Pediatric activity ideas for Occupational Therapists

Posts tagged ‘ot’

Teaching life skills using board games? It’s child’s play…

Séquence

Image via Wikipedia

After the ninth annual School Game Playing Day, educators are embracing this method all over again, writes Damian Corless:

board games are an integral part of the teaching process …, helping the children learn English, maths and a range of life skills.

Math helps with problem solving skill development. When kids play Monopoly, they could be facing a situation where they are behind the other players and they want to get ahead. The child can start reasoning if buying a piece of property would help him get ahead or should he take a different action? he’ll need to count how far behind he is and how many steps forward he wants to be.

Color Recognition

The ability to identify and name basic colors can be improved with board games.

“A lot of junior and senior infants don’t know their colours when they start school. A lot of children would have difficulty saying that’s red or that’s blue. They might have difficulty if you say to them: ‘Can you pick up the red counter?’

Matching Skills

“Board games are good for developing matching skills, where a child learns to match pieces that are of a kind. They’re good for developing grouping skills. They’re good for learning how to predict outcomes. What are the chances of this or that outcome? That’s a valuable maths skill.

Learning Language

“When it comes to learning English, the children have to read and understand the rules of the games. As they play, they have to express their oral language because the games demand they communicate with the other players.

Eye-Hand Co-ordination

“For the very young children board games help with early literacy skills. The movement of the pieces on the board involves hand-to-eye co-ordination which helps in early literacy skills where hand-eye co-ordination is vital in turning pages, pointing to words and moving along step-by-step.”

Board games have many benefits from motor coordination, social skills, to emotional regulation. It does not require expensive equipment and can be enjoyable for adults and kids.

Source: Teaching life skills using board games? It’s child’s play . . . – Features, Education – Independent.ie.

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Causes and Treatment of Poor Fine Motor Control

Don’t miss our first article about “Fine Motor Control in Children
poor fine motor control treatment

The primary cause of fine motor control problems is a lack or over abundance in muscle mass. A child having high muscle tone may make mistakes based on the over activation of muscles, resulting in activities being sloppy or even clumsy in nature. A child having low muscle tone is quite common; a child with low muscle tone may struggle to maintain even the smallest control of a pencil or even scissors. Small feats like finger movement may prove to be an extreme effort for a child with low muscle tone.

It can be said that genetic and environmental factors can lead to fine motor skill problems. While pregnant, a mother exposed to alcohol and drugs can be a big factor in the development of a baby. Alcohol can directly affect the neurons in the brain. If a baby is born premature the connection of the neurons in the brain may be disturbed. The more premature a baby is the risk for this problem rises. Disturbing the connection of neurons can lead to difficulties with attention span and/or self control in fine motor skill development. Even smoking has been known to have negative effects on motor skills.

Treatment with pediatric occupational therapist can greatly improve a child’s fine motor skills with the right therapy geared to successful treatment of fine motor problems. The pediatric occupational therapist may try two approaches in the treatment of your child. The first is a relatively general approach dealing with the assessment of their sensory development. How a child moves and reacts to stimuli. Finding that underlying factor helps them form a second approach designed specifically for fine tuning the way they perform more complex tasks using fine motor skills. Teaching them how to accomplish and fine tune their skills can greatly improve motor function.

Being that no one method is successful for all patients a Pediatric Occupational Therapist may also treat a child in these areas:
– Their finger strength, hand strength, hand position and stability
– Overall pencil grip and control
– Control of the wrist and forearm
– Finger movement
– The spatial organization of space and letter formation
– Speed and dexterity
– The isolated movement required for tweezers and scissors

It is necessary for parents to take an active role in their child’s treatment for the continuation of improvement outside of the pediatric occupational therapists office. For at home improvement of fine motor skills the occupational therapist may suggest activities like drawing (sample activity), coloring and paper cutting art involving cutting out paper chains and making paper snowflakes. Drawing can improve how neatly the child can draw lines and shapes, improving the overall appearance of letters and shapes all together; paired with coloring this helps the eyes determine where to stop by staying within the lines in shapes and forms. Tracking movement is one of the key factors in fine motor skills. There are also toys and games available that are geared for the improvement of fine motor skills.

Developing and improving fine motor skills can take a lot of time but with the proper guidance from a pediatric occupational therapist you can make all the difference in the way your child learns and perceives life in general. Children with fine motor skill problems can suffer greatly in school and even social situations. Therefore it is important to identify any fine motor control issues and begin an occupation therapy program to help them develop these skills as quickly as possible.

The Dynamic Tripod Grasp

Pencil skills, and particularly handwriting, is a more complex skill than we often realize. A child’s ability to color within the lines, trace over a shape and draw simple pictures forms the building blocks for writing letters and words. Mastery of these skills enables children to focus on the content of their writing rather than the mechanics of pencil control, pencil grasp, speed and movement. However, given society’s emphasis on, and haste to commence, ‘academics’ earlier now than ever before, we sometimes overlook the vital role these seemingly basic skills play in developing writing skills. Yet we expect children to demonstrate their knowledge on paper in order to assess their academic abilities.

The video on the right was taken at a workshop that provides parents and professionals with an awareness of when a child is struggling to master pencil skills (even as early as Kindergarten), as well as some easy strategies to overcome these difficulties.

Handwriting is influenced by the development of appropriate sensorimotor, perceptual and cognitive skills. One of the most common problems occupational therapists in the school are consulted about is improper pencil grasp. While the most efficient way to hold a pencil is the dynamic tripod grasp (figure 1) many other patterns are commonly seen in children and it does not always require intervention or modification. In the dynamic tripod grasp, the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger.

There are variety of reasons why children hold their pencils in patterns other than the dynamic tripod. One common reason is participating in a lot of writing before their hands are developmentally ready for this activity. This is becoming more and more common as parents try to start preparing children to school with writing activities at an earlier stage.

Grasp left hand
Grasp left hand

(figure 1 – dynamic tripod grasp for right and left handed)

It is important to try to modify the pencil grasp as early as possible, since many students seem to have developed bad habits even before entering kindergarten. Adaptive pencil grips may be helpful in teaching students to modify their grasp and are used to facilitate an optimal pencil grasp (figure 2). There are many different types of grips available. For a pencil grip to be effective, the student needs to be involved in choosing the grip and to understand the importance of using it.
The most optimal position for writing includes the ankle, knee and hip at right (90 degrees) angles with the forearms resting on the desk. The top of the desk should be approximately 2 inches above the elbows when the arms are at the student’s side.

Pencil Grasp Patterns

Functional Grasp Patterns
Tripod grasp with open web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb and index finger and rests against the side of the third finger. The thumb and index finger form a circle.
Quadripod grasp with open web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb, index finger, and third finger and rests against the side of the fourth finger. The thumb and index finger form a circle.
Adaptive tripod or D’Nealian grasp: The pencil is held between the index and third fingers with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil. The pencil rests against the side of the third finger near its end.
Immature Grasp Patterns
Fisted grasp: The pencil is held in a fisted hand with the point of the pencil on the fifth finger side on the hand. This is typical of very young children.
Pronated grasp: The pencil is held diagonally within the hand with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil. This is typical of children ages 2 to 3.

Adaptive Pencil Grips

(figure 2 – adaptive pencil grips)

Inefficient Grasp Patterns
Five finger grasp: The pencil is held with the tips of all five fingers. The movement when writing is primarily on the fifth finger side of the hand.
Thumb tuck grasp: The pencil is held in a tripod or Quadripod grasp but with the thumb tucked under the index finger.
Thumb wrap grasp: The pencil is held in a tripod or Quadripod grasp but with the thumb wrapped over the index finger.
Tripod grasp with closed web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb and index finger and rests against the side of the third finger. The thumb is rotated toward the pencil, closing the web space.
Finger wrap or inter digital brace grasp: The index and third fingers wrap around the pencil. The thumb web space is completely closed.
Flexed wrist or hooked wrist: The pencil can be held in a variety of grasps with the wrist flexed or bent. This is more typically seen with left-hand writers but is also present in some right-hand writers.

Activities to Improve Pre-Writing Skills
– Playing jump rope
– Volleyball-type activities where hands, paddles, or rackets are in palm-up position
Activities using a Squirt bottles
– Slinky-shift back and forth with palm up
– Bead stringing/lacing with tip of finger against thumb
– Pouring from small pitcher to specific level in clear glass. Increase size of pitcher as strength increases.
– Ich a pencil or chopstick positioned in tripod grasp toward and away from palm. The shaft should rest in open web space.
– Practice screw and unscrew lids
Pop bubble wrap
– Play dough/silly putty activities
– Use a turkey baster or nasal aspirator to blow cork or ping pong balls back and forth. These can also be used to squirt water to move floating object/toys.
– Tier pieces of construction paper into small pieces and paste the different colors of paper on simple picture from a coloring book, or make your own design.
– Floor activities – large mural painting, floor puzzles, coloring when lying on stomach on floor.
– Dot-dots, color by number, mazes. (example activity)
– Wheelbarrow walking-child’s hands are the large ones from Bed Bugs game or kitchen tongs.
– Finger plays/string games such as Cat’s Cradle.
– Use tongs/tweezers to pick up blocks/small objects. (activities using tongs or tweezers)
– Pennies into piggy back or slot cut in plastic lid. Coins can also be put into slots cut in foam.
– Working on vertical surface, especially above eye level. Activities can be mounted on a clip board or tapes to surface or chalkboard/easel. Examples: pegboards, Lite Brite, Etch-a-sketch( upside down), Magna doodle, outlining, coloring, painting, writing.
– Clothespins/pinching. Put letters on clothespins and spell words by clipping on edge of shoe box. Use a clothespin to do finger “push-ups” by using the pads of the thumb and index finger to open a clothespin and count repetitions.
– Squirrel objects into palm (pick up with index finger and thumb, move into palm without using the other hand)
– Squeeze sponges to wash off table, clean windows, shower, etc.
– Additional activity ideas are available at http://www.OTPlan.com.