2015 Empower Inspire

Got-Autism gives back 5% of every purchase to autism advocacy, family service and therapy organizations. Our mission is simple: to help those with autism achieve satisfying and productive lives. Your patronage helps us Empower and Inspire those working towards achieving a similar goal.

In 2015, we were able to make a difference for these wonderful organizations:

Ken Anderson Foundation

Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley

St. Aloysius Orphanage

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Ozioma Hope

North Penn Parents Special Ed Council

Autistic Endeavors

St. Joseph Orphanage

Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati

Goodworks Farm

Little Sisters of the Poor

Rose Garden Home Mission

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Got-Autism delivered toys to Rose Garden Mission which handed out 900 wrapped toys this year at their annual Christmas Giveaway on December 22. Seen here are Mother Seraphina, Sister Claire and Tammy Andersson.

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Southern Utah Autism support Group

Northwest Ohio Apraxia Support Group

EDCO Habilitative Services Project

Aroostook Autism Support Group

Aspies of Greater Akron

Evergreen Partners

Mea’Alofa Autism Support Group

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Riverview East Academy – Adopt of School – Autism Unit

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Jenn Jordan(Q102), Tammy Andersson (Got-Autism President/Founder), Jennifer Fritsch (Fristch on Q102), Tim Timmerman (Q102), Brittany Oestreicher (advocate- volunteer extraordinaire)

 

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Passing out Got-Autism goody bags at Riverside East Academy (Cincinnati) – with Tim Timmerman (Q102) and Brittany Oestreicher (autism advocate)

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Passing out bags with Jenn Jordan (right hand corner)

When Your Child Doesn’t Want to Run Errands

(and You Need to Get Work Done!)

Running errands can be challenging, especially around the holidays when there seems to be so much more to do and every store seems so much more crowded. Running errands with children can be daunting. Getting kids in and out of the car to go into a place that they don’t want to be may make getting things done seem impossible. It’s a pain for everyone!

There are several strategies that can be utilized to make running errands bearable although maybe still not fun! Haha! Preparation is key!

Preparing activities for the child can be a life saver for everyone! Products such as busy bags can help keep hands busy so that you can concentrate on getting errands run. Busy bags are self-contained educational toys and hands-on inspired learning games for children that are easy to pack or pull out when you to play with.

3211-Magnetic GUmball Counting GameGot-Autism has several on-the-go toys and games which could be used while your child rides in a car or shopping cart! One of my favorite toys is the Magnetic Gumball Counting Game because it can be taken into stores, in the car and in restaurants. Not only does it keep kids busy, it also has opportunities for learning built in. Check it out, it’s on sale right now: Magnetic Gumball Counting Game.

Another strategy which would be helpful is providing the child with a schedule of errands which are to be run. All of us like to understand what we have to do during any given day. Most adults use a calendar of some kind to keep track and some of us use lists to help us remember responsibilities. Many children are provided with a to-do list. Providing children with a schedule will help them to understand what has to be done and in what order and also what is left to do before they get to do something more preferred. For some kids, it may be efficient to just hand-write a schedule on any piece of paper.

Other kids may need a picture schedule which they can take with them as you go. You can make one yourself by gluing Velcro strips to a poster board and finding images and/or words to go with the usual activities on your child’s routine. Some kids may benefit from a large schedule which can be created at home collaboratively and 3177-Visual Schedule CHart_Got-Autismattached to time frames, like this one: Daily Visual Schedule Pocket Chart.

Lastly, remember to be patient. It’s pretty likely that no one is enjoying running errands but sometimes things just have to get done. Even the most preparation may not prevent every meltdown. For tips on handling a meltdown in public, see here: http://www.got-autism.com/blog/?p=394. Preparation will help set up everyone for success!

What are your tips for running errands for the kid who doesn’t want to run errands?


