Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Power of Play-Doh

It's always a great day when I can write a post about Ian making progress in some area. The past few weeks have been very busy for us - Ian had a long day at Spina Bifida Clinic last week, and his IEP at school this week. It feels like a lot of balls are in the air right now, which has a tendency to cause me a lot of anxiety, but the good work he's done this week is a real bright spot.

I've really been trying to put an emphasis on building Ian's finger strength and dexterity lately. Both are important for writing, as well as other skills I would want him to learn some day - namely cathing himself. Ian has been in occupational therapy since he was around a year old, and now he gets OT both at school and at another outpatient facility that I bring him to each week. He's always had an aversion to touching things that look "weird" to him - he would never touch any of the koosh balls or putty that the therapists would want him to squeeze to build hand and finger strength. 

This week, Ian really allowed himself to venture out of his comfort zone and worked with some play-doh for both me and his OT at school. One of his teachers at school had just given him a little tub of play-doh for Valentine's Day - even in his favorite color, white - and I convinced him to squeeze it in his hand before he played with his iPad. He started out with one squeeze per hand, but every time he wanted to play a different game on the iPad, I would make him squeeze one more time per hand, and he got up to six squeezes per hand by the end of the night. He wasn't putting up a lot of resistance to it, and it was getting easier and easier each time he did it. I told him I was proud of him for trying it and working hard, and he was proud of himself too.

Squeezing with lefty...

and righty.
I triumphantly e-mailed Ian's school OT and told her how Ian had squeezed the play-doh at home, and she gave me other play-doh activities to try with him to get those fingers moving and strong. Later that day, it was her turn to e-mail me and excitedly tell me about the awesome job Ian was doing with her theraputty! And, of course, there are pictures for proof:

Pulling it apart to find small, hidden objects.

Pulling to make a smile. :)

Rolling it into a snake.
Before this week, Ian would only tentatively poke play-doh or putty with one finger. This is big progress for him, even though it seems like a very small thing. Think of all the things you do in a day that you need to individually move your fingers to accomplish - all the things you grasp between your first finger and your thumb. Ian knows what his fingers need to do, he just has trouble making them do it. We're all hoping this breakthrough with play-doh is a sign he's turning a corner.