MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

Occupational Therapy: Daily Routine July 27, 2015

So I’ve just been throwing up all of these tools, activities and exercises for V’s fine motor development without any real structure as to how we actually do them in our day to day lives. I should be clear that we do not spend hours and hours a day doing these ‘games’ because A) V would be hella bored and B) I have a 10 month old who doesn’t appreciate that much free time. The reason we have so many different games and activities is so that we can switch it up every day without doing the same things for the next year or longer if that’s what V needs.

Realistically we do V’s Occupational Therapy activities 5-7 times a week. If we’re home on the weekend (and during the summer we are usually on the go!) we’ll take time the morning to do his games before we take on the rest of our plans. Every time we do his exercises it takes about 20-35 minutes, depending on V’s choices for the day and is divided up like so:

Category

Activity

Time (in mins)

Scissors

Card-stock Exercise

2

Straw

2

Putty Snake

2

Pre-Writing

Dot-To-Dot/Maze

5

Colouring

5

Pencil Grip/Object Manipulation/Finger Strength

Any 3 activities of V’s Choice (dice, coins, leapfrog, etc)

5

5

5

The Scissors and Pre-writing activities are pretty set, however V can chose the activity book and page he wants to colour. The other activities he’s able to chose from our Occupational Therapy Kit. He gets pretty excited about all the options but definitely has his favourites! The only time I step in is if we’ve done the same activity for 3+ days in a row, so that he’s not just practising one individual set of skills, but is able to apply them across the board!

We do all of his activities in one big chunk of time in the morning because it’s when he’s got the most focused energy (any teacher will tell you all the most important lessons take place before lunch!) and his baby brother is happiest after breakfast! That way we can make other exciting plans for our afternoon and don’t have to worry about trying to come back and ‘finish up’ anything we left out.

A doesn't appreciate me taking 30 mins away from snuggle time to work with his big bro! V decided to join him in a show of solidarity...

A doesn’t appreciate me taking 30 mins away from snuggle time to work with his big bro! V decided to join him in a show of solidarity…

Typically, as a ‘reward’ for concentrating and doing well on his OT games, V and I will play a rousing round of Mario Party 10 on our WiiU. I know that it’s become a huge bone of contention with a lot of people; kids and screen time, however video games are actually a pretty awesome fine motor and hand/eye coordination activity! A round of Mario Party only takes about 30 mins and trust me, V has no idea he’s even practising moving his hands separately. We’ve tried playing actual board games but V has trouble picking up and moving the small pieces. It usually ends in frustration and an incredibly short attention span, so Mario it is!

There you have it: Our daily OT routine! Any feedback is appreciated and I’d love to hear how you spend your Occupational Therapy time!!

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Occupational Therapy: Activity – Nuts & Bolts July 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 2:42 pm
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Until we started having V evaluated for fine motor issues I never realized how those delays would affect his every day life! At (almost) 5 years old you don’t see it used much beyond writing and colouring but when you start some of the exercises you really see how these difficulties could extend to different areas as he grows older. For this next activity just imagine trying to put together some Ikea furniture if you couldn’t manipulate your hands/fingers correctly. And you thought assembly was already a pain the ‘you know what’!

Materials Needed:

2 Nuts

2 Bolts

Yup OT supplies can be purchased at the hardware store too!

Our Nuts and Bolts courtesy of Home Hardware!

Our Nuts and Bolts courtesy of Home Hardware!

Category:

Object Manipulation.

** Again these type of activities help V build the coordination and strength in his fingers.

Directions:

  1. Twist the bolts onto the nuts at two different points.

  2. Have your child use their non-dominant hand to hold the nut and the dominant (writing) hand to twist the bolt until it drops onto the table, making a loud bang!

    Twisting the bolt so it will drop onto the table top.

    Twisting the bolt so it will drop onto the table top.

  3. Repeat with the second nut & bolt set.

Notes:

  • If your child is really into the activity you can have them try to replace the bolt onto the nuts using the same hand motions.

  • Buy nuts and bolts with a wider width. They’re pretty cheap so as your child masters the task you can go buy thinner ones later on but to start you’ll want them to experience success!

  • V loves the surprise of the loud BANG! when the bolt hits the table. He thinks it’s hilarious and it also encourages him to try to hold the nut and bolt still over-top of the table as he works on turning the bolt.

    End Result!

    End Result!

 

Occupational Therapy: Tool Kit – Grotto Grip July 21, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 3:23 pm
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This is our second purchase from fdmt.ca. As I mentioned previous, most of V’s materials can come from discount or dollar stores but the Grotto Grip was another exception. Our OT recommended it because it attaches to his pencil, marker, crayon, etc to help him maintain a proper grip. There were a few grips she considered for him but did eventually decide that the three-point grip would be the most beneficial. She let us know that a few stores in our area did carry a version of this particular grip, but she’d found they didn’t work quite as well for children with fine motor issues and since we’d be ordering the scissors anyways….might as well add some more!

I was really excited to see how these worked with V because, as a general rule, he HATES to colour or draw. He would scribble as fast as he could, and then tell you he was done. If you wanted to pull out some colouring books his attention span would last for all of about 5 minutes before he was running around again. This may have led to some speculation in the past that he had behavioural issues, however now that he’s been properly diagnosed we know that it was purely frustration and boredom. How much do you like being force to do something you’re not good at or find incredibly hard? Can’t blame a pre-schooler for letting his feelings be known! Anyway, I was excited to try them out and see what type of change it would make in both his skills and his attitude.

Here is a highlight of what our pencil grip/pre-writing program looks like.

Material:

Grotto Grip

Stabilizer (dice, large bead, etc)

Grotto Grip! V prefers the blue but we also have black, green and purple!

Grotto Grip! V prefers the blue but we also have black, green and purple!

How It Works:

It slides onto the pencil/pen/marker etc near the tip and is essentially a plastic mold that, for all intents and purposes, forces, his hand into the proper grip with his thumb and forefinger ‘pinching’ the sides of the instrument and a cradle for his middle finger just below. We keep his other two ‘stabilizing’ fingers busy by holding the same object he would for any of our ‘pencil grasp’ OT exercises.

V also gets his choice of pencils for his daily activities. Choice choice and more choice is key!

V also gets his choice of pencils for his daily activities. Choice choice and more choice is key!

Exercises:

  1. Connect the Dots

V’s OT told us that ‘Connect The Dots’ puzzles and mazes are amazing activities for children with fine motor issues. They make them practice drawing firm, straight lines as well as constantly changing angles and adjusting their grip. V loves them so we’ll pick one a day to do together. It’s also a great way to practice his numbers and counting!

You can find this stuff everywhere if you're looking. This booklet is full of 'Connect the Dots' place mats!

You can find this stuff everywhere if you’re looking. This booklet is full of ‘Connect the Dots’ place mats!

  1. Colouring

V is also practising his grip by learning to colour inside the lines and switching his grip between different coloured pencils. We usually colour our ‘Connect The Dot’ picture once we’ve completed the first part! V has about 4 different colouring books in his OT kit so he gets to choose which one he’d like to do for that day.

All those colour choices!

All those colour choices!

  1. Pre-Writing Activities

V isn’t at this point yet since we’re still trying to get him practising his grip but we will eventually move into repeating the tracing/copy activities from his OT assessment. V will practice tracing and drawing simple finite shapes like X, T, O, squares, triangles etc.

Tracing lines between matching pictures and their shadows. Who doesn't love Transformers?!?

Tracing lines between matching pictures and their shadows. Who doesn’t love Transformers?!?

  1. Writing and Letter Tracing

Also not an exercise we’re doing right now but V will also soon start tracing his letters in workbooks and trying to write his own name! We have to keep the end goal in mind here!

Notes:

  • We purchased 4 Grotto Grips from the website. 2 are for home use and 2 will be sent to school, labelled, for V to use when they are doing any drawing/writing lessons there.
  • Make sure you continue to use a stabilizer for all of the writing activities. Just because your child has the grip for the first three fingers, they also need to learn to use the other two to help stabilize their hand as they go.
The Grotto Grip in action! You can't even see the stabilizer hidden under the outer two fingers now! He's learning to close that fist.

The Grotto Grip in action! You can’t even see the stabilizer hidden under the outer two fingers now! He’s learning to close that fist.

  • Encourage your child to use their other hand to hold the paper and move it along as they draw/write. Part of the writing skill is using their hands cooperatively!
  • Choice is important! Have a variety of workbooks/activities for your child. Again, it’s all about getting that buy in to produce the sense of control and the feeling of success!
This is a sample of our writing activity choices! Kids really appreciate that small sense of control so make sure you provide options.

This is a sample of our writing activity choices! Kids really appreciate that small sense of control so make sure you provide options.

  • Invest in some magnets! V loves the ability to display his work on the fridge when he does a new, exciting activity! Pride in their work is important especially when learning new skills.
Look at what I can do! He is so proud of his accomplishments.

Look at what I can do! He is so proud of his accomplishments.

The beginnings of our Refrigerator Art Gallery from our 'Artist in Residence'. Definitely need to buy more magnets... Although the Canadian bottle opener does add a certain 'Je ne sais quoi'...

The beginnings of our Refrigerator Art Gallery from our ‘Artist in Residence’. Definitely need to buy more magnets…
Although the Canadian bottle opener does add a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’…

Results:

I can’t say enough great things about this tool! Even after 3-4 days of use I can already see a HUGE improvement in V’s grip and his abilities. He knows how to hold the pencil with confidence and is able to exert more pressure as he makes his marks. His lines are darker, straighter and more firm. He can also colour much close to the lines, tries to colour in smaller shapes and will actually sit and colour for more than 5 minutes at a time! He is rarely drop his stabilizer now and he looks forward to our craft time each day. As least from my end the Grotto Grip is highly recommended!!

I have never, in almost 5 years, seen V draw such straight, firm lines. I almost cried and I definitely sent out a picture text to Daddy.

I have never, in almost 5 years, seen V draw such straight, firm lines. I almost cried and I definitely sent out a picture text to Daddy.

 

Occupational Therapy: Tool Kit – Spring Loaded Scissors July 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 3:06 pm
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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.

Item:

Spring-Loaded Scissors

Our fancy-shmancy new scissors!

Our fancy-shmancy new scissors!

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.

Our daily 'Cutting Skills' materials.

Our daily ‘Cutting Skills’ materials.

Exercises:

  1. 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.

Results of our line cutting exercise! The lines are getting more smooth and a little more precise!

Results of our line cutting exercise! The lines are getting more smooth and a little more precise!

  1. 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.

Holding the straw and cutting it into different sized pieces...little boys love a good 'deconstruction' exercise!

Holding the straw and cutting it into different sized pieces…little boys love a good ‘deconstruction’ exercise!

Results of the straw cutting. Put them aside in a seperate bag or container to use for a shoe-lace threading fine motor exercise! Nothing wasted here!

Results of the straw cutting. Put them aside in a seperate bag or container to use for a shoe-lace threading fine motor exercise! Nothing wasted here!

  1. 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!

'Attacking' the Playdoh snake.

‘Attacking’ the Playdoh snake.

Notes:

  • 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!

Concern:

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!

The face I get every time we're about to start cutting things up...still working on building up that confidence along with his fine motor skills.

The face I get every time we’re about to start cutting things up…still working on building up that confidence along with his fine motor skills.

 

Occupational Therapy: Activity #1 – Dinosaurs Stuck in the Ooze! July 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 10:10 am
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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’.

Materials Needed:

Tweezers

Small Objects (erasers, small plastic toys, etc)

Playdoh or Therapy Putty

Stabilizer (large bead, dice, etc)

Our 'Dinosaurs' game! No stabilizer in this picture because we usually just grab one of the dice from another kit.

Our ‘Dinosaurs’ game! No stabilizer in this picture because we usually just grab one of the dice from another kit.

Category:

Pencil Grasp

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.

Directions:

1. Shape the putty or playdoh into a thick, flat blob.

Our purple 'ooze'

Our purple ‘ooze’

2. Stick the small objects into the putty/dough so they are approximately halfway submerged.

Dinosaurs are stuck! Oh no!

Dinosaurs are stuck! Oh no!

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.

Stabilizer (dice) hidden in his palm under the outer two fingers.

Stabilizer (dice) hidden in his palm under the outer two fingers.

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.

Tweezer grip! Ready for some dinosaur rescue!

Tweezer grip! Ready for some dinosaur rescue!

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.

We're going in!

We’re going in!

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’.

The 'controlled release': I ask V to put all the dinosaurs face up, which seems to help!

The ‘controlled release’: I ask V to put all the dinosaurs face up, which seems to help!

7. Repeat until all the objects are ‘rescued’.

Done! Another successful rescue mission!

Done! Another successful rescue mission!

Notes:

  • 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!