Thursday, November 6, 2014

Using Those Pincher Fingers

Pincher Skills

I talked about getting Wesley to use his right arm (delayed side) more, but during his last OT evaluation a few months ago I realized we were completely failing to pay attention to his good arm and the skills he needs there, things like pincher skills, pointing, coloring, manipulating things, and more. To keep from making this post ridiculously long, I'll break down each of these starting with pincher skills. Luckily there are more resources out there for these types of activity, so I've done lots of research and solicited ideas from everyone I could find and here's what we've tried.

We've been working on pincher skills for a WHILE now. Wes has thumb/index finger pincher skills, but I've learned there's more to it than that. It's not enough to just pinch something to pick it up, it has to be primarily your index finger and thumb for one. Wes likes to use a combination of his index finger and/or his middle finger to pinch things. Not sure why (and to be honest he's actually pretty good with either), but at the end of the day you're supposed to use your index finger and thumb for most or all pincher activities. So, I did research that putting a sock on their hands with a hole for the thumb and index finger can block the rest of their fingers and force them to use the index finger. I tried this and I think it does work, but Wes (ironically enough) LOVES to chew on anything cloth and I couldn't get him to take his hand out of his mouth.

The number one activity that has seemed to work and still entertains him is the ice cube tray and bottle activity. I dried out a water bottle and filled it with dried beans of all sizes, glass rocks, pom-poms, dice, and straws, pipe cleaners, and wooden skewers all cut into different lengths. Really anything that you can fit in the bottle works!

I shake it and get him all excited, then I empty out the small items into the ice cube tray and the bigger sticks and straws I set aside for the end. He has to use his index finger and thumb to get the items out of the ice cube tray (it's so small he can't use anything else) and then again to put the items back into the bottle, which I shake as soon as he does so he is rewarded and knows he got it in there. He likes to put the items on the table and play with each for a minute sometimes before he puts it in the bottle, but that helps too because he has to pick the item back up off the table with his pinchers (the trick is to try and get him to use his pinchers instead of his whole hand... still working on that). Once everything is out of the ice cube tray, I bring back the sticks and straws and lay them out on the table. Again he has to use his pincher fingers to pick these up because the whole hand scoop is really ineffective for tiny sticks. He has to put each of those in the bottle as well (this helps with coloring skills too, will post about that another time) and finally I let him put the lid on the bottle and we're done!


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