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

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

Fun with Food!

 

Fun with Food!

Turke July Intro Pic

 

by Stacy M. Turke

on the On the Road with @stacyturke OTR blog

 

 

 

 

 

When I was growing up, mom insisted that we could not play with our food.  I’d bet lots of you heard that growing up, too.  As a kid, I never really understood why “playing” with my food was a problem, as long as I ate it and didn’t make too much of a mess at the dinner table.  I understood that Mom didn’t want us to waste food, certainly, and she wanted to be sure that we had adequate nutrition.  But what was the problem if my carrot sticks first became a “paintbrush” to make designs in the ketchup that was inevitably on my plate?

And now I’m a School OT and I encourage playing with food!  There are so many reasons to try using food items in non-traditional ways with kids, and all of them are fun. So this month we answer the question:  Should I let my kids play with food?

The answer: Yes!  Yes you should!

 

Working With Food For Fun

This summer, I am working in a school setting that provides Extended School Year services to students from all over our county.  One group of children on the Autism Spectrum have goals that focus on visual-motor development, ranging from using both hands together to complete a task (bilateral hand skills) to writing their first names from memory.  I could grab the crayons, paints, and playdoh and create a fun task that would address the kids’ goals.   And that would be fine.  But because I know that several of the children have significant limitations in what they will eat, I decided that this summer we would address goals through the use of food items.  And so far we’ve had FUN!

It is important to point out that while we are using food as the medium, the actual “eating” of the food for this group of students is a secondary goal.  In fact,  we do not even mention eating with them unless they indicate in some way that they want to munch on the materials.  We want to reduce anxiety around food for our students who are very limited in their food tolerances, and we stress the process rather than the product.  While it’s not always possible, I try to avoid working in the same area where the kids normally eat to differentiate this from snack or mealtime.  We fully allow tasting the materials; and if any of the students want to eat more than a taste, we keep handy a visual that says “First work then eat” so they know that actual snacking can happen when the work part of the task is finished.

Fun Food Projects To Try

 

Fruit Kabobs

Fruit Kabobs

 

Last week, we created Fruit Kabobs with a 4th of July slant.  I found the idea on Pinterest.  (How did we ever function before Pinterest?)  We loaded bamboo skewers with blueberries and added a watermelon star at the top.  After making these cute kabobs, we recreated them on paper. This was a really simple process for the students, all of whom could participate with minimal adult support.  In advance, I prepped the watermelon by slicing it into thin slices so that each child could have their own piece.  I made one sample skewer, giving my students a visual prompt they could use as their model.  The kids used star-shaped cookie cutters and pressed them into the watermelon slice to make the stars.  And then we put them together. Really that simple.

And what therapeutic benefits did the students receive?  Well, for starters…

  • Great sensory input including tactile, olfactory (smell), visual, and taste (for those who braved tasting!)
  • Motor planning while completing the observed tasks
  • Completing multi-step tasks from a model
  • Bilateral hand practice when placing the blueberries onto the skewer
  • Eye-hand coordination, not only while placing the blueberries onto the skewer, but also when we recreated them on paper
  • Visual tracking and eye-gaze shift while “stringing” and referencing the model

 

Pretzel/Pudding Painting

Another task we completed this summer was Pudding Painting.  As a group, we made pudding from an instant pudding mix and added blue food color to make it resemble the color someone might use to paint a water scene.  We used a little more milk than the recipe called for so that the texture was closer to paint.  Wow, did we have fun!  While the pudding set in the refrigerator, the kids glued a pre-cut yellow circle onto the top of a piece of paper then added vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines around the “sun” to resemble sun rays.  And then we “painted” the blue water on the bottom of the page using fingers or pretzels as our “paintbrushes” and a simple paper plate as their paint palette.  Such a simple task, yet so many therapeutic benefits!

Pretzel Painting1

Pretzel Painting2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adaptations For Making Messy Play Fun

Playing with food can be messy, and for many kids that is half the fun!  But what can you do if your child doesn’t tolerate messy play?  Well, just offer some simple tools and accommodations!  For example,

  • If finger-painting is the focus but your child won’t get his or her hands into the pudding, grab a painting tool.  You might need to start with a long-handled paint brush so the child can see that there is almost no chance of getting his or her fingers messy.  Move to a shorter handled tool once the longer one is easily tolerated.  Maybe even introduce a small truck or car to make wheel marks on paper or across a cookie sheet.  Or how cute would it be to make footprints with small plastic animals?!
  • A specific example of an accommodation made with this summer’s group of children allowed a child to work slowly toward tolerating portions of the task.   One of my students did NOT want to hold the blueberry at first, so loading them onto the skewer was frustrating for him.  Instead of making this a frustrating bilateral task, we allowed him to stab the blueberry on the plate and then an adult helped him move it down the skewer.  After doing a bunch that way, this little guy eventually tried to move a couple down the skewer himself using one hand to hold the stick and the other to hold the blueberry.  (Hint:  that made it a bilateral task!)  He was still addressing so many therapeutic goals by stabbing the blueberries, and eventually was able to tolerate the whole task.
  • Allow the child to wear plastic gloves if those are tolerated but messes are not.
  • Keep paper towels or wipes handy, and reassure your students that washing hands is always an option.

