Monday, December 23, 2013

Promoting Language Development

Here are a few tips to help your child with language development. 

* Always speak to your child using complete sentence.

* Ask questions that require more than yes or no answers. 

* Play games that include songs and rhymes, such as "Jack and Jill" and "Hickory Dickory, Dock." Always encourage your child to imitate the words.

* Ask questions about the immediate environment. For example, if your folding laundry, ask your child the color of each piece of clothing.

* If your child wants something and she points to the item, tell her to "use your words."

* Read, read, read to your can never overdo reading!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Retro Baby" on Fox & Friends!

I had so much fun talking about my new book "Retro Baby" on Fox & Friends this morning!  Click HERE to view the segment and HERE to order a copy! It contains lots of tummy time tips and over 100 time-tested activities to promote infant development!

Friday, December 13, 2013


Visual perceptual skills are the ability to efficiently process visual information. When a child has visual perceptual problems, it can lead to challenges with writing, eye-hand coordination tasks, memory and attending to task.

There are a variety of strategies that may be helpful if visual perceptual skills are challenged. Here are some:

1)    Limit distractions
2)    Keep the working surface clear except for paper and pencil
3)    Use a ruler to keep place when reading
4)    For cutting, outline shapes/forms with a highlighter
5)    Provide a letterstrip for the student’s desk
6)    Use a word processor with spell check
7)    Highlight the writing lines on paper
8)    Try raised lined paper
9)    Limit writing requirements
10) Try colored overlays for reading
11) Provide tactile input (writing with chalk or placing paper over a piece of sandpaper)
12) Practice forming letters in the air using the pointer finger while eyes are closed
13) Use a slant board for reading and writing (Click here for instructions to make a slant board)
14) Provide desk copies of notes written on the board

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaching Kids with Special Needs How To Dress Appropriately for the Weather

Picking out the appropriate clothing for a child can be a challenge, especially for those who have  can difficulty understanding cold vs. hot and rainy vs. sunny. A student that I see for therapy uses this nifty worksheet, and it has proven to be very effective. If you're child is struggling when picking out appropriate clothes for the weather, try having him fill out this worksheet every evening before bed and pick out his clothes for the next day. For younger children, add some fun by including a sunny/snowy/rainy coloring sheet, depending on the weather forecast.

Weather Report and Forecast

Today the temperature high was_____________________.
The temperature now is________________________.

The weather today way: 
                                      rainy   sunny  cloudy   snowing    windy
                                                             (Circle all that apply)

Tomorrow the temperature high will be_________________
    and the temperature low will be__________________.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is:
                                  Rainy    sunny cloudy    snowing    windy
                                   (Circle what the weather may be)

Tomorrow I will wear a:
Short sleeved shirt  Long sleeved shirt   Sweater Sweatshirt

Jeans       Pants         Shorts          Athletic pants

Tennis shoes          Sandals         Boots

Jacket       Heavy coat        Raincoat        Umbrella
        (Circle the items you will wear tomorrow)

I will wear this because the weather tomorrow will be:
            Hot        Warm          Cold            Cool

Now I will pick out my clothes for tomorrow!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Handmade Gift Idea for a Baby or Child

Homemade baby gifts are special, and here's an idea for a lift-a-flap handmade baby book that's extremely simple! Have your child turn the pages, lift the flaps, and name the objects to address fine motor skills and promote language development!
What you'll need:
3 or 4 felt rectangles, 12" x 6" each
Needle and thread (or sewing machine)
OR if you don't sew...fabric glue
Fabric scraps that have pictures for kids...letters, numbers, animals, automobiles, etc. (See photo below)

Select the pictures that you want to include in the book and trim around each one

Lay out the felt rectangles and arrange one or two pictures on each "page" (the right 1/2 of each rectangle will be a book page). Glue or sew the pictures in place. Cut small felt squares/rectangles to cover each picture. Stitch or glue each one in place to make a "lift-a-flap." Choose your favorite picture for the front cover of the book and secure it in place by stitching or gluing.
Stack the rectangles and fold them to make the book. Hand stitch the left edge of the book making sure that all of the inside pieces of felt are stitched in place (see photo above). Here's how my homemade baby gift turned out!
Looking through books with baby is a wonderful way to teach various language concepts, colors, numbers, letters, etc. When your child lifts each flap to reveal the picture, he is learning about object permanence. This is also a wonderful activity to work on pointing skills.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fall Crafts for Children: Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Creative fall crafts for children can be hard to find.  My special friends at Schilling Farms Middle School shared this awesome Thanksgiving turkey craft with me, and I'm thrilled to pass it on to my readers! I especially like it because it includes tasks like painting and tearing paper, which are good for fine motor skills!

