Looking for a great Christmas Gift?

Gift Ideas we love!

Want to get your child something that they’ll love but also develop some sneaky skills along the way? Heres a list of some things we have come across that get the OT tick of approval.

Pre-school:

– Pop the Pig (numbers, colours, fine motor, turn taking)

Pop the PigKmart $25.00

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– Magformers (Fine Motor, Visual Motor, Construction, Imagination)

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.50.38 amResource Link $77.00

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– Hart Stepping stones

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.51.14 amHart Sport $49.50

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– Kick Bricks

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.51.37 amwww.kickbrick.com.au $99.00

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– Ravensburger Junior Colorino

Crayons $44.95 , Toy UniScreen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.24.08 amverse $42.99

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– My First Fly Bar Pogo Stick

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.03.05 amToys R Us $19.99, Target $16.99

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– Gears! Gears! Gears!

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.04.33 amToys R Us $24.99, Edex $98.89 150pcs

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– Tap Tap Vehicles/Garden/Space

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.24.23 amBuilding Blocks Therapy $40.00

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– Sit N Spin

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 12.47.40 pmTarget $6.00

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Lower Primary:

– Visual Motor Mini Golf

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.34.51 am
Building Blocks Therapy
$48.00

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– Castle Logix (Visual Motor, problem solving)
Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.38.21 am
Games World $39.99, Crayons $34.95, Lime Tree Kids  $42.95

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– Tumble Trax (problem solving, planning, visual motor)

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.45.28 amResource Link $42.00

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– Balance board

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.46.11 amKmart $10.00 or $20.00

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– Lego Minecraft

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.59.09 amToys R Us , Lego , Various Prices

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– Razor Scooter

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.51.57 amKmart $39.00, Target $39.00

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– Filo Design with laces

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.53.14 amBuilding Blocks Therapy $32.00

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Upper Primary:

– Boom blast stix (KidStuff: social, fine motor) ,

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 12.08.32 pmTarget $25.00

 

 

– Greed (MrToys Toyworld: problem solving, maths, strategy),

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 12.08.04 pmMr Toys Toyworld $12.99

 

 

– Twister

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 12.07.17 pmKmart $25.00, Target $25.00

 

 

– ThinkFun Gravity Maze

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 12.09.14 pmOfficeworks $39.99

 

 

– RipStik

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 12.29.32 pmRazor

 

 

– Coggy

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 12.29.03 pmGames Paradise $19.95

 

 

 

 

Blog Post by Olivia McGrechan

Posted in Uncategorized

Classroom Tips Series – Fidgets…How to get the best out of them!

Classroom tips series- Fidgets… How to get the best out of them!

With the recent interest around the popular fidget spinners, we thought this would be a good time to add our two cents and provide a short post about fidgets with some tips around how fidgets can be used to support sensory regulation in the classroom.

7 facts about fidgets:Wire_Fidget_Ring

  1. All children have different sensory preferences and therefore require different kinds of input in order to regulate their body and attention levels. This can be through movement, oral, olfactory (smell), auditory, visual, tactile or proprioceptive input. Fidgets provide a small amount of movement or tactile type of input, which can help kids when they need to sit still and focus. While they can be very useful, they are certainly not a fix all approach.
  1. Persisting and being consistent with fidgets is important. Like any new thing, often the novelty needs to wear off before a child will be able to sensibly make use of a great fidget. At first it is almost expected that their attention will be drawn to the new thing they have in their hand.ST14-Wodden-Hand-Massager
  1. Fidget rules are essential. We teach kids the following 3 rules; 1. It stays in your lap, 2. It’s for hands not eyes, 3. It doesn’t distract other children. If these rules are broken, the fidget is removed for a period of time and then returned to the child to “try again”. We encourage teachers and parents to per sist for a couple of days before trying a different fidget or sensory strategy.
  1. The best kinds of fidgets are small, non-toy based, quiet and moveable/tactile. This allows for the child to keep it in their pocket as well as limiting distractions or using the fidget when it’s not required. Fidgets are not supposed to necessarily be “fun”, they are to keep fingers busy. E.g. The child’s favourite Transformer is probably not going to be the best choice of fidget.
  1. fidget-spinner-blueFidget spinners can be a great sensory tool however it can be difficult to follow the fidget “rules” due to their size and visual nature. However, they ca be beneficial as a calming visual tool or when the child’s visual attention is not required for other tasks. They definitely have a place, it just may not be floor time.
  1. Fidgets are more of a supplemental tool and don’t usually provide a child with all of the sensory input they need. They may assist to help a child to pay attention for certain tasks, however don’t necessarily replace other sensory strategies such as regular movement breaks, heavy work (lifting, pulling, pushing or body weight exercises) or deep pressure (such as a weighted lap blanket). A fidget does not usually offer sustained benefits (like heavy work does) and is more an “in the moment” tool.
  1. We feel it’s important for children to understand the “why” of sensory tools and have a deeper understanding of self-regulation, in order to truly benefit from a fidget and to make sure it is used effectively. This is often where OTs come in.Bendable_Animal_on_Card

