Early days – attention and sensory issues

For many years I have been lucky enough to work in a multidisciplinary team where I have learned a great deal from our occupational therapist (OT) and physiotherapist (PT). Little did I know how wonderful this knowledge would become when working with my own daughter!

When Matilda was first engaging in rehab she was quite frenetic and was having lots of sensory difficulties. At that time it was extremely difficult to brush her hair, clean her teeth or shower/bath her.

During her treatment sessions we used a range of OT strategies to help settle her.

Foot blocks


Matilda wants to curl her feet up underneath herself but tends to wriggle a great deal. We made foot blocks out of old telephone directories covered in sticky backed plastic (contact plastic). These help reduce the wiggly squigglies and place her in a better position for handwriting.

Weighted lap bag – ‘gecko’


At work we have a weighted lap bag in the shape of a gecko (lizard) that is commercially made. It is filled with approximately 3 kg of sand, which occasionally springs a leak. Our orange ‘gecko’ was made by the grandma of one of my clients after she saw how well they worked with him. We designed our gecko so that it had loops and button eyes that could be used for fiddling with rather than items on the table or fingers in mouths etc.

When Matilda was fully in her ‘sensory’ phase the gecko really helped her to settle so that she could participate in her therapy sessions without constant interrupting or wriggling. We don’t use the gecko so much now as she is more able to ‘tune in’ with simple requests to listen and focus but I am still in love with our gecko!

Tri pencil grips


Although Matilda is naturally right hand dominant, she is now weaker on that side. She becomes fatigued when writing and tends to wrap her thumb and fingers around her pencil. These grips really help to keep her pencil grasp age appropriate.

Munchy ball


This is a game that her OT gave us to strengthen Matilda’s right hand. A standard tennis ball has a smile cut horizontally. Munchy ball did start with two googly eyes but now is uni-eyed! She squeezes the ball between her thumb and pointer finger as we feed it small items. It is fun but quite taxing for her at the moment. A good game for when you are out and about and listening/language games would be too tricky.


One thought on “Early days – attention and sensory issues

  1. What a wonderful set of ideas for handmade rehab items!
    Are you familiar with the book “Disabled Village Children” – it was a godsend in PNG, as it told you how to make just about anything (best one I remember was a roho like cushion from a bicycle inner tube).
    The copy I have is pretty dated now, however, a new one might have some useful ideas.


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