Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine's Day Chocolate Fine Motor Activity

Here is a reason to go out and buy yourself a box of chocolates, eat the chocolates and save the fancy box for this fun fine motor activity. The things we have to do to create a therapeutic activity...

Print and Create Fine Motor Projects - Valentine's Day

Get 12 fine motor projects with a Valentine's Day theme to print, create and play. Get more information.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Self Control and Adult Health

A large longitudinal study in New Zealand assessed the self control of more than 1000 children in the area of self control. Parents, teachers, observers and children reported on frustration levels, attention to tasks, restlessness, waiting to take turns, activity levels and more. The children who scored lowest in the areas of self control scored higher in areas such as breathing problems, gum disease, sexually transmitted disease, inflammation, overweight, and high cholesterol and blood pressure. In addition, when the children with lower self control became adults they: had more financial problems, increased criminal activity, increased rate of single parents and increased dependency on tobacco, alcohol or drugs. The good news is that children who improved their self control as they got older fared better in adulthood indicating that self control can be taught.

Reference: Childhood self-control predicts adult health and wealth
Retrieved on 1/30/2011 from

Friday, January 28, 2011

Unique Dance Program for Individuals with Disabilities

Check out this video about a unique dance program for individuals with disabilities. Beautiful and impressive dance movements...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Audio Flash Cards

Quizlet is a website that allows you to create your own set of flashcards for free or download one of their 4 million sets of created flashcards. The really exciting piece is that they just added audio. Therefore, now you can study with visual and auditory feedback. It is a simple and free assitive tech tool for students. Check out these five flashcards below I made on sensory processing. Just click on the sound button in the upper left hand corner to hear the terminology. How cool is that!

You can review flashcards that were already created for pediatric occupational therapy and pediatric physical therapy.

Hip Flexion Measurements for Cerebral Palsy

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery published research comparing three examination tests to determine the degree of hip flexion contractures in children with cerebral palsy. Thirty six subjects withe cerebral palsy and 37 subjects without cerebral palsy were evaluated with the Thomas Test, the Staheli test (prone hip extension test) and hamstring shift test. The results indicated the the Staheli test was the most valid method for determining hip flexion contracture in subjects with cerebral palsy.

Reference: Lee KM, Chung CY, Kwon DG, Han HS, Choi IH, Park MS.
Reliability of physical examination in the measurement of hip flexion contracture and correlation with gait parameters in cerebral palsy. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2011 Jan;93(2):150-8.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Video Contest on Physical Activity for the Disabled

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) is sponsoring a video contest on how to get enough physical activity. The contest which is entitled "How Do You Get Enough" requires you to submit a 1-10 minute video on how to get enough physical activity if you have a disability, health condition or activity limitation. You can submit up to three videos of a completed, edited video or just raw footage. There are cash prizes from $150 to $1250. Also included is a chance to get your video professionally filmed and edited. All entries must be received by May 13, 2011. Find out more at the NCPAD website.

Want to see the winning videos? They will be posted after August 2011 at the NCPAD You Tube channel.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Caring Awards

Do you know someone who goes above and beyond when caring for others and is an excellent role model? Nominate anyone ages 9-99 years old for a Caring Award. If a young adult wins they will receive money towards college costs. Important points to consider are length of service, scope and impact of work, challenges overcome and imagination and innovation. We all work with many people who have overcome significant challenges and care for others. Why not take the time to nominate them in 500 words or less. You can find out more at the Caring Institute website.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are You Effective?

Considering it is mid school year, it may be time to evaluate your skills as a therapist. Are you effective? Sometimes, children miss extensive class time due to therapy sessions. Is it worth their while? Annual review time is quickly approaching and therapists should be thinking about what is working and what is not working. Don't just retest your children annually and when gains are made pat yourself on the back. Get to the core of each issue and determine have you made a difference.

Step 1: Make sure you have baseline measurements. Be very specific in your baseline data. Here is where a standardized test may be beneficial. For some issues, standardized testing is not available. Here is where you need good data - how long? how far? how many times in a 5 minute period?

Step 2: Establish goals. What are you trying to achieve for the child? Be very specific. Include what needs to be measured, how you will measure it and when you will measure it.

Step 3: Determine an intervention. What will you do to teach the child the skills necessary to meet the goal? Again, be very specific.

Step 4: Record data! Write down results for every therapy session. Record your data - how long did it take the child to walk from the classroom to the cafeteria? How many times did the child stand up during circle time? How many letters did the child write legibly? How many words did the child write in 1 minute? Also, record data regarding environmental modifications i.e. When the child was sitting on a therapy ball, he could pay attention for 5 minute intervals. Read more on collecting data in the schools, home or therapy clinic here.

When you are recording the data, be consistent so that you can show that what you are doing is working over time. In hard economic times, if you can show what you are doing is working that equals job security.

The Scale of Sensory Strategies (S.O.S.S.) Tool Kit™ provides an evidence-based plan of care with sensory strategies that will optimize a child’s behavior in the school, home and community.

Find out more.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Simple Needlepoint - Video Activity

Here is a simple project to pratice sewing with young children. This is an excellent, inexpensive fine motor and visual motor activity.

