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Paper Crumbling Exercise

Unfortunately too many children are growing up with delayed development in fine motor skills. We have found the Paper Crumbling Exercise to be very effective in building fine motor skills and as well as strengthening muscle tone. It should be used with other finger motor skills such as the Finger Movement Exercise, playing with building blocks, Cuisenaire Rods or working with a resistive putty. This exercise can at first be very frustrating for children with weak muscle development. Overtime it will become easier. The only material needed for this exercise is six sheets of paper. It can be any type of paper. Some people use sheets of news print or sheets from a phone book. While it is more expensive, we like using copy paper or school paper because they will not leave black ink residue on the participant's hands.

Step by Step Instructions: Paper Crumbling Exercise.

1. The proper body posture for this exercise is to stand up or sit up straight with arms stretched out to the side (like the participant is ready to be crucified). This will be difficult to maintain, but the goal is to be able to maintain this body posture throughout the exercise.

2. Put a piece of paper in each hand and have the participant wad one piece of paper into a small ball with one hand. It is important to keep the arm out stretched. After that one is wadded up, the participant wads the other piece of paper into a little ball. Make sure that the participant only uses their one outstreched hand to wad up the paper. Some will try to use both hands or try to use their side to wad the paper. Do not allow them to do this. Have them to the best they can.

3. After the participant has wadded up both pieces of paper, they can drop their arms and try to make a basket by throwing the papers into a waste basket.

4. They then, resume the posture of arms out stretched to the sides and steps 2 and 3 are repeated. This is done another time so that all six pieces of paper have been wadded up and thrown into a waste basket.

5. Give the participant praise for the effort put into this exercise and inform them that tomorrow they will have a chance to do even better. Better in a smaller wad of paper, better in keeping their arms out stretched and better in time to complete the exercise.

Exercise: Paper Crumbling Exercise.

Time: about 2 to 5 minutes depending on how frustrating it is for the child that day.

Recommended Frequency: once a day 5 or 6 days a week until mastery has been achieved.

Materials Needed. Six sheets of paper. A stop watch is optional.

Pretest Assessment: participant is not very coordinated at moving their fingers and wadding up paper with outstretched hands. Usually these children will have poor fine motor skills.

Mastery. participant can quickly wad paper into a small tight ball with outstretched arms.

Additional comments: Try to keep the atmosphere light and game like. Tossing the paper into the waste basket is usually fun. It also helps develop perceptual skills such as depth perception and a sense of body in space. This game can be made even more difficult by using sheets of construction paper, followed by card stock. This exercise is an adaptation of the paper crumbling exercise explained in Judith Bluestone's book: The Fabric of Autism (ISBN: 0972023526). The book has other neurodevelopmental exercises described as well.

For more information on neuro-development, please follow the links below:

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