Handwriting Resource/Information

If you are looking for a resource to address your child’s handwriting while they are home, please refer to the following link listed below. Learning Without Tears provides resources to address the underlying visual motor deficits when tackling handwriting difficulties that particularly address sizing/spacing/formation challenges. During the closing of schools, Learning Without Tears is offering free 90 day access to handwriting resources and 120 day access to keyboarding access. In addition they are offering free shipping on workbooks and materials until April 15th. Please visit http://LWtears.com/programs/distance-learning to gain access to more information, including how-to videos to support your use of these tools.

Some information during the closing of school for the Coronavirus Pandemic…..

Because of the unique circumstances that this health crisis has caused, please focus on the health and safety of your family as that is the number one priority during this time.

The roots of Occupational Therapy practice goes back to function and play (the occupation of students) So….during this time, which is uncertain and can be scary to not only adults but also to our children, please focus on the time you can spend with your children and incorporate functional things and lots of PLAY into your schedule. Take family walks, have your children help in the kitchen, teach them chores they can do (fold towels, match socks, set the table, clean down surfaces, sort laundry by color, etc.).

As long as the weather holds out and with Spring around the corner have your children ride their bike, play basketball in your driveway, play with sidewalk chalk outside. The fresh air is good for everyone and play is the true occupation of children. Indoor play can incorporate play-doh, legos, coloring, making cards for neighbors/friends.

Read with your children, hold them close and try to have a schedule that will help promote some routine during these uncertain times. Limit the news on tv where your children can hear things that may cause more panic. Limit screens as much as possible (tv, I-pad, video games, etc.) in exchange for talking, taking family walks, outdoor play as well as indoor play with toys. This is the time to get creative – make forts, play board games and card games, create an indoor obstacle course by crawling under chairs, jumping, rolling on the carpet, etc.

The Occupational Therapy staff is awaiting further direction and will be posting OT activities. I will provide those more specific activity ideas as we develop them.

Until my next post – take care of yourself and your family, follow the protocols that we are given and we will get through all of this together !

What is the process for my child to receive OT at school?

Occupational Therapy (O.T.) is a skilled service that is offered to students who qualify for special education services and also qualify for occupational therapy based on an evaluation that shows evidence of a moderate to severe need.
A MTSS meeting (Multi-tiered system of support) is usually the first step when a teacher is concerned about a student’s academic/behavioral/emotional needs. It is in a MTSS meeting that a team of professionals discuss strategies to put into place to support a student. After data is tracked, it is determined if strategies were successful or if testing is appropriate to determine if a student would possibly qualify for special ed services and or further support should they qualify.
A parent also has the right to request testing if they suspect that their child may require special education support.
OT is not a stand alone service – a student must legally qualify for special education services to receive occupational therapy. Occupational Therapy supports both students and teachers so that students can maximize their potential as independently as possible in the least restrictive environment.
We focus on what the student is capable of, given modifications or strategies if needed. We also provide education to the staff regarding various disabilities and discuss strategies to enhance a student’s overall functioning.

Crossing midline importance

Students who have trouble making letters and shapes, especially those with diagonal lines may also have trouble crossing the midline of their body.

If you can picture an imaginary line down the middle of your body, dividing your right side from your left side, this will help you learn how to cross the midline.  We do this when we have a strong hand dominance.  If you are right handed, you will most likely cross over the left side of your body to pick up an item.

Children who do not have a strong sense of either hand dominance or their body may avoid crossing over the midline.  This affects our ability to integrate both the right and left hemispheres of the brain, therefore limiting reading and writing development.

So…if your child has messy handwriting or forms shapes that don’t look accurately, you may want to pay attention to see if they are crossing over the midline of their body.

If not,  refer to braingym.org for crossing midline exercises.

Tips for Pediatric Feeding

As occupational therapists, we often work with students on self-feeding. The students we work with may have difficulties with sensory processing skills or oral motor skills that make feeding difficult.

In addition, we work closely with these students’ parents to ensure carry over of skills.

Here are some helpful tips when working on feeding with your child.

  1. Have your child help with meal preparation. This allows the child to experience sensory stimuli such as touch, smell, taste, and sight. If the child gains more awareness of the ingredients, they may be more likely to try the food.
  2. Meals should last no longer than 20-30 minutes. When a child has difficulty with feeding, we want to make sure that we are not pushing them too much. If we push too much, the child may resent mealtime. We want to make sure mealtimes are fun and productive.
  3. When having dinner, parents should offer the child at least one preferred food item. This will encourage and motivate the child to eat more.
  4. Parents should offer non-preferred foods EVERY OTHER DAY. We do not want to burn the child out. We want to make sure that they are still excited and invested in the feeding process.
  5. If a child gets upset during feed, stop the meal all together and revisit the food about 30-60 minutes later. This rule of thumb will give the child some time to reset before trying feeding again.
  6. The child should decide how much to eat. If the child requests to stop eating, then we should listen. As an adult, if we were full but had someone tell us to keep eating, we would not be too happy. We need to keep the child’s requests in mind.
  7. If the parent wants the child to eat more (maybe due to weight concerns) then the parent should suggest eating more only 2-3 times. After trying to encourage them to eat the third time, we should stop the feeding process.

One of the biggest tips I can give to parents is to make feeding time FUN! Allow your child to explore his/her food by playing in it. In addition, we should keep feeding time social by talking and interacting with the child throughout the whole process.

Working on feeding with a child can be overwhelming and at times, stressful. However, we need to remind ourselves that self-feeding is not an over-night fix. As long as we are patient and determined, the child WILL make progress.



Importance of Motor Skills

Hello everyone!

Great news!! Snow and Oakman have implemented the Motor Moms and Dads program in the Kindergarten classrooms!

Research has shown that good motor skills has a direct impact on students academic success. In order to reach optimal readiness for reading, writing, spelling, and math, students should have a solid foundation of motor skills. These motor skills include adequate balance, gross motor/bilateral coordination skills, fine motor/visual motor skills, near-point visual skills, and visualization/visual memory.

Gross Motor Skills- the coordination of our large muscles (walking, running, skipping)

Bilateral Coordination Skills- using both sides of the body to complete a task (jumping jacks, running, walking)

Fine Motor Skills- the coordination of our small muscles in our hand (manipulating buttons, holding a pencil, cutting with scissors)

Visual Motor Skills- the ability to coordinate our eyes and movements (coloring, cutting, kicking a ball, catching a ball, building block).

Near-point Visual Skills- using our eyes to complete a task at a distance of 12-18 inches (copying words, doing puzzles)

Visualization/visual memory- the ability to recall the details of a what you see (memorizing site words

It is important for children to complete homework. It is equally important for kids to play at home! With play, children have the opportunity to build on these motor skills necessary for reading, writing, and math skills.

Here is a photo of Mr. Joe demonstrating Motor Moms and Dads for volunteers

Person First Language

Hello everyone!

This month, we are raising awareness for Person First Language.

When we are communicating with and about people with disabilities, we should always use Person First Language. This form of language emphasizes the person, NOT the disability.  All people have their own individualized goals, interests, and abilities, whether they have a disability or not. Person First Language allows us to look at these individual characteristics rather than the disability. In addition, it prevents us from thinking that a disability is a person’s all-encompassing characteristic. Some of our students with disabilities are dancers, drawers, singers, and soccer players. Our students are so much more than just their “disability.”
Examples of Person First Language are:
  1. “A child with autism” rather than “autistic child.”
  2. “A person who uses a wheelchair” rather than “wheelchair-bound person.”
  3. “A student with Down Syndrome” rather than “Down Syndrome student.”
Here are some ways to discuss Person First Language with your child:
  1.  Give them some examples of incorrect ways to address an individual with a disability and allow your child to correctly fix it using Person First Language.
  2. Have your child research news articles relating to individuals with disabilities and see if the writer used Person First Language. If the child finds that the writer did not use Person First Language, allow them to fix the phrase.
  3. Have your child list his/her roles in life (i.e. brother, sister, daughter, son, friend, student, grandson/daughter). Then have your child list his/her characteristics or interests (i.e. blue eyes, red hair, soccer player, dancer). Finally, have your child use Person First Language to describe him/her (i.e. “I am an older brother who has red hair).
  4. Have open discussions about the importance of empathy and sensitivity to all people.
  5. Describe the meaning of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.”
  6. Discuss the importance of feeling valued.
Raising awareness for this type of language will ensure that ALL students/people feel comfortable and valued.

Bridge the Gap….General Education/Special Education Initiative

This month, Mr. Joe, Mrs. Kraft and I have been educating our students in general education about our students with special needs.  We have four self-contained special education classrooms and one resource room at Snow.  We are more alike than we are different.  We discussed why students may learn or behave differently and what we can do to be effective leaders.  Students learned about empathy and kindness.   You may want to further discuss this topic at home.  We can always say hello, smile, offer a compliment and help a student up if they fall.  These are examples of ways to connect with others.  How would you want to be treated if you had a disability?  We are confident in our Snow Students that if we are kind and compassionate, we can all work together!

Wayne County Regional Enhancement Education Millage Proposal


School districts in Wayne County have placed a proposal on the November 8th ballot to provide added funding for our schools. It is the “Regional Enhancement Millage Proposal.”

If approved by the entire county, the 2 mil proposal will generate approximately $6.2 million from Dearborn but the District will receive $7.8 million in additional funding for our schools.  Money would go to local schools starting this year and the millage expires after six years.  Read more