Occupational Therapy Apps: Shoe Tying 1

February 27th, 2015

The Accelerations Educational Software app Shoe Tying 1 combines a systematic teaching and video modeling approach to help your students master a basic skill that poses difficulty for many. The app is available for download on the iTunes store at a price of $4.99.

The app breaks shoe tying down into individual video steps that students can master one by one, building their confidence and cooperation. You teach them to tie, beginning with a shoe off their foot and progressing to working with it on their foot as their fine motor skills improve. Shoe Tying 1 also teaches the language associated with various steps of shoe tying.

Since shoe tying is a moderately complex fine motor skill, success at this activity demonstrates that a student has the cognitive capability to learn many other daily living and vocational skills. The app is excellent for a variety of learners encompassing:

  • Young children.
  • Children with autism and other learning disabilities.
  • Children with traumatic brain injuries or other cognitive issues.

Helpful Features

You can easily control presentations to your students using Shoe Tying 1. The app enables you to assist and fade assistance as needed till your student is independent. Additional helpful features include the ability to:

  • Replay steps and sequences in video and image formats.
  • Overcome issues associated with poor observational learners including those with representational and memory problems.
  • Provide a consistent, non-threatening model that focuses on the most critical information while minimizing unnecessary distractions.

Shoe Tying 1 comes with an integrated help system including a Teaching Guide, Using App instructions and information on how and why video modeling works. The help system is backed by helpful web resources.

Increase Teaching Effectiveness

Therapists who have piloted Shoe Tying 1 agree that the app makes teaching shoe tying easier, quicker and more effective. One OT noted that, “I would use this app with children with autism spectrum disorders, motor planning issues, intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities … The use of video provides a consistent model, the ability to repeat all or part of the video facilitates memory and the option to easily pause the video at any time allows the child to practice simultaneously.”

Are you interested in additional resources to make your school-based therapy practice more effective and enriching?

What about your career path?

The Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services team of experts are more than just recruiters; they’re therapists themselves. To learn more about us, read our related posts or contact our experienced team of recruiters today.

Reviewing Speech Therapy Apps: Syntax Workout

February 23rd, 2015

A welcome addition to the Virtual Speech Center series of “Workout” apps is Syntax Workout, designed by a certified speech language pathologist for preschool and elementary age children who struggle with English grammar. Priced at $16.99, it’s available for download on the App Store.

Syntax Workout includes 1,500 stimuli in the following activities:

  • Third person singular: Do/does, has/had, is/are, and was/were.
  • Subjective pronouns: I, you, she, he, etc.
  • Objective pronouns: Me, you, him, her, etc.
  • Possessive pronouns: My, your, his, her, etc.
  • Absolute possessive pronouns: Mine, yours, etc.
  • Demonstrative pronouns: This, that, those, these.

Pronouns are organized into different sets. The app is easy to navigate and users can perform these tasks:

  • Enter multiple students.
  • Change settings.
  • Turn audio on and off.
  • Select auto scoring and alternate counts for multiple students.
  • Enable and disable the app’s reward and randomization features.
  • Track correct and incorrect responses.
  • Email results.

How It Works

When you open Syntax Workout, you select a student or group of students and then choose the specific skill you want to address. From there, students are shown a picture and a narrator reads a sentence and then choices of words that students can use to fill in the blanks. Students have a choice of two answers to press. After they make their selection, there is an opportunity to reread the sentence.

Children earn a bowling ball for every correct response and when they accumulate enough, they’re rewarded with a game. When your students complete a session, you can get a report card.

  • If students need to hear screens over again, they can press a replay button.
  • Older children can read content themselves if you prefer, but you’ll need to help them determine whether their answers are correct because this requires the audio feature to be turned off.

Two Thumbs Up

Syntax Workout has earned an increasing number of positive reviews since its introduction in 2013. Reviewers praise its ease of set-up, data collection feature, use of real pictures, and the wide variety of concepts that it addresses.

