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Motivating desired behavior in your child may not be a cinch, but having a method is the first place to begin. You can motivate your child with consistent structure and personalized, age-appropriate motivation that is tailored to their needs. Whether it’s homework, chores, or daily self-care, children may get distracted, discouraged, or refuse to finish tasks without a system to assist them. 

BCBA, Xylene Contaoi, of Xcite Steps, outlines three tried and true systems for motivation:


Visual Schedule

A visual schedule shows a child what their day will consist of, when to expect which tasks, and what the expectations are. Without knowing what to expect, kids can lose focus or get discouraged. Tailor the schedule to their age and ability: for older kids or adolescents, the schedule can be a simple list with times (or they can create their own!). For youngers and/or children who cannot read, create a board with pictures that represents each task. Post the schedule within the child’s view in their workspace. 

Check out visual schedule examples here


Sensory Breaks

Getting enough sensory breaks is crucial for kids! Consistently leaving one’s space and getting some exercise can avoid meltdowns and/or task refusal. Let your child decide what type of break they would like to work for: dancing, hugs and squeezes, bouncing on a medicine ball, or even running/walking laps around the house or block. The most important thing is that your child finds it motivating. 

Setting boundaries for breaks may be necessary if your child struggles with transitions, or bringing their energy back to “work time”. Establish boundaries before beginning (e.g. five laps, two songs, no throwing or screaming indoors, etc.). Setting a visual timer is a good way to help children keep time limits in mind.  

Need some ideas? Here are 100 sensory break options for kids. 


Token Boards

Some children work fine with a visual schedule. Others may need extra motivation, such as a token board, to complete their tasks. Token boards work by showing a child what they need to earn in order to receive a reward or a break. A token board consists of tokens a child earns for completing tasks or giving responses. 

For younger kiddos who need a lot of reinforcement, a five-token board is a good place to start. When to give a token is up to the discretion of the facilitator, depending on the child’s abilities. Tokens can be given more liberally on days they need extra motivation, or more sparingly on days when a child works more independently. 

Tailor the board to the child’s interests! It can be as simple or fancy as a child likes, but created in such a way that has a positive association for the child. Read more about implementing token boards here. And, check out these pre-made token boards

These motivation systems are as dynamic as the children they serve. They can and should be created and modified according to the child’s needs. The possibilities are endless!

If you’re still not seeing the results you want, reach out for help. San Diego’s Xcite Steps Behavior and Therapy Center specializes in ABA and family therapy. Xcite’s BCBAs are trained professionals passionate about giving your child the program that works best for them. 

Watch Xylene’s full interview here.



When we experience environmental stress, it is important for us to regulate the amount of arousal we experience to match the environment. This process involves sensory regulation strategies. In this blog, we want to show you how you can use these strategies to help your child. 

While adults may be generally well-adjusted in regulating their arousal to fit their desire, children cannot always do this with ease. They may not know what is causing them stress, or be able to tell us about it. Sensory dysregulation in a child can manifest as hyperactivity, lack of focus, irritability, difficulty sleeping, or acting out. These non-preferred behaviors are stressful for parents, but they may be a sign of something beyond “kids being kids”. They may be a sign of some type of sensory dysregulation. Dr. Kevin Johnson, a pediatric and family chiropractor of the Center for Human Potential, enlightens causes of dysregulation and what parents can do about it. 


The top of the spine controls the autonomic nervous system. Dysregulation can be caused by misalignment of vertebrae at top of neck, causing an interference with the nervous system. This interference, called a subluxation, is caused by stress, whether it’s physical, chemical, or mental. 

Once a subluxation occurs, the body lives in a constant state of stress response. A prolonged state of stress response is taxing on the body, and can lead to long-term problems. Proper alignment of the spine removes the interference, allowing for free flowing sensory regulation. Getting an adjustment to the upper neck can return our body to its natural resting, healing state it can function in long-term. Some children display a decrease in hyperactivity and greater ability to focus after a vertebral alignment. 

Sensory overload

Sensory dysregulation can lead to overstimulation and eventually overwhelm. Prolonged overstimulation is stressful even for adults, whereas it can be especially troubling for children who do not know how to communicate their needs or advocate for themselves. 

Overstimulation leads to many problematic behaviors and conditions: anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping or focusing, hypersensitivity to the neck and head, and/or hypersensitivity to noise. Have you noticed any of these issues in your child.