Supplies Needed:
 Small plastic milk bottle
 Coffee Filter
 Liquid Water Color Paint
 Brown Paper Bag
 Elmer's Glue
 Construction paper

Mix 4 parts glue to one part water in a small bowl to make paper mache. Tear the brown paper bag into small strips. Dip each strip covering it completely with glue mixture, then stick each strip to the milk container until it is completely covered.  Allow it to dry completely. Cut a vertical slit on one side.

Paint the coffee filter using various paint colors. Once the filter dries, fold it and insert one edge into the slit in the milk bottle. Cut out the face parts (see photo) and glue them in place. :)

Continue to browse my blog for more craft activities for kids!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Retro Baby" Article in USA Today

Avoid Sleep Positioners!
I was so pleased to be interviewed by USA Today for a story about my new book "Retro Baby, Cut Back on all the gear and Boost Your Baby's Development with Time-Tested Activities." 

This is an excerpt from the article, and you can click HERE to read the full article, and HERE to order your copy of Retro Baby:
What gear should parents skip?

"Some popular baby products that child development expert Anne Zachry and other pediatric experts says parents don't need:              

1. Educational DVDs. Research indicates educational DVDs do not help babies learn. Various studies find either no difference in language acquisition between children who watched educational DVDs and those who didn't, or that babies learn language better by interacting with live speakers than by passively listening to language coming from a DVD.

2. Sleep positioners, a flat or wedged mat intended to keep babies positioned on their back while sleeping. They are unnecessary and pose a suffocation risk, Zachry says.

3. Jumping devices, including Johnny Jump Up, Jumperoo, and Jump & Go. Some attach to door frames, others are freestanding. Those that suspend from a door frame pose dangers including head trauma, strangulation and whiplash. All versions encourage standing on the tiptoes, which is not good for baby's feet, and excess jumping puts unnecessary stress on an infant's legs, hips and spines.

4. Bath Seats. They provide support so a child can sit upright in an adult bathtub, but are capable of tipping over. Instead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends using a hard plastic child bathtub and make sure you never leave a child unattended near water and always have at least one hand on the child while bathing him or her.

5. Bumper pads. There's no proof that the pads, used to keep babies from bumping their heads against the slats of a crib, prevent serious injury. In fact, they are pose a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment.

6. Baby walkers. These wheeled seats are intended to give babies mobility and learn to walk. But children with have fallen into pools, down stairs, and over ledges and been burned when using walks and they may actually delay, not help when a child starts to walk. A safer option is a stationary activity center used in moderation – no more than 15 minutes a day."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Special "Social Story" to Help Your Child Deal with Feelings of Anger


Many of you know that I’m a huge fan of social stories! All children need to learn how to deal with feelings of anger and frustration, and for children with special needs, understanding and controlling emotions can be a real challenge. That’s why I’m excited to share one of my new favorite children’s books with you!  “Liz Tames aDragon (and Her Anger)” is written by Stephanie Painter and illustrated by Jeanne Seagle. Stephanie has an educational background in counseling and writes about child development and family issues for various parenting publications.

Technically, “Liz Tames a Dragon” is not traditional “social story,” but as soon as I read it, I thought of all the special needs children who could benefit from this book. This book will help children learn to recognize feelings of anger, and it provides “healthy” strategies for managing those feelings. The illustrations are absolutely amazing and depict the story perfectly! To read more about “Liz Tames a Dragon (and Her Anger) or to purchase the book, click HERE.

(For more information and the history of social stories, click HERE).

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall Crafts for Children: Holiday Turkey

Fall crafts for children are a great way to spend quality time with your kids.  This is a simple little Thanksgiving turkey craft that children enjoy making, and it's even good for their fine motor skills!  Here are the supplies you'll need:

1 small Styrofoam cup
1 wine cork
Brown paper bag
Scotch tape
6 or 7 feathers of different colors

Have the child cut one strip of paper bag to wrap around the cup and one strip to wrap around the cork. An adult can draw lines on the paper so it's the correct size if the child needs to practice cutting on the lines. Once the strips are cut to the correct size, show the child how to wrap each strip around the cup and secure it in place with a piece of tape, and do the same with the cork.

Secure the tip of each feather to a toothpick using a short strip of clear tape. An adult may need to complete this part of the task, as it can be quite difficult.

Have the child draw eyes, beak, and turkey "beard" on the cork.  Use two toothpicks to secure the cork in place. Now have the child poke the feathered toothpicks in the top of the cup. To increase the motor skill challenge, use a
black Sharpie and make dots were you want the
feathers to go. This will really challenge those visual motor skills. What a cute Thanksgiving turkey!

Browse my blog for more craft activities for kids!

Home Activities for Children with Special Needs: Keeping it Fun!

I was recently asked to write a guest post for one of my favorite blogs: Love That Max! In the post, I shared some fun home exercise activities for children with special needs. Click HERE to read the post!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Celebrate World OT Day: Be an Occupational Therapist Leader Change Agent!

         This post is for the 3rd Annual OT Blog Carnival.
        Are you passionate about your profession? I can honestly say that I am passionate about the profession of occupational therapy! I’m very blessed to love what I do for a living, and I truly enjoy spreading the word about this amazing profession.
If you are an occupational therapist, I would like to challenge you to become a leader change agent OT. Here's how to have a local touch and a global reach as an occupational therapist!
·      If you are a fieldwork supervisor, you have a wonderful opportunity to guide OT students in developing critical thinking, problem solving, and clinical reasoning skills in order for them to reach their highest potential. By guiding future occupational therapists toward reaching their fullest potential, you are “preparing occupational therapists for the 21st century” and strengthening the profession’s “capacity to influence and lead” (AOTA, p.614).
·      If you enjoy writing, submit articles to OT Practice and Advance, or start an OT blog. Other practitioners will benefit from your insight and ideas!
·      If you are interested in research, conduct studies that add to the body of scientific evidence establishing the effectiveness of OT services in order to improve third-party reimbursement and strengthen the link between research and evidence-based practice. This goal aligns with AOTA’s Centennial Vision because it involves collaboration, and it “links education, research and practice” (AOTA, p.614).
·      Tell everyone about our awesome profession, especially those with diverse backgrounds. Currently, the occupational therapy workforce does not reflect the diversity of this country, but I’m confident that we can “increase diversity in the OT workforce” (AOTA, p. 614).
·      Spread the word about the important role that OT can play in health and wellness.  Our profession can add so much to the area of preventative healthcare.


American Occupational Therapy Association (2007).  AOTA’s centennial vision and executive summary.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 613-614.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Retro Baby featured on Good Morning Memphis!

Click HERE to view a video of the "Retro Baby" feature on Good Morning Memphis! After you get to the Fox News page, just enter "Retro Baby" in the search box.

To order a copy of "Retro Baby" on Amazon, click HERE!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Camp Conquest

Photo Source:
In 2012, Tennessean Mark Price saw his lifelong dream come to fruition. He opened Camp Conquest, an amazing overnight camp for children with special needs and disabilities located at “The Grove at Red Oak Lake”, a 75 acre property in Cordova, TN.

The campers, who range in age from 7 to 35 have diagnoses such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Throughout the week, campers have opportunities to experience activities such as swimming, boating, horseback riding, arts and crafts, singing, camp fires, daily devotions, and everyone's favorate, a three-story water slide!

Price is passionate about the camp. He explains how the experience is a win-win situation for everyone involved, "campers benefit from new experiences, while their parents receive a respite from often-round the clock caregiving, and the volunteers, many from church youth groups, build lasting relationships with the campers, and keep in touch with them throughout the year."

Please spread the word about this amazing program!

For more information about the camp, or to make a tax deductible donation, click HERE to visit the Camp Conquest website @


Monday, October 14, 2013

Weavable Toys Challenge Visual-Motor and Visual-Perceptual Skills

Designed by Barbara Smith, occupational therapist, these weavable toys are fun and a great activity to work on dexterity, bilateral skills, and eye hand coordination! Your child can tap into his creativity by designing his own pattern, or you can make a pattern for him to imitate. This improves concentration and is wonderful for working on sequencing and visual perceptual skills. The set comes in a variety of shapes and colors, which makes them great for matching, color, shape and size recognition and naming. Your child can also improve her ability to follow directions and understand positional concepts if you give her instructions such as, “lace the square first, the circle second, and the heart third.” Let the fun begin!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Therapy on a Shoestring Budget: Easy to Make Slant Board

Writing on a slant board is a good thing, because the angle puts the wrist in a nice extended position, and it puts the writing surface in the line of vision which is good for posture. Slant boards can also be useful for reading.

Yes, I'm a big fan of slant boards, but they can be expensive, especially if you purchase one from a therapy supply store.  If you are on a shoestring budget, here's how to make a slant board for around $8.00 to $10.00.

Supplies Needed: 
Large Foam Board (I used a trifold)
Exacto Knife
Duct Tape
2 Large Clip Binders            
Self-Adhesive Flat Bumper Pad

 Cut the foam board into a 30" x 15" long rectangle. Make two "partial" at the 11" mark and the next at the 19" so that you can fold the board at each cut. (See photo below)
 Attach duct tape along the lines on the side where the board is still connected.
Add another piece of duct tape along one of the ends of the board so that 1/2 of the sticky surface of the tape is still exposed (See photo).
Fold the board into a triangle and connect the final side of the slant board using the exposed duct tape.
Attach bumper pads to the small side and one of the large sides of the board. Your slant board is ready! You can position it in two different directions for different angles!

