Nicole’s Nook: Visual Scheduling with Choiceworks

Choiceworks Visual Scheduling App

Choiceworks Visual Scheduling App

Visual scheduling provides some predictability in what can sometimes be an overwhelming and unpredictable world. This is what makes it such an effective tool to help manage behavior and excessive anxiety in children with NF1. Often better processed than auditory input, visual learning utilizes one of the most powerful senses and channels. For many children with NF1, a visual schedule provides necessary structure and a feeling of control over their environment, ultimately increasing compliance with daily tasks and transitions.

As adults, we often make to-do lists and keep a detailed calendar to help us manage our busy lives. A visual schedule for your child is based on that same concept. It can be very specific and break down a task into its individual components, or it can be a simple, broad list of tasks, covering an entire day.

The Choiceworks app ($6.99, iTunes store) provides these customizable schedules, as well as a visual timer and tools for effective management of feelings and emotions. The app features symbols, which most children are familiar with, but if a symbol is not available or appropriate for your child, you can default to your camera or camera roll. You can also record your own voice to be utilized within the app.

One of my favorite features of this app is the ability to create a timer to go along with the tasks on your schedule. For example, a visual timer can be set for each task, giving your child three minutes to brush his/her teeth or eight minutes to get dressed.

Check out the Choiceworks app and see if it might be right for your family!  For more iPad information and app recommendations, check the Family Resources section or St. Louis Children’s Hospital App site.

Written by Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L

YOU’RE INVITED: Club NF Cooks

Club NF Cooks
On Saturday, February 27, from 9:30 a.m. – noon, Club NF is heading into the kitchen at Schnucks Cooks Cooking School in Des Peres, MO. Children will work on a variety of fine motor and social skills in the kitchen while Courtney Metzinger, OTD, MFA, OTR/L will give a one hour talk to parents about encouraging executive function and self-management skill development in children with NF1. There are only a few spots remaining for this popular event, so if you haven’t signed up yet, please do so soon!

Cooking is an important life skill that children can begin to work on at various stages during childhood. In the earlier years, skills worked on can include measuring spices from a jar and pouring a cup of milk into a bowl. Eventually, skill level can increase to chopping and stove top food preparation. While having fun, children will begin to feel like they are contributing to a family meal. By working in groups, children are confronted with social situations that must be mastered by adulthood; taking turns, sharing, communicating, and planning and executive functioning skills. These skills will also help children develop other important skills such as tying their shoes (fine motor), planning and completing a school project (executive function) and communicating with peers and adults (speech and social skills).

For more information about Club NF events or to register for this upcoming event, please contact Kirsten Brouillet at brouilletk@neuro.wustl.edu

Club NF is the Washington University NF Center’s free, play-based therapy program for school-aged children (K – 8th grade) with NF1 and their families. St. Louis Children’s Hospital therapists work directly with the children in small groups to accomplish a variety of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy goals in a real life, social setting. By strengthening underdeveloped skills alongside siblings and peers, these children are set up for future success in the home, classroom and community. The events are held six Saturday mornings a year at various locations and businesses in the St. Louis area, offering a variety of activities throughout the calendar year to meet the needs of all of our families. Made possible by generous funding from the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation, Club NF is a hallmark of the NF Center complementary care programs.