Vision 101 Scholarship Application – August 2020

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 notify the winners via email and post them on this page.

Scholarship Rules:

  1. Ten people will be chosen by August 18th.
  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.

AUGUST 2020 WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

Kathy Castrataro

Jenna DiLissio

Dimitris Voutsinos

Joyce Kalsch

Hetal Lakhani

Erin Stiles

Michelle Davis

Brittany Lynn Cegielski

Kayla Banks

Tamar Solomom

 

Learn more about the course here. 

Learn More about Vision:

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The Eye Exam Kids REALLY Need

The EYE EXAM KIDS REALLY NEED

Did you know that the eye exam that the school gives just looks to see if the child may need glasses?  There are actually WAY more problems that a child can have that would interfere with their progress in school.

There are different kinds of eye care professionals and different models of treatment. Some doctors may only check the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses. Others also check eye movement and if the eyes work together.

Unfortunately, many children are walking around with undiagnosed vision deficits. The parents get them glasses so they think they’ve crossed vision problems off the list.

Nope!

The most common vision problem (besides needing glasses) that school Occupational Therapy practitioners encounter is binocular vision deficits.

But there are a huge number of vision problems that may be impacting a child’s schoolwork. It’s really important that children have a complete eye exam. Not just finding out if they need glasses.

Visual Efficiency NEEDS TO BE ASSESSED

Binocular Vision Disorders  – when a child’s two eyes aren’t working together as a team.  This may include strabismus, convergence and divergence.  Binocular vision issues are more common in children with with learning disabilities, developmental delays.

Ocular Motor (Eye Movement) Disorders – Eye movements include pursuits, saccades, and fixation.

  • Pursuits – The reflex to follow a moving visual stimulus
  • Saccades – A single eye movement from one thing to another, such as words in a sentence.
  • Fixation – The ability to keep the eyes focused on a stationary object.

Accommodative Disorders are also called Focusing Disorders. Children who struggle with looking from near to far and back again are among 5 to 6 percent of the general pediatric population (Scheiman, 2104).

Think of how many children have trouble copying from the board.  That could be due to Accommodation.

Many children struggle with reading. Despite tutoring, they don’t make progress.  That could be a problem with the near vision system.

A child who tends to avoid sports and doesn’t want to play catch may struggle with convergence, and can’t see the ball as it’s coming toward them or they may see double.  

THE TRADITIONAL EYE EXAM DOESN’T ASSESS THESE AREAS.

WHAT IS A COMPLETE EYE EXAM?

A COMPLETE eye exam follows  the Three Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses
  • Visual Information processing skills (aka visual perception)
  • Checks the child’s visual efficiency
            • Accommodation
            • Binocular Vision
            • Eye Movements

An annual eye exam done by an Optometrist may not include all three of these components.  It depends on the doctor’s training.  It can be difficult to find an optometrist who will do an exam that looks for more than just glasses.  But for some children, it makes all the difference in the world.

It’s time to UNCOVER those hidden vision problems!


ARE YOU A SCHOOL OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST? 

School Occupational Therapy practitioners can screen and remediate many different vision deficits.  It’s important to receive training so you feel competent.

Sign up for Vision 101 for School Occupational Therapy Practitioners, an AOTA approved on-line training for school occupational therapy assistants and therapists.

Click the image!

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Uncovering Hidden Vision Deficits in the Classroom

There’s more to vision than just needing glasses

“But he already has glasses!”  Even though we were separated by the phone, I could tell the mom thought I was crazy.   Her son wears glasses every day, and here I just recommended that she take him for a vision exam.

“But there’s more to vision than just needing glasses” I explained.  “He needs a COMPLETE vision exam, so we can see what’s going on”.

Now the mom’s voice was exasperated.  “What are you saying? The doctor did an incomplete exam?” 

There are different kinds of eye care professionals and different models of treatment. Some doctors may only check the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses. Others also check eye movement and if the eyes work together.

