Last week, out of curiosity, I asked members in my Helping Kids Write FB group if their child is a rightie, leftie, or both-ie?
Want to know the results?
First to put things in perspective…..
On average, 10% of people are lefties.
However, in my Helping Kids Write FB group for children who struggle with writing, the results out of 79 people were:
42 / 79 – Rigthies – 53%
25/ 79 – Lefties – 32%
12 / 79 – Both-ies (I think I made this word up but it means they use either hand and don’t yet have a firm hand dominance) – 15%
Isn’t that so interesting that much more than 32% in the poll are lefties when in the outside world, the norm is 10%?
I’m a total brain geek! I just find this stuff so amazing.
I’d love to share some facts about hand dominance:
1) Did you know you can be left-handed to write but may use your right hand for other tasks such as cutting or playing sports.
2) We have other dominances. We often think of being right or left handed, however, you can also have an ear, eye, or foot dominance.
So you could be left handed but right footed to kick a ball.
3) Usually, kids first develop a hand preference around 2-3 years old. Then they have a hand dominance around 4-5 years and a strong hand dominance by 5-7 years old.
Kids who are left-handed can sometimes take extra time to develop their hand dominance.
And oftentimes, if your child uses both hands, they’re most likely to be swapping hands due to tiredness or difficulty with midline crossing versus being ambidextrous. Being ambidextrous means you use both hands equally well which is very rare.
It’s important kids can use both hands together so that their dominant hand is for moving and controlling the pencil and their opposite or non-dominant helping hand is for holding the paper.
5 Tips for Lefties:
It’s so tricky living in a world where everything is made for righties. Even the most simplest of tasks such as shaking hands can feel awkward for a leftie. Here are some tips to get going:
1) Grasp and logistics –
Lefties are known for having a hooked wrist grasp because this helps them see what they are writing versus smudging their writing as their hand pushes along the paper.
Try the following:
-hold the pencil half an inch higher
-use a non-smudgy ink pen
-angle the paper to the right so that the top of the paper is going downhill
-try using an easel as this helps the wrist be in an extended (lifted) versus hooked position
2) Seating –
Make sure the teacher knows your child is a leftie.
Have your leftie sitting or positioned on the left edge of the room or table so that they can turn and look at you as turning into the writing hand is awkward.
If you are sitting beside or approaching them, do so on their right.
3) Cutting –
If they are left handed to cut, find left-handed scissors and other utensils.
There’s a left handed association here in the UK for easy access.
And remember when cutting out shapes, lefties go clockwise.
4) Writing –
When drawing horizontal lines, lefties usually go right to left.
So when crossing t, f, A, E, F, H, J, they’ll go from right to left.
When using workbooks or copying, make sure the letter image is on their right side so they can reference or copy it more easily.
5) Foundational Skills –
I’m a massive believer in working on foundational sensory and motor skills for writing so I can’t go without saying something about this.
If your child hasn’t developed a strong hand dominance or is swapping between hands, please make sure to first address the foundational skills of body and spatial awareness, core strength and endurance, balance and midline crossing, and then follow this up by building fine motor and two-handed skills. All of this will help develop a strong hand dominance.
If you want to learn more on the foundational skills, check out my Helping Kids Write mini-workshop.
Does your child dislike or lack interest in writing?
Do you know where to start to help them?
There are so many underlying skills your child needs to write.
I’ve created this ‘screening’ to help you identify which skills your child needs to improve their writing. Afterall, ‘it’s all connected.’
If you’d like further help, check out my mini-series and upcoming webinar for parents, or call me to discuss how working on the foundational sensory and motor skills creates better results with writing.Skills For Writing
Was your child offered a pencil grip to help their writing at school?
Usually, parents tell me that school already tried a pencil grip to help with writing?
When I ask if it helped, most say their child finds them uncomfortable or won’t use it.
So, should or shouldn’t we use a pencil grip?
I find pencil grips to rarely be helpful from the get-go. And it’s not just because the child has to get used to the grip.
