Saturday Seminar: From Flapping to Function: How to Promote Hand Skills

We’re off and running with a full roster of exceptional speaker for the 2017 Fall Saturday Seminar Series! Barbara Smith, MS, OTR/L welcomed the new season with her presentation: From Flapping to Function: How to Promote Hand Skills by Meeting a Child’s Sensory Needs. She discussed how challenges in sensory processing, functional vision, executive functioning and behavior impact developing functional hand skills. In addition, she demonstrated how to adapt activities so that they are motivating, calming and successful for children of all ages.

Barbara has a wealth of experience as an occupational therapist! She has primarily worked with children and adults with developmental disabilities over the past 40 years. She is the author of The Recycling Occupational TherapistFrom Rattles to Writing, and Still Giving Kisses, as well as numerous articles, blogs, and YouTube training videos. Barbara holds certification in sensory integration and hippotherapy.

Seminar attendees received a comprehensive review of the DSM5 – Autism Spectrum Disorder criteria and frequently co-existing disorders. Barbara discussed the impact of how sensory processing, vision deficits, executive function, and social/emotional/behavioral challenges can present challenges those diagnosed with ASD.

Barbara outlined10 ways to adapt activities and provide teaching strategies to ensure success for those with ASD. She demonstrated a variety of creative activities for children using recycled and easily obtainable materials throughout her presentation. To achieve optimal alertness, she discussed the use of weighted vests, lap pads and shoulder wraps; the importance of positioning such as a dynamic cushion, beanbag, swing, and a ball chair; and the use of vibration. Barbara has a number of favorite sensory fidget tools including soft, rubbery Panic Pete, whose eyes, ears, and nose pop out when squeezed. To promote success with activities, Barbara offered suggestions for simple adaptations such as enlarging or decreasing the size of materials, simplifying them, or providing stabilization for them. She displayed a variety of homemade shape sorters that were easily graded with one, two, and more openings to make insertion motivating and successful. Many adaptations were suggested to promote functional vision, including easel surfaces for materials so that the head and top of the easel are oriented in the same way, improved lighting, and using reading guides.

Barbara shared a wealth of clever ideas for promoting hand skills by incorporating sensory strategies into treatment. Her guide for using adaptations and teaching strategies to promote success in all areas of function at home, in the community, or at school was comprehensive and fun!

Attendees had terrific things to say about Barbara’s seminar:

“Great creative ideas for treatment. Got me thinking of items in my class & at home to incorporate into treatment – thanks!” – Tracy H., Occupational Therapist

“Great practical knowledge. Loved her passion. I would love this training to be brought to schools so OT/PT/S/L are understood & supported in the schools by teachers and administrators” – Ingrid J., Parent

“Very informative, concrete suggestions” – Linda M., Occupational Therapist

“Excellent information and great examples! What a way to incorporate everyday items to functional use.” – Beth M., Occupational Therapist

Thank you, Barbara!

August 26, 2017
Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L