30 Jan 2013

Guided drawings via Angry Birds


I have a kid who hates drawing but loves Angry Birds. He needs a LOT of work on drawing. Not because it’s important that he become an artist, but it’s important he know how to follow basic instructions and draw basic shapes so he can follow along with instructions in geometry, art classes, basic projects. We went shape by shape and did a guided drawing together. His angry bird is on the left. We had tried guided drawings together earlier and it was like pulling teeth. Once we switched to drawing together with angry birds, he did much better. 🙂

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

28 Jan 2013

Working on cutting long-term…


I have a kid who is working on cutting. He tends to not cut carefully.  Each session he has to cut out several shapes very carefully (you can still see a few mistakes though, cough) and then glue them onto this one sheet of paper we keep. We have it going in “Mario style” (hence some of those question marks from the game) and then he gets to add a Mario sticker. He really likes this. I probably should have put dates on the shapes in tiny pencil too. Hindsight is 20/20 right!

But for those of you working on cutting…consider keeping a single sheet of construction paper in their folder that you just keep adding to, a few shapes at a time, to make a cool board game or Mario theme or whatever makes them happy, with stickers, etc. 🙂 That weird shape on top is a boomerang, by the way…lol.

If I were to do this again, and I plan to…I’d probably force him to go in a chronological order rather than haphazard. IE left to right so you can see the progression in time. Live and learn.

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

25 Jan 2013

Using stuffed animals in OT sessions…

Today I had one of my kids absolutely cracking up. I had forgotten how much a stuffed animal can help us out. I had Mr. Octopus join us. 
Mr. Octopus showed us how he likes to color. He only knows how to scribble (I demonstrated Mr. O scribbling really badly outside the lines). Then my kid and I took turns showing Mr. Octopus, using grid paper, how we could outline a square then carefully color it in using just our fingers. After we each modeled a few squares, Mr. Octopus took a turn. GUESS WHAT! HE DID A GREAT JOB! WOW! We taught him how to color!!! We gave him a lot of high-fives, seeing as how he had 8 arms… 🙂
 That particular kid normally scribbles herself, but because I made such a blatant example out of Mr. Octopus, and then we made ourselves the teachers, it really helped.
We also brought in Mr. Monkey who helped us with doing some counting (in this case for the fine motor piece (what we were counting had tiny holes we were placing onto a peg). Mr. Monkey wanted to do the counting but due to having velcro hands he couldn’t do the hard work himself, he could only give the directions. Unfortunately Mr. Monkey didn’t have much of a backbone (no pun intended) and so he kept falling over. This is one of those things where you can get frustrated OR you can turn it into purposeful activity. “Um, Mr Monkey? Why are you sleeping? We are working here. Wake up.” Instantly it turned into something silly and the frustration disappeared. 
(Anytime I am working with a kid and a bead goes flying, or something unintentional happens that can get frustrating to a kid – turn it into something a little more silly – “Hey! Look at that bead, running away! Time out for you, Mr Bead!” (And also consider a small investment in something like Dycem, cough)
I want to take some pictures of a few other things of the day including robot space caterpillars and donuts but this is getting along and um, it’s time for bed. 
Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1

17 Jan 2013

OT Review of iPad App Dexteria for Fine Motor Skills

I was approached by BinaryLabs, Inc to review Dexteria on the iPad (and two other apps to come soon). Dexteria works on fine motor skill development and there are three components to this particular app.

1st component: Finger sequencing and isolation:

Place your thumb on an anchor point (either hand), practice isolating your other fingers in a varying sequence that the iPad provides. I see this being a great tool for the right person! I work with children in lower grades of elementary school, so it tends to be slightly too challenging. They can keep the thumb anchor point but then can’t isolate the correct finger quickly enough before it moves on. You can see in the screen shot that my child is using any finger possible. By the time she takes the time to figure out the correct finger, the sequence has already moved on.

My suggestion: instead of the program having a sequence that happens at a timed interval (it moves on regardless if anything is pressed), consider having the option to have a sequence that only moves on once a button is pressed. That way my kid could spend time figuring out the correct finger, press it, and then move onto the next one. However, I am sure for older kids and adults it is awesome just as it is. 🙂

2nd component: Fine motor manipulation and control:

You have to pinch little crabs. This one is super cute if not slightly awkward, especially depending on how long your nails are! I like this one as well and it gets fast quick!  I saw Tonya of TherapyFunZone.com recently make her own version of iPad tongs. I wonder if they would work for this. http://therapyfunzone.com/blog/2012/09/ipad-chopsticks/


3rd component:  Practice letter formation. 

I was in an iPad class today and I had an OT remark that her children found this particular handwriting app very challenging. I was surprised by this. My little kids aren’t particularly fond of this one as it doesn’t have any bells and whistles to make it fun, but I haven’t seen them too frustrated by it. You can practice uppercase, lowercase, or numbers here, and it’s very straight forward. Not a lot of distractions. I think it would be great in cases where you don’t need any playfulness. You do need relatively good control as it dings you quick if you go outside of the lines.

A funny little note that I mentioned in a recent post: I’ve been using Dexteria with a little girl several weeks in a row and have used the name of the app with her without thinking about it. She came in the other day and said “Can we use Dexter?” My first thought was the serial killer, not the app. She then instantly swiped my iPad to the left to the search box and start typing in “D..e…x.. to find it. I was impressed with my little 2nd grader!

Have any of you guys tried Dexteria out? With who? What do you all think?

*I received a free copy of Dexteria (it’s less than five dollars) in exchange for providing a review on my blog. The review is unbiased as the opinions are solely my own.

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1

16 Jan 2013

Therapeutic Handling Lab Demo

Wow. I was going through old Youtube videos and I found an old Google Video I had made that got transferred over to Youtube. This was probably from 2006, so early on in OT school, after a therapeutic handling lab. Obviously, as you can see from this video, I was trying to rehash what I had learned in terms of hand placement and progression…just sharing as it is a blast from the past!!! And the kind of things current OT students will learn…although hopefully with less awkwardness 😉

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 4

15 Jan 2013

My elementary school OT day in a nutshell….and oh a shameless request too.


Okay all, I’m trying to raise money to fund my first children’s book (already written!) as well as educational ipad apps and some other branding initiatives for Miss Awesomeness! In other words, stuff you could one day use to work with your kiddos!!! My campaign ends next week and so I’m going to be as annoying as NPR only for a single week. Actually I’m exaggerating, I could never be as annoying as NPR during their drives when they ask for money every single second of the day. I’ll ask every few days for the next week and then it’s over. Seriously even a few dollars helps, not kidding, because it helps drive the “go factor” up and then it’s more likely to be seen by others… THANK YOU. Okay moving on… 🙂

Today included …….let me think….some swinging, trampoline, “verbalizations and visualizations” of a Pokemon character (and later a 50 foot baby) and starting to handwrite using hi-write paper about these ideas….some tracing, some Handwriting without Tears number writing, a lefts/rights/1-2 step direction game (ie go 3 steps to the left, two steps up….)…um….some angry birds on the ipads free choice time….some angry birds plush pencil toppers used for finger isolation….some adapted tripod grasping…some small tennis ball head man time (he was fed pennies)….a Touch & Write ipad app was used in conjunction with handwriting…cutting….guided drawings using angry birds….desk organization…..and an IEP meeting…….and a partridge in a pear tree…..etc 🙂

Tomorrow is an all day ipad class! And hopefully, finally, the Dexteria review!
Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1

14 Jan 2013

Meditating as a NICU cuddler

Census was down in the neonatal ICU so things were very quiet. I spent some time holding a baby who just needed to be held upright for a while after feeding. The nurse said he is always awake in his bed, but when held he falls asleep almost instantly. This baby has his own room and I held him for over an hour as he slept as there was nothing else to do so why not. 🙂 In cases like that it’s a form of meditation, sitting there quietly with nothing to do, nothing to see or interact with besides your own mind. Reminding yourself to just “be” – be present, that the baby benefits from the rise and fall of your breathing, your heartbeat, your warmth, your pressure, even your kind thoughts…

That was the status I just posted on Facebook a few hours ago after I got home from volunteering as a baby cuddler. 
It’s 1040pm and I just finished writing up a report due tomorrow. I forgot about it and wanted to cry when I realized I still had to do it for tomorrow. Ugh. Tomorrow should not be too bad of a day. A few kids at one school, onto another school for a few more kids, onto a third school for an IEP meeting. I find January and February challenging months for me from a purely seasonal-emotional-darkness perspective, but I am trying to do things to keep me sane. I took some pictures of kids (well, their fingers, not their faces) using Dexteria this past week…a kid asked me if they could use “Dexter” this week and my first thought was the serial killer….I was like WHAT and then I realized they meant the app. AHAHHAHAA

