6 Quick Low or No Cost Movement Ideas

kids-exercising

 

 

6 Quick Low or No Cost Movement Ideas

By Stacy Turke, OTR/L

 

On November 5 of this year, I presented a session at #COETC16, or the MSU College of Education Technology Conference. As it states on the website, the conference was made possible through the collaboration between the College of Education at MSU and the Master of Arts in Educational Technology Program. COETC16 allowed educators to explore technology use across the curriculum while connecting with innovative educators from across the nation. This 33rd Annual event was focusing on the concepts of Equity and Universal Design for Learning, near and dear to the heart of this OT. The conference organizer, a former teacher with whom I collaborated frequently during her tenure at my school district, was adamant that our low-tech presentation, Meeting the Developmental Needs of All Learners Through Movement and Classroom Design, would fit well with the concepts of UDL and Equity, and help teachers answer the questions of just how to meet the needs kids present so that they can access all of the wonderful technology being used in today’s classroom. And so on that crisp autumn day, my generous OT colleague Jodie, our Fieldwork Level II student Dennis, and I found ourselves presenting our conference session to a room full of educators who all were giving up their Saturdays with their families.

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This visual is a great reminder to staff and parents (and we OTs!) that the academic learning happens when ALL THE REST OF THIS STUFF provides a solid foundation. That’s why we work on movement, provide proprioceptive input, etc!

 

We shared information about the Developmental Needs of Learning, reminding the educators of the importance of the building blocks that form the foundational layers of learning. We reminded them that young bodies NEED to move, and that our current educational system does not tend to keep developmental needs of young children in mind. And we shared all kinds of ideas for increasing movement options in the classroom so kids can be moving and focusing on curriculum at the same time.

Predictably, the teachers were especially interested in learning what they could do right away and with little to no cost, so this month, my blog post will discuss Low or No Cost Movement Ideas for the Classroom. (If you read back through my posts, you’d be able to find some of these already discussed, but who has time for that? So just keep reading, it will all be here for you!)

So here we go: 6 Quick Low or No Cost Movement Ideas

Animal Walks: move from location to location like a named animal. Prowl and pounce like a cat, gallop like a horse, bear walk on your hands and feet, slither like a snake. I’ve seen teachers dismiss their entire class from circle time by asking them to frog-hop to their seats at tables. Some teachers have had kids move like a snake from one center to another. I’ve seen an entire class walking like quiet tiny mice in the hallway between the gym and their classroom. Teach the movement first, separate from any other expectation, then use it when the children are transitioning around the building. Check out this cool visual that helps organize your kiddos and their animal walks!

2 Kinds of Push-ups…but not what you are thinking! Chair push-ups and wall push-ups are really effective for helping kids calm and focus either before or during listening tasks. Most classrooms I support do not have enough wall space to do whole class wall push-ups, so typically this is done one or two kids at a time. Chair push-ups can be done by as many kids as you have non-wheeled classroom chairs, and they can be done by individual students if they notice that they need to focus and attend. Here’s how to do them:

Chair push-ups: In a well-fitting chair, meaning the child’s feet reach the floor, have the child place their hands on the edge of the seat of their chair, right along side of their thighs. Slowly straighten the arms to lift the bottom off the chair, slowly count to three, then slowly return the bottom to the chair. Repeat 3-5 times.

Picture Card Appointment 4in

Wall Push-Ups: So wall push ups are as easy as they look. Have the student stand, facing the wall just farther than their hands can reach. The child should lean forward and place their hands at shoulder height on the wall, then slowly bend the elbows until the nose ALMOST touches the wall. Slowly straighten the elbows again to the upright position. That’s one rep, repeat 3-5 times. To help your students structure this a bit, consider making a couple sets of paper hands, and laminating them. Place one set on the wall at approximate shoulder height for your taller students, and one set a little lower for your shorter students. This will help structure the where part of the process, and may even serve as a visual reminder of a teacher-approved way to get their move ON!

wall-pushups

Propped on Tummy: I know how important properly-fitting seating is, and I bet you do too. We need to sit at tables that hit us approximately at our elbows, in chairs that allow us to sit with a 90 degree angle at our hips, knees, and ankles, so that we can maintain good posture and have maximum stability. But sometimes we need to move, and work can be done while lying on the floor. Seriously! Just grab a clipboard, or a large hardback book that is no more than a half inch thick, and plop down on the floor on your tummy. You are going to want to elevate your chest and head off the floor by weight bearing on your forearms, and then this position will not only give you deep pressure through your shoulders, but it will also put your face in alignment with the work on that clipboard or book. It will be easier to pay attention to your work, and it will be easier to avoid distractions. We spend so much of our time hunched over our desks or tables, with our backs flexed and curved toward the table. This position will give your back extensors a chance to stretch out and your brain a break from the sensory stimulation going on above the floor level. Some kids may have trouble maintaining this position for more than a couple minutes to begin with, but over time their strength, endurance, and interest will increase and you will find that students love the freedom laying on the floor in class brings

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Yep, one of my prouder moments. I’m lying on the floor demonstrating “propped prone on elbows” in the middle of a conference presentation. Everyone does that, right?!

 

Yoga: A teacher colleague swears by Cosmic Kids Yoga, have you tried it yet? Subscribe to their YouTube channel, and you will have access to all of their videos, and they add a new one each Monday. Yoga poses can help with so many developmental needs, including motor planning, bilateral coordination, improved deep breathing, flexibility, strength, endurance, calm focus, mindfulness…you name it! You can access individual yoga videos that target specific needs, and you can also check out playlists targeting specific age groups. But of course, there are other ways to access Yoga for kids, both internet-based and in print. Yoga in the classroom can be done by the whole class, similar to GoNoodle, or you can consider a quiet corner of your room that is a Yoga spot for one or two children to visit when they need to regroup, refocus, or re-energize.

