Starfish Therapies

February 15, 2012

DIY Lycra Swing


We have a lycra swing at our clinic and we love it!  We are lucky enough to have a structure that we can hang our swing on so we can change the configuration depending on the needs of the kiddo.

This is how we made our own:

What you need:  Lycra, boating rope (or some other strong rope), 4 carabiners, secure hooks to hang the swing from

First we bought Lycra from a fabric store.  I believe the dimensions were about 6 yards by 3 yards however you can make it as big or as small as you would like (you will be tying knots at the corners and it will take up some of the fabric).  Make sure the fabric is large enough because you will be folding it in half.  If you are going to be using it for larger kids you may want to triple it to provide more resistance to stretch.

Second tie a knot at each corner.

Now you will need to work with the rope.

Cut 4 pieces of rope approximately 10 inches long and fold in half and tie an overhand knot in the ends to make a loop.

Now you are ready to put it all together.  One rope loop goes with each knot.  You want to secure the rope to the lycra just under the lycra knot (so the corner is above the rope).  You are going to wrap the loop around under the knot and feed one end through the other and then pull it tight (I know it sounds confusing but hopefully this picture helps)

Lastly you attach a carabiner to each rope and you are ready to hang the swing from a sturdy surface and have fun!

We will follow up with ideas for how and why to use a lycra swing in another post!

February 1, 2012

DIY Weighted Lap Bag


I have a feeling I’ll be posting more things from now on that the OT’s I work with come up with because they get to do make all the fun things!  Also they like to tell me about the things they make and/or do so that I can write about them.  This is a project that was started a year ago, got lost in piles along the way, and rediscovered and completed this past weekend.

Many kids do better when they get the sensory input provided by a weighted object.  Often this can look like a weighted vest or a weighted blanket.  An easy way to make your own is to buy a stuffingless toy for a dog and take the squeaker out (or a stuffed one and take the stuffing and squeaker out).  Then fill it with aquarium rocks, beans, rice, etc to provide the weight.  Sew up the end and voila you have your own sensory tool.

Weighted lap bags can provide isolated proprioceptive input for kiddos who have trouble sitting still.  You can use it on their laps when they are sitting at their desk, at the table for eating or even when they are sitting on the floor for circle time.  It can also provide input in other areas such as draped over the shoulders.  However if you have a kiddo that has challenges with posture, this is not a good recommendation for them as it can enhance their postural difficulties.  Another use is it can be used  as a transitional item for kids. It gives them some weight to hold onto when going from place to place and can help to ground them during transitions which can be challenging for some kiddos.

Since it was newly completed it was exciting to use it with some of the kiddos during therapy that benefit from the input this tool can provide.  One of the cool side benefits was that it provides great tactile input as well.  One of the kiddos sat petting the stuffed animal while it sat on his lap and he did his work.  He was able to access both the weighted/proprioceptive input as well as the tactile input he needed in order to organize himself so that he could effectively work.

It make take a little playing with to get the correct weight and flexibility for your kiddo.  The more beans, rice or rocks you add to the body, the heavier and less flexible it becomes.

I hope you have as much fun as we did creating your weighted, furry friends!

January 3, 2011

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2010

Its the end of the year and its time for my Top 10 Blog Posts of 2010.  Based on readership these were the posts that got the most views this past year.  If you want to compare to last year check out Top 10 Blog Posts of 2009!

10.  Repetition and the Beauty of ‘Redo’

9.  Standing Straight and Tall

8.  Climbing:  The Catch-22

7.  Having a Ball With Core Muscle Strength

6.  Why is W-Sitting a Four Letter Word?

5. Buns of Steel

4. Strategies for Tummy Time

3.  Do Video Games Promote of Hinder Child Development?

2.  Glossary of Sitting

1.  Sensory Exploration in Today’s Society

There you have it, the Top 10 for 2010!  If you have any ideas for 2011 please share them, I always look forward to ideas for new posts!  Happy Holiday Season to everyone!

January 4, 2010

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2009

I always loved David Letterman’s Top 10 lists so I decided to create my own for the Top 10 Blog Posts in 2009. This is based on the number of times they were viewed.

10. Early Intervention and Budget Cuts in California

9.  Bike Riding

8.  Having a Ball with Core Muscle Strength

7.  Fun Ideas For Sensory Exploration

6.  Why is W-sitting a Four Letter Word?

5.  How Resilient is Your Child?

4.  Buns of Steel

3.  Why is w-sitting Being Promoted in Advertising?

2.  Do Video Games Promote or Hinder Child Development?

1.  Sensory Exploration in Today’s Society

I’m looking forward to see what posts will be top for 2010!  Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

October 4, 2009

Fun Ideas For Sensory Exploration


Here are some ideas you can use with your kids for sensory play and sensorimotor exploration and development.

Some great ideas from Your Therapy Source: Indoor Ladder Path, Creative Painting Activity, and Hiking.

Let Kids Play offers some great toy ideas for sensory exploration.

These Imagination Playgrounds by Kaboom are based on ‘free play’ and look like tons of fun while providing your child with a structured way to get input.

Kids and Kaboodle offers sensory exploration ideas out of ‘The Out of Sync Child Has Fun‘.

Mommy Poppins has 99 Sensory Activities for any child!

Playgrounds in general are a great source for sensory input and exploration.  Sand provides tactile input and is great for bare hands and feet to explore.  In addition walking across the sand challenges balance reactions.  Swings and merry-go-rounds were mentioned in ‘Sensory Exploration in Today’s Society‘ and slides are always a great go to.  Monkey bars work on upper extremity and core strength as well as motor planning and coordination.  In addition, just running around the playground and exploring while interacting with other children allows your child the opportunity to work on figuring things out for themselves.

Obstacle courses are another one of my favorites.  You can put whatever you want into the course and make it as long or as short as you want.  And, you can vary it every time you make it so your kids never get bored.  Have them help you put it together and then have races through it.  You may have to make it shorter initially if your child has a hard time sequencing a lot of  tasks.  They can be indoors or outdoors as well which completely changes the type of activities that you can do.  Basically you are limited by your imagination!

What are your ideas for sensory exploration?

September 28, 2009

Sensory Exploration in Today’s Society


I was recently at the house of one of my kiddos and her younger siblings were jumping all over the couch, cushions were flying and they were having a grand old time.  Her mom looked at me and said, now her OT would say that the kids were providing themselves with sensory regulation and it was good for them, I just think they are destroying my furniture!

This got me thinking about society and development today.  Whenever I am at a school I can’t help but check out their play structures and play yard.  I almost never see swing sets anymore, they’ve become a safety risk.  Same for merry go rounds.  They are a rare commodity these days on playgrounds.  I remember some of my favorite memories of growing up are playing on the playground.  We used to see who could swing the highest and then jump the furthest off the swing.  We would run around the merry go round and then hop on to see who could get it to spin the longest.  These were times of exploration for me and my friends.  We didn’t realize it at the time, we just knew we were having fun.  By removing the risk for traumatic injury are we depriving our children of the ability to stimulate their sensory systems so they begin to learn how to regulate themselves, explore their environment and learn boundaries both physically and behaviorally?

We are in a time where there is a growing number of children with sensory integration dysfunction.  This leads to the question is it being diagnosed more or is the occurrence actually rising?  If the occurrence is rising, is it because we have created it with our increase in safety consciousness?

Some other areas that we may be depriving our children of sensory exploration are ball pits and sand boxes.  Especially in a public place, cleanliness and germs become the issue.  With meal time, do we let our kids play with their food or eat with their hands?  What about using jello, or play dough or finger paints.  These textures can be good for hands and feet!  I understand we want our kids to know behavior boundaries but maybe allow certain times for your kids to engage in this exploring behavior.

For more information on Sensory Integration Dysfunction check out The Out of Sync Child and for sensory exploration ideas check out The Out of Sync Child Has Fun.  Another possibility is the use of a sensory exploration box, although this doesn’t seem nearly as much fun as the playground and getting messy!  Check out Sensory Exploration and Early Play Skills as well as toys for tactile sensory exploration.

As you can see from the rambling nature of this post, my mind has many more tangents it can explore based on some of the questions I’ve brought up.  I don’t have the answers, in fact I think I just have more questions around these topics I’ve broached.  What are your thoughts with regards to children’s sensory development in this day and age?

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