Right now, both of my girls, nearly 3 and 5, are enrolled in gymnastics. My DD1, 5yo, is very sensitive, has a lot of issues in social situations, poor gross motor planning skills (improving), and low muscle tone. My DD2, 3yo, is extremely sensory seeking. A monkey in a human body, pretty much.
I had initially enrolled them both in the classes because they each need some form of physical activity- 5yo needs an activity that puts her motor skills to the test as well as exercises her core muscles, and 3yo needs an activity to burn off all of that energy.
This session is almost over and it's time to re-enroll. My 3yo wants to continue, my 5yo doesn't. She says it's physically too difficult for her. She says it's too much. The other kids in her class are beyond her physically- and she can't keep up with them. On top of that, her coach has spoken to me and hinted that this may not be the activity for her. Essentially my 5yo isn't being safe- she can't safely perform things because of her poor motor planning. Example.. doing a backwards roll. She puts her hands up behind her ears as she's supposed to and rolls (attempts to, she can't make it around)- only instead of putting her hands on the floor to take pressure off of her neck, she slams her head into the mat/ground. I have unfortunately had to implement a hard and fast "no gymnastics in the house" rule because it is outright dangerous for her.
I asked DD what she wants to do instead of gymnastics (because she came to me and asked). She told me she wants to play basketball. She doesn't have her heart set on it, but it's something. I really don't think she can handle it. I know my kid! She can't handle interacting with other kids- which is why gymnastics was seemingly perfect- a solo sport with an adult instructor.
I would gladly put her in an art class, she loves crafting things, painting, music... but her OT wants her in a physical activity. I'm also supposed to take her to the park daily year round, which I can't manage with all three kids and no car. We don't get to the playground as often as we should.
So.. does anyone have an idea as to an activity I can put her in where she won't be completely overwhelmed by other kids, *but* can still do something physical?
What can we do at home? The girls have plenty of space and opportunity to run free and everything- we let them jump on the furniture and everything.. they have a hopper ball and yoga balls that they play on/with. What else is there to do to help DD get her physical exercise, especially during the winter?
I agree with swimming. It has made a HUGE difference in both my high tone and low tone DDs. My sensory seeker also is very calm after being immersed in water.
We go to Goldfish Swim school-- the heated pool also was essential for my sensory DD to tolerate the pool. They love it. There are 4 kids in their class (swim school limit for beginners) and they are each treated as individuals and moved at their own rate. No pressure, lots of fun.
A few things:
1. Your gymnastics instructor is poor if she/he cant adapt the class. Especially it is a beginning/starter class. Both my DD did gymnastics. Neither mastered a cartwheel and/or backward roll in the 6 mon they were enrolled (they were 5 at the time). It did not matter. It was an entry level class-- the instructor took where they were and adapted as needed (with soft foam blocks, physical assistance, etc). The goal for gymnastics is to have fun, be safe, and build fitness at that level. The instructor should be able to make the basic moves safe for beginners in the first level classes.
2. Do you have access to a kids yoga class? My two LOVED one they took through the schools. Again, low pressure, fun, and adaptable for any level. Is your older DD in school? Our schools offer lots of physical classes that are short and sweet (and cheap) for 'trying' a sport without committing to months and months. They are usually 6-8 weeks once a week and are starter classes. Common offerings are karate (this might be good for your older DD), soccer (also might be good), basketball, flag football, bowling, tumbling, yoga, and running. Also check community programs instead of 'schools'.
The yoga we took was through the schools and had 6 kids. We then again took it through a hospital community program and it had 7 kids. All our classes have been small (less than 10 kids) so far and it has been great. I always ask when I call to get info on # of kids.
Even call and ask about classes. We took dance and talked to the instructor. She placed my DDs in a class that would not be doing a recital and/or that also was full of young kiddos that may or may not follow along perfectly. For that instructor, (she was fabulous!) it was more about having fun and cultivating a love of dance than actual skill. It took some calling around to find a studio that felt like a good fit.
3. At home we do A LOT of: putting on music to dance, DVD dance/yoga kid videos from library, a small indoor trampoline, a scooter (we live in an apartment so we dont use daily, but try too!), Physical games like simon says, Hullabaloo (board game that is physical), an interactive play mat (jump/step on numbers to do math facts), a play tunnel and tent, a small balance beam, and out door play as much as we can. We used to have a therapudic swing, but at this location we are not allowed to hang it. =[
FWIW-we too, have the no gymnastics in the house rule since they both leaned on their necks to hold weight and that is a big no no!!
In the summer, we take a lot of walks!
Do you have a climbing gym near you? You might want to try that. Your DD will be able to go at her own pace, and the climbing is excellent for core strength. My DD (now 15) had mild low tone as a young child. She wasn't very athletic and couldn't run as fast as her peers, jump etc, but she totally took to climbing. She is now one of the highest ranked climbers in the state in her age group.
Swimming is out- water aversion. It would be more stressful than theraputic.
I like the idea of the indoor trampoline.. I could totally see her loving that. Rock climbing as well- there is a small climbing wall at her OT and she has mastered it. If there's one near us I'll contemplate making it a montly or biweekly thing.. we're pretty broke.
The gymnastics is through the park district- we pay a fraction of what you would in a private gym and they have all of the apparatus. The coaches in the entry-level class are terrible, really. If the kids prove themselves they get moved up into another level "beginners" class and the instructors there are better, the classes are smaller, and the instructors actually have a gymnastics background. The instructors in DDs class are basically anyone with a background in early childhood education...
I just hate that it's cold out and difficult to do as much as we would normally do in the summer.
We do A LOT of sports. DD1 has SPD, extremely sensory seeking. Once we finished OT with her, we moved onto sports, and they essentially replaced OT. She is almost 10 now and her body demands at least 2 hours of exercise a day outside of the 1.5 hours of recesses at school. The ones that were the most successful with her were swimming, gymnastics, dance, rock climbing, and when she got older, snowboarding.
DS1 is 3 and ASD, he has very poor motor skills. He does two hours of OT a week and 1 PT but we supplement again with sports, primarily dance and gymnastics x2 for both.
I hear you on the gymnastics, we have a similar set up, run through parks and rec, and yeah, the Beginner Girls 1 type of classes are often the worst instructors, the older and better they are, then you get the good coaches. I would suggest going to the head coach or calling and explaining her difficulties just to see if there isn't one day with one particular coach that might be a better fit. See if you could even trial a class with that teacher. We have one coach out of all of them that we stalk. DS1 goes only to her classes because he does function so much lower then the other kids and she is able to really get him. Maybe there are none, but maybe there would be even one.
Same with dance, we go to two different dance studios, DS1 does a tap/jazz and then a creative dance class, both teachers modify for him and they tell me that they love having him in there even though he can't do what the other kids can.
Rock climbing is an excellent suggestion. I never considered it before we stumbled upon a summer camp last summer at a local climbing gym and I wish we had discovered it years ago with DD1.
I agree with rock climbing, but for us it is cost prohibitive. Way out of our price range-- but we have been able to rock climb at community events for free several times on the county's portable rock wall.
Do you have a Little Gym or My Gym near you? They are both good places that are kid-only.
Yeah, but like I said- we're broke. The park district gymnastics class is about 75% cheaper per session and they still have all of the apparatus plus all of the "kid" equipment. It's a giant two-floor gymnastics center- I feel like the only thing lacking are the coaches. We go twice/wk, so the can get as "comfortable" with it as they possibly can.. DD1 is just not really loving it.
I guess what I'm looking for is a solo sport. I wish swimming was "in". I almost want to put her in a beginners class.. most of the kids in the beginning class are really young.. she does better with kids who are younger. But it would require me to get in the pool with her, and frankly, with two other kids, that's impossible :(
It seems that everything else that the park district offers is a "team sport" or a dance thing.. and DD did both yoga and irish dancing through the park this past summer. She *hated* it, and would beg not to go. She couldn't handle it, she couldn't keep up, and she knew it. She thought everyone else in the class was older than her because they could do more- but in reality they were other 4 and 5 and some 3 year olds. She's discouraged really easily.
Kid's yoga has been awesome for DS. We're fortunate that there's a free class available within 1/2 an hour of us.
Some gymnastics places around here have open gym times for preschool age kids. It's way cheaper than classes and more open-ended (but they still have staff to spot them).
If she's interested in basketball but you don't think she can handle the 'team' aspect, could you find somewhere for her to just shoot hoops? Indoor gym space, or even get her a hoop for home -- you can get the Little Tikes ones used pretty cheap, we found ours on the side of the road.
My DS is movement-resistant so we really struggle with this, particularly in the winter...
Here is the indoor trampoline we have. We got it as a gift when DDs were 3 and DD1 was practicing how to jump (per PT/OT), they still use it at 7.
We also had a set of the bouncing indoor balls like below-- GREAT for core muscles.
I am surprised that your DD did not like yoga. The yoga we went to was set up so that everyone could do it--- for kids it was more 'act like a snake' (lay on floor), stand like a warrior (with one or two feet- which ever is more comfortable), be a tree (with both feet on ground or one) and they did bunny breathing and a bit if self-meditation. There was no 'wrong' way to do the poses according to the instructor.
As for swimming, can you try a beginner class? My girls took one as 7 year old and they were only placed with other 6/7 yr olds (4 kids) and a heated pool, at a quiet time with only one other lesson....etc. It worked with DD1 that previously HATED pools.
Does your DD go to school? If so, maybe talk to the gym teacher and see what they suggest. Often they are aware of programs that are low cost, or better suited to different personalities. Or ask your OT- given that she knows your DD and wants her moving, she should know what would work (no groups).
She might want to try tai chi or aikido or karate or tae kwon do.
All of these activities are more focused on developing skills at your own pace and involve developing good physical strength. The kids socialize before and afterwards, but there's not much social about the classes themselves.
Also since she's a little different, it might be easier to be in a class that is mostly boys. She won't be comparing herself to same age/same gender peers.
All of the boys in my kids' karate class are sweet hearts. It really does teach respect and discipline.
If you're broke and have access to a YMCA, you might want to check out their classes and scholarship opportunities.
We also have our kids in drama classes at our arts center. (They also offer scholarships.)
You might also want to try to find her a kids' running group. Girls on the Run is a fabulous program. The program is specifically designed to build self-confidence and physical fitness.
You could also try Girl Scouts(Daisy scouts) or 4h or Campfire.
Our son was in a similar situation your daughter's age and running really brought along physical skills and gave him a chance to gradually become sociable. Just because the swimming is not a good idea right now, don't give up on it forever. My youngest child had a severe aversion to water (he was nearly three before we even managed a traditional bath) and at eight he loves swimming, now. Come back to it off and on gradually, with lots of chances to play with water even in the sink or throwing rocks in a lake. It may come later.
Many recreational programs have outdoor leadership, nature camps or the like with a mix of hiking, snowshoeing, fishing, etc. We had a lot of luck with those types of programs and 4-H. Scouts for us was a mixed bag, the social skills were tricky for my son to navigate, but it might depend on the leader. Open gym and other less structured activity programs also were tricky in our case because of less structure, but it depends on how much structure your kid needs.
Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!
Thank you all for the helpful suggestions!
This past week at OT her therapist told me that she doesn't think that DD is ready for the group-play therapy and that she'd like to continue seeing her for a few more months. DD has been getting very stressed out by OT lately.. they have been working on having her and another child interact, play simple games like connect 4 and candyland, etc. DD's OT wants to back off of that, even, because it was pushing DD's comfort zone farther than what would be considered theraputic.
DD has been off and on about gymnastics. She either "wants to keep doing it because it's fun" (said with hesitation in her voice), "wants to stop because it's too hard", "I don't like being with the kids", and "I want to try something else".
I personally don't think that the gymnastics class is beneficial to her because she gets stressed out by it, but she does like it.. I think. She does seem sort of lost *during* the class though. She doesn't do well with change.. I'm worried doing another activity would be too hard on her.. the adjustment and everything.
I don't want to pull her out completely because her little sister will still be in gymnastics (she's great at it and she's sensory seeking and really actually needs it). I feel like either keeping her in the gymnastics class *or* supplementing the class with another class would be okay. Maybe an art class or something soothing... I'll keep in mind the recommendations posted on this thread, though. She definitely needs more"active time" at home.
I am a little late in posting, but I also wanted to say, do not give up on swimming. My ds had an aversion at a young age and failed lessons through the city. We ended up getting a pass to the aquatics center that had a great kiddy pool and skipping lessons to just play in the pool. Sometimes play is better than structure. Maybe sometimes instead of going to the park, go to the pool to play. The other part about swimming I want to encourage- start saving money now to enroll in SwimAmerica lessons, if they are available in your area. They are awesome. Low coach to student ratios- ds was always in a group of 2. Lots of helpful feed back from coaches and able to move at a pace set by the student's ability.
Ds really disliked OT, but did not do it until he was 9 for handwriting mostly. Even though he did benefit some from it, we decided to have him do private lessons for his cello instead. It requires he use many of the same muscles and make similar right/left associations. Maybe in addition to physical activity or art class consider a music class. Maybe like a Kindermusik class, an orff class, drum circle, etc.
One final thought... ds participated in a study done by the kinesiology department at the local university. He was paid to go do activities (running, walking, ball bouncing). They were specifically looking for kids with disabilities for the study he was in. You could look to see if area universities/colleges are doing research within your dd's age group; we were initially referred by ds's dr. Payment was huge incentive for ds. Even if they are not doing research, they may still have programs for kids.
Your DD always sounds so much like my DS. He's 6 now and I'm always trying to find more ways for him to be active. We tried swimming a few years ago and he never really learned anything because of the water aversion. I have a 2 year old too so I have to take her to all his classes. I wish I could just take DS to a pool on my own to just play in the water. Hoping to try actual swim lessons again in another year or so. He takes a community gymnastics class too and I see him "drifting" but it's cheap and he doesn't mind it so we still go. He just completed 10 weeks of tennis and really liked it. At the beginner level there is no "playing" tennis with another child. You run and touch lines on the court, practice foot moves, learn the proper form for forehand and back hand and basically how to hit the ball. My son has low tone too so he could never hit the ball very hard but I was pleased to see his form and hand eye coordination improve. There was only 2 other kids in his class and they played fun games but all the interaction came from the coach so he was never stressed by the other kids. I'm bummed it's over now until spring. I found a winter session at an indoor court but it's too far and on a school day so it won't work out. My son also does taekwondo. He actually hates it (because it is very hard for him physically) but we are making him stick to it for now. Keep us posted!
Hi, I recommend a trampoline. Maybe an indoor one with a bar. There are small little tykes bounce houses for less than 200 that are small enough to fit in a house. I let my girls rollerblade and ride their scooters through our house at that age. Oh and a skateboard was in the house. They were always riding on it. Horseback riding uses all the muscles in the body, so that one is good, too. Lots of musical chairs or dancing works, too.
My son has ASD and loved hippotherapy. He did it once a week for three years and it was, bar none, the best therapy he ever received. Hippotherapy is not just riding a horse, his therapist did speech, OT, and sensory integration while he was on the horse and it's also great for building core muscles. Yes, it's pricey (about $30 a session), but we were able to receive a grant that covered it. Some insurances also cover it as an OT service.
List of IL hippotherapists: http://www.rush.edu/rumc/page-1239655964349.html