Activities of Daily Living!

Week one of OT month has begun with an emphasis on ADLs (Activities of Daily Living)! Activities of daily living are our everyday routine tasks that we engage in that include eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, transferring, and toileting. Learning to participate in self-care tasks is an exciting time in a child's life and provides children with great opportunities for growth and independence. Some great ideas to increase independence and participation in daily routines include the following:

  • providing encouragement and modeling,
  • breaking down steps of the task,
  • using visuals, and
  • offering choices

Don't forget to have fun and make ADLs exciting for children by incorporating games and activities. An example may include playing dress up.  Dress up is a great way for children to work on dressing, undressing, and fasteners when they don't even know it. Get creative and turn those daily routine tasks into something fun and exciting!

Throughout the week we had offered tips, resources, and iPad applications for families to support ADLs.  We had a great start with our fun activity of shoe tying. Our goal was to have 100 people tie their shoes by the end of the week, so everyone's fingers have been occupied!  Our tip for the week stressed the importance of offering choices to children.  Offering choices can be motivating for children and increase their participation in an activity.  Choices can be offered during routines to pick clothing when dressing or flavor of toothpaste when brushing teeth. Choices are a great motivation and can be offered during any routine task whether it is the selection of activity, duration, frequency, etc.  During mealtime, you could ask your child, "Do you want two or four grapes?" Our home activity encouraged families to use backward chaining with dressing.  Backward chaining is when adults provide assistance through several tasks until the child completes the last step. This process is used as the child progresses from independently completing the last step, to the last two, and so on. The adult gradually decreases the amount of help as the child begins to complete more steps of the task.  With this technique, the child is able to feel success by finishing the task. Backward chaining is one approach to helping a child accomplish dressing skills, but not the only option. Some great pre-dressing skill activities include playing dress up, dressing dolls, playing "Simon Says" to identify body parts, and completing threading/fastener activities. As dressing is a complex skill, it is great to encourage a variety of experiences.

Our app of the week is called Visual Schedule Planner by Good Karma Applications, Inc. I am really excited about this one because it offers so many opportunities to children and families. Visual Schedule Planner can be viewed as a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule and may be customized to include audio/visual images, videos for modeling, activity schedules, timers or checklists. This app also provides opportunities for reminders and note taking.  The Visual Schedule Planner is great for transitions, daily schedules, planning, task breakdown, and modeling. This app is superior to many other visual schedule applications because it can be tailored to meet the needs of each child and his or her preferences.

OT month is exciting for us because we can share our profession with all of you and show off how fun and creative we get to be!  I encourage parents and caregivers to try some of the activities and suggestions above to help make ADLs fun and enticing again!