Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fine Motor and Sensory Exploration Activities for Older Students

Here is a source for activities that include fine motor and sensory fun, great for older students with autism who may enjoy the science aspect so much that they forget what their sensitive fingers are touching!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Making Slime, or Flubber?

My speech-language pathologist buddy and I had bunches of fun making "flubber" with teens in a class for students with autism.  Reading directions, measuring, passing around materials, making requests, deciding what colors to pick, glitter/no glitter options--it all made for lots of reach, grasp, pinch, twists, grading forearm movement, paying attention to the task, making and responding to requests and sharing.  Oh, and touching the flubber!

It can be gooey, or
it can be more like "Silly Putty."

For students who prefer not to touch it directly, just keep it in the bag for them to squeeze and spread.

You'll need equal parts water, school glue and liquid starch. 

Mix water with the glue and stir thoroughly.

Add a little pinch strength challenge and keep the caps on fairly tight.

Be sure to observe all the interesting pinch and grasp patterns.

After the water and glue are mixed (along with a drop of food coloring) then add the liquid starch.  Stir like crazy until it begins to form a lump in the middle of the bowl.

Sometimes the slime is pourable and sometimes is stays in a clump--all depends on the amount of each ingredient that was added and how well the mixture was stirred (and also the humidity in the room, no kidding).

The red glitter we added made the green slime more attractive.  Some of our students were quite hesitant to touch the concoction, whether it was in a more solid state or not.

The slime is nice and cool to the touch when first made and will become a little runny when it's warm, then revert back to the more solid state when it cools.  Just make a small amount in each batch because you never know how it's going to turn out.
We were surprised when one of our students said he had seen the old movie about flubber--check it out; your students might find it hilarious.

Word to the cautious--liquid starch often contains ingredients that some folks avoid so be sure to read your labels.  If your students eat anything and everything then choose a different recipe.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Decluttering and Organizing--Especially for School-based OTs

One of our OTs is celebrating her 30th b-day soon, and our creative staff has decided to give her inexpensive gifts in quantities of thirty--30 pipe cleaners, 30 cute erasers from the bargain bin.  Of course, I'm giving her:

Thirty Ideas for Organizing and Adding Beauty to Your Life:

(with a lot of tips gleaned from Marie Kondo's books)

Aim to keep the possessions that bring you a feeling of happiness when you see them, and to give away the rest.

When you hold something close to your heart, does it bring you joy?  If so, keep it.

If you are keeping something because it's a pleasant memory but not because you love seeing it in your home, take a photo of it and give the item away with thankfulness for what it represents.

Are you keeping tiny bottles of products for traveling but never end up using them for years?  It's time to toss them.

Something can be worn out, goofy or impractical but if you love it, keep it.

Are you holding onto something because you might use it someday?  Pass it along to someone else who will use it now. 

Old photos are treasures, but they are the final category of items to review when organizing your home.

Let your first category to organize be your own clothes, and the first sub-category within that is organizing the clothes you wear close to your heart (shirts, sweaters, tops).

By only keeping the clothes you love you will make space in your bedroom closet and drawers for storing many other things.

To make your shelves more available for beautiful artwork, use a closet shelf for storing most of the books you decide to keep.

To create a feeling of maximum "breathing space" in a room, set a goal of creating open space everywhere you look--around furniture, on table surfaces--and add beauty to those open spaces with a single item you love, like a living plant or art.

Are you using dishes you love for everyday?  If not, select some from your "good" dishes to use or purchase some that you love.  Use beautiful things every day.

To make your stove and counters easier to wipe down after cooking, keep the counters clear for about two feet surrounding the stovetop.

After decluttering and organizing your clothes and accessories you may find that you have more storage room in your bedroom furniture than you expected.  Use extra drawer space to keep mementos, stationery or hobby items; it's okay to store things of different purposes together and you'll be creating more room in another part of the house.

The benefit of organizing by categories (clothes, books, papers, mementos), instead of by rooms, is that it helps us see just how much we have in each category.

When you declutter and organize the whole house from start to finish, even if it takes six months or more, it makes such an impact that it changes the way you think about your living space and you never want to go back to the way it was when you started.

The purpose of organizing our homes is to keep only the things we love and use, so we are surrounded by what makes us happy.

Thinking about what we need to discard will drive us crazy; focus on what we want to keep.

Clothes are the first category that gets organized since it is the least sentimental category of our possessions.  It's what we use to practice and hone our "tidying" skills.

What is the lifestyle you dream of?  What do you want to feel when you step inside your home at the end of the day?  Keep only possessions that support that lifestyle.

Decluttering and organizing the home is a one-time project.  Once you're finished you'll clean and maintain the home you love, but you won't have to go through the whole process of "tidying up" again.

The cost of real estate is expensive.  The costs associated with buying and selling a home are expensive.  Organizing your home makes it feel more spacious and, if you were thinking you needed a larger home, you probably don't anymore.

By organizing you'll save hours each month looking for something, because now you know if you have it or not.  (Unlike Mr. Chipmunk who can't find that acorn he buried.)

As OTs we keep a lot of fun stuff in our "stash" of materials.  If we haven't used those pumpkin pencil-toppers or antique tins of theraputty for several years, now is the time to reduce-reuse-recycle them.

Has your treatment approach changed over the years so that now you primarily use equipment and materials already in the classrooms?  If so, drastically reduce the amount of supplies you keep--in your car or in your storage space.

Make a habit of taking magazines to work and dropping them off in the teachers' lounge.  Unless you're saving unread magazines for June-July-August, pass them along when the next issue arrives, even if you haven't read them. 

If you begin a book and find that you lose interest after a few chapters, it doesn't deserve more of your time or a place on your bookshelf.

Each time you declutter and organize, put the bag of giveaways in your car and plan which charity you'll donate to tomorrow.

Goodwill will take torn and stained clothes.  They train people for jobs by using our giveaways, no matter what shape they're in.

If you get distracted by "to-do's" while you de-clutter and organize, enlist the help of friend who will keep you on track and bag up your giveaways while you make the decisions of what to keep.

In summary--take time to think about your ideal lifestyle, how you want your home to look and feel, then keep only what you love or use.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kid-Centered Video about Sensory Processing Disorders

Just finished a three-part video continuing ed series by Dr. Rondalyn Whitney and this video was recommended for helping folks understand sensory processing disorders:

Check it out and see what you think. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

Where is the Snow, Virginia?

There were some school-based therapists a little sorry that the fluffy, white stuff was not all over the ground when we woke up today...

Ah, well--there are several more months left for the clouds to open up and treat us to staying home on an unexpected morning.

My e-mail signature now includes this line:

"All days are special, but snow days are more special
than others."  m.d. 
(with apologies to George Orwell)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fine Motor and Sensory Exploration Ideas for January

Some fine motor/sensory exploration ideas for January:

Pine Cones and Elastic Bands

Rainbow Color Collage   (try doing one color of the rainbow each day of the school week--ask families to contribute items in all of the colors)

Writing in the Dust (Fairy Dust, that is)

Thanks to  for all these great ideas!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Better Than Doing the Snow Dance

Back at work after the holidays and everyone is looking for snow!  Maybe this will help the skies open up and spread the snowflakes over Virginia:

Erupting Snow Recipe