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A new school year will soon be starting, and we have the PERFECT solution for all Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, and Speech-Language Pathologists to conquer the year …. the 2019/2020 Ultimate Therapy Planner!  Personalize and Customize Your 2019/2020 Therapy Planner with the Following Tools:   Therapy Planner Cover Pages & Binder Spines: This FREE resource is the perfect solution to organize your Therapy Planner and Therapy Caseload! This is an editable PDF! You TYPE directly into cover page to personalize with your name and title. Print out cover page and binder spine and place in a binder. 2 different versions/designs included!  Versions Included: Occupational Therapy Physical Therapy Speech Therapy Monthly Calendars: Includes August 2019 through August 2020.  Each Month includes space to record Evaluations, Consults, Annual Reviews, Screenings and To-Do's. NEW for 2019!! Each monthly calendar is EDITABLE!! Save PDF and open PDF from saved location.  TYPE into PDF and Save!   Monthly Paperwork Organizer: Organize all your monthly paperwork with these colorful resources! This 19 PAGE PDF will help you organize IEPs, Re-Evaluations, Consultations, and Evaluations for each month in the 2019/2020 School Year. Includes months August - July.  NEW for 2019!! This PDF is EDITABLE!! Save PDF and open PDF from saved location.  TYPE into PDF and Save!   Monthly Attendance: Tracking daily attendance can be time consuming. We are SO excited to share our 2019/2020 Monthly Attendance resources. Attendance will be a breeze with these forms! Simply open the Editable/Fillable PDF and type in information! Includes August 2019 - July 2020. You only have to type in your information once and it will transfer to each month!  There are 2 Versions Available: 1) Codes Added - TYPE in your Discipline, Name, School, and Student's names. Codes are already entered for you! 2) You Type in Codes - TYPE in your Discipline, Name, School, Student’s names, and Personalized Attendance Codes.   Year at a Glance: This FREE One Page 2019/2020 Year at a Glance form will allow you to quickly view all twelve months in one organized high quality page.     Editable Therapy Schedule: This is a FREE Editable/Fillable PDF Schedule Template. Simply open PDF, Save to your device, then TYPE directly into this form! Customize by TYPING into PDF Discipline (OT, PT, or ST) and Name!   Daily To Do Lists: Includes 6 Different Versions of To-Do Lists! Versions include Today's Priorities, Schedule, Reports, Notes, and Meetings! NEW for 2019!! This PDF is EDITABLE!! Save PDF and open PDF from saved location.  TYPE into PDF and Save!   Week at a Glance: Organize your week with this High Quality PDF! Includes To Do's (Work & Home), Schedule (Monday - Friday), Reports to Do (Evaluations, IEPs, Consultations, and Screenings). NEW for 2019!! This PDF is EDITABLE!! Save PDF and open PDF from saved location.  TYPE into PDF and Save!     Caseload Organizer: 5 Versions Included! This is an Editable/Fillable PDF to Organize your Therapy Caseload. Simply open PDF, Save to your device, open and TYPE in your information! A great way to organize the students or clients on your caseload. OT, PT, and ST Versions Available!   Therapy Session Planner:  Organize and Plan your Weekly Sessions! Includes 8 Session time frames. Type in Week Days OR Letter Days, Times/Schedule, Student Names, and Session Plans. Editable! Simply TYPE directly into form! Personalize this entire Session Plan template! Add additional resources and tools to your therapy planner: IEP’s at a Glance 504 Plan at a Glance Student Information Organizer Parent Communication Logs Meeting Notes Usernames & Passwords Tracker Professional Development & Continuing Education Log Tracker Annual Review Checklist Caseload Manager/Organizer Consultation Forms Missed Visit Log Tracker Treatment Plan Templates Occupational Therapy School Based Skills Checklist Goal Progress Monitoring Forms Occupational Therapy Supervision Forms Daily Treatment Documentation   We know these Therapy Organization and Caseload Management tools will help conquer your 2019/2020 School year!! This will give you time to focus on what is important ... helping children grow! Read about more Caseload Management Blog Posts Here!    (1) Documentation & Data Collection for Pediatric Occupational Therapy  (2) Organization & Time Management Tips for Occupational Therapists
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Tools to Grow is pleased to offer our annual FREE Activity-a-Day Summer 2019 Calendars with over 100 activities designed to maintain academic knowledge, battle summer boredom, and make family memories! By providing their child the opportunity to engage in these activities, parents will be offering their children the chance to: Minimize or eliminate learning loss- Skill regression may occur during prolonged breaks from school. These activities offer opportunities for writing, drawing, generating ideas, and using executive functioning skills (problem solving, planning & organizing). Maintain fine motor skills- Children with special needs may regress when not participating in therapy. These summer themed crafts & activities provide opportunities to use a variety of tools and materials that build hand strength, pencil control, and eye-hand coordination. Stay fit and coordinated- Build muscles, balance, strength, endurance, and fight childhood obesity. Create new life experiences- Children with more background knowledge have better reading comprehension. Benefit from multi-sensory learning experiences- These capture your child’s interest while using touch, movement, sound, and sight to promote learning. Expand their role in the family- Complete simple household tasks that help to boost a child’s confidence while learning daily living skills.   Activity-a-Day Summer Calendar Summer Activity-a-Day Calendar is a FREE Printable for the summer months of June, July, and August 2019. So as to offer each child the most relevant and age appropriate activities, this year we have continued to provide you with three suggested age ranges/grade levels: 1) Level 1: Preschool - Grade 1 2) Level 2: Grade 2 - Grade 4 3) Level 3: Grade 5 and Above   What Skills are Addressed in the Calendars? Level 1 and Level 2 Calendar and Plans are organized as follows: Monday = Fine Motor Tuesday = Sensory Fun Wednesday = Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Integration Thursday = Handwriting Friday = Gross Motor Saturday = Around the House   Level 3 Calendar and Plans are organized as follows: Monday = Fine Motor Tuesday = Executive Functioning Wednesday = Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Integration Thursday = Handwriting Friday = Gross Motor Saturday = Around the House   Fine Motor Skills involve the use of precise and coordinated movements of the fingers to perform hand use tasks. Fine motor skills are necessary for completing daily tasks such as dressing (using buttons/zippers), feeding (using mealtime utensils), being a student (using a pencil, keyboard, or scissors), and engaging in leisure/play activities (drawing, playing many musical instruments). Sensory Play involves opportunities to promote the development of sensory processing skills by increasing adaptive or functional responses to sights, sounds, touch, and movement. Executive Functioning Skills involve the many tasks a child’s brain performs that are necessary to think, act, and solve problems. Executive functioning includes tasks that help a child learn new information, remember and retrieve information learned in the past, and the use of this information to solve problems in everyday life. Visual Perceptual Skills involve the ability to understand, evaluate, and interpret what is seen. There are a variety of visual perceptual skills; deficits in one or more of these may have academic and functional consequences for success at school and home. Visual Motor Integration (VMI) Skills involve the coordination of hand movements based upon the perception of visual information. It is the execution of hand movements guided by what the child is seeing.   