Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Book Give-Away: The Occupational Therapist's Handbook for Inclusive School Practices!

I was super excited when I was asked to write a review of Julie Causton's new book, "The Occupational Therapist's Handbook for Inclusive School Practices." Now I'm even more excited because she has provided a copy for me to give one of my readers!

This book is a comprehensive and informative resource for all occupational therapists who work in the school system. With a focus on inclusive practices, it includes chapters on special education, collaboration, and the use of social, environmental and academic supports. As an OT with 24 years experience working in the schools, I highly recommend this guidebook to all occupational therapy students, new graduates and seasoned therapists who strive to promote the best practice of occupational therapy in educational settings.

Any reader that lives in the continental US is eligible to win a copy of this book. For a chance to win, all you have to do is sign up on the right side of this page to follow my blog AND "like" my Facebook page. I will be announcing the winner soon!  Good luck!!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Let's Go Fishing Game!

This is a fun therapeutic activity that is simple and inexpensive to make.

You will need:

Colorful sponges
Paper clips
Magnet
Sharpie
Scissors
Empty paper towel roll
String or yarn
Tape
-Cut the sponges into various "ocean" shapes and use a Sharpie marker to add eyes, etc. The child may even want to decorate the sponges using sequins, stickers, etc.

-Place a clothespin through each sponge making a "hook"

-Tape a piece of string to one end of the paper towel roll and tie the magnet on the end of the string.

Instruct the child to use the fishing pole to "go fishing" for the various sponges. This activity is great for working on matching and identifying colors and shapes. It's also wonderful for eye-hand coordination. Add a light weight to the child's wrist to work on strengthening.  You can also address multiple step directions. For example, instruct the child to 1) put the fish on the green square 2) the octopus on the yellow square, 3) and the star on the blue square. There are lots of options for adapting this activity!  Have fun :)
video

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Developmental Milestones Chart

Newborn

Closes fingers around toy place in hand
Brings hands to mouth
Watches adult’s face when feeding

One to Two Months

Regards a toy in the line of her vision
Holds hands open for a 5 minute period
Shows awareness of hands
Visually follows a toy past midline
Focuses on toy for 5 seconds
Recognizes familiar person
Smiles or gurgles to a familiar person

Three to Four Months

Manipulates hands at midline
Reaches out for toy
Grasps toy crudely
Holds bottle for one minute
Laughs out loud when stimulated
Puts hand in mouth
Raises head and chest when lying on stomach

Five to Six Months

Reaches and attains toy
Bangs in play
Transfers toy hand-to-hand
Grasps tiny toy with palm and fingers

Seven to Eight Months

Shakes rattle in imitation
Grasps toy with thumb and fingers
Pokes at tiny toy with index finger
Picks up food to place in mouth
Responds to name
Shows shyness around strangers
Rolls from back to stomach and stomach to back

Nine to Ten Months
 

Grasps pellet with thumb and index finger
Holds a toy in one hand- reaches with the other
Points with index finger
Good release of objects is present
Responds to image in mirror
Responds to familiar words
Smiles selectively
Sits without support
Crawls

Eleven to Twelve Months

Removes lid from box with no assistance
Places one cube/block in a cup
Removes cover to attain hidden toy
Repeats a performance to draw laughs
Drops a toy deliberately
Brings spoon from bowl to mouth
Temporarily responds to “no” or “stop”
Walks with or without support

Thirteen to Eighteen Months

Pulls to stand
Walks with or without support
Squats down and picks up a toy
Eats with fingers
Turns pages of a board book
Drinks from a cup independently
Throws a ball underhand
Stacks 4 blocks
Removes basic clothing

Nineteen to Twenty-Four Months

Runs with stiff legs
Eats with spoon (some spillage)
Kicks a ball forward with one foot
Scribbles in circles
Jumps in place two times
Points to specifics in a book
Assists with some dressing
Stacks 6 blocks

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baby Gear Survey for Occupational and Physical Therapists

This post is for any occupational and physical therapists out there! I know some of you may have completed this survey in the past, but I'd really appreciate it if you would complete it one more time! My students and I need the information for a research project. Also, please forward the link to any OT's or PT's you know who may also be willing to help.

Thank you so much!!

https://uthsc.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1Zmbzj5lTwjwxud

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Make Your Own Sensory Tunnel! Therapy on a Shoestring Budget


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




Do you know a child with sensory issues that you believe would benefit from a sensory tunnel? They are wonderful for obstacle courses and a variety of other therapeutic activities. Unfortunately, sensory tunnels can be expensive, costing over $100.00 at many therapy supply stores.  But on the positive side, there are inexpensive options.

The above sensory tunnel was made by a MOT student as a project for a pediatric class at UTHSC, and guess what? It costs less than $20.00! All that you need are two inexpensive "pop-up" laundry hampers and a needle and sturdy thread or some Duct tape.  Stitch or tape the hampers together, and you're good to go! Be sure to use the tunnel during a purposeful activity. For example, have the child crawl through the tunnel to retrieve a desired item at the opposite end.  Have fun!!!!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Occupational Therapy Activities for Visual Perceptual Skills and Following Directions


Occupational therapy activities are fun activities that help children with visual perceptual skills, motor skills, sensory processing, and many more areas of need!   Here is a simple and wonderful activity for working on a variety of skills, including visual perception, motor planning skills, and following directions.

Materials needed:

1 foam board or thin piece of plywood
Chalk Paint
Colored Chalk
Scrap pieces of felt
Popsicle sticks
Matchbox car

Paint the board and let it dry for 3 days. Use the colored chalk to draw any arrangements of roads. Decorate the board with signs and other fun ideas using felt pieces and Popsicle sticks.

This activity addresses multiple skills. Have the student maneuver the car to a destination that you give either verbally or written. You can also give specific directions (verbally or written), For example, "take the first left, then the second right, go straight at the stop sign and park beside the tree." The board can be made more elaborate to include tunnels (made from 1/2 of of a toilet paper roll), houses, and bridges. As you see, the activity can be graded up or down, based on the child's abilities!

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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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pediatric OT Tips is Celebrating One Million Pageviews!!!

Pediatric OT Tips recently passed 1,000,0000 pageviews! 

To celebrate, I gave away 5 copies of my parenting book, "Retro Baby." I messaged each winner via Facebook, so be sure to check your inbox if you signed up for the drawing!


 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Here's a Tip: Have Fun with Qtips during therapy!


The UTHSC Masters of OT students recently completed a number of awesome media projects! For the assignment, each student was given the name of a common household item.  They were instructed to design a creative, appropriate therapy activity for a patient with a specific diagnosis. They did an amazing job! This media project was submitted by Emma.
Common household object - Qtip.    
Children typically enjoy doing an arts and crafts project.  Here are some examples of fun pictures that she can make with the Qtips for different times throughout the year.  Examples included a skeleton for Halloween, snowflakes for winter, and a heart for Valentine’s Day.   


Supplies that are needed are construction paper, Q tips, and glue. 

Skills Used:
In order to pick up the Q tips, a child will need to use a pincer grasp. This activity will help improve manipulative skills and eye-hand coordination. This activity can be made more challenging by having the child cut the Qtips independently.  Generally, I would have them already cut for her before therapy started. 

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.


Browse my blog for more craft activities for kids! 

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tennis Ball Mania!!! Therapy on a Shoe String Budget


The UTHSC Masters of OT students recently completed a number of awesome media projects! For the assignment, each student was given the name of a common household item.  They were instructed to design a creative, appropriate therapy activity for a patient with a specific diagnosis. They did an amazing job! This media project was submitted by Rochelle. Her common house hold item was a tennis ball!

Materials Needed:

Tennis Ball
Colorful Sharpies
Coins or Buttons
Decorative Pieces of Choice (markers, stick-on eyes, etc.)       

Directions:
-Cut a mouth in the tennis ball
-Decorate the ball

-Hold the ball with one hand
-Open the mouth by squeezing the ball
-Place coins or buttons in the mouth using the opposite hand
video

This activity addresses fine motor skills, bilateral skills, hand strength & motor coordination and addresses tactile awareness while providing proprioceptive input.

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.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Easy Activity for Following Directions: Therapy on a Shoestring Budget

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Masters of Occupational Therapy students recently completed a number of awesome media projects! For the assignment, each student was given the name of a common household item.  They were instructed to design a creative, appropriate therapy activity for a patient with a specific diagnosis. They did an amazing job! This first media project was submitted by Megan. Her common house hold item was a sponge!
Items Needed:
 Scissors
Different Colors of Kitchen Sponges
A Variety of Drinking Cups in Different Colors and Sizes
 
 Use a marker to form various shapes on the sponges and cut out each shape.
Tell the child which sponge (blue circle, red square, etc) to pick up and where to place it (under the red cup, next to the green cup, inside the yellow cup, etc.). This activity addresses memory, spatial relations and following directions. 



