How to Determine the Frequency and Duration of School-based Occupational Therapy Services

Determining Frequency and Duration of School-based Occupational Therapy Service

“I just don’t know what to do!”

The Occupational Therapist was upset and frustrated.  Her desk was covered in papers, folders, and notebooks.   She ran her fingers through her unkempt hair and sighed.  I understood. I’d been there, too.

“This child’s scores OT scores are really low, but the teacher doesn’t see any functional difficulties in the classroom.  I can’t recommend OT if there’s nothing functional to work on!”

Occupational Therapists and Committees on Special Education (CSEs) are often in a dilemma when it comes to determining the amount of services to recommend for a child.

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9 BEST SPRINGTIME DOLLAR STORE FINDS

Spring is in the air!

That means nice weather, flowers blooming, and best of all, fun new stuff at the Dollar Store!

By this time of the year, I’m a little sick of all my toys and games. I’m ready for something different and fresh to keep my kids focused and having fun during therapy. BUT – I already spent my OT budget, so I need to keep the costs down.

Like a true budget diva, I head straight to the Dollar Store. Spring is a great time to stock up on cheap supplies that are only available at this time of the year, BUT, you can use them all year long.

I’ve made a quick list for you – along with ideas to for how to use them!

9 Best Springtime Dollar Store Supplies FOR OTs

1). Pool noodles – super cheap and easy to cut to different sizes. You can turn your pool noodle into a bat to hit balloons, use it to help position a child, or use it as a resistive material to stick buttons in. Now is the time to stock up!ot, dollar store supplies, classroom pool noodles, best springtime dollar store supplies

2) Buttons – speaking of buttons, my dollar store (dollar tree) has lots of cute buttons in spring colors. These are perfect for working on manipulation, categorizing by size or sorting by color, and of course, buttoning!

3) Garden “Kneeling pads” – these are great to use as markers for “where” kids should sit during circle time. You can also use them as a visual cue during yoga or core strength activities. My #1 favorite way to use them is to actually have kids kneel. This makes working on a vertical surface fun, or can be a fun “alternative” writing position. You can also use them as a resistive material to stick things (golf tees?) in. They are pretty big, so they last a while.

4) Balloons – Balloons are available all year long, but by now I’ve always run out. Balloons can be used with tennis rackets, pool noodle bats, or hanging on a string from the ceiling. Put your child on a therapy ball and have them cross midline to “swat the balloon”. Use them with the whole class by playing “keep it up” until the music stops. Then have the children hold their balloon and write a spelling word on it with a sharpie.

5) Ping pong balls – Where do I start? Use kitchen tongs to pick them up and cross midline to put them in a bowl. Write words on them and have the children read the words as they “grab” the ball with their tongs. Sort them in an egg carton using word families.

6) Plastic eggs – I love to write on my plastic eggs with a sharpie. Then I can work on rhyming, writing, or matching. Write a capital on one side and lowercase on the other. Putting them together and taking them apart is great for bilateral coordination, visual attention, and motor planning!

7) Jump rope- jumping rope is such a hard skill for some kids. You can also use jump ropes to teach shoe-tying to a whole class. Use them for group games, to make circles for jumping in and out, etc. Teach knot tying and untying. These are daily living skills that are really hard for some kids.

8) Egg dying kits – I love the little different colored baskets that come in the dollar store kit- I have the kids sort spring colored pom poms into the same color basket with clothespins.  The powdered dye can be used to color homemade play dough or to dye pasta for sensory activities.

9) Craft stuff – Check the craft section for all the spring colored pom poms, crafts sticks, buttons, pipe cleaners, and beads. These are perfect for Mother’s Day crafts!

I hope you found this list helpful! So tell me, what’s your favorite dollar store find?

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Get your Free Printable packet- A Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit

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Long Island Links: Timbernook Summer Camp

TimberNook Long Island is thrilled to announce that summer registration is NOW OPEN!

TimberNook Long Island is pleased to offer TimberNook programs this summer hosted at Brookhaven Country Day Camp in Yaphank. Our location is the perfect place for TimberNook experiences with plenty of wooded space for endless free play!

It can be a real struggle to help kids manage tricky sensory-related challenges.

Parents find it difficult to weed through all of the information and pull out what will work for their child.

Teachers may struggle with kids who fall out of their chairs, can’t focus, and feed off other students. They may feel compelled to help these students but lack resources, time, or tactics.

Therapists may search for fresh ideas that provide the right kind of sensory input and will be carried over at home and at school, all while fitting into the child’s occupational performance sweet spot.

Do one or more of the categories described above sound familiar?

Maybe you are trying sensory strategies, searching for information, and creating sensory diets that just aren’t working. You’re doing all of the right things, but struggle to meet the sensory needs of an individual child.

That’s where the FREE Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and Sensory Challenge Cards come into play.

They are a FREE printable resource that encourages sensory diet strategies in the outdoors. In the printable packet, there are 90 outdoor sensory diet activities, 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities, 30 blank sensory diet cards, and 6 sensory challenge cards. They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input.

Research tells us that outdoor play improves attention and provides an ideal environment for a calm and alert state, perfect for integration of sensory input. In fact, outdoor play provides input from all the senses, allows for movement in all planes, and provides a variety of strengthening components including eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle contractions. The outdoors are a vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, and overall sensory-enriched goldmine!

There’s more: Providing opportunities for sensory diet activities in the outdoors encourages open-ended play, imagination, creativity, body awareness, learning skills, self-confidence, gross and fine motor development, attention, and social-emotional skill development.

sensory processing, outdoor play

Get your FREE OUTDOOR SENSORY PLAY CARDS

As for Timbernook – this is the perfect opportunity to provide your child with a summer filled with outdoor play and sensory processing activities.  If two or more children from the same family are attending they will be eligible for a discount of $25 per child. Email Megan at megan.hansen@timbernook.com to apply for the discount.

TimberNook is not your typical nature program 

 TimberNook was designed to get children outdoors in a sensory-rich environment.  At our programs, children explore their surroundings, take risks, play, build and dive deep into their imaginations.  We strive to be the “living example” of what real, authentic play should look like. 

 If you are searching to give your child ample time to play this summer click on LINK to register and share the news with friends and family!

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ABOUT THE OWNER:

Megan has been a pediatric occupational therapist for 17 years. She recently completed her doctorate in occupational therapy with a focus on outdoor free play. When Megan is not working she enjoys biking, hiking, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and son.

Sensory Theraplay Box

Do you know a child who just LOVES Sensory toys?  I mean gooey, flashy, squishy, squeezable and spinnable toys that stimulate their senses of sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing.

As a pediatric Occupational Therapist, I have to admit that I have a LOT of students who love sensory stimulation.  And I have a bunch of sensory toys that I use routinely in my therapy sessions.

But it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut. 

My kids get bored with the same toys over and over.  But I don’t have time to go scouring for new sensory toys all the time.  And the families that I work with aren’t sure what to get or where to get the perfect sensory toys for their children.

But there’s a solution!

Sensory toys, SPD, sensory processing,

I recently discovered Sensory Theraplay Box, a subscription sensory play box that’s delivered to your doorstep!  This is such a cool idea – a box full of new sensory toys specially hand picked by a pediatric Occupational Therapist delivered to your house during the first week of the month.

Each box is different! It’s filled with toys to help develop important sensory-motor skills & stimulate the senses.  These are perfect for getting your child to engage in sensory play!

Here are the details:

  • A variety of toys to engage your child in fun, silly sensory play!
  • Boxes ship out the first week of each month
  • Items are therapeutic & can be calming or help manage anxiety
  • Curated for children with autism/ sensory needs in mind, but suitable for children of all abilities
  • Each month’s box is carefully assembled by a licensed occupational therapist and includes a description card inside

You know when you are looking for the perfect gift and you just don’t know what to get?

It’s the worst.

This is the perfect gift for a child with Sensory Processing difficulties.  Or a child who thrives on engaging sensory play.  Actually, it’s the perfect gift for any child!

The Sensory Theraplay is a wonderful gift idea for birthdays, holidays, or other special occasions.   It’s an amazing way to get a child actively playing with sensory toys, using their imagination,  and learning how to self-regulate.

THE PERFECT GIFT FOR A CHILD WITH Sensory Needs, AUTISM OR ADHD

The Sensory Theraplay Box is filled with engaging, appropriate toys that encouraged children to functionally play and use their hands.   The boxes are designed for children who have sensory needs, but they are fun for any child!

I have to say, I am impressed with the quality and range of toys that were included in my box.   I brought them to school and my kids were psyched!

“Where did you get this?”

“Can I keep this?”   

The variety of toys included in my box appealed to all of my students.  Those who needed alerting activities were excited with the stimulating toys, and those who played with the calming activities showed improved self-regulation.

CHECK OUt Some Sensory Theraplay Boxes:

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Understanding Your Child’s Annual Review Test Scores

Annual review time can be stressful for parents and teachers.

Unfortunately, sometimes the child simply doesn’t qualify for what a parent is asking for.  It’s very important to understand your child’s test scores and to know the special education process.

Understanding Your Child’s Standardized Test Scores

The district will only provide special education services to a child who is significantly behind his peers. A child who is “Below Average” is NOT significantly delayed.

Parents are often unhappy with “Below Average” or “Low Average”, but those terms are still within the Average range.

First, a child meets eligibility criteria to be classified as a child who needs specialized instruction in order to access their curriculum. Then, the Committee on Special Education or the Committee on Preschool Special Education will classify that child into one of 13 different categories.  They will develop an IEP  (Individualized Education Program).

The classification DOES NOT determine the level of services a child will receive. For example, a classification of Autism does not automatically mean the child will receive more services.

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rush hour

The Therapeutic Benefits of “Rush-Hour” Game

The Therapeutic benefits of RUSH HOUR Game for OTs, SLps, and Educators

Don’t you just love when you find a toy that works on a ton of different skills?  As a pediatric OT, these kinds of toys are my absolute favorite!

One of my very favorite OT therapy toys is called the Rush Hour game.  It’s small so it fits right in my therapy bag.

Plus, it works on so many different skills!

  • Visual Perceptual Skills
  • Spatial Orientation
  • Left-Right Directionality
  • Direction Following
  • Sequencing
  • Problem Solving
  • Fine Motor Skills

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Effortless art crayons

Effortless Art Crayons

“Effortless Art Crayons”  is a sponsored post

“Every time he wants to change colors, I have to waste two minutes adapting the crayon.  It’s such a waste of time!”

Occupational therapists and special education teachers are magicians when it comes to adapting stuff for our kids with weak motor skills, developmental delays, or atypical grasp patterns.  But sometimes it’s just a pain in the neck!

The main goal is to help children be independent.  So if an adult has to step in every few minutes to put the grip on a new crayon or adjust a child’s fingers so they are in a functional position, it goes against what we are working toward (Independence!)

It’s easy to keep a grip on a pencil, but what about crayons?  The child wants to change colors every few minutes- that’s half the fun!

I’ve found the solution. 

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