Puzzle Art Therapy

I love being an OT & I love to learn. I’ve been so lucky that I’m still energized and excited about my profession.

However….. sometimes you need to shake things up a bit.

Last year, I became certified in PuzzleArt Therapy Systems, a form of therapy that combines Perceptual, Oculomotor, Binocular and PuzzleArt Therapy Sensory protocols using hands-on art.   I’ve always been interested in the vision aspect of Occupational Therapy, so I was really eager to learn new ways to incorporate PuzzleArt Therapy into my Occupational Therapy sessions.

PuzzleART2

Professionals learning how to assess visual tracking, convergence, divergence, and accommodation

What is PuzzleArt Therapy? 

PuzzleArt Therapy is a program designed to assess and remediate problems with visual-motor integration, visual perceptual skills, oculomotor skills, etc.

PuzzleArt, visual perception, occupational therapy, visual perception

Click to learn more

The course is taught by International  PuzzleArtist Alli Berman and Dr. Susan Fisher, a respected Optometrist in Westbury, NY.  Occupational Therapists Linda Telford and Serena Zeidler also helped to design the materials to give a therapist’s perspective on the program.

If you are an OT, this course is accredited by NYSOTA and NBCOT.  You can get a certification in PuzzleArt Therapy Systems while getting your CEU’s all in one day.

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#Functionalskillsforkids

Combining Handwriting and Play

This post “Combining Handwriting and Play”  is part of a year-long blog hop called Functional Skills for Kids.  Each month, I will be working with other pediatric OTs and PTs to post on different developmental topics that impact functional skills for kids. I’m so honored to be working with some amazing pediatric bloggers to bring you a well-rounded blog hop that will ultimately result in a BOOK!

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Holiday toys from an OT

Holiday Toys Recommended by an OT

Holiday Toy Shopping is around the corner!

The holidays can be very overwhelming.  Shopping for kids who seem to already have everything can be very overwhelming too!  As an OT, I have some favorite tried and true toys and  games that address many educational and developmental issues. I’ve decided to make a short list for all the families out there who want to buy toys  that are fun but meaningful.  Toys that address motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and reading and math are always a great buy, because you are supplying some fun while also working on foundational skills that will also support their classroom leaning.

*This post contains Affiliate Links*

Toys and Games that promote Spelling, Reading and Language Development

Boggle 3-Minute Word Game  Boggle Junior Game

 

 
Bananagrams

 

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 Scrabble Classic  Scrabble Junior Game

 

 Taboo Board Game

 

Toys and Games that promote Math Skills

 
Monopoly (80th Anniversary Version) Froggy Feeding Fun

 

 Yahtzee  Sumoku

 

Toys and Games that promote Problem Solving

   
 Rush Hour Jr   Rush Hour

 

 
 Wood Labyrinth  Junior Labyrinth

 

 Classic Dominoes  Battleship

 

   
 Guess Who?   Clue

Toys and Games that promote Eye-hand Coordination & Using Two Hands

How to Draw Books

 How to Draw Cool Stuff  How to Draw Animals  How to Draw People

Connecting & Bilateral Toys

 
  K’NEX Building Set   B. Pop-Arty Beapop beads  Squigz Starter 24 piece set

 

 
 Magformers   MagWorld Magnetic Tile   LEGO Classic

 

 Spirograph Deluxe Design Set  Beados Gems Design Studio

 Creativity For Kids Quick Knit Loom  Knot-A-Quilt No Sew Craft Kit  Kids Scrapbooking Kit
 
  Friendship Bracelet Maker Kit  Do-it-Yourself Jewelry

 

Toys and Games that promote Hand Strength and Dexterity

  B. Pop-Arty Beads  Play-Doh Fun Factory Play Doh Fuzzy Pet Salon

 

 Finger Puppets  Poppin Peepers Cow  Play-Doh Scare Chair Playset
  Tricky Fingers   Lite Brite Magic Screen  Helping Hands Fine Motor Tools

 Toys For Sensory Kids

Sumoku

     
 Classic Bean Bag Chair  Body Sox Sensory Bag  Fold & Go Trampoline  Kinetic Sand 

 
 Rocking Hammock   Indoor/Outdoor Hammock   Jump-O-Lene Bouncer
 
 Sunny Tunnel  Castle Play Tent 

 

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Happy Holidays From Miss Jaime, O.T.

 

 

 

A Fidget for Busy Hands

 

Busy Hands for a Fidgety Kid

Fidgets, Fidgets, Fidgets!

