How to Make More Money as an OTP

 

Are you an Occupational Therapy professional who is struggling to find the balance between work and quality of life?

Not too long ago, I was in the exact same boat.

I was working steadily as a district OT for two years when I bought my own condo. I was officially “adulting”.

Then my school job put me in the Civil Service Union. This impacted how my pay scale would grow throughout my career significantly. Instead of getting nice raises for the next 12 years like the teachers, I would get raises for the next 2 years, and then STOP. (You can read more about this here.)

Now that I had a mortgage payment on my own, I had to figure something out. FAST. That summer I read the book, “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach.

I realized that if I wanted a good retirement egg and enough money to feel safe and secure while paying my mortgage AND having some fun, I would need to get another job, a side hustle.

I have to say, reading that book changed my life. The exercises made me really understand what money means to me (SECURITY and STABILITY). And it made me a LOT smarter with how I was spending.

If you are looking for a good book to read – I highly recommend it.

I buy it for all my nieces and nephews when they graduate college, AND I just bought it for my OT student when she finished her fieldwork.

Yes, it’s THAT good. I make a habit of rereading it every two or three years, just to make sure that I’m on track for my future. Every time I read it, I implement a new “smart money” habit.

Later on, I started using my OT skills to make money online. There are a lot of OTs doing this.

Do you have another skill that you could combine with OT?

-podcasting

-copywriting

-public speaking

-creativity

– second language skills

-research/ writing skills

-photo or video editing skills

You may want to consider starting your own business or picking up side work to help other OTs who need your superpower.

You can learn how to use these skills at the OT Online Side Hustle and Beyond conference.

To be honest, if this conference had been around in 2006, I probably would have skipped my evening job at the sensory gym and went right to blogging. But everything happens for a reason, right?

All of the panelists of the OT Online Side Hustle and Beyond (including me!) have been exactly where you are and they have all come together to help YOU! We’ll be sharing our experiences with making money online.

Telling you exactly what’s worked and what hasn’t.

We’re going to guide you with those first steps and get you well on your way to making passive income. If you’re really serious about wanting to make money online, you’ll want to check out this conference.

You’ll learn more than 15 ways to make money online from over 50 online creators. You’ll be inspired to get started with your online revenue stream by that Monday!

​*This post contains affiliate links

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?

https://transactions.sendowl.com/stores/8839/27859

Get your Free Printable packet- A Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit

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Back to School Giveaway – Enter to Win The Relax Pack!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win your very own Relax Pack!

RULES: Participants must visit and “like” the MissJaimeOT Facebook page AND the Relax Pack Facebook page.  Then just enter your name in the giveaway.  The contest ends on August 5th, 2021 at 11:59 pm EST.  Participants must live within the United States. No purchase is necessary.

Transitions can be a huge challenge for children.  Children who struggle with transitions from can present with different behaviors:

  • tantrums
  • stubbornness
  • refusal to attend or participate
  • refusal to get on/off the school bus
  • crying
  • overwhelm with new people
  • anxiety to try new things

One tool that I find myself recommending to parents is the Relax Pack. The Relax Pack is a regular functional backpack with a genius twist – It’s outfitted with different sensory tools to help provide calming input to children during transition times.

Here are some of the unique sensory features of the Relax Pack:

• The Hug Belt: A built-in neoprene compression belt that provides soothing deep pressure
• Fidget Strips: Interchangeable and removable sensory strips to fidget with
• D-rings for Chewies: Attach chewies to RelaxPack and never lose them again

Other functional features include:

• A headphone port
• Protective built-in tablet and phone sleeves
• Mesh pockets for water bottles and to store fidgets
• Clip to hold keys
• Built-in pouches and pockets to keep organized

 

RelaxPack was created by Aparna Guttery MA, OTR/L, a pediatric occupational therapist specialized in treating children with sensory processing disorders and special needs. I had the opportunity to meet her at the American Occupational Therapy Conference a few years ago.

Aparna recognized that there were no products on the market that combined functionality, convenient access, and effective calming support. Taking the utility of a backpack that children use daily and combining it with calming and soothing features, was how RelaxPack came to life!

Aparna’s designed the Relax Pack to help make everyday life smoother for children and their families.

The Relax Pack was created to support children with:

• Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Sensory Processing Disorder
• ADHD/ADD
• Emotional Disturbance
• Anxiety

…And all children in need of extra comfort

You can check out the RelaxPack for yourself here. 

4 Time-Saving Paperwork Shortcuts for School Professionals

4 time-saving tips for busy therapists and teachers

1) Install Grammarly on your work computer.

Just google “Grammarly free”. Then follow the directions to install the extension on your computer. Literally, this has saved me so much time in proofreading and so much embarrassment over typos. Apparently, I am very Comma-happy!
This app is WONDERFUL for busy teachers, parents, and therapists.

It is also a total GAME-CHANGER for children with dyslexia. It takes away all the worry and stress about spelling and punctuation, which is such a time-saver! Just a warning- you may need to have it approved in order to install it on a child’s school computer because it is considered an accommodation – which takes some of the work off of the child.

2) Copy and Paste is your best friend.

This year, it really hit me how often I write the same thing. In my evals, emails, reports, you name it. A long time ago, I started using a “template” for my OT evals. This way, I could use “find and replace” to change the name, the school, etc. But there was still a lot of re-typing.

As I was teaching my OT student to do the IEPS in our IEP management system, I realized that everything would be so much faster if I copied and pasted it in there too. So this year, when I wrote my student’s annual report and progress toward their goals, I copied and pasted the pertinent parts right into the IEP.

How did I not realize this earlier? First, it makes my work so much more consistent. I can document those goals, and report on those goals in the IEP.

It saved me a lot of time. If you’re not already doing this, I really recommend looking at your workload and seeing where you can cut corners with copy and paste.

3) So are “Find and Replace” and “Highlight”

When I started teaching my student how to write evals, I showed her one of my tried and true tricks for saving time and keeping track of myself. I have templates for different “types” of children. Kindergarten boy, kindergarten girl, etc. A child with significant disabilities, a child who doesn’t qualify, etc. When I go to write a new OT evaluation, I choose a template to start.

Then, I use “find and replace” to change the name throughout the report as well as the teacher’s name, the school, etc. Finally, I start to change the details of the report. When I finish a sentence or a section, I highlight it yellow.

I do this because I NEVER get to finish a report in one sitting. EVER. I thought it was me- and my multi-tasking tendencies, but as I taught my student, she continually got interrupted as well. It’s the nature of the job, apparently. This way, when I get back to my report, the stuff I need to work on is plain, and the parts I’ve already done are highlighted. Time saver!

4) Put your checklists and forms on Google Drive.

For years, my district has had “paper copies” of our teacher checklists and requests for requesting OT supplies, evals, consultations, etc. This year, I put a bunch of those types of checklists into Google Forms.

Here are the benefits:

1) I can update or edit the checklist anytime I want (add questions, delete options, etc.)
2) There’s no risk of my losing the paperwork as I run around servicing 6 buildings.
3) I was able to set up the Google form so that I get an Email when a teacher fills it out! Yahoo! Google forms also keep all the responses in a spreadsheet. This allowed me to track which equipment I gave to which teacher, so I can make sure I get it all back in June!

I want the red shirt.

I go to work every day with a smile on my face. I love my job.

But if I’m being honest, I can share that when I pause and really think about things, It’s easy to feel very down in the dumps about school-based OT.

Are you wondering why? 

Because as a school-based OT, I work the same hours as the teachers, social workers, psychologists, speech therapists, and guidance counselors. I have the same education, responsibilities, and the same role.

But I don’t have the red shirt. And that means I don’t have EQUITY or PARITY.

Every Thursday the staff in my district wear their “Red for Ed” Teachers Union shirts. Every teacher, speech therapist, social worker, teacher’s assistant, school counselor, etc. You get the picture.

But not me.

