Wednesday, March 29, 2017

10 Tips for Written Expression for Students with Working Memory Deficits

10 Tips for Written Expression for Students with Working Memory Deficits

Working memory is used when a student needs to think and remember at the same time.  For written expression, a student has to brainstorm ideas, organize thoughts, plan, construct sentences, remember correct grammar and review the writing format all while remembering what words need to be written on the paper.  Therefore, written expression can be difficult for student with working memory deficits.  Some students may omit words, repeat words, miss errors or forget what was to be written.

Here are some tips for written expression for students with working memory deficits:

  1. reduce overall cognitive load by focusing only on the writing assignment with no distractions
  2. keep work space well organized
  3. make the writing assignment requirements shorter
  4. repeat the sentence orally a few times before starting to write the sentence
  5. complete a first draft where grammar and spelling can be corrected
  6. use abbreviations or symbols in the first draft
  7. provide overall feedback on the first draft and the student can revise before handing in the final copy
  8. teach the student to create an outline or use a graphic organizer before starting to write
  9. when revising check for only one error at a time i.e. step 1: check document for spelling step 2: start over and check document for punctuation step 3: start over and check document for legibility, etc.
  10. if working memory deficits are significant the student may need a scribe to help be the writer’s short term storage

Reference:  Kaufman, A. S., & Kaufman, N. L. (2015). Essentials of working memory assessment and intervention. M. J. Dehn (Ed.). John Wiley & Sons.


Working Memory Exercises

Working Memory Exercises: Working Memory Exercises includes the materials to create 20 memory challenges (the 10 Level 1 exercises are in categories and the 10 Level 2 exercises are not categorized) recording sheets for each category in double lined (Handwriting without Tears® style), dotted lined (Zaner-Bloser® style) or regular lined paper and answer sheets. In addition, both levels come with additional visual cues if the exercises are too difficult. This download is great for classroom use, therapy sessions or to send home with a student. These activities are reproducible to print to use over and over again with all the children that you teach. FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Funny Faces Freebie

Funny Faces Freebie from Your Therapy Source

This Funny Faces Freebie is great fun to download, print and create for the kids.  To start, download the freebie (see below).  Once you print the Funny Faces Freebie page, cut apart the rectangles.  You can either have the children cut apart the cards to practice scissor skills or an adult can cut apart the cards.  Another option, is to have the adult cut the rectangles into 3 strips and the child can cut apart each card.  Grab a recycled container to hold all the cards.  I used a lemonade container but you could use a peanut butter jar as well or any old container.

Funny Faces

Here are 5 ways to play with the Funny Faces Freebie:

  1.  Match up the cards – mix up all the funny faces cards and then match them up with the correct color.
  2. Create different faces – put velcro dots on the back of each picture and the front of your recycled container.  The children can mix and match the eyes, noses and mouths to create different silly faces.
  3. Try and draw the faces – place the cards into three piles face down – one pile of eyes, one nose pile and one mouth pile.  Turn over one of each.  Draw a circle on a piece of paper and draw the features on the cards that you turned over.
  4. Make a busy bag – put all the cards into a zippered bag for an on the go activity.
  5. Hidden Faces – hide the faces around the room.  How quickly can the child find the faces and match them all up?

This activity encourages:


Magnified Monsters: This download includes a super cute, fun, monster themed game to challenge visual form constancy, visual closure and visual scanning. The object of the game is to match the magnified picture of the monster with the full size picture of the monster. Play it as a game or print is in puzzle format to write in the answers. FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

Magnified Monsters


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Monday, March 27, 2017

Happy Occupational Therapy Month Free Posters to Print

Happy OT Month Helen Keller Quote

Each year I have been creating new posters to print to wish everyone a happy Occupational Therapy month in April.  This one happens to be one of my favorites but perhaps I say that every year.  It is a Helen Keller quote – “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”.  This quote speaks miles.  Occupational therapists do an amazing job of supporting people to help improve function and the quality of life.  I have added this printable to the FREE pack of Happy Occupational Therapy Month posters to print.  This free packet now has 8 OT Month posters with a pediatric theme!


Looking for printed posters?  Check out all of our PRINTED line of pediatric therapy posters.




