Tag Archives: Occupational Therapy

Bilateral Coordination

by Suzanne Gladstone, MS OTR/L

In this two-video series, Suzanne, an Easterseals of Southeastern PA Occupational Therapist, created two virtual occupational therapy sessions. In the first video, Suzanne explains bilateral coordination and how it is part of our everyday lives and activities. In the second video, Suzanne shares a fun activity for kids, in which they make snack with simple ingredients and use bilateral coordination.

Suzanne shared her video with her students recently and they were a hit!

May is Mental Health Month……OT Mental Health Series Part 1

by Lisa S. Wzorek, MA, OTR/L

As we enter another month in quarantine due to Covid-19 and our focus on maintaining our physical health continues, what about our mental health? Making sure we are mentally healthy is equally important, and many of us are facing challenges in doing just this.  Our mental health is being challenged whether you are an essential worker and must be away from your family, or you are a stay at home parent navigating distance learning or are working from home while navigating distance learning with your children.  Maybe you have a child with special needs or medical needs that causes you extra worry during this time.  These, and there are many more, can challenge the mental health of any individual.

May is Mental Health Month, and I wanted to talk about this very important issue.  Our mental health is always important but seems to be extra important during the Covid-19 quarantine.  But let’s talk about it from the perspective of maintaining mental health of an occupational therapist.  Occupational Therapists see “occupations” as a way to health and well-being.  Occupations are not just our “job”, but the things we do throughout the day.  These could be our morning routines, caring for our children, distance learning, exercising, leisure activities, etc.  To help us engage in our occupations throughout the day, I’m suggesting that we take a few moments to focus on our breathing.  Breathing sounds like such a simple and basic thing, but how we breath can have either a negative or positive effect on our well-being.  We don’t pay much attention to our breath, but if you take a moment to do so right now, you may notice that your breathing is short and shallow.  What if you expand that breath, taking in a full deep breath and feel your lungs fill? How does this make you feel?  Often when we are stressed, angry, frustrated, sad, etc., our breath becomes shallow.  Taking some deep breaths can help calm the mind and the body before we act on our feelings.  Being in a more calm and relaxed state can help us engage in our occupations more successfully and purposefully.

Here are some guided breathing exercises that you can do yourself and with your children that are already posted on YouTube.  The videos are short, 3-5 minutes.  Doing these breathing exercises at the start of the day, when you are feeling stressed or frustrated, or just needing a break, can help you power through the next few hours of your day.  I hope you will try them and let me know what you think!  Let’s keep a focus on our mental health!

Videos for breathing exercises:

Adults:

“Stop, breathe and think” by Mindful Breathing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEfs5TJZ6Nk  Guided breathing exercises

2:1 Breathing by Tufts Medical Center

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQjGqtH-2YI

4-7-8 Breathing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=737vA-okV5E

Kid Friendly:

5 finger breathing by Mindful Breathing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSgOW879jjA

4-7-8 Breathing-geared to kids by Fablefly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmBYdfv5RSk

Rainbow Breathing by Go Noodle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O29e4rRMrV4

Breathing and Stretching by Moovlee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyvuaL_2avY

*For very young children, you can practice “smelling the flowers, hold 1-2-3, blow out the candles”

OT Activities from the team in Bucks!

The team in Bucks County created this amazing video of great activities you can do with stuff from around the house that is fun helps develop fine motor skills. In addition to the video is a list of great bath activities!

Hi everyone!

Here is a list of bath activities that you can do with your kids, to help them have some fun things to do while they are home.

Enjoy!

-Stacy G., OT

1. You can let your child use a net to “fish for” toys in the tub. If you don’t have a net, you can substitute a colander. This can work on eye-hand coordination

 

2. Colanders can also be used as “rainfall” for sensory

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3. PAINTING!

“Painting” in the tub/shower: Your child can do finger painting or can use a variety of tools such as paintbrushes, sponges, cotton balls, etc. which can work on fine motor coordination. You can give your child the opportunity to engage in a variety of different sensory experiences, which can increase their sensory awareness, through painting with shaving cream (to which you can add food dye) or even making your own bath paint. For an even easier prep/clean up, you can let them “paint” with a paintbrush/sponge/cotton ball, just using water onto the tub/shower wall, or onto construction paper.