Fitness Stations: A PE teacher in one of my schools has created fitness stations throughout the halls of her small elementary school so simply that really ANYONE could do it in their own school! Ms. Bain simply taped page protectors at various points along the walls of the main hallways, and she inserted a simple exercise visual into each one. Kids walking the halls can move to one or more and get a little exercise while getting a drink, taking a walking break, etc. How simple is this?! Examples include wall push-ups, squats, and these toe touches. I feel a little silly that I never thought of this, and I also feel grateful that I work with someone who DID think of it, and better yet implemented it throughout her school! Check out these pictures, one from a distance to show how unobtrusive the pictures are, and the second showing how simple her instructions are.

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This fitness station is just outside the cafeteria, giving kids a quick stretch before heading into lunch!

 

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This is a close-up of the fitness station just outside the cafeteria; look how simple these instructions are!

 

Hopefully one or more of these ideas will be easy to implement in your classroom right away so you can help your students get focused and get moving! They will love you for these opportunities!

Pyramid of learning photo courtesy of: http://indonesiaexpat.biz/lifestyle/sports-health/sensory-integration-disorder-spd-a-misunderstood-disorder-of-addadhd-in-children/

Chair Push Up photo thanks to: http://special-ism.com/seat-based-sensory-strategies-to-keep-students-seated-and-focused/

Wall Push Up photo taken from: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/pushup-start-with-wall-pushup

Stacy M. Turke, OTR/L: “On the Road with @stacyturke OTR blog.” Stacy has been a school OT for 31 years with the same intermediate school district in Michigan in what she describes as “my dream job.” Her career has ranged from working in a “center-based” school to working in public and private schools throughout the county, including those in the rural, suburban, and urban areas. She has experience working with students with a wide range of educational needs, to include cognitive impairments, Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical challenges, sensory processing needs, and many other learning challenges. She expresses her enthusiasm when she says “This career has been fulfilling, always presenting new and interesting challenges, and is NEVER boring!” You can connect with Stacy on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/stacyturke/ and on Twitter at @StacyTurkeOT.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Go-To-For-OT Blog or affiliated Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest sites, and shared on social or public media or as links on other sites is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors and administrator of these posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

6 Quick Low or No Cost Movement Ideas

Superstar Sources for School OTs

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by Molly Shannon, MS, OTR/L, ATP, on the ATandOT Blog

As an OT with over 30 years’ experience in working in public schools and in assistive technology, I feel a key contribution we provide to our special needs students is that of being a wonderful source for a wide variety of resources for our team members and families.  In the schools as OT practitioners, we strive to maximize function and independence in our students in order to facilitate their access to their educational program. The following sources and resources are my professional favorites and are top-notch.

1. A Little Bit of This and That: Evaluation/Frequencies/504 Plans/Workloads:

A. Systemic Decision-Making Process for OT/PT Services, guidelines for evaluation/frequencies from NSSEO. These type of rubrics are to assist districts or schools in provision of consistent recommendations to the IEP teams (always considering the individualized goals and needs).

B. Assessment Sources:

1. Consider this writing assessment tool by a well-known OT. It is such a reasonably priced resource that has been out in various forms through the years and now is available commercially. The Writing Protocol by Denise DeCoste, Ed. D, OTR, is only $25 and is available as a download from Don Johnston, Inc.
2. Speech Recognition as AT for Writing, an excellent, free booklet with tons of assessment and training ideas for AT for writing by Daniel Cochrane and Kelly Key
3. While there are some excellent handwriting assessment tools available commercially, this is a rubric for assessment which is a great tool. Free handout: Handwriting Assessment Rubric
4. As OTs, we are often asked just what are the norms for handwriting speeds in the schools for students without disabilities as a point of reference for our students with special needs. Here is a free guide: Handwriting Speeds for Copying Tasks
5. Here is another nice reference tool for Handwriting and Keyboarding Rates
6. Thorough guide from a school AT team from the Boulder Valley School District. School-based Writing AT Evaluation: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Paul Visvader, AT Coordinator) download free PDF booklet from bottom of book in “book” section)

C. 504 Plans are often misunderstood. Check out this excellent source for Understanding 504 Plans explained so well from website Understood. This is a fantastic website with a broad range of supports for professionals and parents.

D. This is a hot topic throughout the US and that is OT workloads! This is a source from my state that is well done and highly respected that can help with caseloads in a fair manner. Determining FTE and Workloads for OT, PT, and SLPs (UNC)  AOTA has several excellent articles for members regarding converting “Caseload to Workload,” as well.

2. OTs Ya’ll Need to Follow: there are so many available, but these are my favs!

A. Sugar Aunts
B. OTs with Apps and Technology
C. Growing Hands On Kids
D. Your Therapy Source
E. Inspired Treehouse (an OT and a PT blog):
F. MamaOT and love this post “What’s in My Therapy Box” about the 60+ items that are in her therapy box
G. Handwriting with Katherine a super EBP blog about all things handwriting
H. Lemon Lime Adventures: a great sensory resource, this is a great blog “Sensory Break Ideas for Kids”
I. 20+ OT Blogs to Grow Your OT Career: blog post by OT Potential
J Not an OT, but David Banes has a wealth of current technology and inclusion articles in his newsletter: AT and Inclusion Newsletter
K. Plugs! Our collaborative blog for school OTs: Go to For OT by OTs: Stacy Turke, Marie Toole, April Franco and me! Plus my own blog, AT and OT

L.  Miss Jaime OT

3. Gotta See AT Resources:

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A. OCALI and ATIM, amazing info and free online training resources for exceptional children and AT. These are two must see resources!
B. Jane Farrell excellent guide to “Switch Accessible Apps for iPad and iPhone” and she has one for AAC apps as well on her website.
C. My handout from my 2016 AOTA presentation about Technology/apps for Prewriting, Handwriting and Writing
D. AT Solutions for Students with Visual Impairments (Low, Medium, and High Tech)
E. With all of the Chromebooks available in schools now and with so many speech options and others available, this is a great guide to a variety of extensions: 21 Google Extensions for Struggling Students and Special Needs

4. Some Rockin’ Resources from North Carolina!

A. From a great SLP who provides many free adapted books or icons: Chapel Hill Snippets
B. Tar Heel Reader has thousands of free books developed by and for those with disabilities with adapted access and speech options.

