Saturday, August 14, 2010

Senses in the Spotlight: At-Home Proprioception Tools

Finding new, exciting and fun ways to get my kids their proprioception input is a big part of my day. Jaimie needs alot of it and I can always tell when her body is in need of more: she walks around on her tippy-toes (and when she's really out of whack, she folds her toes right over and walks around on her toe knuckles. OUCH!), she hangs off things, bumps into things and people on purpose or her arms and legs appear floppy. She's supposed to get this input on an hourly basis (Xander too!). One of our goals is to have Jaimie make the connection between how her body feels at a given time and what she needs to do to make her body feel better (Self-regulation). It's going to be a long journey because she still depends on us 100% to guide her. But I know that by sticking to her Sensory Diet and talking with her about how her body feels when it needs input, give her suggestions to help 'feed' that need, then talk about how her body feels better afterwards, we'll get there.

The thing is that it can cost a small fortune to fill your 'sensory space' with the tools and equipment your 'sensational' child uses at OT. But there are many things you can do on your own with stuff you have around your house that work just as well. Yes, we've bought a few gadgets, tweaks some do-dads and even made many of our own 'sensory' tools (see our post about our ramp and the picture of our climbing wall above) but we use everyday, inexpensive or even FREE things too. Let me share some of them with you:

(1) Grocery shopping: Yes, you can ask your little one to get things for you off the shelves at the store but it's WAY more fun to go shopping at home! Get a laundry basket and have your child 'go shopping' from the fridge and cupboards (making sure to steer clear of the glass containers or things, like full juice jugs, that could break or spill!). Then have him drag it around to 'take the groceries home'.

(2) Drag Races: For this you can use blankets or sheets, laundry baskets or heavy duty boxes. Decide where the starting and ending points will be and mark them clearly for everyone to understand. Making sure to have people evenly paired up in terms of size and weight, have one person sit on the blanket/laundry basket/sheet while the other is the puller. Count down from three then ::BANG!:: the drag race starts--first person across the 'finish line' wins!

Xander's Suped-Up Push Toy!
(3) Suped up pushing toys: One thing my kids have all liked to do is zoom around the basement with our pushing toys. We actually have three different kinds: one that's a doggie that barks and whines; one that has a bunch of activities on it (see picture on the right); and one that has blocks. What we've done is put a two - to - five pound weight (depending on Jaimie or Xander's needs at the time) and get them to push or drag it around. Xander has a game where he runs around at top speed then crashes into the couch with his push toy crashing with him.

(4) Indoor Hikes: This is more Xander's thing than Jaimie's but he throws a bunch of toys, his blankie or other things he likes and walks around the house. I made up a game where we go for 'hikes' and we climb the climbing wall (like mountain climbing), lay on our tummies swimming through the river (strengthens his upper torso which is very weak), go up and down the stairs then have a picnic! He actually takes his backpack with us whenever we go for a walk or to the park or just playing golf in the front yard. (I think this was one of the first signs for me that he had some issues in this area.)

(5) Xander's Golf: Golf is one of Xander's favorite activities, even though he has some trouble hitting the ball. What we've done is tweaked it so his clubs are a bit heavier (eg: attaching yoga weights to the handle) then having him use larger balls with a bit more weight to them (eg: gel yoga balls or baseballs). He's actually in a much better mood after playing THIS kind of golf than the regular kind.

Those are only a few things we've tried. I'm sure you can come up with many of your own fantastic ideas. Just take everyday tasks or items around the house and see how you can turn them into a fun and exciting proprioception tool! It's easier than you think. =)


Jennifer said...

Great suggestions. I'm still so new to this that I sometimes (make that all the time) feel lost as to what to do at home and how.

Chynna said...

Hi Jennifer. Thanks for coming by. =)

Don't worry about it. I STILL feel 'lost' sometimes with my kids and I've been at it for almost 8 years now. After awhile, you'll be able to tell what your child needs and when - and so will they! Just follow what your OT suggests, check out what other caregivers are doing--keep what works for you andlet the rest go. And, most importantly, have faith in yourself. You can only do the best you can do and I'll bet you're doing great. =)


TherExtras said...

Excellent suggestions, Chynna. I think many parents are overwhelmed with the concept of proprioception. In this post I hope they see the consistent theme of weighting activities (safely).


Chynna said...

Hi Barbara! Yes, I know. I was one of those parents until I realized that it's really not too hard to come up with ideas when you understand (a) what your child's specific proprioception needs are (and my kids need ALOT of HEAVY, HEAVY work to 'feel' it!) and (b) what you have to work with!

Now we have tons of fun and Jaimie can even let me know when her muscles need work!

I always appreciate your input. Thanks for coming by! =)


Martianne said...

Practical and fun ideas here - and timely, too, as I have been doing a mental room-by-room analysis of my home with my SPD lenses on to see what at home OT equipment I already have! Thanks for your ideas!

Chynna said...

Hiya Martianne! It's funny because I just finished doing the very same thing a couple of weeks ago! When we found out about Xander's diagnosis, I looked around going, 'Okay! THIS works for Jaimie. How can I make it work for Xander?" Those SPD lenses are SO SO important...and they get alot of use, don't they? ;D

Let me know what ideas YOU come up with! I'd love to know.

Good luck!


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A colorful and bright wallpaper will give an additional light to the room.

Chynna said...

Great suggestions about the wallpaper. Thank you!!


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I can see a lot of books and other things on the hanging cabinet but it does not have any covers. It is important to secure those things to prevent them from falling. This will also save you and your family from danger especially if you have little children. You can contact the nearest handymen who could probably help you fix the hanging cabinet. It is also very important to use high quality industrial products to fix this.

wall ties said...

You got that very good looking "wall climbing" wall. It must be secured properly to prevent it from falling. You can use wall ties to hold the wall in place.

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