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I am happily in the process of writing my second book about Elizabeth’s life, actually it is the continuation of her story from the first book, since the first book ends at age 11. So I am using my journals, my notebooks, school records and old IEP’s (Individualized Education Plans) to plan my writing.

It is in the IEP’s that I see the notes from the OT (occupational therapist) about Elizabeth learning how to write her cursive name or manage her day at school. But it is in my journal that I read the many references to the teaching we did of life skills to Elizabeth, such as vacuuming, wiping tables or learning how to dial the phone, as well as to the basic skills of buttoning a button, zipping a zipper or snapping a snap. These are functional life skills and due to Elizabeth’s dyspraxia, ones that are very hard to teach as they are important.

I can remember the one summer, she and I agreed we would work on certain skills.

Everyday.

The skills included those of hanging a shirt, hanging a pair of pants with the hangers that have those squeezy thingies at the top, buttoning a button, snapping a snap and lastly zipping up a coat.

So we broke the skills down into steps and practiced them.

She would try each day to do the skills, some days were better than others. No surprise here as this is classic Dyspraxia. But she kept trying.

We did the skills in isolation, meaning we did them outside of the realm that was typical. Think buttoning jeans while they were on the table, not on her.

We did this for all the skills.

The idea being that she would get the skill under her belt and then we would move on to her doing the skills in a functional setting. Which is the ultimate goal of the skills. Which means doing it in the way that it will be expected to be done. So think, pants off the table and instead, on Elizabeth.

So we had our work cut out for us. But here is the part that I need to share. I struggled to find a way to teach the skills in isolation. I did not have something with a snap or a pair of pants with a great big button etc….but I did have a puzzle that contained pieces that had a snap on them, or a zipper etc. So we used this puzzle to start our teaching. The puzzle lacked a certain fun to it, a certain whimsy.

So when I came across this great toy, I had to share it with you. It has a purpose and that is called …teaching these basic skills.

And it had a gift, and it is called…it is soft and inviting. Which is very much unlike the stiff puzzle pieces we used.

And he is called, Dr. Pooch.

This guy is a super cute dog that has a purpose. He has shoes that need tied, a zipper that needs zipped, buckles, Velcro and buttons and that all needed closed, open and button, respectively. He is ready to be used to teach these skills in a great inviting way.

It is toys like Dr.Pooch that would allow the skills to be taught in a fun way, so much less stressful when you are looking at the face of a really cute stuffed animal. That is, by the way, a veterinarian dog. So he comes with a cloth stethoscope.

But putting all this cuteness aside, he is a really wonderful way to teach the basic skills, initially and in isolation. And once you get success, you can build on it and start to encourage functional skill growth.

But what a nice way to begin the process of teaching these skills

Dr. Pooch might be a really nice learning tool if these skills are on your “to –do” list of things to work on.

My beautiful Elizabeth would probably have loved a toy like this to start the ball rolling on these skills as opposed to the nice, cold puzzle pieces that we used.

She did learn the skills and we continue to review them, but maybe it could have been made more fun. He is awfully cute! And ready to help.

So, I offer, take a peek at the adorable, lovable doll and see if you think it would fit your child’s age and needs.

And with that, I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele

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Many years ago we started behavior modification with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and I had talked about why we were doing this.

It was to help her remember important things that we wanted her to remember to do each day. The list could include things like:

Did you put your dishes in the sink?

Did you remember to hang up your towel in the bathroom?

Did you tell mom about your day in sentences?

And sometimes they included:

Did you use your emotion’s chart to talk and not yell?

Did you act appropriately in school?

So you kind of get the idea. It was a way to reinforce good thinking and behavior and shape away the behaviors that were not desired. We used to talk each night and made a chart with the list of the above questions on it.

But we added something else to the conversation. For every positive thing Elizabeth did she would be given a bead. At the end of the daily chat, she would string the beads on a piece of plastic string ( more substantial to hold). This would work her fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and focus. The reward of the efforts was a nice long necklace.

We would then count them each night. So we would work on counting. Sometimes by 2’s then 5’s then 10’s

And when she got to an agreed upon number, she would pick a reward coupon.

These coupons were made by the two of us and included things like:

-Extra TV

-Extra dessert

– A trip to the video store.

Pretty much anything that is valued at the time.

We did this behavioral modification routine for a long, long time. She loved it and it helped her hand work, talking and behavior. It was a big success for her.

So with that story and its goals in mind, I came across this great little toy that could help with the same kind of system. At least in my opinion, because the second I saw it, I could picture Elizabeth working with it each night. And using it to reach our goals.

It is called  

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