Monday, October 17, 2016

Making Applesauce--a Mix of the Olde and the New

Two high school classes for students with autism combined this morning to make applesauce--peeling the apples, coring them, combining sugar and spices and putting them in crockpots for a nice, long soak.  Lots of opportunities to practice:
  • Hand washing
  • Safe use of sharp equipment (apple peeler, pie-shaped apple slicer)
  • Reading directions
  • Recalling which step the group is currently on
  • Using words and even whole sentences to request what you need
  • Using voice output devices to request what you need
  • Reading the volume description on the measuring cups and spoons
  • Feeling skinny apple peels accumulate on your hand while turning the peeling crank
  • Sniffing cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar while adding the ingredients
  • Not touching your face while you're working with food (so hard!)
  • Coughing, sneezing away from the prep surface (double so hard!)
  • Washing everything afterwards

I had never used a mechanical apple peeler before and it wasn't easy to figure out.  Good thing I had some experienced teachers nearby.
This activity was planned and directed by our school's Transition Coordinator and it was such a pleasure to be able to just be a "helper" and work with many different students--some on my OT caseload and some not.  Boy, did I ever see a lot of fine motor skills, sensory preferences (or not...) and hygiene habits.  Some of the students could probably have jobs in the food service industry one day and some, well, maybe not so much. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Little Help With ABC Letter Writing

One of my teachers for high school students with autism, who are not heading for a standard diploma, asked me about on-line aids to help students practice letter formation.  Although several of the students have loaned iPads from special education funds, there is no easy way for teachers to purchase apps for the devices and the county-approved, and funded, apps focus primarily on other areas of academics and communication.

Polling my colleagues in our OT Department, here are some on-line sites that can be used with a touch screen or computer mouse:  (you can use the story writing screen to create letters/words for the student to trace in a different color, or type in a word and enlarge it for them to trace with the "pencil" or "marker" tool
And, if you are purchasing software for your iPad, here are some recommended apps:
Little Writer's App (Alligator apps)
Letter School
Touch and Write
TV teacher--apps for lower case  (if you have extra funds you might want to check out the entire TV teacher series about handwriting; several of our OTs love it)
Write My Name
Unfortunately, most of the graphics connected with these on-line sites and apps are pretty juvenile, which doesn't match up well with the age of my high-school students.  However, many of my students love animated movies and cartoons on TV so maybe they won't mind seeing the images as much as I think they might.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Build a Taco for Better Palmar Arches

Say what?  Yep, that's what our creative OT buddy, Ellen G., told us during our Fine Motor Share Fair last week.

Ellen brought in a completed "taco" and demonstrated how it helps students with developing better arches.  We all believed her.

Here's the link to the fun activity:  Arch Builder Tacos

Will be sharing many of the interesting activities our staff contributed during the Share Fair
in-service--what a great way to get motivated right off the bat this school year!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Jig for Stapling Paper

Has anyone used/created a jig for holding paper steady for stapling?  Here's one I found today that might work for a high school student performing pre-vocational tasks:

Paper Stapling Jig

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Time to Re-balance

With the information overload from world events, turmoil surrounding US elections, local happenings and the general disarray of my own thoughts I’m taking a little break from blogging for just a little while.  Talk to you on the other side.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Self Regulation Ideas for High School Students

One of my high school teachers for students with autism had a bunch of new materials in place the very first day of school, to aid students with self regulation, and these caught my eye:

My favorite is "I will take five deep breaths." 

The design is found on this site:

and sold by this Seller:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back to Work--Reality is Setting In

First back-to-work day today--yikes, what a change in environment!  Yesterday I was taking photos of a friend's beautiful, lush flowers on her patio and discussing the merits of the too-close-for-comfort bees...
...and today I was listening to orientation from my supervisor and preparing my outline for topics to review with one of the new OTs on our staff.  I wouldn't have money to buy gas for the car and enjoy visiting spots around beautiful RVA with friends if I didn't earn money, right?  Right.

Whether you're planning to lounge in the delights of your own backyard, or squeeze in one more trip to the beach, enjoy your Labor Day on Monday and be ready to hit it hard when the students come back to school on Tuesday.  I'll be right there with ya.
Nags Head, NC--Photo by G. Collier 2015