Max was in the third grade.  He was diagnosed with ADHD but his meds just weren’t working.

“He ‘s in reading extra help and math extra help – but they’re not helping!?” 

Mom’s mood changed from angry to confused to sad.

“He’s starting to hate school. I don’t know what to do!” 

Unfortunately, this is pretty common for children with undiagnosed vision deficits. The parents get them glasses so they think they’ve crossed vision problems off the list.

But it’s just not true.

The most common vision problem (besides needing glasses) that school Occupational Therapy practitioners encounter is binocular vision deficits.

But there are a huge number of vision problems that may be impacting a child’s schoolwork. It’s really important that children have a complete eye exam. Not just finding out if they need glasses.

Understanding Visual Efficiency with Children

Binocular Vision Disorders  – when a child’s two eyes aren’t working together as a team.  This may include strabismus, convergence and divergence.  Binocular vision issues are more common in children with with learning disabilities, developmental delays.

Ocular Motor (Eye Movement) Disorders – Eye movements include pursuits, saccades, and fixation.

  • Pursuits – The reflex to follow a moving visual stimulus
  • Saccades – A single eye movement from one thing to another, such as words in a sentence.
  • Fixation – The ability to keep the eyes focused on a stationary object.

Accommodative Disorders are also called Focusing Disorders. Children who struggle with looking from near to far and back again are among 5 to 6 percent of the general pediatric population (Scheiman, 2104).

SOmetimes it’s Not ADHD, It’s Vision.

Very often, children with vision difficulties display behaviors such as

  • avoiding work
  • taking much longer to complete reading and writing assignments
  • complaining of headaches
  • difficulty focusing and paying attention

These are also common symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.  So it’s sometimes hard to tell what exactly is going on with that student.

WHAT IS A COMPLETE EYE EXAM?

There are two models of vision:

The One Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses

The second, called the Three Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses
  • Visual Information processing skills (aka visual perception)
  • Checks the child’s visual efficiency
            • Accommodation
            • Binocular Vision
            • Eye Movements

An annual eye exam done by an Optometrist may not include all three of these components.  It depends on the doctor’s training.  It can be difficult to find an optometrist who will do an exam that looks for more than just glasses.  But for some children, it makes all the difference in the world.

After all, it’s awfully hard to learn if you can’t see what you’re looking at. 

Max’s mom listened to me explain the different types of eye problems that a complete eye exam would rule out.  “I had no idea that my Dr. may not have looked at that!”

She laughed ruefully. “Half of me is mad…. and the other half is hopeful”

I knew what she meant. Of course, she didn’t WANT Max to have a vision deficit besides needing glasses.  But on the other hand – what if there’s been a hidden problem all along?

It’s time to UNCOVER those hidden vision problems!


ARE YOU A SCHOOL OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST? 

School Occupational Therapy practitioners can screen and remediate many different vision deficits.  It’s important to recieve training so you feel competent.

Sign up for Vision 101 for School Occupational Therapy Practitioners, an AOTA approved on-line training for school occupational therapy assistants and therapists.

vision, children, glasses, kids glasses, kids vision, eye exams, ADHD, vision issues, vision problems, convergence

My Mortifying Moment as a New Grad…

 

If you’re a Miss Jaime, O.T. VIP, you may remember when I mentioned my EXTREMELY EMBARRASSING MOMENT involving visual perception…

I can’t believe I’m doing this…but, I’m ready to tell it.

MY MORTIFYING NEW GRAD MOMENT

(I’m blushing already. Uggghhh!)

But first, you need the background:

I went to school to be an OT because I wanted to work with stroke and traumatic brain injury patients. I  was sure I’d spend my career working in a hospital setting.

So sure that I didn’t do pediatric fieldwork like the rest of my friends.

AND… I spent way more of my time focused on learning the neurological “tracks” of the spinal cord than I did on doing my pediatrics work.  (Someone- please go back and time and kick me!)

Continue reading

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11 things on a School OT’s Summer To-Do Wish List

Whether you finished strong or crawled to the finish line this past week, you made it to the end of the school year!

You have the summer off…What should you do? 

We have the summer off to relax, recoup, and reenergize …right? Yes! However, we are Occupational Therapy Practitioners.  We are a breed of overachievers who work hard, work more, and work tirelessly, even when we are supposed to relax.

Even though I try to balance my much-earned summer break, going off the grid in the summer only results in stress and being overwhelmed at the beginning of the next school year. Over the years, I have started to keep a Summer To-Do “Wish” List of all the things I would love to do and just don’t have time!

As a school OT, there is always a lot to do, both for your career and personally. Listed below are some amazing ideas of resources to check out, options to support you, and programs that you know you just don’t have time to look into in the midst of the school year.

 

    1. Federal Loan Forgiveness: Did you know that as an OT, we are eligible for student loan forgiveness? Many OTs have had their ENTIRE student loan paid off by applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. There are criteria to meet and it can be a long and confusing process with needed paperwork and financial information. The summer is a great time to check it out and do your research and apply.

    2. NBCOT courses: If you are NBCOT certified, you have a FREE resource at your fingertips! The website offers information and resources for OTs and COTAs as well as free online training and certifications. Earn an NBCOT Digital badge this summer!

    3. AOTA Resources: Am I the only one overwhelmed and feel guilty for not accessing our national resource more?   If you are not sure where to start on their main website, start with their social media sites on Facebook or Twitter. The website is jam-packed with free resources, tip sheets, literature, information, special interest sections, and guides for ALL areas of OT and COTA work. There’s a whole Children and Youth practice section to explore, too.

    4. Learn how to be a Fieldwork Supervisor: With a recent rise in OT graduate programs, the need for OTS and OTAS placement in a school setting has skyrocketed! Many of us are either intrigued or scared to death about supervising a student. Knowing and establishing a connection with your local program(s) is key. This information will be on their websites and will typically give you a step-by-step guide on how to be a Fieldwork supervisor. For example, here is the University of Minnesota’s Fieldwork Educator information page.

    5. Social Media: Let’s be honest, you are either in or you’re out. Something was posted somewhere about something amazing and you saw it…or you didn’t. The social media craze is not just here to stay, but now it’s the main communication tool. Many are still not sure where to start. Although you may have a social media account (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), are you sure you’re using it professionally?   If you want to ensure the grandparents that live across the country know what’s going on with their grandkids, keep that on a personal account. Make another account that you can have/follow for professional networking, posts, and following. Most people/pages/groups that you would want to follow have multiple social media accounts anyway. Here is a link to guide you through the “How to Use Social Media Professionally.”

    6. Update Resume and Social Media Profiles: This is one of the easiest and least time-consuming summer list items to do. Even if you have no plans to search for a job or interview, keeping an updated resume and social media profiles are key to self-reflection and growth in your career. Most of us have annual reviews, this is the opportune time to update. Have you presented at a conference, taught a related class, or even wrote professionally on social media platform? On your evaluation or review, did your boss mention something specific you did for your employer that has made you stand out? These are the types of resume-worthy skills and endorsements that will make you shine. At some point, we all are thinking about trying something new and/or advancing our career. Keeping updated social media profiles, such as LinkedIn, and your resume will provide you with a valuable tool at all times.

    7. Sign up for a Webinar: It can be REALLY hard to take time off work to attend workshops and conferences during the school year. Webinars have been a game changer for attaining CEU’s and allowing you to focus on specific skills, topics, and education in a more flexible and cost-effective way.  Don’t have the time? Most webinars can be purchased, saved, and viewed later! An issue we had in our district for Teacher Workshop Days is that the topics/sessions that were being done that day were geared toward TEACHERS, not OT’s. Not to mention these CEU’s didn’t apply to us or give us our needed license approved credits. I asked my Director of Special Services permission to for a requisition order to pre-purchase a couple of webinars and allow our therapists to complete these instead on those workshop days. APPROVED! Check out these great on-demand webinars from the Pocket OT (affiliate link). 

