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It’s snowpants season around here. Are your mornings of trying to get the kids ready for school a little frantic? Winter rolls around and you have to add getting snow gear onto the little darlings. Taking extra time that you really don’t have. I get beyond excited when I leave to get the car started and come back in and one of my kids has at least attempted to get some snow gear on. I know, it’s really the little things that keep me going. “You got your hat on?! All by yourself? WOO-HOO!”
welcome to therapy thursday!
If you are new to us every Thursday I try to post about working therapy homework into your hectic daily lives. Follow along on my social media sights under the hashtag, #therapyThursday. I am raising a child with Down syndrome, and I am also a pediatric occupational therapist. Having a child with Down syndrome it becomes easier to do things for him then his older “typically developing” brother. His dad and myself try to continue to expect Big-C to perform tasks that any 3 year old should be able to perform. He may need a little longer time, steps broken down, or more tries to get it right. Although it is acceptable if we do things for him, we want him to do more things for himself so that he is more accepted.
Getting dressed on your own is a necessary ADL (activity of daily living, check out this post to read about what this is and why it is important). Knowing how to put your own snowpants on and off is something that every parent wants their kids to be able to do. Luckily here in Wisconsin we have ample time to learn this skill. The question becomes do I have ample time to teach it. Yes I do, because I want my child with Down syndrome to be as independent as possible.
This like many other things we are teaching our children, takes extra time initially to get going. Once they pick it up it will save you time in the long run. You just have to be willing to put the time in.
Here are some before you get started tips that can come in handy when teaching your little one some independence:
- Use a step or a step stool for them to sit on for getting on or off the pants. This does two things. First it gives them a spot to get dressed, not in front of the sink or the refrigerator or sitting in the cat bed (yep that’s annoying). Second when you raise them up off the ground and keep the pants and feet down lower it is an easier task to complete physically. They don’t have to work their stomach muscles so hard to hold the straps and bring their foot off the ground to get it into the pants.
- The exception to this is for a child who has poor sitting balance. They might do better on the floor with their back either up to a corner or at least against a wall.
- Place a decorative toggle on the front of the snowpants. This step also does two things. (I just love killing two birds with one stone.) First, it helps your child figure out what is the front of the snowpants. Second, it makes it easier to pull up the zipper if there is something larger to hold onto.
- Make sure they can take off their snowpants prior to them learning how to put them on. If your child is at a loss and seems physically overwhelmed by putting them on, you may be able to figure out why by having them take the snowpants off. It takes less strength to push down and pull off the pants then pull on and up. If they are not strong enough to push down and pull off then expecting them to be able to pull on and up maybe currently not be an appropriate goal. If they can’t coordinate without assistance getting their arms out of the straps, then getting into them will be even more difficult.
Steps to putting on SNOWPANTS
- Place snowpants on the ground decorative toggle up and straps toward step. (okay so this step takes my little dude forever to complete because he has to lay them just right and will get frustrated if I help….patience it will pay off when he is independent)
- Sit on step.
- Reach down and grab straps of snowpants.
- Put in one leg at a time and pull up until you can see your feet.
- Stand up and pull up pants, then put arms in straps.
- OR put arms in straps then stand up. This action helps to pull up snowpants if you have less arm or grip strength to pull them up with your hands.
- Pull up zipper.
- LOOK MOM I DID IT!
Looks simple enough, your thinking KIM, duh I know how to put on snowpants like this. Yes you do, but your kiddo can’t do it alone, yet. Occupational therapists, like myself, break down daily tasks into smaller and smaller tasks until the entire activity is completed independently. Breaking down the tasks helps your child accomplish something rather than just not being able to put on snowpants. It also helps you as the parent. You can figure out where your child needs help and what they can do on their own.
It’s okay if your child can only sit on the step independently and you have to help with the rest. Maybe he can put one leg in the pants but can’t quite pull them up, but understands the concept of not standing until he sees his feet. Maybe he can pull up the zipper. This means his dressing skills and independence are coming along. You don’t have to say my child CAN’T get dressed on his own, but my child CAN get dressed on his own, with a little help.
don’t give up!
Also don’t do it all for him. Let him keep doing the things he can do EVERY TIME. The things he needs help on, keep helping him but let him try it first or just help a little. Give him a cue, put his hand on the zipper and place his other hand at the base and let him pull up. Eventually he will be able to do it on his own. Pull up on one pants leg until you see his feet and let him try the other one.
If you go back and start doing it for him you will be teaching him that if he doesn’t try others will do it for him. Why should he learn how to do it himself. If he continues to be challenged and expected to contribute then you will be teaching him that he can do things for himself. He will continue to want to become independent.
by the way, his teachers will thank you too! Getting a whole class of kiddos ready to go outside for snow recess is no joke!
Please feel free to comment with questions or issues you are having with your child’s dressing skills. IF you don’t want to miss a post subscribe to my blog by putting your email under SIGN ME UP!