Handwriting Skills involve a complex process of recording language by hand, often by using paper and a pen or pencil. The production of legible and efficient handwriting requires intact skills in the areas of postural control, eye hand coordination, visual perception, fine motor control, ocular control, and pencil grasp. Handwriting skills may be strengthened through practice that includes coloring, drawing, printing letters, printing numerals, or forming other symbols. Gross Motor Skills involve the use of large muscles groups for the performance of functions such as walking, running, jumping, riding a bike and playing sports. Around the House Skills involve completion of simple household tasks that help to boost a child’s confidence and independence. As a child develops he/she will need to increase their competence in the completion of daily living skills for success at home, school, community, and work environments.   Instructions for a Sun-Tastic Summer! 1) Print out FREE Summer Activity-a-Day 2019 Calendars. 2) Complete activities throughout the months of June, July, and August as indicated on the calendars. 3)  Print accompanying detailed Weekly Plans with detailed instructions and Printable Activities for each week!    Summer Weekly Plans & Activities Are you looking for a complete NO PREP summer packet? Are you looking for detailed weekly plans, instructions, and printable resources that accompany the 2019 monthly Activity-a-Day Calendar? We have exactly what you are looking for! We have done the planning and organizing for you! Simply Print and Go!  Summer Weekly Plans & Activities are conveniently organized into the same three levels and suggested age ranges as the FREE Activity-a-Day Calendars.   Level 1 = Preschool - Grade 1 This 84 page Printable PDF includes detailed weekly plans/ instructions and accompanying activities for children preschool age through first grade.  Activities include: Therapy Putty Exercises Yoga Poses Watermelon Number Puzzle Watermelon Paper Craft Play Dough Mat & Letters Pattern & Cut Fish/Ocean Theme Alphabet Practice (Upper & Lower Case Letters) Number Practice Proper Letter Formation Chart Gross Motor Summer Animal Walk Game Tactile Ice Cream Puffy Paint Recipe and Craft Maze Paths Pencil Paths Coloring Pages Sandpaper Star Fish Craft Find the Differences Tic Tac Toe Goldfish Eye Dropper Bubbles Sensory Coloring: Bear Edition Hole Punch Art Fish Tangram Activity And Much More!!   2) Level 2 = Grade 2 - Grade 4 This 73 page Printable PDF includes detailed weekly lesson plans/instructions and accompanying activities for children in the second through fourth grades. Activities include: Thumbprint Art Therapy Putty Exercises Sorting Coins Coloring Pages Puffy Paint Ice Cream Recipe and Craft Handwriting Practice (A-Z Scavenger Hunt, Riddles, Secret Code, Cryptogram, Summer Story, Write a Letter, Make a List) Gross Motor Animal Walks and Spinner Game Proper Letter Formation Chart Tactile Recipes (Goop) Hole Punch Art Word Search Number Practice Find the Differences Hang Man Paper Clip Pattern Sandpaper Craft Sensory Coloring Mixed up Word Search/Scan Fish Tangram Activity And Much More!!   3) Level 3 = Grade 5 and Above This 75 page Printable PDF includes detailed weekly lesson plans/instructions and accompanying activities for children in the fifth grade and above. Activities include: Yoga Poses Calendar Skills Printing Practice (Summer Story, Cryptogram, Word Scramble, Space between Words, Space between Letters) Map Skills Hole Punch Art Word Search Prioritizing Skills Organizing and Sequencing Skills Grocery/Menu Planning Mixed up Grocery Items Activity Chore List Drawing/Symmetry Activities Rangoli Coloring Patterns Design Comic Strips Managing Time Back to School Supply List Using a Ruler Activity Pencil Control Paths Pencil Twirls And Much More!!   We hope you have lots of fun and make amazing summer memories together with these FREE Summer Activity-a-Day Printable Calendars!! We know these calendars will take the stress away from planning activities and allow for some great summer memories together! You can print out the Activity-a-Day Summer Calendars and Weekly Plans, as well as check out the other summer resources we have to offer here. Have a wonderful, safe and fun-filled Summer!!  
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Therapy Putty is a great tool that Pediatric Therapists can use to help their clients attain optimal flexibility and build strength in the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the hand.   Strong hands are important for children to manage their environment for success at home and school. Strong hands with full range of motion and mobility provide a child with the power, endurance, and variety of movements needed for performing functional fine motor tasks. These include using fasteners to manage clothing, using utensils to eat, manipulating a pencil/pen, using a keyboard, and utilizing craft and classroom tools (ex: scissors, ruler, hole-punch, and eraser). To help your clients achieve improved flexibility and hand strength, Tools to Grow, Inc. is excited to present Therapy Putty Strengthening Exercise Resources!   Therapy Putty Strengthening Exercise Resources The advantage of using therapy putty is that it is very malleable for rolling, squeezing, pinching and poking. Because it is so pliable, the client can achieve their full range of motion while manipulating the putty. These exercises will build strength in the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the hand as the child moves against the resistance of the putty. Therapy putty is available in a range of strengths or resistances to meet your client’s needs. The therapist will need to supply hand putty for the resistance. The different strengths are color coded as follows: Yellow: Extra Soft Red: Soft Green: Medium Blue: Firm General Information to share with your clients when recommending therapy putty exercises: Wash hands before and after using therapy putty to keep it clean. Ideally each child should use the same piece of therapy putty. Place the therapy putty on a clean surface for use. Replace putty into air tight container after use.   We are pleased to present three different versions of “Therapy Putty Exercise" Resources: (1) Exercise Cards, (2) Exercise Posters, and (3) Activity Cards.  (1) Hand Exercise Therapy Putty Cards   The Hand Exercise Cards provide clear images that depict what action the client is expected to perform. The image clearly shows the putty and hand position or series of positions. A simple written explanation details how to move the hand and manipulate the putty to get optimal results.  Included in both Color Version and Black/White Ink Friendly Version!   Hand Exercise Therapy Cards Includes: 17 Hand Exercise Therapy Cards (2 Per Page) Therapist Instructions Therapist Information Sheets Parent/Caregiver Information Sheet   (2) Hand Exercise Therapy Putty Posters   The Hand Exercise Posters provide full page high quality images that depict what action the client is expected to perform. The image clearly shows the putty and hand position or series of positions. A simple written explanation details how to move the hand and manipulate the putty to get optimal results.  Included in both Color Version and Black/White Ink Friendly Version!   Hand Exercise Therapy Posters Includes: 17 Hand Exercise Therapy Full Sized Posters Therapist Instructions Therapist Information Sheets Binder Cover and Spines to Organize Posters     (3) Hand Exercise Therapy Putty Activity Cards & Therapy Putty Station   The Hand Exercise Activity Cards provide clear images that depict the activity the client is expected to perform. Included in both Color Version and Black/White Ink Friendly Version!   Hand Exercise Activity Cards Includes: 12 Hand Exercise Activity Cards (2 Per Page) Therapist Information Sheets Therapy Putty Station Label   Suggested Use: Create a “Therapy Putty” Station Cut out each card Laminate and place cards on ring Place putty and materials in a plastic box (plastic knife, cookie cutter, marbles, golf tees, coins, scissors, small beads, perfection game pieces). Print and place label on side of box. Student selects putty activity card and appropriate materials to complete activity.     Find all these Hand Therapy Putty Exercise Resources here!  
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Pediatric therapists know that praxis is a broad term that involves a child’s ability to conceptualize, organize, and direct unfamiliar purposeful actions. Praxis has been described as a bridge between cognition and action. Praxis allows children to plan and execute motor skills in a refined and efficient manner, thereby allowing for ideal fulfillment of a child’s life roles. Intact praxis includes these parts: Ideation: forming a goal for action based upon the child’s environment. This part relies heavily on cognition. For example, the child forms the goal to climb to the top of the stairs to get his toy. Motor Planning: figuring out how to accomplish the climb. This requires problem solving, body awareness, and sequencing of actions. This part relies heavily upon a child’s sensory processing. Execution: carrying out the plan or doing the activity. In addition to ideation and motor planning, the execution of the activity also requires motor coordination. Dyspraxia has been described as a disorder in processing sensory information and using it to program motor actions. A child with problems with praxis may struggle to learn new motor tasks, and then generalize that learning into new settings. In young children, a lack of flexibility and creativity are strong indicators of dyspraxia. Young children constantly encounter new situations that require praxis, those with excellent praxis will be the most inventive in their living and play environments. A child with dyspraxia can present with dysfunction in the gross motor, fine motor, and/or oral motor areas. In the gross motor area, such a child may look clumsy. This child will really struggle with activities that require multiple movements, those movements that require sequencing, and mastering movements that are novel. This may include riding a bike, as well as participation in sports and other playground games. In the fine motor area, such a child may show poor coloring skills, messy handwriting, and struggle with fasteners/tying. Other signs of dyspraxia may include: Delays in motor milestones such as rolling, sitting, crawling, walking and running. Tripping, falling, and bumping into people and objects. Frequently breaking objects/toys unintentionally. Messy eaters with decreased skill using utensils. Trouble with constructive manipulation such as using scissors, snap blocks, and beads. Child may have poor in-hand manipulation skills. Poor organization of personal space. Struggling with imitating postures or simple movements. Child may take an adult’s hand to perform the needed action(s), as if your hand will be more effective. Child is easily frustrated- may frequently cry, tantrum or refuse to participate. Dyspraxia occurs in children with developmental delays, including those with autism. Children with an autistic spectrum disorder have been known to have impairments in overall imitation abilities. Many of such children have been observed to show a narrow range of motor schemes that may result in highly habitual and repetitious movements. This of course can truly restrict their ability to engage in their environment. Imitation, one part of praxis, is important in the development of interpersonal relations. This includes empathy, sharing, and non-verbal communication. So by developing a child’s praxis, not only will there be progress in adaptive motor skills, the child’s social skills may also advance. Because motor imitation helps children learn new motor skills, a child with deficits in praxis may have a treatment plan that includes intervention for postural praxis. Postural praxis has been defined as the imitation of unfamiliar static postures. To address this need, Tools To Grow is pleased to offer: COPY ME! Body Position Posters and Cards! Therapists may use these illustrated resources that depict 42 different body positions. The postures range in complexity from the simple to imitate with symmetrical limb positioning, to the advanced asymmetrical cross body limb postures. Some advanced postures required single limb balance. All will challenge a child to develop his/her body scheme awareness. We are pleased to present two different versions of “Copy Me! Body Position Resources: (1) Posters: One Full-Sized Illustrated Image Per Page Color Version Black/White (Ink Friendly Version)   (2) Cards: Two Illustrated Images Per Page Color Version Black/White (Ink Friendly Version)   Tools to Grow is also pleased to offer Pediatric Yoga Cards.  These Yoga Cards are another tool that will help children of all abilities to develop motor imitation, postural praxis, and body awareness. Find Yoga Cards here! Summer is just around the corner! Find our NEW Summer Ocean Theme Yoga cards here!  
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April is the American Occupational Therapy Month. We are excited to share 5 fun ways to celebrate and Capture OT! We hope these ideas inspire you to celebrate, enjoy, and promote Occupational Therapy throughout the month of April.     1. Participate in OT Month Photo Challenge 2019 #CaptureOT!   This is our fifth annual Photo Challenge! We are so excited to be continuing the tradition to Promote and Capture Occupational Therapy! We have made the above image that you can save and share, which includes the suggested theme for each week in our photo challenge. You can download the image here. At the end of each week we will announce the winner of that week’s prize! Contest open to residents of the United States only.  Instructions: 1. Take photos based on the suggested theme each week in April 2019. Post as many pictures as you want each week! 2. Use the hashtag #CaptureOT in your subject line so that everyone can search and browse them. Let's celebrate OT Month and Capture what we do every day! 3. Be sure to check out other people’s photos! You can see what others are posting by searching the hashtag #CaptureOT or #OTMonth2019. 4. Tag us! @ToolsToGrow For example: Week One is April 1st through 6th. The photo challenge of this week is "Handwriting Activities." You can take pictures of activities you use in therapy that address handwriting. Use #CaptureOT, #otmonth, #OTPhotoChallenge or #OTMonth19 when you share on social media. Be creative and have fun with it. Let’s Promote Occupational Therapy and have fun!Week 1: Handwriting Activities = Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Week 2: Fine Motor Activities = Win a Laminator! Week 3: Sensory Processing Activities = Win a Tools to Grow Membership! Week 4: Self-Care Interventions = Win Reflex Integration Poster! Week 5: Visual Perceptual Activities = Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Be sure to follow us to see our Photo Callenge #CaptureOT Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toolstogrow/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/toolstogrowot  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toolstogrowot   2. Create an OT Month Bulletin Board   Decorate your Occupational Therapy room bulletin board or hallway with this easy bulletin board kit. Kit includes: Title (colored letters & outlined letters) 8 Colored Visual Posters   Find this NEW Bulletin Board Kit here!   3. Have an OT Month Coloring and/or Printing Contest!  Run your own OT Month Coloring and/or Printing Contest!  Use #CaptureOT and tag @toolstogrow on social media! hree versions included!  You can find these printable coloring and printing contests here!   4. Educate Others! What is Occupational Therapy? Handout & Poster    Use this FREE Poster and Informational Flyer as a great way to promote OT Month and educate others.   Give this to colleagues, staff, educators, caregivers/parents, and the general public to promote awareness of Occupational Therapy. The poster illustrates some of the many “tools” Occupational Therapy provides children to help them grow! The informational handout explains “what” Occupational Therapy is, and “why” and “how” it can help children.    Download this FREE Handout here!   5. OT Month Resources & Printable Activities   Staying true to our mission to provide our members with valuable tools to help with the most important job there is … helping children grow; we are pleased to offer OT Month resources! You can find them all here!   OT Month Resources and activities that students/patients can complete throughout OT Month include the following:  I Love OT Poster What is Occupational Therapy? FREE Handout and Poster OT Month Craftivity - FREE Printable! What Do I Do in Occupational Therapy? Coloring & Printing Book Cryptograms: Printing Cryptograms: Tying Visual Scanning: OT Supplies Form Constancy: OT Supplies Word Scramble OT Month Maze Missions OT Month Flap Sheets: Fun Interactive Trivia OT Month BINGO OT Month Maze Missions Typing Practice – OT Month  Find all these activities and printable resources here!   2019 OT Month PROMO Code Sale!   We are excited to share our OT Month Promo code savings! Become a Full Premium Member from April 1, 2019 through April 8, 2019 for $5.00USD off! Don't miss out! Become a Full Premium Member today!   Important Tip for Current Members Wanting to Renew & Use Promo Code   Are you currently a member and wish to renew? Email us to take advantage of this PROMO code sale!You can renew early and utilize the code for savings!   Email us to find out more information here!     We are so thankful to be a part of the Occupational Therapy profession. A career that allows us to impact the lives of many, and to be creative and client-centered on a daily basis. Occupational Therapy is a profession that is gratifying, challenging, and filled with countless opportunities to make a difference in the lives of our clients and families. How thankful we are to be a part of this amazing profession!   Wishing everyone a wonderful OT Month!  Let’s Celebrate OT Month and #CaptureOT! Patti & Shelley    
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Those of us that parent, care for, and provide therapy services for children are very aware of those youngsters that struggle through meals and have difficulty eating. The prevalence of feeding disorders in children that are developing typically has been noted to be as high as 25%. For those with developmental disabilities it has been noted to be as high as 80%. The consequences for a child that is struggling with a prolonged feeding problem are serious. It may result in poor nutrition, compromised growth, and interference with social/emotional development. A child that is considered a picky eater has a limited acceptance of foods and beverages. The parents of a picky eater will usually provide this child with a different snack or meal than the rest of the family. He/she will eat a decreased variety of food but will usually tolerate a new food on their plate. The child may even eat the new food! A picky eater will eat at least one food from each food group.   In contrast, a child with a feeding problem shows a persistent refusal to eat a certain food group, texture, solid or liquid for a period of at least one month, resulting in no to very little weight gain and body growth. This child may accept less than 20 foods in total and tends to become very upset when new foods are presented.     ASSESSMENT of Children with Suspected Feeding Disorders     >> Mealtime Assessment/Screening It is important to gather information about a child’s health/medical background, weight & growth, food texture consumption, cognitive and problem-solving skills, posture/large motor control, oral motor skills, fine motor/self-feeding skills, as well as their sensory profile related to meals. It is very important to get a picture of the child’s mealtime environment. This information is necessary to develop effective treatment strategies and family recommendations that will help a child gain functional and adaptive feeding skills.   To help acquire the aforementioned information, Tools To Grow is pleased to offer our NEW “Mealtime & Feeding Skills: Screening Forms” resource.  This is a 5-page Screening Packet that includes the following categories: Diet, Liquid Intake, Sensory, Biting, Chewing, Swallowing, and Meals/Snack Routine. Find these NEW Mealtime & Feeding Screening Forms HERE!     >> Food Intake A food survey of what a child consumes on a daily basis over a span of time can be very valuable to learn what patterns emerge. Does the child graze all day? Does the child take most of their calories via liquids? Do they fill up on empty calories? Do they have a restricted diet in terms of taste, texture, smells, appearance of food, food groups, etc.?   To help gather the aforementioned information, Tools To Grow is pleased to offer our NEW resource “Mealtime & Feeding: Daily Intake Logs”. 2 Versions are included: >> 8- Day Meal Log = This is a 4 Page Editable PDF.  TYPE directly into Intake Log! >> One Day Meal Log = This is a 2 Page Editable PDF.  TYPE directly into Intake Log!   Find these Mealtime & Feeding DAILY INTAKE LOGS HERE!    To help with the completion of Mealtime Daily Intake Logs we have created a FREE Sample Food List.  Find this FREE Food List HERE!     TREATMENT PLANNING for Children with Feeding Problems   Using the assessment information gathered and your clinical skills, the following may be determined to exist: Health Concerns- A referral and/or follow up with a physician may be indicated to ensure the child remain safe and healthy. It is extremely important to emphasize to a parent/guardian that your service is just one “piece of the pie”. A child with a very serious feeding disorder requires close contact with a team of providers that includes a medical doctor and nutritionist. Delays in Oral Motor Skills – The child may need intervention to develop strength and coordination in facial muscles, lips, jaw, and tongue. Intervention may be indicated to assist with intra-oral awareness to help a child form a food bolus when chewing, minimizing food residue in the mouth, and decreasing food loss through the lips. The scope of interventions that may be indicated and provided is very broad and may require a therapist to seek advanced knowledge/training. Delays in Self Feeding Skills- This includes grasp and release of finger foods, bringing finger food to the mouth, use of utensils (scoop/spear, bring to mouth, bring back to plate), and grasping and bringing a cup to the mouth. Specialized and low-tech mealtime tools may be indicated that include a built-up handle, scoop plate, wide based cup, use of a straw, dycem under the plate, etc. The simple addition of a preferred place mat or colorful cup may make a big difference! Poor Sitting Posture/Insufficient Seating- The child may not be sitting comfortably or safely at the table. The chair or table height may need revisions to allow for proper foot and forearm support.   INTERVENTION for Children with Sensory Related Feeding Problems Helping children with disorders of feeding or eating can be extremely rewarding but can also prove to be extremely challenging. Given the complexity of these concerns, intervention planning in this area often requires advanced training and knowledge. One thing is for sure, any effective intervention requires a deep commitment to collaborate with the family, and provide highly individualized and safe treatment strategies. To help children with feeding problems with a sensory component, the therapist will not only be working with the child. The intervention must extend to the parents and significant others in the child’s life. Below are samples of some intervention strategies that may help a child with sensory related feeding disorders: Establish routines and a consistent environment- This is the part that takes a dedicated and persuasive therapist! We know that this part is easier said than done! But for real change to occur a regular routine prior to, during, and after meals must exist. As we know a child that has difficulty with transitions needs extra support to break away from a preferred activity and engage in something else. A child with feeding problems needs to know when the meal or snack is occurring and what he/she is expected to do. For example, first wash hands, then come to table, sit in the chair, etc. Aim for no longer than 15-minute snacks and 30-minute meals. The child clears his/plate after the meal (if possible). Meals and snacks need to be scheduled at regular intervals.   Modifying Foods Offered- This may include thickening liquids, decreasing the quantity of food on the plate, altering the density of food to allow for improved biting, minimizing mixed texture foods (ex: soup), adding flavor via spices, reducing flavor by removing spicy food, being mindful of temperature, etc. You need to match the child’s food to their skills.   Offer Food Handling & Tolerance Activities- Children with aversions to certain smells, sights, and touch may find it fun to participate in food preparation using simple child friendly recipes. This will provide a perfect opportunity to encourage a child to interact with various foods in a fun and hopefully non-threatening manner. A child may improve his or her tolerance for handling and accepting a greater variety of food through the use of “food art”. Remember…he or she may not need to eat the food, just learn more about it.   To help children engage in food preparation, Tools To Grow is pleased to offer NEW child friendly Visual Recipes! This NEW resource includes 15 Different Visual Recipes.  Each Recipe Includes: (1) Tool List (kitchen tools and ingredients needed), and (2) Visual Recipe and Step-By-Step Sequencing Chart. NO OVEN OR STOVE NEEDED! You may need a microwave, toaster, and blender.  Find this Visual Recipe Resource HERE! Recipes Included: POLAR BEAR TOAST POLAR BEAR RICE CAKE *free printable! HEART TOAST LEAF TOAST STRAWBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIE BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE BREAKFAST YOGURT CUP PITA POCKET APPLESAUCE UNDER THE SEA CRACKER SNACK SIMPLE SALAD TEDDY BEAR RICE CAKE MEAT SANDWICH CHEESE SANDWICH HOT CHOCOLATE   Download a FREE Visual Recipe: Polar Bear Rice Cake! This FREE Printable includes Step-By-Step Directions & Ingredient/Tool List to make a Rice Cake Polar Bear. Find it HERE! Be sure to also download SPRING Visual Recipes! These Printable Recipes includes Step-By-Step Directions & Ingredient/Tool List to make three Spring Themed Snacks. Flower Cracker Butterfly Cookie Celery Caterpillar  Find these SPRING RECIPE CARDS HERE!     To help children interact with food using “food art”, Tools To Grow is pleased to offer these Food Art Snack Mats! These Food Art Snack Mats Address the following: Accepting and Enjoying a variety of foods. Looking, Touching, Tasting, Biting, Chewing, a variety of foods. Fine Motor Skills Eye-Hand Coordination Hand Separation Hand Arch Development Self-Feeding Oral Motor Skills Controlled Finger Movements Simply Print the Food Art Snack Mats and Laminate for durability. Use the suggested food on the legend or try your own! Find these NEW Food ART Snack Mats HERE!   Tools to Grow also has Color Sorting Meal Time: Snack Mats. This PDF includes 6 Different Snack Mats. Using cereal and/or fish cracker treats, the child places the desired snack on the mat as indicated. These Meal Time Mats are a great activity to address: Color Recognition & Sorting, Number Concepts, Fine Motor Skills, Visual Discrimination Skills, Eye-hand coordination, Controlled finger movements, Self-feeding and Oral Motor Skills. Find these Meal Time Sorting Snack Mats HERE! Offer Reinforcement for Trying New Food- Some children will respond well to positive encouragement and acknowledgment from others that he/she interacted in a positive manner with a new food. This may include looking at the food, touching the food, smelling the food, bringing the food to their lips, taking a bite, chewing the food, and finally swallowing the new food.   To reinforce children for interacting with food in a positive manner, Tools To Grow is pleased to offer the following Resources:   (1) Color (Colour) Your Plate: I Tried It! Food Coloring Sheets Includes Food Groups: Fruits, Dairy, Vegetables, Proteins, and Grains.  Color each food you have tried! Includes American and Canadian/British Spelling Versions. Find this Coloring Resource HERE!   (2) Color (Colour), Cut, & Paste: Food Groups Includes Food Groups: Fruits, Dairy, Vegetables, Proteins, Sugars, and Grains.  Color the food items (36 included), Cut, and Glue in the correct Food Group.  Includes American and Canadian/British Spelling Versions. Find this Color, Cut, & Paste Resource HERE!   (3) “Give It A Try” Food Game is the perfect tool to introduce and interact with food in a positive and fun way! This PDF includes: Detailed Game Instructions Printable Die with 6 Colors representing 6 different ways the child can interact with the food Snack Mat (Color & Black/White Versions) Food Action Chart 12 Reward Token Cards (Color & Black/White Versions) Find this Feeding Game HERE!   (4) “I am Hungry: Let’s Try a New Food!” Mini-Book is another great way to introduce and interact with food in a positive and fun way! This Mini-Book Mealtime Social Story is included in both Girl and Boy Versions.  This PDF includes: Detailed Print and Assembly Instructions Mini-Book with 22 Story Pages 30 Different Food Items Black/White Ink Friendly Version and Color Versions of each available! Find these NEW Social Story Mealtime Books here!   Seating- Help the family set up a mealtime seating arrangement that includes a chair with adequate depth for the child’s legs, a stable pelvis at 90 degrees, and feet that are supported on a stable surface/the floor. The child’s tummy should touch the table. The height of the table should be at the child’s elbows for their forearms to rest properly.   Encourage Touch Input to Face & Mouth- Try the following: Whistles Blow objects with straws (leaves, cotton balls, feathers, ping pong ball, etc.) Face painting Applying lip gloss/chap stick Stereognosis Game- Child finds and removes a sticker that was placed on their face without the benefit of a mirror Allow bubbles to pop on his/her face   To help children accept touch input to their face and mouth, Tools To Grow is pleased to offer these oral motor blowing games: Apple Oral Motor Game: This apple themed table top/floor game is designed to promote development of oral motor, turn taking, following directions, and visual motor skills. Students will enjoy the strategy and chance to have some Fall Fun! Go Home Monster! Oral Motor Sorting Game: This monster themed game is designed to promote the development of oral motor, eye-hand coordination, and visual perception skills. Children will be encouraged to identify and/or match colors, take turns, and understand simple rules of the game. Igloo Flurry - Oral Motor Game: This winter themed Igloo game is designed to promote development of oral motor, turn taking, following directions, and visual motor skills. Students will enjoy the strategy and chance to have some Winter Fun!   Find these Oral Motor Games HERE!   Encourage Internal Awareness of the Face and Mouth Imitate facial expressions Imitate lip and tongue movements Move gum around his/her mouth Use a vibrating toothbrush Model how to bite off a firm food, chew and swallow Allow child to watch him/herself eat through use of a mirror   Increase Tolerance for Varying Food Temperatures & Other Sensory Features Label sensory features of varying objects- warm, cold, hot, soft, hard, bumpy, smooth, etc. Use an ice cube to create art by rubbing in drink powder (ex: Kool Aid) and gently encouraging tastes; may need to start by child wearing thin gloves Use ice cubes dipped in drink powder to apply “lip balm” to lips Change the temperature of the straw (that child is using to blow objects) by dipping the end that will enter their mouth into warm or cold water. Bury small objects in ice- child is to use a tools to dig out of ice Smell different herbs and spices- use to create sensory art Sort foods by how they look- all red apple slices go here, all yellow go there Include a variety of very simple kids cooking activities into therapy (banana slices in chocolate syrup, slicing cucumbers, etc. Label food by taste- salty, sweet, sour, etc. Use snack mats with cheerios, fruit loops, fish crackers Make rainbows- press teeth into carrot, chess, fruit roll ups and make a “rainbow” impression. Proprioception activities before snacks and meal- this can override most other sensory input the child may be over-reacting to during the meal.   Strategies to Increase Breath Control Practice deep breathing and exhalation- smell the flowers, blow out the candle Blow bubbles Blow feathers   Strategies to Increase Utensil Use Child performs make-believe feeding of doll, stuffed animal, etc. using a spoon or fork Child cuts dough with safety knife Child carries small objects using a large spoon Stirring with a spoon- can use a dry tactile bin or cup of fluid to stir Scooping with a spoon- can use a tactile bin of dry rice and beans to scoop   Strategies to Increase Foods Consumed During Family Meals at Home  Focus on volume of food eaten Every person in family aim to eat a serving of each food presented as a good role model Use mealtime for pleasant interactions Each meal should include at least one food child will eat Have meals at scheduled times Provide verbal warning 5 minutes before meals Include a transition activity- washing hands Sit at table in assigned chair that fits child well The child should not be the focus of the meal, but praise should be offered for any good attempts at eating non-preferred foods (looking at, smelling, touching, tasting, swallowing, etc.) Never force child to eat but you may say “you can take a bite of potatoes”. Everyone should empty their own plate.   At Other Times Discourage grazing Discourage excessive drinking Aim for 15 minute snacks and 30 minute meals   References Feeding Strategies for Picky Eaters. Shawn Manvell When Children Won’t Eat: Picky Eaters Versus Problem Feeders, Assessment and Treatment Using the S.O.S. Approach to Feeding. Kay Toomey, PhD, Lindsey Beckerman MOT, OTR/L, and Deborah Lagerborg, CCC-SLP  
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Children always enjoy the pretend game of “fishing”, and during the winter months what could be more fun than Ice Fishing! Tools To Grow is pleased to offer our entertaining Ice Fishing Winter Vocabulary Game that is designed to promote many essential skills necessary for optimal development. This winter themed game targets the following:  Following Directions- Understanding what is expected Children with proficient receptive language skills can understand age appropriate information that is verbally presented to them. A child with difficulty with following directions can have many challenges with following daily routines at home and school. Such children will also struggle with advancing their academic abilities. During this game the child will receive many opportunities to listen to and execute directions in a supported manner.   Vocabulary & Sight Word Development- Recognizing the images and/or words on “Fish Cards” Children require a well-developed sight word vocabulary for automatic word recognition. Word recognition is the ability to recognize written words correctly and without effort.  Vocabulary is the all the language and words understood by a person.   During this game the child will be exposed to many winter themed vocabulary words in a repetitive and supported manner. He/she will be given the opportunity to expand their recognition and identification of the written word related to the winter season.   Articulation of Speech Sounds- Clearly stating the names of the winter images on the Fish Cards. Articulation refers to how a child makes speech sounds using their mouth, lips, and tongue. A child with an articulation disorder has difficulty making individual speech sounds. A child with an articulation disorder displays atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, omissions, additions or distortions that may interfere with intelligibility. Using this game, children will have a fun and supportive setting to practice speech sounds.   Bilateral Coordination– Managing the Fishing Pole Bilateral coordination skills refers to the ability to skill fully use both sides of the body simultaneously. This includes using both sides of the body at the same time for the same action, such as using a rolling pin. It also includes using the same action at alternate times, such as walking. Finally, it includes the ability to use different sides of the body for dissimilar movements such as holding the paper down with on hand while writing with the other hand. As noted, bilateral coordination is necessary for executing complex fine and gross motor movements. Children with difficulties in this area may struggle with using clothing fasteners, tying shoes, completing hand crafts, scissor use, and participating in gross motor physical activities. During this the child will use the fishing pole to “catch” and “release” the fish from the magnet requires the hands to perform different, but complementary actions.   Upper Extremity Control- Managing the Fishing Pole A stable shoulder girdle that can be held in varying active ranges of flexion, abduction, adduction, and rotation is vital to proficient hand use skills. This proximal stability is a foundation for more distal fluid mobility of the forearm, wrist and fingers. During this game the child is required to sustain his/her shoulder in a variety of positions while he/she removes the “fish” from the end of the string.    Handwriting - Completing writing prompt and forming ideas The production of legible and well-organized handwriting requires intact skills in the areas of postural control, eye hand coordination, visual perception, fine motor control, ocular control, and pencil grasp. A child’s handwriting capabilities have significant impact on their academic performance. Using winter themed paper and vocabulary, a child will have the opportunity to writing practice.  Materials Needed: Fish Vocabulary Cards (16 Total included) Fishing Pole with magnet Lid from a Box (a photocopy paper box is ideal = 12” x 9” x 3 & 1/2”) Game Cards: 6 versions included Paper clips Game Card Covers/Objects to mark squares: Use your own manipulatives. Examples: buttons, beans, pennies, cereal, or any other small items. Use dabbers or crayons to color in images, or mark an “X”. Use dough to smash onto the squares.   Assemble Fish Vocabulary Cards: 1. Print out Fish Vocabulary Cards on cardstock. Print Pages 3 & 4 and Pages 5 & 6 double sided. This will allow for the vocabulary word to be on one side and the image of that word on the reverse side. 2. Cut out each Fish Vocabulary Card and laminate (if possible for durability). 3. Place a paper clip on each Fish Card that you will be “catching” with a fishing pole.   Assemble Fishing Pond: (STEP 1) Using a lid from photocopy paper, lid from a box, or large shoe box lid - cut out a 7 x 7 inch hole. (STEP 2) Attach Fishing Pond Game Image, as decoration, to the top of the lid (if desired).   Fishing Pole: Create a magnetic fishing pole using a long stick/dowel, string and magnet. Game Cards: 6 different versions included.  Each child will require one game board.  Print and laminate for durability.   How to Play Ice Fishing Winter Vocabulary Game: 1. Scatter the fishing vocabulary cards under the lid in the open circular area. 2. Youngest player (if more than one player) goes first. 3. Child uses the fishing pole to “Fish” for a vocabulary card. 4. Child removes one fish from the pole. 5. Child reads the word or identifies the image. 6. The child describes this item OR uses this word in a sentence. 7. Each child playing will then place covers on the called image (or use dabber, mark “X”, smash dough etc.) if the word and image read is on their Game Card. Images/Words may appear more than once per card. Cover all images if that word is read. 8. That fish Vocabulary Card is now out of play (*do not place back under the lid). 9. The next player then repeats steps 3 - 6. 10. Winner: Once a player has 5 squares covered, in a row, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, they call out “ICE FISHING” and win the game. Or, play cover all squares, 4 corners, etc. Winner has to read all their covered words in order to win.   HANDWRITING:  - Optional: Using the paper provided, the child is to write a sentence using that word or print the word (depending on the level of the child).   VARIATIONS:   Therapist can ask additional probing questions regarding the vocabulary cards. Examples include: Where is this used? Where does this belong? How does this feel? What does this do? Child can move in a designated manner when making his or her way to “fish”. This may include walking backward, carefully spinning, walking on knees, skipping, walking on toes, walking on heels, walking sideways, or sitting on a scooter board. Be careful not to drop the fish on the fishing pole! This game can be used as part of an obstacle course. After using the fishing pole to retrieve a card, the child may grasp the vocabulary card in their hand as they navigate through the course. Use lined paper (separate PDF) to write words or print sentences using Fish Vocabulary Cards.   Find this NEW Winter Vocabulary Ice Fishing Game Here!   Find more Winter Blogs Here: Winter Blogs  
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Tis the season for giving! During the Holiday season family and friends want to give a special present that will bring pleasure to the children in their lives. Sometimes the intent is to share a gift that is pure entertainment, other times the gift is intended to promote development in other areas ... intellectual, social, sensory, or motor skills.  Occupational Therapists are skilled at analyzing and using activities to help children grow. With that in mind, Tools to Grow is sharing our Holiday Gift Guide Ideas. This is a six page list of games, toys, and materials that may be helpful when selecting a special gift for the children in your life.   Some of the items are listed in a generic manner; others are specified by their commercial name(s).  The items have been categorized into developmental skill areas that use of the game, toy, or craft may develop in your child. These skill areas include: - Board Games: Drawing, Handwriting/Literacy Skills, Visual Perception, Motor Planning, Strategy, and Drawing - Sensory: Olfactory, Auditory, Oral Motor, Proprioceptive, Tactile, Vestibular, and Gross Motor/Balance - Fine Motor Coordination: Early Childhood & Kindergarten/Older - Imagination - Eye-Hand Coordination: Early Childhood & Kindergarten/Older While Tools to Grow is very happy to share this list, we believe that the most important gifts are those that cannot be purchased. This includes sharing your love, patience, generosity, time, and compassion with a child. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Holiday Season!   Find this FREE Printable and all our Christmas/Holiday resources here!    
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Halloween is almost here and we have the perfect Sensory Halloween activity for you ... Sensory Art! Sensory Art is the use of coloring tools and other sensory media to produce creative “works of art”. These activities improve a child’s sensory processing skills in an enjoyable manner. Great for use at school and home!  Using the Halloween themed coloring picture sheets, the child will begin by using traditional tools such as crayons to color as much or as little of the sheet as he or she wishes. The next step is to “decorate” the picture using glue and medium that offers tactile and olfactory experiences. Not only will children experience a great variety of sights, scents, and textures to manipulate, but there are also many opportunities for developing skills in the area of fine motor, bilateral coordination, and praxis. The child will be challenged in the area of ideation (what to do with all of these things?) and execution (how to manipulate to form the product). Whether you need to capture the attention of one child or a group, this resource may work for you during Occupational Therapy treatment. Using it as a home program to extend the benefits of direct treatment is another possible use. We hope you love this fun resource as much as we and our kiddos do! Have a great time! We have had excellent results with our resource known as Sensory Art. There are 4 Halloween Versions Included: (1) Happy Halloween Scene (2) Witch (3) Frankenstein (4) Bride of Frankenstein   Therapists have great imaginations; use yours when preparing options for the children to use. Here are some examples and possible uses: Paprika Spice = Pumpkin Dried chives = grass Wood sticks = Haunted House Cotton balls = Bride of Frankenstein's dress Colored yarn = hair Felt = clothing Glitter = Moon, Bats Pipe cleaners = Hair  Straw = Broom Stickers = Add pumpkins, bats, etc. to your Halloween scene!   You can find our Sensory Art Resources Here.    
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This blog will focus on Sensory Processing Difficulties in Children, with an emphasis on the sensory systems, development of a “Sensory Diet” and practical ways to incorporate sensory input, evidence-based research on sensory diets, and the reveal of “Sensory Diet: The Complete Collection”. Sensory Processing . . . What Does it Mean? Sensory processing is what makes it possible for a child to use the sensory input he/she is receiving from their body and environment in a functional, adaptive manner.  Effective sensory processing is necessary for almost every activity a child performs. We must be able to integrate the information we receive from all our senses to understand our surroundings successfully. A child with sensory processing concerns has difficulty using sensory input from his/her eyes (vision), ears (sound), skin (touch), nose (smell), mouth (taste), muscles and body joints (body awareness), and inner ear (balance & position of body in space).   What are the Different Senses? We will explore the Seven Different Sensory Systems: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, Olfactory, Gustatory, Proprioception, and Vestibular System.   VISUAL: The sense of vision uses the eyes to collect information, in which the brain then interprets.  The visual system works closely with the other senses to help us safely navigate and locate objects in our environments.   Visual activities and input help children develop visual perception skills, engage in visual tracking, and improve visual attention and ocular-motor control.  Difficulties with visual processing may significantly impact a child’s academic achievement.   AUDITORY: This sense helps a child detect the pitch, loudness, and tone of a noise or sound. This sense also allows us to take in the sounds we hear, process them, and create a correct response. It determines if a sound is dangerous and alerting or quiet and calm. This sense is important for listening skills, communication, and social skills.   Trouble with the auditory system can result in misunderstanding information or missing parts of sentences. It can also result in being overwhelmed or scared by certain sounds. When these sounds occur the child may cover their ears or duck their head. Other children may not hear the sounds around them which results in them always making sounds, humming, or singing.   TACTILE: This sense is detected through receptors in the skin. Information from this sense allows a child to feel when he/she is being touched and the quality of that touch. It also allows a child to determine what he/she is touching without the use of their vision.   Difficulty in tactile perception can have significant impact on a child’s emotional well-being.  Intact tactile processing is important for develop body awareness, hand use skills, and motor planning.   OLFACTORY: This sense helps us to differentiate between thousands of different odors and determine if they are dangerous, foul, pleasurable, strong, or faint. Sensory receptors in our nose pick up information about the odors around us and send the information to our brain. This system also help create the flavors we taste in food. Our sense of smell is also linked to our memories and can affect our mood. The sense of smelling is important for a baby’s bonding with their caregiver. This sense is also protective against toxins and other odor omitting substances.   Difficulty in processing olfactory information can result in children who crave smells and may not understand safe vs dangerous smells. Other children may gag or vomit from smells that most people don’t notice or consider unpleasant. Children with an aversion to smells may have trouble at meal times.   GUSTATORY: It allows a child to discriminate between food flavors and tastes, such as sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory.  Taste is received through taste buds and receptor cells on the tongue.   Difficulty in gustatory processing might cause your child to be a very picky eater or crave oral input, therefore demonstrating challenging behaviors during meal time.  Gustatory activities and input help children to acquire eating and drinking habits as well as further categorize or identify foods based on their respective taste, texture, temperature or sense of smell.   PROPRIOCEPTION: Intact proprioception allows a child to determine his/her body’s position in space and regulate the direction and amount of force to use when moving. This sense is detected through sensory receptors in the joints and muscles. The proprioceptive sense is stimulated when a child experiences pressure or moves his/ her limbs to push, pull, lift or hang. While engaging in activities that offer proprioceptive input, a child may also show improved attention and a more regulated arousal level. This is beneficial for learning, playing, socializing, and completing daily tasks.   VESTIBULAR: This sense tells a child when he/she is moving, and the direction and speed of that movement. Vestibular activities and input help children develop their posture, balance, and coordination. This sense provides us with gravitational security, the feeling that we can maintain a position without falling. When we move our head, fluid in our inner ear moves and shifts, providing information about the position of our body and head in space.   Difficulty with vestibular processing can result in a child who needs to move constantly to feel satisfied or a child who is fearful of movement because it makes them feel insecure or unbalanced. It can also result in difficulty coordinating and planning motor tasks.   How can OT Help? One tool to help a child with sensory processing difficulties is the use of a “Sensory Diet”. This “diet” includes possible changes to your child’s environment as well as participation in meaningful sensory based activities. This “diet”, or “menu” of activities and strategies should be selected with a child’s interests and individual needs in mind. A child’s therapist will help develop a “diet” that works for home and at school. Parents and teachers, you will play a key role in the development and delivery of the diet. The “diet” will be most beneficial for a child when it is provided at appropriate times of day and for an appropriate amount of time. The main goal will be to help a child function at his/her optimal level throughout their day with ideal attention, self-regulation, and emotional control.   Developing and Using a Sensory Diet Just like every child is different, each child’s sensory diet will be different.  The activities, accommodations and/or strategies that are selected from the “menu” will reflect your child’s profile, needs, and individual interests.     What Does Your Child’s OT Need from You?   It is very important to closely observe your child and take note of the following to help design a “diet” that is right for your child: Times of day that are especially challenging  Response to transitions between settings and tasks  Activities and routines that your child over-reacts to or avoids  Activities that your child engages in for extended periods  Preferred activities  Challenging behaviors during meals or daily hygiene  How your child reacts to clothing (fabric, sleeve length, etc.)  How he/she reacts to food texture, tastes, smells, temperature, etc.  Relationships with peers and adults  Times when your child is especially active or inactive  Your child will change over time and in response to the use of the sensory diet activities, accommodations, and strategies.   What Strategies or Activities May Help? Now that you know the basics of sensory processing, what a sensory diet is, and how occupational therapy can help, what are some of the sensory activities/strategies that could be incorporated into a sensory diet? It may take some time and trial and error to find the activities/strategies that work best for a specific child.    Proprioception: push/carry/pull heavy objects, wall pushups/chair pushups, climb on playground equipment, eat crunch food, animal walks, weighted blanket/vest, roll child in blanket (burrito rolling), crash pad   Vestibular: scooter board, swings, slides, spinning, rolling on the floor, bounce on ball, somersault, hang upside down from playground equipment, play “head, shoulders, knees, and toes”, cartwheels   Tactile: finger paint, sensory bins, skin massage, walk barefoot in sand, grass, or leaves, vibrating pen, kinetic sand, brushing protocol, joint compressions, sand tray, foam play, touch and feel books, water play   Gustatory: explore textures, tastes, and temperature of foods, chew gum, suck apple sauce or milkshake through a straw, flavored lip balms, lick or suck a lemon   Auditory: singing, blow whistles, listen to music, rain stick, listen to nature, sound machine, noise cancelling headphones, water fountain   Olfactory: use scented markers, smell essential oils, diffuser oil bracelet or necklace, scented bubbles, scratch and sniff sticker   Visual: kaleidoscope, glow sticks, lava lamps, fish tank, sensory bottles, mazes, dot-to-dot, light table, colored light bulbs, tinted lenses for indoors, “safe space” with minimal visuals, dim lights   What Does the Research Say? For children who have sensory processing impairments, the classroom can be an overwhelming place.  Evidence shows that incorporating sensory integration strategies into a child’s every day routine at school can be beneficial to their academic success.  It is important to design a sensory diet to meet the unique needs and goals as well as the particular tolerance and interests of the child at the time (Case-Smith, & Bryan, 1999).  One study found success in balancing intervention activities that provided strong somato-vestibular input to help the child learn to motor plan and generalize new skills in and outside the classroom.  Through the implementation of a sensory diet, children with sensory processing impairments are allowed ample opportunities to receive beneficial sensory input at frequent intervals, thereby enabling him or her to participate more fully in activities that comprise his or her daily schedule.  Along with direct therapeutic intervention, the implementation of an individualized sensory diet and environmental modifications that are tailored to the child’s unique sensory processing needs are important for success (Nackley, 2001, Baranek p. 407, 2002).  