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.

 


 


Everyday, Simple Idea # 33: Explore with Old Maps

Posted by on Nov 28, 2016

I am sharing some of the simple, daily things I do at home as a Mom that come from my occupational therapy background.

Everyday, Simple Idea # 33: Explore with Old Mapsplay with maps

While on a recent family car trip, I was searching the glove box for an ice-scraper and found a collection of old state maps.  With modern cell phones and GPS systems, my state map collection had fallen to the bottom of the glove box.  I pulled them out to recycle them, but instead found several fun uses for my children that I wanted to share as a free holiday travel idea.

1. A great car tip idea: Just let you child explore the map.  Open it, close it, “read” it.

Why?

  • Most kids have never seen and touched a full map, so this is a great opportunity to just explore.
  • There are motor skills to open the folded map and hold it (great bilateral skills- using 2 hand together).
  • Visual-scanning to look at the features on the map.  Search for roads, river, lakes, and cities.
  • Cognitive work to figure out what the icons on the map represent (roads, lakes, cities…).
  • For older children, it is a good challenge of motor and planning skills to re-fold the map.

2. play with mapsTape the map to the floor (or the wall for a great vertical surface) and give your kids markers.

Why?  

  • I love giving children large spaces  to work on the transition between gross (large) motor skills and fine (small) motor skills.  This is fun way to practice coloring and tracing (think of all the long roads to trace!).
  • This activity would also work great with small cars to drive on the map, you could add stop signs and bridges to create a fun pretend play game.
  • A similar activity is to put a large map on the wall to draw on.  If you have access to a laminator, a large wall map with dry-erase markers makes a great place to work on cognitive and motor skills together (such as draw an airplane route from your state to Russia, circle all the countries that start with the letter B…).

3. play with mapsLast, when all the fun is done, it is time to let your kids tear up the old map and toss it in the recycling.

Why? 

  • This task is always enjoyed by children of all ages- it is always a treat to be allow to destroy something!
  • Tearing paper is great for gross motor skills (large motor movements) and bilateral skills (using two hand together),
  • Crumpling up to throw away is a great hand-strengthening activity.  Larger pieces require two hand together to work incorporating core, shoulder, arm, and hand strengthening.
  • Add a new visual-motor element to the task by having the child toss the crumpled-up ball into a trash can a few feet away (experiment with different sizes of balls and how tightly it is crumpled-up).

 

Other great travel ideas:

Looking for other ideas to teach hand skills:

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

Cooking at home

Posted by on Nov 21, 2016

Review of kids cook real food

Everyday Simple Idea #32: Travel Games

Posted by on Nov 21, 2016

travel gamesWe are coming up on a the gift giving season, which leads me to the next few posts in my series of the simple, daily things I do at home as a Mom that come from my occupational therapy background.

Everyday, Simple Idea #32: Travel Games

I am always checking the dollar bins, game aisles, and garage sales for simple, small travel games.  At holiday times, you can usually find a good selection at stores such as Target, Kohls, or Walmart.  Games like tic-tac-toe, fishing, Connect 4, bowling sets, Battleship, checkers, trouble, or many other classic games (even just a deck of cards).  They are usually inexpensive and easy to find in any toy ideal (and make great stocking stuffers!)

Why?

There are 2 reasons I collect travel games (both for my own children and to use in my OT practice):

  1. The small pieces are great for development of hand skills.  It encourages the ability to grasp using the thumb, index, and middle fingers, which leads to strong handwriting skills (and practical skills like buttoning and doing zippers).
  2. They are portable and great to use to interact with your children while out and about, such as waiting in a restaurant, waiting at therapy appointments, or waiting for a sibling at a sport.  It is a great replacement for electronic devices we often use, but games encourage the development of social skills, cognitive skill, and problem-solving skills.

Look for more guidance on buying toys or gifts for children- read more here with my OT’s gift buying guide and 10 cheap and easy OT approved gifts.

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

Using AAC with my Preschooler- An Update on Our Progress!

Posted by on Nov 13, 2016

In April, I made this post about choosing to use an AAC device with my toddler.

7 month later, I wanted to post an update about how my child (now a preschooler) is doing with journey.

Toddler with AACSo here are the original videos I posted:

And here is now:

She clearly has something to say.  She is scanning the screen, thinking, and fixing her mistakes.  She knows how to say single words, but then also speak a sentence she created.  She is motivated to get it right and enjoying the communication.  You can also hear her repeating verbally what the iPad says.

AAC preschooler

So, what we have done in the last 7 months:

  • We modeled, modeled, and modeled using the AAC device even more.  We learned the program inside and out, becoming skilled at modeling typical toddler and preschool language skills throughout the day.  We learned about using core words and how to teach those word (instead of our instinct to teach the fringe vocabulary words).  A great new resources has been AssistWare Core Word Classroom.
  • I read up on typical language development, then adapted the AAC set-up to be customized to my child’s needs and wants.  I’ve worked hard to keep the placement of buttons the same place to promote motor learning.  We’ve added anything motivating to her- our family and friends, our toys, our community places.
  • We focused on finding activities where we could use the AAC device, finding motivating and fun ways that included the whole family.
  • We have promoted language development in all areas, both verbally and through the AAC device.  We work on all the normal developmental skills, but have spent extra time on visual scanning, fine motor control, sequencing steps, and problem-solving to help her communication skills.
  • We have struggled to figure out the logistics such as how to keep the iPad charged, have adequate volume, how to bring it with in the community, and how to lock a curious child out of all the setting options.  Having a young child who is small for her age, we haven’t yet found a way for her to carry the iPad with her at all times.  They make carrying straps, but my daughter isn’t ready for this yet.  We have found setting up several iPads in key locations and having a parent carry the iPad works best so far.
  • We have learned how to quickly and succinctly explain the AAC device to both children and adults.  We have had overwhelmingly positive reactions from people in our community.  A lot of curious questions, but very little inappropriate comments or looks.
  • We have broken 1 iPad and a few charging cables, which given the rough use from my children is better than we expected.  We continue to find used iPad to buy cheaply, which allows us to have the AAC application on multiple devices for modeling and logistical needs.
  • We have worked with our school team to write an IEP that includes language goals in all areas of communication, allowing and promoting communication both verbally and by using AAC device.  Our school provides an iPad as well for my child with the identical program and file to use during her school services.

I share this information to guide other families who may be on this journey.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions, as I am happy to share the wealth of information I have gathered.  Below are some resources you may want to check out online:

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

Just 1 Week Away- Register Now!

Posted by on Nov 9, 2016

Parenting to Promote Executive Function and Self-regulation Skills

 

nov 2016 EF presentation flierWed, November 16th, from 6:30-8:30pm.  There are still a few seats open to join me for a night of active and fun learning!

Does your child struggle with controlling his or her behavior, attention or emotions? Are teachers telling you your child is struggling to organize school work and work independently? Not sure how to help?

An introduction for parents, teachers, and therapists about what executive function and self-regulation skills are and how parenting and teaching strategies can promote skill development. Focus is on toddlers through elementary-aged children. Executive function and self-regulation skills are core deficits in many developmental problems, including attention disorders, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, mental health diagnoses and behavior disorders.

  • Leave with practical ideas you can use with your children.
  • Great for parents, teachers, and therapists  (CEs for teachers and OTs available).

 A sneak peek…

Top 3 reasons you should care about executive function…brain

  • Early test of executive function skill are one of the best predictors of life long success.
  • Executive function deficits are a key part of many developmental disabilities, such as attention and learning disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and all kinds of brain injuries.
  • The area of the brain that holds executive function skill is one of the most adaptable areas, showing it is capable of great changes based on the child’s experiences.

and…

“Neurons that fire together, wire together” is the basis of learning in the brain.  What this means for children learning executive functioning skills is that it isn’t about what you learn, it is how you learn it.  For parents this means, it isn’t about what you do, it is about how you do it!

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 New Leaf Play Ideas

Posted by on Nov 4, 2016

Fall in Minnesota means piles of crunchy leaves all around.  This year we have gotten lucky with an incredibly long and warm fall, so here are a few more play ideas to keep the kids busy.  Leaves make for many great activities, including motor and sensory play.  Here are 3 new ideas for you to try:

1. Make leaf people.

Find a great leaf, glue it to paper, add googly eyes and draw in hands and feet.  This is great for fine motor skills, sequencing tasks, visual processing skills, and body awareness.  Tah dah!leaf play

2.  String of leaves.

Collect colorful leaves and hole punch the, then string them up and decorate outside.  Using a hole punch build hand strength while stringing the leaves works on fine motor and visual-motor coordination skills.leaf play

3.  Make a leaf angel.

Lay down, open/close arms and legs.  Great for sensory exploration of grass and leaves, as well as bilateral coordination with arms and legs (using two sides of the body together).leaf play

 

Other ways to play with leaves:

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

What to do with Halloween Leftovers?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2016

Now that Halloween is done, most parents are looking a the left-over Halloween stuff and pondering whether you can toss it all yet?  

