As a pediatric occupational therapist, this story on The Today Show this morning caught my attention.
The story illustrates that roughhousing helps “self- esteem and physical development” and that “it can actually make kids smarter, emotionally intelligent, likable — even lovable”.
For years, I have been prescribing home exercise programs to parents with children with sensory processing difficulties that include just this, a little roughhousing.
Recommended Roughhousing With Your Children:
I recommend pulling couch cushions on the floor and having their children jump around. I suggest squishing their child between pillows and making a “sandwich” out of them.
I also advise parents to wrap up their child in a blanket and have them log roll across the floor. This roughhousing is actually intense proprioceptive sensory input (the input your body receives from your muscles and joints).
This type of play provides kids with the input that they need to help them be more organized for every day activities and is regularly used in pediatric occupational therapy sessions. In fact, these activities help your child to learn and be more aware of their bodies.
So go ahead and have a little fun!
https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.png00Dana Paishttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngDana Pais2011-06-17 08:28:422019-09-05 19:44:08A Little Roughhousing Goes a Long Way
Through play, children explore and learn about the world. While doing so, they also learn the gross motor skills that they need in order to successfully navigate their surroundings. Children also learn about sensory information, which allows them to react appropriately to the environment.
Children take in sensory information by touching different textures, experiencing different smells, and hearing different noises in their environments. A great place for children to practice and develop gross motor skills without even knowing it is on the playground!
Great sensory and motor activities for your children on the playground include:
Slides help in the development of the vestibular system, as the body is in motion and the head can be placed in different positions. It is also a great motor activity, as it requires the child to climb the stairs of the slide, balance on one foot and shift his weight during stair climbing.
Climbing a rock wall is great practice for coordination of the upper and lower extremities, as the child has to figure out where to place his hands and feet, and in what sequence. The wall also helps the child develop his upper body and finger strength. Some playgrounds have moveable structures to climb (for example, made out of rope or chain link), which require even greater coordination skills and balance, as the body is required to shift its weight accordingly as the structure moves. Both of these activities also provide proprioceptive input to the joints and muscles.
Children can crawl through tubes on all fours, in a bear crawl or in the crab walk position. This helps a child develop core strength and body coordination skills.
Swings are a great source of vestibular input, as the body is in motion while the feet are off of the ground. Pumping your feet also helps to develop sequencing and motor coordination skills.
Monkey bars help to develop upper extremity and hand strength, as well as coordination. If the child hangs upside down on the monkey bars, it also provides great vestibular input!
The see-saw requires coordination, sequencing and cooperation of two children at the same time in order to make the see-saw move. Balance and core and upper body strength are required to hold oneself up on the see saw.
A spring rider is a seat on a spring that rocks back and forth. It provides great proprioceptive input into the body’s joints, as well as vestibular input while the body is in motion and the head is placed into different positions. A child also needs to coordinate his body movements in order to make the spring rider move, and core and upper extremity strength is required to hold on to the rider.
The playground is the perfect place for children to develop their gross motor skills – skills they will need for everyday activities. These skills can help prepare them for school, as they will need the core strength to develop proper posture for table top activities, and coordination skills for writing and cutting. Gross motor skills will also prepare children for sports and cooperative play with their peers. Movement activities can help to regulate the nervous system, so that a child can be better able to pay attention during class or when doing his homework. Most importantly, movement activities encourage a healthy lifestyle and help children build confidence, as they are able to participate in a variety of activities with peers and become more self-sufficient in their daily tasks.
https://www.nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blog-Gross-Motor-Skills-FeaturedImage.png186183North Shore Pediatric Therapyhttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngNorth Shore Pediatric Therapy2011-06-15 12:24:182017-09-25 16:28:09Gross Motor Skills on the Playground
Children worked so hard on writing at school, and they should continue writing over the summer to prevent losing all of the progress they made. Practice makes perfect! Repetition will decrease anxiety and keep them at or above the expectations for the following year. Here are some fun writing exercises you can try over the summer:
• Write a story with your child. Each day, set aside time for her to write a few sentences or paragraphs (depending on her age) for a special story. By the end of the summer, you will both have written a special story together. This approach will keep your child interested, as she will enjoy reading her contributions each day.
• Have her practice the formation of specific letters by writing large capital letters with sidewalk chalk on the driveway. Next, have her use a hose with a nozzle to spray a stream of water and erase the chalk lines. This will help increase fine motor control and strength.
• While you are in the car, or sitting on the beach, use “air writing” to send each other messages. You can also have her write messages to you in the sand on the beach, in the water at the pool, or in the shaving cream while dad is shaving.
Just have fun with it. You can also set aside some serious writing time where you purchase handwriting books at the local bookstore or toy store, or print worksheets from the Internet for practice. Repetition, repetition, repetition!
https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.png00Deborah Michaelhttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngDeborah Michael2011-06-15 12:04:272014-04-28 01:54:51Handwriting Over the Summer: Practice Makes Perfect
A common difference between children with autism and typically-developing children is their motivation for social feedback and other natural consequences that occur for learning to take place. Typically, developing children have an easier time learning because they are motivated by social feedback from their parents and teachers. But with a child with autism, it is not always as simple as saying “great job!” to encourage learning. Without motivation, it can be very difficult to gain the attention of an autistic child, and even more difficult for learning to take place.
So, how do you motivate a child diagnosed with autism?
Reinforcers Can Help Motivate Children!
Reinforcers motivate children to learn new skills. Often times, children with autism are not readily motivated by social feedback or other natural consequences received from parents, teachers or peers. Insensitivity to social consequences and signals is a core aspect of the disorder.
https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.png00Stephanie Ormanhttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngStephanie Orman2011-06-13 13:19:092019-09-03 21:52:26How To Motivate Children With Autism Using Reinforcers
The Disc-O-Sit cushion is a fun and easy tool to use at home. This round, rubbery cushioncan be used to work on balance, core strength and postural control. Below are suggestions for a variety of activities that your child will enjoy!
Using The Disc-O-Sit Cushion While Standing or Kneeling:
Tape a piece of paper or a picture to the walland have your child color while reaching overhead
https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.png00Dana Paishttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngDana Pais2011-06-07 19:13:062014-04-28 01:58:18Disc-o-Sit | Easy Home Activities That Target Balance and Core Control
Teaching new skills to children with autism can be very difficult. It is important to first understand the fundamentals of behavior.
Behavior is an important part of teaching because in order to learn a new skill, a child must understand what response is desired and when. A child learns when a response is desired by experiencing a stimulus (i.e. item/request/instruction) and discrimination (Sd- discriminative stimulus). A child simultaneously learns there is a desired response and discriminates that the response is only desired in the presence of the Sd. For example, if you are teaching a child to say “book” in the presence of a book, the Sd would be the book itself and the desired response would be saying “book.” That child will learn to say “book” only when that book is present. Later on, that child may begin saying “book” in the presence of new books, a pattern called generalization.
So, why is behavior important in teaching a new skill? It is important because a child’s response IS a behavior!
Descriptions Of Behaviors:
• Reflexive Behavior is our bodies’ natural reaction to environmental stimuli (e.g. blinking when someone blows in your eyes, or jerking your leg when someone hits your knee cap). These behaviors are called reflexes and occur without being learned. Read more
https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.png00Stephanie Ormanhttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngStephanie Orman2011-05-31 22:58:542019-09-03 21:53:25Basic Principles and Practices for Teaching Children With Autism New Skills
Summer is quickly approaching, and swimming pools can be used for much more than tanning and floating! Get those muscles and joints working with these simple games that you can play with common pool toys.
The following activities target strength, endurance, body awareness, trunk control, breath control and motor planning. As always, make sure safety is your first priority:
1. Noodle Races: sit on foam noodles, using your arms to pull yourself across the length of the pool .
**Try a variety of movements with your arms such as front crawls, breast strokes, and doggy paddling to incorporate different reaching and pulling methods. You can also sit on a tube or raft rather than a noodle to play this game!
2. Noodle Volleyball/Basketball: sit on foam noodles, passing a beach ball back and forth or aiming for a hoop.
**Try to keep the ball in the air without hitting the water for as long as possible. This is a great challenge that incorporates hand-eye coordination. Read more
https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.png00Amanda Mathewshttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngAmanda Mathews2011-05-25 10:18:422014-04-28 02:02:53Swim Your Way To A Stronger Body
-“Teachers are biased against diagnosed children.”
-“My son doesn’t act like most kids with _________ (particular diagnosis).”
These are statements that I hear on a routine basis, and they are all valid points. Any diagnosis that a child or adolescent may have carries a certain stigma to it. This is human nature. As a neuropsychologist, one of my biggest tasks is to develop the most appropriate and effective diagnosis for any child. My goal with writing this blog is to help identify the importance of an appropriate diagnosis.
How A Diagnosis Can Help Your Child:
First and foremost, an appropriate diagnosis will help explain and answer the “why” questions. Why does my child continue to struggle to read? Why is it impossible for my child to sit still? Why is it that my child cannot make friends? Once we identify the “whys,” we are on our way to solving the problems. An appropriate diagnosis is intended to help develop the most effective means of intervention. If I diagnosis a child with Dyslexia, I know that traditional teaching of reading and phonics wouldn’t do much good. I would know instead to utilize an empirical approach consistent with the disorder at hand. Read more
https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.png00Dr. Greg Stasihttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngDr. Greg Stasi2011-05-17 19:57:072014-04-28 02:06:47Why Does My Child Need a Diagnosis?
Playing is a child’s primary job, and a beneficial one at that. Through play, children develop fine and gross motor skills, practice language and develop new vocabulary, and begin to understand new learning concepts.
Below is a sample of all that is involved and developing when your child plays with dolls.
Develops imaginative play skills as your child cares for her doll.
Teaches different emotions and relationships as child role plays. Read more
https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.png00Lauren Vanderlisthttps://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngLauren Vanderlist2011-05-09 10:52:582014-04-28 02:12:28Developmental Skills While Playing With Dolls
W-sitting is a position that is too commonly used by children when seated on the ground. In this position, a child sits on their bottom, with knees bent, feet tucked under, and legs splayed out to each side in a “W” configuration. Because this position is so common, most adults do not realize that use of this position can have negative ramifications on a child’s growth and development.
Negative Effects of W-Sitting:
The reality is that this position can cause orthopedic problems, delay development of postural control and stability, and delay development of refined motor skills. For these reasons, its use is strongly discouraged.
Excessive use of a w-sit during the growing years puts undue stress on the hip abductors, hamstrings, internal rotators and heel cords, leading to the possibility of orthopedic problems in the future. “W-sitting” can lead to hip dislocation, and for children with pre-existing orthopedic conditions, these conditions can worsen when major muscle groups are placed in shortened positions. The muscles begin to tighten, and this can lead to a permanent shortening of the muscle, which can affect coordination, balance, and development of motor skills.
The w-sit widens a child’s base of support, resulting in less need for weight shifting, postural control and stability as they are playing, moving and reaching than in other seated positions. In addition to resulting in decreased trunk control, the w-sit does not require as much trunk rotation, which helps develop midline crossing and separation of the two sides of the body needed for bilateral coordination. Good trunk control and stability, midline crossing and bilateral coordination are needed to develop refined motor skills and hand dominance.
How to Prevent W-sitting:
It is best to prevent children from developing this habit. However, we all know children who have already established this as a preferred seated position. When possible, anticipate and catch it before you see your child move into a w-sit. If and when you do see your child in a “W”, consistently encourage her to adjust to a different position by saying, “Fix your legs.”
Consistency is key. Make sure children know what some of their other options are so they can choose an alternative. Functional seated positions that will allow the child to develop trunk control and mature movement patterns include “tailor sit” (also called “criss-cross”), “long sit” and “side sit”. It is important for parents to teach and encourage alternate seated positions at home, and teachers to teach and encourage their students to use alternate seated positions at school. This encouragement will have positive effects on a child’s growth and development of foundational skills.
When playing with a child on the floor, hold his knees and feet together when kneeling or crawling – it is impossible to get into a w-sit from there. The child will either sit to one side, or sit back on his feet, and from there he can be helped to sit over to one side. Try to encourage sitting over both the right and left sides to promote bilateral development. Using various patterns of movements and positions demand trunk rotation and lateral weight shifting.
If a child is unable to sit alone in any position other than a “W”, talk with an occupational therapist about supportive seating or alternative positions such as prone and side-lying. Sitting against the couch while playing may be one alternative, as well as using a small table and chair. A therapist will have many other ideas based on each individual child.