Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sorta Biofeedback for Better Posture

One of our guy friends this morning was wearing this sensor/alert device and curious me asked how it worked...had it complicated was it to use...  device for sensing posture

He said it monitored his upright posture and sent a variable intensity vibration to the skin to remind him to stand up taller when he slouched, and that he had less pain in his lower back (he can now bend over forward without pain) because he was using better posture during the day.  I was floored.

In the 80's therapists used mercury switches (buying the parts at Radio Shack), attached them onto the collars of our clients and connected them to radios or tape players so the music would play when the client sat or stood "tall" and the circuit in the switch connected.  We had to keep fiddlin' with the placement of the mercury switch on the person's clothing to get it just right.  Frustration city.

This device sounds real interesting to me.  Have you seen one in use???

Friday, March 28, 2014

More Writing on a Vertical Surface

The class was discussing "S" words (think Spring) when I walked in, so my 3rd grader and I continued the theme by writing additional "S" words during our fine motor session that morning.
Those magnetic foam cubes from my therapy stash came in handy, since they would stay up on the partition wall we used for our writing surface.

We've been using the same sheet of bulletin board paper for about two months now.  Fortunately it's usually obscured by an open door and doesn't function as a distraction for the class.  It's about 5' high and 4' wide and it's great for having students stand while they work, reaching high and low to draw or write on the paper.
Students usually demonstrate better than normal grasp patterns when they write on a vertical surface with their wrists extended.  However, it is fatiguing if you don't intersperse the session with some tabletop activities.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Attention to Detail

This silly tip works for very short periods of time, to fine tune a student's attention to what they are writing.  Gravity is your friend here so be sure to use a steep, inclined surface or straight-up vertical for the writing surface. 

Jot down a few salient words (what did you do over the weekend?) that the student will then copy on a vertical surface.  Be sure the student is watching your letter formation as you write and you might even ask them how to spell the word, or what sound comes next in the word.
Use those half-dollar size ponytail holders to create little "windows" for the student to use for writing each letter in the word.  It's so easy to let the circles drop while you're writing plus you have to use just the right amount of pressure to keep them high and wide enough to leave space for the letter or they end up like little squoosed ovals with no room for fitting in a letter.  Such a dilemma.

I think I mentioned that they easily fall?  Well, all the better for changing the body position and tilting the head this way and that when leaning over to retrieve them.

We started this activity specifically for a student whose teacher asked how to get them to use their helper hand to stabilize the paper when writing.  I suggested small slips of paper instead of a big sheet during writing practice, so the little scraps would slide around the desk unless the student firmly used the helper hand to stabilize them.  This ponytail band idea popped up as a fun, additional activity to achieve the same purpose, for those times when it's okay to be a little silly in school.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

High School Drama and Students with Special Needs

Interesting article, written by the daughter of an open-hearted high school drama teacher:
Including students

Thx to my work buddy, Fiona, for the recommendation.

Treasure Hunt for the Gold

Yikes!  Forgot to post the treasure map we used a couple of weeks ago with high schoolers in a class for students with autism.  Here's the link to the original:  treasure map template
One student was the designated "navigator" and the job rotated among the students during the treasure hunt so each student could take a turn holding the map and leading the small group to the next place to find "gold."  This map shows the trail from the homeroom to the nearby art room.  Another student was assigned the job of asking the art teacher, "Have you seen a pot of gold?"  Being a wild and crazy art teacher she led the students on a wild goose chase and made it bunches of fun.
Then, we drew the next leg of the trail and proceeded to the library and finally the attendance office.  Our ever-clever and well-prepared SLP created these directions:

The attendance secretary added some delish gold-covered candies to the pot of gold coins--score!
Great activity for taking turns, better understanding the layout of the school, following a map and written directions and making requests.  Bet we can devise treasure hunt themes for each month of the school year...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Go Outside This Weekend

After quite a bit of snow and sleet earlier this week, yesterday was beautiful and today is already in the 70's and gorgeous.
My granddog got his first taste of hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia last Saturday--Humpback Rock, a short but steep trail
He was carried through the muddy spots (would you let that soft, chenille-ish coat get muddy??) but soldiered through the majority of the trek on his own four paws.  Whatta guy!

Photo by J.G. Collier

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"Let's Go Fly a Kite"

We tried to get our foam kites to fly in the classroom today, but the big stand-up fan wasn't exactly cooperative.
Using the power link Power Link link enabled the students to safely depress a large switch to make the electrical connection to the fan, but the fan control panel was a little sophisticated and required two buttons to be depressed before turning on--those power links don't like electrical devices that are so fussy.   So, we used a human to press button #2 on the fan once the student activated the target switch.
Yesterday, one of my teacher friends was looking at me a little funny when she saw me making silly kites out of thin foam, "Do you think that will work?" she asked.  Well, no--not for running around the room with them in the air.  However... worked just fine with them suspended from a PVC pipe, so the wind could blow them around.  Plus, the thin foam kites will have more of a chance than their traditional paper cousins to stay intact when students explore them orally!
Turns out the little video clip used by the teacher, taken from the last scene in Mary Poppins, was a bit of a tearjerker, but it included the perfect song for our activity.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Smart Technology to Aid Folks with Brain Injuries

Another great article by my work buddy, Fiona:


Inflammatory Title But Still an Important Subject

There have been many articles in our local paper recently about the importance of moving throughout the day, not just when we're at the gym or briskly walking the family dog. 

It's striking closer to home for me since I'm in Week 9 of a ten-week program of strength and cardio training, run by a local physician, Dr. Madge Zacharias.  The weekly lectures have us all cringing at the chemistry behind what's happening in our bodies when we have too much blood sugar flowing around and not enough muscle action going on.  Anyway...

In today's newspaper I read the phrase, "Sitting is the New Smoking," and the thought was intriguing so I looked up an article from last year by a writer who used a similar line in a blog post:
Blog post about the effects of inactivity on our health

Don't know about you, but I'm sure sitting much more in my job than I did when I first became an OT (1978).  Lots more paperwork now.  Thankfully, there are oodles of stairs at our office building and those long school hallways make for fine trekking.  But, I still have to go to my boomer gym x3 per week...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Find Your Best Color

Pure fun and bling here--people say that a person looks good in certain colors more than others.  Well, I think my dear daughter's puppy has found his color--sky blue!
Photo by J. G. Collier--2014

Mardi Gras Stamp Activity

Well, it was supposed to turn out to be a beautiful, Mardi Gras mask on the students' take-home papers, but the non-artistic OT didn't realize how gloppy the finger paint would be and how it would obscure the details of the stamp.  Oh well...
The hard-working teacher for middle school students with intellectual disabilities provided lots of cool Mardi Gras bling:

I made a stamp of a short mask and we used purple, red and gold (AKA yellow) paint to stamp a mask on the handouts.

The print (second, below) created by spreading a thin layer of yellow paint on the foam stamp design looked the most like a mask.
Mardi Gras butterfly???
Next time I need to make the carved layer of foam a little higher, so the paint only contacts the raised foam and not the wood block foundation. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Article in on Brain Injury

...and then the unthinkable happened

Person-centered article on brain injury by my work buddy, Fiona Bessey-Bushnell.

Friendship Braids

Five young teens with long, long hair--what do you do at a b-day party?  Braid them all together!

Yes, that's four braids among five friends. The b-day girl and her friends loved the limelight for their great achievement.  When it came time for the cupcakes to be gobbled up the braids quickly disappeared.