The Importance of Proper Hand Grasp

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Think back to when you were first learning how to write. Did you immediately grab the pencil and start writing perfectly? Probably not. You most likely remember learning how to first grasp your pencil correctly, then tracing letters and words, until eventually you were able to write them out on your own. What you probably didn’t know was that while you were learning to write, you were also working out small muscles in your hand and fingers. This is known as fine motor development and is essential in everyday activities such as writing, feeding, and putting on clothes with buttons or zippers. When kids have fine motor problems, they tend to avoid tasks that are required of them in everyday situations. This often leads to frustration, poor academic performance, and self-esteem issues. First, let’s learn some background information about certain grasps that will help with your child’s handwriting skills!

Types of Pencil Grasps

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Quadruped grasp (3 years old)

pencil held between the index, third finger, thumb, and rests on the fourth finger


Tripod grasp (3-6 years old)

pencil held between the index and third fingers with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil

Want to strengthen your grasp more? Here are some helpful exercises you can do at home!

Activities for grip strength:

  • Squeeze a sponge

  • Carry shopping bags

  • Pour a liquid such as water or milk into a container

  • Getting dressed/undressed by themselves

  • Ringing out a washcloth after a bath

  • Using a spray bottle to water plants

  • Using scissors to cut a piece of paper

Activities for fine motor grip strength:

  • Squeezing soft toys/balls

  • Using a stapler

  • Crumble pieces of paper into balls and then throw them into a basket or trash can

  • Sharpening pencils

  • Picking up small toys with tongs

  • Picking out small objects in putty/playdoh

Activities for gross motor grip strength

  • Playing tug of war

  • Baseball and tennis

  • Riding a bike

  • Using outdoor tools such as a rake or shovel

Sensory-Friendly & Safety Halloween Tips

With fall right around the corner, many parents may have already started to think about all the fun that comes with Halloween. Here are some helpful tips to get you and your little ghost ready for a fun-filled night.


Costume suggestions:

  • Incorporate your child’s own ideas when deciding on a potential costume

  • Seamless costumes may help your child feel more comfortable

  • Have your child wear the costume around the house before wearing it on Halloween night

  • Washing your child’s costume a few times may help the fabric soften and feel more complacent

  • Weighted vests and costumes with learning objects (lace, zippers, buttons…) on them will help your child improve their fine motor skills without them even realizing it!

  • Be creative- sometimes the best costumes are the ones made from home. This may be a better option since your child is familiar with their own clothes.

  • Making sure they are comfortable is the #1 most important part of the costume process; if they are not comfortable, they probably won’t want to wear it later

Safety precautions when going trick-or-treating:

  • Talk to your child about street safety (not running in the street, staying with their parents...etc)

  • Go out at earlier times so that it’s not very dark when you are walking around outside

  • If you are walking around at night, bring glow-in-the-dark sticks/jewelry or a flashlight to have more light, while also adding something fun for your child

  • Before eating any candy, check the wrappers to make sure they are not open

Fun Learning Activities With Treats:

  • Encourage spatial and visual motor skills by helping your child sort treats by color, size and shape

  • Counting treats can be a fun way to work on math skills

  • Practice in hand manipulation skills by picking up 2-4 treats at a time with one hand


Posture - The Window To Your Child's Health


We all remember our mothers and fathers telling us to walk tall or sit up straight. Most of us never listened or brushed it off until we got into our later years.  Having bad posture may not be severely debilitating but it accounts for most aches, pains and dysfunction in the body.  The problem with trying to consciously fix your own posture 24 hours a day 7 days a week is that it doesn't work, especially if your only two years old. Most people think of bad posture as a conscious decision by the person to allow their muscles to be lazy.  Normally, it would make sense to strengthen these "weak muscles'' in order to fix this problem.  However, that is usually done with a regimen of repetitive and tedious exercises that have little results by themselves. Having said this, our therapeutic protocols help patients achieve their goals by correcting improper movements in the patient and supplementing with exercises to drive normal motor patterns in the brain.


Bad posture is a sign of health problems, not the cause of health problems.

  Just like we can observe adults exhibit abnormal posture, we can see it in our children too. Any patient and/or parents of ours can tell you that we assess motor planning, function and execution of movements.  These findings are used  as an indicator to help make recommendations for care and to monitor through out care.  The postural distortions are only seen as muscular condition only, we are looking for something much deeper. Posture is the window to the structure of your spine and function of your nervous system.  This information tells us a lot about the structural and neurological health of the body.


So what happens when the structural alignment of the spine and motor planning is lost?

1. Information is relayed back and forth through the nervous system.  Having even small deviation(s) of spinal segments will give scrambled information.  This will cause the brain and other structures of the body to work harder, making simple tasks become difficult.


2. Blood flow and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that exit the brain will become sluggish. This fluid is crucial for the nourishment and cleansing of the brain. Kids have a brain that is growing at a high rate. With that growth comes more metabolic waste which must be pumped out efficiently.


3. Neural plasticity is your brain’s ability to learn new things. The more you do something, the further entrenched it becomes in your brain making it difficult to change. Now imagine walking in grass field over and over, eventually you will make a path that can be made stronger or weaker depending on the route you take. Learning ways around these “bad pathways” is what we strive for when helping our patients.


When you have these three factors together it will produce "bad posture''. More importantly,  there is an obstruction of information from the nervous system to the body and a slow but steady decay in motor planning and action.  Posture is important for the reason that it can show a nervous system problem but it is not the CAUSE of the condition. Our highly trained and skilled therapists do just that, identify the weakness and then implement evidenced-based therapeutic techniques to improve it.


The Surprising Truth About Your Child's Sleep

According to Matthew Walker, a Cognitive Neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, quality sleep is the most important factor for every aspect of health. Getting under 6 hours of sleep a night significanlty increases our chances for diseases such as Alzheimers, cardiovascular issues, obesity and altered expression how DNA genes are read. Yeah, it's crucial.


Sleep is gone forever the moment we miss out on it.


We can never "catch up" on sleep. Our brain, unfortunately, does not work like a bank where you can make deposits and withdrawals from accumulated Zzz's. 

The first moments of life are an explosion of cells into brain and spinal chord development. By the time your child is 6 years old, he will have 95% weight of is adult brain. Trillions of neuron connections have been made up to this point. There's no question that our children have adequate sleep for future health. In order to appreciate the importance of sleep a bit more, here are some tips get the best rest we all can.

-Its been shown in the research, that when learning a new skill, the brain actually makes the connections stronger during sleep. 

-Sleeping in cooler environment will help your child get deeper sleep. Our body temperature naturally lowers steadily through the night.

-Eating a heavy dose of carbs close to bed time will cause Insulin to spike due to elevated blood sugars. Your child may toss and turn more if their blood sugar takes to big of a dip.

-Turning off half the lights in the house helps the body produce Melatonin, a hormone that tells your body when to sleep. Light bulbs LED screens all trick our brains into thinking its day time.

-Having a bedtime routine is huge advantage to help kids recognize that its time for bed. These simple cues help the brain go into automatic thinking mode and reduces anxiety.

-Plumbing system: Our brain has a plumbing system that cleans out protein plaque and damaged cells through out the night. In order to remove these toxins, a solid nights sleep is needed every night to flush them out. 

***For the adults: If you've ever had a difficult decision to make or a lot on your mind, you may have heard the term: "Just sleep on it....". There may be some truth to that. Research has shown that people perform much better after a nap or long nights rest when facing difficult tasks the next day.


Hours of Sleep Needed by Age

                          Age                                                      Recommended                      

            Toddlers 1-2 years                                11 to 14 hours           

 Preschoolers 3-5 years                        10 to 13 hours

School-aged Children 6-13 years       9 to 11 hours

Teenagers 14-17 years                          8 to 10 hours