Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Very helpful stuff for kids with special needs

• Having trouble getting your kid to grasp a marker, crayon, or paintbrush? Wrap Model Magic around it to create a grip that conforms to your child's hand. It dries as hard foam; to maintain its soft, squishy texture for future uses, seal it in an airtight container. This tip is from Diane, a new art therapist in Max's life; she's going to be sharing a lot of awesome tips in a guest post, coming soon.

• Headphones have been coming in totally handy for us at the mall and other places that get noisy (thanks, Felicia, for suggesting them).
We've been using the Peltor 90554 Kid's Earmuff, which Max seems to like despite the fact that they are not available in purple.

When we're hanging at home, we like these Skull Candy ones plugged into Max's iPad, so Max can watch Lightning McQueen clips on YouTube without the rest of us going insane hearing them.

• A stellar resource for therapy ideas: PediaStaff, on Pinterest (a super-cool online bulletin board). You name it, there's a great activity for it—sensory, tactile, fine motor, gross motor, storytelling, sequencing, social cues, oral motor, feeding and eating.

• Max used to hate brushing his teeth (perhaps you heard him screeching?) but now tolerates it thanks to this G-U-M Toothbrush with a flashing light. It blinks on and off for 60 seconds and he lets me brush his teeth for the entire time. In the dark!

• Great suggestion from a friend: Keep a copy of your child's medical records in the trunk of your car. Just in case you ever have to rush somewhere in an emergency, you'll have them.

Got any random and good tips to share that you're picked up lately?


  1. Awesome list Ellen! I especially like the flashing toothbrush! Maybe now I can get the boys to brush their teeth without my holding them.

  2. Thank you Ellen! Especially for model magic. I bought pencil grips but they still don't help!

    My favorite tip of late is using the iphone as a secretary. We set it for the things T needs to get done in the mornings, and every time it rings it's a step in that process. I actually learned this from a mom-friend whose child doesn't have special needs...just dragging-the-feet issues!

  3. in the trunk! great idea!
    and i use my iphone as my secretary a ton now. i don't know how i ever managed without it!!! lol

  4. Thanks for the link to the earmuff's. My son has been trying to abscond with my cousin's ear protection (cousin is a police officer and needs his ear protection for the shooting range but promised he could have them when he's issued a new set) that he discovered by accident. Watching the pure bliss on my son's face while wearing the earmuffs was the incentive to start looking for a set. (The one's at the local sporting goods store were either too big or too expensive.)

    For weighted pencils, we use colored duct tape & fishing weights. Significantly cheaper than the commercial ones and easier to adjust. When the OT taped the weights to the pencil using masking tape my son wanted nothing to do with it, but when she used green duck tape (his favorite color) it was a hit. Plus the duck tape helped his grip and was slightly textured.

    BTW--they sell purple Duck Tape

    Firefly also makes a flashing toothbrush and I believe Dr. Fresh does also. Son's choice was the My SpinBrush a battery operated toothbrush that comes with stickers to customize the toothbrush design. Between that and an egg shaped timer set for 2 minutes we are now golden for toothbrushing time. Plus the vibrations satisfy some of his sensory seeking needs.

  5. MARIE SCALOGNA WATKINSONNovember 2, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    Thanks for all the great ideas. Running out to buy headphones NOW!

  6. I wonder if you could scan medical records and put them on a flash drive? That would take up a LOT less space than hard copies of medical records...

  7. I attached the CHAD stickers to the car seats just in case we are in an accident and I'm passed out.

  8. Love the list! Thank you so much! We will definitely have to try Model Magic and search for some flashing toothbrushes! Wish I had some good ones to share...I'll think hard!

  9. Here's my tip. If your child wears glasses or other equipment that he can take off and throw, don't forget to put your phone number on them.

  10. Hi,

    I'm an OT with 15 years of experience: 7 with adult population & 8 with children. I always wondered what it would be like to have a child with special needs, but now I'm blessed with a wonderful boy, who suffered a stroke a day after birth.

    I guess we're both fortunate to have each other.

    He had a stroke on his left parietal/frontal lobe...which leads to right sided weakness & possible speech/cognitive issues. Almost everything we do is done with therapeutic goals in mind. Even for a seasoned therapist, I was often overwhelmed.

    A few years ago, I learned a special method...reflex re-patterning. It worked miracles with my clients and now with my son. He's reaching most of his milestones early or on time. There are still many unknowns & we'll have to work on these challenges as they come.

    I've been reading a lot of your old posts with laughter and tears. i hope to start a blog about our journey & include many therapeutic techniques.

    I will keep visiting till then & send you a link if you're interested.

