Thursday, November 16, 2017

Effects of Yoga on Autism Symptoms

Effects of Yoga on Autism SymptomsEffects of Yoga on Autism Symptoms

Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice published research on the effectiveness of yoga training program on the severity of autism.  The study consisted of 29 children (ages 7-15 years) with high functioning autism. The participants were randomly assigned to the yoga treatment group (received 24 sessions of yoga training over 8 weeks) or the control group.  Parents were not aware whether their child was in the yoga treatment or control group.  Parents or caregivers completed the autism treatment evaluation checklist (ATEC) at the beginning and the end of the intervention.  Read more about the ATEC here.  View the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist here.

The results indicated that:

  • yoga poses had a significant effect on the following subscores of ATEC: sociability, cognitive/awareness, and health/physical behavior.

  • there was no significant effect of yoga poses on the speech/language/communication subscores of the ATEC.

The researchers concluded that a yoga training program may help to reduce the severity of symptoms in children with autism.

Reference:  Sotoodeh, M. S., Arabameri, E., Panahibakhsh, M., Kheiroddin, F., Mirdoozandeh, H., & Ghanizadeh, A. (2017). Effectiveness of yoga training program on the severity of autism. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice28, 47-53.

Check out some of our amazing yoga resources for kids!

Yoga CardsYoga Moves Cover YTSYoga for Every SeasonScooter & Me Bundle – 9 Videos & 16 Self-Regulation Flash Cards

Blog post photo by YURALAITS ALBERT/

Effects of Yoga on Autism Symptoms



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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Motor Overflow in Preschool Children

Motor Overflow in Preschool Children

Motor Overflow in Preschool Children

When observing preschoolers complete complex motor tasks, you may observe an increase in motor activation displayed as extraneous movements in body parts not actively involved in the current task.  These extraneous movements are sometimes called motor overflow, mirror movements or associated movements.  Perceptual and Motor Skills published research examining what is associated with motor overflow in preschool children.  The study participants included 476 preschool children (average age: 3.88 years).  Three assessments were completed on each preschooler.  Contralateral associated movements (motor overflow)were measured with the Zurich Neuromotor Assessment (i.e. pegboard, alternating finger/hand movements and timed finger tasks).  Inhibitory motor control was measured with the statue motor persistence subtest of the Neuropsychological Assessment for Children – children have to stand still with eyes closed with occasional distractions.  Cognitive functioning was assessed with the Intelligence and Development Scales–Preschool.

The results indicated the following:

  • a significant relationship between contralateral associated movements and motor persistence, selective attention, and visual perception which are all related to overall executive functioning.
  • the intensity of the contralateral associated movements correlated with inhibitory control problems in preschoolers.
  • no significant relationship between contralateral associated movements intensity and visuospatial working memory and figural reasoning.

The researchers concluded that this association of contralateral associated movements and lack of inhibitory control in younger, healthy, typically developing children requires further longitudinal studies and studies to identify motor overflow with specific neurodevelopmental disorders for early detection.

Reference:  Kakebeeke, T. H., Messerli-Bürgy, N., Meyer, A. H., Zysset, A. E., Stülb, K., Leeger-Aschmann, C. S., … & Munsch, S. (2017). Contralateral Associated Movements Correlate with Poorer Inhibitory Control, Attention and Visual Perception in Preschool Children. Perceptual and motor skills124(5), 885-899.

Read the Ultimate Guide to Self-Regulation to learn more about inhibitory control in children.

Yoga has been shown to have a significant effect on self-regulation in preschool children.  Read more here.

Yoga Moves: Incorporating yoga into your therapy routine or your classroom movement breaks has the benefits of increasing focus, concentration, working memory, body awareness, executive function and self-regulation.

These yoga cards can be hung on the wall of a therapy room, sensory room, or classroom and they can be used as cards you can pull out for a yoga breaks.  The cards include visual pictures and do not include written descriptions to complete the poses.  FIND OUT MORE.

Motor Overflow in Preschool Children

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill DevelopmentFine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development

When you walk into any preschool classroom, you will observe children using their fingers to count.  Finger counting helps children to represent numbers and later influences the ability to complete arithmetic problems.  The ability to count usually develops side by side with fine motor skill development.  Many times, when children first start to learn arithmetic it is finger-based.  Previous research indicated links between fine motor skills in kindergarten and concurrent or later mathematical development.  Perceptual and Motor Skills published research to investigate whether the link between fine motor skills and numerical skills in preschoolers is from the involvement of finger representations in early mathematics.

The research study included 81 preschool children who were evaluated for fine motor skills and numerical tasks using receptive vocabulary and chronological age as control measures.  The fine motor skills that were assessed was pegboard task, bead stringing and block turning.  Numerical tasks were assessed using non-finger based (children were not allowed to count with their fingers) and finger-based (children were prompted to use their fingers).  The results indicated the following:

  • a positive and strong correlation between virtually all fine motor skills and numerical skills.
  • only age and finger-based numerical skills were significantly related to fine motor skills.
  • fine motor skills, independent of age and receptive vocabulary, contributed significantly to all numerical skill measures.
  • the fine motor skill link appeared strongest with finger-based numerical skills.
  • age, but not receptive vocabulary, also appeared to be a significant predictor of numerical skills generally and of nonfinger-based numerical skills.
  • age was not a significant predictor of finger-based numerical skills.

The researchers discussed that preschool children with greater fine motor skills are better able to represent numbers with fingers which links to better performance on finger-counting and finger arithmetic tasks.

Reference: Suggate, S., Stoeger, H., & Fischer, U. (2017). Finger-Based Numerical Skills Link Fine Motor Skills to Numerical Development in Preschoolers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 0031512517727405.

Check out these products to help preschoolers with fine motor skill development:

Hands First for Learning Fine Motor Curriculum and Preschool Units

Fantastic Fingers® Fine Motor Program

Fine Motor Breaks

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development




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Thursday, November 9, 2017

One Simple Way to Improve Participation

One Simple Way to Improve ParticipationOne Simple Way to Improve Participation

Do you struggle to get children to participate in certain activities?  Do you find it hard to engage children in non-preferred or difficult tasks?  Perhaps the children do not follow your directions or do not remain on task. This makes it difficult for children to learn new skills to participate in activities of daily living, academic tasks or social interactions.  Many times, positive reinforcement is used and children are rewarded after they complete the task appropriately.

Have you ever considered trying to avoid these behaviors before they even start?  One simple way to improve participation is to offer children choices to prevent non-compliance.  This helps to avoid the behaviors before they occur.  Research indicates that by offering interventions before the behaviors occur may help to limit avoidance of tasks and interfering behaviors.  In addition, it helps to promote an environment where children are ready to learn.

Offering children choices before the task has been shown to reduce disruptive behaviors, increase task engagement and decrease the amount of time to complete the task.  Although there is a risk that children may avoid less-preferred tasks.  Recent research in the Journal of Special Education evaluated the effects of choice of a less preferred task sequence (i.e. wash dishes, communicate with classmate, complete puzzle, etc) on noncompliance, task engagement, and duration to complete activities across two individuals with autism spectrum disorder and one participant with a speech and language impairment. The results indicated the following:

  • choice of task sequence effectively reduced noncompliance in two participants.
  • choice was initially effective although treatment effects failed to replicate in the third participant.
  • task engagement was greater during choice than the no-choice condition for only one participant.
  • there were no changes in duration to complete tasks.

The researchers concluded that providing choice before a low-preferred task sequence was effective at reducing noncompliant behavior.

Reference:  Kautz, M. E., DeBar, R. M., Vladescu, J. C., & Graff, R. B. (2017). A Further Evaluation of Choice of Task Sequence. The Journal of Special Education, 0022466917735655.