We hope this provides some useful information about fidgets and some tips when using them in the classroom. Please give us a call if you have any questions about sensory processing or how to support concentration in class.

 

 

We have packaged 8 of our favourite fidgets together in a handy pack. Click here if you would like to purchase one.

fidget pack

Bloggers:  Caitlin Smith and Jackie Sikic

Occupational Therapists at Kid Link OT

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Classroom Tips Series – Pencil Grasp

Classroom tips Series – Pencil Grasp

As OT’s, we hear a lot about how tech is contributing to kids starting school without some of the fine motor foundation skills required for writing. While the ipad (and other screen based tools) have their place, Kids are now seemingly less interested in pencil and paper activities (as well as other fine motor play), so can move through kinder without as much exposure.

Then they start school and are required to start writing letters, so naturally our body adapts and does the best it can…by finding a way to hold the pencil to achieve an outcome. Less functional pencil grasps can be fine and “do the job” in prep but this may not be the case later on. If kids start off holding their pencil in a less functional way, this can create a motor pattern that becomes increasingly difficult to change.

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(Picture 1: Pencil Grasp Development, Erhardt, 1962)

While a less functional pencil grasp does not always lead to messy or slow handwriting, it’s certainly a big contributing factor in kids who do start to experience pain or difficulty with writing as demands increase.

Prep teacher already have TONNES to do in terms of making sure your child has an awesome experience at school, while teaching them how to be independent and enthusiastic learners. They will do all they can to support your child’s pencil grasp, but the bottom line is that they can’t provide the foundation skills or the 1:1 monitoring if a child doesn’t have a functional pincer grasp when they start. Unfortunately, the priority (and responsibility) is even less as children move through primary school.

So what can we all do to make sure kids have the best chance of breezing through with great handwriting skills?

Here are 10 tips to encourage a functional pincer grasp:

  1. Practice at home! Get out those tongs and therapy putty and strength61G2yAjNvBL._SL1000_en those hands. Give your kid the best chance of developing the muscles necessary to hold a pencil correctly. There are soooo many blogs and Pinterest pages packed with fine motor activities and games you can purchase. Also, get out those colouring and tracing books- nothing works on pencil control like pencil based activities.
  2. Explain! Tell your kids WHY you want them to hold it a certain way. Tell then it will help then to get speedy and neat one day like the big grade 6ers and prevent then getting sore hands. Kids are smarter than we often give them credit for.
  3. Reward them! Humans (even little ones) are programmed to take the path of least resistance. If something is hard, there needs to be a motivator to keep us working at it. Give heaps of positive reinforcement when you “catch” them holding their pencil correctly or have a tick chart for when they remember on their own. $2 shop prizes go a very long way.
  4. Take a photo! Print a picture of the children holding a pencil with a pincer grasp and put it on hold-pencil-2their desk (at home and school) as a reminder of what it should look like.
  5. Use a visual prompt! Sometimes a small sticker to show where the child needs to put their fingers (thumb and index) is all that is required to remind the brain that we are working on a new plan.
  6. Keep pencils chunky! Don’t over stretch kids by giving then tiny things to grasp onto. It’s just asking for that palmar grasp to creep back in. Grey leads in prep are usually those nice triangular chunky ones…invest in a set of coloured ones too!
  1. Use a catchy rhyme! Have a rap/song for the class to at least start a writing task with the pencil held correctly. I like this one from missmernagh.com (to the tune of “open, shut them”).

“First your pointer.

Then your thumb.

Give a little squeeze.

Hide the others underneath,

and writing is a breeze!”

  1. Change the angle! Putting the wrist in an extended (rather than hooked) position can do wonders for developing much needed stability. Have a challenge where the kids do their work on the wall (stick their sheets up with some blue tack), on an easel, slope board or on the floor (maintaining “all fours” position). Not always practical for the classroom but definitphoto 4ely a fun activity for home.
  2. Use a pencil grip! I put this near the end because pencil grips are often viewed as a fix all approach, which they aren’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love them and use them most days in therapy but it won’t do all the work for us. I love the crossover grips because they are easy for kinds to hold correctly.
  3. See an OT! If your child’s poor pencil grasp is persisting despite doing everything you can, it’s best to get some advice specific to your child’s needs. There are so many factors that are involved in writing, so if your child is not grasping it (pardon the pun) as quickly as their peers, come and see us. It’s always best to address it early.

Blogger: Jackie Sikic, Occupational Therapist at Kid Link OT

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Classroom Tips Series – Executive Functioning

shutterstock_72371866-copyWhat is executive functioning?

Executive function is like the CEO of the brain. It’s in charge of making sure things get done from the planning stages of the job to the final deadline. When kids have issues with executive functioning, any task that requires planning, organization, memory, time management and flexible thinking becomes a challenge. This may present as the child having difficulties with; making plans, making sure that work is finished on time, multitasking, initiating tasks, applying previously learned information to solve problems, analysing information, and asking for help. The more you know about the challenges, the better you’ll be able to help your child build her executive skills and manage the difficulties.

 

10 tips to apply at school, to help a child with Executive Functioning difficulties:

–       Have the child take notes during floor/instruction times, that they can refer to when completing the activity.

–       Give step by step instructions and have the child repeat them back.

–       Highlight key words and instructions on worksheets.

–       Allow the child a scheduled time during the day for organisation; for homework, projects and work that needs to be completed.

–       Give the student the test format ahead of time so that they can focus on content

–        Use time as a measurement for setting activities e.g. We will work on this until 10:00.

–       Encourage the child to self talk and ask; What am I supposed to be doing? Am I doing it? What is the next thing I need to do?

–       Minimise clutter and visual stimuli in the child’s workspace.

–       Use graphic organisers, thinking maps and mind maps to provide visual prompts and to help a child organise his/her thoughts, especially when introducing new material.

–       Provide visual checklists to assist the child with getting themselves organised e.g. things to get out of the school bag in the morning.

If you suspect your child has difficulty with executive functions or would like further advice, please contact your OT or give Kid Link a call on 9879 7019. 

 

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Picture credit: www.smartspeechtherapy.com

Blogger: Kate Green, Occupational Therapist at Kid Link OT

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Top tips for staying cool & calm over the holidays!

It’s that time of year again! Everyone has worked hard over the long term and its finally time for a well-deserved break over the holidays.
While this may sound great in theory, it’s not the case for many families with children who have an ASD. The unstructured time over the holidays can bring anxiety, stress, behavioural issues and non-compliance to name a few.

Here are a few tips to make holiday’s more enjoyable for all:

  • Visual schedules! Help eliminate the ‘grey areas’ of the day by assisting your kids in knowing what to expect and what is coming up next.
  • Consistent bed times! While it’s ok to stay up slightly later than usual, a good night’s sleep can set you up for a good day. It also helps when transitioning back into the school term, as you’re not needing to re-establish routines that you have worked so hard to create! Similarly, ensure your wake-up time is reasonably similar to school routines as well. You can achieve this by setting up expectations the night before, alarm clocks, visuals etc.
  • Keep breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner times the same as during the school term. This is a great way to break down your day and schedule it for your little one.
  • Allow lots of down time! This is your child’s chance to recharge their batteries. Don’t feel guilty about your child retreating into their ‘safe’ world and engage in their special interests.
  • Provide lots of preparation for special activities! This could be; looking at the website of the scheduled activity, a social story, or simply a chat about what to expect.
  • For older kids, you can create a 2-week visual calendar to assist them in seeing what is on for each day of the holidays. This is a great opportunity to show them when they can turn ‘school-brain’ off and when the need to turn their ‘school-brain’ back on e.g. in the last 2 days of the holidays. This can be beneficial for the ‘worriers’ who spend their holidays stressing about school.
Don’t forget to contact your therapist if you need support to set up for a relaxing and enjoyable school holiday break.
Give us a call or send us an email – we will be waiting ☺
Blog Post: Kate Neilson, Occupational Therapist at Kid Link OT
Posted in Uncategorized

