There comes a time when insurance either won’t pay for more occupational therapy for your child or it has been deemed that the child has progressed as far as they can for the time. Perhaps you just get tired of spending yet another hour or more sitting in a therapy office with your child and deem it necessary to take a break. That’s the scenario for my family. We just got burnt out of the tediousness. When that happens, it’s best for us to take a break. Unfortunately, autism doesn’t take a break . Therapy still needs to be done. We just choose to do it at home. Nothing like sitting in our pajamas at home to make the tediousness more appealing.
Therapy counts as a subject in our home school. Which therapy is being done determines what credit is issued. For speech, I give a half a credit for language arts per semester. For OT and PT , I issue PE credits. If I can count dance as a PE credit then I don’t see the problem in issuing one for therapy.
Motor planning and postural control
What is postural control? This is the ability to maintain your trunk position. For us , this means being able to sit at the table to eat dinner but not need to lay his head on the table halfway through. . This directly translates to strengthening his core. Core work is crucial here. Logan has severe hypotonia which is decreased muscle tone. This is why lots of children with autism look like giant marshmallows. To work on it,he will do his free reading laying on his stomach propped up on his elbows. Planks are a great core strengthener .
Fine motor and web space development
Fine motor work is needed for us to write more. If his hand gets fatigued easily then it is difficult for him to write. That in turns translates into bad episodic memories of writing. Hence , he doesn’t want to do it.
The web space refers to the circle that forms with the tip of the index finger and and the thumb touching. It is important to maintain this space to hold the pencil or crayon correctly. Thus, you gain greater control which improves your handwriting. There are simple stretches which are easy to do anywhere.
The OT Toolbox has some great web space development activities for all ages.
Proprioceptive stimulation and bilateral coordination
Proprioceptive stimulation helps a child to be aware of his body in space thus coordinating their actions. It provides info to the brain from the muscles, ligaments and joints. This can be core work too. (Have you seen the pattern yet? A strong core equals a strong child.) These are heavy work activities so Logan will do his outside chore of sweeping the carport while wearing his weighted vest. Carrying a bucket of water from the spigot to the flowers. Carrying in groceries or push mowing the yard. Pick something your child can do and have him do it regularly. Supervision is as essential here as it is in everything else. The big idea here is to have some sort of weight pushing against your child or something heavy to carry or push. When all else fails, I just have him wear a backpack with books stuffed in it.
Bilateral coordination is the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time. This is what a child needs in order to walk up and down stairs without putting both feet on the same step. One of the things that stood out to me when Logan was 10 was that he still put both feet on every step. To work on this , we play Simon Says or Twister. Learning to jump rope as well as bike riding are higher level skills you can achieve by working on this ability.
Hand arch development and heavy work activities
The hand has three arches to it. All 3 must work together in order for the hand to work properly. Mobility is also affected by the arches. We use gluten free playdough to roll it into snakes or rolls.
Heavy work activities are similar to proprioceptive activities. For heavy work activities , you use the child’s weight against him while doing a gross motor activities. This could be a bike ride. Horseback riding would be work on this too. Making cyclones in the pool then going against the tide would be fun.
We work on core strength by bowling 2 games per week on a kids league. We have fun although Logan does get really tired toward the end. I let him chill out at home in his room to either take a nap or pace . He always gets free time after bowling.
Our pool is also a great place to work on core strength while having fun. Swimming, doing the cyclone thing, playing volleyball are all therapy items. He really likes the pressure of the pool although he hates water in his face. The rule is no splashing. We can’t work on anything if he won’t get in the blasted pool.
These are just a few ways we are implementing an at home ot program. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. It doesn’t need to be costly either. It just needs to be done continuously to get results. Slow and steady is the mantra here. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Ok, enough cheesy sayings. Remember that all your hard work will reap rewards eventually. Stay the course.
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