Creatively Enjoying the 'Thaw'
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L
With the thawing out from this 'Polar' winter coming soon, everyone is ready to be outside, burning energy. Regardless of where you are in the country, this winter has been unlike any others. And although just getting outside and being active would meet most needs, this month we are going to look at a few fun, creative ideas for outdoor play that meet a variety of therapeutic needs. So, put on your coats and leave your boots at home...and let's have some fun!
Scavenger Hunts- These can be done in a variety of ways to address different skills. First, you can give the child a list of things to find, such as an animal, something that is a particular color or shape, and an item in nature. Once it is found they can mark it off the list or to address handwriting skills, have them write what they found. Using a small clipboard to hold the list will also provide a writing surface for them, while helping to address bilateral skills. Or, if your child has a camera, have them use the camera to take a picture of the item that has been spotted. This is particularly fun for toddlers who have the "kid tough" cameras. These activities allow children to get outside while strengthening their visual and direction following skills.
To incorporate movement you can set up the hunt so that clues need to be found. This is ideal for older children. Once a clue is found, it could instruct the child to move in a particular manner to the next spot. For example, bear walking, walking backwards, skipping, etc. This not only helps children to problem solve finding the next clue, it helps with motor planning and spatial awareness skills while adding in some vestibular and proprioceptive input.
Obstacle Course- For those children who get bored easily with riding their scooters and bikes, or just need a little bit more help getting their bodies moving, turn your backyard into a fun and challenging obstacle course. Use boxes to jump over, crawl or jump through hula hoops, do animal walks, perform side jumps. What ever you can do to get them moving. Obstacle courses are a great way to provide vestibular and proprioceptive input while addressing motor planning, core strengthening, bilateral coordination, balance and direction following skills. For higher functioning individuals, you can work on speed and agility by timing the trials.
Basketball- Basketball playing can take place in the drive or at the park, wherever a hoop is found. In addition, it can be an individual activity or performed with one or more peers. Basketball by itself is an excellent therapeutic activity. It pulls in bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, upper extremity stability and overall strength and endurance when just working on shooting baskets. For individuals who demonstrate difficulty interacting with peers or overall conversation, playing a game of HORSE where each child has to ask the other a question before shooting is both fun and beneficial. It gives these children a chance to work on initiating conversation, but not so focused on it because of the distraction of anticipating "making the shot"!
Sidewalk Chalk- A favorite by children of all ages allows you to have an open canvas with your creativity and activities. Children can work on their handwriting skills by writing words, letters, or forming shapes for pre-writing. And due to the typical positioning when using sidewalk chalk, shoulder stability is often strengthened during these tasks. So, taking a tedious of activity of writing outside to see a change in motivation to perform the task.
With school still in session for a few more months, you can add movement while using sidewalk chalk by writing sight/power words or various numbers randomly over the ground, leaving space between them. Then children can move to the word when it is called out and catch a ball. With numbers, giving a math problem with the child to solve in their head and then hop, twirl, or walk to the answer. Spelling can also be worked on in the fresh air in this manner too. Just write the letters out on the ground and then children have to move to each letter to spell the word- an excellent idea for your kinesthetic learner!
So on those brisk, but sunny days take some time to get some fresh air before the Spring rains hit!
What is W-Sitting?
Alexander Lopiccolo, COTA and Karin Phillips, OTR
W-sitting is the opposite of 'criss cross apple sauce' or cross-legged sitting. When a child w-sits, her bottom is on the floor with her knees in front of her hips, and both feet are on either side of her hips with her feet pointing straight out from her body.
W-sitting is a natural transitional position, and is only problematic when it is used as a sustained position.
When children use w-sitting as a sustained position, they severely limit their participation in and development of:
* Core and postural activation
* Vestibular activation and processing
* Visual exploration and engagement
* Auditory field processing
* Visual motor integration
* Pelvic and spinal joint stability
* Coordination of gluteal/rectus abdominus and pectoral muscles for postural control
When children continue to use w-sitting as a sustained position, they may develop the following:
* Limited core activation and low muscle tone
* Minimal crossing midline (moving the right side of body across the midline and into the left field of the body, and vice-versa)
* Difficulty developing bilateral coordination and object transference from one hand to the other
* Difficulty developing hand dominance and eye-hand coordination
* Delayed balance and body awareness skills
* Joint laxity, especially at the pelvis, and/or joint hypermobility
* Overstretching and shortening of muscles designed to maintain a neutral position of the pelvis
* Poor neck/trunk disassociation and subsequent limited reflex integration
* Limited engagement and processing of visual, auditory, and vestibular information
* Poor sensory processing, self-regulation, and attention/focus
How to correct w-sitting
If your child uses w-sitting for sustained activities, there are some simple ways to encourage her to sit alternatively.
* Model appropriate positions, such as
|Short Kneel||Cross-Legged||Side Sit|
|Remind children to 'fix your feet' or 'fix your legs'|
* Use a visual cue to help your child remember to change her position, if she's sensitive to getting a verbal reminder
* Educate your teacher, babysitter, daycare provider, family members, and anyone else involved in your child's care about w-sitting and how to correct it. Prevention is the key to success!
Products and equipment from Southpaw Enterprises that can help:
* Howda Hug Chair - Great for circle time!
* Folding Wedge - Ideal for story time or board games.
* Fitball Seating Disc - Excellent for use in a chair.
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This multi-level Balance Platform provides three heights for balancing so that it is challenging for both beginners and advanced students. The beams are six feet long and comes with a sturdy base. Details
The Togo is a new and innovative seating adaptation. The Togo provides the gentle vestibular, vertical up and down motion of a therapy ball (made possible by an internal spring mechanism), while maintaining the posture, focus, and trunk control required to sustain the position of sitting on a standard T-stool.
The Togo can go where ever you go. When working in a variety of settings clinicians are often limited to how many seating adaptations and types of sensory equipment they can bring with them on the go. That was until the standard T-stool was revolutionized. The Togo is a practical, economical and portable solution to combine both the sensory and strengthening components of a therapy ball and a standard T-stool.Details Southpaw Gift Card
A Southpaw Gift Card is the perfect gift for all special occasions. We are proud to offer them in $25 denominations. The gift cards will be shipped to the address provided with the order unless otherwise specified. All Gift Cards are valid for 1 year from the date of purchase. Gift Cards are not redeemable for cash. The original Gift Card must accompany the order in which it is to be applied.Details