March 14 Seminar - Working with Feeding Problems in the School Setting

by Therapro

Eating a snack or lunch is an essential part of a student’s day at school. For students who have “feeding issues” that limit their participation at snack or lunchtime, a therapeutic feeding program might be appropriate part of their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).  Occupational therapist, Lisa van Gorder addressed this topic comprehensively in Therapro’s Saturday seminar entitled: Working with Feeding Problems in the School Setting. Lisa is the owner and Executive Director of Integrated Children’s Therapies, in Hudson, MA.

Lisa reviewed some basic feeding facts and safety issues that must be considered prior to starting a feeding program. She explained reasons why a child may not eat, which include but are not limited to:

  • sensory processing problems
  • poor postural stability
  • underlying medical issues

She presented an interesting model in describing how discrimination and regulation play a vital role in oral feeding for the child with SPD.

Lisa cautioned that school systems differ widely in the provision of feeding therapy services. How to initiate treating a feeding problem in the school setting begins with a team approach that includes the child, parent, teacher, therapist, and teaching assistant. This group lays the ground rules for treatment, based on the child’s needs and the expectations within the school setting, i.e. 1:1 feeding therapy or addressing the issue within the school cafeteria where the primary goal may be successful socialization.

Lisa walked us through a hypothetical feeding therapy session, and stressed the importance of engagement of the student, which is very dependent on communicating to the student what the therapist will be doing. Touch cues paired with verbal and visual cues help the student feel safe and at ease with feeding therapy. Lisa described a variety of treatment approaches, including food chaining, in her talk. Her jam-packed toolbox includes the many available cups, spoons, straws, food with varied textures, and regulation activities she has found effective, which include suggestions for creating a therapeutic environment in the cafeteria.

Lisa supported her discussion with many cited research studies. She advised that learning to eat is a long process that evolves over time. The school setting may be one place where the child can gain eating skills, as it is an activity that occurs daily at school. However, further feeding support may be necessary with additional therapeutic input from an outpatient facility or clinic.

Take a look at some positive reviews attendees offered:

“I thought it was helpful – I am walking away with some ideas to try on Monday.” Rose O.

“The information was clear, comprehensive, applicable, & interesting.” Anonymous

“The presenter was extremely knowledgeable and realistic. She was very engaging. Thank you!”  Melissa M.

Thank you, Lisa!


Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L

March 14, 2015

February 28 Seminar - Therapro’s Assessments Series I: Visual Processing/Visual Perception

by Therapro

Selecting the best assessment in order to gain the information we seek about a client’s functioning is vital for the occupational therapist, the client, and the team. It’s a jumping off point that helps us design a treatment plan that is meaningful and helps the client achieve goals. On Saturday, February 28th, Therapro’s President, Karen Conrad Weihrauch, PhD, OTR/L, tackled the task of examining 14 standardized visual motor and visual perception assessments as part of the Saturday Seminar Series.   

Having the opportunity hear a comparison of the assessments, discuss them, and provide personal experience with administration of the assessments helped therapists and educators identify tests that they might like to use in their work settings. In addition, being able to actually examine and manipulate the tools was a valuable experience not typically available to us.

Karen provided a succinct description of each test, including ages for which the test was designed, time required to administer, and interpretation information. Included were new editions of old standards such as the Beery VMI, DTVP-3, and DTVP-A.  She presented tests that include useful or unique features. For example, the Spatial Awareness Skills Program (SASP) includes a curriculum manual, the Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities (WRAVMA) is the only test available that includes a pegboard for testing dexterity, and the Preschool Visual Motor Integration Assessment (PVMIA) includes two Behavioral Observation Checklists in addition to the two subtests. The PVMIA is unique because its authors are OTs. 

Attendees shared their comments regarding this valuable seminar:

“A great review of all available v.p. tests that should be shown to all school system OTs so that they can choose what they want to use.”

Beth H.

“As an outpt therapist, I have very limited access to updated assessments.  This seminar was very helpful with regard to: easy, wide-range tests that I could use for children and adults in a non-academic setting.”  Joanne T.

“Good overview of potential VP/VM tests including quite a few I had never heard of.”  Lynne H.

Thank you, Karen!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L

February 28, 2015

Therapro’s Free Activity of the Month: Have a Hoot with Fine Motor Skills

by Therapro

By: Diana V. Mendez-Hohmann

Enhance fine motor skills and have fun learning about owls while you make this simple craft. With this easy craft your child will:

  • Practice scissor skills
  • Trace different shapes
  • Use both hands (bilateral coordination)
  • Cross the midline


  • 2 Sticky Back Foam Sheets or Felt
  • 2 Buttons
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • White Paper for the pattern
  • Markers


Step 1

Draw the pattern on white paper.

Cut the pattern shapes.

Place the shapes on the sticky back foam sheets. Use at least 2 different colors.



Step 2

Cut the foam shapes



Step 3

Peel the back of the wings and place wings on the belly.

Step 4

Peel the back of the behind the eyes area and place on the top part of the belly.


Step 5

Peel the back of the large eyes and center on the top.


Step 6

Peel the back of the small eyes and center on the top.


Step 7

Peel the back of the nose and place under the eyes.


Step 8

Glue the buttons to the center of the eyes.


Step 9

Decorate using the markers.


Don’t forget to make it a multi-sensory experience.

  • What sound does the owl make?
  • Sing songs about owls or birds.
  • Have your child feel a feather.
  • Use different textures; combine foam and felt, or decorate with glitter.

Here is a felt owl we made using a heart for a nose. Send us a picture of your owl, or post it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #Therapro


  Log in