Thursday, March 26, 2015

Therapy on a Shoestring Budget- Homemade Fidget/Stressball!

Want to make your own stress ball or fidget? Just follow these easy steps. 
-2 Sturdy balloons (latex free if needed) 
-Small ziplock back of flour

1)    Blow air into one of the balloons to stretch the balloon. Next, release the air from the balloon.  Repeat this step with the second balloon.

2)    Cut the rings off of both balloons that are located at the end of the balloon.

3)    Take the bag of flour and twist it to condense the flour into one corner of the plastic bag.
4)    With the help of a partner, have one person hold the twisted bag of flour tight while the other person stretches the balloon over the bag of flour.

5)    Cut off the tip end of the plastic bag and push the bag (or shake it) down into the balloon.

6)    Tie off the end of the balloon. Then, cut the excess balloon off above the knot.

7)    Stretch the 2nd balloon around the flour filled balloon.

8)    Cut off the excess part of the balloon that is used for tying.

9)  Use a permanent marker to add a face or a design of your preference to your newly assembled stress ball. 

10) For different sensory input, use rice and/or beans.

Thanks to UTHSC MOT I students Leah Burress, Ashley Wright and Brittney Woods for sharing this fun idea!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Easy Tie Shoe Laces Make Shoe Tying Easy!

I was recently contacted by the founder of Easy Tie Shoe laces, and she offered to provide me with several pairs of these new laces. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try this new product out with my pediatric clients.

When I opened the package, I immediately noticed the bright colors! With a variety of lace colors available, this gives a child the opportunity to choose his or her favorite pair, which makes the task much more fun than using traditional laces!

Each individual lace is two different colors so that a child doesn’t confuse the laces when learning to tie. This makes it easy to provide instruction because you can tell the child, “make a loop out of the blue lace and wrap the yellow lace around the blue loop.” Another benefit to these shoelaces is that the slightly stiff texture keeps the laces from flopping around, making it easier to manipulate them when tying. Finally, Easy Tie laces are designed so that they will always stay even in length.

Watch how easy it is for Susie to practice shoe tying using the Easy Tie laces!


For more information about Easy Tie laces, visit or purchase a pair on Amazon!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sensory Fun: Teaching Letter Formation

Letter formation is an important skill that children in Kindergarten are typically learning.  For those students who resist paper and pencil tasks, multi-sensory instructional approaches are often effective. When a child is first learning the letters, it's a good idea to start with their name. Take some Crayola Air Dry Clay and have the child roll it into a long hotdog shape.

Put the clay on a piece of colorful construction paper and form the clay into the first letter in the child's name. This is a good activity for motor planning! Only provide the least amount of assistance that is needed for the child to successfully complete the task.

Once the child makes the letter successfully, you can use another sensory approach to form the same letter. Have the student tear tissue paper into small pieces and use the finger tips to roll each piece into a small ball. Use Elmer's glue to "write" the letter on another piece of construction paper. (Provide assistance as needed.) Then have the student use a pincer grasp to place the tissue paper balls on the "glue letter." This is a fun sensory activity that addresses letter formation!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

DIY Mini Ring Toss Game!

This mini ring toss game is simple to make and has lots of therapeutic possibilities, including working on fine motor skills, eye hand coordination, colors, and numbers.

You will need:
1 piece of foam board- (approximately 30" x 15")
Duct Tape
Different colors of pipe cleaners
A paper towel roll
A Sharpie

1. Make a "partial cut" across the middle of the foam board
2. Reinforce the side of the foam board that is still connected with Duct Tape
3. Poke holes in the foam board using a metal skewer or other sharp object (be careful!)
4. Attach a piece of tape across the bottom of the folded foam board so that it makes a triangular shape like a slant board (see photo).
5. Cut the pipe cleaners in half, fold them, and poke each one through one of the holes. Spread the ends of the pipe cleaners apart on the backside of the foam board and secure them with duct tape.
6. Cut the paper towel roll to make rings and cover each one with a different color of tape or construction paper. The colors of the rings should correspond with the colors of the pipe cleaners.
Now you are ready to have some fun with your mini ring toss game! The rings can be placed or tossed on the pipe cleaners. You can instruct the child to match the colors or to "place the red ring on the number 5."  Increase the challenge by having the child place the rings using tongs. The possibilities are limitless!!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pets and Children with Autism

Recent research reveals that children with autism who have pets are more assertive. Click HERE for more information.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Motor Skill and Brain-Boosting Developmental Toys for Baby's First Year

Parents often ask me to recommend developmental toys, but I usually recommend simple household objects for play. For example, when children play with empty boxes or pots and pans, they use their imaginations which is wonderful for fostering creativity.  However, new toys at Christmas or on birthdays are always a treat! Here are several of my favorites:

Sassy Ring O' Links Rattle Developmental Toy

These rings are brightly colored which is good for visual stimulation. Babies enjoy shaking and manipulating them, which is wonderful for fine motor skills. I especially like the different textures on the rings!

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack

This toy is also colorful and the stacking task is nice for developing eye-hand coordination. While your baby is playing with the rings, you can teach him about the concepts of big and small.

Here's another toy that's good for motor skills. Babies love to take and out of containers and put them back in, so this toy typically keeps a child occupied while also addressing eye-hand coordination.  During play, teach him the names and colors of the shapes.

The First Years Stacking Up Cups

Here's another basic stacking/nesting toy that I really love. These are super neat because they have numbers on the bottoms, so your baby can learn about counting as well as color and number recognition, and of course, stacking and placing the toys is wonderful for manipulative skills.

Handwriting with the Alphatrangle

While working with a student today, I had the opportunity to use an “Alphatrangle” from “The Size Matters Handwriting Program,” and I was very pleased with my student’s handwriting performance while using it! The product reinforces the handwriting program's concepts, and it’s lightweight, portable and fits perfectly on a desk or small table.  It allows students to have direct visual access to letter formation and size information. A bonus is that the “Alphatrangle” includes a 12-inch ruler! Check out the product here:
Photos from: