Ten Best Apps for Handwriting with Kids

As I walked into school the other day, a friend of mine grabbed me in a panic and said “Should my four-year-old really be practicing a page of letters every night?! This is the only time I get to spend with her and I’m forcing her to write a whole page of D’s! This stinks!”

No, as an OT, I don’t believe that a four-year-old should be practicing a page of letters for twenty minutes a night.  It’s too much for those little hands.

But – an educator who spends two days a week in kindergarten, I have to say, this is where the curriculum is going. Developmentally, preschoolers are still preschoolers, but kindergarten curriculum expectations have increased tremendously.  Little kids are expected to be able to write upon entering kindergarten.  Preschools are bowing to the pressure and teaching what used to be the kindergarten curriculum.

I felt empathetic towards my friend who just wants to play with her little girl at night, rather than drilling her to finish a worksheet.  But here’s what I told her.

Think about it differently.  You have the chance to make sure she learns all her letters correctly before she starts Kindergarten.  There will be other children in her class who don’t know their letters, and the teacher won’t be able to really sit with them one on one to make sure they get it.  Many teachers teach one letter a day in two forms (capital and uppercase), so the kids don’t really develop the motor memory.  It’s difficult for kids to learn it and to write comfortably at this rushed pace.   If a child learns their letters correctly it is so much easier for them to write neatly.  It becomes automatic.”


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Time-saving School-Based Occupational Therapy Resources…

It’s HERE!  It’s HERE! The Ultimate Therapy bundle is available this week only….. and then it’s gone!

Are You wasting Precious time when you could be taking shortcuts?

-If you’re sick of spending hours searching for new therapy ideas

-If you’re looking for ideas, tips, and strategies in a quick, easy-to-share format

-If you’re feeling motivated and inspired to up your game in your therapy practice this year…




The Ultimate Therapy Bundle is a carefully curated bundle of unique therapy resources that are specifically designed BY therapists FOR Therapists.

CLICK Here FOR an Overview of the ULTIMATE THERAPY Bundle 2019!

30+ resources including: 700+ pages of printable activities and handouts, 1 online VIP membership, 2 courses & much more! All created by a team of 25 experienced pediatric therapists. ONLY $24.99! ($300+ value)

  • ABC Printable Movement Games & Cards
  • Fine Motor Activity Packet
  • Copy the Shape! Visual Motor Workbook
  • Occupational Therapy Handouts for Home and Classroom
  • Fitness Bingo Movement Activity
  • Therapy Punch Cards 
  • Yoga Games
  • Understanding RTI: A Quick Guide for Therapists, Teachers, and Parents
  • Create-a-Story/Parts of Speech Printable Games
  • Fine Motor Stations 
  • Fine Motor Game Boards
  • Trace, Color & Cut Packet
  • Play, Move, Develop: Games & Activities for Development & Learning
  • Mini Scissor Skill Mastery Pack 
  • Sensory Red Flags Checklist
  • The Wired Collective VIP Invitation
  • Nature & Therapy Printables
  • Calming & Alerting Movement Activities 
  • Pencil Grasp Development Printable
  • Helping Kids Learn How to Button 
  • The Printable Therapy Planner 
  • Visual Perception Reference Sheet & Printable Visual Activity Pack
  • Video Tutorial: DIY Suspended Tunnel Swing
  • Pushing into the Classroom Webinar
  • Learning Life Skills for a Purpose (eCourse)
  • Lava Handwriting Paper
  • Teaching Kids How to Problem Solve (Handout)
  • Back to School Activity Packet
  • Primitive Reflexes Booklet
  • Therapy Activity Cards  
  • Food & Robot Play Dough Mats
  • Fantastic Fingers® Fine Motor Skill Builders – Levels 1 to 3
  • Flexible/Alternative Seating Packet
  • Fine Motor Boot Camp Introduction
  • Basics of Fine Motor Skills ebook
  • Movement Questions Printable Pack
  • Sensory Diet Cards
  • Yoga Bingo

Click here for descriptions of each product, value, and length! 

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Click here to get your Ultimate Therapy Bundle!

30+ resources including: 700+ pages of printable activities and handouts, 1 online VIP membership, 2 courses & much more! All created by a team of 25 experienced pediatric therapists. ONLY $24.99! ($300+ value)


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How to Survive the Summer With Your Sensory Kid….

It’s back! It’s back!  The super-sensory bundle is available for two more days….. and then it’s gone!

What’s the Super-Sensory BUndle? 

The Super Sensory Bundle is released once a year for a limited time only.  It’s a carefully curated bundle of unique sensory resources that are specifically designed to help therapists, parents, teachers, and caregivers to help the children in their lives.  The bundle is full of resources from Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists,  Behavior Specialists, Teachers, and Parents who are experts on all things Sensory.

