Category Archives: Life Skills

Self-Care with Flair!

Creative authors, Bhanu Raghavan, MS, OTR/L and Ginger McDonald, OTR/L developed a unique curriculum for increasing independence with self-care skills. The program instructs how to teach the skills of dressing, grooming, toilet training, and eating by using a uniform approach with pictures and rhyming while employing visual, verbal, and tactile/kinesthetic cues. Each task is broken down into steps through activity analysis. In June of this year, Bhanu shared her expertise with therapists, caregivers, and children in Guatemala. Here is the account of her experience.

Visit the Self Care with Flair! website.

Bhanu Raghavan, MS, OTR/L

Self-Care with Flair! goes international once again…

Teaching basic self-care skills to children can be tedious and is often not prioritized in school or at home, even though these skills are critical for successful transition into the community. Occupational therapists are often consulted for support with this task.  A uniform approach to teaching daily living skills is critical to helping the child generalize the skills to all situations. Learning can be delayed when small differences in method and/or terminology confuse the child or when the number of steps prove to be overwhelming for the child, parent and/or teacher. Occupational therapists, Bhanu Raghavan and Ginger McDonald, authors of Self Care with Flair!, have shared their expertise in teaching self-care skills in a creative, fun way with therapists across the globe. Their methodology involves teaching self-care skills using rhymes to promote mastery and retention within a short period of time. They have based their method on evidence-based research that demonstrates that novel experiences such as rhymes and rhythm trigger the brain to sustain attention. In 2015, they presented at the British Occupational Therapy conference about their effective strategies for teaching self-care skills from their book to a packed audience.

In June 2017, when Bhanu accompanied a team of students, therapists and Professors from Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio) to participate in a weeklong volunteer service project in Guatemala at the Missionaries of the Highways, a clinic and residential facility for children with a variety of physical and mental disabilities. Over the course of the week, many questions about teaching self-care skills to children with disabilities arose. Bhanu shared strategies from Self Care with Flair! when she presented an in-service to the staff.  During that week, strategies from Self-Care with Flair! were shared with parents and caregivers as well. Although Spanish is the national language of Guatemala, the illustrations (300+) in the book made teaching/learning quite simple and universal.

Using Self-Care with Flair! Bhanu aided the staff, parents, and caregivers in understanding that the brain learns and retains when visual, auditory and kinesthetic cues are embedded in the teaching/learning process, resulting in success for life.

At the end of the week-long service project, the staff of the Missionaries of the Highway acknowledged the ease of use and success of the Self Care with Flair! approach to self-care activities and requested a copy of the book, which was gladly given to them (See photos).  Much to Bhanu’s delight, one of the OTs at the facility volunteered to translate the rhymes in the book into the Spanish language as needs arose!  The week was a joyful learning experience for all!!

Self-Care with Flair!
Self-Care with Flair!
Self-Care with Flair!

Bhanu Raghavan, MS, OTR/L

Bhanu RaghavanA graduate of Indiana University and The Ohio State University, Bhanu has over 25 years of experience in pediatrics. She is certified in pediatric NDT and the READY Approach (Bonnie Hanschu) for Sensory Integration Disorders. Frequently, she presents workshops on topics related to self-care independence, sensory processing disorders and fine motor/handwriting skill development to therapists, teachers and parents/caregivers. She works at Centerville City schools, OH. She is a firm believer of the following Confucian principle: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”

I Can Work!

Educator, Rebecca Tock, teaches at the Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa, California. She generously gave us permission to share her glowing testimonial about the I Can Work! curriculum, a 5 module pre-vocational program designed by Therapro author, Angela  (Angie) Mahoney, M.Ed. With Angie’s broad experience as a pre-vocational teacher and as a consultant to other schools in developing their pre-voc programs, her I Can Work! program continues to evolve into a practical, exciting course that builds on basic job readiness skills such as how to greet a supervisor, how to dress for work, how to fill out a job application, appropriate job behaviors, etc. Learning those basic skills provides a firm foundation on which to build more advanced skills. The I Can Work! curriculum instructs students in 5 different jobs: clerical, food service, retail, and grocery.

Rebecca Tock‎

I Can Work

I was introduced to the “I Can Work” curriculum at an educational conference I attended in Spring 2015. Immediately, I knew it was special. It was so different from other vocational curriculums I have used in the past and I thought that this may be the piece that I needed to provide a well rounded pre-vocational education experience in my class. After the presentation, I approached Angela Mahoney, the developer of the curriculum, for some clarifying questions about the program. I was impressed by how user friendly the program appeared to be. Angela was clear, concise and knows her stuff! She was very helpful. What was quite amazing was that it was a total of $49.95. That is unheard of in this profession!

I was able to immediately purchase the curriculum due to its affordability and size. The modules provide comprehensive and clear lesson plans that are easy to use and even easier to incorporate into an existing classroom curriculum. The material presented provides visuals and a guide for the use of real world everyday materials. When working with young adults who have severe disabilities the use of familiar objects is imperative for success. I appreciate the way in which “I Can Work” really uses large graphics and touches upon prior knowledge of the students.

The instructions to set up lessons are easy to follow, and really make this an accessible space for my students. It has definitely enhanced my pre-vocational lessons and given my students more ways to participate in pre-vocational activities.

I love ‘I Can Work!’ It was the best class curricular decision I could have made. I recommend it to any teacher who teaches a pre-vocational class to students/individuals with moderate to severe disabilities.

Ms. Tock teaches students in grades 9-12 who have been identified as having severe special needs.  We would like to direct you to her request for funding ADA accessible tables for her students’ use at mealtimes in school, so they can join their peers. Please visit the site to learn more about her project.

Saturday Seminar: Post-Secondary Transition Planning

Tee Stock, MS OTR/L, MBA presented a Therapro Saturday Seminar last weekend that provided a comprehensive look at Post – Secondary Transition Planning (PSTP) for students. Her extensive experience with transition planning in public schools, a private special education school, and a local collaborative, in addition to her doctoral work in this area, offered attendees an abundance of useful and current information including a guide to the numerous resources available. An essential component of her presentation was the role of the occupational therapist on the transition team.

In her review of the PSTP process, Tee reviewed some interesting statistics, some of which were quite alarming, including: “People with disabilities are twice as likely to drop out of high school; ”Those with disabilities are three times more likely to live in poverty;” and “After high school, students with disabilities are less likely to continue their education, find employment, or live independently.”    Transition planning is federally mandated to begin at age 16, but in some states, including Massachusetts, planning begins at age 14, or even earlier with the goal of preparing the student for life after high school by teaching the student a set of skills.  These skills encompass finding and keeping employment, living independently, learning to access community resources, and learning to self-manage medical and other personal needs.

When taking a look at the skill set that PSTP addresses, it seems clear that the occupational therapist should have an important role on the transition team.  However, Tee explained that sometimes lack of understanding of what the OT can offer to the process or lack of funding to increase OT services when preparing for post-secondary transitioning could stand in the way of including this professional on the team.  AOTA supports the role of the occupational therapist in TP as stated clearly in the OT Standards of Practice Guidelines and by providing valuable resources on transition planning.

Tee highlighted a large sample of OT activities for transition services that included: performing activity analysis for job, school, and self help skills; administering assessments that support life skills and transition skills; providing consultation on assistive technology to promote a student’s access, progress, and participation. The I Can Work! curriculum was endorsed by Tee and other attendees as a valuable 5-module program for integrating communication skills with hands-on pre-vocational training for middle school, high school, and young adults with special needs. Some assessments that can be administered by OTs that Tee recommended include the Transition Planning Inventory (TP-2), the Kohlman Evaluation of Living Skills (Kels) 4th Edition, which was developed by an OT, TEACCH Transition Assessment Profile – 2nd Edition (TTAP), and the Reading-Free Vocational Interest Inventory 2 (R-FII:2).  Attendees freely shared information about assessments they used, liked, and did not like. OTs can consult on selecting Assistive Technology that may be useful for TP. Tee recommended a broad variety of Apps including: Stop, Breathe & Think, a free meditation app that we actually tried out; Visual Schedule Planner, to create a custom schedule with audio and video of events; and My Homework Student Planner, designed to help students from middle school age through college keep track of classes, projects, test, and homework.

Tee left us with a great deal of information on the whole scope of post-secondary transition planning including the importance of a full team that includes the parents and student.  We also learned the important contribution the occupational therapist can provide for the student to help ensure a successful transition from high school to the community.

Take a look at a few of the many positive remarks from those who attended Tee’s seminar:

“It was a pleasure listening to this comprehensive seminar, presented at an excellent pace with thorough notes.  Thanks so much!”  Beth B., Occupational Therapist

“Organized, lots of resources.”  Karen D., Occupational Therapist

“Informative, a lot of resources.”  Jackie P., Occupational Therapist

Thank you, Tee!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L