Category Archives: Filomena’s Corner

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

Saturday Seminar: The Impact of Personalized Tool Kits on Adolescents with Mental Illness

Jean MacLachlan, PhD, OTR/L’s November 4th 2014 Saturday Seminar was entitled: The Impact of Personalized Tool Kits on Adolescents with Mental Illness: How to Assess, Develop and Integrate into Daily Routines. A specialist in mental health and sensory processing, Dr. MacLachlan teaches at Salem State University, conducts research, and consults throughout the US. Her focus has been on the integration of sensory-based interventions into “non-traditional settings.”

Jean’s thoughtful and thought-provoking seminar revealed some surprising documentation about adolescent mental health including the statistic that about 20% of children and adolescents in the US have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder that impairs their lives (NIMH, 2010; Perou, 2013). Jean provided a summary of supportive literature that indicates that a sensory-based approach to treatment promotes positive behaviors. Jean’s research using individualized sensory tool kits yielded statistically significant results in 6 areas, 3 of which affected all study participants including an increase in self perception of sense of occupational competence; an increase in daily number of hours in the classroom; and a decrease in the number of PRN medications.

Jean offered a rich array of ideas for creating individualized sensory tool kits that target all sensory areas, depending on the adolescent’s needs. She added cautions regarding some client-specific personal issues including: allergies to certain materials, olfactory experiences that may elicit negative memories in trauma victims, visual responses that may trigger seizures, and vibratory stimulation for hypersexualized adolescents. She advocated building the use of sensory toolkits into a client’s routine to help improve function, which means devising a way that the client has access to his/her toolkit whenever it is needed, i.e. during transition times that might cause an outburst, like going from school to a job. Some Therapro materials that she recommended included:

In addition to individualized sensory tools, Jean discussed some interesting examples of sensory-based coping skills groups. One example she gave involved playing “Sensory Hopscotch,” where the client throws a beanbag on a sensory square and then identifies the tool in their sensory tool kit they use in that sensory category and why they use it.

With our understanding of sensory processing, occupational therapists can have an important role in providing sensory-based treatment for young people diagnosed with mental illness. Jean provided us with a dynamic seminar including interactive times for participants to share thoughts and problem-solve about tools that may be useful and accessible in their particular setting. Many offered helpful ideas on how to acquire those tools through creative funding. This seminar fulfilled all expectations for attendees who learned how to create and use personalized sensory tool kits with the adolescent population in individual and group settings.

Take a look at just a few of the positive remarks attendees made about this seminar:

“Excellent material, engaging presentation. Thank you!!” – Katherine C., Occupational Therapist

“Great ideas; really liked the built in discussion time.” – Maura M., Teacher

“Lots of ideas, suggestions. Opportunities to collaborate. And free!!” – Anonymous, Occupational Therapist

“Specific and functional activities! Direct and to the point!” – Susan J., Physical Therapist Assistant

“Well organized, informative, and applicable to my work.” – Anonymous, Occupational Therapist

Thank you, Jean!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L