Jack does a lot of therapy. Well, I guess it is all relative but I know that since starting Early Intervention Therapy, the way we play has changed completely. Whereas before I would think about activities mostly for fun, now most of our activities have some hidden therapy. Jack has Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physiotherapy (PT) on alternating weeks and a weekly kinder gym class. He also does his yoga everyday and every ten weeks he does five sessions of weekly hydrotherapy.
He also has a home therapy program which his therapists would like us to do everyday. Sometimes though it is difficult to get Jack motivated to do his therapy.
I needed to know more about his therapy so I could find ways for him to want to do it everyday. I asked his therapists exactly what they were working on and what area each activity on his home therapy program targeted. This is how I learnt about bilateral coordination, finger isolation, perceptual awareness ….
It’s really interesting. Once I started to understand what they were doing, I started to see potential therapy everywhere; walking along a retaining wall on the way to the park, jumping two feet together off the last step, playing the keys with each finger on the piano or jumping on the trampoline. Therapy is everywhere.
This is an activity which Jack returned to several times throughout the day. His OT program includes working on finger isolation. Jack tends to use his whole hand when he is grasping things, so rather than picking up things one at a time, he will generally use all his fingers and palm.
In this activity I put some coloured matchsticks into small plastic cups and some contact paper on his blackboard easel (with some mirrors underneath for an added dimension). The plastic cups meant that he had to use his pincer grip to get the matchsticks. Also the vertical surface of the easel helps to improve his shoulder stability which will help him with handwriting when the time comes.
This is another similar activity although this time with colour sorting on the light panel. I put the tiles in a baby food jar so again, he had to use his pincer grip. Ordinarily he would tip them out and then use his whole hand to pick the tiles up. This way was a lot more challenging.
Jack enjoys making sculptures so I knew he would enjoy this one. Just a simple floral oasis, some skewers, matchsticks and then something to thread. This activity targets finger isolation, pincer grip and perceptual awareness (hand-eye-coordination, spatial awareness). This was challenging for Jack but he persevered and created a wonderful sculpture.
Clay. We love clay here. It is harder to manipulate than playdough so works the hands and wrist muscles and when combined with wire and beads, targets bilateral coordination (using both hands), perceptual awareness and finger isolation.
Working with loose parts and some tape at the tinker table incorporates Jack’s entire OT program. Bending pipe cleaners, applying tape, cutting tape, threading ribbon through CDs, it’s perfect therapy in disguise. Plus it’s a whole lot of inventive fun.
I used to feel quite stressed that I couldn’t get Jack to do his therapy everyday. His therapists had insisted upon us the importance of early intervention in his first five years. But now with a little understanding of Occupational Therapy, I am feeling much more confident that he is getting his daily therapy.
If you have any other suggestions for creative therapy I would LOVE to hear them. Thanks. xx