As an occupational therapist in the school setting, it can be a challenge to find meaningful and purposeful activities to develop the skills necessary that support appropriate and successful engagement in the academic domain. As therapists, we tend to focus on deficits that involve fine motor and visual perceptual skills such as handwriting. We address handwriting during a treatment, but finding ways to facilitate growth in these skill areas supports further development through other additional sensory systems and kinesthesia.
In my therapy sessions, I've started sewing with some of the children that I treat. The art of sewing is a skill that kids today are quite unfamiliar with. I am a novice to the sewing world myself and maybe that has made it easier to relate to the beginning stages of learning and teaching this skill as well. This year, we've started with a plastic needle and burlap over a wooden hoop with embroidery thread and we are slowly moving into a typical needle and thread. The kids have designed superhero capes they will be sewing themselves a little at a time at the end of each therapy session. The goal is to have them completed by the end of the year so that each child can take them home.
The therapeutic benefits of this activity are numerous. This activity improves both visual and fine motor skills as well as self-control, attention, focus and perseverance. It provides the child a sense of accomplishment and ownership in what they are creating as well as pride in their own abilities. They learn a little bit more about themselves and what they're made of.
Emily Cataldo, MOT, OTR/L completed her master level education in occupational therapy in 2014. She is a licensed and registered occupational therapist in the state of Michigan with The Detroit Institute for Children supporting children in schools and headstarts across the metro Detroit area. Her foundation in occupational therapy was in the specialty area of sensory motor and she is trained in sensory integration treatment, visual vestibular therapy, and multiple motor skill acquisition modalities. Prior to her career in occupational therapy, she has 15 years of professional experience working with the pediatric population through various positions in the field of social work and family services.