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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Sensory Clothespins for Sensory Processing Disorders

Children love squeeze clothespins and occupational therapists do, too.

Squeezing pins or clips is a great way to strengthen and develop coordination between fingers and thumb in order to develop the tripod pencil grasp. At the end of this post,  I list a few of the many toys, games and arts and crafts that utilize clips.

Young children may enjoy simple  activities such as attaching clothespins to

  • to a box. Color matching is optional. 
  • Attaching  doll clothing to a clothesline
  • attaching clips to food bags
  • connect matching paper of same color or design 
  • the rim of a large bowl 
The following video demonstrates how attaching clothespins or clips to a large bowl that spins may motivate clients who seek visual/vestibular stimulation. These are the individuals who flick their fingers near their eyes or twirl their bodies. Self-stimulation is fine when it is used to decrease anxiety or agitation and meet the person's sensory needs. However, we also want to encourage functional hand use that meets their sensory needs.  The spinning bowl clothespin activity is one!

Incorporating attaching clothespins to walking and/or high-low activities  helps children and adults with developmental disabilities to get a little exercise while receiving  vestibular stimulation.
The client in this photo walks across the room to retrieve clothespins in a box on the table or floor. Retrieving materials from the floor and place up high is a great way to create  a sensory rich "high-low" activity. 

The video below demonstrates how to adapt clothespins with stickers so that they can discriminate which end to squeeze.

Source: Sticker adaptation to squeeze Clothespins by RecyclingOT

Frames may also be attached to the ceiling to promote reaching while attaching or removing the clothespins. 

Adjust the height according to the needs of your clients. 

Attaching or removing clothespins during hippotherapy is a lot of fun. The clips may be attached to the horse's mane. They don't seem to hurt or bother the well trained hippotherapy horse and clients work on balance, reaching, eye-hand coordination and postural control as they reach up close to the pony's ears!

Its easy to incorporate identifying colors as the therapist directs the client to remove a named color.  
Children who have tactile challenges and really do not want to touch fur, may prefer to remove the pins from the reigns.  

Attaching or removing pins from objects that they are holding develops skills to stabilize materials. Its fun to use toys that light up and/or vibrate. The extra sensory stimulate can be very motivational when promoting hand use and engagement.

Explore using various clothespin materials/activities as the client is on a rocker, swing, trampoline or other movement apparatus.

Of course, this requires trial and error and clinical judgment because some clients will find some materials aversive.   

The fun, educational and therapeutic use of clothespins and clips are only limited by your imagination!



Friday, January 11, 2019

Hoola Hoop Ring Stack Activity to Develop Hand Skills

  I have a reputation for recycling and upcycling items so was not surprised to find a broken hoola hoop on my desk. After looking at it for a few days, the idea came to use the broken ends as ring stacks. Children or adults with or without developmental disabilities may benefit from this adaptation because
  1. they need stabilize the hoop with one hand in order to place the ring on top
  2. reaching for rings spread out in a large container or the table will involve crossing midline and awareness of one's hand preference 
  3. the hoop may be positioned on the floor as shown in the video, on the person's lap or on a table so that the user must reach to eye level or higher. Reaching promotes an upright posture, shoulder strength and visual attention
  4. only your imagination limits the types of rings to use since they can vary in size, texture, weight, sound produced and even temperature  (i.e. cold teething rings). Consider attaching a motorized toothbrush to the hoop to make the hoop vibrate!  

Children or adults with decreased coordination may be most successful using large rings such as the ones in the photo. These were cut from the pouring spouts of bottles. 

Clients with good motor control may enjoy using smaller rings so that some force is used to make the ring go on and down. Use of force stimulates the muscles and joints (proprioceptive stimulation) and this, in turn helps with body awareness and coordination. 

If you place the hoop under the seat as shown in the video, consider attaching a flat or weighted object to the center to help stabilize the hoop in place. 
The photo below shows a close up of a container used. I cut holes on each side near the bottom so that the hoop could be threaded through.  

Place a bag of beads, sand or some dried beans inside the container to add weight. Tape or tie the materials in place. 

Add cognitive challenge by teaching how to sort rings by color,  size weight or tactile qualities onto the 2 curvy ring stack tops.  

Source: Recycling OT Hoola Hoop Ring Stack by RecyclingOT

The fitness hoop is made up of sections that come apart. This creates size/shape/color options when you choose which ones to use for your "hoola hoop ring stack".

Products such as hoses, medical, aquarium or other types of tubing may be sliced up to make rings. Or cut ring shapes out of plastic containers.