If you’ve been reading my latest posts, you’ll notice that I’ve been talking a lot about fidgets, fidgeting, and all things fidgety. Teachers are constantly asking how to help their students focus and how to keep them in their seats. Parents are looking for sensory toys to help their child succeed at school.  There are many simple fidgets that you can supply a student with to keep busy hands quiet during class activities.

As I’ve recently posted, there are great little toys you can get at the dollar store that will do the job. But, sometimes you need something more. Something sturdy, durable, washable, AND fidgety. Today I’m excited to write about a new product I found called Fiddle Focus™ for Busy Fingers.  It’s made by Creative Educational Strategies and Services.  I had a great experience with one of my most fidgety Kindergarten kids ever. This product did the trick, so I’m happy to share my good luck with you.

*This post contains affiliate links

The Busy Hands tactile fidget is a tactile strip with four different patterns and materials set next to each other in a horizontal row.  There is velcro attached to the back, so you can stick it to the underneath of a desk or a table if that is convenient.

My Fidgety Kindergarten Case

“Danny” was a 5-year-old boy who presented with all the classic symptoms of ADHD.  He was inattentive, impulsive, and had a constant need to be moving.  I worked very closely with the special education teacher in his co-teaching kindergarten classroom to make sure that Danny’s environment was set up so that he could learn.  We tried a Seat Cushion for him, which helped him stay seated for longer periods of time. Then we added TheraBand to the legs of his chair, so he could kick while sitting at his Kindergarten work table.  We gave him a weighted vest to wear during circle time, which he loved.  So we had most of our bases covered.

Except for his hands.

 Those fingers would seek out anything they could during lessons, resulting in untied shoelaces, tiny crayon wrappers all over the desk, you name it.  I decided to try out the Busy Fingers from Fiddle focus.  We had already tried Velcro under the table as a tactile fidget.  The problem was that he kept peeling it off.  Simply rubbing the Velcro wasn’t enough.

busy fingers

The Busy Fingers tactile strip turned out to be perfect.  It comes with a velcro strip, so we stuck it to the underneath of his kindergarten table right at his seat.  Now it was out of view, which didn’t make all the other kids ask about it.

But, when he got up to go sit on the rug, he was able to peel it off and take it with him.  This way, his fingers were busy while the teacher taught her lesson of the day.  Now, with the vest, the cushion, and the Busy Fingers, we had the tools we needed to help Danny focus.  On a side note, Danny’s mom was on board with us trying all this stuff.  He was just as inattentive and fidgety at home.

busy fingers fidget

Danny’s special ed teacher told me that Danny was doing great with the Busy Fingers.  She said  “he’s playing with it while the teacher is teaching but he hears everything she says.   It’s under the table so the other kids aren’t distracted, but he loves to reach for it in between lessons”. Sometimes it’s hard to understand that a child can still hear everything you say even if they aren’t looking at you.  But the same is true for us.  How often do we watch TV, read a book and have a conversation with someone at the same time? Not everyone’s brains are wired to concentrate on one thing at a time. That’s okay. As long as you get done what needs to get done, it’s all good.

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Products for your Fidgety Kid:

*These are affiliate links

fidget pencils

 What is your favorite fidget?  Please share!
miss jaime ot
~Miss Jaime, O.T.

Seamless Clothing for Your Sensitive Kid…

 

I love living in a state that has four seasons. I love the beach in the summer, skiing in the winter, and pumpkin lattes in the fall.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years as a therapist is that not everyone loves the change of seasons. Children with sensory processing difficulties, in particular, have a hard time adjusting to the changes.  I’ve explained to many parents over the years that their little guy with sensory processing problems doesn’t see, hear, or feel things the way we do.  Holiday lights and decorations may be too much, Halloween costumes may be too itchy or uncomfortable,  and the flowers blooming in the springtime can really affect a child’s allergies and overall behavior.

When the seasons change, I inevitably see a rise in children’s “bad days”, with parents complaining of cranky kids or tantrumming.

As an OT, I’ve worked with many parents who struggle with clothing and dressing issues with their child with sensory processing issues.  Moms are frustrated because their little one will only wear dresses  or refuses to wear underwear.  Dads complain that their child tantrums about tee-shirts and socks.  Over the years, I’ve made behavior charts, and recommended tag-less shirts and under armor.  Every child responds differently to different interventions.  One line of products that I am excited about is the SmartKnitKIDS line.

