Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finish Line Grants

Finish Line Youth Foundation is offering grants to programs for youth athletic programs and camps for children under 18 years of age. They are particularly interested in helping camps for disadvantaged children and children with special needs. If you would like to submit a grant proposal there is a quick eligibility quiz you can take to see if your organization qualifies. In general, the grants range form $1000 - $5000. You can find out more information at the Finish Line Youth Foundation.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Social Stories and Visual Schedules

Many children benefit from the use of social stories to help to familiarize them with different social situations and to improve behavioral responses. A recent study followed 3 autistic children in kindergarten through 5th grade. Social stories were written to target specific behaviors for each child. The results indicated that following the use of the social stories, modest improvements were noted in on task behaviors. Further improvements in on task behaviors were seen when the social story was followed up with a complimentary visual schedule.

Reference: Naomi Schneider and Howard Goldstein Using Social Stories and Visual Schedules to Improve Socially Appropriate Behaviors in Children With Autism Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions July 2010 12: 149-160.

Sensory Mini Books and Charts: includes visual schedules for sensory diets

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Type 1 Diabetes and Fine Motor Skills

A recent study in Pediatric Diabetes examined the neurocognitive functioning of 68 preschool children, 36 with Type 1 diabetes and 32 without any chronic illness. The two groups were administered a number of tools to assess cognitive, language and fine motor skills. The results indicated that the children in both groups performed similarly with skills in the average range. The children with Type 1 diabetes with poor glycemic control scored lower on cognitive skills and receptive language and had slower fine motor speed.

Reference: Patiño-Fernández AM et al. Neurocognitive functioning in preschool-age children with type 1 diabetes mellitus. Pediatr Diabetes. 2010 Sep;11(6):424-30. Epub 2010 Apr 23

Monday, September 27, 2010

Free AT Tool for Studying, Reading and Writing

My Study Bar is an open source applications that can assist students with reading, studying and writing. There are six areas of My Study Bar: reading, writing, studying, vision, voice and help. You can download My Study Bar for free onto your computer or a USB stick. The benefit to the USB stick is that you can provide it to students to use on any computer (home or school). There are organization tools, word prediction, speech to text app, text to audio and more. These are all for free! Check it out at My Study Bar -

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Drooling and Botox

The Archives of Otolaryngol - Head and Neck Surgery published research on the use of Botox injections to control drooling. One hundred thirty one children with cerebral palsy or other neurological condition with moderate to severe drooling received an injection of Botox to the submandibular glands. Following the injections, 46.6% of the children responded to the treatment. This was demonstrated by a significant mean reduction in the drooling quotient dropping from 29 to 15 at after 2 months and from 29 to 19 after 8 months. In addition, a visual analog scale rated by the caretakers showed decreased scores from 83 to 53 after 2 months and increased back up to 66 at 8 months. An analysis showed that after a mean of 22 weeks a relapse occurred in the patients who initially showed a response to the treatment.

Reference: Arthur R. T. Scheffer, MD; Corrie Erasmus, MD; Karen van Hulst, BSc; Jacques van Limbeek, MD, PhD; Peter H. Jongerius, MD, PhD; Frank J. A. van den Hoogen, MD, PhD Efficacy and Duration of Botulinum Toxin Treatment for Drooling in 131 Children Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010;136(9):873-877. doi:10.1001/archoto.2010.147

Friday, September 24, 2010

Free Online Typing Games

Learning to type can be boring after awhile and monotonous. How about try some games to motivate children to learn how to type? Here are a few suggested websites with free online typing games:

Simple, basic typing skills: Typing games at

Easy, Medium and Difficult Typing Games:
Typing Web at

A video game approach to learning to type at at

Good animation with this spider typing game (thanks @OTKate from Twitter for finding this one) - is your favorite, free online typing game?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Apps and Autism

There are thousands of applications available for the iPhone and the iPad. For those of you who work with children with autism it can be difficult to know where to start when you search the applications that are available. A few people have written some informative blog posts on apps and autism. Check them out to get an idea of what is available.

Characteristics of Great Apps for Kids With Autism : guest blog post written by a mother (and ex-software developer) of a 9 year old boy with autism and the factors influencing which apps to choose

Best iPad Apps for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome : This article is a review of different apps divided into different areas - apps for adults, behavioral, social, communication, music and books. Nice overview.

