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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Opening Knots to Remove Fish

One of the training strategies I recommend is to teach how to open or undo manipulations before teaching how to put together. I also recommend trying to create activities that are meaningful while working on fine motor skills. I had created a board with cord attached to work on untying knots. But the brilliant staff person (Eduardo!!!) who makes lots of clever activities for his program room created this large fishing net activity. The plastic fish are tied onto the net so that the individual unties the knots and then removes the fish. It seems to hold the individual's attention quite well- its just challenging enough to keep his interest but not too difficult as to be frustrating. ...

He made the  fish out of large black and white containers that hold protein powder. 

I frequently see abandoned fishing nets when I walk on the beach. Now I will consider recycling them if they are in good condition....

Friday, June 19, 2015

Extreme sensory seeking individual

I am working with a young man who seeks extremes in sensory input and acts miserable without it.

He alternates between sitting in a bungee chair, wheelchair rocker and lounger.

He likes to hold onto the heavy bag of sand inside the supermarket bag. I was able to attach it to his wheelchair with the straps so it wouldn't fall off. He can hold onto it independently when it is on his lap when he leans back into the bungee chair or lounger.

He also enjoys the pink vibrating cushion behind his back.

Sometimes he wears a weighted vest but I like to limit that because the impact wears off and I don't know if it would get uncomfortable.

But he likes wearing my life jacket vest and I will be looking into compression clothing since I need my vest for my ocean time....

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Teaching to Close Small Buttons

I have been teaching several children and adults to close large buttons using large button squares. These are simply 2 pieces of fabric -one with a button sewn on it and the other with a slit to button onto it.

Some of my clients are ready to work on  closing smaller buttons before tackling the ones on their clothes. So I  took some of my old blouses that are bit too tight on me and decided to donate them. I wrapped them over a couple of layers of cardboard to make them more firm while the individuals closes first the buttons to the blue blouse and then the buttons on the red one. I think it is easier to learn this skill when the buttons are in front of you rather than on your own clothing where you can't look directly at them.

Source: Fun Activities that Develop Buttoning Skills by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Friday, June 12, 2015

Connect Four Activity

Inserting checkers into Connect 4 works on many skills.

I want the individuals to stabilize with one hand, so I removed the stand's legs and wedged the board inside the swimming noodle. This seems to be pretty easy to stabilize and some of them seemed to love it.

The woman in the second picture avoids using her right hand but tolerated stabilizing just long enough to complete the task. She didn't love it.... but tolerating it was good.....

The young man in the blue and white striped shirt often needs many cues to persist and complete tasks. He liked this so much he completed it independently and smiled a lot while doing it!!

I also want to improve their posture so this activity can be raised even higher if needed by positioning on top of a box.  The women in the bottom 2 pictures typically have their heads flexed so this activity can address their needs to sit more upright.

I like seeing the individuals learn that once a column is full, they need to move on to a different column. Some were having difficulty understanding how to position the checker to insert from the top, so we worked on that cognitive/visual-perceptual skill as well as motor control.

I positioned the tray with checkers in a variety of angles and on the person's dominant side.  The man reaching into the sensory container in the top photo is blind. At first he was removing beads, but quickly learned to feel and find only the checkers that can be inserted.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sensory Input wearing life jacket

 I recently dug up my life vests for boating and decided to try them out as pressure vests at work. The individuals LOVED them. I like them better than the weighted vests that I made with bags of sand inside the pockets using a fishing vest.

The life vest applies pressure uniformly rather than  having the weight unevenly distributed with the sand bags. Using the weighted or pressure vests is a lot of trial and error and someone who loves it one day may refuse it on another day. So I don't like to invest a lot of money in these..... However, I will keep my eyes open for yard sales vests.

The client sitting at the table typically does not want to do anything other than flip through magazines. I gave her a book stand and a pile of pictures that attached with Velcro and she worked pretty independently in placing them. She was not able to do the matching 2 halves of the picture activity (shown in the photo ) but that one is perfect for some of the higher functioning clients.

Another lady is enjoying wearing the vest while doing her sensory activity, pushing a heavy cart and placing the bottles filled with sand on the floor.

I love the idea of teaching them to wear the vests or perhaps weighted ankle or wrist weights during specific time limited activities so that they know that everything is done for a time period and will end and then some type of reinforcement follows....

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Apps for Autism - Revised and Expanded

The new "Apps for Autism" by Lois Brady,  MA CCC-SLP  is revised and expanded with lots of new  and updated information....

The introduction to the Apps for  occupational therapy section is written by yours truly !!!!

As the number of Apps for the special education community grows exponentially, thank- goodness occupational therapists have Apps for Autism to help us choose the ones that promote specific “OT” skills such as scanning and eye-hand coordination. Ipads will never replace the sensory stimulation and kinesthetic learning we all experience as we explore objects. However, children on the autism spectrum look at, touch, manipulate objects and learn in atypical ways.  They thrive when learning materials are exciting, predictable, repetitive, don’t feel slimy; and provide cognitive challenge while utilizing their incredible visual discrimination and memory.

All therapy begins with promoting engagement and some of the best ways to promote motor skills as simple as touching a screen or as complex as typing a word is to reinforce (i.e. reward) with bright lights, colors, sounds, music and animations. Most Apps do exactly that!  

The Apps in this section are of particular interest to occupational therapists because the Ipad becomes more than a screen. It is manipulated in ways that develop bilateral coordination, motor planning and finger dexterity. Learners tilt their devices to catch the ABC Maze runaway letter or SCOOP ice-cream. They develop finger control while playing KNOTS and pre-writing skills by painting on Doodle Buddy.

Occupational therapists have especially come to love the handwriting Apps that teach correct letter formation. Letter School is one of my favorites because it requires accurate sequencing and tracing-followed by fun animations. Handwriting Apps such as LETTER LAB enable children with pencil control difficulties to first practice letter formation using only the finger with the option of using a stylus as skill progresses. 


The “Apps for Occupational Therapy” section wouldn’t be complete without addressing activities of daily living. Brady includes some of the best Apps to encourage using the potty, choosing weather appropriate clothing, sequencing to prepare meals and putting some fun into the tough subject of personal hygiene.

Now that Ipads are widely accepted and used to help individuals with special needs -of all ages, this revised edition becomes even more important. Occupational therapists can learn about the pros and cons of the selected options and integrate them into treatment plans. It’s an exciting time to be an occupational therapist!