Posted with permission of the students

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weighted Scoop Plate Tray: Therapy on a Shoestring Budget!


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Masters of Occupational Therapy students recently completed a number of awesome media projects!

For the assignment, each student was given the name of a common household item.  They were instructed to design a creative, appropriate therapy activity for a patient with a specific diagnosis. They did an amazing job! This first media project was submitted by Zann. Her common house hold item was a cereal box!

Weighted Scoop Plate Tray

Assistive Device:
o   A weighted food tray with attachable scoop plates on the sides so that the patient will be able to scoop food that he cannot pick up the conventional way.

Use:
o   This will be used to assist patients in eating food during the early stages of his recovery. This scoop plate tray provides a larger surface area to scoop food upwards. The tray is also weighted for patients who are unable to stabilize the plate. 

Materials used:
o   Large size cereal box
o   Rocks (or any other heavy material)
o   Velcro
o   Paper towel roll (empty)
o   Plates
o   Duck tape (optional: if patient desires)

This device can be easily decorated to fit the client’s interest with duck tape or contact paper! 

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.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Therapy Services for Torticollis

      Does your baby have a flat spot on the side or back of this head? The medical terms for these conditions are plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. Positional plagiocephaly means “oblique head.” When baby’s head is viewed from above, the shape of the head has a parallelogram appearance. This is caused by pressure that has occurred to one side of baby’s head. Positional brachycephaly happens when a baby has spent to much time positioned on his back, often lying against a plastic surface, such as a carseat. The pressure from prolonged positioning like this causes the back of the head to flatten unevenly, resulting in a short and wide head shape. The height of the back of the head may also be high.
Flat spots on the head occur because the skull bone of an infant is soft and flexible, allowing for the brain growth that happens early in life. When a baby stays one position for too long with her head resting against a firm surface, the pressure from that surface prevents the skull from developing into a normal shape.
This is a nice position for holding your baby, and it takes pressure off of the head. 

In some cases, babies prefer sleeping or sitting with their head turned in one direction, because of tight muscles on one side of the neck. When a baby spends too much time with his head turned to one side, he can also develop acquired torticollis. In this condition, the neck muscles shorten on one side due to the position of the head. Baby’s neck turns in a twisted position and pulls his head to one side. His chin typically points to the other side. Torticollis contributes to flat head syndrome because baby’s head is typically turned in the same direction, and causes pressure against the side of the head. Acquired torticollis can be treated with stretching exercises from a physical or occupational therapist in conjunction with a home program carried out by the parents. If you suspect your infant has torticollis, consult with your pediatrician immediately. If your physician has ordered therapy for torticollis and you live in the Memphis, Tennessee area, feel free to contact me about therapy services. 

For information about therapy services for an infant who has acquired torticollis, click HERE, then click on the contact tab in the upper right hand corner of the page.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hula-Hoop T-Shirt Rug Activity

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Masters of Occupational Therapy students completed some awesome media projects that I'm going to be sharing with you in a number of upcoming posts.

For the assignment, each student was given the name of a common household item, such as a paper plate.  They were instructed to design a creative, appropriate therapy activity for a patient with a specific diagnosis. They did an amazing job! This first media project was submitted by Ashleigh. Her item was a hula hoop. This activity works on ROM, stretching, visual motor skills, and motor planning skills.


Hula-Hoop T-Shirt Rug Activity

Materials Needed:
Hula-Hoop
6-9 t-shirts (without side seam)
1 Youth Large (used for spokes)
Scissors


Directions:
1)    Starting at the bottom of the shirts, cut the t-shirts in to 1-inch strips. Do not use the bottom strip that includes the seam. You will need 11 loops for the first shirt (youth large). Cut the shirt all the way up the trunk until you reach the sleeves. (The rest of the shirt will not be used)
2)    Using the 11 loops from the youth shirt, stretch the first one around the hula-hoop.
3)    Stretch the next loop onto the hula-hoop perpendicular to the first loop.
4)    Continue step 3 until all 11 loops are used.
5)    Push two spokes together to help create a weaving pattern.
6)    Wrap a strip of t-shirt around the 2 spokes (that you just pushed together) and pull it back through itself.
7)    Weave the strip over and under, keeping the two layers of the strips together until you reach about 5 layers. At the end of the loop, wrap another loop around and pull it back through on itself.
8)    Push the pieces down on the rug so that no spaces are seen, but do not pull it too tight because the rug will not lie flat.
9)    After the fifth layer, weave between each spoke individually. When you get to the spoke that was pushed together, separate it and keep one together and separate the other. Continue the over-under pattern until you reach the desired size of the rug.
10)  Cut the last loop and tie it to the closest spoke and tuck it into the rug
11)  Cut each loop (spoke) off the hula-hoop and double knot it.