5. Website Wonders: these sites work so well with SmartBoard activities and especially with wireless/wired switch access methods:

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A. Priory Woods (variety of access methods) wide array of engaging videos
B. Jacob’s Lessons: a website with many free online activities developed by a father of a child with autism.
C. Some more excellent and FREE online switch activities from Ian Bean.

6. Social Stories Galore

A. The best source I’ve seen for an amazing wealth of social stories and links is from PBIS World
B. Check out my blog post about OTS and social stories: “Unique Ways OTs Support Social Stories”

7. Power in Numbers!

A. Check out and join our 22k strong Facebook Group: Pediatric Occupational Therapists. OT practitioners ask for help and gets tons of responses on this closed group.
B. There are a wealth of OT resources (over 4K) on Teachers Pay Teachers. My favs are Jan McClesky, OTR, Gift of Curiosity, Jennifer Hier, Autism Adventures or Autism Helper. Please share yours with me in the comments.
C. Pinterest: how can you be a school OT and not love Pinterest to find great free printables, resources, and activity ideas? Remember that most of the bloggers noted above also have Pinterest boards. Check out my boards for OT, EC, AT, academia, and more: Molly Shannon, MS, OTR/L, ATP Pinterest Board

While we wear many important hats working in the schools as OTs, being a go-to source for a wide variety of information and resources is vital in our provision of quality services to our students, their educational team, and their families. I hope that you’ve discovered a few new gems to help you in your job as a school OT. Please share with me any of your favorite, must-have resources, as well!

 

 

 

Molly Shannon, OTR/L, ATPMolly Shannon, OTR/L, AT , is an occupational Therapist with 33 years’ experience and  currently working in the public schools as a school-based Occupational Therapist in NC. She has specialized in the provision of Assistive Technology for 29 of those years and is RESNA certified as an Assistive Technology Professional. In addition, Molly is an Adjunct Professor of Occupational Therapy at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences in the Master’s Program teaching Therapeutic Adaptations/Assistive Technology in OT. She loves to present and train others in Assistive Technology and has been a national-level conference presenter since 1989.  She has worked with clients of all ages and with a wide range of disabilities in public/private school settings, non-profit educational/therapeutic agencies, outpatient/inpatient rehabilitation, and with the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program.  You can connect with Molly on Twitter sitePinterest Boards, or her ATandOT Facebook page.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Go-To-For-OT Blog or affiliated Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest sites, and shared on social or public media or as links on other sites is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors and administrator of these posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.  

All photos that include a link to an originating site should be used with a link back to that site.  

Superstar Sources for School OTs

The Who, What, Where, Why, and When of Self-Regulation in School

Open ClipArt Vectors PixabayThe Who, What, Where, Why, and When of Self-Regulation in School

by Stacy M. Turke

on the On the Road with @stacyturke OTR blog

 

 

In my earlier years as an Occupational Therapist in public schools, school OTs talked quite a bit about Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing.  We worked with kids who had genuine challenges tolerating and utilizing information coming in through their senses; and we created elaborate and precise, almost prescriptive “sensory diets” which gave teachers and parents a plan of inputs to do with their students and children a certain number of times per day.  Usually these “diets” required the student to leave the classroom, go to a separate spot, and engage in a series of activities designed to “fix” the kids so they could return to the classroom ready and able.  At least that was the goal.  I’ll be honest, there was little connection in the sensory work we were doing outside of the classroom to the curricular work happening in the classroom.  But that was okay, we reasoned, because we had our out-patient clinical colleagues success with this model guiding us; and we had the belief that kids could only benefit from the instruction in the room if they were made ready outside the room.

A few years later…okay, MANY years later…the focus on meeting sensory needs changed quite a bit in public school systems in my area and across the nation.  We still work with students who struggle with sensory processing, no doubt, and in fact we may actually be seeing more of these concerns across any given classroom.  But to the extent possible, we try very hard to only remove kids from the classroom to meet their sensory needs as a last resort, and preferably during natural breaks in the action.  We now pay careful attention to keeping kids IN the classroom during instruction because it’s hard to learn content when you aren’t there to hear and/or see it being taught.  And for the most part, we talk about these needs as helping kids with self-regulation rather than “sensory processing.”  So what does this change look like, you may ask?  Let’s explore!

 

Who can use help with self-regulation in school?

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EVERYONE.

Too simple an answer?  Okay, so let me explain.  First, a definition of Self-Regulation:

“Self-regulation is the ability to attain, change, or maintain an appropriate level of alertness for a task or situation” (Williams & Shellenberger, 1996)

We operate from the perspective that everyone needs to regulate their emotions, energy level, and ability to focus or concentrate.  All. The. Time.  What we do to regulate, and for what purpose, varies depending on what we are regulating for.  (Keep reading, I promise this will make sense.)  And some of us are able to regulate ourselves to be in the “just right place” more easily than others.  As a school OT, I try to help everyone in a classroom understand what “tools” they need to help them regulate and how to use them effectively as a responsible, productive student (or teacher!).

 

What does self-regulation look like?

When people are self-regulating successfully, they are able to optimally attend to and participate in the task at hand.  But what that looks like varies depending on the task. Let’s say students are in physical education class playing a game of basketball.  In this scenario, their bodies and brains need to attend, listen, observe, and physically respond quickly and with control when the ball comes their way. This is an active, physical state and children who are self-regulating successfully during a basketball game will reflect that.  If a child is feeling sluggish, his or her response time may be too slow to catch the ball or defend the basket.  If the child is overly active and not paying attention, a pass to a teammate may be way off mark or a slide to defend may result in a clumsy foul.

Now let’s put those same children into the classroom for a language arts lesson, immediately after that exciting basketball game.  Their bodies and brains need to attend calmly, listen intently, and connect this new learning to their previous knowledge so that they can write some amazingly structured paragraphs about the zoo lesson they’ve just completed (or whatever the lesson may entail).  Initially, many of them may be too energized to slow down and attend to the lesson because they were regulated for a more physically active task.  Often a teacher will lead these students into activities that will help calm and organize their growing brains so that they can be ready for this calmer state.  It can be a simple strategy, such as having the class pretend to be walking on a tightrope all the way back from the gym to the classroom.  This will slow them physically and help them get ready to focus and attend when they get back to the room.

