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CPR: Restart the Heart

Two trainers with CPR manikins demonstrating how to perform CPR with the text, "CPR Techniques and Variations for Saving Lives," on the left. Two trainers with CPR manikins demonstrating how to perform CPR with the text, "CPR Techniques and Variations for Saving Lives," on the left.

 

Due to recent incidents at sporting events and schools, there has been increased attention on CPR training. During health emergencies, performing CPR on an individual suffering from cardiac arrest could be the difference between life and death. According to the National Lung, Heart, and Blood Institute, there are around 300,000 to 450,000 deaths caused by cardiac arrest in the US every year.

 

The process to perform general CPR due to a cardiac arrest emergency is straightforward. Check to see if the individual is responsive and confirm that the surrounding area is safe. Call 911 immediately or have a bystander call for help. The individual should be on a flat surface, with their body and head in a neutral, laying position. Perpendicular to the chest of the individual, place your palm on the center of their chest, while interlacing your other hand on top. While positioning on your knees, stack your shoulder joints directly over your wrist joints with locked elbows for optimal compressions that will push the chest inward, about two inches deep, in a quick, constant rate until medical professionals arrive.

 

Men vs Women

It may come as a surprise that women are not only less likely to have CPR performed on them, but they are also found to have lower rates of survival than men, even when CPR is performed. According to the American Heart Association, the factors that play into this difference include fears of accusations relating to sexual assault or sexual harassment, fears of causing physical harm to the female receiving CPR, or the person administering CPR may feel uncomfortable or unsure working near breasts.

 

Most manikins that people train with are modeled after men’s anatomy. However, in recent years, models and attachments have been created to mimic female anatomy, such as School Health’s PRESTAN Female Accessory. This creates a more accurately designed manikin and allows for an individual to practice performing CPR in a more realistic situation.

 

Infants, Toddlers, Adults

Differences in CPR application do not end there. CPR can be performed on all individuals to continuously help pump blood through the body, but certain individuals require different techniques.

 

CPR is taught using the two-hand method, however, if the individual suffering a cardiac arrest emergency is not an adult, different styles of CPR may be used instead. A toddler or child would usually not require the full force of two adult hands. For a smaller child or toddler, a one-hand method can be used to provide CPR. This is similar to the regular CPR method, but without the second, overlaying hand. For an infant, a two-finger or two-thumb method may be used to compress the chest, so as not to hurt the newborn.

 

Results

Performing CPR on an individual can double, or even triple, their chances of survival if administered immediately. It is important to perform CPR correctly on both men and women to give each a better chance at survival. While a child or infant may have a lower chance of a cardiac arrest emergency that requires CPR, giving those individuals a higher chance of survival matters, too. Every second counts!

 

 

 

 

References

https://cpr.heart.org/en/resources/cpr-facts-and-stats

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/circ.142.suppl_4.139

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/11/23/why-people-fear-performing-cpr-on-women-and-what-to-do-about-it

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/cardiac-arrest

https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr/performing-cpr/child-baby-cpr

Getting the Assistive Technology and Sensory Supports You Need, with the Funding You Don’t Know You Have!

Getting the Assistive Technology and Sensory Supports You Need, with the Funding You Don’t Know You Have!

By Dr. Raymond Heipp

As we move into 2023, we recognize that our students need so much support as the aftershock of the pandemic continues to reverberate in our schools. We have been faced with a funding struggle for decades as we have tried to support our individuals with differing abilities. Now, it is exacerbated by the needs of the neuro-typical students, as they too, struggle with mental health concerns stemming from the pandemic. We have heard of ESSER funding, but still find that many districts have not fully tapped into how those funds can be used to a wider extent while staying within the legal guidelines of the requirements for the funding.

A recent report showed that around 50% of the roughly $122.8 billion in ESSER III funds provided had yet to be used by our schools. There are many reasons for this. The primary causes stem from the fact that the original set of funds were focused on the return of the students into classrooms and had strict guidelines for usage. This has caused districts to evaluate their needs and strictly review the requests for technology and other supports within the school settings. There has also been some confusion as the rollout of these funding programs have caused much questioning about the dates for when the funds need to be spent. To be clear, the first wave of these funds which was about $13 billion has already been spent and the final date for accessing them has passed. That is why some administrators may be telling you that they already spent their funds. ESSER II funding which included about $54 billion in funding has a deadline of September 30th of 2023. Finally, the ESSER III funds have a deadline of September 30th, 2024. That is another reason that much of that funding has not been touched.

