Thursday, December 8, 2011

"THE LIST"......Favorite iPhone, iTouch, and iPad Apps

I have had numerous requests for my favorite developmental learning "apps" that children can use on the family iPhone, iTouch, or iPad.  All of these "apps" can be found at the Apple iTunes Store.  Please double check before purchasing and downloading because some of these "apps" are only compatible with the iPad or alternatively the iPhone, etc.

Also, please note, I do not receive any financial compensation for these recommendations.  If anyone has any recommendations they would like to add, please feel free to add these in the comments section or send me an email:

Okay, so here it is....."THE LIST".

Games Primarily for Preschool Age:
Itsy Bitsy Spider by Duck Duck Moose $1.99
Old MacDonald by Duck Duck Moose $1.99
Bert's Bag $2.99
Munster Matcher $2.99
My Spaceship Builder $0.99
Peekaboo Barn Lite-FREE
Peekaboo Barn $1.99
iWrite Words-FREE
Injini:Child Development Game Site Lite-FREE
Injini: Child Development Game Site-$49.99

For Chores and Tasks:
Time Timer-$6.99

For Children with Special Needs:
Tap to Talk-FREE
One Voice-$199.99
Calm Counter-Social Story & Anger Management Tool for Autism, Down Syndrome, and Special Needs-$2.99
Touch and Learn Emotions-FREE
Autism Apps-FREE

Quote of the Day

"I am so adamant that sensory issues be addressed...When the senses are distorted, the child's true potential will never be discovered  He'll always be seen as incapable, when in fact, he's just expending all of his energy trying to deal with the intrusive world around him."
                                                                                                       -Temple Grandin, Ph.D

Grandin, T. (1995). Thinking in Pictures: and other Reports from my Life with Autism. New York: Doubleday.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Occupational Therapy Toy List. This list was created by Stacey Szklut MS, OTR/L and South Shore Therapies Staff and provided by Occupational-Therapy Associates Watertown P.C. Staff

Here are some great games and toys that occupational therapists often use, and can be used by parents too!

OTA Enterprises-Occupational Therapy Associates-Watertown, P.C.

President Jane Koomar, Ph.D., OTRL/FAOTA 
124 Watertown St.
Watertown, MA 02472

Phone: 617-923-4410
Fax: 617 923-0468

Occupational Therapy Games and Activity List 2010-2011
Children learn through play and active exploration. Many toys and games can encourage learning and develop skills in planning and sequencing, eye-hand coordination, visual perception, concept development and fine motor control. These suggestions may be helpful in choosing appropriate toys for the holidays, birthdays and other special times. They include sensory based activities to provide organizing sensation and encourage the development of body awareness, as well as games to encourage the development of specific skills and language concepts. Approximate ages or skill levels have been given to help guide your choices. Many items can be purchased at toy stores or through the catalogues listed. Ask your occupational therapist for help indeciding which games or toys are the best choices for your child. (Compiled by Stacey Szklut MS, OTR/L and South Shore Therapies Staff.

Games to Develop Coordination, Problem Solving and Visual Perception:
Younger Ages (3-6 years)
3D Labyrinth
Animal Soup Game (Learning Express)
Ants in the Pants
Bouncin’ Bunnies (Highlights)
Cadoo & Balloon Lagoon
Charades for Kids
Colorforms Dress-up Game (Therapro)
Cranium Hullabaloo
Don’t Break the Ice
Don’t Spill the Beans
Finders Keepers (Mindware)
Fishin’ Around
Gobbler (Learning Express)
Gnip Gnop (Highlights, Back to Basics, Young Explorers) Hidden Picture Game (Highlights)
Honey Bee Tree
(Back to Basics, Highlights, Leaps & Bounds) Hungry Hungry Hippos
I Spy Bingo (Learning Express)
I Spy Memory Game (Learning Express, Young Explorers) Lucky Ducks
Memory Game
Monkeying Around (Young Explorers)
Mr. Mouth
Penguin Pile-up (Hearthsong)
Poppa’s Pizza Pile-up (Learning Express, Leaps & Bounds) Poppin Puzzlers (Learning Express)
Pop up Pirates (Learning Express)
Race to the Roof (Young Explorers)
Silly Faces(Therapro)
Very Hungry Caterpillar Game (Young Explorers)
Whack a Mole
Zimbbos (Learning Express) 