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, August 11, 2014

Tummy Time Tips....For the Tummy Time Blog Hop!!!!



     I guess it's because I'm a therapist, but moms frequently ask me, “Is tummy time really that important?”  This is an important and valid question, and every parent needs to know the answer. Tummy time plays a critical role in infant development, as it provides a base for motor skills such as head control, rolling over, and pulling up.
     Tummy time is especially important now that that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all babies sleep on their backs. Prior to 1992, most babies in the United States slept on their stomachs, but years of scientific research revealed that infants were approximately 12 times more likely to be found on their stomachs than on their backs when they had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So in 1992 the AAP formally recommended that all infants be placed to sleep on their backs or sides to reduce the risk of SIDS. Later, the side position was eliminated from the recommendation because infants could roll from their sides to their stomachs during sleep. Since this extremely successful marketing campaign, 50% fewer infants have died from SIDS. Putting babies to sleep on their backs turned out to be a simple and effective way to save the lives of infants.
     Eventually, pediatricians and therapists noticed a sudden rise in infants diagnosed with flat spots on the head, and they also noticed an increase in the number of infants with mild delays in gross motor skills, such as rolling over and pulling up. Evidently, many parents were not positioning their infants on the tummy for play out of a fear of SIDS, and this limited tummy time was having some negative consequences. In 1996, the AAP formally recommended that parents provide babies with supervised playtime on the stomach to promote growth and development and prevent flat spots from forming on the head.
     My research has revealed that many infants resist being placed on the belly. This is probably because they aren’t familiar with tummy time and haven’t gained the head control and upper body strength that is necessary to maintain the position comfortably. But rest assured, with time and a few basic and very beneficial techniques, any infant can learn to tolerate tummy time. There is a solution to the problem, and there are ways to introduce tummy time and increase tolerance without making a parents’ and baby’s life miserable. In fact, it can be the total opposite of miserable. Tummy time provides an opportunity to spend one on one time with baby and create a special bond that can last a lifetime!
     In the beginning you should set up a regular schedule for tummy time. You can plan to carry it out after naps or after diaper changes, just be sure to have a plan in place. A general guideline should be that half of the time that baby spends for play should be on the tummy, and remember, it is important to vary your baby’s position every 15 to 20 minutes during playtime. It is important to be aware that tummy time is any combination of positions in which your infant is NOT on the back and encourages baby to use the back, shoulder and neck muscles. This includes time spent in your arms and on your lap. Most importantly, don’t look upon tummy time as a chore, keep in mind that this special time is an important part of baby’s daily routine, which provides an opportunity to bond and develop the close relationship with your infant that you’ve always dreamed of. For more information on tummy time and some specific tips and suggestions on how to increase infant tolerance to the position, visit my website @ www.tummytimetips.com.

Also, for more information about tummy time as well as some wonderful brochures and handouts, visit http://www.pathwaysawareness.org/

Tummy Time Therapy Blogger Blog Hop

Is Tummy Time Important A Therapy Blogger Blog HopBelow you will find all the posts in the Tummy Time therapy blogger blog hop. So many great ideas and thoughts on tummy time from Occupational Therapist and Physical Therapists.
The Importance of Tummy Time for Babies - Golden Reflections Blog
5 Awesome Toys for Tummy Time! - The Inspired Treehouse
Tummy Time : The Basics - Therapy Fun Zone
Tummy Time Tips - Pedatric OT Tips
Tummy Time Just Isn't For Babies - Your Therapy Source
Tummy Time Never Gets Old - Playapy Platform

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

#OTLifeHack

During the month of July, The American Occupational Therapy Association is encouraging therapists and students to share their #OTLifeHack ideas on social media. AOTA describes a life hack as:

"any trick, shortcut, skill, or new method that solves an everyday problem."
 July has been a crazy month, so I'm just now getting around to posting on this topic. What a great idea!!! Here are a 3 of my "go to" life hacks for therapy:

