Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ruth's Letter to Graduate Student Interns

My friend Ruth has written a letter to Speech Pathology interns. I think it's a useful letter to any intern, so here it is:


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The passing of a literary genius...

"With computers, kids can connect and search libraries and the Encyclopedia Britannica, but if you don't teach them to read in the first place, they're not going to [log on], are they?" (Ray Bradbury's Speech to National School Board Association, 1995)

"For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury's death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."   ~President Barack Obama

Mr. Bradbury brought me on far away adventures for witch I'll always be grateful. He adventured on Earth from August 22, 1920, until June 5, 2012.

Favorite Occupational Therapy Apps

Angry Birds as Vehicle for Therapy
There are a number of great apps out there.  There are also a number that aren't great.  Most any app can be used therapeutically, with applied clinical reasoning.  Look to Ruth Morgan of Chapel Hill Snippets blog, using Angry Birds in her speech therapy.  I've referred to this activity of Ruth's before, as it's a great use of a mainstream app being used with great clinical reasoning.  Some apps though are more evidently suited to therapy. This blog will highlight a few of my favorites from an Occupational Therapy perspective.

A favorite, and really a great deal, despite the $29.99 price tag is injini.  Injini offers a collection of learning games which are designed to target cognitive, language, and fine motor delays. The games contain an extraordinary wealth of content: 10 feature games with 90 puzzles, over 100 beautiful illustrations, 8 farm-themed mini-games and more. Injini is ideally suited for early intervention - it brings fun to learning and at the same time practices children’s fine motor and language skills, understanding of cause and effect, spatial awareness, memory and visual processing.
 An Occupational Therapist's buffet!

Pinch the Crabs!
From the same company is the fine app Dexteria. At only 4.99 it's a reasonably priced app.  Dexteria offers three therapeutic hand exercises (not games, according to the company) that improve fine motor skills and handwriting readiness in children and adults. Dexteria’s unique hand and finger activities take full advantage of the multi-touch interface to help build strength, control, and dexterity.  Their three activities include a tapping activity, pinching activity, and letter formation.  I find the tapping activity to be too difficult for many of the students I work with, however I'm a big fan of the pinching and the writing activities. A unique and appealing feature of this app is that it keeps track of data, and so the therapist can use it to document skill acquisition.

Not just Co-Writer...
As an Occupational Therapist, I'm often looking for something like Co-Writer for my iDevice. So far, there's very little out there. The closest thing I've found is called Abilipad for $19.99.  Abilipad does offer word prediction, thereby reducing the number of keystrokes needed and increasing your writing speed! It can even expand your written vocabulary by helping you complete words that you may not have attempted.  What it lacks is phonetic spelling that sets Co-Writer apart from the competition. However, it would be unfair to say Abilipad is an inferior word-prediction app, because that's not really what it is designed for. Abilipad combines the functionality of a notepad with word prediction, text-to-speech and a customizable keyboard.  The Washington Post said Abilipad is one of "the best iPad apps for special needs kids".

Match-it Trains
There are so many different matching apps, and it's hard to separate one from another. I've used Match-it Trains, and Matches with good success. Kids enjoy it, and we work on a variety of skills (memory, finger isolation, figure-ground discrimination, to name a few). Match-it Trains lite is free, Match-it Trains and Matches are .99 each. Not bad.

Draw and Write!

A favorite for writing is Scribble-Press with the sweet price of FREE.  My colleague Ashley Robinson recently wrote a grant which will allow us to purchase a number of iPads with the app loaded for a number of our schools (see details here).  The program is designed for literacy development.  It reminds me of the Mad Libs from our child-hood, but all techno-tized!  I like to take it a step further and incorporate handwriting instruction into each word chosen.  A more detailed review is can be found here.

A great app for supporting letter and number formation is iWrite Words. I have yet to find a child not engaged by this app. In the settings the adult can predetermine what handwriting program the lessons will most closely mirror (think Zaner-Bloser, HWT, etc.)  I wrote a more comprehensive review of this app here.

Similarly, take a look at the review of Visual Timer, which is a go to app for many therapists (including SLPs, PTs, etc).  It essentially duplicates the large clock with the red display of remaining time.  Check out the review here.

So, these apps were not necessarily created with Occupational Therapy in mind, but they sure fit nicely. Sometimes even right out of the box.  As usual though, it's important to make sure that the app you are using is addressing the goals your working on.  Hope you find these apps useful, and I'd love to hear about other apps that folks are using.

Happy therapy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Little Victories...

That it should even be a question is disheartening.  But hey, we take what victories we can find.  Thanks to NCAE for their hard work!

North Carolina Coastal Federation: Lobbying Legislators

Two "things" near and dear to me: the environment. And my best buddy, Rob Lammé. North Carolina Coastal Federation: Lobbying Legislators

Saturday, June 2, 2012

This is not about technology: yet it is relevant!

This blog is not about technology. It is however about relationships. Obviously, without relationships, technology is pointless! The author, Glennon, is at times provocative, and controversial... But I have to say I don't mind 'cause I tend to agree with her! Her post is a good road map for being a therapist, or just being a human.