Monday, February 28, 2011

Fix for Friday post

Sorry, I included weird URLs in last Friday's post on weblinks for Developmental Coordination Disorder.  Please look at the revised links in the 2/25 post.

DIY Bowling Lanes

Do some of your students go bowling as part of their community outings?  In one high school class for students with autism many of the students go bowling every week during a particular quarter of the year, but they still need to practice their bowling vocabulary. our integrated therapy session this morning we constructed a bowling lane and made our own pins and bowling balls.  We are fortunate since we have a student who can draw anything, and he created 10 bowling pin sketches for us.

At the end of the session we opened up YouTube to watch some bowling videos, which were excellent for the speech-language pathologist to use in reinforcing the bowling vocabulary we had just practiced. The classroom staff learned how to switch on the Safety Mode, to avoid some "eye-opening" pop-ups of suggested videos.  Still, there were quite a few video thumbnails showing up in the column on the right that we did not want our students exploring any further.  Viewer beware!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Developmental Coordination Disorder

One of our OTs on staff recommended these handouts on Developmental Coordination Disorder--lots of interesting ideas to use for students who seem to match the characteristics of this diagnosis, as well as students with similar needs:

Thanks to the author,
Cheryl Missiuna, Ph.D., O.T.Reg.(Ont)
for preparing such well-written material.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thank you, Mr. President

A huge round of applause to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln for having birthdays in February--we have no school tomorrow!  Yeah!

IEP season has started.  More meetings to go to and prep for.  I'm glad we have some "calendar" IEPs and that they don't all just fall in May and June.

Our department will have training this coming Wednesday in using Flip video cameras.  I used one last year to take work videos Video Sample but haven't touched it in 6+ months.  Here's hoping it will make the video-making process a little easier...  I realize that making videos is like writing lengthy term papers, so much planning and research work before you "type" the final copy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

NEO by AlphaSmart intro video

Well, all I can say is, the NEO better be around for a looonnnggg time, 'cause it took me forever to make this video!

Same video via YouTube
Videos are wonderful tools, but they are way too labor intensive for me.  Give me some scissors and a box of crayons and get me back into a classroom.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Elevator Talk

I'm trying to think of ways to explain different aspects of working as OTs in the schools.  This is my "too long" version of how OTs analyze school tasks and help parents and school staff figure out how to help the students.  Yes, it definitely takes over 30 seconds to say.  I need help.

In schools, the occupational therapist can assist the classroom teacher and family in adapting a task so that the student can experience success. This usually means first examining the steps to an activity to find out what is preventing the student from independently performing the task.

For example, what steps in tying shoes are causing the student difficulty? Can the student cross the laces easily? Do they become confused when holding the first loop and then trying to make the second loop? If they are having difficulty, is it due to a problem with fine motor coordination? If so, the student may need to learn an adapted method of doing the task (“bunny ears” method of tying) or perhaps use adaptive materials (elastic laces or Velcro straps.) If the difficulty doesn’t seem to be due to physical reasons, then the student may need extra practice with the different steps of shoe tying several times a day at home and also at school during routine opportunities.

Once the student has been observed and the steps of the task have been examined, the classroom teacher and family will have a better idea of how to present activities to the student, or ways to modify activities, so that the student can practice their skills more effectively on an everyday basis at home and at school. Does the student require a red dot on the inside of her right shoe, to cue her into putting the correct shoe on the correct foot? Perhaps the student would benefit from using laces that are red on the left side and blue on the right in order to more easily understand that he needs to create two separate loops during the process?

As we all realize, the most important component of learning and refining new skills is practice, practice, practice. When it is a complex skill, such as shoe tying or handwriting, the steps must be broken down into little bits and mastering each little bit will require practice, practice, practice at home and also at school.

Need some Valentine and Spring Ideas Right Now

I get all my ideas from teachers, magazines and Big Lots.  Sometimes I get desperate for new ideas, so I look at creative sites.  Here are some goodies if you're running into a dry spell of the brain:

Monday, February 7, 2011

High School Valentine Making

Most of the students in this class for highschoolers with autism breezed right through the fine motor aspects of our Valentine-making session, but a few needed a little help with folding, cutting and assembling the project.

