Friday, July 27, 2012

In my therapy bag...checkers

Checkers can be used for many activities other than grasping (stacking, counting, sorting), but I'm going to show you how I use them to work on grasping with little ones with visual impairment. Remember, checkers are small enough to be a choking hazard, so use close supervision at all times!

I have these great wooden checkers that are high contrast. Sorry, I don't remember where I got them!
When placed in my hand, the black checker provides a high contrast against my skin, making it easier for a child with a visual impairment to see. The texture on the checker is fun too!

You can also place the black checker on a light colored surface, or place the light checkers on a dark surface.

What do you use to provide high contrast when encouraging infants and toddlers with visual impairment to reach and grasp?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Parent's Perspective - We Can Do All Things

Today we have Sandra, from We Can Do All Things, joining us to share a peek into her life with her adorable daughter, Adeline, who has Down syndrome.

Our life in five words:

Life in our home is busy. We are a homeschool family, so our house is always filled with activity. Since Adeline has joined our family, I believe she has taught us even more about joy, hope, and anticipation for the future.

Four qualities I look for in a therapist:

  1. Understands Down syndrome.
  2. Works well with children.
  3. Is willing to involve me in the therapy process and share information with me.
  4. Will respect my child as a person, not a diagnosis.

Three resources I can't live without:

Adeline's books
Brillkids Little Readers
A yoga ball

Two words (or more!) of advice for a therapist working with a child with Down syndrome:

  1. Learn as much new research as possible.
  2. While it is important to understand Down syndrome, my daughter is an individual. Every child with Down syndrome learns and progresses differently.
  3. Please have fun with my little girl. While her treatment is important to me, I also want her to enjoy her therapy time.
  4. Please respect the decisions of the family. Sometimes a family may make a different decision than what you feel is best.
  5. Please use people first language.


A word of advice for the parents of a child newly diagnosed with Down syndrome:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Today is Fragile X Awareness Day


According to the National Fragile X Foundation,
  • 1 in 250 females and 1 in 800 males are fragile X premutation carriers
  • Fragile X syndrome is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability and the most common known genetic cause of autism spectrum disorders.
  • Fragile X can cause learning and behavioral challenges ranging from mild to severe.
  • Fragile X is diagnosed by a DNA test, called the FMR1 DNA test.
  • Fragile X occurs in all ethnic backgrounds.

To learn more about Fragile X before, click here and then go check out the Faces of Fragile X.

Also, please visit the National Fragile X Foundation's Hope and Inspiration page, to read stories of families experiences with Fragile X. These stories will inspire, as well as inform and educate, readers.

You can also follow the National Fragile X Foundation on Facebook at


Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Features

This week I...

- wrote a guest post for Love That Max, Summer fun for kids with special needs (that's actually therapy). Check it out and leave your favorite summer activities for kids with special needs in the comments section!

- made the list of Top 10 Occupational Therapy Blogs by The Healthy Per Diem! I'm honored to have made the list and happy to hear that people find the information on my blog worth reading.

So, what does the picture have to do with my post? In about an hour I'll be heading off to the airport to make my way to Iowa. On Sunday I will start riding my bike across Iowa with about, oh, TEN THOUSAND other cyclists. It's my favorite week of the year! I'm looking forward to a week of being outdoors and unplugged (and eating lots and lots of homemade pie!). For the next week or so, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no Instagram, no email, no the way it used to be :-) Don't get me wrong, I love all of those things, but I do think we should all take a healthy break now and then to recharge. I do have a few posts scheduled for while I'm away, including another fantastic Parent's Perspective, coming up next Wednesday!

Friday Features Links:

- Tongue in Cheek SLP is in the middle of a four part series about the benefits of eating a rainbow of foods. This week's post focused on the color green. Last week was all about red, orange, and yellow. Be sure to stop by and subscribe to the posts, so you can learn about the entire rainbow of foods.

