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Early Intervention: An Occupational Therapists Point of View

May 25, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Doug Goldberg

To correctly begin this article we have to start with, " ONCE UPON A TIME”. You may new be sitting with a puzzled look on your face, but let me explain. Lets look at students A, B, and C:

Student A is a 15 year old student who's teacher is ready to fail him because of his poor handwriting.

ONCE UPON A TIME.......when the same student was 4, he was unable to keep his alphabet aligned on his wide ruled paper nor was he able to complete simple mazes. His visual motor integrational skills were not addressed when he was young and is now a hindrance to his progress.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Writing without the Blocks

June 5, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

I am dictating this blog post using a Jawbone bluetooth headset and Windows Seven Speech Recognition. This is a very easy way for your students to begin the writing process, eliminating the struggles with holding a pen, or keyboarding, or spelling, or just the mechanical transfer from brain to hand.

One of the biggest issues I see in student writing is all the things which block students from effectively telling their stories, all the things which burn up cognitive effort and leave nothing left over for communication. Read the rest of this entry →

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Practice Emerging Writing Skills: Write my Name

February 16, 2012 in App Review by Dennise Goldberg

I love this App! Write My Name by Injini is an addicting app that helps develop a child’s writing skills. Since Write My Name was just released Injini is offering this App for the introductory price of $1.99. The price will only be good for a few more days and then will go up to its normal price of $4.99 next week. I highly encourage everyone to go out and buy this app at the introductory price. According to the Write My Name App page, “In the same tradition as Injini Child Development Game Suite and My First AAC, Project Injini was inspired to create Write My Name to help children with special needs practice emerging writing skills in a fun and playful way. Mastering writing your own name is often an IEP (Individualized Education Programs) goal but the other tracing apps in the app store don't make this activity easily accessible AND achievable.” Read the rest of this entry →

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Pencil Picks for Sensory Kids

February 15, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Handwriting is a complex skill that can be very difficult for children with sensory processing challenges. Consequently, these children tend to avoid writing because it can be quite frustrating for them. There are different types of writing tools that offer sensory solutions for these children to help make writing an easier task. Here are some tools that may be helpful in exploring ways to best suit your child’s writing & sensory needs.

Mechanical pencils

Children with proprioception problems often have difficulty modulating the pressure they use on items. If a child presses too hard when writing their hands fatigue quicker, mistakes are harder to clear away when erasing, and they are more apt to rip the paper (very frustrating!). Mechanical pencils can aid to teach modulation of pressure, as the lead will break if too much pressure is applied. Each time the lead breaks it will give the child feedback and the desired result is to help them monitor the pressure they are using.

Weighted pencils

While some children with proprioception difficulties press too hard, others press too light when writing making their strokes very hard to decipher. A weighted pencil can help to make their pencil steadier and give them the extra weight they need to press more firmly resulting in darker strokes. There are pencil weight kits that you can purchase or you can easily make one from using rubber washers and rod shaped coupling nuts found in a hardware store for a few dollars.

Vibrating Pencils

Children with low muscle tone generally have poor fine motor strength and have difficulties sustaining their grasp on a pencil, which impacts their written production. Vibration is a sensory technique that can be used to “wake up” or stimulate muscles and allow for more efficient muscle use. The vibration pencil also seems to entice children with sensory seeking behaviors, as it gives them sensory feedback to their fingers and helps to keep them focused on the task. Based on my experience, the vibration pencil, more specifically the Ark Z-Vibe*, has been so useful in motivating so many children to write. I often recommend using for homework, as the slight buzz can be distracting to classmates. On the flip side, the constant light hum (like white noise) can be somewhat soothing to the writer. I have noted that children with tactile sensitivity have said it “tickles” their fingers and they do not prefer to use it.

Tactile Writing Tools

Tactile seekers love textures. The three options below can help offer sensory feedback to satiate tactile needs during writing tasks by giving them textures right there on their own pencil.

Gel Squish Grips

Musgrave Pencil Fidgets

 

Faber-Castell GRIP Writing Pencils

 

Pencil Toppers

Some children seek intense oral input. These are the children that chew on the collars or sleeves of their shirts, suck on their fingers, or bite off the eraser tips of their pencils. The mouth is a powerful organizing center, just think of how a baby soothes himself by sucking on a pacifier. The actions of chewing, biting, and sucking are excellent ways to help increase focus and concentration and often decrease anxiety. CHEW STIXX PENCIL TOPPERS (BPA and Phathalate free) fit right on the top of the pencil and are an excellent sensory strategy to use in the classroom.

Considerations: Using writing tools that give sensory feedback can be very beneficial to a child with sensory needs. It is, however, important to remember that physically holding a pencil properly with a comfortable, efficient grasp is fundamental to developing good handwriting skills.

Sari Ockner, OTR/L received her degree in Occupational Therapy at from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1998, in their extended Occupational Therapy program with an emphasis in her fieldwork studies in the scope of pediatrics. Sari began her practice in New York City and is currently living and practicing in the Los Angeles area. She has over 13 years of experience working with children with a variety of special needs in school, clinic, and home-based settings. Sari is certified in Sensory Integration Theory and Practice (SIPT) and specializes in handwriting and child development.

Follow Sari on Facebook at Kidz Occupational Therapy or on Twitter at Sari_KidzOT for on-going information to support children in school, at home, and in the community. For further information visit : www.KidzOccupationalTherapy.com

* Please note that in addition to the Z-vibe you need to purchase the pencil attachment pack and batteries.

 

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Intensive Sensory Integration Instruction Transforms Handwriting

October 17, 2010 in Special Education Articles by Jess

A recent Wall Street Journal article, “How Handwriting Trains the Brain” [1] could conversely be stated that “Brain Training Changes Handwriting.” Technically speaking, increased and retrained brain activity can transform handwriting following twenty hours of intensive multi-sensory integration instruction.   Read the rest of this entry →

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Messy Handwriting Is a Predictor of ADHD and School Problems in Girls

September 30, 2010 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Messy handwriting in second grade girls, when no other symptoms are present, is a reason to look for ADHD, inattentive type.  It can predict problems with written English in third grade and with organization and social skills, says Martha Denckla, M.D., developmental neurologist at Kennedy Kreeger Institute (Baltimore). Read the rest of this entry →

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Four common myths associated with handwriting

September 14, 2010 in Special Education Articles by Jess

What Has Happened to Handwriting?? 

Handwriting instruction, when most of us went to school, was a part of our daily routine. Read the rest of this entry →

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