Online Occupational Therapy:
The “Animal Walk” Writing Bootcamp
Picking up a pencil can require a real workout. ~ Marnee
Wiggly, unfocused, and off task.
Although I was not surprised, I was concerned when my son’s teacher described my six year old son with those terms. His struggle to focus on writing tasks has been impacting his learning, participation, and success. Even though his fine motor skills for printing have improved with occupational therapy support, something was still interrupting his body’s ability to sit and print. TinyEYE’s online occupational therapist brought in our next solution: heavy physical work! Huh?
Our internal systems help us to organize our body. For instance our proprioceptive system helps us to know where our body is in space, how our muscles are moving, and how to create a calming effect for ourselves. Sometimes, we need to intentionally help this system rev up so we can regulate our behaviors. It must take Aiden so much energy to just sit still. Then, it must take him even more energy to attend to a task. Heavy physical work before writing can help to regulate his system, resulting in increased attention and alertness, improved body awareness and body tone, and ultimately successful participation in academic activities. Ideas to consider include lifting bags of groceries, pushing a laundry basket, wall push ups, pulling his sister in the wagon, or doing animal walks – all in good fun.
Aiden helped to create The Animal Walk Writing Bootcamp. Our strategy was to incorporate physical movements that engaged his upper body and core, while helping to regulate his internal system. He completes his bootcamp each night before homework time. He also engages in similar activities at school with his teacher.
STEP ONE: SELECT THE ANIMALS
Aiden’s tummy faces the ceiling. He walks on his feet and hands.
Aiden lies down on his tummy, and pushes the palms of his hands against the floor so his shoulders and tummy are high off the ground. Next, he walks forwards using his hands, while dragging his legs behind him.
Aiden bends at the hips to place hands his on the floor in front of him. First, he walks his feet towards his hands. Next, he walks his hands forward three or four steps. Then, we walks his feet towards his hands. He looks like an inchworm! Repeat the steps of walking forward the hands, followed by the feet.
Aiden’s back faces the ceiling. Then he walks on his feet and hands.
Once you pick your animals and special walks, create your fun challenge.
STEP TWO: SET UP THE CHALLENGE
Watch Aiden’s Bootcamp:
1. Aiden pulls an animal picture from the mystery box, and then he completes the related walk. After the walk, he places the picture in the Done Bin.
2. Between walks, Aiden picks two soup cans to lift a few times. This is a bootcamp after all!
3. After the walks, Aiden sits at his work space. He focuses and completes his homework!
As a parent, I exhaled when Aiden became engaged in his homework tasks. Previously, written homework was a stressful, exhausting task for both Aiden and me. Now feeling calm and alert, his emerging fine motor skills and self-regulatory capacity are resulting in successful participation for Aiden. Since learning the value of helping our internal systems, I leave my yoga mat unrolled on my office floor. I take small moments throughout the day to prepare for my own successful contributions to my role as an online speech-language pathologist.
An occupational therapist will help you understand and apply specific strategies for your child or students. Reach out to TinyEYE for support from our online occupational therapists. Our email is: infoATtinyeye.com.With gratitude and joy, Marnee Brick, MSc Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Speech Therapy
Growing smiles, mending spirits, engaging children in their lives…
TinyEYE is the world’s preferred online speech therapy service provider for schools, agencies, and individuals who seek exceptional performance, revolutionary solutions, outstanding service, and student success!