Sunday, September 6

Hands (Jewel)

Occupational therapists focus on tasks involving fine motor skills, such as shoe-tying or handwriting.  Physical therapists offer exercises to improve strength, balance, and coordination, which helps with walking up stairs, running, and jumping.  Both are very much needed by children with developmental delays, but therapy is time-consuming and can get expensive very quickly.  

As homeschool parents, we are responsible not only for our children's education, but to make sure they receive any needed therapies.  Here are a few ideas to help you with basic therapy at home...
First - what are the signs of a delay?  If you are reading this, you probably already know whether your child is delayed, but here is the general checklist.

In younger children some of the signs of a motor delay include:
  • Not being able to bring their hands together by 4 months;
  • Not rolling over by 6 months;
  • Having head lag when pulled to a sitting position after 6 months;
  • Not sitting by themselves without support by 8 months;
  • Not crawling by 12 months;
  • Not walking by 15 months;
It can be difficult to judge with an older child, but generally :
  • often described as clumsy or forgetful
  • may have difficulty using a cup, spoon or fork to eat.
  • may have the tendency to drop items or run into walls/furniture
  • may have trouble with tasks requiring hand-eye coordination and dexterity
  • may also have difficulty holding a pencil and learning to write

Watching your children struggle with daily tasks is difficult.  We want them to succeed, but they have to learn on their own.  I cannot, and will not, tie my son's shoes until he is married...only to pass that task onto a wife.  So, we come up with new options.

  • Lock Laces.  These have saved us such heartache, and they are the very first thing I would recommend for a mom with older children!!  After years of trying to tie shoes, my son is now able to wear sneakers like all of the other children, thanks to Lock Laces.  And no more "baby velcro shoes."
  • Pencil Grips.  Again, a must-have for your homeschool.  Handwriting is a burden for these children.  No matter how hard my son tries, he cannot write legibly.  With the Pencil Grip, his fingers stay in the correct place, and we can at least make out 70% of what he's written...which is enough to decipher the rest.  Do we have a ways to go?  Absolutely.  But he's got enough confidence now to keep on keepin' on.
  • The Quiet Book.  This is a church-specific book for us, because it keeps him occupied during long sermons.  Any other time, he would balk that "it's a baby book!"  But he needs to learn the skills.  The Quiet Book focuses on zippers, buttons, snaps, and even shoe-tying.
  • Simon Swipe.  Remember the classic game, Simon?  Of course you do!  It's back, but with a twist.  Simon Swipe has been a fantastic addition to our son's therapy.  It's a big kid toy, and he even has to fight his brother to get to play with it (as you know, making it even more desirable)!  This combines auditory perception with fine motor skills and motor planning.  And did I mention that it's NOT a baby toy?  It's a great tool for older children.
  • Activities for Gross Motor Skill Development.  This book is for you, mom.  It will help guide you through games that will build your child's skill and confidence.
  • Activities for Fine Motor Skill Development.  This is your cutting, pasting, handwriting...and some tools and games to improve those skills.  
  • Handwriting Practice.  You might also print out some of these free handwriting skills sample sheets.  There are many different historical eras to select from...pick the one that interests your child.  You can choose the grade level based on your child's reading level, but then select manuscript or cursive, as desired, for extra practice.

If you're lucky, you are only coping with motor skills delays.  If you're like many of us, you have a Rolodex of therapists.  (Does anyone use those anymore?  Other than me?)  We have compiled several resources for speech therapy in your homeschool that can be accessed below :

Also, we are currently working on posts dedicated specifically to teaching math and phonics for your special needs be sure to come back later!