Saturday, July 25, 2009


Your Therapy Source Iinc is on vacation for the week. See you next week.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pediatric Yoga Research

A review of the research on clinical applications of yoga for the pediatric population was published in the latest issue of Academic Pediatrics. Thirty four controlled studies were reviewed. A large majority of the studies yielded positive results from yoga although many of the studies were of low methodological quality. The researchers concluded that further research with higher standards of methodology is needed on the use of yoga for the pediatric population.

Reference: Gurjeet S. Birdee MD, MPH, Gloria Y. Yeh MD, Peter M. Wayne PhDa, Russell S. Phillips MDa, Roger B. Davis ScDa and Paula Gardiner MD, MPHa. (2009) Clinical Applications of Yoga for the Pediatric Population: A Systematic Review Academic Pediatrics Volume 9, Issue 4, July-August 2009, Pages 212-220.e9

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Independent Exercising

The Journal of Intellectual Disabilities reports on a small research study involving 4 adults with intellectual disabilities. The adults had a face to face meeting to go over the exercise regimen and follow up phone calls. The participants used a DVD at home to exercise. Seventy five percent of the participants increased their exercise frequency threefold.

Although this study has an extremely small sample size, it offers some nice ideas for prescribing home exercise programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

Reference: Michelle D. Lynnes, Doug Nichols, and Viviene A. Temple Fostering independence in health-promoting exercise Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 13, No. 2, 143-159 (2009)
DOI: 10.1177/1744629509340815

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scissor Skills - Not so "cut and dry".

Learning to cut with scissors is a very complex task. Think of all the control required to actually open and close scissors. You many think just the wrist, hand and fingers does the job but in reality it is almost your entire body working to cut the paper. You need to have appropriate posture (back stable, feet on floor and hips in neutral). Shoulders and arms need to be stable to allow the hands to work. The muscles in the fingers need to work in isolation. The eyes need to look at what the hands are doing. The brain has to process what the hands are doing on both sides of the body (one cutting and one holding the paper). Have I left any body parts out? Alright, maybe a few but in general it is a full body task just to get the hands and fingers to work with precision.

Here are 10 activities to help develop pre-scissor skills to get the body ready for cutting:
1. Activities that require upper extremity weight bearing - crawling over and under objects, animal walks and walking on hands.
2. Activities the encourage upper extremity muscle strengthening - monkey bars, rock climbing walls and tug of war.
3. Paper activities: Tear paper into small pieces and scrunch tissue paper into small balls.
4. Lacing activities (Try our Lacing Cards download).
5. Playing with clay - creating small balls, pull clay apart and use rolling pins. (Try Creative Clay Activities or Play Clay Mats.)
6. Use a hole punch or paper punches (Try Make Your Own Mobiles).
7. Use tweezers or tongs from the bathroom and kitchen to pick up small objects like cotton balls or dried macaroni.
8. String beads or macaroni.
9. Complete puzzles.
10. Use clothes pins to help strengthen the small muscles of the hands (Try Clothes Pin Collection).

Once the child is ready to cut start out with card stock or light cardboard and progress to paper. This is a collection of free downloads to practice scissors skills.
Cut and Paste Free Sample
Cutting Cards Free Sample
Step By Step Shape Projects Puppy Free Sample

Visit for more fine motor activity books.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tying Shoe Laces

Heard about this website from @otadvantage on Twitter - Ian's Shoelace site. This man has created an entire website dedicated to tying shoes. He provides an extensive amount of information on shoe tying. He compares knots, rates knots and demonstrates knots. He writes about shoe lacing tips for children, people with disabilities, adults and everyone. In addition, he has quite a few products listed to assist with learning shoe tying. This is a comprehensive website on shoe tying that is for sure. All occupational therapists will love this website.

5 Indoor Fitness Ideas For Kids

The days of running around neighborhoods freely and walking to school seem to be a thing of the past. Instead, children sit in front of a television or computer screen for hours a day. When the weather outside is bad, the television hours increase even more. Because of this, children lead more sedentary lifestyles than ever. Parents must make an effort to provide daily physical activity opportunities for their young children. Here are five fun indoor fitness activity ideas for young children using basic items from around the house. Remember, have fun and be safe!

1. Paper Towel Path: Place 10 paper towel squares in a line on a carpeted floor. The child can practice jumping from square to square. Separate the squares further. Jump again from square to square. Continue separating the squares to encourage the child to jump further distances. Try playing the game hopping on one foot.

2. Paper Cup Conditioning : Gather at least 12 small paper cups. On a carpeted surface, place 4 paper cups next to each other upside down. Several feet away, place 4 more paper cups in a line. Repeat. You have set up a small hurdle course. The child can practice jumping over the paper cups. Place the paper cups in a line with each cup about 2 feet apart. Try weaving in and out of the cups. Stack the cups in a pyramid shape and throw a soft ball at them. Use the cups as bowling pins. When done, try smashing all of the cups with your feet or hands.

3. Time It: Using a stop watch or kitchen timer, time how long it takes your child to complete various tasks. For example, ask your child to walk upstairs to your bedroom, come back down touch the couch and skip back into the kitchen. Go for the best time over three trials. Try different movements such as hopping, jumping, crab walk and crawling.

4. Dance Party: Crank up the music and dance. Here are some variations on just dancing: play freeze dance, invent a new dance and teach it to a friend and put on a dance show.

5. Shoe Box Trail: Gather up old shoe boxes. Scatter them around a carpeted floor. See if the child can step from one side of the room to the other only stepping in the boxes. Try pretending to skate or ski around the room wearing the shoe boxes as skates or skis. Use the boxes as targets and throw wadded up pieces of paper into the boxes.

Allow your children to be creative with the activities. See what games they can create with the materials as well.

Need more ideas? Check out $ensory Motor Fun on a Budget

Monday, July 20, 2009

Encouraging Tummy Time Handout

Came across this great hand out for parents to encourage tummy time for babies. It is 6 pages with great visual pictures to go along with the written material. It has been created by Orthomerica. Download Tummy Time Tools.

A reader comment below and wanted to include the following resources on tummy time as well. Here are the links for her suggestions from Pathways Awareness:

1) Tummy Time Video (avail. in English and Spanish)

2) Tummy Time PDF

3) Tummy Time Central page

Thanks Erika. Anyone else want to add to the list?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Task-Oriented Strength Training and Mobility for Children with Cerebral Palsy

NeuroRehabilitation published research on the effects of task-oriented strength training on mobility function in children with cerebral palsy. Five children with cerebral palsy (GMFCS I-III) were randomly assigned to an experimental group which received task-oriented strength training with a focus on the lower extremities for 5 weeks. This group also practiced functional tasks similar to daily living skills. The control group (5 children) received physical therapy for 5 weeks with a focus on facilitation and normalization of movement patterns to improve walking and balance.

The experimental group showed significant improvements in dimension D (standing) and dimension E (walking, running and jumping) of the Gross Motor Function Measure. This group also scored significantly lower on the Timed Get Up and Go test. The researchers concluded that children with cerebral palsy may benefit from a task-oriented strength training program to improve functional outcomes.

Check out our electronic book - Play Strong: Activities to Promote Muscle Strengthening in Children.

Reference: Yasser Salem, Ellen M. Godwin (2009) Effects of task-oriented training on mobility function in children with cerebral palsy NeuroRehabilitation 24(4): 307-313.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Auditory Filtering and Reading

A Northwestern University study researched how children processed three sounds with background noise present in the room. The three sounds, "ba", "ga" and "da" were difficult for children to interpret. The researchers used a new technology that is sensitive enough to measure how the nervous system represents differences in sounds in each person. This study is the first to indicate a relationship between reading ability and neural encoding of speech sounds. The sounds of "ba", "ga" and "da" is interpreted more accurately in strong readers and children who can filter out background noise. Previous research has shown that the same area that hears speech in noise is enhanced in people with musical experience. Therefore, the researchers recommend the following for poor readers: reduce background noise, auditory training and incorporating music.

Think of all the children now with auditory hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity. Previous research has shown that children with autism have auditory filtering sensitivities. Many children, including those with sensory processing disorder experience auditory defensiveness. Auditory sensitivities greatly effect a child's abilities to function each day. It can be extremely scary and upsetting for certain children when there are loud, unexpected noises or very distracting if background noises are present (windows open, peers talking, etc.) Now, add another potential symptom of auditory sensitivity - poor reading skills.

This is a great study to provide a rational to teacher's when you are requesting modifications in the classroom such as a reduction in background noise, preferential seating or headphones. Also, don't forget to add in the tip on combining music with speech sounds.

Check out Tuned Into Learning - on Daily Living Skills and Self Regulation. This program combines music wtih visual picture and text supports.

Reference: Pat Vaughan Tremmel, Northwestern University. How Noise and Nervous System Get in Way of Reading Skills. Retrieved July 15, 2009 from

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Higher Academic Scores for Physically Fit Children

The New York City Department of Health recently reviewed academic and fitness records of public school children in Grades K-8. This records review revealed the following:
1. More than 20% of the students were obese and 18% are overweight totaling 38% of all students.
2. Boys were more likely to be obese than girls (except among black students).
Twenty nine percent of Hispanic boys were obese.
3. The overweight and obese children were less physically fit.
4. Students who were more physically fit had higher academic test scores.
5. Academic test scores increase consistently with increasing fitness levels for all students.

