Many people don’t understand what it is, and what it’s for. Especially when it’s for a small child. I thought it might be fun to go over what The Princess does in OT each week.
Occupational Therapy: “The use of adaptive, work, and play activities to increase independent function, enhance development, and prevent disability; the task or the environment may be adapted to achieve maximum independence and to enhance the quality of life.”
Let’s start with Tactile Processing. The tactile system interprets touch and the perception of touch. In some children, tactile processing is “off”. The touch, or feeling of certain everyday objects can be very uncomfortable (like sand for instance) while very painful situations (like ripping a fingernail off) are not painful at all. When tactile processing isn’t working quite right it can inhibit a child to develop properly.
Today we’ll talk about Hands. The Princess has very weak hands. This is thought to be because she avoids texture. Rough objects or sticky foods for example. Touching sand is excruciating for her.
In OT we work to strengthen her hands. Her therapist will put little objects inside a ball of play dough. She has to pull the play dough apart and get all of the objects out. Play dough toys are excellent as well. Pulling and pushing the dough through the holes, squeezing the apparatus that creates play dough “hair”. Rolling, cutting, pounding play dough… it’s all fun! We also play with pop beads. Pulling them apart and pushing them together. Squeezing and pulling are some of the best ways we can strengthen her hand muscles.
See? These are typically things we don’t even think about!
We also work on tactile defensiveness. Because The Princess avoids texture, we have to encourage her to get her hands dirty! We play with large buckets of dry rice, beans or pasta. Immersing her hands into the material. Digging, pouring, burying… all to help her get used to the sensation. We don’t want her to avoid touching or the muscles in her hands will continue to be weak. Weak hands= difficultly using pencils in school. If we don’t strengthen her hands now, once she gets into school, writing will be very difficult for her.
We’ve made great progress! Rice and Beans are a-okay with The Princess now. She has no problem sticking her hand down into the mixture. Pasta is still a bit too much. We will eventually address the sand. It’s very uncomfortable for her, perhaps even painful. Now that summer is coming, it’s something we’ll need to address.
Tomorrow I will talk about Tactile Processing and it’s relation to foods. Eating has been an issue for The Princess since she was a newborn.