Evaluations at PAT: What to Expect

Attending an “evaluation” might sound intimidating. Not to worry! An evaluation at Pediatric Advanced Therapy (PAT) is a chance for our therapists to get to know your child better and assess their needs for potential therapy treatment. The therapist will complete observations and testing of your child through play-based activities, engaging your child in a way that is natural to them. Here’s more of what to expect during your first visit to PAT.

What to Expect: The Evaluation Process at Pediatric Advanced Therapy

  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment with your paperwork completed.
  • Our front office staff will discuss your insurance with you upon arrival if it has not already been discussed over the phone.
  • Your evaluating therapist will review your paperwork and come to greet you in the lobby.
  • Our staff will complete an initial evaluation for each potential therapy separately. If you have been recommended for or are interested in your child receiving multiple therapies, you will have multiple initial appointments (i.e. occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and/or counseling).

During the Evaluation

  • Parents are welcomed to come back into the treatment rooms during the evaluation to speak with the evaluating therapist .
  • Please share your concerns for your child, medical and developmental history as well as challenges that occur within your daily routine. It is helpful to know how they do in a variety of settings as well, not just at home with you, i.e. school, play dates, etc.
  • Please share any precautions or limitations your child may have with regard to physical movement, environmental or food allergies.
  • The evaluating therapist will complete structured and unstructured clinical observations of your child’s movement patterns, sensory processing and age
    appropriate skills.
  • The evaluating therapist will most often provide questionnaires for you to complete during your time and at this point may ask you to fill these out in the lobby while they complete additional standardized testing in a small room at a table (where appropriate Parents are always welcome to stay for the duration if they prefer and with younger
    children and infants. that is typical.
  • At the end of the evaluation, your therapist will share with you deficits that have been noted and decide whether or not your child requires skilled therapy
  • If therapy is required, it is best to discuss days and times with the office staff before you leave so that they can begin working to find you an appointment time.
  • Before you leave, you will receive educational handouts about what to expect from treatment as well as basic information regarding your child’s specific difficulties.
  • Your therapist will compile test scores and a written report with treatment goals.
  • You can expect a report to be mailed to you within 2 weeks or sometimes it will be given to you at your next appointment.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call (704-799-6824) and ask prior to your appointment, or you can ask the evaluating therapist or office staff upon arrival. If you have yet to schedule your child’s evaluation, please request an appointment.

We look forward to working with you and your child to help them reach their full potential!
The PAT Staff

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Fun Activities For Fall

Raise your hand if you love Fall?!

(We’re going to assume everyone reading this raised their hands).

Now that we’ve finally approached the season of orange, brown, and yellow leaves, pumpkin flavored everything, and cooler weather, we know that outdoor activities will be increasing.

Between visiting the pumpkin patch, going apple picking, sipping hot cocoa and making s’mores by a warm bonfire, it can all be a little overwhelming at times for children with sensory issues.

Today, we’ll be sharing some ways that you and your children can still enjoy Fall festivities!


+ Pumpkin Slime- Now this is something even adults can have fun playing with! Creating slime from the “guts” of a pumpkin is a great way for your child(ren) to experience new textures & smells.

You can view the recipe here.

+ Haunted Halloween Hand Melt-  Halloween may be over, but this fun experiment is great for teaching a little bit of Science, while having fun! Allowing your child to melt the “hands” that contain little trinkets and toys, will keep them captivated for awhile!

Learn to make these spooky icy hands here

+ Squishy Fall Sensory Bags- These bags are super easy & quick to make! All you need is some eco-friendly glitter, ziplock bags, hair gel, food coloring, pieces of Fall inspired confetti, and a little bit of nature (acorns, leaves, pinecones, cinnamon sticks).

Fill your bag ¾ of the way with the hair gel, then add in the glitter, food coloring, and your leaves & acorns, and shake shake shake!

You can view the full tutorial here.

