App of the Week: 30/30

Thursday, July 17th, 2014


Multitasking. It is the buzzword for this generation. From adults managing their hectic work and family schedules, to children managing their homework, after-school activities and social schedules, we are constantly running, and rarely make time for a break. Some people are better organized than others, but getting organized is consistently one of the top five New Year’s resolutions.

As a group, children and adults diagnosed with ADHD have greater challenges with organization than most other people. Their minds, and sometimes bodies, are constantly racing and they have difficulty focusing for any length of time. I recently went to a conference and learned about a wonderful new tool to assist both kids and adults to stay focused and organized. It is called the 30/30 app, and it is available for free from the iTunes store for iPhone and iPad.

The premise of 30/30 is that one should work for 30 minutes on a single task without any distractions, next take a 30 minute break, and then repeat the cycle again, hence the name 30/30.

This scheduler is visually engaging, user friendly and customizable. Just by looking at the user interface you will intuitively be able to figure out how to set up a schedule. With just a couple of taps and swipes you can set up a daily schedule specific to your needs in a matter of minutes. Time on task can be set from 1 minute to 1 hour. At the very top of the screen is a visual timer that counts down the time left in the task, which is a wonderful aid in assisting someone to stay on task until it is completed. To maximize the benefits, place your device close by so you can see how long you have left. You can quickly add or subtract minutes depending on how quickly you are progressing in your work.

Features include the ability to set up as many tasks as you want, color code and add icons. You can color code each task or set up a pattern such as, all work yellow, all breaks blue. You can also assign each task an icon. The app provides a large array of icons and colors, which makes this very easy. Additional icons can be purchased in-app in the settings tab.

At the end of each task a chime will go off and the device will buzz, giving you auditory and tactile cues to move on to the next task or break. Besides keeping you on track for work, 30/30 can also be used to set up a sensory diet. Just list the tabs and times you want for each activity and the app will alert you or your child when to move on. This can be very helpful in having your child becoming increasingly independent in maintaining their own homework schedules, morning and evening routines, sensory diets schedule and more. Overall, this is a wonderful free tool that has many applications. For any comments or suggestions I can be reached at gershon@potsot.com.

Submitted By: Gershon Kravetz ,MS, OTR/L 

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 17th, 2014 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, Parenting, Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing, The Special Needs Child.

Sensory Friendly Dental Environments?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014



For children with Sensory Integration challenges, going to the dentist is particularly daunting.  However, research on “Sensory Adapted Dental Environments” may help soften the experience in the future. Click here to learn more.

While it is rare to find a pediatric dentist with a sensory friendly environment who is keenly attuned to the needs of children with SPD and those on the autistic spectrum, in Bergen County we are fortunate enough to  have a dentist with an environment replete with spa music, nature sounds, smells and tactile toys to calm the senses of parents, employees and doctors. A shout out to Purnima Hernandez who has been an advocate, sensory star and recently became a BCBA. Check out her practice here: www.Bergenpediatricdentistry.com.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 and is filed under Autism, Getting Ready for School, Navigating the system, Parenting, Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing, The Special Needs Child.

5 Basic FAQ’s About Dyslexia

Sunday, April 20th, 2014


“Teach handwriting. Technology is great but it doesn’t engage the early reading brain in the same positive way as learning to move the pen across the page…” suggest dyslexia expert Dr. J. Richard Gentry. Click here to get the latest updates on dyslexia in young children

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 20th, 2014 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination, Parenting.

What every parent should know about keyboarding

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

What every parent should know about keyboarding


The Imperative: By 2015, according to  the Common Core national  3rd graders will be expected to type 3 short pieces on-line. 

The Concern: Digital natives lack the keyboarding fluency to focus on content.

What does research show?

  • To be an effective keyboarder, typing must be at least as fast as handwriting least.  Typical 5th graders write at about 15 words per minute (WPM).  In a recent study, after 6 weeks of focused practice , many 5th graders increased their speed to 25-30 WPM. That is functional!
  • 10-12 year olds gain keyboarding skills more rapidly , than younger children, so think twice before spending considerable effort on drilling  your youngster on fingering the whole QWERTY keyboard . Do focus on developing excellent life-long habits (see below)
  • Beware: Until a child is a fluent keyboarder , typing might actually slow his/her  writing to glacial speed, so be patient and strongly encourage  consistent focused practice
  • Good technique is the key to rapid accurate typing; emphasize form over speed

How do you become a great keyboarder? 