As a school OT, I work with teachers and students to develop an awareness of the self-regulation tools they can use (and likely already are using) to get to that just-right place. For some kids, using a seat cushion gives them the movement needed to allow them to stay in their seats and complete the math assignment.  Some students need more movement than a cushion provides, so we may look at other classroom design options, such as a second work space near the back of the room that allows them to stand while working.  Some of my students do well with a fidget tool, which can be just about any small hand-held object that they can move within their hands while attending and learning.  Gum is another favorite, and even teachers tolerate this well within the classroom after their students are taught how and why to use this tool.  And some kids will enter the room, grab a drink of water, and be ready without any extra tools or strategies.  There are even programs designed to help individual and groups of children learn to check their engines or attend to their Zone to aid in regulating.  What I hope teachers understand is that bodies regulate differently, and that is ok.

 

Checking Their Engines with The Alert Program
Checking Their Engines with The Alert Program

 

Checking Their Zones with The Zones of Regulation Program
Checking Their Zones with The Zones of Regulation Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where do students self-regulate in school?

Everywhere!  Regardless of where we are, we always need to be in control of our bodies, brains, and emotions; and we need to align our thinking and actions to the task we are attempting to complete.  Kids need to be able to listen to the directions given and then correctly respond when called on in class.  They need to be able to run and play and giggle Cherylholt pixabaywith their friends at recess, without becoming overly-aggressive with peers.  They need to sit calmly at the table and eat in the cafeteria during lunchtime,  Workandapix pixabaywhile quietly
chatting with their classmates.  So it is important that we work with students and teachers wherever children are having regulation challenges so that they can be as successful as possible.

 

When do students need to regulate?

If you are still reading this post and you’ve gotten this far, you already know the answer to this question…so repeat this with me:  Students need to regulate All. The. Time. Not just during math.  Not just at recess.  If we need to regulate for all tasks, then we need to regulate all the time.  As a teacher, or as a parent, you will want to remember that some of our students/children will have an easier time moving from one task to the next because they regulate more readily.  Some of our students will need a little more help.

 

Why work with the whole class?

Teachers will probably tell you that most of their students don’t need help regulating their bodies on most days, and that’s probably true.  Teachers at the younger levels use a lengthy class building process at the beginning of each school year; and then they revisit that teaching frequently, to make sure their students learn to sit, attend, focus, follow procedures, behave kindly…and all the other non-academic skills needed to be a successful student.  But even in the best “behaved” class, the students who are able to focus and concentrate and follow procedures may struggle on indoor recess days.  Or the day after a holiday or when they witness the first snow of the season begin to fall outside their window.  Sometimes the whole class needs a common language for learning to take responsibility for their learning, so that when things start to get a little noisy, or wiggly, the teacher can say, “I’m hearing a little more noise than necessary.  Can someone name a tool we can use to get quiet again?”

But let me tell you why I work with whole classes of children when many can already regulate on their own.  It’s because some of our students really cannot get their brains and bodies to a “just right place” on their own and they need help. They need to be taught; and they need to have opportunities to practice their new learning, even with regulation strategies.  When we teach a whole classroom of children that there are tools that can help us pay attention and get our work done, and that not everyone uses the same tool and that’s okay, then we are normalizing these actions for our students.  We are helping those kids who need slightly different “tools” to use them proudly because they and their classmates understand what they do and why they are being used and that it’s the responsible thing to do.  Kids can feel more in control of their own learning ability.

 

Bonus question:  How  can I help a whole classroom self-regulate?

There are as many ways to support self-regulation as there are teachers and students, so there’s no one “right” way.  In general, I begin by talking to a classroom of children about tools, what they are, and what they do.  I ask kids to name a tool a cook would use.  We talk about tools that a fire fighter needs.  We discuss that tools are things that help us do our jobs.  We talk about the tools kids use in the classroom.  And I demonstrate.  I show them a pencil and ask them “Thumbs up or thumbs down” if they agree a pencil is a tool.  Of course the thumbs all go up.  And then I toss the pencil up and catch it repeatedly and ask, “Is it still a tool or has it become a toy?”  Everyone agrees it’s a toy now because I am now playing with it and it’s distracting me.

This simple demonstration and discussion of tools and toys helps bring home the idea that it’s not the items themselves but how we use them that either helps or distracts us from getting our work done.  We expand on the conversation from handheld tools (hand fidgets are included in this discussion) to look at our seating.  Where we sit, next to whom, on what equipment, can change how well we get our work done.  If it’s lunchtime, we want to sit by our friends with whom we love to talk and giggle.  When we get home and want to chill after school, we might flop down on the couch.  But what about when it’s time to concentrate?  Should we sit by a friend we like to chat with or should we choose a spot where we will be better able to concentrate?  Helping children think about choosing and using tools to get work done is one way to help them begin to self-regulate.

 

Geralt pixabayOne final note.  Although these types of strategies and supports can work for all kids, there will still be some children who need extra supports, and extra opportunities to practice, and perhaps a few different tools or even locations. You just might call in your school OT to help you support those children.  But by setting up your classroom space in a way that encourages using tools to self-regulate, you will establish your location as a safe space for learning to take responsibility for learning.  You will help children recognize that we may have different methods, but we all have the same needs to learn to pay attention and get our work done.  And your students will be grateful for this life-long lesson.

