Most of my kids have been in physical therapy for small windows of their life, for things ranging from torticollis, to speech, to rehabilitating after spinal surgery. But when we received my youngest daughter’s diagnosis of mild Cerebral Palsy with Hypotonia, I knew she was going to be in it for the long haul. She began physical therapy at 9 months of age. By 18 months we were engulfed in PT, OT, speech and vision therapy. We were in our local infants and toddler program as well at out-patient centers. She was in therapy 4-5 days a week depending on the week, on top of working with her myself at home.
When Covid hit in March and everything shut down I had to make sure she continued to make progress. It was certainly a challenge though. Having 4 kids who were doing virtual learning at home and then a toddler who needed therapy, I was constantly juggling, just like everyone else in America. However, when you have a kid with any type of disability, especially one who also has an ASD diagnosis, it certainly adds another piece to the puzzle. All routines were thrown out the window and everything she had known basically her whole life had changed. We started off slow but I began spending more and more time with her. I tried to keep specific therapy on certain days and really focusing on that particular one for a few reasons; One so she wasn’t overwhelmed and two so she was able to get some “routine back”. We have a play area that looks very close to a therapy center. We have a swing hanging from the ceiling, balance pads, exercise balls, balance boards, lots of manipulatives such as kinetic sand, bubbles, water beads, and puzzle pieces. I found myself researching every night to find new activities and new ideas. We continued with therapy sessions virtually but after trying for a few months they were causing so much stress we decided to cancel for a while and I would continue doing it all on my own.
Sometimes as a mother you instinctively know what is best for your child. Hopefully soon the world will return to normal, but until then, here I am! I will always be here to help her grow and progress, hand-in-hand. We got this!
So many exercises can be used with this product. It helps with balance, core strength, posture, arm strength, endurance. My 3 year old will sit on it in straddle form and complete puzzles at a small table; she will reach down to the side to pick up a puzzle piece and then add it to the puzzle sitting in front. We use it for rolling under her belly and walking forward on her hands and then rolling back. She will sit on it , reach up high and pull squigz off a glass door.
Peanut Exercise Ball
Peanuts are not just for eating.
These are worth every penny! I have used them not just with my 3 year old with mild CP and ASD but also with my 12 year old who underwent VBT spinal surgery last January. They are little suction cup pulls that you can pull, push, create. Excellent accessory for many activities. They are awesome for my 3 year old for bimanual therapy. She has to use both hands to often pull them off, she needs to use both hands if she wants to build with them to create things. We use these with many of our other therapy equipment from the peanut to the swing to the balance pad. They are often part of an obstacle course set up. My 12 year old used them during therapy after her surgery and would do sit ups. I would place them over her head and when she came down her arms would be over her head, she would have to reach, pull up and continue with the sit up. Then in sitting position she would throw them into a bowl sitting out in front of her.
Snap, Pop, Pull
This swing has been part of our daily work and self regulation. Almost two years ago my daughters therapist explained that you can often retrain the brain and we began working with her in an astronaut type program where she would spin on a board in all different directions. An idea I was given at home was to sit her on a swing and spin her. She we got this swing and safely hung it from a beam in my kitchen! Yes, my kitchen. Not only do we use it for therapy and core strength but it has become a STAPLE for self regulation. With the ASD side of her diagnosis she often gets upset and frustrated and can not calm herself. I have discovered that for us, the swinging motion is extremely soothing for her and we often use it before activities I know are overwhelming, before car rides, bedtime and then she will put herself on it now when she gets up. She can be in the middle of a sensory overload meltdown and I will say, lets go swing, and she swings away her frustrations and can then move on.
Oh So Dizzy
These wonderful little pods are another product we use daily in our house. They are perfect for balancing on one foot, practice stepping while maintaining balance, another perfect prop to an obstacle course, can also be used to jump over/ stepping over, we use them for toe touching (standing on one leg and touch one using the toes on the other foot). Along with the many uses, the unique spiky feature also provides an excellent sensory input as well.
Hedgehog balance pds
Hot, hot baby
Hold steady! This product has been amazing since she was learned to stand. We first began using this product to practice balance. At 18 months old, she would stand on it holding onto a hula hoop and I would be holding onto the other side. Now we use it daily for many uses. As simple as standing on it and working on balance while playing catch with a large bouncy ball or standing on it while pulling window clings off and on our glass door. I even find my older kids with no issues absolutely loving this and using it as well. My 10 year old with ADHD loves standing on it at times when he needs to fidget while virtual learning!
The scooter board has been amazing. Another product that we have been using , easily for two years and still use. In the beginning she would sit on it criss cross and hold onto a jump rope and I would pull her. Sounds simple but the skill to sit upright while holding on took a lot of effort and practice both with the strength and motor processing. She has sat on her bottom and scooted both forwards and backwards using her legs, laid on her belly with legs bent at the knees and feet up to push herself across the floor using her arms and hands. This is another product my 12 year old also used as she was rehabbing her back after spinal surgery. This is a product I love because it can be used with kids for many reasons across a large age range. AND it comes in many colors!
Foam Balance Beam
Put one foot in front of the other...
$33 SHOP NOW
The foam balance beam! We have been using this since about 9 months old. Due to the CP and hypotonia (low muscle tone) my daughter could not push up on her arms at 9 months. We used this balance beam underneath her , across the chest, to prop her up a little to make it easier to initially begin pushing up on her arms. Later we used it for her to practice taking steps over. She also struggles with depth perception and clearing her feet when she walks so I will throw this on the ground somewhere around the house. I pick a new spot every day. It helps her practice awareness of her surroundings and continually practice stepping over objects in a safe manner. Of course we also use it to walk along and balance and practice that stepping one foot in front of the other! We are almost ready to upgrade to a larger one because she loves it that much!