 

Other Considerations

Before you begin using foods as a medium for therapy, it is important that you know if your students have any food allergies or restrictions.  Even if you believe you know for sure that a child won’t try eating whatever you are using, you must be sensitive to cultural or religious food exclusions, and certainly stay away from any food items to which your students are sensitive or allergic.  If you are unsure, communicate with the families of your students before embarking on fun with food.

However you play, make sure it is a fun and no-pressure environment, and you will ALL have a good time!

 

 

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 author or site owners and their use should include the link provided to the contributor’s source.

Fun with Food!

OTR-OTA Relationships: Grow and Learn Together

pinky-swear cherylholt pixabayOTR-OTA Relationships:  Grow and Learn Together

by Marie Toole, MS, OTR/L

on the School Tools From Your Pediatric   Occupational Therapist Blog

 

 

One of the joys of working in the schools is the relationships you make with the teachers and other staff members.  One of the more important relationships to feather is that with the custodian as he or she will be your go-to person for a myriad of reasons.  Another person is the tech teacher for all things computer, keyboard, or technology related.   BUT…..the most important relationship there is in school-based occupational therapy is that between the Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR) and the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA).   I have been working with COTA’s (Certified OTR’s) for many years, first in the hospital setting and for the past 21 years in the schools.  I have learned a thing or two in that time about fostering that relationship and I wanted to share my perspective as an OTR who is supervising two COTA’s with more experience than me!

Although these suggestions can help all OTRs who are supervising COTA’s, they can be especially beneficial to those of you who are new graduates and will supervising COTA’s for the first time or someone who has transitioned into the school setting.   Here are a few of my suggestions:

Know your state guidelines for supervision.  As the OTR, it is your responsibility to know and understand your state guidelines for supervising COTA’s.  The American Occupational Therapy Association shares an informative outline for state-by-state guidelines.  Your license is on the line each and every time a treatment session commences between your COTA and the students on your caseload.  You are responsible even if your COTA carries her own caseload.  You need to know what is happening with those students. office-upsplash pixabay Your state licensing act will be very specific about how much supervision time is required.  My COTA’s have almost 30 years of experience each.  We have been working together a long time.  We have a formal sit-down time of one hour per week but have lots of more informal time to catch up and discuss cases.  I spend half my week at each school so there is plenty of face time at each building.  Make sure you both are comfortable with the amount of formal and informal supervision time you spend together.  You should always err on the side of caution and use your best judgement when deciding how and when supervision should occur.  Does it need to be sit down time? Do you attend IEP/evaluation meetings together?   Do you meet each morning over coffee?  Whatever works for you and meets the letter of the law is good.  If it doesn’t work or you find yourself skipping it…you need a different system.  Try different methods, meeting times, and scheduling.  Make it work so you both feel comfortable and ethical.

Understand each other’s role.  It is very important to understand the scope of practice for the COTA and OTR.  See the Standards of Practice for OT at this link, as well as the AOTA Guidelines for OTA Supervision for specific details.  The OTR performs most of the evaluations but there is a role that the COTAs can play as well.  Although the COTAs cannot interpret results, sometimes they have more time with the students and have a better relationship with them.  In this light, they can perform portions of evaluations under the direction of the OTR or complete classroom observations to add anecdotal information.  That is valuable information that will assist in making meaningful and appropriate treatment sessions.

diversity-ambroochizafer pixabayHave Mutual Respect.  I think this is probably the most important aspect of the OTA/OTR relationship.  It needs to be a true partnership in every sense.  Trust needs to be there as does open lines of communication.  When I first left the hospital setting and was transitioning to the schools for work,  the COTA I was to supervise had been working in the schools for years.  She had vast experience and knowledge that I soaked up and used to better myself.  I was coming from a medical model background and it took time to make the transition to the education/related service delivery model instead.  She helped me navigate the intricacies of IEP’s and school-based OT evaluations.  She schooled me on the timelines and regulations that go along with all things school related.  She was and still is a wealth of knowledge to this day.  I could not have done this job without her.   Yes I was her supervisor, but I was never her superior, nor will I ever be.  We have a wonderful working relationship and enjoy each other’s company on the occasional social events outside of the school day.  We have presented several workshops together and we often finish each other’s sentences.  Years of working together with both of my COTAs has shown me what mutual respect can look like.    Knowing your limits and what each can bring to the table will greatly enhance your relationship.

