Education Resources Blog

Why is Sensory Such a Mystery?


We’ve all sat in those meetings. The one where the Committee Chair, or the pre-school director, or the classroom staff, or the administration says those dreaded words.

We don’t treat just sensory.”

“OT is for fine-motor and visual-perceptual skills.”

“We don’t provide sensory diets.”

If you’ve never heard these cringe-worthy statements made, consider yourself lucky.

I get it. Sensory issues are tricky. Truth be told, I feel lost with them. I feel like I understand a fraction of what there is to know about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Admitting this is difficult, considering my own child has SPD. But I know, if I’m mystified, then others out there must be equally as lost.

I know they are.

Classroom teachers’ eyes glaze over at the mention of a sensory diet. Shall we count how often the sensory diet recommendations are carried out? I’m guessing we can do it on one hand. It’s not for lack of trying on the teachers’ parts either. Resources are stretched too thin. Training is too sparse. It’s easier just to refer out to OT to get the job done. It doesn’t work if it’s treated with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Heck mention of the Wilbarger protocol alone sends shudders of terror down my spine. And let’s be frank–our kids barely get time to eat and have recess. No one has time to brush someone every two hours, not to mention how socially off-putting this can be to other children. (NOTE: While writing this, a teacher came in and asked about a standing desk to try with a student. The student is currently using a T-stool but a classmate has started picking on her for it.)

But then there’s flip side–we can’t expect children to learn until their sensory systems are modulated. Sure, some information can get in here and there. These kids are smart and will find a way. But smooth, coordinated learning, not to mention social interaction–in other words, success–will be impacted in children with an undermodulated or overmodulated nervous system.

Just because we know these issues are there doesn’t mean there’s an easy solution. From a therapist point of view, providing a sensory diet seems like a good solution. But we all know the reality of this. The cookie-cutter approach doesn’t always work. So, what else can we do? How can we meet our children’s sensory and social needs?

Like most therapists (and those awesome Tiger parents), we know it’s time to think out of the box. Sometimes, the answer is easy. For my son, Jurassic Park, with its roaring T-rex was too loud. We had to leave the movie. When the Jurassic World came out, we had a new plan. That pair of headphones (the cheap version of Beats)–they block the sound too. And my 11 year-old looked like any other kid with his iPod in the pocket of his hoodie. Thinking outside the box while fitting in. We’ve been doing this all along. Or we should be.

OT Doreit Bailer explores a problem solving approach to sensory issues in her seminar, No Longer A SECRET:  A Theoretical, Practical Approach to Helping Students with Sensory and Motor Challenges Experience Success at the Sixteenth Annual Therapies in the School Conference.

~Kathryn Biel, PT, DPT


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NEW COURSE – Connective Tissue Mobilization

Education Resources is thrilled to be able to offer this new course:

Patricia West-Low

Patricia West-Low

Connective Tissue Mobilization for Pediatric Therapists presented by a new member of our faculty; Patricia West-Low PT, MA, DPT, PCS 

Research and clinical evidence suggest that connective tissue changes may contribute to postural malalignment and movement dysfunction in children.  This course is designed to introduce pediatric Physical and Occupational Therapists to the scientific rationale for basic practices of connective tissue mobilization.  Through structural alignment observation, and hands on practicums, participants will gain the ability to identify and treat connective tissue restrictions resulting in structural misalignments, which interfere with efficient functional movement.  Participants will learn approaches to neuromuscular re-education to improve muscular control and coordination. Treatments specific to children with neuromotor impairment, musculoskeletal injury, post-surgical scars, and torticollis will be explored.  Case examples will be presented.


December 4-5, 2015 – Canton, MA

March 4-5, 2016 – Cedar Knolls, NJ 

April 2-3, 2016 – Orland Park, IL

Any questions or thoughts? Let us know.
Post your comment here or contact the office:


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Hands-On Therapy

It’s that uncomfortable moment in our professional development where they talk about not touching students. You know, that you shouldn’t really hug or touch students, and specifically not below the waist and above the knee.

I know the point of the training (and am not in any way minimizing the need for our children to be safe in school), but I can’t help but feel that it doesn’t apply to me. My hands are frequently on my students. Because it’s my job.

Whether it’s providing joint compression or deep pressure or joint mobilization or myofascial release, I need to be using my hands. My hands, and actually my whole body for that matter, are a tool in my toolbox. They help to provide the necessary modality to address impairments that are leading to dysfunction in my students. This dysfunction is the focus of my treatment. Especially in school-based therapy, the goal is to improve function.

Take, for example, the child who enters Kindergarten with great functional goals, like reciprocal stair navigation, ball play, cutting, and manipulating the zipper on his backpack. Yes, these are all the things a Kindergartener should be doing or working toward. But in this case, the child has a right hemiplegia, has not worn his hand splint or AFO in months, and basically does not use his right side (other than in ambulation). He is plagiocephalic and has a history of extensive abdominal surgery.

Range of motion limitations prevent the child from putting his foot flat on the floor. Muscle tone issues prevent spontaneous ease of use. Limb-neglect is present. Motor control and motor planning also stand in the way.

Based upon the child’s presentation, it’s apparent that extensor development is lacking. This impacts mid-range postural control and is another complicating factor in his overall functional deficits. While outside modalities (such as medical management and bracing) are often needed, we have some tools in our toolbox to start addressing some of these concerns. Going back to the developmental sequence, using an NDT frame-of-reference can help to address some of those skills that have been missed. Developing extensor and then flexor control through prone and quadruped will improve balance and stability for fine and gross motor tasks.

For example, positioning in prone prop while attending to an activity, for this child, can provide the following benefits:

  1. Development of strength and endurance in the upper back, scapular, and neck extensors.
  2. Elongation of the hip flexors and abdominal muscles that are often shortened due to frequent sitting.
  3. By flexing the non-involved leg (in this case left) slightly, weight bearing through the right hemibody is occurring to improve proprioception.
  4. Shoulder girdle strengthening.
  5. Right shoulder proprioceptive input through joint approximation, which can help maintain capsular integrity as well as decrease muscle tone through weight bearing.
  6. Work on visual tracking, convergence and divergence.
  7. Extension of the head and neck activates the reticular activating system, which increases attention and arousal.

But, passive positioning, especially in this case, isn’t quite enough. Hands-on techniques such as joint mobilization, range of motion, PNF, and myofascial release are often needed to inhibit muscle tone and lengthen muscles to achieve neutral alignment. Once in neutral, strengthening and motor control can be developed.

While we often think about these techniques as clinical skills that aren’t used in school, they’re often a valued resource in improving overall function within the school environment. If you’re interested in learning more about how to use NDT and MFR to treat moderately to severely involved children in the school environment, check out Barbara Hodge’s seminar, The Moderately-Severely Involved Child: Integrating NDT and MFR into a School-Based Program at the Sixteenth Annual Therapies in the School Conference.

~Kathryn Biel, PT, DPT


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School Therapists – CEUs for Back to School

As everyone heads back to school you may now be looking for dynamic CEU courses to enhance your skills and knowledge. Our school based CEU courses will enable you to provide effective evidence-based strategies that foster increased academic performance, social participation and inclusion for all children with special needs including those with severe involvement. 

Please click on titles below to reach course page for full description, to download a brochure, or to register

Multi Faculty 
November 19-20, 2015
Framingham, MA
Join us at this popular conference to learn creative, effective, evidence-based strategies that reflect the best practices for collaborative school based interventions.
Network with therapists and educators from other school districts and learn how others are handling the very challenges you face each day.

NEW Online Courses for School Therapists
Recorded live from our Therapies in the Schools Conferences
Multi Faculty

Linking Play to Function: Utilizing NDT and SI
Lezlie Adler

Advanced Course: Combining NDT and SI for Optimal Function in Children with Neuromotor Challenges
Lezlie Adler

Yoga Therapy for the Child with Developmental Challenges
Anne Buckley-Reen

Get Ready to Learn: Yoga Therapy in the Classroom 
Anne Buckley-Reen

Sensory Integration Intensive
Jeannetta Burpee

Praxis: Evaluation and Treatment of the Clumsy Child
Barbara Connolly

Pediatric Vestibular Rehabilitation
Gaye Cronin

Vestibular and Balance Rehabilitation in Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS)
Gaye Cronin

Traumatic Brain Injury: Maximizing Functional Outcomes
Leslie Davidson

Is it Sensory? Or Is It Behavior? Assessment and Intervention Tools for OT’s, PT’s, and SLP’s
Debra Dickson

The Whole Child: The S.A.N.E System of Pediatric Assessment and Treatment
Debra Dickson

Treatment of Children with Sensory, Emotional and Motor Challenges
Lise Gerard Faulise

Intervention for High Risk Infants and Young Children (0-5): Activities, Routines and Evidence Based Practice
Randy Fedoruk

Post Concussion Syndrome
Christina Finn

Building the Brain: A Neurobiological Approach
Robin Harwell

NDT and MFR for Children with Neurological Disabilities
Barbara Hodge

Pediatric NDT Treatment Intensive
Barbara Hodge

Treatment of the Child with Severe Involvement: an NDT Approach
Linda Kliebhan

Treatment of the Hypotonic Child
Linda Kliebhan 

Yoga and Pilates Therapy for the Child with Special Needs
Angelique Micallef-Courts

Children’s Brains, Neuroplasticity, and Pediatric Intervention: What’s the Evidence?
Patricia Montgomery

Effective Ways to Manage Behavior and Increase Functional Outcomes
John Pagano

Best Practices in Treatment of the Child with CP and other Neurologic Disorders
Ginny Paleg

Integrating Movement-Based Learning into Treatment: An Evidence Based Approach
June Smith

Practical Intervention Strategies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Stacey Szklut

Vision, Visual Perceptual and Visual Motor Skills: Assessment and Intervention for Children
Valorie Todd

The Pediatric Brain: Treatment Applications
Janine Wiskind

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How to Deal with Students with Mental Illness


This week before students return, I’ve been spending copious amounts of time in district mandated professional development. One of the seminars was on what to do if there is an active shooter/active killer in the school. It a sad commentary that this is a necessary seminar for those of us in education. The presenter discussed several past episodes of school violence, and talked about lessons learned from them, and how those lessons have shaped changes in policies and procedures.

He touched briefly on the need for collaboration between various team members, especially when dramatic shifts in behavior are noted. Although the term was mentioned casually, what he did not address is mental illness in students. My colleague leaned over to me and said, “What we really need is professional development on how to deal with students with mental illness.”

As suicide rates and incidences of school (and community) mass violence continue to rise, this is an issue that can no longer be ignored. As of the latest available data, the suicide rate in teens is 10%. One in ten teenagers aged 14 to 19 will attempt suicide at some point in their lives (the percentage jumps to 25% in LBGTQ teens).

Personally, I know that over my sixteen year career, I’ve not only seen a startling number of young children diagnosed with some form of mental illness, but the severity and frequency appear to be increasing. From children virtually paralyzed by anxiety to selective mutism to depression to bipolar disorder, we are seeing these kids on a daily basis. We are dealing with the fall out of their disorders (whether being treated or not) through behaviors. As a therapist, I know that behaviors resulting from a mental illness can significantly derail the productivity and therefore progress my student makes.

This is a topic in which there are no easy answers. Then, fold in the dynamic educational aspect with its rapid fire pace and high demands, and it is no wonder we are seeing aggression and behaviors from our students. They are in a world that doesn’t always make sense, with chemical imbalances that impair their ability to respond, and we are expecting so much.

But we have to have expectations. So, how do we handle this? How can we ask our students to do their best without increasing anxiety and depression? How can we improve mental health while getting the most out of our students? If you’d like to know more, John Pagano will be discussing behavior management and strategies for improving mental health at the Sixteenth Annual Therapies in the School conference.

~Kathryn Biel, PT, DPT


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NEW COURSE: Brain Injury Rehabilitation (TBI and Post Concussion Syndrome)

We are excited to welcome Shari Woelke to our faculty. 

