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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Vibrating Velcro Board for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

This Flannel board Velcro activity is fun and helps engage the most distractible clients. I wedged the top of a large piece of white fabric into the space between the wall and board. The shapes with Hook Velcro on the back came from various games that were no longer being used and they attached to the fabric. I also happened to have a vibrating cushion with Loop Velcro pieces attached and an outlet below. Now my clients can
1) attach or remove shapes or pictures attached with Velcro
2) press a hand to feel the vibration
3)work on using hands together by holding the container
I love how clients are more easily engaged when working with materials at eye level. The individual in the video loves to move and this adaptation enables him to visually attend, develop bilateral hand skills -while standing and moving. When finished, staff folded up the fabric for easy storage.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Lumbar Support at the Beach

Carrying a pack and dragging a towel across the beach can be.... well.. a drag. Here is my simple solution to avoid tripping and lower back pain caused by carrying a heavy load.

The lumbar area is your lower back and lack of adequate support may result in lower back pain. A "Lumbar support" may be a cushion pressed between the lower back and back of chair. Some backpacks are ergonomically designed to support that area while walking. This may be especially helpful when carrying a heavy load. Other benefits to using a rolled up towel as lumbar support is
1) you won't trip on the towel
2) you won't have to carry the towel
3) the towel is not as sweaty as the backpack and can be soaked in water first.
Have a cool summer!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Hand Exercises for Client with Spasticity

The swiveling grasping handle to a Push-Up exercise tool is perfect in opening up my client's hand and promoting active movement. She had a brain injury and her right hand has limited active range of motion and motor control. However, this tool seems to compensate for her movement impairment by swiveling as she moves. Her movement is more fluid than when simply grasping a rolled up towel and attempting to touch my finger.

I’m sure that I will discover other fun and unique uses of this tool. Let me know if you do, too!


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Packing Foam Activities for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

I found this thick foam in a storage closet at work and thought --"that would feel nice to use in fine motor activities" I first used it on a table for individuals to insert shakers made out of pill containers. Then I thought of the magnetic pegs and white board in the program room. I tied the foam onto the board and demonstrated how to walk to a table, retrieve a peg and walk to the board for insertion. This is shown in the video...…..
This was beneficial because:
1) this client loves to walk.
2) this client tends to hunch over so reaching up to place the pegs helped her posture
3) she worked on a multistep task which is a bit more interesting and challenging (in my humble opinion)
4)she has poor motor control and these large pegs are easy to push into the deep foam holes.
Pulling strips of fabric in and out of the foam is not quite weaving and its not quite lacing. But its very wonderful because - as you know-the foam feels great. In addition, she is wheelchair bound and this is relatively good exercise with all the reaching. But most importantly, the client is doing meaningful occupation. She had a stroke and now has dementia and repeatedly tells me that she used to love quilting.
This is every occupational therapists dream- being able to help her patient to resume a leisure activity that is similar to what she previously was able to do but adapted to much easier and successful.
Also shown in the video is a woman with hemiplegia who is able to use her affected left side to stabilize the foam. I love when my clients STABILIZE!
Notice the clever blue needle adaptation made out of a plastic piece cut from a coffee container. I didn't notice until one of the clients pointed out that the needle had a picture of coffee on it. I just happened to luck out and it smells great. Cut a slit in the "needle" to push the fabric strip through. This makes it easier to grasp and push through the foam holes.
Options: Making the task more cognitive challenging
1) teach specific types of stitches or a design
2) do a color sequence knotting strips of red, white and blue perhaps for a United states flag theme
3) Provide a model with color patterns to copy.
If you come up with any more ideas on how to use the foam please share…..
Oh..... and in case you are wondering- I am really fast at cutting fabric strips out of the piles of unwanted tubes and folded cloth retrieved from a Recycling program . Most of it is fleece which gives us really nice tactile touch sensory stimulation which weaving or lacing or whatever......


Packing Foam Activities for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Girl with Developmental Disabilities Activates Switch Using Toy or Hand

A non-verbal young lady with developmental disabilities enjoys pressing a switch that activates sensory stimulation. In this case, I connected a massager inside a cushion and fan. She requires a lot of time to process what she wants to do motorically. I can see her thinking about whether to press the switch using the toy in her right hand or directly pressing the switch with her less preferred left hand. She clearly does NOT want to release the toy and involving both hands is the solution!

Activating sensory devices like fans, massagers, bubble machines or radios gives the client or student control over their environment. It helps them to involve their hands in functional activities and teaches them about cause and effect relationships- such as "I touch the yellow panel and the fan blows. "

A control panel can be used to choose how the switch is activated and for how long: 
1) A single pressing may turn the switch on or off
2) the switch may be activated only while the hand is applying pressure to it
3) or the timer may activate the switch for a set number of seconds or minutes. 

I discovered that there is not need to remove a preferred toy or other object that the client or student wants to grasp in order to work on activating switches. I try to give choices as much as possible and she seemed to enjoy this activity!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Money Skills Training with Fine-Motor Activities

I prefer to teach money skills by incorporating them into fine-motor activities. Laminated pictures of coins or paper bills may be sorted into containers or stuffed into envelopes. Clients or students can match and attach two pictures using paper clips or squeeze clips.  The money shown in the video has holes punched so that they can be hung on hook boards, strung on cord or used in ring stack tasks. (Make the pictures and holes larger when using on ring stacks)

Individuals with developmental disabilities can work on skills such as:

1)         Identifying coins

2)         Naming the value of coins

3)         Naming the famous person on the money

4)         Adding up money values at any point while stringing or stacking them. 

Notice the blue bag attached to the board. I filled it up with the laminated money pictures along with sensory items such as pennies, cotton balls, beads, pom poms, foam pieces or beans. Of course, do not use this adaptation with individuals who may put them in their mouths. However, it’s fun to sift the fingers through the materials while feeling to find the laminated pictures.

Clients who do not have the cognitive skills to identify, match or sort money may simply enjoy stringing or removing them to place back in the bag. Using money pictures to perform simple fine motor tasks is a great age-appropriate strategy to work on basic hand skills.

I printed out pictures of money from the internet and laminated them. However, you may be able to purchase play money that you can punch holes into using a heavy duty puncher.