Starfish Therapies

August 1, 2016

Developmental Playgroup – Self-Help (Part 1)

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 5:33 pm
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This past week we looked at Self-Help skills during our developmental playgroups.  Here is a brief overview of some of the things discussed.  We will provide more detail in coming weeks!

Birth- 4 months:

  • Express the need for food by crying
  • Signal the need for diaper changes
  • Express pleasure when placed in warm water (bathing)
  • Will eventually begin to help by using their own hands to guide the nipple

4-8 months:

  • Show interest in feeding activities
  • Can pull off their own socks
  • Can velcro closures on clothing

8-12 months:

  • Begin to hold their own cup and drink
  • Begin to eat finger foods
  • Begin to pull off soiled or wet diaper
  • Begin to sleep until 6 or 8 am.

12-24 months:

  • Use a spoon to some degree to feed themselves
  • Have good control of a cup
  • Begin to try and wash themselves
  • Begin to help with dressing
  • By age 2 they may begin to gain control of bowels and bladder

24-36 months:

  • Increasingly able to feed self and use cup/glass
  • Can generally undress themselves
  • Show signs of being ready for toilet training

Activities/ Things to remember when teaching or promoting self help skills:

  • Decreasing amount of assistance given during activities (ie less assistance with silverware during mealtimes)
  • Establish a routine/create a daily schedule
  • Focus on the learning instead of the length of time to finish the task
  • Rewards are best when naturally occurring in the environment


7 Self-Care Milestones to Look Forward To:

As the sense of self increases, so will your child’s achievements in self-care. He’ll naturally develop and fine-tune his motor skills over the next three years to master:

  1. Using a fork and spoon: Some toddlers start wanting to use utensils as early as 13 months, and most children have figured out this all-important skill by 17 or 18 months. By age 4, your child will probably be able to hold utensils like an adult and be ready to learn table manners.
  2. Undressing: While the ability to take his own clothes off may lead to lots of naked-toddler chase sessions, it’s a key accomplishment. Most children learn to do it sometime between 13 and 24 months.
  3. Toothbrushing: Your child may start wanting to help with this task as early as 16 months, but probably won’t be able to handle a toothbrush skillfully until sometime between her third and fourth birthdays. Even then, dentists say, kids can’t do a thorough job on their teeth until much later.
    • Pediatric dentists recommend that parents do a thorough brushing of their kids’ teeth every night until school age or later. As a compromise, if your child is eager to brush, let her do the morning brushing herself. Or let her brush first, and then you finish up.
  4. Washing and drying hands: This skill develops at 24 months or so and is something kids should learn before or at the same time as using the toilet – you don’t want your child spreading germs.
  5. Getting dressed: Your little one may be able to put on loose clothing as early as 24 months, but he’ll need a few more months before being able to manage a T-shirt, and another year or two after that before he’ll really be able to get dressed all by himself. Also at 24 months, he’ll probably be able to pull off his shoes.
  6. Using the toilet: Most kids aren’t physically ready to start toilet training until they’re at least 18 to 24 months old. Two key signs of readiness for a child include being able to pull her pants up and down by herself and knowing when she has to go before it happens.
  7. Preparing breakfast: Toddlers as young as 3 may be able to get themselves a bowl of cereal when they’re hungry, and most kids can do it by the time they’re 4 1/2. If your child wants to give this a whirl, make it easy by leaving kid-size containers of cereal and milk in the cupboard and fridge.



May 24, 2012

The Benefits of PB&J

Okay, so it doesn’t have to be PB&J (aka peanut butter and jelly) sandwiches but that’s the example I’m going to use because that’s the example my OT gave me, and because its what I lived on as a kid (it was a sad day when my mom would mix up my strawberry jelly and my brother’s grape jelly).  I love this idea because I think there are things that are beneficial for fine and gross motor here but also it works on self help skills as well.

I know in the beginning have a kiddo make their own lunch is probably a time consuming thing that will make more mess and involve more work for you.  But, if you think of it as therapeutic and learning time then the extra time may be worth it!

Here are a few of the benefits of making a PB&J sandwich:

  • First, there is planning and sequencing involved such as what needs to happen first, what do I need to have to make it and figuring out the steps that go with it.  You could make a picture diagram for the kiddo that can understand and have them try to follow the directions.  Or even better, have a velcro board with the steps lying in front and the kiddo gets to organize the steps on the velcro board and then see how they did when they try to follow the directions in the order they laid out. (This sounds like such a better plan then when I used to have to write instructions for assignments in grade school on how to do something)
  • Second, they get to work on opening the jars which involves grip strength, motor planning, and bilateral coordination.  The child needs to be able to stabilize the jar with their helper hand, grip the lid with their other hand and motor plan how to turn the lid while stabilizing the jar.
  • Third, there is removing the peanut butter and or jelly from the jar and transferring it to the bread.  This involves hand-eye coordination, some upper extremity strength (especially for the peanut butter), bilateral coordination for using a helper hand.  They also get to work on using some isolated wrist/forearm movements.  If they are really good at this you can challenge them on this step and the next step to use their opposite hand.
  • Fourth, when they are spreading the ingredients on the bread it takes hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination with the helper hand stabilizing while the other hand coordinates spreading the peanut butter and/or jelly.
  • Fifth, they get to practice hand-eye coordination while putting the two slices of bread together!

You can make the activity even more fun by using cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the bread which will add to the upper extremity strength required.

Enough time spent practicing this self-help skill and your kiddo can be a full time helper!!

What other ideas have you tried?

January 25, 2012

Marble Painting – More Than Just a Cool Piece of Art

Ever since I discovered Pinterest I have been bombarding my OT’s at work with ideas that look really fun and purposeful.  The idea I was the most excited about was the marble painting from Play Based Learning, so when one of the OT’s decided to try out this activity for a kiddo to encourage bilateral hand use because he doesn’t like to use 2 hands I was so excited to hear about it and see the final result!  Luckily it was a success as you can see from his finished art work.  And, even better the OT was able to realize other great skills this activity provided the opportunity to practice.  I thought I would share them:

  • It worked on visual motor because he was tracking the marble as he moved it about the paper
  • It worked on his ability to use a utensil because he was so excited to spoon the marble out of the paint onto the paper that he was actually willing to use a spoon – something that was not the norm
  • It worked on grading movement because if he moved the bin to fast or made too large a movement the marble came flying out
  • It also worked on variable movement because the tendency was for the child to want to move the box back and forth in one directional plane but then all he would get is a line on his paper.  This activity allowed them to work on diagonal and horizontal and vertical and circular motions to name a few.

Overall though, the best part was that the kiddo loved doing the activity and couldn’t wait to show his parents and didn’t want to let go of the project once it was complete!

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