8 Simple Activities That Provide Body Awareness Input

Proprioception (also known as body awareness) is one of the body’s internal senses and allows us to feel where we are positioned in space.  We use our body awareness for activities such as:

  • Swimming
  • Sports
  • Gymnastics
  • Riding a bike
  • Sitting still

Proprioceptive receptors are located in the joints, muscles, and tendons of the body, including the jaw and spine.  These receptors are activated by activities that place the muscles under strain, provide compression through the joints or deep pressure touch.

Children who have difficulty processing proprioceptive input can often appear clumsy.  They also have a tendency to compensate by seeking out addition touch and movement input which can affect attention levels.  Incorporating appropriate ways of gaining body awareness input throughout the day can assist kids to reach and maintain a calm and alert state.

Deep Pressure:

  1. Hot Dogs
  • Roll your child up in a blanket, pretending that they are the sausage and the blanket is the bread.
  • Provide deep pressure massage down their body as you pretend to apply the sauces.
  1. Sandwich
  • Turn your child into a sandwich, pretending that they are the fillings and the cushions are the bread.
  • Ask your child to lie on a cushion or mattress and add another on top.
  • Apply deep pressure as you squeeze them between the cushions.
  1. Pizzas
  • Ask you child to lie down on their stomach.
  • Use a large ball to roll over your child’s body as you pretend to turn them into a pizza, rolling out the dough and apply the toppings.

Joint Compression:

  1. Jump and Crash
  • Ask your child to jump on the spot 10 times and then jump onto a bean bag or mattress.
  • If space allows, you could use a small rebounder trampoline.
  1. Arrow Patterning & Jumping Game
  • Make up some simple arrow cards.
  • Place the arrows in different directions on the ground to create a pattern.
  • Ask your child to follow the arrows and jump in the different directions.

Heavy Work:

  1. Tug of War
  • Ask your child to grab hold of one end of the towel while you grab the other end.
  • Challenge them to pull as hard as they can!
  • Complete this whilst standing, sitting or kneeling as different variations.
  1. Human Wheelbarrow
  • Ask you child to kneel with their hands and feet on the ground.
  • Lift up your child’s feet and see how many steps they can take with their hands.
  1. Crab Walks
  • Ask your child to sit on their bottom with their hands and feet on the ground.
  • See if they can raise their bottom off the floor and walk across the room like a crab.

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

kate headshot

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.

 


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Tools to Help Manage Difficult Behaviour in kids with Autism

Managing behaviours in any child can be difficult, managing behaviours with children with Autism may sometimes seem impossible.

I recently attended a course by Professor Tony Attwood and Dr Michelle Garnett from Minds and Hearts on “Challenging Behaviour in Classic Autism”. This one day course covered a range of areas that children have difficulties with, including communication, sensory processing and emotional regulation. They provided a “tool box” to help manage and reduce behaviours resulting from difficulties in these areas.

Every person has triggers that can frustrate, upset or anger the individual. We all reach a point or have a threshold where we can no longer cope. Children with Autism can often have “explosions”, where rather then letting things accumulate; they can “erupt” following exposure to a trigger and often have difficulties regulating themselves back to a settled state.

Triggers can be a range of things, including sensory stimulus (noise, smell, touch, sight), being told no, losing or being wrong, social situations, transitions, lack of routine and unexpected environment changes.

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It is important to recognise your child’s triggers. Keep a diary/monitor when behaviours occur and identify what were the events prior to/what was the environment like. We can then avoid these triggers or aim to prepare the child and minimise the outcomes.

Professor T. Attwood and Dr M. Garnett identify “tool boxes” to help avoid, minimise and regulate challenging behaviours.

Physical Tool Box
We can use physical activity to help manage anger and depression, these can be used at critical times to help self-regulation. Activities might include:

  • Physical exercise such as running, jumping on a trampoline, going for a walk
  • Sports including basketball, light weight lifting, dancing, swimming
  • Playing on a dum kit
  • Going on swings and slides

happy kid

Relaxation tool box:
Relaxation tools can be implemented daily, in aid to reduce or delay/ behaviours from occurring. Activities might include:

  • Solitude or chill out time
  • Massage or deep pressure
  • Sleep
  • Time with a pet (patting/stroking)
  • Jigsaws
  • Drawing/craft
  • Stress ball
  • Lavender oil or relaxation candles (trial different smells, each child has different preferences)
  • Listen to music or an audio tape of reassurance from a parent
  • Time in nature
  • Mindfulness/deep breathing
  • Mediation

relaxation.jpg

Sensory Tools
Many behaviours are a result of being overwhelmed to sensory stimuli. It is best to avoid or minimise exposure to these. Tools that can be used include:

