Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebrating OT Month | Books written by OTs

 Today I'd like to continue the celebration of OT Month by highlighting some books that are written by occupational therapists. In putting this list together, it became apparent that OTs are prolific writers! This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please feel free to leave the title of your favorite book written by an occupational therapist in the comments section and I will add it to the post.

To start off, here are several books that I either have in my own "OT library" or have borrowed from my local library. I have read these books, used the ideas and activities in them, and recommended them to families, teachers, and other therapists.

Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel, MA, OTR/L & Nancy Peske | This book is packed with practical, and easy to implement sensory strategies for a variety of situations that families and children will encounter in their everyday lives.

Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR & Doris Fuller | This easy to read book describes Dr. Miller's approach to treating children with sensory processing disorder using the acronym, A SECRET, which stands for Attention, Sensation, Emotional regulation, Culture, Relationships, Environment, and Tasks.

Living Sensationally by Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR | This book is interesting because it is written in layman's terms to describe how individual sensory patterns affect they way you react to everything throughout your day. This book is definitely geared toward adults who have no previous knowledge of sensory processing and who want to understand why they react the way they do to their environments.

Tools for Tots by Diana Henry, MS, OTR/L, Maureen Kane-Wineland, Phd, OT/L, & Susan Swindeman, OTR/L | This thin book is packed full of practical sensory tips to help toddlers and preschoolers get through their days. I use this book all the time in early intervention when educating parents and helping parents figure out ways to make daily tasks, like bath time, clipping nails, cutting hair, and brushing teeth, with their toddlers a little easier.

Self-Care with Flair! by Ginger McDonald, OTR/L & Bhanu Raghavan, MS, OTR/L | This is a book that I just picked up at the AOTA Conference a few weeks ago, and I am so glad that I did! This book contains a step by step approach for self care tasks, with pictures and rhymes. I can tell that this is a book that I will be using all the time!

Retro Baby by Anne Zachry, PhD, OTR/L | This is a great book that offers simple strategies for parents to get back to the basics and to avoid the overuse of baby gear. A great book for any OT working in early intervention to have in their library to lend to parents.

From Rattles to Writing by Barbara Smith, MS, OTR/L | This is a guide written for parents and it provides a great overview of developmental stages, as well as activities to help promote skill development at each stage.

Fine Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome by Maryanne Bruni, BScOT (Reg) | This is a great resource that covers fine motor development. While this book is specific to Down syndrome, I find that the information and tips are applicable to many children with developmental delays.

Just Take a Bite by Lori Ernsperger, PhD & Tania Stegen-Hanson, OTR/L | This is an informative, and easy to understand book on feeding issues. A great resource for parents.

Learning in Motion by Patricia Angermeier, OTR, Joan Krzyzanowski, OTR, & Kristina Keller Moir, OTR | This book is full of great sensory motor activities designed to be used in a preschool or kindergarten setting. With activities categorized by month, I frequently used this book when I was co-teaching in a preschool classroom. The preschool teacher loved it so much that she bought a copy of the book too!

And if that list wasn't long enough, here are some books that are on my wishlist. I haven't read these yet, but they look great!

No Longer A SECRET by Doreit Bialer, MA, OTR/L & Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR | This book appears to be a follow-up to Dr. Miller's Sensational Kids. While there is probably some overlap between the two books, I would still like to take a look at this book.

Sensory Processing Challenges: Effective Clinical Work with Kids & Teens by Lindsey Biel, MA, OTR/L | This looks like it is a follow-up to Raising a Sensory Smart Child, with an emphasis on older children and teenagers.

Understanding Your Child's Sensory Signals by Angie Voss, OTR/L | I suspect that this book is similar to Sensational Kids or Raising a Sensory Smart Child, but I would still like to take a look at this book, because it gets outstanding reviews on Amazon. Looks like another great sensory resource! (P.S. As I was putting this post together, I noticed that Shasta just wrote about this book and how awesome it is!)

Active Imagination Activity Book by Kelly Tilley, OTR/L | This looks like it is full of fun activities that an OT could share with parents to incorporate sensory activities into their daily routine.

