Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Free Valentine's Day Worksheets!

I love Valentines Day!  Here are 5 free Valentine's Day worksheets that address visual perceptual skills and fine motor skills.  Just click on the worksheet to go to a PDF copy. Enjoy, and have a happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Handwriting Help: DIY Adapted Pencil

Many children have difficulty holding a pencil correctly. This may be because they were never instructed how to hold a pencil properly or because they were exposed to writing too early, and their little hands weren’t ready to grasp and manipulate a writing utensil. No matter what the cause, if a child has a poor pencil grip, it can lead to problems down the road, especially if the poor grasp is causing stress on certain joints or if there is fatigue or pain during writing tasks.

Here is a DIY adapted pencil that can be used to promote a better grasp. All that you need are a pencil and a short piece of clear vinyl tubing. The piece of tubing should be approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches long, depending on the size of the child’s hand. Cut a hole in one end of the tubing that is just large enough for a pencil to fit through and slide the pencil in. (I use wire cutters to cut the tubing.) 

When holding the pencil, the tubing should be just long enough to wrap the ring and pinkie fingers around it.

This promotes the use of the thumb, index, and middle fingers when writing, and allows for better control of the pencil. It may feel unusual at first, but it gets more comfortable with use!

Thanks to Thaddeus Meyer for coming up with this wonderful idea and allowing me to share it!

Monday, December 3, 2018

How to Help Baby Crawl!

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I'm often asked about the importance of crawling.  I have to say that I'm convinced that there is a relationship between crawling and the development of a number of important skills. For example, the physical act of crawling strengthens a baby's hand, arm, should, and core muscles, and research suggests that crawling influences the development of visual-spatial skills and social-emotional development. I've written about this topic quite a bit! (For more information, see the links below.)
Because I'm such a proponent of early exploration and crawling, I was super excited to learn about a product called the CrawlAhead! This is a portable device used to assist a baby with crawling on all fours by supporting the child's trunk while he or she is in the hands and knees position. When a baby has muscle weakness or other challenges, the CrawlAhead can be used to lift the trunk off of the support surface, allowing the baby to assume and maintain a quadruped position. This provides opportunities for weight bearing and strengthening, which we therapists know is very important! Additionally, a parent or therapist can guide the child's arms and legs "through the motions" of crawling while the support by the device, which will help with motor planning! With practice and time, strength and coordination improves, and the need for the device is reduced, and hopefully, baby will eventually crawl independently! An added bonus of the CrawlAhead is that it is collapsible and fits into a sturdy bag for transporting, which is important for parents and therapists who are "on the go!"

For information about this wonderful product, click on the following link and visit the website.

Photos used with permission.
Related articles:
"Why is Crawling Developmentally Important?"
The Benefits of Tummy Time- 
Crawling Styles-

Bai, DL & Bertenthal, BI (1992). Locomotor status and the development of spatial search skills. Child Development, 63, 215-226. 
Benson, J. B. (1990). The development and significance of crawling in infancy. In J. E. Clark, & J. H. Humphrey (Eds.),    Advances in motor development research. New York: AMS Press.  
Benson, JB, & Uzgiris, I C (1985). Effect of self-initiated locomotion on infant search activity. Developmental Psychology, 21(6), 923-931.  
Campos, J. J., Bertenthal, B. I., & Kermoian, R. (1992). Early experience and emotional development: The emergence of wariness of heights. Psychological Science, 3, 61-64

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Tummy Time Tips!

When your baby is positioned on the stomach to play while supervised, this is considered tummy time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies get supervised tummy time on a daily basis to promote development and prevent flat spots from forming on baby's head.
Here are a few tips on how to introduce tummy time and increase an infant’s tolerance while having fun!
Entertain Baby. If you little one dislike being on her stomach, try entertaining her! Do your best to get baby's mind off of the position. Make eye contact, talk, and sing to baby. Also, play music, read books, or place a mirror in front of her, and the seconds will stretch into minutes!
Face to Face time with Siblings. Have big brother or big sister lie down on the floor close to baby during tummy time. Encourage them to stay at baby's eye level and talk to him or read to him. Siblings love to be helpful!
Have a Schedule. Having a schedule helps you remember tummy time, and baby will likely start to anticipate the routine. Incorporate tummy time into the daily routines, such as towel drying after bath time, after a diaper change, or when applying lotion.  Just remember to never leave your baby’s side during tummy time!

Taken from:

Monday, November 12, 2018

Art by Children with Special Needs!!!

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center is a student-run, pro bono pediatric occupational therapy clinic serving underinsured and uninsured children from birth to 18 years of age.  Last spring, an amazing art show and auction was held in which artwork submitted by children with special needs was donated, displayed, and auctioned to raise money for the center. The children were so proud to showcase their artistic talents! Attendees were healthcare professionals, artists, family members of UTHSC students, and the families of the children who contributed artwork. The event brought together this  diverse group of people  and showcased the talents and creative expression of children who receive occupational therapy services!  Check out some of the artwork below.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

UTHSC Occupational Therapy Rap

Check out this UTHSC Occupational Therapy Rap Video that our amazing MOT students created!!!
      Click HERE to watch it!
This rap was created by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center MOT Class of 2020 in order to promote their occupational therapy program to incoming students and advocate for the field of occupational therapy. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Free Webinar!!! Tummy Time: The Why’s and How’s

 Does you baby resist tummy time?  If so, you may want to click on the link below and check out the free webinar.  You will gain information about how important tummy time is, along with a variety of fun tummy time positions, and tips for a baby who fusses during tummy time.  Remember, tummy time is important for gross motor, fine motor, and sensory processing skills!
To access the webinar, click on the following link: