special needs blog melbourne

Special Needs Blog

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Meet our Webinar Host

Robyn Papworth will be hosting this webinar: * Exercise Physiologist * Development Educator * Mum of 3 children * Certified Trainer * Experienced Speaker

During this webinar you will learn:

* How children learn a new skill such as walking, throwing a ball,and handwriting

* Why motor development is important for children's learning later in life

* The link between the milestone of crawling, and the skills needed for reading and writing at school age

* Fun and easy activities that you can do at home or in an education setting to promote motor development and learning for children aged 3 to 5 years

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Disability acceptance in the community

  The shock on a carer’s face this week as my children said hello to an adult with severe cerebral palsy made me feel disappointed. I felt disappointed because this young man with cerebral palsy deserves high fives and smiles just like my children. However, the look on his carer’s face showed just how rare high fives and smiles are for this young man.   I always wonder to myself

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improve fine motor skills with gardening

Improve child motor development, fine motor skills, and handwriting with gardening

  As an Exercise Physiologist I often get asked how to improve handwriting and fine motor skills in early childhood education.  

As you sit down to plan your child motor development program, set up a pot of soil, a shovel, and some rocks, and start to experience the many benefits of gardening.


  • Holding a full shovel of dirt promotes grip strength and
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Australian Womens Weekly Women of the Future

The Australian Women’s Weekly Women of the Future 2017 – A Proud Finalist

Seeing myself on a very well known Australian magazine is surreal, exciting, and in a way overwhelming.   As I watch this video I see someone who is passionate about disability but nervous about being vulnerable and sharing ‘who Robyn is’.   The opening of my video is hard for me to watch as I admit

disability community inclusion
autism meltdowns in the classroom overwhelmed special needs parent

Complex Behaviour Management in the Classroom – I am Human Too

  I don’t want people to believe that the work that I do is ‘all rainbows and lollipops’.  

Some days are tougher than others.

  On Thursday I sat on the floor rocking with one of my clients sitting in my lap. My client, a young 6 year old boy with autism, experienced another meltdown as he was expecting to sit down at

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Play based learning blog article – early learning play based theory versus structure and routine

  I never thought that I would be so passionate about learning until I started as a therapist for children with learning difficulties and once my twins started kinder this year.   My girl twin is reserved, somewhat timid, and an introvert. In a play based kinder she is struggling with knowing what to do, where to direct her energy,

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Autism podcast for parents and teachers to support children with special needs


Scroll down to the bottom of this blog post to play the free autism podcast.

  This is my very first podcast so your comments below would be greatly appreciated.   This 30 minute podcast explains what autism is and how to support children with autism.   If you would like to learn more about autism and ways to support children

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Special Needs Disability Politically Correct Terminology


WARNING! Controversial!

  Now before we start… Let’s just remind everyone that we are all entitled to our own opinion. Please be respectful as you leave your comments below.   I was reading a Facebook post today regarding a discussion about whether we should refer to an individual with autism as being ‘autistic’ or as ‘an individual with autism’.   The heated argument blew me away and made

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Special Needs Community Support

  disability therapy specialist melbourne yarra valley city of casey I am a disability therapy specialist and this week I have been surrounded with the love and support of my friends and family as I announced the exciting news of being a finalist in this year’s Australian Women’s Weekly Women of the Future competition.   I have been involved in the special

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easy slime recipe for boys car sensory play

Take precautions when making and playing with slime. Make sure to not place slime in the mouth and avoid contact with eyes.


Easy Sensory Slime Recipe

I have failed many attempts at making slime, play dough, and flubber.

But this slime recipe is the best recipe I have tried.


For Rock Slime

easy slime recipe for boys car sensory play In a bowl

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why is crawling important for baby development and school readiness


Why is crawling important for babies?

  I have a 15 month old baby girl (pictured above).  

I have had more people worry about whether my baby girl can walk, than whether she can crawl properly.

  Why does this concern me?  

This concerns me because the brain needs to go through the mastery of crawling, before it should be focusing on walking.


Crawling uses

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weighted blanket animals australia

Weighted Blanket Animals – autism meltdown management tools and resources   I just love these weighted blanket animals from Wendy’s Weighted Blankets   Weighted blankets of 8 – 10% of your body weight can help provide your nervous system with proprioceptive sensory input that makes your nerves and muscles feel relaxed, loaded, and focused.

