Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shoe Tying Might Not Be So Much Fun, So Let's Make a Paracord Wrist Band Instead

Most of my middle and high school students with high-functioning autism can't tie their shoes during physical education class and when they go bowling in the community.  They aren't so crazy about practicing, either...

So, how about we practice the fine motor and spatial skills needed for shoe tying by making paracord wrist bands?  Maybe it would be a good fundraiser, as well.

Instructions for How to Make a Paracord Bracelet

School Safety Officer Training in Working with Students with Special Needs

At one of my high schools this morning the new school safety officer (from our county's police department) introduced himself to two of my teachers for students with autism.  He described the training he had just received on understanding and working with people of all ages with special needs.

Adults with psychiatric disabilities and parents of students with emotional and/or developmental disabilities had spoken to his group on common characteristics and behaviors of people they might encounter in the community.  The officers wore headphones to simulate a person "hearing voices" and then tried to interact with another person during a role-playing session.  One parent showed videos of her son with autism, highlighting how quickly his emotions could escalate and how a photo of a favorite object (Godzilla!) reminded him to calm himself.

The officer said that he'd like to get to know the students and for teachers to let him know what familiar items or photos might help their students de-escalate if they were in a crisis.  I was so happy I almost hugged him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Self Help--Dressing

Just saw this interesting blog, via the AOTA website:

Helping Kids Become More Independent With Dressing

And, more tips for school-based practice from AOTA:  Back to School


To say the least, I'm surprised.  Had more views of the blog pages yesterday than every before since I started it many years ago.  Thanks to you, Readers!

Students start back to school next Tuesday, so new activity ideas and photos will be showing up soon.

This week is spent verifying our caseloads, going to a few IEP meetings and planning with teachers.  Here's my outline for this afternoon's meeting with teachers for middle schoolers with autism.  I'm going to start out asking their concerns for all the students in their classes, then discuss how OT can adapt activities and provide ideas for "just right" practice of essential fine motor, self help and self-regulation skills.

1. Imbedding Sensory Opportunities Throughout the School Day--

--to positively influence alertness level for learning

--to expand student’s sensory experiences and comfort level

2. Developing students’ independence with reaching and maintaining sensory

--students can develop a personalized “menu” of preferred activities which promote

sensory equilibrium for learning

--students can practice choosing from their personal menu of activities, with

increasing independence

3. Adapting High Priority Self-Help Skills to Increase Independence--

--What self-help skills are needed in future settings, which can be practiced now?

                       --Snack and light meal prep

                       --Managing fasteners (shoelaces, buttons, snaps, zippers, plastic storage ziplock seals)

                       --Keeping personal materials organized (coat, notebooks, books, pencils, self-care supplies)

I'm hoping to work with the students, teachers, speech-language pathologist, instructional aides and others in group and individual sessions again this year.  That way I'll get to know all the students in the class, not just those with OT as a related service on their IEPs, and can offer suggestions/answer questions when they arise.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to Work We Go

We had a mini, 3-day, work week to get us back in the groove--picking up our school caseloads and trying to learn some new, online programs for special education and IEPs in our county.  With so many people trying to use WIFI at one time it was a little tricky...maybe because it's really still summer.

Summer means kayaking to me.  The gentle, flatwater kind of kayaking.  Paddle a little, gaze at the blue heron and turtles, paddle some more, talk to friends, follow the shade.  That's the kind of kayaking I like.
Oh, I do like to kayak downstream, too, unless there are potential rapids of any size.

Some of my new friends from my boomer gym joined me at Bear Creek Lake State Park this morning for a little paddle:  Park info

Mr. Blue Heron

This was the best part of the morning.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Time to Go

It's time to go home now--summer is here.  Hope everyone has a lovely, relaxing time off from school and here's hoping 2014-15 will be great.  Thx for reading and see you in September.  K.

If you'd like to read some posts about fun in the summer, please visit my June-July-August blog:
LifeSpace--OTs do have fun in the summer

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Activities for Students Who Like to Be Hugged, alot

Sorry if I've shared this info previously.  Since you might be thinking of recommendations for home over the summer a few of these activities may be helpful for students who seem to always be craving deep pressure input:

1. Resistance Exercises: Use Thera-band, Thera-tubing or bands cut from the lower 6” of old t-shirts. Since she likes to feel deep pressure there are several resistance exercises that might provide her with that input and I can show you some.

2. Figure out where to mark a square or “x” on the floor and have student stand inside the square, leaning heavily against the wall with flat palms, a straight back and flat feet. Push away from the wall and clap real hard before landing back on the wall with flat palms. Repeat at least 10 times. If clapping is too loud for the classroom you don’t have to include that.

3. Does she have Special PE? There may be some stretches or exercises which can be done in the classroom. If she’s familiar with yoga she might do poses that require upper body weight bearing. If that’s weird in the open classroom do you have room dividers to create an exercise area?

4. Keep a large zip-up sweatshirt on back of chair, show her how to zip herself up with the back of the sweatshirt behind the chair. Lean forward for the feeling of being compressed/squished.  Be sure that the student is capable of freeing herself from the sweatshirt or chair; this is not a restraint!

5. If you feel that you can have a sitting ball in your classroom, with the students respecting the safety rules for using it, try a ball that inflates to the height of student chairs. If you put the ball inside a large cardboard box that comes half-way up the sides of the ball that will help it be more stable (but not totally safe). The vertical movement of gently bouncing and adjusting your position on the ball are also weight bearing activities. This can be a risky addition to the classroom so use your best judgement.

6. After doing “wall push-ups” on the chalkboard, practice drawing a simple sketch from a drawing book which relates to a topic being discussed that day. Or, allow the student to tape her paper on the board and write while standing. (Working arms in anti-gravity position while drawing; joint compression and upper body strengthening which some students find calming; increase success in drawing to increase interest in journal writing or other academics which include student drawing)

7. Classroom job--Extra clean up of student desks, tables. Student or adult squirts thin line of shaving cream on table surfaces, then uses hands to spread it over the table. Student then uses thick cloth to wipe up cream from table, followed by using a drying towel. (This is not really a “cleaning.” Good for L to R sequencing, weight bearing through arms, sequencing of a task).  Ensure that the student is not sensitive to any of the ingredients in the shaving cream.

Bonus:  Call me crazy, but I think keeping a large beach towel handy and using it to "dry" your back (over your clothes, of course) would be very good input.  Use fast movements for alerting and focus on deep pressure from the towel for calming.
After today, two more days until summer break!