Happy World OT Day! This has also been "OT Week" in Australia! I have been involved in lots of promotion across social media to promote "occupational therapy" in some very exciting events!
One of these events has been the "You know you are an OT" challenge! Occupational Therapists (and OT assistants) are special people who are so passionate about their jobs!
Here are some of the memes I shared about being an OT.
There were also some fabulous contributions to the challenge by occupational therapists and OT assistants across the world. Here are some of my favourites:
I have also been busy this week organising many Australian OT week online events with the lovely Anna from Kids Play Space for the "Australian Paediatric Facebook Group".
We also asked group members to answer "You know you are an OT"... Here are some of my favourites!
This is has been so much fun to celebrate World OT day in this way! I hope some of these made you smile or chuckle or just nod your head in understanding!
Give your OTs some love this week and let them know that you appreciate them! Cheers to my fellow OTs!
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"Music is the universal language of mankind" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the American poet says it much better than I could! Music brings people together. It can bring such joy and emotion to both those who listen and those who make music. It can also be therapeutic. "Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing." (Australian Music Therapy Association). In my first job as an occupational therapist, I saw the effectiveness of music therapy with children with disabilities in a special school .
Today on the blog, I would like to introduce Natalie Wilson. Natalie has been playing guitar since she was 5 years old. She used to be a guitar teacher and her experience teaching with a variety of unique needs sparked her interest in music therapy’s ability to improve the lives of others. She believes music is a powerful way to spread positivity and wants to inspire music to children.
Natalie writes about "What Skills Children Can Learn from Music Therapy"! Welcome Natalie!
Music is an excellent therapeutic tool that can be used to develop motor, speech, cognitive, and communication skills in children. Regular music lessons have been shown to improve academic performance in children. For example, a study from Northwestern University revealed more sophisticated neural processing abilities in students who took instrumental music lessons than students who only listened to music. Another study found more increases in IQ in children who took music lessons than children who didn’t take lessons.
While these findings are well known in the musical community, many parents aren’t aware of music’s ability to encourage the development of important life skills in children. Not only is music education an excellent tool for encouraging positive child development, music therapy can effectively reduce or remediate cognitive, motor, and psychological issues. Since the Music and Memory project gained popularity in 2011, music therapy has become strongly associated with improving the lives of patients with dementia.
However, many parents aren’t aware of the ability to help those much younger than the population with dementia. Children experiencing myriad issues can benefit from therapeutic musical exercises and develop skills that will help them succeed in all areas of their life.
Here are some of the different skills your children can learn from music therapy
Music therapy is a great way to improve children’s abilities to vocalize and pronounce words correctly. Melodic intonation therapy is an approach that will work well for children with aphasia, which is a condition that impairs a child’s ability to comprehend or produce speech. Melodic intonation therapy is an effective to for teaching children how to produce speech, as it uses parts of the brain associated with singing. Singing using a different area of the brain than regular speech production, which allows therapists to achieve speech through a different pathway in the brain. Using melodic intonation therapy, children with what many know as “Broca’s aphasia” can learn to access regular speech through musical exercises.
Music therapy is also an excellent tool for children who have stuttering issues. Rhythmic speech cueing is a therapeutic approach that will allow the therapist to control a child’s rate of speech using a musical beat. For example, the therapist might use a metronome to either speed up or slow down the rate at which a child says a sentence in order to improve their speaking abilities.
MOTOR CONTROL SKILLS
Using musical instruments is a motivating way to improve motor skills in children. For example, if a child is experiencing weakness on one side of their body, a drum circle exercise will offer a unique way to exercise the affected arm. Not only will the child learn to move his or her affected limb, they will also learn how to control the movements more efficiently by learning to strike the drum on the correct beat. You can also strengthen a child’s limb by teaching them guitar.
If a child has difficulty moving one arm, teaching them to strum a guitar with that arm will lead to improvements that can be transferred to day-to-day life. If you want to learn more about the best guitars for a small child’s hands, take a look at this article.
Since music is a universally appreciated art form, music therapy can be used to encourage social skills in all children. Group music therapy involving children of around the same age can improve a child’s ability to socialize and may even create long lasting friendships. Through therapeutic songwriting exercises, drum circles, and improvisational music therapy exercises, participants will foster relationships and improve their ability to socialize with others. This is especially beneficial for children with an autism spectrum disorder who are learning how to socialize with other people.
Since children with autism spectrum disorders often experience difficulties expressing themselves, expressing their thoughts and feelings through sound may also teach them behavior management skills and emotional expression techniques. For more information, take a look at the symbolic communication training through music (SYCOM) technique explained here.
Musical exercises are also a great way to improve cognitive abilities in children. As was already mentioned, music lessons have been shown to improve neural processing and IQ scores in children. Music therapy can take things a step further and develop better functioning in children who are experiencing cognitive issues.
For example, musical sensory orientation training is a useful technique for children who might not have the same attention abilities seen in the average child population. Attention is necessary for learning to take place, so music therapy is therefore a very viable option for children whose learning processes have been stunted due to a lack of attentiveness.
In conclusion, music therapy can assist with a variety of different issues children may be facing. Whether you’re child is struggling with socialization, motor control, or attentiveness, music therapy may give you the improvements and skill cultivation you’re seeking. Enjoy watching your child grow with the help of music therapy!
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Please welcome today's guest blogger, speech pathologist Vincent Borg from Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic. Vincent is a leading specialist in stuttering therapy with almost 36 years of practice. Vincent is here to share about stuttering; what signs to look for, what to monitor and the treatment options which may help! This is a subject close to home as I sought speech pathology assistance for my son before he started school so that we could address a mild stutter. We participated in the Lidcombe program which is mentioned in this article!
It’s a common concern we hear at our speech pathology practice, particularly from parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers, “Our toddler started stuttering overnight.” It can be particularly worrisome for parents when their child was speaking perfectly fine beforehand.
Between the age of two and four years old, children suddenly have so much to say! Quite often their little brains simply cannot keep up with all the things they want to say not to mention also trying to figure out how to put sounds and words together into phrases that make sense.
Signs of stuttering in toddlers and pre-schoolers
Stuttering can not only present itself as sound, word or phrase repetition, for example,‘w-w-w-will you play with me?’ or ‘can-can-can I go outside?’ or ‘I want to, I want to, I want to um go home now’ but can present itself as a stuck or blocked sound production or the stretching of sounds, for example, ‘Ca___n I have a drink please?’
The development of language skills is like a huge jigsaw puzzle for young children as they try to grasp new words, sounds and phrases and dysfluency quite often occurs during this developmental period. Some children outgrow their stuttering once they move through this phase and some don’t. It can bequite difficult to determine whether or not stuttering is normal or if it will pass, this is why it’s best to take a proactive approach.
Closely monitoring the dysfluency is essential and if you’re concerned or unsure about your child’s stuttering, seeking speech therapy for stuttering from an experienced speech pathologist will give you answers and set your mind at ease. Treatment is most effective if started before the child turns six years old.
What types of stuttering treatment are available? Do they work?
The Lidcombe Program is a best practice treatment for young children who stutter in Australia. The program is a parent training program which teaches parents how to provide feedback regarding their child’s speech that is carefully worded and well-timed, during specific games and naturally occurring situations.
Parents and children that have undertaken the Lidcombe Program say that the program is fun and easy to implement. Children enjoy coming to our clinic to engage in the ‘smooth talking games’ and parents feel very empowered because they are equipped with the knowledge and tools to be able to be a direct therapist for their child.
What is smooth talking?
Smooth talking can also be known as speech restructuring, smooth speech, prolonged speech or The Camperdown Program and it teaches children with a stutter to use a slightly altered speech style to control their stuttering. This approach is effective in reducing stuttering where accurate self-monitoring and close attention is paid to the technique. We rarely recommend this treatment for very young children but do recommend it in partnership with the Lidcombe Program for older children.
What things to monitor before attending stuttering therapy?
To achieve the best possible outcome at a speech pathology appointment, it’s essential that you make close observations of your child’s stuttering and document the following:
How to support your child while they are experiencing stuttering?
If your child starts stuttering, in addition to making observations and seeking advice from a speech therapist, it’s essential to display sensitivity towards your child. Try not to make a big deal of their stuttering, let them know that you are there to help them through their frustration and that you will wait for them to say what they need to.
It’s so important that you’re not in a hurry to communicate with them. Try to slow down your questions and give them the amount of time they need to express themselves properly. Patience when it comes to stuttering is key.
Has your child started stuttering all of a sudden? Did it go away on its own or did you seek therapy?
By Vincent Borg
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OT is fun!
OT is work!
OT can be frustrating!
OT is learning!
OT is rewarding!
Kids who participate in occupational therapy sessions may have a range of feelings. They may feel all of the above in one session!
Kids come to OT because they need help. They want or need to learn something (because sometimes mum, dad or a teacher want them to learn something)!
Learning can be tough especially when mistakes are involved.
I wanted to encourage the kids who see me for OT with some "learning rules"! I shared these on social media last week and had a great response!
These rules are so much more than "OT rules"! They are a learning contract between myself and the kids that I see. We will do these things together.
We will do our best.
We will be ready to learn.
We will be respectful to each other.
We will work hard.
We will try new things.
We will follow directions (or give them in a way that takes into account their learning style).
We will ask questions (including asking for help).
We will have FUN!
We will believe in ourselves.
We will make mistakes (because that's how we learn)!
These "learning" rules are suitable for the classroom, home, therapy clinic .... for learning in life!
We are all life long learners and these posters may motivate you as the teacher, therapist or parent!
I have now made these posters available in the Your Kids OT shop. OT rules remains a FREE printable. You can also obtain the classroom and generic learning versions in the shop.
What is your favourite "rule" for learning?? How do you motivate your kids to learn?
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Today I would like to introduce the lovely Fi Morrison from "Mumma Morrison" as a guest blogger to Your Kids OT. Fi is a mother to a gorgeous baby boy (check out her Instagram feed to meet her bub) and a primary school teacher. I recently discovered that Fi taught one of my nieces a few years ago! My niece LOVED being in Mrs Morrison's class! Today Fi is helping us with 5 ways to promote social skills with children! This is a timely article with the recommencement of school here in Australia! Thanks so much Fi for writing this article!
I was sitting in my classroom next to Bryan* and Charlie*, helping them with their maths task, when Bryan snatched Charlie's pencil. Charlie started pointing the finger, crying and yelling, saying Bryan had stolen his pencil (which I obviously knew, because I was sitting RIGHT THERE).
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in my life as a teacher, and I'm sure it sounds all too familiar to parents and teachers everywhere. What do we do with those children who fight and bicker, who haven't learnt to share or turn take, and overall drive us bonkers with their antisocial antics? (My pet peeve is dobbing. I had students who would say, “SHE LOOKED AT ME” and it would drive me up the wall!).
I think many parents, and teachers, assume that social skills are inherent within children, but it is just not that simple. Social skills, like the majority of other skills, need to be taught to children and reinforced. While practice might not make perfect, it surely does make progress.
If you have been struggling with social issues with your child at home, or in a social or educational setting, these activities can help to improve their social skills and teach them the right way to deal with particular issues.
Social stories are particularly used by educators for students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). It is a visual story that describes certain situations or scenarios a child might encounter, and the best way to respond. It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to teach children social skills at home, because it is through the medium of story telling (a family favourite!) that the skills are reinforced.
For example, I had a year 2 student, Stacey*, in my class last year who had ASD and Anxiety. To support her transition to year 2, we created a social story by taking photos of our classroom, her peers, meeting spots and play areas around the school for her to be acquainted with, then bound the book into her social story. You could do something similar for a social situation your child struggles with. Take a photo of the situation in the wrong way (for example, pushing someone) and of the right way (standing next to each other, talking). Write captions for the story about the wrong way and the right way (I will not push someone if I don’t like what they say. I will stand next to them, talk to them and say ‘I don’t like what you said’). For older children, you can turn this into a learning activity and create the story together (which goes hand in hand with role plays, see below).
Role playing a situation can be a powerful way for your child to understand how someone might react to a situation. For example, if the situation was ‘Someone has said something mean to you’, work through the situation with your child the wrong way (what shouldn’t we do) and the right way (how can we react to that situation). By getting your child to physically act out and verbally respond to each scenario, and playing off the responses you give, your child can see the impact of their words and their actions on other people.
With role playing, however, you will need to be mindful of how you act out certain scenarios. Children might find some scenarios hurtful (such as saying something mean), and you don’t want it to escalate out of control. This might give you a lot more teaching than you were expecting! As a teacher, we need to be mindful about the scenarios we ask children to roleplay (for example, peer pressure to do certain things), however it is a helpful medium for children to develop their social skills and understand how their actions and responses affect others.
This activity works well with a group of children, and was taught by our Learning Support teacher at school. Children would sit in a circle, and the teacher would ask the children a question about a social scenario (e.g. If the teacher is talking to another student and you want to ask them a question, what do you do?). To monitor the discussion, the teacher would use a soft toy as the ‘talking’ prop, and whoever had the prop could answer the question. The social circle was a great way to promote discussion between peers, bounce ideas off one-another, and extend their thinking in different ways.
Puppets are absolutely by far one of my favourite educational (and play!) resources ever! They are super fun, engaging for children and can promote learning. I used to run puppet workshops for gifted and talented children, and social skills was one of the biggest benefits I would promote for children who attended the workshop.
Similar to role playing, puppets can be used as an engaging way to act out certain scenarios for children to respond to. However, puppets have two extra benefits:
Explicit discussion and modelling
As parents and teachers, we should never underestimate the power of a simple explanation from an adult and our own role modeling of the correct response.I would always reinforce this with posters in our classroom to remind the children after our conversation.
For example, with our dobbing situation, I sat the children down and spoke about when was an appropriate time to speak with me (if someone was hurt or in danger) and when there was a situation they could resolve themselves (someone using the wrong book for class work). After this, I modeled for them how the children could approach me about a situation, and then reinforced it with a display in the classroom.
Social skills are vital for children to learn to help them in a variety of social situations. By teaching and practicing these skills at home, as well as in educational settings, your child will develop the necessary social skills to participate in a variety of social settings both during childhood and beyond.
Have you found other ways to develop your child’s social skills?
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It has been a wonderful year for the YOUR KIDS OT blog (besides being sent a ransom virus which wiped out my computer files just before Christmas - eek) !
Thank you for reading and commenting on my articles as well as purchasing my resources!
This article will bring the most popular content for 2016! Perhaps you missed one?! What was your favourite?
MOST POPULAR POSTS - NEW TO 2016
1. Visual Perceptual Skills Required for Handwriting! We started the Functional Skills for Kids Series last year with this popular article! Read about different aspects of visual perception and its impact on letter formation, size and spacing.
2. Why is my child "just playing" when they see an OT? This article outlines the importance of play as a childhood occupation as well how therapists use "play" in therapy. There are details about finding a "just right challenge", using play as a medium to achieve goals and play as a goal in itself. There are practical ways to encourage your child to learn through play at home.
3. Quick Ways to Calm Down: Sea Life Sensory Solutions. Inspired by the sea, learn how to make a "puffer fish puff", "clam cuddle", "turtle tongue" and a "starfish stretch". Based on sensory processing theory, these "calm down techniques" facilitate self regulation through breathing and proproiceptive input. Later in the year I also added colouring pages to this free printable!
4. Sensory Triggers in the classroom. This article outlines sensory triggers that your child may experience in the classroom. Children may be over-responsive or under-responsive to stimuli in the classroom. The article considers visual, auditory, touch, movement, oral and olfactory (smell) triggers and includes a free printable.
5. Brain Breaks To Help Concentration in the Classroom. Looking back on brain-based education and also considering sensory integration principles, "brain breaks" may be used to "alert" or to calm" children down in a classroom environment. Find some popular "brain breaks" that teacher's love to use!
6. Motion Sickness - A Sensory Issue. Sensory Triggers when travelling in a car. Have you considered the sensory information that your child may be processing when travelling in a car? This article looks at the visual, auditory, proprioceptive, vestibular, oral and olfactory triggers that your child may experience in a car that may lead to discomfort and motion sickness. Later I also wrote some helpful tips with "Sensory Solutions When travelling in the Car".
7. Teaching Concepts for Potty Training. You can begin "potty training" way before your child is physically ready to use the potty. Consider the "concepts" they need to know like back/front, wet/dry and dirty/clean. Simple counting and body awareness are also important concepts for children to grasp before potty training begins!
8. Sensory Considerations for Dressing. Another popular article looking at which sensory triggers can affect a child's willingness to get dressed or undressed. This article explores sensory triggers, looks at your child's behaviour, provides strategies as well as a free checklist!
9. I can brush my teeth! Tips for Tooth Brushing and Oral Care. This is an important personal hygiene task for everybody! This articles looks at developmental ages and stages to encourage tooth brushing for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children. This article also addresses the components needed for tooth brushing with fine motor, gross motor, visual motor, sensory, attention and concentration skills. There is a guide to an oral desensitisation protocol as well as free printable resources (tip sheet, rewards chart and checklist)!
10. 4 Ways to Modify Meal Times for Fussy Eaters. Take the stress out of meal times finding alternate cutlery, dinnerware and lunchboxes. Encourage a regular routine and hide extra veggies in meals!
MOST POPULAR PRODUCTS 2016!
1. Sea Life Sensory Solutions (Quick Ways to Calm Down).
2. Sensory Triggers in the Classroom.
3. Pencil Grip Reference Sheet.
4. Sensory Diet Reference Sheet.
5. Visual Perception Reference sheet.
Some readers also chose to purchase some of these popular sheets in a bundle with the newly launched "Bilateral Coordination and Laterality Reference Sheet". Find details of the discounted bundle package here!
FUN FACTS 2016!
Certainly a highlight for me in 2016 has been participating in the "Functional Skills for Kids" Blog Series with some amazing bloggers. We are working behind the scenes to publish our first book soon! Don't forget to subscribe to the Facebook group to be the first to find out about our launch and receive discounts!
Are you new to YKOT? What article or resource brought you to my site?
What was your favourite in 2016?
I would love to hear from you and look forward to another great year in 2017!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Cindy is a registered Occupational Therapist practising in Sydney Australia. She has two young children who are a constant source of inspiration and learning. Cindy loves working creatively to help children to reach their potential, finding opportunities in everyday living and making learning fun. Cindy is the author of the Occupational Therapy blog Your Kids OT.
Social skills may be described as "abilities necessary to get along with others and to create and maintain satisfying relationships" (Kennedy-Moore, 2011). These abilities may include verbal and non-verbal forms of communication such as using appropriate greetings, language, gestures, body posture, manners and other social conventions.
Expectations of "appropriate" social skills may be influenced by local culture, location, presence of particular people, an event and even gender. As adults, we may be familiar with visiting a foreign country and not understanding the social conventions expected in certain situations. We may become frustrated with other adults who do not to follow social conventions which we deem as "expected" or "normal".
We expect children to develop social skills by watching adults model language and behavior, however this may be difficult for some children to learn. Social skills involve the ability of a child to "see" (pick up social cues), "think" (interpret the behavior of others) and "do" (interact in a positive way) (Kennedy-Moore, 2011). This level of insight usually develops as a child becomes more mature, however for some children it can be extremely difficult. Some children will need explicit instruction about how to participate in social situations with both their peers and adults.
Teaching social skills to children is a gradual process that begins as early as a baby can say "ta" in exchange for something which is given to them. Further social skills are developed through modelling, providing opportunities for social interaction and teaching children words and behavior. The National Association of School Psychologists (2002) suggest that learning social skills is made through incidental learning and normal activities, addressing environmental factors and individual factors which may affect your child (NASP Center, 2002)
In this article, I look at community activities to encourage your child's development of social skills. Depending on your child's individual factors, you may teach these skills by modelling, role-play, use of social stories and/or direct instruction.
These are some common community activities that you and your child might participate in. There are many more which in which I have not covered - Can you think of some of the frequent social community events you participate in (eg. playing in a sport's team, walking around the block, attending church, etc..) . I have not included social skills in the playground (read this HERE) and read about social skills at school next month with the Functional Skills for Kids Blog Series!
One place where children and adults can build social skills is with conversation at the dinner table ... whether that be at home or at a restaurant. Sometimes both children and adults struggle with "dinner conversation". There are some great printables at "Conversation Starters" and "Childhood 101" to help start your conversations.
I have also developed a FREE PRINTABLE called "Would you choose...". This is a pack of 29 "simple choices" to help start conversations. They include would you choose snow or surf, cereal or toast, apple or pear... a quick response may lead to further discussion as you delve into "why" they chose this option. It also provides an opportunity for adults to share about their experiences and preferences. Download your copy HERE today!
This article is part of “Functional Skills for Kids: 12 month series by Paediatric Occupational and Physical Therapists”. You can find lots of great tips and tricks to help your children with their participation in the community in the links below. Make sure you bookmark this page so you can come back to read all the links!
Developmental Progression of Community Skills | Your Therapy Source
How to Support Your Child’s Core Strength Development Every Day | Miss Jaime, O.T.
Attention and Behavior Concerns and Independence in the Community | Sugar Aunts
Modifications for Kids with Special Needs in the Community | Growing Hands-On Kids
Calming Games and Activities for Outings | The Inspired Treehouse
Working on following Directions When Out | Therapy Fun Zone
Using Community Activities to Develop Your Child’s Social Skills |Your Kids OT
Kennedy-Moore, E. (2011) What are Social Skills? Helping Children Be Comfortable and Competent in Social Situations. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 21/07/2016 at www.psychologytoday.com
National Association of School Psychologists (2002) Social Skills: Promoting Positive Behavior, Academic Success, and School Safety. Retrieved on 21/7/2016 at www.naspcenter.org
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The school playground can be an intimidating place! Depending on the school... lots of kids, lots of space and lots of noise! Surviving and indeed enjoying the school playground with friends, is often the main concern for parents as their children start school.
Children in the playground need to be able to initiate conversation, join in a group, negotiate, take turns, understand and follow rules in a game, co-operate with others, assert their opinion whilst listening to others, empathize appropriately and be a good sport!
One of the keys to a positive experience in the school playground is the development of social skills prior to starting school. These skills may be encouraged over time whilst children play in their everyday settings.
Social skills between children are learnt through play experiences with other children. These skills are important for communication , self confidence, resilience and positive relationships.
Development of Social Interaction Skills
By 3 years of age, children are playing beside each other with the same activity (parallel play). These children are interested in their own activity, whilst happy to sit next to anther child who is also interested in their own activity. You may find children in a sand pit where they are all playing with the sand (eg. digging, pouring, building) but they may not be playing the same game together. Children are beginning to take turns with other children.
By 4 years of age, children begin to co-operate and negotiate their play with other children. They express play ideas and who will play what role, however they may also have difficulty resolving conflicts on their own. Children are starting to play group games with rules, learning to follow these rules and encouraging others to also follow the rules.
By 5 years of age, children can co-operate and negotiate in their play. Games and imaginary play are becoming more complex and organised. Children are learning to approach others to join in a group as well as assert themselves to manage conflict. These children are learning to stand up for themselves against antisocial or undesirable behaviour from their peers.
By 6 - 8 years of age, children are learning about good sportsmanship in games (being a good winner and a good loser). They are learning how to empathize with other children and offer support. Children are also learning how to communicate their needs and ideas, whilst respecting and listening to the needs of others. They are working out how to negotiate when disagreements arise as well as making joint decisions.
Whilst these social skills are written with age guidelines, you may find older children also participating in the types of play listed for younger children. This is especially common when children are meeting each other for the first time or getting to know each other. For example, when children start school they are unfamiliar with their environment and the other children so may be happy to play alongside other kids with limited interaction.
Some children will have difficulty with the social skills required in a playground.
Here are 5 ways to help your child's social skill development!
(1) Provide social situations where child interaction is fostered - These might include places such as a park, the beach, play date at home, church playground, local pool, camp ground, etc.
(3) Game Play
(5) Collaboration and Conflict Resolution
Setting up a successful playground environment for children who have difficulty with social skills!
Some children (such as children with Autism Spectrum Disorder) may continue to struggle in a playground environment because of difficulties with social skills. There are some playground modifications which can help these children as well as others.
(1) Provide quiet spaces.
Playgrounds should provide places for social interaction as well as spaces where children may be alone or in a quiet space. This may be a bench under a tree, a fort, grass area or the library where children are encouraged in quiet time.
(2) Provide some structure within the playground.
This may include time to eat in a certain area then time to play in a certain area.
(3) Provide opportunities for structured games.
This may include an area for board games, table tennis, hopscotch or basketball, etc.
(4) Provide opportunities for a "club" run by a teacher or older students.
This may include gardening, music, chess, frisbee, etc.
(5) Provide a visual timer or clock so children can monitor how much time they have in the playground.
(6) Provide a designated place for children to "meet up" in the playground.
(7) Assign children to a "playground buddy" to look out for another child in the playground.
(8) Provide a visual checklist of activities children may do whilst in the playground. Maybe a few strategic posters could be placed outside the classroom windows.
This may include eating lunch, playground equipment, visiting the bathroom, reading a book or it might include action pictures such as star jumps, frog jumps, hopping, etc.
(9) Provide playground equipment which requires more than one child to operate.
The "We-Saw" is an example of this sort of equipment which encourages social interaction.
What are your best tips for supporting children in the playground?
This article is part of “Functional Skills for Kids: 12 month series by Paediatric Occupational and Physical Therapists”. You can find lots of great tips and tricks to help your children thrive in the playground in the links below!
Developmental Progression of Playground Skills | Your Therapy Source
Promoting Fine Motor Skills at the Playground |Miss Jaime OT
How to Support Gross Motor Skills Needed for Playground Success | Mama OT
Sensory Integration Therapy at the Playground | Sugar Aunts
Modification Ideas for Playground Equipment for Children | Growing Hands-On Kids
Playground Rules to Break for Greater Play Skill Development | Kids Play Space
Playground Games and Activities for Kids | The Inspired Treehouse
Essential Social Skills To Survive the School Playground! |Your Kids OT
Developing Visual Skills and the Playground | Therapy Fun Zone
Stagnitti, K. (2013) Learn to Play. A practical program to develop a child's imaginative play skills. Co-ordinates Publications.
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Today I would like to introduce Lauren from Teacher Types as a guest blogger giving us some helpful hints for learning sight words! Lauren is a mother of two, Early Years teacher, proud Adeladian and blogger at www.teachertypes.com. Parents and teachers of young children can be inspired with her play based activity ideas and parenting stories. A big thanks to Lauren for this great article to help your children with learning sight words!
Many parents are looking for new and interesting ways to help their children learn sight words at home, so today I've compiled a list for Cindy and her readers (I hear Cindy's son is getting close to the learning to read stage!).
Firstly, I just want to explain a bit about how the whole 'learning to read' process happens. Basically there are three skills a child needs;
The English language is a tricky one for little people to master - words like 'they', 'said', 'put' and 'was' are not easy to sound out by using your alphabet knowledge. Hence, sight words (or ‘tricky words’ as we call them when using the Jolly Phonics program) are a vital part of the learning to read jigsaw puzzle.
Each school may have a different system for teaching/learning sight words, however generally speaking your child will probably be given a list of words weekly or fortnightly to learn, and once they master this list, they move up to a new one.
In the image above you can see a few examples of 'word building' - which is the skill of putting letters together to sound out and make words. Children love using hands on materials rather than just looking at words on paper. You can…
In the image above more great ideas to learn sight words!
Learning to read can be challenging for some children, where as for others it comes naturally. But it’s so magical when you see the light bulb go on and they just ‘get it’. The key is to make it a fun experience rather than like ‘pulling teeth’. If you child is excited about reading – you’re half way there!
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Paediatric Occupational Therapy Assessment: An application of the Occupational Performance Model (Australia).
Occupational Therapists work in a variety of settings. We see children in their home, a clinic setting, hospital or educational settings. We might work closely with medical staff, parents and educators. It can be confusing for people who have never met (or even heard of occupational therapists) to understand what we actually do! How do we differ from other professionals working with your child? You may also be wondering if an elderly relative who has had a stroke just saw an OT, how can we possibly help your child?!
To understand what we are looking for when we see your child for an assessment takes me back to university and the models of practise we studied. Depending on our training (from all over the world) we might take slightly different approaches. Having studied at Sydney University, the main theoretical model taught was the Occupational Performance Model (Australia) [OPM(A)]. Read more about the model here or for OTs interested in publications related to this model, find them here.
But what does this mean when my child has an assessment???
This model of practice helps an OT to consider the whole child ... their roles, activities, where their performance may need help, areas of strength and the context they are in (family, cultural, social, etc). We may not consider every area in great detail depending on the reason for contacting us, however it gives us a framework to look at your child.
Here is a typical scenario from my current OT practise to help you see what we consider when assessing your child .
REASON FOR REFERRAL -
A six year old child has difficulty with handwriting and producing legible work. The child is in year one at school and the teacher reports that they have difficulty paying attention in class and is constantly breaking pencils.
ASSESSMENT PROCESS -
OTs consider the child's role as a student and friend in the classroom. What is preventing them from participating fully in those roles? We would also consider any impact this has on the child as a "player", "self-carer" or "son/daughter".
Occupational Performance Areas:
Then we consider the areas of self-maintenance, rest, leisure/play and productivity/school occupations. Based on the referral, emphasis would be on school tasks (ie. productivity) - What school tasks and functions are they having difficulty completing? This might include writing activities, mathematics, sitting on the floor, listening to instructions, transitioning between tasks, completing work in a timely manner, etc.
Occupational Performance Components:
What components may need to be address that may explain underlying difficulties?
* Biomechanical - This may include muscle tone, range of motion, strength, manipulation, joint stability, coordination, bilateral coordination, fine motor and gross motor skills.
For this case study we may look at how the child holds the pencil, how they produce written work, how they move their hand/arm/shoulder, posture of head/body, what the written work looks like.
* Sensory motor - This may include a child's under or over responsiveness to touch, movement, sight, sound, taste and smell as well as theirvisual perceptual skills and body awareness.
For this case study we may consider how much pressure the child is applying to the pencil, do they have sensory seeking behaviour, what are they doing when they have difficulty paying attention, what is the classroom environment like ?
* Cognitive - This may include perceiving, planning, sequencing, problem solving, understanding concepts, learning, short term/long term and working memory.
For this case study we may consider the child's familiarity with the alphabet and letter formation, We may also consider how they structure sentences.
* Intra personal - This may include self regulation, self esteem, inner drive and motivation to participate in activities.
For this case study we may consider the child's behaviour and motivation in the classroom. Does this differ in different environments? What does the child find motivating? Do have difficulty controlling their emotions?
* Inter personal - The ability to relate to other children and adults. This may include communication, following instructions, asking for help, taking turns and waiting.
For this case study we may consider how the child relates in a 1:1 context compared with a classroom environment? Who are they seated near and what impact does that have on the child? What is their proximity to the teacher's desk from their own desk?
OTs use a variety of standardised and non-standardised assessments as well as observations of your child in their natural environments. OT reports can be quite daunting for parents and teachers as we are looking at such a range of things for your child. I hope this article helps to explain the background behind your child's assessment and report.
As OTs we may use a model like the Occupational Performance Model (Australia) with people throughout their lifespan. OTs work in aged care, mental health, rehabilitation, disability, return to work programs and increasingly diverse populations. They may also consider some of the same things we consider in your child to help them to maximise function and independence.
If you would like your own copy of this application of the OPM (Australia), you can download your FREE copy here! Please redirect your friends, family and colleagues to this page so they can download their own copy as well!
Has this article helped you to understand occupational therapy assessment?
What model of practice underpins your work as an OT?
Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should be used for educational and entertainment purposes. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions. This blog does not replace formal therapeutic professional advice given by a health professional or medical practitioner. Reviews and endorsements of products will only be made based on my expertise and personal opinion; and deemed worthy of such endorsement. The opinions shared in sponsored content will always be my own and not that of the advertising company or brand. Content, advertising space or posts will be clearly identified if paid, affiliated or sponsored. Affiliate links may be found throughout this website in advertising. This means that if you follow through with a purchase from these links, Your Kids OT will receive a percentage of the sale. Your Kids OT undertakes to meet the requirements of the "Social Media Policy" as published by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Further information about this policy can be found here.
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