New learning needs new neurons

Check this out. 

Snyder and others published in the journal, Nature 2011. 

This researcher is studying the hippocampus, a very cool part of the brain that is needed to encode long term memory. 

There are new cells created all the time in the hippocampus.

His research is suggesting that these new cells might be necessary for new learning. It makes sense doesn't it?



Ask an OT: Who will benefit from the iLs system?

I am very happy to hear that my first customer of the integrated Listening system has been receiving positive feedback from numerous people in his life who are commenting on his focus and social communication skills. 

The question is now, why did it work so well for him and who else will it work for. 

1. This 10 year old boy has a fantastic specialized services team in place and very actively involved parents. The family and the aide followed the plan carefully. The boy is now listening up to an hour on program 40, doing set 4 of the playbook for about 15 minutes.  For the rest of the time while listening, he is building with LEGO, learning to type, and doing a craft.

2. The basic rhythm of the initial sensory motor music seemed to help him focus on the playbook activities. He was able to do about 5 in a row, but worked hard to get up to 20 repetitions. For instance, 20 bounce catches. Note: these activities were introduced for a few months before the music was. 

Any comments or questions?


Please click on the comment button beside my name under "Ask and O.T." at the top of this post. 

Ask an OT about self-talk

I had my student, Nicole Hnatiuk, develop this handout for clients: 

Self Talk

Self talk is speech that a person addresses to themselves or no one in particular. It can be out loud or it can be carried out silently in the person’s head. It is the voice that normally guides us through new and complex motor actions or complex social situations.

How to teach it: Model the simple, positive, self-instructive phrases we all use to guide our actions. Say it out loud. Ask the person to try saying out loud what they think they should do. Ask them to practice together. For instance, “I am making a cloud in my drawing. “what are you making?”. Then, later, “tell me what you need to say to yourself”. Practice games talking at a regular voice, then very loud, then too loud and back down all the way to a whisper and a whisper inside your head that no one else can hear.

Teach self talk for:

  • Challenges in the classroom. “I need to sit quietly in the classroom”
  • Challenges in the playground. “I can find something else to do”
  • Problem-solving, “what should I do different?”
  • Staying on task: “almost done”
  • Self-motivation: “I can do it”  
  • Self-regulation: “cool, calm and collected”. “ready for anything”
  • Reducing anxiety: “that’s okay, I can just wash my hands later”
  • Improving self-esteem: “I am good at making up songs”
  • Reading (to “hear themselves” in the story). “I am the main character, what am I going to do next?”. Read out loud. Note: Reading, as a visual perception issue may be managed through vision therapy. Please contact an educational optometrist.
  • Helping the brain and the body to work together. “I can tell my body what to do”
  • Preventing reversals (b vs. d):  “a ‘b’ kicks a ball right.”  “A ‘d’ catches a ball”
  • Letter formation: “a “g” has a tail needs to be below the line.”
  • Spacing between words: “finger space between the words.”
  • Staying on the line: “All letters ride on the line.”
  • Letter recognition: “lower case ‘y’ has a tail that digs below the line”. “a ‘g’ has a circle on top.”
  • Spelling (a sequencing task): make the sounds for each letter while counting the letters on the hand and saying:   “1,2,3, c. a. t.”
  • Making a plan: “stop and think, goal, plan, do, check”.
  • Capitals: “capitals start a sentence”. Or “stop, dot, capital”. “If it’s a name it needs a capital”. “All capitals are tall letters”. “Capitals tell the reader to take a pause”.
  • Visual coding: “that one is different from this one because it is turned around”.
  • Memorization: repeat, repeat, repeat. Use verbal repetition to aide memorization.
  • It also can be used in combination with visual tasks, such as reading and writing.

Source: Lee, Scott Weng Fai (2011) 'Exploring seven- to eight-year-olds' use of self-talk strategies', Early Child Development and Care, 181: 6, 847 — 856


Nicole, did using these strategies help your client?

Ask an OT: Fight or Flight

I had my student, Nicole Hnatiuk, go to the research to answer this question:


Why does proprioception reduce fight or flight?


We know that after heavy work, (a little resistive exercise or heavy housework for instance), we are better able to sit down and do tedious activity like our taxes. We know that putting such activity into a person's schedule throughout the day can help that person cope better throughout the day. Most experts mention the fight or flight system as important in that process, but do not mention what the physiology in the body might be. 


Nicole, what did you find? (see the comments for her summary)

Ask an OT: listening systems

Question: I am going to work with a child who does not like to use his listening system, apparently, because he does not like the fine motor activities that go with it. 


Answer: I would recommend you calling iLs and checking if fine motor activities are necessary. From my understanding, the only activities occur in the first 15 minutes of every session when the person does visual and vestibular (movement) activities to help integrate the effect of the music in the brain. Fine motor is one of many options for activities to do after the first 15 minutes. Walking is another option. 


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