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Proprioception is our sense called body awareness. This lets our brain know where our arms, legs, and body are at any given moment, which is important for our coordination.

The proprioceptive system refers to components of muscles, joints, and tendons that provide a person with a subconscious awareness of body position. When proprioception is functioning efficiently, an individual’s body position is automatically adjusted in different situations; for example, the proprioceptive system is responsible for providing the body with the necessary signals to allow us to sit properly in a chair and to step off a curb smoothly. It also allows us to manipulate objects using fine motor movements, such as writing with a pencil, using a spoon to drink soup, and buttoning one’s shirt.

Some common signs of proprioceptive dysfunction are:

  • clumsiness
  • a tendency to fall
  • a lack of awareness of body position in space
  • odd body posturing
  • minimal crawling when young
  • difficulty manipulating small objects (buttons, snaps)
  • eating in a sloppy manner
  • and resistance to new motor movement activities

Gross motor skills are abilities that let us do tasks that involve large muscles in our torso, legs, and arms. They involve whole-body movements. We use gross motor skills for all sorts of physical activities, from running to raking leaves. 

Most people use these skills easily and automatically. But gross motor skills are more complex than they might seem.

They involve the coordination of the muscles and the neurological system. They impact balance and coordination. They also form the basis for fine motor skills that help us make small movements like using a pencil.

Gross motor skills are related to other abilities. These include:

  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Body awareness
  • Physical strength
  • Reaction time

Having poor gross motor skills can impact people in all areas of life. It can make it hard to do key tasks and school, work, and home. Difficulty with motor skills can also take a toll on self-esteem.

Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists. We rely on these skills to do key tasks in school, work, and in everyday life.

These small movements come naturally to most people that we usually don’t think about them. Fine motor skills are complex and involve a coordinated effort between the brain and muscles. They’re built on gross motor skills that let us make bigger movements, like running or jumping.

Here are some examples of when we use fine motor skills:

  • Holding a pen or pencil
  • Drawing pictures and writing neatly
  • Using a keyboard
  • Using scissors, rulers, and other tools

People also need fine motor skills to do daily tasks like getting dressed and brushing their teeth.

A sensory diet is a tailored plan of physical activities and accommodations designed to meet a child’s sensory needs. This type of treatment has nothing to do with food. The goal is to get kids in a “just right” state. 

What does that mean? For kids who tend to get overstimulated, a sensory diet will include activities that help them come down from an overloaded state and feel calm. Kids who feel or seem sluggish will do activities to help them feel more alert. 

Having the right sensory input helps kids pay attention in school, learn new skills, and socialize with other kids. But not all kids are able to recognize when they’re not in a “just right” state. Using a sensory diet regularly can help kids build that self-awareness.

Usually, an Occupational Therapist designs a child’s sensory diet and uses it during therapy sessions. The more kids practice, the better. So parents and caregivers should use the sensory diet at home, too. Teachers can also do some of the activities in school.

Adults with sensory processing issues may benefit from the types of activities in a sensory diet, too. Typically a sensory diet is a plan used to help kids who are struggling.

Our Weighted Blanket instructions are sourced from “The Spruce Crafts” and written by Mollie Johanson. Please see below DIY instructions and you can buy poly pellets for the filling on our website right here.

How to Make a Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets come in various sizes and contain a filling that makes them several pounds heavier than a typical blanket. They can help to soothe people who have trouble sleeping, including those with special needs. The weight feels like a firm hug, which can be comforting. Occupational therapists often recommend them for people with a sensory-processing disorder, and those with insomnia use them too. These blankets can be quite expensive, but you can make your own with snuggly fabric and a weighted filler. While the sewing itself is only simple straight lines and should only take you a few hours to complete, this project is best suited for intermediate sewers, as weighting the blanket requires special attention.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Kitchen scale
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Tailor’s chalk or your favorite marking tool
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine

Materials

  • Durable fabric for the front and back
  • Plastic filler beads (so the blanket is washable)
  • Quality thread

Instructions

  1. Determine Your Blanket Size and Weight

    A weighted blanket doesn’t have to be as large as a quilt or comforter. It just needs to cover the person who will use it. Into the fabric you’ll sew squares that will hold the weighted filler. These can be anywhere from 3 to 5 square inches. That means the overall fabric measurements should be a multiple of your square size plus 4 inches for the edges. For example, the blanket in the photos has squares that are 3 square inches. It is 37 inches wide (3×11+4=37) and 61 inches high (3×19+4=57). 

    In general, weighted blankets should be about 10% of a person’s body weight. If you’re making a weighted blanket for specific needs, an occupational therapist can help you determine the best weight. Once you know what the total weight needs to be, convert it to ounces and subtract the weight of the fabric. Divide the result by the number of squares in the blanket. This is how much weight you need in each square. The blanket in the photos has 209 squares with about 1 ounce of plastic filler beads in each square.

  2. Sew the Front and Back Together

    Mark 2 inches in from each edge of the fabric. Then, mark a grid of squares based on the square size you chose. (In the example blanket, the checked fabric served as the markings.)

    Sew the front and back pieces with the right sides (the sides that will ultimately face out) together and a 3/8-inch seam allowance. Sew the two long sides and one short side. Leave the top open.

    Then, turn the blanket right side out and open the seams. Starting and ending a short distance from the open side, topstitch 1/4 inch from the edge. Next, starting 2 inches from the open side, sew along the marked lines that were 2 inches in from the fabric edge. Sew the two long sides and the bottom. Backstitch at the beginning and end. This inner topstitching will contain the grid of weighted squares.

  3. Sew Vertical Channels in the Blanket

    Next, sew all the vertical channels on the marked lines. Starting at the closed bottom edge, begin your stitching just over the line of stitching that’s almost 2 inches from the inner topstitching. End the stitching just over the top 2-inch marking, and be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

    When sewing these lines, it’s helpful to start at the center and then sew the next lines near the center of those sections and so on. Working this way helps to prevent the sewing from getting off track and the fabric from bunching.

  4. Fill a Vertical Channel With Weighted Stuffing Beads

    Place a measured scoop of filler beads in a vertical channel. Remember that the scoop should hold the correct weight based on the number of squares that will be in that channel.

    Shake the beads, so there is a level amount throughout the channel. Depending on the fabric, some beads might stick in the channels (flannel tends to stick a lot), but don’t worry about that too much. 

  5. Sew Horizontally Across the Filled Channel

    Use pins to form a line to keep the filler beads in place and away from the marked horizontal line for your squares. You don’t want to accidentally sew over one of the beads, as it might break your needle.

    Sew the marked horizontal line. Begin just over the line of stitching that’s almost 2 inches from the inner topstitching. End your stitching just over the inner topstitching on the other side, and be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

    As you sew support the weight of the blanket, so it doesn’t pull your stitches. Feel along the marked line as you go, and push any stray beads out of the way. If you meet any resistance when sewing, chances are a bead got in the way.

    Then, repeat the process of adding filler to a vertical channel and sewing horizontally to close off the row of filled squares until all of the lines are stitched.

  6. Topstitch the Open End of the Blanket

    When you reach the top of the blanket, sew the last row of squares closed. This stitching should meet up with the line of inner topstitching, overlapping a tiny bit.

    Fold the edges of the open side in about 1/2 inch. Starting and ending where the topstitching ended on the sides, topstitch 1/4 inch from the edge. 

    Tip

    Normally all topstitching would happen at the end of a project. But because this project gets quite heavy, it’s much easier to do most of the topstitching before adding the filler and then finish off the top at the end.

    Weighted Blanket Tips

    • Instead of marking squares on a large piece of fabric for the blanket front, you can sew squares to make a patchwork weighted blanket. Then, sew the channels and rows along the seams.
    • Sew with a small stitch length to keep the filler beads in place.
    • Use a strong, thick needle, such as one designed for sewing denim, to reduce the chance of your needle breaking.
    • Avoid pulling or pushing the blanket while sewing the rows. Support the weight, and let the sewing machine’s feed dogs do their job of pulling the fabric through.
    • If possible, push your sewing machine in from the edge of your sewing table. Having extra table space helps to support the weight of the blanket as you sew. 
    • Above all, sew safely. Pay attention to the location of the pins, watch out for breaking needles, and keep your fingers out of the way.

Hand-eye coordination encompasses the lightning-fast communication between the eyes, brain and body that allows us to effectively and efficiently use our hands based on what we see.

Hand-eye coordination involves several areas of development.

The eyes identify details that are relevant to a task: At play time a parent opens a drawer and asks their child to select a texta. The child scans the drawer’s compartments to find the texta’s.

The child’s brain processes what the eyes see, and sends instructions to the body to pick up a texta.

The hands follow the brain’s instructions – The child reaches into the drawer, grasps a texta, and pulls it out.

The vestibular system helps to maintain balance and coordinate the head and eye movements so they can focus on the contents of the drawer.

Visual tracking allows the child to scan the contents of the drawer.

Visual discrimination allows the child to pay attention to detail so they can identify the texta based on how it is different from other objects in the drawer.

Proprioception provides an awareness of how to move the body parts, and the correct amount of force they’ll need to grasp and hold onto the texta.

Gross motor skills allow the child to use the large muscles of their arm and shoulder to reach into the drawer.