Got-Autism Guest Blogger Lisa Houseworth, JD, BCBA has worked with children with special needs using the principles of ABA and Verbal Behavior since 2001. In 2005, Lisa graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education, and then continued her education by graduating from the University of Dayton Law School in May, 2010. She completed coursework to earn her Board Certification in Behavior Analysis from University of North Texas and her clinical supervision from Step By Step Academy (Columbus, OH), Carbone Clinic (Valley Cottage, NY) and through Cherish Twigg, BCBA. Lisa has had experience as the director of center-based programs in Dayton, OH and Wapakoneta, OH, school consulting, staff training and also overseeing in-home programs. She has worked with individuals ranging in age from 2 years old through young adults. Lisa currently works part-time for Key Behavior Services in Dayton, OH. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging, travelling and couponing.

Deep Pressure can Help Increase Focus

We all like hugs. They make us feel loved and protected. But there is more to it than that!

For many individuals with sensory regulation challenges, the deep pressure input that hugs provide can help regulate their sensory system. Many kids will squish themselves under couch cushions, wear a heavy backpack, or crash into things in search of that Deep Pressure. Why?

It all has to do with the proprioceptive system. For most of us, we are quite aware of our where our bodies are in space. We can keep our eyes on the road while adjusting the pressure we apply to the pedals of a car. We can pass a basketball without looking at our hand. We can put a spoon in our mouth without needing a mirror. This is because our entire nervous system is working together to tell us where our body is and make adjustments to meet the requirements of the situation.

Want to test your proprioception? Watch this video!

For individuals on the autism spectrum, their nervous system doesn’t always give them enough feedback. Just as they may be under or over sensitive to touch, they may also have trouble figuring out where their body is in space. This results in anxiety and an inability to focus. Other sensory challenges such as loud noises and bright lights can set off a chain reaction, often making it hard for people with autism to be in grocery stores, eat at restaurants and concentrate in school.

One of the common solutions for this is Deep Pressure Therapy. The idea of Deep Pressure was originated by Dr. Temple Grandin when she famously asked to be squished in her family’s cattle squeeze shoot. For Grandin, as with many individuals on the spectrum, touch was a challenge. Having a machine that could provide her the pressure without the social and physical complications of a human hug was the perfect solution. She went on to invent the Squeeze Machine and introduce the world to Deep Pressure Therapy.

Deep Pressure Therapy is used in therapy centers, homes and schools to help keep people on the spectrum calm. Common types of Deep Pressure include the “burrito roll” (rolling the individual in a carpet), using a rolling pin to provide pressure, and hugs.

There are also many products that can help provide deep pressure. The lack of portability and expense of the Hug Machine led to weighted vests, neoprene vests, and now available at Got-Autism, Snug Vest.

3693-Snug vestSnug Vest is a vest that uses air to provide portable Deep Pressure Therapy, and looks stylish doing it! By not using weight it is safe for the user, and the amount of pressure can be adjusted to the exact amount the user needs. The size is also adjustable so that the wearer doesn’t grow out of it.

Snug Vest is used in classrooms, therapy centers, homes and communities across North America. It has helped kids like 4 year-old Antony shop at Walmart, 16 year-old Danny eat at restaurants, and 8 year-old Buddy improve his handwriting.

Click here to learn more about Snug Vest and see if it might help you or your child!

Want to learn more about how Deep Pressure Therapy works? Listen to Occupational Therapist & Neurobiologist Kim Barthel explain how it works!


 

5 Tips to Make Halloween Fun for All Kids

Costumes, makeup, parties and Trick or Treat—it all sounds fun, but for the child with special needs, Halloween can be a challenge. Some children may have sensory issues which prevent them from wearing a costume or enjoying loud noises or flashing lights. Some children may be required to eat a restricted diet and may not be able to enjoy the candy received during trick-or-treat. Some children may have limited verbal ability. It may be a challenge for them to follow simple directions and/or communicate simple phrases such as “trick or treat.” Some children may be easily excitable or distracted and trick or treating in a crowded neighborhood could present safety concerns. Halloween should be a fun for everyone. Here are 5 practical tips to make it fun for everyone!

  1. Set reasonable expectations

Sometimes adults get more excited that kids do and have high expectations that our children/students will follow the same fun activities that they enjoyed when they were kids. Its okay if kids with special needs participate in a few activities to celebrate but not everything. For some kids, maybe it is a success to go to a few houses to trick-or-treat. 3693-Snug vestFor some kids, maybe it is a success to wear jeans, t-shirt and a hat as a costume.

  1. Have fun

Enjoy the festivities! Halloween is intended to be fun. It’s a time for sharing candy and a day to enjoy some pretend time while dressed up. It’s a time to meet neighbors. It’s a time for enjoying pumpkins and scarecrows. Do what you can to ensure your kids have fun!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  1. Prepare

If you know your child/student is going to have a challenging time with wearing a costume, prepare a costume which will be more appealing. There are lots of ideas for sensory friendly costumes all over the internet. If you know your child/student is going to have a challenging time with being outside in the dark during trick or treat, practice going outside at dusk and practice using a flashlight. Talk about what’s going to happen on Halloween before Halloween. Share expectations. For some children, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. 3768-Cow Bouncer

  1. Acknowledge Child’s Preferences and Give Choices

Everyone, including children with special needs, should be given opportunities to make choices about how they spend their time and how they participate in activities. Whenever possible, acknowledge the child’s preferences and give them choices.

  1. Consider Community Activities

Many communities and non-profits have sensory friendly activities. This may be a good alternative for some children who may struggle during trick-or-treat. Because these events are planned for children with special needs, they will cater to unique needs and be more understanding if a meltdown should occur.

What additional tips do you have?


Got-Autism Guest Blogger Lisa Houseworth, JD, BCBA has worked with children with special needs using the principles of ABA and Verbal Behavior since 2001. In 2005, Lisa graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education, and then continued her education by graduating from the University of Dayton Law School in May, 2010. She completed coursework to earn her Board Certification in Behavior Analysis from University of North Texas and her clinical supervision from Step By Step Academy (Columbus, OH), Carbone Clinic (Valley Cottage, NY) and through Cherish Twigg, BCBA. Lisa has had experience as the director of center-based programs in Dayton, OH and Wapakoneta, OH, school consulting, staff training and also overseeing in-home programs. She has worked with individuals ranging in age from 2 years old through young adults. Lisa currently works part-time for Key Behavior Services in Dayton, OH. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging, travelling and couponing.

5 Tips for Handling a Meltdown in Public

Whose kid is screaming? That’s not MY kid, right!?!? All parents have experienced less-than-ideal behavior in public. Its hard to know how to respond to a meltdown in private and then when a meltdown happens in public, there are more variables that are out of control. Its embarrassing. People stare! People judge! It may be crowded and loud. Sometimes, a child with special needs having a meltdown in public can be even worse. Some children with special needs may respond in an exaggerated manner which may be very loud and possibly even aggressive. Some children may seem ‘too old to act like that.’

  1. Stay Calm

Many children can read other’s moods and stress levels, even if they can’t communicate that. It is critical that the child’s behavior doesn’t then escalate the behavior of the adult, which could be disastrous for everyone. Get down on the child’s level and communicate. Use simple directions to the child because some children may struggle to communicate when their behavior is escalated.

  1. Be Patient

When a meltdown occurs, we want it to end as quickly as possible. No one wants this to be happening. Sometimes, we have to help the child to work through the situation so that they can learn from it. Sometimes, we have to give the child time to calm down before we can move on. Take a deep breath and know the meltdown won’t last forever.

  1. Ignore Others

Simply put, it’s no one else’s business.  You don’t want to be dealing with the meltdown any more than they want to be in the proximity of the meltdown. Most importantly, having a meltdown isn’t fun for the child. It’s not fun for anyone. People are rude and it stinks but sometimes we just have to have thick skin to get through the situation and continue with awareness opportunities at other times.

  1. Don’t Take It Personally

Most of the time, children with special needs are not having a meltdown just to spite you or just to make you angry or to embarrass you. All children learn in different ways. All children tolerate things in different ways. All children have to learn how to respond to non-preferred stimuli/circumstances in different ways.

  1. Problem Solve for Next Time

Not every meltdown is preventable but there are things we can learn from meltdowns so that we can help to set up children for success. Identify things that may trigger problems for children. Either avoid those triggers or practice responding to those triggers. Pre-teach and provide expectations prior to experiences which may have caused problems in the past. When appropriate, collaborate with others to help the child be successful.

What are your tips for responding to meltdowns in public?


Got-Autism Guest Blogger Lisa Houseworth, JD, BCBA has worked with children with special needs using the principles of ABA and Verbal Behavior since 2001. In 2005, Lisa graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education, and then continued her education by graduating from the University of Dayton Law School in May, 2010. She completed coursework to earn her Board Certification in Behavior Analysis from University of North Texas and her clinical supervision from Step By Step Academy (Columbus, OH), Carbone Clinic (Valley Cottage, NY) and through Cherish Twigg, BCBA. Lisa has had experience as the director of center-based programs in Dayton, OH and Wapakoneta, OH, school consulting, staff training and also overseeing in-home programs. She has worked with individuals ranging in age from 2 years old through young adults. Lisa currently works part-time for Key Behavior Services in Dayton, OH. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging, travelling and couponing.

Oral Motor Solutions

Oral Techniques and Oral Motor Tools

It is recommended to consult with your child’s OT/COTA before starting any of the below protocols.

Wilbarger Oral Tactile Techniques (OTT):  This is one of the most powerful techniques for children with oral defensiveness. If your child is adverse to new foods because of their texture you may want to try this. If a therapist you can use a non-latex glove or finger cots for contamination purposes. If the child likes the bite demonstrate to the child on a puppet and be very cautious. I would recommend the Z-Vibe as a tool to combine with the protocol for oral exploration, high intensity vibrating input and focus/attention.

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Insert index finger into midline of roof of mouth, use contact pressure (skin to skin, light pressure).  Move index finger laterally on roof of mouth to the side of teeth, ½ swipe.  Then complete 3 full swipes across roof of mouth from one side to the other.  Then remove finger from child’s roof of mouth at midline.  Use index and middle fingers to complete 2 quick downward compressions on lower teeth.  Repeat.  Should be done immediately before each meal and snack, between meals, and before teeth are brushed.  (6-7X/day)

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Finger Laps Around Gum Massage – This technique is mainly used for children that avoid tooth brushing due to highly sensitive gums. By applying deep pressure it may help your child modulate/regulate their sensitive gums and be more readily for teeth brushing. I would recommend 2 finger brushes one for you and your child to do at the same time.

Insert index finger at midline of upper gum (between 2 front teeth), use firm pressure along gum line above teeth.  Make three complete ‘laps’ around mouth, moving slowly (count about one tooth per second) from the center to one side all the way to the back, down to the lower gums and back to the center beginning point (that’s one lap).

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Moller Nuk Brush Chomps – If your child grinds or clenches their teeth during the day or while sleeping due to possible high anxiety or overly excited arousal state this can be a great technique to use. With increased intent and force, chomp on the end of a toothbrush or Nuk brush with molars 10 times on the right and 10 times on the left. alex 5

 

 

 

 

Written By: Alexander Lopiccolo, COTA/L

 

 

What does ‘Autism Awareness’ mean to OTs?

Got-Autism asked our guest blogger, Alex Lopiccolo what Autism Awareness means to him. He decided to team-up with fellow-OT, Elizabeth Tenace to come up with this response…

Early intervention is key to helping children on the spectrum improve their daily functional goals to interact with people and their environment. For Autism Awareness, we would like more parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms that a child on theKidsPlayTim1 Autism Spectrum may exhibit. Then parents could ask their Pediatrician to do a screening and, if needed, get testing done to get their child a diagnosis. The sooner a diagnosis is received, the faster therapy services from insurance companies may get covered.

 

Possible “Red Flags”…a person with ASD might:

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to bealone
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Give unrelated answers to questions
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests (trains, washing machines, etc.)
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel

Many people on the Autism Spectrum display characteristics such as the inability to socially connect with others. They may also have repetitive behaviors that disrupt their functional life. They do this when they are overstimulated, anxious, or to change their arousal level. They may lock out joints, grind their teeth, flap their hands and play with their ears. But typical people have similar behaviors too! They change their arousal level by shaking their leg, twirling their hand, stroking their beard, or chewing gum. Many people have habits or behaviors to help with concentration and cope with their anxiety.  We help people on the spectrum replace their atypical behaviors to more socially appropriate ways of meeting their needs.

Another thing that “Autism Awareness,” means to us is understanding. Often people on the spectrum as well as their families feel isolated by the diagnosis. People with ASD often All About me Family Counters1_Got-Autismhave difficulty making friends because they may not understand social nuances such as body language and “unspoken” social rules (ex: conversational turn taking, friendly teasing,  sarcasm, etc.).  Often “neuro-typical” people become uncomfortable, frustrated, or impatient with people with ASD. Their knowledge frequently comes from movies, television, and books, which often give an unrealistic portrayal of people with ASD.

By providing more information we can help people improve their understanding of people who are on the spectrum. This can be done, and is being done in a variety of ways. Depictions of people with ASD in media such as books are becoming more accurate and varied. More information is easily accessible to the general public from children’s picture books to well produced documentaries. Parents and teachers can also facilitate understanding by helping children with and without ASD talk to each other and ask questions. Steamroller

All in all we all have a little Autism in all of us. Some are more severe, some are less.  Learning how to interact with and respect people regardless of differences can help everyone make more friends.  We therapists are here to help you and your family.

 

Reference:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html

Written By: Alexander Lopiccolo, COTA/L and Elizabeth Tenace MS, OTR/L

Swings & Therapeutic Play

Many children say “No!” to playgrounds and play sets because they don’t like the feel of metal bars, damp slides or are not motivated enough. Some parents don’t like to take their special needs children outside with their weak immune systems when the weather is changing for fear they will get sick. There could be many other reasons why your child may not be able to play at the park.

But it is essential for children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder to get heavy work input (proprioception to help calm and organize their Central Nervous System. The inputSteamroller may help improve self-regulation, focus, attention, strength and coordination. It can also help increase their interest in exercise vs. screen time, decrease fidgeting and self-stimming behaviors.

You can bring the sensory exercise indoors with a doorway swing set. Instead of breaking furniture that is not meant for crashing into you can get a safe and reliable doorway swing package to help your child self-regulate through vestibular (swinging) and proprioceptive (hanging or pumping) input that their body craves.

Here are some fun therapeutic games you can play with your child.

*Adult supervision is always recommended during all exercises and a safety mat underneath and around the swings may decrease injuries.

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Net Swing – Have them look at an I-Spy book, use a chewy for a mouth tool, do their homework inside it, read or listen to an audio book or music, draw a picture of the family or just play and relax with calming hand fidgets to de-stress the Central Nervous System.

 

 

 

Indoor therapy

Trapeze Bar  – Use feet to trap a beanie baby or other small items and fling it into a target while hanging from trapeze, perform flips, hold gymnastic inspired L-sit or Pull up pose, swing and crash into a Crash Pad and look for a puzzle piece or other object.

Indoor therapy1Strap Swing – Swing and crash, pump and swing to favorite music to improve mood, perform hip/knee tucks with swing on shins in push up position for upper body and core strengthening, parent waits for a secret code word or signal to roll the therapy ball for the child to lift up their feet>swing>kick the ball back to parent.

 

 

 

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Alex

Alex Lopiccolo is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Consultant, Jin Shin Practitioner, Wilbarger Therapressure Brushing Protocol Practitioner, Therapeutic Listening Program Practitioner who explores Sensory Integration inspired therapeutic activities. Alex, his wife and baby live in Edmonds, Washington. His favorite activities are spending time with his family and exploring the Pacific Northwest.
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How Therapists Teach Social Skills – Strategies they Use

Connecting with others, young or old, has been my strength since I was a child. I attribute this largely to participating in “heavy work” sports such as wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well as participating regularly in play dates that involved gross motor activities.

When combining proprioceptive (heavy work for organizing the Central Nervous Jaxx LoungerSystem) and vestibular (body awareness/balance) activities at a high intensity we are able to emotionally regulate and socially participate at an optimal alert state.  This is how I have run “Boot Camps” at pediatric OT clinics, in which the children love to engage and bond with other children.

The number one key with children who have poor social skills is to boost their self-esteem and confidence with their gross motor skill set. As a therapist, I feel it is very important to demonstrate the activities to increase mirror neuron connections (socially and motor wise) in which to gain a better Motor Planning Value Pack_Got-Autismunderstanding and watch their mentor/role model show their leadership.  By having them complete various heavy work challenges or obstacle courses they will want to show other kids that they have created something cool and how to do it.

I have the child break down the activity step-by-step to me after they have feel confident. You can have your client/child invite others by saying, “Do you want to play?” to the next child that is near their maturity level.  Once they have performed my client’s 6 Social Skills_Got-autismactivity the other child gets to be the leader next time, showing them something new and exciting.  That one monstrous first step is the social connection bridge to Friendship Island.

By performing full body movement based activities humans release endorphins which improve your emotional state.  You will notice the children’s energy and mood become more positive.  During a group Boot Camp, I will choose a theme that all children have in common. Then have Teaching Cash Register4_Got-Autismthem work together as the GREEN team which means when they follow directions, are safe while using teamwork skills and are positive during a challenge, their team gets a point.  If they are being negative, impulsive, unsafe, getting distracted the other RED team gets a point. The children will work together through the thick and thin to defeat Barnyard Animal Buzzers1_Got-Autismthe opposing (imagery) team.

When children relate on common grounds during gross motor play it makes a world of difference on their interaction with others peers.  Sign up your child for a gross motor social skills group and you will see a difference on how they socialize at school, in public and at home.

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Alex

Alex Lopiccolo is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Consultant, Jin Shin Practitioner, Wilbarger Therapressure Brushing Protocol Practitioner, Therapeutic Listening Program Practitioner who explores Sensory Integration inspired therapeutic activities. Alex, his wife and baby live in Edmonds, Washington. His favorite activities are spending time with his family and exploring the Pacific Northwest.

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Using Computer Gaming Software as Assistive Technology

How often do you ask your child to “get off the computer and do some work” – the word ‘work’ can translate to everything from assignments to chores, exercise and even, play – actual physical activity! Here’s a new gaming software that can keep both you and your child happy – Timocco. It’s a virtual motion gaming system that is designed to isolate and develop specific movements and skills for varying levels of ability. 

Yes, it’s a computer game that turns therapy into fun!

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But it isn’t only a game for fun and pleasure, it’s also a therapeutic intervention that provides a valuable and constructive supplemental aid for therapy. Just like children are encouraged to draw or paint during clinical therapy in order to improve motor accuracy even though they can do that at home, we can encourage them also to use Timocco and play a computer.

The use of a computer in therapy can help children deal with challenges and tasks that in other situations they would possibly be deterred from. Also, the computer represents a safe, known and recognizable environment that children are accustomed to and it can help to increase motivation to deal with challenges that children with special needs often face.

It’s exactly because they have a computer at home, that the computer can be a motivation tool during clinical therapy. For today’s generation, where children spend many hours in front of computer screens, using smartphones and other tech devices, the use of a computer during therapy can help a child to participate and to play.

“Also, as occupational therapists, we’re aware of the importance of therapy that is connected to meaningful everyday tasks and ׁactivities that our clients pursue. Here at Timocco, we’ve taken computer usage and turned it into something that’s productive, beneficial and progressive”, says Sarit Tresser, OT and Founder of Timocco.

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Find more info about Timocco @ Got-Autism

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