Two Free Activities to Get in the Ramadhan Spirit

I hope all my readers of other faiths had a Happy Easter and/or Passover despite the COVID 19 outbreak. Living in quarantine has been a challenge for all of us but not day goes by that I do not think of those who have passed, the medical staff on the front lines and the essential workers who are still out risking their lives. I am grateful to be home. Growing up in public school I never had my holiday celebrated at school with cute crafts and activities. Now, I am part of a huge virtual network of parents dedicated to making Ramamdhan and Eid special for our kiddos.

Please enjoy these two free fine motor worksheets. One is a simple cutting activity good for kids ages 4-5, preschoolers.

Qamar Cutting with Hadith

The other is good for kids age 7 and up. It is a family tree of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him.).

Family Tree

My 2 Year old ate a Blood Pressure Pill

This is going to be my most personal post to date. This past week I had one of my scariest days as a parent besides dealing with high risk pregnancies and labor, labor terrified me. Due to the measly pay of a school based therapist where I live, I do a few extra things for more income. This includes independent contract work (extra students) and serving as a Subject Matter Expert for an online university for medical related courses such as Data Analysis for BioAnalytics and Legal and Ethical Issues in Healthcare. In order to accomplish this I rely on help with my kids. Sometimes at home and sometimes at my moms. This week schools were closed so we came to my mom’s home for my to accomplish my work as a Subject Matter Expert. I left our medications on another floor until bedtime. At bedtime I brought up a big bag of our things and was about to get the children ready for bed. As my husband asked me for something I started to look for it, one of us placed the medication on the sofa. Our backs were turned to our 2 year old for a maximum of a minute and a half tops, I think it was only a minute. I hear my husband scream and turn around, little white pills are everywhere and my son is chewing. My husband quickly swabs his mouth and I pick up all the medication. Our son gags but he ingested some, some watery white liquid comes out of his little mouth and is on my husbands hand and the floor. I call the pediatrician and then we both google what happens if a child eats blood pressure medication as I wait for a call back. My 7 year old reads over my husband’s shoulder and rushes to me and whispers that his little brother is going to die. My husband and I both tell him not to say such a thing but, we decide to rush to the emergency room. The doctor calls back and suggests we call poison control, it is a serious issue. We get to the emergency room and after triage we are waiting my husband thank God gets up and asks why we are waiting when our toddler ingested a dangerous medication. They take us in right away and a doctor comes and explains the danger is not low blood pressure but that the pancreas makes a lot of insulin that a little body cannot handle. His blood sugar and other labs would be checked every hour. He would be staying for at least 24 hours. He cries to have me with him so I sat in the bed with him in my lap. We didn’t merely watch as our 2 year old cried as an IV was inserted into his tiny hand, but we both had to assist in holding him. After another doctor called poison control they decided to give him charcoal because it was within the 2 hour window. The charcoal binds to whatever was ingested and prevents it from being digested/absorbed. It takes 2 kind and strong nurses, one of the nurses cell phone’s playing baby shark, my husband and myself to get him to take about 4 or 5 large syringes of liquid charcoal as he screams and cries. My husband was amazing, he tasted the charcoal himself and listened to the nurses suggestions on how to get it in the back of my sons cheek to make him swallow. When that stopped working we added holding his little nose so he had to swallow. Once this was done we were told we were moving to the PICU, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where he would be carefully monitored. I sent my husband back to my other boys. In the PICU there is a crib and a chair. He refused to sleep in the crib so nurses helped me hold him in the chair where he fell asleep on me. I placed him in the crib for awhile and fell asleep, nurses rushed in every now and then as his blood pressure had dropped. It was extremely scary, they woke him up to see if it would come back up. Everytime it rose back up and my poor baby was very tired. I then kept him in my lap upright to help keep his blood pressure up and felt more content with him nearby even though my body was sore.

Thank God, every lab came back ok. He was doing ok. We don’t know it is because he ingested very little or because he had the charcoal or a combination of both. While we were there a social worker came in to speak to me in the morning, I was sleep deprived, traumatized and just spent. She asked what happened and I told her. She asks if I have other children and what their ages are. She says “four boys that is handful what do you do to handle your stress?” I answer “I don’t do anything.” Then I say “well, I eat.” She and the doctor both laugh but I wasn’t trying to be funny, I was so exhausted and was just being honest. My husband called while we were talking so I put him on speaker, she asked him the same question and he gave the same answer. She asked what we could do differently next time, it felt so ridiculous of a question. But, we kept our cool and answered we understand that she was doing her job.

Here are the important things I learned:

  1. Even when traveling keep your medicines safe from your kids. My doctor sister recommended hiding them. I searched and found some locking pill bottles which open only with a code.
  2. If your child does eat your medications count how many are left, take the bottle with you to the nearest emergency room so there is no mix up about what the took and the hospital can take proper action.
  3. Call poison control.
  4. Make a fuss if the hospital keeps you waiting charcoal is effective within the first 2 hours.
  5. Make sure the pharmacy give you child safe bottle caps. When I showed the doctor in the PICU the pictures of the medicine bottle and she saw the label, she told me that Walmart is supposed to always give child safe cap but sometimes if the bottle has the right amount that you need they just stick the label on the bottle it came in. I may be switching pharmacies due to this.

To all my readers with curious and quick children, no matter the age or ability may God keep them safe. The same medication which are so important and help us can be so dangerous for our children, especially little ones with small bodies. I know there will be people who judge me, I have four young sons for those who don’t know. The oldest being only 7 years old. I can tell you it gets harder with children of different ages, you can’t just keep them in one place the older ones go from room to room and the little ones follow. You hear a noise behind you but it might be your 7 year old, you thought your 2 year old was somewhere else while you washed the dished but he was in the bathroom trying to brush his teeth. Accidental ingestion of medication usually happens with children under the age of 3. Be diligent and may God preserve and guide all our children to live healthy long lives. This week could have been very different and more horrific for me but I thank God my son is ok. I hope others learn from this post, feel free to share.

Photo by Anna Shvets on

Letter Recognition Worksheets

Here are some free letter recognition worksheets I have created at the suggestion of my son’s preschool teacher. If your child is having trouble differentiating letters and recognizing them, this is an easy way for them to practice. As a mom of 4, it is very difficult and give my son one on one learning so I created this to be done independently. I hope your little one’s enjoy! Click the link below to download the full worksheet.

When Screentime prevents playtime, what happens to little hands?

When we think about the ramifications of too much screentime on young kids, we often first think of poorer social skills. As an Occupational Therapist, I also notice, poorer hand strength, finger dexterity and immature grasp. I recently started treating a child who is extremely weak in his hands. He knows all his letters and how to form them but has such poor endurance. He knows the correct grasp to use but assumes an immature one because he gets tired. I asked the sweet boy what he does after school he said he does his homework. I pushed him, “and then what?” He said “I play on my ipad.”

I mentioned this to his mom, who is amazing. She got him every tool I mentioned would be good for him. She said she limits screentime as much as she can. I understood, I am a working mom like her. It is so hard to come home after work and have dinner to cook and dishes to wash and kids to bathe and a home to tidy. I gave her a suggestion, a homework assignment for OT. His homework is to PLAY. I expect him to play WITH TOYS everyday for 30 mintues after homework before ipad. Here is the list of toys I recommended for his age:









This is my prescription for all little hands: put them to use! Kids should be playing with toys that require them to us their hands. Children need to excercise the tiny muscles that make up their hands every…single…day.

Number recognition

Working on number recognition and knowledge. My preschooler is working on his name and number recognition to get ready for Kindergarten. Tips to do this:

Tips to work on number recognition and concept. What number is it? How many items is this number?

1. Have the numbers presented out of order so that the child cannot just count up to figure out which number.

2. To work on concept have the child count out of a large group of items (buttons, shells, beads, pompoms) and count out loud slowly.

3. Work on number formation, just like with letters, always start at the top! Use the same words to describe how to form the numbers every time

Here is a link to wording for number formation:

Happy counting!