    Love your blog!

  11. Anonymous, you can't just leave us hanging like that!! I Googled reflex repatterning and didn't come up with anything. Write that blog! And let me know about it!

    Let's see my best tip for SPN equipment... I dunno, my kid is pretty fascinated at the sight of his own face, so we have mirrors on lots of things. Don't know if that would work for other kids though.

  12. Hi, I'm the OT who left you hanging... I hate to do that. I keep forgetting that the name of the technique changed. Here is the sight you should go to for info...

    This is the clinic that practices this method, my mentor Eufrocina is the owner.

    I hope to start writing soon, but I barely have time to take a shower!

  13. Really great ideas. Thanks for sharing. Also, Sarah...brilliant idea about the flash drive. We drag a giant binder around with us to doctor's appointments and I'm always nervous on trips if we don't bring it with us.

  14. Thanks for the great list!
    What great ideas

  15. My son's sensory-savvy dentist just gave him the flashing toothbrush--I think it's the Firefly--and he's totally into it. (Now all I have Works better than the barking dog or meowing cat!) Will look into the headphones next. Thanks!

  16. very good ideas ellen! thx for this post.

  17. This Bubble Bear is a big hit with my 3-year-old, who only has one hand:

    You squeeze the bear and the bubble wand pops out of his head with bubble liquid on it, instead of needing to hold the wand in your other hand.

  18. Another tip regarding the medical records, you can upload them to google medicine!

  19. Very informative post, thanks!

    I was wondering if you’d be interested in sharing your articles with other like-minded parent bloggers? If yes, please email me at with Parents in the subject line.


  20. Whoops sorry Ellen. I see that I have already reached out to you. Just disregard my last question but this really is a great post, thanks!


  21. Great ideas! And, yes, so smart to keep medical records on a flash drive. That said, while I am not usually in favor of killing trees, I think having important medical records printed out is important. If there is ever an emergency and you need to get your child to a hospital stat, it is going to be far quicker to whip some papers out of your trunk and share them than to hand over a hard drive. We have a detailed letter on what to do in case Max has a seizure that our neurologist wrote. The last time Max had one the EMTs didn't give him the right medication and it took a good 45 minutes before it stopped. Horrible.

    Welcome, Anonymous OT. "Reflex re-patterning" isn't something I've ever heard of, either, but I am off to check it out.

  22. As a retired special ed teacher and parent of an adult with special needs, it's wonderful to hear about the new stuff to help our kids. Also how great is the ability to communicate with each other. Keep up the good work and if you want to know about the later years, join me a

  23. We are currently running a survey for parents, teachers and therapists for your favorite pediatric therapy resources. Would love to hear anyone's responses. You can answer as many or as few questions as you like. Tell us your favorite app, resource, blog, fine motor toy, etc. You can find the survey at Pediatric Therapy Resources 2011. thanks in advance

  24. I have a cheat sheet of medical info for my son in case we'e in an accident and my husband and I are incapacitated (that's a nice way to say not awake I guess). I had it in a huge red envelope taped to the back of my son's car seat. But I just now realized that since we got the wheelchair accessible van I haven't put it anywhere in the van yet! Eeek, better get on that.

  25. Sorry the link I left for the survey linked back right to this blog post. Here is the correct link for the Favorite Pediatric Therapy Resources for 2011

    Sorry about that again!

  26. I'm in LOVE with model magic.... my mind is literally bursting with ideas of how that could come in handy!

    I agree with everyone on the records. I think it's good to have something on the car seat with the critical info (we have a name badge of sorts). Then I also think having critical reports in your trunk is genius for certain situations! I also have a usb bracelet with ALL the records. Which is kind of funny, because Chloe never wears it as a bracelet, so I may as well have just stuck with a regular old usb, but it is a good idea anyway!

    ALSO ask your doctor if they are part of CHIE or NHIN (Clinical Health Information Exchange or National Health Information Network). These programs are becoming mainstream and my understanding is that medical providers are federally mandated to participate in these programs by the end of 2014. Basically, if you give your authorization, medical information will be available doctor-to-doctor (actual reports) for up to the minute data! This will either be ridiculously exciting or horrifying to you, depending on your feelings about privacy. I, personally think it's a long time coming!

    Also, we use the Masgutova Method -- LOVE it! Everyone should look into it!

    Finally, I find most special needs ideas on pinterest. Check mine out! I'm tmoney and have bucket loads of "kidz" boards!

    I think the most helpful thing is just this -- reaching out to other moms and sharing ideas! Thank you Ellen and thank you everyone!!! xo


Thanks for sharing!

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