Tools for School – Kid Link’s first school readiness group

 

Our first school readiness group ran for 6 sessions over 3 weeks through January and we had a BLAST!

Photo 2

Jake and Jackie ran a group with 6 kids aged 4-5 with the assistance of Kristie, a primary school teacher, to give some of the kids a chance to develop and practice some great school readiness skills.

Photo 1 1 copy    Photo 7   playdoh

The group aimed to work on social skills, play skills, fine and gross motor skills and also provided an opportunity for parents to meet and have a cup of coffee while the kids were in the group. We did some structured games and pre-writing activities as well as facilitated “free play” so the kids could work on their play skills and communication with each other in a more unstructured environment. An overview for the parents and homework activity ideas were given after each session with an opportunity to ask questions and summaries were emailed to parents following each session. Observing the kids develop their confidence over the 3 weeks was very exciting. We are soooo proud of them all.

Photo 2 2    Photo 11 1

Thanks so much to all the dedicated families who attended. We hope you all learnt as much as we did and we look forward to seeing you all throughout 2015 and continuing to reach goals.

If you would like to enquire about enrolling your child in a group program run by Kid Link OT, please give us a call on 9879 7019 or email jackie@kidlink.net.au.

 

***A special thanks to the parents who provided permission to show the Kid Link community (and whoever else stumbles across our page), their beautiful children learning and having fun.

Blog Post: Jackie Sikic, Occupational Therapist at Kid Link OT

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Let’s have fun and focus!

hands up

LET’S HAVE FUN AND FOCUS!

Classroom strategies for kids that have trouble concentrating

 

“Sit Still and Concentrate!” A common oxymoron for kids who love to move or just can’t seem to focus and complete tasks. It could be that how their brain interprets sensory information is just a bit different to most of their peers. We ALL have different thresholds for different stimuli (those who bite their nails, those who hate loud music, those who like spicy food and those who are just more active than others) however sometimes it interferes with our ability to PARTICIPATE, LEARN and ENJOY things that some of us may take for granted. This is when we may need to learn strategies or have other people help us to regulate our environment and behaviours.

Kids can have a HIGH threshold  (a term often used when talking about sensory integration) for movement or other sensory input (taste/smell, touch, visual or auditory information) which means that what may feel like a lot of stimulus to most kids, feels like a little for them. These kids may then come across under-stimulated (or flat) or be constantly “on the go” or “seeking” stimuli to try and reach their higher optimal threshold. For example; Some of these kids might mouth things, make noises, be constantly fidgeting, be overly physical with other kids or not notice when their name is called. Seeking out extra stimuli is their way of getting enough so that they feel “calm” or better equipped to focus.

Student doing the carb walk

While we are talking about this, we mustn’t forget the kids with a LOWER threshold for sensory information which means that what feels like a little to most kids, feels like a lot to someone with a low threshold or “sensitivities.” For example; Some of these kids may be sensitive to sound, react negatively when touched, hate wearing socks, be fearful of heights/movement or be very distracted by things in their field of vision.

Little boy closing ears with his hands

Do we fit into one category or the other? In my experience, not usually. We often fit somewhere along a huge spectrum of what our brain tells us we do/don’t need and it can also change depending on a variety of factors (environment, diet, mood, sleep, anxiety, time of the day and even the weather!). Sometimes our brain just doesn’t MODULATE information well and we get confused with what the useful information is and which information can be filtered out.

I have complied a list (fun and focus handout )  of strategies that many children find help them to focus, sit still, calm down or engage better with their peers. I have attached photos with each strategy to provide a nice visual for teachers and parents who like me, hate long typed lists.

