Pawprint, July 2014
Jean AyresAyres Sensory Integration 2020 Vision

The year 2020 marks what would have been the 100 year birthday of Dr. A. Jean Ayres.  In commemoration of this milestone, professionals from all over the world have proposed the following vision:

Ayres Sensory Integration will have a strong, international presence with demonstrated scholarship, means for valid, comprehensive assessment and pathways for training to ensure the ongoing development, standards of excellence and effective implementation of this important work.

After launching on July 1, this project already has over 100 volunteers from more than 30 countries.  Learn more about ASI 2020 Vision on their website at and join the community on Facebook.

So many of us focus on the stars we can see.  Jean had a gift ... she said "You know, it's easy to see the bright stars, but just move your eyes off to the side and suddenly out the side of your eyes are the less bright stars... you know, those are the most interesting ones." And that's really where she spent her time-in the realm of the unknown. How as a scientist then, can you prove or disprove the theory of what you think you have just seen out of the corner of your eye?
~from A Jean Ayres, The Pioneer behind Sensory Integration.

Regular Inspections and Maintenance

This is one of the most significant - yet most often ignored - steps you can take to keep equipment safe. On each instruction sheet is a list of items to inspect on the product as well as an inspection interval. Following these guidelines will bring your attention to the wear on a piece of equipment before it becomes dangerous. Following this checklist is even more critical in ceiling support applications where components of the ceiling support are above a dropped ceiling. In these situations loose or worn components are typically only discovered by a scheduled inspection. In addition to inspecting the specific points noted on the checklist, a therapist must also inspect each piece of equipment as a whole. The last person to use the equipment may have changed or reconfigured something that makes its use inappropriate for you.

Part of an effective maintenance and inspection program is having a master list of all items requiring inspection, the related instruction sheets and checklists, and the dates on which each inspection should take place.

Additionally, the responsibility for this task should be specifically assigned to a person or group. We have found that a loosely structured inspection program is not likely to be followed consistently.


Therapist's Corner
Deanna Maciole
Building the Foundation for Learning
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L

It seems as everywhere we turn there is discussion about our education system.  From standardized testing to the Common Core, there is so much focus on scoring and benchmarks that as parents, therapists, and even teachers we sometimes feel that our children are not really learning.  And this is true for all children, not just those with a diagnosis.  We tend to put so many demands and stressors on our children about learning from an adult perspective at such an early age, that we are, in fact, at times hurting their overall development.  Based on Piaget's Cognitive Theory, a child's brain learns and thinks differently than an adult's brain.

From an occupational therapy perspective, a child's 'work' is play.  Therefore, when a child's brain and body are developing, the biggest impact comes in the form of play.  Allowing children the opportunity to learn through the manipulation of objects and toys, using creativity and imagination, and performing self-initiated problem solving, sets the foundation for ongoing learning.   However, we are found to judge our early education centers and preschools on their overall "curriculum", often faulting the extra time given for self or explorative play.  We, as a society, want to see activities and lessons focusing on the learning of academic skills, such as colors, letter, and numbers.  With the advances of technology, we are often "wowed" by the environments that perform learning activities with iPads, computers and smartboards.  While these are all important and beneficial, they should not be seen as the foundation to learning.  Children who are given the opportunity to develop the proper cognitive foundation, will easily pick up the technology, and will not "fall behind" as we often hear.

In addition, from the sensorimotor standpoint, children need to move.  Movement plays a key role in strengthening the vestibular and proprioception systems, while also developing bilateral coordination, core stability, and balance.  And believe it or not, these are needed for a child to be a successful student.  Children are expected to sit and attend for long periods of time always being in the upright position.  And those who lack core stability, find it hard to maintain this position, and are found to be the fidgeting, slouching child.

Therefore, children need the to opportunity to play and learn through movement.  Unlike adult brains, they cannot sit for the three-hour lecture class, and take in information that comes only in the form of listening and writing.  When we allow their brains to develop early on in the proper developmental environment, we will be able to build strong critical thinkers and learners.  That means that lessening their recess and physical education time is not beneficial to the educational curriculum.

So, our job as parents, teachers, and therapists, is to work hard to find that balance.  Give our children the time to move and play, while reaching all those educational benchmarks.  As a therapist working on handwriting, move away from the tabletop and find other creative ways to achieve the same goals. Parents, instead of always using electronics as a form of down time, especially when children come home from school, encourage them to participate in 20-30 minutes of play or outside exploration before even asking them to focus on their homework. Do not over-schedule children with organized sports and extra-curricular activities.  And teachers, find ways for children to learn new concepts using their bodies, manipulatives, and allow children movement breaks, not just those on an IEP. This takes extra effort on all parties, but if the team works together we will be setting our children up for success.
Southpaw Products
Resistance Tunnels
   Resistance Tunnels
Challenge your clients with heavy work while developing body awareness and motor planning. As your client pushes a therapy ball or other large object through the tunnel, he/she will experience varying degrees of resistance and deep-touch input. Made out of a ribbed cotton knit, lycra, and nylon combination, the tunnel also has reinforced handles for you to hold and pull.
Acrobat Swing
Acrobat Swing
Southpaw's Acrobat Swing allows your clients to star in their own circus by providing a variety of therapeutic uses! It can be hung from two, three or four attachment points. As a hammock it provides vestibular input, with increased deep pressure providing a calming effect.

Bubble Tube with Ping Pong Ball Insert
 Bubble Tube with Ping Pong Ball Insert
This Southpaw Bubble Tube offers your clients additional sensory input and the opportunity to improve tracking skills and visual perception. Six colorful ping pong balls are pushed up a 2" diameter inner tube by rising air bubbles, then fall into the larger tube where they drift to the bottom, and resume their journey.

In Your Home
Top 4 Home Strength and Stability Exercises
Alex Lopiccolo, COTA, CPT, NC and Jaime Kemery, DPT

1.     Wheel Barrow Walk Up Stairs - Have your child get in a push-up position with their hands on the 2nd step and their legs on the floor. Squat down and hold your child's thighs right above their knees, and ask your child to walk their hands up the steps, keeping their back straight as possible (avoid letting stomach sink in towards stairs). Praise them for how strong they are to keep them motivated and boost their self-esteem.
Therapeutic Value: Hand arch development for handwriting, shoulder/core stability and strength for every day activities as well as sports and recess.

2.     Tall Kneeling While Playing Board Game on Short Table -  Place a game on top of a table that allows for both you and your child to kneel on both knees in a tall kneel position. Focus on staying upright, and avoid using compensations such as arms on the table, slouching posture, or sitting back onto feet. Play as long as possible, taking notice of amount of time at which your child starts to fatigue and show compensations as above. Overall goal is to promote muscular endurance and strength.
Therapeutic Value: Core stability to help with attention/focus at tabletop activities at school and home, lower extremity strength and overall balance.

3.      Log Rolling for Puzzle Pieces - Place a straight piece of colored tape 10-15 ft. on the floor. Have your child log roll along the line (attempting to stay on the line) to retrieve a puzzle piece and then roll back to beginning to place piece in the puzzle.
Therapeutic Value: Segmental trunk rotation helps with promoting typical motor patterns necessary for gross motor skills, activates all the vestibular canals in the inner ear and promotes visual perceptual skills for reading/writing by having child focus on placing the puzzle piece correctly.

4.     On Back Propped on Elbows Therapy Ball Kicks -Have your child lay on their back propped up on their elbows, with their hip and knees flexed looking at you. Stand 6-10 feet away with the therapy ball and gently toss the therapy ball at their feet. Direct your child to kick the therapy ball back towards you to catch. Repeat for muscular endurance and strength.
Therapeutic Value: Supine flexion helps with self-regulation, body awareness, attention and focus, as well as core strength and stability. Kicking with both feet at the same time helps with bilateral coordination and timing, as well as lower extremity strength.

Sensory Digest

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Your offer(s) should cover the basics — name of the product or service, price, terms of payment, time limit, any incentives or guarantees and of course, how to get it. End your promotion with a kick — consider a postscript to reinforce one of the key product or service benefits.