Zero Order Skills

Course excerpt from Improving Social Skills in Children & Adolescents

Zero Order SkillsThis subset of skills is best defined as skills that are only significant when they fail to exist. “The ability to follow another person’s gazing gesture (head turn paired with eye gaze shift) or pointing gesture is an important milestone in early communicative development as it serves as a governing factor in both social interactions and referential communication between a young child and an adult” (John & Mervis, 2010).

Many children who have learning disabilities also show soft neurological symptoms. They generally involve coordination and motor skills. Pediatricians will assess soft signs in simple activities, such as “touch your nose with your finger” or “walk on your heels” (Lavoie, 2005, p.13).

These neurological symptoms manifest themselves in the child’s zero order skills. For example, a common soft sign is a child’s inability to track with his eyes without moving his head. When you are having a conversation with others at the dinner table, you make eye contact with each person as he or she speaks. You establish eye contact by moving your head slightly and moving your eyes to meet the gaze of your conversation partner. Children with this soft sign may, instead, keep their eyes fixed and move their head in order to establish and maintain eye contact. As you can imagine, this behavior will be viewed as odd. Although the behavior is normal for an infant, it is uncommon for a school-age child.

The ability to track a conversation as a zero order skill is noticeable only when it does not exist. It is highly unlikely that you would say, “I really like Frank, He’s so social! He always makes eye contact during conversations without moving his head very much.”

Lavoie (2005) lists the neurological soft signs that are commonly found in children with learning disorders and their corresponding zero order skills:

  • Hyper reaction
  • Hypo reaction
  • Attentional dysfocus
  • Perseveration
  • Motor speed problems
  • Bimanual coordination problems
  • Balance problems
  • Mirror movements
  • Copying deficits
  • Echolalia (repetition of speech sounds)
  • Left/right disorientation
  • Immature distance notion


A significant zero order skill that may be missing in children with social skills deficits is the “standing face.” Most people have a standing face that is relaxed and opened. Those with standing face have a slack open mouth look about them; serious or aloof. This type of face alludes to boredom or superiority. It is not attractive to others and is off-putting.

According to Terra (2010), “the goal may not be to adopt an artificial wardrobe of empty smiles, but to master the facial posture of someone who comes across as engaged and relaxed. This can involve ‘cocking’ the head to the side to convey interest, making 8-second interval eye contact, changing physical position (such as leaning slightly forward), gestures of approval such as sporadic smiles, nods, and ‘aha’ looks, and nonverbal cues (‘hmmmm’, ‘uh-huh’ and ‘ah’).”

Basic hygiene is also a zero order skill, only noticeable if it is not there. Effort needs to be made to teach children basic hygiene because of its impact on social relationships.

Click here to learn more.

Improving Social Skills in Children & AdolescentsImproving Social Skills in Children & Adolescents is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that discusses the social skills children and adolescents will need to develop to be successful in school and beyond. It will demonstrate the challenges and difficulties that arise from a deficit of these crucial skills, as well as the benefits and advantages that can come about with well-developed social skills. This course will also provide practical tools that teachers and therapists can employ to guide children to overcome their difficulties in the social realm and gain social competence. While there are hundreds of important social skills for students to learn, we can organize them into skill areas to make it easier to identify and determine appropriate interventions. This course is divided into 10 chapters, each detailing various aspects of social skills that children, teens, and adults must master to have normative, healthy relationships with the people they encounter every day. This course provides tools and suggestions that, with practice and support, can assist them in managing their social skills deficits to function in society and nurture relationships with the peers and adults in their lives. Course #40-40 | 2016 | 62 pages | 35 posttest questions


This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion.

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

Florida OT Laws & Rules

By Leo Christie, PhD

Florida Occupational Therapy Laws & Rules is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that meets the license renewal requirement of Florida Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs).

