Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What's on Your List?

Ah, yes.  The holiday season is upon us now, with just a FEW WEEKS to get all of that shopping done.  Thanksgiving is late this year. which leaves even less time to focus on the candy canes and latkes.  So, I figured to get a head start on the hustle and bustle of the mistletoes and menorahs.  Disclaimer: I live in a world of boys. If I didn't quite hit on "girly" things, well I am just thankful that I am not immersed in the world of Elsa and Anna this year.  Here are my top  Chrismakkah gifts (in no particular order).

Spot It!
I love this game for so many reasons!  First, Spot It! is super portable. I always throw it in the soccer bags or pocket books because it can help pass the time during appointments, practices, and restaurant waits.  And now that they have expanded their already extensive line to include Disney themes like Frozen, Planes, Doc McStuffins, Jake and Neverland Pirates and Pixar, there is truly something for everyone. It makes a great stocking stuffer or Hanukkah gift!  And the kids don't know that they are building amazing visual perceptual and language skills. BlueOrange flat out, just knows how to play!

Well, this is a given. Besides the home security factor of stepping on loose bricks causing immense pain to any intruder, the Lego family of products provides hours of entertainment.  From Duplos for the little hands to the Lego Architecture sets for the over-achiever enthusiast, Lego has something for EVERYONE!  Add in-hand manipulation skills, attention, and direction following to the play, and the result is a classic therapeutic and engaging activity.  And look on November 15th for the release of new Minecraft additions!

Maybe it's because we are a house of readers, but books are definitely on the list this year.  Between the Minecraft Handbooks, the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul (scheduled to release on today, November 4th) the Fly Guy series for the younger reader, and the The Book with No Pictures, there are amazing choices available to foster the love of the written word.  And if you have older kids to buy for, then consider an eReader.  Not only is it electronic, and inevitably awesome, it still provides access to books.

Subscription Craft Kits
I've written before on how much our family loves the Kiwi Crate.  We strayed off for a month just to try something new, the Happy Trunk, but it just wasn't the same; the quality and engagement just wasn't there.  Luckily we are back and with a renewed love.  Kiwi recently introduced the Tinker Crate, which is a STEM based build and play activity kit.  Targeted for 9-14+, the kits are phenomenal.  This month, the kit was focused on building a motor.  How freakin' cool?!  If you are interested in the gift that keeps on giving, a monthly to yearly subscription to one the Kiwi Crate clubs is the way to go.

Under $15 Stocking Stuffers:
Basically, anything from ThinkFun!  Math Dice, Swish, Word Around.  You can't go wrong. These are quick and easy games that are engaging, practical, and fun.  Rory's Story Cubes are another fun stuffer for the kids and speech therapists in your life.  Let the picture dice guide your imagination to create the next Super Stuffed Animal adventure or the fairy tale of Princess Penelope Pickle Pants.

Hope you have received a little inspiration.  Please add to the list if you want to share some of your faves this year!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

OT's Role in a Zombie Apocalypse

It dawned on me the other day, with the impending doom and end-of-days, occupational therapists have the untapped potential to address the needs of a new population: Zombies.

With the unique training and ability to look at the whole person, an occupational therapist should remember to address all occupational areas when providing treatment during the Zombie Apocalypse:

Environmental Modifications:
A zombie's ataxic gait and poor safety awareness puts it at greater risks for falls in the home and community.  Recommending the removal of scatter rugs, improved lighting in hallways, and instructing them in the correct use of adaptive mobility equipment such as a walker or cane (in coordination with a Zombie-Certified Physical Therapist of course), can help decrease the risks of a fall in the home.

Self Help Skills:
Having observed functional deficits in Zombie eating habits such as open mouth posture,  poor tool use and hygiene issues, an OT practitioner should consider meal time adaptations. A Nosey Cup or weighted utensils could provide the difference between certain messiness and spillage to a more socially acceptable behavior.  Pacing eating by encouraging small amounts at a time can hamper pocketing or stuffing.

Social Skills- Supporting Functional Communication:
If only the Zombie could tell you, "I WANT BRAINS PLEASE."  But it appears from countless Zombie observations that oral communication is limited.  Incorporating a picture support system, gestures and sign (in coordination with a Zombie-Certified Speech and Language Pathologist) may mean the difference from an impulsive and frustrating attack on you or a loved one and the happy exchange of pleasantries.  And if the Zombie client demonstrates efficiency with low-tech supports, then an assistive technology assessment should be completed to identify other high-tech options that may be indicated.

