As with many parents of a child with autism, my husband and I started noticing our child wasn’t like other children very early. For example, I had never seen a toddler so great at sorting! Watching him line up his blocks in order by shape, size, and color made me so proud! I thought he was just a gifted little thing with a mild, to moderate, case of OCD. When our pediatrician recommended occupational therapy for his “oral sensory processing disorder”, I really wasn’t sure what that was going to do for him. I was clueless and didn’t really know what to expect.
For the first few weeks they were working with his find motor skills. And because I was able to sit and observe his sessions, I made note of the educational toys they were using and tried to incorporate as much as I could into our day to day. He improved his find motor skills so quickly they were able to move forward with other aspects of his therapy much sooner than originally scheduled. Because our little ones often have so many things OT wants to help them work through, I thought I would share a few of the toys we used to help our son move forward (to the good stuff) faster.
Sitting Still & Balance:
*Yes, I realize this really has nothing to do with fine motor skills, however, if they aren’t sitting still or staying with you, you’ll never get to the good stuff!
After the first session his therapist was looking for ways to encourage him to stay in the same spot! On her second trip, she brought the Red Horse Hopper with her. While he loved it, I’m not sure if it accomplished all that she intended for it to. She mostly used it to keep him with her while she transitioned between activities (can we say Sensory Seeker? Ha! Yes, he is certainly that! Do you have one too?)
During the session he was asked to sit on the Horse without jumping. Once he accomplished each task she allowed him to jump while she gathered what she needed for the next activity. I thought this was a great tool to keep ADD/ADHD kids in the same area with you during learning. However, it may take more than one try for them to understand the rules of when they are allowed to jump.
Note: Before she left she commented on his balance, and how she was also using the horse to see if it was something they needed to work on.
During each session they have worked with him using a variety of lacing beads. His favorite are a automobile set because he can pretend to “drive” the vehicle onto the string and make them “zoom” down!
They use a traditional set to have him sort colors, shapes, and repeat patterns. The set below comes with activity cards to help you utilize the toys at home. If I had to choose between the two sets, I would purchase this one first, and move toward an interest-specific set for those who are struggling. (Actually, I have this set and use it in our homeschooling with all of my little ones.)
Please note that this IS a chocking hazard for little ones who still like to place objects in their mouth.
Lacing dinosaurs is another lacing set he loves. His therapist has a foam mat that the dinosaurs can stand inside of too, but I can’t find a picture of that one for you.
Getting a little off topic, did you know you can wet them and they will stick to the bathtub wall? We were staying at our teacher friend’s house this summer and she had a foam bath toy set; I couldn’t believe I had never thought of that before – Genius!
Grasping & All Sorts of Things!
His therapist raved about this one! She used the color sorting base, but she said she enjoys how many options you have to utilize this toy with little ones. For my guy, she had him using the pincher to help with his grasping technique. He picked-up each fruit with the pincher and placed them in the appropriate place in the pie. He LOVED this activity!
Basic Skills Board:
Last week was his first attempt at buttons, snaps, zippers, and buckles. He found it frustrating but was satisfied when he mastered one. Being a puzzle too made it a little difficult for him. We held each piece in place while he mastered each technique and then removed it to reveal the picture below.
I think the most versatile toy for him was the Therapy Putty she uses. At first we used it for sensory sensitivities, but she later began using it for hand strengthening and cutting with scissors. She also hides beads and small objects inside of it to encourage him to touch it and remove them. (It is a mini sensory bin all it’s own!)
The Glove: She flattens the putty and places it over his fist like a glove. Once applied, he is to break the glove by opening his fist and busting through the putty.
Cutting: She eases him into holding the putty by having him roll the putty into a string that can be cut. Once it is thin enough she allows him to cut pieces away. Most recently she had him flatten the putty and cut it like paper. He thought this was amazing and was very happy with his accomplishment!
The therapy putty comes in soft, medium, and firm resistance.
What Fine Motor Skills Toys Do You Use At Home?