As the weather begins to get cooler, clothing will change from short sleeves to long and from light to heavy.  While this seems like no big deal to many of us, it can be very upsetting for a child with sensory processing issues.  Options that I’ve tried for students in school include compression vests, weighted vests, or weighted lap pads.  However, there are options for home, too.  Some kids don’t want to “look different” or have anything “special” for their sensory processing difficulties.  That’s what I love about the SmartKnitKIDS line.   SmartKnitKIDS offers invisible options for  underneath the clothes.  I learned about this line of products at a conference and was immediately impressed by the variety of products and the quality of the materials.   As I looked through the different options, students kept popping into my head. “This would be perfect for Grace, these socks might be good for Tommy” etc.  I know from experience that parents will try anything if it will make their child comfortable.  I left that conference ready to recommend this line of products to a bunch of parents that struggle with the morning routine, dressing, and a very limited number of clothing options.

Children with sensory processing issues often find comfort in constant firm pressure.  The Compresso-T is super soft and looks like a regular undershirt.  There are no seams and its material is designed to stay dry and cool.  The Compresso-T provides the same input as a compression vest, which can help a child with sensory processing issues feel calm and self-regulated.  And it’s invisible to the eye, so sensitive or anxious kids can get the input they need without feeling the social worry of being different.  It comes in a Bralette, too, which is perfect for tweens or young women who find the discomfort or a typical bra unbearable.

seamless bra smartknits

Socks have been the detriment to many of my parents’ morning routine.  Getting the heel in the right spot, managing seams, etc.  Socks are often the root cause of a child’s (and therefore the parents and the rest of the family’s) meltdown in the morning.  SmartKnitsKIDS seamless socks have absolutely no seam anywhere, and they are designed not bunch up or fall down.  A lot of my little ones with sensitive feet get uncomfortable if/when the socks starts to fall down.  The SmartKnitKIDS Seamless socks are made of stretchy corespun and lycra yarns,which result in a form-fitting design that “hug” little feet and help eliminate wrinkling and bunching.  My research into the design taught me that the socks are spun from the tip out, like a caterpillar spins his cocoon.  Because socks fit snugly, they won’t slip off those wiggliest toes.

 

SmartKnit kids socks

Years ago, I had one adorable little girl on my caseload who was very uncomfortable wearing underwear.   Her mom and dad were awesome about trying to accommodate her, trying to desensitize her, allowing her to wear long dresses whenever possible.  However, we wanted her to be able to wear pants and underwear on gym day, her soccer uniform, and more than two pairs of leggings.  Underwear problems were often the cause of this beautiful family struggling to get out of the house in the morning, with this sensitive little girl and her mom fighting tears over the upsetting situation.  Seamless Undies would be a perfect thing to suggest for a kid like this!  No seams, soft stretchy material, and no elastic to bother sensitive kids.

 

Seamless Undies, compression underwear, sensory processing dysfunction

 

I’m excited to announce a Give-Away from SmartKnitKIDS!

*This post sponsored by SmartKnitKIDS. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. For more information, read my disclaimer.

 

Miss Jaime OT

~Have A Seamless Day!

 

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How to Throw a Kids Halloween Party…Sensory Style!

sensory processing, spd, sensory recipes, Halloween slime

Autumn:  pumpkin pie, costumes, and everything else.

As an OT, I love to get into the “Halloween Spirit” of things at school with my students.  Sensory recipes are always a great way to work on multiple skills at once, including Mixing, Measuring, Pouring, Stirring, and Kneading.

Cooking is a great way to work on fine motor skills, bilateral coordination (using two hands), dexterity, and functional life skills.

 Sensory recipes are a non-edible method of working on all the above skills, which is perfect for school.

Food Allergies at Halloween

It’s important to make sure that none of your students have food allergies or aversions when you bring a Sensory recipe into a classroom. Some of my kids have gluten-free diets or nut allergies, so when in doubt, I send a letter home with the ingredients a week before the activity to get permission from the parent.  Better to be on the safe side.

Halloween parties often include lots of candy and junk food. Instead of the typical sugar overload, why not set up a bunch of fun Sensory activities to get your kid’s friends in the Halloween Spirit?

Halloween Sensory Recipes

Here are my five favorite Sensory recipes – with a Halloween spin!

1) Halloween Dirt Doh

I’ve written about this recipe before, it’s a simple recipe with used coffee grinds.  Make a large batch and it’s perfect for a Spooky Coffin!

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups used coffee grinds (wet or dry)

2 cups of water (add it little by little until you get the consistency you want)

2 cups of flour (add more if you need to make the doh a little more doughy)

I asked my local bagel store to save me all their used coffee grinds for a few days before our Halloween party.  When I went to pick it up, they had three bags full.  Perfect!  I filled an “under the bed storage” tupperware container with my ingredients.

I let my students mix it up with spoons and their hands.  Then we hid some “spooky” items in the dirt – eyeballs, fingers, and bones.  Add a fake tombstone and voila!

