ATIA Update #1: Improving Access for Kids with High Tone

I just got out of this incredible, high energy, totally innovative session on access for kids with high muscle tone!  I wish this session was longer because I left feeling totally charged and ready to overhaul everything I thought I knew about positioning, switch use, and more, and totally inspired to try new things-but I need more info!! Here are some bullet points that I will revisit in more detail when I get back home and have time to process and use these amazing tips!

  • Access is gained through experience, not something that kids just have!  This learning process is driven by keeping a child engaged in the activity, not the outcome-in other words, not the switch, not the computer, not being "good" at something, but learning through self-driven, motivating exploration.  
  • Children engage and attend through self-driven intention and motivation, by visualizing themselves doing motor activities, and by having models of these activities in their environment.  We help them by creating these opportunities, not using hand over hand or adult driven "trials".  
  • Access is rooted in positioning and many of our kids are positioned to relax, not to act!
  • Consider the movements required for mechanical switches and the mismatch that often occurs between the skill sets of our kids and those required for graded, effortful "hitting" of a mechanical switch.  Could we explore how electronic switches could be a better choice for kids with tone?
  • Hand control is driven by head control, which is driven by pelvic stability and a relationship with gravity through feet connecting with floor.  We really need to understand physiological and physical ( as in physics) framework to get our kids ready to engage in activities for access and learning. 
Karen Kangas, OTR/L, out of Pennsylvania was the speaker and I highly recommend  fnding her publications and Webinars on Google. I plan to attend a full training on these principles very soon, will update you when I find a listing! :) Off to another session!

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