Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dyslexia: Not just a Developmental Reading Disorder?

Dyslexia, also known as Developmental Reading Disorder, is a learning disability in which an individual has difficulty learning to read, reading with fluency, and/or comprehending what he/she is reading, despite average intelligence.  Traditional intervention has focused on individual reading treatment to include reading-specific tasks such as reading aloud, phonemic awareness, phonics training, and multi-sensory learning approaches.

New research in Current Biology reports that dyslexia may be more of a problem with visual attention and visual perceptual skills, than specifically reading.  Children with the disorder have a difficult time filtering out irrelevant visual cues.   Andrea Facoetti, psychologist from the University of Padua, studied a group of children from age 4 to 7.  The children were tested on their reading abilities, color naming, recalling a list of objects, and completing a visual figure ground task (such as Where’s Waldo or Eye Spy).  The children with the most difficulty on the visual figure ground task at age 4 were the children who were given the dyslexia diagnosis at age 7.

This new research suggests that intervention which includes improving visual attention and visual perception skills may be more effective than traditional phonics training for treating dyslexia.  Early identification and intervention of these visual problems is recommended. Ask your occupational therapist for appropriate activities to work on visual attention and visual perceptual skills.

Courtney Enos, MS, OTR/L

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cutting Mastery!

As we progress from cutting straight lines to simple shapes, curves and angles, the key is using the assistive hand to turn the paper.  I always tell children that their dominant hand is the motor and their non-dominant hand is the steering wheel.

First, try to cut out a square, as it's similar to cutting a straight line.  Once they get to the corner, tell them to stop and turn the paper with their assistive hands.

A zigzag line is somewhat similar to a square as they will cut a short distance, stop and turn the paper to continue along the line.

Next, introduce a curved line, which will require slight adjustments as they move along the curved line.

After they feel comfortable with that, have them cut out a circle.  Circles are quite challenging as they require constant turning and adjustments of the paper with the assistive, non-dominant hand.

The most difficult challenge will be cutting out a picture with curves and angles.  Again, cue them to keep a thumb's up approach with the scissors, their dominant elbow at their sides and really work to let their non-dominant hands do all of the turning!

Simple animal shapes often provide nice curves and angles for cutting.

She is demonstrating nice turning of the paper with her assistive hand as evidenced by her upside down bunny.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

This one gets them snipping and for those with small attention spans, it's completed in a snap!


Provide a simple cut out of a tree trunk and limbs and have the child glue it to a blank sheet of paper.  Start with a strip of green and have him cut along one side and glue it on as grass. A pair of craft scissors makes cutting a strip of grass a breeze! 

Provide strips of different colored paper in varied widths for him to cut up into pieces.

Glue on the pieces to create beautiful fall foliage!


Call the Zoo Keeper! This activity provides great opportunity for cutting straight lines.

Provide a piece of paper with straight lines approximately 8 inches long and 1 1/2 inches apart.

Have your child cut straight up each line.  Make sure he stops at the end of the line.

Fill in the empty space at the top with the "Zoo".

Cut out every other space.

Add the final touches by placing your favorite animals in the zoo.  Your child can cut them out of a magazine, use stickers or you could have some animals already cut out and he could color them.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Early Scissor Success!

Learning to snip is an important first step for scissor skills. 


  1. Find a pair of safety scissors designed for children.  Make sure to provide your child with left handed scissors if he or she is a leftie!
  2. Encourage the proper grasp using a thumbs up approach.
  3. Try to get him or her to hold the paper or material with his or her opposite hand.

Let's Get Snipping:

  • Heavier weight paper such as an index card or construction paper will foster success as your child learns to hold it with one hand and cut with the other. Start with a small strip of paper one inch wide by four inches long and have him or her cut it into pieces!  Your child will feel a sense of mastery with the many small pieces of paper on the table!
  • Snip along the bottom of the paper to make grass or draw a large face and add hair by snipping at the top of the head. 
  • Materials other than paper make snipping fun.  Try snipping straws, playdoh and the packaging peanuts. 

We're making playdoh soup!

It's fun to make the straws "Pop" all over the table!

Who doesn't like making a mess?!

Once your child has mastered snipping, move on to cutting simple, straight lines.  Paint sample squares are great for learning to adhere to a line. 

The white lines serve as nice guidelines between the different colors. 

Use the pieces to create a colorful picture!

Continue to practice cutting straight lines and next week we'll move onto mastering angles and simple shapes! Be sure to share your snipping masterpieces with us!