A Life Skills Program for Students, 10-19 years of Age, Who Are Deaf and Low Functioning

by Therapro

Therapro hosted its very first international speaker for the Saturday Seminar Series on February 15. A post professional master’s student at Tufts, occupational therapist Jill Massey, from the United Kingdom, presented her talk entitled: A Life Skills Program for Students, 10-19 years of Age, Who Are Deaf and Low Functioning. On a day that threatened a snowstorm, a brave and focused group of attendees learned how this therapist went about developing a program in a facility that had never had an occupational therapist on its staff and learned of her vision for a life skills approach to the Deaf, low functioning students at her school.

Jill’s seminar provided a brief overview of OT practice in the UK within community based pediatrics. She also discussed understanding and awareness of issues for children/young adults who are Deaf and introduced a Life Skills Program for this population. Jill clarified the difference in the use of the two terms “deaf” and “Deaf” when discussing Deaf culture. The quote she documented from the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities says: “Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific and linguistic identity, including sign language and Deaf culture.”

Jill’s position at Oak Lodge School was a brand new service to the students, with no budget. She had her work cut out for her and has worked tirelessly in conjunction with the school speech and language therapist to educate staff as well as provide evaluation and class-based intervention for the students  Her work became focused on real world integration of the students and empowering parents to work with their children to promote independence. Evidenced based studies were shared that indicate that context-based exposure in building life skills is key to success. Her goal is to do international research in this area of practice to demonstrate the efficacy of a program that is directed to student independence in life skills at home and in the community.

Jill taught us Deaf etiquette through a true-false quiz, gave us tips for providing optimal environmental adaptations with Deaf students, and offered practical suggestions on how to communicate effectively with a Deaf person. It was quite an interesting seminar!

Here are a few of the comments received from attendees:

“Presenter is an advocate, trailblazer, and passionate about her work.  She is dedicated to research.”

“Even though I don’t work with a lot of deaf students, all the info could be applied to other school life skills.”

“Very informative.  I learned a lot, especially about Deaf awareness/culture.”

Thank you, Jill!


Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L

February 15, 2014

Thank you!

by Therapro

Thank you so very much for your kind words about us, Pediatric Occupational Therapists Facebook Group! This group is a great resource for "all pediatric occupational therapists and students around the world to discuss our experiences and exchange ideas in this wonderful yet challenging career." 


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The Shoe Tying Club

by Bhanu Raghavan, MS, OTR/L & Ginger Mc Donald, OTR/L

Teaching shoe tying is often not prioritized these days due to the advent of velcro and slip on shoes. Due to the frustrations experienced by their children, many parents tend to choose the easy way out buying shoes that do not require tying. Fast forward a year or two, parents find themselves frantically tying their second grader’s shoes on the sidelines of a soccer game or just before the bus. These parents are silently berating themselves for having given in earlier and are hoping for a miracle. First and second grade teachers are similarly frustrated when children arrive in their classroom lacking a skill that should have been learned in kindergarten. Deb Vozel, an intervention specialist at Cline Elementary School in Centerville, OH decided she needed to do something about it. Together with Bhanu Raghavan, OTR/L she started a shoe tying club to coach any second grader lacking shoe tying skills. The club turned out to be a resounding success!

Shoe tying club met during the second quarter of school. The club members were chosen by their classroom teachers, and included both typical and children with special needs. The steps used for shoe-tying came from the poster One-Two Tie Your Shoe. This poster was adapted from the book Self-Care with Flair! The club members were placed in groups of four to five. They met daily before the end of their morning session. Mrs. Vozel and her aide led the club daily with weekly consultation from the OT. Club members practiced a few steps each week. Once a step was mastered they were introduced to the subsequent step. If a child had a particular difficulty with mastering a step the OT helped to break the steps down even further (activity analysis). At the end of the second quarter all the club members were successfully tying their shoes. Mrs. Vozel celebrated their success by giving each member a certificate and a copy of the poster One-Two Tie Your Shoe.

The nine easy steps in One-Two Tie Your Shoe are a convenient and quick way to teach this skill to any child. The laminated poster can be displayed in the classroom, on the refrigerator at home, in day-care centers and wherever young children are learning to tie their shoes.