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Dysgraphia is a condition where children have difficulties with writing. One of the causes for dysgraphia is the underdevelopment of sensory systems. All of us collect information from our environment through different senses and respond to this information. A child with sensory integration disorder (also known as sensory integration dysfunction) has difficulty in this process. Practicing with these sensory integration activities can help a child take in sensory information and practice responding to it in the right way.
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Activities to Improve Large Arm Movements and Coordination
Large movements working the joints of the shoulder, elbow and wrist, also help a child develop writing skills and other fine motor coordination. Some of the activities that will help a child develop coordinated movements in these joints are given below:
- Basketball or throwing a ball in a bucket.
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Activities to Improve Coordination of Fine Movements
Activities that require a child to use sensory information and coordinate fine movements are also very helpful. Some examples are given below.
- Making small balls of colored tissue paper ( you can also use these to stick on a picture for a craft activity).
- Making a tower of bottle caps.
- Making small balls out of playdough.
- Making a tower of blocks blindfolded.
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Activities that Encourage Children to Bear Weight on Shoulders and Other Hand Joints
Such activities give a lot of sensory information to the joints and this helps a child understand joint positions in a better way. Some suggested activities are:
- Hanging from a bar.
- Lying on a low hammock swing upside down and making palms touch the ground. Putting weight on the palms, with elbows extended.
- Crawling through a tunnel.
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Discriminating Between Different Textures, Weights and Shapes
These activities will also help increases awareness of sensations in the hand. This in turn will improve sensory processing skills. Some examples of sensory integration activities of this kind are:
- Put a few objects in a bag. Child has to identify them blindfolded.
- Take small boxes (like film roll canisters of the same size) fill them with different amounts of sand. Help the child to hold one at a time in their hand and place them in order of their weight.
- Cut out pieces of different textures. Allow child to touch one blindfolded. After his eyes are open, ask him to guess which one he touched.
- Picking out beads hidden in a bag of beans/ rice.
- Picking out small objects in a tub of sand.
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Learning Letter Forms With Different Textures
With dysgraphia, children have difficulty in writing letter forms correctly. Practicing with different textures, gives them sensory information, and helps the brain to understand and learn the correct forms of the letters. Some activities you can do with the child to teach letter forms are:
- Cut out letter shapes from sandpaper. Glue them on cards. Help your child run his hand over the shape of the letter as he says it aloud.
- Fill a zip pouch with hair gel. Make letters on it with fingers.
- Mix paint with some flour and water. Use this for finger painting -- make different letters and words.
- Making letters with fingers on sand.
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There are a few things you need to keep in mind while doing these activities. All children respond to activities in different ways. If you find that the child is getting irritated, or frustrated, give them a break, change or simplify the activity. If your child is bored, give him a new activity. These activities are meant to be fun for the child. Make sure that you present these activities as something exciting that the child looks forward to.
These suggestions cannot substitute the advice and intervention given by a specialist, however, these activities are for parents and teachers to do at home or in classrooms with their children to help them better cope.