Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Celebrating OT Month | Products developed by OTs

I'm continuing the OT Month celebration today by sharing some cool products that were developed by occupational therapists.

MoveAbout Activity Cards. These activity cards were developed by David Jereb, OTR/L and Kathy Jereb, COTA/L. This deck of 64 cards provides quick and easy sensory activities to help children refocus, calm down, or regain energy. I have not personally used these cards, but they get great Amazon reviews and are on my wishlist!

Fundanoodle. Fundanoodle is an education readiness program designed in collaboration with two occupational therapists, Michelle Yoder, OTR/L, CIMI and Amy Bumgarner, MS, OTR/L, to improve the skills needed for handwriting and other everyday activities of children. I have the Letter Muscle Mover Cards, which I like to use for both the writing practice and the movement. Fundanoodle has lots of other products that I'd like to check out too, like the I Can Cut! activity book.

Aimee's Babies. Aimee Ketchum, OTR/L, CNMI has developed a line of products to teach parents how to help their babies reach early developmental milestones. These products include interactive DVDs and apps that walk parents through the steps of infant massage and early milestones. Such a great resource for first time parents!

Mead RediSpace paper. I love this paper! It's available on Amazon, but I first stumbled upon this paper in the office section of Target. I've only used the RediSpace Transitional Notebook Paper (great for kids working on spacing or aligning numbers!), but the Letter and Number Stories, Shape Builders, and Early Learning Idea Builders all look awesome, too!

Therapy Fun Zone. Tonya Cooley, OTR/L has created a fantastic resource for therapists, teachers and parents on her website. In addition, she has a set up a store where many of the products are her own, but any therapist who has a product to sell can do so through the Therapy Fun Zone store. I personally love the Munchy Ball Game and all of the digital downloads.

Handwriting Without Tears. I am a huge fan of Handwriting Without Tears and I use these products all the time! The entire Handwriting Without Tears empire was created and founded by Jan Olsen, OTR. When I attended The Print Tool Workshop, Jan Olsen was the presenter! I couldn't even believe it! She is a wonderful person and has created an incredible product.

I Can Tie Shoelaces. These shoelaces were designed by two occupational therapists, Alex and Lauren Flores. These laces are designed with velcro to help hold the loops in place while learning to tie shoes. What a great idea for teaching shoe tying!

Under Armor MagZip. This one handed zipper was the result of a mother-son/OT-engineer team. I think OT-engineer teams are the best, but I may be a bit biased as I'm married to an engineer. The MagZip should be hitting the shelves by the end of this year.

*Amazon links throughout are affiliate links.

Have you used any of these great products created buy OTs? Are there any products that you would add to this list? Please share in the comments!

Monday, April 14, 2014

App of the Week | Matrix Game

Matrix Game is actually a series of three apps developed by MyFirstApp.com. These games are designed to help develop visual perceptual skills. The games are progressively more challenging as you move from Matrix Game 1 to Matrix Game 3. I typically use Matrix Game 3, but all three apps are great. It just depends on the age and skill level of the child to determine the right one.

Here are a few screenshots:
Matrix Game 1
Matrix Game 2
Matrix Game 3

In each app, you simply drag the picture on the left side of the screen to the corresponding square on the grid. This requires visual perceptual, visual scanning, and visual motor skills. In addition, within each app, each level gets progressively more challenging. Overall, I think this is great OT tool!

App Information:

Name of App: Matrix Game 1, 2, and 3
Publisher: MyFirstApp.com
Compatible with: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price: Free for access to two levels; $2.99 in app purchase for access to all 12 levels
Matrix Game 1 (age 4+):

Matrix Game 2 (age 5+):

Matrix Game 3 (age 6+):

*Information was correct at the time of publication, but is subject to change, so please confirm prior to downloading. This post contains affiliate links.

Have you used the Matrix Games apps? What other apps do you use to help develop visual perceptual skills?

