So, you may have been in this situation before. Your OT has mentioned that your child has some difficulties with body awareness, and amongst other things, mentions doing some ‘crashing’ activities? You’re probably wondering how you can undertake the same level of engagement seen in sessions, at home? A simple, and effective resource in any home can certainly help solve this problem.
Part 2: Quilt Cover
No doubt, every one has access to an old or unused quilt cover at home. This simple item can be filled, suspended and wrapped up to create an excellent home OT resource.
How it can help:
Body Awareness and Proprioception – Squashes and having to crawl or move under the quilt can help with and encourage obtaining feedback from the muscles and joints, to alert the body of ‘where it is’ in space, without the support of vision. This sense of body awareness is largely linked to the proprioceptive senses.
Vestibular Input – If it is empty, it can be used as a simple swing, can prove to be a simple and effective form of vestibular input. With an adult at each end of the cover, holding it up into a ‘hammock’, the cover can be a very useful tool for young children to be exposed to vestibular movement. This can provide a calming effect for some children, particularly
Deep Pressure – Often we see children who have a preference for ‘deep pressure/squashing/firmness’. This is often due to the calming effect it can have on those children. While not all children like this, those that do enjoy the pressure that can be provided from a large, foam filled crash mat placed on their back while they are lying down. Moreover, for those that enjoy very deep pressure, an adult can carefully place their body weight on the mat increasing the pressure to the child.
Balance and Motor Planning – If a quilt cover is filled with foam cut offs, given the cut offs can be irregular shapes, a great challenge is to walk across this bumpy surface and balance. This can also be made more challenging by placing obstacles on the mat (e.g. pillows on top) to try and dodge.
Activities to try:
- Flying High (particularly for younger children, have a person stand on either side of the empty quilt, collecting each corner into two, and grabbing hold. From here, your child can lay in the middle of the quilt, then the the two people to the side slowly raise up the quilt cover and begin swinging backwards and forwards)
- Jump and Crash (Fill the cover with semi or un-used pillows and fill up so it is quite spongy – an alternative can also be to use soft foam cut-offs and stuff into the quilt cover – from here you can place this to the side of the bed, couch, chair or even small trampoline and, while supervised, allow your child to jump into the mat and crash)
- Hotdog (You can lay your child at the end of the empty quilt cover and slowly roll your child, wrapping them up in the quilt. This is a nice deep pressure and proprioceptive activity – though as mentioned earlier, not all children like this experience; stop immediately if your child becomes distressed)
- Bumpy jungle (with a full quilt cover, encourage the child to walk across and stay balanced. Make it harder by getting them to pick up items to the side of the quilt, so they have to bend over and maintain balance)
- Crossing the desert storm (place a blindfold on the child and get them to walk along the mats without the assistance of vision. An excellent one for motor planning, balance and proprioception)
- Humpty Dumpty (Sitting on a gym ball, with a small child on your lap, bouncing up and down, then falling to the side onto the crash mat. Another good activity to further introduce vestibular sensations, particularly to young children)
These are just some ideas to help give those at home a place to start. Again, creativity can always ensure children are engaged and challenged, so feel free to explore fun ways to use your quilt cover with your child!