The Department of Health recommends that parents, schools and health care providers should help all children be fit through daily physical activity. In addition, adults should help children develop healthy eating habits.

Here are some suggested activity books from Your Therapy Source, Inc. to encourage daily physical activity in children:
50 Sensory Motor Activities for Kids!
Mini Movement Breaks
Motor Magic Sensory Motor Group Activities A to Z
Sidewalk Chalk Fun and Games

Reference: Egger JR, Bartley KF, Benson L, Bellino D, Kerker B. Childhood Obesity is a Serious Concern in New York City: Higher Levels of Fitness Associated with Better Academic Performance. NYC Vital Signs 2009, 8(1): 1-4.

Musculoskeletal Problems in Obese Children

Annals of Family Medicine published research on self reported musculoskeletal problems in obese and overweight children. They studied 2459 children ages 2-11 years old of which 4.1% were overweight or obese. The overweight and obese children self reported significantly more musculoskeletal problems than normal weight peers. The musculoskeletal problems included back/neck pain and lower extremity pain (ankle/foot problems more than hip/knee problems). There was no difference between the two groups for reports of upper extremity musculoskeletal pain. In addition, children who were 12 years and older consulted a physician more often than normal weight peers for musculoskeletal problems.

Reference: Krul, Marjolein, van der Wouden, Johannes C., Schellevis, Francois G., van Suijlekom-Smit, Lisette W. A., Koes, Bart W. Musculoskeletal Problems in Overweight and Obese Children Ann Fam Med 2009 7: 352-356

Get children moving with sensory motor activities from Your Therapy Source Inc.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Autism, Proprioception and Visual Cues

The journal entitled Nature Neuroscience recently published research on how autistic children use proprioceptive information and visual information. The researchers concluded that autistic children relied much more on the proprioceptive information to learn new movement patterns rather than external visual cues when compared to typically developing peers. In addition, they found that the children who greatly relied on the proprioceptive information exhibited greater deficits in social and motor skills.

The researchers hypothesize that this coincides with previous research. Since proprioception is more closely linked to motor areas, this could indicate that autistic children exbibit an over development of short range white matter connections and an underdevelopment of long range connections (visual motor information in this example).

The researchers recommend that motor skills should be taught early on to autistic children with a focus on external visual motor associations.

Reference: Kennedy Krieger Institute (2009, July 10). Difference In The Way Children With Autism Learn New Behaviors Described. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/07/090706113647.htm

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Handwriting Program

We are very excited to announce a new handwriting program that we are offering on our website. Handwriting on the Wall© and the W.I.N. TM (Write Incredibly Now TM)program has been developed by Susan N. Orloff OTR/L.

Susan N. Orloff, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 1971. She has had extensive experience both in schools and in the clinical setting. As licensure chairman for the state of South Carolina, Susan worked hard to establish guidelines for occupational therapists in the school setting. She is the author of the recently published book, Learning Re-enabled , a guide for parents, teachers and therapists. She is the owner of Children's Special Services, LLC a provider of comprehensive therapy services for children aged 3-15.

She graduated from the University of Maryland earning a BS in education, with continued graduate studies in occupational therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. She participated in the early standardization of Ayers Southern California Sensory Integration Tests, a nationally used teat for discerning sensory issues with children.

Susan was recently awarded the 2004 GA Woman of Distinction by the Crohns and Colitis Foundation for her contribution to the betterment of the lives of children with disabilities.

She also was awarded the "Outstanding Educator Award" from the South Carolina Occupational Therapy Association in 1981, and "Therapist of the Year" from Advanced Rehabilitation Services, Inc. in 1994.

Here are the key point of the Handwriting on the Wall© program:

Reduces manuscript to 3 universal symbols

Reduces cursive to 4 universal symbols

Uses games and activities

Focuses on automatic responses

Is not a trace/write/repeat program

Works on kinesthetic and proprioceptive skills

Is sensory based

Limited verbal cues; is color coded

Works with letters within "shape groups"

Helps with children who have visual processing issues such as dyslexia,dysgraphia, etc.

One-time purchase~Pages can be copied; no need to buy additional programs

Materials used are easy to purchase from local stores such as Target, Wal-Mart,etc.

Separate pdf download is included so that the program can be explained to teachers and parents. Can be used by occupational therapists, certified occupational therapy assistants, teachers, etc.

This is delivered as an electronic document therefore you will receive an email to download the program immediately after payment. Shipping is free worldwide. For more information visit

Yoga in the Classroom

Found out about this free resource on Twitter from @lloydcrew - thanks! This is a post on OT Connections about the benefits of using yoga in the classroom. If you scroll down there is 4 pdf documents that you can open and print. Each document is a yoga routine to use in the classroom. This is a great, free resource ready to use right away. Not only are the yoga routines available, the post also includes her experiences using the routines in different types of classrooms. Here is the link to Yoga in the Classroom.

