Category Archives: Home Therapy

Parent Partnerships and Collaboration, carryover of sensory integration strategies to home settings, how to do activities at home with little equipment.

Sensory Swings Pre-Made Part 3/3

**Disclaimer:  The following are just ideas and must be used at your own discretion for safety.  Please be sure to use appropriate soft padding, measure for size in your space, and most importantly, provide supervision for your child’s safety.
 
I’d love to have more DIY skills or even a little workshop to build toys and equipment. But alas, I often resort to Amazon!
 
I’ll share some swings, trapezes and other equipment I’ve purchased from Amazon or local shops that kids really like.
 
Firstly, I’ve bought carabiner hooks and rope from a local outdoors climbing shop.  Make sure the carabiners will hold the amount of weight for your child to safely swing.  When looking for rope, consider whether your child will do better with static rope which has no give and will be less unpredictable, or dynamic rope which has some stretch and bounce to it.
 
 
If your child responds to spinning input, a rotary spinner can be found on Amazon.  This is what I use at ot4kids’ clinic:
 
I have also used aerial yoga ‘daisy chains‘ to help adjust the swings either higher or lower if kids need their feet to be close to the ground.
 
Here are some ideas of swings and trapezes from Amazon:
Please note I have included affiliate links below so do receive a little £, however all proceeds go to charity.
 
For hanging and climbing:
Twizzler – this is a fun one that also spins
 
Trapeze with gymnastic rings for hanging by arms and also hanging upside down.
 
Crow nest swing seat – add pillows and blankets here for nice calming deep pressure input.  It appears very similar to the IKEA Ekorre Swing.
 
Hammock swing – There are many different varieties and although I often suggest to parents to go to the fabric shop and feel the material and how stretchy it is (if your child likes bounce, a stretchy one may be great, if they need a calming space, a less stretchy lycra one may be more suitable). I have both a lycra hammock and a Yogapeutics hammock which has no-give for different situations.
 
Flexible Swing Seat – Try this one from different positions such as laying on tummy or sitting forwards or even sideways
 
 
Tire swing – for sitting or standing
 
Nest Platform Swing – This swing looks like it could be used from different positions similar to a platform swing, albeit, not the same. Perhaps a more economical option if you struggle with DIY like myself.
 
 
 

Installing Sensory Integration Swings – Part 1/ 3

**Please note all ideas shared in this blog post are to be done at your own risk or discretion. It’s recommended to have an engineer or contractor assess your ceiling structure to determine whether it is safe and sturdy.

During OT sessions, parents often want ideas they can replicate at home, especially activities their kids really enjoy.  Swinging often falls in this category.
 
Part of classical sensory integration therapy includes using suspended equipment and therapeutic swings. Although there are lots of other effective and fun ways for children to get movement input without swings, swings are an option for the home.
 
The following are some ideas of how to install a swing for your child at home:
 
1) CEILING
 
Here is a great resource explaining different ceiling hooks. This is where an engineer or contractor will help.
 
 
Nice step by step directions from the DIY Network:
 
 
This blog post is written by a parent describing the process:
 
 
 
 
2) DOORWAY
 
This is a good alternative if you can’t access a ceiling for swings, especially if you happen to have a double doorway. 🙂  Prior to my current clinic space, I used the Rainy Indoor Playground Support Bar, however now am fortunate to have a larger area.
 
See how these two parents have used their doorway for swings:
 
 
 
I can personally recommend the Rainy Indoor Playground Support Bar. It’s so easy to install and if you move or rent homes, the holes from the screws can very easily be patched up.  For those in the UK, it can be purchased from Sensory Direct here:
 
 
Many parents have also installed a pull-up bar in their doorway from which they’ve attached a swing or trapeze.
 
 
 
For those in the US, there’s an Indoor Gym which I haven’t tried but looks interesting.
 
 
 
3) LOFT BED 
 
I’d love to do this when my son is ready to sleep in a loft bed.
 
 
 
 
4) A STRONG TREE!
 
My neighbors are so lucky to have a great tree from which they’ve hung a cool IKEA swing for their kids. If you do too, consider attaching swings there.
 
Here’s a tree swing kit on Amazon.
 
 
For all of the above ideas, be sure to put down an old mattress, crash pad or gym mat under and around the swing for safety.
 
Happy Swinging! 🙂
 
Munira

Happy 2015!

We usually visit family in Canada for the holidays. It’s a nice way to come back to London feeling refreshed and relaxed. It’s also always exciting to hear about everybody’s holidays, and see the new things the kids I work with are up to after a break.

As most families know, I usually return to London with new goodies for my OT sessions. Last year, it was the PeaPod and Ziggle which have been great except that my PeaPod received a lot of love and ripped already.

This year I’m really excited about these items:

1) An aerial yoga hammock swing from Yogapeutics – it looks and feels lovely.  Can’t wait to relax in it myself and try some new moves in it.  I know my little guy will love it too.

2) Air-lite bolster swing from Fun and Function – I was planning to make a bolster swing but these kind of projects take a long time especially when you have a little one and aren’t as handy in the DIY department. This one looks to be easily portable and just the right challenge I’m looking for.

3)  Dreampad by Integrated Listening Systems – I’ve been wanting to try this for myself, my son and kids I work with.  Hoping it will help with sensory regulation, calming, and sleep.  You can read more about it here.

4)  New CDs for my Therapeutic Listening Library

Sometimes I’m not sure who is more excited about the new games, me or the kids! 🙂

Wishing all of you a Happy New Year filled with peace, joy, light, prosperity and fun.

Munira

Holiday Presents

When I moved from NYC to London, half my boxes must have been full of toys and books!  Whenever I see a new toy shop I must see what’s inside. Usually, I love the old classic toys mostly in thrift shops or on eBay now.

Occupational therapists love toys, activity analysis, figuring out what skills toys are working on, or how to adapt them to suit a child’s individual sesorimotor needs while offering just the right challenge.  We also love finding interesting ways to use these games such as via an obstacle course, combined with therapy ball exercises, or from various gross motor positions. Talk to your OT to learn how best to adapt games to address your child’s goals.

I often use games from my childhood. 🙂 How many of you remember playing thumb war, French skipping, throwing balls against the wall, playing Jax, or making cootie catchers and cats cradle.

For birthdays and holidays, parents will often ask me for gift ideas that will address their child’s areas of need and that they will find fun. I love doing this. It’s like making a secret special super wish list for the child.

I have now created an Amazon store open to everybody.  Toys and equipment are broken down by age group into the following categories with my anecdotes:

Sensory Processing
Gross Motor
Motor Planning
Fine Motor
Visual Motor and Perceptual
Prewriting

I receive a little something should you buy from my store.  All proceeds will be used for charity or therapy toys for those in need.

Have a look. I’d love to hear if you have any favourites.

http://ot4kids.co.uk/therapy-toys-shop

 

Homemade Sensory Equipment

 

**Disclaimer:  All content on this website is my professional opinion and for your information only.  It is by no means a substitute for medical or individualized input from an Occupational Therapist. 

I often encourage parents to use what they have at home for sensory input activities and obstacle courses.   There are many inexpensive items that may be used.  Here are some of my favourites.  Pease obtain input from your  OT of how to use these to help your child. Supervision is necessary for safety.

 

1)  Therapy Ball for trunk exercises, ball massages, throwing and catching games, or cross pattern brain gym activities.

 

2) Sofa Cushions and Pillows can be used as stepping stones, piles to jump and crash onto, or to crawl over for babies to older children.  For example, here are some fun stepping stones made from scrap cardboard. http://wendyjanelle.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/sensory-steps.html

 

3) Crash Pads for gross motor or sensory input, or as part of a quiet, calming space.  You can make a crash pad by filling a duvet or quilt cover with pillows, blankets or scrap pieces of foam.  Use it to relax in, do homework or read a book, crawl or roll over, walk and climb over to improve balance, or hide objects under.

 

4) Boxes have endless potential. We know babies rather play with a box than toys. 🙂 Use different sizes for climbing in and out of. Open the box flaps to become a tunnel to crawl through.  Lay on a box and use it as a sled. Prop a huge moving box against a sofa and voila, you have a slide. A tight box filled with pillows can be used as a calming spot. For little ones, fill a box with balls or other textures for a sensory bin. Boxes can be used in lots of fun ways as an addition to your sensory tables.
Sand and Water Tables Blog

http://tomsensori.blogspot.co.uk/

Pre school play link

http://pre-schoolplay.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/sensory-table-cover.html

 

5) Mattress or an air mattress can be used to jump on, crawl over, or prop up against the bed or sofa for a slide or a mountain to climb up.

 

6) Blanket swings for smaller, lighter children.

 

7) Step ladder for climbing practice to develop strength, bilateral coordination and motor planning.

 

8) Suspended Balls – You can either tie a string to a beach ball or place a tennis ball in panty hose and then hang it for lots of fun target practice.

 

9) Tires – Save those old car tires at your next car service. They can be used to sit or stand on, walk around or to step in and out of.

 

10) Plank of Wood as a balance beam. Alternatively fold a bath towel or blanket in the shape of a balance beam or put long strips of masking tape or string on the ground to walk on.

http://movingsmartblog.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/smart-steps-walk-line.html

 

Have a look at these 2 blog posts for lovely ideas:

http://wecandoallthings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/parents-guide-to-diy-therapy-equipment.html

http://www.thegoodneighborhood.com/2012/06/20/a-place-of-joy-pulling-off-a-pop-up-playground-on-buffalos-east-side/

 

For those of you with carpentry and DIY skills, here are some projects I also hope to make…..well, some day. 🙂

 

Woven Wrap Hammock Swing (All you need is a wrap and a coffee table or bunk bed)
Tire Rocker

http://barefootnparadise.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/tire-rocker-and-see-saw.html

http://www.crumbbums.com/?p=1934

 

Balance Beam

 

Balance Board

Integrated Listening Systems therapy at ot4kids

I use Integrated Listening Systems (iLS) Therapy to improve children’s sensory processing, motor skills development, auditory processing, attention and regulation.

I have found that iLS and Occupational Therapy together make a good pair and help children progress faster.  It is also effective as part of a home program for many children.

iLS is unique in providing bone conduction in the headphones.  This is highly beneficial as it offers additional vestibular (movement) input to the child working on a neurophysiological level.

WHAT IS iLS?

iLS is built upon the techniques and theories developed by Alfred Tomatis, M.D., and has been refined by Dr. Ron Minson over many years.  It is based upon the theory of neuroplasticity, strengthening and creating neuronal maps that support sensory processing, movement, attention and learning.  iLS is a sound-based multi-sensory program that combines movement, visual and auditory input.

HOW DOES iLS WORK?

Classical music has been digitally manipulated to specific frequencies and vibrations that stimulate various parts of the brain to improve the neurological foundation for sensory integration.

Music is delivered via a portable iPod through specially designed headphones with bone conduction (a small transducer).  The bone conduction unit is inside the top of the headphones and provides specific vestibular and auditory stimulation.

In my practice, after I assess a child I determine whether iLS will benefit their program.  We then create an individualized listening program along with sensory, movement, visual and auditory exercises based on the child’s goals.  Generally, the program is administered approximately 3-5 times a week for 30-60 minutes.  For the first 15-20 minutes, the child participates in their home program exercises and for the remainder of the program, they either relax or complete fun projects.  I either use iLS during the child’s treatment sessions or offer units for rental for intensive home programs.

iLS HELPS:

Sensory processing, body and spatial awareness, motor skills coordination

Motor Planning, sequencing

Attention and following directions

Auditory Processing, sound sensitivity

Visual Motor Skills

Self-esteem

Sensory regulation, calming, sleep

iLS can be used for children who have various diagnoses including:

Sensory Processing Disorder

Autism, Asperger’s syndrome

Dyspraxia

Learning difficulties

ADD / ADHD

Neurodevelopmental delays

 

FURTHER iLS RESOURCES-

Research and case studies:

http://www.integratedlistening.com/research-science/

Free parent webinars:

http://www.integratedlistening.com/training/ils-webinars/

Online videos and talks by Dr. Ron Minson about iLS:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thecoffeeklatch/2011/10/24/dr-ron-minson–ils

http://www.autismsocialnetwork.org/community/72-ils/videos/video/46-ron-minson-md-a-edward-hallowell-md-qhow-integrated-listening-systems-ils-worksq

http://www.worldtalkradio.com/worldtalkradio/vepisode.aspx?aid=55628

Study by the Spiral Foundation regarding the effectiveness of home-based iLS therapy:

http://on.fb.me/S8eUjJ

How iLS influences sensory processing

http://www.integratedlistening.com/how-ils-influences-sensory-processing/

Parents’ account of using iLS and music therapy with their child:

http://www.autismsupportnetwork.com/news/feeding-hungry-brain-music-autism-2321452

Tips on introducing headphones to a sensitive child:

http://polaristherapy.com/2012/07/07/introducing-headphones-to-the-tactile-and-auditory-sensitive-child/

Homemade Occupational Therapy Toys

Isn’t it amazing that kids often love to play with what’s simply laying around the house versus a fancy toy?  I often find that babies and toddlers prefer to play with a cardboard box or kitchen towel roll instead of the flashing, music-making, popping-up toy.   🙂

I love homemade toys for two reasons:

1)    Recycle, Reuse, Renew!  It’s great for the environment.  Save those kitchen towel rolls, cardboard boxes, and empty water bottles to make fun toys or do interesting crafts.

2)    For children with sensory and motor impairments, it’s oftentimes easier to make a toy that is just right for their motor abilities and coordination.  For example, if a child who has limited fine motor skills, you can use larger objects such as making a giant pegboard with water bottles.   To add a sensory component, make a textured board with different sponges, fabrics and materials. Using objects found at home, you can make a toy that’s just the right size, shape, or texture to suit a child’s motor, sensory and cognitive skills.

A couple of my favourite resources for homemade toy ideas are:

1)   http://ohiodeafblind.org/assets/files/files/milestone_packets/0_2/hold_everything.pdf

Personal favourites are the ball board, curler board and eggs in a can.

2)    The Recycling Occupational Therapist – Check out her Facebook page or YouTube videos for ideas for homemade toys.

Go buy some stick-back Velcro, magnetic tape, and start saving those cardboard boxes and empty plastic bottles.  Have fun!

Seating for Children at Home and School

Infants and children must have good posture while laying down, sitting or standing so they have a good foundational base from which to move their arms and manipulate objects as well as attend and learn at school.  If a child has to concentrate on holding up their body, this will take away from their ability to grasp and manipulate objects and concentrate and learn at school.

Therefore, it is critical for babies and children to be well supported at their chairs and tables at home, daycares and schools during feeding, reading, writing and learning tasks.

If a child is unable to maintain good posture while sitting in their chairs at home or school, it’s important to consider whether these difficulties are contributed to by poor balance, body awareness, trunk and upper body strength, or sensory processing difficulties.

Here is a great article which describes how a child should be sitting in their chair, alternate sitting positions, and ideas for movement breaks.  Do share with teachers, family and friends.

Therapeutic Riding for Children with Prematurity

Many years ago, I won’t say how many, I had the chance to observe children with physical disabilities at a Therapeutic Riding program. I was amazed by all that they could do while riding a horse, so I’m a huge Therapeutic Riding fan.

I just read an interesting story from the NY Post about twin girls who were born prematurely and now, at 4 years of age, go for Therapeutic Riding in NYC.

Oftentimes, reading an article gets me thinking about ‘what else’? Being relatively new to London, this article made me wonder what Therapeutic Riding programs are available in London. I discovered that there is a Riding for the Disabled Association in the UK and they have a list of Therapeutic Riding (Equine Therapy) programs in the UK by location. I’ve seen great results with children I’ve treated in the past who’ve gone for Therapeutic Riding and wanted to share this with you.


Homemade Play Dough Recipes!

For ‘homework’, I often recommend parents make homemade Play Dough with their kids.  It’s great for little ones who need to work on hand skills but eat everything! And a fun activity for older kids to practice sequencing the steps to a task, messy play, as well as hand strength and coordination. A fun activity for both young and older children to enjoy together.

http://www.familycorner.com/family/kids/crafts/edible_play_dough.shtml