Friday, July 15, 2016

Promoting Generalization in Children with Autism
How often have you provided therapy to a child with autism, and after the therapy session, the child has difficulty generalizing skills that seem to be mastered?  This is not uncommon.  Children with autism often have challenges performing a newly learned skill across a variety of settings with different people.  This is called generalization.  For example, a child may master lacing on a practice shoe during therapy, but at home, he is unable to lace his own shoes, or he can write his name in a therapy session, but not in the classroom.  It’s important to note that a controlled therapy session is not reality, and generalization is critical for increased function in real life!

Here are some teaching tips for promoting generalization in children with autism.
  • Teach the concept or skill using a variety of approaches and materials.  For example, when a child is learning about cows, show him a photograph of a cow, a drawing of a cow, and a video of a cow.  It’s also important to vary the instructions.  For example, ask questions in different ways such as, “What’s your name?” and “Who are you?”
  •  Teach the concept or skill across a number of different settings, such as at home, at school and in the community.  If your child is able to count money at school, that’s great, but can she count her money at the grocery store?
  •  Teach the concept or skill with different people.  Have different individuals work with the child on the skill, such as a family friend, sibling, or grandparent.
  •  Provide reinforcement when the child successfully generalizes a skill, then gradually decrease the frequency of the rewards.
  • Use a variety prompts and fade the prompts as soon as possible. The various ways to prompt include physical, visual, verbal.  In order to increase independence, the sooner that you are able to eliminate the prompts, the better.
Most importantly, keep in mine that every encounter and experience is an opportunity for the child to learn and generalize!  More learning experiences lead to increased success and independence.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

DIY Plant Holder: A Therapy Activity

This is a great therapy activity for fine motor skills!  An adult can provide assistance as needed.  It's a perfect gift for a child to give their mom as a birthday or Mother's Day gift!  


Cord/String, Plastic straws, Lightweight pot for plant, Metal O-ring, Plant, Beads


Scissors and Measuring tape


1.     Cut your straws to size: cut off the bendy end of the straw, then cut the longer portion that is left into four equal size lengths.  You will need a total of sixteen pieces of straw this length. Cut the bendy end portion of the straw in half.  We will need a total of four pieces of straw that length.

2.     Cut four pieces of cord six feet long each

3.     Loop all four pieces of cord through the o-ring so the o-ring is in the middle of the cords.

4.     Tie a single knot in all four cords close to the o-ring.  There will now be eight strands of cord hanging from the knotted o-ring.

5.     About two feet from the knot, take two strands of cord that are close to each other and tie a knot. Repeat this step with the remaining strings. There will be four knots total with two cords each all knotted together the same distance from the top.

6.     Take eight of the longer pieces of straw that we previously cut and slide them over each cord strand.

7.     Now group the cords in four sets of two again, making sure that the cords are not grouped as they were before.  Tie knots in these new four sets of two cords as close to the straws as possible.

8.     Take eight of the longer pieces of straw that we previously cut and slide them over each cord strand.

9.     Take the four sets of cords that are already grouped together and tie another knot in each set below the straws.

10.  Now, take eight of the shorter pieces of straw that we previously cut and slide them over each cord strand.

11.  Tie all eight of the cord strands together in one big knot close to the small straw pieces.

12.  (Optional) Slide beads on each cord strand and tie a knot to secure the beads.

13.  Cut all of the remaining hanging cords to the same length to make a tassel.

14.  Place the potted plant inside the hanger. Hang using the o-ring.

15.  Enjoy!
The project above was completed by one of our Master's of Occupational Therapy students at 
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Evidence-Based Practice: Handwriting Intervention Study
Purpose: To examine the effectiveness of two approaches used to improve elementary children’s handwriting.

Methods: New York city elementary school students engaged in two handwriting approaches. One group utilized handwriting practice group (Handwriting Club) and the other group engaged in visual–perceptual–motor activities. After 12-weeks, handwriting speed, legibility, and visual–motor skills were examined using multivariate analysis of variance.

Results:  Students who participated in the handwriting practice group demonstrated greater improvements in handwriting legibility than the students in the visual–perceptual–motor activity group. There were no group differences in handwriting speed and visual–motor skills.

Conclusions: The Handwriting Club (intense handwriting practice) is an effective approach for improving handwriting legibility.

Howe, T.-H., Roston, K. L., Sheu, C.-F., & Hinojosa, J. (2013). Assessing handwriting intervention effectiveness in elementary school students: A two-group controlled study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67, 19–

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Effectiveness of a Handwriting Program Balaraman

This study investigated the effectiveness of a handwriting program that was implemented in a school setting with 1st graders.  The Write Start Program involves teachers and occupational therapists working together implement activity-based handwriting instruction. 

Purpose: To examine the Write Start program with standard handwriting and writing instruction.