Older Kids (7 and up)
Acuity (Fat Brain Toys)
Aftershock! (Learning Express)
Amazing Labyrinth Game (Sensational Kids, Discovery Toys) Batik (Mindware)
Battling Tops
Blink (Learning Express)
Blokus (Mindware, Highlights)
Bulls Eye Ball
Connect Four
Cover Your Tracks (Thinkfun Games)
Cranium Cadoo
Guess Who/ Guess Where
Kerplunk/ Tumble
Launch Across
Monster Under My Bed (Young Explorers, Learning Express) Mousetrap
Operation/ Dino Xcavator (Sensational Beginnings) Perfection
Pipeline (Learning Express, Mindware)
Raging Rapids (Think Fun)
River Crossing (Think Fun)
Rush Hour (Think Fun) (Learning Express, Mindware) Scavenger Hunt for Kids (Young Explorers)
Screwball Scramble
(Young Explorers)
Simon Trickster
Spot it!
Squeezed Out (Back to Basics) / Hens & Chicks (Hearthsong) Thin Ice
What’s in Ned’s Head? (Young Explorers)
Zig Zag
Zitternix Game (Hearthsong) 

For Sensory Motor Development and Coordination:
Provides Organizing Sensory Input
Body Sox (Integrations)
Bop Bag (Back to Basics)
Chilly Hammock Swing
First Jumper (Back to Basics)
Foof Chair Large Beanbag (Integrations)
Folding T rampoline (Hearthsong)
Giga Ball (Sears, Hearthsong)
Horse Tire Swing (Highlights, Back to Basics)
Inside Out Balls
(Therapro, Hearthsong)
Jigglers ( Therapro, Integrations)
Jumpolene (Back to Basics)
Kick Bag (Sears, Back to Basics)
Marvel the Mustang Riding Horse (Back to Basics)
Massager /Bug/ Fuzzy (South Shore Therapies)
My First T rampoline (Back to Basics)
Oral Motor Kit (South Shore Therapies)
Chewies: P’s & Q’s, Super Teether
Play Tents (Back to Basics, Hearthsong, Integrations)
Rock & Bounce Pony (Back to Basics)
Rocking Horse (Back to Basics, Young Explorers)
Rocking Rody Rider (Therapro, Integrations)
Row Cart (Back to Basics)
Sand Digger (Constructive Playthings)
Scooter Boards
Sensory Regulation Kit (South Shore Therapies)
Snail Rocker (Back to Basics)
Sock en’ Boppers Set (Sears)
Spring Horse (Back to Basics)
Super Large Crash Pads (South Shore Therapies)
Weighted Wearables,Blankets (Grampa’s Garden, Therapro) Whistles (I Party, Therapro) 

More Skilled Coordination Needed
Air Kicks Boots
Air Pogo (Young Explorers)
Balance Board (Back to Basics)
Balance Stilts (Hearthsong)
Bungee Jumper (Learning Express, Young Explorers) Color Explosion (Crayola)
Dance Maker 2 Dance Machine (Sears, Y oung Explorers) Disc Swing (Young Explorers)
Flying Turtle
(Back to Basics, Hearthsong, HIghlights)
Fun Ride (Back to Basics, Highlights, Young Explorers) Hop 66/ Hop Ball (Hearthsong, Y oung Explorers)
Jump Ropes
Junior Champ Boxing Set (Constructive Playthings) Kick-a-Roos (Highlights)
Krazy Car/ Whirley Wheel (Back to Basics, Integrations) Moon Shoes (Highlights, Sears, Y oung Explorers)
Moon Walkers (Young Explorers)
Pedal-Power/ Fun Wheels (Back to Basics, Hearthsong) Plasma Car (Young Explorers)
Pogo Ball
Pogo Stick (Highlights)
Razer Scooters
Romper Stompers (Learning Express)
Rope Ladder (Hearthsong)
Sit & Spin (Back to Basics)
Skip Around (Hearthsong)
Sleds & Snow Tubes
Wobbler (Highlights, Hearthsong) 

Activities that Develop Eye-Hand Coordination and Visual-Spatial Planning:
Visual Control/ Eye-Hand Coordination:
Air Puck Hockey
Alfredo’s Food Fight
Balanko Game (Highlights)
Beamo Flying Disc (Learning Express) Bean Bag Games
Bucket Blast Game (Hearthsong) Dodge Discs (Learning Express)
Flip Flop Faces (Discovery Toys) Hammer Away (Discovery Toys) Hopscotch Mat (Highlights)
Hyper Dash (Learning Express) Infinity Loop (Integrations)
Junior Swing Ball (Young Explorers) Kids Croquet (Toys to Grow on) Monster Velcro Mitts (Toy Box) Nerf Basketball Hoop
Paddle Pool (Highlights)
Rack ‘n’ Roll Bowl (Highlights) Remote Control Cars
Safety Dart Board (Hearthsong) 

Constructional Building Activities:
Aerobloks (Highlights, Integrations)
Block Buddies (Mindware)
Bright Builders (Discovery T oys)
Build and Play Mechanic Set (Discount School Supply) Cast & Paint: Krazy Cars with Blo Pens ( T oys R Us) Colorforms (Sensational Kids, Back to Basics)

Create a T rack –Snap T rack Set (Back to Basics) Delta Sand (Hearthsong)
Design & Drill Activity
(Leaps & Bounds)
E-Z Build & Play (Constructive Playthings) Floam or Play Foam
Gearations (Leap & Bounds)
Giant Constructive Blocks (Constructive Playthings) Legos/Duplos
Lincoln Logs (Back to Basics)
Make ‘N Break Challenge (Fat Brain Toys)
Magz Construction Set (Back to Basics, Hearthsong) Magnetic Mosaics (Highlights, Toys to Grow On) Marbleworks (Discovery T oys)
Maze-n-Race (Realfun)
Mix & Match Motors (Discovery Toys) 

Activities that Develop Eye-Hand Coordination and Visual-Spatial Planning (continued) :
Visual Control/ Eye-Hand Coordination:
Target Tail Ball (Hearthsong, Highlights) Toss Across
Whistling Whirler (Discovery Toys) Zoom Ball 

Constructional Building Activities:
Models for Beginners (Toys to Grow on)
Oogly Googly Motorized Building Set (Young Explorers) Peg-a-Plane (Lauri)
Quatro Bucket (Lego)
Super Shapes (Constructive Playthings)
Zoob (Mindware) 

To Support Fine Motor Development and Writing:
Pre-Writing Skills (Ages 3-5)
Art Kits (crayons, paints, etc.)/ Easels
Brush on Washable Painters (Toys to Grow On) Colorforms (Hearthsong, Back to Basics) Creative Clay (Back to Basics, Hearthsong) Cranium Cariboo
Crayola Beginnings
Crayola Trace & Draw (Sears)
Dressing Dolls/ Woodkins
Dot Art (Learning Express)
Fine Motor Kit (South Shore Therapies)
Magnetic Art (Leaps & Bounds)
Pattern Block Set (Young Explorer)
Playdoh/ Silly Putty/Theraputty (Therapro)
Playful Patterns (Discovery Toys)
Ready to Print Practice Books (Toys to Grow on) Roll on Painters (Toys to Grow on)
Sand Art
Scratch Magic (Young Explorer)
Squiggle Writer Pen (Therapro)
Stencil Kit (Hearthsong)
Tickle Bee Game (Hearthsong, Back to Basics) Water Filled Drawing Mats
Wiggle Writer (Toys to Grow on, Therapro) Zingo
Zoo Sticks (Hearthsong) 

