Friday, December 21, 2012

A Challenging but Enjoyable OT Seminar


I had been looking forward to presenting my OT seminars in CT and NH this week.
http://www.barbarasmithoccupationaltherapist.com/workshops.html

However, since the Friday tragedy in CT, I was feeling awful about being near all that heartache. Indeed, I felt an air of somberness in the room as I greeted the participants. Adding to the challenges was the fact that my flight had been cancelled, I ended up taking a taxi from Newark to Bristol, CT and I was not able to get my baggage until the next day. This meant that I had no displays, I wore the same clothes twice in a row- including the Keene sneakers I wear when doing hippotherapy. Did I mention that I only had 3 hours of sleep?

How in the world did I end up in Newark, NJ when I live in MA? I simply do not like driving long distances and wanted to avoid giving a 5 hour seminar (which is exciting, fun and exhausting) and then driving 3-4 hours to the next location. I was happy to spend 4-5 hours to fly out to Newark and then connect to Hartford. However, I never anticipated my connection being cancelled due to the weather. My taxi driver was super nice and $340.00 later (all reimbursed of course) I arrived at the hotel, slept 3 hours and woke up surprisingly energized.


Occupational therapists like hands-on activities and displays, especially since this was touted in my seminar brochure....

I woke up and assessed what was available- I had a lot of glossy magazines in my backpack along with my computer and snacks....

I happen to be a television talent show fanatic and was in tears when the cast of The Voice paid tribute to the victims. This experience inspired me to make a paper shrine with candles that I created by ripping paper.





While ripping the letters to spell LOVE, I thought about what a great fine motor activity that is but may be difficult for some children to do- so when I got home I  cut out a plastic W, punched holes in hit and attached it to thick folder paper using paper fasteners. It was a bit more labor intensive to make than I had hoped but I found it very easy to grasp the plastic edges and rip- ending up with a very nice paper W.















Other activities included:

  1. Squirting a dab of hotel lotion in the palm then asking the OT's to use only that hand to spread it all over the hand as much as possible. This is a great activity for strengthening the hand muscles and provides tactile stimulation.
  2.  Each OT rolled up a sheet of paper to make a tube. They also ripped paper to crunch into a small ball. Then they inserted the paper ball into the tube and blew it into the bag that I held for them.  I have to say I heard more laughter then than I had ever at a previous seminar.
  3. I wrapped a large piece of paper around some crunched up paper and taped it in place to create a ball. Then I wrote numbers all over the ball. The numbers were all squares- 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100, 121, 144. Then 2 volunteers ( I can't remember if they truly volunteered or not !) tossed the ball back and forth. I called out a finger such as right index or left thumb and the person would read out the number the finger was closest to.                                                                Meanswhile, the other OT's  wrote down the square roots, added them up after 6-7 turns and then we compared answers. I think this is a pretty good activity for older students who need to work on: scanning, eye-hand coordination, convergence and divergence. The same activity can be adapted so that the players are calling out letters and then try to make a word out of the named letters. This will help in promoting letter discrimination and form constancy since they will have to identify letters even when viewing them from a rotated perspective. 



Special thanks to my program manager (the young lady behind the table who gives out the handbooks when participants arrive). Her job is also to help me be relaxed so that I can give my all at the seminars. She drives me to hotels, pumps the gas,  arranges meals, calls taxis when needed, gets photocopies or supplies as needed, sets up the technology and contacts the hotel staff when there is an environmental  problem. This must be what its like to be rich and have full-time paid assistants!

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