Category Archives: Filomena’s Corner

Saturday Seminar: Specialized Brain Gym and Building Block Activity Workshop

The 2018 Saturday Seminar Series kick-off on January 20 featured June Smith, OTR/L’s presentation: Specialized Brain Gym and Building Block Activity Workshop. June is a full-time clinician and mentor at South Shore Therapies in Massachusetts and is a specialist in sensory integration (SIPT certified), NDT, ocular-motor dysfunction and visual-vestibular treatment. She is a certified Brain Gym instructor and a provider for the Therapeutic Listening Program. June teaches nationally on Brain Gym and Integrated Learning Concepts to support stress-free learning and efficiency of the ocular-motor system.

Brain Gym empowers; it supports alerting and quieting using a total of 26 exercises that require only one tool – your body. June displayed a Venn diagram that aptly described Brain Gym as interlocking concepts that involve 1). a series of simple body movements that 2). integrate all areas of the brain and 3). enhance learning and self-esteem. To demonstrate these concepts with the group, June led us in an alerting activity called “thinking cap.” She feels it is a powerful way to begin a session to facilitate engagement. We started by turning our heads to the right, then left, to examine any tension in our necks. We were asked to massage our ears simultaneously by unrolling the fold of the outer ear, moving from top to bottom. We then were asked to turn our heads again to see if we felt a decreased amount of tension compared with our pretest. Most agreed that head turning was less restricted after “thinking cap.”

June demonstrated a variety Brain Gym exercises that are used in the “PACE” process, an acronym for Positive, Active, Clear, and Energetic,” beginning with Energetic and working in reverse sequence (ECAP) because each of the four activities prepares you for the next. June described it as a ladder, working your way upward toward the top. She demonstrated three exercises that involved arm activation, the first assisted by using a Gertie Ball for arm extension to maintain internal rotation; a “double doodle” where one hand mimics the other, and “lazy 8s” in which the hand traces a large horizontal figure 8, crossing midline of the body using a Race the 8s large marble maze or Trace the 8s, that is based on the infinity sign. She offered suggestions for adapting the exercises for different populations to ensure success.

Several publications from Therapro were endorsed by June today including: Fraid Not: Empowering Kids with Learning Differences, by occupational therapist Pam FormosaThe Learning Gym, and Drive Thru Menus Attention & Strength (New Edition) and Drive Thru Menus Calming and Stress Busting (New Edition), by occupational therapist Tere Bowen-Irish.

June presented an interactive, stimulating seminar today that supported the philosophy that Brain Gym stimulates movement based learning. It incorporates simple, gentle movements that activate brain function. There has been much research conducted on how movement positively influences the brain and our health, and Brain Gym is a powerful tool that helps put a student in the best possible frame for learning as they become calm and organized.

Here’s what attendees had to say about June’s seminar:

“Great information! June convinced me.” – Lise S., Occupational Therapist

“Very informative, lots of practical ways to apply, fabulous ideas. Can’t wait to practically apply these strategies.” – Christin M., Occupational Therapist

“Great presenter. Very informative and interactive! FUN! – Susan P., Physical Therapist

“Fabulous. Recharged my OT battery to use in my school sessions. Used to do Brain Gym daily, changed school districts & haven’t been using.” – Jodi D., Occupational Therapist

Thank you, June!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L
January 20, 2018

ASHA Conference, November 9-11, 2017

This year’s annual ASHA conference drew over 14,000 speech-language pathologists, audiologists, hearing and speech scientists, and communications sciences and disorders students to Los Angeles for three jam-packed days of educational, networking, and fun events. On Thursday we welcomed the masses into the Expo Hall when they stopped by the Therapro exhibit by asking attendees what parts of the opening session inspired them. They reported enjoying Goldie Hawn’s Keynote Address with her emphasis on mindfulness and self-regulation. She discussed her foundation, the Hawn Foundation, which focuses on a program for schools to teach children the basics of brain science. It was a great kick-off for this year’s conference!

We designed our exhibit this year to focus on various areas we thought would interest attendees. Our “Games Corner” was a beehive of activity with Karen drawing therapists to play NovenopsTrunksLetter Treasure HuntA Fistful of Coins, and Obstacles: A Game of Imaginative Solutions. One therapist loved Novenops so much that she purchased one for herself and several for gifts! The zany sentences players constructed in this game had everyone laughing.

Another area we set up was filled with wind-up toys that drew a crowd with giggles, exclamations, and stories of creative ways they used the toys in therapy sessions. Everyone exclaimed how unique our collection was, including the FirefightersCatsLovely FarmBaby Critters, and retro appliances.

Friends we had met in previous years stopped by to say hello and to see what’s new at Therapro. Our auditory processing publications were much appreciated, including Help for Auditory Processing and The Source for Processing Disorders – 2nd EditionStory Starters Write-Abouts and Silly Starter Write-Abouts were very popular flip books with which students gain valuable writing and expressive verbal practice. Therapists loved the ConversacardsQuestion Series and Question Set with beautiful photos on one side and easy teaching steps on the reverse side.

Therapists who address feeding problems were excited to meet Kelly VahnDam, MS, CCC-SLP, editor and an author of the Therapro publication Pediatric Feeding Disorders. She graciously autographed the book and took photos with admirers. Several students from North Carolina reported that her book is part of their curriculum. Feeding therapists picked up Textured SpoonsNuk Massager BrushesMr. Juice Bear, and much more. It was fun to help therapists select appropriate materials and brain storm with them on ways to use chewies for their clients. Mary Schiavoni, MS, CCC-SLP, creator of Chewy Tubes visited our booth and introduced the new Sensory Dipper she showcased at the conference. Dawn Winkelmann, MS, CCC-SLP of ezpz stopped by as well – we love their Happy Mats and Happy Bowls!

After three exciting and full days of introducing Therapro to speech and language professionals from the US, Canada, and many foreign countries, we were pleased with the dedication and thirst for knowledge expressed by those we met. We left L.A. satisfied that we had met thousands of devoted and gifted therapists who truly LOVE their profession!

We can’t wait to welcome you to Boston next Fall for the ASHA Conference 2018!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L

18th Annual Therapies in the School Conference

The 18th annual Therapies in the School Conference returned to Framingham, MA on November 16-17 and was sponsored once again by Education Resources Inc. Objectives of this popular conference focused on meeting the needs of all students, ranging from those with mild challenges to those having complex physical and medical challenges. With a distinguished faculty, topics were expertly addressed. In addition to providing 2 days of interesting workshops, a full day preconference on The Zones of Regulation was given by creator of The Zones of Regulation, Leah Kuypers, MA, Ed, OTR/L.

Therapro has been a regular exhibitor at this conference, drawing crowds to its booth to check out what’s new, pick up a new catalog, and to purchase items they love. We met many of the 250 therapists who attended the conference, engaging in lively conversations about how to use the products in creative ways. Therapists loved new products we introduced so much that they sold out! These included: Yoga Spinner Game, the publication, From Flapping to FunctionDrive Thru Menus Body ChallengeStickbotthe robot fidget, and Wristful Fidget, a spandex wristband filled with soothing beads.

Therapists left this conference energized to return to their school-based practice, eager to use the exceptional information they gained. We hope that Therapro provided innovative ideas and tools for their therapy toolboxes!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L