Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Visual Schedules Help Children with Changes in Routine

Children diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s syndrome often get anxious with changes in routine. If your child frequently becomes anxious when her routine is altered, you may want to try using a visual schedule. Once a child becomes accustomed to a visual schedule, this can drastically reduce tantrums, meltdowns, and acting out. Here is how to make a basic visual schedule that may help transitions go more smoothly for autism and Asperger’s children.
If your child can read, write the name of each task that you would like him to complete on two or three small squares of card stock. You can customize the difficulty to your child's developmental level. If he is unable to read, take snapshots of what you want him to do (or of him completing the task). You will also need a word or image that represent a reward that your child is motivated to work for. Cut each of the words/images into a small square and laminate them.
For the "base" of the visual schedule, use an entire piece of cardstock. Take a marker and outline each word/photo card then write 1, 2, 3, etc. inside each square. You will also need to attach small pieces of velcro to the "base" as well as to the word/photo cards. (See image below.)
Position each square in the order that you want the tasks completed and place the reward in the final square. Show your child the visual schedule and say, "look, first you are going to read, then you will write, then you can play on the "sit-and-spin" (or computer, or whatever the motivational item/activity might be). Once your child completes the first part of the task, have him remove the first square. Continue down the visual schedule until your child earns the reward. Be sure to tell your child, "good job, you did your work, now you get to spin/play, etc."
I hope that you find the use of a visual schedule to be helpful with transition time!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Bubbles are a Wonderful Therapy Tool!

I keep a spill-proof bottle in my therapy bag at all times. Here are just a few of the benefits of using bubbles during therapy.

-Watching and popping bubbles requires sustained attention
-Following the bubbles with the eyes is good for visual tracking
-Popping the bubbles with a swipe of the hand is good for eye-hand coordination
-Popping bubbles with an index finger requires finger isolation
-Encouraging the child to ask you to blow the bubbles promotes language
-Blowing bubbles is requires breath support
-Blowing bubbles works oral musculature which can help with feeding and speech
-Address taking turns by alternating blowing and popping the bubbles with the child
-The child can practice counting by counting the bubbles as he pops them
-Touching the bubbles is a sensory experience
-Teach your child about circles by explaining that bubbles are round
-Have the child spell the word bubble using finger paint or by sequencing letter stickers

Therapy on a shoestring budget: Make your own bubbles!

Mix these ingredients together in a container:

¼ cup of baby shampoo

¾ cup water

3 tablespoons corn syrup

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Retro Baby" Book Signing This Saturday: Please Come!

Please come to Laurelwood Booksellers this Saturday, March 1st at 2:00pm for the "Retro Baby" book signing!
....And please bring your baby!!!  I will have a number of the "homemade" toys from the book with me, so it should lots of fun for everyone!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Help Repeal the Cap for Occupational Therapy Services! It takes One Minute...

Does your child or loved one need occupational therapy services? If so, please act now!

Click HERE to email your legislator about this important issue.

"UPDATE FROM AOTA!!! Please contact your legislator immediately! Take action TODAY before it’s too late!

Recently, legislation that would have reformed Medicare’s provider payment system and fully repealed the therapy cap advanced in the Senate. On February 4th, however, efforts to work out differences between the Senate’s reform bill and the House’s version of the legislation left therapy cap repeal on the cutting room floor. Being left behind now could mean a swift return to a hard cap on outpatient therapy services in 2014 and beyond."

Source: AOTA Email

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Therapy on a Shoestring Budget: Actvity for Letter Recognition, Learning Letter Sounds, and Visual Perceptual Skills

This activity is easy to make and is great for letter recognition, visual perceptual skills, and for learning letter sounds. All you need is several small pictures of items that start with the letters you are teaching. Laminate the pictures and cut them out. Using a large font (72), type the corresponding letters, print them and glue them on each side of a colorful piece of card stock. (See photo.)
Laminate the card stock and add Velcro just below the letters and on the back of each picture so the pictures can be easily removed and replaced. Remove all of the pictures, and instruct the child to match the appropriate picture to its beginning word sound (letter). You can grade this activity by only placing one or two pictures in front of the child. This increases their chance of success! Make a game out of the activity by taking turns placing the cards.  Have fun while working on some important skills!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Help Your Child Learn Through Experiences!

Children with special needs often struggle with language, motor, and sensory processing skills. Difficulties in one or more of these areas may impact how a child interacts with the world. For example, a child with a language delay may have fewer social interactions throughout the day. Because children learn by engaging with the world around them, it is critical that all children have unlimited opportunities for learning. Here are several strategies for helping a child with special needs learn through engagement. 

-Never underestimate the power of imitation. Imitate your child and encourage her to imitate you. Guide her through the motions if she needs a bit of help. Even if she’s being guided, she will feel the movement and learn from it.

-Exaggerate, exaggerate, exaggerate! Exaggerate your expressions, your voice and every move that you make in order to get and keep your child’s attention. During play, always position yourself in her line of vision. Your child learns through observation, so the more he watches you, the more he learns.

-Reinforcement may be necessary. A child with special needs may not be naturally excited by play and interaction, so keep the motivation high through positive reinforcement. Be sure to use reinforcers that are motivating and meaningful to your chld.

-Keep it simple. Play doesn’t have to be complicated. Break activities down into simple, basic steps in order to increase your child’s opportunities to successfully complete a task. Praise your child for every small accomplishment.

-Make it fun. Try not to “push” your child. Play should be natural and fun and if your child senses that you aren’t having a good time, it’s likely he won’t have as much fun. Laugh as much as possible and have a good time!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

We're Gonna be OTs! Way to Go St. Louis University OT Students!!!

St. Louis University occupational therapy students shared their enthusiasm for our wonderful profession by creating an awesome video! "We're Gonna be OTs" is a student anthem written and performed by a group of talented students to the tune "Royals," a song by the band Lordes. Every time I watch the video, it makes me smile. To watch it, just click HERE. Please share this post and spread the word about the amazing profession of occupational therapy!
St. Louis University Occupational Therapy Students
Posted with permission of the Public Relations Committee of the SLU OS and OT Department