CONCENTRATING more in class is one goal area for a lot of families and one of the first recommendations I give to families is to start trying different weird and wonderful strategies and to note which ones “change” the child’s level of arousal (some may be calming, some may make us more alert). It is important to EVALUATE which strategies actually make a difference for your child otherwise it can just become a waste of time for everyone (particularly teachers who often are the ones trying to implement the strategies in a class of 20+ students). Teachers are usually super keen to help and obviously want the most out of your child too, however spending hours on  things that just don’t make a difference aren’t high on anyone’s priority list. So have good COMMUNICATION and discuss with your child’s teacher which strategies are plausible and maybe try just 1 or 2 a week. Be as SUPPORTIVE and understanding as you can and provide the teacher with all the materials needed if they are happy to give something a shot.

fidgetPicture courtesy of: www.thetrainingshop.co.uk

I have tried to include things that are relatively easy to implement or could be done with the whole class and I would suggest you try the things that are least likely to draw attention to your child first. Some of the strategies are a bit more “out there” but you need to remember that many behaviours related to sensory issues can’t just be stopped, they need to be replaced. Is it going to be better to have the child sit on a ‘different’ mat or cushion or be lounging over other children and getting into trouble for not keeping his hands to himself? Children are surprisingly accepting and often something new is a point of interest for a few hours and then it is barely noticed and becomes something that is just attributed to a person like a gluten free diet or use of an asthma puffer. Try to be understanding of your child’s reason and need to do what they are doing and when possible work through it together, coming up with “better options” of things they can do.

This list is not prescriptive, nor should sensory integration be the only approach to ensure your child’s optimal participation. If your child is struggling to focus in class, try to consider all the factors (social, cognitive, environmental, visual and auditory processing, anxiety issues, relationship with his/her teacher, boredom, self awareness, learning style, ability to physically complete the task and level of confidence). An OT can help you to work through any issues your child may be having and provide familiy centred interventions based on the goals you have for your child.

Happy Practicing and good luck for Term 1.

For those that missed the link…here it is again:

fun and focus handout

 

 

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Back to School with a Bang!

Back to school with a bang!

 back-to-school-300x216

Getting off to a great start in 2014

 

With school fast approaching, I thought I would come up with a bit of a list of things to think about and some simple ideas that might make starting or going back to school just that little bit easier!

 Stationary

Clear pencil case with only essentials (pack of pencils, couple of grey leads, rubber, glue stick, sharpener, ruler, scissors, pen for senior years). This makes finding items during class time quick and easy and also allows kids to keep track of their things more easily. A clear pencil case is handy for everyone but especially those kids with visual perception difficulties that have trouble locating items in competing backgrounds. Remember to name everything!

photo 3

Consider coloured writing paper. Have a look at what is indicated on the book list such as 24mm dotted thirds books but go and source your own coloured ones (www.kidstherapynetwork.com.au or another supplier). You can also purchase paper with raised lines online. Again, this is probably more important for kids that have visual perceptual difficulties however all kids often find writing easier when the lines are easy to identify.

photo 5

A ‘useful words’ dictionary. You can purchase one (I got mine online from the Australia Post Shop) or make one up yourself with an exercise book with tabs for the letters of the alphabet. You can then write sight words or commonly misspelled words in (only 15 or so words for each letter) and have extra lines for when new words come up. This is particularly useful for kids that struggle with expression, spelling or handwriting and find writing time stressful or don’t get much done. It will also help their confidence and independence with writing.

my useful words

Triangular or oversized pencils for younger writers to help with promoting a good grip. If pencils are small and the child doesn’t have an established pincer grip, the child will be more likely to grasp the pencil incorrectly. This is harder to correct later so you are better off making it as easy as possible from the beginning.