As we take a look at the ESSER III funding, we learn that there is significant emphasis on technology, recovery from learning loss, and support for mental health. There have been cases where those making the decisions on this funding are focusing on the upper layers of needs for all of the students, and not drilling down to other supports for both our neuro-typical and neuro-diverse learners. Your insights and support on this can assist them as well as your students in making purchases which address the concerns for the students and operate within the proper guidelines of usage for these funds. In the next few paragraphs, I will take a look at how some districts are using these funds and the rationale that they are using for proper funding usage.

When we look at technology purchases, we have seen so many districts focus on 1:1 initiatives with Chromebooks or iPads. These purchases cover the surface level of providing technology to the students, as these are devices that can be easily adapted to both in-person and virtual environments. The issue is that it does NOT address the needs of our neuro-diverse learners who cannot access these devices without assistance. The argument for fair and equitable access applies to these individuals as well. Thus, we are able to include those assistive technology devices which allow for access to Chromebooks, iPads, and any other technologies used within the classroom. When we look at devices that would be supported through this argument by ESSER III funding, we see items like the Glassouse, Blue2 Switch, alternative keyboards (including those that are designed for those with Dyslexia), other switches based on the abilities of the individuals, like the Movement Sensor Switch or the Finger Switch. In all of these cases, the devices create fair and equitable access to the technologies being purchased for the classrooms.

Using the same argument of fair and equitable access, we see that AAC devices can also be included in this technology-focused funding. We recognize that some students have higher dependence upon AAC and so their insurance may cover items from groups like Tobii-Dynavox and PRC-Saltillo. However, there are those students who do not qualify under insurance, yet still need support in communicating their immediate thoughts and needs within a classroom setting. This example leads to the acceptance of the purchase of devices like the 7 Level Communication Builder, the GoTalk 9+, and the Big Mack. Each of these devices provides a student the ability to communicate and participate in the classroom and a fair and equitable manner.

When we look at the idea of technology and learning loss, one may want to focus on the area of Literacy. We have found that a number of students in the stages of early literacy have struggled as the directed guidance of in-person learning was not available during the pandemic. We also witnessed some regression on the part of those with Dyslexia as our therapists did their best in virtual formats but still faced limitations. As a support to those with Dyslexia or other reading processing issues, the Reader Pen2 offers an effective approach to reading support for any print documents. The outside world often forgets that many texts are still in print and therefore screen readers are not going to work. Being able to have the words read to you through earbuds and have access to a dictionary is huge in combating these types of issues. As we look toward notetaking, both the Livescribe Echo II and the ScanMarker platform can assist in the ability to learn and have things in both visual and auditory formats.

On the side of mental health, our students need to feel less anxious and be able to handle situations that can occur both inside of the school and in their community. When dealing with social situations, a software solution like The Social Express gives students real scenarios and suggestions for how to deal with those situations. School and classrooms can also create sensory areas, including calming areas for when students are escalating or over-stimulated. These areas can be simply made by creating an area in the back of the classroom with smaller products like a Cuddle Ball, Beanbag Chair, or Vibrating Pillow. Larger scale sensory rooms also support mental health and can be purchased. Ready-made kits like the Serene Scene Sensory Bundle can support larger numbers of students and become a place of respite from the heightened anxiety the students are facing today.

The critical piece for you is to know what products will best support your students, approach those who handle the ESSER funds and supply them with the correct rationale for their purchase with those funds, and be sure to use them with as many students as possible. If you have questions or would like to discuss your needs, feel free to reach out to either of our Specialists for Special Education, Jodi Szuter, at jszuter@schoolhealth.com or me at rheipp@schoolhealth.com and we will be happy to assist you.

May 2023 be a year of helping our students and ourselves continue on the road of recovery from the pandemic and assisting in the educational development of all!

2022 Year in Review Product Highlights

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor 

2022 Year in Review Product Highlights

As we head into the holiday season and think about gifts for others or products and tools to support your work starting out the new year, what a better time to revisit several products the School Health team has highlighted through social media this year. You may find the perfect gift, spark an idea that will enhance your learning, or encourage the success of students you support. All of the highlighted products are related to students with disabilities or Special Education supports, and can be found on the School Health website under the Special Education category. The Special Education category is broken down into the following nine subcategories: Sensory, Motor Skills, Augmentative & Alternative Communication, Speech Therapy, Switches, Computer & Tablet Access, Learning, Living Aids, and Positioning & Mobility.

You’ll find a category and link below from several of the products highlighted this year. Look for videos from Talkin’ Tech with Dr. Ray and some of my Access Angle blog write ups that relate to the products. I hope you will enjoy revisiting these products, videos, and blogs as much as I did!

