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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted By: Gershon Kravetz ,MS, OTR/L
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In this article, Autism Speaks discusses a study recently published in the journal Pediatrics, that concludes that weighted blankets do not significantly impact in sleep in children with autism.
Here’s what we think!
A weighted blanket, like any isolated sensory strategy is not a magic pill. Difficulty falling asleep is often the result of over-responsiveness to sensation THROUGHOUT THE DAY.
Weighted blankets will only be truly effective as part of a comprehensive sensory diet. A sensory diet is proactive, and includes consistent sensory input throughout the day, not only at the time that the challenge arises (in this case, bed time). Think of a typical diet. Eating an apple for snack might be a healthy, nutritional choice, but you will only achieve a healthy lifestyle, and start to see a difference, if you choose healthy foods (and eliminate unhealthy foods) throughout the day. It would be silly to eat one apple in the evening, and potato chips the rest of the day, and then conclude that eating apples has no positive impact on weight loss.
Professional athletes, international speakers and anyone who wants to improve performance has access to video critiquing, a highly effective tool for self-improvement. The users film themselves either at practice or when performing live, and then watch the video, either by themselves or with others, to analyze and fine tune their performance. Are they throwing the correctly? Are they speaking clearly and slowly? They may make small critical changes, or perhaps catch a fundamental error and completely change their approach.
This is similar to learning handwriting. People who are kinesthetic learners learn by doing. By this I mean, they practice writing a number of times on a firm or textured surface, their muscles receive the feedback of how letters should be formed, and they can learn to form their letters properly. Other individuals may be visual or auditory learners. They learn best by watching a demonstration and following directions. Most people benefit from both. That’s why using multiple modalities is an effective way to teach children.
The app consists of an interactive whiteboard that let’s you record what you draw, and records your voice as well. It was designed as a teaching tool so that an educator can record a lesson, and then email or post it to the web to share with an online community.
For OT purposes you can have children draw a letter while dictating the steps of how to form it. For example if they are learning the letter ‘B’, while they are drawing they can use the Handwriting Without Tears language: “Start at the top, draw a straight line down, frog jump to the top, little curve to the middle, little curve to the bottom”. When they are done drawing\recording you can save the lesson. Once it has been saved they can play it back, and watch and listen to how they wrote the letter.
Kids love doing this. They see the letter being formed and hear their own voice. It is a very powerful strategy for all those visual and auditory learners we spoke about before. They can see how it was done and spot any mistakes they may have made.
The app itself has some rich features to keep things interesting. You can choose to write in various colors, you can type letters, and you can even add pictures to the lesson either by taking a picture or downloading one from the web.
Using pictures is a great feature because:
For a free app this has a lot of wonderful features that can be utilized in many ways. So, how are you going to use this app? Please post your comments below, and any suggestions on apps you would like to see reviewed or have questions about.
If you have any other questions I can be reached at email@example.com
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.
A simple screening tool for autism using that can be done in a pediatrician’s office shows promise for early identification of ASD. Click here to learn more.
Kudos to Royal Carribean, my favorite cruise line, for becoming the latest vacation destination to embrace families with autistic individuals. I am not surprised that the RC, who has been so graciously accommodating to kosher people, has stepped up to the plate.
Click here to find out more
What is wandering?
Wandering is the tendency to try to leave the safety of a responsible person’s care or a safe area, which can result in potential harm or injury. This might include running away from adults at school or in the neighborhood, leaving the classroom without permission, or leaving home when no one is looking. Wandering or bolting is considered common and short-lived in toddlers, but it may persist or reemerge in children and adults on the autistic spectrum. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have challenges with social skills, communication and safety awareness. This makes wandering, also referred to as elopement, bolting, fleeing, running, a potentially dangerous behavior.
How common is wandering in children with ASD?
Goal-directed wandering: wandering with the purpose of getting to, or away from, something
Bolting/Fleeing: the act of suddenly running, usually to quickly get away from something
What are the risks?
Drowning; dehydration; heat stroke; hypothermia; traffic injuries; falls; physical restraints; encounters with strangers; encounters with law enforcement
When does wandering happen?
How can an occupational therapist help?
The USA TODAY article “Parents create custom jobs for adult kids with autism,” by Karen Weintraub is a must read for parents of children with special needs!
At POTS we stress the importance of finding and developing your child’s unique passions and talents. This article describes how Lori Ireland and a group of parents of children with autism took this concept to the next level and began Extraordinary Ventures (EV). EV, an employer of autistic adults, creates jobs that match the unique skills of their employees and fills a need in society. For example, cleaning rows of bus seats and providing laundry services provides consistency, a quality which many adults with autism look for in a job, and require repetition, which the employees do not mind and usually prefer.
What is a Choice Board?
ChoiceBoard Creator (FREE, iPad app) is a tool for creating choice boards. Choice boards are visual organizers made up of squares that contain pictures or words of a variety of options (the app allows 1-6 choices). Options can be an activity choice or the answer to a question (e.g. “where is the dog?” or “what do you want for breakfast?”). Children choose one or more correct answers or activities to complete.
Who will benefit?
Our Tips & Recommendations:
How to use the app:
Click here to see a video tutorial: http://vimeo.com/28280082#
Submitted by: Ariela Harcsztark OTR/L