Due to the increased demand on our services, we are no longer able to provide school based therapy intervention. However, we will continue to liaise with school teachers, integration aides and other professionals working with your child to ensure we are all working towards meeting the needs of your child. Please note, we still do provide handwriting and fine motor groups at schools on request, but we do require as much notice as possible.
Please note the change of hours for this year. The clinic remains open Mondays to Thursdays 9am to 5pm. However, we are closed on Fridays.
SPECTRONICS TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE
Christine Siddle attended this 3 day conference on the Gold Coast earlier this year in order to keep abreast of the ever changing technologies. This is just a little of what she learnt:
iPad: We use this innovative tool to help improve organisational skills, reading, maths, spelling and writing skills (to name a few). There are so many apps out there and we are constantly updating our knowledge about the appropriate apps that can be used with our clients to help complement our therapy approaches.
Word Prediction Software Programs: Christine attended a number of ‘hands on’ labs and lectures to gain a better understanding about the various word prediction software programs that are available. As a result, we have purchased WordQ. This is a simple but brilliant writing solution that improves with you, regardless of your age or writing ability. It makes smart word suggestions with every letter you type, and you can also use different vocabularies to match varying student’s needs. You can see and hear examples for similar sounding words or select from words with the same meaning. A high quality voice speaks everything you type so you can hear any spelling or grammar issues that you may not see, and listen to proofread your work. As well as predicting words, it also reads the information to you. In addition, wherever you can highlight text, WordQ will read it back to you. It’s also very simple to use, and you can add words to the prediction vocabulary as well. This program is ideally suited for students in primary and secondary school, and we would be more than happy to trial it with your student to assess suitability. Just ask us!
Digital Talking Books: There are a number of apps on the Apple store that enables students to create digital talking books on the iPad. You can then send them to iBooks, send them to your friends, or submit them to the iBookstore. Book Creator App is ideal for children’s picture books, photo books, art books, cook books, social stories, and the list goes on. Creative Book Builder enables everyone to create, edit and publish ebooks in a few minutes on the go as well. All published ebooks can be read by any ePub reader including iBooks. This is more ideal for textbooks or for large volume writing where you can create an unlimited number of chapters. Christine also gained a better understanding of the features of iBooks to assist struggling readers.
Proloquo2Go Version 2.0! Our therapists currently use this communication app for many different students, in various ways. But we love the updated version, because it introduces two new, research-based vocabularies: Basic Communication and Core Words. According to the designers, an analysis of commonly used sentences has shown that the Core Words vocabulary reduces the number of steps to build a sentence by more than 30%, when compared to previous versions of Proloquo2Go. It also offers lots of other new features including the ability to change the appearance of individual page or button; you can hide and dim buttons that you aren’t currently using; you can create different pages with different grids; you can add paging buttons for those who cannot swipe; and it also offers multiuser support, making it significantly easier for therapists and teachers to support multiple users on the one device. There are also new voices that can be downloaded, including an Australian male voice. We have been using this with many of our clients with great success!
Digital Pens: The Livescribe Pulse Digital Smartpen records your notes in two ways: it creates digital copies of everything you write by hand while recording audio at the same time. It also goes one step further and links the two together, so you can quickly access audio by tapping parts of your notes. All of this is uploaded to your computer where the Livescribe software archives and makes your notes fully searchable. In addition, it offers features like a calculator, translator, and a paper piano that plays a mini piano you draw on paper. We have purchased one of these for our clinic and will be looking at innovative ways to incorporate into our therapy sessions.
Wii Games: Although not mentioned at the technology conference, we have begun using this to help improve student’s gross motor skills in a novel and exciting way. Learning while having fun is an integral approach of our therapy sessions.
“Just The Write Hands” Program was designed for all primary school aged students to work on the following goals:
1. For the student to develop better precision and control when manipulating fine motor tools.
2. For the student to develop improved confidence and success with tabletop skills such as drawing, colouring, cutting and pasting.
3. For the student to be able to form the lowercase letters correctly and automatically across all writing tasks, but especially within the context of words.
4. For the student to demonstrate improved writing legibility.
5. For the student to be able to demonstrate a functional pencil grip.
FORMAT OF THE PROGRAM
The format of the group has been designed around 6 x 1 hour sessions, and ideally, for about 4- 6 students per group. It is felt that more individualised instruction can be provided for those students who are struggling with their fine motor skills if done in a small group environment. However, you can readily adapt any of the activities to accommodate more students, if necessary, or you can implement many of the user-friendly strategies within a larger group setting, such as the classroom. It may even be used for individual students.
An evaluation booklet for the students has been designed to be implemented prior to, and at the completion of the group. This booklet also asks the student what they think about their own colouring, writing, cutting skills etc. in order to provide greater insight about the student’s awareness of their fine motor abilities.
STRUCTURE OF THE SESSIONS
Each session is divided into 3 main categories:
The first part of the session focuses on various ‘hand skills’ as part of an exciting, novel game and / or warm-up. Playing various fine motor games are a fun and motivating way to practice essential hand skills so students can move fingers / hands more smoothly and with greater control and accuracy in whatever they choose to do. Many researchers have identified this skill as a contributing factor to precise and rapid manipulation of a writing tool for efficiency in handwriting. There also seems to be a strong relationship between in-hand manipulation skills and colouring accuracy.
VISUAL AND FINE MOTOR SKILLS
The second part of the session focuses on important tabletop skills that are needed for everyday school-related tasks, and includes cutting, drawing, colouring, and tracing. Each task has been carefully analysed, and after many years of practice from a clinical and school basis, has been designed to help provide the students with the best chance of putting these strategies into everyday practice in other situations as well, which ensures the best learning of the strategies. The strategies are also very simple and easy to remember and use.
HANDWRITING (LETTER FORMATION)
Despite the increasing use of computers in schools, handwriting remains a very important skill for recording information, expressing one’s thoughts on paper and communicating ideas to others. Also, regular assessment is based on handwritten work. By the time a student reaches the final years of primary school, they should be able to produce legible, fluent handwriting that they can employ flexibly in different situations.
When the mechanics of handwriting become automatic, the student can better focus on writing content and composition. Hand skills and visual and fine motor skills are important foundation skills, but students also need to have the confidence to form letters correctly and automatically, without having to stop and think about how each letter is formed. That is why this program focuses more specifically on letter formation.
COST OF PROGRAM & WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE?
The entire program costs $605 and includes the following: Teacher’s manual, parent information handouts, student evaluation / screening booklets, all the games / activities mentioned in the program, drawing workbook, handouts, letter formation worksheets (for the group), letter formation worksheets (for homework), pencil grips, specialized scissors, and novelty pens / pencils. The only thing you have to provide is ‘blank paper’.
Christine Siddle has been a paediatric occupational therapist for about 20 years now, and has worked on these areas with many different children; some with a diagnosis, but many without. She has worked in different educational settings both here and abroad. She has tried many different strategies, until finally discovering these strategies which have proved to be very effective. Christine has used a similar group format in various local schools, and has also used them at our clinic on an individual basis, to great effect. This program is specifically designed for other therapists, integration aides and teachers to administer, but can also be used by parents as well.
Please contact us if you are interested in purchasing this program.
THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) is a phonics teaching tool that is now being used at our centre, after Christine Siddle became accredited in the teaching of it in 2011. This approach focuses on the 44 most common sounds (Oxford Dictionary) and the 120 most common spelling choices for those sounds. We have combined this approach as part of our handwriting programs to provide that important link between hearing,seeing, saying and writing letters in order to work on reading, writing and spelling skills. For example, the letters ‘ch’ can actually make 3 different sounds as you hear in the words ‘chef, chair, school’; not just one sound. It is also a good visual based strategy as it uses 2 different charts: one with pictures, and one with just the spelling choices. We also use a phonics handbook to record spelling patterns and to identify common errors. There is also quite strong evidence to support use of such an approach to improve a students reading and spelling skills. If you would like further information about this approach go to www.thrass.com.au.
Christine Siddle has recently run a number of fine motor / handwriting groups within local schools with 4-6 students at a time. The group often begins with a screening assessment of each child’s strengths and weaknesses in the first session. Five treatment sessions follow and an intervention summary report is provided for each student at the completion of the group. The emphasis of the group is on fine tuning ‘detective skills’ so the students are more engaged and ready to learn; playing various games to address important hand dexterity skills; improving visual-motor skills such as colouring and drawing; improving fine motor skills such as cutting; and addressing handwriting skills, with particular emphasis on legibility and letter formation. The strategies taught are meant to be easy to recall and easy to put into practice. Parent attendance is also encouraged at these groups, to ensure carry-over of the skills at home, and colourful, but concise, handouts are also provided at the end of each session for the parents and teachers who are unable to attend the sessions. This is what one parent had to say about her son’s progress from the group:
Thank you so much for your assistance with helping (my child) to be a more confident writer. We have attached a couple of examples of then and now for your record to see just how much he has improved. He really is a more ‘happy writer’ because of these sessions. It would be great if these were available to all students learning to write, even in a larger class setting. The method has stuck in my mind and (my child’s) so it is really easy to correct if things start to slip; not that they do! All the best and hope to see you at the school again.
