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Friday, April 26, 2013

Another Great Future Horizons Conference

OK, I admit that I love having my photo taken with Temple Grandin and I appreciate having had the recent opportunity to do so in Fitchburg, Mass at a Future Horizons conference.

The audience was filled with parents who came for inspiration and hope that their children will achieve the independence and success that the doctor has proven is possible......and professionals seeking strategies to help the families they service.

I had attended a similar conference in MA last year, but I was eager to not only receive another dose of Dr. Grandin inspiration but to hear psychologist and author- Dr. Jed Baker speak about behavioral concerns and interventions.

 I recently read Dr. Baker's book  "No More Meltdowns" and recognized during his talk many of the same concrete, humorous and logical strategies that he writes about.

Some of the main points he makes in the book and lecture are:
1) use the 80/20 % rule-this means that since kiddos who have learning and behavioral challenges have a history of failure, spend 80% of the time with activities, including school work that we know will be successful and 20% of the time introducing new material.

2) children who are in the middle of a "melt down" cannot respond to logic.
Since their out of control behavior is escalating  - they are best managed by.....
*sensory interventions such as jumping into a crash pad,
*enhancing communication (i.e. pictures, Ipad)
*and handling our own feelings during the crisis.

Of course, preventing meltdowns in the first place is  preferable- so Dr. Baker reminds us that:
*fear of failure leads to anger
*one size solutions do not fit all
* punishment works, but we pay a big (negative) price for it, *tolerance is key and
* misbehavior is often unintentional.

As an occupational therapist, I especially like how Dr. Baker includes sensory-based strategies in evaluating the triggers of behaviors and in intervention strategies. For example, a child ran away from a staircase because the reverberation was aversive.

Dr. Baker states this simple rule: REWARD EFFORT, NOT OUTCOME!

This is also my OT mantra and at the same time I focus on creating fun, therapeutic/learning activities that meet a child's emotional and sensory needs, but at the appropriate cognitive level to achieve success. We OTs and psychologists have a lot in common, least we should share this approach as part of interdisciplinary teamwork!

Dr. Baker brilliantly demonstrated behavioral strategies that work and do NOT work with analysis of Super Nanny episodes ( a TV show that I have never watched), family anecdotes and client videos.  I recommend that you jump, skip and crawl through a cloth tunnel to get to his next talk, visit his website- and read "No More Meltdowns". 

The afternoon was filled with the magic of Temple Grandin who touched on themes including :
 1. the importance of chores, work and high (yet, reasonable) expectations
  2. recognition and interventions for visual processing problems- including removal of  60 cycle flickering lights.
 3. the importance of shop classes-where children learn how to problem solve. (she explains in the video below).
4. Sensory strategies (i.e. deep pressure)
5. Jobs for visual thinkers

Participants at the conference were treated to the wonderful Future Horizons book store that included my own book- From Rattles to Writing: A Parent's Guide to Hand Skills (published by but distributed by Sensory World/Future Horizons).

Please use my code PEDIA to get a 15% discount on most Future Horizons/Sensory World books and conferences.

I noticed in the conference handout an invite to apply for the "Temple Grandin Award". This is an award given by Future Horizons to individuals Temple Grandin has deemed as worthy of recognition for their accomplishments.  So I have to brag that my own son, David Smolinski has earned this award. He backpacked half of the Appalachian Trail from the Delta Water Gap to Maine, solo (with my husband at computer command central).

I hope that you enjoy the video I made to document the event!

Owner of

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Plastic Cover on Phone Charger

The light from the phone and Nook charger has been bothering me for some time. I finally cut a cover out of a container lid to shield me from its evening glare.
 I can push the lid downward to make sure all is working OK. Its not attached, the wires hold it in place and it works quite nicely!  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bottle People on the Trail

My 2-4 year olds love the plastic bottle people that I hung in the trees. Each one involved a simple manipulation. The child in the photo is removing a worm from a banana. 

I hang the bottles on a branch by cutting so that there is an opening between the handle and side of the bottle. You can see this most easily in the green bottle below.

Most of the kids needed help to push the sides of the green glasses into the notch.
The green bottle has a face with a yellow nose. The children removed the blue mustache attached around the nose. You can see how this worked in the video. These toys also allowed me to work on naming body parts. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy Autism Awareness Day!

I'm wearing blue and working on my balance for Autism Awareness Day!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Earth Day Lacing and Weaving

 I printed out an earth day logo to copy,
then I cut some plastic from detergent bottles,
the pink is from the lid to a coffee can.

Younger children may best be able to lacing with the pipe cleaner or string.

Older children may try weaving and then hang the strung and woven earth to admire.

HAPPY EARTH DAY each and every day!