 

Sensory

Motor Skills

  • Handwriting- find pencil grips, slant boards, and hands on materials
  • Puzzles- letters, numbers, small knobs and jumbo knobs

Augmentative & Alternative Communication

Speech Therapy

 

  • Speech Therapy assessment and screening materials, fluency, articulation, phonology, workbooks and resources

Switches

Computer & Tablet Access

  • Keyboards and Mice- A variety of keyboards and Mice for all types of learners, including individuals with special needs 

Learning

Living Aides

Positioning & Mobility

Due to the multiple uses of some products, they may appear under more than one sub-category on the website.

Just a reminder to subscribe to SchoolHealth Special Education emails to stay in the loop on products and resources, here.

Wishing you all a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!

Creating a Happy Holiday Season for All!

Creating a Happy Holiday Season for All!

By: Dr. Raymond Heipp

 

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” We hear that phrase echoing from the radio throughout the month. It's interesting to now see some radio and streaming stations moving toward “holiday favorites” from November 1st on until the end of the year. A recent poll showed that many working adults believed that they needed another two weeks to be sufficiently ready for the holidays. “Black Friday” now starts earlier online (like, by weeks, on some sites) and we have “Cyber Monday” carrying on for a full week. Take all these things and add to them the excitement that can be in many environments, and one has the recipe for either an amazing season or a state of dread and overwhelm, effecting both neuro-diverse and neuro-typical individuals. How can we find ways to make this that amazing season?

First, start with you! Take time every day for yourself. Those who have heard me speak or read my blogs know that I am a big proponent of the “five-minute me time” on a daily basis. Taking just five minutes at the very beginning or end of your day can help calm your nerves and reenergize your body for all that life throws at you. Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to get the marketing of this season completely off our screens or out of our ears. Keeping a strong sense of self, staying with any exercise or stretching routines, practicing breathing, and having a nice cup of tea or coffee can assist in the body and mind being focused and dealing with life one moment at a time.

Next, bring the individuals with whom you work or live into focus. Start with the holidays that you and they celebrate. How can the ideas and essence of each of those holidays be emphasized?  If they are not celebrating a holiday which some of their peers are celebrating, how can that be explained in a manner that is accepted by them? What about those who will only celebrate the New Year at some point and do not identify with other holidays? We have to remember that it might be difficult to understand why a friend celebrates with a cornucopia or Christmas tree, when they celebrate with a Hanukkah Menorah.  Sharing the reasons behind these celebrations helps to create an understanding around the beautiful differences each one of us has. The communication of these differences through these celebrations and the highlighting of their own celebration helps to bring a better understanding of how we are all one family. This is a good place to start in preparation of this season.

We hear a lot about the creation of switch-accessible or adapted toys at this time of the year. It is great that we can create toys for so many to access by simply using a soldering iron or a battery-interrupter.  My first question is why do some only focus upon it at this time of the year? My second question is where in your community can you go to bring toys and have the support you need in making these toys accessible? Look around your community and see if any groups are sponsoring days to create these toys.  I always like to shout-out my colleagues Matt and Holly at the Virginia Tech TTAC who host events like this and supply the training and soldering irons to make this happen. There are also sites like the School Health website where adapted toys are available for ordering.  Just make sure that the individuals have a switch that they can use.

In this month’s Talkin’ Tech with Dr. Ray, I also describe how to take stuffed animals or items like vibrating pillows and add a little weight to them to add another sensory dimension to favorite toys that can also serve to assist in calming individuals. Other options include weighted animals and weighted lap pads which have already been made at a certain weight. Please work with your OTs for precise ideas on the weighting for your individuals always keeping in mind the idea that anything weighted should be only 10% or less of their body weight unless reviewed and approved by an OT. The sensory side should always be considered for our individuals and sensory “toys” may be very appropriate!

As for the “sights and sounds” of the season, we need to have our individuals ready as well!  As a child, I remember my parents driving my sister and me around the city to see all the lights. That can be a wonderful experience. We also must be aware that the visual stimulation of too many lights or the flash patterns of some lights may also be overwhelming. Start slow and small. Be aware when an individual may become over-stimulated. Have space to go where there are less lights or even have them put on sunglasses to tone down the brightness.

On the auditory side, be certain to have tools that can allow an individual some quiet time. Bringing noise cancelling headphones may be a good idea for some. Other products that are not as easily seen and may give noise reduction rather than cancellation, like Vibes, might be a good call for other individuals. Again, it is important to know the limits of your individuals. 

Finally, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. If you live in an area where it is cold outside and you will be outdoors for some time, bring hand warmers or additional layers of clothing. No matter what the weather, bring socially and event-appropriate fidgets like a School Health Sensory Tangle Toy or a Cuddle Ball to provide some soothing for those who may become overwhelmed by the emotions of those around them or the temperature of the environment they are visiting.