Florida OT Laws & RulesThis course addresses the Florida Laws and Rules contained in the Florida Occupational Therapy Practice Act and the Florida Occupational Therapy Rules. The purposes of this course are to (1) provide the opportunity for a comprehensive reading of the two documents listed above, (2) ensure that Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants in the State of Florida are fully aware of the laws and rules governing the license under which they are practicing, and (3) fulfill the requirement that Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants in Florida complete each biennial renewal period two hours of continuing education relating to the Practice of Occupational Therapy. Course #21-01 | 2015 | 37 pages | 18 posttest questions


This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account after purchasing) to mark your answers on it while reading the course document. Then submit online when ready to receive credit.

Professional Development Resources is an AOTA Approved Provider of continuing education (#3159). OT Content Focus – Professional Issues: Legal, Legislative, Regulatory, & Reimbursement Issues. This program is offered for 0.2 CEU’s. The assignment of AOTA CEU’s does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of OT Practice (#34) and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within 1 week of completion).

Florida-licensed occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) have an upcoming license renewal deadline of February 28, 2015.

CE Required: 26 hours every 2 years, of which:
2 hours Preventing Medical Errors is required each renewal
2 hours Florida Occupational Therapy Laws & Rules is required each renewal
1 hour HIV/AIDS is required for the first renewal only
Online CE Allowed: 12 hours (home study)
License Expiration: 2/28, odd years
National Accreditation Accepted: AOTA

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Memorial Day Sale!

Memorial Day CEU Sale

Kick-off summer and stock up on CEUs with 25% Off ALL Courses this Memorial Day weekend!

Enter promotion code MemDay25 at checkout and click “update” to apply.

Shop Now!

If your order total is $100 or more (after discount), we’ll issue you a $25 credit that you can use on your next order (code will be sent via email within 1 business day). May Bonus Bucks expire 5/31/2013.

Memorial Day Sale ends at midnight on Monday, May 27, 2013. Coupon valid on future orders only and must be applied at checkout (click ‘update’ to apply – you will see discount deducted from total before entering payment information).

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC Provider #5590); by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); by the National Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC Provider #000279); by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA Provider #AAUM); by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); by the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); by the Illinois DPR for Social Work (#159-00531); by the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); by the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

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Autism Awareness Month CEU Special

Autism Awareness MonthApril is Autism Awareness Month, and today (April 2nd) is the 6th annual World Autism Awareness Day. Every April we feature our CE courses that focus on autism with the goal of contributing to autism awareness among health professionals. This year we are offering 25% off all of our autism-related CEU courses for the entire month:

Families who have a child with autism may face new challenges this year when the long-awaited revised version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) is published. It is scheduled for release in May 2013. Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM is considered the “bible” of psychiatry because it establishes the criteria mental health professionals use to diagnose their patients. According to Clinical Psychiatry News (Feb. 6, 2013), the new autism requirements in the DSM5 will be more restrictive than those found in the current DSM-IV.
The intent is to make the diagnosis of autism more precise, but one of the real-life consequences will be that many individuals who are currently diagnosed with the condition may no longer qualify under the new criteria. An article published in CNN Health (Dec. 3, 2012) cited research predicting that at least 5% to 10% of patients will no longer meet the criteria for autism.
Other predictions are for much higher numbers. One article, published in the journal Developmental Neurorehabilitation in June 2012, found that over 47% fewer toddlers would be diagnosed under the DSM5 autism criteria than under the current DSM-IV criteria. Whether or not such projections prove to be accurate, there is widespread concern among parents and advocacy groups that individuals who are currently diagnosed and under treatment may lose their benefits.
While it may take several years for these diagnostic shifts to sort themselves out, it is important in the meantime for professionals who work with autistic individuals to monitor the situation closely. We plan to publish new courses as the DSM5 diagnostic criteria are phased in and new research becomes available.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA); by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC #5590); by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046); by the National Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC #000279); by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA #3159); by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA #AAUM); by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR#PR001); and by various state licensing boards. Click here to view all accreditation’s.

Autism Linked to Fever or Flu in Pregnancy

By Joseph Brownstein, MyHealthNewsDaily Contributor

Autism Linked to Fever or Flu in PregnancyHaving a fever or flu in pregnancy may be linked with the development of autism in children, a new study suggests. While researchers are hesitant to draw strong conclusions, the study is at least the second showing such a link.

The researchers followed mothers in Denmark and the nearly 97,000 children they had between 1997 and 2003. During the study, 976 children in the study were diagnosed with autism.

Children were more likely to be diagnosed with autism if their mothers had the flu or developed a prolonged fever during the first or second trimester of pregnancy.

But the topic needs further study before stronger conclusions can be drawn, said study researcher Hjördis Osk Atladottir, of the University of Aarhus.

“Around 99 percent of women experiencing influenza, fever or taking antibiotics during pregnancy do NOT have children with autism,” Atladottir wrote to MyHealthNewsDaily in an email.

Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Developmental Disabilities Branch, who was not involved in the study, said, “We’re not recommending clinically that physicians change their management of pregnant women based on these findings.”

One reason for the caution may be that pregnant women who are concerned about lowering their child’s risk of autism would, for the most part, simply need to adhere to existing guidelines, which recommend getting a flu shot, and treating fevers by taking acetaminophen and contacting their physician.

Some researchers were puzzled by the authors’ caution.

“The data indicates that maternal flu infection or an extended fever increases the risk for autism in the offspring — a twofold increase,” said Paul H. Patterson, a biology professor who researches the connections between infection and neurological development at the California Institute of Technology.

Noting that the new finding is consistent with other research, Patterson said, “I’m not clear on why they appear to soft-pedal their results in their conclusions.”

A study published in May from researchers at the University of California, Davis found a similar connection, showing that mothers of children with autism were more likely to have had a prolonged fever in the late first or second trimesters of pregnancy, compared with mothers of children who didn’t have autism.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an author of the UC Davis findings, said while the reason that fevers or flu during pregnancy may be linked with autism are unclear, it’s thought that inflammation may have an adverse effect on early brain development.

“I think there’s some growing evidence that perhaps inflammation in the wrong tissue at the wrong time could interfere with normal developmental processes,” Hertz-Picciotto said.

There is also evidence for a link between mothers who have inflammatory conditions such as diabetes and autism in children, but that link, too, has not been conclusively established, she said.

“There is some growing evidence that in neurodevelopment, this could be part of a pathologic process, this could lead to behavioral type syndromes,” Hertz-Picciotto said.

Indeed, researchers are just beginning to develop an understanding of autism’s causes, the experts said.

“We know a lot more than we knew five years ago, but the science is really in its infancy,” said Coleen Boyle, of the CDC.

A CDC-sponsored study, called the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED), is following more than 2,700 children in California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, with the hope of identifying factors that might influence autism spectrum disorders.

Boyle said that the possible environmental causes of autism can be more challenging to research than the disorder’s genetic causes. For example, data in the new study had to be collected starting in the late 1990s.

“You can just see the time that’s required to collect that kind of information,” Boyle said.

“There’s not a lot of people looking at these environmental factors,” Hertz-Picciotto said. “This is something people should be paying more attention to, because it’s actionable.”

Pass it on:A flu or fever during pregnancy may lead to autism in children.

Source: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/3257-autism-fever-flu-pregnancy-inflammation.html

Professional Development Resources, an accredited provider of online continuing education courses for health professionals, offers a number of courses that address the research, diagnosis and treatment of those on the Autism spectrum.

Year-End Sales Event!

Year-End Sale

Our Year-End Continuing Education Sale has begun with 20% off select online CE courses for psychologists, counselors, social workers, SLPs, OTs, MFTs and RDs.

CE Sale

Sale ends 12/31/2012!

 

Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month with 25% off CEUs!

Each year in April, occupational therapists, assistants, and students host a month-long celebration showcasing the importance of Occupational Therapy.

