Miss Jaime, O.T.’s Favorite Sensory Gifts 2018!

Sensory kids can be tricky. 

Different kids can like or dislike different sensations.  I like to recommend weighted things because I find that they can be calming and grounding for children who are sensory seeking, anxious, impulsive, or hyperactive. They can also be used as “heavy work” for kids who need to “wake up” or get moving.

Picking out a gift can be so frustrating.

This year I thought I’d make a quick list of my top favorite NEW sensory toys – ones that are unique and probably not already in your child’s toy box.

Affiliate links have been included for your convenience.

A Weighted Teddy Bear

This weighted teddy bear is too adorable.  It looks like a typical toy but provides a weighted sensation which can be comforting.  Check it out!

 

 

A Weighted Cap

This weighted cap is so cool! I love that it looks just like a regular hat, but it is weighted to provide extra input to the head.  Such a brilliant idea! Learn more here.

 

Continue reading

The All In One Magic Magnetized Shoe-Tying Miracle

“How am I supposed to teach him to tie his shoes?”
The Occupational Therapy student’s cheeks were pink.  A concerned look creased her face.

Self-doubt was creeping in. I understood.

Sometimes you get a child on your caseload that seems to have a lot of obstacles to face, just to live a normal independent life.

This little boy was no exception.  Charlie was born with amniotic banding, a rare condition caused by fibrous strands of the amniotic sac entangling the limbs or other parts of the body, which can cause deformities in utero.  In Charlie’s case, he was born without his left hand.

How do you teach bilateral skills like cutting, buttoning, and tying to a child with only one hand?  

You adapt.   And you teach them to adapt.  There’s always a way.

    • Every child deserves to live a full and happy life.
    • They deserve to be independent.
    • And they deserve to accomplish typical milestones, such as tying their shoes for the first time.

I love to use adaptive tools to make these mountainous challenges just a bit easier for my little guys.    So I was super excited to tell my OT student about Zubits.

Continue reading

“Cookie Cutter Therapy”- Why it’s OK with me….

The other day I did an autumn arts and crafts project with all of the students on my caseload.

Every. Single. One.

Kindergartners as well as fourth graders.

Very often we hear about the problem of a “cookie cutter therapist”.

Meaning – a therapist that does one thing with every single student regardless of their goals or deficit areas.

A lot of people have a problem with this and so do I – sometimes.

I might sound like I’m contradicting myself because I said I’m OK with doing the same activity with every single student but here’s the thing:

One of an occupational therapist’s best and greatest qualities is creativity and flexibility. Teachers have this gift, too!

Every single child has different goals – so tweak that activity to work for them!

Change it Up!

Here are some ways to tweak this simple fall craft.

  • For really weak fine motor skills, take one piece of tissue paper in each hand. Hold the student’s hands up in the air like a “Y”. Crunch the tissues into little balls without using his other hand or his chin or even his belly to help with the crunching.
  • To work on mid crossing midline; place the paper to the other side of the student’s body.  Put the helping hand on vacation (meaning behind his back). His dominant hand has to crossover in order to glue on the leaves of the tree.
  • My student with weak grip strength had to use a clothespin to pick up each tissue ball and place it on the tree.
  • My student with really poor scissor skills had to cut the tissue before he crunched. He also cut a piece of green construction paper to make grass for the bottom of his picture.

So – if you were a random person standing at the door of my occupational therapy room, you’d see every student come out with a picture of a tree with different colored fall leaves on it.

It might look like I’m doing cookie cutter therapy but I’m not.

It’s ok to re-use an Idea

My point is – give yourself a break! It’s OK to do the same or similar activity with different students.

Just use your creative mind to tweak it to work for that student and the needs of that student.

For teachers, this may mean creating groups of students who will complete the task in a different way. For example, the red table will use clothespins to pick up the leaves and the blue table has to crunch with two hands in the air in the shape of a Y.

Once you give yourself permission to do one activity with all the kids; you’ll see how easy it is to change it up.

Need an AMAZING Activity to do with your kids this week?

For a limited time, get a FREE E-Book of Sensory Recipes!

FREE SENSORY RECIPES E-BOOK

Available this week only!

It’s only available this week, so don’t miss it!

RELATED POSTS

When your baby needs EI services
dollar store fidgets chocolate scented play doh Sensory books

For the Hardworking Therapists Who Work With Children with Special Needs

therapist guilt, fine motor skills, primitive reflexes

I’m sure you’ve heard of Mom guilt, Daughter Guilt, and Irish Guilt, but have you ever heard of Therapist Guilt?

I may have invented it…

You’ve probably read letters and blog posts written toward the parents of children with special needs; talking about how strong they are and how hard they work to help their children.

It’s true.  But many of those selfless parents still have “The Guilts”.

WHAT ARE “THE GUILTS”?

When you have “the guilts”,  there is always something you feel guilty about.   It could be about not having a spic-n-span house, not being able to go to loud family events, or losing your patience with a child with special needs.  The guilt is always there.

It’s often there for therapists, too.

Continue reading

6 Things You Should Know about Primitive Reflexes

I’m still buzzing from all the amazing things I’m learning in the Primitive Reflexes E-course. As an affiliate for the program, I can whole-heartedly recommend this course – not just for therapists but parents and teachers, too!

*This post contains affiliate links for your conveinence

You’ve got to check out this course.

I’m the first to admit I didn’t know a lot about retained Primitive Reflexes – the school-based framework is more about “fixing what’s in front of you” rather than digging deep for the underlying causes of certain behaviors.

But I have to admit- I’m hooked.

Continue reading

5 reasons to ditch the screens and PLAY!

This is a guest post about the benefits of play, written by Jenny Silverstone.

5 Extraordinary Benefits of Playtime

Sticky sap on hands from climbing trees.

Glitter going (and staying!) absolutely everywhere.

Always, the sound of laughter.

Playtime, in all of its various forms, is a hallmark of a happy childhood. However, in today’s fast-paced society children often lose the time they need to play. Some may wonder if playtime is truly a “big deal” and has any sort of positive effect on children as they grown.

The answer is a resounding yes! Playtime has many extraordinary benefits to help children in their physical, mental, and emotional development. Here are just five benefits of play.

Continue reading

The Hidden Benefits of Flexible Seating

An exciting guest post from 4th-grade teacher, Jennifer O’Brien about the Hidden Benefits of Flexible Seating!

*This post contains affilaite links

Prior to implementing flexible seating in my classroom, I did A LOT of research. A flexible seating transformation is so much more than just buying new furniture. There are rules and expectations that must be clearly communicated to the students to ensure an easy transition. While I prepared myself for this change, I learned about some of the benefits of flexible seating: 

  • Comfort: Students are more comfortable, allowing them to focus for longer periods of time. This leads to higher academic achievement. 
  • Differentiated Seating: Flexible seating is essentially “differentiated” seating. There are many different choices, some options giving children the sensory input that they need.  
  • Improved Behavior: Students are less disruptive and are able to burn off energy throughout the day. 

flexible seating, alternative seating, The Hidden Benefits of Flexible Seating

The “hidden benefits”

When I made this commitment, I never would’ve thought that I’d see such positive changes (so quickly, too!) within my classroom.  

  • New Friendships

    With flexible seating, students aren’t tied down to one desk or seating arrangement. Throughout the day, they are sitting with different children. I have seen new friendships grow from this and I feel like it has only brought my students, and my class as a whole, closer.   

  •  Collaboration

    Tables replaced the desks that were removed from my classroom during this transformation. I’ll admit- I was nervous that this would lead to a much noisier room, but that did not happen. Instead, I found that there was more productive chatter around the classroom. Tables foster a much more collaborative learning environment. I feel that this has also led to the development of stronger social skills in many of my students. 

    alternative seating, flexible seating, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder

    FREEBIE: Choosing the Right Alternative Seating Option

  • Improved Self-Monitoring Skills

    The purpose of flexible seating is to give students the power of choice. They should be comfortable and ready to learn. This has been one of the more challenging skills to master but it has helped my students develop a necessary awareness throughout the school day. When I ask students to choose a “smart spot”, they know what is expected of them. It has been amazing to see them mature with this concept, understanding what both concentration and productivity should look like. When students feel like they cannot focus or that need to move, they may do so.   

  • Stronger Classroom Management

     Since I was rolling out this transformation mid-year, I knew that my classroom management had to be strong. Clear rules and expectations are critical and must remain consistent. Seeing my students understand the daily routine and take responsibility for their learning has been incredible.  I’ve learned so much through this experience, and I believe it has made me a stronger, more effective teacher.  Stronger classroom management is definitely a hidden benefit of flexible seating!


Interested in learning more about Alternative Seating?  Check out:

alternative seating, flexible seating, The Hidden Benefits of Flexible Seating

It’s almost Back to School time! Get 50% off the Guide to Alternative Seating for the Classroom until the end of August. Use Promo Code: BTS50


The Hidden Benefits of Flexible Seating

Jennifer O’Brien has a Master’s degree in Literacy from St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, N.Y.. She is General Education and Special Education certified birth-6th grade. Jennifer has been a public school teacher on Long Island for 3 years. In her spare time, she enjoys creating supplemental resources for her students to use as well as reading and going to the beach!  Check out Jennifer’s Teachers Pay Teachers Store.