Advanced Pediatric Therapies


Visual Timers

Why we use visual timers:

Visual timers are a great way to ease transitions for kids.  It lets them know how much time is left, mostly by color depending on the timer, so that they can be prepared when it’s time to end or say goodbye.  They can “check in” with the timer so that they know what to expect, instead of being startled by a “times up” right when they are having fun.  It’s also useful for a more dreaded activity like grocery shopping or a play, when the child wants to leave.  It gently reminds them how much time they have left.

So where can you find a visual timer for your child?

Right here. This is a list of physical timers.  But there are also many timers available as app’s from the App Store for Apple or Google Play for Android.  It’s often MUCH easier to have one on your phone, and there are many free options available.  When you have one on your phone, you can use it at the doctor’s office, at the store, anywhere.  Some kids may prefer a timer with bright colors, pictures or sound effects.  Ask your occupational therapist if you need help choosing one.  Visual Timer for a child with special needs

1. Time Timers

Time Timer Visual TimerRecommended by Autism and ADHD experts, Time Timer is one of the most popular visual timers available on the market. With an uncluttered interface, silent operation and optional audible alert this timer works great in almost any setting. Time Timers come in three, eight and 12 inch sizes, perfect for the classroom, in your home or on the go.
Price: $30-$40
Purchase at:

2. Time Tracker & Time Tracker Mini

Time Tracker TimerTime Tracker is a great visual tool for children with special needs. Following along the lines of a traffic light, Time Tracker uses colors to notify a child that his or her time is almost up. Time Tracker features volume control, a pause feature and quick programming of the lights and sound effects.
Price: $26
Purchase at:

3. Time Tracker Mini

Time Tracker MiniThe Time Tracker Mini is a smaller more simple version of the Time Tracker. The Time Tracker Mini is half the size of the original Time Tracker (4.75 inches tall) and operates easily with just 2 dials. Alarm times on the Mini can be set from 5  minutes to 2 hours, in 5-minute increments.
Price: $15
Purchase at:

Talking Timer4. Talking Timer

The Lux Talking Timer offers the flexibility  to be used as either a precise clock or as a count up/count down timer. A clear spoken voice will announce the time of day or how much time remains until the count down elapses. You can set a timer for up to 23 hours and decide if you would like an audible alarm or not.
Price: $17
Purchase at:

Amco Color Alert Timer5. Amco Color Alert Timer

While this timer was designed with the kitchen in mind, it can also be used for your child with special needs. The Amco Color Alert Timer is useful if you are looking for an inexpensive timer or looking for the added bonus of kitchen use. The timer is a 60 minute timer, that blinks yellow with 10 minutes left and red with one minute left.
Price: $17
Purchase at:

Above from an article on friendshipcircle blog.  Check it out!

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Project Impact Training at Albertina Kerr

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On the weekend of April 24th and 25th, APT participated in Project Impact training at the Albertina Kerr Center.  Project Impact was created by Brooke Ingersoll PhD, and Anna Dvortcsak MS, CCC-SLP in order to help children with autism be able to connect with parents and caregivers in meaningful ways.  The program is the result of years of development and implementation in Oregon and Michigan.  The parent training program is a unique intervention technique which draws from both developmental and behavioral literature.  Therapists facilitate interactions between parent and child to bring about progress in communication, but also allowing for greater connection between them.

How do you know if Project Impact would be beneficial for your family?  Parents should be willing to participate directly with their child, have a schedule and the support that would accommodate the ability to participate, time and energy to devote, and who consider it a priority to be involved.  Your child should be 7 years of age or younger, have a communication related diagnosis such as autism and your child is working on social communication goals.

Why are parents trained instead of therapists implementing the treatment?  The involvement and commitment of parents ensures better generalization and maintenance of skills, increases parental optimism, decreases parent stress and is cost effective.  Parents live with the child, so obviously they can implement strategies all week long, not just during therapy.

What are the skills taught in Project Impact?  The core skills which are facilitated during Project Impact training are social engagement (ability to maintain interactions by responding to and initiating social bids by others), language (receptive and expressive abilities), social imitation (plays a critical role in development of other more complex social communication) and play (the cornerstone of development in children).  There are a variety of intervention techniques taught to parents which work on these skills.

IMG_7553Please ask your occupational therapist if you would like more information!


from “Teaching Social Communication to Children with Autism,” by Brooke Ingersoll and Anna Dvortcsak, The Guilford Press, 2010.

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Spring Fever: Fun Outdoor Learning

Spring is here!  Check out these fun ideas for outdoor learning and play, now that we can finally get outside.  The article appeared from Rasmussen College.

Engaging Outdoor Learning Activities for Kids

outdoor learning activities for kidsYour three-year-old is literally bouncing off the walls, your kindergartener is running the stairs like he has a personal trainer and you’re just wishing you could steal some of their energy for yourself. One thing is for sure: if they stay cooped up in the living room much longer, it’s going to be declared an official disaster zone.What’s the solution? Round them up and head outside! Not only will it give your furniture a relief but the great outdoors holds countless learning opportunities for your kids.We enlisted various experts to provide some examples of outdoor learning activities to help get you started. Try these skill-builders for preschool-aged kids to help your little ones burn off energy while achieving developmental milestones.

10 Fun outdoor learning activities for kids

1. Texture scavenger hunt

How it works: Place nature objects with different textures in several brown lunch bags. You could put a pinecone in one, a stick in another and a stone in a third. Have your kids close their eyes and feel each object. Then send them outside to find a similar texture. As they find matching objects, introduce texture words like pointy, bumpy and smooth.

How it promotes learning: All of those new words will expand your little ones’ vocabulary. Discriminating between different textures also supports fine-motor skills like coloring and writing, according to pediatric occupational therapist Christie Kiley.

2. Beach volleyball

How it works: Playing volleyball with an inflatable beach ball is another worthwhile activity, says Cara Koscinski, pediatric therapist and author of The Pocket Occupational Therapist. You can also simply throw the ball high in the air for your kids to catch if they are too young to play an organized game. Challenge them to count how many times they can clap before catching it! (Hint: If they have trouble gripping the ball, simply deflate it a bit.)

How it promotes learning: You can probably guess that this game teaches counting and social interaction skills. Koscinski explains that catching a ball using both hands also teaches bilateral integration, a necessary skill for learning tasks such as cutting, buttoning and tying shoes.

3. Pulling weeds

How it works: Yep, this is just what it sounds like! Believe it or not, your little ones can help with the gardening and learn at the same time—it’s a win-win!

How it promotes learning: All that digging and pulling is great for sensory exploration as well as building hand and finger strength, explains Kiley.

4. Pool noodle obstacle course

How it works: Get creative with pool noodles and design an obstacle course. Lay them on the ground, cut them in half, attach them to a fence or hang them from a branch. Challenge your kids to jump over them, limbo under them, crawl around them or walk on them like a balance beam.

How it promotes learning: Getting up and moving helps kids build core muscle strength. Koscinksi explains that this will later be used for completing school tasks seated at the desk.

5. Nature hike

How it works: Nature offers plenty of discoveries for kids. Help them explore by encouraging them to find certain types of leaves, bugs, rocks and flowers.

How it promotes learning: A nature hike encourages observation skills, fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination and the use of the five senses in exploring, according to Barbara Harvey, author of Journeys Through Parenthood and executive director of Parents, Teachers, and Advocates.

6. Critter quest

How it works: Miriam Manela is the owner of Thrive Occupational Therapy and recommends this activity in her book The Parent-Child Dance. As the “critter,” you slowly inch your way around the yard while narrating your movements. You might say, “I’m climbing up the swing set. What letter does ‘swing’ start with?” Try to work in new words like climb, reverse and descend. Your kids are the “trackers.” It’s their job to follow you with their eyes and think about your questions.

How it promotes learning: Critter Quest improves eye movement and tracking, plus it can be used to strengthen vocabulary, letter recognition and phonetics.

7. Chalk jump

How it works: Koscinski suggests using sidewalk chalk to write numbers and letters in different colors. Then ask kids to jump on the number, letter or color that’s called out.

How it promotes learning: This activity helps develop gross-motor skills, counting skills and letter, number and color recognition.

8. Simon says dance party

How it works: Head outside with some music and host a dance party. Give short instructions for nature-based dance moves, like “wiggle like a worm,” “twist like a leaf” and “flap your arms like a bird.”

How it promotes learning: Kids get to practice following simple instructions while being active. Kiley adds that the dance actions help them develop body awareness, coordination and balance.

9. Hula hoop hop

How it works: Line up several hula hoops and have kids hop into the middle of each hoop with both feet, explains Koscinski. Make it a bit more challenging by encouraging them to hop into one hoop with their right foot and the next hoop with their left.

How it promotes learning: All that hopping builds gross-motor coordination skills, which are necessary for sports and bike riding.

10. Flower artists

How it works: Gather your young artists and some paint (watercolors or liquid tempera) near a flowerbed. Watch them create their newest masterpiece!

How it promotes learning: Kids will hone their observation skills and learn about colors. Kiley recommends offering paintbrushes with a built-in grip to promote a mature grasp.

Let the fun begin

These 10 outdoor learning activities will have you having fun with your rug rats in no time. They won’t even realize you’re teaching them new skills instead of watching them tear up the house.

Your search for educational opportunities for children might be a sign you should be doing this for a living.Learn more about other signs you should be teaching preschool!

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