Tuesday, December 29, 2009

UK Recommends 3 Year Old Boys to Write More

New government advice in the United Kingdom recommends that boys as young as three years old need to write and draw more. This is an attempt to close the gender gap between boys and girls when it comes to writing.

This is absurd in my opinion. I predict that instead of improved penmanship the boys will show an increase in hyperactivity, lack of attention span and poor penmanship. To put a writing utensil in a child's hand at age three and expect them to write is a mistake to begin with, girls or boys. Children need to acquire the fine motor skills necessary to write by playing with small items, eating small food and to weight bearing through the upper extremities. In addition, to encourage young children to stay seated for long periods of time and do guided work is not beneficial to overall motor development for boys and girls.

I am preaching to the choir on this topic, but I feel better now that I said it out loud. Sorry United Kingdom government, but you may want to check your facts. British occupational therapist's better make room on their caseloads - you may be getting an influx on new clients. Anyone care to comment?

Reference: Irvine, Chris Three-year-old boys should be made to write more to stop gender gap Telegraph.co.uk Retrieved from the web on 12/29/09 at www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/6902910/Three-year-old-boys-should-be-made-to-write-more-to-stop-gender-gap.html.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Autism, ADHD and Motor Skills

The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published research comparing the movement abilities of 91 children ages 6-10 with autism (28), ADHD (29) or typical development (34). The results indicated that children with autism or ADHD scored significantly lower than the control group on overall gross motor development, locomotor skills and object control skills. The autistic group scored lower than the ADHD group. Overall, 16% of the autistic and ADHD children had clinical levels of impairment.

Reference: Chien-Yu Pan, Chia-Liang Tsai and Chia-Hua Chu Fundamental Movement Skills in Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders Volume 39, Number 12 / December, 2009/ Pages 1694-1705. DOI 10.1007/s10803-009-0813-5

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Sensory Processing

The American Journal of Occupational Therapy published research on the sensory processing of children (3-10 years old) who experienced a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Sensory Profiles were completed on a random sample of 20 children with TBI. The results showed "behaviors outside the typical range in all sections of the Sensory Profile except oral sensory processing". The researchers conclude that children who sustain a TBI should undergo a sensory processing evaluation.

One question I have - What was the Sensory Profile scores of these children prior to the TBI? Did the TBI cause the "behaviors outside the typical range" or were those behaviors there to begin with? What is your thoughts?

Reference: Jane Galvin-MOT, Elspeth H. BAppSc-BAppSc (OT), Christine Imms-PhD Sensory Processing Abilities of Children Who Have Sustained Traumatic Brain Injuries AJOT November/December 2009 Volume 63 / Number 6

Monday, December 21, 2009

Modifications in Art Class with Assistive Technology

The Art Zone is a website that offers free online tools to create amazing artwork. It is maintained by the National Gallery of Art in Washington. This is fun for all ages. If you work with any children who use a computer instead of pen and paper, this would be a great modification to use in art class.

My favorite is the Brushter, which is an online painting machine. You can print and save your works of art.

Here is a screenshot of something I created on Brushter.

Need some interesting visual stimulation? Check out the Flow program. This creates amazing, mesmerizing images with a click.

Creative or not, one could spend hours on this website producing amazing works of art. There is just too much to list. Check it out yourself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sense of Touch and Finger Size

The Journal of Neuroscience published research indicating that if you have smaller fingers you have better tactile acuity. They found that in general, women had a better sense of touch due to smaller hand size. The authors conclude that smaller fingers have more closely spaced receptors (Merkel cells - associated with light touch). The researchers now want to study how these receptors change with growth of the hands in children.

Additional recent research in a mouse model, showed that a mouse without Merkel cells had a complete loss of light touch receptors but not noxious receptors.

Now, here are some questions I have regarding people with tactile hyper or hypo sensitivity:

Is it related to the amount of receptors in the skin - less receptors mean less ability to process light touch?
Is it related to hand size?
Do you observe that more males than females have tactile issues?
Do tactile sensitivities change with age?

So interesting. Anyone have any answers to these questions? Any comments based on your own experiences with children who have tactile issues?