A. “Paint” the tub or shower walls by dipping a paintbrush into water

B. Paint the shower using shaving cream with food dye added to it

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C. Cotton ball painting

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D. Make bathtub paint

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4. Transferring water from one container to another: You can use a variety of different tools to work on transferring water from one container to another, such as cups, spoons, pipettes, bowls, etc. This can work on grasping and pouring skills, which can help to improve overall upper extremity coordination.

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5. Animal wash station/Car wash station: You can have your child squirt water from a spray bottle onto a toy animal/toy car, to work on their grip strength and you can also let them scrub animals/a toy car with a toothbrush to strengthen their hand muscles and work on their coordination.

Animal Wash Station

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Car Wash Station

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6. Bath time for doll: Giving your child the opportunity to give their doll a “bath” can help teach your child self-care skills as well as learning of body parts.

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7. Making paper boats and floating them in the water: You can use the directions provided to create the paper boats. You can let your child help you make the boat, by giving them the opportunity to complete 1 simple step in the task at a time, as you model it for them (ex: “fold this part like this”). This can increase their ability to follow directions as well as their imitation skills.

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Here are directions for making a paper boat:

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8. Make Play-Doh soap!

This can be particularly motivating for children, especially those who don’t enjoy taking baths. Allowing a child to squeeze and pinch the play-doh soap can also work on hand strength and the development of more mature grasp patterns, such as key pinch grip, as well as pincer grasp.

The link below has the recipe for Play-Doh soap: https://sugarspiceandglitter.com/bath-time-play-dough/

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9. Baby Bath squirt toys: These types of toys can work on hand strength and the development of grasping patterns as well.

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10. You can make a Water Wall in various ways: You can use funnels, water bottles, or pool noodles. You can use other items too! Playing with a water wall can work on increasing pouring skills and will help to refine upper extremity coordination skills.

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11. You can also use laundry baskets for water fun!
You can turn a laundry basket into a “boat” inside or outside the tub! (Of course, always supervise with each of these activities)

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References

Make your home a playground!

by Melody Katz

Are your children getting antsy? Are you missing your favorite PT and OT? While we are all staying healthy there are simple things you can do at home to have fun, work off some of your child’s energy and best of all help their motor development!

For children not yet sitting:

  • Children NEED movement! Roll across the bed to the right and then to the left several times till the giggles abound. If your child is hesitant of movement roll them slowly one time each way and increase as they tolerate and enjoy the movement.
  • Put blankets and pillows in a hard square or rectangular laundry basket (or one of the many Amazon boxes we all have) and lie your child down and move them side to side, forward and back and around in circles. Make sure you spin to the right AND to the left stopping in between briefly.
  • If your child is light enough, lie them in a sheet or blanket and with the help of a friend or family member, swing them.
  • TUMMY TIME, TUMMY TIME, TUMMY TIME! Yes, it is important! Kids love to look at their beautiful selves in the mirror so put a small mirror on the floor or bed while they are on their tummies. If this is hard for them roll a small receiving blanket and put it under your child’s chest to help them lift up higher. Lie on YOUR tummy on the floor facing them. YOU are their best motivator and toy. Sing and be silly!!

For children who are sitting, but not yet crawling:

  • All of the above activities still work for your child. They can now sit up in the box or basket while spinning to help improve their core strength and balance.
  • Use that empty diaper box or Amazon box with toys on it and help your child play while kneeling.
  • If your child is starting to get on their hands and knees sing silly songs and encourage them to rock! Row, Row, Row Your Boat works well for this. Be silly and think of more lyrics!!

Row, row, row your boat

gently down the stream,

Mommy’s going crazy now,

listen to her Scream.

Ahhhhhhhh………………….

For Crawlers:

  • The above movement activities are still fun and good for them!
  • Make a crawling obstacle course! Put folded blankets, rolled towels and pillows on the floor for your child to crawl over! If you have a big box, open at both ends and let your child crawl through it! Good luck keeping up!!