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Friday, March 24, 2017

New Book on Idiopathic Toe Walking

Taming Idiopathic Toe Walking EbookRenowned Occupational Therapist, Ileana S. McCaigue, OTR/L  and author of Typical Classroom Sensory-Based Problem Behaviors & Suggested Therapeutic Interventions and Autism Sleeps™, has written a new book entitled Taming Idiopathic Toe Walking: A Treatment Guide for Parents and Therapists.  This new book provides a non-invasive, efficient and effective sensory treatment strategy for children and adolescents that display atypical toe walking.   It serves as a definitive manual for children and adolescents that display atypical toe walking behaviors. Inspired by the overcoming of toe walking by numerous children during her years of practice, McCaigue’s professional expertise and personal experiences are fused into a vitally, powerful resource.

Taming Idiopathic Toe Walking Cover

This book is an easy-to-read guide for parents and pediatric, rehabilitation therapists with information on the categories and treatment of atypical toe walking behaviors. This manual explains when toe walking is considered developmentally unusual for a child’s age, and idiopathic or done for no known reason. Idiopathic toe walking is often associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Specific Learning Disabilities, Developmental Delays and other disabilities with sensory processing difficulties, but can occur with typical children, as well. This book serves as a thorough resource for use of an alternative treatment strategy to “calm” the toes, and enable a typical walking pattern in those challenged with idiopathic toe walking.  The ultimate goal is the prevention of tendon shortening and resultant limited motions of the ankles and feet from prolonged toe walking that can ultimately lead to the need for injections, bracing or at worst, surgery, to remediate the muscular imbalance.

Taming Idiopathic Toe Walking: A Treatment Guide for Parents and Therapists provides step-by-step instruction of how to make “Toe Tamers”, a unique remediation tool that provides the sensory input that a child or adolescent with idiopathic toe walking needs to overcome this potentially serious problem behavior. A protocol and usage guide is available for: 1) How heavy to make the Toe Tamers, 2) How to apply them, 3) How often they should be worn, and 4) How long to use them to calm the toes. This would enable relaxation of the feet to stand with full weight bearing on the floor with or without socks and shoes.  In addition, a HOME Program sheet is included in English and Spanish to instruct parents on the rationale for applying the Toe Tamers, as well as when and how to effectively use them.

Additionally, forms are available for logging the impact of the Toe Tamers. A record and graphs are included to track progress on the length of time, as well as the reduction of heel height, as the Toe Tamers effectively help the toes to lower the entire foot onto a flat surface.

As the author explains, her book introduces a sensory treatment strategy for idiopathic toe walking that all should consider exploring.

“Children with idiopathic toe walking whose feet are always bouncing on their toes, seem to calm their bodies down after their feet are relaxed. If you think about it, when your feet hurt or figuratively scream at you internally, you cannot relax your body. So, it would make sense that by calming the toes and relaxing the feet, that these children’s bodies would relax overall, as well! It is by providing the sensory input needed by these children’s feet, that their toes can lower and enable a typical pattern of walking.  Using a holistic, sensory strategy in lieu of more traditional interventions will give their feet the input needed to help them overcome this problem behavior,” says McCaigue.

The book is unique in the marketplace due to the author’s own successful use of its methods over a lifetime of experience.  “I personally implemented the strategies outlined in this book over the past 27 of my 40 years as an Occupational Therapist working with children. I hope this easy-to-make, therapeutic, sensory strategy will help many children with idiopathic toe walking, and prevent the need for surgery or other more invasive treatment techniques. My goal is to help children with the least restrictive, most effective and efficient way to remediate atypical toe walking,” McCaigue explains.

About the Author:

A 1977 summa cum laude graduate from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia, Ileana S. McCaigue, OTR/L.  She is a nationally certified/ registered and licensed Occupational Therapist, author, program developer, holistic clinician and educator with 40 years of experience. Her professional career and expertise include a continuum of care. These range from the neonatal intensive care unit to pediatric concerns in the home, school and community for developmental delays, especially for strategy implementation to manage sensory-based problem behaviors.

Ileana has worked in a variety of pediatric settings that included over 20 years with Special Education students in public schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She currently works with children in several clinics and at community sites. Ileana also sees private clients with special needs to provide home and community based treatment as needed, including sensory integration therapy, interactive metronome and other brain-based interventions to improve sensory-based problem behaviors. She also serves as a holistic consultant providing recommendations to facilitate the development of a “wellness home” environment for children and adults.

