Category Archives: Occupational Therapy

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

Saturday Seminar: OT Rubrics for Fine Motor, Visual Motor and Handwriting Skills

Valorie_ToddWhen a group of OTs get together to brainstorm, there’s bound to be some exciting “stuff” that is the outcome. Valorie Todd, MA, OTR/L and her school-based practice colleagues in the New York and New Jersey vicinity had a goal in mind. They wanted to devise a way to monitor quarterly progress in performance skills they identified as “OT goals” or “Areas of Need” on the IEP that was based on normative data. Valorie discussed the rubrics her group developed during her Therapro Saturday Seminar Series workshop on August 22, 2015 entitled:  OT Rubrics for Fine Motor, Visual Motor and Handwriting Skills.

This seminar was the kick-off for the Fall Saturday Seminar Series and attracted about 60 attendees who listened closely, commented freely, and shared thoughts. Valorie and her colleagues were determined to conceive a way to assess a student’s performance against predetermined criteria, in which a student is measured against his own performance.

Valorie’s group identified 7 areas for assessment including:

  • Postural Control
  • Sensory Modulation
  • Ocular Motor Skills
  • Object Manipulation: Fine Motor/Hand Skills
  • Controlled Tool Use: Color, Trace, Cut
  • Design Copy: Graphics/Objects, and
  • Handwriting.

In her seminar, Valorie discussed Object Manipulation, Controlled Tool Use, Design Copy, and Handwriting. Rubrics for Kindergarten and Grade 1 were identified.

Valorie offered a thoroughly researched plan on how to assess function and address the skill through worksheets that acknowledged how a student was expected to progress sequentially in each area.  She made clear distinctions in skills expected of a kindergartner versus a first grader.  For example, when assessing “Tracing,” specifically Pencil Control:

kindergartner would receive a score of 4 if he:

  • “Controls lines with min. errors 90-100%”
  • “Stops/turns at corners (angles/arcs)”

A first grader would receive a score of 4 if he

  • “Has good control within/on lines in all directions (90-100%)”
  • “Starts/stops on dots with 1-2 errors”

Valorie’s rubrics were well-defined and can be easily replicated. She was very enthused about sharing her work, including worksheets, and encouraged therapists to use her rubrics and provide her with feedback so that the rubrics can further be developed with input and use over time. As a result, a meaningful assessment of quarterly progress can be obtained and insufficient areas can be addressed systematically and meaningfully before the student is due for the next standardized evaluation.

Attendees comments were very positive and encouraging:

“It was excellent! So much info, well related to school based OTs. This will be helpful in writing goals, tracking progress, presenting at meetings, and for my Teachpoint eval.”  Amanda B., Occupational Therapist

“It helps so much to have these rubrics to support our clinical observations when IEPs are moving toward data driven/measurable goals and objectives. It will help with tracking and also guide thinking when working on skills.”  Anonymous, Occupational Therapist

“Love the practicality of the Rubrics.  Anything we can take away & use is terrific!”  Amanda H., Occupational Therapist

“Looks at detail of task performance and observation of foundational skills which students have or need to build on.”  Anonymous,  Occupational Therapist

“I would recommend this seminar to a colleague because it was well researched and the information was very comprehensive.  The material is very current and I can readily apply this information.”  Anonymous, Occupational Therapist

Thank you, Val!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L

The 23nd Annual Ohio Institute for OT/PT School-Based Practice Conference

23_otpt_conference1We were very happy to be invited back to The 23rd Annual Ohio Institute for OT/PT School-Based Practice conference in Columbus on August 10-11! This was my 8th consecutive year of attending as the Therapro rep, and I must honestly say that it was just as exciting as my first time. This conference is fresh and innovative from one year to the next. Attendees came in droves (650 of them!) from Ohio and surrounding states in anticipation of two days filled with invigorating workshops to ready them for the opening day of school.

23_otpt_conference2Therapro author of the Drive -Thru Menu Suite of Exercises, Tere Bowen-Irish, OTR/L, was a conference presenter this year. Her dynamic, fun presentation, On the Floor and More, Movement and Yoga…Empowering Students Towards Mindfulness and Relaxation, had therapists raving about her workshop. Her Drive -Thru products including cards, laminated posters, Preschool & Kindergarten and Body Challenge card sets were difficult to keep on the shelves. Therapists loved her book, Yoga & Me, Come Be a Tree and the introduction of her new CD, My Mindful Music.

Another distinguished therapist from the Boston area, and a renowned Therapro Saturday Seminar speaker, Teresa May-Benson, ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA, was also a conference presenter this year; her talk was titled: Advanced Intervention for Ideational Praxis – Affordances to Executive Functions. She is an author for the critically acclaimed publication, Autism Interventions.

23_otpt_conference3As therapists, teachers, and parents stopped by the Therapro exhibit, it was exciting to hear lots sharing of information about Therapro and its products. Therapists eagerly traded information about products they loved including: Therapro originals: TracKit, Letter Treasure Hunt, Sensory Stories: Strategy Card Decks and Novenops. All loved the opportunity to examine and try out new products like Ultimate Fidget Fidgipod, Bouncy Bands for Chairs and Desks, and the Goal-Oriented Assessment of Lifeskills (GOAL). A whole array of new chew products was popular, including: Army Dog Tag Pendants, Zen Rocks Chewies, and Flip Flop Chew.

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/LThank you to Mary Kay Eastman, PT, MS and Molly Dodge, OTR/L, committee co-chairs, for planning and executing a terrific and relevant conference. Conference coordinator Holly Bartholemew kept things running like clockwork prior to, during, and following the conference. Your team’s talent for executing a seamless, meaningful conference is appreciated by us all! I look forward to returning again in 2016.