Occupational Therapy Week took place last week and it prompted me to reflect on the occupational therapy (OT) my son has received over the past few years. Gulp… it’s also focused my mind on the amount of money I’ve spent on buying OT resources!
The main emphasis for my son has been Sensory Integration Therapy to help him cope with his sensory difficulties, with activities focusing on developing gross and fine motor skills and his sensory perception (i.e. touch, body awareness, balance, auditory & visual skills).
Naturally some activities and resources have proved more successful than others so we thought it would be helpful to select our TOP 10 to share with you.
1. HUG & TUG
This simple exercise can calm anxiety, increase concentration and help develop fine motor skills. Just needs two hands and can be done at any time!
Visit the Handle Institute page for details of the exercise.
2. SCOOTER BOARD
At his last school my son cut quite a dash scooting along the corridor propelled by his arms! Great for building up shoulder stability and core strength.
Sensory Direct have some reasonably priced boards.
3. ANIMAL ACTION CARDS
Make a set of cards showing different animal walks then take it in turns to choose a card and complete the exercise shown on it. Try dog walks, bunny hops, kangaroo jumps, crab walks – whatever takes your fancy. Great for building upper body strength and a sense of humour!
This is a good activity to do with siblings and as a rainy day or birthday party game.
Stuck for ideas? Pop over to the blog Pinning With Purpose for some good tips on how to make your own animal exercise cards.
4. TIME SHOCK
Have you got a steady hand? This frantic beat-the-clock game is great for developing fine motor skills and also uses visual memory.
The aim of the game is to place the shapes in the matching slot before the time runs out. Need nerves of steel though and can get competitive!
5. POP-UP TUNNEL
Crawling helps develop shoulder stability which is important for writing skills. This simple item also offers hours of fun playing peek-a-boo which encourages eye contact.
IKEA, Tesco, ELC and the like all have similar versions.
Great for developing hand muscle strength. You could even try making your own putty.
Fledglings have are some lovely reasonably-priced Rainbow Putty which comes in a variety of different colours and is colour-coded to indicate the level of resistance.
7. HIDDEN TREASURE
Fill a tub with rice or another pulse and hide small objects such as toy cars, figurines or sweets. Great to develop fine motor skills and another fun party game.
Swinging is good for vestibular movement. My son particularly liked this cuddle swing.
They can be expensive to buy so here’s some tips on how to make your own cuddle swing and there’s even some ideas for versions that don’t need attaching to the ceiling.
9. CRAFT ACTIVITY
There are plenty of options here – we chose to make our own dominoe game using card, craft foam, marker pens and stickers.
There were lots of opportunities to practice fine motor skills with all that cutting, sticking and drawing and we all enjoyed playing the finished result.
10. CHEWY TUBE
Our bright red T-shaped Chewy Tube saved many a shirt cuff and tie being shredded! Very resilient and helps develop chewing skills as well as reducing anxiety. Fledglings and Rosy & Bo both have a good range of oral motor aids to choose from.
Find out more about what occupational therapsits do and how occupational therapy can hep by visiting the British Association of Occupatinal Therapists website www.cot.co.uk