Thursday, December 24, 2015

Dining Cup Holder






An individual I work with drops her drink bottle on the table and floor. I want her to learn to place it on the platform.

The platform helps her to sit more upright while eating. 

I cut into the white Thicket container ( I have several of these ) so that it can slide onto the edge of the platform. It was at first bit too tall for the cup and she couldn't get it out, so I cut around the top of the container to remove some of the plastic and then wedged the pieces together and taped  in place. Notice how it got shorter.....

  I think that she will learn how to place the cup in the holder if we guide her hand, praise when she succeeds and give her more food after she puts her cup in place.
 I have been playing around with figuring out which corner of the platform to position this to. It stays in place pretty well. So far the lower right corner is working best.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fine-Motor Visual Stimulation Activity

These are easy to make but you have to buy the helicopter toys to get the plastic piece. Cut a small hole to wedge it inside a container or bottle and then cut circle shapes with a notch small enough so that they twirl down when placed on top. I designed this so that the individuals need to stabilize the bottle with one hand. However, when I found that someone needed to use both hands to control the spiral piece as he placed the rings, I decided to stabilize the bottle inside a coffee container as shown in the photo. Some individuals who seek visual stimulation really like this- it meets their sensory needs....

video

Friday, November 20, 2015

Containers with Large Screw Covers

There are a lot of square shaped containers that hold thick- it available at work. I cut off the tops to connect as shown in the photos. These make nice little containers to store small activity materials. The individuals can practice unscrewing the large covers on one or both sides and then are left with a ring shape that can be used on a ring stack.
They can sequence screwing one cover on, placing something inside and then screwing the other cover or just stack them inside a square shaped box. I'm sure I will come up with more uses alter on....

These are easy to make by cutting around the top of the containers and inserting one inside the other. Secure in place with some pretty duct tape.

 
 
 
 
 
 
The remaining 4 sided plastic pieces (after cutting away the tops) can be folded into 4ths and inserted into a large container slot. The large plastic pieces can be used for lots of  other creations.....








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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Adapted Coat Hook

I cut the handle from a detergent bottle to make this adapted coat hook. I needed something a bit larger for my client to be able to attach the hood or sleeve onto it. I cut a couple of small holes in the plastic where I pushed the wall hooks through and then covered everything with decorative duct tape. I will try to take a video of her using it soon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sensory Squeeze Ball Stringing


In my book From Flapping to Function: A Parent's Guide to Autism and Hand Skills readers learn how to adapt activities to provide the types of sensory stimulation that meet the child's needs while at the same time motivating them to use their hands and develop fine-motor skills.  

One way to do this is by attaching a squeeze ball to the end of a stringing activity. I bought a squeeze ball at the dollar store while browsing. I didn't plan on buying one, but it felt so good inside my hand I wanted it for myself. As usual I figured if I enjoyed it so much, so would my clients.

 I made the activity shown in these photos by tying the ball tightly with string. The individual has to motor plan to push it through the rings. I am starting out with pretty large rings and will move to smaller ones later so that they have to squeeze even more in order to push and  pull the ball through them.  I love how they can stop stringing to enjoy squeezing the ball at any point.


I cut the rings shown here out of detergent bottles so you can make the rings and holes inside any size that you desire and they can then vary in bright, vibrant colors.

I have used different types of "string" including men's ties, long strips of soft, fleece cut from my old sweaters and broken coils from chargers. They really have to pull hard and motor plan to make smaller rings go down the coil.

Options for sensory objects to attach to the stringing end include an electric toothbrush, flashing light up toothbrush, or Koosh ball. Let share if you have found something special to attach to the end of your stringing activity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Few Sensory Activities


One of the things I love about my job is working with individuals with a wide range of abilities.   One young man enjoyed pressing on a water bag placed on top of a light box.

 I made this by filling a heavy duty zip loc baggie with some water, glitter, beads and hair gel. then I put this bag inside another one and covered all edges with duct tape.

I made a 2nd bag by filling it with a lot of hair gel and a eye ball that lights up when you smack it. This was a hit.

The 3rd baggy has glitter and water and a few beads inside. It was leaking  bit so I put the first 2 bags inside a 3rd bag and this seems to be holding up pretty well. One client has found this exciting and it helps him to wait for lunch to be set up and another client told me that it is relaxing.


The bottom left picture shows an individual who  need to work on using his hands together.  He is pressing the clothespins to remove pictures. I cut holes into the plastic frame and wedged the pins into them, duct taped in place on back of the board. I actually cut each picture in half so that he can put them back together later- working on matching skills.

I later cut the yellow plastic board to fit inside the book stand clip and bottom ledge so that it stays in place better.  





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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hanging Hangers Activity

I work with some wonderful staff and one in particular is a great carpenter/activity designer. He attached the suspended dowel from the ceiling so that the individuals (with developmental disabilities) can hang them up. The hangers are on the floor so this gentleman has to repeatedly move up and down to pick them up- receiving wonderful vestibular stimulation.  He enjoys sorting them by color- he chose to do that without being told and it appears to be quite relaxing for him.

The cord holding up the bar is attached to small carabineers and these are attached to small hooks attached to the ceiling. It is not designed to be pulled with force  or hold much weight but it seems to be working really well for this activity.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Closing Zippers- A Repetitive, Fine-Motor Task

I decided to throw away the many pants and skirts that I have not worn in over 10 years. I put them all in a bag ready for the Good Will bin but decided to cut away some of the zippers from the pants. I ended up with quite a few for this task....

The video below shows 3 different individuals zipping closed and inserting into a container. This adds a new twist to the usual insertion task.

 I put flower designed duct tape on the ends that needed to be grasped and a piece of pipe cleaner through the zipper slider with a round piece of plastic attached to grasp.

I think that pulling them closed not only develops some nice bilateral coordination and a strong grasp but prepares them for the functional skill of pulling the small zipper slider tab or grasping an adapted zipper with a larger tab to pull (like the green ones in the photo). 

There is also a certain sensory quality to it pulling them closed. It is  quick and they don't rip when pulled hard so the individuals can feel an immediate sense of accomplishment.

After closing each zipper, I helped them push it through an opening in the large container so that they perform a 2 step task. I used the words "Close and push inside" . The gentleman in the photo was feeling a bit agitated but he loves to use his hands. So he is sitting in a rocking chair covered with soft material with a pink vibrating cushion on his lap while closing the zippers.

I chose to teach him only to close them. It seems like an easier skill than opening the zippers and then they fit more easily into the container opening when closed.....



video

Friday, September 18, 2015

Developing Strong Tripod Grasp with Squeeze Push Activity

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This activity works on many skills. It involves squeezing the open ends of plastic pieces I will call "tongs" and then inserting them into the bottle opening.  I thought of this because a new client loves insertion tasks and she also puts everything in her mouth first. It was pretty easy and fast to make many of these tong shapes and large enough so that I don't worry about her choking. Sometimes she gets confused as to which end to put in first but she understands when I direct her to insert the open or closed end.

You can see in the photo how I cut 2 sides of a bottle to create the tong shape and the fold is already in the plastic's "memory".

Some individuals do not understand about folding and try to open it before inserting. This may be OK for some people but I want the option of the increased sensory motor/cognitive challenge of folding and pushing. If you are working with someone who doesn't put objects in the mouth, try taping the tong closed at the tip so that it stays folded but there is still plenty of squeezing to do above the tip.

This task is very easy to grade using bottles with smaller openings as skills develop to push or make the tongs larger. Its great for developing stabilizing  with the non-preferred hand and also as you see in the video it offers sensory input.


videoThe woman in the video loves to rip paper and cardboard, so pushing these into the bottle also provides that push and squeeze sensory input she craves. Of course, squeezing the tongs using the tripod fingers, strengthens the fingers used in grasping a writing tool. So I also recommend using this activity with 2- 5 year olds with that goal in mind. Perhaps you  can add cognitive challenge by having matching color bottles and tongs or add an electric toothbrush inside for more sensory input....

Friday, September 11, 2015

Making Pom Poms


There's lots of great pom pom crafts all year long... I made this adapted pom pom  maker for individuals who have a weak grasp or increased muscle tone. The individual shown has left side hemiplegia and very good control in his right hand. He is able to wrap the yarn independently but I like to do some range of motion by gently stretching his left arm toward me while he works.

This adaptation can be used when providing hand over hand assistance to grasp the handle while staff do the yarn wrapping steps.   Next place pipe cleaner in the center,  or better yet position it before starting the yarn wrapping. Tie off tightly and snip the yarn to remove from holder and trim again to make pom pom round.  

There are some great seasonal crafts using pom poms, like the Red Tag Art Spider...  http://www.redtedart.com/2014/09/17/spider-craft-pom-pom-spider/ 

 or use orange yarn to make pumpkins
http://www.craftsunleashed.com/seasonal/fall/fall-crafts-pom-pom-pumpkins/










Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Teaching Motor Skills to Floss


Staff worked on teaching this individual how to wrap yarn around his fingers and move side to side to remove the "dirt" from simulated "teeth" made out of egg cartons or Legos.  I think this is a clever way to demonstrate how dirt is removed using the similar motions required for flossing real teeth. This was challenging and I don't know if he will have the motor control to floss his teeth but the individuals were very focused and fascinated as they took turns "flossing" .......

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lacing to Decorate Ring Stacks


My clients love ring stacks. But they love them even more when they have pictures or decorations on the materials they are stacking.

 I have been working with the higher functioning individuals to lace around the edges to make rings. Then I had the idea of attaching pictures to the larger plastic pieces used on the bilateral ring stack and then attach them by lacing. You can see in the photo how fancy some of the art work was when lacing for the single dowel ring stack. This ring stack is made by inserting a water blaster inside a bottle. Then I can pull up the handle to make it shorter or taller.

Many individuals avoid using their hands together and the bilateral dowel ring stack works on developing these skills. The lady in the picture loves photos so she will enjoy the end product with pictures on the materials she uses . ......

Note that the rings that I sliced from shampoo bottles are more challenging to lace. The flat rings or plastic pieces are easier to lace, so plan accordingly....



Friday, August 7, 2015

Bilateral Range-of Motion with Fun Bead Insertion Task

I had this blue tubing given to me by a mom who has a daughter that uses it for suction. However, I think it can be purchased where sold for a variety of uses. I secured the bottom end with duct tape to a bottle. Then I cut a hole in a screw cap lid and pushed the top end of the blue tubing through it. Then later when the beads are removed the bottle is screwed onto the cover and they flow safely into the original bottle that is attached with duct tape. You can see the clear bottle waiting on the table to be used.  the beads can easily be poured into any container to be used by the client to insert inside the tubing.
This activity worked on many skills. First of all using hands together and reaching high, above the head. So many of the individuals I work with need to improve reaching and upright posture. This young many uses some nice problem solving to stretch the tubing making the beads go down when they get a bit jammed. This pulling also provides sensory input to muscles and joints. They had a good time and rest assured although I blurred the faces for privacy they are all smiling, Including some individuals who typically do not want to be engaged at all....   


Friday, July 31, 2015

Stabilizing Ball during Velcro Placement Activity


 
I happened to have a weighted ball available so I attached Velcro dots all over it. This gave the ball an interesting texture which was especially helpful when working with a blind client.  I asked them to remove the shapes from the ball to place on the board.  This activity promoted stabilizing with one hand especially since the ball what roll away otherwise. They also had to sequence, reach and think about spatial relationships to make it work. They both seemed to enjoy this very much !!!

video

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Multi-Use Glitter Bottle

My clients have been enjoying shaking a large glitter bottle for several months. It is a large, clear orange juice bottle filled with glitter, glitter glue and water.

 But I did a little experimenting when my 5 year old neighbor threw out a broken swimming pool toy that shoots water. I cut a hole in the bottle's lid so that the toy fit in snuggly and covered with duct tape to avoid any leaks. I don't give this one to people who like to shake it around forcefully.

I originally thought I might have people pull the long handle up and down as a fun way of doing exercises. But then a staff person suggested using it as a ring stack. This made perfect sense since it can function as an adjustable ring stack. It is now being used with a lady who has a spastic right hand that she can wrap around the handle while stacking rings with her very functional left hand. I love that we can adjust the height of this ring stack according to who is using it.

video
In the video you see a young man maintaining grasp on the bottle. He is visually attending to the glitter water movement and for him simply keeping his hands on the bottle and visually attending is therapeutic.  As with toys for children, the best therapeutic activities can be used in a variety of ways and individualized according to the person's needs.... .
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have not been able to find the exact same water blaster toy on Amazon but these look like they might work.... Since I work with adults, I would try to remove or cover up any childish characters.
 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Curvy Ring Stack

I found this curvy object at a yard sale and found out that it is a hummingbird mister. You attach a hose to the end and mist comes out of the top to attract birds. It looked like a ring stack to me. I cut the rings out of detergent bottles and got some pretty nice colors. The stack is very stable when on the floor or table. I love how people are willing to stand to do this but it can also be done while sitting if the person can reach that high. I made some rings with large holes to be easy to put on and some have smaller holes so that they have to use both hands to push it on. Some individuals gave up easily when they had to work to push the rings on so this is a good activity to encourage persistence since it is a lot of fun to watch the rings coast downward. The visual stimulation is attractive to some individuals on the autism spectrum.
Some individuals were challenged to motor plan how to stabilize this thing on the table while getting the ring on and then needed to learn to let go of the tube so that the ring can travel all the way down.


Attaching the containers to the bottom of the mister is optional.

I have goals for many individuals to increase time engaged in repetitive tasks and to raise their arms above the head. This activity works on these and many other goals. I just wish that I had more of these bird misters and at different heights because some individuals couldn't reach it. In any case, it was a good yard sale find and the sellers generously donated it to me after I explained how I would use it.....


video
Here are a couple of useful products I found on amazon.... Click on the links to see some better prices.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer 2015 book sale for parents, therapists and teachers

 These books are still for sale. Please email me if interested.
Barbara
Bsmithotr@msn.com