Miss Jaime OT Facebook, OT advocacy, #SchoolOTsMatter

 

OT is not included in the teacher’s union in my district (and many others), and it causes MANY issues of equity in the school setting.

Last week, one of my kindergarten students said to me, “Miss Jaime, you forgot your red shirt.”
I smiled ruefully at her. “I don’t have a red shirt, Victoria. Those are only for teachers.”
“But you are a teacher, Miss Jaime!”

I answered her sadly. “Thank you, Victoria, I think so, too.”

NY state education department doesn’t categorize OTs and PTs as “educators”. The other “related services” professions – social workers, school counselors, psychologists, and even school attendance teachers fall under the category of “pupil personnel provider.” Pupil personnel is one of the three categories where school professionals can receive teaching certificates.

This impacts PARITY for OTs and PTs in the school setting.  We often do not have the same benefits, salary scale, or professional development opportunities.  We aren’t allowed to advance to leadership positions. Many OTs and PTs don’t even get a lunch hour. 

The exclusion of OTs and PTs from the category of “educators” in the education system is an outdated practice that needs change. 

Are you impacted by this type of systemic discrimination? 

Do you want to learn more about how you can help to change it? 

If so, I invite you to join my Facebook group:

USA School-based OTs & PTs looking for a change

Miss Jaime OT Facebook, OT Advocacy, School-based OT advocacy,

Jaime started the Facebook group “USA school-based OTs looking for change in 2018”. Have you joined yet?

Also, for the month of April, I’m offering a FREE webinar about Advocacy for School-based Occupational Therapists.  (NYSOTA CUEs included!) 

If you have a story about how lack of equity is impacting YOU and YOUR students as a school OT, please email me!  I want to hear your story.  We’re in this together! 

Vision 101 Scholarship Application – February 2021

We’re offering scholarships for our course!

If you’ve been following me, you know that I LOVE to help grownups HELP THEIR KIDS. Whether it’s our students, our own children, or our grandchildren,  our kiddos need us.

So many children are walking around with undiagnosed vision issues, and we understand that this pandemic has caused financial hardship for so many wonderful hardworking therapists out there.

As healthcare and educational professionals, my co-host Robert and I want to give back to our community of followers who may be facing financial hardship.

So we’re offering TEN people a FULL SCHOLARSHIP to Vision 101 for School-based Occupational Therapy Practitioners.

This is a needs-based scholarship for School Occupational Therapists and OT Assistants.

We’ll contact the winners via email.

Announcing the Winners!

Irene Kousouris

Virginia Charles Bodner

Ruqayya Ismail

Monica L. Whitman

Alison Milligan

Meghan Neureither

Nyasha Beremauro

Gaby Jonatan

Maritcelly Mendez

Colleen Redington

Scholarship Rules:

  1. Ten people will be chosen by Tuesday, February 16th at 5 pm EST.
  2. We will notify the winners by email and update this page with the winners.
  3. Winners can take the course and obtain AOTA credit FREE.
  4. Winners will be chosen based on their scholarship answers.
  5. Winners who paid for the course will be refunded.

 

Learn More about Vision:

Continue reading

Understanding Handwriting Terms and Phrases

Grass line, magic c, spacing, Oh-My!

Different handwriting programs use certain words and terminology that can be confusing to parents and new teachers and therapists. It’s so much easier for our kids when everyone uses the same language.

Language matters when it comes to handwriting.

  1. Use the same language consistently when teaching
  2. Follow the language of the program the child is learning
  3. Get the team on board!  Send information to the parents so they use the same language, too!

