How is Heavy Work Beneficial for My Child?
by Marisa Fiorentino, OTR/L
Kids Place North Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Are your kiddos constantly running, crashing, and jumping around the house?
Do they have difficulty sitting still and sustaining attention to activities at school or home?
Does their constant need for movement prevent them from partaking in important daily activities?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this blog is for you!
Heavy Work is a sensory strategy used by occupational therapists to help children calm and regulate their bodies allowing them to participate in appropriate tasks. Heavy work involves the resistance provided to joints and muscles through movement activities. This can be in the form of pushing, pulling, climbing, or other like movements.
Heavy work is linked to our “proprioceptive” sensory system which is sometimes called our “6th sense.” Our proprioceptive system is linked to our joints and muscles to help improve body awareness and sense of self in space. This helps calm or regulate our nervous systems. If your child’s body is not processing proprioceptive input correctly, they may seek out movement activities more frequently than others to try to compensate for this disconnect.
Luckily, there are activities for your child to improve proprioceptive processing which in turn, calms their body to participate in activities. The best thing about heavy work is it can be done anywhere and at any time with little to no equipment at all.
Below are some ways to incorporate heavy work at home and at school to help your child succeed:
- Push a laundry basket full of heavy items around the house
- Outside chores including raking or shoveling snow (Easier said than done if you live in Arizona!)
- Jumping on a trampoline or jumping rope
- Fun animal walks around the house or to transition into a new room
- Hang from monkey bars
- Tug of war
- Push-ups against a wall or while seated in chair
- Wearing a heavy or weighted backpack at school or home
- Carrying groceries into the house
- “Jobs” at school such as stacking chairs or running errands
- Wheelbarrow walks
- Joint compressions (Ask your occupational therapist for instructions on how to administer these to your child at home or school!)
If you are concerned about your child’s development, Kids Place Pediatric Therapy is here to help. Please feel free to contact us with any questions!