Here’s an Overview of the Sensory Bundle 2019:

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Understanding & Advocating for Sensory Needs (Value $227.96) 

  • The Newbie’s Guide to Sensory Processing by Julie Nixon ( ($25.99)

Go from Confused and Overwhelmed to Confident and Optimistic. Covers Symptoms of Sensory Issues (With Printable Checklist!). The Low Down on Sensory Activities (With FOUR pages of printables!), The Pros and Cons an Official Diagnosis, How to Get Professional Support, and so much more!

  • Sensory Processing 101: The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing ($19.99)
  • Sensory Processing Disorder Handbook- A Guide to Understand and Explain SPD by Colleen Beck, OTR/L ($9.99) 

Use this 26-page handbook to better understand Sensory Processing Disorder and all of its facets.  Easily explain SPD and what it looks like (and why!) to parents, teachers, caregivers, and anyone working with kids.

  • Sensory Discrimination, Sensory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration: What does it all mean? By Jaime Spencer, MS, OTR/L ($9.99) 

Are you confused by all the “sensory” terms out there? This quick and easy guide takes the mystery out of Sensory Processing Disorder with simple explanations, suggestions, and activity ideas to help the child in your life.  This is the perfect mini-book to give to parents, caregivers or family members who need a clear understanding of sensory processing. Learn what input your child needs and how to provide them with safe and appropriate activities. 

  • My Sensory Self Workbook for Kids by Sharla Kostelyk  ($10.00)

My Sensory Self is designed just for kids. It is meant to help them discover their own sensory preferences and explore each of the eight sensory systems. Kids who better understand their sensory needs show improved self-regulation.

  • Senses Exploration Activities Printable Pack by Katherine Kabral ($14) 

Help your children to know their senses better.  Let them explore, differentiate, and most importantly understand their sense.  Use these interesting activities for learning the important things in a fun way.

  • What nobody tells you about sensory: Why your sensory child is bad, weird, and totally frustrating! By Alisha Grogan, MOT R/L, Wendy Bertagnole, Masters Special Education ($39) 

A mini-course explaining sensory in a way that will help you see your child in a new light so you can better understand and support them without feeling like losing your mind. 

  • Is it Sensory or Behavior Mini-Course by Dayna Abraham, NBCT Early Childhood Education ($99) 

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Handling Tantrums, Meltdowns, & Outbursts (Value $209.99)

  • The Mindful Parent’s Method for Meltdowns – by Jason and Ceclia Hilkey ($97.00) 


PART 1: BEING SEEN AND SOOTHED: You will know how to effectively soothe your child. Know what to do if he doesn’t want to talk or be comforted. You will know what to do if giving empathy “doesn’t work”.

PART 2: BEING SAFE: You will create physical and emotional safety. Know what to do if she tries to hurt you, herself, or others, or tries to damage things. You will find a balance between empathy and setting limits.

PART 3: BEING SECURE: You will soothe with your own feelings. Know what to do if your child meltdowns in public, or if you don’t respond the way you want to. You will know how to reconnect with your child after a meltdown.


  • Calming Strategies for Parents Workshop: Helping You Remain Calm to Better Help Your Child by Kori Tomeldon($45.00)

When your child is having a meltdown or other challenging behavior, it may be tempting to start melting down with them. However, as parents, we simply cannot do that. Here’s what to do instead so you remain calm and in control.

  • Parenting Chaos: Practical Support and Encouragement for Parents of Explosive Children by Shawna Wingert, Ed. S. ($14) 

Just because we don’t often publicly discuss the really hard things, doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. Throughout this book, Shawna shares the realities associated with mothering an explosive child. It includes an in-depth look at her approach, day-to-day failures, successes and progress. Written by a mother who lives with explosive behavior every single day.

  • Decoding Sensory Tantrums Mini Course: How to handle tantrums in a positive and simple way by Wendy Bertagnole ($15.00)

Easily manage tantrums in the most simple and positive way possible, especially when nothing else works. 

  • Self-Regulation for Adolescents & Teens: A Parent Guide by Laurie McLean ($12.00)

This simple to use, practical resource will help parents guide their teens toward better self-regulation. Not only will you learn the different types of sensory systems that affect regulation, but you will also get practical solutions to help your teen learn what s/he needs to cope with every day stressors. Learn how to help your teen go from impulsive and reactive to calm and focused.