Want more yoga ideas for kids? On the YogaKids website you can sign up for a free pose of the week.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Parents' Endorsement of Vigorous Team Sports Increases Children's Physical Activity, Say Researchers

But Parents Push Girls Less Toward Sports and Vigorous Chores, According to New Study


WASHINGTON—Parents who value strenuous team sports are more likely to influence their children to join a team or at least participate in some kind of exercise, and spend less time in front of the TV or computer, a new study says.

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Duke University studied a sample of 681 parents of 433 fourth- and fifth-graders from 12 schools in Houston. They found that those parents who conveyed the importance of high-intensity team sports to their children had more active children. Both the boys and girls watched less TV and spent less time on their computers.

The findings appear in the July issue of Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

Endorsing all types of exercise - both team sports and individual sports - increased boys' activity levels but not girls', the study said.

"The difference between activity levels in the girls and boys had to do with the parents' attitudes toward the types of activities. Parents encouraged sons to partake in vigorous- and moderate-intensity team and individual sports, and vigorous-intensity home chores, such as heavy yard work, more than they encouraged these activities for their daughters," said lead author Cheryl Braselton Anderson, PhD. "There still is gender bias on encouraging boys to participate in certain sports and strenuous activities more than girls."

Vigorous team sports included basketball and soccer, and moderate team sports included baseball/softball, volleyball and football. Intense individual activity included running, cycling, swimming and skating, and moderate individual activity included walking, biking around the neighborhood and golf.

Household chores were also included as a form of physical activity. Vigorous household chores included heavy yard work and moving furniture; moderate household chores included cleaning, raking leaves, weeding and carrying groceries.

Parents' attitudes toward household chores had unexpected influences on children's attitudes and activity levels, the researchers said. "Cleaning house and doing laundry was associated with a decrease in boys' sport team participation and more TV watching," Anderson said. "Right now, we do not know why, but it could be that active boys spend less time inside and more time outside, so staying inside may detract from outdoor activity with friends. Boys shared their parents' attitude about the importance of vigorous household activities (yard work, moving), whereas girls did not. Parents did not believe girls should do these activities, but girls did not agree."

Demographic and ethnic factors also played a role in attitudes toward physical activity, both in sports and chores. Hispanic parents did not value strenuous household chores for children of either sex. Families with more children valued chores more, and families with more education (and money to pay for housekeeping and yard work) valued them less, the study found.

Hispanic parents encouraged their sons to play vigorous team and individual sports but did not encourage their daughters, Anderson said. African-American girls, but not boys, placed less value on exercise that required light to moderate effort, like riding their bikes, and both African-American girls and boys watched more TV.

More educated parents placed higher value on both vigorous- and moderate-intensity individual or team sports for boys but did not place as high a value for girls, Anderson said. And having more children in the family influenced whether the parents valued sports for girls: More children led to more interest in the girls' being active.

"Playing team sports, especially the more strenuous ones, really makes a difference in decreasing both boys' and girls' media use and making them more active," Anderson said. "It is a good idea for parents to adopt a positive attitude toward all types of vigorous physical activities for boys and girls and know that girls can and want to do them."

Article: "Parent-Child Attitude Congruence on Type and Intensity of Physical Activity: Testing Multiple Mediators of Sedentary Behavior in Older Children," Cheryl B. Anderson, PhD, and Sheryl O. Hughes, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine; Bernard F. Fuemmeler, PhD, Duke University Medical Center; Health Psychology, Vol. 28, No. 4.

Full text of the article is also available from the APA Public Affairs Office.

Contact Cheryl Braselton Anderson, PhD, by e-mail and by phone at (713) 798-6773 or cell (832) 978-4290

Source: Retrieved from the web on 7/6/09 from the American Psychological Association at

Digital Magazine from Your Therapy Source Inc July 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Just a quick, brief commentary on some recent observations...

Why do we have child sized spoons, forks, knives, cups and scissors but most children use full sized pencils when learning how to write?

Why do children have to learn to write their names at age 3? Please tell me how this is a functional skill for a three year old.

Why is penmanship not a subject in elementary school anymore?

Anyone want to comment?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Guess the Object Video Activity Idea

Guess The Object:

Purpose: Encourage fine motor skills and stereognosis (using only your sense of touch to determine what an object is).
Materials: cardboard box, scissors, stapler, fabric scraps, small objects
How to Play: Show child a tray of small objects. Place one small object inside the box. The child reaches in and guesses what the object is using only his/her sense of touch. No peeking!

Visit for more sensory motor activity ideas.
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