101 Games and Activities for Children with Autism, Asperger's, and Sensory Processing Disorders & The Sensory Processing Disorder Answer Book, both by Tara Delaney, MS, OTR/L | I know teachers who have attended seminars by Tara and they had nothing but great things to say about the experience.

Your Child's Motor Development Story by Jill Mays, MS, OTR/L | So many of the books on this list are focused on sensory issues, so I like that this is one that focuses on motor development.

Have you read any of these books? How about the books on my wishlist? What did you think of them? What books  by occupational therapists would you add to this list?

*Amazon links throughout are affiliate links.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Magic of Marathon Monday | Boston Marathon 2014

In honor of the Boston Marathon, today's post is a change from my usual blog post. I hope you will join me in remembering and honoring the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.


Last year at this time, I was living in Boston. Actually, I was living in Cambridge, just a quick walk over the BU Bridge from Boston. A walk that I made frequently, often stopping to take in the breathtaking view of the Boston skyline, or to watch the rowers on the Charles. But there is one walk over that bridge that I will never forget.

Last year, on Marathon Monday, my husband and I walked over that bridge, from Boston back to Cambridge, among a crowd of spectators, all talking in hushed tones. As we walked across the bridge, I sent text messages to my family to let them know that we were okay, even though I didn't really understand why they might be worried about us.

As a spectator at mile 25, I had no idea what was going on. We didn't hear an explosion. Nobody panicked. Runners were still running. Spectators were still cheering. The police calmly told the marathon spectators to "clear out, it's time to go." We didn't listen to them at first, wanting to see our friend run by. We noticed more runners talking on their cell phones. We overheard the word "explosion." The number of ambulances driving toward the finish line kept increasing. My phone was vibrating with Facebook alerts. When our friend passed by us a few minutes later, we cheered her on and she gave us a big smile. Then we made our way back across the bridge with scores of other spectators, all walking to safety, away from Boston.

When we got home, we turned on the news and couldn't believe what we were seeing. The images on the screen didn't match up to the calm scene we had just experienced at mile 25. I looked out the window and saw a beautiful spring day. I looked back at the screen and saw absolute horror. I couldn't understand how all of this could be happening just miles away from where I was sitting and watching it unfold.

The remainder of the week was spent keeping an eye on the news, while trying to settle back into regular routines. Life was going on, but there were signs everywhere of what had happened. Posters, memorials, and a strong military and police presence throughout the city. Everyone was talking about the terrible events. There was a heightened sense of fear and unknown, but there was also an amazing amount of resiliency and strength coming from the city of Boston.

I was lucky enough to be on the periphery of all of the events that took place last April. One mile from the finish line; two miles from the MIT campus where Officer Collier was shot; less than one mile from the suspects' apartment, and safe inside my own apartment as the city went on lock down. Sirens were a constant reminder that week of the tragic events and uncertainty outside.

Today it is Marathon Monday once again in Boston. It is a magical day along the race course. The crowd of runners at the starting line. The screaming girls at Wellesley College. The first glimpse of the Citgo sign. Even Heartbreak Hill carries a bit of magic. And oh, the finish line. There is nothing more magical than crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I've been lucky enough to experience the magic of the finish line as both a runner and as a spectator, and believe me, there is no other running experience like the Boston Marathon.

 I was blessed to call Boston my home, if only for a short time, but Boston, and the Boston Marathon, will always hold a special place in my heart. Today I will watch the marathon updates from my here in California. I will anxiously await text message alerts as my friends who are running the race hit the 10k, half-marathon, 30k, and yes, even the finish line. Because this year, everyone will finish. And today, the city of Boston, along with thousands of runners and spectators, will reclaim the magic that is unlike any other. The magic that takes place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.


Friday, April 18, 2014

A Few Things

This week I've discovered several new (or at least new-to-me) blogs by therapists that are worth checking out. The Inspired Treehouse is joint effort by two pediatric occupational therapists and a physical therapist, Pink Oatmeal is written by a physical therapist who is also a new mama, and Your Kids OT is written by a pediatric occupational therapist in Australia. All three of these blogs share such great information. I get excited when I see them popping up in my feedly! A few posts to get you started: Baby Walker Dangers and Limitations, Quick Tip for Visual Motor Skills, and What's in Your Hand?