Slideshare on Apps for Autism: Nice picture images describing the basics of different apps for autism

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Exercise Programs in Males Versus Females with Cystic Fibrosis

An interesting study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics comparing the fitness levels of males and females with cystic fibrosis. A 6 week inpatient rehabilitation program was conducted with 158 females and 186 males subjects (ages 12-43 years) with cystic fibrosis. Lung function, peak oxygen uptake, peak workload, and peak heart rate were measured. The results indicated the following:
  • lower lung function in males
  • lower aerobic capacity in females
  • same training effects were seen in males and females for peak oxygen uptake and peak heart rate but not in peak work load
  • individuals who were less fit at the start of the program showed the most improvement

The researchers concluded that fitness level and not lung function determined the improvements following the 6 week rehabilitation program.

Reference: Wolfgang Gruber, MSc, PhDa, David M. Orenstein, MDb, Klaus Michael Braumann, MDc, Karl Paul, MDd, Gerd Hüls, MDe Effects of an Exercise Program in Children with Cystic Fibrosis: Are There Differences between Females and Males? The Journal of Pediatrics Abstract September 2010 doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.07.033

Monday, September 20, 2010

Free Sensory Motor Activity for Fall

Print and Play Fall Sensory Motor Activity
Here is a fun, print and play sensory motor activity for the Fall season. Just print and cut out to start playing the Fall themed movement activity.  You can view and print the game for free at   Need more activity ideas for Fall? Check out our ebooks

Sensory Motor Activities for Fall

Fall Handwriting Activities

Print and Play Fine Motor Projects - Fall

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Exercise and the Brain in Kids

The New York Times published a great article on the neurocognitive benefits of exercise on children. One recent study discovered that children who were fit had a significantly larger basal ganglia. Another study indicated that children who were more fit had a significantly larger hippocampus. Additional studies are cited regarding the benefits of aerobic exercise on academic abilities. This is a quick read that summarizes recent research. How about print it out and provide to parents and school administrators to promote physical activity in children?

You can view the article entitled Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? at the New York Times, September 15, 2010 edition written by Gretchen Reynolds.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sitting and Developmental Delay

Pediatric Physical Therapy has published research on the relationship between the ability to sit upright and developmental delay. Sixty five infants were evaluated when the babies were learning to sit. The amount and variability of the center of pressure (COP) of sitting was measured and data was collected. After data analysis, the results indicated that the variability of the center of pressure when learning to sit could "discriminate between infants with developmental delay and cerebral palsy". The researchers concluded that the center of pressure is an objective tool to be used to help to identify sitting postures and motor delays.

Reference: Kyvelidou, Anastasia; Harbourne, Regina T.; Stergiou, Nicholas. Severity and Characteristics of Developmental Delay Can Be Assessed Using Variability Measures of Sitting Posture Pediatric Physical Therapy. 22(3):259-266, Fall 2010. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3181ea75f1

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Swing Invented

Check out this video on a new swing that a grandfather invented. Looks great for a sensory clinic or playground. You can view more info at the website for the Swring at

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quotes for Presentations or Posters

Do you have to present to a group this year? Would you like some photographs for your classroom, therapy room or home with some meaningful quotes? The National Dissemnenation Center for Children with Disabilities has 50 Powerpoint slides that you can download to use for professional development or your own use. Some of the quotes and pictures are really great and moving. You can download the .zip file and then open the Powerpoint document entitled Quotes 1-25 at and for Quotes 26-50 at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Physical Therapy and Cerebral Palsy

Clinical Rehabilitation published a review of the literature on the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions for young adults and adults (ages 16 and up) with cerebral palsy. Intially 675 articles were found on the topic. Only 13 studies could be included for review from earliest available time through March 2009. No articles meet the criteria for high methodological criteria. No articles had blinded therapists or subjects. Evidence was found of moderate quality on the use of progressive resistance strength training and gait. Following work station interventions, evidence of low quality was found on balance and strength training. In addition, low quality evidence was found for strength training effects on gross motor capacity. Finally, there was very low quality evidence found for strength training and its effects on range of motion.

The researchers recommend well designed physical therapy trials for this population of adults with cerebral palsy.

Reference: Jeglinsky, J. Surakka, E. Brogren Carlberg, and I. Autti-Rämö
Evidence on physiotherapeutic interventions for adults with cerebral palsy is sparse. A systematic review Clin Rehabil September 2010 24: 771-788, first published on July 6, 2010 doi:10.1177/0269215510367969

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Robotic Motorized Wheelchair Trainer

A feasibility study was performed to determine the design and usage of a robotic motorized wheelchair trainer. This robotic wheelchair trainer was designed to steer itself along a course using computer vision. Using technology that interacts with the person's touch (otherwise known as haptic guidance), the driver's hand was guided in steering actions using a force feedback joystick. Twenty two children without motor impairment (ages 4-9) were trained during a single session. The results indicated that the guided wheelchair training significantly improved the steering ability of the typically developing children compared to no training sessions. One 8 year old boy with cerebral palsy and severe motor impairment improved his ability to steer the motorized wheelchair even more that the typical developing children. The researchers concluded haptic guidance robotic training offers a fun, safe way to develop motorized wheelchair driving skills in addition to facilitating motor learning.

You can read the entire open access study at the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Reference:Laura Marchal-Crespo, Jan Furumasu and David J Reinkensmeyer. A robotic wheelchair trainer: design overview and a feasibility study Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2010, 7:40doi:10.1186/1743-0003-7-40

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 2010 Digital Magazine for OT/PT

Ankle Strength and Osteogenesis Imperfecta

The most recent issue of Pediatric Physical Therapy published research on ankle strength and function in 20 children and adolescents with Type I Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) compared to 20 aged match controls (ages 6-18). In one evaluation session the following information was collected on each subject: strength assessment, Gillette Functional Assessment Questionnaire, Pediatric Outcome Data Collection Instrument (PODCI), and Faces Pain Scale—Revised. The results indicated muscular weakness in the ankle plantar flexors of the children with OI. Limitations were seen in function with regards to sports and physical function along with pain/comfort. The researchers recommend using the evaluation tools when setting goals for children with OI.

Reference: Caudill, Angela MPT; Flanagan, Ann PT, PCS; Hassani, Sahar MS; Graf, Adam MS; Bajorunaite, Ruta PhD; Harris, Gerald PhD; Smith, Peter MD Ankle Strength and Functional Limitations in Children and Adolescents With Type I Osteogenesis Imperfecta Pediatric Physical Therapy: Fall 2010 - Volume 22 - Issue 3 - p 288–295 doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3181ea8b8d

Friday, September 3, 2010

Positive Reinforcement

With the start of the school year, teachers, parents and therapists will face so many different children and behaviors. One way to encourage compliant behavior during therapy sessions, in the classroom and home is to establish a system of positive rewards. Based on your own criteria, children are rewarded for "good" behaviors. This can be done with various simple tools. Try a sticker chart, linking paper chains, pinning up a certain number of clothes pins, etc. to promote the desired behavior. When the goal is reached of a certain number of stickers, paper chains or clothes pins give the child or group a reward. Or try our free printable from - Therapy Bingo (see below). Here are some fun, creative reward ideas for a group that are free and movement related:

1. Carnival Party: Set up different carnival stations that promote eye hand coordination skills i.e. throw bean bags at bottles, hoops over bottles, etc. The children can earn tickets as prizes. At the end of carnival, turn tickets in for coupons such as free play playground for 10 minutes.

2. Olympics: Create different stations of various Olympic act ivies. Give each participant a medal (just print one off of computer for them to string on yarn)

3. Playground Time: How about a playground party? The children can be allowed to use the playground for 30 minutes as a reward.

4. Nature Walk: Plan a nature walk as a reward. Children love the break of fresh air during the school day. Walk around the school grounds setting an example to other classes. The kids will love to show off their reward and see other children working so hard while they get a nice break outdoors.

5. Gym Time: This can be hard to organize, but if the gym is free for a short period during the day, reward the children with free play in the gym. Provide cones, balls and hoops. This activity is sure to be a hit.

6. Therapy Time: If your school does have a therapy room, how about rewarding children with some free play in the therapy room. Therapists and teachers could collaborate to provide this reward. Kids would love some free play with all the therapists unique toys.

What ideas do you have for movement related rewards?

Therapy Bingo

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Developmental Coordination Disorder and Brain Activation

A small study was recently published in Pediatrics on developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and brain activation. Seven children, ages 8-12 years, with DCD and seven control subjects without DCD, performed a fine motor trail tracing task while undergoing functional MRI. The behavioral motor results of the fine motor trail tracing task were similar between the two groups. The MRI results indicated that the children with DCD used significantly more brain activation in the left inferior parietal lobule, right middle frontal gyrus, right supramarginal gyrus, right lingual gyrus, right parahippocampal gyrus, right posterior cingulate gyrus, right precentral gyrus, right superior temporal gyrus, and right cerebellar lobule VI, than the typically developing children. The researchers concluded that the children with DCD relied more on visuospatial processing to complete the fine motor activity.

Reference: Zwicker, Jill G., Missiuna, Cheryl, Harris, Susan R., Boyd, Lara A.
Brain Activation of Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder is Different Than Peers Pediatrics 2010 126: e678-e686
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