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Few Things

After coming home from the AOTA Conference in Baltimore, I jumped right into my first week at my new job. My brain is on a bit of overload right now as I adjust to new routines and process all of the information and experiences of conference, but I do have a recap post coming up on PediaStaff, so stay tuned! While I continue to get settled back into my real life, here are a few things I've come across that I think are worth sharing.

- As a therapist, you may be an expert, but don't forget that parents know their child best of all!

- What a great use for hair ties!

- Here is a FREE printable created by a mom to help her son learn to get dressed independently! It's kind of like a social story and it is awesome!

- This is exactly how I felt before the AOTA Conference, but I went and I had a great time!

- I've long questioned if w-sitting is really as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Thank you, Kendra for expressing my thoughts exactly. (side note: I think I w-sat until I was about 12 years old. So far, I have no long lasting effects, other than I still have weak core muscles)

- To continue with controversial topics, is the Bumbo seat as bad as everyone says? A PT's perspective.

- Thinking of sending your child with special needs to summer camp? Here are some great tips from Ellen Seidman.

- Introverts and Extroverts: Valuing Both. Things to remember when working with children.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Celebrating OT Month | Apps created by OTs

Last week I celebrated the work of Occupational Therapists by highlighting some great OT blogs. Today I'd like to share some OTs that are making a difference through the development of apps.

Ready to Print | Ready to Print is a pre-writing app developed by Dianne Reid, OTR/L. I love that this app progresses through pre-writing skills in a specific order so kids can master the skills necessary for writing. Some of the activities included in this app are matching shapes, tracing paths, connecting dots, and pinching. Click here to read my original review of Ready to Print.

Shelby's Quest | Shelby's Quest is another pre-writing app that focuses on fine motor and visual perceptual skills. Created by Kami Bible, OTR/L, the activities in this app include following mazes, pinching, and tracing shapes. Click here to read my original review of Shelby's Quest.

Wet Dry Try | Okay, I don't know if this app was actually created by an occupational therapist, but since Handwriting Without Tears was created by an OT, I'm going to include this one on the list. This handwriting app follows the same format as the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, specifically the Wet-Dry-Try approach using slate chalkboards.

Dexteria | It is my understanding that the Dexteria apps were created with the help of an occupational therapist (if anyone knows who that OT was, I'd love to give them credit). The original Dexteria app consists of three exercises to promote handwriting readiness: Tap It, Pinch It, Write It. Dexteria Junior is geared for younger kids and consists of three exercises to promote pre-writing skills: Squish the Squash, Trace & Erase, Pinch the Pepper. I personally use Dexteria Junior more than the original Dexteria, but both are great! Read my original review of Dexteria here and my original review of Dexteria Junior here.

Dexteria Junior:

BrainWorks | This app is a bit different from the others in this list. BrainWorks was developed by Gwen Wild, OTR and is designed to help kids select appropriate activities for their sensory breaks to meet their current sensory needs. This is a really cool app that can help kids become more independent in self-regulation. Read my original review of BrainWorks here.

Abilipad | This app was created by Cheryl Bregman, MS, OTR/L to allow children to develop writing skills and communication using text to speech, word prediction, and customizable keyboards. I have not tried this app yet, but it gets glowing reviews, including from Carol over at OTs with Apps, whose opinion I always trust!

*iTunes links throughout are affiliate links.

Do you use any of these apps? Are there any apps created by OTs that you would add to this list? Please share in the comments below! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

App of the Week | Visual Attention TherAppy

This is one of those apps that is an OTs dream! Visual Attention TherAppy is designed to practice visual scanning from left to right, which is a great pre-reading skill. This app has ten different levels, which provides numerous scanning activities. In addition, the font size is customizable and the number of lines can be customized, too! Check it out:

What I like about this app:

  • Results can be emailed, which makes for quick and easy data collection and progress monitoring
  • Font size is customizable
  • Number of lines is customizable, allowing 24-228 targets per screen
  • Can program the app to have a line on either the left or right side to encourage scanning all the way to the edge. Especially helpful for those with a visual neglect.
  • Ten levels provide a seemingly never-ending variety of scanning tasks 
  • Can choose similar or dissimilar targets and can choose one or two targets
  • Test mode allows targets to be tapped in any order, indicating if there is a particular area that is being neglected when scanning
  • Practice mode only allows left to right scanning. This is the mode I typically use.