And here are a few more things I've come across that I think are worth sharing:

- Sluggish Cognitive Tempo - What do you think? Is this really the "new attention disorder"?

- I've been following both Ellen and Kate's blogs for quite awhile, and this is awesome. Sharing on blogs really can make a difference!

- Have you ever used a partially deflated ball as a wiggle seat? I have and it works great!

- This is truly the ultimate playdough resource.

- I don't know about you, but I'm really loving the trend to teach mindfulness in the classroom.

- Am I the only OT who hasn't yet gotten my hands on some kinetic sand? I keep hearing about this mess free sand and need to check it out.

- And finally, did you see my recap of #AOTA14 over on the PediaStaff blog? If not, be sure to check it out here!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Celebrating OT Month | Products developed by OTs

I'm continuing the OT Month celebration today by sharing some cool products that were developed by occupational therapists.

MoveAbout Activity Cards. These activity cards were developed by David Jereb, OTR/L and Kathy Jereb, COTA/L. This deck of 64 cards provides quick and easy sensory activities to help children refocus, calm down, or regain energy. I have not personally used these cards, but they get great Amazon reviews and are on my wishlist!

Fundanoodle. Fundanoodle is an education readiness program designed in collaboration with two occupational therapists, Michelle Yoder, OTR/L, CIMI and Amy Bumgarner, MS, OTR/L, to improve the skills needed for handwriting and other everyday activities of children. I have the Letter Muscle Mover Cards, which I like to use for both the writing practice and the movement. Fundanoodle has lots of other products that I'd like to check out too, like the I Can Cut! activity book.

Aimee's Babies. Aimee Ketchum, OTR/L, CNMI has developed a line of products to teach parents how to help their babies reach early developmental milestones. These products include interactive DVDs and apps that walk parents through the steps of infant massage and early milestones. Such a great resource for first time parents!

Mead RediSpace paper. I love this paper! It's available on Amazon, but I first stumbled upon this paper in the office section of Target. I've only used the RediSpace Transitional Notebook Paper (great for kids working on spacing or aligning numbers!), but the Letter and Number Stories, Shape Builders, and Early Learning Idea Builders all look awesome, too!

Therapy Fun Zone. Tonya Cooley, OTR/L has created a fantastic resource for therapists, teachers and parents on her website. In addition, she has a set up a store where many of the products are her own, but any therapist who has a product to sell can do so through the Therapy Fun Zone store. I personally love the Munchy Ball Game and all of the digital downloads.

Handwriting Without Tears. I am a huge fan of Handwriting Without Tears and I use these products all the time! The entire Handwriting Without Tears empire was created and founded by Jan Olsen, OTR. When I attended The Print Tool Workshop, Jan Olsen was the presenter! I couldn't even believe it! She is a wonderful person and has created an incredible product.

I Can Tie Shoelaces. These shoelaces were designed by two occupational therapists, Alex and Lauren Flores. These laces are designed with velcro to help hold the loops in place while learning to tie shoes. What a great idea for teaching shoe tying!

Under Armor MagZip. This one handed zipper was the result of a mother-son/OT-engineer team. I think OT-engineer teams are the best, but I may be a bit biased as I'm married to an engineer. The MagZip should be hitting the shelves by the end of this year.

*Amazon links throughout are affiliate links.

Have you used any of these great products created buy OTs? Are there any products that you would add to this list? Please share in the comments!

Monday, April 14, 2014

App of the Week | Matrix Game

Matrix Game is actually a series of three apps developed by MyFirstApp.com. These games are designed to help develop visual perceptual skills. The games are progressively more challenging as you move from Matrix Game 1 to Matrix Game 3. I typically use Matrix Game 3, but all three apps are great. It just depends on the age and skill level of the child to determine the right one.

Here are a few screenshots:
Matrix Game 1
Matrix Game 2
Matrix Game 3

In each app, you simply drag the picture on the left side of the screen to the corresponding square on the grid. This requires visual perceptual, visual scanning, and visual motor skills. In addition, within each app, each level gets progressively more challenging. Overall, I think this is great OT tool!

