I have been using handles from detergent, dishwasher soap and other types of bottles for over 20 years to make materials easier to grasp and use. The following videos demonstrates how to make it easier to perform insertion tasks, use a ring stack and sponge painting.
These ideas are described in my book THE RECYCLING OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST. END OF YEAR SALE
My book sells on Amazon for $35.00, but you buy it through pay pal, here for only $25.00 until the end of the year.
This activity gives lots of sensory stimulation as children or older clients move the heavy ball around, tie or untie the knots and push the black fabric "spider legs" into the web.
1) I wrapped stretchy strips of fabric all over a weighted ball, tying lots of knots so that all stays in place.
2) Punch holes around the top of a container and weave cord to create the "web". Use more cord to increase challenge when pushing the "spider legs" inside.
3) Grade according to the student or client's needs by tying knots loose or tight, one knot or several on each black fabric piece "spider leg".
4) Challenge balance by performing while standing, kneeling, half kneeling or sitting on a ball.
5) I attached the web to the ball with cord so that they don't get separated.......
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 out....here are links to some of my favorites:
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.
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!
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:
smoothly move their eyes across a maze, whiteboard, screen or line of print
stabilize their trunk and shoulders while manipulating objects and writing
Comfortably and effectively grasp writing tools
Process and respond to sensory information in order to tolerate touch and effectively grasp writing tools
discriminate sensory information in order to use the right amount of force-- so that paper doesn't rip and toys don't break
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
develop a highly skilled dominant hand used consistently for skills such as writing
discriminate right, left, up, down, diagonal directions, clockwise and counterclockwise- all skills required to learn letter and number formation
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
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....
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.
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.
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..
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.
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... http://www.RecyclingOT.com
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