Pencil grips. ‘The Pencil Grip’ or a ‘crossover grip (pictured)’ are probably the best universal grips (many therapy suppliers, some stationary stores or eBay/amazon are the places to get them). If your child is struggling with fine motor skills and establishing their grip, it’s often easier and more beneficial to put grips on all their own coloured pencils too so they are always practicing the right thing. Call your OT if you aren’t sure and want something recommended specifically.

 photo 4

Self care

 Start practicing putting on the uniform to make sure your child can manage different buttons, zips, shoes laces/Velcro. Also practice ways of remembering which shoes go on what foot! Can your child manage socks, underwear, jumpers and bathers for swimming? (And yes, that is me in prep!)

jac prep

Is your child entirely independent with toileting? Make sure they can do all of the routine without needing reminding (closing the door, managing clothes, wiping PROPERLY, flushing, washing hands). One of the lovely mums I have the pleasure of knowing also suggested that Dad’s of boys do a practice run with a urinal! Many school still have them and if your child has never used one it could be an interesting first introduction when they come across one!

toilet visual

Purchase a lunchbox that they can open! When buying one, get your child to try it out or get one with a zip and tie a ribbon or kingring to it to make it easier for them.

 

School Skills and Pre-writing

Pencil grip and control! It’s never too late to start teaching your child the correct thing. Start by getting into the “school zone” by doing some colouring, tracing, dot to dots, mazes, letters (or word/sentence writing for the older kids) and plenty of drawing over the next few weeks.

Can your child write their own name correctly? Can your child only write in upper case? Why not set a challenge and start to work on the lower case version (still capital first letter).

names

Reading! Start practicing setting aside a time to do a different “reader” every day. Talking about the pictures, pointing out some words, guessing letters is all part of the foundation skills needed and sparking an interest about school.

 

Organisation and independence

Daily schedules help many children develop more independence, organisation and decrease anxiety about what their day with involve. Do a morning routine for getting ready (that they can tick off as they do all the jobs), a school schedule (many teachers will already have one of these so have a chat to them), and an after school schedule that includes any hobbies, free time, homework and bedtime routine.

visual-schedule-2
Packing and carrying own bag. Get into good habits early! Go through what needs to go in every day (lunch box, reader, drink bottle, jumper) and get them to carry it into school and home again.

Think about how your child will go with following multiple instructions, participating in floor time, working independently at their desk, completing group activities with peers, and participating in play time outside. It’s hard to predict and prepare for everything but start to practice some of the anticipated school routines at home to get your child ready. Let them play teacher and point out rules you should follow (e.g. no calling out, putting our hand up, sharing, using kind words)

Other ideas

Visit the school for a play on the playground so the child can familiarise himself/herself with the yard layout. This may also reduce anxiety around playtime. If you know where the classroom is or where they will be lining up, do a bit of a walk through and peek in the windows for fun!

Put together a fidget tool box for those busy bees. If your child is prone to touching things, can’t sit still or fiddles with things on their desk or their uniform to the point of distracting others, make a box of a few things they can fidget with sensibly (you might need to discuss some rules with the teacher to write on the lid such as no throwing or dropping). Think stress ball, paper clips, rubber band, blue-tak, squishy animals etc. Thanks to Michael for modelling my new bracelet!

photo 2 crop

 

Do a summary to make it easy for the child’s new teacher (and other staff and fill in staff!). By writing up a summary that outlines your child’s strengths, everyone will be on board, List goal areas, contact details of any relevant professionals and strategies that you have found get the best out of your child (things they like, rewards that work, things that might cause anxiety and any equipment they use that helps etc.)

Drop and go! This was a request from a teacher friend of mine. They often have 20+ kids (and their parents!) who are trying to settle in. As scary as it can be (often more for you than the child even) try your best to let the teacher do their job. Kids are usually fine and forget you the moment you have gone and the teacher gets started with her planned lesson.

 

This is a very general list and certainly doesn’t include everything but I hope it gives you some things to think about. If your child has ASD, Amaze has also done up a very comprehensive info sheet about ‘Preparing individuals with ASD for Transitions.’ Check it out on their website http://www.amaze.org.au/discover/about-autism-spectrum-disorders/resources/.

Lastly but most importantly…. DONT PANIC. Things usually go better than expected. But if for some reason they don’t, chat to the teacher and call on your supports. Most things can be improved quite quickly if everyone is on the same page and you get on top of it early.

Still stressing? Feeling unprepared? Call me. If I can’t advise you on the phone, I am always happy to see your child for a session to practice some of these things or give you ideas on how to get the ball rolling with a certain skill.