 

 

 

Stacy M. Turke, OTR/L: “On the Road with @stacyturke OTR blog.” Stacy has been a school OT for 30 years with the same school district in Michigan in what she describes as “my dream job.” Her career has ranged from working in a “center-based” school to working in public and private schools throughout the county, including those in the rural, suburban, and urban areas. She has experience working with students with a wide range of educational needs, to include cognitive impairments, Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical challenges, sensory processing needs, and many other learning challenges. She expresses her enthusiasm when she says “This career has been fulfilling, always presenting new and interesting challenges, and is NEVER boring!” You can connect with Stacy on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/stacyturke/ and on Twitter at @stacyturke.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Go-To-For-OT Blog or affiliated Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest sites, and shared on social or public media or as links on other sites is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors and administrator of these posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

 

 

Reference:

Williams & Shellenberger, 1996, How Does Your Engine Run?  A Leader’s Guide to the Alert Program for Self-regulation.

Picture Credits:

Photos are the property of photographers or site owners and their use should include the link provided to the contributor’s source.

 

 

The Who, What, Where, Why, and When of Self-Regulation in School

5 Things An OT Shares With Her General Education Teachers

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Five Things an OT Shares With Her General Education Teachers 

By  April Franco, OTR, MOT

on April the OT blog

 

 

I have started my second year as a school OT.  Just as I was getting used to not feeling like a new grad, I started in a new setting and a year later, I still feel like I’m lost in some areas.  My school district works with a push-in philosophy for therapy services, which means I sometimes have to make my way into a general education classroom and it can sometimes be a little awkward.  This is not an issue for me when I see students in a self-contained classroom, as I can waltz right in, do what I have to do, and even help out if I’m needed.  These classrooms are set up within an atmosphere that allows for each student’s particular needs.  However, my general education teachers have very strict schedules in which certain curriculum must be addressed.  When I come knocking, they may be a little unsure of my purpose.  Having said that, I have complied a list of things I wish general education teachers knew about my role as an occupational therapist in an effort to support the important roles we both play in our schools.

 

one-maklay62-pixabayYou and I are not so different.  We were both drawn to a helping profession. We both want the best for our students. The difference is that I am in a situation in which I am also there to help you, if need be.  I’m happy to observe other students and offer strategies about our shared student in effort to enhance their educational experience.  I’m also there if you need an extra pair of hands…which is especially helpful during a fire drill!

 

two-maklay62-pixabayMy goal is to have ninja-like stealth skills and to appear as invisible as humanly possible.  I do not want to interrupt the flow of your classroom.  In addition, I’d rather not draw attention to the fact that your student may have a “helper” coming in to work with him or her.  I take tremendous pride when other students tell me that they hadn’t noticed me.

 

three-maklay62-pixabayI may go in and out of your room as discretely as possible, but I’m always happy to take time to explain to you what I’m doing for your student. The nature of your schedule and my schedule may make it so that I only give you a few quick sentences as I leave the room.  But if you have specific questions, would like more elaboration, or if you observe something that you find noteworthy, good or bad, I will happily make time to consult with you.

 

four-maklay62-pixabay

I don’t have all the answers.  I know your student may stump you. Sometimes, he or she may stump me as well.  The nature of my training allows me to take a step back and analyze the context and details of everything affecting your student.  My goal is to come up with a possible solution.  Ideally, you and I will work together to make things work well for our student.  And unfortunately, sometimes that involves a lot of trial and error.

 

five-maklay62

 

Occupational therapists are often synonymous with “handwriting teacher.”  It’s true, much of my caseload is focused on helping my students improve their handwriting skills but there is so much more going on in this area.  Sometimes the things you may see me doing with our student (“What’s with that infinity symbol you’re always drawing?”) are targeting different skills that support handwriting.  In addition, please know that there is so much more to my job than addressing handwriting.  I often work closely with teachers to address seating, sensory processing, visual schedules, cutting skills, bilateral coordination, visual motor skills, and much more.  If you are ever concerned about our student or another of your students, I can see if there is something I can do to help.  And if I am not able, I am happy to identify the person who can.

i-am-a-student-lourdesnique-pixaby

I have tremendous respect for teachers.  It takes a very special person to wake up every morning and do that amazing work.  I feel privileged to be in a profession that supports them and allows us to support our students together.  And I hope that my 5 wishes will help to create and enhance the bond between teachers and occupational therapists as we come together toward this goal.

 

April FrancoApril Franco, OTR, MOT has been a pediatric occupational therapist since 2011 and had years of early childhood education experience prior to attending OT school. She has worked within a clinic setting, as well as home-based early intervention services, and has served children from birth to 16 years of age with a wide range of developmental disabilities and diagnoses. In fall 2015, she began working within the educational setting. She considers working as an occupational therapist to be a tremendous privilege. April tweets @prilbo and is on Pinterest as missaprilotr. She can be reached at aprilotr@gmail.com.

 

 

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Go-To-For-OT Blog or affiliated Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest sites, and shared on social or public media or as links on other sites is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors and administrator of these posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.  

Picture Credits:  

Use of photos that are the property of the photographers should include the link provided to the contributor’s source.

5 Things An OT Shares With Her General Education Teachers

Taking Care of YOU

Turke empty cupTaking Care of YOU

by Stacy M. Turke

on the On the Road with @stacyturke OTR blog

 

 

 

I’m writing this in late August, and I can already feel “it.”

I’m not talking about the nip in the air that we here in Michigan feel when we open our doors in the morning, and that chilly “Oh, yeah, fall is coming” feeling hits.  I look forward to that feeling because the haze of summer is leaving and the cool, almost surreal clarity of the sky is nearly upon us.

I’m not talking about the excitement some of us feel as we near the high school and college football seasons and our weekend wardrobes begin to take on the unmistakable Green and White (feel free to insert your favorite team colors here) of our collective cheering sections.

What I’m already starting to feel, and I am betting I’m not the only one, is that dread of the stress of moving from the somewhat slower pace of summer into the frenetic pace of Autumn. You know the drill, the loonnngggg work days that form the beginning of the school year.  All the extra meetings and trainings that happen in the first few weeks. Trying to be at all of my schools on the first day to support all of the kids and all of the teachers all at the same time, which is of course impossible and…(pause for a breath here).

All that.  I am feeling…and dreading…all that.

