Tag: special education

Creative Ways for Occupational Therapists to Collaborate with Other OTs

I can’t wait to share this new, awesome resource for occupational therapists that Colleen Beck, from The OT Toolbox has put together! Colleen has generously offered to be my guest blogger and write about this new OT resource below:

As clinicians, occupational therapists strive to ensure best practice strategies while using the most recent evidence-backed information in clinical practice. It can be a challenge however, to enhance professional development. There are many reasons for this difficulty, including time, effort, energy, accessibility, and cost. When OTs struggle to advance as clinicians through traditional means, collaborating with other OT professionals can be a tool for advancing as a clinician.

Below you will find creative ways for occupational therapist practitioners to enhance professional development through collaboration with other Occupational Therapist professionals.


  • Facebook Groups- Connecting with other therapists can be as easy as logging on to your favorite social media platform. Social media communities like Facebook groups are a popular type of networking area. While online groups are an easy way to network with OTs from all over the world, there are challenges to this type of collaboration strategy. Questions that are asked of one another, may not be answered in a timely manner. Additionally, it can be a challenge to weed through all of the groups and social interactions happening on a platform whose entire intent is to promote “social interaction”. For many therapists, interacting on a social network may not be acceptable on-the-job activity.
  • Building groups on the job- Occasionally therapists are able to building and participate in groups on the job. A small group of therapists who meet for a weekly coffee meeting or lunch-time roundtable session can be a useful tool in enhancing professional development. When a group of coworkers meet for personal goal discussion, collaboration works as a team building strategy, too. There are downsides to this strategy, however: Many times, a therapist is the only clinician working in a setting. It can be struggle to find access to on-the-job mentor opportunities in some situations.
  • Twitter Parties- There are several occupational therapy Twitter parties that occur on a regular basis using hashtags. The scheduled meet-ups occur based on a hashtag that is used each week. Many times, therapy twitter parties have a set topic and invite therapists to interact with set questions. Collaborating and interacting with OTs from all over the world is possible in these parties. There are downsides to using Twitter parties as a means for collaboration and networking. Comments can move very quickly on Twitter. Questions can be left unanswered and potential connections get lost in the thread. Additionally, the limited number of characters that can be used in a response can interfere with communication in some cases.
  • Local OT Associations- Therapists may have access to local occupational therapy associations as a source for professional development through continuing education. When participating in local conferences, therapists have the potential to meet and network with other local OTs. However many therapists are limited geographically or are unable to access resources offered by local occupational therapy associations. Additionally, conferences and memberships have a cost associated with participation that can limit some professionals.
  • AOTA Website- Clinical resources and online forums can be found on membership sites like AOTA. Participation in a membership site such as a AOTA’s allows for therapists to receive and be a part of small group forums dedicated to specific areas. However the cost could be an issue for many therapists. There are other challenges that interfere with membership sites as a source for connection and collaboration. It takes time to find and connect with other therapists who are interested in a collaboration connection. A one-stop-shop for locating information would be a valuable resource for clinicians interested in collaboration with others in the profession.

The challenges related to the collaboration of occupational therapy professionals is why The OT Toolbox Community was developed as a professional development resource for OTs and OTAs.

The OT Toolbox Community is a free resource for occupational therapy practitioners who struggle to find valuable resources in a timely and efficient manner. Based from The OT Toolbox website, The OT Toolbox Community promotes clinicians as a valuable “tool” for clients. By connecting and collaborating with other therapists, it is possible to exponentially enhance and promote the profession.

Seeking out and have answers to clinical questions can be a huge limit when it comes to time, energy, cost, and other issues.

The OT Toolbox Community provides a resource for therapist to connect with one another and collaborate on clinical questions. OTs and OTAs have the opportunity to ask questions related to specific their needs. Therapist can draw on clinical expertise to respond and answer other clinician’s questions. Imagine if many therapists joined together in sharing years of clinical expertise and resources and put them into one tool kit. The OT Toolbox Community provides a one-stop location for navigating all of the information out there. It’s a place to access research. It’s a place to find best practice sources. It’s a place to promote collaborate, network, and mentor with one another as therapists.

The OT Toolbox Community is looking for you. Join hundreds of other occupational therapy professionals who have joined the community and are sharing questions, answers, resources, and valuable sources of clinical information.

A few facts about The OT Toolbox Community:

  • Members are able to upload links to valuable resources that they have located online. These can be shared with other members and searched for by category. Check out the Resource Center and add one of your own.
  • Members are able to ask questions and answer questions. These are sorted by category to enable search queries in order to locate best practice answers in a timely manner. Stop over to the Question Forum and see if there is one that you can answer given your clinical expertise.
  • Members can upload their own documents and files to share with other therapists. This is a huge asset for data collection screenings and other sources of information for therapists.
  • Members can list job opportunities in the Job Area. Have a position open in your facility? Reach out to our large community of occupational therapy professionals and fill your positions fast!
  • Have an activity that you love using in treatment sessions? Snap a picture with your phone and share it as a Blog Post. It doesn’t have to be a fancy blog post…just share your idea with the community members. Members can enhance the profession by sharing practice strategies that work!
  • In The OT Toolbox Community, all links, resources, questions, comments, and blog posts can be shared anonymously if you like!

Stop by and join The OT Toolbox Community! It’s a thriving source of information for occupational therapist practitioners.


Colleen Beck has been an Occupational Therapist since 2000, but is currently a stay-at-home mom to four sweet kids. She blogs about ideas and tools for therapists, parents and teachers at The OT Toolbox.

