Saturday, December 17, 2016

Happy Holidays and 10-Last Minute Gift Ideas from a Holistic OT

May peace and love surround you throughout the year!

For multiple reasons, I made the decision to skip Christmas cards this year. Although I love sending and receiving, it felt good to let go of a task this holiday season and share through technology! 

A smile starts on the lips, a grin spread to the eyes, a chuckle
comes from the belly; but a good laugh bursts forth from the soul,
overflows, and bubbles all around. - Carolyn Birminghan
Just in case you are out and about holiday shopping this weekend or want to do some last minute shopping online, here are some of my favorite gift ideas. They support overall development, skill development, social/emotional and play skills, and a healthy lifestyle. Please note, these are in no particular order. 

1. Zoo Sticks or Fish Sticks - These are probably one of my all time favorite OT tools! This activity promotes a proper grasp, helps to separate the 2-sides of the hand strengthening the muscles necessary for pinching and grasping, which transfer over to an appropriate pencil grip, improved distal motor control and refined skills. These make a great clean-up tool too! Whether you have concerns regarding your child's fine motor skill or not, you can have fun working on these skills with your kiddos - it just takes 5 minutes a day! Remember quality over quantity with this task. 

2. Melissa and Doug Easel - I love working on a vertical surface with kids, especially pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners. It encourages proximal stability and improvements in extensor tone necessary for fine motor skill development. From an ocular motor perspective, it allows children to keep their head upright, brings their vision closer to the task and improves visual stability and eye-hand coordination. Vertical surfaces also support bilateral coordination and midline crossing, to name a few. A great gift that will be used for years and expands a developmental age range. Paint, write, draw, this easel has it all. 
3. Hoot Owl Hoot  (for some reason we call this game Hoot Hoot Owl in my house!) - Board Game by Peaceable Kingdom. This company is passionate about making games that are good for the planet too - read more here. This game is awesome! It's a cooperative game so you win together or lose together, which is a nice change, especially for the extra competitive or emotionally fragile kiddo. This game works on colors, a pincer grasp picking up the cards and owls, visual motor skills, problem solving, turn taking and social engagement. Tip: You can use your newly purchased zoo sticks to clean up the owls and cards. 

4. Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game. Another cooperative game that is great for the whole family. Teach your kids about herbs and edible and medicinal plants starting young. You will learn a lot yourself too! This game also focuses on turn taking, social engagement, and fine motor control picking up and managing the cards. Another planet family game made with eco-friendly materials. 

5. Children's Yoga Songs and Meditations - Teaching children mindfulness at a young age has become imperative in our faced paced, technology hungry society. If you are a parent, educator or anyone working with children, I also highly recommend all of the training and certification programs through Radiant Child Yoga. These trainings have enhanced my occupational therapy practice immensely. You will love engaging with your kids through this CD while teaching them life long skills to access independently. Namaste!

6. Journey to Inner Space - A Children's Yoga Book. This is a wonderful journey incorporating different yoga poses, awareness of breath and imagination, and insightfulness that you do have the ability to slip into Inner Space, which was very close all along! Read some more about the author here.

7. Hammock Pod Swing for your home! This is an affordable way to allow your child with sensory processing challenges get the vestibular input needed on a daily basis. My clients love this swing and it is very reasonably priced. Remember to provide organizing, proprioceptive input following intense swinging or spinning (i.e. joint compressions, squishing, squeezing, steamroller with a therapy ball). 

8. Organic Weighted Blankets - Do you have a child that seems like they are "crawling in their skin", has difficulties settling down and sleeping soundly? Then these may be perfect for you. By combining sensory strategies, a healthy diet and lifestyle changes (that's a conversation for another blogpost) and these blankets into your child's life, their nervous systems will be able to calm showing improvements in other areas of function as well. This company is amazing, all proceeds are donated to help people with disabilities. Their blankets are non-fumigated and non-toxic, so you can rest assure that your child will rest soundly snuggled with these weighted blankets avoiding toxins in almost all other weighted blankets on the market today. Thanks L-oma, we love what you do! **TODAY is the last day to order your blankets to receive them by Christmas, so get out that computer now if you think your child will benefit. Feel free to contact me via phone or email for any questions as well! 

9. Homemade, Organic Deodorant - I get a text or an email monthly asking about my deodorant recipe. Although I can't claim it as my own, this is where I always send the questioner. So, Mama's out there, today is the day to STOP putting conventional, store bought deodorant under your armpits, next to your breasts surrounded by lymph nodes. Aluminum and cancer causing toxins are in each and every deodorant on the shelves. This is a simple recipe that takes about 5 minutes to make and lasts for months. I use all organic ingredients, and you should too! Decrease your risks of cancer, especially breast cancer making this one change today. I use a small mason jar, which fits nicely in our medicine cabinet. You can get affordable, organic coconut oil here and Shea Butter here. Lavender essential oil is my favorite blend for a wonderfully scented deodorant. If you are attending my retreat tomorrow, this may happen to fall into your gift bag as your walk out the door ;)

10. Essential Oil Diffuser - Essential oils have been used for centuries and are essential, no pun intended ;) in your families life, so why not start incorporting EO's this holiday season. EO's are extremely beneficial for children with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorders and Developmental Delays, as they contain healing properties that stimulate, activate, and calm vital neurological signals. When ordering a diffuser, you want to make sure that you do not order one that is made of harmful plastic or other toxic ingredients. The one linked above is a favorite of mine. Dr. Mercola also sells a safe, non-toxic diffuser, which can be found on his website, and on amazon as well. is a great resource if you are just beginning to implement essential oils into your daily life. Happy diffusing!

Well, there you have it, my top 10 list of items for you to give as gifts this holiday season. Although I'm not Oprah, I love this list, as it encompasses my beliefs as a mom, OT, and children's yoga instructor bringing holistic techniques into my practice and our daily life. 

I hope that you have an amazing holiday season with you and yours and you also find peace and calm during a time of year that can also bring stress and anxiety. I will see you in the new year!  

As always, if you have questions or concerns about your child's development, contact me via phone or email.

If you liked this blogpost, don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list here, and I look forward to working with some of you and your children in the future. Services are available in person and via Skype. 


  1. Love these ideas!! Love your blog posts!! Thanks!!
    ~Gretchen Hill

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