Occupational therapy has been shown to be extremely effective in helping people, particularly children to cope with all different types of pervasive developmental disorders. Often a therapist will perform a variety of occupational therapy exercises for PDD patients and many of these can also be done at home, for little to no cost. With children, these exercises can often be incorporated into playtime and the kids don’t even know they’re getting therapy.
One of the most valuable resources for parents of a PDD child is a book called “The Out-of-Sync Child has Fun" by Carol Stock Kranowitz. It is full of occupational therapy exercises for PDD kids that parents can easily do at home to provide them with the sensory input that they need to help them deal with the world around them. This book is often recommended by occupational therapists and is a great investment. The activities are even fun for children who don’t have PDD, so there is no need to leave out the other kids in the family.
The Crash Pad
One of the occupational therapy exercises for PDD listed in the book that sensory seeking children seem to enjoy the most is “The Crash Pad". All a parent needs is a twin size duvet cover and lots of old pillows and blankets. Simply stuff all the old pillows and blankets inside the duvet cover, close it up and put it up against a wall to make sure it doesn’t slide around if it’s on a hard floor surface. Then let the child run and “crash" into it as much as they like. The soft stuff inside prevents injury while giving them the proprioceptive input that they need.
Another one of the easiest occupational therapy exercises for PDD kids is water painting, but not the kind that most people think of. Instead of using water paints, which can be quite messy, simply use water. Depending upon the child, parents can give them a bucket of water and some large paintbrushes and let them paint the fence outside or the walls of the garage. If the siding on the house is a little dirty, add some soap and put the child’s energy to good use. The same can be done with washing the car. If the child doesn’t want to be outside, or the weather doesn’t permit, then use the bathtub. Some children will resist this type of tactile exercise at first, but by going slowly and doing it repeatedly; the child will eventually become desensitized to it.
Many doctors have found that children with PDD like to tear paper. This gives them input on multiple senses, such as hearing and touch, and it doesn’t cost anything, making it one of the best occupational therapy exercises for PDD. Simply place all the junk mail and old newspapers in a box along with some plastic bags. Grocery bags work great for this. The child can then shred the paper to their heart’s content and put it in the plastic bags. See how small they can make the pieces. When the bag is full, tie it up and let them toss it around the house or hit it. They get vestibular input from the throwing, proprioceptive input from hitting, and auditory and tactile input from the shredding.
Occupational therapy exercises for PDD don’t need to be complicated or costly. The local library usually has a wealth of books on the subject and parents can also consult with their child’s therapist for more ideas.
"The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun" by Carol Stock Kranowitz
"Helping Hyperactive Kids- A Sensory Integration Approach" by Lynn Horowitz
"Calm Down and Play- Activities to Help Impulsive Children" by Loretta Oleck Berger