Monday, March 26, 2012

More Therapy Putty Hand Exercises...Videos Included!

Here are more therapy putty exercises! As I said in my previous post, there are different strengths of therapy putty, so just click on the following links for more information and prices at Amazon.  For a child (or adult) who is quite weak, I would recommend the soft resistance putty. If there is some strength present, go with the medium-soft resistance. For older children, or an adult who has just a bit of weakness, try the medium-firm resistance putty. Most of the students that I work with use the medium-soft resistance.

The following exercise strengthens more tiny muscles that are important for grasp and coordination, and the motion that I'm making as I squeeze the putty with my fingers is called finger adduction.
video

Here is another great exercise. Shape the putty into a round flat disc and place it on a flat surface. Then place your fingers down on the putty and spread them out and apart slowly. This is very challenging!
video

And another great exercise is to make a small loop out of the putty and place it around your fingers then spread them apart, slowly stretching the loop and making it larger.

video

To strengthen the wrist extensor muscles, try the following:

video

And finally, this is my favorite therapy putty activity for children as well as adults! Hide 5 or 6 small beads in the putty and have them locate the beads using a pincer grasp. Once they locate a bead, they should pull it out of the putty. This is always a big hit!

video

Have fun strengthening those hands! :)


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Love Those Therapy Putty Hand Exercises...with helpful videos!

Weakness in the muscles of the hand can lead to many problems, such as a poor grasp, and difficulties with coordination and manipulation. That's why it's important to carry out therapy putty hand exercises as frequently as possible if weakness is present.

I love therapy putty, which is also called hand exercise putty. I'm going to share a series of videos with you that show how to carry out various hand exercises using therapy putty. There are different strengths of therapy putty, and you can click on the following links for more information and prices at Amazon.  For a child (or adult) who is quite weak, I would recommend the soft resistance putty. If there is some strength present, go with the medium-soft resistance. For older children, or an adult who has just a bit of weakness, try the medium-firm resistance putty. Most of the students that I work with use the medium-soft resistance.

So what do you do? Let me show you! Let's start with a very basic therapy putty exercise that works on strengthening the finger flexor muscles. As you will see in the video, I basically roll the putty into a "hotdog" shape, then pinch it using my thumb and each of my fingers.
video

Another exercise that's good for flexion and the other tiny muscles in the hand (as well as coordination) what I call "rolling the ball." Just take a smaller chunk of putty and using the fingers on ONE HAND ONLY, roll the putty into a small ball. The less putty that you have, the smaller the ball will be and the more challenging the task. Whatever you do, don't help out by using the opposite hand or the surface of the table...that's cheating!

video

I will continue in my next post with more therapy putty hand exercises! :)


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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sewing for Kids with Special Needs!

Wow, this was one of the most rewarding projects that I've ever worked on with a student. We made this cute little fellow (the pattern is in the wonderful book Sewing School that I posted about earlier)!

Here is some of the equipment used to complete the project. I brought my sewing machine and connected it to a "PowerLink3," a device that allows a switch user control up to 3 appliances using a switch.  If you look in the photos, you'll see that the student that completed this project was using a "Grasp Switch." It is the black tube-shaped switch connected to the "PowerLink" in the photo. It activates when the child squeezes the foam hand grip. She uses this to access a communication device and other devices, including her battery operated scissors. In fact, she used her switch to activate the scissors while we cut out the pattern for this doll! The last photo shows what the electric scissors look like.

For the sewing part of the project, I wrapped some tape around the sewing machine pedal so that it was always engaged, so that when the student squeezed the switch, the sewing machine turned on. As long as she was squeezing the switch, the machine would run. I sat beside her, and maneuvered the fabric while she ran the machine. It was quite challenging, but so fun!

The "PowerLink3" (which is quite an old model, by the way) was kept on the "direct" access setting. For some children, it may work better to use the "latch" setting. When using "latch" the machine turns on when the student squeezes the first time and runs until the student squeezes again. There is also a timer component that allows you to adjust the amount of time (in seconds) that the machine will run once the switch is activated.

I know it sounds complicated, but it really wasn't. The best part was that I could tell that my student was really enjoying sewing for the first time, and to top it off, she had a stuffed doll to take home that she made herself! That's a fun bonus :)

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Transform Your Parenting Skills!

Do you ever feel that your approach to parenting is average? Are you constantly searching for parenting resources or looking to improve your parenting skills? What if you could improve you parenting skills in just 21 days? I have written a simple to follow parenting course for DailyOM.com called Transform Your Parenting Skills in 21 Days, that teaches exceptional research-based strategies for addressing common child-rearing challenges and problems. Just work through the program and you'll see a transformation in how you approach parenting.

Not only does the course include 21 incredibly effective lessons to improve parenting skills, I provide daily exercises and activities to ensure that you and your family get the maximum benefits from the course. You will develop a deeper understanding of yourself and your children, and you will acquire the skills needed to be an extraordinary parent. Click here to check this parenting course!

These are just some of the topics that are covered:
  • Discipline
  • The Value of Teaching Responsibility to Children
  • The Importance of Emphasizing Empathy
  • The Secret of Tapping into Your Child's Creativity
  • Effectively Communicating with Your Child
  • The Art of Apology

Monday, March 12, 2012

Special Kids Helping Special Kids

I'm really excited to tell you about a new project that I'm starting with my students. I'm calling it "Special Kids Helping Special Kids." Special education students will carry out this project with support from regular education peer tutors, classroom staff, and their OT (me!). With support, these special students will create therapeutic art projects that will help their motor skills and provide tactile, visual, sensory, & social stimulation. The completed projects will be original multimedia paintings that the students will sell to raise money for St. Jude Children's Hospital. To pay for the art supplies needed for this project, I wrote a grant on Donor'sChoose.org. So guess what, I need your help! If you want to support this project (and have your donation matched!), click HERE. When you make your contribution, enter the match code BLOOM, and your donation will be doubled!!! I will be keeping my readers updated on how the project is going, and I may even sell some of the projects on my site! See below for some practice projects that my students have already completed.


My goals for the students are that they will gain functional skills that they can use for future employment, such as improved fine motor skills, artistic expression, counting money, interacting with typical peers, and using language. The regular education peer tutors will learn valuable life skills, such as patience, empathy, supportiveness, and understanding. Additionally, St. Jude will benefit from the money raised by the project! It's a win-win situation! :)

Donor's Choose: Special Kids Helping Special Kids

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Therapeutic Sewing!

I have a new friend, a new blog that I'm following, and some new ideas and inspiration! I met Amie about a week ago, and she has an amazing blog called Sewing School as well as an awesome book with the same name!
The book, Sewing School, is a must have for any parent, including those of special needs children. Most of the projects are simple and can be adapted for children with disabilities. Sewing projects are great for fine motor skills while fostering creativity, and the finished products will boost any child's confidence. Read more about the benefits of sewing for children along with a great idea for a toddler sewing kit on Amie's latest post by clicking here.


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Monday, March 5, 2012

Fine Motor Activity: Forming Letters and Words with Beads

I had quite a few beads left over from the Fun Fusion activity that I posted about in February, and I've been trying to figure out what to do with them. I decided to work with several students on letter formation while also addressing their fine motor skills. All you need for this activity are some tiny beads or dried beans, tweezers, a paper clip, glue, and a piece of construction paper or a foam sheet (found at craft stores).
On the construction paper or foam sheet, you can use a pen to write some practice letters, a word, or even the student's name. Then have the student squeeze out a line of glue to trace over each letter. For students who are really good at forming letters, you don't even have to write the letters first. The student can just form the letters using the glue. The student can then use tweezers or the pointed end of a paper clip to align the beads on top of the glue to form the letters. As you can see, this is a great work out for the radial side of the hand!

video

Give the glue time to dry and you have tactile letters or words that the student can trace using an index finger. This would be a great activity for practicing spelling words!


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