“This app provides a fun way to target many different grammatical constructs,” noted one therapist. “Every child who has tried it has requested using it again during their next therapy session. They love the reinforcement activity! The option to target receptive/expressive syntax in one app is a huge plus as well.”

Another trial user noted that Syntax Workout “combines working on structure with bowling and is a ton of fun! My students rated this app two thumbs up. They worked hard on mastering the learning that was presented to them, but loved the opportunity to bowl. They stayed so motivated!”

Are you looking to grow your career as a school-based therapist? Whether it means enhancing your current role or exploring the possibilities of a new one, consider partnering with the experts at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. They’re not just recruiters; they’re therapists themselves. To learn more, read our related posts or contact us today.

Tips for the Classroom: Writing Cursive Letters

February 13th, 2015

Proper handwriting includes correct letter formation, proper proportion, size, slant and spacing. For students, writing cursive may actually be easier and come more naturally than printing, as lines are more fluid and there’s no need to lift your writing utensil as you find your rhythm.

Here are some helpful tips as you work with children who are learning to master cursive letters:

It Starts with the Right Grip

It can be difficult to coach students on the proper grip of writing utensils for cursive letters. Individual finger placement is crucial. Be patient as you encourage youngsters to:

  • Hold their utensil with their thumb and index finger fairly close to the writing tip. These two digits alone should be able to grip and move the pen or pencil. Watch carefully, as there may be a tendency for students to use two or three fingers in addition to their thumb, due to weak muscles.
  • Properly position the remaining fingers. The middle finger should be curved under, with the writing utensil resting lightly on the first joint from the tip. This provides balance. The fourth finger and pinky are curved and lined up under the middle finger, out of the way.

Teaching Proportion

Proper letter proportion can be taught using handwriting paper, which has a dotted middle line.

  • Capital letters touch the top and bottom lines. Lower-case letters touch the bottom and middle lines, except for some letter stems.
  • Use samples of children’s actual writing to determine the right handwriting paper to use. This is often a better gauge than using paper that matches their grade in school.

Make Practice Successful – and Fun

For best results, cursive handwriting practice should be scheduled every day. It’s better to take several days off after practicing consistently for several days than to practice erratically.

  • Start by tracing. Have students trace letters, words, phrases and finally, sentences. Supervise them the entire time and have them erase unacceptable work and rewrite it. This may seem frustrating, but it will take more time and anxiety to undo bad habits. Praise students’ progress, even if it comes in small steps.
  • Once letters are being formed correctly, emphasize uniform size. Then add slant. Continue to require correct formation as you progress. Slant can be checked by drawing a straight /// line through the center of each letter from top to bottom. If slant is uniform, all these lines will be parallel.

The Ergonomics

Last but not least, be sure that your students are sitting in proper writing positions. The flat surfaces on which their arms can rest comfortably should not be too high or too low. Their feet should be supported on the floor or a box, rather than dangling. Improper table height, a slouching or straining body position, or dangling feet can sap energy and increase fatigue.

Are you looking for additional resources as you build your school-based therapy career? To learn more about job opportunities and the latest speech and OT developments, techniques and tips, read our related posts or contact the expert team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services today.

Tips for the Classroom: Helping Students with the Letter R

February 6th, 2015

It’s not unusual. R is one of the most commonly-used sounds in the English language – and typically one of the last mastered by children, often not maturing till age six or seven. Since the sound is later developing, a common misconception is to do nothing when children mispronounce it. And in many cases, it does correct itself. But almost as often, it does not.

The /r/ phoneme is one of the most commonly misarticulated sounds and can be one of the most challenging to correct. The earlier the intervention to address this speech obstacle, the better.

The Tongue Takes the Lead

A leading reason why /r/ is so hard to teach is because students are unable to see what their tongue looks like or where it is inside their mouths. To pronounce R correctly, the tongue must bunch back or its tip moved up and back in the mouth.