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+ Hammering Gold Tees Into Pumpkins- This exercise is great for refining motor skills!
Here’s what you’ll need: A pumpkin, golf tees, a wooden or rubber mallet. Hand them the golf tees & the mallet and let them have fun!

According to this blog, she saw a real improvement in her children’s motor skills and noticed how engaged her boys were while doing this!

+ Sensory Play with Leaves- What’s a Fall season if you’re not playing with leaves? From creating beautiful window clings, to creating natural confetti from dried up leaves, to playing a leaf name game, this Fall season will be nothing short of fun for you and your child!

View games & crafts projects here.

Which of these activities sounds the most fun? What other things do you enjoy doing during Fall?

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How To Have A Sensory Friendly Halloween


With Halloween approaching and the excitement of costumes, candy, trick-or-treating, and “scary” movies, it can be a little overwhelming for children with sensory issues.

Halloween is a fun holiday, just like any other, and we want to share a few ways that you and your child can still have fun on the day of witches, ghosts, and pumpkins, without any extra stress or anxiety.


Tip #1 : Make sure your child will be comfortable in his or her costume prior to the big night.
Make sure the costume is loose & doesn’t contain fabrics that will make them itchy or scratchy. suggests having your child wearing their costume for a few weeks, so they can get used to the fabric or let you know if they aren’t comfortable, so adjustments can be made.

Tip #2 : Host a fun get together at home. If trick-or-treating may be too much, invite a few of your child’s friends over for a festive night in. Decorate pumpkins, read books, or watch a Halloween movie. You can even have your child “trick-or-treat” from room to room in your house.

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Tip #3 : Go pumpkin picking. Carving pumpkins and having your child play with & touch the insides, can be a great sensory activity! If that proves to be too much, paint or draw on the outside of the pumpkin instead.

Tip #4: Prepare your child for trick-or-treating with visual aids and books. According to this site, “ Social narratives, visuals, videos, and photos are all great tools to help prepare for trick-or-treating. Consider using a visual schedule for the evening events in a similar format that you use for other activities at home and at school.”

They also suggest visiting the neighborhood/houses ahead of time, so your child can get an idea of where they’ll be walking, and you can see if there are any sensory triggers along the way.

Talk with them about what they might expect, read them children’s books on trick-or-treating, and work with them on getting excited about Halloween.

Tip #5: Remember to have fun and take lots of pictures! These photos can be used as visual aids for next year, and are also great memories to add to your scrapbooks.
Halloween is fun, so if your child is too overwhelmed with trick-or-treating, cut the night short, and have a fun movie night in, instead! Make some popcorn, get comfy on the couch, and have a mini movie marathon.


More Helpful Links:

Sensory-Friendly Costume Tips

Sensory-Friendly Costume Ideas

13 Halloween Books For Children with Autism

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What’s the Right Way to Carry a Backpack

Backpacks! Most school-aged kids use them on a daily basis. The American Occupational Therapy Association suggests best backpack habits to avoid injury or issues from wearing a backpack. First, pack your child’s backpack right to avoid strain and pain, poor posture and weakened muscles.

Place the heaviest items closest to the back in the larger pockets to help with balance and make sure items are secure and won’t slide around.

  • Lighter items toward the front of the backpack
  • Sharp or pointy items away from the back

Make sure your their backpack weighs no more than 10% of their body weight. If your child weighs 50 pounds, their backpack should not weigh more than 5 pounds. Show your child how to put on their backpack by bending at the knees instead of the waist to pick it up. Once the backpack is on, use all straps available (both shoulder straps, chest straps, hip straps) to secure the pack. These help to balance the weight and keep the backpack securely against the back.

Reconsider these guidelines above if you notice any of the following issues:

  • Difficulty putting on or taking off the backpack
  • Complaining of pain from wearing the backpack
  • Tingling or numbness in limbs
  • Red strap marks where backpack is digging into shoulders
  • Change in posture from wearing the backpack

Source: American Occupational Therapy Association (July 2017). Backpack Day Handouts, Artwork and Video.

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Traveling with a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder

There are many things to consider when traveling with kids, let alone traveling with a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder. We are in the heat of summer and many of our PAT families are taking a break, heading to the beach or visiting relatives far away. Here are some tips from our clinic to help you make the most of your vacation.

Plan Ahead

  • Dietary Needs: Search the area ahead of time for appropriate restaurants. If you have a child with dietary restrictions or food texture issues, it’s nice to take the guesswork out of meal time. By the time everyone gets hungry, you won’t be Googling to find a restaurant that works for your whole family.
  • Accommodations: Most hotels have amenities like blackout shades to regulate light, but it’s always worth reading reviews to find a quiet space for your sensory kid. Don’t chance showing up at a hotel in the middle of renovations or choosing a room in the middle of a nightlife district.  
  • Create a Plan: Kids like plans, but especially kids with sensory processing struggles. Take some time before your trip to create a plan and share it with your child. This could mean simply talking about the trip and what to expect, or drawing/typing out a fun list with pictures for your child to follow along.
  • Engage in physical activity: Before you hop on a plane for several hours, get some energy out! Consider scheduling your travel time during nap time/quiet time so that everyone will be relaxed.

Travel in Comfort

  • Comfortable clothes: On top of being squished in a car seat or on a plane, set your kids up for ultimate comfort by dressing them in soft clothes with minimal zips, snaps or hardware.
  • Activities: Pack a variety of toys that your child is sure to enjoy. Having multiple activities is the key! When something becomes old, be ready to pull out a new activity to keep your kiddo occupied. Resistive items (i.e. stress balls) can give proprioceptive input while traveling and feeling confined.
  • Snacks: Bring protein-packed snacks that will keep bellies full and happy. Gum and/or lollipops (if your child is old enough) can be helpful for sensory stimulation as well. Gum is a resistive chewy snack and can be calming, organizing and help with any carsickness. Water bottles with straws are good to pack too. They are also very calming and organizing for when kids are starting to get tired of being confined in the car or plane.
  • Headphones: When all else fails, noise cancelling headphones can create a controlled environment for your child to listen to their favorite music or show wherever they are.
  • Pre-board: Take advantage of pre-boarding, available on many airlines to families traveling with children. Talk to the gate agent before boarding if you have any concerns.

Have Fun

  • Take Breaks to Play: Travel can involve a lot of sitting to get to the fun parts! Make sure you take opportunities to play and run when they arise.
  • Avoid overload: Too much fun might not be a good thing. Keep a pulse on how your kiddo is feeling. Skip that last roller coaster if you think it might mean meltdown.
  • Don’t get discouraged: Like we said before, traveling with kids in general is a medal-worthy sport in itself. Give yourself grace and take a deep breath if things get tough. Sure, there will always be those grumps on your plane, but the majority of people are very understanding and accommodating, so try not to stress!


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7 Ways To Have A Happy Eater


Having a picky eater can be inevitable. Some kids are just wired that way. However, getting off on the right foot with healthy eating habits can often curb those issues. Here are some ideas to try at home:


  1. During meal time, be sure to turn off the TV and limit distractions. Check for correct seating and posture, making sure your child’s feet touch the ground.

  2. Every meal should be well-rounded. include one protein source, one starch, one fruit/vegetable (even if the child is not going to eat it).

  3. Minimize talking about the child and their behavior during feeding and focus on the food during conversation, using positive language (no bribing, no yelling, and no questions). Remember it takes at least 15 exposures for a child to try a new food before they decide if they like it.

  4. Family meal time routines are important for modeling good eating and family meals should occur at least 5 days a week. An adult should sit down with the child for all meals. All foods are presented and served on the table “family style” to allow the child to see and smell foods in front of them.

  5. A trip to the grocery store is a great way for a child to touch, look, and smell new food items. Your child can help you fill the cart while you talk about the properties of the food including similarities.

  6. Playing with food and meal preparation are great ways for your child to interact with food. Allow them to stir, squash, smell, and pour the food into different containers to become comfortable with the food. In addition, making food craft snacks with your child will expose them to new foods too. These two websites have great ideas: and for making food crafts.

  7. When children prefer to only eat the same food prepared the same way every time, this can lead to what we call a food jag. It is best to remove all foods from original packaging before presenting the food to the child. Some children become fixated on package specific foods and if a marketing change occurs in the packaging this can impact their acceptance of the food item. Remember to be flexible with meals and allow supper for breakfast and vice versa to avoid eating the same foods at the same time every day.

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School Therapy vs. Clinical Therapy: Is One Better?

School is often the first place that a deficit can be identified. A child struggles with a task and their teacher might suggest in-school therapy. Therapy offered through the school is typically performed by a therapist employed by the school or by a contracted therapist from an outside clinic. These sessions assist kids working on occupations that help complete school-related tasks. An occupational therapist might help a child with handwriting for example. Or, a speech therapist may assist a child in better communicating so that they can effectively participate in class. School therapy is vital to helping a child adjust in their learning environment, but it can be further enhanced by additional clinical therapy.


Clinical therapy refers to therapy outside of the school setting. Here, circumstances allow for longer sessions that can increase progress even more. Also, aside from additional time, therapists in a clinical setting are able to go beyond school-related tasks and work with the child on a more holistic range of occupations that help in all aspects of life, not just at school. In the clinic setting, foundational issues can be addressed that may be impacting a child’s participation or skills in both the school or community environments. The clinic setting, with its equipment and activities, helps with sensory processing by increasing attention span in the classroom. Kids can get the chance to work on core strength, to be able to sit upright in their chairs for longer periods of time. During clinic therapy, therapists are able to get to the root of the problem. In the school setting, a child can be provided with strategies that can help short term until increased skills are developed.


So, to answer our initial question, is one type of therapy better than the other? You might be surprised that the answer is “no”! Both types of therapy are crucial to your child’s success and offer their own unique benefits. Participating both school and clinical therapy maximizes treatment time for your child and allows time to work on increasing function at home and at school. Both are essential to most effectively achieving outcomes.

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What Is The Difference Between PT and OT?

Many parents ask us, “what is the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy?” Some people think that pediatric physical therapy focuses on gross motor skills, while occupational therapy focuses on fine motor skills. This is not necessarily true. Although they are similar in many ways, pediatric physical therapy aims to treat the impairment or injury and help increase physical function. On the other hand, pediatric occupational therapy helps the child accomplish everyday tasks in light of their impairment. If we think about the word “occupational” or “occupation” we might think of a synonym, a job. Occupational therapy focuses on kids’ “jobs” or tasks like eating, bathing, dressing or grooming themselves. These jobs might be further complicated by a cognitive or developmental disability. Occupational therapy aims to help with navigating life despite these challenges.


The two can work in tandem as well. Pediatric physical therapy can help with muscle strength and flexibility that can greatly improve occupational capabilities. A child may be fitted with orthotics for toe walking (physical therapy) as a side effect of having cerebral palsy. Simultaneously, an occupational therapist could help the child complete daily tasks as a result of the limitation. Occupational therapy also includes treatment for sensory processing so that kids can complete daily activities. Helping kids that have aversions to certain foods, food textures, fabrics, types of clothing or sounds is part of occupational therapy.


If you are still not sure what type of therapy your child might need, please contact us to make an appointment for an initial evaluation at 704-799-6824. Pediatric Advanced Therapy is one of the premeir occupational and pediatric physical therapy facilities in the Charlotte area.


Pediatric Advanced Therapy

2520 Whitehall Park Drive Suite 350 Charlotte, NC 28273

134 Infield Court Mooresville, NC 28117

129 Woodson Street Salisbury, NC 28144




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What Should I Do If My Child Is Toe Walking?

Toe walking, like the name suggests, is the phenomenon of walking on the toes or balls of the feet. Toe walking is common in early walkers, and can sometimes last until your child is a toddler or older. Toe walking can be common in children with Cerebral Palsy or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Along with these connections to neuromuscular or musculoskeletal conditions, toe walking may also be present in children with developmental disorders like Autism. However, being a toe walker does not always lead to another diagnosis. Regardless of the cause of toe walking, the issue can be helped with physical therapy.  


Other than noticing your child walking on their toes or the balls of their feet, toe walking my cause your child to frequently fall or stumble. They might also communicate having pain in their leg or foot. Results of toe walking can cause increased foot pain in adulthood, hip and knee issues and balance difficulties. Toe walking can be easily prevented or treated through physical therapy.


Your therapist may use techniques to stretch and strengthen the muscles including:

  1. Taping the area to guide correct positioning
  2. Orthotic intervention or shoe modifications
  3. Night splinting
  4. Manual manipulation and therapy


Early intervention using these techniques will help and will likely decrease the need for later invasive procedures or surgery.


To schedule an appointment to see if pediatric physical therapy could help your child, please call as at 704-799-6824.


Pediatric Advanced Therapy

2520 Whitehall Park Drive Suite 350 Charlotte, NC 28273

134 Infield Court Mooresville, NC 28117

129 Woodson Street Salisbury, NC 28144




Idiopathic Toe Walking – Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

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What Is Infant Feeding Therapy?

What is infant feeding therapy? It may seem obvious, but you may not have realized that it can be helped through speech therapy services.

At Pediatric Advanced Therapy, our Director of Speech Therapy, Joslin Davis, is highly qualified to treat a variety of infant feeding problems. If your child is exhibiting any of the following behaviors, it could be worth a visit with your doctor to talk about a referral for:

  • Failure to progress with any feeding skills
    • Sucking – bottle feeding, nursing
    • Spoon-feeding
    • Chewing
    • Biting
    • Drinking from an open cup
    • Drinking from a straw/sippy cup
  • Excessive fatigue during a bottle feeding/nursing (may appear as falling asleep or jaw/lip/tongue tremor)
  • Exceptionally long time to complete a feeding- greater than 20 minutes
  • Exceptionally fast bottle feedings/nursing or frequent feedings (for example: feeds less than every 2 hours)
  • Caregiver experiences increased anxiety or distress when feeding infant
  • Pain when nursing due to poor suck
  • Weight loss
  • Poor weight gain/failure to thrive
  • Disinterest in feeding
  • Refusing or avoiding certain food textures
  • Swallowing solid food whole
  • Pocketing food in cheeks
  • Loss of food or liquid from lips while eating/drinking
  • Signs of discomfort while feeding
  • Coughing/choking during or after eating/drinking
  • Gagging/vomiting during or after eating/drinking
  • Tongue tie/lip tie

About the Speech Therapy Director: Joslin Davis is ASHA certified and has feeding experience with all ages, including newborns and infants. She has attended feeding courses and has received training in the following treatment techniques: medical and behavioral feeding (e.g. CAN-EAT), sensory based feeding (e.g. food chaining, SOS), complex feeding disorders, and oral motor feeding approaches (e.g. Beckman, TalkTools, Oral Placement Therapy, Oral Placement Therapy for Down Syndrome). She has also received training in myofascial release and identification of tongue tie/lip tie. She has collaborated with physical therapy to help infant feeding patients with torticollis, plagiocephaly or other neurological deficits.

Three Locations:

  • 134 Infield Court Mooresville, NC
  • 129 Woodson Street Salisbury, NC
  • COMING MAY 2017: 2520 Whitehall Park Drive Suite 350 Charlotte, NC 28273

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