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Massapequa, NY, 11758
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Sensational Development Occupational Therapy of Massapequa, NY provides skilled, child-centered individual and group intervention for children ages birth through 21 who may be experiencing difficulty with daily activities such as self-care, academics, play, social skills, organization, coordination, and behavior. We have teamed up with some of the most dynamic and passionate instructors and we are thrilled to now be offering Yoga! Please call for scheduling and reservations.

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Blog posts by the staff at sensational development. We post information and topics of interest for our clients.

 

Filtering by Tag: postural control

There is so much more to writing than holding a pencil!

Sara Rutledge

Foundational skills are often overlooked when talking about handwriting. Neat, legible handwriting does not come overnight. There are many prerequisites that need to be acquired before a child’s handwriting performance can improve. In order to build a solid foundation for handwriting, a developmental progression of hand functioning and hand skills must be reached.

We all need adequate core muscles for everyday activity. Children need stable cores to maintain upright postures in their seats, develop shoulder stability and adequate fine motor skills. Going hand-in-hand with core muscles is trunk control. To understand the importance of a strong and stable trunk, just think about a fishing rod. Imagine a rod made of rubber. Try casting a line - it simply wouldn't work. With a floppy rod your control of the line and hook would be non-existent. A child's trunk is like the fishing rod. A strong and steady trunk provides the base of support needed for delicate fine motor tasks like writing (Handwriting Help for Kids, 2001).

Did you ever think that postural stability could have an impact on your handwriting? It is critical to have proximal stability in order for the more distal muscle groups to perform fine movements. Many muscles around the shoulder work together to hold this joint stable when performing fine motor tasks. If a child has poor shoulder stability, then he/she cannot hold this joint stable, impacting fine motor control. If this joint is loose, then fine motor control needed for writing is impossible to achieve. A strong upper body and shoulders are necessary for controlled movements of the hand and fingers. Without a stable base of support it is difficult to guide the eyes and hands to work together.

            Each hand is divided into two separate sides: the precision side and the power side. The radial (thumb) side of one’s hand is important for precision with manual dexterity such as threading a needle or buttoning a shirt.  The ulnar (little finger) side of the hand is important for power such as opening a jar.  Together these two features of the hand comprise the necessary prerequisites for fine motor control.  Writing, coloring, and scissoring require stability of the ulnar side of the hand while the small muscles of the radial side of the hand produce small precise strokes/snips for proper motor control.

            As a child’s strength and control develops, the movement of writing will move from the whole arm, to the wrist, and finally to the fingertips. Intrinsic muscle movement can be seen when the ulnar side of the hand is stabilized on the table while the fingers move a pencil to write. The intrinsic movements are best observed in activities that require the tips of the thumb, index finger, and middle finger be touching while they are performing flexion with the thumb is in extension.

Motor planning involves spontaneously sequencing and organizing movements in a coordinated manner to complete unfamiliar motor tasks. Timing and sequencing are essential to motor planning, as well as ideation (how to approach a novel task) and execution (how to follow through with a novel task).  Adequate motor planning abilities are needed for writing; some examples are: knowing how to form letters and where to start the letter, spatially planning a sentence and knowing when to move to the next line, coming up with an idea for a story or sentence, and knowing the relationship or part to whole.

There are so many different pieces and components to handwriting that go unrecognized. Every piece to this ‘puzzle’ is equally as important as the next and has its own impact on the puzzle as a whole. Until all the pieces comes together, functional and successful handwriting is much more difficult to achieve!

Rachel Durante, MS OTR/L

What is Wrong with “W” Sitting?

Sara Rutledge

A few weeks ago, an article about W sitting in children began circulating around various social media sites and began to raise more awareness about this body position.  As occupational therapists, we are acutely aware of this position and understand the concerns associated with it. However, it is our responsibility to educate parents and families about these types of concerns and introduce strategies to modify or alter them in order to encourage a proper body position during seated tasks. So, what exactly is “W” sitting, and why is it such an important topic to address?

Take a look at this great handout about W sitting by Inspired Treehouse:

What is “W” sitting?

 “W” sitting occurs when a child sits on his bottom with both knees bent and each leg positioned on either side of the body, next to each hip. If you stood above a child seated in this position, it would look like his legs form a “W” shape. This seated position provides a greater base of support for the child and allows for increased stability in the lower extremities. However, when seated in this position, the child does not have to elicit his core muscles to maintain an upright posture.

Why is this a Concern?

When a child sits in the “W” position, he does not utilize his core muscles to achieve trunk rotation or shift his weight to reach for his toys.  Without the activation of core musculature, a child may have decreased core strength and postural control which are important foundational motor skills needed for further growth and development. A child who is unable to shift his weight or rotate his trunk is likely to have difficulties with balance, crossing midline, and using both sides of his body together (bilateral coordination).  This delay in skill development may directly affect a child’s functional skills in his home and school environments.

 How Can You Help?

If you notice your child “W” sitting, you can encourage him to position his body in different sitting styles. Show your child how to sit in the criss-cross position, side sit, or sit with his legs extended in front of his body. Do avoid telling your child to "fix your legs" as there is nothing "broken". Instead you can tell the child how they can sit: "legs in front" or "one leg in front". If you "side sit" with one leg behind in hald of the "W" position and one leg bent in front of you, you will see that most of your body weight is on the hip with the leg in front, thus placing less strain on the hip that is rotated internally. Additionally, introduce core strengthening activities that will help your child develop the postural control needed to assume an upright seated posture using his core muscles, rather than his legs and bottom to maintain the seated position.

Siobhan Stellato, MS OTR/L