Handwriting games/vestibular work/OT in schools

So I should be doing other things, but OT blogging is therapeutic, man. Takes everything out of my brain. Bet Cheryl doesn’t appreciate that right now seeing as how I still owe her my AOTA handout…whoopsie doodles!! I’ll do that in a second. I’m writing this in bed with a purring cat on my chest…I’m looking over him. He can’t seem to be anywhere else but attached to my upper extremities in some manner.

Looks like conference is going to be AWESOME and I can’t wait for Saturday morning’s presentation on social media. I hope any and all social media users/blog readers will come join us! And if you have any desire to meet up…I’m mostly around kinda late Friday night, Saturday all day, and some of Sunday morning…e-mail me at karen.dobyns,    at,    gmail.com, if you want to find a meeting spot. But I’m way cooler online just for the record. Just ask my OT classmates. AHAHAHAA

Anyway, remember last week’s post about the little boy with all the red blood writing because of the monsters eating the princess letters? It worked like a charm this week too, although with less focus on the blood. This time I had the red pen and circled the princess letters, and the main focus was him stealing all my castle guards. Basically I drew a very quick box “castle”, threw all the guards in it, and then with each princess letter he drew & monster ate, one of my guards got taken away to his dungeon. Fun times. Next week I want to work on some of his class worksheets using princess letters. I might make a mini castle guard “grid” to make it more of a real game, with dice and everything…IE that alphabet game I made on corkboard? [A real blogger would go find that post and link it….I suck]…anyway, I might play that alphabet corkboard game with dice and pushpin game pieces, but put one guard on each letter grid…oh I dunno. Then it incorporates cupping the dice, counting, etc. Just pondering out loud here. But I can see a princess/monster/handwriting board game working well. 🙂 ::stares intently at Tonya at TherapyFunZone.com:::

I also used the cardgame BLINK for the first time which I recommend for visual processing, and I tried to use the weird juggling thing Diavalo or whatever, where you have like, a double-sided goblet on a string between sticks, but it was too hard even for me! Lol I need to order some more “devil sticks”, the kids love them and mine kinda um, melted a little in the sun. Got out of shape. Google devil sticks or flower sticks or zebra sticks and see what I mean.

One little boy I work with had done a poor job, handwriting wise, on his work sheet for class….I was like….did a troll write this or did you?!! He quickly realized the correct answer was “troll” and then we worked on re-doing the worksheet, letter by letter, using the “princess letters” again as he too wanted his monster to eat them, since the other kid had talked about it. Writing is really hard for this kid so even though his letters were not TECHNICALLY that great, they were princess letters if they were better than what he normally manages!

We also played a variant of the tweezers/figurines game by having him pick up tiny figures with the tweezers, then have to place them in a cup I was holding at various heights/angles, forcing him to track me and also extend his arm, etc. We decided the cup was my HOUSE and that he was putting all those figurines (which happened to be bugs) in my house, yikes! Gross! 🙂

Oh…and I try to give everything a purpose, and label everything Mr X….ie, if my kid is trying to drop a snake, using tweezers, into my cup, and the snake falls to the ground, I say “Wow Mr Snake, how dare you try to run away.” Or if a monster tumbles down/over because it wasn’t stable, I’ll be like DID YOU SEE THAT? MR MONSTER WAS BEING SO INAPPROPRIATE! HE WAS TRYING TO STAND ON HIS HEAD! Etc. I especially try to do this with my children with autism who are quite literal…turn everything into mini dramas and stories. 🙂

One of my schools has a hammock swing outside the learning center which is nice – interesting to see different kids and their vestibular preferences. Some beg for faster faster more more, others are very cautious. I am NOT glad as a general rule that I have struggled with anxiety all my life, but I do think it makes me a better occupational therapist for the kids who are cautious/scared because I TOTALLY get it. For one little boy today, even gentle spinning is super scary, so we go twist by twist….”Okay that was 3 twists…ready for another?” Etc…Vestibular input can be very powerful and it is important to be able to tell when a child has gotten too much or is overloading, as it can cause serious shock to the nervous system. It requires constant checking in, and definitely PATIENCE too. I know if I was more “neurotypical” I’d have a hard time understanding what the big deal was. But I’m not a big fan of vestibular input either, so I totalllly get him. 🙂 So in other words…sometimes the things that suck the most about us or cause us the most grief…ultimately help us in some ways. As Laura Story says in her song Blessings….what if the trials of this life…are mercies in disguise. Or something like that. :)PS, school system OT doesn’t typically have any kind of vestibular equpiment – but this school has a lot of children who are calmed down by the swing. So I sometimes use it for a few minutes to change the child’s engine level, or to add a vestibular component to a task, but I’m not doing clinic model OT.

Okay my rambling is done. I should go work on that handout.

Post coming up soon on letter reversals and how to deal with them! 🙂

Apr 24, 2012 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1