We need to be centered ourselves in order to think of those events which may be triggers for some of our individuals. We do not need to initiate a level of trauma by what we think is something simple. One example is trying to make sure our individuals who celebrate Christmas do not “catch” Santa or someone placing gifts beneath the tree. I can assure you that the escalation which comes with not “catching” the gift placer is not one you want to experience! 

With each one of us remembering to center ourselves and then support our individuals, we create a season of joy and celebration! We are also creating routines and actions which can be replicated throughout the year and for many years to come.

I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season filled with much joy and minimal escalations!

How Can Fidget Toys Help Students Learn?

 

From putty and clay to cubes and spinners, fidgets can provide a relatively discreet way for students with ADHD or sensory input needs to focus during classroom activities and tasks. However, different fidgets can serve different purposes and choosing the right one is essential to your student’s success.

While there has not been a definitive study on the impact of fidget toys, research does see the benefits of using them in the classroom. For example, one study found that sixth graders who used stress ball fidgets said that their “attitude, attention, writing abilities, and peer interaction improved.” Another study from UC Davis allowed students with ADHD to fidget by bouncing, wriggling, or moving in place while performing a complex task. The study found that more overall movement in children with ADHD did help them perform the task better.

So, how do you choose a fidget toy that fits your student’s needs?

Typically, the best fidgets are quiet. They are meant to help the user without distracting others in the classroom. For example, putty or dough, like Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty and Mad Mattr, provide users with sensory input through touch as they stretch, kneed, or squeeze the putty. It allows them to quietly move their fingers and hands while still paying attention to a task or lesson. Tangle toys, like this School Health branded version, allow students to twist and turn the fidget, providing finger and hand stimulation without making any noise.

Fidgets come in all different forms, and they don’t necessarily have to be high-tech or expensive. Sometimes, low-tech fidgets can provide the sensory input a student needs to focus. Plus, low-tech fidgets may even look like regular school supplies, which allows them to be even more discreet. A classic example of this type of fidget are pencil grips, which can provide sensory input through their squishy texture or unique design. The Desk Buddy Textured Tactile Ruler can also function as a low-tech fidget. It looks like a regular ruler, so students can keep it on their desk, but it features multiple textures that students can touch or rub with their hands. Low-tech fidgets are a great option for students who need extra sensory input, but who may also be self-conscious about their different learning needs.

Regardless of the type of fidget you choose for your student, it’s important that they understand its purpose and how to use it, so that it doesn’t becoming another distracting toy. According to Edutopia, here are some questions to think about before giving your student a fidget:

  •  Why is this behavior happening? Is the student seeking attention, are they avoiding work, or do they have a sensory need?
  • If it is a sensory need, is the student trying to get rid of excess energy or are they having difficulty with the sensory input of the classroom?

From clicking a pen to tapping their feet, many people may fidget without realizing it. Fidgeting isn’t a bad thing, it can provide stress relief, self-regulation, and improve concentration for students with anxiety, ADHD, ADD, or other learning differences. Fidget toys allow students to get the stimulation they need to complete their work without bothering their peers. Make sure to connect with your student’s parents, the school’s occupational therapist, and other support staff to decide what type of fidget toy may be the most useful.

 

Additional Resources

https://www.edutopia.org/article/choosing-right-fidgets-students-sensory-needs

https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/fidgets-to-increase-focus-with-adhd/

https://nationalautismresources.com/fidgets-in-the-classroom/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9120292/#:~:text=One%20study%20with%20college%20students,cognitive%20performance%20during%20learning%20activities.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fidget-toys-arent-just-hype/

https://www.pacer.org/cmh/learning-center/parenting/support-adhd/fidget-toys.asp#:~:text=According%20to%20Bridget%20Gilormini%2C%20director,to%20a%20teacher%20or%20reading.%E2%80%9D

https://www.additudemag.com/fidgets-adhd-children-focus/

Closing the Gap 2022 – Reconnecting and Recharging

Closing the Gap 2022 – Reconnecting and Recharging

By: Dr. Raymond Heipp

For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, we were able to gather in person at the Closing the Gap Conference. This convergence in person created an energy that was uplifting as well as refreshing.  We grew empowered with the success stories while looking at what we must continue to do to support our individuals through inclusivity. That work, although sometimes feeling like we are facing an uphill battle, becomes so much more manageable when we know we are not alone and that experts surround us. Here are some takeaways from sessions and discussions that I wish to share with you.

