I have started taking Johnny to an Occupational Therapist to help with sensory integration, self-regulation, motor planning, body awareness and increase his gross and fine motor skills.
Two weeks ago we did the assessment and right away Johnny bonded with the therapist and even gave her a hug at the end when I said it was time to go. He even moved his chair right next to her making himself right at home complete with a sad face.
The OT has this wooden apparatus in her one room where she can hang ropes or suspend various types of swings from with a big protective mat on the floor. Since it was Johnny’s first session she thought she would try a bunch of things with him first and see what he liked and what worked best. First she brought out this big swing that looked like a hammock that you lie on your tummy in (sausage like) and she sat on the floor in front of him and grabbed his hands and pulled him back and forth. Johnny looked like Superman flying through the air going back and forth with a big smile on his face. When she would let go he’d have to use his hands and arms to keep himself steady and thus really strengthen his core.
The OT would then moved to a fine motor skill such as using small tongs where he would have to pick up small objects and strengthen his hand so he can use a scissors better. Then back to a physical activity.
This time the OT set up an obstacle course for Johnny and pair it with a cognitive activity. She placed a white board at one end of the mat and wrote 8 letters on it. She then took two vinyl soft big wedges and placed them on either side a big gigantic monster sized pillow and placed a page of stickers on the opposite side of the white board. Then she got out this big cloth tunnel from Ikea and placed it on top of the wedges/pillow. The game was Johnny had to listen to the instructions and then then do them all while maneuvering his body through her obstacle course. The OT would tell him to find a green flower sticker and stick it to his hand and crawl through the tunnel and then stick the sticker on the letter “H”. He easily did this with a lot of gusto and laughing like crazy. I forgot to tell her he loves tunnels. Johnny is a big boy for his age….nearly 4 feet tall and only 5 years old plus he is VERY strong. He was having lots of fun doing the tunnel and then near the end he had 3 more letters to go with stickers and she only wanted him to do one more and then stop. The OT thought he was just playing with the stickers but no not my boy. Johnny was meticulously peeling off 3three stickers and then he flew through the tunnel and then placed stickers on the last letters. Now he’s done. The OT was impressed at how determined Johnny is and how smart he is.
Now back to cognitive work at the table but this time working on his fine motor skills. Johnny had to hold a marker and drawing a circle around the letter she says out loud. He did it quickly.
Then back to a physical heavy work activity but this time Johnny some how found it first in her closet. It was a large platform board on 4 wheels that looks more like a home made skate board and that’s how Mr Dare Devil wanted to ride it. The game was he had to lie on his tummy on it and use his arms like a surfer paddling out to the waves. He would have to look at his puzzle on the carpet and then drag himself on the board with wheels across the room and get his puzzle pieces and then move himself on the board back to the puzzle and place the pieces in. It was hard but he like doing it.
I told the OT that Johnny likes to put himself in an up side down position a lot at home on the soft big chair or on the sofa. They had been doing a puzzle on the floor and he kept lying down to do it and stretching out instead of sitting up. She then had an idea and brought out this big blow up ball that was shaped more like a big dog bone. She had him lie on his tummy on it and face down towards the puzzle. Johnny then easily completed his puzzle as if it was the most natural thing to do it in this position.
The last big activity they did was she brought out this big inner tube and suspended it on its side and had Johnny insert himself on the inside and ride it. She then placed a rope over the apparatus and had him hold each side of the rope and use it to pull and swing himself back and forth. He really liked this but at the same time you could see he was really giving his arms and core a big work out.
I am really glad that we made the decision to include Occupational Therapy in his weekly regime now because afterwards he was happy yet calm but amazingly still energetic after all of the heavy work.