Tips to promote fast typing and develop good life long habits:

Proper position :

  • Sit up straight with back against the chair
  • Center chair at the j key
  • Feet in front, flat on the floor
  • Shoulders relaxed; elbows comfortably at the side of the body
  • Wrists straight ; not bent up or down or to either side
  • Eyes on the monitor    

  Hand position

  • Keyboard at the edge of the desk
  • Fingers on the home keys; learn to find those “nubbies” on the f and j keys
  • Hands curved
  • Hit the RETURN key with the left pinkie
  • Hit the SHIFT with pinkie of the correct hand
  • Always use correct fingers, once learned

The most effective practice:

  • Immediately after a session of drills,  use keyboarding for a real life task, such as spelling words homework, making a birthday wish list, writing valentines, making a shopping list or  organizing dinner menus for the week    
  • Make it FUN!
    • type in the dark
    • type with the monitor turned off
    • a big variety of on-line typing games

A word of caution for poor hand writers: There is a fair to moderate correlation between handwriting legibility and typing speed. Why? Both are physical skills that rely on motor planning

Why practice nonsense phrases?  To develop the muscle memory  to reinforce motor planning, so go ahead and copy a sentence backwards just for fun!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 and is filed under Fine Motor Fun, Getting Ready for School, Parenting.

Occupational Therapy Assessment

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

This is a good time of year to evaluate your child’s development in and out of the classroom. Here are some answers to parents’ questions about assessment.

What is the purpose of an occupational therapy assessment?

The goal of a one-on-one occupational therapy assessment is to identify your child’s areas of strength and weakness, figure out what drives your child’s behavior, and set goals and priorities for treatment.During the assessment process we ascertain the difficulties your child is experiencing and uncover the underlying causes. To do that we need to learn as much as we can about how he/she functions in his/her every day environments such as home, and/or school, and in other settings such as playdates, birthday parties, movies, the mall, and after-school activities. Underlying skills that we evaluate include core strength, gross motor and fine motor skills, visual perception, sensory integration, and social skills, among others. Alternatively, an assessment may be limited to performance in one area of function, such as self-care, handwriting or play skills.

Do we need to have an evaluation in school?

Back To School

If your child is having difficulty in school, such as with circle time, attention, fidgeting, behavior, playing with others, daily routine, etc., a school visit may be in order. When the therapist observes in the classroom he/she will glean an understanding of the specific challenges your child faces, and the supports and opportunities the particular classroom affords. Armed with this information and a newly formed relationship with your child’s teachers he/she can figure out which strategies to recommend for the classroom and determine which underlying skills your child needs to develop to survive and thrive every day.

 Blog written by: Dr. Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR/L

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2014 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, Navigating the system, Parenting.

Its Back Pack Awareness Day!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The third Wednesday of every September is AOTA’s annual Backpack awareness day. Start packing your child’s back pack properly now to avoid back pain and injury later in life. This is especially important for a child with weak core muscles.

Here are a few of our favorite AOTA backpack strategies:

1. Choose the right size back pack for your child as well as one with enough room for necessary school items

2. Weigh your child’s back pack! A backpack should weigh no more than 10% of a child’s body weight

3. Load heaviest items closest to the back and arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around

4. Carry a book or other item if the backpack is too heavy

5. Use BOTH backpack straps to evenly distribute the weight over both shoulders. Wearing a back over one shoulder over time can cause curving of the spine, pain or discomfort

6. Make sure the backpack fits close to the child’s back and secure the waist band to avoid straining the back muscles

Like This:                          Not Like This:


7. Shoulder straps should be well-padded

For more information about Backpack Awareness, check out the AOTA’s website at www.aota.org.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, Parenting, Seasonal Tips.

Five Quick Tips for Homework for First Graders

Thursday, September 12th, 2013


For many first graders, homework is a new and exciting concept. Take this opportunity to establish good homework habits from the start that will serve them throughout their academic careers. Below are 5 recommendations for keeping homework time calm, efficient, and successful.


1. Discuss the after-school routine with your child in advance so she/he knows what to expect (e.g., snack or downtime before homework, homework time, play time). Make sure there are clear beginning and ending times for each component. If your child needs a movement break before homework, list his/her options

2. Designate a quiet, personal space for your child to do homework


3.Eliminate all distractions 

4. Arrange the space with all necessary items (only!), e.g. pencils, sharpeners, erasers


5. Make sure the chair and table/desk fit your child.

Important points:
Feet should be flat on the floor
The ankles, knees and hips should all be bent at a 90° angle
The height of the top of the desk or table should be 2″ above the height of the elbow when the child is sitting

posture1 posture2 posture3

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 12th, 2013 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, Parenting.

Let’s Get Ready for School!

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Beginning the new school year is an exciting, but challenging time, especially for preschoolers and first graders. One of the best ways to ease the transition and reduce the fear of the unknown is to discuss what to expect with your child, and plan, plan, plan!

