Pawprint, October 2014
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Therapist's Corner
Deanna Maciole
Rolling and Moving Right Along
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L

The pre-school teacher during her synopsis of the day's activities talks about gross motor time.  She states, "Most of the class was unable to log roll."  Many parents raise their eyebrows, give a little nod, and just take it in as an observation.  But the mom with a sensory background knows that this is not ok, four-year-olds should be able to log roll.  This is a sign of how young children are not fully developing their vestibular systems.

The vestibular system is regulated by the inner ear and is the sensory system that tells our bodies about movement, balance and spatial relations.  A system that is well regulated tolerates movement with ease, demonstrates good awareness of position in space, and presents with adequate balance. This system is important for the development of coordination, eye control, attention, security with movement and some aspects of language development.  All of these skills are beneficial in the learning process.

Often we see the neighborhood streets quiet and empty, the playground bare, and no one rolling down that gigantic hill at the park. Not only is this sad in a nostalgic way, but it is sad because our children are missing out. Missing out on the opportunity to be a kid and enjoy free, unstructured play.  It is not fair to say that this does not happen at all, but it just is not happening at the rate that it once did. More and more we are finding books, blogs, and information about playing outside in nature, giving our children unstructured play, and letting their bodies develop because we are starting to see how the lack of these opportunities is affecting their overall development.  Children are demonstrating increased difficulty sitting in the classroom, attending, and carrying out more complex coordination tasks. There are many ways to help improve the vestibular systems of our children, whether it is in the clinic, your home, or outside.

Suspended equipment is an excellent way to provide vestibular input.  In a therapeutic setting, swings such as the Therapy Net Swing, the Bolster Swing, and the Platform Swing all help to meet a child's vestibular needs.  Each of these swings encourages movements in a variety a planes, as well as rotational input.  In addition, they all allow for different positioning of a child, including the position of their head. From sitting upright on the Platform Swing, to laying prone in the Therapy Net Swing, or inverted hanging on the Bolster Swing, a child is able to receive different inputs that typically are not experienced when just sitting to play or attend at school all day.  When at the playground, based on your child's age and ability, allow the child to experience swinging in different ways from laying his belly on the standard swing to hanging upside down from the trapeze bar.  Moving out of the upright position itself is crucial for improving the vestibular system.

In an attempt to change the position of the head, using a therapy/exercise ball is a great way to incorporate these skills in an activity.  A child can be placed either on his belly or back to obtain puzzle pieces, bean bags or any object of choice to complete an activity.  This encourages a lot of changing the position of the head, while pulling in visual motor skills to then complete the task at hand.  This is a great way to tie the visual and vestibular systems together.  

Rotational movement, such as spinning is very beneficial to the vestibular system, however should be used with caution and with instruction from a therapist who understands and can educate on its effects.  It is true that in the therapy setting, we often see therapists using increased amounts of rotation to try and elicit or improve the post rotational nystagmus (PRN) of a sensory child.  Spinning on a swing or chair, rolling down a hill or doing somersaults, as well as playing on a sit and spin are great ways to achieve rotational input.   It is the most powerful input the brain takes in to process, and therefore can be very beneficial in overall self-regulation.  However, just a small amount of input can cause impact for up to 6-8 hours.  That is why sometimes one trip on the Tilt-A-Wheel can have an all day effect on your body. Therefore, before implementing huge amounts of rotational input, consult your occupational therapist.

Movement is key for vestibular input, therefore getting outside to play is crucial in overall child development.  Running, bike or scooter riding, and skating provide linear movement with speed.  Add in activities such as basketball, football, soccer, and with all the changes in head positioning these activities help improve the vestibular system, as well.

Allow your children to explore movement with their bodies.  When safe, let them climb and hang from that tree, roll down that large hill, and use their bodies differently on a swing. It is time to move out of the upright position and get their bodies moving.  Doing so will improve their overall self-regulation, balance, coordination, and spatial awareness skills.
Southpaw Products

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.

Activity Panels  

Activity Panels
Interactive panels are a great way for your many different clients to receive sensory input. These are three new panels from our workshop that offer tactile, visual, and sound sensations. Each panel has a curvy roadway along its width where your clients can guide their vehicles, working on tracking and upper body gross motor skills.

    Composite ICE Mini Rover Elite
 Composite ICE Mini Rover
Our Composite ICE Mini Rover Elite is ideal for school sensory rooms and children's hospitals. Made out of marine grade composite, this Rover is easy to clean and has a matte finish that hides scuffs and scratches.
The Rover provides a complete sensory environment that can offer calming input or sensory stimulation to clients anywhere in your facility.

Activities with Mr. Alex
Mr. Alex's Favorite FitBALL Peanut Ball Activities

Alex Lopiccolo, COTA/L, CPT, NC 


*Have the child wear different colored wrist bands to help them follow instructions if they don't know the difference between their left and right hand.    


Rock Band Drummer
Have the child straddle the FitBALL Peanut. Ask, demonstrate or perform hand over hand assistance to cross midline to hit the bucket on the floor while singing rhythmically "We Will, We Will, Rock You!" This activity may help promote rhythm, crossing midline for left/right brain connection, reciprocal coordination and core stability.





Magnetic Fishing 
Have the child straddle the FitBALL Peanut with a magnetic fishing pole in their dominant hand and the magnetic wooden puzzle pieces on the opposite side. Have the child use one hand to cross their midline and retrieve their magnetic puzzle pieces then return to the wooden puzzle. This activity may help promote shoulder stability, core stability, crossing midline and visual perceptual skills.

Squigz Push/Pull Ups 
Have the child roll on their stomach over the FitBALL Peanut until their hips or thighs are on top of it. The child can push down the Squigz to suction them onto the floor. Then have the child pull them up and place them back into a bucket further away. This activity may help promote shoulder strength, hand arch development, core strength and grip strength.

Ready, Aim, Fire 
Have the child straddle he FitBALL Peanut. Ask them to look and reach with a colored wrist to grab a ball behind them and over their head (trunk rotation and extension) then throw into a target straight ahead. This activity may help promote hand-eye coordination and core stability and control.

Circus Act
I recommend mastering this activity as an adult before showing this activity to a child. Place one knee on the back of the FitBALL Peanut and simultaneously place both hands and the other knee on top of the ball. Don't let your buttock touch your calves and keep it up in the air to have a flat back. Transfer and shift your weight between our hands and hips. This is a higher level core activity for older children and teenagers. This is a great activity to promote core and shoulder stabilization.


 *Adult stand by supervision for safety at all times.

Sensory Digest
AAMSE Conducts Training at Southpaw MSE Room

AAMSE (American Association of Multi Sensory Environments) held our Basic Training Workshops in September and October at Southpaw, the only US manufacturer of MSE Equipment. A total of 12 people from Ohio, Michigan, California, Washington, Kentucky, and Ontario, Canada attended the sessions. The Basic Training Course gives the participant a solid foundation in the understanding and practice of the Multi-Sensory Dynamic Systems Approach. AAMSE is committed to teaching students from all professional backgrounds that wish to participate in these Best Practices. Go to for more information regarding basic and advanced training.
AAMSE will be conducting more training sessions at Southpaw so please look for our 2015 schedule coming out soon. Our members from both sessions were given a personal tour of the Southpaw manufacturing by President Alex Moore and AAMSE was pleased to present a Certificate of Appreciation to Mr. Moore. Please see our newest AAMSE members and Mr. Moore in the photo.


Clinic Management Made Easy
  Southpaw CMS

Southpaw CMS
allows you to manage your clinics' scheduling, therapists, client information, sessions, notes, records, and much more from any computer with an internet connection, anytime, anywhere.