App Information:

Name of App: Matrix Game 1, 2, and 3
Publisher: MyFirstApp.com
Compatible with: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price: Free for access to two levels; $2.99 in app purchase for access to all 12 levels
Matrix Game 1 (age 4+):

Matrix Game 2 (age 5+):

Matrix Game 3 (age 6+):

*Information was correct at the time of publication, but is subject to change, so please confirm prior to downloading. This post contains affiliate links.

Have you used the Matrix Games apps? What other apps do you use to help develop visual perceptual skills?

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Few Things

After coming home from the AOTA Conference in Baltimore, I jumped right into my first week at my new job. My brain is on a bit of overload right now as I adjust to new routines and process all of the information and experiences of conference, but I do have a recap post coming up on PediaStaff, so stay tuned! While I continue to get settled back into my real life, here are a few things I've come across that I think are worth sharing.

- As a therapist, you may be an expert, but don't forget that parents know their child best of all!

- What a great use for hair ties!

- Here is a FREE printable created by a mom to help her son learn to get dressed independently! It's kind of like a social story and it is awesome!

- This is exactly how I felt before the AOTA Conference, but I went and I had a great time!

- I've long questioned if w-sitting is really as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Thank you, Kendra for expressing my thoughts exactly. (side note: I think I w-sat until I was about 12 years old. So far, I have no long lasting effects, other than I still have weak core muscles)

- To continue with controversial topics, is the Bumbo seat as bad as everyone says? A PT's perspective.

- Thinking of sending your child with special needs to summer camp? Here are some great tips from Ellen Seidman.

- Introverts and Extroverts: Valuing Both. Things to remember when working with children.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Celebrating OT Month | Apps created by OTs

Last week I celebrated the work of Occupational Therapists by highlighting some great OT blogs. Today I'd like to share some OTs that are making a difference through the development of apps.

Ready to Print | Ready to Print is a pre-writing app developed by Dianne Reid, OTR/L. I love that this app progresses through pre-writing skills in a specific order so kids can master the skills necessary for writing. Some of the activities included in this app are matching shapes, tracing paths, connecting dots, and pinching. Click here to read my original review of Ready to Print.

Shelby's Quest | Shelby's Quest is another pre-writing app that focuses on fine motor and visual perceptual skills. Created by Kami Bible, OTR/L, the activities in this app include following mazes, pinching, and tracing shapes. Click here to read my original review of Shelby's Quest.

Wet Dry Try | Okay, I don't know if this app was actually created by an occupational therapist, but since Handwriting Without Tears was created by an OT, I'm going to include this one on the list. This handwriting app follows the same format as the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, specifically the Wet-Dry-Try approach using slate chalkboards.

Dexteria | It is my understanding that the Dexteria apps were created with the help of an occupational therapist (if anyone knows who that OT was, I'd love to give them credit). The original Dexteria app consists of three exercises to promote handwriting readiness: Tap It, Pinch It, Write It. Dexteria Junior is geared for younger kids and consists of three exercises to promote pre-writing skills: Squish the Squash, Trace & Erase, Pinch the Pepper. I personally use Dexteria Junior more than the original Dexteria, but both are great! Read my original review of Dexteria here and my original review of Dexteria Junior here.

Dexteria Junior:

BrainWorks | This app is a bit different from the others in this list. BrainWorks was developed by Gwen Wild, OTR and is designed to help kids select appropriate activities for their sensory breaks to meet their current sensory needs. This is a really cool app that can help kids become more independent in self-regulation. Read my original review of BrainWorks here.

Abilipad | This app was created by Cheryl Bregman, MS, OTR/L to allow children to develop writing skills and communication using text to speech, word prediction, and customizable keyboards. I have not tried this app yet, but it gets glowing reviews, including from Carol over at OTs with Apps, whose opinion I always trust!

*iTunes links throughout are affiliate links.

Do you use any of these apps? Are there any apps created by OTs that you would add to this list? Please share in the comments below! 

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