Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Features

This week I,
 ~finally got my Pinterest account up and running. I know, I'm probably the last person to join, but if you're still not sure what all this talk about Pinterest is, you can check out AOTA's How To Use Pinterest: Tips for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. To follow me on Pinterest, just click Follow Me on Pinterest!

~got some great resources from the OTConnections Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing Forum on behavioral techniques for feeding. Will keep you updated on what I learn and how it works out!

~downloaded a bunch of new apps for my iPad. I'm hoping to find some to encourage fine motor development in the birth to three population. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

Friday Features links:
 ~Dr. Anne Zachry posted a series of therapy putty exercise videos on her blog this week. Click here and here to check them out!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25 is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day!

In honor of this day, I've rounded up some resources about cerebral palsy:

  • For more information about cerebral palsy diagnosis and treatment, check out the cerebral palsy page by My Child Without Limits. In addition, you can download the Guide to Cerebral Palsy at the bottom of the page.
  • AOTA has an Evidence Brief Series, which provides easy to read summaries of scientific articles. Check out the AOTA Evidence Brief on cerebral palsy to learn about evidence based practice for therapists working with children with cerebral palsy.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Features

~To celebrate the upcoming OT Month, check out the word art created by Your Therapy Source by having occupational therapists complete the following statement, "I Love Occupational Therapy because..." You can even print it out and hang it up in your workplace to promote OT!

~Therapeutic Systems is creating a Vayu deep pressure vest, with the goal of creating a reimbursable medical device. This unique vest can be worn under clothing and contains a pump to adjust the level of inflation/pressure. In addition, Therapeutic Systems are working with Dr. Jane Koomar and Dr. Teresa May-Benson of The SPIRAL Foundation, which helps promote research in sensory integration and sensory processing disorder.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to make a slant board

A slant board provides a slanted writing surface, which can better position a student's wrist for writing. Placing writing paper on a slant board can also make it easier for the student to copy information from the board.

The price of a slant board can vary from $40-$100 in a therapy catalog, so I often make my own.

I have a student who was hooking his wrist like this (yikes!):

I made a slant board to improve the position of his wrist and now he writes like this:
     Much better!

To make your own, here's what you'll need:
  • two old binders
  • clipboard
  • Velcro
  • duct tape

1. Use the duct tape to tape the two binders together.

2. Attach Velcro to the back of the clipboard.
3. Attach the clipboard to the binders

or horizontally.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Features

~Dr. Anne Zachry is completing a fun project with her students, Special Kids Helping Special Kids. Special education students will work with peer tutors to complete therapeutic art projects, which will be sold to raise money for St. Jude Children's Hospital. Visit her blog to check it out and to donate to the cost of their supplies. 

~I'm excited about AOTA's new blog, OT in DC: A Politics Policy & Blog. OT in DC should be a great way for OTs to stay informed about politics and policies that could affect the provision of occupational therapy services.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

For Our Babies: A Call for Better Beginnings

As an occupational therapist providing services to children in a birth to three program, I am a strong believer in providing sound beginnings for all children.

Did you know that the human brain grows to 85% of its adult size between conception and age three?

For Our Babies is a national movement promoting healthy development in US children from conception to age three.

For Our Babies advocates for the following:
~Supported Pregnancies
     ~Prenatal health care coverage for all families, regardless of income, including home-based support and counseling during pregnancy
     ~Affordable intervention services for at-risk pregnancies
~Paid Leave & Well Baby Care
    ~Paid leave for parents for the first nine months of their child's life
    ~Affordable developmental screenings to identify physical and behavioral needs, with referral to affordable help when needed
~Screening & Follow-Up Services
    ~Affordable visits to the homes of all newborns for the first two years that include guidance by professionals trained in parenting and healthy development, along with counseling on early emotional, social, intellectual, linguistic, and perceptual/motor development
    ~Affordable services for children with identified special needs
    ~Free intervention services for families in crisis
~Quality Infant/Toddler Care
    ~Child care regulations that ensure that care is provided in safe, engaging, and intimate settings
    ~ Training, compensation, and professional stature for infant and toddler teachers at the same level as K-12 teachers
    ~Childcare subsidies for all families 
To get involved or to learn more about For Our Babies and their mission, visit

You can also follow For Our Babies on Facebook at 

Healthy babies grow into productive adults. It is crucial that we capitalize on the rapid growth and development of babies and toddlers before age three.

I have signed the For Our Babies pledge. Will you?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Babies & the Budget: Opportunities for Action

Are you confused by all of the talk about budget cuts and how that will affect your child or your provision of therapy services?

Zero to Three, The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, has created an advocacy tool: Babies & the Budget: Opportunities for Action.

This tool explains why advocacy is necessary and breaks the budget process down into a timeline, with opportunities for action included throughout the year. 

In addition, Zero to Three has created a Federal Policy Baby Blog, which you can check out at to follow the latest news about the federal budget and birth to three services.

Please check out the advocacy tool and be a voice for babies!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Features

~Handwriting Without Tears is developing a university curriculum. This supplemental handwriting course for university professors to offer to their students will provide exposure to teaching handwriting. To get the word out, Handwriting Without Tears will send a copy of the curriculum to interested professors for free! If you are a professor or a student, click here to sign up to receive a copy.

~I came across the blog ARK Therapeutic, which provides tips on how, when, and why to use their many products, including the grabber, z-vibe, and lip blok, which are all products that I use. This is a great resource for therapists using these ARK's tools.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Would You Call My Child A Retard?

Today is Spread the Word to End the Word Day, part of an ongoing campaign against the r-word created by the Special Olympics.

In honor of this day, I want to share with you a video created by Ellen, over at Love That Max. The video really speaks for itself.

Cloud Dough

Scoop it and mold it and then let it crumble between your fingers!
I added pegs for my preschoolers who weren't quite ready to touch the cloud dough with their hands. They could push the pegs into the dough and pull them out, without actually touching the dough.

Make a mountain,

or practice pre-writing strokes.

What you'll need:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup of baby oil

Or any 8:1 ratio of flour to oil (vegetable oil might be better for kids who tend to taste everything)

Just mix the flour and oil together and you have cloud dough!

Monday, March 5, 2012

LetterSchool App

I occasionally use my iPad in therapy sessions, and I have been on the lookout for a good handwriting app. I tried out several handwriting apps, but didn't really like any of them. Thanks to the Thriving in School blog, I have recently discovered (and love!) the LetterSchool App.

The LetterSchool app teaches letter formation by having the child tap, trace, and then draw the letter. This app provides lots of auditory and visual feedback, and works on letter sounds too!

The LetterSchool app also allows you to choose D'Nealian, Handwriting Without Tears, or Zaner-Bloser letter formation, as you can see below.
The first video shows a student using the LetterSchool app to form the letter D.
This second video shows how I've been using the LetterSchool app in conjunction with the Handwriting Without Tears Letter Cards to develop handwriting skills in the same student. (Be patient, it's a little slow in the beginning, because I was trying to limit my prompts).
I love the second video, because it shows how using this app is translating into a functional skill! I initially hesitated to use the iPad in therapy, because I wasn't convinced that it could enhance fine motor or handwriting skills in a way that would carry over to a functional skill.

The child in this video typically requires A LOT of assistance to complete any writing task. He uses very light pressure when writing and he and rarely looks at the paper.

You can't see it in the video, but he is looking at the iPad, the Handwriting Without Tears Letter Card, and the dry erase board! He even looked up and made great eye contact with me when imitating the words and sounds on the app!
After using this app, I am convinced that using certain apps in conjunction with other therapeutic activities can improve functional outcomes.  I would love to see some research done on this!

The LetterSchool app is available from the Apple iTunes App Store for $2.99.

Friday, March 2, 2012

IEP's According to Dr. Seuss

I'm working on an IEP while I eat my lunch :(
This post by PediaStaff is very fitting. Go check it out!

Friday Features

~Thank you 101 OT Ideas for bringing this great resource to my attention! The National Museum of Dentistry has created a FREE guide, Healthy Smiles for Autism, to empower parents of children with autism to establish a healthy oral hygiene routine and to prepare their children for a visit to the dentist. This 36-page guide contains facts and tips (including tips for behavior modification and sensory modification), visual sequencing cards (for brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist), and social stories (I Can Brush My Teeth, I Can Floss My Teeth , and My Visit to the Dentist). This is a great resource for parents! I highly recommend that you check it out and pass it on to families you work with!

~More dental information! The Autism Treatment Network has created a Tool Kit for Dental Professionals. The purpose of this tool kit is to help dentists, dental hygienists and their office staff better serve children with autism. You can download a copy here

~OT students at Western Michigan University are working with families of finicky feeders. I am so glad to see OT programs teaching students about feeding issue and providing students with opportunities to get hands on experience. 

~And last but not least, US News and World Report has named occupational therapy as one of the best jobs of 2012! But we already knew that, didn't we?

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