    8. Go Shopping: I put in a TON of requisition and purchase orders to attain trial items, motor room items, adaptive equipment, assistive technology, and all the other special education items that any classroom needs. From fidgets, adaptive utensils, oral chewies, to testing forms, I have become a master at not only shopping but being approved for these items in my school! However, I learned quickly about the ‘fiscal year.’ Most schools budget year ends June 30 and starts July 1.  At the end of the year, I know who needs what, what needs to be replaced, and what I will need for the next year (well, sort of). Putting together a shopping list in the summer and submitting it after July 1 usually gets approved. And the best part, it is like a birthday party of presents when I get to my office in the fall with everything I need ready to go.


    9. Make Items for your OT Closet: From weighted lap pads, fidgets, glitter jars, and adapted pencil grips. Now is the time to stockpile that calming caddy or compile sensory bins.  Check out Miss Jaime, O.T.’s Pinterest page for ideas.

    10. Templates and Datasheets: How many times have you needed a quick data sheet of the upper and lower case alphabet to track formation? Or what about that beautiful statement you read that explained how visual processing issues can affect reading? Build your template resources and create data sheets now so you can easily print off or cut and paste quickly druing the school year. Consider the statements you write in evaluation summaries for sensory processing, or what how your OT services will look in the least restrictive environment. You can make an entire Google Doc folder for templates and have specific ones for specific areas you test for (sensory, fine motor, handwriting, visual processing) services in least restrictive settings, summaries templates for evaluations, accommodations, and modifications, or assistive technology.

    11. Build Relationships with Your Team: As everyone says their final goodbyes on that last day, we all promise to get together over the summer right? Then do it! The relationships we have with our co-workers, teams, and other staff are precious and absolutely imperative. Make it a point to call a couple of co-workers and go out for a coffee, have lunch, take a walk, meet at the dog park, or whatever toots their horn. We all have stressful jobs.  Having a safe place to vent, share accomplishments, and express ideas and goals help build healthy workplaces and personal relationships with those we spend more time with than our own families sometimes.

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My Favorite Parts of #AOTA19

Last week was a complete whirlwind – whew.   I’m finally getting settled at home,  but I wanted to share my highlights of the American Occupational Therapy Association conference in New Orleans, LA.

  1. Reuniting with old friends from across the country and making new ones!

    Every year, two of my girlfriends from Utica College and I attend the conference together, and it feels like we are right back in college.  This year, I also got to hang out with my friend and fellow OT blogger Colleen Beck (From the OT Toolbox) and two other admins of my USA School Based OTs Looking for Change group (Serena Zeidler and Joan Sauvigne-Kirsch).  We had so much fun and definitely had some major brainstorming over the last few days.  It’s amazing what a bunch of OT brains can come up with!   I also attended the AOTA reception for the Communities of Practice. I’m in the state leadership group, so I had the chance to mingle with all the ladies I work with all year long.

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An “Old O.T.’s” Advice for other “School O.T.s”

Forward from Miss Jaime, O.T.:  When I first graduated from OT school, I got a job working as a contract therapist in a public school.  I had no supervisor, no mentor, and no one to ask questions.

Thank goodness, I ended up placed in a school with such a large caseload that there was also another (more experienced) OT.   She took me under her wing and offered me informal mentorship and much invaluable advice as a colleague and friend.

I left that agency very soon to get a district job, but I am forever grateful to my first mentor, Diane Fine, Occupational Therapy Extraordinaire.  Twenty years later, Diane still works for that agency in that building and has generously offered to share her experiences and advice to new school OTs in the field. Continue reading