I was able to enjoy dinner one evening with three amazing people-- Mo Buti, Candice Steel, and Jodi Szuter. The energy from that dinner alone could light the world for decades. One of the topics of which we spoke was the pre-conference session which Mo and Candice presented. As they looked at addressing deficit areas within students on the Autism Spectrum, they included sensory processing and social emotional learning. I am always reminded in discussions like this how EVERY student can benefit from strategies which focus on the sensory and social emotional parts of daily activities. Mo never ceases to amaze me with her energy and ability to help districts focus on expanding their educational approaches. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to hear Candice present, be sure to sign up for any sessions you see with her in future conferences. Her pragmatic ways of handling students has been a calling card of hers during her career. Now, she can share so much more and spread ideas that work. Finally, Jodi has such a depth of work and understanding in literacy especially for those struggling to read. She spoke about the sensory side of literacy and going back to engaging the students in tactile feedback with letters as well as numbers to create an inclusive foundation.

Kelly Fonner is one of the busiest people in the AT world! That was evident with her pre-conference workshop as well as five other presentations! Although our interaction was brief (we keep threatening to present together and someday we will!), I appreciate her efforts around the idea of mentoring in our AT world. AT needs are as varied as our students. How does one keep up with everything?  How can one make sure that evaluations are done properly and with the strengths of the student in mind? Kelly is that person in our community who keeps us focused on the high level and not get bogged down in the minutiae which is easy to do. Reach out to her about this idea of mentoring!

Finally, one cannot engage in any presentation with a PowerPoint and not be influenced by the work of Kelli Suding around making material accessible. I am more aware now of how much digital information is not fully accessible because of her message. At CTG, she spoke on how to build capacity through effective PD. This message is essential within education as for too long, PD was something we had to do.  A well designed and developed PD program can expand inclusivity through a grassroots pedagogy and not detract from any educational progress.

When we looked at some of the new or “renewed” products, we saw a return to access and literacy support. We also recognize the need for overall sensory support in ways that we had not previously considered.

The C-Pen Reader Pen 2 made its debut in the US. Icons now make it easier to interact with the menu.  This device continues to assist those with dyslexia and other reading issues through giving access to printed texts without having to connect to the internet. The built-in dictionary offers individuals the ability to quickly review word meanings while staying within the text itself. The fact that the words are also highlighted while the text is being read aloud also helps with word-recognition.

The Scanmarker Reader also came to Closing the Gap. Introduced into the US earlier this year, the Scanmarker Reader offers individuals the opportunity to scan and read texts through the Scanmarker app. This device also comes with a unique way of helping those with fine motor issues move along text in a straight line. An amazing strength of this full platform approach is the ability to scan in one language and have it translated into one of many other languages almost immediately. The Scanmarker Reader platform is a game-changer for our ESL students and their families.

Livescribe has also returned to action and was demonstrated. I prefer the Echo II for its ability to record (up to 200 hours) and utilize the special notebooks just like before. The playback is also improved. As individuals get older and begin to transition into the workplace, the Symphony along with the Livescribe app can provide support necessary for individuals to remember and review important information.

When looking to support those with visual impairments, AbleCon devices provide excellent individualized support at a fraction of the cost of other products.  The AbleBaby made its impression on me and many others as a portable vision support system that can hook directly to a laptop or computer and allow magnification, contrast change, and OCR capabilities for less than a document camera without OCR. Its additional products like the AbleGrabber, which sends an individual the signal of what is being broadcast on an interactive whiteboard, as well as the AbleCenter, which gives an individual control of what is being shown around a room helps to make our classrooms even more inclusive for the visually impaired.

Many of you already know that I am a huge fan of Time Timer Visual Timers. The new Time Timer watch along with the ability to have it used in a fob instead of on the wrist lets those with sensory issues around the arms still have access to a smaller and more private visual timer. The dry erase board that works with an insert of a Time Timer Mod can help to lay out specific times or agenda items that can use that timer as well.

Many of you may be familiar with the Active Floor. I remember visiting their headquarters in Denmark back in 2012 and seeing one of the early versions of it. It is a fantastic way to bring interactive learning into any room. The issue that schools with whom I spoke had related to the fact that early versions were only able to be mounted in the ceiling; thereby limiting access. They still have the ceiling mounted version (Active Floor Pro2 or the Active Floor Giga for larger spaces). As you might imagine, the quality of the interactivity and projected images is amazing. I watched it demonstrated under the full light of the conference Exhibit Hall and still was able to see the floor clearly.  For me, the key addition they have to the Active Floor Family is the Mobile Max. They have taken the idea of the Active Floor and made it portable! I can envision buildings using it for many inclusive activities and have the students all work together in movement-based learning.

Finally, the Visilift+ made its US debut. When the TAPit came to its end, many districts began looking at alternative products. Simply using an interactive monitor on a stand does not give the same access that devices like the Visilift+ give to many groups of students. Yes, it is multi-touch and it allows for that touch to be established with any manipulative. I think back to students that I helped interact with the TAPit by using wiffle balls or wands and am excited for the possibilities.

Closing the Gap 2022 was a return to the energy and excitement we have around supporting our individuals. It was a concrete reminder that we have products, the likes of which we have never had before. We also have the ability to create our own products or work with groups like Enabling Devices to personalize devices for our students. Most important though, is the message that when we join together, utilizing each other’s knowledge, we can create a world where inclusivity is transparent because it is naturally occurring.

Volunteering Throughout the Year

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor 

 

 “The broadest, and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering:  Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good.” Ivan H. Scheier ~ One of the true American pioneers of the field of volunteerism.

 

There are many reasons people volunteer their time and talents for what they consider a good cause. Volunteering, by definition, is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labor for community service. There are so many opportunities to contribute within your local community and beyond. It may be hard to decide which organization or project you want to lead or participate in. Ultimately, gravitating toward a topic area of interest, or simply where an extra pair of hands are needed, allows you to connect with your community, network with others, and make a meaningful impact. A quick internet search on volunteering will bring up local, state, national, and international opportunities that are in-person or virtual. Time constraints or physical limitations for some people may mean the activity has to be modified in order to participate, but with an open mind and a creative spirit, there are volunteer opportunities out there for everyone.

 

I've enjoyed volunteering and helping others as far back as I can remember. I know how much I have benefitted in my life from receiving assistance from others. Generally, around the holidays I choose a larger volunteer activity to participate in. The holiday seasons bring additional events and activities looking for volunteers. A few years ago, I assembled 130 small candy bags to be shipped to active-duty military and veterans for a non-profit group called Soldiers’ Angels in San Antonio, TX. This was quite a task for me given my physical disability, but what a great occupational therapy workout for both hand dexterity and hand-eye coordination. One-by-one, I placed each piece of candy into a treat bag knowing that someone serving our country would find a little joy in receiving a small token of gratitude. My grandfather and great grandfather served in the military, and I am honored to find ways to support our men and women in service.

School Health Blog Writer and Contributor, Gabe Ryan

SCOE Turkey Drive 2022–Sacramento County Office of Education, Superintendent Dave Gordon and School Health Corporation, Blog Writer and Contributor, Gabe Ryan

One of the inspirations for this November article topic was my recent participation in the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Annual Turkey Drive. This drive is in partnership with the Friends of Folsom non-profit in support of the goal of feeding 10,000 families in our community through local food bank and distribution efforts. This is my sixth year participating. I really enjoy helping in organizing the event. Greeting the SCOE staff dropping off their turkeys is something I look forward to each year. More than two decades ago, I received early education services from the SCOE, Infant Development Program- some of the teachers that worked with me still work there today! Having the opportunity to represent School Health and our SH Cares committee and assist alongside SCOE staff on this community event is one of the ways I can give back and help others. This year we broke our record of the most turkeys received for this SCOE event!

I share my experience to hopefully encourage others to lend a hand where needed. We can all find ways to work together more. As Margaret Mead said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Building a Safe and Positive Athletic Program

 

In the previous blog, we discussed the unnecessary hardships that athletes face while on their sports teams. This is created through a negative culture and poor communication between athletes and staff. Now it is time to focus on what can be done to build a successful sports program that makes safety and positivity a priority. This can be achieved by all members of the staff and the athletes collaborating, listening, and understanding each other’s perspectives.

First and foremost, listen to the athletes. They are the glue. When athletes are not happy and healthy, there is no team. Believe them if they say they are hurt, pay attention when they seem down, understand what type of coaching they respond to. Being on the same page with athletes goes beyond just the game. Knowing athletes as people is arguably more important and will improve their experience in their programs.

The staff can learn just as much from the athletes through the course of the season. Having positive and frequent communication with all personnel, such as athletic trainers and sports psychologists is essential for a team. Everyone’s bodies and minds work differently, so it is important to find what’s best and the team’s medical staff can find those solutions. Trust them as much as you trust your athletes in a game; odds are, they were all athletes at one point as well. Coaches can benefit from using the resources around them to assist athletes in finding their individual paths to achieve a common goal.

Individual needs are important, but practice is where teams grow collectively. Create an atmosphere with strong work ethic and positivity. A difficult task does not need to be so serious. The workouts and drills that I have done in a positive atmosphere have been some of the most productive. Being serious all the time takes a toll on everyone and can result in burnout, and the dog days of the season can become grueling. Friendly competition and positive reinforcement help make a comfortable atmosphere. Hard is more achievable when you want to be there and play for a team that you want to succeed. Athletes won’t think twice about running that extra lap or doing an extra rep when they are bought into the common goal of a program.

Coaches should also walk the walk of the program they establish. They should be who they want their athletes to be. A coach who the players trust and look up to is the final piece to a successful program. Enabling what has been discussed so far is a great start to building a team athletes want to be a part of. Athletes may be representing a school or some other organization, and while that does matter, at the end of the day they play for each other and the coach.

If more athletic programs molded their philosophies around these practices, we would not be hearing about athletes falling out of love with their sport. Being safe and enjoying what you do is just as important as winning. Athletic programs with a positive, safe environment where everyone feels they have a voice can help steer towards a path of success and provide athletes and staff experiences that they will never forget, for all the right reasons.

Interview with Dr. Carrie Browning: MAICO easyTone

 

In May 2022 MAICO Diagnostics released easyTone – their first tablet audiometer. This cutting-edge screening device offers easy pass/refer results, circumaural headphones, and includes the dedicated easyTone companion software for time saving digitized data management.

Dr. Carrie Browning, Audiologist and MAICO Product Manager, played a key role in the development of easyTone. In this exclusive interview for School Health she speaks about the vision behind the new tablet audiometer, the market challenges it was designed to address, and the benefits of using easyTone.

 

Carrie – you´ve experienced the development of the easyTone tablet audiometer from the beginning. What was the goal behind building a hearing screener like that?

Everything started with observing school screenings and pediatrician hearing screenings in the USA. Our main goal was to find out what can make these screenings significantly easier and faster. Our learnings helped us to define some key features and functions our next product should include. We wanted to bring a tablet audiometer to the market that satisfies the customer needs in these challenging fields. The easyTone idea worked greatly for this kind of platform.

 

You mention key functions, what are the three most unique features of this audiometer?

1) Pass/Refer results:  Due to the ability to create a school-specific protocol, an overall pass or refer result can be displayed for recording and documentation purposes. As initial screenings are meant to put the kids into two buckets—those that pass and then those that need further management—this reporting method makes that classification easy.

2) Importing a screening list: Through a simple software application that can be used with Windows or Mac PCs, one can quickly add a student list into the easyTone app. This allows a screener to easily select a student that needs to be screened and manage collected results at the end of the day. During our observation period in schools, we saw screeners spending hours and hours reporting results. We knew this had to be addressed within the product in whatever way we could. I believe we found a unique and very beneficial solution to assist all screening programs.

3) Noise Monitor: The easyTone has a microphone that allows for noise monitoring of the environment. This feature will never stop the test due to a noisy environment, but it can assist the screener to quiet the room when necessary or find another location to perform the screenings. With other audiometers, a refer for the child may be collected which requires them go through the secondary screening steps. This feature can be used to monitor the environment and reduce children being referred due to noisy conditions.

 

Could you explain what makes easyTone such an exciting product for school screenings?
One main benefit for school screenings is the integrated “protocol wizard”. Since every state in the US has their own standard for hearing screening protocols, we thought: “Why not make it possible to create customized screening protocols quickly and easily instead of having a predefined screening protocol the user needs to depend on?” That´s exactly what we have done with the protocol wizard. It enables customized screening protocols in six self-explaining setup screens. That way, users can tailor the easyTone to their specific school screening program.

 

“Significant ease of work with the Screening List Mode.”

 

What were the main challenges that came up during the development of easyTone and how did you overcome them?
What we had to overcome was that not all hearing screenings in the US are performed the same way. Each state can define their own screening process. Having this in mind, but including best practices as well, was challenging. In my opinion, we handled this perfectly and created a device that fits a broad range of screeners’ needs.

 

"Hearing Screening – As Quick and Easy As possible."

 

What makes easyTone different from traditional audiometers?
easyTone is designed to perform a hearing screening as quickly and easily as possible. To lessen button pushes, the device provides an almost automatic workflow. The simplified process assists with the management of screening lists to lessen time during the documentation of results. And most importantly: easyTone allows the user to create a protocol that is specific to their needs. Traditional audiometers are not focused on specific screening situations, so screeners are usually spending more time pushing buttons and rotating knobs, making the process more complex and time intensive. This can also lead to unintentional errors. With easyTone, the user can focus on the student while improving accuracy and significantly shortening the screening procedure.

 

What challenges do you see facing the “school screening” market and how does easyTone plan to address them?
Generally, the tasks of a school nurse are always increasing. Lots of things need to be done in limited time. With easyTone they can go through school screening programs efficiently and faster than before. The effort that it takes to manage students who need to be tested and their results is reduced.  

 

 "School Health understands the needs of the school market."

 

The whole development/launch process must have been really exciting. How was the expereince for you?

This has been the most enjoyable project I have contributed to through my 10-year employment with MAICO—actually probably my entire career. Seeing the challenges firsthand and working with the MAICO development team to come up with solutions has been exciting. School Health has been such a wonderful partner throughout this project, from finding locations to visit, individuals to interview, or even providing their own insight on what their customers need. I truly can’t wait to see how this product continues to grow and the new solutions we can offer to the school hearing screening market. 

 

MAICO and School Health have been strong partners for a long time. What makes the cooperation so outstanding in your opinion?

Working together to find solutions for the customer. Partnering for 65 years, allows us to have a pretty close relationship and direction for customer success. School Health understands the needs of the school market and they have provided insight and direction to us. Working closely with them allows us to provide the very best product offerings to the school market. 

 

Carrie – thank you very much for this interesting interview. 

 

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Thinking through October and all it brings for our Individuals

Thinking through October and all it brings for our Individuals

By: Dr. Raymond Heipp

During a brisk October morning, I thought about all the wonderful activities that occur in October and throughout autumn. Remembering my days as an administrator, October would bring us to the end of the first quarter of the academic year, along with student testing. The academic side of this month was only one endeavor October brought. We were in the midst of the fall athletic season and the beginning of the winter season. We moved closer to the start of major extracurricular activities in theatre, speech, and other clubs. Depending upon the district, we were potentially looking towards Halloween or other holiday activities. In all, October is both busy as well as transitional to progress the school year. Let’s review these ideas and what we might want to keep in mind.

Starting with the end of the month, I have read and written pieces about preparing our students for communities which celebrate Halloween. This can be one of the most over-stimulating holidays for individuals. The sights, sounds, tastes, and movement can create high levels of both excitement and anxiety. We want to make sure that individuals come to an understanding that some might dress in “scary” ways. If that preparation is not done, the first appearance of a werewolf or zombie could be confusing and frightening. Pictures and old costumes can be shared with individuals to prepare them for Halloween events. We also need to make sure that we are educating nutrition information to not eat all the candy or snacks in one sitting. Additionally, we should be aware of individuals who need unique costumes. Think of those in wheelchairs or those who use walkers and what can be designed specifically to their interests to allow them to participate with their peers. Do not forget that some of our individuals may not be able to afford a costume. How can we repurpose what we have or use items that we can pick up at a local dollar store or resale shop? Sometimes, simple costumes can be better as they might not cause sensory adverse reactions, allowing better participation. If you are in a building or community which celebrates Halloween, please be sure to have your individuals ready for a fun-filled and not fright-filled evening!

In addition, October brings back thoughts of outdoor sports. Having participated in and coach fall sports, one wants to be used to the needs of individuals based upon the weather. I had the wonderful opportunity to spend many October nights in the mid-to-late 1990s at the ballpark with my father watching playoff baseball with our Cleveland team! (Great to see them back in the playoffs this year! I know that Dad is looking down from some great seats above!) My father spent the last 30 years of his life in a wheelchair due to suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. That never inhibited his love of our pro teams and desire to see them in person. It was at these sporting events that I learned how clothing needs to be assessed individually. My father always had his winter coat, gloves, and hat ready. For a long time, it was assumed that his jeans would be enough to keep his legs warm. We later realized that having a wool blanket to cover his legs made it more comfortable for him. Gabe Ryan, in his Access Angle blog, discusses some of the clothing available today, which really works at keeping the entire body warm. This allows more enjoyment at any outdoor event or even the travel to and from events in cold or wet weather. Not all clothing works for everyone, so be sure to learn what works best for your individuals when they are going out in multiple environments. We want everyone watching these events to be included and not allow the weather to interfere.

As I mentioned above, October brings us to the end of the first quarter of the academic year. There are times when that transition between quarters is overwhelming. During October, we specifically “Go Red for Dyslexia” to bring attention to the number of individuals who struggle with this condition. We want to provide any support we can for these individuals and understand that the use of devices or software does not mean that these individuals are “cheating” when completing work or taking tests. We want to understand that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. I was recently involved in a conversation with a district who simply wanted to address dyslexia in students with software on Chromebooks. I think that is a great idea, but let them know that they also need to have alternative devices for students who are trying to interact with papers or physical books. Many students become embarrassed if they have to use another person as a “Reader” when interacting with these materials. Having a device as simple as a Reader Pen can not only increase an individual's confidence in their own abilities, but also create a stronger sense of independence.

The more we are aware of conditions that can inhibit individuals from participating in academic, social, or personal events, the better we can prepare to help them. Consider all the various environments our individuals may be encountering and think through how we prepare to go to a high school football or soccer game. Now, expand what we do through the eyes of our individuals to pick up some other ideas about how to help them become more fully involved. Autumn can be a beautiful time of the year when everyone has access to all of its activities!

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