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School holidays are on the horizon. Many parents will be starting to plan how to keep their children entertained during the holidays. For parents with children with disabilities this can be a bit tricky. Not only may you need programs that match your child’s interest but you may also be looking for programs that provide strong structure and more individualised support.
School holidays also give the chance to step out of routine, take a break and refocus for the next three months or so. This is a great time to think about the new school term ahead and what else can be done to meet the social and recreational needs of your child. Aside from all the physical health benefits that come with sport, there are many social ones too. Not to mention the opportunity to just have fun.
Stuck for ideas? Below is the list that we’ve come up with so far. The good news is that more and more organisations are offering school holiday programs and out of school hours clubs and sports for children with special needs. So expect this list to grow over time…
Let’s start with school holidays programs
MyCareSpace currently has a list of inclusive school holidays programs and it looks to be growing each term. You can search by state or post code and then click on the link to the relevant website to find out more information. Their web address is: https://mycarespace.com.au/resources/inclusive-school-holiday-camps
A favourite of Naomi’s for school holidays programs are those run by Autism West – The Telethon Holiday Makers Program – which caters for children on the autism spectrum aged 10-18 years. Autism West also run different groups during the school term too. Their web address is as follows: http://autismwest.org.au/social-groups/holiday-makers/
What about extracurricular activities during the term?
Here are a few that we’ve found that might be interesting and not all sport based!
The WA Disabled Sports Association (WADSA) has a directory of activities run by different organisations. You can search by topic and then click on the link to take you to the relevant website. It also has a category for “Holiday and After School Activities”. A great place to start to help you and your child work out what sorts of activities might be interesting.
For the children and adolescents that are more interested in music we came across this organisation – Music Rocks Australia. They provide programs for children and adults with special needs.
This program is one that we’ve had our own ABACAS team members volunteer to help with from time to time. Great for the kids who love the water – why not surfing with Ocean Heroes?
And for the children who really love their technology there is the The Lab – which provides technology clubs for children on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum.
We hope these websites are helpful. They are just a selection of services and programs that caught our attention when looking at what’s currently out there in Perth. Have you got any programs that you’d like to recommend? If so please feel free to let any of the ABACAS Team know so we can add them to our working list and share with other parents!
Lastly, the Centre will be open during the holidays which means therapy doesn’t have to stop. If we don’t see you during the holidays we look forward to seeing you at the start of next term. For more information about our ABACAS program please click on the following link:
Penny Wong (Case Manager, ABACAS) & Naomi Ward (Clinical Director)
Occupational Therapist Team
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As part of developing ‘desk top’ type skills for school, learning to use scissors is very helpful for a range of reasons. Scissor skills:
- Require focus and attention;
- Practice the same muscles used to hold a pencil;
- Strengthen muscles that open and close the palm arch;
- Promote maturity of hand skill, separation of the two sides of the hand; the manipulation/control side which includes the thumb and index finger, and the stabilising side of the hand, which involves the remaining fingers.
- Provide opportunity to practice using two hands together, carrying out different movements
- Require visual tracking skills
The correct hand position for cutting out, is ‘thumbs up’. The dominant hand holds the scissors in a fixed position in front of the chest while the stabilising hand moves the paper around. It is easier for the middle finger to be placed in the lower scissor handle while the index finger guides in front of it. This is tricky to master! Cutting success is dependent on how well the stabilising hand moves the paper around. Children with lower strength in their palm and forearm tend to drift to a ‘palm up’ position, then the scissors bend or tear paper. Ideally the thumb should be on top! If a child is struggling with this, they need to work on earlier stage activities, e.g. snipping straws and playdough and doing other palm and thumb, index finger opposition strengthening activities before moving on.
Tips for easier cutting with scissors
1) Straight line
After a child masters snipping the next stage is pushing the scissors forward while cutting. Heavy weight paper is best because it doesn’t flop, easier to control. Keep it around the size of your child’s hand. Draw thick straight double lines. Activities such as ‘driving a car on the road’ or ‘train along the tracks’, help to keep them within the lines.
2) Gentle curve
Once your child is confident cutting along within the straight lines, they can progress to a gentle curved line. Keeping the scissors open around half way using small open close movements gives increased control. Following a curved line requires turning the paper with the other hand.
3) Turning corners
A square the size of a child’s palm is a good starting point for practicing moving the paper. Once the corner is reached, the paper has to be turned so the blades are pointing to the next corner. Double lines can be used, from this point, progression to a thick 10mm line will help your child feel successful ‘cutting along the line’.
Simple shapes with less angles are easier to cut. As your child becomes more confident cutting with heavy weight paper, they can graduate to regular paper. The larger the paper, the more manipulation control of paper is required while cutting with the other hand, so the higher the level of difficulty. To help children build confidence, you can draw over simple print out shapes with a thick line and gradually reduce the thickness as they improve.
This site has some good cutting activities that can be printed out:
As always you are very welcome to contact the Centre to ask about our Occupational Therapy services on 9274 7062.