Four of our favorite strategies:

1. Visit the school, classroom and playground

Take one or two trips to the school before school begins. This should be a fun visit! Play in the school playground, walk through the halls and check out the cafeteria. Teachers are usually at school preparing well before classes begin. If possible, meet the teachers on your visit.

2. Role play

To ensure social success, role-play social scenarios such as meeting new friends, and playing at center time. Considering writing a “social story about the first day of school.

3. Meet the Kids

Arrange play dates with other children from your child’s class/school one at a time (pre-schoolers) or in small groups (grade school children), so that they can forge relationships to establish a comfort level when school starts

Five Quick Tips

  1. Practice your new morning routine beginning tomorrow.
  2. Re-establish your evening routine and get to bed on time!
  3. Pack your backpack the night before.
  4. Lay out your clothing in a “person”
  5. Make a list of snacks and lunches to choose from and go on a shopping trip

Be sure to check back for our ductagami school folder project, next up on our blog!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, Parenting.

Duct Tape Collage

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

With a little prep, you can keep your kids busy for a long time!

As a working mother in the 1980’s in a neighborhood where hardly any young mommies worked, I had a permanent sense of guilt. Wherever I was, home or work, I felt I should be at the other place. To mollify my sense of guilt I diligently left the nanny with a healthy snack (e.g., apples with cinnamon artfully arranged or strawberries dipped in low fat cool whip) and a baggie with a prepared project, to maximize every second of my children’s after school hours. If only I had known about duct tape then! So for those of you looking to facilitate your child’s creativity and enhance their fine motor skills and ability to sequence and organize, or if placing straight lines of duct tape is over the top for you or your child, there is always the collage method.   It will take lots of time freeing you up to cook, clean or work.

To prepare, just slice pieces of all duct tape in all colors and sizes of (great for leftovers from other projects) and randomly stick to the appropriately sized paper.  What ever you do, the effect will be fabulous. Just remind your child to make sure the whole paper is covered on both sides. Don’t worry about stopping at the edge of the paper. We will deal with that at the end. Bonus: your child can do most of the work independently and it will take your child a whole lot longer on those endless end-of-the-summer days!

Coin Purse/Wallet Collage


photo 2

Cut a 4½ “ strip of paper lengthwise so that you end up with a piece of paper 4 ½ “x 11”


photo 1

Pre-cut lots of pieces of duct tape (DT) and stick them on your mat, or for littler less coordinated fingers, let them hang off the sides


photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

Instruct your child to fill every singe inch of paper (both sides) with tape. No white showing!  Precision is not required, the tape can freely hang off the edges of the paper


photo 1 photo 2

When the deed is done, take a Sharpie and trace a rectangle, approximately 4” x 10-11”


Finish as you would for a traditional coin purse. Here are the instructions


photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 photo 1

Optional: slice a 4” piece of  tape lengthwise to seal the top and bottom


photo 2

Positioning the paper lengthwise, fold up the bottom 4”


photo 3 photo 4

Cut a piece of tape about 7”, a bit longer than the length of the paper with the bottom folded up. Slice vertically. If you like a wider border, cut 2 pieces of tape instead of slicing one in half


photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

Place 2 or 3 pairs of Velcro dots on the inner side of the flap. Press down and voila! Your Velcro dots will magically match. Watch the photo sequence so that you can see how achieved that trick

You are now officially done!

OPTIONAL decorate with stick-on rhinestones

OPTIONAL Poke holes below the flap, and string through ribbon or a lace, so that you can turn it into a necklace or “pocketbook”

OPTIONAL For the sports fans among you tapebrothers.com has major league baseball tape and lots of college teams (http://a248.e.akamai.net/origin-cdn.volusion.com/e4vmb.bk4ao/v/vspfiles/photos/categories/446.jpg?1370867375)

Once you have mastered how to quickly cut and set out tape, and got your child going, the sky is the limit. To prepare for school have your child duct tape their binders and folders. You will have at least an hour of bliss, and their folders and binders will be strong and waterproof!

While we are in back-to-school mode, next I will teach you how to make 2-pocket folders out of 2 file folders. Stay tuned….

photo 1 photo 2




This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 and is filed under Ductagami, Fine Motor Fun, Getting Ready for School.

ADHD Drugs Don’t Boost Kids’ Grades

Monday, July 15th, 2013

In her article in The Wall Street Journal “ADHD Drugs Don’t Boost Kids’ Grades,” Shirley S. Wang, a former researcher, points out that recent studies show that drugs do not improve academic outcomes in the long run. Shirley suggests that medication alone isn’t enough. Medicine needs to be “coupled with skills training, such as learning how to organize or prioritize.” Many parents bring children with ADHD to POTS for occupational therapy to help them develop “student skills” such as organizing a desk or a backpack and learning strategies for completing homework. Take a look at the article and tell us what you think.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 15th, 2013 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, News and Views.