Aprons, Vests, Gloves, Scarves and Belts
Many children have very limited use of their hands and feet and/or arms and legs. They may not be able to hold objects in their hands or be able to bat at or shake the objects. One thing you can do to give a child like this the ability to make things happen on his or her own is to place objects directly on the body. Here are some strategies for doing that.
By having materials attached to the gloves, the learner is able to find and explore various items of differing textures. These are made with fingerless gloves, which are commercially available, with squares of Velcro sewn onto them. Attached items include plastic beads and plastic brush. For a learner with some hand and/or finger movement the beads can be easily moved. If the child can bring the hand to the mouth, he or she might be able to explore the objects with mouth, lips, teeth and tongue. This same technique can be used with wristbands. This is a good way to redirect children away from engaging in self-injurious behaviors such as biting or chewing on the hands or arms. Children who move to engage in these behaviors find toys to play with instead.
A strip of Velcro is used to make a bracelet and shoelaces are attached. Shown here are small bells attached to each shoelace, but other items could be used instead.
This would be good for learners who are beginning to move their hands and arms. The sound of the bells motivates the child to continue to practice movements with the hand and wrist. The child might also be able to bring the scarf up to his or her face to mouth or look at if there is vision.
If a child is unable to move his or her arms away from the chest and stomach area, a Velcro vest or bib allows the child to access things easily where the hands are placed. The female side of the Velcro is sewn onto the vest and the objects have the male side of the Velcro attached to them. As the child develops more hand and arm control and strength the objects are easily pulled off by the child…..another great game.
Some children have limited movement of the hands and arms. A Velcro vest (or cummerbund) may be helpful. The vests can be wrapped around the chest area. Items can be attached that meet the child’s developmental level. Thus encouraging a child to move fingers, hands or arms to explore objects. If a child is in the “scratching” stage of development, use objects or materials that encourage “scratching” movements. If a child is in the exploration stage of development, use items with various features to explore.
The vests are made of “Veltex” material. Commercially available, sew the vest to the appropriate size needed. Always remember that the vests should be made of the “soft” Velcro material. The rough side of the Velcro should be used to attach the objects.
For certain children who are very active and/or reluctant to sit still and explore objects, an activity belt works well. Simply find or rework a belt with grommets or holes where objects can be attached to it. Buckle the belt in the back so the child cannot easily remove it. This also can work well to give the child something to play with when they have to be seated such as long rides to and from school or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.