Using a pencil grasp requires strength and coordination on the child’s part and is ultimately, an exercise in itself.
Kids first need to develop sensory processing, core strength and fine motor skills for pencil control or to more comfortably use the grip.
Once kids have had some OT support, some OT’s may then use a pencil grip as a way to further strengthen or support the fingers. It all depends on the child.
However, I have found most kids don’t find them to be comfortable and so we work on the skills they need for better fine motor skills and pencil control.
There’s my two cents on pencil grips. Hmmm…… how does that translate to London English? There’s my two pennies? Doesn’t sound the same, and I may be humouring myself now. 🙂
P.S. I am a fan of shorter, thicker, or triangular shaped pencils, Stabilos, or smoother gliding lead pencils. And if kids are ready, I love Crayon Rocks.
Earlier, I shared how stability leads to mobility (i.e. pencil control in this case). So, what happens to pencil grasp when we don’t have stability?
In this video I’ll show you why your child may have an awkward pencil grasp, the skills they need to develop, and some top tips to help get you started.
P.S. I’m confident that this mini-series will help improve your child’s pencil control. https://ot4kids.thinkific.com
Stability leads to mobility!
Have you heard this before?
When I refer to stability, I consider three types:
- sensory processing (their body and spatial awareness, balance and coordination, sensory needs to ground themselves)
- core stability and strength
- emotional readiness and confidence
At each age, children develop stability in their core and / or shoulders to support development of fine motor skills for each stage of development.
For example, a baby will first be able to lay on their back and lift their arms to grasp objects with their whole hand. Then as they get older, they’ll be able to push up into sitting or quadruped positions, and grasp smaller objects in their fingers.
This loop of gaining stability for more refined grasp continues to occur throughout children’s development.
Have a look at the diagram below created by my 8-year old who really wants to ‘help’ me with work. 🙂 You can also hear me talk more about this subject here.PENCIL GRASP Stability for Mobility
What are inefficient pencil grasps?
My child struggles to hold their pencil.
My child says their hands are sore or are tired when writing.
My child refuses to write.
Parents often say the above when their child has an inefficient pencil grasp. Oftentimes, children who have decreased sensory processing and strength (the skills we need for STABILITY in our body), will find other ways to be stable in their body, leading to inefficient pencil grasps.
See below for some common inefficient pencil grasps, and why kids may be using them?INEFFICIENT PENCIL GRASPS
What is the correct way to hold a pencil?
These are common questions that parents ask me so I have created this visual to show typical grasping development and its connection to the whole body.
Afterall, ‘it’s all connected.’
Have a look below to see how STABILITY leads to MOBILITY for typical pencil grasp development. Immature pencil grasp development refers to when your child acquires these ‘typical’ grasps at a later age. PENCIL GRIP MILESTONES Typical
To improve your child’s pencil control for writing, buy the mini-course here:
How to Help Left-Handers with Writing and Fine Motor Tasks?
I just learned that 13th August is Lefties Day. I never knew this till now. 🙂
So, in celebration of Lefties, I thought I’d share some of my top tips:
- While sitting at a table or in a classroom, it is best when Lefties sit on the left side of the table or even the room as they tend to turn their body a bit to the right. This way if seated on the left side, they can more easily turn toward others and the teacher to see what’s going on.
- If you’re a rightie and want to teach your leftie an activity, have them sit in front of you and mirror you.
- The top of their paper will be tilted about 20-30 ish degrees to the right. You can put a piece of tape on their desk to show where to place the top of the paper.
- Make sure to have access to left-handed tools such as pencils (esp if using Stabilo etc), scissors, tools with handles, potato peelers, and sports equipment such as gloves and rackets. If using pencil grips, just check if there’s a leftie version needed (some do and some don’t). **See note below.
- Explore which pens and markers to use as there’s likely some ‘smudging’ due to the way the left hand will rub over the writing as it goes across the lines. Explore felt tip markers versus fountain pens for instance.
