When I learned that my son had issues with pressure sensitivity – in this case, the ability to know how much pressure to exert to make something happen, whether it be too little or too much – I was worn out on the word ‘sensitivity.’ I thought it bunk, quite honestly.
I was wrong.
After a while, I realized that he really didn’t know how much force to exert to make something happen. His touch would always be either too much, or too little. He had no grip. His fingers weren’t strong and able to do what he wanted them to do, so he was just quitting – a vicious cycle of no strength, so no exercise, so no strength, and so no exercise, and so on. On the other hand, he’d put all his weight into his arm and knock things over. Nothing was done carefully or gently.
Bicycle grips were suggested. He hated them. Squishy balls, however, he loved. Plus, they occupied him in the car or whenever we had to wait someplace, so I started carrying them around in my purse.
That got old, of course.
Stretchy stuff, like Play-Doh, worked well. Occupational therapists have access to a tougher, harder-to-stretch material, and that worked. Embedding little beads (or buttons or whatever tiny, hard object) in the stuff helped, also.
He got sick of pulling them out of the stuff. And putting them back. And pulling them out.
Sense a pattern? Make it work, and it is work. But games… well, now we were talking. Jenga worked and is still working for us. We play endless variations – of his choosing – to keep it fresh. Jenga requires a light, deft touch. And it’s hard for those without it. But take it slow and keep up the encouragement, and it works – or at least it did for us.
Don’t Break the Ice also works. Balancing games, where so many penguins/chickens/hippos/whatever have to be balanced on the ice floe/rock/island/farm are great. Same with Pickup Sticks (whatever variety). In fact, there are lots of games out there that require concentration, a sure hand, and precise movements. Oh, and they are fun.
Age restrictions? I ignore them. If someone’s interested in penguins, who cares if he is 9 and the game is for 3-5 year olds? After all, he’s the one taking pride in greater skill while having fun at the same time. And no age label is going to keep me from seeing that happen. 😉
Note: thanks to occupational therapists everywhere who not only opened my eyes, but also recommended some great games.