Washington University NF Center – Spring 2015 Newsletter

Spring 2015 Newsletter CoverIt’s officially spring, and we at the Washington University NF Center are excited to kick off another year of providing exceptional care through groundbreaking research!

Check out the spring 2015 newsletter for some of our most popular recent research updates, information about our upcoming Club NF and Beat NF events and more. Some of the highlights in this issue include:

  • Discovery of new treatments for optic pathway gliomas
  • HEC-TV Innovations features Washington University NF Center
  • Study uncovers potential origin of plexiform neurofibromas
  • Dine out for NF fundraiser a success

Be sure to also take a look at our previous newsletter issues.


Nicole’s Nook: Improving Behavior with Social Stories & Visual Schedules

The iPad can serve as a useful behavior modification tool, not necessarily in terms of using it as a reward or reinforcer, but to provide social stories and visual schedules. For many children, anxiety can play a large part in their poor behavior. That anxiety can stem from the unknown, the unpredictable nature of life, and the perceived lack of control over their world. Social stories and visual schedules can help address these issues and become an important part of their daily routine.

Social stories are a useful strategy to help teach tasks, expectations and behaviors. They provide some predictability, thereby, reducing anxiety and fostering a sense of control. A social story breaks down a routine as a list of steps, explaining each step with visual components. The story is reviewed prior to the routine and used repeatedly until they are able to perform the task consistently and correctly.

Some useful social story apps include:

  • Pictello, $19.99
  • Model Me Going Places 1 & 2, Free (preset stories)
  • Story Creator, Free Storyrobe, $0.99
  • Toontastic, Free Book Creator, $4.99
  • Puppet Pals, Free
  • Stories About Me, $5.99
  • iCreate… Social Skills Stories, $4.99

Visual schedules are similar to social stories in that they also provide structure and predictability, delivering the expectations and the sequence. They can be used to break down tasks and small activities, or be used in a more broad approach by encompassing an entire daily routine or part of the day.  Visual schedules utilize a “first-then” strategy, which is very useful for transitioning, a potential behavior issue for many children.

Some good visual schedule apps include:

  • Choiceworks, $6.99
  • Choiceworks Calendar, $4.99
  • First Then Visual Schedule, $9.99
  • Video Scheduler, $12.99
  • Visual Routine, $3.99
  • i Get… My Schedules at School Social Skills Stories, $4.99

So, rather than use the iPad itself as a reward, utilize some of these great apps to provide structure and predictability, and minimize those challenging behaviors!

Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist



The Washington University NF Center, in collaboration with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation, is pleased to announce our upcoming April 2015 Club NF event – Club NF Acts!

Please join us at Parkway South High School in Manchester, MO on Saturday, April 4 from 9:30 a.m. – noon for an exciting morning of musical theatre. During this event, each child will have an opportunity to work with two teaching artists from COCA, The Center of Creative Arts. Groups will take turns learning a musical number from a Broadway show and participating in a short scene.

To learn more, check out our flyer, or contact Kirsten Brouillet at brouilletk@neuro.wustl.edu. Be sure to RSVP by Tuesday, March 31 to save your spot!

The Washington University NF Center, partnering with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation, is proud to provide Club NF — a FREE, bi-monthly, play-based therapy program for children with NF1 in kindergarten – 8th grade. Our St. Louis Children’s Hospital therapists directly interact with the children and use everyday activities to work on skills often delayed in children with NF1. From swimming (motor skills) to theatre (attention skills), Club NF is designed to give children with NF1 the tools they need to be successful.