Want more lacing activities? Check out the elctronic book Lacing Cards for activities thoughout the year.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pencil Critters for Valentine's Day

Isn't this pencil critter cute for Valentine's Day? You can download the project to create here. Scroll down the page to download the project.

Or print it below

Monday, January 17, 2011

Exercising with a Best Friend

A new study that will be published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that 10 and 11 year old boys and girls who are physically active with their best friends engage in higher amounts of physical activity. Higher levels of physical activity were seen when the friends were active outside of school hours. This study indicates that have an active friend can increase daily physical activity time for children.

This is a simple suggestion for children to increase daily physical activity time - play with a friend after school! Set up play dates or encourage buddies who will be good role models for physical play time.

Reference: Better with a buddy: influence of best friends on children’s physical activity by Russell Jago, Kyle MacDonald-Wallis, Janice L Thompson, Angie S Page Rowan Brockman and Kenneth R Fox, Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Vol 43, No 2, February 2011.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

School Based Therapy IEP

It is that time of year again - New Year's resolutions. We all know the typical ones like lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, etc. How about creating some resolutions for the workplace? Another way of putting it is to create annual goals for yourself.

School based therapists help to write IEP goals for students, now try taking the time to write some for yourself. These can be goals that you would like to accomplish daily, monthly or by the end of the school year. Be sure to actually write them down so that you can check your progress. Here are some examples to get you started in thinking of some for yourself:
  1. I will document each therapy session at the end of the session 90% of the time.
  2. I will type up an evaluation within 1 day of performing the evaluation 100% of the time.
  3. I will stay on schedule for all therapy sessions 80% of the time.
  4. I will make contact with a child's parents with positive feedback 1x/month.
  5. I will have my IEP's reviewed and completed 1 week in advance of due date.
  6. I will provide lesson plans to teachers for group therapy sessions 100% of the time.
  7. I will create a goal for each therapy session whether individual or consultation sessions.
  8. I will communicate with the student's teacher weekly, 100% of the time.
  9. I will send home carry over activities following each therapy session 90% of the time.
  10. I will keep all paperwork organized and neat, 100% of the time
  11. I will make goals that are reachable (cross out Number 10 then!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow, snow and more snow!

For many of us on the East coast, the snow has been hitting us hard this Winter. Why not take advantage and get outdoors for some great sensory motor experiences:

  1. Make snow angels - a wonderful proprioceptive, body awareness and motor planning activity

  2. Go sledding - it does not get any better than this in terms of a overall sensory motor activity. You get vestibular input, proprioceptive input, muscle strengthening and motor planning.

  3. Create snow sculptures - combines the the heavy work of packing snow, working on the hands and knees and creativity. Get out your sand toys to add to the fun.

  4. Make a snowman - here is some serious pushing work along with heavy lifting. Add in some activities of daily living by dressing the snowman with a hat, scarf and mittens.

  5. Snow targets - spray the snow with colored water and aim snowballs at the targets

  6. Climb snow hills - Children LOVE to climb big snow hills made by a snow plow. They love to work their way all the way to the top only to tumble back down to the bottom. Simple activity but a work out.

  7. Letter Writing - practice writing letters in the snow with a gloved finger or large stick. Try stomping out letters in the snow with your feet. If you know a child who presses to hard when he/she writes, try writing letters on paper on top of the snow. You have to press very lightly or the paper will sink into the snow.

  8. Build a snow hill - Children love to shovel and scoop snow. Work together to create a snow hill. Try creating different sizes: small, medium and large.

  9. Scavenger Hunt - create a list of a few items that you could possibly find outdoors where you are i.e. leaf, small stick and rock. The children have to dig in the snow to find the items. Do not hide them yourself. Just let the kids explore the snow.

  10. Snowball challenge - Who can make the biggest snowball that will hold together which you can still hold in your hands? Who can throw a snow ball the longest distance? Who can create the tiniest snowball with just their fingers? Who can walk the longest distance with a snowball balancing on their head? Who can make the most snowballs in 30 seconds?

Adaptations: If you can not get out into the snow, bring the snow inside. Get a large plastic bucket and fill it with snow. Use kitchen utensils to dig in the snow. Put some on a cookie sheet and drive cars through a "snow storm". Build mini snowmen in the bucket and use toothpicks for arms. Put mittens on and transfer the snow to another bucket. Take measurements of how long it takes for the snow to melt. The possibilities are many.

Check out the electronic book Sensory Motor Activities for Winter for only $4.99

When the kids come back indoors, try some quiet activities from Print and Create Fine Motor Projects for Winter or Winter Step By Step Shape Projects

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sensory Integration or Fine Motor Interventions?

The American Journal of Occupational Therapy published a pilot study comparing sensory integration versus fine motor interventions in children with autism. Children with autism or PDD were divided into two groups, with 20 children receiving sensory integration treatment and 17 fine motor skill treatments. The participants received eighteen, 45 minute treatment sessions during a 6 week summer program. Following the interventions, the children in the sensory integration group had significantly less autistic mannerisms. No significant differences were seen on the Sensory Processing Measure or the Quick Neurological Screening Test Edition 2. Significant differences were seen in both groups with regards towards reaching goals (through Goal Attainment Scales) that were established prior to the interventions. The sensory integration group exhibited more significant improvements towards the goals when compared to the fine motor group.