Now you have an awesome spooky sensory activity that addresses tactile defensiveness, hand strength, and bilateral coordination.   Also – used coffee grinds have a distinct odor.  Kids who are picky eaters usually have a strong sense of smell, which can trigger a gag reflex.  Engaging in “smelly” activities is a good way to work on desensitizing the sense of smell.   Finding things that are hidden in a busy background is a visual perceptual skill called visual figure-ground.

Add a blindfold that takes away the visual component, and now you are working on stereognosis.  Stereognosis is the ability to recognize an object by using tactile information.  This means a person uses their tactile sense without using their vision or sense of vision or hearing to figure out what they are touching.  Just like digging in your purse for your phone, while looking at something else.

sensory processing

Sensory Processing 101 is a vital resource for parents, therapists, and teachers who work with children with Sensory Processing Difficulties.

Bet you do that a lot! I know I do…

sensory recipes, halloween sensory, SPD, oobleck, slime

dirt doh, coffee grind doh

2)  Halloween Slime

A simple slime recipe can be altered a million different ways.  Add a bit of food coloring or washable paint and you can color it to fit any holiday or theme.  I used my go-to slime recipe, added a bit of orange food coloring, and gave my kiddies some cheap Halloween manipulatives to play with.

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups of Elmer’s glue

2 cups of water

2 cups of liquid starch (found in the laundry aisle)

Mix the glue and the water together to thin out the glue.  Then, slowly add the liquid starch. Mix together with a spoon, then knead with hands.  Add coloring to your liking.  Once the starch is all blended (I let the kids take turns kneading and squeezing the whole batch), split the batch into individual portions for each child.  Then the fun begins!  The texture of the slime can vary, which can alter your activity. I had one class that ended up with very “stringy” slime, which reminded us of spider webs!  Another class had very firm slime, which was perfect to make Jack o’ lanterns.  Add some cookie cutters, manipulatives, etc. and let the kids get creative!  You can even leave it white and let the kids create their own mummies or ghost faces!

 

slime, Halloween, oobleck,

slime, Halloween, pumpkin

 

3) Halloween Play-doh

– you can go simple and just buy playdoh, or you can whip some up the old fashioned way.

You can use cookie cutters to make witches, pumpkins, spiders, you name it!  I like to use a chip tray to give my kids cut up pipe cleaners, wobbly eyes, and tiny spiders.  The kids can make a Halloween creation of their own design.

spidertray, sensory activities, HalloweenHalloween playdoh, spider

 

4) Pumpkin Pie Playdoh

I am a pumpkin lover. I love the taste, but I also really love the smell! Like I said, it’s good to incorporate olfactory (smelly) stuff into your activities. It can help picky eaters to broaden their boundaries and it is a great way to incorporate multi-sensory learning into your lessons.

You can use a simple play-doh recipe and add some Pumpkin Pie Spice and some orange food coloring and you have the perfect Pumpkin Pie Playdoh!

Halloween sensory, sensory recipes, oobleck, slime

Here’s what you need to make the doh:

2 cups of flour (you can use gluten-free if you need to)

1/2 cup of salt

1 cup of water

a dash of pumpkin pie spice (a make your own recipe listed below if you can’t find it)

a couple of drops of orange food coloring or washable paint

Mix the flour and the salt together. Add the water bit by bit and keep mixing and kneading until you get a firm, doughy texture.  Add the pumpkin pie spice and the orange paint. I like to do this at the end because the kids can see where the paint isn’t mixed.  This gives them a visual cue to keep kneading, twisting and squeezing until the colors are blended nicely.

To make pumpkin pie spice:

1/4 cup of ground cinnamon

4 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 tsp. ground ginger

1 tbs. ground allspice

This results in quite a bit of pumpkin pie spice – you can half it if you want, but I love to keep it around and use it to flavor my coffee. Add a teaspoon to your regular coffee grinds and you’ve got some fabulous pumpkin flavored coffee.  Who needs Starbucks!? Budget Divas make their own!

sensory processing, sensory recipes, spd

The Sensory Processing 101 Bundle sale ends Oct 31, 2017!

 

5)  Ghost Guts

My kids got a giggle out of this one!  I took a simple sensory recipe and gave it a Halloween name.  It went great!

Here’s what you need:

2 parts corn starch

2 parts shaving cream

You can give each kid a bowl or make it in one big batch.  I made it in a big Tupperware bowl and let my kids do the mixing.  I also hid some little white bones and spiders in there for my kids to pull out. They loved it.

ghost guts

 

I hope your Halloween party is a smashing sensory success!

Do you have any great Halloween Sensory Recipes to share with us?

Miss Jaime OT

Happy Halloween! ~Miss Jaime, O.T.

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Sensory Thera-Snow

water beads, sensory activities

 

 

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