Some students made complicated heart designs and a couple of students made simpler designs.

We had fun dabbing generous amounts of lavender oil onto the stamp pad and then using the stamps to put nice-smelling images on the valentines.  I've never put oils or essences onto a stamp pad before but time will tell whether or not it has a negative effect on the longevity of the pad.

Garnishing the valentines with candy conversation hearts was a sweet touch. 

Sometimes those corners just don't want to match up.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Sometimes OT Intervention Involves Running Up and Down the Hall All Morning

A little girl in one of my early childhood classes will consistently look in the direction of her favorite classmate.  So, today I used him as a "therapeutic tool" and asked him to hold her book while she listened to it being narrated on tape.  Even though she clearly prefers to turn her head to her left, she would turn her head to her right if her sweetie was sitting on that side.

She listened to her book being read as she depressed the Big Red Switch, connected to a Power Link and an old-fashioned tape player which we borrowed from the school library.  We borrowed the audio book from there, as well.

It took about 45 minutes to locate all the equipment and set it up for her, but it was worth it.  The library folks were glad to have such "old" materials put to good use.  Her teacher is excited about the student learning to access a fun, academic activity, with increasing independence.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Textured Books

Textured books are good motivators for students who are not usually interested in looking at books and for students whose visual impairments interfere with their ability to take in or process visual information.

This little girl seemed so-so with me presenting a fabric book for her fingers to explore.  She wasn't upset by the textures, just not very interested.  But, let the cute boy in class walk over and show interest in the book and all of a sudden it's a hot commodity.

When he was next to her she opened her hands and explored the book.  Oops, she explored his hand as well.  Valentines Day is drawing near.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Holes in My Heart for Valentines Day

Yes, that happy, chocolate-filled day is drawing close.  Every teacher in the county will be making valentines with their students in a week or so.  Give your kiddos a head start on working with this very tricky geometric shape.  Don't think it's so tricky?  Just ask your students to draw heart shapes without any coaching.

Use a die-cut machine to make multi-color hearts, then have students cut them down the middle and then cut the halves into skinnier shapes.  Combine them different ways to make joined hearts.  Using a hand-held hole punch is pretty tough at first, but many students eventually figure it out and that makes them so proud.  I added snowflakes to the design because the US is getting inundated with snow almost everywhere this week.

Please share photos of your students' cute Valentines.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Press and Paint

A couple of weeks ago I brought in Ed Emberley's "Great Thumbprint Drawing Book" to school, to use with students during fine motor activities.  The instructional assistant (IA) in one of my classes got inspired and used the thumbprint concept to create paintings as gifts from the kindergarten classes during Principals Week last week.  These paintings are now hanging in the school offices.

Sure, she's an artist and could have done the paintings anyway she wanted to.  However, she chose to use large and small fingerprints of each kindergarten student to flesh out the paintings.  The students participated in the process over a two-day period and then gave the paintings to their principals.  Aren't they lovely?

Make a Keychain with a Secret Code

Do you work with smart students who can't recall their locker combinations?  It's very difficult to stay calm and try to figure out your combination when you've only got a few minutes between classes and you're hemmed in by many other students who are diving into the crowd to get to their lockers.  One of our OTs developed this system for helping students remember their combinations.  She uses small "pony" beads to make a keychain; I used larger beads for the sample in the photo.

Starting with the left side of this keychain, look at the sequence of beads.  The blue beads are spacers.  The yellow and red beads represent the sequence.  The three numbers in the locker combination are 13--21--32, can you see it?

I don't know about you but the hardest part of figuring out my school locker, way back when, was remembering which direction to turn the dial.  I know it's usually left, right, left but it was pretty tricky.  My only recommendation for this is practice, practice, practice.

Thanks to Kathryn Mason for this idea.