  • Find proper /r/ tongue position by placing a tongue depressor between the back teeth. This helps the student to get the feel of moving their tongue independently from their lips. While the lips are a very important part of making the R sound, for a little while they need to be out of the picture. This way, when you instruct a student to “move your tongue,” the correct action will result.
  • When working on /r/ in the middle of words: Continue monitoring the tongue to make sure it’s moving enough to make a good, strong sound. Keep reminding the student to move their tongue. Practice words like “dark, stark, forest, Mary” or “orange.”
  • Then move on to /r/ at the beginning of words: Working with words like “rabbit, room, reindeer” and “rooster,” make sure you hold onto the R sound long enough for the student to start making it, and then complete the word with them.
  • Teaching blends may take a little time, but should not be difficult. One fun method is singing songs using words like “princess, pretzels” or “greasy greens.” Students may add an extra vowel between consonants, such as “guhreen” instead of “green,” but this will self-correct in time.
  • With words like “first, person, heard” and “third,” intensify your focus on the lips. Save this for later on in your work with a student, so they’re already adept at following /r/ directions. Practice helps, as do reminders to tighten the lips and move the tongue. Have students listen to you as you say these words with them.

More Elicitation Techniques

Here are some additional tips to help your students to master /r/:

  • Use hand gestures. Hold one hand horizontally to symbolize the tongue and hold the other hand underneath. Using the hand on top, show the tongue movement necessary to produce /r/. By cupping your hand, show that the tongue tip is up and slightly back.
  • Use animal sounds. Always model these sounds for children first. They could be a rooster crowing in the morning, a cat purring or a tiger growling.

For additional resources to enhance your school-based therapy practice and the latest career opportunities in your field, read our related posts or contact the team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services today.

Speech Therapy Apps: Articulation Vacation

January 30th, 2015

Drilling students on articulation is no vacation. Unless … it is!

Articulation Vacation is a Virtual Speech Center app built around a vacation theme, with colorful, engaging graphics that draw you into its tropical island theme. Students practice 44 phonemes while playing different built-in beachside games.

You can work with multiple students, choosing specific phonemes for each user. Each phoneme has the choice of word, phrase or story level – and you can select the placement of the phoneme within a word – initial, medial or final. And keeping track of student progress is a snap.

Playing at the Beach

Shhh … don’t tell your students they’re learning as they master phonemes while:

  • Fishing: They catch not only fish but also different fun objects containing targeted sounds. Students touch a fisherman screen and they’re on their way.
  • Hunting for buried treasure: Children look for hidden objects in the sand, uncovering them with a swipe of their finger.
  • Taking pictures: While playing the Vacation Photos game, users slide a camera from side to side to bring a photo into the viewfinder, then press the button and the photo appears. What child doesn’t love a camera?
  • Reading postcards: You also have the option of having students listen.
  • Playing a parachute game: Users drop objects containing targeted sounds from a parachute onto a floating log raft.

More Features

Articulation Vacation is easy to navigate and targets nearly all English phonemes. It provides numerous tools to perform the following actions:

  • Change settings.
  • Select multiple phonemes and auto scoring.
  • Save selected phonemes for subsequent sessions.
  • Enable and disable written picture descriptions and special effect sounds.
  • Track correct and incorrect responses.
  • View reports in table and graphic.
  • Email results.

You can customize sounds for the scoring buttons within settings, as each one has a choice of three types of audio tones. As noted by one app reviewer, “I appreciate the ability to be able to differentiate audio tones for each of the scored data areas, as well as the option to completely turn the sound off if needed … This is a nice feature so you don’t have to use the volume settings on your iPad and accidentally disable your narrated words, phrases or stories.”

Another reviewer cited these “things I like” about Articulation Vacation:

  • Ability to control settings and edit word lists for individual student needs.
  • Motivating scenes that “constantly vary, which is excellent for keeping students’ attention.”
  • Story levels that are “unique” and “a huge plus for carryover.”
  • Ability to control the pace of activities simply by hitting “next” and moving on to the next picture, scene or target word.

Articulation Vacation is priced at $29.99 and available for download on the iTunes App Store.