References: Society for Neuroscience (2009, December 15). Women tend to have better sense of touch due to smaller finger size. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 16, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/12/091215173017.htm

American Society for Cell Biology (2009, December 12). Merkel cells revealed as secret behind sensation of light touch. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 16, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/12/091208132231.htm

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Clubfoot and Motor Skills

BMC Pediatrics published research on idiopathic clubfoot and motor skill ability. Twenty children (mean age 7.5 years) were evaluated with the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC) and the Clubfoot Assessment Protocol (CAP). A correlation existed between single leg stance on the CAP and MABC scores. Children with idiopathic clubfoot demonstrated higher prevalence of motor impairment on the MABC and the subtest of ball skills. Children with unilateral and bilateral clubfoot had the same amount of motor problems. There was no relation found between MABC and the clinical outcome or surgery of the clubfoot. The authors conclude that there may be other factors besides musculoskeletal influencing motor skills in children with idiopathic clubfoot.

Reference: Hanneke Andriesse , Lena Westbom and Gunnar Hagglund. Motor ability in children treated for idiopathic clubfoot. A controlled pilot study. BMC Pediatrics 2009, 9:78doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-78

Monday, December 14, 2009

Make Your Own Play Time Kits

Are parents asking you for gift ideas for the holidays? Maybe you want to give your child's teacher a special gift for the classroom? Why not try creating your own gifts to give. Just like the craft stores sell all of those kits to create anything that you can think of, how about create some fun play time kits on your own.

Step 1: Buy a plastic container with a lid or decorate a cardboard or shoe box.

Step 2: Decide on a theme. You could do an imaginary play theme, creativity theme, active theme, sensory theme, etc.

Here are some suggestions:
imaginary school - include a wipe off board, paper, red pen, back to school handwriting worksheets, pencil holder.

imaginary hospital - band aids, ace bandages, gauze and flashlight.

imaginary office - tape, stapler, paper, calculator, pens, pretend phone and name tags

arts and crafts - unusual crayon colors, scented markers, rainbow pencils and paper.

sensory - dollar store fidgets, different types of fabric swatches, smock and kids shaving cream

active - beach balls, Velcro catch, pedometer and mini movement breaks notepad

fine motor - Lego's, fine motor breaks notepad, beads, lace and small clips.

Step 3: Gather all your supplies and put them in the box!

This is a great idea just to keep around your own house for some rainy day fun.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Survey on Health and Lifestyle of Adolescents with Disabilities

Request for Research Participants

The University of Illinois at Chicago is currently conducting Internet-based survey research on the heath and lifestyle of adolescents with disabilities. This confidential study is looking for teens 12-18 with physical or cognitive disabilities, as well as their parent or caregiver, to complete an online survey.

If you would like to participate in this research, please visit the following link: www.healthforyouth.org and enter the access code: PEAL. Of you have any questions about this research please contact Brienne Davis in the Department of Disability and Human Development at bdavis7@uic.edu or 312-355-4054.

See the flyer below.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Calling all Early Intervention Therapists

There is a survey being conducted by Pathways Awareness (www.pathwaysawareness.org), a national nonprofit focused on raising awareness of motor delays and the positive effects of therapy. The survey is amassing the observations of therapists to track trends -- what kinds of conditions are we observing in children? What issues do we think physicians and families need to be aware of?

Ultimately, the goal of the survey is to compile these responses and report therapists' observations to the public, helping parents, teachers and health professionals take action. Last year, a survey by Pathways received nationwide attention in publications such as USA Today, Newsweek and Pediatric News and raised awareness of the importance of tummy time for infants.

The survey is completely anonymous, but participants will be able to leave their contact information if they choose.

A live link is here if you'd like to participate https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T8KTST8

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Great idea to practice typing

For any of you who work on typing, I came across this fantastic idea on the ilearn technology blog. This blog is written by a technology teacher. Her suggestion is to hold a typing Olympics in the Spring of the school year. She has created a website to help the students prepare for the Typing Olympics. Worth a look for a creative idea to motivate students to learn how to type.

Thalamus as Conductor

Two recent studies indicate that the thalamus is "heavily involved in sensory processing". The researchers found that not only does the thalamus play a role in sending auditory, visual and touch information to the cortex but it is also important in the actual sensory processing of this information. Using a special imaging technique, a pathway from the cortex, to the thalamus and back was observed. One of the researchers, Sherman, reports:

"Keeping the thalamus “in the loop” may help the brain coordinate sensory information with motor systems to direct attention or coordinate multiple cortical areas to accomplish different tasks."

The other study looked at auditory information and found that the thalamus acts differently depending upon the initial auditory information.

Both studies found that the thalamus must be considered when studying sensory processing. It is not longer viewed as a "pit stop" but as a "conductor" of information.

