In following the skill acquisition lists I’ve come across, it seems it’s time for Noah to start cutting.
His first attempt with paper was frustrating. I held the paper and he cut using two hands and used two hands to open the scissors as well.
Undaunted, I went to Wal-Mart and bought the preschool scissors that open automatically via a spring. Too bad that spring action also causes them to need more pressure than usual to close.
So it’s time to go back to the basics. I don’t think Noah’s hand strength is adequate for cutting, so I’ll let him use two hands for now but we’re going to focus in on some hand and finger strengthening and coordination work to lay the foundation for the cutting skills yet to come.
If you have a child with special needs, you’re probably familiar with the term pincer grasp. It’s the use of the the thumb and index finger to pick up small objects. The most common application of the pincer grasp is picking up Cheerios and raisins. You can run out of ideas pretty quickly with Cheerios and raisins, but there are many less thought of applications that are wonderful for developing a refined pincer grasp. The thinner the object, the more precise and mature the pincer grasp has to be. For instance, picking up straight pins, rubber bands, yarn or Wikki Sticks requires a more developed pincer grasp than picking up raisins.
As parents of children with special needs, it is tempting as our children reach milestones to celebrate and then “toss” as I call it, moving full steam ahead for the next milestone without reinforcing and refining the last one. Then you wind up in the situation I am in with Noah where your child is cognitively ready for an activity but lacks the underlying strength and coordination to perform it easily. So Noah’s struggle with cutting is a good reminder to me that as skills as acquired, we should constantly be looking for ways to build off of them and refine them rather than leaving them behind. Our special children need that constant reinforcing of their basic fine motor, gross motor, and language skills in order to build strongly upon that foundation.
In looking for ways to build up Noah’s refined pincer grasp and hand coordination and strength, I came across this great list of activities, most I haven’t seen before, things like zipping Ziploc bags, putting toothpicks in styrofoam and squeezing turkey basters full of water. These are all things a very young child could do, but they are still appropriate for our older children with special needs who need extra reinforcement and hand strengthening and conditioning.
Better yet, the link above will take you to a list of pincer grasp activities, but on the left side of the page are a whole list of other occupational therapy and hand-strengthening topics with similar lists.
I’m sure we’ll be incorporating some of these ideas into our days in the next few weeks, so , as always, stay tuned!