Shari is an occupational therapist and sole proprietor of Woelke Occupational Therapy (WOT) based in Ottawa, Ontario Canada.  Her practice experience has spanned inpatient, community and clinic settings with a career-long emphasis on neurological disorders.  She now primarily targets brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (largely military), learning and emotional disorders. Woelke Occupational Therapy provides biofeedback, activation, mental health and cognitive rehabilitation support, with heavy emphasis on current neurophysiological research and its application to rehabilitation.

Don’t miss her dynamic new course coming up in December.

Shari Woelke Education Resources

Shari Woelke, OT

This course will review current evidence in brain injury rehabilitation; building from the neurophysiological impact of brain injury to the development of an evidence-based ‘framework or intervention’ that is applicable across ages and contexts.  Strategies and techniques to address specific symptoms will be reviewed; including the process of customization to the client’s specific needs.  The course will close with a discussion of emerging trends and technology in neurological intervention.

At the end of this course the participant will be able to:

  • Identify neurophysiological correlates of symptoms post brain injury.
  • Identify symptoms, functional implications and strategy options that may be customized to client need.
  • Learn to apply a ‘framework of intervention’ that may be used across age spans and symptom severity.
  • Implement and adapt context-specific functional strategies to the client’s symptom and environmental demands.

Being offered in:

Minneapolis, MN – December 5-6, 2015

Richmond, VA – December 11-12, 2015

Please click here for full course details, to download a brochure and to register.

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Get Your Back To School Postural Control Ready!


I’m preparing myself, as many of you are to head back to school. Seriously, where did the summer go? But in thinking about the things we may need to get ready for school, we often think of the basics: pencils and erasers, folders, a supportive pair of sneakers, a high quality backpack. One of the things that many of our students may be lacking, without even knowing it, is postural control.

Postural control is the ability to maintain and control one’s body in space for the purposes of orientation and stability. Anyone watching a toddler stand for the first time will understand that it is literally a careful balancing act. However, once children are upright and moving, it’s easy to forget about the multiple factors that influence postural control. But think about what we’re asking our bodies to do. We’re asking them to hold still and move all at the same time. To maintain the axial body while moving some (all) of our five appendages (including the head). To coordinate input from internal and external sources and factors and keep us upright and stable. When there’s a deficit or dysfunction in one of these factors, postural control and balance can be grossly and finely affected.

The systems that are necessary for postural control include the musculoskeletal system, the sensory system, and the cognitive or cortical system. Numerous variables within these systems (such as range of motion, strength, muscle tone, attention, vision, and vestibular processing) must work together to maintain a delicate balance that holds the body still while providing movement to interact and react with the environment.

At times, a deficit in one system can lead to overcompensation with another. For example, the child who can balance endlessly on one foot with his eyes open, but falls almost instantaneously when his eyes are closed. It is then up to us to figure out where the dysfunction is occurring and how to provide a treatment plan and strategies to minimize the dysfunction.

We’re seeing these children in school all the time. They’re the kids who can’t sit upright without external support. They’re the kids who can’t maintain sitting in their seats while looking up at the board and then down at their desks (due to unintegrated primitive reflexes). They’re the kids who trip and fall. The kids who aren’t able to sit or stand still.

And then, as therapists, the question is what to do about it? How much external support do we provide? What positions are acceptable and functional? How do we help the child become more functional within the school environment?

If you’re looking for more on postural control and movement theories, and how to improve function with minimal direct handling or positioning equipment, check out the Sixteen Annual Therapies in the School Conference where Barbara Hodge will address this topic and more!

~Kathryn Biel, PT, DPT

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Autism Intervention – Don’t Miss This Dynamic Continuing Education Course

Intervention Strategies for AutismThis  evidence based course will integrate evidence based treatments with practical techniques for behavior, communication, and function.

Coming to:
Aurora, IL – September 18-19, 2015
Tallahassee, FL – October 2-3, 2015
Houston, TX – November 7-8, 2015
Mountainside, NJ – February 12-13, 2016

Stacey is well known for her dynamic engaging teaching style, and her ability to take current research and make it clinically relevant and exciting. She will teach you to view familiar problems with new eyes. She is a master clinician in occupational therapy, and also a published author who lectures throughout the country with a specialty in sensory processing disorders.

Please Click here for full course information, to download a brochure or to register

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Therapies in the School Conference- Education ResourcesThere is no better way to reach school based therapists than to present your relevant products and services at this popular annual conference, “Therapies in the School”.
For many years, this conference has attracted key decision makers in disciplines such as occupational, physical, and speech therapy, psychology, teaching, and special education from all over the U.S. and Canada.
This years conference focuses on addressing best strategies to support students with sensory and motor challenges, motor issues in autism, gaining postural stability and
bilateral coordination, visual spatial strategies to facilitate early literacy development, practical tools to handle aggression, intervention for fine motor skills, embedded
interventions to overcome barriers to school participation as well as issues working with the moderately-severely involved child.

We are now pleased to offer multiple levels of sponsorship opportunities.
We hope to see you at this year’s conference.

Limited Availability so Reserve Early!


Premium Level
Complimentary Guest Registration (1) to attend the conference and earn CEUs if applicable. (1) six ft draped table and two chairs
Printed Marketing Recognition:
Your company logo, website and contact info will be included on the sponsor page of our conference handout
Online Marketing Recognition:
Your company logo, website, and contact information will be included on the course sponsor page on our website. You will also be highlighted in an email blast targeted to all our school therapists
Social Media Marketing:
Your company will be recognized onour Facebook and Linked In Pages prior to the conference

We offer a buffet breakfast on both mornings of the conference, a wonderful opportunity for participants to network.
Sponsorship includes printed recognition in the conference
handout and online on our website.
Sponsor will also be recognized with signage at the breakfast
to welcome participants. (sponsor to provide signage)

Lunch (limited to three sponsors)
Our participants enjoy a sit-down luncheon to reconnect and
network with colleagues on the second day of the conference.
Sponsorship includes recognition from the conference
podium, in the printed handout, and online on our website.
Sponsor will also be recognized with signage at the luncheon.

Coffee Break (multiple opportunities available)
Our participants do not go hungry! We offer breaks on both days
Sponsorship includes recognition in conference materials and

Sponsorship Opportunities Customized to Suit your Needs
Exhibitor Space Only (includes one table and two chairs)     $500
One Day only Rate     $300
Attend and Exhibit     $750
Extra table includes two extra chairs (daily rate)    $250
Printed marketing materials:    $300
    Provide one marketing piece to be included in each participants
    conference tote bag
Catalogue Distribution    $250
Online & Social Media Marketing:    $750
    We will place your logo, website and contact info on the Therapies Conference
    page of our website. You will also receive one post on our Facebook page and
    Linked In page and one email blast to our database of school therapists
Combined Printed and Online & Social Media Marketing:    $950
Online Course Sponsor : Call for Details
    Logo and contact information on our website’s sponsor page or course page.
    One post on our Facebook page and Linked In page and one time email blast to our       database of school therapists

Please contact me with any questions 
Mandy: 508 359 6533 

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Please help! PT with a Difficult Torticollis Case, Needs Some Advice.

DEAR ERI COMMUNITY: Posting from Brandy

Hello all, I need help!
I have a baby (pt) with torticollis. She has been treated for several months. The baby also had GI issues, found out she has allergies, etc. She is extremely irritable and doesn’t calm easily. She switches sides for her tilt often. I referred her to a neurologist and craniosacral therapist/chiropractor for benign paroxysmal torticollis of infancy. Obviously no one has heard of this. The mom (due to financial concerns) ended up leaving here and cont. on with EI, but cont. to call and keep me updated and bounce ideas off of me. I also referred the pt. to a pedi/neuro opthamologist who states vision is normal. The opthamologist is referring the pt. to a HEENT for inner ear issues. I have run out of reasons/ideas why this pt. cont. to have torticollis and switch sides. Any other ideas for this poor mom? The baby is probably about 8 months now.

Please post your comments below to help Brandy.

Thank you

Posted in Pediatrics | Tagged , , | 5 Comments