To read the full press release go to http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2009/20091207-thalamus.html

Reference: University of Chicago Medical Center The thalamus, middleman of the brain, becomes a sensory conductor. Retrieved from the web on 12/9/09 from http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2009/20091207-thalamus.html

Monday, December 7, 2009


Drumroll please.......

Using random.org, the winners of the Holiday SoftTM tagless, seamless, t-shirts were selected. The lucky five are:

GP Asperger Group

Please email us at contactus@yourtherapysource.com with your mailing address, t-shirt size and color. View sizing and colors. If you can provide them to us by 12/9/09 the t-shirts will be at your home in time for the holidays! Thanks to all those who participated.

And, of course, a big thank you to SoftTM Clothing for providing the awesome t-shirts. Don't forget to visit the website, http://www.softclothing.net/, to view all the soft, tagless clothing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Visual Supports during Therapy Sessions

It is well known that children with autism and certain other disabilities benefit greatly from the use of visual supports throughout the day. Visual supports can be pictures, objects, written words, body language and cues. Some children use visual supports as a primary means of communication in the classroom and home. If this is a child's sole means of communication, visual supports should be used at all times which would include occupational and physical therapy sessions, physical education class, art, music, library and more.

Here are several ways to incorporate visual supports during a therapy session.

1. When explaining directions to certain children, you may need to provide a visual strategy instead of just verbally expressing directions. Many times picture symbols are used for the child to select a choice or to respond but are you providing picture symbols for "receptive" language as well?

2. Provide responses appropriate for therapy sessions beyond choice selection. Remember children are frequently performing motor tasks and physical activities during a therapy session. You may need to create picture communication boards that allow the child to express statements such as:

I need a rest.
I need some water.
I have pain.
I need to slow down.
I can go faster.
I need to sit.
I am ready.
I need to stop.

3. Create picture symbols that relate to a therapy session. You can use a commercially produced product or take photos of objects that you use during a therapy session. Once you create picture symbol cards of these items, you can use them to allow the children to make choices regarding activities.

4. Create a schedule for during the therapy session. Set up a schedule board with parts of therapy session on it such as warm-up, main activity and clean up. That way the child will know what to expect each time.

5. If you need a child to complete many tasks, try creating visual supports for all the steps in the task. Break the whole project down into simple steps with visuals.

Sensory Mini Books and Charts, by Your Therapy Source Inc, offers over 100 picture word cards related to touch, movements, attention, calming down, eating, smelling and listening. You can create schedule strips and establish sensory likes/ dislikes.

For fine motor projects, with visual supports for all the steps in the tasks check out Step By Step Shape Projects. Download a sample of a puppy project with step by step directions.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Social and Community Participation in Youth with Cerebral Palsy

Physical Therapy has published research on the social and community participation levels of children and youth with cerebral palsy. Children and youth in Gross Motor Function Classification Level I (GMFCS) participated in more activities with friends and others compared to children with GMFCS II, III, IV and V. Another difference that was noted indicated that children and youth in GMFCS Level I, IV and V participated in more activities outside the home than in GMFCS Level II and III. There was no difference seen between males and females.

In other words, children/youth who walk without limitations or use a wheelchair participated more in activities outside the home than children/youth who walk with limitations or use hand held mobility devices. Interesting...

Reference: Palisano, Robert J., Kang, Lin-Ju, Chiarello, Lisa A., Orlin, Margo, Oeffinger, Donna, Maggs, Jill Social and Community Participation of Children and Youth With Cerebral Palsy Is Associated With Age and Gross Motor Function Classification PHYS THER 2009 89: 1304-1314

More info on Teaching Motor Skills to Children with Cerebral Palsy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Get Kids Moving Coupon Book

Need a free stocking stuffer for the upcoming holiday season. Print this Get Kids Moving Coupon book from Your Therapy Source. What child would not want some fun, physical activity?

Aerobic Exercise and Higher Intelligence

Researchers followed 1.2 million (yes, million!) Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976 when they were 18 years old. The results indicated that aerobic fitness was associated with higher intelligence and muscle strength was not. In addition, genetics accounted for less than 15 % and the environment for more than 80% indicating that no matter what your background, aerobic exercise can effect intelligence.

Someone remind me why children sit all day long in school...

Reference: Gardner, A. Exercise May Lead to a More Smarter, More Successful You. Retrieved from the web on 12/2/09 from Health Day at http://www.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=633553&hq_e=el&hq_m=2160913&hq_l=66&hq_v=622792c640
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