- Check out www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk for more information and to see their ‘store’ where everything is easily accessible in one place
- Note that lefties will sometimes cross their letters from right-to-left
- Lefties will naturally hook their wrist a bit while writing, some more than others.
- Consider notebooks used when writing as any rubbing of binder edges will be uncomfortable on the left hand. Perhaps flip-top ones may be better or turning the spiral bound so you write towards it instead.
If children are able to figure out how to use ‘regular’ utensils, this may be ideal because then they can use whatever is available wherever they go. E.g. Scissors. However, for some children who struggle with strength and coordination, it may be easier for them to use special left-handed items. For those who want to be very skilled in certain sports, they may also look for a specifically left-handed tool as this may allow them to be even more dexterous in that sport.
There are lots of things to consider really while writing and manipulating objects based on the child’s strengths, needs, and interests.
As always, there’s never just one way, and we must take into consideration the child’s individual needs.
Hope this is useful. Do share if you have any other tips. If you’d like to receive some free tips on fine motor and hand strengthening activities, do sign up here for my free tips and news.
I’m offering a writing mini-series only for PARENTS and TEACHERS to help you learn how to identify the sensory and motor skills your child needs to develop to improve their pencil control for writing through the power of fun and connection.
I have too often seen children being given pencil grips and writing worksheets to improve their writing, which ultimately causes stress and pain in their hands.
I want to show a better way where we can work from the child’s foundational sensory and motor skills to improve their pencil control for writing in a way that will have a bigger impact and last longer, and most importantly, whilst preserving their self-esteem and confidence. All this in a way that is fun for your child.
I’d love to see as many teachers as possible sign-up for this mini-series so that we can better understand why kids are struggling.
I hugely believe that children are not lazy or not interested in writing, and we need to dive deeper to learn why they are struggling with these skills.
This mini-series will help you figure that out. It’s only available till 9th August.
Usually, when people think about paediatric Occupational Therapy, the first thing that comes to mind is dropping your child off to see an OT who will do 1:1 treatment with them. Sometimes parents aren’t present which means that they may not fully understand what the OT is working on with their child, and more importantly, don’t know how to support their child in their daily lives.
How do OT’s help parents support their kids?
At ot4kids, we have always valued working closely with parents in these ways:
- Parents or caregivers are present throughout our sessions
- We have regular parent-ONLY coaching sessions (similar to a teacher-parent conference but not rushed and more often) to review how things are going at home, identify areas of continued concern, understand rationale behind certain ‘behaviours’ and why certain sensory tools are effective and how to use them.
- Some parents do only parent consultations where they learn about sensory processing and motor skills, learn simple strategies to do with their child, and review in their OT consultations
- Sometimes even grandparents and nannies have joined coaching and / or treatment sessions which has been so fantastic
What do parents think of 1:1 coaching sessions with their OT?
Parents often find these consultation meetings to be the most helpful to them in understanding their child’s needs, and parenting their kids in a way that supports them developmentally and emotionally versus using traditional parenting techniques.
How do parent coaching sessions / consultations help us (OT’s) help you?
As an OT, I find the parent consultations really effective as:
1) parents know their child best so their input and feedback are great clues into figuring out effective ways to help their child
2) it’s important to know how the child fares in their daily lives as we want them to develop skills beyond the clinic and into their ‘real’ environments for the best impact
The aim of parent consultations / coaching
Our aim is to help reduce the overwhelm that parents can feel, and to help you find simple and effective ways in helping nurture your kids.
My message to parents is that you know your child best, follow your gut instinct, and know that we can help you to be confident in helping your child to be coordinated, calm, and connected.
Sign up here to learn more about parent coaching / consultation sessions. http://www.ot4kids.co.uk/occupational-therapy/parent-group-coaching-sessions
Can you believe we have been doing Teletherapy and parent consultations for three months now?
Oftentimes, people think that OT has to be done 1:1 with an OT to help their child (and don’t get me wrong, direct treatment is really important and helpful). Thanks to COVID-19, it has been absolutely amazing to see both parents and kids thriving. Kids are calmer and building relationships, developing their motor skills, and problem-solving during play. Parents are understanding their child’s ‘signs’ and needs, and as a result, figuring out what to do coming up with great strategies to support their kids.
It has been a highlight building relationships, joining forces with parents, and having an impact in the kids’ natural environments.
How do Occupational Therapists do Teletherapy?
Teletherapy sessions have taken a combination of two forms:
- Directly working with the child via the parent
- Indirectly by meeting only the parent and reviewing videos of child between sessions
What lessons have we learned (i.e. benefits gained) from teletherapy during COVID-19?
Less is more
Kids have made great progress with what they have at home.
Parents have been nicely surprised how much we are able to do with what they have at home, and as a result, they are more able to incorporate sensory strategies or motor activities into their days. In many ways, I have found that children have made even more progress during their intensive blocks as we are so much more focused on certain areas and we use what they have.
For me, I have loved building relationships with the parents, and tag teaming with them to support their families and kids. I feel that this has also been key to the progress we have made in sessions, and the support the parents feel that they are receiving. Parents are empowered knowing that they can help their kids using their own hands and ideas.
Learn by doing
I learn by doing things myself.
These parent consultations and virtual sessions have enabled parents to ‘do’ with their kids themselves, and become confident in their own abilities to support their child. Being mum to my 8-year old, I know how important this is.
New future plans? YES!
So far, many families want to continue in this way to some capacity, and I’m fore-seeing positive changes going forwards in how we provide OT via supporting parents, whether it be directly, indirectly, through trainings and coaching, or a combination.
Get in touch to discuss how tele-therapy can help your child.
Lockdown has finally given us the impetus to create some Chalk Walk Obstacle Courses for our neighbourhood. (See video examples below.) I’ve always wanted to make these, and now that we have started, my son loves making them too.
People often think these chalk walks are difficult to make, however they’re so fun and you can involve your kids in making them too. We have now made a bunch of these during the past couple of months, including for younger and older children.
We have done very simple ones by going down our street drawing designated areas for ‘dancing,’ being ‘goofy,’ doing ‘silly walks,’ and drawing Hop Scotch grids which even the older people on our street have loved doing.
How chalk obstacle courses develop sensory processing and motor skills:
- FUN while social distancing!
- gross motor skills
- body and spatial awareness
- balance and coordination
- motor planning skills to create, plan and execute
- fine and visual motor control
- organisational skills
- emotional regulation
TOP TIP: Check the weather before you draw out your chalk course. We learned the hard way as it sadly rained the day after we made ours a couple of times.
How to create and arrange a chalk walk obstacle course, keeping your child in mind:
- Start with a more intense, heavy work component such as jumping or doing press-ups
- Next, do a balance and / or challenge task such as walking along a wavy line or jumping and turning
- Have a high energy component (running on the spot for a minute, running for the home stretch)
- a mindful calming section (e.g. blow out the candles, sniff the flowers, sing a song, or unscramble letters to words, or say affirmations).
Although do just have fun, follow your child’s lead and get them involved in creating these.
Chalk Walk Obstacle Course Examples:
Here are several examples that my son and I have done for our neighbourhood. Do share your ideas. We’d love to see them.
The Southfields Grid Association has put out this list of local businesses to particularly support during these times. I’m so grateful to them for including ot4kids on there, and for living where we do.
My husband and I moved to Southfields 9 years ago when I was pregnant with my son. I needed a work balance shift as I developed Hyperemesis and couldn’t travel anymore so my husband had this great idea of building a ‘house practice’ with a clinic where families could come to me in a cozy environment. At the same time I wanted more time with the baby as he’d grow up.
This was the beginning stages of two babies, my clinic and my child.
We passed by Southfields when Riverford, our local veg box scheme, had offered a free dinner nearby. It was soooo delicious. We were immediately drawn to the ‘village’ because of its quaint family feel, small independent shops, and ease of reaching the city centre. I never heard of Southfields before this. For those who know me, you know my heart is in my stomach so this sequence of events is not at all surprising. 🙂
As we have our own independent practices, we have always tried to support local businesses which in return means supporting local families, our community, and more jobs.
I always recommend local cafes and shops to families who come to see me. We have so many great places nearby including: Chanteroy, the french deli for amazing sandwiches on freshly baked baguettes, Salt and Pepper for super friendly company and local grown homey food (we love their tapas), our local fruit and veg shop, Chalk for cards and stationary, Drop Shot for coffee, De Rosier for hot chocolate and deserts, Thai restaurants, optometrists, a physiotherapist, an osteopath, and so much more.
To support locally, check out their listing here.
Click here to follow ot4kids’ blog.
We have been Staying At Home for 5 weeks. We know because we have stuck it through to our 6th week doing PE with Joe now. We usually have a very active week with swimming, yoga, skateboarding, and parks. Currently, our top two activities have been moving and crafting.
My son is lucky to have access to OT swings since I run a clinic from home. For others, this is a great time to explore getting either a Gorilla Gym doorway set (stays in place via strong suction) or the Rainy Day Indoor Playground (has 4 small screws to stay in place in the doorway) with swings and trapezes.
Below are also some movement programs and videos that suit individual children.
Group HIIT’s for children are great for those who need more intense sensory and movement breaks, particularly during this time where we are limited to home.
The Kids Coach -These are really good short fitness videos developed with an Occupational Therapist
Cosmic Kids Yoga is a wonderful program where yoga is completed to familiar stories children love, such as Frozen, Minecraft or Star Wars. She also has a wonderful Zen Den videos to support mindfulness in children, and Peace Out relaxation for kids programs.
GoNoodle is a fantastic program I’ve recommended for years, filled with movement and brain breaks that can be searched through by school grade.
The Little Gym UK has put out some nice children’s gymnastics videos by age ranges from infants and toddlers, to younger and older children.
Andy’s Wild Workouts are also lovely, slower paced, interactive, and shorter, run by Cbeebies. These are great for younger children.
For children who like to dance, there are many dance options right now with Zumba Kids, samba with Oti Mabuse live on Facebook everyday at 11:30, and ballet with Royal Opera House. I have been doing Movement Warriors with my 8 year old son for the past few weeks and it has not only been great fun but really nice to be connected and doing something joyful and tricky together.
I’d love to hear if you have found any movement games, activities, or programs you enjoy.
It seems that some children are concerned when they’re going to see their friends and grandparents as time has been settling in. It’s so hard to know what to tell our kids. Many great stories, videos, and resources about COVD-19 have been popping up to support children.
Here are some:
Sesame Street Coronavirus Town Hall – The awesome Sesame Street had an amazing program with doctors explaining COVD, hand washing, and making masks; how to deal with big feelings; and tips to stay healthy.
Authors of The Gruffalo have written this free book about COVD-19, mores for older children. They also have these lovely re-imagined cartoon images from their most loved stories, to help children understand the current situation.
Great social stories by Autism Little Learners on wearing masks, social distancing, why schools are closed, and more.
And for children who need a social story to help know how tele therapy will work, this story can easily be adapted.
We have now been in lockdown for about three weeks. Like many families, mine is also finding a new routine. My 8-year old son and I have been doing ‘PE with Joe’ every weekday, trampolining in the garden, drawing sensory chalk walks outside, and crafting. It has been lovely spending time together and having time to do things we ordinarily wouldn’t. This slower pace of life is growing on us.
I’ve now been doing teletherapy, virtual Occupational Therapy sessions, with local families for a few weeks. The OT community worldwide has been brilliant. Thanks to technology, we have had many Zoom Catch-ups to share ideas, learn from and support each other.
I work with amazing families and it has been great to see how well Teletherapy has been working for all of us.
Families have said that the sessions are different to 1:1 clinic sessions, yet they are valuable and they like using what they already have at home in new and creative ways.
Parents also feel good that they are the ones doing the handling, modifications, and putting the session into action, and the online sessions have ensured we keep progressing.
Some families were hesitant to give teletherapy a go as they weren’t sure if it would be effective, however they’ve also been surprized how well their children have adapted to the new way of OT and are enjoying a new routine. It’s been helpful to see family’s home space, come up with sensory strategies and obstacle courses using what’s at home, and more easily address skills that happen at home.
For children who need preparation, this social story has been helpful and can be adapted.
Overall, during these unpredictable and unsettling times, it has been so heart-warming to be connected with the children and their families. I’ve finally been able to ‘meet’ their siblings and pets which is definitely a fun bonus. It’s also been exciting to have another way of delivering therapy and partnering closely with parents, whilst providing an effective and valuable service.
I bet that teletherapyteletherapy will be opening many doors down the road for working with families and team members.
What is Telehealth or Teletherapy?
What to expect from a tele therapy virtual OT session?
Before your teletherapy Occupational Therapy session:
Your OT will confirm details regarding which platform to use to connect, a plan of activities and goals for the session, share any necessary handouts, and advise on where to conduct the session as well as what toys and supplies to keep ready.
During the teletherapy Occupational Therapy session:
- your OT will catch up with you and your child, review progress and goals
- parents may request support regarding specific skills that take place at home (e.g. dressing, eating, organisation of the room, toys or games, setup and size of furniture).
- The OT will demonstrate and explain the activity, guide the parent or caregiver on how to set up and implement the activities for the session, listen and observe how the activity is completed by the child, and basically, work through the parent to support the child.
- The OT will likely ask the parent questions, problem-solve, demonstrate or explain how to change or modify an activity, and provide guidance and feedback as needed.
At the end of the teletherapy OT session:
Pros of telehealth OT sessions:
Last year at this time, my husband, then 2-year old and I visited Copenhagen, Denmark for 9-days. Not a holiday. I attended Sonia Sumar’s course, Yoga for the Special Child. It was my first course after becoming a mum and first time away from my son for the entire day. He had fun with his dad, and I had fun doing yoga, meditation (well, trying) and relaxation everyday. It felt like a retreat. 🙂
Sonia Sumar is an amazing teacher with lots of personal wisdom to share. I have never taken a course that wasn’t offered by an Occupational, Physical or Speech Therapist. I had no idea I was going to learn about chanting, meditation, and lots of life lessons from Sonia versus just yoga (body) exercises. It has been as good for me as it has for my son and kids I work with.
A year later, I regularly do my own yoga routine learned in the course and have felt stronger, healthier and more energetic overall. The kids and my 3-year old love it too.
There are so many benefits to yoga but some of them are:
-calming and grounding
-chanting helps with calming, joint attention and engagement, auditory processing
-breathing alongside movements encourages children to breathe while moving (many children who are weak tend to hold their breath while doing motor tasks as they are using their diaphragm, a breathing muscle, to hold their body versus to breathe)
– builds an emotional connection between yogi and student
-yoga poses build core strength, body and spatial awareness, balance and motor planning skills
-yoga flow – a sequence of yoga poses that connect from one to another – build rhythm and timing, fluidity of movements and sequencing skills
-incorporates of breath and movement of eyes whilst doing the yoga poses
-kids learn how to calm and find a ‘quiet space’
-deep relaxation – it’s amazing how many of us can’t still our bodies or minds to relax. I’m still working on this myself and it’s a tough one.
For more information, check out:
For those who are in or near London, check out the work of MahaDevi Yoga Centre
You can also learn more from the Yoga for the Special Child Book
Om Shanti Shanti. (Peace peace peace)
Parents are often surprized I work with babies. I usually hear ‘aren’t they too young’ or ‘what do you do with a baby?’
Babies are always learning new skills and reaching new developmental milestones. As everybody says, they do mostly feed, poop and sleep, but they also, move, play and interact. These skills all develop from birth onwards. An OT experienced in working with babies can evaluate which foundational areas the baby is struggling with and how to improve them
Here are three scenarios:
1) When a baby struggles with feeding, we would assess their tolerance for touch with their body and in their mouth, oral motor skills in their mouth for nursing or eating foods, muscle control in their core / neck / shoulders, and their body alignment and positioning for feeding. See more here.
2) If a baby has a flat spot on their head or turns their head to one side (plagiocephaly or torticollis), we assess their core strength, body awareness on the weaker side, motor planning, eye movements, jaw alignment and oral motor skills, which muscle groups are weak or tight, tolerance for movement and motor skills using both sides of their body.
3) Another common scenario is when the child is described as a ‘lazy baby.’ Usually there’s a reason for this. They may be sensitive or fearful of movement, have difficulty figuring out how to move their body, or have weak body strength and stamina. Sometimes the baby could have a lower state of arousal and need more sensory input (touch, muscle / joint and / or movement input) to rev up their engines the so they feel the urge to move and play.
When we explore deeper, there are underlying areas we can develop. And as babies are changing and growing so fast thanks to brain plasticity, they have amazing potential to progress at a faster rate. Early intervention helps.
Babies whom I treat usually may have:
-Plagiocephaly (flatness on head)
-Torticollis (turn or bend their head to one side)
-Avoid moving to one side of their body
-Don’t use one arm or leg
-Dislike being on their tummy
-Have difficulties with breastfeeding or transitioning to foods
-Appear colicky or are described as a fussy baby
-Sensitive to sounds or being moved
-Not meeting motor milestones
-Feet tend to turn outwards
-Born prematurely so need extra help to catch up
-Have diagnoses such as Down’s syndrome, Cerebral palsy, Hemiplegia or other genetic syndromes
If you have any concerns about your babies’ development, feel free to contact me to have a chat and discuss further.
For more information:
Sensory and motor developmental milestones month by month by Pathways Awareness:
What does a baby OT assessment with me look like?
Infant red flags for sensory processing difficulties
Baby Owned Movements
My son crawled at 9 months, sat at nearly 10 months, and walked at 16 months. According to developmental charts, his sitting and walking are considered to be within the later range of ‘normal.’ Charts indicate that babies sit at six months when placed in sitting by an adult. The baby does not own that movement of sitting by being able to move in and out of positions. Most are actually stuck in sitting and struggle to get ‘unstuck.’
When treating babies, my main goal is for them to figure out and plan how to move their own bodies in and out of rolling, sitting, crawling, standing and walking. For example, to stand, the baby must be able to get onto hands and knees and push off the floor into standing. To cruise along the sofa, they need to crawl up to the sofa to pull themselves up and then cruise. I do not put babies in positions that they cannot get into themselves. There are so many benefits to this including:
1) Baby uses their own muscle strength to get into a position versus being forced to hold a position that their body can’t handle which can lead to muscle strain or locking joints for stability.
2) Develops body and spatial awareness. As the child uses their own body (muscle and joint) sense to get in and out of positions, they develop an innate body awareness and sense of space around them. This is much safer as the child can get their own body not only in the position but ‘unstuck’ to get out of it. When placed in a physical position by an adult, they aren’t required to use their own body sense to move.
3) Develops motor planning skills – the baby has to come up with the idea to move, plan how to move their bodies, and then make the move. These skills are so important for motor planning and the beginning to problem-solving, sequencing, and figuring out how to do new things – all skills children need for pretend play, being independent and school projects.
4) Increases balance – by completing movements actively themselves, balance and confidence improves. Active movement develops ones movement sense and stability more than passive sensory input. The movement system has strong links to one’s ability to calm and self-soothe, be alert and focused and much more so it’s a good one to strengthen.
In my professional and personal experience, I find that children who can move in and out of positions on their own versus being placed in positions are more safe and stable, have better posture and are less slumped over, more flexibility and variation in their motor skills, less sensitive or fearful of being moved, and are comfortable getting in and out of different positions.
As a paediatric OT, I will use sensory processing, Neurodevelopmental, myofascial, socio-emotional or play-based strategies to help the child develop the skills they need to be flexible and functional in their motor skills so they own their own movements, and can be more safe and independent in their play.
Here are some other interesting reads on this subject: