Occupational Therapy

Contact Information:

Office phone: 608-637-1142

Tracey Goltz, OTR/L: goltra@viroquablackhawk.org

Cheryl Cade, COTA: cadche@viroquablackhawk.org

VAS Autism Resources link: here

Bal-A-Vis-X information: here

What is school-based occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy is a related service provided to students who demonstrate a need for support in order to fully participate in their education, school routines and role as a student. Occupational therapists in the school setting support a student's special education goals as described in his/her Individualized Education Plan (IEP). OT addresses several areas of functioning that may impact participation at school (e.g. motor and motor planning skills, visual motor and visual perception, self-regulation and sensory processing, social learning.) Tips for supporting school success

In addition to serving students with identified needs, OT's provide teachers and school staff with tools and strategies that can be used to support participation in all students.

For more information on the difference between clinic based and school based OT visit: AOTA parent brochure: OT role in schools or this slide show by OTA student at VAS.

Zones of Regulation Videos

Now, more than ever, it's important to practicing your Zones of Regulation strategies! I will post videos reviewing what we've learned so far this school year!

  • 3. Calming strategies lesson: here

  • 4. The Size of the Problem: here

    • part 2- scenarios here

If you are interested in more Zones of Regulation information, here is the website.


What makes up a well-rounded sensory diet??

Three types of sensory input help to regulate the nervous system and have lasting effects that enable students to engage in their learning. Include all three in their breaks!

1. VESTIBULAR- any activity that triggers receptors in the inner ear- movement through space! Swinging, rocking, spinning and others.

2. PROPRIOCEPTION- any activity that activates the muscles and joints. Often referred to as "heavy work". Pushing, pulling, carrying and others.

3. DEEP TACTILE PRESSURE- Hugs, squeezes between couch cushions, rolling up in a heavy quilt, rolling a ball over body and massage all provide deep pressure that calms and regulates the nervous system.

Also see these sensory strategies for paying attention.

Movement and Learning

Incorporating movement into classroom routine is a valuable strategy to support learning and attention.

Resources for classroom movement activities here.

Over 50 different Jammin' Minute videos

Arm and shoulder strengthening video

Animal Walks!

Cosmic Kids Yoga

Music and movement with Jack Hartmann

Duck and Pigeon walk can you do it???

Lazy 8's! Try this with chalk on the sidewalk, in a fogged up window, in the bath, or in the air!

Assistive technology information

Viroqua Middle School students have access to Don Johnston products: Co -Writer and Snap&Read when logged into their google account. ***DURING THE COVID19 CLOSURE THESE ARE BEING OFFERED FOR FREE TO ALL STUDENTS!


Voice typing tutorial- using speech to text in Google

Life Skills

Video modeling is an excellent, research-based strategy for teaching new skills.

Middle and High School students! How to open a combination lock videos here!

Shoe tying Videos:

VAS video models: here. Please contact me if there is a specific video model that you need.

Handwashing visual support

Pre-Vocational tasks and chore ideas.

Activities of daily life checklists from Bill Nason's book "The Autism Discussion Page on anxiety, behavior, school, and parenting strategies."

Fine motor activities for the classroom:

Finger aerobics and handwriting warm ups video

Michelle's Love My Dog Song: Robinson Hand Grasp video

Mat Man song with a printable to make your own. Did you know that "drawing a person" is skill that supports body awareness and visual motor skills?

Scholastic fine motor activities

Pinterest fine motor activities

Proper seating in the classroom

Functional pencil grasp

Help teach proper pencil grasp using this tip (video).

Why is teaching letter formation so important?

With the growing emphasis on literacy and writing composition, it is increasingly important that students develop automaticity with handwriting. Automaticity is the ability to write a letter without having to think through and plan the movements. If letter writing is automatic, the student is able to dedicate his thoughts to his story, spelling or recall of information.

Proper letter formation supports a student's ability to write quickly and legibly as academic demands increase. How does a student reach automaticity?? Consistency, practice, feedback. Read on...

Printing- Letter formation videos!

Using Print Path's Path of Movement Language, video models are provided below and provides language that students can use to establish automaticity and talk themselves through each letter formation.

Letters are presented below in a developmentally appropriate sequence.

Visit Thia Triggs' Blog for more information on her program.

Uppercase: Fly up letters: F,E,D,P,B,R videos here

Uppercase: Lively lines letters: L,H,K,U,T,I,J videos here

Uppercase: C-Start Letters: C,O,Q,G,S videos here

Uppercase: Slanty-Sliding letters: V,W,X,Y,N,M,Z,A videos here


Lowercase: C-Starts: c,o,a,d,g,q,s videos here

Lowercase: Re-Trace Rules: r,n,m,h,b,p videos here

Lowercase: Little Fly-Ups: i,j,l,t,k,u videos here

Lowercase: Slanting-Sliding: v,w,x,y,z videos here

Lowercase: Start in Space: e,f videos here

Tips for Teaching Handwriting :

  • Confirm that the student has the foundational skills to begin handwriting (letter ID, functional pencil grasp, ability to draw pre-writing shapes etc.)

  • Provide multi-sensory opportunities for practice (sand, shaving cream, clay, vertical surfaces, air drawing, etc)

  • Some handwriting curricula introduce capital letters first followed by lowercase letters (e.g.Handwriting Without Tears, Print Path). Others introduce uppercase at the same time as lowercase (Zaner Bloser and D'nealian). Once students are able to draw pre-writing shapes, they have the foundation for learning uppercase letters. Lowercase letters are more difficult to write and many students may not be ready for the complexity of curves, retracing and the line orientations. To avoid bad habits, meet your student with developmentally appropriate challenges.

  • Be consistent with letter formation and language when teaching. Students will use this language to talk themselves through the letter formation. (See videos provided)

  • Provide lots of opportunities for practice and mastery of the correct letter formation.

  • Correct mistakes immediately to prevent bad habits from developing. The most frequent bad habits that result from lack of feedback: starting letters from the bottom and starting letters like "o" or "g" in a clockwise direction.

  • Handwriting programs that group letters according to movement patterns encourage repetition for automaticity. For example: "c-start" letters (c,o,a,g,q,d,s) all start with a counterclockwise stroke.

Consistency Matters!

Language to think about when helping a student learn where to place and size letters:

  • What do you call the top line, bottom line and dotted center line on 3-lined paper?

Note: Zaner Bloser calls the top line the "headline" and encourages pointing to your head as you give instruction. The bottom line is called the "baseline". The dotted middle line is called the "midline"

  • How do you describe these letters: g,j,p,q,y? Are they: hanging, letters that fall, basement letters?

Note: Zaner Bloser uses the language: Letters that "go below the baseline"

  • How do you describe these letters: b,d,f,h,k,l,t? Are they tall? Do they bump the top line?

Note: Zaner Bloser uses the language: "tall letters"

  • What about these: a,c,e,i,m,n,o,r,s,u,v,w,x,z?

Note: Zaner Bloser uses the language: "short letters"

Cursive letter writing videos!

Language for each lowercase cursive letter

Teach in this order:

1. The Over the Hill Gang: c, a, d, g, o, q. Videos here

2. The Up and Down Gang: i, u, w, t, j, p, r, s. Videos here

3. The Tree Swinging Gang: h, k, b, f, l, e. Videos here

4. The Hilly Gang: n, m, v, y, x, z. Videos here

Review of letter sizing. Video here

Uppercase Cursive Videos

Ask students to come up with their own language or story for each letter path.

Teach in the following order:

1. A, O, C, E: Videos here

2. N, M, H, K: Videos here

3. X, V, W, U, Y: Videos here

4. Q and Z: Videos here

5. B, P, R: Videos here

6. D and L: Videos here

7. S and G: Videos here

8. T and F: Videos here

9. I and J: Videos here

Core Strengthening and Bilateral Coordination Activities

Here are some of the activities we have been doing in our middle school motor lab!

"Ball Elevators" here

"Ball Pass" here

"Penguins" here

"Bird Dog Crunch"

  • Start on the floor on all fours, hands placed directly underneath your shoulders, hips in line with your knees.

  • Lift your right hand and extend your arm straight out in on you, keeping it shoulder height, while simultaneously lifting your left leg and extending it straight back

  • Your whole body should be in a straight line from right fingertips to left toes. Bring your left leg to touch your right elbow under your stomach. Extend your leg and arm out again. Return to starting position

  • Repeat on the other side

  • Do five reps on each side.

"Cross Crawls"

  • Stand with your feet together.

  • Hold your arms straight out at your side.

  • Lift right knee.

  • Touch left hand to right knee.

  • Return to starting position.

  • Complete same movement with right hand to left knee.

  • Repeat complete cycle 10-15 times.

Back to School Backpack Safety:

  • Backpacks should weigh no more than 10% of the student's body weight.

  • Distribute weight of the pack evenly over both shoulders with padded shoulder straps.

  • Fit the pack snuggly against the back, to prevent hanging or swinging

  • Bottom of the pack should sit at the curve of the lower back. Aim for no longer than 4 inches below the waist.

Back Pack Facts: What's all the flap about

Sleep routines support growing brains and bodies:

In order to participate fully in their education, students need good quality sleep to nourish their brains and bodies. Screen time has a big impact on our sleep/wake cycles. See here for managing sensory inputs to establish a healthy bedtime routine.