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    News — gross motor skills

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    Spinning and Twirling

    Spinning and twirling helps with balance.


    Have you ever noticed how much fun children have spinning around and around and around?  I remember growing up, my friends and I loved going in circles and making ourselves silly dizzy.  Even some adults still like to twirl.  Look at the Olympics for example.  We are always amazed at the power, focus, and balance that figure skaters have when they spin at amazing speeds.

    I heard recently that spinning is good for a child.  I mentioned it to a father at the park, and he responded: "Yes, I heard it was good, too."  So, when I got home I did a bit of research and found out that yes, it is in fact good for you in some respects, but it can also be  (that's why our body sometimes tells us to stop by causing us to get nauseous).  Here are a few tips that I found from the website www.asensorylife.com  and thought I'd share. 


    • Spinning needs to be controlled, supervised, and monitored with our children who have sensory differences and SPD (sensory processing disorder)
    • Teach your child to spin no more than 10 times in one direction at 1 spin per second...then stop briefly, then spin the other direction
    • For those children who do not get dizzy, encourage spinning in prone extension (on tummy) to help the brain learn to register the feeling of rotary input, along with following the two items above
    • Spinning is incredibly powerful and the brain may need a long time to process the input
    • Swinging in linear planes in prone extension and full body flexion are so much more important and beneficial for the brain in regards to the power sensation of vestibular input.  Focus more on this type of swinging rather than so much spinning.


    What are motor skills?

    Motor skills are the movements that we make, anything from writing or painting to throwing a ball or walking.  When we talk about gross motor skills, we are usually talking about the more complex skills that include underlying skills of balance and coordination. These are the skills we see we often times see at the playground; like jumping, running, sliding, hopping, and climbing. Whereas, fine motor skills have to do with our fingers and this usually coordinates with our eyes (drawing, sewing, surgery, cutting with scissors, bow and arrow, fishing, etc).


    When we evaluate a child at an older age, we would look to see how well the child is walking, jumping, running and catching a ball. We might look at how well the child uses his dominant arm and leg compared to the non-dominant arm and leg. Older children should have a clear preference for their right or left arm as well as a clear preference for their right or left leg.


    Fine and gross motor skills are enhanced at all ages by encouraging your child to move. At a young age a therapist  can help you determine how to support your child and encourage them to increased freedom of movement. At an older age, encouraging movement can not only be fun but it can be accomplished through games.  Balance boards are a great device to introduce to children at any age to help with balance, coordination, fine and gross motor skills.