This is another example of how I found things around my own home to practice the skills my Autistic daughter needed and incorporated them into her daily routine. This was my way of a home-based early intervention for Autism.
One of the many tasks at hand was to work on strengthening the muscles in her hands to someday improve her pencil grip. I found that pinching clothespins were just challenging enough. To make it fun I found different places to hang the clothesline and different items to hang.
In my laundry room, I made a line just her size and had a special laundry basket with wash cloths for her to hang. Buying a variety of new colored cloths allowed me to quiz her on colors by saying “hang the green” and then watching her find the green cloths in the basket and hang them. If I said “rainbow” it meant to hang one of each!
For a table top activity, I found a small tray with handles and tied a shoelace across the holes in the handles. I then placed a folded wash cloth over the rope. In a small bowl I put a handful of clothes pins. I showed her how to take each pin and place it on the cloth on the line. Positioning the towel and the pin at the same time was too big of a task to start, so this allowed her to focus on pinching the pin. As she got older, I used the same task but placed letters and numbers on the pins. I could spell words and ask her to put them in order. I could also put pins 1-5 out and ask her to put them in order. And once she achieved that, we worked on putting the pins 1-5 in order from “smallest to biggest” and “biggest to smallest.” This one took her a while but she did eventually get it.
If hanging a line in your home, always remove the rope when you are not in sight so the child does not have any accidents with it. Other places that you might consider are long hallways or in the kitchen between two cupboards. This of course can be a fun outdoor activity as well, just make sure the line is always adjusted to the appropriate height for them to reach.
Again, you will need to have this available for some time before they get the hang of it so don’t give up after the first few attempts. Build it into your routine. If you do laundry, take them with and show them how to hang the wash cloths. If they do it, make a really big deal out of it and have a reward for them.
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