Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Refining Grasp and Pinch

Yes, picking ticks helps with refining pinch AND is a functional skill.*

More ideas from our September Fine Motor Share Fair:
Refining grasp/pinch:
  • Placing stickers on a vertical surface to spell a name
  • Using strawberry huller to pick up items
  • Paperclip activities
  • Placing beads on pipe cleaners (one of our therapists created a spider from pompoms and pipe cleaners, then decorated the "legs" with small beads.
  • Using craft stamps
  • Placing small items into slit in tennis ball
  • Dexterity Junior (iPad app)
  • Inserting short straws into spice jar openings
  • Pool noodle--cut into 2” thick rings and place in baking pan like cinnamon buns.  Insert pom pom or other small object into holes, then use long tweezers to remove the objects.
  • Eraser sandwiches (holiday mini erasers are the bread, poster tack is the filling)

*Just be sure to wear gloves or thoroughly wash your hands afterwards!!!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Back to the Tried and True--Oral Fidgets

Oral fidgets for students in middle and high school are pretty difficult to find, I think.  There is the cool jewelry that is commercially available and that works for many students, and it's wonderful when parents purchase it and send it along to school.  However, not many parents can afford to buy it and it's pretty easy to misplace during the busy school day.

Therapist-made fidgets can be chancy--is it safe for oral use?  Will the student possibly swallow the small parts or little sections that they may bite off the main piece?  Some students chomp down so vigorously on any chewy, even ones purchased from reliable therapy product vendors, that replacements are frequently needed.  It all gets pretty expensive for school budgets, kind-hearted teachers and parents who pay, pay, pay out of pocket to get students what they need.

So, let's try using the tried-and-true clear vinyl tubing to create some disposable, light-use chewies.  It's lead free, all vinyl and each roll only costs about $5.  When cut with a heavy-duty scissors the ends feel smooth and I can use a piece of ribbon or even a short section of tubing to secure it in a bracelet shape.  I have a middle school student who likes to feel crayons, pencils, markers on his lips and just inside his mouth and is very aware of not swallowing non-food items--we'll have a go at it and see if the tubing will satisfy his need for oral fidgets.  Close supervision is a must!


Fidgets at the Hardware Store

Who knew?  Walking down the home organization aisle at Lowes my gaze was snagged by these Gear Ties:

I'm wearing one of the 12" black ones right now, as a bracelet, to check it out.  If it's durable it will be a great fidget for one of my middle school students.  It does have a rubber coating so it's out of bounds for my students with latex sensitivities.

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