OT Blog


All Things OT: An Occupational Therapy Blog

An OT blog on all things related to pediatric occupational therapy- treatment, services, and home ideas.  Local Minnesota resources, book and service reviews.  Tons of free activities, handouts, and educational materials for parents, teachers, and therapists.

 


 


Monday- Free Presentation!

Posted by on Mar 8, 2017

Free presentation next Monday, March 13th in Eden Prairie!

 

Who? Southwest Metro ADHD Connection

What? Monthly free presentations on topics related to ADHD

See the full schedule for the year here

When and Where?  Monthly, 2nd Mondays. 7-8:30pm.  Eden Prairie Center Community Room at 8251 Flying Cloud Dr, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. (Take elevator to basement level).

Cost? Free.

From their website:

“SW Metro ADHD Connection Satellite of CHADD. Families with attention issues face challenges that friends might not understand. This group provides a rare opportunity to meet others like you and to learn, discuss and share strategies. It’s FREE, fun, informative and helpful for parents, adults, and professionals. CHADD does not endorse products, services, publications, medications or treatments.”

I am excited to be presenting with this group on March 13th!brain

5 Key Strategies to Help Develop Self-Regulation and Executive Function Skills

What are self-regulation and executive function skills?  How do these skills develop?  And, how are they believed to be a core deficit in many disabilities, including attention disorders, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and many others? Learn what the current scientific research tells us about these questions and what that means for adults and for parents of children who struggle with these skills. Focus will be on the everyday impact of struggling with self-regulation and executive functioning with practical ideas for children of all ages, as well as adults.

Flier with more details here.

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

Home Modification Hacks for Kids

Posted by on Feb 24, 2017

I am working hard behind the scenes on the expansion of my business into home modifications.  While that website is still under construction, I will share here some of the pediatric focused information I have been creating.

 

Home modifications are not just for grown-ups, they can be for kids as well. Here are a few simple, easy home modifications hacks that can help children both with and without disabilities.

 

 

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

5- Purse-sized Items to Entertain Your Child

Posted by on Feb 10, 2017

5- Purse-sized Items to Entertain Your Child Instead of Your Phone!

A great handout to share with parents to help build parent-child interactions during all the little moments of the day!

purse play idea to replace smart phones  (click for full image)

See the full post here.

Download a pdf to print here: 5 Purse-sizes Items to Entertain Your Child Instead of Your Phone

Other great free handouts to share:

 

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

Designing Toilets for Kids

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017

As some of you know, I am expanding my private practice into home modifications for children and adults.  While that website is still under construction, I do have a few handouts that are pediatric focused to share here!

First up: Toilets for Kids

Toilet for kids infographic

 

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

Vertical Surface Handout to Share

Posted by on Jan 24, 2017

I have been working on taking my most popular posts and creating free handouts that give an overview of the main ideas.

Last week I posted free handouts on impulse control: Impulse Control- Parent Guides and Teaching Children to Problem Solve

Today, I am posting my handouts on using vertical surface to promote motor development (see the full post here)

how and why to use vertical surface for motor development   (click image to see full version)

or…

Printable pdf file of handout on Using Vertical Surfaces 

 

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

Teaching Problem-Solving Skills- free handout

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017

I have been working on taking my most popular posts and creating free handouts that give an overview of the main ideas.

Last week I posted free handouts on impulse control: Impulse Control- Parent Guides

Today, I am posting my handouts on teaching children problem-solving skills, based on this post: Teaching Children to Problem Solve

infographic on the key components of teaching children problem solving skills (click image to see full version)

or…

View printable PDF file of handout on teaching children to problem-solve. 

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

Impulse Control- Parent Guides

Posted by on Jan 9, 2017

This is a follow-up post on my most popular post of all time has been on impulse control: Impulse Control: Home Activities and Games

I have been working on making the content I write and create be more visual and easy to use for parents and professionals.  One of main ideas has been to take content and create appealing visuals that give an overview of the information in an easy to use way.  Today I want to share my first few attempts at creating “infographics” on impulse control.

I split the info from my previous post into 3 main handouts for parents, one for infants, one for toddlers, and one for preschoolers.  The information coordinates between handouts, but rarely duplicates, so it is worth sharing all 3 with parents or professionals working with young children.

Working in Impulse Control with Infants:

Impulse control ideas for infants Click image to view full size, or access Infant PDF here.

 

Developing Impulse Control for Toddlers:

Impulse control ideas for toddlers Click image to view full size, or access Toddler PDF here.

 

Teaching Impulse Control to Preschoolers:

Impulse control ideas for preschoolers Click image to view full size, or access Preschooler PDF here.

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

 

Drowning in Toys after the Holidays?

Posted by on Dec 29, 2016

The holidays are done for most of us, and now it is time to control the chaos in a house filled with new toys.

toy rotationAs an adult, I can’t stand clutter.  Everything needs to be organized for me to be able to think clearly and function well in my home.  My children disagree and would prefer to leave all the new toys out everywhere.  Despite my children’s love of clutter, I know that they function better in an organized environment as well.  I’ll allow as many toys as are actually being played with out at one time, but the rest need to be put away on a regular basis (meaning multiple times a day).

Here are some tips about toy management and how to organize your play spaces (and that heap of new toys) to promote developmental skills:

  • Everyday, Simple Idea #10: Toy Rotation– It is a great time to put away some old toys to make room for the new ones.  Your kids may protest now (or they may not even notice with all the new toys around), but everyone will be happy in a few months when you open the storage bins to rediscover the old toys.  This is also a good time to decide what toys your children have out-grown that are due to be donated or handed-down to a friend or family member.  Remember, less is often more when it comes to children’s play.
  • Everyday, Simple Idea #8: Toy Storage– Having organized play spaces can make a huge difference in how children attend to play and learn.  Putting in some time to create (and maintain) play spaces is worth it in the long run for both you and your kids.toy storage
Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

3 Skills to Practice Before Christmas Arrives

Posted by on Dec 21, 2016

We are just a few days away from Christmas, so I wanted to post a quick note to remind parents to practice some skills before the difficult holiday moments arrive.  Children of all ages and abilities struggles with some of the big moments of the holidays, but helping prepare children through discussion and practice can make these moments less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone.

Here are 3 of the most common holiday moments that can be a struggle:

child waiting

Waiting is really hard for children

1. Waiting to open presents.

Waiting is hard.  For children, especially children with disabilities (such as poor impulse control or self-regulation), waiting can be really hard.  Waiting to open presents is a great way to build impulse control skills, but it often ends in tears (or parent giving in).  Discussing the problem can help.  Make sure children know they will have to wait and when they will be allowed to open presents.  Acknowledge that waiting is hard and offer to help with a distraction or timer if needed.  Practicing is also important.  Put out a few presents a few days early and practice not opening them.  Hold them, shake them, and make guesses, but don’t open them.  If this is too hard, practice wrapping up a familiar toy and wait an hour to open it (set a timer if needed).

Looking for more impulse control ideas?  Here is one of my popular posts all about impulse control development.

 

child opening gift

It’s a salad spinner! (no it really wasn’t)

2. Being disappointed when opening a present.

This problem is the fear of many parents.   We worry that our children will offend family and friends when the present they open isn’t the perfect gift they imagine.  Handling disappointment is a skill that takes a lot of emotional maturity, self-regulation, and impulse control.  Discussing ahead of time can help many children.  Talk about the series of events in present opening and the expected behaviors, such as saying thank you or waiting your turn.  Bring up many possible scenarios and how the child might feel and how they might behave (help your child separate out feelings from behavior).  This is also a great chance to talk about how the other person might be feeling.  Some children really need to practice this skill ahead of time.  Set-up a pretend scenario and open pretend presents together.  Brainstorm kind things to say for both wonderful and boring gifts.

Looking for more ideas about teaching children about emotions and self-regulation?  Helping Children Learn About Emotions

 

Child crying

The inevitable meltdown at the wrong moment.

3. Sitting through long, boring events (such as a big family dinner or long church service)

It doesn’t take much for a child to get bored at an event.  Even 15 minutes can seem like an eternity to a child.  Children often just want to be allowed the freedom to move or play, but the holiday events often don’t allow this freedom.  While adults may be very engaged in the event, children are often bored and unsure of the significant of the events.  It helps to explain to children ahead of time the event, including what will occur, how long, and the expected behaviors.  However, simply explaining it does not mean your child is capable of being still and quiet for extended periods of time.  Set reasonable expectations and make reasonable compromises (bring with small toys for example).  This skill is much harder to practice ahead of time, but you can practice how you will interact with your children when they need help.  Parents and children can make a plan together about what they can do when they are bored or need a break, and this plan can be practiced.

Remember, children often need a “break” rather than a “time-out” when behaviors start to occur during holiday events.  Changing from “Time-Out” to “Take a Break”

Looking for other ideas to help through the holidays?  

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net

Tip for Calming Your Child during this Holiday Season

Posted by on Dec 12, 2016

child opening presentWith the holidays coming quickly, most parents are feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness about the upcoming gatherings of family and friends, holiday concerts, and school parties.  Whether your child loves or hates the holidays, it brings out a lot of strong emotions for both parents and children.  Here are a few reminders about ways you can help your child learn to stay calm in the midst of the holiday chaos.

First and most importantly, slow down.  Life moves fast, but the holidays are a great time to slow down and enjoy being with our children.  If life isn’t enjoyable, find ways to simplify and focus on what is most important.  If you can stay calm and enjoy the moments, hopefully your child can too.

What to do when your child inevitably misbehaves…

While it is tempting to be frustrated with a child misbehaving, especially during holiday events that they should be enjoying.  Just remember that children struggle to process and control emotions, both good and bad feelings, especially during novel situations.  Strong emotions often lead to misbehavior, and most misbehavior is a sign of being overwhelmed, confusion, over-stimulated, or tired.  One of the best things a parent can do to help is remember to first “take a break” with your child to help them calm, before taking other approaches such as a “time out” or other punishment.  Read more here about how to take a  break together to build stronger self-regulation skills: Changing from “Time-Out” to “Take a Break”

angry childHow can I prevent the meltdowns?

Emotions are complex and children need a chance to learn about a range of emotions.  The holidays are a great time to spend time working closely with your children, finding lots of small teachable moments to help them learn about emotions.  Remember emotions are not inherently good or bad; try for more neutral terms like “big emotions” or “strong emotions,” and then put the focus on being aware how emotions can cause us to behave in good or bad way.  For more ideas about teaching emotions, read here: Helping Children Learn About Emotions

Being able to stay calm is a skill that children have to learn through practice.  One of the best ways is for adults to model and show children how we stay calm.  Remember to take the time to teach the skill of self-awareness and self-regulation.  Here are some other tools you can try to teach children about staying calm:

Even with all the ideas and tools, sometimes it is okay to just remember that the holidays only last a brief time.  Soon life will return to normal with the routines of school and work.  Find whatever way you can to enjoy the time with your children.  Simplify as needed and focus on what is important.  It is okay to recognize when the holiday events are too much for your child (or you) and politely step away as needed.

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net