Category Archives: Events

Massachusetts Early Intervention Consortium (MEIC)

This year’s annual conference in Framingham, MA, attracted over 750 attendees over the course of two days! Therapro was thrilled to participate as an exhibitor this year, greeting old friends, welcoming the opportunity to introduce Therapro to new early intervention providers, and meeting families of children from birth to 3 years.

MEIC provides this yearly opportunity for learning and networking among professionals and families who work tirelessly on behalf of infants and toddlers with special needs. Therapro joined this group in celebrating individual differences and offering fun and creative therapeutic resources for the challenges providers and families encounter with this age group.

Among the Therapro products attendees loved was the perennial favorite, Rapper Snappers. It was fun listening to therapists and educators describe how they creatively use these colorful, adaptable tubes in a gazillion ways! The Push Pull Puzzle was a sell out, with raves about how much the children love this 2-sided puzzle with 12 magnetized pieces. The puzzle promotes many skills such as finger isolation, color/figure recognition, and language stimulation. Fine motor manipulatives including Giant Nuts & BoltsGator GrabbersFinger Crayons, and Pop Beadswere deemed ideal for developing little hands.

Therapists restocked their oral motor tool kits with Z-vibesFlexi Cut cupsNuk Brushes, and Chew Lollies and Chewy Tubes at the Therapro exhibit. The Therapro publication, Pediatric Feeding Disorders: Evaluation and Treatment generated positive exclamations of its usefulness from speech and occupational therapists.

We were energized by the enthusiasm and commitment of the professionals and parents we encountered at this conference! Therapro‘s ongoing assurance is to partner with these providers by offering exceptional products to support their interventions.

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L

Saturday Seminar: Weighted Blankets and More

Kristi Langslet, OTR/L ended the 2017 Spring Saturday Seminar Series with her enlightening presentation: Weighted Blankets and More for Use in Your Sensory Room or Sensory Carts! She discussed benefits and applications of weighted, compression and fidget products in Sensory Rooms and Sensory Carts.

General confusion and misconceptions abound regarding the use of therapeutic weighted materials, which Kristi dispelled with her seminar. She is an experienced therapist, having worked in a variety of primarily pediatric settings. Kristi began designing and making products for her clients to meet specific needs related to sensory processing. With her sister, Heidi, she developed and launched her therapeutic products company Sommerfly, in 2005, with the goal of “Calm, Sleep and Focus for All.”

Kristi’s review of research findings regarding sensory rooms and weighted blankets was thorough. The research reviewed came primarily from studies in adult psychiatric settings, but was still applicable to broader settings and age groups. Sensory rooms have been validated as safe, effective, anxiety and distress reducers, with weighted blankets being particularly useful for decreasing anxiety. She emphasized the recommendation for the best way to use a weighted blanket is for the child to apply it on himself/herself. Research cited from Tina Champagne, MEd, OTR/L indicates that weighted blankets should weigh more than 10% of the wearer’s body weight to be most effective – with 15-25% of a person’s weight as the guideline for use. She cited studies that indicate the rise in pediatric admissions for behavioral health problems. This fact points to the need for treatment strategies that are accessible, powerful, sensory-based, and research supported.

Sensory rooms are defined as a voluntary, self-managed place to decrease stress; they empower people to care for themselves. In these rooms you might find a Sit Tight Weighted Lap Pad, a Relaxer Blanket, and a variety of other calming sensory materials such as a white noise machine, lava lamp, chewing gum, exercise bandsyoga position cardsnoise cancelling headphonescalming music CD, etc., depending on the child’s age and needs. Kristi referred to Karen Moore’s Sensory Connection books as a having a wealth of information for developing sensory rooms and carts.

In her discussion of compression garments and muscle work, Kristi reminded us that compression garments have a similar effect as deep pressure applied to the skin and heavy work on joints/muscles. Both compression garments and weighted products provide similar touch pressure sensation, with a rapid response time, but heavy muscle work response time varies. The guideline for weighted vests provided was 3-5% of the wearer’s weight is optimal with wearing times of between 15-30 minutes at a time throughout the day; accommodation occurs with longer wearing times.

Kristi reported that since the hands and mouth have a high density of touch and proprioceptive receptors, the perception of sensation in these areas is greater than in other body areas. This may explain why we naturally fidget with hands and mouth with activities like nail biting, smoking, doodling, hair twirling, etc. Hand fidget research evidence shows that distraction reduced anxiety and pain after surgery. She advocated the use of a fidget as a “tool” versus a “toy” with examples like a Wristful Fidget or a Fidgety.

In our stress-filled society, the popularity and use of mindfulness techniques has alerted us to the value of being calm and centered. Sensory strategies we employ personally give us a sense of well being and regulation. Kristi asked us to imagine what effect they might have on a child who is “at risk.” As occupational therapists, we understand the value of and can use self-regulation practices to help people function optimally. After Kristi’s presentation, we understood the application of weighted products and fidgets more thoroughly, particularly with the pertinent research cited by her. When caregivers are given tools designed to help with self-regulation, coupled with other cognitive-behavioral strategies, we can look forward to seeing the effects with our students/patients as they reengage in life occupations.

Take a look at some of the glowing comments attendees provided:

“Great to have research to back up findings. Simple facts and Ideas to pass on to school colleagues and administration.” – Fredda T., Occupational Therapist

“I tend to be relatively skeptical about these issues, but I found Kristi extremely knowledgeable and approachable, and her presentation very informative. Lots to think about!” – Maura K., Teacher

“I liked the trauma informed approach, evidence based and practical suggestions. Really appreciated the update on weight guidelines.” – Kim B., Occupational Therapist

“Great intro course for new therapist and/or parents, teachers, related fields. Most useful for experienced OTs was the research/weight & wearing prescription/demo of products. Organized, straightforward presenter. Warm, open, compassionate, available for questions and pertinent case studies. Thank you!!” – Bernadette W., Occupational Therapist

“Great answers to questions, great products, great suggestions. I like the non toy look for fidgets.” – Anonymous, Occupational Therapist

Thank you, Kristi!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L
May 6, 2017

AOTA Conference & Expo 2017

 

The AOTA Annual Conference & Expo in Philadelphia this year surpassed expectations with 14,000 therapists convening at the Convention Center!  The opportunity to celebrate the 100th birthday of Occupational Therapy drew revelers from around the world. Therapro brought a team of 5 seasoned therapists, including Karen, Ginger, Linda, and Kim, and me, who worked together like a well oiled machine setting up our huge and colorful Therapro exhibit display, and for the following three days, discussing Therapro products, problem-solving with therapists, and enjoying the constant traffic and spirited interactions at our booth.  This year, once again, we shared our booth with authors, Carolyn Murray-Slutsky, MS, OTR, C/NDT and Betty A. Paris, PT, MEd, C/NDT, along with Carolyn’s husband, Herman. Their publications: Autism Interventions, Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior?DTI: Laminated Card Series – Sensory Modulation & Positive Behavioral Strategies, and the new Sleep ‘N Sync materials flew off the shelves!

Here are a few of the exciting new products we introduced:

Therapists loved the newly revised products: Fine Motor Olympics and Drive Thru Menus. Some other HOT items included Progressive Grip Kit, Farm Sticks, Yoga Cards the Game, Fidgets and Wind Ups, Crayon Rocks, Sensory Connection books, Follow the Leader Maze and Dolphin Diving Maze, Letter Treasure Hunt Game, Chew Necklaces, and Trackit.

The Therapro team was exhausted after our Philadelphia adventures, but still had enough gas in the tank to declare – “Let’s do it again next year in Salt Lake City!”  Our commitment to occupational therapy was reinforced over and over in Philadelphia and remains unwavering!!  AOTA, we wish you continued growth and development as we begin the second hundred years!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L