Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Play Activities for children with little movement.

Play activities to encourage movement in very young children with cerebral palsy.

When children have very limited movement, and can't grasp toys, or their reach is clumsy or limited there are very few toys on the market that they can access. These are the things that we use to encourage reaching, arm and hand movements, and to help the child learn that they can have an effect on their environment.

Bead curtain
One of the most successful toys I've had was a garish and noisy bead curtain bought for just a few pounds on a local market. There are not so many around now but are worth looking out for. We took it to bits, and hung strands of it over frames made from clothes airers or baby gyms, or the frame from a child's tent, placed carefully in reach of the child. It is important to make sure that the child is supervised to ensure that they don't pull it over or become entangled in it.

It looked great as the child moved their hand, and the colours all swam around and it made a great noise in response to very little movement. It's work trying them out or adding bells if the one you find doesn't make much noise. For some children we put it where they had to reach out, for others, where they would brush it accidentally and discover it. For some we used a hair scrunchie on the child's wrist, wrapped one string of beads loosely around the others so that moving it pulled all of them, and then tucked that string into the wrist band. Every movement of the child's arm caused rattling of the beads. Change arms, attach to feet to encourage kicking. This works really well with wind chimes, too.

Card shops sometimes do tinsel party screen things that can be visually interesting, like a bead curtain but without the noise.

Balloons with a few grains of rice/lentils/beans inside make a fantastic noise and can be hung up where the child can reach them to pat or kick at. Several at once can make an amazing display and be very exciting to knock.

Survival blanket

These can be bought in outdoor stores and often in pound shops really cheaply. Lying on them or having your hands placed on them makes for fantastic noise effects for very little movement. Lie the over the child, under a child lying in their front, under the feet, hanging next to the child. They reflect lights well, so having a colour changing light up toy shining on them can make them more visually interesting. My favourite light up toy cost £3 from tiger shop.

Bells on arms or ankles

Sew bells onto ribbons or soft hair bands to place on the child's wrists or ankles.

Attaching feely items to a wall, or cushion, tray, or mat.
You can buy really expensive feely walls with textured pieces fixed on, but for one child at home, this can be a simple panel of hardboard with brushes, scourers, buttons, textured fabric, short lengths of chain, shells, ribbon, etc glued on. If it would suit the child better, it could be a piece to fit onto their tray, or a cushion to place on their lap, or a mat to lie on. I once covered a large rubber floor mat with textured fabric, but you need to make it so that they can lie on it - ruling out some lumpy hard objects. It could even be a tabard or waistcoat.

Slinky spring

There are many of these around in bright coloured plastic. They are great hanging in the child's reach, being dangled by an adult or placed like a load of bangles over the child's wrist with some hanging down. Again a lot of movement and interest in the toy for a little movement from the child.
Even more effective in a dark room or den with a black or uv light if they are the neon colours.

Dark room

If you can darken a room, then tiny LED lights on fingers, (Tiger sell some, so do some of the catalogues like "explore your senses" and flashing plastic rings are sometimes on sale in gift shops. ) can encourage exploration of fingers, or with UV light, White or neon things on the fingers - face paint, nail varnish, gloves, especially if no one has these colours elsewhere, or wind Ribbons or soft hair bands in white or neon around fingers in dark room with uv light.

Whole body

Lie child on air bed, which gives a different feel and sound to body movements, on rustle survival blanket, in a shallow ball pit, (mix in some balls with bells) - use a paddling pool or large box. As well as balls, packing polystyrene in cardboard box where can be interesting for a child who doesn't put it in their mouths, or Christmas tinsel. Water is wonderful, of course. Or let the child place hands or feet in bowls of water, dry pasta, rice, etc.


iPad apps for finger movements

I've used and liked Fireworks, music sparkles, fluidity, art of glow, spawn sparkle, light box, finger paint.
I think fireworks is possibly the favourite.

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