Are you looking to advance your school-based therapy career? For current job openings in Atlanta and beyond – as well as additional resources and tools to help you realize your short and long-term goals, read our related posts or contact the specialized team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services today.

Occupational Therapy Apps: Main Street Memory

January 28th, 2015

Take your students on a walk down Main Street and help them build their auditory processing skills at the same time using the Virtual Speech Center OT app Main Street Memory. The app is priced at $14.99 in the iTunes App Store.

One of the app’s most attractive features is its use of real-life, context-based shopping and business experience, which works well with students through high school and into adulthood. It not only assists in improving their processing and recall abilities, but also helps them understand how gains and limitations in these skills can directly affect their lives.

Gaming Activities Hold Students’ Attention

Strong graphics and professional audio recordings make following auditory instructions fun and dynamic. You control the length and complexity of directions by selecting the appropriate level and amount and type of background noise. As an introduction, students are told to “listen carefully and when you earn enough stars, you can play a game.” Then they can visit these screens:

  • Jim’s Jewels: Students follow directions to put jewels into boxes. For instance, a customer voice may request “a green one with red stripes and a blue one with yellow flowers.”
  • Pia’s Pizza: Here, children get to do one of their favorite things in life as they make pizzas with customized toppings.
  • Sweet Shop: Students move candy items to the store countertop to complete directions. A typical order may be “a red popsicle and a blue gummy bear.”

Tokens are earned for each correct response and when enough have been accumulated, students are rewarded with a game based on the classic Pac Man. The game is highly engaging – and the learning continues as students need to follow directions as they play.

Additional Features

Main Street Memory is easily navigated and allows you to perform the following tasks:

  • Select auto scoring, levels of difficulty and alternate counts for multiple students.
  • Enable and disable the reward, as well as feedback sounds and the delay of stimuli.
  • Track correct and incorrect responses.
  • Email results.

Students as Their Own Advocates

One reviewer from Speech Time Fun noted that they like Main Street Memory because “students can click the ‘sound’ button to hear directives themselves. I always try to teach my students to be their own advocates. I love that this app allows them to use that skill.”

In addition, these positive features were cited by reviewers:

  • Functional vocabulary.
  • Directions that are relevant to the community and what students may actually experience in the world.
  • Motivating themes.
  • Excellent data collection and progress monitoring.

Are you seeking additional tools and resources for your school-based therapy practice? Or, are you looking to take your career to the next level in 2015? Contact the professional recruiters at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. We’re experienced therapists ourselves – and we can help you realize your career path goals for today, tomorrow and the future.

Make 2015 Your Top Year for Classroom Growth and Development

January 23rd, 2015

It’s January – a new calendar year and the midpoint on your academic calendar. What can you do to make it a successful year for your students’ growth, development and commitment to therapy success? How can you get them more involved and better engaged – the common denominators in high-quality learning?

Enhance their self-confidence.

In order to learn and make progress, students must believe in themselves. Cultivate their intrinsic motivation and encourage them to work autonomously, enjoy their relationships with others and feel that they’re strong and competent.

  • Self-direction is a touchstone of effective development. Nurture it by giving students opportunities before, during and after therapy to ask questions, participate and exercise some control over their own progress.
  • Offer chances for them to make decisions and solve problems. Help them process information and be self-confident without being told exactly what to do all the time.

Be accessible and approachable.

You are central to student growth and development. As noted in one recent study, if an educator is “perceived to be approachable, well prepared and sensitive to student needs, students are committed to work harder and get more out of the session, and are more willing to express their opinions.”

Challenge them.

Create learning environments that stretch and enrich children’s abilities. Easy assignments are not as effective as those that challenge students.

When children are reflecting, conjuring and making connections between ideas, growth flourishes.

Practice diversity.

Be sure that your therapy environment welcomes students from diverse backgrounds. To succeed, children must feel accepted and affirmed. Reflect diversity in your classroom themes and support materials.

Make it a team effort.

Communicate and collaborate with your students’ teachers, parents or guardians, and school administrators. Meet with them regularly to provide updates and share needs, ideas and suggestions.