Teach The Alphabet Through Movement: ABC’s of Active Learning Book

I’m loving this new book written by pediatric physical therapist, Laurie Gombash, and want to share! You all know I love to encourage movement for all children. Teaching the alphabet and reading does not have to be a sedentary activity. This book has so many ideas for little learners to move and learn at the same time! I’m excited to have Laurie write about her new book below:


Thanks for this opportunity to guest blog and tell everyone about my new book, ABC’s of Active Learning©. Most people are attracted to a story. Skilled speakers know that a story can grab the audience’s attention and help them remember the lesson being taught. Children especially learn best when they are engaged in a literacy-based curriculum that is enriched with the arts and movement.

The ABC’s of Active Learning© offers a multisensory approach to recognizing the alphabet and learning letter sounds. Each of the twenty-six ABC’s of Movement alphabet letters is accompanied by:

  • suggestions for pre-literacy activities
  • a story
  • a fine motor craft
  • multisensory pre-writing activities that can be used and graded for learners of all abilities
  • skywriting instructions
  • sensory activities for taste and smell
  • a gross motor game

This book is fun, engaging, and filled with fresh ideas for multi-step crafts and movement activities that are fun for both children and adults. School support staff will especially appreciate activities that can be adapted to meld academic and therapeutic goals. Teachers and parents will have a book that makes academics fun. Grandparents and childcare providers will find the stories, crafts and movement activities great entertainment. The ABC’s of Active Learning© can stand alone or be a supplement to The ABC’s of Movement® activity cards.

The book and activity card downloads are available at ABCs of Movement. Amazon also sells the paperback bookactivity cards, and an option to buy the activity cards with music CD (Amazon affiliate links for Yums Theraplay).


Laurie Gombash is an experienced physical therapist who has a knack for turning ordinary items into fun therapeutic tools. She is also the brains behind The ABC’s of Movement®, and the webinars, “Pushing into the Classroom: Practical Strategies for Pediatric Therapists” and “Creative Pediatric Treatment Strategies Based on the Evidence” available through The Inspired Treehouse.

Anxiety Success Story: Jackson The Weatherman

In the spring and fall of 2016, northern Utah experienced two severe windstorms, including a few areas of tornados. The winds were scary and destructive, destroying big, strong trees, trampolines, roofs, and full houses.

Jackson was a 3rd grade student during the first windstorm and a new 4th grader for the second. He experienced the scary reality of these windstorms firsthand and couldn’t forget the fear. Jackson who also has Autism and has a tendency to become obsessed and anxious with certain topics, began to talk and worry nonstop about the weather and if the next windstorm was on its way. He was scared to leave the house and so worried about the weather that he couldn’t think about anything else. One day, he even called 911 to come to his house without his parents’ knowledge, in hopes that a police officer should be able change the bad weather.

His good parents did all they could to calm his fears and anxieties with logic, reassurance, love, prayers and special blessings, but his worries and obsession continued. In 4th grade, his fears intensified, especially as his teacher began the 4th grade weather unit. His parents took him to a counselor who helped and gave his parents ideas, such as limiting the amount of times they could look up the weather or talk about the weather as he earned rewards for discussing the weather less and less. In the fall of his 4th grade year, Jackson’s parents, teachers and principal brainstormed an idea. Jackson could be the school weatherman. He could research and give a weather forecast on the announcements each day for the entire school.

So often, parents, teachers and other adults immediately try to calm children’s fears and anxieties with statements such as, “Don’t worry.” Our focus is on telling a child with anxiety what NOT to do. But oftentimes, adults forget to tell or find something that an anxious child CAN do with their anxious energy. Jackson’s story is a perfect example of empowering an anxious child with what he CAN do!

Jackson thrived as the school weatherman! He took his new job seriously and did a fabulous job! Teachers and students throughout the school looked forward to his daily weather report on the announcements. His parents were relieved that this successful partnership with his school, along with the other strategies they had continued, had eased his anxiety about the weather at home and at school.

In December 2016, after a couple months of being the school weatherman, Jackson came up with an idea all on his own.  He decided he should write a letter to share with other schools about the importance of having a school weatherman. He wrote the letter and sent it to all the elementary schools in his school district. He felt so successful with his school weatherman job that he wanted to others to feel the same success! Below are some excerpts of his letter:

“Hi there, school principal, I’m a fourth grader [and] I’m the school’s weatherman. Do you have a weatherman too? If you don’t, you should get one. I’m going to tell you what you should do if you get your school’s weatherman (if you want to, that is)… If any of the kids… want to, they can tell the teacher… You might need someone who knows a lot about clouds and what the weather is going to be today… So, in the morning, have your weatherman ready to tell the weather for the day. Here’s the things he or she need to say. How it’s going to be over the next few hours, how it’s going to be tomorrow, and the high and the low. Well, there’s the stuff you need. I really hope you get one, because since I’m my school’s weatherman, I wanted other schools to have one too… P.S. I became the weatherman because I wanted to and it’s not a punishment.”After Jackson’s mom endearlingly shared his letter on Instagram to her friends, Utah’s KSL TV station ended up seeing it. KSL’s weatherman, Grant Weyman, highlighted Jackson in a their “High Five” segment. They surprised Jackson with a visit to his school and then invited him to be an honorary weatherman on KSL. You can see their visit to Jackson’s school here.

Funny side note that Jackson’s mom shared with me… Jackson really hates the sound of his own voice on camera. He loves watching the KSL videos, but he has never watched the videos with any sound.

Jackson is pretty proud of his weatherman super star status. And what is even better is that he goes about his days at home, school and in the community with calm confidence in any weather. What a great success story about empowering an anxious child with something they CAN do! Nice work Jackson and all his supporters! I hope this success story might help another child’s parents, teachers and other supporters to brainstorm what their anxious child CAN do!