Happy OT Month!Occupational Therapists are part of a vitally important profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Your holistic and customized approach to evaluations, interventions, and outcomes help a child with disabilities participate in school and in social situations, assist a person recovering from injuries to regain skills, aid an older adult to stay as independent as possible, and offer the specialized support and services to people of all ages and in all circumstances that only occupational therapy can provide.

To show our support, we are offering a 25% discount on all of our AOTA CEU courses through April 30, 2012. Just use coupon code OTSROCK during checkout @ www.pdresources.org.

Thanks for all you do!

Professional Development Resources is an AOTA approved provider of continuing education (#3159). The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA.

Coupon valid on FUTURE orders only; cannot be applied retroactively. Expires 4/30/12.

Course Spotlight: Improving Communication with Your Young Clients

Improving Communication with Your Young Clients is one of our most top-rated online continuing education courses, receiving rave reviews from SLPs, OTs, social workers and psychologists.

Course Abstract:

Improving Communication with Your Young ClientsHealthy professional and personal relationships rely heavily on effective communication techniques and respectful conversational skills. Clinicians and other professionals who work with children and their families can benefit from adding to their repertoire by learning communication techniques that improve the quality of these relationships. The correct use of language can increase your young clients’ self-esteem, motivate children to learn, engage their willing cooperation, defuse power struggles, and teach conflict resolution skills. With this information, you will also be better prepared to manage difficult conversations. The purpose of this course is to teach clinicians effective and practical communication and conversational skills to use in the classroom and in one-on-one situations with young clients and their families. Course #30-33 | 2009 | 62 pages | 20 posttest questions

Customer Reviews:

“This course was great! I loved the examples provided for review and they highlighted the information for learning. Great for all therapists, families, medical and education supporters for our young clients.” – P.C. (SLP)

“I enjoyed this course and would recommend it to others.” R.L. (OT)

“I loved this one..my favorite so far! As a parent and professional, I will be using it immediately!” – J.S. (SLP)

“This was a very good course. I will definitely use this knowledge every day as a school-based COTA. I would highly recommend this course to fellow therapists. Actually, I wish I had taken this course before having had children of my own!” – A.B. (SLP)

“Interesting, a good way to review and think about current caseload of children.” – J.H. (SLP)

“This was by far the best course I’ve completed out of 15+. The materials were informative, clear and concise without being too vague. Great course.” – K.L. (Social Worker)

“Best course ever! My favorite! Very informative and extremely well written. This is a course that everyone could use in teaching them effective ways to communicate with others at any level.” – L.M. (Psychologist)

“I appreciate the large number of references. Thank you!” – M.R. (SLP)

“Loved all the examples…helped to clarify.” – D.D. (SLP)

“Very good course, with pertinent learning and tools for use with clients, their parents, and teachers/other people involved in client’s care and education.” – J.A.H. (OT)

“This is an excellent course. The topic and ideas are very practical, and since they are written from a therapist viewpoint, they are very applicable to my situation (school OT). The text was straightforward and easy to read, not bogged down in endless reporting of “studies” and “research” (though this was certainly evidence based).” – K.C. (OT)

“Excellent course and reference material-will definitely improve my behavior management during tx. This course will also help me to address consultations with my students’ classroom teachers as the time available to them to understand and manage behavioral differences within the school day is small – this material carries very easy, fast and effective ways to assist these teachers within a small window of time.” – P.S. (SLP)

Learning Objectives:

1. Identify six skills for responding empathically to children’s negative feelings
2. Name ten techniques that help engage children’s cooperation
3. List six skills adults can use to avoid punishment and deliver discipline effectively
4. Identify seven techniques for encouraging children’s autonomy
5. Discriminate between evaluative praise and descriptive praise
6. Name nine temperamental traits that affect therapist/client communication

About the Author:

Adina Soclof, MS, CCC-SLP, a certified Speech Pathologist, received her master’s degree from Hunter College in New York in Communication Sciences. She worked as a Speech Pathologist in preschools for the developmentally disabled in the New York school system before staying home full time with her family. She reentered the workforce as a Parent Educator for Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk,” and “Siblings Without Rivalry” workshops and presentations based on “Raising Your Spirited Child.” Adina also runs workshops based on “How to Talk so Kids can Learn: At Home and at School” for teachers and other mental health professionals. She has been featured at numerous non-profit organizations and private schools in Cleveland. Adina developed TEAM Communication Ventures and conducts parenting and teacher training via telephone nation wide. She lives with her husband and four lively children in Cleveland, Ohio.

CE Information:

Professional Development Resources is recognized as a provider of continuing education by the following:
AOTA: American Occupational Therapy Association (#3159)
APA: American Psychological Association
ASHA: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (AAUM)
ASWB: Association of Social Work Boards (#1046)
CDR: Commission on Dietetic Registration (#PR001)
NBCC: National Board for Certified Counselors (#5590)
NAADAC: National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors (#00279)
California: Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625)
Florida: Boards of SW, MFT & MHC (#BAP346); Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635); Occupational Therapy Practice (#34). PDResources is CE Broker compliant.
Illinois: DPR for Social Work (#159-00531)
Ohio: Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501)
South Carolina: Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193)
Texas: Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) & State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678)

Renewal Information for Rhode Island OTs

Rhode Island Occupational Therapists (OTs) have an upcoming license renewal deadline of March 31, 2012.

Professional Development Resources is an AOTA approved provider of continuing education (#3159). The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA. Over 60 online courses are available at: http://www.pdresources.org/Courses/Occupational-Therapy/Online/CourseID/1/

20% Off CE in Celebration of our 20th Anniversary!

We’ve reached a major milestone: 20 years of continuous operation as an accredited provider of continuing education! We couldn’t have done it without you.

In celebration of our anniversary, and to thank you for your support, we are offering a 20% discount on all of our CE courses through June 30, 2012.

Use coupon code 20YEARS to apply during checkout @ www.pdresources.org. Coupon valid on FUTURE orders only (cannot be applied retroactively). Expires 6/30/2012.

20% off CE Sale

A History of PDR

Professional Development Resources was incorporated on August 12, 1992 in the State of Florida as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Its mission was – and continues to be – to seek out the most recent scientific and clinical publications in selected professional areas of psychology, mental health, social work, nutrition, speech language pathology, and occupational therapy and to present continuing education topics of current clinical relevance to the named professions for the purpose of improving patient care.

The company’s founder, Leo Christie, PhD, is a Florida-licensed marriage and family therapist who was in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida from 1982 to 1992. With the intention of establishing an outlet for his interest in writing and teaching, Christie founded the new company and set out to explore the possibility of planning and delivering live educational seminars. The vice president and director of continuing education was – and still is – his wife, Dr. Catherine Christie, who is a registered dietitian.

Christie recalls the early years: “The first steps were to become credentialed by the professional boards, select and develop a topic, identify target audiences, implement a marketing plan, and arrange funding for a series of delivery sites in the State of Florida – a daunting process, to say the least. We set out to secure accreditations from some of the Florida licensing boards so that we could award official CE credit to those who attended our conferences. That process took over 8 months. I remember having some difficulty with the Florida Board of Psychology, and it required a personal appeal and some restructuring before we were eventually recognized as a CE provider. We also sought and received approval to offer CE to nurses, under the auspices of the New York Nurses Association, which was a widely accepted accrediting board at the time. In the early years, nurses represented more than 50% of our seminar attendees.

“During the summer and fall of 1993, we completed 12 six-hour seminars in 7 Florida cities. The summer seminars were titled ‘Fears, Phobia, and Panic’ and dealt with the full spectrum of anxiety disorders. In fall, we introduced a new topic ‘Compulsive Behaviors,’ which featured a study of obsessive compulsive disorder. As a startup year, 1993 generated enough revenue to make further planning and development possible for the new company.

From there, the company went on to secure provider accreditation credentials from a number of national and state boards, including the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE), the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) [now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics]. The speaker circuit grew to the point at which there were four speakers on the road at one time presenting various topics in 46 of the 50 states.