Weighted blankets can help children who find it hard to sit still in class.

  Weighted animals are fantastic

autism professional development, early childhood learning, special needs anxiety management
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special needs footwear australia AFOs kids

Special Needs Footwear

  It’s hard finding comfortable and trendy shoes for kids who wear AFOs.   Check out this local provider http://www.aussieafoshoesforkids.com/ to view their range of shoes for special needs kids footwear.

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Classroom Behaviour Management – Be careful of your own lens


When I talk about behaviour and anxiety I often refer to Instagram.

  In Instagram we zoom in or zoom out to what we want our photo to be. We also change filters from black and white, to sepia, etc.   When we have a student in our classroom who has challenging behaviour we can often zoom in to their every move because our

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crossing the midline - draw a rainbow PreK assessment early learning worksheet example

What is Crossing the Midline?


Crossing the midline is a skill that PreK students need to master to improve their literacy skills, ability to sit still, and handwriting skills.

  Crossing the midline is the ability of the body to move the left hand side of the body over to the right hand side of the body and vice versa. In a classroom we need crossing the midline of our hand and finger muscles

early childhood learning, fine motor skill development, gross motor skill development, improve handwriting skills
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what is sensory seeking what is proprioception why does my child hate touch

What is sensory processing?

An easy to understand guide for teachers who have students with sensory processing disorder SPD.


We need our senses every day to understand our world around us.

  We need our sight (vision) to see moving cars, flashing pedestrian lights, moving people, car keys, coffee mugs, etc.   Our auditory system (sound) to hear crying babies, our husband’s words, our children’s questions, alarm bells, our phone ringing, etc.  

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How to have fun with your kids with fidget toys

  I am a mum of 3 and I have chronic anxiety so fidget toys have helped me to handle stressful meetings, attend social occasions with awkward family and friends, and focus on paperwork that I would usually distract easily from.   My favourite part of fidget toys is the fun I have with them and my kids.  

You can probably imagine my office.

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self care tips for carers anxiety management for special needs children

Self Care for Carers – Even Therapists Needs Support Sometimes

  Tonight I reached out for my own support.   For many months I have sat at my laptop stalling myself from creating a new blog post.   I can speak to a room full of people without anxiety. I can talk to parents at school meetings for hours about my passion as a therapist. But for me, online feels different. Online feels more daunting.

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how to improve handwriting gardening wrist extension exercise sensory therapy handwriting

How to improve handwriting

  You may not be expecting to read this but when I am referred students who have difficulty writing, the last supply that I bring to my therapy session is a pencil or a pen.   Today, let’s talk about gardening.  

Gardening provides the body with more than you think.

  Next time you head out to the garden think about how gardening stimulates your senses, develops your motor skills,

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what are child motor development milestones for early learning educators teacher professional development poster

Child Motor Development Milestones

Every child develops at their own speed. The worry is not how quickly children learn their motor skills. I recommend focusing on the pattern in which they gain their motor skills, with the most important pattern being babies going from tummy time, to crawling to walking without any ‘bum shuffling’ or walking without being able to crawl.

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early childhood learning, fine motor skill development, gross motor skill development
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how to improve pincer grip develop handwriting skills for students with learning difficulties poor fine motor control

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How to improve pincer grip


Holding a pencil is not as easy as you think.

  In the video above you can see how I have progressed a motor skill like pincer grip from introduction, to progression, to mastery.   The brain will have difficulty using holding a pencil until it has mastered the pinching motor skill. Learn how to here.

Don’t take motor skills for granted. This activity is hard work!

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how to teach scissor cutting improve scissor use early learning child development fine motor skills-01

How to improve scissor skills in early childhood education

  In our scissor skills video you will be able to see how I have progressed a motor skill like scissor use from introduction, to progression, to mastery. Click here for the video   how to improve scissor skills kinder fine motor activities   The brain will have difficulty using scissors and holding a piece of

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I’m so sick of these tantrums!


How to stop the tantrums and build a connection in 5 minutes.


You’ve just had a full day at work or at home with a toddler.