- MamaOT shared 10 types of toys and games every preschooler should have. This is a fantastic list! She also wrote 7 types of toys every toddler should have and 15 toys for baby's first year. What a great series! I hope it will continue to older children as well!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer fun for kids with special needs (that's actually therapy)

Today I wrote a guest post for Love That Max. Check it out to read about my ideas for summer fun for kids with special needs (that's actually therapy).

A Parent's Perspective - Thomas Marshall Does It All

Today I am pleased to welcome Jessica of Thomas Marshall Does It All to share a parent's perspective on life with a child with special needs. Jessica is the mother of Tom, who will be turning three this fall. Tom has several diagnoses: blindness (Light perception, Persistent Fetal Vasculature Syndrome), Microcephaly, hypoplastic corpus callosum, and hypertonia, but that doesn't slow him down! He is running and jumping and doing many things that people said he probably would not do. Tom has a delay in speech and uses a combination of sign language and spoken language to communicate. He has been through many surgeries and procedures but he is a happy and carefree child. "I feel very lucky to be his mom. I can't want to see what he does next!" ~Jessica

Our life in five words:

busy, therapeutic, funny, musical, physical

Four qualities I look for in a therapist:

  1. Clear goals
  2. Open to ideas and going into the community (for real life experiences)
  3. Keeps appointments
  4. Challenges my child

Three resources I can't live without:

Trampoline - Tom is a high energy child and he needs physical stimulation to replace the visual stimulation he is missing because of his blindness. A trampoline has been a great way for him to release some energy that doesn't depend on weather.

iPad - Tom listens to audiobooks, plays games and listens to music on his iPad. We use it EVERY day. I want him to grow up comfortable with technology.

My blog about Tom - It helps me share the things I have learned and the resources I have found. There are so many things that I wish I had known earlier and I love being able to share that with other families. It also allows me to connect with other parents of blind children and there aren't that many of us so it's very nice.


Two words (or more!) of advice for therapists working with children:

As a parent, I truly value the therapy my son receives (through EI and privately.) I am constantly searching for information and new ideas for my child. I feel very lucky that my son's therapists have been open to my ideas and questions. When I have concerns they have gone out and researched options and taken me seriously. I will really miss my son's EI therapists when he turns three in the fall. We have become friends!

A word of advice for the parents of a child newly diagnosed with blindness, microcephaly, hypoplastic corpus callosum, or hypertonia:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Exploring new foods with The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Who doesn't love The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Not only is this a fun children's book with wonderful illustrations, but it is also a great way to introduce new foods (especially fruits) to kids.

Remember this part, when the caterpillar eats through all of those fruits?

Why not put all of those fruits out on a plate or tray for some food exploration? You can work on counting, talk about colors, smell and feel each fruit, and if up to it, you can even taste each fruit!

If you'd like, use a straw to poke a hole in slices of fruit, to make it look like the caterpillar ate through the fruit.

Of course, don't forget about this page,
...which gives you a number of other foods, albeit most are less healthy, to explore!

For more Hungry Caterpillar food ideas:
22 The Very Hungry Caterpillar inspired food creations

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Features

This week I...

- Introduced my new weekly feature, A Parent's Perspective. I've been thinking about creating some sort of feature to help families share their thoughts on therapy with therapists. I'm so excited that I have moved from thinking about starting a series, to actually doing it! In case you missed the debut, Allie, from Having a Fields Day, was kind enough to be the first parent featured. Click here to check it out and then come back next Wednesday to meet another family! If you are interested in being featured on A Parent's Perspective, please send me an email: AbbyPediatricOT [at] gmail [dot] com.

- Submitted my application my Massachusetts Occupational Therapy license. This move is coming up fast!

- Put a profile picture on my blog. Yes, I am a real person!

- Started using Twitter more consistently and I'm going to try to keep it up. Follow me @AbbyPediatricOT

Friday Features Links:

- MamaOT is on a roll with her blog posts! This week check out her 15 toys for baby's first year. This is a very useful list for new parents, therapists working in EI, or anyone shopping for a little one!