And I don’t even have kids living at home anymore!  Many of you are getting the kids to and from day care and after-school activities or sports, moving bedtimes back to accommodate the darned alarm clock, rearranging the house to recreate the homework stations of the year before, refiguring how to get laundry done and groceries into the house and lunches packed and dinners made and get to all the events that are on the calendar.  You don’t need me to tell you how tough this time of the year can be on a family, do you?  So you are probably wondering, as we step into September, “How can I make this year different?”  How can I tackle all of my (child-care) (teaching) responsibilities while still taking care of me?

As an Occupational Therapist, I understand the importance of balance.  I know that I can’t strengthen my biceps without also strengthening my triceps when I lift weights. Both are needed for my arms to be in balance.  If I only work on my biceps, I won’t be able to use my arms with full functionality, and eventually I won’t be able to move them out of flexion at all. Balance is needed.

Balance is also needed to sit and move with good stability.  Without balance, I might fall out of my chair while sitting to work or eat.  I might fall when walking through the house or going downstairs to do laundry.  And heaven forbid I should try to walk outside in the winter, on ice and snow, if I don’t have balance.  With both of my pregnancies, my balance was off because my body changed so rapidly, and my wipe-outs on the ice were legendary!  I was not balanced, and man did it show.

And just as balance is needed physically, recently there is increased awareness in our society that work-life balance is also needed in order to be fully happy and healthy humans.  To support its Centennial Vision Statement, the American Occupational Therapy Association recognizes that Health and Wellness services are a growing area of practice, due in part to “imbalances in life roles.”  We are overworking ourselves and allowing our children to be over-committed, and we are feeling the stress of it as a society.  We are allowing ourselves, and our families, to be out of balance.

So I’m writing today as a reminder, with autumn approaching in the early days and weeks of the new school year, to try hard to allow time for those activities and behaviors that fill YOU up as a human, not only your work ethic but also your body, mind, and soul. Take time for YOU so that you have something to give to your children and your students.

 

Try* to:

  • Eat healthy portions of healthy foods  You know what this looks like:  Eat protein with every meal.  Reduce sodium, fat, refined flour and sugar.  Eat as many different colored veggies and fruits each day as you can.  Drink water.  Eat Turke healthy foods clip artenough and not too much. Keeping your diet in check will help you stay healthy, and a healthy parent or teacher will be more effective with their kids and students.

 

 

  • Exercise  Most sources say that adults should aim for five 30-minute activity sessions per week that get your heart rate up.  See your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough for this level of activity before starting.  Can’t fit in 5 exercise sessions per week?  Start with one.  Work up to more as you develop the stamina. Once you see how good you feel, you will likely build in more because you will be motivated.  Staying active will keep your muscles and joints in good health, making the work and play with kiddos easier and more pain-free for your body.

 

  • Get the recommended amount of sleep for your age group  How much you need is variable and dependent upon a number of factors, with age being key. Try to get enough rest, not only for your health but also for your mood and mental clarity.  A rested adult will be a calm, focused adult when the kid stuff is swirling around your feet!

 

  • Engage in a hobby  I’ve always been a voracious reader; and as an adult I’ve added running, cupcake baking, and gardening to my list of preferred hobbies. My youngest daughter, a college student, loves adult coloring books and painting molecular structures such as this image she created of various components of tea (hey, whatever makes you happy).

Turke molecular structures picture

 

My oldest daughter has become a gourmet cook over the years, adding to her recipes and cooking strategies during her many work-related world travels.  I have friends who hunt Pokemon…knit afghans for foster children…play various strategy and board games…you name it.  Find something to enjoy.  Balance your work-life responsibilities with something that feeds your soul and nourishes your creativity and sense of purpose.

  • Spend quiet time with your pets  Research shows that pet ownership brings a host of health benefits including reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, and feelings of loneliness while increasing your activity level and opportunities for
    Turke beautiful Prince Marius
    Stacy’s magnificent Prince Marius!

    socialization. Having a pet in the home or classroom helps children develop a sense of responsibility as they nurture and care for the little furry/scaly/feathery companion.  I personally can feel my stress melting off when my gigantic cat climbs up onto my lap and begins purring.  And how cool is this, there is actually research that found the sound of cat purring helps promote bone strength when healing!  Go get a cat! (As long as you aren’t allergic!)

 

 

 

  • Aim for reduced screen time  Government recommendations suggest no more than 1-2 hours per day for kids, and we know that our behavior models what is acceptable.  Try, especially in the couple hours before bedtime, to cut back and/or eliminate screen time entirely.  You will improve the quality of your sleep, have more meaningful time with your family, and have more time for your non-tech based hobbies.  Your kids and your pets will thank you!

 

*By “Try” I literally mean make an attempt.  Gently.  With intent but without pressure.  Aim to hit these types of goals, without beating yourself up if you can’t meet them each day or week.  Balance is important even when working toward new goals, behaviors, and habits!

 

Work-Life Balance, often referred to as “Occupational Balance” by occupation-oriented therapists, is complex, and it “forms the foundation of who we are and how we see ourselves.”  And it’s important.  Do your best to remember YOU as this school year progresses.  If we are running on “empty,” it’s hard to have anything to share with those children and activities that are important to us.

 

 

Stacy M. Turke, OTR/L:   “On the Road with @stacyturke OTR blog.”  Stacy has been a school OT for 30 years with the same school district in Michigan in what she describes as “my dream job.”  Her career has ranged from working in a “center-based” school to working in public and private schools throughout the county, including those in the rural, suburban, and urban areas.  She has experience working with students with a wide range of educational needs, to include cognitive impairments, Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical challenges, sensory processing needs, and many other learning challenges. She expresses her enthusiasm when she says “This career has been fulfilling, always presenting new and interesting challenges, and is NEVER boring!”  You can connect with Stacy on Pinterest at  https://www.pinterest.com/stacyturke/ and on Twitter at @stacyturke.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Go-To-For-OT Blog or affiliated Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest sites, and shared on social or public media or as links on other sites is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors and administrator of these posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.  

Picture Credits:  

Use of photos that are the property of the author should include a link back to this block,  Those that are the property of photographers or site owners should include the link provided to the contributor’s source.

