Monday, March 30, 2015

T-Shirt Bracelet as Fidget Tool

One of my middle schoolers with autism loves to wind and pull on strings.  Since she doesn't put non-food items in her mouth I'm going to share this recycled fidget tool idea with her teacher and see how it works.

Keep in mind that t-shirt material stretches quite a bit over time when it is pulled on, washed, dried, pulled on, washed, dried...  For this reason I didn't plan a static closure on the bracelet; the length will change daily.

Cut 2-3" wide strips from an old t-shirt.

Tie a firm knot at one end.

Attach the knotted end to a stable object and begin braiding.

Finish braiding and tie a knot at the terminal end, then clip off the extra fabric.

Wind band around the wrist and slip the ends under the band to secure.

The knotted ends will get smaller after washing and drying.

Students will require supervision when using this fidget tool.  If they wind it too tightly around their wrist, put it around their necks or chew on the fabric then it's not the right thing for them.  Keep it at school.

Some students will be able to follow directions for making their own bracelets and there are tutorials available via Internet searching for making very attractive bracelets, adding beads...  Think fund raiser.

Be sure to monitor your student's increase in attention to educational activities, decreased anxiety or other benefits from using the bracelet as a fidget tool.  If they choose to slide it in circles around their wrist, take it off to pull apart like therapy band or just run the braid through their fingers that's appropriate use and may help them feel more alert and ready to learn.

Please send me photos of the recycled fidget tools you use with students!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Resist Workplace Telepressure

This is my grand-dog's report card for last Wednesday...he had been a naughty puppy the last time he attended this day spa for dogs under 25 lbs. and was finally, after remedial training, allowed back for a trial day.

Many of my teachers for students with communication or behavioral difficulties use simple daily report forms instead of keeping a communication notebook; it makes for faster reporting at the end of a busy day.  Sometimes I write about an OT session on the student's daily report, so the family can read how their student has performed, and may suggest ideas for continuing practice on the skill at home.

One thing I've learned this year is to respond to parent e-mails with a phone call.  If I don't know a parent very well it's difficult for me to discern their meaning when they write in an e-mail and I'm hesitant to respond, thinking that I may be addressing something other than what the parent intended. By calling I can listen to the tone of their voice and go into depth with their concerns, plus problem-solve with them on ideas for home.  Since I travel to several schools during the day I usually call the parent when I'm leaving their student's school.  If they're not home I leave a voice message with the phone number of our therapy office, knowing that the receptionist will e-mail me when the parent calls back.  I've given my cell phone number to one parent this year, since I drive quite a way to her home in the early morning for visits.  One parent.

I see teachers e-mailing parents many times during the day, then continuing the e-mailing into the after-school hours and frequently into the evenings.  Admittedly, the students in question have significant emotional and learning difficulties which prompt frequent conversations between the teacher and parents.  Many of my teachers for students receiving special education are very tired of constantly being on call for work matters.  True, general ed teachers receive many e-mails from parents of students in general ed.  Fortunately, no one has instructed me to use e-mail instead of phone calls to communicate and no one has complained to my supervisor that it took me more than a a few hours to reply to an e-mail inquiry.

Resist workplace telepressure.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What is a Play Diet?

As a, ahem, slightly "seasoned" OT I look on "digital play" with alarm, since so many of the students I work with report engaging in digital play after school and on weekends but rarely tell me that they participate in physical, social or creative play when they're at home.  When a student describes going on a hike with their family or making a b-day card for Grandma I want to jump for joy.

This article discusses the importance of balancing play choices and presents different aspects of play in a clear, visual format that is familiar to all of us who are working on balancing our food choices:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Overprescribing OT Services in Schools???

Eek!  This article from the New York Times about the significant increase of OT referrals in some school districts is alarming (thx for the alert, OT Practice, March 9, 2015).

Increase in OT Referrals--NY Times February 2015

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Concentrating at Work

Recently I discovered how using background music or nature sounds can help regulate my tolerance for aversive noise at home and work.  I have a favorite "waves on the beach" YouTube clip for times when I'm writing reports and have just begun using Coffitivity for those times at home when my DH is enjoying his meal, with relish.

After 37 years of trying to talk myself into not minding the sounds of others' chewing, slurping and other "mouth" sounds I have been testing the effectiveness of keeping a portable device nearby during meals and pressing the Play button for background noise.  If I adjust the volume low enough my DH doesn't even hear it.  Now that I think about it I realize that I could cue up an oldies country radio station, or playlist on my device, to have at the ready; we could both enjoy my musical auditory screen during mealtimes. Using music to enhance self regulation and improve interpersonal relationships--sounds like a client-centered OT strategy to me.

Related post: