Saturday, September 29, 2012

Love this new idea!!!

Came across this on the web this morning. Watch this video from CBS News on this new product. This is an excellent idea to get babies and young children with disabilities moving and exploring their environment as soon as possible.

You can get more information about the ZipZac chair here. It looks like it costs around $1000.

Friday, September 28, 2012

5 Fine Motor Activities Using Rubber Bands

Just posted a new video describing 5 fun activities to encourage fine motor skills and muscle strengthening of the hand.  You can view it at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Culture and Sensory Sensitivities

Have you ever considered the influence of culture on sensory sensitivities?  Does being from a different country or upbringing influence sensory preferences?  One would assume the answer is yes but definitive differences would be hard to categorize.

The American Journal of Occupational Therapy published research on a cross cultural comparison of sensory behaviors in children with autism.  The researchers compared the Short Sensory Profile responses completed by Israeli parents and United States parents of children with autism and typically developing peers.  The results indicated that "Israeli parents reported unusual responses to sensory experiences less frequently than U.S. parents for both autism spectrum disorders and typically developing children".  The United States children with autism spectrum disorders exhibited significantly greater difficulty in the Auditory Filtering and Visual/Auditory Sensitivity domains than Israeli children with autism spectrum disorders.

This study is very interesting to me.  By defining sensory behaviors based on culture we can look to different cultures to provide suggestions for other cultures.  For example, in the above study, if it was taken a step further are the researchers able to determine what Israeli parents may do differently in terms of auditory or visual domains that could help US parents?

Reference:  Kristina G. Caron,Roseann C. Schaaf,Teal W. Benevides,and Eynat Gal Cross-Cultural Comparison of Sensory Behaviors in Children With Autism Am J Occup Ther September 2012 66:e77-e80; doi:10.5014/ajot.2012.004226

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weight and Gross Motor Skills

Pediatric Physical Therapy published research on weight and gross motor skill development in young children.  Body mass index and gross motor skill level was determined for 4650 kindergarteners.  The results indicated that children with obesity exhibited decreased motor skills compared to their peers especially with respect to locomotor and balance skills.

Reference: Roberts, Dawn; Veneri, Diana; Decker, Robert; Gannotti, Mary. Weight Status and Gross Motor Skill in Kindergarten Children. Pediatric Physical Therapy. 24(4):353-360, Winter 2012. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3182680f19

Monday, September 24, 2012

CVS Caremark Grants - Deadline Oct 31st

Here is the annual reminder about the CVS Caremark grants. They are due October 31, 2012.

This grant provides support for children with disabilities.
 "CVS Caremark Community Grants Program awards funds to nonprofit organizations for the following programs:
* Programs targeting children with disabilities
* Programs focusing on health and rehabilitation services

* Public schools promoting a greater level of inclusion in student activities and extracurricular program

* Initiatives that give greater access to physical movement and play

* Organizations that provide uninsured individuals with needed care, in particular programs where the care received is of higher quality and delivered by providers who participate in accountable community health care programs" 

If you are a pediatric therapist in a school based setting or other non profit organization this is definitely worth a look. Qualifying organizations are eligible for grants of up to $5,000. Go to CVS Caremark for more information and to apply.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sensory Preferences

Assist a child as necessary to complete this free printable worksheet to determine sensory diet activities for different situations.  You can download the blank worksheet at

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Free Sticky Note OT/PT Reminders

Print some reminders for the next occupational or physical therapy sessions on sticky notes.  Place in a student's planner to remind teachers, parents and students when the next session is scheduled.  These are great for the start of the school year when the schedule is new.  Also, wonderful way to create independence for students who walk to therapy room by themselves.  You can download all the details at

Monday, September 17, 2012

Proprioception and Autism Spectrum Disorders

The American Journal of Occupational Therapy published research on proprioceptive processing difficulties among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and developmental disabilities. A total of 86 children (32 with ASD, 26 children with development disabilities but not ASD and 28 neurotypical children) were scored on the Comprehensive Observations of Proprioception (COP). The COP observes 18 items of motor and behavior regulation of proprioception. The results indicated that all three groups scored significantly different on each of the 18 items. The ASD and DD were significantly different on the four following items: feedback-related motor planning; tiptoeing; pushing others or objects; and crashing, falling, and running.

The researchers discuss how children with ASD may exhibit patterns of proprioception deficits that include feedback-related motor planning skills; tiptoeing; pushing others or objects; and crashing, falling, and running. These deficits may contribute to motor planning problems, decreased postural control and disruptive behaviors.

