosis

·         Some research showing that repetitive behaviors may sometimes be due to co-morbid medical issues, not as a symptom of the autism itself (e.g. head banging and colitis)

·         American Academy of Pediatrics – better screening for ASD. First screen at 18 mos, repeat at 24 mos. Insurance only paying pediatricians for 15 minute visit

·         Some disruptive behaviors could be due to medical concerns associated with autism: seizures, sleep disturbances, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, genitourinary, hormonal imbalance/endocrine dysfunction, metabolic disorders

·         Any changes in behavior or prolonged episodes warrant a medical look

·         Problem: lack of doctors for adults on the spectrum – need to do better training

Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., OTR – Founder and Clinical Director STAR Center in Lone Tree, CO

·         Denver Arts Community met – Denver now “Sensory Friendly Arts Community”

·         Makes statement that 100% of people on spectrum that she has seen have sensory issues (studies say 40-100%)

·         Adults w/ASD state that processing sensory information is their #1 area of difficulty

·         Need to be able to process sensory info for: self-regulation, social participation, self-esteem, joy in life

·         STAR Center has lots of free talks/resources, free use of playground, mentorships and online courses for professionals, welcome visitors


FREE opportunities at the world-renowned STAR Center (Sensory Therapies and Research Center) in Greenwood Village:
  • Lunch with Lucy June 4th – August 27th (3 more left!)

    At STAR Center
    Thursdays 12pm – 1pm 
    FREE – Bring a sack lunch.

    This is a unique opportunity to meet STAR Center’s clinical director and other parents while asking your questions about SPD.

    Dr. Lucy Jane Miller is the best-known SPD researcher in the world, the founder of STAR Center, creator of the STAR Treatment Method™, international speaker, and author of Sensational Kids and No Longer A SECRET.

    *Important Note: On August 13 and 27 other STAR Center clinical team members will be facilitating Lunch With Lucy and Dr. Lucy Miller will not be present.

    All parents welcome!

    Call to register: 303.221.STAR


  • Open Playground Open playground times

    WHEN: 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Thursdays through the end of October

    The STAR Center is opening our privately-fenced, 13,000-square-foot playground for the community-at-large to use free of charge

    The World’s Best Sensory playground offers children a chance to play, learn and socialize in a unique setting that is safe and fun. While we use the playground to help kids with sensory processing challenges, it offers unique equipment that all children enjoy including a large sandbox, slides and climbing opportunities.

    Location: 5420 S. Quebec St. #103
    Greenwood Village, CO 80111

    Children must be accompanied by an adult and sign a waiver of liability form.

  • More info: spdstar.org 
  • *spd = sensory processing disorder
Leslie Blome,
Oct 22, 2014, 12:01 PM
Leslie Blome,
Oct 22, 2014, 12:02 PM
Leslie Blome,
Nov 8, 2015, 7:46 AM