This is V’s favourite ‘game’ at the moment so I thought it would be a good place to start! We chose to use purple Playdoh ‘ooze’ and dinosaur erasers from the dollar store but make sure you choose something your child would be excited about if you try this at home! Our occupational therapist says she often uses animals stuck in ‘mud’.
Small Objects (erasers, small plastic toys, etc)
Playdoh or Therapy Putty
Stabilizer (large bead, dice, etc)
N.B. – ‘Pencil Grasp’ exercises will help V learn to individually control the separate parts of his hand. When you write you need to use the outer fingers to stabilize your hand and the thumb and inner fingers to grip the pencil and write. V uses his whole hand together as one grasp so he isn’t able to control the pencil to create any real forms.
1. Shape the putty or playdoh into a thick, flat blob.
2. Stick the small objects into the putty/dough so they are approximately halfway submerged.
3. Help your child get a firm grasp of the stabilizer in their dominant (writing) hand. It should be held in the palm, almost hidden by the pinky and ring fingers. This helps them get used to not using those fingers in their pencil grasp.
4. Help your child get a firm grasp of the tweezers. Thumb on the bottom, two pointer and middle finger on the top. Practice squeezing a few times so they get used to the action.
5. Have your child ‘rescue’ the objects from the putty by pulling them out with the tweezers. They will need to have a firm grasp and pinch motion to pull them out.
6. Have your child set each ‘rescued’ object on the table with a firm, purposeful motion. You need to see a controlled release rather than an accidental ‘drop’.
7. Repeat until all the objects are ‘rescued’.
- Make sure that your child’s grip on the tweezers is correct before each ‘rescue’. V tends to let the tweezers slip into the crevice between his thumb and pointer finger and goes back to using his palm for control rather than the fingers. We ‘reset’ each time.
- Remind your child that they should only be using their dominant hand to do this exercise. It’s so tempting to add that second hand but it will decrease the effectiveness of the activity!
- Don’t be afraid to make your child repeat a rescue if they don’t use the correct grip/drop their stabilizer/drop the object on the table. This exercise is to help them build their coordination, grip and strength and doing it incorrectly is not the best use of your time or theirs!
- Start with a smaller number of objects and slowly work the number up. Again the key is for your child to experience success and when trying something new they can get bored/tired easily!