Not only is it fun to sing along to Fergie about our fitness, we all know that regular exercise is great for both your physical and mental health. That fact is not any different for our spellers – it is a great purposeful motor that can improve health, promote regulation, and integrate the brain and the body for refined control.
When working with our spellers, it is important to remember to presume competence in not just their brains but in their bodies too. You may be wondering what that looks like. Here at GKTC, we are of the mindset that any desired motor task can be accomplished if you break it down into small enough steps and find the right place to start. Let’s start with something that might be a little more challenging for some of the apraxic bodies out there – jumping jacks.
Take a look at the image to the right and think about all the steps you have to take and all of the muscles you have to engage in getting from one position to the other. You have to bend your knees to jump up while spreading your legs to land with your feet apart, AND at the same time, you need to be able to abduct (lift out to the side) both arms simultaneously- starting with elbows extended and ending with them slightly flexed with your hands above your head. Sounds like a lot, and I didn’t even get into naming all the muscles involved and the fact that your core and neck muscles are involved in keeping you erect!
You can probably guess some good ways to coach your speller to complete a jumping jack, but for our friends that need extra support, here are some ideas to start at the smallest first steps. Don’t forget, modeling it alongside them can help too!
- Get to the desired location.
- Stand with your feet together.
- Use visual markers and gestures to indicate where their feet should go, and coach specific body parts like the toes to point forward.
- Step one leg out to the side.
- Stand with legs spread apart and toes pointing forward.
- Keep feet still and raise arms out to the side.
- Stand with legs apart and arms raised above the head.
- Bring arms back down to the sides.
- Swing the same leg that stepped out back together with the other leg.
Sometimes a first step is just getting their body to the marked positions on the floor and that is ok! It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there, don’t give up – remember we are presuming competence in their bodies! Eventually, getting to the desired location will be an easy first step, then you can start working on getting their feet together with their arms at their sides.
What motor task do you want to accomplish? Let’s set some goals, break them down, and conquer them together! Contact us at email@example.com to schedule your Whole Body S2C session today!
Katlyn Billue is an S2C Practitioner, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, and Mentor for I-ASC. She loves working alongside the spellers as a motor specialist to accomplish their goals!