Old Diary. New Diary.
Our staff at Kid-Eze Therapy Services help students to discover their true artistic potential. Actually, drawing is a very important foundation skill for handwriting, and that is why we use a variety of strategies to simplify the process for our students, so they are able to draw with greater success and confidence.
Our handwriting groups in schools are constantly evolving to reflect up-to-date intervention approaches and the latest technology. We work with 4-6 students at a time, and provide fun and novel ways of teaching skills such as cutting, colouring, drawing, writing and essential hand skills (for primary school students). We also run small groups at secondary schools, where we focus on the students being able to write legibly and quickly enough, as well as exploring strategies for completing writing projects. Colourful hand-outs are provided for each student, and we also trial different types of writing paper and pencil grips to determine what works best for each student. We also encourage parents to attend the primary school aged groups to ensure better follow-up at home. For further information about running a group at your school or organistion, please contact us as soon as possible, as term one is already shaping up to be very busy.
We are now a registered Early Intervention Service Provider for those families eligible to receive funding through FaHCSIA and the Helping Children with Autism package. The early intervention funding under this package is aimed at providing increased access to early intervention for children aged 0-6 with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The funding supports the delivery of evidence based early intervention to facilitate improved cognitive, emotional and social development prior to a child starting school. The therapists at Kid-Eze Therapy Services have extensive experience in working with children of all ages who have been diagnosed with an ASD. Please contact us for further information about our services to determine how best we can match your child’s needs. For more specific information about the Helping Children with Autism package, please contact Autism Victoria www.autismvictoria.org.au or the FaHCSIA website www.fahcsia.gov.au.
In term 3 of this year we ran 2 groups with children from prep to year 6. Most of the students had an autism spectrum disorder, but all had difficulties socialising with peers. The groups ran on a weekly basis for 10 weeks. This is what some of the participant’s parents had to say:
“Excellent program, fundamental in my daughter’s improvement in social skills at school. Her ability to cope with change has improved too”
“I liked the reinforcement of skills in subsequent lessons.”
“I learnt that I need to encourage my son to use his skills”
“I learnt about strategies for implementing and maintaining personal space and not invading others personal space”
“I liked the way you taught them using colour and visual prompts”
“I learned how to guide my son on how to act socially and to start and end conversations”
“Thankyou for helping my son where I felt I could not help. Thanks also for the great notes that have taught me a lot so I can continue to teach my son”
“I learnt that colour, activity and rewards help a child to learn the steps involved in friendly communication”
“My first experience of doing anything for my asperger little girl. Positive and worthwhile.”
“We now work with the aggro/weak/positive behaviour model all the time”
If you would like further information about this, or other groups, please contact us.
We have begun using different coloured transparencies to help children with their writing and reading. Just have a look at this!
Here is a handwriting sample of a student when asked to copy a sentence from his reader.
Here is the same student’s handwriting sample when a coloured transparency was placed over his reader (within the same session).
We don’t use these transparencies for everyone, just the students who are assessed as having ‘visual perceptual’ difficulties. Hence, having either a handwriting or fine motor assessment is highly recommended to firstly determine reasons for the student’s handwriting and fine motor difficulties. So, contact us for an appointment!
The office is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm Mondays to Fridays. However, please be aware that on occasion our administration assistant, Jacquie, also helps out with the running of our groups, so please leave a message if you do get the answerphone during these hours. Tania Houghton (occupational therapist) works Mondays to Fridays from 9:00am to 3:00pm, but is generally unavailable during school holidays. Christine Siddle (occupational therapist) works Mondays 9:00am to 5:00pm, and Tuesday and Wednesdays from 9:30am to 3:00pm. She also works during school holidays.
“If Only You Could Walk” is Christine Siddle’s first published children’s picture book. The inspiration for her book was her son, Oliver; a bright, vivacious and cheeky five-year-old, who uses a walker and crutches to move from place to place, and who features on this website.