50 common handwriting terms that parents should know

(Get the printable!)  ➡       ➡       ➡       ➡       ➡  

 

Handwriting Terms & Definitions

  • 90-90-90 position – the ideal position of the body for writing; having one’s elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, hips at a 90-degree angle, knees at a 90-degree angle, and feet flat on the floor.
  • Automaticity – the ability to automatically and accurately form letters through motor planning requiring little to no effort.
  • Ball and stick – lifting the pencil and making a second stroke to complete the letter formation. For example, using ball and stick, the letter b is taught by making a vertical line and then lifting the pencil to draw a circle. (Ball and stick is NOT best practice!)
  • Baseline/bottom line – the line on which most letters rest.
  • Capital letter – an uppercase letter or a letter that is not lowercase
  • Center Starting Capitals – Capital letters that start in the center such as C, O, Q, G,S, T, I, J, A.
  • Developmental teaching order – how to teach the letters in the sequence that children are physically and developmentally ready to learn them, rather than from A to Z.
  • D’Nealian – A handwriting program that uses letters with tails in manuscript printing, to make the transition to cursive simpler.
  • Dotted line – the middle line, halfway between the top and bottom line
  • Dysgraphia – a learning disability that may cause difficulty with handwriting, motor, and processing skills.
  • Fall letters – letters that go below the baseline (bottom line)
  • Far point – copying letters from a board, requiring distance vision skills and the ability of the student to read and hold information to transfer to the paper
  • Fluency – ability to access, retrieve, and form letters reliably
  • Frog Jump Capitals – a term from the Handwriting Without Tears program, these are letters that start at the top left corner with a big line down. Next, the pencil jumps back to the start spot to complete the letter (Examples: E F D B P).
  • Fundations – a reading program that incorporates a supplemental handwriting component.
  • Graph paper – paper used for focusing on letter size and spacing between letters and words.
  • Grass line – the bottom writing line, aka baseline.
  • Gray box paper – paper with uniformly sized boxes to aid with sizing and orienting capital letters and numbers (from the Handwriting Without Tears program).
  • Handwriting Without Tears – a developmental handwriting program that uses simple strokes: big line, little line, big curve, little curve.
  • Left to right progression – the basis for reading and writing, tracking from left to right.
  • Legibility – readability of handwriting
  • LegiLiner – a self-inking, rolling stamp that draws handwriting lines
  • Letter formation – ability to form letters of the alphabet correctly
  • Letter groups – tall, small, and fall letters
  • Letter size boxes – boxes to correctly form the size of letters and correctly place them on the line
  • Letter sizing – the height of letters determined by the space the letter takes up, referring to forming tall, short, and fall letters.
  • Letter spacing – the distance between letters, words, sentences, and lines
  • Lowercase – a letter that is not capital or uppercase
  • Magic C letters – a Handwriting Without Tears term having the student write the letter “c” to begin writing a letter such as a, d, g, o, q.
  • Manuscript – print writing that is made up of lines and circles, often taught in elementary schools
  • Memory – the ability to produce a letter without a visual cue.
  • Narrow lined paper – a type of adapted paper
  • Near point – copying letters from a paper on the desk, which is an easier task than far point.
  • Orientation – refers to letters and numbers that are facing in the correct direction.
  • Plane line – The middle dotted handwriting line
  • Posture and proper positioning – 90-90-90 having feet flat on the floor, knees at a90 degree angle, back is straight, and forearms/elbows on the table at 90degrees.
  • Primary paper – three lined paper with a dotted middle line, helping students size
    letters properly
  • Redi-Space Paper – adapted writing paper designed to improve legibility by providing visual cues for proper spacing between letters and words.
  • Retrace – going back over the same line for a short distance when forming letters.
  • Reversals – writing letters facing the wrong direction.
  • Size Matters Handwriting Program – a developmental handwriting program that uses the terms of size 1, size 2, and size 3 letters
  • Skyline – the top handwriting line
  • Slant board – a slanted writing surface used to create a position to reduce strain for the wrist, arms, hands and shoulders and encourage a proper grip.
  • Small letters – letters that do not go above the middle line, such as a, c, e, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, and z
  • Space stick – a handwriting spacing stick used as a visual cue for handwriting, such as a popsicle stick
  • Spaceman space – an image to remind students to use spaces between words
  • Speed – refers to how quickly one can write letters and sentences.
  • Start spot – an indicator for where the letter starts.
  • Starting Corner Capitals – Capital letters that start in the top left corner such as B, D, E, F, H, K, L, M, N, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
  • Super “C” letters – a Size Matters Handwriting Program term for letters that start with a “c”
    and turn into another letter (o, a, d, g, q).
  • Tall letters – letters that touch the top line, such as b, d, f, h, k, l, t, and all uppercase letters
  • Top line – the line at the top of the writing space where tall letters will touch.
  • Tracking – the ability for our eyes to move across a paper and scan words and letters
  • Traditional paper – regular lined looseleaf paper with a top and bottom line.
  • Traditional teaching order – teaching letters starting with the letter A and ending with the letter Z.
  • TV Teacher – a developmental handwriting program that uses video modeling to teach handwriting
  • Worm line – an additional line below the grass line to draw fall letters such as g, j or y
  • Woo Tape – adhesive tape that can be used to add writing lines to a child’s paper
  • Zaner Bloser – a Handwriting program with writing straight up and down in manuscript printing and slanted in cursive.