For Walkers:

  • All the movement activities listed above will still be fun and good for development.
  • Make obstacle courses for walkers

Using pillows, fold a towel or blanket to a balance beam shape (a long rectangle 4”-8” wide”), stepstools, big textbooks, different sized boxes with some soup cans inside for stability for different sized steps, pile pillows on the floor to make a mountain and climb up to the sofa or bed. Do you have bubble wrap and other textured packing materials? They are really fun to walk on with bare feet!!

Most of all have fun, be silly, laugh and love! This too shall pass!! We miss you too!!

Apps kids can play with to work on cause/effect and fine motor manipulation:

by Bianca DelVecchio, OT

Kids on devices as we all find ourselves at home is pretty much inevitable. The positive to that is that they can actually be a wonderful resource!

The following apps can help the child who is learning about cause and effect; all that is required of the child is to touch the screen for something to happen:

  • Furry friend: a free app, the child meets Leonard, a monster who will repeat what you and laugh when you ‘tickle’ him! The child can tap any part of his body for a reaction, and choose from images of objects below to see how he reacts to them (which further works on visual perception as the child has to scan left to right with their eyes to select a picture to touch).
  • Fireworks Arcade: a free app; all the child needs to do is touch the screen for fireworks to go off, with sizzle noises and all! The child can also work on pressing and dragging in this game to draw a long stream of fireworks across the screen.

Apps for fine motor development

In these apps, the child will be working on reaction timing, visual perception, and motor control:

    • Dexteria Jr- 3.99- This app has a variety of levels to work on touching targets (non-moving and moving). Harder levels include having to pinch the target using the index finger and thumb.
    • Fruit Ninja a free app; the object of the game is to use your index finger to slice fruit with a fast, linear motion. Targets move fast, which targets a child’s reaction time, and some targets explode if you touch them (which works on the child’s visual discrimination between objects).

 

At Home Activities

by Suzanne Gladstone, Occupational Therapist

Last week, I worked with Occupational Therapy student Bree Lipowski to create a list of at home activities.  There are lots of good ideas for sensory play, fine motor activities, chores around the house to do with kids and quiet time suggestions. Be healthy, be safe and take time some time to smile with loved ones:).

Easterseals Activity List_Page_2

Easterseals Activity List_Page_4

Visit to St. Giles in Hobart, Tasmania

by
Sandy Masayko

Have you ever traveled over 10,000 miles, entered a new place and felt like you were at home? That was my experience in January when I visited St. Giles, a branch of Ability First Australia, which is an organization in Australia similar to and affiliated with Easterseals in the US.

My visit came about at the invitation of Occupational Therapist Lisa Melvey of St. Giles, who visited our Yaffe Center when she was on her Easterseals study tour in the fall. Lisa encouraged me to visit when she learned I would be in Australia in January.

Lisa gave me a tour of the modern, light-filled facilities where the agency offers speech, physical and occupational therapy as well as autism, behavioral and social support services, seating and assistive technology to people of all ages and their families. In addition to therapy services the agency has several unique programs, such as “Chat Fit” for adults who use augmentative/alternative communication (AAC). The participants use their communication systems while participating in fitness groups, leisure or community activities and enjoy socializing while honing their use of AAC. Another unique program that is offered by St.Giles is a Toy Library that is open to the community as well as families who are participating in therapeutic services at St. Giles.

Tasmania is a beautiful island state of Australia, located south of the Australian continent, with a climate similar to that of Northern California. About the size of West Virginia, it has over 500,000 inhabitants. Most of the island is rural so providing services in remote places can sometimes be a challenge. St. Giles has 3 main locations and also serves people in their home and community settings. To learn more about St.Giles, visit StGiles.org.au

Visiting St. Giles was a highlight for me when I traveled to Tasmania. With its friendly people, farm fresh foods, beautiful topography and amazing animals, Tasmania is a wonderful place to visit.

OT makes walks a sensory adventure in Bucks!

by Kathryn Wallace

In Bucks County, our Occupational Therapy department organized a workshop to help revamp the hallways and meet the needs of the students. The students in our school take daily walks around the building. These walls will give the students may opportunities to interact with a variety of sensory experiences. We are so excited for them to be mounted! A big THANKS to our wonderful OT Department.

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.

ot-conf-w-anne-w
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