Friday, September 23, 2011

Book Review: Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome

As an occupational therapist and a mom of a daughter with Down syndrome, Maryanne Bruni, offers a combination of professional knowledge and practical ideas in her book "Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome."

I've had this book since before Matthew could roll over. It's been a wonderful resource to have on my bookshelf.

I referred to the book when Matthew was only a few months old, trying to get a better understanding of "fine motor" and what activities can help Matthew's fine motor development. I like the activity and toy ideas. The book served as a good guide when preparing for Matthew's annual IFSP (Individualized Family Services Plan) while in the Early Intervention program and I still find it useful when preparing for Matthew's preschool IEP (Individualized Education Plan).

Also included are practical and useful information on self-help skills, pre-writing skills, and how sensory system affects learning and behavior in individuals with Down syndrome.

I wish I paid more attention to the chapter on sensory processing early on. We did some oral stimulating activities with Matthew when he was in Early Intervention. But understanding how some targeted activities can be calming while others can be awakening or stimulating to all the senses, not just the mouth, would have been useful for me to know even when Matthew was a baby. Looking back with the knowledge I have not, I think I could have done more for Matthew when he was only a few months old. He didn't use his arms and hands much actively until he was maybe 7 months old. Knowing what I know now, I might have asked about and researched more proprioceptive activities for his arms and hands to give them the input they would ordinarily be getting if his upper extremities were more active.

Some of the information was good for me to re-read as reminders. Some of the information is more relevant to me now than they were 2 years ago so I am able to get more out of the material. Now I understand that Matthew's high tolerance for pain is probably due to his under-responsiveness to sensations. I also thought the table comparing "typical behaviors for many children with Down syndrome" and "behavior that may indicate sensory processing difficulties" was very interesting.

According to the table, Matthew mostly exhibits "typical behavior" except for he was only eating a limited selection of food and was extremely picky about consistency and texture. Thank goodness that has slowly been changing since the beginning of this year! It was addressed as a sensory difficulty so facial and oral stimulation activities were applied. In fact, we still do them everyday. Seeing other kids eat and being with persistent, patient teachers at preschool has also helped him overcome his food aversion.

Overall, a very useful book.

For more in-depth (but still practical and easy-to-understand) discussion of sensory processing issues, I recommend reading the book Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD OTR.


Melissa said...

I really need to dig this book out for some more ideas. I've had it since Claire was born, and don't know that I have ever looked at it. Thanks for the reminder!