If you’re a parent, it’s important to keep in mind realistic expectations for your child. Between school and the therapies they need, some children have maxed out schedules. The busier your child is, the more important predictability is: create a visual schedule for your child so they know what to expect out of their day. Reduce physical strain on the eyes by breaking up reading into short periods, and limiting blue light exposure, particularly after zoom calls and before bed. 

Sensory overload is even more imminent during distance learning. Maintaining calm and well-being takes a parent’s intuition of what their child is capable of given the expectations placed on them. 

Watch Dr. Kevin’s full video interview here!

For more information about Dr. Kevin’s work, please visit The Center for Health and Human Potential.



Tactile sensory input is a key factor in helping children concentrate. Some children find it difficult to sit still or focus without additional sensory input. When they are not getting enough stimulation, they often resort to finding their own stimulation. This might look like: bouncing in their seat, leaving their task unfinished, or acting out.

The sensory bags below are meant to provide the tactile stimulation a child needs to simultaneously harness their focus on another task. Triton’s Occupational Therapist, Sonia Rubillo MSOT, OTR/L explains, “Allowing students to use non-distracting sensory items during instruction can help improve self-regulation skills and attention to task. The squishy feeling of the bag may provide the child with increased tactile input to better orient himself to the environment.”

These colorful bags are not only a practical tool, but they require your child to use their executive functioning to assemble. Your child can practice following the directions and measuring the ingredients, as well as have a beautiful craft to enjoy this season and beyond.

Pin on Fall Crafts and Activities


  • 1 quart-sized zipper bag
  • 3-5 leaves varied in color
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Watercolors or dye (your choice)
  • Glitter
  • Tape


  1. Measure out ½ cup of vegetable oil and pour into the bag. 
  2. Meanwhile, add 2-3 teaspoons of water to a small bowl and mix with a few drops of watercolor or dye. 
  3. Slowly pour the water mixture into the bag.
  4. Add the leaves and glitter to the bag. 
  5. Gently seal the bag, making sure there is no air left inside. 
  6. Fold the top of the bag over and seal with clear tape to ensure it doesn’t leak.

Your child can keep this bag with him or her when doing a non-preferred activity, such as homework, or even take it to school. Keeping tools like this on hand can be just as important for your child’s productivity as other essential materials they use every day.

To watch the video demonstration, click here.

To learn more about sensory stimulation from OT, Sonia Rubillo, click here.


Handwriting is one of the “occupations”  an occupational therapist works on with children of all ages. Handwriting continues to be a large part of a child’s school day, even with the changes in technology. Children are asked to write in journals, complete writing assignments, and participate in art projects that involve writing descriptions. They use handwriting to communicate (in writing) to their friends, parents, and teachers. Test taking often requires legible handwriting, as well.  

Many children struggle and fight with handwriting, also termed dysgraphia. Dysgraphia can be affected by a child’s pencil grasp, pencil pressure, speed of handwriting, overall control of the pencil, alignment of letters, letter formation, sizing of the letter, spacing between or within words, and the memory of how to start the letter in the correct place.

Photo credit

Difficulty with handwriting can impact self-esteem. For example, children may observe their peers handing in their work faster than they are, or they may do poorly on spelling tests because the teacher cannot read their handwriting.

At Triton Support Services, we specialize in helping children improve their handwriting legibility for the school and home environment. We utilize a neuro-kinesthetic, sensory and motor approach to help children reach their highest potential and increase their self-esteem.


Some Signs and Symptoms of Dysgraphia

  • Cramping of fingers while writing short entries
  • Odd wrist, arm, body, or paper orientations such as bending an arm into an L shape
  • Excessive erasures
  • Mixed uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Inconsistent form and size of letters, or unfinished letters
  • Misuse of lines and margins
  • Inefficient speed of copying
  • Inattentiveness over details when writing
  • Frequent need of verbal cues
  • Referring heavily on vision to write
  • Poor legibility
  • Handwriting abilities that may interfere with spelling and written composition
  • Having a hard time translating ideas to writing, sometimes using the wrong words altogether
  • May feel pain while writing
  • Dysgraphia condition



  • Be supportive
  • Supply large pencils
  • Recorders
  • Extra time
  • Alternatives to writing
  • Play-dough or clay for increased strength
  • Tracing activities

Our students enjoy incorporating programs for writing, such as Learning Without Tears and Handwriting Heroes

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for dysgraphia. But occupational therapy, at-home exercises, and accommodations at school, can make a big difference. If you have noticed symptoms of dysgraphia in your child, consult a psychologist today for diagnosis. Help your kid deal with this learning disability and inform his/her preschool teachers also to ensure everyone is on the same page.


September 2, 2020 Sensory Regulation0

The term “picky eater” is a label often used when parents describe their child’s eating habits, but what exactly does that entail? Characteristics of picky eating includes eating less than 30 foods, experiencing tantrums when new or undesired foods are presented, refusing entire categories of food textures or groups, and demonstrating different eating habits than the rest of the family (Toomey, Ross, & Kortsha, 2015). A gray area is present when determining whether a child’s eating habits are considered solely “picky eating” or if an underlying feeding issue exists. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us as a society to modify many of our everyday habits and routines, including mealtimes. This time of uncertainty has allowed many families the opportunity to revive family mealtime traditions due to limited dining out options and new work from home standards. A recent study from the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior identified the positive impact of shared mealtimes on family connectedness, cohesion, and communication. The idealistic family mealtime may be impeded if child feeding difficulties are present but it allows for ample time for parents to begin to identify issues as they arise. 

Feeding is a common issue affecting childhood development and can account for difficulties in 25-50% of typically developing children and 90% of children with disabilities (Carpenter & Garfinkel, 2019). These difficulties are often overlooked and undermined as “picky eating” although an underlying deficit may be present. Difficulties can present as eating too much or too little, delay in self- feeding, demonstrating disruptive behavior, and/or motor control or structural impairments. Overtime, these feeding difficulties can be linked to deficits in cognitive development, behavioral problems, and eating disorders (Gronski & Doherty, 2019). 

Occupational and Speech Language practitioners are trained to provide feeding based interventions through facilitation of parent-child interactions, oral motor techniques, desensitization methods,and positive mealtime habits and routines. Treatment plans are typically designed to follow behavioral, parent-directed/educational, and/or physiological- based interventions. Through the use of activity analysis, our trained professionals are able to break down steps of self-feeding into the basic building blocks of utensil usage, proper positioning, texture tolerance, and mechanics of sucking, chewing, propelling and swallowing food. 

Telehealth has become a new streamline process to replace typical feeding programs that are usually accessed through early intervention, admission to NICU or inpatient settings, and outpatient clinics. Access to virtual feeding therapy provides many advantages to families including elimination of travel time, wait times,and stress. Telehealth services are also flexible in scheduling, which makes it ideal for therapists to gain a better insight on family mealtime routines and traditions. Parent involvement within feeding treatment sessions are beneficial to the development of stronger family bonds, decreased disruptive behavior, reduction of parental stress, structured mealtime processes, and improved parental and child quality of life (Gronski & Doherty, 2019). 

At Triton Support Services, we value and prioritize family- connected relationships. Our telehealth and clinic based services are available to address these feeding difficulties through our experienced providers. A picky eaters questionnaire is available to identify any suspected feeding difficulties and connect you with a Triton Certified Occupational or Speech Language Therapist. Our Occupational and Speech Language Therapists are qualified to assess feeding issues, design an individualized treatment plan, provide family education, and make appropriate recommendations. 

An online interactive cooking class with our Occupational and Speech Language Therapist team is available weekly to promote engagement in functional life skills, sensory play, and communication. This fun one-hour class is designed to address a wide range of feeding and sensory difficulties while promoting positive family and peer interactions. Each week will focus on a new recipe and skill set to provide a comprehensive treatment approach to picky eating. 

Picky Eaters Questionnaire

Reviving the Family Meal During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Carpenter, K. M., & Garfinkel, M. (2019). Telehealth as a supplemental service to treat pediatric feeding delays and disorders. SIS Quarterly Practice Connections, 4(4), 2–4.
Castle, J. (2020, April 1). Reviving the Family Meal During the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Retrieved August 21, 2020, from
Gronski, M. & Doherty, M. (2019). Feeding interventions for children and youth 0-5 years:
Systematic review of related literature from 2010 to 2017[Critically Appraised
Topic]. Bethesda, MD: American Occupational Therapy Association.
Toomey,K., Ross, E., & Kortsha, B. (2015). 4-Day Basic Training. Fremont, CA: SOS Approach to Feeding.


Our mission is to provide an integrated educational and therapeutic care platform for children, while providing support and coaching for their families. We use a team approach to provide efficient and effective services, helping special needs children to thrive.

Free *must-have* resource for parents

The Silence Game:
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Parents: this is the perfect starting point even if your child is young or can generally comfort themselves. Grab The Silence Game workbook to get started!