The ability to independently complete essential daily living tasks becomes increasingly more important as individuals near the pre-teen and teen years. For teens with diverse learning profiles the ability to master these critical skills can be challenging. However, there are readily available tools that can help promote independence! In this post we are covering a few low to mid tech solutions that can be a game changer for teens struggling with the ability to independently complete critical self care tasks.
Elastic Shoe Laces. There is nothing more frustrating than a loose shoe or tripping over untied laces but asking for help can be even harder. The good news is there is a simple solution, elastic shoe laces! Simply replace standard shoe laces with elastic shoe laces. Once in place, secure with a double knot and standard bow. The elastic shoe laces provide enough stretch to simply slip on and slip out of shoes, eliminating the need for tying.
Schedules & Time Cues. Remembering when to do something or remembering the correct sequence of a task can be difficult for teens who struggling with executive function deficits. These teens often rely on a support person to provide prompts for task initiation and sequencing which decreases their overall independence. The good news is there is a variety of readily available assistive technology tools that can support a teen’s ability to manage time with greater independence. Check out our previous post, Assistive Technology for Time Management, for ideas!
Picture Adapted Cookbooks: Preparing a simple meal or snack is one of the greatest acts of independence for pre teens and teens. This simple right of passage can be missed for teens who struggle with reading or have difficulty with multi step tasks. Picture supported cookbooks can help users with limited reading abilities prepare simple meals and snacks. The Stepwise Cookbook series takes this concept a step further and truly simplifies the process. Each cookbook has a set of picture supported recipes that are presented in a simplified, easy to follow format.
Small modifications and the use of mid to low tech assistive technology can be a powerful tool for independence. Be sure to visit to assistive technology section of Therapro’s website to see all of the available tools!
Did you ever notice that Therapro’s logo includes the line “The Resource for Families and Professionals?” Why? We believe that achieving goals toward independence is not only about the use of products, but also about the resources that educate consumers on the uniqueness and rationale behind the products. Because of this strong belief, all of Therparo’s resources are FREE and include FREE webinars, FREE catalogs (5 catalogs), free TheraGram newsletters, free Handy Guides and more.
At ATIA the Therapro team was able to meet up with specialists in the field of assistive technology and share with them many of Therapro’s assistive technology resources that were created by occupational therapist, Allyson Locke and graphic designer Dave Asseline. In this blog we are sharing some of the favorite resources from ATIA 2023.
Therapro’s Mechanical Switch Comparison Chart
Do you work with switches? Do you sometimes struggle to decide which is the best switch to choose for a client? Then this chart, created by occupational therapist Allyson Locke, is for you! It features 11 switches and compares each of them by 6 important factors: Connection type, Activation type, Activation Surface, Feedback, Plug size and Mounting plate. This Chart will help in your decision making and explanation to staff and family members regarding switches.
The Functionalhand: Live Demos & Information Sheet
Getting a chance to try out the functionalhand was a big hit at ATIA 2023 and was one of the most important pieces of adaptive equipment used in activities of daily living shown at ATIA. Created by Linda Merry, OTR and Celine Skertich, PT, thefunctionalhand has been engineered to assist individuals who have difficulty with grasp. Attendees were amazed by its simplicity and versatility in being used with almost any object. The accompanying handout was sought out by many; it includes a QR Code that takes the viewer to a terrific video showing its MANY different uses. When used with the EazyHold (see next paragraph) the adaptations are greatly expanded.
The patented design of the EazyHold gives children and adults the ability to hold onto many items with ease. ATIA attendees loved the soft feel and flexibility. EazyHolds comes in multiple sizes to help get a better grip on objects small to large. Therapro’s Handy Guide, What Can I Adapt, has great explanations to help you decide which size is best and the many pictures illustrate how to use them in everyday life!
Assistive Technology Handy Guide for Daily Activities
Therapro’s Assistive Technology Handy Guide provides a quick snapshot of available technology, from low to high tech that is available at Therapro. Looking for ideas for increasing access and independence in the classroom or at home? This resource is for you!
PowerLink Activity Ideas
Another great opportunity we had at ATIA was sharing activity ideas with fellow therapists and of course we brought along some of our favorite ideas! In a previous blog, The Power of a PowerLink in Promoting Access, which is definitely worthy of reading, we shared several ideas for switch adapted activities that can be done with a Powerlink. While at ATIA, occupational therapist and writer of the blog, Allyson Locke, explained and discussed with attendees one of the activities, Switch Adapted Bowling. Check out the blog for additional ideas.
When budgets are tight and space is limited it is essential that the tools in your therapy toolbelt are multitaskers! Games are a fun and engaging therapy tool that can be quickly set up to address many therapeutic AND educational goals. In this post we are going to take a look at all the ways the game NOVENOPS can be adapted to meet a variety of therapeutic goals.
What is NOVENOPS ?
NOVENOPS is a popular game that is easily adaptable to all ages and levels. Best of all Kids LOVE it! NOVENOPS is a card game designed to develop an understanding of the basic elements of grammar and sentence structure. NOVENOPS is an acronym created from the words NOun, VErb, NOun, and Phrase. It includes 52 cards, a heavy duty foldable game board and directions all in a portable tin box.
Basic Rules for Playing NOVENOPS!
Goal – be the first player to discard all of the cards from their hand
Time- about 15 minutes
To Play: Unfold the enclosed “game board” and place it within reach of all players.
After shuffling the game cards, deal 5 cards to each player and place the rest of the cards in the center of the board
The first player plays a noun card from their hand onto the Noun space on game board; if they do not have a Noun card, then they draw from the deck.
The next play is a Verb card, followed by a Noun card and finally a Phrase card.
Repeat until one player has played all the cards in their hand. They are the “winner.”
For more information, check out the video below.
Modifying Game Play to Target Different Goals!
The Reluctant Writer With Handwriting Goals
Modifying NOVENOPS to meet handwriting goals can be done simply by adding a scoring element. Game play follows the basic rules of NOVENOPS with the following modifications:
Players all receive a ‘scoreboard’ at the start of game play. This scoreboard can be any writing paper that is appropriate for the player.
Playing a ‘Phrase’ card ends the round and whoever played that card is the winner of the round.
The winner of the round writes the sentence they created on their scoreboard as a means to keep score and then play moves to the next round.
Whoever has the most silly sentences written on their scoreboard at the end of game play, wins!
The Reluctant Conversationalist With Expressive And/ Or Receptive Language Goals
Targeting expressive and/ or receptive language goals while playing NOVNOPS typically doesn’t involve changing game play rather changing the pace of the game. Try this:
Set up NOVENOPS as described above and follow the basic instructions for game play.
After each round (when a phrase card has been played) take a moment to pause and reflect on what is happening in the sentence. For example, players have created the silly sentence “The mother hid the dinosaur in the refrigerator”.
Target those language goals! These targets can be simple and concrete ‘wh’ questions like; “Who hid the dinosaur?”, “Where is the dinosaur”, “What happened?”, “How did the dinosaur get in the refrigerator”. Or they can involve more creative thinking; “Why do you think the mother hid the dinosaur in the refrigerator?”, “What do you think the dinosaur will eat while he is in the refrigerator?”.
The Squirmer With Academic Based Goals
Adding a movement component to seated tasks can do wonders for focus and attention. One of the easiest ways to make NOVENOPS a movement game is to turn it into a type of obstacle course. Here’s how to do it:
Set up a course with three pathways
At the end of each pathway stack three piles of NOVENOPS cards (a stack of noun cards, a stack of verb cards, and a stack of phrase cards).
Depending on the student’s abilities, create obstacles or motor challenges along the paths. For example a chair they have to wiggle under, a stack of books they may have to step over, or a winding path they may have to zig zag through.
Whoever creates the most sentences before time is up wins!
Pro Tip: This is a great activity idea for therapists doing push in sessions!
A little creativity can go a long way in making the tools in your therapy toolbelt, multitasking superstars!