  You go to pick up your kids from kinder or school and in your ideal world you’re wanting to pick up your happy kids from kinder and school and you’re imagining the experience of your children holding their arms out

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Sensory processing disorder – toys and fidget tools from Australian small businesses

  Sensory processing disorder can be confusing for family members, teachers, and support workers. Imagine how confusing it is for the person who is experiencing sensory processing challenges.  

I have collated a list of local sensory fidget toy providers in Australia to help you learn more about how to match fidget aids to your sensory profile.

This kit incorporates multiple

autism professional development, Online Special Needs Disability Training, special needs resources equipment
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sensory processing disorder

Top 3 Fidget Toy Advice

  1. The fidget toy/aid needs to match your child’s individual sensory needs – if your child seeks proprioception stimulation such as ‘can’t sit still’, wanders the classroom, bites fingers or hands, sits on people – then your child will need a proprioception fidget toy. A spinning wheel that is used for people who seek visual stimulation is not going to be the best match for your
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IEP 504 Acccommodation Strategies for Students with Learning Difficulties and School Anxiety

  So you have a child who has difficulty with visual tracking.   You may be thinking, what does that mean?   We need visual tracking to read, navigate through busy crowds, put our toys away.   We can improve visual tracking by: 1 – Playing spot the difference games 2 – Finding objects in a tray of sand or ‘search worksheets’ 3

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Self care for carers, educators and parents

We can’t pour from an empty cup

This blog post has been triggered by a parent who was showing signs of negative self-talk, self-doubt, poor confidence, and she referred to herself as the ‘worst person in the world’.

  We have all been there emotionally. At the point where you feel like there is nothing you can do to

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Why are we so quick to ‘punish’?

  Over the past 24 hours I have read some advice from parents to other parents who feel frustrated with their children who are hitting, biting, back chatting, and destroying property and I am really concerned.   Some parents feel it is necessary to take away all possessions (including clothing) for children to learn. Some parents believe that cutting out electronics and toys completely will

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How to bond with your child in 5 minutes regardless of their behaviour.

I have a number of parents who feel frustrated with their children’s behaviour. To be honest I even get frustrated with my own children’s behaviour.

We put so much expectation on ourselves as parents to create the ‘perfect children’ which is unfair on our children and unfair on us.

So I always encourage parents (and remind myself) to  

Spend 5 minutes

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Welcome to The Neuro Rehab Network formally known as Move 4 Health.

  I am an Exercise Physiologist, Developmental Educator, Special Needs Consultant, enthusiastic workshop trainer, and passionate advocate for people of all ages who have a disability, learning difficulty, or traumatic background.  

I have over 10 years experience working in the disability and aged care sector from home-based care, to day care services, to special education settings, as well as mainstream school settings.

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Feeling stressed? Are you sitting with a clenched jaw? tight shoulders? ears on high alert? heart beating fast? Reduce your anxiety right now with this simple mindfulness activity. You can do this sitting down, standing up, in bed, in the shower, wherever you are right now. Stop what you’re doing right now and look around you.

behaviour management in the classroom, IEP Consultant Melbourne, special needs anxiety management
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Having my own anxiety battle, I am passionate about sharing anxiety management strategies with people of all ages and abilities. I often get asked by teachers and carers about how to handle challenging behaviours such as hitting, biting, yelling inappropriate words, etc. My first suggestion is to find out what is triggering the behaviour. Is it that you have asked them to complete a task that they’re worried about perfection, have you changed their routine, is there someone

behaviour management in the classroom, special needs anxiety management
teach breathing mindfulness children anxiety improve focus concentration

Teach student and adult mindfulness – how to listen, feel and learn with our whole body

  When I am asked by schools to help students with learning difficulties, frustration and anger management challenges, I often ask them how their body feels when they are angry, and they say they find it hard to breathe.   When I then ask students to take a big deep breath for you, kids and even adults often don’t

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Motivate students in the classroom by:


  • Using their interest topic to engage them – view pokemon ideas below

  • Alternate your non-preferred task with their preferred task

  • Use language such as “once you do this, we will do this” – or “when you finish this, you get to do that”

    Some children love to learn and participate in class (my son), other students need to

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