Monday, May 20, 2013

Does Your Child Have a Sensory Processing Disorder? "strives to empower health professionals and parents with knowledge of the benefits of early detection and early intervention for children’s sensory, motor, and communication development." Their website has some wonderful informational videos that I'm excited to share with you. Please check them out!

Sensory Processing Videos by

Tummy Time Video by

Typical/Atypical Development by

The Importance of Early Therapy by

Dear Readers, If you have found my blog to be helpful, please "like" my Facebook page and follow my blog...I'm trying to get my book published and this would be a great help! Thanks :) 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Poetry by Scott Lentine

A while back I was contacted by Scott Lentine, a 25 year old man with high-functioning autism (PDD-NOS/Asperger's). He graduated from Merrimack College magna cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies with a Biology minor. He's an intern at the Arc of Massachusetts in Waltham, where he works to persuade lawmakers to pass key disability resources legislation to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

Scott is also an amazing poet. Here are several of his poems. Enjoy!

Just a Normal Day 

Just a Normal Day 
Never knowing what to say 
Never knowing what to do
Always looking for clues

Just a normal day

Feeling unsure
Totally perplexed with everyday life
Always on edge never certain
I wish I could lift this curtain

Needing to constantly satisfy my need for information
Always online searching for new revelations
Going from site to site
Obtaining new insights every night

Trying to connect with people my age
Attempting to reveal my unique vision
But ending up alone and unengaged
Feeling like my needs a total revision

Just a normal day

  Can’t You See

Can’t you see
I just want to have a friend
Can’t you see
I need the same connections in the end

Can’t you see
I want a good job
Can’t you see
I need to have stability and dependence and part of the general mob

Can’t you see
I want to be independent on my own
Can’t you see
I want to be able to have my own home

Can’t you see
I want the same things as everyone else
Can’t you see
I want to be appreciated for myself

The Ode to the Autistic Man

Try to understand the challenges that I face
I would like to be accepted as a human in all places

Where I will end up in life I don’t know
But I hope to be successful wherever I go

I would like to expand my social skills in life
Making new friends would be very nice

Stand proud for the autistic man
For he will find a new fan

I hope to overcome the odds I face today
Increased acceptance will lead me to a brighter day

By the age of 20, I will have made tremendous strides
I know in the future, life will continue to be an interesting ride

I have made new friends by the year
I will be given tremendous respect by my family and peers

I hope to get noted for bringing the issue of autism to the common man
So that autistic people can be accepted in this great land

Stand proud for the autistic man
For he will find a new fan

I hope to overcome the odds I face today
Increased acceptance will lead me to a brighter day

Thanks for sharing Scott!  Please support Scott by visiting his blog @

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Keeping Cursive Alive

PediaStaff recently contacted me and asked me to write an opinion piece on cursive handwriting in response to this article in the New York Times. I was happy to do so! 

Keeping Cursive Alive
When my 12-year-old daughter left for summer camp, I slipped some stationary into her suitcase and asked her to write me while she was away.  I checked the mailbox regularly, looking forward to a letter, but to my dismay, she never wrote. Once she was home, I asked her why she never wrote.

“It takes too long to write a letter. If I’d had my laptop, I could have just typed you a letter, but I don’t like to write,” she declared.

I was surprised and a little sad. I have wonderful childhood memories of corresponding with my pen pal, Lori, who lived in Hawaii, and writing letters to my parents when I was at summer camp was a fun experience. I always added a P.S. at the end of every note, and I loved sealing the envelope and adding a stamp. Are those days really gone?

Unfortunately, they may be. The new Common Core Standards require legible handwriting in Kindergarten and grade 1, but they do not include cursive handwriting. However, the standards do state that by the end of Fourth Grade, students must demonstrate the keyboarding skills necessary to complete a one-page writing assignment.

As an OT, I am very much “pro-cursive.” Why? Writing in cursive has a number of benefits.

·      Writing in cursive develops visual motor and manipulative skills, which are important for daily living skills, recreation, and work.

·      Research suggests that students who write in cursive efficiently have better academic skills, including reading comprehension.

·      One must be able to read cursive handwriting in order to read historical documents written in cursive.

·      Research reveals that students who write in cursive receive better grades than those who print.

·      Requiring keyboarding at young ages can be a detriment because if the child’s hands are too small for the keyboard, they will develop a habit of “hunting and pecking,” which can be difficult to break.

·      Too much time in front of a computer screen can lead to eyestrain, discomfort, and headaches.

·      A cursive signature is important for preventing forgery and necessary when signing legal documents.

Important Points

·      Regular practice and reinforcement are necessary when learning print, write in cursive, AND keyboard correctly and efficiently.

·      Just like cursive handwriting, keyboarding is an important skill. It allows for ease in editing, guarantees legibility, and is an ideal tool for children who have dysgraphia. Students should be skilled with handwriting skills AND keyboarding skills.

It is my hope that school systems continue to include cursive instruction in their curriculum, despite the fact that cursive is not included in the Common Core Standards.

To hear more thoughts on cursive in this era of technology, check out PediaStaff's blog post with links to other articles written by occupational therapists in response to the NYT Article! 
 Photo Credit: Microsoft Office

Friday, May 3, 2013

Special Students Making a Difference

        I'm excited to tell you about a project that my students have been working on! Thanks to a  grant funded by The Collierville Education Foundation, students with special learning needs created multimedia paintings, decorative pillows, & aprons that will be sold Saturday and Sunday in Collierville at the “Fair on the Square.” The money raised will be used to purchase supplies to continue the project in future school years, and a portion of the profits will be donated to Collierville Education Foundation.
     The students that participated in this project have motor skill challenges, and many are unable to communicate due to delays with speech and language skills. The students benefit physically, socially, academically, creatively, and emotionally by expressing themselves through therapeutic art projects. 
     By creating these arts & crafts, a variety of functional “work-based” skills were addressed, such as problem solving, grasping, cutting, writing, & following directions. The students also gained skills that can be used for future employment, such as sewing (with supervision and a needle guard for safety), writing, counting money, interacting with peers, using functional language, and crafting skills. 
      The regular education peer tutors learned valuable life skills, such as patience, empathy, supportiveness, and understanding. The icing on the cake is that by making donations to The Collierville Education Foundation, the students will also experience the joy of helping others.
       A special thanks to Sew Memphis for designing the aprons...they are awesome! I also want to thank Memphis artist NJ Woods for granting us permission to use some of her paintings as models for our artwork. This made the students very happy :)            Please show your support to Sew Memphis by visiting their shop, and be sure to visit NJ's website and her new gallery at 2563 Broad Avenue in Memphis!
              Scroll down to see samples of the students' wonderful work:

  The painting above was inspired by NJ Woods artwork
  The painting above was inspired by NJ Woods artwork
The painting above was inspired by NJ Woods artwork