Tag Archives: Occupational Therapy

Sharing Assistive Technology Ideas in Australia

by Sandy Masayko, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals of SE PA

During my recent trip to Australia, I was delighted to meet with therapists who are providing Assistive Technology (AT) and Augmentative /Alternative Communication (AAC) services in Melbourne.  On September 1, Anne Williams, of the Occupational Therapy Department at Swinburne University of Technology, arranged for me to meet with occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists from ComTEC. ComTEC is a division of Yooralla, a provider of services for people with disabilities in Melbourne.  As we talked, we discovered that share many similar concerns in providing AT and AAC services and devices, including funding, planning instruction and problem solving with families and caregivers.  Anne also invited faculty members from Swinburne in the areas of Occupational Therapy, Robotics and Biomedical Engineering to learn about the work we are doing in eye gaze technology with young children.

The following day, September 2, I made a short presentation to occupational therapists at the Vic-Tas (Victoria and Tasmania) Regional Conference of Occupational Therapy in Melbourne.  The paper, focusing on factors related to use of eye gaze technology with young children, was well received.  Attendees asked many questions.  I was very interested to learn about issues being addressed by occupational therapists in Australia.  The emphasis in many presentations was on self-reflective practice, engaging consumers and promoting participation for people with disabilities.

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Pictured in the photo, Anne Williams on the left and  Sandy Masayko on the right at the Vic-Tas Regional Conference of Occupational Therapy in Melbourne.

Dance/Movement Therapy with the Children at Easter Seals

By, Michelle Baxley – Dance/Movement Therapy Intern at Easter Seals Early Intervention Center – SEPA

“What is dance/movement therapy? I’ve never heard of it.” Most often that is the reaction I get when people find out I am getting my masters in dance/movement therapy (DMT) and counseling. It’s an understandable question, as DMT is still a rather new field. DMT sits under the umbrella of the creative arts therapies with art therapy, music therapy, and drama therapy. Since its conception in the 1940s, DMT has grown into an internationally recognized therapy with its own national organization and is recognized as an accredited masters program in several universities around the world.

Here is some information to help you better understand DMT and its application to Easter Seals:

  1. What is dance/movement therapy?

The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) defines DMT as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual” (ADTA.org). What this really means is that dance/movement therapists use movement as a way to assess a person’s level of functioning in a variety of areas as well as using movement as an intervention tool to help an people reach their developmental goals. The end goal is ultimately to better integrate a person’s body and mind.

  1. How do you become a dance/movement therapist?

To become a dance/movement therapist you must complete a two-year master’s program in dance/movement therapy from an ADTA accredited university. Once you receive your master’s degree, you must complete a certain number of clinical working hours with supervision and then you may apply to become a Board Certified dance/movement therapist. I am currently finishing my second year of graduate school at Drexel University and have been interning at Easter Seals Early Intervention Center for the past nine months.

  1. My child has limited movement and is nonverbal. How could he/she benefit from dance/movement therapy?

If you think about it, everyone, even those with the most limited movement abilities, moves in some capacity. Movement is our first language. It is the first way infants explore the world through rolling over, reaching for various objects, and moving objects to and from their mouths and then to potentially crawling and walking. Even a head nod or the gesture of a hand is a movement. Dance/movement therapists use this movement, however small, as a means of nonverbally communicating with the child. We create a personal relationship with the child through movement and help that child find other forms of creative expression besides words.

  1. How does dance/movement therapy help my child at Easter Seals Early Intervention Center?

At Easter Seals Early Intervention Center, I use dance/movement therapy to help students create social interactions with peers; practice problem solving, turn taking, and listening; explore creativity in play; facilitate emotional expression; and promote self and emotional regulation all in a playful and creative environment. All of my goals for these children are aimed at helping them transition into kindergarten. Additionally, I work with the other occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language therapists, and music therapists to provide a more holistic treatment approach.

  1. Where can I learn more about dance/movement therapy?

Websites:

  • American Dance Therapy Association –

www.adta.org

      ●      National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Associations, Inc –

http://www.nccata.org/

  • Drexel University Master’s in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling

http://drexel.edu/cnhp/academics/graduate/MA-Dance-Movement-Therapy-Counseling

Books:

  • Levy, F. J., Fried, J. P., & Leventhal, F. (Eds.) (1995). Dance and other expressive arts therapies. London: Routledge.
  • Naess Lewin, J. L. (1998). Dance therapy notebook. Washington, DC: American Dance Therapy Association.
  • Sandel, S. L., Chaiklin, S., & Lohn, A. (Eds.) (1993). Foundations of dance/movement Therapy: The life and work of Marian Chace. Washington, DC: American Dance Therapy Association.