How I use this app in therapy:

In addition to using this app in the traditional sense, I like to print out screenshots to make a paper-pencil scanning task. This is great because I can get in some pencil grip practice or I can hang the paper on a wall to practice writing on a vertical surface.

App Information:
Name of App: Visual Attention TherAppy
Publisher: Tactus Therapy Solutions
Compatible with: iPad; requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price: $9.99 for full version; lite version (access to one level and one size) is free

*Information was correct at the time of publication, but is subject to change, so please confirm prior to downloading. This post contains affiliate links.

Have you used this app? What are your favorite apps for visual scanning?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

See you at #AOTA14

I'm flying out to Baltimore today for the AOTA Conference and I'm really excited to meet some of my virtual blogging friends in real life! This is my first AOTA Conference and I have found AOTA's Conference App to be really helpful in narrowing down which sessions I want to attend. It's available for Android and Apple and it's FREE!! If you're attending the conference, I would really recommend that you download it.

Are you going to conference and are a first timer to Baltimore, like me? If so, Cheryl has written a really useful post on Baltimore attractions, but to be honest, I'm not sure that I'm going to see much more than the inside of the Conference Center :) I'll have to bookmark her post for the next time I'm in town.

If you're going to be at Conference, please stop by the brand new Leadership Reception on Friday night from 7:00-8:00 in the Hilton Key Ballroom 12. This is your opportunity meet and mingle with past and present leaders in AOTA and to explore potential leadership opportunities for YOU! I'll be there as a member of AOTA's Volunteer Leadership Development Committee (VLDC) and I hope to see you there, too! The VLDC is currently seeking candidates for a number of positions within AOTA. One of them might be a perfect match for you!

Not able to attend? Follow along on Twitter and Instagram. And don't forget to check out the current leadership opportunities!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Celebrating OT Month | OT Blogs

Happy OT Month! To kick off a month of celebrating the great work of occupational therapists, today I'd like to share some OT blogs that I think are pretty awesome. Please take a minute to visit these great blogs and support the hard work that is being done by these occupational therapists.

Mama OT | Christie is an OT and a mama. On her blog she shares tips and tricks for those who care for children. She often has fantastic guest posts from experts in child development.

Therapy Fun Zone | Tonya is a pediatric occupational therapist with experience working a variety of settings. Tonya has a wealth of information on her blog and website, including printables and a Therapy Fun Store.

OT Notes | Cheryl is one of the original OT bloggers and has even presented on social media at the AOTA Conference. She is currently on maternity leave from her blog, but she does post occasionally and there is a ton of great content in her archives.

Embrace Your Chaos | Dana blogs about encouraging child development, while dealing with the chaos of parenthood. She often shares cute crafts with an OT twist that she has completed with her daughter.

MAC&Toys | Meghan is a pediatric occupational therapist in New York City. On her blog, she shares toys, books, games, and apps that are therapist and children approved.

Miss Awesomeness | Karen is another pioneer in OT blogging. She began blogging as an OT student and continued to document her journey as she transitioned to practitioner. She is now taking another big step into independent consulting.

OT's with Apps | Looking for good apps to use in therapy? Look no further than Carol's blog. OT's with Apps shares reviews of iPad apps and accessories, and maintains an up to date list of apps by occupational performance.

Miss Mancy's Blog | Nancy (also known as Miss Mancy) shares therapeutic crafts and activities and categorizes activities by the skills they address. She also has a shop with fine motor and handwriting tools, as well as craft kits

Tell me, what OT blogs would you add to this list?

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