A Simple Informal Asessment for fine motor skills

A colleague based in another country approached me about assessments. The one she is using is a simple visual asessement that really only informs about gross motor mobility. In order to understand where a child is currently in their skills a formal asessment is best. The Peabody, BOT II , WRAVMA and VMI are some of the preferred ones. Along with checklists such as the Sensory Profile II, Readiness checklist, HELP and DASH. However, if as a provider or parent you don’t have access to this you can do a few simple items to see how your child performs. A skilled professional will know how to pay attention to the quality of your child’s work. What is their grasp like? Do they switch hands? Are they only recognizing their name letters? Do they confuse letters due to common reversals (b and d)? Do they start their letters at the top? Based off of other checklists I have created this simple one. I will work on attaching it as a download as soon as I can. This is inspired by Jan Olsen’s Readiness Checklist which is not free but I highly encourage everyone use it! It is copyrighted, that is why I made my own version (which I hope is ok) just to have something accessible to my colleague who has very limited resources.

Evidence Based Practice

What is Evidence Based Practice?

As a parent, as a person, as a consumer we should always consider the outcome of our decisions. In terms of simple logic, will doing A lead to B? Will putting my child on a certain diet or making them wear a certain vest produce the results I am looking for?

As an Occupational Therapist we are expected to use Evidence Based Practice to drive our treatment.

Evidence is proof. It is scientific proof, not one or two people reporting their results. It is based on RESEARCH that was good enough to be publised in a medical journal with a good reputation. This means the study was strong, it was planned and conducted in a manner that would produce results that would give clear answers.

Based means we are using the research as a guide. We may read a study about an intervention and how it was implemented in a very strict regimen, we may only need to use some elements of this treatment and see good results.

For example weighted vests used to be used as a sensory intervention however studies did not show clear results that they helped reduce sensory behaviors and they also poorly affected posture in children with low muscle tone. Now compression vests are used and therapists document behavior to examine, then put the vest on the child, and document the SAME behavior to see if the compressiom vest worked with the child as a sensory intervention. Evidence is used to guide our practice.

Parenting is such a difficult task, parents can be vulnerable to anyone who claims to be able to help their child. New parents buy all the tools and gadgets they think they need for their child, special needs parents would do anything for their kids. However, I invite you to reflect and think about any treatment you are giving your child, any intervention you are applying.

As always, feel free to comment and share.

Social Skills

Social skills are what help people to interact with others in a positive manner. This includes the ability to make friends, maintain friendships, playing with others, turn taking during games, and the more simple interactions such as speaking to a cashier in a store or asking someone for directions. With social skills we are able to make requests and make our needs known. Social skills are so important for special needs children. For those who are verbal and able to learn social skills can be taught. The concept that being personable or friendly is a trait that one is born with is untrue. Just as adults can improve their speaking skills or build their confidence, children and younf adults can improve their social skills and confidence.

Some things that kiddos can work on include:

  • Personal space (learning how close to stand when speaking with others. Using an arms length is a great way to measure.)
  • Volume, kids can be screamers or mumblers, but we can teach them to use to right volume to speak and be heard.
  • Turn taking, when engaging others in a conversation or whole playing a game, kids need to learn to take turns talking and listening. Waiting is such an important and undertaught skill!
  • Common phrases, kids on the autism spectrum can be taught common phrases to use in certain situations. Scripting is really a natural tool of language development where children repeat things they have heard elsewhere. This is be functional if utilized in a proper manner. For example: “help please”, “my turn” etc.
  • Social stories for difficult events such as haircutting. A social story is a simple story where kids learn what to anticipate in a tough situation, for example “the barber will buzz his electric razor it is LOUD but, it doesn’t hurt. Adam loves his haircut, he looks so handsome!”
  • How to be polite, we can teach kids the social nuances by providing them situations to practice. Teach them to greet others.
  • I almost forgot, get the kids off the electronics! They only encourage isolation further. The less screen time the better.

Social groups can be interest based such as a model airplane building or model train group. Or, it can be activity based, a sports group or a art group. We can also create a buddy system and there are some awesome non profits who team up kids with neurotypical peers at fun places like kids muesuems and parks.

Parents of nerotypical kids, your kids can learn a lot from special needs kids! Please teach your kids how to interact with kids that are different with kindness and patience. Don’t teach them to avoid, but to include!

If you need help in this regard please reach out to me and comment below!