Friday, July 10, 2020

Therapy on a Shoestring Budget: DIY Lacing Shape Cards

These DIY lacing cards are a fun way for a child to work on fine motors skills, bilateral integration (using two hands together), and motor planning! Making them in a variety of shapes and colors will help a child learn to distinguish their differences. You can also use a sharpie to write letters or numbers next to each lacing hole to work on letter and number recognition. Use your imagination to come up with other fun variations!

Scissors, single-hole punch, Colorations Foam Door Hangers, shoe laces, string, or ribbon

Use this shape sheet as a pattern. (The sizes may need to be adjusted.) Trace each shape onto a different piece of foam, and use the scissors to cut them out, and use the hole punch to punch out the lacing holes. (Save the scraps of foam to use with another DIY project that I will be posting about soon.)

If you are using string or ribbon, wrap a piece of tape around each end. Now it's time to start lacing! 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sign a petition to support National Tummy Time Awareness Day!

Please click on the link below and sign the petition to support a National Tummy Time Awareness Day!

Tummy time is when an infant spends time on the stomach while awake and supervised. Infants who don’t spend enough time on their stomachs during their waking hours are at risk for motor skill delays and developing flat spots on the head (cranial asymmetry), while tummy time promotes infant development and serves as a preventative factor for cranial asymmetry. An added bonus is that it is a wonderful opportunity to bond with a baby!

Unfortunately, many parents are not aware of the importance of tummy time and the negative consequences that can occur if an infant does not spend enough time on the stomach for play. When infants aren't exposed to tummy time in the first days and weeks of life, they often resist being placed in the position by fussing and crying.

Parents need to understand that it is important to provide their infant with tummy time early on, and doing so will be beneficial to their child in the long run. Having a "National Tummy Time Awareness Day" will increase awareness about the importance of providing infants with supervised tummy time on early in the early days of life and on a regular basis.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Visual Schedule to Help with Challenging Morning Routines

Dealing with problem behaviors in the home setting can be challenging, especially with children who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. For these children, maintaining focus in order to complete morning tasks independently can be quite difficult, especially when everyone else in the family is rushing around getting ready for the day. 

This is a situation when a visual schedule can be helpful. A visual schedule is an ordered sequence of images that shows a person the steps to follow to complete a task or set of tasks. According to research, using visual schedules with children who have a diagnosis of autism can be very effective and make routines and transitions go more smoothly.
- Write out the morning routine on a piece of construction paper. (See the example above.)
- Laminate the construction paper
- Locate various images to represent each task and print them out.
- Cut out the shape of a small star for each task.
- Laminate all of the images and stars.
- Attach the Velcro pieces to the appropriate spots on the visual schedule, images, & stars.

If your child needs prompts to know which task to complete first, second, etc., hand him the image that represents the first task. The child should take the image to the Visual Schedule and attach it to the right of the appropriate task on the schedule, and then he should complete the task. Provide assistance as needed at first, then gradually reduce the amount of assistance that you provide. Once he completes the task, he should place a star next to the task in the “Done” or “Complete” column. Have him continue the same process for all of the morning tasks on the schedule. Be sure to praise him when all the stars have been placed, and he has completed the routine successfully.
Hopefully, the use of the visual schedule will help your child be calmer and more organized during challenging activities and routines each day!

This project was completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Monday, March 16, 2020

My “I Spy” Sensory Box is tons of fun!

Check out this awesome home-made “I Spy” sensory box! This engaging DIY activity is great for addressing visual perceptual skills, especially figure-ground skills. All you need to create the "I Spy" activity is a sturdy shoe box, small beads, and a variety of small items.  Fill the box approximately 1/3 full of colorful beads, and hide the small objects under the beads. Here are some example items:
  • Mini toothbrush
  • Barbie doll clothing pieces
  • Small plastic pieces of food
  • A tiny book
  • A small plastic doll 
As the child finds the hidden objects, you can encourage language by asking questions about each object. For example, “What color is that shirt? What do you do with a toothbrush?”

If the child closes their eyes while locating and identifying the items, this will address stereognosis. To make the activity easier, hide larger objects, and to make it more difficult, hide smaller objects.

This project was completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

“Feed the Bear” Fine Motor Activity

     This “Feed the Bear” Fine Motor Activity is a fun way for any child to work on their fine motor skills! The opening at the top of the container is the bear’s mouth. Have your child work on grasp and release skills by picking up the various sized fuzzy pom poms to feed the bear.  The smaller pom poms will be more difficult and the larger ones will be easier.  
     Small tongs or tweezers can also be used which will require additional fine motor coordination. The activity could also be made more challenging by having your child grasp and stabilize multiple balls at once in order to promote in-hand manipulation skills. There is a clear opening in the bear’s tummy so it’s easy to see when he’s full! This activity will be fun and motivating for most any young child!
Items Needed:
Parmesan cheese container
Brown felt
Large googly eyes

Directions: Cut out the felt and glue it on the container. Be sure to cut out a hole in the stomach area and don’t forget to add the ears. Once the felt is dry. Glue the eyes in place. It’s time to play!

The projects above were completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Teach Buttoning using a DIY Button Board: Make it Fun!

Yes, teaching a child to button can be a fun experience! You might be First of all, don’t try to teach this skill when your little one is getting ready to leave the house in the morning., especially if you are in a hurry. That’s definitely not the time to work on buttoning and other fasteners. Instead, find a time when you can work on the skill using a fun and relaxed approach. You can also make it fun by using a button board.

Practicing on a button board will allow your child to learn and practice the skill away from their body, which makes it easier. Then once he’s learned how to manipulate the button and fabric to complete the buttoning task, he will feel more confident. That’s the time to switch over to practicing on clothing.

Skills needed for buttoning:
Able to pick up small objects using the thumb and index finger (pincer grasp)
Brings hands together at the middle of the body (midline)
Uses both hands together in a coordinated manner (bilateral skills)

Tips for teaching buttoning:

Start with large 1 to 1 ½-inch buttons, and progress to smaller ones. Initially, the fabric that the button goes through should have some stiffness to it. (You can add stiffness or body to fabric by attaching fusible or iron-on interfacing to it.)

Now that you know how to teach buttoning, it’s time to make a button board!

Supplies Needed:
Colorful large (1 to 1 ½-inch) buttons
Felt fabric- (Let your child select the colors!)
Fabric glue or hot glue
Fusible or Iron-on interfacing

1. Have your child select the “theme” for the board. (For example, see the giraffe and snowman.)
2. Cut a piece of cardboard into a rectangular shape (approximately 10-inches x 14-inches)
3. Cut out a piece of felt slightly larger than the cardboard. (12-inches x 16-inches)
4. Glue the felt onto the cardboard. Be sure to wrap the fabric around the edges of the cardboard so that it will look neat.
5. Using different color(s) of felt, cut out the shapes or forms needed for your theme, and glue those felt pieces in place on the board.
6. Iron the interfacing onto the back of the fabric or felt pieces that you plan to use for the button holes. Once the fabric has cooled, cut out the shapes or forms of your choice, then cut the appropriate sized button holes in each one.
7. You’ll need to use a sturdy needle to sew the buttons onto the board.
8. Use a Sharpie marker and other felt pieces to decorate it even more!

Finally, have fun working on those buttoning skills!

The projects above were completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Tips for Tactile Defensiveness

A child with tactile defensiveness is overly sensitive to touch and other tactile input such as finger paint, sand, water, and certain clothing textures. Here are some signs and symptoms that you might see with a child who is dealing with tactile defensiveness.
  • Frequently resists being held or cuddled by unfamiliar people
  • Dislikes water splashing or bath-time
  • Difficulty falling into a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Dislikes being moved quickly such as being tipped in the air, swung around, bounced, or rocked suddenly
  • Difficulty with sucking, chewing, or swallowing new textures
  • Does not tolerate new foods or food textures – diet is limited
       If a child has tactile sensitivity, here are some activities to try. Any child's sensory system will benefit from these activities, defensive or not. Start slowly, and DO NOT force any input that your child resists. If your little one is extremely resistant, it’s probably time to consult your pediatrician and ask about the possibility of occupational therapy. There are other treatments that must be carried out under the supervision of a therapist. 
  • Spend a few extra minutes after bath time to vigorously rub the child with a towel, or guide them in doing so.  
  • Rub lotion or powder on the legs, hands and arms while singing (for distraction purposes). Let them also rub the lotion or powder on you, especially if they won’t tolerate it on their own extremities.
  • Pretend face washing or shaving- with different textures of cloth or towels.
  • Use a variety of textured materials such as corduroy, fur, terry cloth, etc. and rub on your child’s back, arms and legs.
  • Put textured mittens or puppets on child’s hands and let him or her take them off.
  • Encourage your child to play in binds of sand, rice, beans or popcorn. Hide items and have the child locate them, guessing what they are while still covered. If your child won’t touch the textures, provide cups and shovels for play.
  • Have the child roll up in a blanket or sheet, then play hot dog – press on mustard, relish, etc., and then have them roll out.
  • Put shaving cream, lotion, or pudding on a large piece of aluminum foil and have the child draw a picture or write spelling words. Be sure to get both hands messy!
  • Finger painting or body painting with water-based paints. 
  • Play in play dough or putty. Pulling, squeezing, rolling, etc.
  • Draw numbers/letters on the child’s back, arms, lets, etc. and have him identify. You can make it a multiple choice or yes-no question - Is this a 2 or a 5?
  • Provide activities that provide tactile input on the child’s entire body, such as a kid pool full of styrofoam, big soft pillows, or balls.
  • Games with physical contact are good – bear hugs, piggyback rides, wrestling, back rubs, petting animals.
  • Identifying objects with eyes closed – keys, comb, marble, block, coins, shapes, etc.
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