Videos:

While DMT is still a young field, it is definitely growing and increasing its body of research every year. It’s a versatile therapy that can be adapted for any population. If you have more questions feel free to email me at mbaxley@easterseals-sepa.org.

Happy Moving,

Michelle Baxley,
Dance/Movement Therapy Intern at Easterseals Early Intervention Center – SEPA

Meet Janiya and Dymir

Janiya_Damir_web

Janiya and Dymir are brother and sister, they would also call themselves best friends. The first few years of their lives were unstable and challenging for Janiya, 11 and Dymir, 12, who also have developmental delays. Today, with the support of their loving mother and the therapists at Easter Seals, they are doing fantastic. Janiya and Dymir are students at a cyber charter school and once a week Janiya receives Speech and Occupational Therapy, Dymir was also receiving the same therapies until recently. With the help of Easter Seals therapists, they have both improved their fine motor skills and their speech, which has led to greater self-confidence. When they come in for therapy, they literally run into the building, which is a wonderful testament to their experience. When they aren’t in school or therapy, they are doing typical kid stuff. Janiya is a Girl Scout and loves to dance. Dymir is a Boy Scout and he especially loves the camping trips. Together, they enjoy riding their bikes and seeing who can bounce the highest on a pogo stick. Janiya wants to be a police officer when she grows up and Dymir wants to be a firefighter. They have an energy that is inspiring and captivating and we can’t wait for you to meet them!

Meet Janiya and Dymir at Walk With Me on June 4th. Visit our Walk With Me website to register or learn more.

Meet Georgia

by Melanie O’Brien

georgia 1_web

When sweet 4-year-old Georgia was born, everything seemed pretty typical. However, when she was about 10-months old, her mom noticed her eyes seemed to be twitching and she wasn’t meeting her milestones. Georgia has a partial trisomy 14 disorder. She began receiving home-based services, including occupational, physical and speech therapies and special education. When Georgia turned 3, she started attending Easter Seals Early Intervention Center for half-days. She was doing well and it was quickly determined that she would really benefit from full-days in the Approved Private School program in the Yaffe Center. Since then, she has gone from a quiet and shy to very social! Georgia loves going to school and has become very interested in the world around her. She is initiating play, trying to dress herself and going up and down steps. When she isn’t at school, Georgia is playing with her sisters and taking advantage of all the museums and cultural opportunities that Philly has to offer. Georgia loves color and to laugh and she is painting the world with her beautiful smile!

Meet Georgia and the other Honorary Ambassadors at Walk With Me on June 4th at the Philadelphia Zoo. You can learn more and register at www.walkwithme.org/philadelphia.

Early Intervention from a Parent’s Perspective

My daughter was adopted from an Armenian orphanage at 10 months of age. She had no use of her right arm because her nerves were severed as a result of a birth injury.

Picture one

Just before her 1st birthday, she had nerve graft surgery at Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Following surgery, she began PT, OT, and Language/Play therapy through Easter Seals. I had previously learned of Early Intervention through the adoption community and contacted them as soon as we returned to the States.

Picture two

The evaluation was nonthreatening and, in many ways, reassuring. The evaluators played with my baby and talked with me. I had confidence in their assessment and the support that they would provide. My daughter actually enjoyed the evaluation process, and once she qualified for services, I was an active participant in the goal setting. They listened to my concerns and addressed them.

Therapy continues to be an extremely positive experience on numerous levels. My daughter engages happily with her therapists, who accommodate our schedule and work with her both at home and/or her daycare program. Services began at home and moved on to daycare when she did. Not only do they fit therapeutic ideas into our routine, such as playtime and bath time, but they also demonstrate ways in which her daycare teachers can reinforce her goals.

Picture three

My daughter started therapy in late August, and I am very encouraged by the progress she has made thus far. Her therapists truly care about her, and they persevere through her cranky moments, as well as celebrate her accomplishments. Through play, they are helping her reach her potential, and it is gratifying to witness their dedication and commitment. I am so grateful for the quality of care that my little one is receiving through Early Intervention Services and Easter Seals, and I commend them for providing, so graciously, such vital therapies. It is a blessing that these services exist to enhance the quality of life for children with special needs.

Motor time is more than just burning off steam

by Anna Lassman, OTR/L &  Laura Corbett

Motor play in most early intervention center programs tends to involve unstructured time in a gross motor room, or playground, to let the kids move around and burn off steam; however it tends to be a crazy, free for all kind of period of the day where both staff and students leave frustrated. Many of our students often feel lost when not directly engaged in a structured activity. We were finding an increase in challenging behaviors in our gross motor room due to the lack of planning and structure.

Staff in the Philadelphia Division EI Center noticed this as a problem and began brainstorming new ways to make our gross motor time more effective. The goal is to provide opportunities for our students to practice a variety of skills including general gross motor play, following directions, waiting their turn, turn taking and social play, making and sticking to choices, functional play, requesting, and entering and leaving the room calm and organized.

In January 2015, we were lucky enough to get a recreational therapy intern from Penn State and we knew this was a golden opportunity. With the help and leadership of our Recreational Therapy intern, Kate Shilkitus, wonderful things have happened. Not only are our children “burning off steam,” but also, they are practicing appropriate and functional play while following a routine and here’s HOW we made it all happen.

We started with gathering the classroom staff together and talking about the importance of motor room and all of its benefits. Cindy Goldberg, PT and Anna Lassman, OT provided support through a workshop where we discussed the program we hoped to create in the gross motor room. Together, we talked about responsibilities of the therapy staff and the Teaching staff members to make this all work. The following was discussed in detail:

  1. Use of motor time with a lesson plan that includes strategies to prevent challenging behavior. Some strategies included:
  • Including their interests to keep them engaged and motivated in the gross motor room (i.e balls, slides, pretend play, cars, etc.)
  • The use of reinforcers (bubbles, stickers, etc.)
  • The use of visuals to communicate expectations before they go to GM room.
  • The use of visuals to show the children “what comes next” and the agenda for the session.
  • The use of choice boards and structured smaller groups within the larger gross motor room space to guide play.
  • Bring/push class chairs down to GM room (heavy work that can be calming and organizing) for students to sit on at start, rather than opening the door and kids rushing in.
  • Gradually go from chair sitting to floor sitting as kids become used to new GM room routine
  • Use “clean-up” as part of the session.
  • Ending session with a calming/re-group type activity by the waiting area to build compliance momentum.
  • Use of time during team meetings to make a plan for the week in the motor room based on the above items.
  1. We discussed the properties of the equipment available and various ways to use them to expand play schemes.
  • Obstacle courses can be changed up mid- session.
  • More than one way to use pieces of equipment
  • Staff modeled creative ways to use a ball or a wedge, for example.
  1. What levels of assistance we use and how to fade or increase as needed based on individuals.

Based on ideas and feedback from the workshop, we began to put together visual materials, including a stop sign at door, marked places in the room for waiting areas, and activity and equipment use suggestions, but the prep work alone can be a very timely task. Fortunately having Kate, our recreation therapy intern, who was ready and willing to lead this initiative, we hit the ground running. We believe that what has made this program even more successful from the start is having Kate dedicate her time and energy in that room.

Following our workshop, Kate spent a great deal of time preparing the environment and doing the prep work. She created several visuals and utilized the strategies discussed to create expectations with the use of visuals. Visual supports are crucial for many of our students so in creating these, Kate helped to set our students up for success.

Here’s an example of our expectations upon entering the gross motor room

expectations

Here’s an example of our choice board that is set up everyday. Staff then model the different activities that can be done with each choice.

choices

Once Kate had everything prepped and ready to go, we rolled out the new program and collected baseline data on two skills: (1) Wait time with an expectation of average wait time to be 30 seconds to 1 minute with 2 or less redirections. (2) Following directions throughout the session with 2 or less redirections. Kate has been collecting data daily and the findings are outstanding! We have seen a dramatic improvement in just a short time. The chart(s) below gives you a clear picture that this new program is most certainly working.

data

Kate’s ability to help strategize, plan, and implement a new program is extraordinary. She spends endless time at school and at home reflecting on individual progress and the program as a whole. Unfortunately, Kate has left us as her internship has come to a close, but her hard work and lasting effects in establishing a consistent routine and program in our gross motor room are here to stay. The last three weeks will consisted of transitioning our teachers to lead and implement the program with Kate’s support. The teachers now feel confident in doing the same.

We look forward to continued success with this program and our students. No longer do our teachers need to “burn off steam” after a chaotic session in the gross motor room. We have successfully implemented a new program that keeps both students and staff calm and having fun.

 

Meet Nicolas

Walk With Me is next weekend and the energy is really picking up! Nicolas is one of the Honorary Ambassadors we are so excited that he will be part the Walk. Make sure you go here to register so you can be a part of this powerful day!

Meet Nicolas….

Nicolas

Nicolas is a very happy 4 year old! He has microcephaly and has been defying the odds since the day he was born, which explains his sweet smile. His mom was told that he would not be able to drink from a bottle or use a pacifier, but fortunately for Nicholas, his mom believed he might defy the odds…and she was right! He began receiving services at 3 months old and when it time for center –based services, Nicholas came to Easter Seals, just as his parents had hoped he would. Since then, he has become more aware of his surroundings, he loves to be social and his personality is really shining through. Most importantly, his parents know he is loved, which they say makes a huge difference! When he is not in school, Nicolas loves playing with his big brother Evan, and his dog Giselle. He absolutely loves country music! When you meet Nicolas, it will be easy to see why he is so loved!