Suggestions for helping DD build her hand strength? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 01-08-2012, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is 6. She is hypotonic, and received Early Intervention services from 12 months up until she aged out at 3 years. Since then, she has not been in physical therapy, but we do make a point of keeping her physically active (swim, gymnastics, dance, family walks and jogs, etc.).

 

Her gross motor strength has definitely improved over the years. People not attuned to such things would never notice she is hypotonic, though it's still obvious to me (she could never keep up in a game of tag with her peers, for example).

 

Annnnyway. She never had any OT work and now I'm starting to think she could really use it. And I wondered if anyone might give me tips to start doing this at home. Obviously I'm not a therapist but if I started working on her with some things I think I could decide whether this thing is bigger than I can handle, or if I can just help her along myself.

 

I think this example will sum it up: she cannot staple. Her hands are not strong enough to push it that last amount for the staple to go through. Sometimes she might get the staple through but never be able to push it hard enough that the staple bends and closes.

 

So, I'm thinking to myself: I've got to work with her on this. But I'm not sure where to start. Making her staple things is not the answer since she's just not there yet. What would work her hands but not as hard as a stapler?

 

BTW she is able to hold a pen just fine, and her handwriting is fine. Writing is tiring to her, but it's hard for me to judge that compared with her peers - I get the idea it's tiring for most first graders.


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#2 of 9 Old 01-08-2012, 08:48 AM
 
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As you probably know, she'll benefit from working on both strength and endurance - the force she uses and how quickly she tires. Some activities that come to mind are: 

 

Playdough

Sculpting clay

Kneading bread dough 

Playing a musical instrument (piano, guitar etc.) 

Stitching (easy stitch cards to tougher fabrics) 

 

I think core strength and endurance are really important and often neglected while people try to improve fine motor function, but it sounds like you're already well aware about the need to maintain her core stability. 

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#3 of 9 Old 01-09-2012, 12:06 AM
 
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Plastercineand my DDs current favorite fime are both nice to work with ans there are lots of ideas online if you are struggling to decide what to make,

 

Other things we've done to work on fine motor skills though not nesessarily strength

pipe clearners, the kids make all kinds of things, espeically if you add a few beads too

Lots of cutting with scissors on different materials, card, fabric, paper etc

threading beads, or O shaped cereal

 

 

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#4 of 9 Old 01-09-2012, 08:23 AM
 
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Do you have a rock climbing gym nearby? My daughter has loved climbing since age five, and it is amazing for hand strength! Some nice, simple bouldering (climbing close to the ground, side to side rather than up and down with a harness) might be fun for her as well as buliling hand and body strength.
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#5 of 9 Old 01-09-2012, 10:22 AM
 
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laohaire with first graders it isnt that they find writing tiring. they find it frustrating and boring. i think there's a difference there.

 

i have nothing to add what others have already suggested.

 

but i thought - have you ever made tortillas? homemade? they are really easy to make and really fun to experiment with. i know nutritous food is important to you (and you can make great tortillas both with wheat or rice flour in case of food sensitivities or allergies). if you think you can master that skill or be willing to be adventurous kneading dough is a great exercise. it is something dd greatly enjoys . or even bake bread (i've never baked so i dont know how much of that requires kneading). once you get the hang of it its really super fast to make. i make and keep dough for about a week, usually 3 days. 


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#6 of 9 Old 01-09-2012, 12:39 PM
 
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Another thought - origami. Some of the paper-folding is simple, other patterns are pretty difficult. The library is often a good source for books. 

 

You may also want to search Montessori sites for pre-writing activities. Typical Montessori casa (pre-elementary) programs offer activities like using tongs to pick up peas, silver or brass polishing, finger knitting and other yarn crafts, and lace cards to promote hand strength and dexterity before moving on to pencil and paper work. 

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#7 of 9 Old 01-09-2012, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I like the ideas, thanks!

 

DD is right now making a potholder with a little weaving loom. This is good because she has to pull and stretch the loops.

 

I Googled rock walls around here, and there's one a ways from here, but it seems to be geared toward adults and teens, not children. One playground around here has a bit of a wall, though it's not very challenging. However, it made me think I should take her there more often, and also look for other types of climbing equipment.

 

Playdough is something she already does (and quite well! I never made such cool stuff when I was a kid). Her aunt gave her modelling clay for Christmas, and that is denser, as I remember. I'll have to break that out soon and have her work with that.

 

I am gluten-sensitive so have quit baking pies (yeah. for all of 2 weeks so far), but she used to help me with the dough sometimes. While we already have play-dough, it wouldn't be too hard for me to give her a bit of real dough every now and then, for the novelty, and let her use my rolling pin.


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#8 of 9 Old 01-10-2012, 10:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by laohaire View Post



I Googled rock walls around here, and there's one a ways from here, but it seems to be geared toward adults and teens, not children. One playground around here has a bit of a wall, though it's not very challenging. However, it made me think I should take her there more often, and also look for other types of climbing equipment.

Often times a rock climbing venue won't advertize children's programming, but kids are welcome. With the exception of birthday parties my local gym's website doesn't say anything about kids. We usually go during non-peak hours: avoiding the lunch rush and the 5pm-7pm after-work rush. often during the day it is dead in there and they are happy to see us! No need to find special "kid's routes" on the wall: just pick a spot with nice big and and foot holds, stay close to spot your kiddo, and let them scramble away!
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#9 of 9 Old 01-10-2012, 06:35 PM
 
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Invest in some theraputty (stronger than playdough) or use modeling clay and hide a coin inside for her to find. Or graduate to sculpy or another type of stiff oven bake clay -- my son made fantastic play food and there are idea books full of fun things to make. 

 

 

There are decorative hole punches and paper embossers that take less effort than a stapler and have fun results. Also ink stamps are fun and require some pressure.

 

We also like wiki sticks (waxed sticks to bend and twist into designs) as they are also portable and no mess.

 

Spring clothes pins are also good to try.

 

Punch balloons.

 

Wringing out washcloths in the bath.

 

Moon sand -- but I'd only recommend that outside!

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