Overall, this could be beneficial in a school setting due to the significant gains proven to be made in a child’s reading, math and written language (May-Benson, & Koomer, 2010).   Lastly, along with improved academic achievement, seven studies have showed to produce positive outcomes, improvements in tactile discrimination, and decreases in sensory defensiveness with the integration of routine sensory strategies.   Within the school or classroom context it is important to involve the classroom teacher while developing a sensory diet, especially when choosing the specific sensory strategies.  Overall, through the use of sensory diets, a child can maintain the ability to organize his/her behavior, improve attention, and development and engage in age appropriate peer relationships through the participation in games and sports. While a majority of the research on sensory diets and sensory integration therapies are focused on use in the school or clinical setting, it is important to look at the home setting as well.  As stated above, functioning in school for children with sensory processing impairments can be extremely difficult and overwhelming.  Research shows that children reactions to overwhelming sensory experiences are similar at home and at school.  Brown and Dunn (2010) conducted a study to look at the relationship between context and sensory processing in children with Autism.  They found that sensory processing patterns have universal qualities as well as context-specific qualities (Brown and Dunn, 2010).  This simply shows that a sensory diet or sensory strategies should be implemented in both the school and home but the specific strategies used for each setting will differ based on the unique sensory qualities of each environment.  Wild & Jones, 2010) found that in 26 out of the 29 cases studied there were positive changes in the target behavior being addressed by the diet. 71% of parents also stated that they noticed other positive changes in their child that could be attributed to the sensory diet.  The study shows that sensory diets can have a positive effect on emotional over-responsiveness, resistance to ADLs, sleep issues, impulsivity, and pressure-seeking behaviors (Wild and Jones, 2010).  Another study found that sensory diets combined with therapeutic listening were effective in improving behaviors associated with sensory processing difficulties (Hall and Case-Smith, 2007). When planning a sensory diet to be used in the home setting, it is extremely important to include the parents/caregivers in the planning of the sensory diet to ensure that the diet best matches the family’s needs as well as the child’s needs.  Cohn et al. (2000), found that parents feel that when they are involved in the therapy planning they are able to better understand their children’s behaviors which helps them to better support their child.  Cohn et al. (2000) also stated “to be effective, intervention must be sustainable within the contexts of family life” (p. 42).    Sensory Diet: The Complete Collection Everything You Need for Developing and Implementing a Sensory Diet   Tools to Grow is very excited to reveal our “Sensory Diet: The Complete Collection".  No need to look further! We have everything you will need to learn about, educate others, develop, and implement a SENSORY DIET!   Sensory Diet: The Complete Collection includes everything you need when developing and implementing a Sensory diet for a child. Customize the PDF by typing directly into the file to customize and create a sensory diet. Follow the detailed instructions and therapist tips to create a personalized Sensory Diet binder for the child/student. There are 2 different Versions: Sensory Diet- Complete Collection: Home Version Sensory Diet- Complete Collection: School Version   The following resources are included in each Complete Collection:   Background information/Guidelines: This is a one page review of Sensory Processing and the use of a sensory diet.   Therapist Tips: How to Create Sensory Diet: This two page Tips Sheet reviews important information to obtain in order to determine a child’s needs and strengths in sensory processing. Tips therapists should follow and guidelines to provide to parents/teachers when developing and implementing a Sensory Diet.   Assembly Instructions: Detailed instructions for printing and assembling a Sensory Diet binder.   Editable title page: Customize the Sensory Diet for the child by typing directly into PDF. The therapist can type the child’s name, Therapist Name, Therapist Title, and Therapist contact information.   Information Sheet & Instructions for Parents/Teachers: This is a three page handout for Parents/Teachers to include in your Sensory Diet binder. Includes education on Sensory Processing and guidelines for collecting information and developing a sensory diet. Includes detailed instructions for parents/teachers to follow when implementing and carrying out a child’s Sensory Diet.   Editable Sensory Diet Charts: This is a 6-page Editable Chart of specified Time Frames/Daily Routine Categories. In each Category, there is an option to TYPE directly into PDF specific and personalized instructions. Home Use Categories: Transitions, Quiet Time, Snacks/Mealtime, Community Outings, Play & Leisure, Dressing, Bathing, Grooming, Toileting, Bedtime/Sleep, Homework, Family Events, Doctor Visits, and Car Rides. Also includes option to enter your own individualized Time Frame/Routine Category. School Use Categories: Transitions, Desk Work, Snacks/Mealtime, Recess/Free Time, Cafeteria, Special Classes, Bus Ride, Mobility: Hall/Classroom, Assemblies, Community Outings, Carpet Time, Free Play, Independent Work, and Centers. Also includes option to enter your own individualized Time Frame/Routine Category.   Picture symbols: There is an option to select 2-3 picture symbols for each time frame/daily routine.  These picture symbols depict practical ideas to enrich or alter a child’s sensory environment. Includes 92 Picture symbols. These symbols depict Proprioception, Gustatory, Auditory, Olfactory, Tactile, Vestibular, and Visual Sensory input.   Protocol for Parent/Teacher Use: This Editable PDF is exactly what you need if you are recommending a sensory diet. TYPE directly into Protocol Use form to enter child's information.   Tracking Form: A great and efficient way to track and monitor a child's Sensory Diet.     Additional NEW Sensory Diet Resources:   Sensory Processing: Basic Information Guide: FREE PRINTABLE! This 5 Page PDF is the perfect handout for Parents, Families, Teachers, etc. Includes (1) What is Sensory Integration Disorder and Treatment? (2) The Sensory Systems, and (3) Terms and Definitions related to Sensory Integration.   Red Flags: Includes 5 Printable “Red Flags” of Sensory Processing Disorder in Children. Topics Include: Sensory Over Responsivity Red Flags Sensory Under Responsivity Red Flags Sensory Seeking Red Flags Sensory Based Motor Disorder Red Flags Sensory Discrimination Red Flags Sensory Systems: Ideas & Activities: This 8 Page PDF is the perfect handout for Parents, Families, Teachers, etc. Describes the Sensory Systems and lists sensory strategies, activities, and practical ways to incorporate sensory input. This handout is the perfect tool! Parent/Caregiver Information Sheet: This is a three page handout for Parents/Caregivers to include in your Sensory Diet binder. Includes education on Sensory Processing and guidelines for collecting information and developing a sensory diet.   Teacher/Educator Information Sheet: This is a three page handout for Teachers/Educators to include in your Sensory Diet binder. Includes education on Sensory Processing and guidelines for collecting information and developing a sensory diet.   Calm Down Cards: This PDF includes 55 high quality cards! Personalize by typing directly into PDF students name.   We hope these Sensory Diet & Sensory Processing specialized resources will provide you with the tools necessary to help with the most important job there is … helping children grow! Find all SENSORY DIET RESOURCES HERE!   THANK YOU! Tools to Grow would like to thank our 2018 Community Practice Occupational Therapy Students, Courtney Adamczak and Elizabeth Lyons for their contribution and assistance in writing this blog post. Courtney and Elizabeth are both recent graduates of Occupational Therapy from D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York.  We were so appreciative for your time and dedication to our students and the Occupational Therapy profession!   REFERENCES Baranek, T. G. (2002). Efficacy of sensory and motor intervention for children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 397-421. Brown, N. B., & Dunn, W. (2010). Relationship between context and sensory processing in children with Autism. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64, 474-483. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2010.09077 Case-Smith, J., & Bryan, T. (1999).  The effects of occupational therapy with sensory integration emphasis on preschool-age children with autism. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 53, 489-497. Cohn, E., Miller, L. J., & Tickle-Degnen, L. (2000). Parental hopes for therapy outcomes: Children with sensory modulation disorders. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 54, 36-43. doi: 10-5014/ajot.54.1.36 Hall, L., & Case-Smith, J. (2007). The effect of sound-based intervention on children with sensory processing disorders and visual-motor delays. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 209-215. May-Benson, T. A, & Koomer, J. A. (2010). Systematic review of the research evidence examining the effectiveness of interventions using a sensory integrative approach for children. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64, 403-414. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2010.09071 Nackley, L. V. (2001). Sensory diet applications and environmental modifications: a winning combination. American Occupational Therapy Association Inc, 24. Wild, G., & Jones, L. D. (2010). Parents’ perception of effectiveness of sensory diets for children: A multiple case study analysis.

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