Children learn through play. As an occupational therapist who works with children and youth, I use games and toys almost every day to help develop important cognitive, visual perceptual, motor, sensory, social, play and leisure skills. While many different types of activities can be used in therapy, this blog focuses on off-the-shelf games and toys that are accessible to most. Whether you are a therapist, parent, teacher, or a game lover like me, I hope you discover something useful while you are here. Learn a different way to play a game you already own or discover a new game for your next family game night. Either way, just go play. It's good for you!

The OT Magazine named The Playful Otter one of the Top 5 Pediatric OT Blogs.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Self-Calming Cards

A versatile self calming, relaxation teaching tool.

Work on self-calming strategies, coping strategies, relaxation techniques
In the box: 24 self-calming tools, 12 activity cards
An awesome tool that I have used in planning and during many sessions when teaching self-calming strategies, coping strategies, and relaxation techniques. The cards fall into 6 categories and at the top of each card there is a colored bar with the category name. The categories are
  • Physical tools
  • Auditory/verbal tools
  • Humor tools
  • Creative tools
  • Self-nurturing tools
  • Visual tools
There is an illustrated picture on the front of each card that depicts one specific strategy/technique for that category. For instance, one of the visual tools cards depicts Watch an Aquarium.  On the back of the card there is a two-three sentence explanation for using the strategy that you might paraphrase for the individual. Then there is a short story example and two to four activities for teaching the strategy. Since it is important that the strategies practiced are also strategies that the individual would feel comfortable using, I feel it is important to pick the strategies together with the individual, not for them. When working with older kids, I allow each individual to go through the deck and pick out cards that he feels would be effective strategies for him and that he can see himself doing. Then we explore those cards. The 12 activity cards can be used to introduce the subject and why we would use self-calming tools and include goals to
  • Become familiar with the self-calming activities
  • Help kids realize that when people are upset or angry, they have choices to calm themselves
  • Practice using self-calming tools in pretend situations
I thought this set of cards was a little pricey when I bought them, but they have turned out to be a very valuable tool for me.
Try this:
  • Lay the cards out in front of the individual. Give them a scenario of when a self-calming technique could be used. Then ask him to pick all the cards that would be appropriate strategies for that particular time and place.
  • Choose one strategy to work on per session. Use the activities suggested on the back of the card and/or make up your own.
  • Brainstorm with the individual different ways that each card they choose can be adapted to different settings. For instance, if he finds that watching fish swim in an aquarium is calming to him, would a screensaver of fish swimming on his computer at school have the same effect, or would listening to ocean sounds on his iPod help?
  • Give assignments to use the strategies in the upcoming week and follow up the next week with questions. What situation brought you to use a strategy, what strategy did you use, what happened after you used it, do you feel it worked for you?
  •  Talk with the parents/caregivers and let them know what strategies the child is practicing so that they can model that behavior for the child and guide him into using the strategy when it is needed during the week.
For more information, click on the image below.

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