Anyway. I made myself smile. That’s good. I’m gonna put all these papers away (I just saw my superman/meatball notes aka prone extension and supine flexion) that I was using to write this report and GO TO BED and try not to rue the fact its ABOUT TO BE MONDAY AUGHHHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 
Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 2

10 Jan 2013

Heavy clothes, calm bodies? Blast from the past


One more picture from the Marie Curie article in Smithsonian 🙂 Look at how heavy their clothes were. I wonder how scratchy they were. I’m guessing that perhaps, if nothing else, the heaviness was calming, even if uncomfortable texture wise! No seamless undies back then!! 🙂

I was recently reading Songs of the Gorilla Nation and she was talking about how she always wore leather and dark sunglasses, because the leather was so weighted and calming, and the sunglasses reduced input, etc. I thought that was fascinating because I know we all have seen people in um, unusual or interesting get-ups, and made assumptions. But we all know what they say, when you “assume” you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”….lol

I want to write more soon about sensory profiles….we all have them!!

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

8 Jan 2013

Does music help attention? Does white noise help attention?


Something I saw in I think Smithsonian magazine about using music to help your brain. I liked what they noted about people with attention deficits and how they may calm down in a paradoxical way – ie how taking the equivalent of speed calms them while it “speeds” the rest of us up. Very interesting neurologically.

Anyway, the thing about anxiety – that USED to be the case for me, that when I was frequently (severely) anxious, I listened to Enya while lying in a dark room and practicing diagraphagmatic breathing. But eventually when I thought of Enya it made me anxious because the two became so linked. So then I could no longer listen to  Enya without that association of being panicked. So sometimes it turns on you! My new favorite is Native American Indian flutes, the Canyon Trilogy, by R. Carlos Nakai. Many of my kids in special ed also really enoy it.

This reminds me that I want to do a post soon about white noise. Some studies have come out showing that white noise or classical music can be very helpful for concentration for SOME PEOPLE – especially those with ADD. But for those with “regular” concentration, it can actually be harmful to our attention. When I was in 7th grade, we had a history teacher who was big on playing classical music during our tests. He had good intentions and I know there were/are studies showing classical music helps. But it was a novel stimulus and I know for me it actually made it much harder to concentrate. Try white noise apps for your OT kiddos with ADHD to use while working, and see if it seems to help them out. (In our district our 3rd graders and higher have individual iPads so it would be easy for us to implement but maybe not so easy in most districts). But be careful of using classical music/white noise with ALL children. Better to use as a case by case basis.
Oh. Guess I don’t need to write a new post about white noise, I just wrote it. 😉

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

7 Jan 2013

Volunteering in the NICU :)

Every Sunday afternoon I have my volunteer shift in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) pronounced NICK-U. Today I was somewhat of a pacifier fairy…flitting from crib to crib replacing pacifiers. Almost every shift I learn new techniques or new lingo or something about working with the babies. I definitely appreciate my occupational therapy background while volunteering. It gives me a really helpful understanding of the importance of the vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile systems of these babies among other things.

Some of the medications that the “drug babies” take while weaning can cause hypertonicity, meaning basically that their limbs can feel rigid in certain positions, and can even kind of “tremor” when extended. I recently realized that when trying to transfer a sleeping drug baby from my lap to their bed, that if their legs are allowed to dangle at all, it can lead to a tremor and the baby can wake up just from that. (It obviously depends on the baby’s level of hypertonicity). So if I keep the baby’s legs contained and slightly flexed while transferring the baby, it prevents the tremor and the baby is more likely to stay asleep. Considering how incredibly important sleep is to a sick baby, a little realization like that can be really helpful in allowing a baby more uninterrupted sleep!
I recently got to hold a “typical” baby at a friend’s house – he was so calm and quiet and obviously unconnected to any tubes or monitors. It was insane how easy he was! When all the babies I ever get to hold are in an intensive care unit, it definitely gives me a skewed sense of what “normal” is!
I’ve been on break two weeks. I spent a week in Maui with family and this second week doing a combination of relaxation and some preparatory work.
Tomorrow it’s back to work and this week I plan to do my first app review of Dexteria. 
By the way – Handwriting Without Tears updated their Wet-Dry-Try app and it now has an “Easy” Setting you can set. I now recommend their app because of that change. 🙂 It was too frustrating and hard for the vast majority of my kids before, but now it’s doable with that setting. 
By the way – in the year 2012 I wrote over 300 posts! That’s more than I’ve written since 2008, when I wrote over 600! I’m insane. But you all know that already. 🙂 
Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none