Monday, September 28, 2015

Improving Prehension with Everyday Materials

One of our creative OTs on staff, Erica White MS, OTR/L, raided the Half-Dollar Store and made some nifty prehension activities for her students.
These spice containers were highlighted with permanent marker circles, matching the color of the inexpensive straws.  In the background you can see another container with colorful toothpicks.  Students really have to stabilize their thumb and first two fingers to pick up the straws and toothpicks in a way that they don't shimmy across a slippery table top.

Erica mentioned that she is making several sets of these activities, to show teachers how fast and easy they are to create.

Remember to use caution when students are engaged in this activity--items are easy to swallow.  Review your school policy on using "Goo Gone" or other solvents in the work setting. 

SUPPLIES Sparkles to do.jpg
  • Clean stickers and such off the jar with the Magic Clean Eraser and Goo Gone.
  • If you’re using straws or pipe cleaners, cut them into smaller pieces.
  • Mark the holes with colors for your kiddos to “sort” according to color!
Sparkles.jpg              Sprinkles.jpg
Have students place straw/pipe cleaner pieces, toothpicks, beads, or tic-tacs into the jar holes and watch those fingers! Expand on this for more individualized learning.

Stuff to Chew

Last week I was asked to talk with a Kindergarten teacher who has a student chewing her clothes and anything else she can find.  This is not a "one idea fits all" situation but it's been quite a while since I looked at commercial products for safe chewing and thought I should refresh my knowledge, in case a durable, chewy item might be useful.

Here are some lists of potential products:

I haven't tested any of the products shown in the links, above.  Use your professional judgment when discussing the pros/cons of chewable items with school staff and parents.  Remove necklace-type chewables before recess, physical ed and dismissal to home--whenever you can't directly observe the student.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Love the School You're With--Adventures in Scheduling and Work Mgmt

We’re in the 3rd week of school and I haven’t heard a single therapist on our staff say that scheduling their students has been such a breeze this year.
Most of us are assigned at least four schools and some folks, like me, have seven.  Some of our PTs have 10+.  I like having lots of schools because I meet lots of teachers and work with students of all ages—from two-year-olds through high school.  I get to go to most buildings several times a week and can start a project with a student or teacher and bring back any needed items later in the week.

However, with freedom comes frustration.  With high schools having ODD/EVEN schedules on ODD/EVEN days, students leaving their general ed classes for LD support, counseling sessions, testing by other staff it’s oftentimes difficult to set a specific time of the week to work in classrooms or other school settings with them.  I plan to go to middle and high schools two partial days each week—one ODD day and one EVEN day—so I can visit them in different classes and see what they need from me.  Going to physical ed and lunch lets me see how they cope with noise and crowded settings, not to mention self-help skills.  Visiting English and Science classes gives me the opportunity to observe how students manage their backpacks, folders, notebooks, pencils, computers and materials used during experiments.  If a student is sensitive to olfactory stimuli, go to Science class on lab day or to the lunchroom on not-having-pizza day and see how they manage.  It helps me know how to work with the students and their teachers on the exact strategies they need for keeping their emotional and sensory equilibrium.

One maxim that helps me when it comes to scheduling is, “Love the One You’re With.”  It’s not really an ancient, wise saying but a bit of a popular song from younger days.  When I’m feeling fragmented during the day at School A because I’m thinking of what I need to do later in the week at Schools E and F I tell myself to “Love the School You’re With.”  I try real hard to do work, material prep and planning for the students at the school my feet are standing in at the time, or the school I’ll be in the next day if I need to let a teacher know I’ll be doing something out of the usual schedule.  It helps me mentally declutter my bouncing thoughts, even though I make notes in my calendar for things I plan to do later in the week.

More scheduling adventures to come.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Leaf Filter to Reduce Glare at Computer Workstation

One of my OT buddies uses a work cubicle with one side that faces due west.  It's lovely to look out the tall windows and see a line of deciduous trees gracing the length of the building, but it's pretty difficult to read the computer screen starting about 2:30 in the afternoon.

To reduce the glare factor, she ordered this leaf-shaped canopy from IKEA and set it up last week, since the sunbeams are hitting her splat in the face earlier and earlier each afternoon.

It works great!

Will take another photo later on to show how nicely the space above her computer monitor is being shaded by the canopy.  In this cubicle there is no alternative surface for placing the computer so something had to be done--pronto!

Update 9-14:  Here's another view of the glare guard:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Make It, Take It--a Weighted Lap Pad for Students

Last Thursday a bunch of OTs on our staff spent a couple of hours getting stuck in duct tape and spilling rice all over ourselves--it was fun!  We used this tutorial to make different sized weighted lap pads for use with students:

Thank you, Lauren, for the publicity!
Here are some photos from our session--Susan donated lots of pretty duct tape from home projects and that sure made the plain lap pads more interesting.

When you run out of hands...

Tie-dye duct tape--wowie zowie!

Add a handle for attaching fidget toys.

Different sizes for different size laps.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Yep, we started back to school yesterday; students start September 8th.  That means we have a little bit of time for the "extras" of life at work. 

My OT buddy, Susan, and I decided to hurry up and plan a "Make It, Take It" session tomorrow afternoon on how to create a weighted lap pad.  Prep is simple because we have a blog post with the directions Making a Weighted Lap Pad and several handouts from the MCV/VCU OT students who helped us with creating adaptive equipment last spring.

If tomorrow's training goes well we hope to conduct more sessions for our OT staff and for teachers of students in special education, if our supervisors approve.  A couple of years ago Susan Custer, OTR/L, and I wrote a paper on serving students with significant cognitive impairments and we have oodles of ideas from that project.  Why not stretch out of our comfort zones and share the info we learned from preparing that paper???

Here's an adorable student checking out an adapted storybook.  Her eyes didn't always help her explore her world but her fingers were eager to learn!


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Nice Summer Surprise

A good friend called me a little while ago to let me know that an essay I wrote earlier this summer was published today in our local paper--yippee!  Thanks to the Lord!

Functional Sewing and Good Memories

Hey, it was the '70's