About the Author

barbara smith occupational therapist

Barbara Smith M.S. O.T.R.
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I have worked for over 35 years developing activities for
children and adults with developmental and learning disabilities.
It all began after graduating from the State University of New
York at New Paltz with a B.A. in English. This was back when
Watergate was a household name.  A human service job fell
into my lap and my career path began.

grouphomeIn 1977 the deinstitutionalization
movement was in full swing. I landed
a job living in a former country doctor's
house with nine developmentally
disabled men who had previously
lived in the notorious Willowbrook State

School in New York. My job was to teach them everything
about living in a home- from table manners to making a bed, 
mailing a letter and how to behave in public. It was a time
when the mentally disabled were beginning to earn respect
and be treated as adults.

After working with developmentally disabled adults in
community residences, day habilitation centers and sheltered
workshops, I realized that the field of occupational therapy
would offer  opportunities for professional advancement and creativity.

While working as an occupational therapist at the Hogan Regional
Center in Danvers, Massachusetts I observed that many of the
activities designed for children were not appropriate for the
aging population of developmentally disabled individuals. Yet,
these individuals did not possess the motor and cognitive
abilities to perform activities designed for adults. The solution
was to make my own activities and the cheapest way to do so
was by using common household recyclable objects such as
soda and laundry bottles, card-board boxes, rubber bands and

The activities were so successful I decided to them into print and
thus, my writing career had begun with the publication of
The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Cutting  Gluing Taping Tying Stapling

davidtenMy young son, David loved to imitate my
cutting, taping and gluing and became
model fine-motor child. A photo gallery of
his creations are presented to
parents, teachers, therapists and all other
interested parties to turn
off the screens
and bring out the "stuff".  

David's Creations

A few years later I switched career gears and
began working in the Ipswich,
Public Schools. This opportunity allowed me
to evaluate
children with varied disabilities,
but mainly learning disabilities. It became

apparent that many parents did not understand
normal hand development
and often asked
what they should do at home to foster their

child's fine-motor
skills. After studying the literature, it seemed that
there were lots of books
available that taught arts and crafts and
games. There are also lots of
technical books that discuss sensory
integration and fine motor development. However, few books are
written that are fun, but instructional; easy to read, yet comprehensive
and full of the very activities that
help children learn hand skills.
My NAPPA award winning book 
From Rattles to Writing fills this niche.

After working a short time in pediatrics, I realized the importance of
further training in Sensory
Integration theory and treatment techniques
and became certified to give the Sensory Integration
and Praxis
Test (SIPT) in the year 2000. 

barb horseDuring the winter of 2007 I began
learning about hippotherapy. This

using the horse as a
treatment tool to work on
objectives with
disabled children. Patting, brushing,
playing games while
riding and bonding with the horse

many sensory, motor, social emotional and other
needs of clients.
Visit Hippotherapy Information to learn
more about this exciting treatment specialty area.

When my mother, Sarah developed Alzheimer's disease, I was able to put all my experience to use -adapting her world to achieve greatest function and enjoyment of life.

sarahMy mother liked to to manipulate the
soft strands of fleece fabric tied onto a furry
squeaky toy. Socks filled with marbles, foam
and pennies are also attached for sensory
stimulation. But singing remained her favorite
Click on Sarah to see her favorite large print,
easy to read songs. More activities and information
for the geriatric population can be found at: Geriatrics.

I wrote Still giving Kisses: A Guide to Helping and Enjoying the Alzheimer's Victim You Love. to share my mother's story and the many therapeutic activities I designed to meet my mother's needs.

There are many books written about autism spectrum disorders. However, they mostly focus on the sensory, communication and social aspects. It is well recognized that children and adults with autism have atypical ways of using their vision and hands together to manipulate objects and learn functional skills. I wrote From Flapping to function: A Parent's Guide to Autism and hand Skills to explore the impact of atypical visual, sensory motor skills, executive functioning and behaviors on the development of hand skills and the effective, often simple and cost-effective strategies that help. The video shows just a few of the strategies.

I have created this web site to provide information to parents, educators,
therapists and all fun loving and interested individuals.
If you are an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech and language pathologist please check out my online CEU courses..


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©2017 Barbara Smith