  • Sound: Ear plugs, noise cancelling head phones
  • Light: Sun glasses, Irlen lenses, hat
  • Tactile: Seamless socks, being aware of the material and fit of clothing

Please feel free to contact us at the clinic to discuss how to manage complex behaviours for children with Autism. hannah lynch uniform

Hannah Lynch , Occupational Therapist


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9 Fun Activities to Develop Scissor Skills

This semester Synchrony OT has been lucky enough to be involved with the final year OT student projects through the University of Queensland.  Our students were able to put together some great activity ideas that you can use at home to develop your child’s scissor skills.

For early year’s students, cutting with scissors can make up a big part of the day.  Many classroom activities involve a cutting and pasting component.  The following activities can assist your child to develop their scissor skills to ensure that they do not fall behind during the school day.

9 Fun Activity Ideas: Download example cutting templates here

  1. Get Set Up!
    • Teach your child which one is their ‘Doing Hand’ and ‘Helper Hand’.
    • ‘Doing Hand’ holds the scissors: Thumb on top in the smaller hole, fingers on the bottom and scissors pointing forward.
    • ‘Helper Hand’ holds the paper: Thumb on top and turns the paper.
    • Use a scissor rhyme: “Fingers on the bottom, Thumb on top, Open up your hand, and Chop-chop-chop!
  2. Playdough Snakes
    • Using both hands, roll playdough into a long snake.
    • Get your child to make lots of snips down the length of the snake.
  3. Lion Paper Plate
    • Make single snips around the edge of a paper plate to make a lion mane.
    • Then assist your child to draw on a face and colour the mane.
  4. Lollipops and Flowers
    • Draw some lollipops or flowers into the middle of a page.
    • Draw a long stem on each of the lollipops or flowers.
    • Get your child to cut along each stem.
  5. Haircut Salon
    • Get your child to draw a face on the toilet roll.
    • Get your child to cut down into the length of the toilet paper roll, so as to create strands of hair.
    • Finally they can give their character a hair cut.
  6. Roger Robot
    • Print out a template or draw some shapes on a page to make up a robot using rectangles, squares and triangles.
    • Get your child to cut out the shapes and put together the robot.
  7. Collage Creations
    • Find an old pile of unwanted magazines or newspapers.
    • Choose a theme (e.g. red, sports, things that fly).
    • Get your child to cut out things they find relating to that theme.
  8. Balloon Strings
    • Draw some balloons into the middle of a page.
    • Draw a long curved string to each of the balloons.
    • Get your child to cut along each string to the balloon.
  9. Snakes and Snails
    • Find a cut-out template of a curled up snake or snail shell.
    • Get your child to cut around snake in a spiral towards the middle.

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

kate headshot

 

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.


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3 Simple Tips to Develop Your Child’s Social Skills

“She doesn’t notice when others are talking to her”, “He tends to be bossy and gets upset if things don’t go his way”, “She can play well one on one but struggles in a large group”, “He always calls out in class”.

Any of these sound familiar?

Many of the children that we see here at the clinic find social situations challenging.  I recently attended a two-day course on Social Thinking which provided a great insight in to the complexity of social challenges. The course highlighted that a child’s social capabilities are integral to their success in life; socially, academically, and professionally.

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Social skills are much more than just language. At this course, social thinking was defined as a skill that allows us to apply the four social competencies to social situations. These competencies are:

  • Socially attending to the information that we are receiving. This is the ability to read facial expressions, body language, gestures and what is happening in the situation.
  • Interpreting what others might be thinking or how they might be feeling based on the information we have gathered. This can also include self-awareness of predicting how our own behaviours might be interpreted by others. We have to understand that others have thoughts about us, even if they don’t say these things out loud.
  • Problem solving so we can make decisions about how we should respond. This could be deciding what words to say, what tone of voice to use and how to behave.
  • Creating an appropriate social response. Ideally we want to choose a response that considers the thoughts and feelings of those around us. 

If we use the iceberg analogy, we can only see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social skills.  In order to interact appropriately, we first have to consider what situation and context we are in (social input) and then adapt our skills and responses (words, gestures and facial expressions) based on our understanding of the situation (social output).

ice berg

Some children are able to tell you everything that they should do in a social situation, but due to a breakdown in social competencies, they find it difficult to implement them in a real situation.  Challenges with social competencies can lead to difficulties with a child’s ability to interact with their peers and participate appropriately in class.

3 simple tips to develop your child’s social thinking skills at home:     

  • Model your own thought processes out loud. For example, if you are at the shops you could say “I can see that there is a line.  We can line up at the back of the cue and wait our turn. This will make the other people happy that we didn’t push in”.
  • Reflect on how situations could be changed for next time. For example “This morning when your friend came to play, I saw them ask for a turn using your dinosaur toy.  You yelled and said that it was your toy and you wouldn’t let them have a turn.  This made them feel sad and they might think that you aren’t their friend.  What do you think we could do next time?”
  • Discuss what characters might be thinking and feeling when you are reading stories or watching cartoons. Ask your child how the characters thoughts and feeling might change if the scenario was different.  See if they can predict what might happen next.

Please feel free to contact the clinic and chat to us about how we can assist your child in Katt Matthewsdeveloping their social thinking skills.

-Katt Matthews, Occupational Therapist


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10 Fun Ways To Develop Hand Strength Using Theraputty

This semester Synchrony OT has been lucky enough to be involved with the final year OT student projects through the University of Queensland.  Our students were able to put together some great exercises that you can use at home to develop your child’s hand strength.

Why is hand strength important?

Hand strength is an important area of child development. Children are constantly using their hands throughout the day and require strength for tasks such as:

  • Getting dressed
  • Brushing their teeth
  • Tying shoe laces
  • Using a knife and fork
  • Cutting with scissors
  • Climbing
  • Doing up buttons
  • Drawing
  • Handwriting

It is important for your child to strengthen their hand and finger muscles so that they can complete these tasks effectively. Just like exercises and fitness, hand strength takes time and practice to develop. It is recommended that the following exercises are incorporated into your child’s daily routine to assist in developing their hand strength.theraputty

Theraputty is a resistant material that can be purchased from www.sensorytools.net 

Theraputty Exercises: Click on the links to see corresponding videos of how to complete each activity.

  1. Hide & Seek: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR3z4VOUqJY
    • Hide small items/marbles/coins inside the theraputty.
    • Challenge your child to find them as fast as they can using both hands.
  2. Spider Web: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ03dDq58F8
    • Have your child begin by putting all 5 fingers together.
    • Place the theraputty on the tip of the fingers.
    • Have your child spread their fingers out, like making a ‘spider web’.
    • Bring fingers close together and repeat.
  3. Pinch The Snake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D-5gX71k3I
    • Being with the theraputty in a long flat piece.
    • Using their thumb and index finger, ask them to pinch the ‘snake’ as they work their way upwards.  Make sure finger dents are visible on the theraputty.
  4. Fingerprint: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_600Mg8C6w
    • Have your child roll the theraputty into a ball
    • Have them place the theraputty in their palm of their hand.
    • Direct them to squeeze it as hard as they can, with all 5 fingers at once, to leave ‘fingerprints’ in the theraputty.
    • Repeat the process.
  5. Pinch and Pull: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4fMF2VdGk
    • Have your child roll the theraputty into a ball
    • By using all 5 fingers, have you child pinch and pull apart the theraputty.
  6. Twist itt Like Liquorice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qemuk7Wt31c
    • Have your child grab each end of the theraputty using all 5 fingers.
    • While pulling the theraputty, have your child twist each end of the theraputty in opposite directions, resembling liquorice.
  7. Finger Walking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXvW4yn6Tec
    • Have your child roll the theraputty into a snake.
    • Have your child place their fingers on the theraputty and walk along the putty (using 2-3 fingers) digging the fingers deep into the putty.
  8. Crack The Egg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muA_1VVOmn8
    • Have your child roll the theraputty into an egg.
    • Have them place the egg between the fingers and ask them to squeeze the egg using only those two fingers as hard as they can to ‘crack the egg’.
    • Repeat the activity for the other fingers.
  9. Make Your Own Marbles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoQk5JEO5CM
    • Have your child pinch and pull a marble sized piece of theraputty using their thumb, index and middle finger.
    • Using only those 3 fingers, have your child roll the theraputty into a small ball using a rotation movement of the fingers until the theraputty resembles a marble.
    • Continue steps 1 and 2 until all of the theraputty marbles have been completed.
  10. Spiky Caterpillars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvDJsbib5S4
    • Have your child being by rolling the theraputty into a snake and flattening it with either their palm/fingers.
    • Have your child pick up the sticks/popsicle sticks/pipe cleaners using 2-3 fingers and push in into the top of the theraputty.

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapistkate headshot

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.


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5 Activity Ideas For Improving Handwriting Neatness

As a paediatric OT, I regularly receive referrals to assist children to develop neat writing.  One of the biggest factors for neat writing is consistent sizing and ability to position the letters accurately in the lines.

At Synchrony OT we have found it useful to refer to Australian animal categories to assist children to learn where the letters should be placed in the lines:

  • Wombat Letters: (a c e i m n o r s u v w x z) These letters stay inside the blue lines.
  • Possum Letters: (g j p q y) These letters have bodies that stay in the blue lines and long tails down to the bottom red line.
  • Emu Letters: (b d f h k l t) These letters have bodies that stay in the blue lines and tall necks that go up to the top red line.

5 simple strategies to use at home: 

  1. Sort Lego letters into the 3 animal groups
  2. Throw bean bags into hoops to categorise letters
  3. Place cut out letters onto lined templates
  4. Make Playdough letters and position them onto lined templates
  5. Practice copying into the lines- imagine the lines are like electric fences and give your child points if they stay inside- make it a challenge and see if they can earn points towards a prize.

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapistkate headshot

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.


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My child is unhappy at school. Should we change schools or will it make things worse?

When my son was 8, my family moved interstate for work from Queensland. We left behind a school that he loved, friends he had known since he was a baby, and a community that was inclusive, friendly and laid-back. Nevertheless, we had high hopes for his new school, which was surrounded by parklands and was situated in a beautiful Melbourne suburb. As luck would have it, our new house was right next door to the school!

In hindsight, I did have some reservations when I first visited the school, and I should have listened to my instincts. Parents chose to stick with their cliques and did not share a smile. I overheard a lady in the uniform queue returning her 8-year-old daughter’s skirt because it made her “bum look big”. The vibe was icy-cold.

Over the space of 5 months, my normally positive and exuberant son became progressively withdrawn and sullen. He seemed to “try on” different personalities in an effort to fit in with peers who he described as richer, meaner and older. He simultaneously lost his interest in learning.

Amy Kelly Blog Post

My attempts to resolve difficulties by engaging with the teacher, principal and vice-principal were dismissed, stalled, or more-often ignored.

One evening he was having a bath and I noticed a huge bruise on his thigh, which he explained had been inflicted by kids during recess. They had also thrown his shoes into the girl’s toilets. He confided that the bullying had been going on for some time and that he no longer felt safe at school.

That night I sat down with my partner and asked,

“How bad do we let it get?”

My son’s basic needs for safety and security were not being met and I felt utterly powerless to change the situation.

We both knew we couldn’t wait.

So I put it to my son, “If I had a magic wand, what would be your one wish?”

“To leave this school and never come back”, he replied.

The next day when I picked him up from school, I told him that his wish had come true and that tomorrow would be his last day. He looked at me as though I had given him a brand-new toy.

We had found another Melbourne school for him, which was inclusive, friendly and down-to-earth.

Suffice to say, his lovely true personality remerged. He made some great friends, and his learning accelerated at lightning speed. Seriously! As a happy kid, he read 50 books the following year, and his writing improved significantly.

It was a good lesson for me that if you look after a kid’s mental health, then learning looks after itself.

As a child psychologist, parents often ask me the question: Should we change schools?

My experience of moving my child’s school was extremely positive and I am hugely relieved that we made that decision. Nevertheless, the process of deciding what will be best for your child is complex.

To help decide, I ask my clients to consider the following questions:

  1. Do you feel that the school environment or culture is negatively affecting your child emotionally or behaviourally? How long has it been going on?
  2. Have you tried to talk to the teacher, vice principal and principal (in that order)?
  3. Are there some things that you could do to improve the school experience for your child?
  4. Could this be an opportunity for your child to develop resilience and positive coping skills?
  5. Do you feel as though you have tried to effect positive change but that the environment is still unhealthy for your child?
  6. How does your child feel about the idea of moving schools?
  7. Are there other schools available that suit your family’s needs?
  8. Can you get insider information about the new school from kids, parents, teachers and the leadership team/ go on a tour/ attend the school fair?
  9. If your child does move to a new school, how will the new school help him/ her with the transition (making new kids, feeling included)?
  10. Is there extra support (outside of school) that may help your child to feel more secure at school (e.g. social skills training, support with self-esteem, counselling)?
  11. What will be the losses and the gains (for your child and your family)?
  12. If you do decide to move schools, can you time it so that your child has the best chance of successfully fitting in (e.g. at the start of the school year, or before camp).

The decision to move schools is an emotional one. Just like workplaces, each school has its unique culture, which may suit some kids, and not others. Ideally, as parents we make the right decision about the right school for our kids first time around. However, it is often not until our child is attending a school that we can fully gauge the culture.

The right school environment/ fit has immeasurable psychological and academic effects on our children. For my family, I look back on the decision we made with great relief. Whilst often thought to be a “last resort”, and unlikely to solve all your problems straight away, moving schools is sometimes the best option available.Amy-Kelly

-Dr Amy Kelly, Child Psychologist, Whole Heart Psychology.

http://www.wholeheartpsychology.com.au/

5 of Our Favourite Paper Craft Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are an essential foundation skill necessary for keeping up in class. On any typical school day kids are constantly using their fine motor skills.  They have to do up their buttons and laces, use cutlery to eat breakfast, clean their teeth, open and close their school bag, complete drawing and handwriting, cut and paste worksheets, open and close lunch boxes and food packaging… the list could go on and on.

I often complete School and Kindy visits to observe how kids are coping in class. Often times I see students with poorly developed fine motor skills getting left behind.  I’ll give you an example: I watched a prep-aged student completing a task where he had to cut out pictures and sort these into categories for a science lesson.  Because it took so long for him to cut out the pictures, he hadn’t even gotten up to the sorting and learning part of the lesson before he was asked to pack away and move onto the next activity.  Another student was asked to glue in his work sheet and move onto the next task.  Because it took so long for him to glue in his worksheet and put his book away in his tidy tray, he had missed the instruction that the teacher had given for the next activity and was then having to play catch up.

Just like exercise and fitness, fine motor skills take time and practice to develop. We regularly use paper crafts as an engaging way to encourage kids to practice and develop their fine motor skills.

Printable-Shark-Cootie-Catcher

5 of our favourite paper craft activities that you can do at home:

  1. Accordion Snakes by Kidspot
  2. Helicopters by Kidspot
  3. Moving Fish by Krokotak
  4. Space Rocket by Paper Magic
  5. Shark Chatterbox by Easy Peasy and Fun kate headshot

Happy crafting!!!

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.


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Hand dominance: Is my child ambidextrous?

As a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, I frequently get asked “Is my child ambidextrous?”.  Before we answer this question, first we have to understand a little more about development.

In the first 2 years of life babies learn lots of information about how the muscles in their bodies and hands work.  First, they learn how to bring both their hands together (e.g. clapping).  Then they move onto reciprocal movements where both sides of the body complete alternating actions (e.g. crawling or climbing).  Finally, they develop the ability to use both hands simultaneously, one hand stabilising whilst the other hand works (e.g. holding the paper whilst drawing or holding a bowl still whilst eating with a spoon).

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When does hand dominance develop?

As the brain develops, one particular side emerges as being more specialised (the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa).  Hand dominance usually emerges around 2 years of age and it is clearly established in most children by 5 years of age.

Why is hand dominance important?

The more a child uses one particular hand, the more efficient and automatic the movements become which then frees up cognitive energy to focus on more complex movements or higher-level thoughts (e.g. being able to think about ideas, sentence structure and spelling rather than having to focus on pencil grasp and pencil control).

Children who switch between using their left and right hand can be described as displaying mixed hand dominance.  Children with mixed dominance may find it challenging to carry out precise fine motor skills such as cutting with scissors or handwriting.

Is my child ambidextrous?

Ambidexterity occurs when children are equally skilled in using both their left and right hand. True ambidexterity is extremely rare only occurs in 1% of the population.  Often times there is an underlying reason why a child is yet to develop a dominant hand.  Common reasons include:

  • Weak hand strength: Some children will start an activity with their preferred hand and then swap when their hand becomes tired. This isn’t a difficulty with hand dominance necessarily, they may just need to work on strengthening their hands so that they can improve their endurance for fine motor tasks.
  • Difficulty crossing the midline: We all have an invisible line down the centre of our body that is referred to as the midline of the body. Midline crossing is the ability to use one hand to work on the opposite side of the body.  Some children will pick up objects with the hand that is closest or may start an activity with one hand and switch hands if they need to work on the other side of their body.

6 Tips to try at home:

  • It is best not to bias children towards a particular side as much as possible. Place objects at the midline and encourage your child to choose if there is not a clear hand preference
  • Encourage your child to complete the activity with the hand they started (no swapping during the task) in order to encourage them to develop strength and endurance.
  • Closely watch your child and note down how often they are using each hand throughout the day. If their does appear to be a more preferred hand you can assist them by using ‘Helper Hand’ and ‘Doing Hand’ terminology.  For example “It is your Doing Hand’s job to hold the pencil and your Helper Hand’s job to hold the paper still”.
  • Work on hand strengthening tasks to ensure they are not switching hands due to fatigue.
  • Encourage your child to complete activities that require both the hands to work together:
    • Threading
    • Hammer or screwdriver games
    • Cutting with scissors
    • Playdough
    • Lego
  • Practice midline crossing:
    • Use chalk to make a large track on a concrete path. Challenge your child to drive a car along the track, only using one hand to get from one side of the track to the other.
    • Assist your child to trace over a large infinity symbol (sideways figure of 8). You could do this on a large piece of butcher’s paper on the wall or complete this activity with a stick in the sandpit. Make sure they use one hand to trace the entire way around.
    • If your you child has established a Doing Hand and Helper Hand. Set up puzzles to encourage reaching across the midline.  e.g. Assist your child into a side sitting position, leaning on their Helper Hand, position the puzzle pieces on the opposite side of their body so that they have to reach across with their Doing Hand to collect the pieces.kate headshot

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.


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W-sitting…what is all the fuss about?

So w-sitting… what is all the fuss about? A quick google search of the term reveals a myriad of articles written by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, teachers and parents. Many of these popular articles say that w-sitting should be avoided at all costs! But do we need to demonise w-sitting?

The w-sitting posture is sitting on the floor with both thighs rotated inwards and the feet outwards on both sides of the body (the legs make a W shape, hence the name). This posture is usually difficult for adults to achieve, because as we grow, we gradually lose mobility in our hips (partly due to the way our muscles and bones grow and partly because in Western cultures we don’t spend a lot of time in postures of extreme hip flexion).

kid playing toy blocks

Children, on the other hand, can achieve the w-sitting posture more easily. Their hip joints have more mobility and they often spend a lot of time with flexed hips. Many, but not all typically developing children will move through this posture occasionally in their play. Children with low resting muscle tone (“floppy” muscles) and/or joint hypermobility usually find w-sitting very easy to achieve, even to the point of comfort. For children with tight leg muscles, such as those with cerebral palsy, the w-sitting posture may be the only one they are able to sustain.

Given that w-sitting can be part of the normal repertoire of movement during childhood, why do so many recommend it be reduced, if not eliminated? The reason is that children with low resting muscle tone and/or hypermobility tend to choose w-sitting ALL or MOST of the time, when it should only be ONE of a number of different sitting postures used during play. W-sitting has a wide “base of support” making it a very stable shape (imagine how difficult it is to topple a pyramid versus a cylinder). It also requires less trunk muscle control to maintain, meaning that the child is free to play and enjoy what they are doing or watching for a long time, without as much fatigue. This is a great problem solving strategy – children are natural problem solvers!

What are the consequences of this prolonged and repeated w-sitting? Surprisingly, scientific research is lacking in this area. Anecdotally, children who predominantly w-sit may have less opportunities to develop more advanced postural control strategies, have delayed motor milestones, walk with more internal rotation (legs turned in), and could complain of hip problems later in life. It is unlikely that w-sitting is the main culprit, but part of the story. W-sitting might impact a child’s ability to participate in more advanced types of play (collaborative and imaginative play). Imagine a collaborative building project – children need to get up and down, shift their weight, and reach in all directions. All of these things are more difficult when w-sitting.

If you notice your child is w-sitting a lot of the time, it’s not necessary to constantly bug them about it. You could try moving their toys/tablet to a table so they have to kneel or sit on a chair to play. Tummy time is not just for babies – older kids can also benefit from short periods of play whilst on their tummies, supported by their arms and shoulders. Playing some active games involving balancing on one leg, running, kneeling or jumping is also a fun and useful way to break up long periods of sitting still!

In conclusion… W-sitting is not all bad news, but when it is the only posture favoured by your child it could be an indicator of other problems. If your child’s w-sitting is worrying you, or you have concerns about your child’s movement, posture, or development, do seek help from a health professional such as a physiotherapist with experience in paediatric and developmental practice.Q paediatrics

Sarah Reedman, Physiotherapist, Q Paediatrics

http://www.allsportsphysio.com.au/our-locations/qpaediatrics/


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