Friday, June 13, 2014

Time to Go

It's time to go home now--summer is here.  Hope everyone has a lovely, relaxing time off from school and here's hoping 2014-15 will be great.  Thx for reading and see you in September.  K.

If you'd like to read some posts about fun in the summer, please visit my June-July-August blog:
LifeSpace--OTs do have fun in the summer

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Activities for Students Who Like to Be Hugged, alot

Sorry if I've shared this info previously.  Since you might be thinking of recommendations for home over the summer a few of these activities may be helpful for students who seem to always be craving deep pressure input:

1. Resistance Exercises: Use Thera-band, Thera-tubing or bands cut from the lower 6” of old t-shirts. Since she likes to feel deep pressure there are several resistance exercises that might provide her with that input and I can show you some.

2. Figure out where to mark a square or “x” on the floor and have student stand inside the square, leaning heavily against the wall with flat palms, a straight back and flat feet. Push away from the wall and clap real hard before landing back on the wall with flat palms. Repeat at least 10 times. If clapping is too loud for the classroom you don’t have to include that.

3. Does she have Special PE? There may be some stretches or exercises which can be done in the classroom. If she’s familiar with yoga she might do poses that require upper body weight bearing. If that’s weird in the open classroom do you have room dividers to create an exercise area?

4. Keep a large zip-up sweatshirt on back of chair, show her how to zip herself up with the back of the sweatshirt behind the chair. Lean forward for the feeling of being compressed/squished.  Be sure that the student is capable of freeing herself from the sweatshirt or chair; this is not a restraint!

5. If you feel that you can have a sitting ball in your classroom, with the students respecting the safety rules for using it, try a ball that inflates to the height of student chairs. If you put the ball inside a large cardboard box that comes half-way up the sides of the ball that will help it be more stable (but not totally safe). The vertical movement of gently bouncing and adjusting your position on the ball are also weight bearing activities. This can be a risky addition to the classroom so use your best judgement.

6. After doing “wall push-ups” on the chalkboard, practice drawing a simple sketch from a drawing book which relates to a topic being discussed that day. Or, allow the student to tape her paper on the board and write while standing. (Working arms in anti-gravity position while drawing; joint compression and upper body strengthening which some students find calming; increase success in drawing to increase interest in journal writing or other academics which include student drawing)

7. Classroom job--Extra clean up of student desks, tables. Student or adult squirts thin line of shaving cream on table surfaces, then uses hands to spread it over the table. Student then uses thick cloth to wipe up cream from table, followed by using a drying towel. (This is not really a “cleaning.” Good for L to R sequencing, weight bearing through arms, sequencing of a task).  Ensure that the student is not sensitive to any of the ingredients in the shaving cream.

Bonus:  Call me crazy, but I think keeping a large beach towel handy and using it to "dry" your back (over your clothes, of course) would be very good input.  Use fast movements for alerting and focus on deep pressure from the towel for calming.
After today, two more days until summer break!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wikki Stix Can Be Artsy, Too

We used an Ed Emberley handout as our guide to creating these running horses, with the student copying me step by step.
Very interesting to observe the 2nd grader as she turned her hands this way and that to replicate the angles of the "drawing."  Looks like a mommy horse and a little foal.
Great for motor planning and finger dexterity.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wikki Stix and the Letter G

Those Wikki Stix keep on tickin'.  Kids love 'em.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Activities

This year I've had so many students with atrocious grasps--what to do?
My usual strategies for fine motor improvement help a little, but my personal exercise program since January has reminded me of the need to incorporate strengthening activities into my treatment approach.
Warm Up--Upper body weight bearing over a stable surface.
Most young students will not be able to achieve a full plank position, although I've worked with a young girl taking gymnastics and she's incredibly steady.  My goal is to get them to weight-bear through their hands to develop the arches for better grasp.  We start out counting out loud for 10 seconds and I stand real close in case they start sliding away.

This second grader isn't too crazy about using a pencil.  I know adults who hold their pencils, pens like this but I'm just doing a trial run to see if she can develop a more efficient grasp, one that gives her more control of where the pencil is heading and doesn't cramp her fingers after she writes for just a few minutes.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Five More Days

Next week is the last week of school for us.  Can't wait!
What will the summer hold in store?  For sure, I foresee lots of grand-dog sitting on the horizon!

We could hike the Blue Ridge Parkway...or,

Photos by J. G. Collier--2014
 ...we might camp and kayak at Bear Creek Lake?
In our gorgeous area, the possibilities are endless!  5 More Days!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Home Program Ideas for Improving Hand Strength for Better Fine Motor Control and Endurance

Here is a collection of ideas from our staff (thx Lauren & Heather!) for improving hand strength:

Wall pushups on flat surface--both hands
Wall pushups on flat surface--one hand with body turned sideways
Wall or chair pushups with hands over rounded object (half tennis ball, swim noodle)
Carrying therapist's tote bag down long school hallways
Traditional theraputty exercises
Hanging by hands from horizontal bar
Bear walking (hands and feet flat on floor)
Balloon tennis with homemade "racket"
Chores that require hand strength and/or sustained wrist extension (carrying pet water bowl or water jug, vacuuming, dusting, making bed)
Putting away canned goods after shopping
Vacuuming car
Working on a vertical surface (writing, coloring, using magnets, etc.)
Use digiflex exerciser--start with low resistance (such as 0.5 lb. or 1 lb.)
Washing the car and wringing out the big sponge.
Helping to dig in the garden/pull the weeds
Doing laundry-carrying the laundry basket and pulling the wet clothes out of the washer
Helping to carry in the groceries
Riding a bike or scooter (handle bars)
Help turn a large jump rope for friends to jump
Pulling a wagon
Sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor or washing the floor Cinderella style
Sidewalk chalk for drawing hop scotch or making art and using squirt water toys to wash it away
Holding onto a swing or using hands to climb at the park
Create a fort using cardboard boxes and appropriate tape. Use a large paint brush to paint it.
Use large squirt "devices" or those two handed water pumpers to rinse the car or wash the garage door. Or just get friends and family wet.

Pass along the ideas that suit your student's needs and abilities--and are judged safe to try at home.