Developmental Progression of a Pencil Grasp:

  • 1 to 1.5 years – Palmar Supinate– the pencil will be held in the palm with the thumb resting on top of the pencil while using larger muscle groups.
  • 2 to 3 years – Digital Pronate – the pencil will be held in the palm with the index finger pointed down to the paper.
  • 3.5 to 4 years – Static Tripod–  holding the pencil with the thumb and index finger and use the middle finger as support. Writing will be using larger movements from the shoulder and elbow instead of the fingers.
  • 4.5 to 5 years – Dynamic Tripod– thumb and index finger holds the pencil with the pinky and ring finger pinched in. Dynamic means that the fingers and wrist will provide more movement instead of the shoulder and elbow.

Motor Memory and Handwriting

Motor Memory Matters!  

Research shows that practice and repetition are the best way to teach children how to form their letters.  It turns out that Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid was right.

Remember “wax on, wax off?”  We need to practice the same motor movements again and again for them to become automatic.

The same is true when it comes to handwriting

Turns out, it makes a lot of sense NOT to teach the letters in A to Z order.  

Why? 

Because it’s a lot easier to learn to write “F and E” on the same day than it is to learn “A and a”.  

Research shows that 1 in 4 children need more help with handwriting in order to grasp the concepts. This year, schools are full of kids who missed months of “typical learning” due to COVID-19. 

The truth is, there is less time for handwriting instruction in school. 

But here’s a trick that makes the process easier.

Teach the letters in groups by formation. Children learn better when the motor components of letter formations are grouped. Teaching “A” and “a” in the same week expects children to learn two totally different motor tasks. Teaching “F” and then “E” or “n” and then “m” is much easier.

Want to learn more? 

Here’s a FREE Handout about How to Teach the Letters in Groups 

This simple process of teaching letters in a developmentally appropriate way JUST MAKES SENSE!

Don‘t miss out on the webinar! 

CEUs are available: The course is AOTA approved, and you can purchase the webinar, slides and CEUs here

  • The webinar is approved for .2 AOTA CEUs.
  • Applies to any handwriting program your child has been using.
  • Taught by a certified handwriting expert and school-based occupational therapist with 20 years experience.

 

Teaching Letters in Groups Workbook: This 120+ page digital handwriting workbook is on sale for $14.99! It features all the capitals, all the lowercase, and all the letters that can be taught together on the same page.

BONUS: This week, when you purchase the workbook, you’ll get a 32-page FREE handwriting in groups packet. These handouts are perfect for centers, sensory writing, rainbow writing and more.

Watch Miss Jaime, O.T. teach how to “Mr. Miyagi” our kids!

Please keep in mind when teaching letters…

There’s a developmental progression to letters, too!   Children understand straight lines first, then circular lines, then diagonal lines.

So doesn’t it make sense to learn letters like H, L, T, F, E first as opposed to A, B, C??

Look at the letters of the alphabet and categorize them by straight lines, circular lines, and diagonal lines and teach them in that order.

In addition to the webinar, you may like these handwriting products: