King of Swings workshop

Last Sunday, I attended a wonderful hands-on workshop in Stafford, VA at Helping Hands, Inc. It was a great course focused on occupational therapy interventions for helping with sensory processing. In true OT fashion, the course was completely hands on, and we all sat on the floor and observed, demonstrated, and tried out various interventions. 

 Alex demonstrating the use of 2-pointed swinging with a bungee for increased prone extension, motor planning, and coordination. 

Alex demonstrating the use of 2-pointed swinging with a bungee for increased prone extension, motor planning, and coordination. 

Workshops are such a great opportunity to learn new things and get the creative juices flowing. Thanks to Alex Lopiccolo & Helping Hands, Inc. for making this workshop happen.

This week I had the opportunity to try out some of these new ideas and interventions and the kids absolutely had a blast. 

 Crawling over therapy balls to increase postural control, stability, motor planning and provide proprioceptive and deep pressure tactile input for self-regulation. 

Crawling over therapy balls to increase postural control, stability, motor planning and provide proprioceptive and deep pressure tactile input for self-regulation. 

Using bungees with the harness to provide intense vestibular and proprioceptive input for self-regulation-- its also a ton of fun :)

 Swinging while maintaining flexion under the bolster swing to increase core strength, motor planning, timing and provide intense vestibular stimulation. 

Swinging while maintaining flexion under the bolster swing to increase core strength, motor planning, timing and provide intense vestibular stimulation. 

Heavy work that can help everyone!

What is heavy work?

"Heavy work refers to tasks that involve heavy resistance for the muscles and joints. It involves proprioceptive input, the awareness of posture, movement, and resistance relating to the body."

How can Heavy work help?

When working with children with sensory processing concerns heavy work is the 'go to' type of input- especially for home programs. Why? Because heavy work is always regulating and organizing to the nervous system, and you can't go wrong. Heavy work helps modulate the nervous system so that it can accept a variety of input. During occupational therapy sessions I use heavy work to help children calm down, after vestibular activities to help with modulation, and as a "warm-up" when working with a defensive child. 

The other day a parent came in and her child was less regulated than usual. Mom suspected it was because her grandparents were at her house for a few days, and many responsibilities were taken away from the child. Mom didn't need the child to vacuum, take out the trash, carry her baby brother, or clear the table-- because there were extra hands in the house. At the time, her mom did not realize that her daughter needed to do the work just as much as she needed the help.

Sometimes home programs are overwhelming because parents feel like they are always having to come up with activities for the child to do to stay regulated. Building some tasks into daily routines will help keep your child regulated, teach your child functional skills and responsibilities, and take some of the load off the parents. 

Here are some ideas: 

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  • Taking out the trash
  • Carrying in groceries and helping to put them away 
  • Collecting the laundry from around the house and pushing/pulling/carrying it to the laundry room
  • Vacuuming (Older heavy vacuums are the best!)
  • Clearing the table
  • Carrying a backpack/diaper bag while out and about
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Mopping the floor- think hands and knees 
  • Raking leaves
  • Shoveling snow
  • Stacking wood
  • Helping with cooking (stirring, kneading, pouring)
  • Pulling a wagon
  • Washing the car
  • Pushing the shopping cart
  • Helping with yard work (pushing wheelbarrow, digging, etc.)

 

 

 

Here is a video of kids in Japan cleaning their classrooms- and having FUN! These are all great heavy work ideas for home or school!

 

When you make a sensory diet part of your everyday routines it can be helpful for the whole family !

If your child struggles with self-regulation and you need help with creating a sensory diet for school or home-- Contact Children at Play today :)

 

Sensory Hack: Lycra Swing

 

This swing is so great for providing vestibular, proprioception and deep pressure tactile input. Every child LOVES this swing-- and more importantly--its easy an inexpensive to make. 

DIRECTIONS:

Step 1: Fold the material in half

  Step 2 : Cut a small hole through both layers about 6 inches from the bottom and 6 inches from the side and string your rope through the hole

Step 2: Cut a small hole through both layers about 6 inches from the bottom and 6 inches from the side and string your rope through the hole

  Step 3 : String tie a knot around the fabric, and then tie a second knot under the 1st knot (This makes it so that the rope is supported by the knot--not by the fabric).  

Step 3: String tie a knot around the fabric, and then tie a second knot under the 1st knot (This makes it so that the rope is supported by the knot--not by the fabric).  

  Step 4:  Tie a double knot to create a circle. This will be used to attach the swing   Step 5:  Repeat on all 4 corners of the swing                                                         Step 6:  Attach D rings. The swing can be hooked with 4, 2, or 1 hook.             Step 7:  Enjoy :)   .                                                                                                                      

Step 4: Tie a double knot to create a circle. This will be used to attach the swing

Step 5: Repeat on all 4 corners of the swing                                                      

Step 6: Attach D rings. The swing can be hooked with 4, 2, or 1 hook.          

Step 7: Enjoy :) 

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*Please make sure that your hooks are sturdy and the structure is able to support the weight. Check swing for safety each time you use it. Do not allow children to use without supervision.  

Here is what you will need--

  • 4 yards of Lycra material (mine was found at Jo-Anne Fabrics)
  • Rope
  • D-rings
  • Scissors

 


 

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All About Sensory Integration

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What is sensory integration? All of our senses work together. Each sense works with the others to form an organized and accurate picture of: who we are physically, where we are in space, and what is going on around us. Sensory integration is a critical function of the brain that is responsible for producing this complete picture. For most of us effective sensory integration occurs automatically, unconsciously, and without effort. For others, the process is inefficient and demands effort and attention with no guarantee of accuracy. This makes life much more challenging.

What does it feel like to have sensory challenges? Have you ever tripped walking down the stairs because you thought there was one more? Or picked up something you thought was heavy and ended up dropping it because it was light? Have you ever been driving and needed to turn down the radio so that you could think? This is a glimpse into what it is like when our sensory systems are not working together properly. For many children, this is what every minute of every day feels like.

All children on the autism spectrum have challenges with sensory integration, though not all people with sensory integration challenges have autism. Many children have difficulty with organizing the world around them and it may effect their ability to interact appropriately.

Children who have difficulty with sensory integration may be extremely fearful of movement, or seek out intense movement opportunities. This is because each child’s sensory system is unique and constantly changing; each system can be over or under responsive. The effects of poor sensory integration can interfere with academic learning, socialization, daily living skills, emotional health, and self-esteem.

How can we help? Sensory integration treatment is most effective when implemented by an occupational therapist with experience using a sensory integration approach. To the untrained eye therapy looks a lot like play—and it is play that is designed by the children themselves! It is vitally important to use the types of activities that the child is seeking, to engage them into sensory play. Children seek out what their body needs developmentally, so it is the job of a good occupational therapist to provide the just right challenge, and engage the child in appropriate play. It is this active involvement and exploration that enables the child to become a more mature, efficient organizer of sensory information.

My groups are aimed at using sensory rich experiences to regulate children’s nervous systems, and help them to engage with peers. Children will challenge their balance and motor planning with obstacle courses, work on self-regulation with swinging, and improve their body awareness with climbing and crashing. These movement-based activities will help children to engage with peers and build new skills. Click here to get more information about individual therapy or small groups.