You can read the full article at AJOT.

Reference: Erna Imperatore Blanche,Gustavo Reinoso,Megan C. Chang,and Stefanie Bodison. Proprioceptive Processing Difficulties Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities Am J Occup Ther September 2012 66:621-624; doi:10.5014/ajot.2012.004234

Proprioceptive Poems- 2 movement poems with posters to encourage proprioceptive input

Find out more.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Paint Shapes By Color - Free Printables

Check out the latest free printable - paint shapes by color, inspiration from Playing House.  You can get the download at YourTherapySource.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Treadmill Training in Adolescents with CP

Recent research compared two groups of adolescents with cerebral palsy.  One group was randomly assigned to treadmill training, 3 times per week, for 12 weeks.  The other group participated in traditional physical therapy sessions (3x/ week for 12 weeks) which included mat activities, balance training, gait training and functional gross motor activities.  Post test results indicated a significant difference in self selected walking speed and gross motor function.  The researchers concluded that treadmill training may improve walking speed and gross motor function in adolescents with cerebral palsy.

Reference:  Chrysagis N, Skordilis EK, Stavrou N, Grammatopoulou E, Koutsouki D. The effect of treadmill training on gross motor function and walking speed in ambulatory adolescents with
cerebral palsy: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Sep;91(9):747-60.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nickelodeon Big Help Grant

The NEA Foundation - Nickelodeon Big Help grants are available to develop and implement programs that address "four key concerns – environmental awareness, health and wellness, students’ right to a quality public education, and active community involvement".

Find out more here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I'm Bored Activities

Another tip of the day for therapists... provide classrooms with folders that have activities to do when students are bored.  If the students have completed their assignments or they have some free time, then they could independently go access a folder or list of activity ideas to keep them busy. 

For children who need visual perceptual practice you could give the teacher a folder with mazes, dot to dots or visual motor exercises (ie Follow the Path, Visual Discrimination Puzzles, or Patterns, Patterns, Patterns.)   

For students who need fine motor practice leave a fine motor activity box that includes items such as lacing cards, small peg boards, marbles or hand strengthening putty would be beneficial.

Students who need gross motor practice may benefit from active play boxes, mini trampoline breaks or other motor activities (ie Mini Movement Breaks or Classroom Activity Posters). How about create a list of gross motor activities (especially outdoor if available), then when anyone hears the words "I'm bored" you can reach for the list of suggestions.

Does anyone have more suggestions for students when free time is available during the school day or at home? 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Schedule Practice Time for Motor Skills

A new school year brings new students and new goals.  Most students who receive therapy services have goals related to fine and gross motor skill development.  As we know from motor learning theories individuals need practice time to learn and maintain motor skills.  Therefore, therapists need to provide suggestions for ample practice time during the school day beyond therapy services.

Therapists should provide the student and the teacher with some suggestions to squeeze in practice time during the school day.  Not only should therapists provide the practice activity ideas it would be very helpful to also provide ideas regarding what time to perform the practice sessions.  In order for therapists to do this, you will need to have access to the students entire school schedule.  Look closely at the schedule and perhaps provide the student and teacher with highlighted areas where the practice can occur.     

Gross motor skills can be practiced during transition times, recess, free play and physical education.  If you need to get more creative an add more practice time, provide the teacher with some quick brain breaks (ie Roll Some Fun or Mini Movement Breaks) throughout the day. 

Fine motor skill practice tends to be easier to accomplish during the school day.  Arts and crafts projects can be geared toward specific practice skills.  Therapists can help teachers plan literacy and math lessons that encourage fine motor skill practice. 

To summarize, try to not only provide motor skill practice activity ideas but also provide a simple schedule to complete the activities throughout the regular routine of the student's day.  The schedule would be meant to provide suggested activity practice times for teachers and students.  Don't forget to check back in a week or two to see if the suggested times are working for the student.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More Great FREE Resources from CanChild

If you are a therapist who works with children who have developmental coordination disorder, you should check out these new resources from CanChild.  They are providing free "Lunch and Learn" training packages for school based occupational therapists.  Basically, the pdf documents walk you through all the steps to create some in house professional development for your teachers on dressing skills, scissor skills, motor development and pre printing for the younger kids and motor development and printing for the older students.  It also includes wonderful, brief hand outs for teachers and parents.  Thanks CanChild!  You can download the pdf documents here

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bilateral Math Facts

Here is a fun twist to do instead of traditional flash cards.  Another big bonus is practicing visual tracking skills and bilateral coordination skills.   View the video at
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