May 30, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Q&A With The Therapy Place

What are some of the benefits of having my child take therapy in the summertime? And can you share some summer friendly occupational therapy activities to encourage our kids to stay active over vacation?

Leah Gross (OTR/L Founder and Director of Occupational Therapy at The Therapy Place):

Taking your child for therapy in the summer is a great option to explore. Often during the school year parents don’t want their kids pulled out of the classroom, or feel that the child is already too overstimulated during the day. Many parents feel that it’s hard for children to juggle therapy sessions while also keeping up with school work. In the summertime, OT and speech therapy are done in a uniquely playful atmosphere where the child is able to grow outside the classroom setting.

During the academic year, therapy is recommended two times a week; kids have rigorous schedules and too many sessions a week are taxing on a child. However, in the summer, we recommend bringing a child in for therapy four times a week over a two- to three-month period. If a parent has a specific goal that they want their child to tackle—be it a particular sensory, reading, gross-motor or fine-motor issue, the summertime can yield incredible results. At The Therapy Place schedules are flexible and can be conveniently arranged back-to-back for a child who might be struggling in OT and speech.

Some of my favorite activities for those long summer afternoons:

Sensory Input:

Riding bikes: If a child does this for an extended period of time it works bilateral coordination as well as core strengthening.

Swinging: Any type of swinging motion is great!

Sensory Box: Create a toy box with various textures and have your child reach in and feel around to guess what they are touching.

Proprioceptive Input:

Jumping rope

Wheelbarrow walk

Raking leaves

Exercising balls: Roll around to help activate core muscles.

Sports: Volleyball, basketball, soccer are a few good options.

Horseback riding

Vestibular Input:

Riding a scooter board in various positions.

Roller skating  around the backyard.

Running

Dancing

Tactile Input:

Blowing bubbles: Works core/oral motor.

Finger painting

Create dried rice and bean tables.

Building with hammers and nails.

Beading bracelets with cut-up straws.

Shira (Speech Therapist at The Therapy Place):

When doing therapy, the body is making changes to its neurological and motor systems. These systems are accustomed to doing things a certain way. Fortunately, the brain is very permeable and with enough input, changes can be made (neuroplasticity). The gains of doing intensive therapy are particularly strong because the neural pathways are changing every single day rather than falling into old patterns between therapy sessions.

Summer Activities to reinforce OT skills:

Swimming is an amazing way to help children with body awareness, coordination, strength and overall confidence in their motor skills. Sign up for swimming lessons to gain full impact!

Playdoh – works hand strength. Challenge your child to form tiny balls of playdough or squish large chunks with one hand.

Animal walks—Have your child walk like a bear, crab, frog, or snake. Make it even more fun with incentives, races, or make-believe.

Playgrounds are a great place to reinforce lots of upper and lower body strength as well as coordination. Work with your child to encourage different skills on the playground such as climbing up and down the steps with alternating feet (rather than two feet on each step), hanging from the monkey bars without falling, etc.

Spray bottles and water squirting—Fill empty spray bottles with water and let your child develop hand skills as they spray around the yard.

Sand—Sand is a great way to give the body full sensory input whether in a sandbox or at the beach. You can also encourage arm and hand strength by using shovels and buckets.

Zoom ball—this is a great indoor or outdoor activity that you can play to help develop hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination, and upper body strength.

Chalk—You can use this for hand strengthening (the ground provides great resistance) as well as fine-tuning those visual and writing skills. Practice shapes, letters, or make a simple maze for your child to trace.

Miriam (OT at The Therapy Place):

Summer is the greatest opportunity for extra exciting play. Take advantage! Here are some ideas:

Tug of war—A fun game to improve upper body strengthening and improve regulation

Hopscotch—Draw board with chalk outside and enjoy a fun game—works on vestibular, proprioceptive, fine motor, balance and motor planning skills.

Plant seeds/gardening—This fun and interactive experience gives a child a full sensory experience and builds on executive functioning skills as well.

Car wash—Use the sponge for hand/finger strengthening; the water and bubbles add the tactile sensory experience that children crave.

Draw a friend with chalk—Have your friend lay on the sidewalk as you trace her body with chalk. You can then color in the body with eyes/ears/nose. This activity supports fine motor skills as well as enhances one’s body awareness.

Make bubble wands with pipe cleaners. Use fine motor skills to shape a pipe cleaner into a bubble wand and place beads on it. Blowing bubbles is a great way to strengthen oral motor development.

Summer slots are filling up! Be in touch with The Therapy Place to secure a summer of growth and achievement for your child. 848.285.5217, https://www.therapyplacenj.com

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