Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Do-It-Yourself Waterproof Cast Cover

After hand surgery my hubby needed a waterproof cast cover so that he could shower and go boating. This video shows how he made an inexpensive cover out of a dry bag and Gear tie.

After his injury heals and cast is removed he will find many other uses for these 2 products. Please check out my occupational therapy website and books for more clever adaptations to solve many types of challenges... http://www.RecyclingOT.com

Source: Do-It-Yourself Waterproof Cast Cover by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Friday, July 21, 2017

Strategies for Teaching Individuals with Autism or other Developmental Disabilities to Manipulate Fasteners

Children and adults with disabilities typically require a lot of  REPETITION  to learn concepts and motor skills and they need to practice these skills in a variety of situations and settings to generalize the skills.

The following videos demonstrate adaptations that help learn how to manipulate buttons, zippers and buckles. These strategies are effective because:
1) Materials are extra large to make learning easier
2) The manipulations do not need to occur while one is in a hurry to dress and go somewhere. The  learner can take his or her time and more easily see what the hands are doing. In addition, the learners may not view themselves as struggling to dress but rather learning  repetitive hand skill and this is good for self-esteem.
3) All of these activities develop skills to use hands together and eye-hand coordination. These skills may carryover into other areas in the person's life, even if they don't learn how to manipulate fasteners at first.
 It is easy to add slight variations and sensory stimulations such as:
  • Open containers with fasteners so that the object removed is desirable and fun, maybe a squishy ball, fidget spinner or motorized toy.
  • Add cognitive challenges such as color matching
  • Use materials that can be pushed or pulled for proprioceptive sensory stimulation
Take a look and share your ideas!  

Source: Fun Activities that Develop Buttoning Skills by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: How to Teach Zipping Skills by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hippotherapy Activities that Help Build Hand Skills

Hippotherapy is a specialized treatment area used by occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologists.  It involves utilizing the sensory-motor aspects of horses to achieve therapeutic goals such as improving sensory processing to tolerate touch and motor plan sequential movements. Although the horse functions as a therapy tool, it is obviously much more exciting than a swing or therapy ball, offering opportunities to develop an emotional bond, communication and social skills.

Please continue reading my guest post on Therapro's blog....http://blog.therapro.com/hippotherapy-activities-help-build-hand-skills/

Related videos:

Source: Sensory Pull Activity for Children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Source: Hippotherapy with Children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders by RecyclingOT on Rumble

For friends living in New England....

Join me at Therapro, Inc.  for a free CEU seminar on August 26, 2017 as I present: From Flapping to Function: How to Promote Hand Skills by Meeting a Child’s Sensory Needs










Friday, June 23, 2017

Sensory Processing Disorders: Pushing Objects Through Elastics to Increase Sensory Stimulation, Finger Strength and Body Awareness

Pushing objects into openings between elastics or other stretchy materials is a fun way to provide resistance, proprioceptive stimulation to muscles and joints in the hands and develop eye-hand coordination. I like to create variations of familiar activities and love when I discover new ways to add sensory stimulation to the activity.

Consider placing a motorized pen or toothbrush into the container for even more sensory stimulation!

As usual, I used readily available materials- containers and fabric. You can link up potholder loops or hair elastics to make a long, long, strand of elastics to weave through holes cut around the opening. Another option is to cut thin strips of stretchy fabric and do the same.

First cut to remove one end of the container. Then punch or cut holes around the rim.

If you use thin elastics you can push them through holes made with a heavy duty hole puncher . If you use thicker elastics cut around the holes to make larger.

 A first I punched holes around the rim of a Thick-it  square container with screw cover (shown in the video) because they are readily available at work.  I was planning to cut a flap on the bottom to pull open and empty the contents...... then I realized that if I turn the container upside down and make the activity on the BOTTOM, it is easy to unscrew the cover to empty out the contents.

This photo shows a large clear cheese ball container with large holes cut around the rim. I wove strips of stretchy fabric through holes and over the other strips until all felt secure and tight.

This activity is easy to grade by
1) starting out with smaller or thinner objects and increasing their size so that more force is used to push through the stretchy bands.
2) Make the openings bigger or easier to squeeze objects through
3) Experiment with different types of stretchy materials, some are easier to squeeze objects through than others.......

This activity works on different skills such as:
1) using hands together
2)strengthening fingers
3)Eye-hand coordination and motor planning
4)promoting engagement/ visual attention
5) Identifying/naming a variety of objects, shapes, weights, colors, sizes etc. while inserting them.  Visually impaired clients might particularly enjoy identifying objects before inserting them.

Objects with greater meaning or words written on them may be used with clients who have higher level cognitive abilities.

This activity is suitable for toddlers or older individuals with developmental or other cognitive disabilities who put objects in their mouths,  if you closely monitor to avoid choking risks.

Source: Sensory Processing Activity: Pushing Objects between Elastics on Container by RecyclingOT on Rumble

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sensory Stimulation and Building Hand Skills Using Buckles

I love to fill bags with sand and then stuff them into socks. If I want larger bags, I use sleeves from old sweaters and fleece works the best since it feels so great. The fastest way to do this is to cut the end of the sleeve and make a few knots. The bags shown in these photos have large buckles attached to the ends. You can attach the buckles by cutting into the sleeve and pushing part of the fabric through the buckle . Or you can cut a strip of fabric to push through the buckle and then tie onto the end of the sleeve. I put some pretty duct tape around the buckles to make them easier to grasp and see how to connect them.     This activity provides wonderful heavy pressure sensory stimulation while at the same time developing the functional fine-motor skill of opening and/or closing buckles.
These "buckle bags" can be used in many different ways with people with  different abilities and challenges:
1) Place the bags on a client's lap. She will enjoy the weight and be able to easily pick them up to place into a container positioned on the table or floor. 
2)   Make numerous sets of matching colors. In the photo you see that I used the sleeves from an old blue sweatshirt . Use sleeves or socks to make pairs to match. I  have placed one half of the sets along the walls so that my clients need to pick each one up to bring to a table to find its match and then buckle. My clients with autism and a lot of energy benefit from all the sensory input of moving heavy objects high and low and across the room. This can also be done in school or program hallways using a cart or backpack.
3)Some clients are only able to buckle the bags together. Buckling seems to be easier than unbuckling.

4) The man in the photo above  is easily agitated, so he is performing this task while rocking in his favorite chair in a quiet area of the room. He is staying in one spot, as he opens the buckles and then pushes them into the bucket opening. Pushing these in takes quite a bit of force. You can grade the amount of force required by making the opening smaller or larger .

5) Some individuals may want to carry these around, drape them around their shoulders or arms or just put them in containers without using the buckles, at all. As you can see these materials are very versatile!

The following video demonstrates an individual who is able to open the buckles. He is blind and enjoys the feeling of the weight on his body and using force to insert the bags.


I collected the buckles from old bags or clothing and also purchased a large quantity on amazon.

If your clients have difficulty positioning the buckles correctly, try adding nail polish so that they can see where to squeeze and match up the buckles before pushing them together.

Check out my book From Flapping to Function: A Parent's Guide to Autism and Hand Skills for many other strategies that help children and adults with autism to engage in functional activities that meet their sensory needs.


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