  • Learn all you can about the individual requirements, passions and personalities of each student. Tap into their uniqueness so continue to get to know and understand one another. An approach that works very well with one student may need fine tuning before it yields results in another.

Make yours a 21st century classroom.

Today’s students have spent their entire lives surrounded by information. Take a multimedia approach to your therapy core content. Encourage youngsters as they demonstrate increased understanding utilizing such tools as speech and occupational therapy mobile apps. See our related posts to learn more.

The specialized recruitment team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services offers a wealth of resources, expertise and industry knowledge to help you enhance your school-based therapy career. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you realize your ongoing goals.

 

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Tips for the Classroom: Helping Students with the Letter “S”

January 16th, 2015

Mispronunciation of the “S” sound can be quite common in children who are just learning to speak. “S” is one of the toughest sounds to master, but most youngsters outgrow this challenge in due time. For those who don’t, therapy must be geared toward addressing the specific speech or articulation disorder that’s delaying normal development.

If students can’t pronounce “S” – try “T.”

“S” and “T” are produced in the same place in the mouth, by touching the tip of the tongue to the bumpy spot directly behind the top front teeth – the alveolar ridge. While “T” is pronounced by building up air pressure and popping it out in a single short burst, “S” is produced by pushing air out continually.

  • If a child can’t find their alveolar ridge, try gently rubbing it with a tongue depressor so they can feel it. After they place their tongue there, have them bite their teeth closed, smile, and blow the air out.

If a child can pronounce “S” but omits it from words or conversations, use a name or a signal.

You can make this entertaining by comparing the “S” sound to the noise an animal might make. For instance, children relate to cats hissing when they’re angry or snakes making a sound like an “S.”

  • It’s important to find a name that reminds the child of the sound. For instance, you could call it the “hissing sound” or the “snake sound.” Use the same name consistently and continually.
  • Give it a hand signal. This is a great way to draw attention to a particular sound without having to verbally direct a student to correct a mistake. One idea is to have children read one book each night and use the designated hand signal every time they produce an “S.”

If there’s frontal distortion, check for tongue thrust.

Tongue thrust is a form of abnormal swallowing, which can greatly affect the ability to pronounce certain sounds. Everyone swallows with tongue thrust during infancy, but eventually should develop a more mature swallowing pattern. For those who do not, tongue thrust therapy can be very effective.

  • Teach an analogy. Here’s where animal images again come into play. Tell your student to pretend their tongue is like a snake and their teeth are the snake’s cage. To keep the snake in the cage, their tongue must be behind their teeth when they make the “S” sound. Give them a mirror to self-check. Their teeth should stay tightly closed. They should not be able to see their tongue while producing an “S.”

Come back to “T” for students with lateral distortion.

Generally, when a child has a lateralized “S” it means they’re pushing air out the sides of their mouths, rather than the center. You can use the “T” airflow to build up to a perfect “S.”

  • Try not to let the child know that you’re working on “S” pronunciation. They may fall back into their old lateralized airflow patterns and it will be very hard to correct. Instead, refer to the “S” you’re building as a “long ticking sound.”

For additional tips and resources to enhance your school-based therapy practice – or to check out the latest career opportunities in your field – contact the specialized recruiters at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. Or, read our related posts to learn more.

 

Top-Viewed Mobile App Articles for 2014

December 29th, 2014

Mobile apps continued to grow in popularity during 2014 as convenient, resourceful therapy tools. They serve the dual purpose of facilitating rehab techniques for your students and helping you to achieve your ongoing clinical education objectives. The American Occupational Therapy Association recently reported that more than half of all OTs regularly utilize mobile apps in their practices.

Sorting through the every-increasing number of apps can be confusing. Judging by the responses of Cobb blog followers in 2014, the apps that drew the most interest among school-based therapists were one geared toward speech pathologists and two in the OT realm.