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 :) 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Interview about Retro Baby

I was interviewed on WREG's "Live at Nine" this morning talking about my new parenting book Retro Baby.  Click HERE to watch the interview.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

New Assistive Technology Blog!!!

My friend and coworker, Stephanie Lancaster, OTR/L has started an assistive technology blog that I'm excited to share with my readers! Not only is Stephanie an amazing OT, she's ATP certified (which means she an Assistive Technology Professional). She has an abundance of practical knowledge to share, and I'm looking forward to reading her posts.

In Stephanie's words, "the mission of the blog is to share information and strategies about the real-life application of products that can be used in the context of assistive technology.  Follow this wonderful blog to learn more about the logistics of specific types of equipment, creative ideas for successful implementation of A.T. devices and materials, and advice on the use of roll-out strategies and troubleshooting for the successful application of materials in the field.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Therapy on a Shoestring Budget- Make a Homemade Marble Maze

This post is the first in a series of posts about "Therapy on a Shoestring Budget." I know first-hand how expensive therapy supplies can be,  so I've decided to share some fun, inexpensive, therapeutic ideas. I hope you find these posts helpful!
Hi Parents and Therapists!
Here is a fun handmade activity that is relatively easy to make. Supplies needed:

Colorful plastic straws
A sturdy piece of cardboard or foam board
Scotch tap
A brightly colored marble
A large Popsicle stick

Draw the outline of a maze on the foam board. Make it simple or complex, based on what you feel will be a "just right challenge" for the child.  Make sure that you leave enough space in the pathways for the marble to travel through. Lay the straws out on top of the maze lines and cut them to the appropriate length (see photo above).  Use Scotch tape to hold the straws in place (I tried a hot-glue gun, but the tape worked better). Use tape to secure the large Popsicle stick on the back side of the foam board to make the handle.  In one corner, write "start" and draw a star or smiley face. At the end of the maze write "end or finish" and draw something like a stop sign or finish line.

Now, it's time to play with the maze! This activity provides a fun way to work on grasping, visual tracking, eye hand coordination, and graded pronation and supination. If the child needs to work on upper extremity strengthening, just add a light weight to his wrist.  Have fun!

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, September 8, 2013

A Fun Way to Motivate Students!

This is an inspiring story that brought a smile to my face. Thanks to Mr. Chris Manguso, Assistant Principal at Riverdale Elementary School in Germantown, TN for motivating the students to raise money for their school. Our school system is lucky to have such a great role model!!!

Click on the link below to check out the news coverage of Mr. Manguso having his head shaved in front of the students!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Win a Copy of "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."

Thanks for this wonderful review by:

Mark Bertin, MD, FAAP
Developmental pediatrician, author of The Family ADHD Solution:
A Scientific Approach to Maximizing Your Child’s Attention and Minimizing
Parental Stress, and editorial advisor, Common Sense Media

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.  The drawing will be in October. Good luck!!!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Carolina Kinder Care Offers Wonderful Videos for Parents

Carolina Kinder Development offers a wide variety of services, including a number of new videos on demand. These lively and engaging videos show parents solid techniques for helping their baby (and baby’s head!) develop during the formative months of life. Check out their helpful parenting Videos on Demand by clicking HERE.

Thanks to Susan at Carolina Kinder Development for sharing these wonderful resources!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Screen Time for Babies?

Many babies and toddlers absolutely love playing with touch-screen technology—and it’s no wonder! The touch screen provides instant gratification with its cool images, movements, and sounds appealing to their senses. Understandably, many parents are thrilled with this interactive technology because, mostly through media ads, they’ve heard that babies can learn letters, numbers, words, and concepts. However, to date there is no research studying a connection between tablets or smartphones and infant learning.

Whether traveling in the car or waiting in the pediatrician’s office, it’s not uncommon for parents to hand over a smartphone, laptop, or tablet to their toddler. To parents, these devices act much like a babysitter, and with hundreds of apps available for young children, they’re increasingly appealing to little ones. Are there potential benefits or harms to babies being exposed to these interactive screens? Again, proper research hasn’t been completed, so there’s no scientific proof yet.

For older children, the interactive element allows them to learn concepts such as cause and effect and sequencing, but for babies still experiencing critical brain development, long-term effects remain unknown. When it comes to screen time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made a clear stance: it advises eliminating screen time for children younger than 2 years completely, linking it to language learning delays. It’s important to note that just like TVs, videos, and computers, tablets and cell phones have screens too.

"Retro Baby" provides over 100 activities that promote development and help you bond with your baby. Click HERE to order a copy now!

Quote from:
Zachry, A. H. (2013). Retro Baby: Cut Back on all the Gear and Boost Your Baby's Development with Over 100 Time-Tested Activities. Elk Grove, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.