Monday, March 31, 2014

Join the #OTPhoto Challenge!

In celebration of Occupational Therapy Month (which starts tomorrow!), OT for Kids is hosting an #OTPhoto Challenge. I'm going to try my best to participate in this challenge by sharing how occupation is a part of my daily life on Instagram and Twitter and I hope you will too! Follow all of the posts on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #OTPhoto.

Entry 64 {OT Photo}

It’s OT month and at OT for Kids we’re celebrating with our 2nd annual photo challenge! Join us over on Instagram OTforKids, or Twitter @OT_for_Kids starting April 1! Reblog to promote!

App of the Week | AOTA Conference App

With the AOTA Conference right around the corner, I thought this would be a good time to highlight the AOTA conference app. Don't have it yet? I highly recommend you download it now. It's available for both Android and Apple, which is awesome because I have an iPad and an Android phone, which will both be coming to conference with me. The other great thing about this app is that it requires a log-in, so I can sync between my Apple and Android products. That doesn't always happen!

Here are a few screenshots of the app:
I love the Twitter Feed at the bottom of the home page!

Browse by content area.

I think I've got a bit too much on my schedule :(  But in my defense, a lot of these are posters that I want to check out, so maybe I'll get to most of this.

Yay! The new Leadership Reception. Friday night. Hope to see you all there!

I do wish this app had the ability for me to manually add in items to the schedule (like a lunch with some colleagues or an alumni meet up). That way I could see if any of the sessions I want to attend will conflict with anything on my non-conference calendar. Other than that, I have no complaints. This is a very useful tool for those attending the AOTA Conference in Baltimore

Visit the AOTA website for more information on downloading and using the conference app!

Are you going to conference? Send me a tweet (or email if that's more your style) and let's meet up!

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Few Things

Here are a few things I've come across lately that I think are worth sharing. Enjoy!

The cafe of the chosen. What an innovative employment opportunity for individuals with disabilities. And extra cool to see that this is happening in Greece!

7 leadership principles from an unexpected source.

Watch this: The happy secret to better work.

BlogTalk Radio shares Occupational Therapy in Our Schools. Great press for OT!

More OT press on public radio: Occupational therapist John Hwang hangs with the homeless. 

The cursive debate continues...but are we missing the point?

My friends' baby just got a helmet for his plagiocephaly. They felt like the helmet looked too medical, so they painted their baby's helmet to look like a football helmet and now he looks like the cutest little linebacker. I guess they're not the only ones with that idea.

Monday, March 24, 2014

App of the Week | Awesome Eats

Before I share why I love this week's app, I just want to tell you that Whole Foods did not compensate me in any way to write about this app or the Whole Kids Foundation. While I do regularly shop at Whole Foods, and as much as I love the store, I never would have expected them to have such a fun (and therapeutic!) app.

Take a look for yourself:
First off, this app has cute graphics showing kids making healthy choices.

The game is full of great visual motor challenges. It starts off with this one-simply swiping the food onto the correct conveyor belt.

Then it gets a bit more challenging, as you sort the food onto the correct conveyor belt.

Each level gets a bit more challenging. In this level, two different veggies go into the same bin.
Obstacles are added.
And the conveyor belts don't all move in the same direction.
What? Now there are birds trying to steal the food? This is okay by me, because it adds an extra visual motor challenge.

I initially thought this game would only be appropriate for young children (under age 5), but as I worked my way through the levels, even I found this game to be challenging! I would say this app is great for all ages, and might even be a bit too difficult for young children.

What I like about this app:

In addition to the great visual motor challenges that this game provides, what I really like is that this app introduces children to new foods.

In between levels, there are cartoons of kids making healthy food choices...
...and tips about healthy snacks (that might even encourage trying new foods or textures).

The pictures of the fruits and vegetables at the beginning of each challenge can also serve as a way to introduce new foods.
With selective eaters, it never hurts to have lots of exposure across different types of media (e.g. books, apps, songs, seeing and touching the foods at a store or farmer's market).

Side note:
This app made me wonder, what exactly is the Whole Kids Foundation? So I looked it up and discovered that it's a non-profit founded by Whole Foods and dedicated to helping kids eat better--and enjoy it! Their website is full of great resources, from Better Bites activities that teach kids about food to a book club with children's books about food to Fruit and Veggie Bingo. This is definitely a website I will be bookmarking and visiting frequently.

App Information: 
Name of App: Awesome Eats
Publisher: Whole Kids Foundation
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price: free!

*Information was correct at the time of publication, but is subject to change, so please confirm prior to downloading. This post contains affiliate links.

Have you used this app? Do you know of any other apps that can be used to expose children to different kinds of food?


Friday, March 21, 2014

A Few Things

Just a few things I've come across on the internet recently that I think are great.

-This TedXBeaconStreet Talk by Beth Babckock on how poverty affects executive function has some exciting news about the success of coaching adults and improving their executive function skills.

-When I lived in Boston I visited a 3D printing store. Seeing it in person allowed me to finally understand how it worked, but I still didn't really understand the implications of it. Here's a cool way doctor's are using 3D printing to help a baby breathe.

-Enjoyed these 14 Tips for Developing Leadership Presence. Good advice for any occupational therapist in any position.

-The April edition of Parents Magazine features two children with autism on the cover. So cool!

-Some home speech practice that incorporates movement. Seal of approval from this OT!

-I love board games that use logic and reasoning skills. I especially love games that are great for both kids and adults, like this one.