Workforce Reentry:
Even a Zombie needs to participate to the best of his or her ability in a vocational outlet.  Looking at interests and skills with a Zombie-Certified Vocational Counsellor and an occupational interest inventory, your Zombie client may find a meaningful position.  Don't forget to evaluate the needs for  assistive technology or environmental modifications such as work from home, standing stations, a quiet brain-free office versus a cubicle to inhibit any distractions.

Leisure Balance:
When looking at the Work-Leisure balance of your Zombie client, it may be clearly out of whack.  Exploring creative outlets including music, exercise and arts and crafts could mean the difference between an overstressed Zombie to one with meaningful play.  And if reading is something your Zombie client is interested in but the visual attention and perception has caused a print disability, Screen reader software or audio books are a great option.

So if you are an entrepreneur or enjoy a challenge, the Zombie Apocalypse may be a great opportunity for you to put the step back into the walking dead.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things for Back to School- btw I know you are singing just like Julie Andrews

With just one week to go before the start of school, I was perusing some of my older posts and decided to do a little best-of products and ideas summation.

Favorite Lunch Box:Planet Box
We are now on our third year of using Planet Boxes.  These are stainless steel meal boxes that might remind you of an old-school frozen dinner plate.  But it is much more than that.  Using the Planet Boxes has made making lunches sooo much easier and quicker.  It helps to create a balanced tray that doesn't look visually cluttered or overwhelming.  Since their inception into our daily routine, my picky eaters come home with empty lunch boxes; which did not happen before.  Though expensive initially, the Planet Box has probably saved me more money in food waste and a gave me a priceless peace of mind that I am making my kids balanced eaters.  Not only that, I have not had to purchase another lunch box for school.  I just purchase new magnets for $3.95 for the beginning of school and the boys are thrilled. Since my first post about this lifestyle change, they have added another version, the Shuttle, which is slightly smaller and would be perfect for preschool and daycare.  I have the Launch, and the boys have the Rover. I get lots of comments at work while I am eating (and logging my treatments).   These are truly an investment for building solid eating habits and organization.  Bonus factor, kiddos with fine motor challenges or sensory challenges can easily access these boxes to open and shut them.

Favorite App:Writing Wizard
L'escapadou hit the ball out of the park with this app.  It is still my favorite app to support good handwriting habits.  The customizability of this app is outstanding.  Many of the teachers that I have introduced to it have incorporated it into independent work stations and vocabulary lessons.  Because you can easily input words and record the pronunciation, it provides a multi sensory learning experience for those with learning challenges.  But because it is visually fun without being nauseating, kids enjoy using the app.  What I especially love about the app is that during the tracing activity, it prompts correct letter starting points and formation.  Though I use Handwriting without Tears formation, the app has D'Nealian and Zane-Bloser formation too so you can choose what works for your classroom.  Overall, this app is well worth the $2.99

Favorite Office Supply:3M Post Its.
I put them on my forehead, my shirt, my IEPS, my computer, basically anywhere I need the cue to remember to do something.  But I also came across Avery See Through sticky notes which are so convenient to have around to help visually highlight reading words or math problems so that homework doesn't seem so overwhelming.

Favorite Math Game: Think Fun! Math Dice
Any version of this game is a great go to for independent or group stations. It is easily differentiated for all levels of learners and abilities. From Math Dice Jr. to Math Dice Tournament Kit, students will be immersed with skills from number recognition to exponents.

Favorite Reading/Language Game- Think Fun! Zingo
Zingo! is bingo with an (educational) twist.  Early readers can benefit and begin to associate words and pictures as they match the tiles to the boards. Or for emergent readers, and even for small group resource time, use Sight Word Zingo to increase and fluency with sight words.

Favorite Mom Item- True Lemon, Lime and Orange
Nope, not coffee. But these True Lemon packets make me drink.  I have to be motivated to drink water. So when I finally added these little packets of bliss into my Thermos, my hydration levels improved. I don't need it sweet; I just need a little essence of citrus to make me suck it down. So not only is a caffeinated mommy a happy mommy, so is a hydrated one.

What are your favorites back to school things?