Archive | November, 2012

Toy Tuesday: Basketball!

28 Nov

Better late then never! I was too busy attending the winter parade tonight! Such fun!

For this Toy Tuesday post I am going to feature a toy my sweet second cousins played with over Thanksgiving…a toy basketball hoop! This was such a hit! It’s great for eye hand coordination, pressure grading, trial and error, taking turns, and the low tech part is definitely my favorite characteristic! Sometimes it’s fun to go simple. 🙂 Enjoy!

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Fine Motor Friday: Syringes and Turkey Basters

23 Nov

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d post an activity using some common Thanksgiving day utensils: a flavor injector and a turkey baster. These tools, along with other syringes and droppers (frequently used for dispensing medicine) make wonderful fine motor strengthening tools. I have used syringes and droppers for many different tasks. One of my favorites is to fill different size containers with water and food coloring to do science experiments and make different colors. Or use your imagination to make various magic potions, good tasting medicine, pretend juice drinks, etc. It takes strength, coordination, and control to fill the syringe/dropper and empty it over the target without spilling or overfilling. You could even draw a line on the container to practice filling to the line. Have the child use a 3-jaw chuck or tip-tip pinch to squeeze to strengthen and facilitate disassociation. Many pharmacies will give you extra syringes and droppers, or sell them to you for cheap. Have fun!

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Toy Tuesday: Scaterpillar Scramble

20 Nov

For this week’s Toy Tuesday, I am reblogging a fabulous game and idea from my friend at Starfish Therapy. Absolutely love this game, thanks for letting me share it! Need to purchase. ASAP. Enjoy!

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I just discovered a new game, thanks to one of our OT’s.  It’s Scaterpillar Scramble by Hasbro.  Of course looking at it with a PT mindset, I love it because it has lots of marbles that a kiddo can try to use which means lots of repetitions of any activity I want them to do because of course after each repetition they get to put a marble on the caterpillars hand!  The OT side of our office love it for different reasons.

They love that the tweezers/tongs let kids work on the mechanics of a tripod grasp. It is a pretty light tweezer/tong so if you are looking to work on strengthening you may need to pick up a separate one elsewhere.  It also requires precision and fine motor control.  When kids are working on control its amazing how many of them (and adults too) have increased shakiness in…

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Hot Topic: The State of Testing

18 Nov

Hello readers! This past week at work, our director provided us with some facts about testing in the public schools. This is a hot topic because, we need a standard way to measure knowledge and skills, but have we gone too far as to let testing determine the means of education? Are we teaching our kids how to pass a test, or are we teaching them the skills they will need to be successful, tax paying, citizens of our country in order to advance our countries’ economics and overall knowledge base? Or, are we doing a good job of simply testing the skills we are responsible for teaching?

Let’s start with some definitions…
DEFINITIONS:
Standardized test: a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or “standard”, manner.
STAAR Tests: State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, are a series of state-mandated standardized tests used in Texas public primary and secondary schools to assess a student’s achievements and knowledge learned in the grade level. It tests curriculum taught from the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, which in turn is taught by public schools. The test is developed by Pearson Education every school year, along with the close supervision of the Texas Education Agency.
(Definitions retrieved from wikipedia)

FACTS:
Schools who receive funds from the state of Texas are required to enforce these tests among students who attend the schools. Any private school, charter school, or homeschooling that does not receive monetary support from Texas is not required to take the STAAR test.

To date, 866 districts representing more than 4.4 million students have adopted the resolution. That accounts for 84 percent of Texas school districts and 91 percent of all Texas public school students.

School districts will have some form of state standardized testing for 40 days of the school year. That does not include days for the PSAT test, NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) or multiple tests for some special education or ESL students.

STAAR more than triples the exit-level test load for high school students. TAKS required 4 exit-level tests, STAAR requires 15.

Schools must test our children in multiple subjects every year starting in 3rd grade and continuing through 11th grade.

English III and Algebra II exams must be passed with a “Level II: Satisfactory Performance” in order for students to graduate with the Recommended Graduation Plan, which is required for admission into any Texas state 4-year college or university. A “Minimum Graduation Plan” does not quality for admission into a Texas 4-year institution.

Texas taxpayers are paying Pearson testing company $470 million for the STAAR test.

(Source: http://www.tamsatx.org)

CONCLUSIONS
For you to decide. We need a standardized method of evaluation. We need accountability that education is preparing our nations youth for success. We need students to graduate high school and attend some form of higher education, whether it be college or trade school. We need family support for each child to spend time with them at home helping them with their school work, teaching them life concepts, and equipping them with pre-testing strategies (good rest, good breakfast, etc.). We need teachers to have the ability to teach knowledge and skills in addition to prepare students for testing, not only one or the other. We need to not loose site of brain development and the importance of physical input, exercise, developmental milestones, cognitive development, social development, and so on. Education comes with testing, but is testing all there is to education?