- Check out this guide to some simple DIY therapy equipment from We Can Do All Things. Useful for parents and therapists. I especially love the simple balance beam.

- Embrace Your Chaos has a great oral motor activity: Sensory-Motor "Awesomeness" with Glitter. I'm definitely going to have to try this!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Parent's Perspective - Having a Fields Day

I'd like to give a big welcome to the first blogger to share a parent's perspective on life with a child with special needs. Allie is mom to three year old Cameron, who has been diagnosed with autism, hyperlexia, sensory processing disorder, pediatric eating/feeding disorder, and mixed expressive receptive language disorder (MERLD) and four year old Sarah Hazel, who has been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, expressive language disorder, and has early signs of auditory processing disorder. You can read all about their journey at Having a Fields Day

Our life in five words:

chaotic, tiresome, confusing, loving, ever-changing

Four qualities I look for in a therapist:

  1. Empathy
  2. Compassion
  3. A real interest in helping my child
  4. Someone who is open to trying new things if something is not working 

Three resources I can't live without:

Kid Companions Chewelry Necklace - Sarah Hazel has one that she chews on when she is away from home and beginning to go into sensory overload. It's really helped to keep her calm and focused.

Affordable Therapy Solutions Pressure Vest - This helps to calm Cameron quickly and get him back on track, especially during therapy sessions and in classroom settings.

My children's therapists - One of the resources I use the most is actually my children's therapists. They have provided me with information about my children's disorders, places to find more info, ideas of things to buy for carryover therapy into the home, information about area conferences and mom retreats and support groups. We have been blessed with the best therapists, many of which have become great friends.

Two words (or more!) of advice for therapists working with children:

Get to know the family and listen to their concerns. Help them find resources so they don't feel lost, alone, and confused with their child's diagnosis. You may be the only support they have!

A word of advice for the parents of a child newly diagnosed with autism:

Reach out for help. Network with other parents who have been where you are and also some who are newly diagnosed. Be each others should to cry on. Nothing is better than having someone in your life who truly gets it.

One dream for my child:

Introducing...A Parent's Perspective

Today I am very excited to announce a new weekly feature on my blog: A Parent's Perspective! Every Wednesday I will be featuring a family with a child (or children) with special needs to share their perspective on the therapy process, share their favorite resources, and of course, share pictures of their fantastic kids!

I have several goals that I hope this feature will accomplish:
1. Provide therapists with a parent's perspective on the therapy process, which will hopefully help therapists become more empathetic and reflective in their practice.
2. Connect parents of children with special needs to other parents in a similar situation.
3. Allow parents and professionals to share their favorite resources that make life a little easier.

So, let's get this started! First up, the fabulous Allie, from Having a Fields Day!

If you are the parent of a child with special needs and are interested in participating in this series, please email me at AbbyPediatricOT [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where can I find an OT for my child?

A reader recently asked me this question, so I thought I'd share with all of you some resources for locating an OT for your child.

  • If your child is under the age of three, check into your state's early intervention program. Click here for a list of Early Intervention Contacts by state.
  • Call the rehabilitation department your local hospital or children's hospital. They may have, or be able to recommend pediatric occupational therapists in your area.
  • Contact your local school district and ask to speak to the director of special education or an occupational therapist on staff. Even if your child doesn't qualify for OT through the school district, they may be able to recommend a local clinic setting that provides occupational therapy.
  • Check with your state's OT association  for recommendations in your area (try googling "[enter the name of your state] occupational therapy association". This should lead you to your state's OT association website.
  • Contact your local Easter Seals.
  • Contact a local college or university that has an occupational therapy program. They may have a clinic on campus or be able to recommend a local pediatric OT. For a list of schools that have occupational therapy programs, click here.

