Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We're going for the gold!

We are all fired up about the Olympics!  The children have reported their favorite sporting events with such detail!  

We are competing in our own personal best Olympics at Touchstone!  To get us started, we've made our own Olympic Rings!

Try this at home, it's easy! 

To get them started:
1.  Cut out 5 square pieces of paper in blue, black, red, yellow and green.  The squares are 4 inch by 4 inch in size.
2.  Next, make a semi-circular shaped stencil as a pattern, 3 1/2 inches tall.

Now it's their turn:
1.  Have your children fold the squares in half.
2. Next, trace around the stencil on the outside and inside.
3.  Keeping the paper folded, cut out the semi-circle on both lines.
4.  Finally, glue the rings on the paper as shown above.

 Thanks, Ms. Courtney!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just Add Water!

Not only is swimming a great way to beat the summer heat, but it has many other benefits!  First and foremost, it gets the kids away from video games and the television and gets them moving, which is heart healthy! It is a great life skill, as it keeps them safer when they are near water if they know how to swim.  Swimming is a great social activity, too!  After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good game of Marco Polo?

Therapeutically, I recommend swimming to strengthen a child’s core, improve endurance and increase bilateral coordination.  In addition, swimming provides tactile input. I often hear parents tell me that their child with sensory issues loves to sit on the bottom of the pool!

Now, just what is bilateral coordination, and why is it important?  Bilateral coordination is important for children as many daily activities require the use of the two sides of our body.  Sometimes, a task requires both sides of the body to do the same thing, like in jump roping, rolling playdoh into a snake with a rolling pin or playing with a zoom ball.  Other times, our body must alternate the movements on each side, like when crossing the monkey bars, bike riding or swimming.  At times, a task requires the two sides of our body to work together to perform different skills and movements on the opposite sides of the body.  Examples of this level of bilateral coordination would be:  cutting, placing toothpaste on a toothbrush, buttoning a shirt, tracing around a stencil and writing.

Whether your child is doing the doggy paddle or mastering the butterly, you can be assured that the two sides of his brain are "talking", and thus, the two sides of the body are learning to work together.  As well, he is experiencing all of the other benefits that swimming has to offer. So, while your child is excited to cool off and go diving for those dive sticks, sit back with an ice cold lemonade and a smile knowing he is reaping the therapeutic benefits, too!


Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Friday, July 6, 2012

Man's Best Friend Receives OT!

If people believe it works for their dogs, then surely they would think it works for children!
I was in a pet store a few weeks ago and saw this anxiety vest for dogs.  I had never seen such a thing.  Well, I had for children, but not for dogs! Of course it makes sense to me, but what perplexed me is that people continue to shoo-shoo the use of pressure vests for children with Autism, ADHD and sensory issues, but yet it must be o.k. for our pets?!

Then, I was at the fireworks the other night and heard a friend of mine ask her husband if he had put the vest on their dog, Jada.  My ears perked up and I asked what kind of vest and she responded, “A thunder vest for anxiety”.  I asked her how it worked and she said, “It works well for thunder, so we’re trying it tonight for the fireworks!” And there you have it!
So, how does it work?  Deep pressure touch reduces sensory hypersensitivities and helps to calm and organize the nervous system.  For my friend’s dog, Jada, the loud noises bother her.  Think about our children with sensory hypersensitivities who respond well to big bear hugs, or who like to be buried under the sofa cushions. They are seeking out this deep pressure input.  These children may respond well to a deep pressure vest!

There are weighted compression vests out there and you can find one like the one above at Fun and Function. A weighted vest should be 5-10% of the child’s body weight and the weight should be well distributed throughout the vest.  Wearing time may be anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours at a time, with 2 hour breaks in between wearing times. I only recommend that the child wears the vest during times when he or she is expected to sit still, pay attention or learn. I never allow the child to wear the vest outside to play or at recess.  The wearing schedule for pressure vests is not so stringent, but the child may accommodate to the sensation, so I still advise to only wear the vest for up to 2 hours at a time.
Massage, stacking large bean bags on top of your child and rolling a large ball on top of your child to make a pizza are just a few other ways to provide your child with deep pressure input.  Ask your OT for other ways to provide your child with deep pressure input! We all know, calm kids=calm parents!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L