 

Good luck to all my school age friends and their families!

Jackie Sikic

photo 1

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So, what actually is OT?

Me: “It’s lovely to meet you guys, how do you think OT can help?”

Parent: “Well, I don’t really know what an OT does? My….. said I should come and see you”

It’s a common response and one that scares me a little as it means I then have to explain…And I often find it hard to articulate what I do everyday.

So, after 7 weeks off work enjoying a long awaited trip around Europe, I thought I should start my first blog with “What does an OT actually do?” Not only because it will help me get my head back in the game, but I thought with starting my own practice, I will be meeting lots of people that are “new” to OT.

Since becoming an OT, I have noticed that a lot of people I come across don’t know what I (or occupational therapists as a collective) really do. This includes my friends, family, clients and other professionals. I think this is because compared to some professions, I guess it is relatively new and we often work in a vareity of settings doing different roles.

In a nutshell; Occupations are all our activities of daily life (that’s right…ALL) and the goal of occupational therapists are to enable people to participate in these activities.  Sometimes defining what we do is hard because it is so dependent on the individual and THEIR occupations. SO when we talk about client centred practice, we are saying that we form goals and plan our intervention around what is relevant for that person and their situation so it really is different every time. People have different priorities and different things that they feel they need or want to be able to do to lead fulfilled lives.

So how does that fit in when working with kids and what can OT do to help you or your child?

I had a little think of how I might answer this and it just seemed far too overwhelming. So I  decided to start with writing down a word for each letter of the alphabet. Hopefully this gives everyone a bit of an idea and makes me look creative. If you have something that isn’t on the list, I’d love to hear it… leave a comment!

So hear goes…. the A to Z of OT:

Achievement (making sure children achieve and progress regardless of how small the steps or how long it takes)

Behaviour (anger management, reward systems, parent support and training, sharing and lots more)

Confidence (promoting self worth and helping kids to experience success and achievement)

Drawing (how to do it, having a go and why its important for school)

Eating (fussy eaters, cutlery use, sitting at the table and trying new things!)

Fine motor (OT 101; getting those little hands going! Lets be honest; hands do a lot! Fine motor skills are the skills that require small, often precise movements of the hands and fingers)

Gross motor skills (the BIG movements –balance, coordination, ball skills, body in space awareness, strength, endurance and the list goes on)

Handwriting (letters, speed, fluency, legibility and hopefully having fun doing it!)

Independence (from putting on a jumper to opening a lunchbox)

Journey (development is a journey and forever changing, recognising that everyone’s path and rate of progression is different) J is also for Jackie, the best OT ever 😉

Kicking (how to do it when its ok i.e. football….and when its not i.e. to other people)

Learning (classroom support, visual aids, positioning)

Making friends (or social skills); sharing, compromise, turn taking, greeting, boundaries, emotions)

Nappies (how to get rid of them and use the toilet!)

Organisation (from bedroom to classroom to homework to diary use and trying to not lose too many belongings along the way)

Play (the primary occupation of all children ; how to play, why is pretend play important?, engaging with peers, learning to take turns and having fun!)

Quiet (inside voices, impulse control and knowing when its ok to be as loud as you like)

Remembering (visual and auditory memory; important in all areas of life!)

Self care (from dressing to toilet training to eating to teeth brushing to shoelace tying and everything in between)

Sensory Integration (how to manage things when our brains interpret sensory input a bit differently! Can’t sit still or hate socks? We can help)

Typing (the way of the future for everyone! And a great option for those that writing isn’t easy)

Understanding (learning concepts, rules, colours, letters, puzzles, problem solving and strategy…the list is endless)

Visual perception (how we perceive what we are looking at impacts on everything, especially school work)

Writing (and pencil grip! Sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t…but it’s a big part of what we do to help kids keep up, succeed and be included in the classroom)

Xylophone (I had nothing else but xylophone represents music and OTs love music (actions, singing, dancing, laughing)

Years (from birth to adolescents) *or older if you don’t work in paediatrics!

Zany (another tricky letter but we’re talking about concentration, focus and embracing the kids that love to move!)

 

So I know theres a few dodgy ones in there but I hope you get the idea. If you want to know more, I’m always happy to have a chat.

 

 

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