  • Quick Tips for Calming & Self-Regulation by Lauran Drobnjak and Claire Heffron (The Inspired Treehouse) ($9.99)

Promote calm, regulated behavior at home and in the classroom with these practical and engaging strategies.  Avoid meltdowns or help kids “reset” after meltdowns with quick and easy calming sensory strategies. Learn how to use movement as a calming strategy in any setting.

  • Emotions, Feelings and  Calm Down Bundle by Anatasia Rheubin ($11.00)

A-Z Emotions and Feelings

      • 26 various emotions and feelings every child can relate to. Help your child to identify emotions in a playful form with these ABC cards. 

Calm – Down Cards Strategies For Managing Anger and Frustration 

      • Calm – Down Cards contain 24 printable cards with strategies to manage moments of anger and frustration

20 Character Building Cards 

      • These cards assist children and remind what it takes to be a great friend, son or daughter, student and a person people enjoy being around.

Emotions and Feelings –Hands-on Activities for Preschoolers

      • Learning to emphasize with others and identify all sorts of impositions and feelings in other children with hands-on Montessori inspired activities. 
  • Emotions: Daily Tracker and Various Games Printable Pack by Nicolette Roux ($7.00)

Use the daily trackers to express emotion and log. The pack also features various games that help the children interact and express emotions through playful interactions

Overcoming Sensory Struggles: Sleep, Transitions, Behavior, Focus, Organization and Much More (Value $290.98)

  • The Ultimate Holiday Survival Kit for Differently Wired Kids by Debbie Reber, MA ($99) 

Holiday breaks can be incredibly stressful for families with differently-wired children due to disrupted routines, heightened emotions, unmet expectations, overall emotional dysregulation, and little time for parents to get their needs met.

In this webinar, TiLT Parenting founder Debbie Reber shares her 10 best, hard-earned strategies for surviving (and thriving) over holiday breaks. Includes a downloadable worksheet to fill out during the webinar so by the end, viewers will have a personalized, and doable, plan for their family.

  • Picky Eating No More: Kick Start Course, Guide and Resources with Tara Hunkin, NTP, CGP, RWP ($49) 

Easily identify the most common reasons children struggle with picky eating so that you can quickly find the right solutions for your child. Learn about tried and tested techniques to combat the most common reasons for picky eating so that you can end the mealtime struggles. Learn how to involve your child in the process so that they welcome variety and improved nutrition to their diet. 

  • Potty Training Visual Schedule and Chart with Katie Turner-Christiansen ($10.00) 

A potty training visual schedule and chart to avoid nagging, accidents, and regression while helping your child move forward with their potty training journey. Your child will have so much fun looking at the pictures that they won’t even realize all that they are leaning and how much it is going to connect the dots for them to become capable and successful

  • 5 Tips to Improve Sleep for Children with Increased Sensory Needs with Brenda McSween, BCS ($9.99)

Discover 5 different things that will lead to improved sleep including a different way to look at bedtime. Not all children need a quiet serene bedtime routine! 

  • Attention and Focus Toolkit for Older Kids: Finding Sensory Strategies to Learn with Sara Anderson, OTD, OTR/L ($12) 

Helping older kids find sensory strategies to focus in the classroom and at home. Easily make a plan to implement these strategies and reflect on how they are working for the individual. 

  • Rhythms, Routines and Schedules: How to Simplify Life With Kids with Lauren Tamm, Language of Listening® Master Parent Coach ($5.99) 

Discover a simple toolkit to create a rhythm, routine or schedule for kids ages 0-5 years. Identify core times that are best for eating, sleeping, playing and more. Utilize one of our 20+ printable routines to easily implement your new rhythm or schedule into daily life. 

  • Social Stories with Shadow Puppets: Printable Kit for Children, Parents and Therapists with Liska Myers, B.Ed. ($6) 

Prepare children for a wide range of new social experiences by creating social stories and acting them out with shadow puppets. Preparing for a birthday party, talking about what to do when you get lost or outlining the rules of behavior on the playground? The social story shadow puppet kit will make it interactive, educational and fun! The kit includes sixteen printable shadow puppets; a printable template for making your own shadow puppet theatre; three social story scripts, as well as a guide for making your own social story shadow plays. 

  • Executive Function 101: How parents & teachers help struggling students succeed by Seth Perler, M.Ed., Special Education & Gifted Education ($99) 

Learn how to help students who struggle with Executive Function: This includes procrastination, resistance, overwhelm, homework, grades, motivation, underachievement, organization, focus, study skills, and time management. These students are often misunderstood and told they are lazy, unmotivated, or that they don’t care about school. When adults learn about the executive function challenges that underly the student struggles, they can help instead of shame.

Building Life-long Skills for Sensory Kids: Mindfulness, Character, Fine Motor, Social Skills & More (Value $130.93)

  • Rewiring the Brain Handbook – Part II – Intermediate Level by Alene Villaneda, OFM, CNHP ($15.99) 

“The Rewiring the Brain Handbook Part II – Intermediate Level is an online handbook designed for parents, therapists, teachers and other professionals to use as a guide for supporting emotional control, muscle memory and impulse control. The exercises in this online handbook are crucial for rewiring the brain to support emotional stability, attention, reading and visual perception. 

The exercises and activities in this e-book are designed to be playful, fun and easy for anyone to work into their daily routine. It can be used for the learning development of all children, but especially for those that struggle academically or emotionally. 

This online workbook contains 40 pages of exercises and activities using lines, shapes, different angles, mindful tracing activities and more to enhance learning development at an intermediate level.”

  • Fun and Effective Handwriting Practice Tools for Kids by Marnie Craycroft ($9.99)

Have a child struggling with fine motor skills and handwriting? Use these Montessori printables – Rainbow Letters & Cutting Strips Bundle – to not only bring a little fun into the learning and development but to also work those handwriting skills. 

  • Fine Motor LEGO Pack: All-Year by Kim Staten ($34) 

Engage kids with fine motor activities for LEGO Bricks. Work on fine motor skills, along with visual motor skills through following a pattern, matching colors, scanning the page and identifying differences on images. 

  • Summer Fine Motor Activity Card Bundle  by Erin Brown ($12) 

Your kids will love working on fine motor skills with these fun and simple fine motor activity cards. Work with manipulatives while building, creating, and making summer-themed creations!

  • Birds and Bugs: Spring Playdough Literacy Mats by Selena Robinson ($6.00)

Practice fine motor skills and early literacy with these printable playdough mats. Use all 36 mats to help early learners practice recognizing the letters from A to Z and numbers from 0 to 9!

  • Montessori Easy Reader & Writing Bundle by Anita Kianek-Edwards, MSc. ($5.00)
    • Montessori CVC Mini Books: Montessori CVC mini books will help your children to experience and understand the transformation of simple sounds into words. This collection of 5 mini books feature real images of simple words on short letters a, e, i, o and u.
    • Montessori CVC Writing Books (Print and Cursive): Use our Montessori CVC writing books to learn how to write simple CVC words in print and cursive fonts. Your children will be able to easily copy the words and also practice writing them on their own.
  • Mindfulness Cards for Kids by Giselle Shardlow ($9.95)

Bring calm to your child’s life. Explore 25 unique ways to help children slow down by practicing these simple and effective mindfulness exercises. This mindfulness deck is divided into four categories that you can chose from: breath, movement, sensory, and guided imagery.

  • Super Social Story Sampler by Dyan Robson ($19.00)

Help your child manage everyday sensory challenges and build strong self-regulation skills by giving them the strategies and language they need to successfully navigate a variety of social situations. Unlike most social stories that use clipart, this exclusive collection of 15 social stories uses real photographs of diverse children so that your child will finally and truly feel represented.

  • Love’s Treasure Hunt (ebook) by Suzanne Tucker, PT ($19.00)

It is powerful and healing for children to know that they are love, by nature, to their core. In this playful story, our friend HEART is searching for love with the help of Generation Mindful’s seven PeaceMakers animal friends. “Where does love live?!” HEART wants to know. In the end, we discover where love truly lives, and the answer just might surprise you.

Beyond Sensory: Understanding & Advocating for Autism, Adhd, Anxiety & More (Value $154.97)

  • IEP Checklists & Mini-Course with Catherine Whitcher, M.ED ($97.00)

“Special Needs Parents, Teachers & Teams… You have a lot of BIG decisions to make, everyday.” It’s hard to remember what to ask, what to look for and what to do next when you’re in the IEP trenches. 

Stop stressing and start printing out your checklists to move forward in creating an AWESOME IEP for the child/student you love.

Included: Checklists PLUS Videos for the WHOLE TEAM, including hot topics of…

  • IEP Meeting Prep
  • Inclusion
  • Back to School
  • End of School Year
  • Parent Input Statements
  • EXCLUSIVE: IEP Goal Writing for the Real World!”
  • Homeschooling with ADHD: Practical Tips for Teaching Active Kids at Home by Selena Robinson ($6.00)

Learn about the common challenges facing homeschooling parents of children with ADHD and ADD. Read tried-and-tested tips that actually help active children learn, even when parents are new to homeschooling. Get support for the biggest issues facing parents of active learners.

  • How to Handle Sensory-Based Anxiety by Natasha Daniels, LCSW ($14.99)

Sensory struggles can lead to sensory anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Learn effective approaches to empower your child to handle sensory overload and develop a plan to proactively reduce their stress.

  • Autism Affirmations for Parents & Kids Bundle by Kaylene George ($17.98)

Use these printable autism affirmations for the pick-me-up and encouragement you need when things are spiraling out of control and you are struggling to embrace autism. Connect with your autistic child and work together toward seeing autism as an awesome part of your child’s neurology!

  • Giftedness & Twice-Exceptional Workshops: Helping Your Kids Through Anxiety, Overexcitabilities, Underachievement, and More with Colleen Kessler, M.Ed. ($19.00)

Learn what makes your gifted and twice-exceptional child more prone to challenges like overexcitability, anxiety, underachievement, and more. Manage your expectations and build a toolbox of strategies to help your kiddos be successful.

Sensory Breaks, Activities & Tools to Regulate Overstimulation & Hyperactivity while Getting Buy-in from Your Sensory Child (Value $213.94)

Movement & Sensory Activities for Active Kids 

  • DIY Home Lycra Maze for Relaxation or Movement by Alexander Lopiccolo, COTA/L, CPT, NC ($49.00)

Now you will be able to implement motivating sensory activities at home that your child loves to do during their OT appointments. Less screentime and more movement/relaxation. This can help organize your child’s Central Nervous System for improved sensory processing.  Children love reading or bonding with their siblings/friends and parents while playing games in it. It can also improve strength, coordination, balance and body awareness. The best thing is it’s easy to install too! 

  • Alphabet Movement Bundle:  Incorporating Movement Into Learning by Chanda Jothen, PT, DPT ($34.00)

This bundle of alphabet products gives you a variety of ways to incorporate movement while learning about the alphabet.  Included in this bundle is Alphabet Yoga, Alphabet Movement Cards, Alphabet Magic Moves, and the Alphabet Movement Book. You can’t go wrong when you make movement a part of the learning process. 

  • Montessori Movable Alphabet by Anita Kianek-Edwards, MSc. ($9.99)

Introduce your child to the alphabet and have fun creating simple or more complicated words with the Montessori movable alphabet. The alphabet uses two colors to help your child distinguish between vowels and consonants.

Brain Breaks, Sensory Breaks & Sensory Regulation

  • Sensory Break Cards for Kids by Heather Greutman, COTA/L ($10.00)

Encourage your child to practice self-regulation skills with these Sensory Break Cards for Kids. Each activity suggestion was designed to be used with minimal set-up or additional tools and are great for the home or classroom. 

  • 15 Brain Break and Mindfulness Exercises: A Fitness Band Exercise Kit by Francesca Avalli, MS, OTR/L ($15.99)

These 15 fun super-hero strength fitness band exercises will get kids off the couch and their screens and onto fitness and mindfulness.  What better way than to help get the wiggles out and provide sensory input than with movement and brain breaks with our fitness band exercise kit.  Follow each exercise and use our Handee Band fitness band (hand prints on the band to make exercise a cinch) to start working on healthy exercise habits the fun way!! 

  • Too Slow, Just Right or Too Fast – Visual Supports for Self-Regulation by Margaret Rice PT ($6.99)

Therapists, teachers, and parents can help children practice self-regulation skills with these 10 visual supports to get into a “just right” body state that is ready to learn!

  • Simon Says – Body Awareness and Motor Planning Activities by Margaret Rice, PT ($6.99)

Encourage children to improve body awareness, motor planning, and following directions with the FUN and COLORFUL Simon Says Activity Packet.  It includes 68 body position cards and 25 game ideas and it requires no prep so you can get started right away!  

Sensory Play Ideas & Recipes 

  • Oobleck Sensory Science – An invitation to explore, play and learn by Shelley Brewer, BSc Specialization Psychology ($8.00)

Explore the world of non-Newtonian Fluids, aka Oobleck, and learn how it can provide incredible sensory, fine motor skill building, and mindfulness benefits through play. This book is packed with information, including the science behind this fascinating medium you make with items in your pantry. Take your sensory science Oobleck play to a new level with a variety of easy, kid approved recipes, plus 12 months of Oobleck activities, games and lessons. 

  • Sensory Quick Guide: Easy to Make Recipes and Ideas for Play by Katie Chiavarone, M.A. ($7.99)

Follow these favorite sensory recipes to make sensory play fun and engaging for children. Also included are various ways to play with materials such as slime, playdough, oobleck and more as well as how to create sensory bins. Bonus materials include printable playdough mats for early math skills.

  • The Amazing Play Dough Printables Pack by Cathy James, BA ($19.99)

Make play times amazing. No hassle, no planning, you’ll always have a sensory activity on hand. Simply print, add play dough, and play!

  • The Ultimate Slime Guide: Connect With Kids Through Tactile Sensory Play by Sarah McClelland ($39.00)

Connect with your kids right now. Learn everything you need to know to make the best and easiest homemade slime possible! Explore easy recipes, check out the best supplies, and find all the popular slime themes the kids really want to learn how to make. See why slime is the ultimate tactile experience!


  • Sensory TheraPLAY Box: The fun way to build a sensory toolbox of items to be used at home, school, and on the road. ($15.00)

Sensory TheraPLAY Box is a subscription box curated by a pediatric occupational therapist. Each box is packed with 5-7 sensory toys and tools to engage your child in fun, therapeutic play (and to help fulfill those sensory needs!)

  • $15 off Fidget Fix ($15) 
  • $5 Handee-Band Coupon ($5) 

25% off coupon for a pack of 5 Handee Band Fitness bands

  • Playing Motherhood Online Event ($47) 

Unlimited Digital Access to the Playing Motherhood Online Event (July 8-11, 2019) hosted by Holly Homer of Kids Activities Blog featuring 15 AMAZING expert moms including Rachel Martin in over 20 hours of tips, tricks and REAL mom advice. 

Lifetime access to all 15 Playing Motherhood Sessions

MP3 Recordings and Speaker Guides for Each Session

3 Month Access to Kids Activities Blog’s Printables Library

Private Virtual Event with Jamie & Holly

Behind-the-Scenes tour of Playing Motherhood

Want more Sensory Information right now?   Read these!

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sensory, twiddles, sensory toys, sensory processing, autism toys, autism


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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.

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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.

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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. 

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    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:

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The Hidden Benefits of Flexible Seating

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Toileting and Sensory Processing

toileting, potty training, pooping, teaching to poop, poop in potty, poop and sensory issues

Potty-training can be a challenge for parents, but it’s also an important part childhood development. The normal struggle can be even more difficult when there are sensory processing issues. Recognizing that they need to go, wearing big girl or big boy underwear, and being able to use different toilets can all be impacted by sensory processing.

Why does Sensory processing matter?

Toileting requires a significant amount of body awareness.  Children have to understand how their body is feeling, learn how to release their bowel and bladder muscles in order to go, and feel that they have “finished” and their bowel or bladder is now empty.  

Sensory processing is a natural part of the toileting process. 

A bathroom environment can be overstimulating to start with.   We receive sensory information from our eyes, ears, skin, muscles, and joints and our brain’s job is to organize the information, select the important parts, and disregard the rest. When a child’s sensory systems are functioning appropriately,  they are able to participate in activities of daily living such as potty-training.  However, if the sensory systems are not integrated properly, toileting can become problematic.  

Everything parents Need to know


what is Sensory Processing?

Sensory Processing refers to how the nervous system detects, regulates, interprets and responds to sensory information.  Sensory Processing is an important factor in considering a child’s attention, memory, behavior, and function (Ahn, Miller, Milberger, & McIntosh, 2004; Gardner &Johnson, 2013).   A child’s brain needs to be able to register sensory information from the environment and react appropriately to it.  If a child has difficulty regulating and processing sensory information, they may have Sensory Processing Disorder.

Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder in which the sensory information that a child perceives results in abnormal responses.   Children who have difficulty processing sensory information often have inconsistent responses because they have a hard time discriminating between which sensory information is important and which can be ignored.  

It is important to note that many children (and adults for that matter) have difficulty with processing certain types of sensory input.  Typical things such as disliking certain smells or textures, feeling seasick on rides, or preferring certain foods do not necessarily mean that a child has sensory processing disorder. They may simply still be learning to process certain sensory stimuli.

toilet training, potty training, toileting readiness, developmental checklists

There are eight  sensory systems in our bodies:

  1. Tactile System (touch)
  2. Vestibular System (balance)
  3. Proprioceptive System (position in space)
  4. Olfactory System (smell)
  5. Visual System (sight)
  6. Auditory System (hearing)
  7. Gustatory System (taste)
  8. Interoceptive System (internal body awareness)

Interoception is our ability to sense what is going on inside our bodies internally.  It includes sensations such as thirst, hunger, fatigue, pain, breath, itchiness, nausea, temperature, etc.  It also includes our sense of if we have a full bladder or bowel, and if we have “released” it. (Garland, 2014).

An Explanation of the Sensory Systems related to Toileting

The proprioceptive, vestibular, and touch senses are primary influences on the integration of our senses.  The interoceptive sense also plays a crucial role in developing the foundational body awareness needed to function as a child.

When a child is unable to integrate and react to sensory information appropriately, the child will not interact with his environment in a functional manner.  He may have exaggerated responses to typical noises or sensations or withdraw from certain stimuli. The child cannot consistently process sensory information, so their responses will be inconsistent, too.

If the child has decreased body awareness, they may demonstrate an inefficient grading of force or movement.  For a boy, this may mean they have difficulty using the right amount of force when holding or aiming the penis.  This might result in a child pressing so hard that it’s difficult to pee,  holding too tightly, or having difficulty holding steady.

Our vestibular system helps us to maintain our balance. The fluid in our inner ear moves as our head moves, sending messages to our brain about where our body is in space (Abraham, 2002).   Some children with vestibular dysfunction present with “gravitational insecurity“, which makes them seek a secure position during activities. They may dislike swings, being picked up, or participating in activities in which they are not in control of their body in space.  These children might be fearful when attempting to sit on a “grown-up” toilet where their bottom is unsupported because they feel like they may fall.

Children with vestibular, tactile, and proprioception difficulties may have difficulty with eye-hand coordination and depth perception. It may be difficult for them to aim appropriately or estimate where to stand.

Many children with sensory processing difficulties have auditory sensitivities that interfere with toilet training.  Think of the loud echoes, flushing toilet, the hand dryers, etc.  Noises that are simply loud to an adult can be piercing to a child with auditory sensitivities.

Tactile sensitivities can interfere with toileting, too! Children may dislike the sensation of pooping, wiping, or even sitting on a hard seat.   If they are under-responsive to touch, they may not realize that they aren’t covering their hand properly with the toilet paper, they aren’t wiping well enough to clean themselves, or that they’ve soiled their clothing.

potty training, #functinalskillsforkids

Sensory Processing and Body Awareness needed for Toilet Training

When our body is able to receive and interpret the signals from our skin, muscles, and joints, we are able to feel and know what our body is doing without looking at it.  When a child has poor body awareness, it can lead to difficulty coordinating their body to do all of the components that are involved in toileting.   It is not automatic to feel the urge to go and just go to the bathroom.  Each step of the task must be thought out and carefully performed, so it is important to be patient.  It’s hard to know what to do if you can’t feel what you are supposed to feel!

Typically, toddlers and preschoolers spend a lot of time learning the “ins and outs” of toileting.   Children are expected to be toileting independently before entering Kindergarten.  Children with difficulties modulating sensory input find potty training to be a much bigger challenge than a typical child.  The bathroom can be an overstimulating environment, so asking a child with sensory integration difficulties to focus on the task at hand (ie; peeing or pooping) is a challenge if they are overwhelmed with fear or anxiety about other sensory signals they are receiving.  Problems with toileting and sensory processing might include (but not be limited to) the following:

Toileting and Sensory Processing Problems

1. Toileting and Sensory Processing Related to Poor Interoception

  • May be unaware that his bowel or bladder is full.
  • Feels that they need to go, but not be able to discriminate whether they need to urinate OR have a bowel movement.
  • Unable to “push” in order to go; don’t understand how to make those muscles work
  • Cannot feel that they have had an accident or that their clothes are soiled.
  • Unable to bend and reach behind them to properly wipe

2. Toileting and Sensory Processing Related to Sensory Defensiveness

  • Dislikes the feeling of “peeing” or “pooping” and withholds.
  • Fearful of falling into a regular sized toilet
  • Dislikes the feeling of wiping or being wiped.
  • Prefers the parent to wipe them
  • Does not like to wash their hands
  • Takes off all their clothes to use a toilet
  • Avoids flushing the toilet

3. Toileting and Sensory Processing Issues Related to Poor Registration of Sensory Input with a Hyperactive or Over-reactive Response

  • The child is fearful of the sensations involved when they pee or poop.
  • Reports that the act of “peeing” or “pooing” hurts terribly, crying, etc.
  • Extreme reaction to the sound of the flush or the air dryer
  • Gags, or chokes at the smell of the poop
  • Visually distracted by details in the bathroom, including lines in the tile, dust on the floor, etc.

4. Toileting and Sensory Processing Related to Sensory Seeking

  • Repetitively flushing the toilet
  • Fecal smearing
  • Repetitively having accidents in pants, enjoys the sensation
  • Playing in the water
  • Playing in the sink
  • Asks to use the toilet in public constantly

5. Toileting and Sensory Processing Issues related to Sensory Avoiding

  • Avoids wearing big girl or big boy underwear, prefers a diaper
  • Will tell you when the diaper needs to be changed, doesn’t want a wet diaper
  • Difficulty tolerating new bathrooms, public bathrooms, etc.
  • Covers ears when flushing, air hand dryer goes on, etc.
  • Holds nose for bowel movements
  • Avoids using certain toilets with “hard” seats
  • Avoids going into the bathroom, “sneaks off” to poop in diaper behind a couch, etc.

potty training, sensory processing

How to Help: 15 Amazing Strategies for Toileting

1. Try a  4 in 1 Stages Potty Seat which is closer to the ground and fits a smaller bottom. It also helps transition to use a grown-up toilet

2.  Try fun potty seats like this Race Car Potty and Character Underwear that are motivating!

3.  Try using flushable wipes and a Wipes Warmer to make the experience of wiping more enjoyable

* one consideration for this is that your child may begin to rely on it…. if you are out in public and don’t have warm wipes, will it be a problem?  Take that into consideration before making it part of your routine.  But if you are desperate, it’s worth a shot!

4.  Sing Songs to make toilet training more fun:

  • “Let it go! Let it go!”
  • “Push it out, Push it out, WAY OUT!”
  • “Pee Pee in the Potty, Pee Pee in the Potty!”
  • “I just want to Potty all the time, Potty all the time, Potty all the time!”

5.  Use painter’s tape to make a line for boys to know where to stand

6.  Offer Toilet Targets  or use goldfish crackers or fruit loops (get the pee in the hole!)

7.  For children who aren’t sure if they have to pee OR poop, let them sit.  It’s hard to tell which muscles are which.

8.  Provide an inviting environment depending on your child’s sensory needs:

  • For a sensory seeker, bright lights, fun music, and toys alerting aromatherapy (peppermint and eucalyptus).

  • For a  sensory avoider, soft lighting (night lights) and music, calming aromatherapy (lavender and chamomile).  *Click for more info about Aromatherapy

9.  Let your child leave the room before flushing if they are defensive, OR let your child choose if they flush or you do.

10.  Use earplugs to block the sounds, (especially in a public bathroom), OR keep post-its in your bag to put over the automatic sensor.

11.  Use a soft toilet seat.

12.  Keep a  Potty Training Chart   or offer Potty Reward Stickers for Boys or Girls

13.  Try a toileting schedule. Have your child sit on the toilet every 15 minutes for a few minutes. If they go, Wahoo! big Praise. If not, that’s ok, we’ll try again in 15 minutes.

14.  Provide a Kitchen Timer for set “potty” sitting times.  Let your child set the timer so they are a part of the process.

15.  If your child is fearful of the sensation of pooping in the toilet, have them help you dump the poop from the diaper into the toilet and then flush it.

Toileting and sensory issues

Toileting and Sensory Processing in Children with Special Needs

Very often problems with potty-training, such as accidents, difficulty recognizing if they have to go, struggles with hygiene, fear of flushing, and refusal to use the toilet are the result of an inefficient sensory processing system.  It is important to note that children with developmental delays and other diagnoses may need more time to be trained.   As parents and educators, it is essential to treat the process with patience.  Your child has a lot of information and sensory signals to make sense of and every child has to go at their own pace.  Do not feel the “peer pressure” from other parents that your child “should be” ready.

Sensory Processing Resources


potty training, toileting, toilet training, developmental checklists, ready for potty, potty and sensory, poop and sensory

Additional Potty Training Resources

Establishing Toileting Routines for Children Tips – a Printable from the American Occupational Therapy Association

6 Tips for Successful Potty Training from the American Occupational Therapy Association


Abraham, M. C. (2002). In Pressnal D. O., Wheeler K. (Eds.), Addressing learning differences: Sensory integration; practical strategies and sensory motor activities for use in the classroom. Frank Schaffer Publications.

Ahn, R., Miller, L., Milberger, S., & McIntosh, D. (2004). Prevalence of parents’ perceptions of sensory processing disorders among kindergarten children.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58, 287-293.

Crozier, S. C., Goodson, J. Z., Mackay, M. L., Synnes, A. R., Grunau, R. E., Miller, S. P., et al. (2015). Sensory processing patterns in children born very preterm. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70.

Daunhauer, L., Fidler, D., & Will, E. (March 2014). School function in students with down syndrome. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(2):167-176. 

Garland, T. (2014). Self-regulation interventions and strategies. Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing & Media. Shelly J. Lane, PhD, OTR/L, FOATA, Isabelle Beaudry-Bellefeuille, MScOT; Examining the Sensory Characteristics of Preschool Children With Retentive Fecal Incontinence. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(Suppl. 1):6911500194p1. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO6099.

Functional Skills for Kids

Do you have an amazing toileting trick or tip? What potty training strategy helped your child?

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