Sunday, October 10, 2010

Turning Everyday Items Into Therapy Tools

This week has been one of those weeks that just flew right by: doctor visits, allergy shots, soccer practice and game, birthday party for my daughter (7th), work, and all of the normal things that happen in a week! So, I was just realizing that I haven't blogged since last week. I couldn't even think of anything interesting to blog about not that nothing interesting happened, but because it was such a busy week that everything that happened work-wise seems so long ago. It was about that time that I started the last load of laundry and realized what I should write about: laundry baskets and other everyday items. "Laundry baskets" are not ordinally the most interesting topic, but I'm going to discuss how they can be used as a therapy tool to help children with meeting their developmental milestones.

Laundry baskets:
1. When inverted they are an excellent item for children to push around the room. If the child can stand but not yet walk, this is especially a great activity because of their wide base of support the child gets lots of stability. For those children who can already walk and need upper body strengthening, pushing the basket across carpet can give some extra resistance.

2. Have the child sit in the laundry basket and take him/her for a ride. For children with a language delay, you can encourage them to say/sign "more" or "stop" as you push them across the floor. For children who need to work on social engagement, have another child push the basket and then they can switch rider-pusher in order to work on turn-taking and talking to a peer.

3. Have the child sit in the laundry basket as the basket is on an adult's lap. The adult can tilt, bounce, or rock the basket for vestibular input to work on balance/equilibrium skills.

1. Magic Carpet Ride: Have the child lay on a blanket as you grab one end of it and run across the floor. This is a perfect opportunity for the child to say he wants to go slower, faster, more, or "all done" with words or sign language. It can also be a turn-taking activity if there is another child; the child pulling is getting lots of proprioceptive input whereas the child who is lying down gets vestibular input.

2.Hot dog: Have the child roll up in the blanket as if he is the weiner and pretend that the blanket is a bun. Then, give the child deep pressure as you pretend to put different condiments on the "hot dog". Give joint compressions to the feet as you "shake on salt and pepper".

3. For infants and toddlers (or light-weight preschoolers), a blanket can be used as a swing. Two adults can each grab an end as the child lays in the center. They can bounce the blanket up and down or rock it side-to-side. The child can have his body perpendicular to the adults and then switch to being parallel to the adults in order to give input to different receptors of the vestibular system.

Large Bowls:
1. When inverted, they make wonderful drums! If you have plastic or wooden spoons, those make great drumsticks. But if you only have a bowl, the child can bang it with his hands as if it is a bongo drum.

2.Put a ping pong ball in a large bowl, then move the bowl in a circular direction (clock-wise). Stop, then move the bowl in the opposite direction (counter clock-wise). This is a great activity for eye tracking in a circular direction. For children with low vision or poor attention span, use contrasting colors such as a black bowl with a white ball. For eye-hand coordination, the child can try to stop it with his hands and grab it.

3. Have the child jump over the bowl pretending it is a "candlestick" while you repeat: Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candlestick!

1. Wad a pair of socks up to the size of a bean bag and use them for bean bag toss at a target such as a bowl, box, or any other item around the home. If you bounce them off of an exercise ball or mini-trampoline, they will go flying across the room...usually guaranteed to make the child laugh!

2. Empty a clean load of laundry out onto the bed or other clean surface and have the child sort the socks by color and/or design. This is great for oculomotor skills and the visual perceptual skills of figure ground, visual memory, visual discrimination, and form constancy, especially if there are other items in the pile besides just socks.

3. Put potatoes or other items similar in weight within larger socks and use them as weights for the lap or over the shoulder; good for proprioception and/or muscle strengthening.

There are SO many more everyday items that can be used therapeutically. What are your favorite activities to do with household items? I would love to hear your ideas!

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