Are you looking for other strategies besides providing choices to help improve compliance in the classroom?  Typical Classroom Sensory-Based Problem Behaviors & Suggested Therapeutic Interventions offers many suggestions for therapeutic interventions for 12 different problem behavior categories.

Typical Classroom Sensory-Based Problem Behaviors & Suggested Therapeutic Interventions

The classroom sensory based problem behaviors include the following:

  1. Sitting/Poor Work Tolerance
  2. Vision/Attention Related
  3. Oral/Facial Related
  4. Visual Sensitivities
  5. Tactile/Proprioceptive/Personal Space Issues
  6. Self-Injurious Behaviors
  7. Gut Reactions Due to Perceived Stress/Anxiety
  8. Difficulty Staying with the Group
  9. Delayed Immature/Inefficient Grasp Pattern
  10. Visual/Proprioceptive Sensory Seeking Wrist/ Hands
  11. Difficulty with Positioning/ Lower Extremity Awareness
  12. Oral Motor/ Self-Feeding Issues

Under each problem behavior category the book lists:

  • what the child may be displaying
  • possible underlying causes
  • sensory strategy solutions

Find out more information about the Typical Classroom Sensory-Based Problem Behaviors & Suggested Therapeutic Interventions ebook.

One Simple Way to Improve Participation

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Link Between Reading, Visual Perception, and Visual–Motor Integration

Link Between Reading, Visual Perception, and Visual–Motor IntegrationLink Between Reading, Visual Perception, and Visual–Motor Integration

Decoding written words is a key component to developing the ability to read.  In order to decode, children need adequate visual perceptual skills.  Recent research published in Dyslexia discussed the link between reading, visual perception, and visual–motor integration using the Developmental Test of Visual Perception version 2 (DTVP-2).  The study examined three parts:

1) how did visual perception and visual–motor integration in kindergarten predict reading outcomes in neurotypical Grade 1 students.

2) if the skills can be seen as clinical markers in children with dyslexia.

3) if visual–motor integration and motor-reduced visual perception can distinguish children with dyslexia depending upon whether they exhibited developmental coordination disorder.

The results of the study indicated the following:

  • phonological awareness and visual–motor integration predicted reading outcomes one year later.
  • DTVP-2 demonstrated similarities and differences in visual–motor integration and motor-reduced visual perception between children with DD, DCD, and both of these deficits.

The researchers concluded that the DTVP-2 is a suitable tool to examine links between visual perception, visual–motor integration and reading, and to differentiate cognitive signs of children with developmental disabilities.

Reference: Bellocchi, S., Muneaux, M., Huau, A., Lévêque, Y., Jover, M., & Ducrot, S. (2017). Exploring the Link between Visual Perception, Visual–Motor Integration, and Reading in Normal Developing and Impaired Children using DTVP‐2. Dyslexia23(3), 296-315.

Looking for activities to practice visual perceptual skills and visual motor integration?  Check out these titles:

Hole Punch Palooza – combine visual perceptual, visual motor, letter recognition and hand strengthening with this digital download.  It includes 26 capital letter strips, 26 lowercase letter strips, 16 pre-writing strips, 12 visual discrimination strips, 4 counting strips, 4 prepositional phrase strips and 4 hole punch race strips.  Once printed, children can trace the letters, write the letters and hole punch the matching letters.  All the hole punch strips are in black and white.Hole Punch Palooza encourages: hand strengthening, handwriting and drawing practice, visual discrimination skills, visual motor skills, right/left discrimination and bilateral coordination.

Visual Motor Exercises – This digital download includes 25 long mazes and patterns to print, assemble and complete to practice pencil control.  Once the pattern/maze is assembled it is 28 inches in length.  This length encourages the child to cross the midline and to rotate the head (vestibular input) while completing the visual motor exercise.  The patterns and mazes vary in difficulty from easy to hard with horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curves and circular patterns.  The patterns/mazes are all in black and white.  There is a step by step direction sheet with color photos for the children to follow along.

Link Between Reading, Visual Perception, and Visual–Motor Integration

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