Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Activities: Occupational Therapy Activities for the Home

Author's Note: There is a terrific occupational therapist in my school district that offers parents, especially parents with newly diagnosed kids, a list of activities to do over the summer. This week I'm going to share some of that information with you at this blog. Hopefully this will be helpful to those of you who are as jittery as I am about school letting out for the summer. I've included a few links. They are high lighted in blue.

Fine Motor and Hand Strengthening Activities

Play dough: Make play dough at home and assist child in mixing, measuring and kneading dough to desired consistency. (Opt. Add Kool Aid for color and scent.) Use pegs or toothpicks to make designs. Use kid scissors (that is if you can find any; they always seem to disappear at my house!) to cut dough that is rolled into snakes. Use plastic knife to cut play dough (for extra fun use cookie cutter to make an imprint to cut around. Create a treasure hunt by hiding pennies, pegs, and beads in play dough.

Paper: Tear or cut newspaper/scrap paper into strips. Roll paper into a ball using one hand and repeat with the other hand. (Opt. Make a paste out of flour and water, dip paper strips in paste and put on an inflated balloon. Let strips dry, then paint or glue crate paper on the "sculpture." Keep as sculpture or turn it into a pinata.) Attach sheet of paper to wall, door or easel as drawing on a vertical surface is a helpful activity.

Household items and materials: Use a squirt bottle, plant sprayer, squirt guns to water plans or for outdoor squirting fun. Draw letters, shapes in shaving cream. Make building sculptures by poking toothpicks into marshmallows.

Tactile Games: Play in water, wet sand, salt, rice or goop (make goop by adding water to cornstarch until it is toothpaste consistency) Another option: buy a sand and water table. Spread cards, coins, buttons, or checkers out and then turn them over.

Toys: Memory game for visual scanning, puzzles, Legos (stacking blocks and building towers), Magna Doodle, beanbag toss (or water balloon toss), activity books that include coloring activities, mazes and connect the dots, Connect Four (dropping in checkers to make patterns rather than playing the game is a popular activity at my house. Drop pennies into a favorite piggy bank.


LindaMcInnis said...

HI; I see you need to approve comments first so I have a question. don't know how to email you with a question. I want to show you my new products for Autism as a Mom and my blog for IEPs. If you are interesed.
I also wonder how you got the visitor counter on your site?
Thanks, Linda

Casdok said...

Some great ideas there - if only I could get C's fingers out of his ears...

Cassavaugh Family said...

Julie, great list. WOW we do many of these. Part of me will be figuring out just how often we need to do these activities. It feels overwhelming to try and fill an entire day of these and I'm sure that is not what is intended. During the summer we usually do one or two planned out activities, have reading time, outdoor time and then free-time. This does give me some fun ideas. Thanks

Julie L. said...

To Linda: I'll probably visit you soon.

To Casdok: Yes, he does like to leave them there doesn't he? : )

To C.F.: I have a similar approach. I do find outings helpful as my guy gets quite restless at home!

Anonymous said...

Do you have any ideas for a child who has tons of energy and finds it difficult to do one task at a time, preferably outdoors (but keeping him in a secluded area such as the back yard)?

Cynthia said...

I have a child who cannot stand to get wet or dirty. What fine motor skills would you or your occupational therapist suggest for him? (When he gets wet or dirty, he can present aggressive and antisocial behaviors)

Miss Lisa said...

Wow, what a spectacular list! I work with autistic adults. Some of these ideas would work wonders (perhaps the shaving cream, although I'd have to use something not scented). I'd like to find something therapeutic that also involves them socializing with other people (they don't know). Do you have any ideas for this?
Thank you!

Mrs. Samson said...

Hello Julie, I know you had a few questions today in regard to this old blog. I have given my students a list of blogs to respond to and occupational therapy was a subject on our list. I was hoping you'd be generous enough to go back and reply to a couple of their blogs. Any advice would be much useful! Thank you!

Julie L. said...

Hi Mrs. Sampson: Sure I'll do my best to reply. Thanks for including me on your list. : )

To Miss Lisa: Would it be possible to try bowling and pair the adults up with a NT person so they can bowl in teams and have a chance to socialice? I know a lot of autistic people who love to bowl. It would be great for gross motor skill practice.

Or perhaps having an ice cream social mixer (with NT adults too) where everone who needs it has a space to make their own creations. Use soy or rice cream for those who might be on GFCF diets or lactose intolerant. To keep costs down everyone could donate a topping. I realize though, that many people on the spectrum have difficulty with certain foods, so this may not work... just an idea.

To anonymous: I'm thinking beach balls and parachutes. My guy loved chasing a beach ball around when he was four. Parachutes have a lot of flexibility and the cost is moderate. Depends on age and interest I guess. You could also put sensory items of your choice in a plastic pool instead of water.

Cynthia: I wish I could help you more, but I don't have a lot of experience with sensory intergration or tactile defensiveness. Magna Doodles, legos, using tongs to pick up cotton balls are all non messy options. Perhaps you could introduce liquids in a non threatening way by having the child mix up lemonade. If anything, he could just stir it with a long handled spoon if putting in the powder or water would be too threatening for him.
Also, I always suggest appealing to a child's special interest to get him/her to try new things that might be a little intimidating.