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Making sense of kids 

Sometimes kids don't seem to be listening to us. They fidget too much, or they stare out into space. Sometimes they overreact to loud noises or bright lights. We might think these kids are misbehaving, but what may be overlooked by such a sweeping generalization is the possibility that some of these kids are exhibiting symptoms of a greater problem, one that exists outside of behavioral discipline. They could be suffering from sensory integrative dysfunction: an imbalance between the brain and the nervous system that can affect the way a person processes information, challenging his or her ability to learn and socialize.

Sande Rutstein, a registered and licensed pediatric occupational therapist, has recently opened New Directions for Kids in Arroyo Grande, an occupational therapy center designed specifically to help kids overcome many of the obstacles they face when dealing with sensory dysfunction. These can include problems with balance and strength, hand-eye coordination, and organizational skills.

The individually created programs at the Center focus on fun and challenging a child's ability to respond to sensory stimuli in a safe and optimistic atmosphere. Using games, motor activities, yoga, art, and individual therapy sessions, kids and their families work together to establish a healthy "sensory diet." Over time kids will find that they have more confidence, making daily social interactions and classroom activities easier, even fun.

The Center offers assistance to all children, from infants to teenagers. Rutstein and her staff believe in the precious individuality of each child and work carefully to help them maximize their own potential. To find out more, call 541-7628.



It's Oktoberfest 2005 at Old Vienna Restaurant in Shell Beach, which means that Thursday through Sunday nights now through Oct. 30 you can go in and enjoy German food and beer with games, drink specials, dancing, and sing-alongs to Trio Internationale, who want you to "Fight for your right to polka!" A great opportunity to celebrate the coming of autumn, and a great excuse to get euro-trashed. Call 773-4521 for more info. ...

... For animal lovers who want to help out with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, the SLO Animal Care Clinic has created two fund-raising programs to assist pets and their owners. Through Oct. 1, all profits from the sale of specified pet products at the Clinic will go to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund. Plus, middle school students from the Old Mission School will be holding a dog wash at the Clinic on Oct. 1. Donations of $20 or more will go toward aiding animal and human victims in the hard-hit gulf area. For more info, call 545-8212. ...

... Three undergraduate scholarships are being made available for college-bound children of former and active duty Marines and Navy servicepeople. The one-year scholarships, with an average value of $1,700, are being made available by the Central Coast Detachment 680 of the Marine Corps League , and will be made available for the 2006 school year. Additional scholarship info is available online at ...

... Low- or no-cost electric power wheelchairs are being made available to senior citizens and the permanently disabled through Miracle on Wheels , a public awareness program designed to help people maintain their independence at home without incurring extra costs. Program recipients are subject to doctor approval and must meet minimum requirements. To learn more call 1-800-749-8778 or go to ...



In last week's Strokes and Plugs, we misidentified Phil Hill (right) as a client of Transitions Mental Health Association. Well, he's not; he works for them as a delivery driver and gardening coordinator. He is neither dealing with a mental illness nor living a transitional lifestyle. Our bad. Sorry, Phil....

New Times contributor Alice Moss compiled this week's Strokes & Plugs. E-mail her at

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