Friday, October 13, 2017

Fun Activities for people with Memory Impairment, Alzheimer's Disease or other Dementias

When my mom developed Alzheimer's disease I created activities that were easy for her to use and met her individual needs. I describe these in my book: Still Giving Kisses: A Guide to Helping and Enjoying the Alzheimer's Victim You Love. The video below describes how I came to write this book.....

I created an activity book for my mom filled with pictures, song lyrics, word completions and an illustrated story of her life. At first, she flipped through the binder independently but over time, I needed to read the stories, identify the pictures and sing the songs to her. You can find many of these activities on my website. Just print them are links to some of my favorites:
  • lyrics to mom's favorite songs
  • pictures of familiar people, places and activities
  • an illustrated story of Sarah's life

You may choose to make a similar activity book for a loved one, friend or patient who you care about ....

Source: How to Make an Activity Book for Somebody with Alzheimer's Disease by RecyclingOT on Rumble

My mom loved word games. There are many described in my book that involve completing the last word or syllable to a familiar place, name or adage.
Such as:
  • Sarah was not born in New York, she was born in Chica.....  Illinois.
  • A penny saved is a penny.......
  • Somewhere over the rain........

Electronic tablets and phones were not yet widely used when my mom lost her language skills and YouTube was in its infancy. I know that she would have loved the following video, mainly because it starred, her daughter.... ME!
Consider making your own, personalized "word completion" video or use mine. Repeat the phrase after me, pause to give the person time to respond and then repeat it nice and clearly for them. I suggest using a large tablet, like an Ipad rather than a small phone, so its easier to see and read. I don't expect people with memory impairment to learn or remember how to find the video, press pause or repeat it.... that's your job as you engage in a meaningful activity with someone you care about. I hope that you enjoy your time together! I sure did!

Source: Word Completions for People with Memory Impairments by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How do Fine-Motor Activities Help to Develop Handwriting?

Babies begin learning about the spatial relationships between what they see, reach for, grasp and manipulate during the first year of life. My book From Rattles to Writing: A Parent's Guide to Hand Skills describes the development of  incredible milestones during the first 5 years so that children can do the following:
  1. smoothly move their eyes across a maze, whiteboard, screen or line of print
  2. stabilize their trunk and shoulders while manipulating objects and writing
  3. Comfortably and effectively grasp writing tools
  4. Process and respond to sensory information in order to tolerate touch and effectively grasp writing tools
  5. discriminate sensory information in order to use the right amount of force-- so that paper doesn't rip and toys don't break 
  6. coordinate right and left sides of the body in order to stabilize objects such as paper with the non-dominant hand while cutting or writing
  7. develop a highly skilled dominant hand used consistently for skills such as writing
  8. discriminate right, left, up, down, diagonal directions, clockwise and counterclockwise- all skills required to learn letter and number formation
  9. cross midline (CML) when reaching with the right hand for objects left of the body center and reach for objects with the left hand when located right of the body's center. Children with CML challenges may have difficulty forming letters made up of diagonal lines - such as X, Y and Z
  10. create letters of correct size, oriented to the writing line with even spacing between letters and words. 
As an occupational therapist who has worked with children and adults with developmental disabilities for over 40 years, I like to design activities that help children with challenges to develop these types of skills- the skills that prepare children for handwriting.  That is why I wrote the book- Flapping to Function: A Parent's Guide to Autism and Hand Skills

The following videos demonstrate few  activity adaptations that might be helpful for parents, teachers and therapists to develop some of the skills listed above.

1) Pulling the coil upward provides sensory stimulation to muscles and joints, strengthens the trunk, and arms. This works on visual attention and tracking as student watches the rings spiral downward.
This activity develops coordination between  right and left sides of his body as he uses his preferred hand to reach for more rings while grasping the coil with his non-dominant hand.  He finds the repetitive motions calming....

Source: Sensory Processing Disorder Activity: Stringing Coiled Hose by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Writing letters on the plastic pieces  with dry erase marker develops motor control. The student must  stabilize the plastic  with the non-dominant hand while writing and learn how to form half and whole space letters to fit on the small or large plastic pieces. Then placing the letters on the Velcro strips teaches the skills used to orient letters to writing lines.

Source: Sensory Visual Perception Writing Activity by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Working or writing on a vertical surface helps children to correctly grasp a writing tool with the wrist in the best anatomical position. This can be done when coloring on a white board, painting on an easel or using a 3 sided folded cardboard box as shown in the following video.

Source: Make Your Own Paint Easel by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Watching the rings spiral down the curvy ring stack (made out of a bird mister) develops visual attention and tracking skills. Many children with autism seek this type of visual stimulation and may attend to this activity better than some others. If the rings are small enough they will have to use both hands together to stabilize the ring stack while pushing each ring on. I also like how this activity is tall, perhaps at eye level- this is helpful to use with highly distractible children because the materials are directly in front of their face..  

Source: How to make this helpful toy for children with autism by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Manipulating weaving plastic pieces develops strong fingers, bilateral hand use and visual perceptual skills when children copy patterns. Its a lot of fun!

Source: Weavable Toys Develop Fine-Motor Skills for autistic children by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Pushing objects  through the stretchy elastics provides sensory feedback that helps to develop strong fingers and motor control. It encourages them to coordinate using hands together as they stabilize the container. You can up the challenges by using larger objects that require more force to push between the elastics. Many people on the autism spectrum seek out this type of deep pressure sensory stimulation.

Source: Sensory Processing Activity: Pushing Objects between Elastics on Container by RecyclingOT on Rumble

This video demonstrates how to promote effective grasps on pencils and scissors while having fun with a fidget spinner toy.

Source: Recycling Occupational Therapist demonstrates Fidget Spinner by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Do-It-Yourself Waterproof Cast Cover

After hand surgery my hubby needed a waterproof cast cover so that he could shower and go boating. This video shows how he made an inexpensive cover out of a dry bag and Gear tie.

After his injury heals and cast is removed he will find many other uses for these 2 products. Please check out my occupational therapy website and books for more clever adaptations to solve many types of challenges...

Source: Do-It-Yourself Waterproof Cast Cover by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Friday, July 21, 2017

Strategies for Teaching Individuals with Autism or other Developmental Disabilities to Manipulate Fasteners

Children and adults with disabilities typically require a lot of  REPETITION  to learn concepts and motor skills and they need to practice these skills in a variety of situations and settings to generalize the skills.

The following videos demonstrate adaptations that help learn how to manipulate buttons, zippers and buckles. These strategies are effective because:
1) Materials are extra large to make learning easier
2) The manipulations do not need to occur while one is in a hurry to dress and go somewhere. The  learner can take his or her time and more easily see what the hands are doing. In addition, the learners may not view themselves as struggling to dress but rather learning  repetitive hand skill and this is good for self-esteem.
3) All of these activities develop skills to use hands together and eye-hand coordination. These skills may carryover into other areas in the person's life, even if they don't learn how to manipulate fasteners at first.
 It is easy to add slight variations and sensory stimulations such as:
  • Open containers with fasteners so that the object removed is desirable and fun, maybe a squishy ball, fidget spinner or motorized toy.
  • Add cognitive challenges such as color matching
  • Use materials that can be pushed or pulled for proprioceptive sensory stimulation
Take a look and share your ideas!  

Source: Fun Activities that Develop Buttoning Skills by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: How to Teach Zipping Skills by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hippotherapy Activities that Help Build Hand Skills

Hippotherapy is a specialized treatment area used by occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologists.  It involves utilizing the sensory-motor aspects of horses to achieve therapeutic goals such as improving sensory processing to tolerate touch and motor plan sequential movements. Although the horse functions as a therapy tool, it is obviously much more exciting than a swing or therapy ball, offering opportunities to develop an emotional bond, communication and social skills.

Please continue reading my guest post on Therapro's blog....

Related videos:

Source: Sensory Pull Activity for Children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: Hippotherapy with Children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders by RecyclingOT on Rumble

For friends living in New England....

Join me at Therapro, Inc.  for a free CEU seminar on August 26, 2017 as I present: From Flapping to Function: How to Promote Hand Skills by Meeting a Child’s Sensory Needs










Friday, June 23, 2017

Sensory Processing Disorders: Pushing Objects Through Elastics to Increase Sensory Stimulation, Finger Strength and Body Awareness

Pushing objects into openings between elastics or other stretchy materials is a fun way to provide resistance, proprioceptive stimulation to muscles and joints in the hands and develop eye-hand coordination. I like to create variations of familiar activities and love when I discover new ways to add sensory stimulation to the activity.

Consider placing a motorized pen or toothbrush into the container for even more sensory stimulation!

As usual, I used readily available materials- containers and fabric. You can link up potholder loops or hair elastics to make a long, long, strand of elastics to weave through holes cut around the opening. Another option is to cut thin strips of stretchy fabric and do the same.

First cut to remove one end of the container. Then punch or cut holes around the rim.

If you use thin elastics you can push them through holes made with a heavy duty hole puncher . If you use thicker elastics cut around the holes to make larger.

 A first I punched holes around the rim of a Thick-it  square container with screw cover (shown in the video) because they are readily available at work.  I was planning to cut a flap on the bottom to pull open and empty the contents...... then I realized that if I turn the container upside down and make the activity on the BOTTOM, it is easy to unscrew the cover to empty out the contents.

This photo shows a large clear cheese ball container with large holes cut around the rim. I wove strips of stretchy fabric through holes and over the other strips until all felt secure and tight.

This activity is easy to grade by
1) starting out with smaller or thinner objects and increasing their size so that more force is used to push through the stretchy bands.
2) Make the openings bigger or easier to squeeze objects through
3) Experiment with different types of stretchy materials, some are easier to squeeze objects through than others.......

This activity works on different skills such as:
1) using hands together
2)strengthening fingers
3)Eye-hand coordination and motor planning
4)promoting engagement/ visual attention
5) Identifying/naming a variety of objects, shapes, weights, colors, sizes etc. while inserting them.  Visually impaired clients might particularly enjoy identifying objects before inserting them.

Objects with greater meaning or words written on them may be used with clients who have higher level cognitive abilities.

This activity is suitable for toddlers or older individuals with developmental or other cognitive disabilities who put objects in their mouths,  if you closely monitor to avoid choking risks.

Source: Sensory Processing Activity: Pushing Objects between Elastics on Container by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Amazon Affiliate links: