Each week students at Chileda participate in various Occupational Therapy groups. From an outside lens, some of these groups may appear to be a simple arts & crafts project for children with special needs, but these activities are so much more.
Arts & crafts projects include many components that allow our students to further develop their fine motor coordination, executive functioning and social skills. Within a project children have the opportunity to practice scissor skills, lacing, drawing/writing and sequencing skills. Actions such as squeezing a glue bottle and pasting pieces together can increase hand strength while also providing sensory input. Sharing materials with others may require waiting and turn taking.
For some projects each “part” of the final product can be created by a different individual, allowing students to work together to create something great! However, if presented with a project too challenging a child may become frustrated, behaviors may occur or possibly refusal to participate. For this reason it is important to provide each child with the “just right” challenge.
Here are some tips to adapt your craft projects to help your child with special needs learn while optimizing success and fun at home.
- Use Supplies with a Variety of Sizes
Use crayons, markers, paint brushes etc. with a variety of sizes. For children who are still developing their grasp and hand strength, a larger utensil may be easier to use.
- Incorporate Your Child’s Interests
Incorporate your child’s interest, choose crafts or materials with their favorite animal, color, movie or superhero.
- Decrease the Number of Steps
For example, if a project requires 3 circles to be cut out, try cutting out 2 and asking your child to cut out 1.
- Limit Wait Time
Try to have materials and supplies available & prepared before starting a project.
- Limit Choices
For example, only present 2-3 options of colors or materials at a time. Being offered too many options can be overwhelming.
- Ask Questions
Allow your child to develop problem solving and creativity by asking questions throughout the task. For example, “do you think we will need more paint?” versus “we’re out of paint, let’s use more.”