To learn more about what OT is and how it can help your child, please visit the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association) website at

Parents, how did you find an occupational therapist for your child?
Therapists, what other resources do you know of for parents to locate an occupational therapist for their child?

Friday, July 6, 2012

So, what is OT, anyway?

Ok, so I'm a little late to the game on this one. This is the 2012 AOTA Student Video Contest Winner, which was announced in April at the AOTA Conference. The students of Maryville University did a fantastic job on this video. Check it out and I'm sure you will agree!

Friday Features

This week I...

- Wrote a guest post for Mama OT. If you missed it, hop on over to her blog to read 5 things your school OT wishes you would do this summer.

-  Changed the url on my blog to I know this will be good in the long run, but I'm concerned all of my readers won't be able to find me (blogger doesn't have a way to set up a redirect page). I want to avoid confusion with Loren Shlaes' blog, pediatricOT, whose url is By the way, her blog is full of great articles, so I'd recommend that you go over and visit Loren's blog for some great information. I'm not sure how my url change will affect RSS feeds and other links already out on the web, I hope I don't lose my faithful readers! Feel free to help spread the word that my url is now!

- Did a ton of pinning of my own blog posts. I hate doing that because it feels like I'm just trying to push my own blog and ideas, but since I changed my url, all of the pins that others put on Pinterest will no longer link back to my blog (and blogger won't let me set up a page redirect) :-(  I really prefer to use Pinterest to organize all of the great ideas I come across on the web and from other bloggers, but I have to admit, I do enjoy getting comments and emails from people who have found my blog through Pinterest. If you're interested in checking out what I've come across on the web, feel free to check out my therapy boards by clicking here.

Friday Features Link:

-Mama OT has a great post on 10 tips to prepare parents for their child's in-home evaluation. As an OT and mama to a 10 month old, she recently found herself in the unique position of having her son undergo a developmental evaluation. Her insight into the whole process is great for parents wondering how early intervention works and what to expect at the developmental evaluation.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Last minute 4th of July craft

Looking for a simple idea for a 4th of July craft? Look no further than the red and blue scraps around your house! Just gather some tissue paper, scraps of fabric and ribbon, stickers, glitter, and whatever else you can find.

Then turn this...

...into this...

...while working on all of these skills:

  • using both hands to peel stickers off the sheet
  • strengthening little hands to squeeze glitter glue
  • developing scissor skills while snipping ribbon
  • using both hands to tear tissue paper into smaller pieces
  • in hand manipulation skills to roll and squish tissue paper into smaller pieces
  • strengthen and use both hands to open a glue stick
  • visual motor skills to put glue on paper and then shake glitter on the glue
  • and more!

You don't need fancy supplies to do a craft project. Just look around your house for scraps that your little one can turn into a piece of art!

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's in season? Peaches!

With my kitchen counter looking like this:
It must be peach season!

Learn all about peaches:
  • Georgia is known as the Peach State, but most peaches in the US are grown in California
  • Peaches grow on a tree and have a fuzzy outer skin
  • Peaches are a good source of fiber and Vitamin C
  • Learn more at the United States Department of Agriculture
 Read James and the Giant Peach and then have a peach party.

How to eat peaches:
  • Just wash the peach and take a bite!
  • Cut the peach into slices or bite size portions 
  • If the fuzzy skin is too much texture, you can peel the peach before eating

Let’s expand to other foods and textures:

Not ready to eat peaches? Here are some other ways to explore peaches:
  • Tear up pieces of orange tissue paper and decorate a paper plate to look like a peach
  • Make a peach pit pendant
  • Touch the outside of a peach. Compare how the skin feels to other fruits.

What are your favorite peach activities and recipes?

5 things your school OT wishes you would do this summer

I recently had the pleasure of guest posting over at Mama OT. With summer in full swing, please check it out to learn 5 things your school OT wishes you would do this summer. And while you're there, be sure to read 5 things your child's teacher wishes you would do this summer, as well as all of the other great content on Mama OT!

You might also enjoy: