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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Make Your Own Clothespins to Develop Fine-Motor Skills

My clients with developmental disabilities enjoy tasks that involve simple attaching, removing and inserting objects. I discovered that they are more successful when I cut up plastic containers to make "clothes pins" that are individualized according to their needs. I simply cut the shape shown in the photos and videos but some are longer so that they don't fall off easily and some are shorter to make them easier to remove from a cord or "clothes line". Some detergent and coffee containers are made of stiffer plastic that require more hand strength and the dish washer soap and juice bottle plastic tends to be more flexible and easier to manipulate.

Real clothespins or my DIY ones can be hung onto any structure that has thin wire, tubing or fabric etc.  The one shown in the picture is meant to hold DVDs. Explore different types of file organizers and place on top of a box if you want to increase reaching height.  The client shown above is easily agitated and benefits from movement. So the staff scattered the clothespins on the floor to require high/low movements. Some client may enjoy color sorting.

The client shown above is blind and safer working while seated. So I strung a clothes lines between to heavy objects on the table. He enjoys both attaching and removing the pins to insert into a slotted lid.

Attaching and removing any clothes pins typically requires using hands together to stabilize the line while manipulating the pin. This activity is great for toddlers who are just developing bilateral hand skills as well as older children or adults who need to develop these skills. Explore different types of clothesline materials such as cut fabric, leather, macramé cord or twine to see what works best or promotes the skills you are working on. I happen to have lots of fabric available at work and I love that the fabric can be tossed into a washing machine and plastic thrown into a mesh bag and dish washer.

As you can see, I attach the clothes line to whatever is available that won't destroy any walls or ceilings! I attached them to clothing hooks, backs of chairs (to perform while seated) and around the width of a table.   This last adaptation worked really well because it enabled 2 buddies to work together. The young man in the SHORE shirt is blind and has not yet learned to reach out of his immediate space to feel for materials. His friend in the BOSTON shirt enjoys pushing the clothes pins within reach and providing touch prompts  to find them.

Source: Teamwork to Perform "Clothespin" Insertion Activity by RecyclingOT

Source: Teamwork to Perform "Clothespin" Insertion Activity by RecyclingOT

Source: High-Low- Reaching Activity for Individuals with Autism by RecyclingOT

Source: DIY: Clothespins Activity to Build Fine-Motor Skills by RecyclingOT

If you don't have time to cut up plastic containers, there are always the commercially available push or squeeze pins. However, I observe that this population often uses too much force and they often break.....

Regardless of what materials you choose to use, its lots of fun to explore the options...…

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