Monday, April 30, 2012

Be an OT in Virginia

A little "eye candy" to lure you to consider working in the public schools in Virginia.  This is what downtown Richmond looks like right now, right alongside the VCU campus:

Springtime also means "foaling" time. Here's our newest addition, being "gentled" by my very own horse whisperer. DH handles the foals immediately after delivery, which prepares them for accepting human touch and direction as they mature. Much of his techniques are based on similar principles to those used to help folks with sensory differences. I've even read info from Temple Grandin in his horse journals.

Ignore the scowl; he's really very happy (the human, that is).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hats off to Delta Airlines

A good friend of mine went on a long airplane trip recently.  She said that Delta was superb with accommodating her severe allergy to apples.

The stewardess announced that they would not be serving apple juice on the flight. She also went to the passengers who were seated several rows in front and several rows behind me and told them that there was a passenger who had a severe apple allergy on board and asked them if they had apples in their bags. One passenger did and the stewardess took the apple and wrapped it in plastic and took it to another location. 

I was amazed when I read this.

Recipe for Green Slime

Green slime has been a big hit with students--elementary through high school.  We "cooked" it better as the days went on.

Here's a rambling recipe:

Warm up 1 cup water in the classroom microwave--not boiling, just above room temperature

Put 1/2 cup cornstarch into a medium bowl.  Use a large spoon to stir in most of the warm water, adding water slowly.  Reserve just a little bit of the water in case you need more.  Stir in a couple of drops of food coloring.  Our favorite choice was green.  It's okay if it looks "marbled."

As you stir the slime it will look liquid then feel more solid as you drag the spoon around, trying to mix it.  The consistency will not be "consistent"--you're done mixing when you see puddles next to solid parts.

Scrape the mixture onto a Tupperware pastry mat, or some other non-porous surface.  If your tabletop is solid that will be okay, just be warned that the food coloring may stain a nice surface.  It stains our hands for a little while but washes off in a day.

Let the students grab the solid pieces of the slime and hold it in their hands.  It will soon warm up from their skin temperature and start dripping through their fingers.  Cool.

We ended the activity by putting the slime into some ziplock bags.  When students hold the bag the slime will semi-liquify again and be fun to squeeze.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rainy Day Puzzle Fun

We've used these rain themed puzzle pieces before, but this time the student wanted to assemble the whole rain outfit---why not?

Good opportunity for me to take data on how frequently he picked up his pencil with a particular grasp and how frequently he grasped his scissors correctly.  Our therapy department is emphasizing better data collection so I better practice all I can.

Way Beyond Cute Colt

This little guy was born before midnight and he was running around his momma when my DH first saw him in the pasture this morning.  Of course, all that running around makes you tired...

Time for a nap!  He looks so cute dozing while standing close to his mom.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eating on the Run

While de-cluttering and organizing his desk, this 4th grader ignored his left arm/hand and even turned the left side of his body away from the front of his desk.  What to do???

Since he works a little on his desk, then munches a little on his lunch, I asked him to put his left hand on the desktop while he chewed.  I would have preferred that he place his hand a little more forward on the desk surface, but I was happy with this position (for now...).  This seemed to help him orient his body more squarely to the desk, at least for a little while.

Whirly Paint Machine and Switch-Activated Dryer

One teacher from the team delivered a healthy baby girl---time for her students to send her a custom-made baby card!

These high schoolers in a class for students with significant intellectual disabilities chose which color paints they wanted to use, then squirted the paint into the top of the whirly-paint machine as it spun around.  A mini hair dryer was brought in to speed up the drying process and the students took turns pressing the big switch to complete the electric circuit and activate the hair dryer.

I would have forgotten to hold down the little pieces of paper while they were being dried--good thing the staff is very experienced!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Exercise Band Assisted Math

As an activity to provide proprioceptive input for sensory regulation, we practiced using therapy/exercise bands for in-class upper body strengthening.  Of course, we included some academics along the way...

I had brought a 200" length of medium resistance band and we had four students in the group---how many inches would each student potentially receive if we all had equal lengths???  Once that was determined, the students set to work measuring 50" lengths of band. 
No, no--I didn't tell them they could fold the whole length in half then half again.  How would we experience this wonderful, cooperative activity if I revealed that simple shortcut?
It's easier to maintain your grasp on the band if you knot the ends.  Two students easily did this without any adult help, but one student spent about five anxious minutes trying to figure it out.  But, she did it!
Be on the lookout for photos of our resistive exercises.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Green Slime for Spring

Although the trial batch of cornstarch slime I concocted at home last night didn't turn out well, the recipe worked okay this morning in the class for high schoolers with autism.

They followed the recipe, scooping the dusty cornstarch out of the narrow box and adding warm water and a few drops of food coloring to the mixing bowl a little at a time.  The gloppy mixture kept changing from semi-solid to very watery as we stirred it, but the directions say that's how it's supposed to be.

We ended up making slime bags by dumping the goop into zip-lock baggies and sealing the end with duct tape.  It felt really good to mush the contents around through the bags while the mixture was still warm. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thank you, South Korea readers

I have a close friend who is a Korean linguist, so I have a soft spot in my heart for Korea.  Everyone from Korea or if you speak Korean, thank you for reading.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Yeah---No School Next Week!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week off (or had one this week).  Easter is my favorite holiday of the year.

Don't eat too many chocolate bunny ears and be sure to spend some fun time outdoors.

Will be back on the 16th. 

What are you focusing on today?

Same activity--different goals.
Did the Easter egg memory game with students a few days ago, focusing on letter formation and drawing small "decorative" designs to improve pencil control.  Today, in a different school, the focus was upon correct scissor grasp and managing markers.
 This sweetie didn't think he could open and close the markers by himself.
 He also became a little confused about how to grasp the scissors.  He knew his thumb went in the little opening but he couldn't figure out how to make that happen.
 But, he got it straight.  Now, how to cut that curvy line without taking straight detours.
 Another opportunity to remove the marker cap---don't give up!
 He tried it this way---that way.  It finally popped off.  That was a lot of work for him.
The teacher and instructional assistant in this classroom emphasize correct letter formation on a daily basis and the students improve tremendously during the year.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Keep Those Bunny Ears From Hopping Away

All the preschoolers were wearing their floppy bunny ears this morning.  Of course, the one-size-fits-all headbands fell off repeatedly but the students just plopped them back on their little heads.  After wearing hers for a little while, this sweetie's specialized wheelchair headrest ended up "wearing" the bunny ears and she didn't get to enjoy them firsthand.  What's a diligent OT to do???
Use what you've got on hand!
Since her specialty fidget belt was nearby we just secured her bunny ears headband to the belt, so she could explore the textures (feathery, rough sequins, medium-soft foam) and also look down at it from time to time.  I bet she liked the feathery pink texture the best; it was my favorite.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recycled Placemats Make Great Egg Templates

 We started making our matching eggs memory game by cutting ovals from out-of-style placemats.  These were the templates for helping us cut other egg shapes from construction paper.
 Which words to use???  Just look around the classroom for inspiration.
 We traced around our egg templates to cut out construction paper eggs. Then we chose various designs to decorate them.

 Decorations on one side and words on the other; we made about five pair to start the memory game.
 The students have much better memories than I do...
 Great opportunity to practice game playing "etiquette."
 When the game got too easy we made more matching eggs.
After I lost several times we used the words to practice keyboarding.  We finished up by taping the eggs to the classroom bulletin board.