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Monday, December 25, 2017

Make-your-Own Manipulation Snowman Toys

The possibilities are endless when cutting up plastic containers for seasonal activities. Here are a few easy to make winter snow people. They kind of remind me of  Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head because children may attach whatever accessories parents cut up.... such as a hat, broom, shoes, buttons, scarf.... The accessories may be woven on, screwed on, tied on, buttoned on and even snapped on. The photos demonstrate just a few ideas.

The scissors are rather sharp so an older person will need to do the cutting. After the initial cut, trim the pieces to be smoother. However, I have never been cut from plastic, paper-yes, never plastic. It may be rough but not sharp.

The photos and video demonstrate two types of snow man or snow woman toys... 

1) cut the large and medium sized ball and the separate smaller snowball head with extension to be woven. I have cut several of these to use at work with clients who enjoy repetitive fine motor tasks.
2) cut a stand up snow person out of a large white bottle. Decorate as desired.

Either toy provides practice to manipulate whatever you choose... perhaps buttoning, tying, buckling or screwing the hat back on.

In general, it is easier to remove fasteners than attach. So young children or those with challenges may focus on undressing their snow people, perhaps in preparation for bath time and an older child may dress them back up later.

The close up of the green buttons shows how I punched holes in the green plastic and snowman and attached the "button" with cord. Cut a variety of fabric colors with slits so that that children can change the buttons.

This really does remind me of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head....

The photo above demonstrates a snow person cut out of a large juice bottle before being dressed up. 

I  punched holes in the pink bottle top piece shown below to tie "hair" on. The screw cap holds this in place or can just function as a hat. 

Coloring and erasing with the dry erase marker is great for pre-writing practice, especially for the kiddos who resist holding writing tools. We occupational therapists like to sneak in skill training into fun games.  I also love how this activity lends itself to pretend play.   

The following video demonstrates how I made these toys..... 

Source: Plastic Manipulation Snowman by RecyclingOT on Rumble

For those of you who prefer potatoes to snow people....

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Developing Skills to Screw and Unscrew Bottle Caps

Unscrewing and screwing caps and covers onto containers not only teaches a functional skill, but develops eye-hand coordination.

It is generally easier for young children and older clients with developmental delays to first learn how to open (unscrew) and later learn how to close (screw cap on).

I cut a variety of container or bottle tops from detergent bottles, vitamin jars, dishwasher soap bottles, juice bottles etc. Some clients enjoy matching the covers to the corresponding threaded pieces. You may choose to start out using all the same size covers/caps and threaded pieces to make the task easier and then build in challenge by requiring matching.
In the first video, a young man who is blind and has autism unscrews the pieces and then inserts the  cover into the container hole and then stacks the threaded piece onto the dowel. He enjoys using his advanced matching and sorting skills.

Source: Unscrewing Bottle Caps to Insert or Stack by RecyclingOT on Rumble

After removing the covers, my client inserts them into the corresponding holes in the container. This former kitty litter bucket functions as a shape sorter after he separates the two pieces.  

Source: Matching Lids Sensory Activity by RecyclingOT on Rumble

This man enjoys pulling on the threaded bottle tops that are attached to the book stand with elastic cord. He regularly seeks out sensory stimulation by pulling on objects, including his clothing. He also enjoys using force to unscrew the covers before inserting into them a bucket.

Source: Container Lids Sensory Activity by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Handle Jig for Holding a Magic Marker

My client has a traumatic brain injury and her hands are spastic with contractures and she is challenged to engage in any functional activities such as coloring. Her right shoulder has some active movement so I made the following jig to take advantage of the skills she does have......

I  have used handles from detergent or juice bottles to build up objects to make grasping easier. The first  video shows her using a handle with a piece of  plastic attached. I cut 2 holes in the black plastic in order to push the marker through. Unfortunately, her knuckles were rubbing against plastic while grasping the handle tightly, so I made a revised jig with the plastic cut away and covered with soft fabric and duct tape.  You will see how I made this in the first video.

The second video shows her making horizontal lines on paper. She really enjoyed doing a familiar task, actually she simply enjoyed an opportunity to use her hand, at all.....

Source: How to Make a Jig for Coloring by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 SALE



My book sells on Amazon for $35.00, but you can buy it through pay pal for only $25.00 until the end of  2017


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Adapting Handles to Increase Functional Hand Skills

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.

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.


Source: Improving Function with Adapted handles by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: How to Make an Adapted Handle for Sponge Painting by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: Hemiplegia Adaptation: Making it Easy to Stabilize Materials by RecyclingOT

Friday, October 27, 2017

Spider and Web Fine-Motor Activity

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.......

 Play some spooky music and Happy Holloween!

Source: Spider and Web Fine-Motor Activity by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fun Activities for people with Memory Impairment, Alzheimer's Disease or other Dementias

When my mom developed Alzheimer's disease I created activities that were easy for her to use and met her individual needs. I describe these in my book: Still Giving Kisses: A Guide to Helping and Enjoying the Alzheimer's Victim You Love. The video below describes how I came to write this book.....

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 are links to some of my favorites:
  • lyrics to mom's favorite songs
  • pictures of familiar people, places and activities
  • an illustrated story of Sarah's life

You may choose to make a similar activity book for a loved one, friend or patient who you care about ....

Source: How to Make an Activity Book for Somebody with Alzheimer's Disease by RecyclingOT on Rumble

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.
Such as:
  • 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!

Source: Word Completions for People with Memory Impairments by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How do Fine-Motor Activities Help to Develop Handwriting?

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:
  1. smoothly move their eyes across a maze, whiteboard, screen or line of print
  2. stabilize their trunk and shoulders while manipulating objects and writing
  3. Comfortably and effectively grasp writing tools
  4. Process and respond to sensory information in order to tolerate touch and effectively grasp writing tools
  5. discriminate sensory information in order to use the right amount of force-- so that paper doesn't rip and toys don't break 
  6. 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
  7. develop a highly skilled dominant hand used consistently for skills such as writing
  8. discriminate right, left, up, down, diagonal directions, clockwise and counterclockwise- all skills required to learn letter and number formation
  9. 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
  10. 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....

Source: Sensory Processing Disorder Activity: Stringing Coiled Hose by RecyclingOT on Rumble

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.

Source: Sensory Visual Perception Writing Activity by RecyclingOT on Rumble

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.

Source: Make Your Own Paint Easel by RecyclingOT on Rumble

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..  

Source: How to make this helpful toy for children with autism by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Manipulating weaving plastic pieces develops strong fingers, bilateral hand use and visual perceptual skills when children copy patterns. Its a lot of fun!

Source: Weavable Toys Develop Fine-Motor Skills for autistic children by RecyclingOT on Rumble

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.

Source: Sensory Processing Activity: Pushing Objects between Elastics on Container by RecyclingOT on Rumble

This video demonstrates how to promote effective grasps on pencils and scissors while having fun with a fidget spinner toy.

Source: Recycling Occupational Therapist demonstrates Fidget Spinner by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Do-It-Yourself Waterproof Cast Cover

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...

Source: Do-It-Yourself Waterproof Cast Cover by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Friday, July 21, 2017

Strategies for Teaching Individuals with Autism or other Developmental Disabilities to Manipulate Fasteners

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
Take a look and share your ideas!

Source: Fun Activities that Develop Buttoning Skills by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: How to Teach Zipping Skills by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: Sensory Buttoning Board by RecyclingOT

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hippotherapy Activities that Help Build Hand Skills

Hippotherapy is a specialized treatment area used by occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologists.  It involves utilizing the sensory-motor aspects of horses to achieve therapeutic goals such as improving sensory processing to tolerate touch and motor plan sequential movements. Although the horse functions as a therapy tool, it is obviously much more exciting than a swing or therapy ball, offering opportunities to develop an emotional bond, communication and social skills.

Please continue reading my guest post on Therapro's blog....

Related videos:

Source: Sensory Pull Activity for Children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: Hippotherapy with Children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders by RecyclingOT on Rumble

For friends living in New England....

Join me at Therapro, Inc.  for a free CEU seminar on August 26, 2017 as I present: From Flapping to Function: How to Promote Hand Skills by Meeting a Child’s Sensory Needs










Friday, June 23, 2017

Sensory Processing Disorders: Pushing Objects Through Elastics to Increase Sensory Stimulation, Finger Strength and Body Awareness

Pushing objects into openings between elastics or other stretchy materials is a fun way to provide resistance, proprioceptive stimulation to muscles and joints in the hands and develop eye-hand coordination. I like to create variations of familiar activities and love when I discover new ways to add sensory stimulation to the activity.

Consider placing a motorized pen or toothbrush into the container for even more sensory stimulation!

As usual, I used readily available materials- containers and fabric. You can link up potholder loops or hair elastics to make a long, long, strand of elastics to weave through holes cut around the opening. Another option is to cut thin strips of stretchy fabric and do the same.

First cut to remove one end of the container. Then punch or cut holes around the rim.

If you use thin elastics you can push them through holes made with a heavy duty hole puncher . If you use thicker elastics cut around the holes to make larger.

 A first I punched holes around the rim of a Thick-it  square container with screw cover (shown in the video) because they are readily available at work.  I was planning to cut a flap on the bottom to pull open and empty the contents...... then I realized that if I turn the container upside down and make the activity on the BOTTOM, it is easy to unscrew the cover to empty out the contents.

This photo shows a large clear cheese ball container with large holes cut around the rim. I wove strips of stretchy fabric through holes and over the other strips until all felt secure and tight.

This activity is easy to grade by
1) starting out with smaller or thinner objects and increasing their size so that more force is used to push through the stretchy bands.
2) Make the openings bigger or easier to squeeze objects through
3) Experiment with different types of stretchy materials, some are easier to squeeze objects through than others.......

This activity works on different skills such as:
1) using hands together
2)strengthening fingers
3)Eye-hand coordination and motor planning
4)promoting engagement/ visual attention
5) Identifying/naming a variety of objects, shapes, weights, colors, sizes etc. while inserting them.  Visually impaired clients might particularly enjoy identifying objects before inserting them.

Objects with greater meaning or words written on them may be used with clients who have higher level cognitive abilities.

This activity is suitable for toddlers or older individuals with developmental or other cognitive disabilities who put objects in their mouths,  if you closely monitor to avoid choking risks.

Source: Sensory Processing Activity: Pushing Objects between Elastics on Container by RecyclingOT on Rumble

This client is stabilizing her spastic right hand on a large detergent bottle handle while inserting objects in the container that is wedged into the blue bottle.

Source: Hemiplegia Adaptation: Making it Easy to Stabilize Materials by RecyclingOT

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sensory Stimulation and Building Hand Skills Using Buckles

I love to fill bags with sand and then stuff them into socks. If I want larger bags, I use sleeves from old sweaters and fleece works the best since it feels so great. The fastest way to do this is to cut the end of the sleeve and make a few knots. The bags shown in these photos have large buckles attached to the ends. You can attach the buckles by cutting into the sleeve and pushing part of the fabric through the buckle . Or you can cut a strip of fabric to push through the buckle and then tie onto the end of the sleeve. I put some pretty duct tape around the buckles to make them easier to grasp and see how to connect them.     This activity provides wonderful heavy pressure sensory stimulation while at the same time developing the functional fine-motor skill of opening and/or closing buckles.
These "buckle bags" can be used in many different ways with people with  different abilities and challenges:
1) Place the bags on a client's lap. She will enjoy the weight and be able to easily pick them up to place into a container positioned on the table or floor. 
2)   Make numerous sets of matching colors. In the photo you see that I used the sleeves from an old blue sweatshirt . Use sleeves or socks to make pairs to match. I  have placed one half of the sets along the walls so that my clients need to pick each one up to bring to a table to find its match and then buckle. My clients with autism and a lot of energy benefit from all the sensory input of moving heavy objects high and low and across the room. This can also be done in school or program hallways using a cart or backpack.
3)Some clients are only able to buckle the bags together. Buckling seems to be easier than unbuckling.

4) The man in the photo above  is easily agitated, so he is performing this task while rocking in his favorite chair in a quiet area of the room. He is staying in one spot, as he opens the buckles and then pushes them into the bucket opening. Pushing these in takes quite a bit of force. You can grade the amount of force required by making the opening smaller or larger .

5) Some individuals may want to carry these around, drape them around their shoulders or arms or just put them in containers without using the buckles, at all. As you can see these materials are very versatile!

The following video demonstrates an individual who is able to open the buckles. He is blind and enjoys the feeling of the weight on his body and using force to insert the bags.

I collected the buckles from old bags or clothing and also purchased a large quantity on amazon.

If your clients have difficulty positioning the buckles correctly, try adding nail polish so that they can see where to squeeze and match up the buckles before pushing them together.

Check out my book From Flapping to Function: A Parent's Guide to Autism and Hand Skills for many other strategies that help children and adults with autism to engage in functional activities that meet their sensory needs.


Related blog Posts:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Recycling all the cute little objects

 Gather up your beads, buttons, bottle caps, spare change, Bingo Chips, Monopoly tokens, dice, Dominoes and other extra game pieces. Find your unmatched earrings and other glittery objects that you are sure your clients won't ingest and place in a big container.

Now find a large cardboard, plastic tube or PCV pipe  and wedge it inside a box.

This is a simple but effective way to work on fine motor skills, attention and eye-hand coordination. My clients enjoyed doing it together and its so easy they were successful right away.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Introduction to - From Flapping to Function: A Parent's Guide to Autism and Hand Skills

When I hear the word autism the image that pops into my mind is 4-year-old Gary. He is lining up cars, end to end, while children around him make their cars roll, beep, and drive over paper roads. Gary doesn’t seem to notice what they are doing, even as he crawls over another child’s leg to reach the bucket of toys.
Gary glances at a toy just long enough to reach for it before looking away. He sits with his knees bent and feet outside his hips, in a position called W- sitting because his legs form a “W” shape (see photograph 1). While picking up cars with his left hand Gary shifts his weight to his right side. His wrist is loose and floppy. He grasps the cars with his fingertips, as though they were slimy fish he was keeping from touching his palms. When another child jostles the perfectly aligned cars, Gary grunts and, without missing a beat, adjusts them. Then he stands up and flaps his hands while walking around in circles.

(photograph 1 Boy playing in W-sitting position)

You may have imagined a similar child—a child who does not play with toys the way most children do (or spends more time flapping hands than using them to play). A multidisciplinary team observing Gary would all contribute important findings. An occupational therapist (OT) would note that although his eye-hand coordination seems fairly normal, Gary does not look directly at objects, he avoids using his palms when grasping and seems unaware when his body moves into a space occupied by another child, signs of a sensory processing disorder (SPD). A physical therapist (PT) would note hypotonia (low muscle tone) and poor postural control, meaning his muscles seem weak and floppy and he leans on his hands to help hold himself up. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) would note his lack of social awareness—he doesn’t even protest when another child bumps his cars. He doesn’t use toys functionally or vocalize while playing, the way the other children are making their pretend cars drive and crash while saying “beep, beep.” Gary’s lack of eye contact with other children and the way he repetitively lines up his cars would draw a child psychologist’s attention. Gary’s preschool teacher would be concerned that he cannot name the colors of the cars or engage in pretend play, such as forming an imaginary steering wheel with his hands and pretending to drive.

As the team discusses their observations, the picture of Gary that emerges is typical of children on the autism spectrum. The way he grasps, manipulates, and uses the cars while ignoring his peers demonstrates difficulties with

·        Postural control: his body and hands seem to be floppy and weak.

·        Visual skills: he avoids looking directly at the objects in his hands.

·        Play skills: he lines up the cars rather than using them in pretend play.

·        Communication and social skills: he does not imitate other children or share the play experience with them.

·        Sensory processing: he has difficulty interpreting and responding to touch and other stimuli.

Challenges in all of these developmental areas contribute to Gary’s difficulty using his hands, which is my particular interest as an occupational therapist. This book explains how atypical development affects the way children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) use their hands. It also offers intervention strategies aimed at helping children to experience success and be as independent as possible in performing everyday tasks such as dressing, cutting paper, or writing their names.  In chapter I you will be introduced to how children use their vision, think, process sensory information and behave influence hand skill development and learning in general. 

The technical term for hand skills is fine-motor skills, because grasping and manipulating objects uses the small, or “fine,” muscles of the hands in delicate movements. Traditional examples of fine motor skills would be stringing small beads or stacking blocks. Effective hand use, however, requires much more than good motor control. In this book I take a comprehensive look at how children diagnosed with ASD typically use their hands, what challenges they face, and what strategies will help them reach their potential. I stress “reach their potential,” because there is currently no cure for autism or its associated challenges. There are, however, many effective and fun strategies that parents can implement.  

Who This Book Is For

I wrote this book first and foremost for parents. When I worked in early intervention and Head Start programs I saw how family education enabled caregivers to carry over OT strategies throughout the young child’s day and night, seven days a week, whether at home, in the community, or on vacation. Many of these strategies are easily integrated into everyday routines and continue to be useful as the young child grows to adulthood.
As an example, four-year-old Abdul preferred to line up objects rather than drop them into a container with a small opening. Inserting objects is an early skill that develops the eye-hand coordination to use shape sorters and push coins into a piggy bank. Abdul was motivated to insert magnets into the can shown in photograph 2 when an electric toothbrush was placed inside.
Caution: Use larger objects if there is a choking risk. Magnets are dangerous if swallowed.

photo 2 Vibrating container adaptation

The toothbrush created vibration and motor sounds that interested Abdul and made him want to hold the container. He had to use both hands together-an important skill that will be discussed later, in order to separate the magnets. Pulling magnets apart is an enticing activity by itself, but inserting them into a vibrating container is irresistible. This is one of my oh-so-simple, yet oh-so-effective strategies to help children to build hand skills. 
This activity is also suitable for older children or adults who are developmentally ready to learn insertion skills. Many of the strategies described in this book can help individuals with cognitive and/or motor delays to develop hand skills typically mastered at a younger age. However, it is important that the materials be age appropriate and the person have the prerequisite skills to learn them. For example, six-year-old Bonnie refused to touch gooey substances such as paint or glue and she had difficulty learning how to form letters. Her mother filled a sturdy zip locked bag with paint, and Bonnie imitated her mother using her index finger to  form lines and shapes by pressing. Bonnie had the prerequisite skills to use her index finger as a writing tool, visually attend and imitate the movements. Bonnie liked this activity because she didn’t have to struggle with controlling a pencil, it was fun to feel the paint move through the plastic and she felt like an artist. 
This adaptation is just one of many strategies provided that may be beneficial to children with or without an autism diagnosis. Many strategies may also help very young children who do  not yet have a diagnosis but perhaps the parents sense that they should be concerned.   Although children with ASD are typically not diagnosed until toddlerhood or older, some parents may notice developmental differences in their babies. Therefore, I include red flags and strategies relevant to babies. These may be especially important if the baby has older siblings diagnosed with ASD. If the descriptions in this book “resonate” with your child, speak to your pediatrician or local child development center to get further information specific to your child’s needs. 
Much of the current literature on autism focuses on the social, communication and behavioral aspects of the disorder. I have written From Flapping to Function: A Parent’s Guide to Autism and Hand Skills for the early childhood professionals, educators, counselors, therapists, and other professionals working in school, residential, community, or institutional settings who seek a comprehensive, one-stop resource that focuses on how developmental challenges impact building hand skills and the strategies that will enable children to reach their potential.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Developing Hand Skills Using Slap Bracelets

Its always exciting to find an inexpensive product that can be used when creating or adapting new activities. My clients love to try new activities and get bored doing the same old thing day after day. It is a challenges to come up with new ideas to help people who have limited fine motor skills, but the slapper bracelets have been versatile, easy to grade and a lot of fun.

They offer sensory feedback when simply bending them .  Add them to your sensory bin of manipulatives for children or adults who need to fidget and/or relax. 

The bracelets come in a variety of sizes, colors, strengths and materials. I recently bought a package of 72 for about 10.00 and use them in repetitive tasks such as the following....

1. I present them on a tray curled up so that the person has to straighten them out and insert into the slot opening. This takes quite a bit of motor planning and is quite challenging for some individuals.

2. I tied strips of fabric all over the bucket because the lid was not staying on and I didn't want my clients to dump out the contents.  Then I attached the bracelets all over the fabric so that they need to pull them off and insert. The orange lid stays on the bucket permanently. I cut a circle in the lid's center and pushed the top of a screw cap container  through it and taped in place from the bottom. I can screw a cover back onto that white screw piece you see on top to keep the contents inside. Its large enough for me to reach inside and remove the contents.

This bucket was originally used by a client who enjoys inserting the small objects on the yellow tray and he does not have the motor skills to remove the bracelets. So in this way different clients can use the same bucket in different ways according to their skills. Another individual has the skills to attach the bracelets, also a pretty high level fine motor skill.

3) You will see in the video clients removing the bracelets from a tall ring stack. I attached a pin wheel to the very top and asked them to blow after inserting the bracelet. This seemed to be calming as well as funny to them and others watching them. They certainly did really nice reaching and neck extension in the process.

4) Some individuals enjoyed attaching the bracelets to the top of the curvy ring stack. The bracelets  functioned as rings but putting them on and off involved a higher level of motor planning and they enjoyed the sensations of bending them in the process. I think that manipulating the bracelets provided the proprioceptive stimulation to the joints and muscles in the fingers helping with coordination and body awareness. 

5) The man in the blue shirt is blind and nonverbal but very good at motor planning. He also seeks sensory stimulation by ripping his clothes. We have not found a solution to the ripping behavior  (believe me, we have tried a lot of strategies) , but I like creating new sensory based activities such as the one below. I taped a cat toy to the top of a container lid. You can see the yellow lid in the photo below. The cat toy has a spring with a toy mouse on top that makes sounds when moved.  The client is able to attach the bracelets to the spring part and also has the skills to remove them, straighten them out and insert into slot openings on the sides of the container. The bracelets are retrieved by unscrewing the cap with cat toy taped onto it.
You will also see in the video a stringing activity made by attaching a heavy duty slap bracelet to the end of cord. The individual in the video has poor motor planning skills but is able to string or remove the large rings. Notice how I tied the bottom of the cord to his chair  to make the materials easier to control.

Source: Help children with autism build hand skills with slap bracelets by RecyclingOT