Thursday, February 23, 2017

Online Keyboarding Programs and Apps

One of my OT buddies just forwarded this resourceful link to our staff.  The post is from 2014 but I bet many of these recommended sites & apps are still active, maybe even improved!

http://mamaot.com/keyboarding-programs-to-help-kids-with-typing-practice/

Music Therapy story

Thanks to Ms. Carlson, teacher for students with autism, for sharing this great story with me:

A Boy and His Guitar

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Have You Looked at GoNoodle Lately?

I've been recommending videos from https://www.gonoodle.com/ to several of my teachers lately, from elementary school through high school.  Check it out yourself and see which videos might be helpful for your students, then pass the link along to your teachers.

Here's an interesting post from the GoNoodle blogsite.  I don't agree with every word but there're lots of good ideas:  http://blog.gonoodle.com/2016/06/using-gonoodle-to-improve-self-regulation-language-and-more/

Friday, February 10, 2017

Middle + High School Students With Significant Intellectual Disabilities


Ideas for OT Consult/Intervention
for Students with Significant Intellectual Disabilities*

Depending on the educational and related service goals and objectives of your students, this is what a school year might look like for many occupational therapists.
Month
Intellectual + Physical Disabilities
Intellectual Disability + Autism
September
Observe feeding--any adaptive equipment needed?
Take photos of each student’s feeding equipment. What equipment is on hand in classes, kitchens.
Need timer to pace intake?
Prep feeding guidelines for individual students.
Initiate or update feeding forms on annual basis, or after hospitalization affecting feeding status.

Obtain photo permission from parents, for use in therapy records and training staff.
Take photos of UE splints and other specialized equipment, for OT file.
Observe during snacks, lunch.  How wide/how narrow are their food preferences?

Note fine motor skills and grasp patterns during utensil use or finger feeding.
If needed, provide photos of typical grasps for visual models to use with students during mealtimes.

Address immediate needs for self-regulation strategies and activities. What was used in the past?  Review former therapy records in student’s school confidential file.
October
Document what assistive technology is in place.  Take photos of mounting systems for AT and mark wheelchair or other equipment for best sites to attach AT.

Visit physical education to observe students out of wheelchairs and note gross motor skills and UE skills in more dynamic environment.

Observe students in school environments (lunchroom, assemblies, transition in hallways, art class, school jobs…) and consult on adaptations for promoting fine motor skills and independence.

Observe students in school environments (lunchroom, PE, assemblies, transition in hallways, art class, school jobs…) and consult on adaptations for promoting fine motor skills and self-help skills.

Explore primary classroom environment (lights, seating, noise level, computer placement, window glare) and items in place for self regulation.
Provide written recommendations to teachers and, possibly,  additional items for trial periods (fidget mat, light diffusers, standing desk, other).
Offer team in-service for creating items that have been successful with students.  
Use therapy session to model creating simple items to use in class--have students participate (such as rice-sock fidgets).  Include precautions.


November
Assess classroom inventory of materials for sensory exploration and individual leisure skills.
Create set of materials for students on OT caseload and train teachers & classroom aides on using items for alerting/calming to aid self regulation & readiness to learn.  Include precautions and symptoms of over-stimulation.
Do students have preferred activities for self regulation?  If so, help students and staff create a personal menu of preferred activities they can select from on a regular schedule through the day.  Enlist the school SLP to use visuals in the schedule.
December
Use seasonal weather and holiday traditions to expand group activities (ice maker for snow, cinnamon-nutmeg or
peppermint to salt/flour/water
dough for olfactory & texture exploration.
Use highly-textured materials (pinecones, gumballs, holly leaves) and other natural materials to create small gifts for families and school staff.

Students can create gift tags (tracing/cutting), write greetings then deliver gifts to school personnel during group sessions.
January
Review progress in self-help skills:
  • Self feeding
  • Food prep (cutting)
  • Utensil grasp
  • Independence in lunch line
  • Self dressing
  • Managing fasteners
  • Shoe tying

Provide adapted materials, as needed, to supplement classroom items.  (shoe laces cut in half and re-tied in contrasting colors)
Same as column to left.


 

February
Schedule visit with school-based SLP for shared students using augmentative communication devices.  Observe and collaborate on best access for switches/devices.
Schedule visit to off-campus work sites or adapted sports (skating, Medford League games, Special Olympics).
Observe student’s response to environment and need for any modifications needed at site.
March
Observe students during school-based jobs (washing windows, watering plants, working in school store, stationery business, café cart).
How have their fine motor skills and self help skills increased since October?

Refresh any customized “sensory kits” for students with seasonal items.
Observe students during school-based jobs (washing windows, watering plants, working in school store).
How have their fine motor skills and independence with self help skills increased since October?

Refresh any customized “sensory kits” for students with seasonal items.
April
Update materials for practicing self-help (bubble wrap for snaps).  Send home parent handout on tips for increasing independence at home.
Update materials for practicing self-help (bubble wrap for snaps).  Send home parent handout on tips for increasing independence at home.
May
Incorporate water and other outdoor activities into group sessions (reaching into water-filled basis to grasp objects).

Send thank-you notes to donors, describing how $$$ or materials were used to help students.
Improve hand strength for greater endurance in school jobs and work settings via carrying different sizes of water for outdoor plants, bringing heavy water bottle on outside walks.