 

 

 

Taking Care of YOU

Updated DIY Adapted Stylus or Pointer

Shannon Intro Pic August
Photo property of the Molly Shannon.

Updated DIY Adapted Stylus or Pointer

by Molly Shannon, MS, OTR/L, ATP,

on the ATandOT Blog

 

 

 

Why would I need to make an adapted stylus or pointer?  Many children, students, or adults with physical limitations have difficulty holding a stylus and/or have difficulty isolating their index fingers for using technology, pointing to indicate their choices in communication, or in turning pages of a book.  These styli can be made very inexpensively as a DIY project.  As an Occupational Therapist, I have used these types of styli for operating standard computer keyboards, touch screens, augmentative communication devices, pointing for choice-making, or even to assist with turning pages in books.  There is an option to use either a standard pencil with an eraser tip or a specific stylus with tip (capacitive tip) depending upon your client’s need when making this stylus.

This project can also be a great community service project for students.  I have used this as a great hands-on DIY activity with college-level occupational therapy students.  You also could donate the extra styli that you make from the additional materials to local schools or rehabilitation centers.

The following instructions have been updated and edited from a variety of older sources to make the steps easier to understand and to encourage the use of these low-cost adaptations in cases where finances prevent purchase of expensive commercially available options.

Please use caution with any of the tools involved in making these styli.

Materials needed:  PVC pipe, cutting tool, sand paper, acetone, cotton balls, markers, fast-drying glue, drill, two-sided fastening strips, small pencil or inexpensive stylus, and pliers:

  1. Cutting PVC:  Buy a ¾” piece of PVC pipe from the hardware store.  (They are sold in about 10-foot pieces in the plumbing section.)  You can ask them to cut 4-inch-long pieces for you, otherwise proceed to a. and b. below.  Some resources recommend using 1″ diameter PVC, but this is too hard to cut with the PVC cutter.
  • Measure and mark 4-inch segments along the pipe’s length with a permanent marker.
  • You will then either cut the segments out with a handsaw or PVC pipe cutter tool. Be careful as the Shannon Cutter Toolsegments can tend to pop off once you squeeze the cutter tool very tightly. PVC/pipe cutter tools are available online or from Home Depot (from $15-30.00).

 

  1. You can perform the next steps in any order:
  • Acetone:   You will need to purchase acetone from a drug store or online since it is no longer an ingredient in gel fingernail polish used in the homes (cost from $4-10.00).  Use the acetone with a cotton ball on the piece of PVC pipe to remove markings from the manufacturer and your black marker marks.   Shannon Acetone   Be careful and wash hands afterwards as the acetone is powerful!

 

  • Sand the ends of the cut PVC pipe smooth with a medium-grade sand paper.  It is easier if you cut small pieces of sand paper.
  • Cut 11″ of double-sided fastening tape (Velcro brand is a more expensive option) to assist in holding the adapted stylus or pointer.  I ordered a roll of this product in a 5-yard roll from Amazon for $6.85 (product name:  Fastening Tape 0.75-inch Hook & Loop Fastening Tape 5 yard/roll – Black or other colors).

 

Photo property of Molly Shannon.
Photo property of Molly Shannon.

Shannon Velco 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • If making a pointer:   For typical situations, you can use a small pencil.  You can break a long pencil into a shorter pencil or use a Handwriting without Tears small pencil.  But if needed, for your client’s purposes, use a longer pencil in the stylus.   For example:  You may need to use a longer pencil for turning the pages of a book.  The eraser end will be pointing out towards the surface it is pointing at or is pressing on.
  • If making a stylus:  Use an inexpensive stylus (from the Dollar Store or get multi-packs from Amazon for example) for use with touch-sensitive technology.  You may have to use pliers to pull out the piece on the end of the stylus that is typically used to “clip-on” to a pocket or else the stylus cannot fit into the hole that you will drill.

Shannon Stylus

Shannon Tripod Grasp

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Making holes for the stylus or pencil:  You can use a ¼” drill bit for a pencil that will be used as a pointer (eraser tip pointed out to access keyboards or communication devices without touch screens) OR use a 3/8″ drill bit for use with a standard, inexpensive stylus for touch screens (capacitive screens).
  • Place a dot with the marker about 1-1 ½” from the end of the 4″ piece of PVC pipe.
  • You should score the drawn dot with a nail and hammer in order to more easily drill a hole into the PVC pipe.
  • Stabilize the PVC pipe piece with a table clamp.
  • Use the drill (cordless for the ¼” for a pencil or corded for the stylus) carefully.    Get a peer to stabilize the pipe if needed.
  • Again use the ¼” drill bit for a typical pencil and the 3/8″ drill bit for the stylus.
  • You can use the nail to clean out the hole or sand it a bit as well.
  1. You can leave a pencil in the hole without glue typically, but you would need to use a quick-drying glue, such as Gorilla Glue to stabilize the stylus.  If over time the stylus tip stops working (as they often do), you can pull/pry out the stylus and insert and glue in another.  Give the glue a few minutes to dry.

 

  1. Add the double sided fastening strap into the adapted stylus, join the ends, and it is ready for use with your client once the glue dries.

    Photo property of Molly Shannon.
    Photo property of Molly Shannon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you are ready to begin using your DIY stylus to help your client with access to technology, turning pages of books, or indicating their choices by pointing for communication.

 

Molly Shannon, OTR/L, ATPMolly Shannon, OTR/L, AT , is an occupational Therapist with 33 years’ experience and  currently working in the public schools as a school-based Occupational Therapist in NC. She has specialized in the provision of Assistive Technology for 29 of those years and is RESNA certified as an Assistive Technology Professional. In addition, Molly is an Adjunct Professor of Occupational Therapy at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences in the Master’s Program teaching Therapeutic Adaptations/Assistive Technology in OT. She loves to present and train others in Assistive Technology and has been a national-level conference presenter since 1989.  She has worked with clients of all ages and with a wide range of disabilities in public/private school settings, non-profit educational/therapeutic agencies, outpatient/inpatient rehabilitation, and with the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program.  You can connect with Molly on Twitter sitePinterest Boards, or her ATandOT Facebook page.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Go-To-For-OT Blog or affiliated Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest sites, and shared on social or public media or as links on other sites is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors and administrator of these posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.  

Photos that are the property of the author should not be used without a link back to this blog.  All photos that include a link to an originating site should be used with a link back to that site.  

Updated DIY Adapted Stylus or Pointer

Water Fun!

Turke Title PictureWater Fun!

by Stacy M. Turke

on the On the Road with @stacyturke OTR blog

 

 

It seems hard to believe, but it’s already August, which means that the new school year is just around the corner.  I am starting to see the “Back to School” section of my local stores filling up with the usual supplies such as crayons and paper, backpacks, and locker organizers.  TV ads for school uniform sales and tutoring services run all afternoon, and school parking lots are already showing signs that teachers are beginning to set up their classrooms.  I have started organizing my activities and files, getting them ready for that first week back; and I’ve begun to put important dates on the calendar for fall.  All the things I need to do to be ready when that day arrives in the not-too-distant future.  But I have this nagging thought that I’m structuring and organizing and sorting my way through these days without enjoying the slower pace and longer daylight hours that summer brings.  I can’t help but wonder, “Can’t we slow this down a bit?”  I mean, we still have a few weeks of summer left before the rush begins again!  Can’t we keep playing for a bit longer?

The answer of course is “yes, yes, we can!”  And for many of us, we should.  I believe it’s important to play and keep the slower pace of summer as long as we can to help refill our sense of well-being and energy.  And it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated play.  Think back to your own childhood, mom and dad.  Do you remember what you enjoyed doing the most in the summers when you were young?  My guess is that your favorite summer activities involved water, in some form or another.  And in the heat of this extra-hot summer, what could be better than playing with water?

Water-Play Ideas from your School OT

Swimming

Yep, tried and true.  I didn’t have to mention swimming and your mind already went there, right?  So why state the obvious?  Because I wanted to be able to share WHY swimming is so great for kids.

  • On a hot day, nothing cools a body as quickly and efficiently as a dip in the pool (or lake or ocean).
  • Swimming involves the whole body, which means the whole brain is engaged, too.
  • When kids are swimming, they are strengthen all of their muscles; and strong muscles are needed to maintain sitting positions in school.
  • Learning to swim, and playing in the water in general, helps kids develop motor planning skills, which will make learning new physical activities easier.
  • Swimming lets kids explore different sensations, such as water lapping gently on their skin or rushing past their face; the quiet of the world when underwater;  or the light of the sun dancing off the waves.
  • Kids don’t have to be expert swimmers to have fun with other kids in the water.

Turke idahoptvRunning through the Sprinkler

My family didn’t have a pool and we were not close to a swimmable lake.  But we had a sprinkler; and as kids, my brother and I took advantage of it often.  I can still remember how those first droplets of cold water felt on my skin when the sprinkler began to spin and spray, and how long our giggles lasted as we jumped through the middle to get to the other side.  So what, besides fun, did we get out of running through the sprinker?

  • A chance to cool off
  • Aerobic activity and fitness
  • Varied sensations, such as cool water, slippery grass, sunlight on the water droplets which may create rainbows, to name a few
  • Silly, goofy play, and rarely being alone.  Just try to run through a sprinkler as a solitary activity.  Friends will come out of the woodwork!

Paint with Water

I personally loved painting with water when my own kids were young.  We would take a bucket of clean water outside with a couple paintbrushes, the kind you would use to paint paintbrush 1588877 pixabaythe house.  MAKE SURE THEY ARE CLEAN (did I yell that?) or you might end up painting for real!  The water “paint” can go on any surface, but we especially enjoyed painting the driveway and garage door.  On sunny hot days, the water dried pretty quickly, so the surface could be repainted endlessly.  We painted tic-tac-toe; we painted letters and words, simple shapes, whatever we were interested in.  And while we were having fun, my kids were working on:

  • Strengthening the muscles and joints of their arms, which provided stability for those writing muscles in the fingers
  • Improving the development of their eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills
  • Being creative and sharing materials
  • Bonus:  Take sidewalk chalk outside with you; and after drawing, “paint” over your work with the water.  It will dry clean and you can write all over the driveway again!

Bathtub Playbathtub play Kaz pixabay

Inevitably, one or more of your remaining summer days will be a rain-out.  But no problems if you have a bathtub or large sink! You know all the usual water play toys, but have you ever taken a water squirter or turkey baster into the tub?  What about shaving cream?  Or the two together:  use shaving cream in the tub, then wash the designs off the bathtub wall using the squirter or baster!

 

 

I assume it goes without saying, but just in case: remember to supervise your kids when  water safety Fotomek pixabaythey are playing with or in water.  Keep eyes on swimming kids at all times and use floatation devices in addition.  Grass gets slippery when wet, so consider using water shoes to increase traction.  Use sunblock.  And most of all:  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE FUN TOO!

Yep, I yelled that also.  Never underestimate the impact of fun! 

 

 

Stacy M. Turke, OTR/L:   “On the Road with @stacyturke OTR blog.”  Stacy has been a school OT for 30 years with the same school district in Michigan in what she describes as “my dream job.”  Her career has ranged from working in a “center-based” school to working in public and private schools throughout the county, including those in the rural, suburban, and urban areas.  She has experience working with students with a wide range of educational needs, to include cognitive impairments, Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical challenges, sensory processing needs, and many other learning challenges. She expresses her enthusiasm when she says “This career has been fulfilling, always presenting new and interesting challenges, and is NEVER boring!”  You can connect with Stacy on Pinterest at  https://www.pinterest.com/stacyturke/ and on Twitter at @stacyturke.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Go-To-For-OT Blog or affiliated Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest sites, and shared on social or public media or as links on other sites is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors and administrator of these posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.  

Picture Credits:  

Photos are the property of the photographers or site owners and their use should include the link provided to the contributor’s source.

 

Water Fun!