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Occupational Therapy | Orthotics

Occupational Therapy

If your child is going to see an Occupational Therapist they may be looking at the following:

1.  Self-Care: being able to feed themselves with a fork and spoon, being able to drink from a cup and straw, being able to use their tongue, lips and checks to move food and chew, and being able to assist with dressing activities.

2.  Fine motor /visual motor activities: how they use their hands to grasp small objects, how they hold crayons, how they play with toys and their skill level with  their hands.

3.  Sensory: how they respond to sensory experiences outside and within their bodies.  Depending on the age of your child, their functional level, their needs and abilities will determine activities to work on at home.

Good activities in general for children 3 years and older are:

  • Play at the park: playing in the sand using their hands to dig, find toys in the sand to put into a container, digging with a shovel to put sand into a bucket and dump into a larger bucket. Supervision is important to make sure that sand and objects do not go into the mouth. Going on slides and swings with assistance as needed. Movement is important part of learning how our bodies work and helping us develop our balance reactions.
  • Practice picking up different sizes and weights of objects and putting them into various sizes of containers, making sure objects do not go into the mouth.
  • When taking a bath try painting on the inside of the bathtub with shaving cream, working on making lines that go down, across, and circles. When finished try squeezing a small easy to use squirt bottle with water to erase the paint (squeezing the bottle will help work on small hand muscles.)
  • Outdoors take large sidewalk chalk and practice drawing, scribbling, making vertical, horizontal lines and circles on the driveway or sidewalk. Erase it by using a squirt bottle to squirt water on it or try taking a sponge in a small bucket of water, squeeze the water into the bucket or on top of the drawing.
  • Practice closing lips on various sizes of whistles to work on blowing. Try blowing a bubble off a wand that has been caught for them.
  • Practice drinking from a straw using box drinks with a straw that the liquid can be gently squeezed up the straw working on them trying to suck the liquid up the straw themselves. Once they can drink from a straw practice using oral muscles by drinking thicken liquids from a straw (you can make your own smoothies using applesauce  with juice, or yogurt with milk, or pudding with milk)
  • Practice putting on shoes using your shoes or bigger shoes which maybe easier to slip on.

Have fun trying activities with your child, remembering that children’s work is play and that is how they learn.
Debbie Cahill, Occupational Therapist 
Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, CA

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We struggled with shoes to fit over the AFO’s and could never find anything that worked well. We finally bought a pair of Hatchbacks which are designed to fit over AFO’s. They were more expensive but they lasted a lot longer and were safer for our daughter to wear.
Christine and Giovanni Rompato Logan, Utah   angel Chiara, age 5

My son has to wear braces for the low tone in his ankles. The best AFO’s we have found are Sure Steps, Distributed by Hanger Orthotics. They are

cut in a way that allows my son to use the ball of his feet, they are not too rigid, and they fit in most regular shoes (with the inseam removed).
Michelle Ballante

***Appeared in the 1999 edition, Angelman Syndrome from A to Z.

AFO stands for “ankle-foot orthotic”.  Orthotics are inserts for shoes that control abnormal foot function. They are used to realign the arch structure, realign in-toeing and out-toeing problems, and control the foot-ankle complex. AFO’s can help improve mobility and balance. For further information speak with a physical therapist or orthopedist.

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