Coordinate your Professional Development.  One area that we work on is continuing education and professional development.  We almost never go to the same workshops.  Going to different workshops or conferences brings more knowledge into the working relationship.  We share what we learned and try out new ideas or treatment methods and have an honest and true discussion about merits and pitfalls.  You have to be able to give and take and at times agree to ditch something that is not working for something better.  Bettering yourself professionally only enhances that relationship.

businessman-ravadosa pixabayHave a Way to Communicate quickly.  Sometimes I am in one building and something happens at the other building that needs immediate or quick attention.  Sharing schedules and telephone contact information only enhances your communication.  We use text messaging as well as phone messages and email as ways of communicating quickly.  The school secretary can always find me if it is a true emergency.  Sometimes, if there are snow days or holidays, I may not get to one of the buildings for several days.  Things come up.  So have a way of communicating that works for both of you.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!   Speaking of communicating…do it often!  Open lines of communication are a MUST in this job.  Do not let things fester or boil over.  We need to work as a team to get the best from our students.  The best and easiest way to do that is to talk, and talk, and talk some more.  We often bounce ideas off each other or ask questions and even think out loud.  Often I am typing evals or writing IEP’s if I am not working directly with students.  My favorite thing is when my COTAs say “When you have a minute, I need advice/have a question/want to try something, etc.”  It lets me know they need something but gives me a chance to finish up what I am working on to shift gears and give them the full attention the request deserves.  Do not be checking email or your phone while doing this.  Listen attentively and actively; and if you need time to digest or think about their request, let them know.  Sometimes I don’t have all the answers…actually more often than not I don’t.  It is okay to say that and to gather the information and report back.  It is not okay to guess and make a mistake because you thought you had to have an answer right then and there.  “Let me get back to you on that” is a great phrase to use.  Sticky notes are my absolute favorite things ever (why didn’t I think of that invention?).  My COTAs leave me sticky notes so they won’t forget to ask me something the next time they see me.  Have a spot where they can leave you notes/messages/forms that need signing, etc., and that they do not want to forget.  I have a mailbox and share a desk at each building.  It is the first place I check when I arrive at each building.    My COTAs know it is the place to leave all important things that need my attention.  Make sure you have a place that is safe and secure so that wandering eyes do not necessarily see information that is private or sensitive.

Know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  This goes back to communication.  You must share and acknowledge the areas that are challenging for each of you.  One of my COTAs is “technologically challenged” and she readily admits it.  I help her with all things team geralt pixabaycomputer and she balances my impulsiveness.  When the ebb and flow of the school year gets crazy and there are all kinds of evals to complete, this is when you need to be able to say “Can you shift something to help me with this?”  When you understand each other’s strengths and challenges ,you can play off each other and complement services to fit both people’s needs.   It is a give and take and with time this should be a comfortable arrangement.  When you both share the same drive and passion for working with children, this is easy.  When you are out of sync it takes work.

Understand that life happens.  I think this is the best piece of advice I can give you.  Personal issues come up, there are weddings and  graduations to attend, babies and grandchildren are born,  kids or parents get sick, loved ones die….all these things need to be put into perspective.  As I tell my COTA’s (and anyone who will listen), “They are not going to name the school after you!”  Giving each other the needed time off to attend to family needs is a must.  Family comes first and when a crisis hits, you want to know that your school family will be there to support you.  Being flexible and understanding goes a long way in building trust and respect.  Allowing each other the room tolive life to the fullest  will guarantee a mutually respected, complementary, trusting OTR-OTA relationship that others will be envious of.

 

**This blog is dedicated to the two amazing COTA’s I work with.  Penny and Judy …I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the helping me to grow as a supervising OTR and for the trusting, caring, mutually respectful relationship we have.  You Rock!  I will miss you as I start my new adventures in life!

 

 

Marie TooleMarie L. Toole, MS, OTR/ L, is a pediatric occupational therapist with 28 years experience in NICU, Early Intervention, and private practice with the last 20 years spent working in public schools. She is NBCOT and SIPT certified as well as a member of AOTA and NHOTA.  She lives in southern New Hampshire and can be reached at marietoole320@gmail.com.  Follow her on Twitter @MarieTooleOTNH, on Pinterest marietooleNHOT, and on School Tools for Pediatric Occupational Therapists  where she tweets, pins, and posts about OT, education, autism, and sensory integration, as well as other school related topics.

