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Posts Tagged ‘therapies’

Recently, Pookie did a new level of bead threading at his occupational therapy session.  He is now threading pony beads onto a pipe cleaner.  Huge step forward for someone who has to be taught to use his fingers due to no natural fine motor development.  Because of all the developmental delays that he is working through in the OT sessions, I have always tried to incorporate some of those activities into his homeschooling.

While out shopping today, I went to the Dollar Tree store.  I absolutely LOVE going there to get some of the craft supplies we use for OT at home.  This trip, I found pony beads and pipe cleaners in their craft dept.  A couple pipe cleaners and a dish of beads in a bowl will make a great Montessori-style activity to help with his fine motor development.

hearts

At the Valentine’s display area, I found a package of 50 plastic red hearts about 1/2 inch in size.  These are perfect to use on Valentine themed do-a-dot pictures.  Instead of using the markers, Pookie can place one red heart in each circle on the page.   The hearts can become a math manipulative as well as something to add to a sensory bin.  There were many other items that would make fun sensory bin additions or manipulatives.

The longer I homeschool Pookie, the more I am seeing how easily his OT activities can be used in a Montessori styled setting.  It is easy to recreate the OT activities and place them in baskets or bins for Pookie to work with throughout the week.   Soon, I will be restructuring Pookie’s homeschool area.  The workboxes were a good idea, but in practice, they were not as effective as they could have been.  For Pookie, out of sight is out of mind.  He didn’t like to open drawers to find his next activity or project.  So, this time I will be setting up shelves with open baskets and bins.  It will resemble a home Montessori arrangement.  The hope is that Pookie will see the activities and be a little more spontaneous in doing them.  Anything that brings about more independence in his world is the goal.

 

 

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I want to get a bit real today.  Often, people who are not around those with autism have no clue on how the journey goes.  Granted, each family and individual are on their own personal journey.  This blog is just about our own family’s travels along the path called autism.

One of the issues that we deal with on a somewhat regular basis is having to decide if some of Pookie’s developmental delays are truly a delay, a habit, or him simply being stubborn.  Let’s face it.  If he has someone doing tasks for him on a regular basis, why would he want to change that?  So, here is a typical challenge that we deal with.

Pookie used to be able to feed himself both finger foods.  He had also begun using a spoon completely on his own.  One funny story that I can share is when he would go into the pantry, grab up a jar of peanut butter, remove the lid and go get a spoon to eat the peanut butter with.  He actually would sneak into the pantry to do this.  I would hear him in the kitchen and find him scooping out spoons of peanut butter to feed to himself.  Considering that he didn’t eat much meat at the time, I didn’t mind him doing this.  I kept one jar that was exclusively for him on a pantry shelf he could easily reach.

Suddenly, about 1.5 years ago, he got sick with a fever that lasted a full week.  The doctor couldn’t explain it other than to say she thought it might be a virus.  She had no definitive answer though.  When he recovered from that fever, Pookie had regressed.  He no longer was able to feed himself.  We were back to square one.  He wasn’t even able to feed himself finger foods.  It was like having a young baby again who needed you to feed them and help hold their sippy cup in order to drink.  Unfortunately, regressions in autistic children are often like this.  Your child can have some skills in an area that suddenly disappear and set you back to square one.  A fear that parents often face is that there is always a chance that the skill will never return.

So, here we are 1.5 years later.  Pookie is able to drink from a cup if it has a sports bottle type of spout.  He feeds himself finger foods and is using a spoon or fork.  What is the downside of this?  He refuses to drink or eat completely on his own.  Let me explain.  He will bring his sports bottle to me and set it down beside me.  He then waits until I tell him to drink it.  Then he picks it up and drinks from the sports bottle.  If he has to stop and take a breath while drinking, he sets the sports bottle down and we have to go through the entire routine all over again for him to take another drink. In feeding himself, he is able to eat most things on his own,  The only exception being a brothy soup or other liquidy food.  The strange part is that in order for him to pick up the food or his fork/spoon, he needs to feel you touch his shoulder or elbow.  We jokingly refer to this as touching his start button.  Lately, I have been looking at the situation and wondering how much of this is habit/routine and how much is that for some other reason he still needs the prompting?

This has got to be one of the hardest aspects of raising an autistic child.  It is especially challenging when you cannot talk to them and find out why they do things in their quirky way.  Pookie cannot express through speech or other communication method enough to tell us what is going on in this area.  We also are unable to explain in a way he understands that it is okay for him to eat and drink on his own.  That we want him to have that independence.

His OT has been helping in this where she can.  It has definitely been an interesting puzzle to figure out.  Over the past few days, Pookie has been making small improvements in his self-feeding.  We no longer have to be touching him from the time he picks up the utensil until the food is in his mouth.  Now, a simple light touch/tap to the shoulder will get him to eat a bite of his meal on his own.  We don’t have to keep our hand there.  We only have to give him a quick light touch to get him to eat.  We are fading out of that routine very gradually.

In the self-feeding and drinking area, we are finally making progress.  The question still comes to mind though.  Did he need that extra gesture from us due to habit or was there some other underlying need that he wanted fulfilled?

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I wanted to share today some of my favorite resources for ideas to use in homeschooling Pookie.  With the significant developmental delays that he is having to overcome, I try and incorporate occupational therapy styled activities wherever possible.  There are many websites for OT activities available online.  Here are some of the best “go to” resources that I use.

Therapy Street for Kids is a database of ideas that are categorized by the developmental skill that you are working on.  When putting together Pookie’s TEACCH tasks for the day, I choose activities from the areas that I want him to focus on that session.  The activities listed require minimal supplies.  To date, I have not had to purchase anything special to do the tasks.  I do love the fact that the activities that involve specific types of games give me ideas of what to purchase when I see them on sale or at a thrift store.  If you happen to be unfamiliar with the developmental skills listed, the site also provides a very thorough explanation of the skill.

OT Plan is a searchable database of OT activities that you can use.  I love the fact that I can search by skill or by materials used.  For example, if you have cotton balls, you can click on the Materials search button, scroll down to cotton balls and click.  You are then taken to a skills page. Once the skill areas are chosen, you are given suggested activities.

OT Mom Learning Activities is yet another resource that has the activities categorized by skill.  Like with the other sites, the materials used are basic ones.  Within each skill level, there are activities that you can do using what you already have at home.

The Ultimate Guide to Autism Home Therapy on the Meet Penny blog is a comprehensive listing of their favorite blogs and websites for OT activity ideas.  I love this listing and have found ideas at each resource.  Tabitha, who writes the blog, was in a situation where she had to become creative in providing therapy activities for their own child.  The result was finding these blogs.  The ideas are very effective and fun.  Best of all, you can make them on even the tightest of budgets.

Your Therapy Source is an online resource for Occupational and Physical therapists to purchase materials they often use in their sessions.  I found a page however that is a long list of activities that you can access for free.

Make, Take and Teach is a blog that has free printable activities available.  At the time I am writing this, they are offering a Mitten Match game.  The child matches pairs of mittens by doing the math problem.  For example one mitten may have the problem 2+3 and the other will have the answer 5.

Teaching Ideas is a UK based website.  This link takes you to a special education resource directory. I love this page in that it not only has activities but gives advice on how to teach a special needs child.

Childcare Land is a favorite site that I have been using for several years.  I first found it when I was doing preschool with Little Miss.  Lots of ideas for preschool level activities.

Autism and More is a website set up by occupational therapists to serve as a support for teachers and parents.

MontHome is a site with a plethora of activities that are inspired from the Montessori educational method.  The activity bin ideas are perfect fit for TEACCH style homeschooling.

On Pinterest, you can find a wide range of ideas for educational and developmental skill building activities.  DIY Montessori Activities is a collaborative board which has pins from multiple people.  The ideas that are gleaned there have been especially helpful.

I hope that these websites offer to you some ideas to build upon with your own children.  The activities are easily assembled for workboxes, trays, or activity bags.  Write onto an index card the information about the activities that you are wanting to assemble.  Place the cards into a recipe box with divider tabs categorizing the various developmental skills or school subjects for quick reference.  You can further organize these cards by using a different color marker to make a line across the top edge of the cards to color code the categories.

Enjoy!

 

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So Excited for Pookie

Tuesday we made the journey to Tulsa for two appointments at Therapy Works.  I am so happy with how it is going.  Pookie was fitted a few weeks ago with leg braces referred to as “rabbits.”  Rabbits are a brace that stabilizes the ankles, supports his arches which collapse as he walks, and the top portion of the braces resemble rabbit ears.  The “ears” are extensions that come up the sides of his calves, leaving the front and back open.  One of the functions of these supports was to prevent him from toe-walking, which he does nearly constant. From the first day that he wore the supports, Pookie continued to toe-walk.  Within a couple of days, he had the front of the support that is under his toes looking curved upward.  It was clear after a few days that these were not going to work.  His PT then ordered a new set of supports called “kangaroos” which provide more restriction of movement.  Unlike the rabbit style that has the open back at the calves, the kangaroos are solid. On Tuesday, Pookie was fitted with his new supports.  Laci, the therapist that fitted him, had Pookie walk in them so she could see how he managed.  Immediately, he was toe-walking again.  She was very surprised.  After getting a second therapist’s opinion, it was decided that if he is still toe-walking when we go back next week they will add more rigid support under the toe area to hopefully prevent him from walking on his toes. After that appointment we had a light lunch before going to his OT appointment.  His OT, Amanda, had arranged for a rep to be there so Pookie could be measured for a medical stroller.  What a blessing it will be!  He doesn’t have the endurance to go places where a lot of walking is involved without a wheel chair or some other assistance. He is tall enough to not fit in shopping carts or standard strollers anymore.  So, the medical stroller is going to be a huge improvement for us.  He will be able to enjoy outings much more often.

After the rep was finished, Pookie did some FloorTime therapy with Amanda.  By the time they were done, he was singing in his own way the song “The B-I-B-L-E”.  During their play time, Amanda would stop at intervals and wait for him to sign “more” for her to continue the play.  He loved it.  At that time, she had him swinging in round hammock style swing.  He was laughing and having a lot of fun.  When his therapy time was done, Pookie actually was resistant to leave.  He wanted to stay and continue to play with Miss Amanda.

It was a great day.  The most productive so far.  I can’t wait to see how he responds and grows through the therapy over the next year and beyond.

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Our lives have taken a very busy turn. On to of our already busy lives, Pookie has begun to receive speech and occupational therapies. If insurance allows, he will get both twice a week. In six months, the physical therapist will evaluate him again to determine if he is ready to start that therapy up. The only thing stopping him now is that he needs to be able to work with her better than he did at the first evaluation.

With the changes, I have altered how we homeschool each day.  We are doing a more relaxed method. I have a blank lesson planner where I record what we do each day. This gives me the ability to see that the kids are working in the subjects on schedule each week.  If I see they didn’t do any science for a couple of days, I can be sure to have them do a science activity the next day.

Using Heart of Dakota, along with numerous library books, we are able to do all of the curriculum without difficulty.  For Pookie, I am shifting gears a bit. The kindergarten level was a bit too much. I use out add a topic guide but find preschool level unit studies and lapbooks for him to do.

Little Miss gets a large portion of her lessons from reading books. A also do activities for science, math, and art.

I was unsure at first just how workboxes would fit into our new routine. Turned out that out goes very well.  Materials for lapbooks and unit studies are stored in the workboxes. I also add educational games, flashcards, file folder activities, and any other materials that I want easily assessable.

On therapy days, Little Miss takes a book to read, a portfolio with worksheets, or some other items along in her backpack.  As Pookie does his therapies, she is able to do her schoolwork.  Not a perfect solution but it is working so far. May start taking her tablet so she can play educational games as well.

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