Play for Real limited opening on Tuesday and open as usual from Wednesday

Play for Real limited opening on Tuesday and open as usual from Wednesday

We hope you all weathered the storm safely and with minimal damage! Play for Real Therapy Services will be open with a limited staff on Tuesday, September 12 and may offer some sessions in the afternoon as clients and staff are available. We will be open as usual from Wednesday September 13. Once again we hope you all fared well and look forward to seeing you all again as things get back to normal.

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma

Play for Real Therapy Services will be closed Monday and Tuesday, September 11 and 12 while the storm passes over us. We tentatively plan to reopen on Wednesday September 13, assuming that we have electricity and there is no major damage to the clinic. If you have an appointment on Wednesday or Thursday and we have not contacted you, please call ahead to check we are open. We will try to keep you updated via the website and our voicemail.

We wish you all the best and please, stay safe!

Backpack Safety

Backpack safety

Backpack Safety

Schools will soon be back in session and children wearing backpacks to and from school will be a familiar sight once more. But did you know that heavy backpacks can cause long-term health problems if worn incorrectly? Here are some backpack safety tips to help your child.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is so concerned about this problem that they created National School Backpack Awareness Day to help children Live Life To Its Fullest by avoiding the pain and injury that can come from heavy backpacks and bags. They recently released these backpack buying tips and urge parents and caregivers to consider the following when selecting a backpack this school year:

Backpack Shopping Tips

  • Appropriate size. Make sure the height of the backpack extends from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist.
  • Shoulders. Backpacks should have well-padded shoulder straps that can be worn on both shoulders so when packed with books, the weight can be evenly balanced by the student.
  • Hip belt. Backpacks with a hip or chest belt take some strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles and improve the student’s balance.
  • Fit. Just as your child will try on clothes and shoes when back-to-school shopping, experts say it is important to try on backpacks, too. “The right fit should be your top criteria when selecting your child’s backpack,” says Karen Jacobs, EdD, OTR/L, CPE, clinical professor of occupational therapy at Boston University, and an expert on school ergonomics and healthy growth and development of school-age children. “If you order online, be sure that the seller has a return policy just in case the backpack is not quite the best fit for your child and needs to be exchanged.”

AOTA also recommends that, when school is back in session, check that your child’s backpack weighs no more than 10% of his or her body weight. If it weighs more, determine what supplies can stay at home or at school each day to lessen the load. If the backpack is still too heavy for the child, consider a book bag on wheels.

Here is a link to AOTA’s tips for backpack safety: 1, 2, 3’s of Basic Backpack Wearing,


Play for Real Owners attend Research Mentorship at the Star Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder

Play for Real Owners attend Research Mentorship at the Star Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in Denver

Picture of Lyn, Dr. Lucy Miller, Dr. Sarah Schoen and Peter at the Star Center for SPD in Denver

Lyn, Dr. Lucy Miller, Dr. Sarah Schoen and Peter at the Star Center for SPD in Denver

At the beginning of this month, it was our pleasure to spend a few days doing a research mentorship at the Star Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder in Denver. We were a small group, with ten other occupational therapists (OTs) who also shared an interest in research. The focus was on single subject research design with input from Lucy Miller, Sarah Schoen and Dr. Stephen Camarata (not pictured) from Vanderbilt University.  It was a packed itinerary and the energy was high, with a lot of stimulating discussion with our colleagues. We all learned a lot and came away with a commitment to complete a study on an aspect of sensory processing disorder over the next year.  We are happy that Lucy will be providing direct support as we plan, implement and complete our study. Lucy Miller’s goal is to get enough studies to be able to put together a book and perhaps include a chapter with studies involving DIRFloortime.

The Star Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder

Dr. Lucy Miller is a world-renowned occupational therapist and specialist on sensory processing disorder. She has written many books, including  Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder.  The Star Institute attracts clients from all over the world and, in their entrance lobby, they have a map of the world with many, many pushpins indicating all the places that their visitors have come from. While we were there, Lucy gave us a personal tour of the incredible research and treatment center. There are many specialized treatment areas including several sensory gyms, feeding therapy rooms and a treatment area specifically for older children and adults. Last but not least, they have an amazing sensory-based playground and garden. As clinic owners with dreams of our own, we were truly inspired!

Pediatric OT and SLP positions at Play for Real Therapy Services!

Picture of a client in a bodysock at the Play for Real clinic

Pediatric OT and SLP positions at Play for Real Therapy Services!

Play for Real is pleased to announce that we are expanding our services this year. As a result, we will have pediatric OT and SLP positions opening up as we grow. Initially these positions will be part-time and PRN, but full time positions may be available in the future. Although our focus is currently on OT and Speech services, we hope to include other disciplines at a later date.

Play for Real Therapy Services offers quality occupational therapy and speech-language therapy using a family centered and evidence-based approach. Our treatment models include DIRFloortime, sensory integration, the SOS (sequential-oral-sensory) approach to feeding, integrated listening (iLs) and pediatric massage.