Virtual Speech Center’s Articulation Carnival

What’s more fun for kids than a carnival, complete with balloons, games and prizes? Developed to help students master the pronunciation of phonemes at the word, phrase and sentence levels, Virtual Speech Center’s Articulation Carnival app offers a winning formula that combines fun and learning.

  • Entertaining motivators help students as they practice different speech sounds. For every correct response, they earn a balloon. When they accumulate a certain number, they’re rewarded with carnival activities including basketball free throws, duck spraying, balloon dart throws and a hammer game.
  • There are 47 choices for selecting phonemes. You can choose the specific blend that you want each child to work on. You also can select specific words, as well as phrase and sentence levels.
  • The App Store price of $36.99 includes all sounds. You also can download a less expensive lite version and then purchase individual phonemes as needed.

New Bricklyn’s Magic Shoes

Learning to tie their shoes is a milestone in a child’s life. But it can be a frustrating process. The Magic Shoes app provides kids with easy and clever ways to master the task.

  • Magic Shoes follows a very simple, straightforward process. Step-by-step instructions and a video collection make learning fun. Classic shoe-tying techniques including “rabbit ears” and “tree squirrel” are utilized.
  • Customize the experience for each child. You can photograph each youngster when they’ve achieved their shoe-tying goal and email the news to friends and family. The app also offers a boy/girl themed interface and as noted by one reviewer, “worked like magic” thanks to its advanced, fun visual aids.
  • Magic Shoes can be downloaded for just $1.99 from the App Store.

Sebastian Miedtank’s Skill Training

The Skill Training app requires students to connect numbers in order without crossing or touching lines. Appropriate for upper elementary and older students, it helps develop concentration and improve eye-hand coordination.

  • Reasonably priced at $2.99, Skill Training is a valuable tool to assess overall skills improvement. It adapts easily to users’ age and ability levels.
  • This visual motor/spatial reasoning app requires drawing, motor planning and problem-solving activity. Motor accuracy and planning are required to complete number-connecting tasks, which can be done using a stylus or your finger. A magnifying glass is available for an up-close look at what’s happening.

To stay current with tools and resources to enhance your school-based practices and for tips to advance your career path, contact the team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. Here’s to success in 2015!

A Recap of the Top Classroom Related Resources of 2014

December 24th, 2014

School-based speech language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists continued to dedicate themselves to self-improvement in 2014, especially when it came to getting organized and starting the new school year off on the right foot.

Among our most popularly sought out resources and blog posts were those related to maintaining and updating schedules and making the right preparations to start the school year strong. Now that we’re taking holiday breaks and starting off the New Year, it’s an opportune time for a refresher on these valuable topics.

Be Prepared

Whether it’s a new school year in the fall or a new calendar year in January, some stress is natural as you ready yourself and your students for the months ahead. Turn that stress into positive energy with the right preparation.

  • Plan ahead. Get your room or work area organized. Refresh and update your lesson plans. Do some extracurricular reading. Just as you did at the end of last summer, get back into your healthy sleep routine gradually by going to bed and rising a few minutes earlier each day before school starts up again.
  • Renew your commitment to connect with students, parents and colleagues. Be a conversation starter. When you connect with students and families, you’re more effective at meeting their needs. And when you connect with coworkers, you can better collaborate to serve students, as well as garner personal and professional support.

More Tips for Success

Among our tips to help you embrace each day’s challenges and progress toward your therapy goals is the use of more mobile apps in 2015.

Check out our related blogs, including our year-end wrap-up of the top viewed mobile apps in 2014. They’re inexpensive and user friendly and can be used in students’ homes as well as the classroom.

About Your Schedule

Keep your schedule on track by getting organized. You probably already work with a school-year calendar, but now’s the time to bring it up to date for 2015.  It’s also a good time to update your student folders and files. Has anyone moved away during the holidays? Will new students be joining you? Update all identifying information, data sheets and related materials as much as you can before the bell rings on the first day back in January.

The school-based experts at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services offer a wealth of resources and information to help you meet your career goals, whether your vision is to grow in your current position or seek professional advancement elsewhere in 2015. To learn more, read our related posts or contact us today.