Category Archives: Uncategorized

New School Year Transition Tips for Autistic Children

Such a well-written article!

Autism Mommy-Therapist

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Summer vacation is ending all too fast, and before we know it those bright yellow school busses will be darting through our neighborhoods and a new school year will commence. Moving to a different classroom, grade, or school can be stressful for any child; for those on the autism spectrum, handling anxiety about the unknown can be exceedingly difficult. These fears can be reduced by taking small steps to familiarize your child to his or her new situation prior to the beginning of the school year. Here are some tried and true tips to making a smooth transition, and to starting a new school year successfully.

1. Talk to your child frequently about what to expect in the upcoming year. It’s the simplest tip, and perhaps the most important one to help reduce your child’s anxiety.

2. Cross days off on your calendar. Some children may have anxiety about when…

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Education-Health Care Transition (Ed-HCT)

I invite you to visit this Prezi presentation titled “Student” that I created for my first Ed-HCT course at the University of Florida (Summer C, 2015).


I am learning so much and am becoming more aware of the needs of students with whom I work. I also continue to grow excited,  knowing that I am on a voyage to help  further improve the lives of  students! I see the union of the health care profession of which I am a proud practitioner (Occupational Therapy) with the setting that I love working (Education), to prepare students to achieve their utmost levels of independence possible in post-secondary education, vocational training and/or community participation- wherever their lives take them!

The accompanying literature, along with citations, is available on one of the first blogs of this cite. Feel free to explore!

Another shining example!

Please read this article ~ Marriott Opens ‘Hotel School’ To Teach Persons With Disabilities Valuable Job Skills ~  about the “Courtyard by Marriott Muncie at Horizon Convention Center” where students train for the Erskine Green Training Institute.  To quote,  “A one-of-a-kind private, postsecondary program and lab for people with disabilities, the Institute provides vocational training for a variety of jobs in the hotel, food service and healthcare fields”(Erskine Green Institute, 2016).


It is very exciting when individuals with disabilities learn skills to achieve the ability to live and work in the community!



Erskine Green Institute. (2016). A one-of-a-kind private, postsecondary program and lab for people with disabilities, the Institute provides vocational training for a variety of jobs in the hotel, food service and healthcare fields [Facebook About status]. Retrieved from

Photo credit: Erskine Green Institute. (2016). Retrieved from


Autism can be an asset in the workplace!

The article, “Autism Can be an Asset in the Workplace, Employers and Workers Find” lists concerns regarding individuals with autism finding successful jobs, and is full of ideas to start us thinking about how to address those concerns (please click  here to read the article). Noguchi (2016) reports,

As the population of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder keeps growing, so does the number of people with that diagnosis who aren’t finding employment.

When we learned that last year — that about 40 percent of people were never getting employment or continuing their education — we wondered, ‘Why is that, and what happens to them?’ “

Young people on the spectrum — just like other young people — are eager to live independently and work, she and her team found as they looked deeper. But social services aimed at helping children overcome early deficits in communication and problems with social skills become less available as those students get older.

It is time to address these concerns. To get these young adults living as independently as possible, participating in society, and ready to work!




Reference: Noguchi, Y. (2016, May 18). Autism can be an asset in the workplace, employers and workers find. Shots: Health news from NPR. Retrieved from

One individual’s amazing story describing his path to success!

IMG_0967Please read this great story by Mr. Scott Michael Robertson, Autism and Access to the American Dream. Mr. Robertson shares his own story how he overcame difficulties as an individual with autism, and is now serving on the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Youth Policy Team. His story is inspiring,  how he struggled  with sensory, socialization, executive functioning and motor skill difficulties, but worked through these issues to achieve successful employment. His position enables him to advocate for people with autism that have the skills but need increased opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities!

As this story reveals, the possibilities are endless for our students to have a goal, see a vision and achieve it! There are many challenges. We need to assist our students, guide them when needed, and encourage them to go for it!  It is important to have accurate information to provide them with direction to take the proper steps to achieve their goals. I look forward to working with my students to achieve their dreams, and I look forward to seeing increased opportunities for all individuals!


PhotoCred: M.Flanagan, 2012

Executive Function

Executive Function Skills- such an important area to discuss, this set of skills that influences a person’s ability to complete tasks functionally and independently. These skills are managed by the frontal lobe of the brain.  As noted by WebMD (2005-2016), executive function helps one:

  • Manage time
  • Pay attention
  • Switch focus
  • Plan and organize
  • Remember details
  • Avoid saying or doing the wrong thing
  • Do things based on your experience.

Executive function skills develop from infancy until adulthood. All children and young adults are developing these skills as they grow and progress through life and through school.  Some students need extra assistance and direction to use these skills functionally, maybe due to frontal lobe injury, ADHD, or learning disabilities, just to name a few potential reasons. As we work with our children/students in transitioning through each school setting – grade school, middle school, high school, after high school – we may need to provide them with training, to fine tune the areas needed to achieve more independent executive skills and/or adaptive methods to overcome tasks more difficult for them to achieve.

In recent readings, I have found several articles regarding executive functioning issues for students- one article for each level of education. is a website that addresses  learning and attention issues. It is an amazing source of knowledge regarding needs that some students demonstrate in the classroom and in life!  Regarding executive function skills, here are those links for information regarding each level in life cycles:

I recommend reading these articles for helpful ideas. And then explore this website, it is full of definitions, information, and great articles! ©2014-2016 Understood, LLC. All rights reserved.

WebMD. (2005-2016). What is executive function? Retrieved from

Great Link!

These OTs and PTs  have put together a great series on kids’ functional skills! It’s full of information regarding activities of daily living, classroom skills, playground skills and many more. It’s a monthly series, so I recommend checking it every month.

Plus, the page includes multiple links to professionals with great pediatric therapeutic ideas. One can never learn enough!



Happy Mother’s Day 2016

I am having an emotional day…This is my first mother’s day not being spent with my son, since 1995 – when he was born. My son is a student at the University of Florida, beginning his senior year (Go Gators!). He is experiencing his own period of transition. Graduating from high school, moving away to college, managing his own bank account, driving I-75 and the FL turnpike alone, moving into an apartment off campus, changing majors, getting a job, attending to his own medical crises without my help… All learning experiences for him (and for me!).  Now, he did not have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), does not use Section 504 for accommodations or have special health care needs, so our transition experience is different than most of the students/ families I work with. In my role of OT practitioner in the high schools, being involved with students at different stages in their life and with different diagnoses, I am constantly reminded how amazing the parents of my students are!

I read this article last night on and I hope you will read it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all: to those with children with special needs and to those with neurotypical kids. I hope you have a special day,  and encourage you to celebrate your role in your child’s life!



My name is Katie Harris. I am an Occupational Therapist,  have been in practice for almost twenty years.  I am currently a school-based OT Practitioner, working in multiple educational settings. The students that I work with have a broad range of diagnoses. I love to work with so many different and special students. At this time,  I am also a distance learning graduate student, with my studies focused on Education-Health Care Transition (Master’s  Degree in Education, Train Well Online Academy at the University of Florida). It’s great to be in school again!  I am very interested in exploring research/studies and increasing my knowledge of paths and ideas to work with students and their families where they are today and on into their transition planning. Working on this degree is exposing me to even more information.

This blog is to share what I am learning as I explore and grow. As noted, I am a distance learning student and sometimes wish I had ‘friends’ to talk to about all the great discoveries I find! As much experience as I have in Occupational Therapy, I feel as though I am on a new endeavor. It is very important to me to  enable successful transition for students to the post-secondary role of their choice, as possible. This may include post-secondary education, vocational education, supervised employment, community participation, and more.  Some students and families need a great deal of assistance and training, some simply need guidance.

I look forward to exploring the many facets of Occupational Therapy, Education, Special Education, Transition Planning and how it all  works together. I hope you enjoy exploring this path with me. Thank you!