We were given about 5 sheets of exercises to help develop V’s fine motor skills and these came with a fairly large shopping list of supplies we’d need in order to complete the tasks. Most things could be purchased at the Dollar Store but there were two notable exceptions: spring-loaded scissors and something called a ‘Grotto Grip’. These are items specifically made to help those with fine motor cutting and writing issues and we could order them from a Canadian website called FDMT – Educational Materials and Sensory Tools (www.fdmt.ca). The order was shipped incredibly quickly (ordered Fri, received the products the following Wed) and I’ll be highlighting both so you can see how they work in the treatment plan.
How They Work:
The scissors look like basic primary school scissors. Not very sharp, small openings, etc. The big difference is that there is a curved piece of plastic on a hinge between the two loops. It can be moved up and down. When it is up, the scissors work like normal; open and close, just like a regular pair. When it is placed down between the two loops however, the plastic helps the scissors open and close in a spring-like action, hence the name! It helps V create the smooth cutting motion and builds the strength and muscle-memory in his hands. As he becomes more proficient and his hands more coordinated and strong, the plan is that he will eventually be able to open and close scissors on his own and will be able to use regular classroom scissors.
- Line Cutting:
Similar to the assessment cutting exercises we will draw thick, short black lines on a piece of card stock and have V cut along the lines until he reaches the smiley face. We make the lines thick so he can experience success by actually cutting along the line. As he progresses the lines will progressively get longer and thinner until he’s able to cut along a fine line like his peers. We are also starting with me holding the paper for him as he cuts both lines but we’ll gradually move to him ‘helping’ me hold the paper, them him holding it himself.
- Straw Cutting
V holds a plastic drinking straw in his left hand and uses his right hand and scissors to cut the straw into pieces. Sounds boring but we try to make it a game. I’ll ask him to cut me a big piece, small piece, ‘x’ number of pieces, a ‘sharp’ piece (cutting on an angle) etc. He really enjoys this one and you can use the pieces left at the end as a second fine motor activity by having your child thread them onto a shoelace/string.
- Play-doh/Therapy Putty Snake
I will roll a thick ‘snake’ of playdoh or therapy putty and have V cut it into different sized chunks. This helps him practice opening the scissors wide and making BIG cuts. It will usually take him 3-4 cuts to get through the roll and complete the section. Make sure your child doesn’t ‘cheat’ and try to use the scissors to pry the halves apart, rather than cut!
- We ordered two pairs from the website. One is for V to use at home and one will be for his classroom in Sept so that he’s able to use his ‘special’ scissors when he participates in lessons that involve cutting. They will be labelled with his name and for his use alone.
- The scissors are right-handed. I’m sure you can find left-handed spring-loaded scissors but this is a right-handed world and the reality is that V will need to learn to manipulate them with his right hand. This is the only exercise that we work on his non-dominant hand.
- Similar to every other activity, sometimes V let’s his grip slip or become twisted. Don’t worry if you need to ‘reset’ the grip before each exercise or even each cut. This is all practice to build the skill, it will take time!
V doesn’t often show that he’s aware that he lacks a certain amount of control when he’s drawing, colouring or cutting. However since starting his OT he gets very upset when I hold the paper for him because he’s worried he’ll cut me. I have to spend a few minutes at the start of each session assuring him that he’ll do fine, he won’t cut all my fingers off and we’ll get through it. Make sure you don’t dismiss your child’s fears, they may sound a little bizarre to you but their imaginations run wild and they just need you to pump them up a bit and let them know it will all be fine in the end!