Lockdowns, weighted hedgehogs, Barton, gluing, partridges in pear trees and I think I need Ritalin…

This weekend I had Pilates, horseback riding, Pilates, a hill walk, a glitter mani/pedi treat for my upcoming bday, work, work, work, holding babies, and visiting a friend/co-worker, work, work work, and also launched my Indiegogo campaign at www.indiegogo.com/missawesomeness…it took a lot of work on its self. I consider myself to have two types of OT work…school OT work that can be tedious paperwork wise but at least I’m paid, and then all the rest….the blogging, the e-mails, the interviews, the website development, product development, etc etc etc. I love it but it adds up. I ended up super exhausted which is not the ideal way to start your week.

Today I went to work, worked until 6:30pm (I had a 7pm Pilates class near my house which is 40 minutes away from where I work so I was a little late), went walking at 7:45pm with my friend for an hour up the hill and back down, came home and fed the cats and myself, rinsed off, and bam, it was already bedtime. I still have plenty of work left, I didn’t come close to finishing tonight, but I’ve decided I’m not doing any more of it tonight. But I couldn’t go to bed because I really need my therapeutic self-reflection time. Processing my day helps me get through the night.

So I’m about to share a little about the stuff that stood out to me today, and then I have a bunch of pictures from the last week I felt like randomly sharing, and then it’s bedtime, but it’s almost midnight already and I need to be up in sixish hours, boo. I’ve switched all my Pilates classes to 7pm for the week knowing I will likely work until 6:15pm each day. If I also didn’t have a 40+ minute commute each way it wouldn’t be quite as bad.

1. Lockdown. I got to one of my schools in time for a lockdown drill, where you close all the doors, turn off all the lights, mask the windows, and stay quiet….it was my first one and even though it was made clear it’s just a drill, it still made my skin crawl. When I was growing up we had earthquake drills and fire drills, that was it. To live in a world where our youngest children have lockdown drills due to gunmen is just really disturbing to me. Plus some of our kids don’t understand what a lockdown is, and I have NO clue how to explain it without scaring them. Seriously, literally, my skin crawled, although by literally I mean figuratively because if my skin crawled that would be a bummer, because then all my bones and blood and stuff would fall out, and that would be a pain.

2. Gluing. I had a kid today who was deadset on gluing on the background paper instead of the back of the small objects. He was not thrilled with gluing on the back of the object and he kept not listening to me. I finally asked him why he thought that was better and he said it was easier. I agreed that might be the case, but took a new piece of paper and showed him how if I put down a bunch of glue with the gluestick and then added something that was smaller than what he had glued, that he might glue himself and other flotsam and jetsam. Now for some kids who have a lot of fine motor control issues, or if the paper has specific boundaries, then sure, glue directly onto paper. But in this case it made more sense to do it “my way”. But because he was so adamant about his way, I wanted to understand where he was coming from and if I could help him see it my way. I think in OT, “because I said so” is like the least likely phrase you will ever hear, lol. Oh, and I also like the ones that go on super purple and then instantly go clear, because of the feedback it gives you.

3. Theratubing: Today an educational specialist said to me, Student Jane Doe really wants theratubing on her chair in her classroom, but do you think she really needs it? (We are talking about a quiet, non-fidgety child). I was like probably not but asked a few more questions. Turns out that student ALWAYS, DAILY, seeks out the theratubing chair while in the Learning Center, and has asked not once but FIVE times for it on her other chair. So with that knowledge, my thought process is that if it was just a novelty thing with no real purpose, she would not still be asking about it and still seeking it out. So we had her grab her chair from the classroom and I put it on. Note, we wrap it in a circle around the chair front legs instead of just a single line, because a lot of our kids like to put their feet in it. The trick is remembering to take them out before getting up… 😉 I also always show them that if it seems like their theratubing is missing, to look completely under the chair because sometimes it is actually still there but hiding at the top. I don’t know what all OTs think in general about chair Theratubing, but anecdotally I will say that I have quite a few kids that it helps IMMENSELY from the proprioceptive standpoint, allowing them to be calmer, less fidgety, and more focused.

4. Parent education. Today I met with a mother for an hour after school, her child played on my iPad in the meantime, to go over a ton of fine motor ideas. I’ve lately been scheduling a lot more parent education sessions – especially for involved parents of kindergarteners and first graders. Just to empower them with ideas and creative problem solving. I do give them a lot of ideas, but mostly focus on it from a conceptual standpoint of opening their eyes to all the things around their house and environment they can use in a therapeutic manner. Or even realizing that they ARE doing things already via play that is therapeutic, can be guilt-reducing. PLAY is SO important for children in terms of developing skills that will help them academically.

5. The Barton program: “A multi-sensory explicit and systematic phonics program for reading and spelling for children who have difficulty with phonological awareness, which goes hand in hand with dyslexic approaches. It also helps with automaticity in print. ”  I’m not sure if this is a direct quote from the program or just one of my brilliant educational specialists saying it, but I asked her to describe Barton to me in a few sentences and that’s what she said. She was showing me how she used the Barton program to assist with things like spelling rules and closed syllables, etc etc. I am going to schedule a time with her for a brief meeting after school one day to go over how it can help with automaticity in print as I’m curious about that from an OT standpoint. Also, I recently had a quick session on Verbalizations and Visualizations, a Linda Mood Bell program, which another educational specialist gave me because we put it into the IEP as an action item that I would be shown how it worked to incorporate some of its strategies into treatment sessions for a particular child. There are some cool programs out there.

Okay now it’s 1140pm and I think MOST of what I was thinking about has come out of my brain. I’m happy to report that every single day my brain has lots to process and reflect on and learns lots of new things. Unfortunately it all buzzes around inside and it’s hard to calm it down (DSM-IV-TR diagnoses anyone?)…writing it out helps me. And I’m of the opinion that learning should be shared. When I learn something just for me it feels selfish and wrong. My first thoughts whenever I learn something new and interesting are how to share it with people….I’m big on cognitive generosity. And making eyeballs fall out of heads by writing too much. 

Oh, final thing speaking of eyeballs which leads me to think about ocular vestibular stuff. I’ve lately been getting carsick driving home. Whenever I drive home in the dark I get sick. I almost feel like throwing up. It’s not severe, but it’s not fun. And unfortunately I’m not wiling to come home befo
re dark as I have too much work. Any thoughts on what could be the culprit? 

Ok….my to do list on here is often erratic but I do know I need to do a PointScribe giveaway, Shelby’s Quest give-away, and Morphology Jr review…and I also want to talk about cochlear implants and OT sometime soon. And ten million other things. Okay I haven’t re-read this or edited at all and I know it’s like fifty pages so….hopefully some of it makes sense. 

Oh, and I say “he” a lot down here but I’m talking about like seven different kids that have done stuff in the past week. I have almost all boys on my caseload, just a few rare girls. 

I am reading “Songs of the Gorilla Nation” and I am really enjoying it. When I first glanced at it by looking at a few pages I wasn’t that interested. But I started it and am having to have post it notes near by to bookmark spots, because she has such beautiful and interesting thoughts. She is an autistic woman who ends up getting her PhD working with gorillas, and learning a lot about herself and her autism through the gorillas. Already in the first few pages she already has some pretty profound statements. I want to go into more detail but not yet. I’ll probably finish it over break.
I came home today to find this birthday card in the mail from Norway. My host mother, Inger’s best friend, Hilde, made it for me. So sweet. I love Hilde and she is so crafty!
As I was walking into my house today, I had to use my pink owl key to open the door, and it’s getting yucky from so much use, and I thought to myself, I hope someone buys me those monster keys again off my Amazon wishlist ecause they’re my favorite of all, even though the owls are cute. And lo and behold a package was waiting for me. It was exactly the monster keys I had just thought about, from my twin sister. 🙂 I LOOOOVE the monster keys and they are great for keeping track of which key goes to which, plus for people with visual impairment a monster key could be much easier to distinguish. The only problem is their poor little arms suffer traumatic amputations. It’s kind of like when sparkles fall out of my hair, I have this irrational mourning period of several minutes.

I bought those washer mitts from CVS’s dollar section knowing I liked the sensory texture but not sure what I wanted to do with them. Alas, I ended up stuffing dried rice and beans in a bag and shoving it into the pocket of the mitt, then googling “hedgehog face” and using my AMAZING drawing skills to turn this into a hedgehog. I need to sew him shut although it’s not too bad if I don’t since the beans/rice are in a ziplock. He can be either a beanbag, or a sensory fidget, or a nice weighted tool. 🙂
I need a name for my weighted hedgehog. Hoggie?

I decided that I needed green, blue, purple, gold, and gold sparkles on my eyes today. It was a peacock kind of day. Watch how your kids with autism who avoid eye contact, look at your eyes when you do them crazy. 🙂


My favorite part of the picture is my fire opal glitter manicure. I have tried a lot of fidgets with my OT kids, but I like this one the best. It’s kind of gooey balls you transfer from one side to the other. They are Abilitations brand. I like to carry it with me to classrooms across campus and then as we walk back to the learning center the kid can be working on hand strength. I guess it’s not my favorite as a fidget for paying attention, but it’s my favorite “here, for the 30 seconds I’m getting something ready, play with this” and for the strengthening component. I recommend it. I want more.

Pretty classic (for me) school OT set-up…copying off lava paper on a slant board, with a timer (it’s a digital hourglass) going. 🙂 I always try to sit on their LEFT side if they are right-handed so I can watch exactly what their hand is doing with letters.

We went semi-old school and pulled out the real version of Handwriting Without Tears. He did a great job with his A and B using the Wet-Dry-Try method.  Then we pulled out the Handwriting without Tears ipad App and repeated it. I found out from reading the OT with Apps blog that you can dampen the tiny bit of cellulose sponge and use it on the iPad just like you do on the chalk board (obviously don’t let it be too wet and do at your own risk), so he was doing it with the sponge. Unfortunately, the sensitivity was frustrating for the number 9, so after literally 7 tries of doing it almost perfect and never getting it, we let him give up. It’s funny, sometimes the app works nicely even with small mistakes, and other times it’s very frustrating. I have a video I will soon post of me doing it the other day and it dinged me like three times. I still recommend it overall, but I would recommend it MUCH more highly if they had easy, medium, and hard versions. Most of the kids who start HWOT are needing it because of so much difficulty, so expecting near perfection is in my opinion a poor choice for
the app. I would love it if the “easy” version allowed for pretty major deviations as long as it was a general gestalt of starting in the right area….but shakiness and occasionally lifting the pen would not be a big deal. Then in the medium version you had to have less deviation and not lift the pencil. And the hard version could be more of the perfection. Just sayin’. Love the app but it needs serious work and I think the most realistic way to do it would be making levels of sensitivity. So for right now I often try the app first, then the child (and I) get frustrated depending on the letter or number and then we switch to Letter School or Touch And Write. I’d rather stick with HWOT if they would just make an “Easy” level.

Today my dog came back, he is very sick and needs shots 🙂 Or maybe acupuncture. One of my kids decided the dog had an “eye ‘fection”…

Copying from near-point on the slant board. He got excited and ended up adding “in the”….blue ghost referring to that fun blue sock thing I’ve been posting.

Working on isolating fingers and not fisting while drawing. Using Doodle Buddy. He loved the stamps, he would excitedly hit one and then flap his hands with excitement. I still struggle with my take on arm flapping. Personally, when they flap with excitement, telling them to have “Quiet hands” feels like I’m stealing their exuberance and enthusiasm. And we all know I’m about encouraging educational exuberance. 🙂 I get the point of quiet hands for certain situations, but never when it’s taking away joy…would love to hear peoples thoughts on that.

Blurry photo but we were using a piece of damp sponge wrapped in electrical tape with a glove on his hand to both give him a little compression/proprioceptive input and to minimize accidental touch. We were trying to work on not fisting his hand while writing. Which was successful, but ultimately I think we need to try a few other options, like very tiny styluses or a more refined homemade sponge stylus since the one I made was not so hot.
Feeding the tennis ball head pennies, some kids even with visual and kinesthetic clues still have challenges with the motor planning involved in opening his head up.

A picture from this weekend at the beach. This beach is less than a mile away from where I live. 🙂 So beautiful. Oh, and the “Real World: San Diego” house was quite literally right above my head when I took this picture as it’s on the bluff.

That’s all the pictures I have for today that can go in my “pictures of the last few days” random collection. I have more that need more specific posts.

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Oct 16, 2012 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none