Be blessed!
Amy

Fine Motor Friday: Bowling Pins

16 Nov

It’s Friday!!! Another week has gone by. How was your week? Mine was great. Lots of fun at work, a fabulous 90-day review at my new job (yay, off probation!), and some quality time spent with my lovely husband. On Tuesday, a co-worker and I travel about 90 miles to a near-by town to treat kids in the school district. We see every child who receives OT in the entire district in one day. Crazy, huh? Well this week, they had early release for UIL competition. We had to leave at 6:30 in the morning, but we were home by 2:00. Can’t beat that! Especially when I’m not usually home until 6:30!

Time to feature a fine motor activity. I love this one. You can use any small manipulative that you have. In the picture I used tiny bowling pins, but I’ve used pencil top erasers, (you know, the pointy ones that often break right in half?), wine corks, etc. Have the child use one in each hand (using a lovely tip-tip grasp or lateral grasp, whichever you need to work on more) to pick up small items (blocks, dice, etc) and create a structure (tower, pyramid, etc.). Great for bilateral coordination, grading of pressure/force, visual motor skills, grasp development and strengthening, and so much more! Have fun!

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Picky Eaters vs. Problem Feeders

14 Nov

I recently purchased a CE on CD from PESI entitled Autism and Feeding Problems by Elizabeth Strickland, MS, RD, LD. The CE was very educational and well worth the amount I paid for it! One of the topics I found very interesting was the idea of picky eaters and problem feeders and the differences between them. Elizabeth encouraged all clinicians, therapists, counselors, psychologists, behavioral specialists, etc. to use the terminology to describe two very different types of children. I am making a valid effort to discuss this terminology difference with the parents of my children who are problem feeders as well as educate the pediatricians who send us referrals to increase the likelihood that problem feeders will be identified and referred to the appropriate feeding therapy.

Picky Eaters:

1. Decreased variety of food (<;30 foods)

2. Roods lost due to burn-out can be regained after ~2 weeks

3. Able to tolerate new foods on plate, touch, or taste

4. Eats as least 1 food from most food groups/textures

5. Adds new foods to repertoire in 15-25 steps (around 6 exposures on plate before attempt to eat)

*Do not recommend feeding therapy. Picky eaters will expand their diet over time with positive reinforcement and extinction of negative behaviors (praise the good, ignore the bad)

Problem Feeders:

1. Restricted range of foods (<20 foods)

2. Foods lost due to burnout are not regained

3. "Falls apart" when presented new foods

4. Refuses entire categories of food groups or textures

5. Adds new foods in greater than 25 steps

*Recommend feeding therapy with an OT or ST who has a specialty in feeding

For more information, details, etc. view http://www.pesi.com to purchase the CE on CD.

What experience do you have with feeding therapy, picky eaters, and problem feeders? Any information is highly appreciated!!

Toy Tuesday: Y-Volution YFliker

13 Nov

Hi there! Happy Tuesday! 🙂 For this week, I decided to google “Top toys for 2012” in an attempt to see what toys are going to be popular for Christmas. Out of this list, my goal was to find at least 1 toy that could be used therapeutically (other than some form of an electronic tablet!) I stumbled across Toys-R-Us (too bad I can’t reverse the “R” 😉 Fabulous 15 2012 Holiday Hot Toy List with the 15 Hottest Toys for Christmas. I was shocked at some of the toys on the list, and not at all surprised by others.

Shocking: Furby…seriously?!?!?!?! A Furby??!?!?! Those things were popular when I was little! Well I guess they’re back, and better than ever. Here is the description of what the Furby does these days: “Talk to it, tickle it, play music for it, even feed it! But keep in mind – your Furby will develop its own personality based on how you treat it. Because Furby speaks both English and Furbish, a FREE downloadable App is available that will help you translate Furbish! This App is optional and works with iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone with iOS 4.2 or later.” Furby now has his own App! Furby is ready for the 21st century. Let’s see how popular they become…

The other items did not surprise me at all: various dolls, Jake and the Neverlands Pirate toy, girly Designer Studio, LeapPad, remote control car, LEGO: Ninjago, Skylanders, Wii U, and a Tabeo tablet.

So which toy to feature?? The Y-Volution YFliker FI Scooter won the prize! It’s kind of like a roller racer, but standing not sitting. It’s awesome. I totally want to try one myself.

Click here to watch a video advertisement: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/yvolution-brings-number-one-selling-y-fliker-scooters-and-popular-european-designed-y-glider-preschool-scooters-from-the-uk-to-america-169970796.html

The YFliker Scooter is a self-propelling ‘lean to steer’ scooter that improves weight shifting, trunk disassociation, bilateral coordination, balance, motor planning, strength, and offers vestibular input. It would be appropriate for many ages! It’s slightly pricey at $79, but it gets kids up, outside, moving, interacting with peers or family members! I love that this is on the top toys of 2012 list. Don’t get me wrong, every toy on this list has a time and a place, but I just can’t pass by the one toy that requires movement!

What toy would you feature, and why?

Comes in pink too!

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