Methods: A nonrandomized trail comparing four classrooms that received the Write Start program with four classrooms receiving standard handwriting instruction.  In a 6-month follow-up, the Write Start group handwriting fluency was higher than the control group's fluency.

Results: The handwriting legibility and speed of the students who participated in the Write Start program were no different than the control group immediately after the intervention, but scored better 6-months after the intervention.  The students with decreased legibility who participated in the Write Start program made significant improvements.

Conclusions:  The Write Start Program may benefit students with writing problems as well as those at risk for handwriting problems.

Case-Smith, J., Weaver, L., & Holland, T. (2014). Effects of a classroom-embedded occupational therapist–teacher 
     handwriting program for first-grade students. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, 690–698.  http://dx.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Therapy Share: A Wonderful New Resource!

Are you always looking for new treatment ideas and resources to use with your clients?  So is Deirdre Newburn, OTR/L!  Deirdre has been working an occupational therapist in the same skilled nursing facility for four years.  To say at times that she falls into “treatment ruts” would be an understatement.  However, she has found challenges when trying to find resources. Either the material is copyrighted and costs an outrageous amount of money, or the material is not easy to access.  Deirdre shares, “I have spent hours searching the internet for therapy protocols, educational handouts, or safety worksheets to share with my clients or their caregivers.  I have even surrendered at times and just made my own quick handouts for my patients.  I worked alongside a dear friend who had the same issue as a speech language pathologist working in the same setting before she left to work in the schools.  Together we shared our grievances for access to creative materials and came up with a solution!  After coffee shop meetings and late night text messages once our four little boys were in bed we created” is a new website devoted towards enhancing the ease of access to creative and original healthcare resources in order to enrich the lives of those we serve.  The design of the site is that of an online marketplace where healthcare professionals can upload their digital content to sell or share with their colleagues.  After much market research we found the most receptive populations to initially target were occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, and dietitians/nutritionists, but we hope to expand to encompass all healthcare professions.  The types of resources that are appropriate for uploading to the website are limitless: patient worksheets, home exercise programs, quick reference guides, tip sheets for patients, protocols, caregiver handouts, etc.  The website is growing rapidly, but there is still a great need for more resources to be uploaded to the site. 

If you are a practicing therapist who has created some of your own materials (or have always wanted to, but just need that little extra push) please consider visiting and uploading your resources for FREE.  The website also gives users the opportunity to create their own marketplace on the site where they can include their biography along with links to their social media platforms or businesses. 

The goal of is to create a “one stop shop” type of atmosphere for healthcare professionals to network and exchange their valuable information.  We hope others will join our mission and make The Therapy Share a great success! 

Click HERE to register with us for free AND opt in to receive our newsletter to be entered to win a $25 credit towards the purchase of products on our site.  Upload a product of your own to have your name entered twice.

Deirdre Newburn, OTR/L
CEO of The Therapy Share

Monday, May 9, 2016

Evidence-Based Practice: Handwriting Intervention

Handwriting Intervention Research

An occupational therapist is the professional to call when an individual is having trouble with handwriting!  Writing on the lines, letter formation, legibility, and spacing problems are all issues related to handwriting struggles.  When handwriting is difficult, this can lead to frustration, anxiety, and low self-esteem, so it's important to seek help for this issue.

Here is one research study related to handwriting interventions and occupational therapy.  I will continue to add more article reviews!

Effectiveness of School-Based Occupational Therapy Intervention on Handwriting: 
A Comparative Study

Purpose: To examine the effect of school occupational therapy services on handwriting legibility

Methods: Improvements in handwriting legibility, speed, and in-hand manipulation skills in a group of students who received direct handwriting intervention OT services was compared to those of a control group who did not receive services.

Results: Handwriting legibility scores and in-hand manipulation skills in the treatment group improved significantly compared to the control group.

Conclusion: Direct occupational therapy services resulted in improvements with handwriting legibility and in-hand manipulation skills, but handwriting speed was not impacted by the intervention.

Case-Smith, J. (2002). Effectiveness of school-based occupational therapy intervention on handwriting: A comparative 
          study.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56(1), 17-25.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Win a copy of the parenting book, Retro Baby!!!!

"Put down your smartphone and pick up this book. With plain-spoken, concise wisdom, Dr. Zachry provides vital, research-backed information for parents of young children. Creative, interactive play with other children and adults supports healthy brain development in ways today’s technology never will. "Retro Baby" provides parents fun, money-saving activities that will set their children up for lifelong success." 

"Retro Baby" is the perfect baby shower gift.  To purchase a copy on Amazon, click HERE.

To win a copy of "Retro Baby," all you have to do is like the "Retro Baby" Facebook Page by clicking HERE, and send me a message explaining why you'd like to win a copy and how to contact you.  The drawing will be in June.  Good luck!!!!