We have gotten so much incredible feedback from the Pediatric Occupational Therapy community. They have let us know that Fort Boards are a valuable tool and a wonderful toy for children with special needs. The latest review we've received, and it is a wonderfully in-depth one, is from Emily O'Sullivan. She is a pediatric occupational therapist for the Seattle Public School system. Her review is below:
"As an occupational therapist in the public school environment, I work with many children with a wide variety of developmental delays, physical impairments, and varying diagnoses. Any tools or toys that are versatile enough to be used and enjoyed by many of my clients are fantastic to have around because they allow me the opportunity to work with multiple students at the same time and engage the students' social skills. The speech therapists that I work with also enjoyed having Fort Boards brought in to the classroom or sessions together because we can collaborate, working on communication skills, social skills, and fine motor skills all at the same time.
One thing that I additionally loved about using Fort Boards with my clients, especially those with Autism, was the fact that they could work on their problem solving, planning, and ideation skills as well. This is such an important skill for students to have in school, and many of my students with Autism struggle with this. I would love to see more completed examples of what could be constructed with a set of Fort Boards so students can problem solve how to put them together, and perhaps even including step by step directions or a "recipe" for students to follow in order to build something. This would help grade the activity for students who are really struggling, but could be put away when the students no longer need the directions or are working on creativity instead.
I had one student toward the end of the school year who has significant sensory processing challenges, and was struggling with the transition to summer break and the routine changes that happen at the end of the school year. During a particularly difficult day, he was brought in to the therapy room sensory area for a break with the instructional assistant from the classroom, and he chose to try out the Fort Boards. The focus he needed to be able to put the pieces together and design his structure was a great way for him to re-center and calm down on his own in order to return to the classroom better regulated and ready to learn.
One thing that would have made it somewhat easier for me to be able to bring the Fort Boards in to different classrooms or into the speech therapy rooms is an easier method for packing up the pieces and carrying the box around. A handle on top of the box and perhaps a box that opened up like a briefcase or carrying bag would have been super helpful! However, overall, we loved the Fort Boards!"