Here are 3 great ideas to get a little more use out of those Halloween things (before you toss them or pack them away) while also engaging children in wonderful developmental activities:

1. Hammer and nails with old pumpkins- grab a handful of nails and a hammer (or golf tees and a toy hammer) and let your child enjoy hammering away.  This task is great for building eye-hand coordination and bilateral skills (using two hand together).

2. Paint a pumpkin- put down some newspaper and give your kids a paint brush and paints to re-decorate their old Jack-o-Laterns.  Read here to learn more about how painting on real objects helps build developmental skills.

3. Save all the little grab bag items to put into sensory bins.  Things like small spiders, fake teeth, eye balls, erasers, or other small items.  Toss them in with a bin or rice or beans and let your kids enjoy.  Add in some spoons, tongs, or cups for more challenge and skill development.  When the kids are done, pack up all the small items into a bag to re-use next year.  Learn more about sensory bins (how make them and their developmental benefits) in this post.

halloween sensory bin

 

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

World OT Day and a Personal Update

Posted by on Oct 27, 2016

Today is World OT Day!

world OT day logo

http://www.wfot.org/

I’ll admit, I didn’t even know about this day until this year.  Why?  I had gotten really stuck in a small world of OT services in a clinical setting in Minnesota.  In the last year, I have left a traditional setting and set out on my own.  This gave me a chance to re-think “OT services.”  In doing this, I started to expand and learn more about OT in other places; I’ve learn about different educational background, theories and philosophies of care, practice models, and funding sources, and in the end I have come to much better understand of my profession. Thank You World OTs!

When I opened my private OT practice, I knew I wanted something more fulfilling as a career.  I wanted to get back to practicing OT in a way that really served families well.  I wrote about this journey in a previous post- read more here.

After a some time learning the ropes, I am keeping busy.  I have done 3 different speaking engagements this past few weeks to teachers, parents, and professionals.  I’ve started 3 new clients with dramatically different and unique needs, but all that I can meet with close collaboration with the families.  I’ve discharge several families that no longer need OT because the parents feel successful on their own now!

Even better, I feel like I have been fulfilling my goals of providing a better services to clients, and clients are telling me they appreciate the quality of service I give.

 

A few parent quotes from the last few weeks:

After offering to meet at a home with another service provide to collaborate more closely, “Would you really do that?  Thank you for being so helpful.”

After being told by OTs in two other settings that the child didn’t qualify, “Thank you for meeting with us.  I think my child can really benefit from working with you.”

A recent parent support group talk on executive function got this feedback:

  • “Thank you… it was the best explanation I have ever been given… I feel like it has given me some ways to help.”
  • “Excellent!”
  • “Specific and to the point.  Great for all groups.”
  • “Great resources”

A recent workshop on early brain development:

  • “Loved the hands on brain building.”
  • “Very clear you’ve done your research!”
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

The Marshmallow Test

Posted by on Oct 23, 2016

marshmallow testOver 50 years ago, Stanford did a famous experiment called the Marshmallow Experiment.  Rather than type out all the details, just watch this video to get the idea.

This experiment has proved to be very significant.  They have been able to follow the children who participated for decades.  Children who were able to wait more successfully had better outcomes in all kinds of things, including education, physical and mental health, and social skills.

Why?  Newer studies show that this experiment uses areas of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functioning skills.

 

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

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

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016

I am just putting the finishing touches on my presentation through ADHD, Autism, & Other Disabilities on the Spectrum speakers series.

 

Who? Shephard of the Valley Church in Eden Prairie, MN

What? Monthly presentations on topics related to ADHD, Autism, and other Disabilities on the Spectrum

When and Where?  Monthly on Monday evenings in Eden Prairie, see flier for details.

Cost? Free, register at the door (some childcare available with pre-registration.)

From their website:

“Purpose: To provide individuals with an educational opportunity to learn about ADHD, Autism, & Other Disabilities on the Spectrum, a network of people who may help to ease feelings of isolation, and an opportunity to ask questions in a safe environment.”

Presenters are all professionals with a variety of backgrounds from rehabilitation therapists to social work to counselors and parent coaches.  Topics range from parenting skills, executive functioning, medication, health, and brain research.

I am excited to be presenting with this group on Oct 24th!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.

Full flier to share! (includes full list for the year or presentations)

One page summary to share or post. 

 

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