Reference: Beth A. Pfeiffer, Kristie Koenig, Moya Kinnealey, Megan Sheppard and Lorrie Henderson. Effectiveness of Sensory Integration Interventions in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Study doi: 10.5014/ajot.2011.09205 American Journal of Occupational Therapy January/February 2011 vol. 65 no. 1 76-85

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adapting Lessons with QR Codes

Perhaps you have heard about QR Codes or maybe this is a new term to you. Either way, QR codes can be useful for expanding learning opportunities for all children including those with special needs.

To start off with a QR code is a black and white square that a person can take a picture of with a smart phone (with a QR code reader application installed on your smart phone which is free). Once you take the picture, the code takes you to a website with relevant information. Therefore, students can expand their knowledge regarding certain topics with just a click of the cell phone to take a picture. To create a QR code you can go to a website such as The website will create QR codes for you after you enter a text message, website address, email address, etc. All you have to do it print out the black and white square and you have a QR code. Want to test it out? Print out this blog post, take a picture of the QR code and see where it brings you (answer below).

Here are a few ideas for uses of QR codes in education. How about creating a audio file of reading some directions out loud and making a QR code? Simply put the QR code on the assignment and the student can take a picture of it to have the directions read out loud. If a student has created a poster presentation, the student can create a short video with extra information. Upload the video to You Tube, create the QR code , print it and put it on the poster. Now all the students need to do is snap a picture of the QR code and view the video.

Watch this You Tube video for how one school district is using QR codes:

Or check out this Google Doc - 30 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom
There are many ideas for this new, free technology.

Want to test it again? Take a picture of this QR code with your smart phone QR reader (answer below).

Answers: First QR code brings you to The second QR code brings you to this blog.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Early Intervention Success Stories

Do you ever need to explain to parents the benefits of early intervention? Maybe convince some that early intervention services can make a huge difference in a child's life? Check out these videos from Pathways Awareness. There are video stories of children with varying abilities who have shown great success with pediatric therapy services.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fine Motor Manipulative Hand out

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has created a great flyer on math manipulatives for preschoolers. This would be beneficial for pediatric occupational therapists to hand out since they are all fine motor manipulatives as well! All the items can be easily found around the house or outdoors. You can view the hand out here or below.

Friday, January 7, 2011

PT and School Aged Children with CP

The November issue of Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics published a review on physical therapy interventions for school aged children with cerebral palsy. Thirty four articles were reviewed with strength training being the most studied intervention. The strength training intervention resulted in significant improvements in muscle strength but not necessarily in function. Improvements in gross motor function, gait speed, stride length and endurance were seen with functional training. Weight supported treadmill training resulted in improvement trends on the Gross Motor Function Measure and gait velocity but none were significant. One of three studies using neurodevelopmental treatment as an intervention resulted in significant improvements on the Gross Motor Function Measure. With regards to treatment dosage, no studies "found significant differences for different intensities of treatment".

Reference: Liz Martin, Richard Baker and Adrienne Harvey. A Systematic Review of Common Physiotherapy Interventions in School-Aged Children with Cerebral Palsy. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics November 2010, Vol. 30, No. 4 , Pages 294-312 (doi:10.3109/01942638.2010.500581)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Proprioception Information

David Brown, from the California Deaf-Blind Services, has written an excellent article on proprioception. It is informative and well written. The focus of the article is on children who are deaf and blind but the information is suitable for any child with sensory processing disorder. There are some great examples of how to explain proprioception deficits (i.e. leg falling asleep and actions you take to wake it up). The article explains the proprioceptive sense, what happens when it is not working properly and what can be done to help. You can download the article below or here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Saliva and Cerebral Palsy

An interesting research article in Archives of Oral Biology analyzed the saliva of 38 individuals with cerebral palsy compared to their neurotypical peers. The saliva of individuals with cerebral palsy exhibited "an increase in salivary osmolality, total protein, potassium and chloride concentrations". In addition, the saliva flow rate was reduced in individuals with spastic cerebral palsy. The authors concluded that the differences in saliva could be caused by dehydration.

When a child exhibits problems with saliva have you ever recommended increasing hydration? Has it been successful?

Reference: Maria Teresa B. Santos et al. Salivary osmolality in individuals with cerebral palsy. Archives of Oral Biology Volume 55, Issue 11, November 2010, Pages 855-860

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Free Printable Winter Fine Motor Activity

Here is a printable fine motor activity with a winter theme. Download the full ebook, Print and Create Fine Motor Projects - Winter, at Your Therapy Source for only $0.99 until 1/31/2011.

If you can not view the Blizzard Card Game below you can download here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January Digital Magazine for Pediatric Therapists

The January issue of Your Therapy Source is available below. If you can not view it, you can download the magazine at Your Therapy Source's website.

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