Drawing & Writing Skills (Ages 6 and older)
Activity Book (Hearthsong)
Arts & Crafts Projects (Hearthsong, Toys to Grow On) Color-in Tattoos
EZ Art Projector (Constructive Playthings)
Magna Doodle
Peel & Stick Collage Boards (Constructive Playthings) Pictionary Junior/ Pictionary
Pop Bead People (Klutz)
Puzzlemania (Highlights)
Roller Typing (Discovery Toys)
Shrinky Dinks
Suncatcher Kit (Highlights)
Stain Glass Coloring Book (Mindware)
Trace & Draw Projector (Toys to Grow on)
Wikki Stix Acitivty Set (Learning Express)
Window Art (Young Explorers)
Window Decorating Paints (Hearthsong)
Zip-Track (Discovery Toys) 

Below is a list of the catalogue resources sited on this list. Some of these stores can be found on the "Shop" section of this website.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What is physical therapy, and what is speech therapy?

As a follow-up to my previous posting on "What is occupational therapy?", I thought it would only be fair to further define other rehabilitative therapy specialties.

So, what is physical therapy?

Pediatric physical therapy is a form of rehabilitative therapy that uses exercises to help children gain or improve their strength, endurance, and coordination.  Ultimately, physical therapists help children to work on their gross motor skills: rolling, sitting, creeping, standing, walking, climbing stairs, running, and jumping.

For more information regarding physical therapy, please refer to the American Physical Therapy Association website:

What is speech therapy?

Speech therapy is the discipline of speech pathology that involves assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders related to communication disorders.  Communications disorders, include speech and language difficulties, voice issues, and swallowing,  Speech therapy will also assess and treat oral motor dysfunction relevant to communication and feeding skills.

For more information regarding physical therapy, please refer to the American-Speech-Language-Hearing  Association website:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is....occupational therapy, sensory integration, and sensory processing disorder?

So as a pediatric therapist, I am often asked the question...."What is occupational therapy?".

So here is my personal answer to this question:

Pediatric Occupational Therapy is a therapy discipline that specifically focuses on a child’s primary occupation, play.  Occupational therapists are specially trained to assess, evaluate, and treat: sensory processing skills, fine motor skills (grasping and visual motor skills), and self-help skills (daily routines, self feeding, dressing, and sleeping) so that children can reach their optimal potential and be successful with their daily activities in a variety of settings and situations.

I am also often asked....."What is sensory integration?" or "What is sensory processing disorder?".

So here is my formal response to these questions:

Sensory integration is when our senses receive sensory information like sights, sounds, movement, touch, tastes, and smells; and how our body perceives, processes, and reacts to this information.  If our bodies react appropriately, our "system" is most likely integrated and able to function appropriately in a variety of situations. 

“Sensory integration, is the ability to organize sensory information for use...that enables man to interact effectively with the environment”. (Ayres, 1972, p.1)

If we are not able to react appropriately, there may be some "disorder" or an actual issue related to the diagnosis of sensory processing disorder.  There is disorder (a.k.a. sensory processing disorder) when the brain has difficulty taking in and, or interpreting this information to participate functionally and successfully in meaningful tasks.  As a result, there can be difficulty completing daily activities.  Such as, attending to tasks, completing developmentally appropriate activities, completing typical motor skills, engaging with others, and behaving in a socially appropriate way.

One of the best websites for more information about Sensory Processing Disorder is  Dr. Lucy Jane Miller is at the forefront of providing education and researching related to sensory processing disorder.  She has written an excellent book: Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder.

For more information regarding occupational therapy, please visit The American Occupational Therapy Website:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday vs. Time of Giving

Today's the day, when retailers try and pull you in with that extra special deal.  Who knows, it may be the best deal yet....

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, you were  probably able to find great savings.  So with that, please remember that this holiday season has a bigger meaning than just presents.  It's the Season of love, family, and remembering others.

There are many people out there having trying to survive tough times.  So please take the time to find a way to Give Back.  Consider making a meal for an elderly neighbor, purchasing a toy to donate to "Toys for Tots",  or send a special package to our troops overseas.  If you're not sure how to donate, I have lots of links on my "Give Back" button on the general site; or you can Google your own favorite program.

Just remember, "To Give is Better than to Receive".

Here are a couple of links:
Toys for Tots
Support our Troops

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Perfect Toy?

After all of the Turkey has been eaten, and Black Friday has passed, the thought that Christmas is upon us cannot be denied.  Cyber Monday is quickly approaching, and as someone who works closely with children and their families, I am often asked the question...."What toys should I buy for my children?".

So, what is the perfect toy?  Is there one?  The simple answer is no.

In fact, there isn't a simple answer to this question at all.  Instead, it's an ideal of numerous possibilities pulled together and the most important piece is you.

The toys I recommend vary, depending on a child's age and developmental skill level.  But one thing I always recommend is that you take time to play with your child.  This means actually putting your cell phones, laptops, and iPads away and completely focusing on your child.  Find your inner child, get on the floor, and just play.

If you have an infant, and you're working on tummy time; face your baby towards you and get on your tummy too.  While she's on her tummy, talk with her, watch her cues, and encourage her.  Present rattles to reach for or a mirror that she can look into.

If you have a toddler, play cars and trucks, trains, or dolls with them.  Engage in pretend play and encourage turn taking.  Look at picture books with your little one and read them stories.  Turn on the music and dance together.

For older children, follow what interests they have and try to engage.  Sometimes it's just giving them you're undivided attention or helping with homework.

This time you spend with your child will be remembered forever.  It's truly priceless.  Remember you don't want to look back one day when your little ones are all grown and say: "I wish I could have worked more" or "I wish I had sent that extra text or email". Instead, you'll wish you would have spent more time with them. 

Yes, there are terrific toys and I am often guilty of over-spending to find the perfect gifts due to the excitement of the season and Christmas morning.  But every year I'm surprised by how simple the gifts can be and the children are still ecstatic.

My favorite toys are forts, tents, tunnels, and boxes....things that all children can spend hours with.  I also love toys that expand the imagination through pretend play and role playing.  It's really the fact that I love ALL toys.  But the best ones are ones that involve you as a parent engaging with your child.

If you can master this, you will be your child's superhero; and why not, you should be!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all friends, families, and newcomers a Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully everyone is enjoying this special time with their loved ones.

Please check out the "shop" section for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Welcome to Sensory Steps Blog Site!

Today is the first official day to mark the start of my "blogging" adventures through Sensory Steps.  My hope is to reach as many families and children as possible via resources from our world-wide-web. I hope to be a resource to families with children that are developing at all different levels.

This blog will have a diverse arena of topics that range from a multitude of interests, such as: favorite children's books, favorite resource books for parents, favorite toys, best iPhone or iPad applications, and latest research or updates on issues related to development.

On the Sensory Steps blog you will find free resources related to development.  As well, there are for-a-fee services, products for sale (coming soon), and specialty online shopping that you have access to directly through this site.

Currently, the blog will be a continuous work in progress, and I'm always open to suggestions or updates from followers of the site.

Children are truly our future, and they help us to be inspired to find the super-hero within us all.  Hopefully we can all enjoy this adventure together!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Test Post

Mission: To provide children and their families with individualized recommendations and advise from a developmental expert that is certified and licensed with an extensive background in child development. This specialized expertise will provide each child and their family with specific advice and recommendations to enhance their day to day experiences by providing them with every possible opportunity for optimal success in a variety of settings and situations.