Southpaw Enterprises
PawprintAugust 2011
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3-Way Buckeye Swing

Southpaw's 3-in-1 Buckeye Swing

Our new Buckeye Swing can satisfy all children, no matter what their level of stimulation. The base of the swing can be detached to let the child "chill out" on the soft foam floor pillow. Attach the "buckeye" to the trapeze for more stimulation. For advanced stimulation, use the trapeze all by itself!

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Southpaw's In-Fun-ity Climbing System
Southpaw's In-FUN-ity Climbing System

It's time to turn your gross motor room into the most fun and most challenging place it's ever been. Southpaw's In-FUN-ity™ Climbing System is ready to go into every clinic, classroom, or home, and is designed with every budget in mind. This system can start as small as you want, yet expand almost in-fun-itely. The only limitation is your imagination.... and, possibly, your space!

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"Come to Your Senses"  

Join us for our 7th year during the month of October for National Sensory Awareness Month established by S.I. Focus magazine. The magazine will send you a free volunteer packet upon request filled with ideas, public service announcements and information to raise awareness about sensory issues in your immediate community. Help teachers, parents and professionals understand that sensory deficits are real and can be addressed to help individuals live a better life.

Also, if you contact us requesting a volunteer packet, we will enroll you for a free magazine subscription to S.I. Focus magazine for the next year delivered to your inbox quarterly! Our volunteers will also receive a jpeg for an 18 x 24 poster image that you can have printed out and put in the schools, libraries and stores in your community to help inform the public at large. 

Contact us at: - include your full name and email to which we can send your volunteer packet and digital magazine.

Note: Please be sure to contact S.I. Focus directly for your volunteer packet, as Southpaw Enterprises will not be able to assist with this. 

Working Through the WigglesDeanna Maciole
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L

We have all seen those little "wiggle worms", the children who cannot sit still in their chairs or stay focused during circle time.  The child whose hands seem to be in constant motion fidgeting with his eraser or playing with his fingers. When walking down the hall these children have difficulty staying in line, often running their hands down the walls or spinning as they walk.  For many of these children it could be just one factor, but is often a combination of factors causing them to present with these behaviors. Whether it be hyperactivity, lack of attention, low tone and/or sensory processing concerns sometimes it can appear quite challenging to determine what we need to do to help them gain focus. In cases where it is only one factor, it makes it easier to choose the right strategies and activities needed to address these concerns.  However, as teachers, parents, and therapists, we find it hard to determine what the actual underlying factor may be.  So as we head back to school, this month we are going touch upon some sensory strategies that may be done in combination with other activities or alone for those common attention problems often seen in the school setting.

For children who exhibit overall sensory processing concerns, a good, thorough sensory diet is necessary.  However, in reality these are often hard to carryout in the school environment, especially if a child is not on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan).  With a sensory diet, it is easy to ensure that all of the child's sensory needs are being met with a variety of strategies and activities that are completed throughout the day.  But what we are going to touch up on in this article is that if a full sensory diet cannot be carried out, some good activities/strategies that can be used to help improve a child's attention.
Let's start looking at when children demonstrate difficulty sitting still in their chairs or staying focused at circle time.  Regardless of age, for some of our children keeping their attention is difficult. Proprioceptive activities prior to desk work or circle time can be beneficial.  From crab walking around the room, to performing 2 footed jumps to get from one place to the next can help provide a bit of the heavy work needed to get their bodies calmed down and regulated.  So, try and make the transitions around the classroom both fun and beneficial.  This is especially key after recess or physical education class when their energy levels may be higher. In addition, the use of weighted items such as hats, blankets, lap pads or vests can help during those times that a child needs to sit and focus.  Or you can also have them carry books or backpacks to provide some weighted input during transitions.  In addition, when you need to get the whole class some heavy work, re-arranging the classroom with their help is an excellent idea.
Choosing the appropriate seating apparatus can make a difference.  Using ball chairs, t-stools, seat wedges or cushions may help give a child just the right amount of input needed to keep them alert.  During circle time, a carpet with a shape design or a carpet square helps with giving children a visual guide of where to sit.  In addition, t-stools, small chairs or Hug seats may help out.  Also take the time to pay attention where you position the chair or desk, as this may help limit the amount of visual, auditory, or tactile input received by these children.

Some children demonstrate the ability to stay attentive when their hands or mouth are fidgeting (yet for others these can be very distracting).  So from squeeze balls, to Tangles, or any small sensory fidget for the hands may help a child stay attentive to what is going on in the classroom.  If it is oral fidgets, allowing children to chew gum, have suckers, crunchy snacks or anything chewy may work wonders for your classroom.  For younger children, using the therapeutic chew tubes, chewy pencil toppers, Chewlery or plastic fish tubing may work better than edible items.
Walking through the hall can be one of the hardest times for these children because they may become over stimulated and overwhelmed with all the extras in the hallway.  Using visual guides, such as placing something, such as a sticker or a shape on the back of the person in front of the child that he or she has to follow.  In addition, giving a child a "job" such as carrying something may help keep there hands busy and off the walls.  For younger children, using a rope that the class needs to hold onto helps them stay in line and lessens the additional movement their little bodies my want to do.

During independent work, allowing them to use visual guides on their worksheets may help keep them focused. From highlighted lines at starting and ending points to using a Time Timer are just a few quiet strategies that in conjunction with the ideas listed above may help.

Now remember, many of the suggestions presented in this article may not work as a stand-alone method, and may be most beneficial when used in combination with other strategies.  There are ton of resources in books and found on the Internet ideal for the school environment, including Diana Henry's "Tool Chest". But as always,  remember a "team" approach is most beneficial and consulting with the appropriate professionals will help you to choose the right strategies.