Rainy Day Indoor Game Tape

On a sunny day, I love to pull out my sidewalk chalk for all sorts or therapy games. However, rainy or cold weather means therapy is likely to occur indoors. No fear! I just pull the gym tape out of my therapy bag. You can use this tape to make a bean bag toss, a hop scotch space, or whatever else comes to mind! It's simple to place and peels up easily when your session is over.
Quick and Easy Foot Rest

If your budget is tight and you're in need of a foot rest, just recycle an old phone book or a stack of magazines! Keep stacking until the footrest is tall enough. Cover the books with colorful duct tape to make the foot rest fun and durable!
                       Easy Footrest



Do it yourself Bean Bags
Have you ever wondered what to do with those "single" socks or baby booties that turn up while you're folding clothes? Here's a tip...use them to make bean bags! Just fill the bootie or sock with beans/rice or both, tuck the open end in and stitch it together. Turn the socks inside out to add a bit of texture for an added sensory experience! There's no limit to bean bag activities, so make your own set now!

#OTLifeHack, #TherapyonaShoestringBudget

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Spelling and Strengthening!!!

Do you know of a student who has finger/hand weakness, poor eye-hand coordination and weak spelling skills? If so, you may want to try this "clothespin-spelling" activity.

You'll need:

Plastic clothespins (these require more strength than the wooden ones)
Sticker/Label Paper
Computer
Paint stick or ruler
 Print all of the letters needed for the spelling words using 26 - 28 font size on sticky-back label paper. Cut out each letter and stick it on a clothespin. I like to put the same letter on both sides of the clothespin.
Call out a spelling word and instruct the child to spell the word correctly by placing each letter/clothespin in order. Once she spells the word correctly, have her "sound out" the word.  This activity is good for visual scanning, spelling, finger strengthening and eye-hand coordination.
video


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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Motor Planning Balloon Games: Have Some Fun!!!



Suspend a balloon from the ceiling or a doorframe using a long piece of string. Have your child hit the ball while having her say or sing the A-B-C’s or while counting. For example, A- hit the balloon, B- hit the balloon, etc. You can also make this more difficult by removing the string, and having her keep the balloon in the air as long a possible by hitting it while saying the A-B-C’s. Can she get all the way through the alphabet and keep the balloon in the air? This is also a fun activity for practicing spelling words!

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Building Blocks Make a Wonderful Therapy Tool!


Are you looking for inexpensive items to include in your therapy "bag of goodies?"  Are you a parent that is tired of spending the BIG bucks on therapy equipment and supplies for your child? Well, if you have $20.00 to spend, I have a recommendation for you!  This 100-piece wooden block set is available on Amazon for $18.95, and it is one of my favorite therapy "tools."


Basic building blocks are a dream come true to an occupational therapist! Here is a list of block activities and the skills each activity addresses:
  • Copy the Design- Build a block design that is a "just right challenge" for your child to copy. This activity addresses grasp and release skills, eye-hand coordination, and visual perceptual skills. It's also a wonderful way to learn about colors and shapes.
  • Build a Tower- Stacking block to make the tallest tower possible is a fun activity for all children. This task addresses eye-hand coordination, skilled release and placement, and visual motor skills.
  • Count Down- When stacking the blocks, be sure to count each one as it's placed to work on those math skills!
  • Race Time- Time your child while stacking the blocks or building a particular structure. He'll have fun racing to beat "his time." Working against the clock will address your child's motor planning skills and coordination.
  • Tunnel Time- Make several tunnels using the blocks, then practice rolling a marble through the tunnels without "bumping" the blocks. This activity is also good for motor control and planning, and it's will challenge her spatial skills.
So click HERE to order your set of blocks and start having fun!!!

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Activity for Bilateral Skills and Visual Perception!


As a therapist, I frequently work with children on bilateral upper extremity skills. It’s important for a child to learn to stabilize an object or container while performing an activity with the opposite hand. This is a simple, inexpensive activity that addresses bilateral skills and visual perception. When the child is required to copy a pattern, this addresses design copy and color discrimination.

  video
All that is needed for this activity are 2 dowels (found at a hardware or craft store) and mini-terry cloth covered ponytail holders (These can be purchased HERE on Amazon). For the child who has difficulty with the task, the activity can be adapted by using a paper towel or toilet paper roll and larger ponytail holders or scrunchies.



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