Send thank-you notes to donors, describing how $$$ or materials were used to help students.
June
Meet with teachers, SLP, PT to determine what intervention strategies  to repeat and what to change for the next school year.
What feeding precautions need to be in place on the first day of school next year?  What equipment?  What self regulation strategies?
Meet with teachers, SLP, PT to determine what intervention to repeat and what to change for the next school year.
What feeding precautions need to be in place on the first day of school next year?  What equipment?  What self regulation strategies?
*

"Intellectual disability is a below-average cognitive ability with three (3) characteristics:

  • Intelligent quotient (or I.Q.) is between 70-75 or below
  • Significant limitations in adaptive behaviors (the ability to adapt and carry on everyday life activities such as self-care, socializing, communicating, etc.)
  • The onset of the disability occurs before age 18." 

Great Group Ideas from our Recreation Therapy Colleagues

Oodles of Activity Ideas

In many of my schools I work with teachers and speech-language pathologists who enjoy doing groups together to help students develop their academic, communication, social, fine motor and self-help skills.  Doing monthly groups with them lets me see:

1.  Communication skills I never knew my students possessed,
2.  Gaps in their fine motor and self-help skills that I need to address,
3.  How thoroughly other staff members know the ins and outs of my students' personalities,
4.  Excellent motivational methods for working with my students when they are having behavioral
     challenges.

Because we have everyone from the class participate in the group, either as a whole group or in smaller groups, I end up working with students who are not on my caseload and the SLP sometimes ends up working with one of my students who is not on her caseload--no biggie.

Here's an activity ("Hunt the Heart") I gleaned from the Recreation Therapy site, adapted for a group of middle schoolers with significant intellectual and physical disabilities:


We can create the hearts on construction paper or other paper.  To make it more interesting they may color the hearts in colors other than red, or stick with the traditional color.

We can "color" the hearts in many ways:
1.  Put drops of glue inside the heart outline and sprinkle glitter to make polka dot hearts.
2.  Put the paper over a textured mat to make a rubbing as the "color"
3.  Take shredded color paper and glue it to the hearts.
4.  Put drops of glue inside the heart outline and sprinkle cinnamon and glitter together.

An adult and student helper can place the paper hearts throughout the school for students to find, using their communication devices to announce, "I found a heart!"  The students can collect the hearts to decorate their room.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Heart-shaped Valentine Treats for the Birds

It's been a bird seed kind of week.  Our high schoolers with autism molded three kinds of bird seed into heart shapes and plan to give them to their feathered friends next Tuesday.  Most of the students in both classes were "OK" with touching the dry seed and also when it was mixed with the water and gelatin to make it moldable.  Some students could measure and mix but not touch; that's okay, too.

This is how the seed cakes look after a day of air drying--still moist inside.

We ran out of heart-shaped cookie cutters, but I think the birds won't mind.

Either coat the inside of the molds with cooking oil or line them with foil.


Pre-mix the boiling water with unflavored gelatin--I doubled the amount of gelatin listed in the recipe. 
After you mix it together you've got about 20 minutes before it starts to set up.

Sunflower seed, nyjer thistle seed and tiny, inexpensive seed.



Our speech-language pathologist did her communication board magic.


The recipe

It's not easy to spoon the mixed seed into small hearts.  Concentration and precision and great tactile input
picking up the gooey stragglers and pushing them into the mold.

Press the seed in firmly, then twist a large diameter straw around in the middle to create a
passageway for the string.

Scooping a level cup or spoonful was a fine motor challenge for some students.

The seed was fun to explore before adding the gelatin + water mixture.

Pretty cute, eh?
Here are more ideas for Valentine's Day activities:
 
 
 
 



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Keeping Current

One of the great things about working in several schools is the creativity of teachers I get to see every day.  Several teachers use "News-2-You"  https://www.n2y.com/news-2-you/  for ideas and materials for presenting current events and special topics to their students.  Other teachers follow websites that feature common and quirky celebrations by the month or day, such as this one:

https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/play-your-ukulele-day/

Note:  There are some "over 21" celebrations on this site, make sure you don't have students peering over your shoulder while you're browsing...

Celebrating this particular musical instrument struck a chord with me, since ukuleles seem to be popping up everywhere recently.  Also, this wonderful instrument:  http://acousticguitar.com/seagull-merlin/   what a great sound!



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Feeding our Feathered Friends

There are some real cute little trees right outside the window of one of my middle school classes for students with significant cognitive disabilities, just perfect for hanging easy-peasy-to-make treats for our feathered friends.

Large-ish pine cones, lovingly gathered from my driveway by long-suffering Uncle Grumpy, hay bale twine collected by the same kind man, bird seed from my stash and from our speech-language pathologist and a tub of Crisco.  We're ready to tie, spread, roll and hang 'em high.

Figure out how long the length of twine needs to be--several turns around the pine cone plus enough to hang over a branch.

Some students were okay with the sharp feel of the pine cone and some consistently pulled away.

Pine cones are ready.

Cookie pan with a mix of bird seed.

Scoop out big clumps of Crisco and spread it all around the pan. Use your device to describe what you're using.

Rolled in shortening and then the seed.

Some folks can roll like lightning!
Some students could only roll a second or two, then gather up their courage to touch the materials again.

All unique!

Bet this will be gone by tomorrow.

After and before.  We're not quite sure, but the pine cone on the left may be from last winter...


Word of caution:  One of our staff members started having allergy symptoms immediately upon touching the pine cones and hay twine.  She had no idea it was going to happen.  Check the allergy alerts of your students and know the plan for what to do if someone starts having a reaction. 
 
Keep it safe out there!