Ileana was the recipient of the Barbara S. Grant Award from the Georgia O.T. Association for her dedication and lifetime of outstanding service, as well as a recipient for the Maddak Award in the area of physical disability.

Taming Idiopathic Toe Walking Cover

PURCHASE Taming Idiopathic Toe Walking: A Treatment Guide for Parents and Therapists

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Balance and Coordination of Boys with Intellectual Disability

Balance and Coordination Levels in Boys with Intellectual DisabilityAdapted Physical Activity Quarterly published research examining the balance and coordination of 123 boys (ages 8-18) with intellectual disability (ID) but without Down syndrome.  The Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOT-2) was used to measure 6 items for balance, 5 items for upper limb coordination, and 6 items for bilateral coordination.

The results indicated the following:

  • mean scores for balance,upper limb coordination and bilateral coordination were consistently below BOT-2 criteria for the boys ages 8-18.

The researchers concluded that overall motor skills of males with ID are below the competence expected for children and adolescents without disabilities.

Reference:  Pitetti, K., Miller, R. A., & Loovis, M. (2017). Balance and Coordination Capacities of Male Children and Adolescents With Intellectual Disability. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 34(1), 1-18.




25+ Bilateral Coordination Activities – Download of 28 bilateral coordination exercise sheets including QR codes with links to video demonstration of exercises. Also includes hand out explaining bilateral coordination.  FIND OUT MORE.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Influence of Time Pressure on Handwriting in Children with ASD

Influence of Time Pressure on Handwriting in Children with ASD

Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders published research on the influence of time pressure on the handwriting of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  The purpose of the current study was to determine the handwriting profile of children with ASD across both non-speeded and speeded conditions, with particular focus on spacing difficulties and handwriting errors. In addition, the researchers examined the relationships between handwriting and both intellectual and motor skills under different task conditions.

The subjects included 23 boys with ASD, matched with 20 controls, aged 8–12 years old.   Each participant completed a modified version of the speed subtest of the Handwriting Performance Test and each wrote a simple phrase (cat and dog) five times in each condition.

The results indicated the following:

  • no significant group differences were identified for handwriting errors or spacing between words in either condition.
  • the ASD group demonstrated greater variability relative to controls, particularly in the speeded condition.
  • significant negative associations were identified between motor proficiency and handwriting errors in the non-speeded condition.

The researchers concluded that motor processes have a significant role in overall handwriting proficiency, but motor ability may influence the handwriting process to different degrees, depending on the nature of the task.  The lack of group differences with respect to handwriting errors and spacing between words may suggest that children with ASD have the ability to compensate for underlying motor impairment when completing a well-practiced writing task.

Reference:  Grace, N., Rinehart, N. J., Enticott, P. G., & Johnson, B. P. (2017). Do children with ASD have difficulty handwriting under time pressure?. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 37, 21-30.

Handwriting Rubrics

Handwriting Rubrics – This is an electronic book of 26 rubrics to assess handwriting. A rubric is a scoring guide to judge performance on a specific task. Have you ever wanted to quantify handwriting skills such as letter formation, speed or copying? Handwriting Rubrics can be used as assessment tools to quantify an individual’s written productivity. By using the rubric, each individual can be scored based on the same criteria.   FIND OUT MORE.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Are You Ready to Work Clip Chart Freebie

Are You Ready To Work Free Clip Chart

Are you ready to work?  Are You Ready To Work Clip Chart helps students to identify their state of regulation and ability to learn using visual supports.  Each color category represents different emotions or levels of alertness.  The students can decide how they are feeling and clip the clothes pin to the correct color.  The chart provides students with a visual representation for self regulation.

Are you ready to work clip chart from Your Therapy SourceThe colors represent the following:

BLUE – Tired, Bored, Sick or Sad

GREEN – Calm, Focused or Ready to Learn

YELLOW – Wiggly, Upset or High Energy

RED – Mad, Angry or Out of Control

You can download your free clip chart when you subscribe below.  You will be directed to the download page after you enter your email.

Self Regulation Skills Curriculum

Check out the Self Regulation Curriculum for an effective, time-efficient structured system to provide classroom breaks, improve self-awareness and self advocacy and teach specific self-regulation skills so that kids have tools to use in their classrooms. This system will get kids moving, give them the benefits of a brain power boost [from getting their heart rate up], give them heavy work and isometrics to help them calm down, and help them learn techniques to quiet and control their bodies in order to return to their academic work.  Find out more information.

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