If you are interested in joining out team, then please contact us using the form or phone number on the Contact Us page of the website. We look forward to discussing what you are looking for and finding out if we would be a good fit for each other.

Happy New Year

HapHappy New Yearpy New Year

All of us at Play for Real Therapy Services would like to wish you a very Happy New Year. We hope it will be healthy, hopeful and especially playful!

We have many exciting plans for growth in this coming year as we continue to expand our services and look forward to keeping you up to date with developments as they unfold.


AOTA Toy Shopping Tips

Picture for AOTA Toy Shopping TipsTips for Toy Shopping from AOTA

The season of giving is here and toy shopping is at the top of the list for most parents, grandparents and other relatives. Here at Play for Real we love using play to help children grow and develop. Children learn best when they are actively engaged and having fun, and the choice of toys can directly affect their play and learning experience. Choosing what to buy is not always easy and AOTA (the American Occupational Therapy Association) offers a checklist to help pick appropriate toys for play. It is easy to be enticed  by fancy packaging, the latest fads and advertising, especially when you are in a hurry to get your holiday shopping done. Occupational therapy practitioners are experts in play as it relates to development and using the AOTA toy shopping tips can help you find toys that are fun and engaging while also supporting a child’s development.


Some questions from the AOTA Toy Shopping Tips:

  1. Is the toy safe and age appropriate? If the suggested age range is too young for the child, he or she may get bored quickly. If the range is too old, the child may get frustrated and give up, or be exposed to small parts that could pose a safety risk. Be mindful of your own child’s development in terms of his or her strengths, interests, and abilities.
  2. Can the toy be played with in more than one way? Toys that offer unlimited possibilities can tap into the child’s creativity. Blocks can be stacked, knocked down, lined up, crashed into, and even substituted for play food in a pretend kitchen.
  3. Does the toy appeal to several senses? Children’s attention is captured by exciting colors, sounds, lights, and textures. Toys that encourage them to push buttons, move parts, open doors, or sort shapes will often lengthen play time.
  4. Can the toy be used in more than one place or position? Toys that are easy to carry or can be used while sitting, standing, or even lying down make play possible anywhere. Crayons, markers, sidewalk chalk, a baby gym, and plastic rings can be used in a variety of locations.
  5. Does the toy involve the use of both hands? Moving parts, buttons, and gears encourage activity and movement. Construction toys, craft kits, puzzles, balls, riding toys, and toss-and-catch sets all promote motor skill development at different ages.
  6. Does the toy encourage thinking or solving problems? Board games and science kits offer older kids the chance to use thinking skills in a new way, while shape sorters, puzzles, or a Jack-in-the box are great for babies and toddlers.
  7. Does the toy encourage communication and interaction? Dress-up clothes, costumes, playhouses, kitchen sets, and tools can all be used with more than one child to teach cooperation and negotiation and foster imagination.
  8. Is the toy worth the cost? Consider the appeal, durability and cost of the toy. Will the toy engage the child in a way that he/she is an active participant, rather than a passive observer? Can the family engage in play together?

You can download the full guide by clicking on this link: AOTA – How To Pick A Toy. We hope you find the AOTA Toy Shopping Tips helpful for selecting toys that will help the children in your life to learn and develop while having fun, allowing you all to Play for Real!

Welcome Lisa Timrick, COTA/L, pediatric occupational therapy assistant

Lisa Timrick, COTA/L, pediatric occupational therapy assistantPlay for Real Therapy welcomes Lisa Timrick, COTA/L, pediatric occupational therapy assistant to our team!

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Lisa Timrick, COTA/L, pediatric occupational therapy assistant to our team! Lisa is very excited to be joining us at Play for Real Therapy Services. In 2006, she began working with children as an orthopedic technologist at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Chicago. During this time, she developed a passion for assisting children with a variety of disabilities. This experience inspired her to become an occupational therapy assistant.

Wanting to deepen her relationships with children and families, Lisa recently completed course work to become a Basic DIRFLoortime Practitioner. In turn, this led her to become part of our team at Play for Real Therapy Services.

During her time at Shriners, Lisa enjoyed working closely with other professionals in a multidisciplinary team. This approach is something she continues to value. While training as an occupational therapy assistant, she was fortunate to work at Mt. Sinai and Stogers hospitals in Chicago. Here Lisa developed her pediatric experience in neonatal care and outpatient therapy. After graduating, Cum Laude, in 2010, she gained experience in a pediatric unit specializing in trauma. At this time, Lisa also developed an interest in using play to work on pre-handwriting skills in children.

2014 brought Lisa on an amazing journey to Florida where she initially worked with medically fragile children and their families. Through this experience, she discovered the effects of nurturing touch and its benefits to both the child and parents. Consequently, Lisa went on to become certified as a pediatric massage therapist.

In her free time, Lisa spends time cooking and creating new dishes for her family and friends. She enjoys researching and learning about Florida’s reptiles and spiders of all kinds. Lisa’s other interests include travel, swimming, reading, yoga and watching football.