Fine motor skills allow the child to use the small muscles of their wrists and fingers to grasp a texta.

Motor planning has taught the child (starting in infancy when they grabbed a dangling toy for the first time) how to reach and grasp things automatically without having to remember the steps involved.

Because hand-eye coordination is tied to countless tasks (as well as learning, communicating, and mastering basic academic skills), it’s a good idea to check in with your Pediatrician or a Pediatric Occupational Therapist if: Your child is lagging behind on milestones related to hand-eye coordination, or they are  consistently clumsy (beyond the normal fumbles of toddlerhood).

Therapy Sensory stocks a wide range of products to help support the development of these areas. The products on our page are all therapeutic whilst being entertaining games for children.

 

 Safety and Assembly Instructions

IMPORTANT

READ AND FOLLOW ALL SAFETY INFORMATION AND INSTRUCTIONS, KEEP FOR FUTRUE REFERENCE

WARNING! 

CHOKING HAZARD-SMALL PARTS, NOT FOR CHILDREN UNDER 3 YEARS. MAXIMUM WEIGHT SHOULD NOT EXCEED 140KG. 

DO NOT USE WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION.

ADULT ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

-Recommended for children 3+ years

-Do not leave child unattended while in use

-CAUTION: Use only under adult supervision

-Good safety practices should be followed at all times

-Read all instruction before using this product.

1-2 adults needed for assembly. Maximum weight capacity: 140KGS. 

Hanging hardware not included. Ideally, the swing body should be hung over grass, sand, wood chips, or other soft surfaces. It should notbe hung over concrete, asphalt, or other hard surfaces. Distance from ground should not exceed 40cm; there are fourS-hooks attached to the ropesto allow for adjustment of the rope length. 

Please be sure to examine the ropes regularly to check for wear. Rope will, in time, degrade. If the color of the rope has become pale, frays easily, or gives off a powdery material when rubbed between the fingers, we recommend you replace the rope. 

Equipment should be hung in such a way that a distance of at least 2m is clear on either side. Can be hung on an A-frame or swing set or on a tree limb of a diameter of at least 25cm.

Tools Required – adjustable wrench (not included in the packaging)

 

Assembling your swing

This swing is designed to be tight, so it does take some effort to put together.

Note: The below instructions show a 100cm swing in the photos, but the instructions still apply to the 150cm swing.

Mat Nest Swing manual from TherapySensory.com.au

Mat Nest Swing manual from TherapySensory.com.au

Mat Nest Swing manual from TherapySensory.com.au

Ensuring Safety of the Swing

Clearance distance should be 2m around the swing.
A fall onto a hard surface can result in serious injury to the equipment user.

Do not use the equipment until properly installed.
This swing is not to be used in any other manner other than its intended use.
Adult supervision is required.
Adults should verify that the hanging ropes are secured and cannot be looped back on the swing.

It is important for adults to instruct children to:
– Dress appropriately while using the swing (avoid ponchos, scarves, and other loose-fitting clothing that is potentially hazardous) (also avoid items that could damage the swing eg. metal buttons, shoes, zippers, toys).
– Sit in the center of the swing with full weight on the seat if swinging alone

It is important for adults to instruct children NOT to
– Walk close to, in front of, behind, or between moving items
– Twist ropes or loop them over the top support bar since such action may reduce the strength of the rope
– Get off the sing while it is in motion
– Climb on the swing when it is wet.
– Attach additional items to the swing.
– Stand or jump on the swing. This does not distribute the user’s body weight, so it could stretch or damage the swing. Sitting or laying is best.

Maintaining the Swing

At the beginning of the each play season, adults should:
– Check and tighten hardware if necessary.
– Check all protective coverings on pipes, edges, and corners, Replace if they are loose, cracked, or missing.
– Check all moving parts including swing seat, ropes for wear, rust, or other deterioration, Replace as needed. The hardware used for this swing (binding post, screw, S hook, lock washer, flat washer, and metal ring) can be found at local hardware store.
– Check metal parts for rust, if found, and repaint using a non-lead-based paint meeting the EN71 requirements.
– If the swing is hung from swing set frame, then lubricate all metallic moving parts that are attached by a metal connection.
– If the swing is hung from a tree branch, then rake and check depth of loose-fill protective surfacing materials(such as mulch or sand) to prevent compaction and to maintain appropriate depth(Min amount is 25cm), replace as needed.

At the end of each play season, or when the weather is bad, adults should: – Remove the swing from its outdoor location.
– Store the swing in a dry environment.

Disposing of the swing

To dispose of the swing, first disassemble it, Dispose of it in such a way that no unreasonable hazards will exist at the time that the swing is discarded.

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