 

 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 are the property of the photographers at Pixabay and their use should include the link provided to the contributor’s source.  

 

 

OTR-OTA Relationships: Grow and Learn Together

Old-Timey Fun = Therapy

Old Time Fun Therpay Shannon May Blog Intro

 

 

Old-Timey Fun = Therapy

by Molly Shannon, OTR/L, ATP,

on the ATandOT Blog

 

 

In over three decades of being a mother and occupational therapist, I have seen such a drastic shift in the amount and type of play that children in our country participate in today. With the summer school break not too far away, I wanted to share some insights and resources regarding the importance of play, and in particular, older time-honored classic games and activities you can share with your children to help improve their overall fine and gross motor skills, upper body strength and coordination, handwriting skills, memory skills, and social interaction abilities.  Parents are always asking me for activities to do at home with their children who receive occupational therapy and are excited to hear about some of these tried-and-true activities that can help their child developmentally.

There has been a great deal of buzz in the media in recent years about the vital role that play, outdoor play, and recess provide to children. With an eye on evidence-based practice, this is an intriguing study published by the JAMA that identified that about half of the preschoolers in their study did not have even one parent-supervised outdoor play opportunity per day. There is one school district in Texas that has quadrupled recess to research the benefits to students.   My peer blogging buddy, Marie Toole (School Tools for Pediatric Occupational Therapists) recently posted an excellent blog about incorporating sensory breaks and movement throughout the school day.  Another great article noted the challenges facing the current crop of “helicopter” parents’ in allowing their children to simply play outside and understanding that these skills are critical for childhood development.

As an OT that has specialized in school-based therapy, I have seen such a decrease in both typical and special needs children’s ability to hold a pencil using a correct, functional pencil grip and in overall legibility with handwriting.  Some of the reasons for the poor grip and messy handwriting may possibly include the decreased time that children are playing outside, the increased time spent indoors using a variety of technology, the lack of time children are “non-scheduled” with afterschool activities, the increase in finger foods which do not require the use of utensils, and the lack of participation in games and activities that promote fine and gross motor coordination (such as old-timey activities and games).

As a child in the 60’s, I spent hours and hours outside riding my bike, practicing clapping games with my friends, and playing hopscotch.  My four children, raised in the 80’s and 90’s did spend a lot of time outdoors, yet not as much as my generation, playing on their non-motorized scooters, riding in their “cozy” car, and jumping rope.  Yet, my four grandchildren, aged 2-8, spend so much less time outside playing; and if they do, they may be in a motorized car, playing briefly with balls, or on their swingset (if their parent is available to watch them).  I do think that there is an increased fear that parents now have about their child’s safety and they are fearful to let them out of their sight.  When my grandchildren do come to stay with Mimi and Poppa, we make a concerted effort to never have the TV on and to work hard at interacting and playing with them both inside and outside.

 

Hula Hoop
Hula Hoop

 

Fortune Teller
Fortune Teller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some classic games and activities to play with the children in your life along with some potential developmental benefits of each. If you don’t remember how to play some of them, just check out Pinterest or the internet as there are many great resources available (Here is a link to my Pinterest board “Old Timey Fun=Therapy.”

 

Activity Gross Motor Fine Motor Motor Planning Bilateral Skills Strength/

endurance

Visual Motor  Social Skills Sensory Skills Perceptual/Memory
Hula hoops and Skip bo x x x x
Hopscotch, Croquet, ring toss, bocce ball x x x x x x x x
Jump rope, chinese jump rope, and limbo x x x x x x x
Clapping games, string play x x x x x x x
Pick up sticks, Tiddly Winks, Jacks, marbles, Potato head x x x x
Card games: Old Maid, Go Fish, War, etc x x x x x
Games: Red light/green light, charades, Simon Says, Hokey Pokey, Hot Potato, Hide and Seek, Duck-Duck-Goose, Musical Chairs x x x x x x x
Bubbles, giant bubbles x x x x x
Ball play, obstacle courses x x x x x x
Origami, fortunetellers x x x x x x
Playdough, paper dolls, cutting dough x x x x x x
Washing their bikes, toy cars or helping their parents wash and dry their cars x x x x x
Sensory play and tasks with gardening, playing in the dirt, water play, sidewalk chalk, water balloons x x x x x x x

 

So put down the phone, remote, or tablet yourself as a parent or loved one.  Make the effort to spend time playing with the special children in your life and it will help them with their overall development too. The bottom line is that these games and activities are FUN and that is why they are treasured classics.

 

 

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 are the property of the author and should not be used without her expressed permission.  

Old-Timey Fun = Therapy