-I'm also always on the lookout for a good iPad stylus. There are more and more geared toward kids (like this, this, and this). Has anyone used any of these? I like that they are being designed to look like crayons and pencils, but some of these look a bit too chunky for little hands. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What's new at AOTA?

Lots, apparently!

AOTA underwent a website redesign last year and it looks like it just keeps getting better and better. Here are a few of the changes and new resources that caught my eye.

A new Everyday Evidence Podcast Series. The most recent podcast was on Autism and Social Success

While digging around in the Evidence-Based Practice section of the website, I came across the Research Opportunities Table. It looks like this is possibly brand new? Or maybe no one is using it yet? Either way, I hope it turns into a way to connect OT researchers and clinicians. This is something I'll be keeping an eye on.

A new Fact Sheet on Autism-related Wandering....and an information sheet on Social and Emotional Learning.

A childhood occupations toolkit, which includes tip sheets on establishing routines for mornings, tummy time, bedtime, and bath time.  

The spreadsheet of apps for children and youth seems to be updated fairly regularly. There are definitely some new-to-me apps on the list that I want to check out!

AOTA's 1-Minute Update is now called Practice Pulse. I personally like the change and I feel like I am getting more useful information in the Practice Pulse emails.

* Disclosure: This post is not sponsored or influenced by AOTA in any way. I am simply a proud AOTA member and love to share all of the great resources AOTA has to offer. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

App of the Week | Rush Hour {+ Chocolate Fix}

Do you love the game Rush Hour? I know I do and my students do too! I like Rush Hour for developing a variety of skills, including planning, problem solving, visual motor, and visual perception.

Did you know that there is a Rush Hour app? It's essentially the same as the physical game, using a finger swipe to move the cars. Check it out:
The goal is to get the red car out of the little gate on the right side. The free version of the Rush Hour app contains 35 challenges, ranging from Beginner to Expert. The full version ($2.99) contains 2500 challenges. With the variety of levels, this app is great for all ages (including parents!).

Since I love ThinkFun products so much (my honest opinion, they don't pay me to say that!), I did a quick search to see if they have any other apps. Turns out they have an app called Chocolate Fix, which is also based on a board game of the same name. It's cute and requires Sudoku-like reasoning skills. And just like Rush Hour, there is a free version available!
Chocolate Fix is also great for developing problem solving, planning, visual motor, and visual perception skills. The free version of Chocolate Fix contains 30 challenges ranging from Easy to Expert and the paid version ($2.99) contains 400 challenges. This is another app that is great for all ages.

App Information:

Name of App: Rush Hour
Publisher: ThinkFun, Inc
Compatible with: requires iOS 3.0 or later; compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Price: Free (lite version); $2.99 (full version)

Name of App: Chocolate Fix
Publisher: ThinkFun, Inc
Compatible with: requires iOS 3.0 or later; compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Price: Free (lite version); $2.99 (full version)

*Information was correct at the time of publication, but is subject to change, so please confirm prior to downloading*
*This post contains affiliate links.

Have you used either of these apps? Do you have any favorite apps for working on problem solving skills?  

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Few Things

As I'm getting back into the swing of blogging more regularly, here are a few things I've come across recently that I think are worth checking out:

-10 compelling reasons from an occupational therapist on why handheld devices should be banned for children under 12.

-Seriously, when you have 15 minutes to spare, read this. There is a reason kids with autism develop a particular interest. Find it and embrace it.

-And then when you have another 15 minutes to spare, watch this. Trust me. It's worth your time.

-Okay, I get it. You're busy and you don't have 15 minutes. But you do have six minutes, so please watch this.

-There is quite a discussion happening about sensory integration therapy over on OTConnections. Check it out and leave your two cents on the topic. (AOTA member login required)

-Thinking about introducing white rice cereal to your baby? It's time to think again.

- A Melissa and Doug shopping spree? Yes, please! I love the quality of Melissa and Doug toys and as Ellen points out, so many of these toys are educational AND therapeutic.

-Speaking of giveaways, Friendship Circle's Great Bike Giveaway is back! Special bikes for special kids. So awesome!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

And I'm Back!!!

Hello blog readers!!! It's been awhile! Sometimes life gets full and blogging falls to the wayside...Anyway, I'm dusting off my blog and planning to post regularly again. I've tidied up my blog a bit and will continue to do so over the coming weeks (or months, because sometimes I'm slow to get around to these things. Like I said, sometimes life gets full), so expect to see some more (hopefully good) changes.

A little catching up...
I'm back in Southern California. My super smart husband finished his master's degree program, so here were are, back where the sun always shines. I so miss Boston, but California has it's perks, too. But I will miss snow days....that glorious call where you discover you don't have to go to work! I'm currently pondering my next career move in OT. So many choices...EI, schools, clinic...which means I have time to freshen up the blog. I'm also doing some fun and exciting work with the brand new Volunteer Leadership Development Committee (VLDC) for AOTA, and I am super excited about going to my very first AOTA conference in a few weeks. If you're going to be at conference, be sure to come say hi at the leadership reception on Friday night. Trust me, this will be a fun and low pressure event. No need to already be a "leader". Just stop by, chat, and learn a little more about leadership in OT. It's going to be awesome! And there will be free appetizers!

Don't forget that you can also follow me on Twitter. And I'm usually pinning away over on Pinterest. I've also had an Instragram account for quite awhile, which I've never used, but I hope to soon. Especially with OT Month and the AOTA conference coming up. Both seem like perfect opportunities to share photos.

It's good to be back!

PS-What do you think of the new blog name? OT Cafe. I want this to be a place to hang out and chat about OT. Kind of like hanging out at your favorite cafe.

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