Mae and I made a trip to the mall this morning to buy gifts for the birthday parties she and Jay attended today. I ended up buying toys for Mae and Jay too, spending way more than I had planned. It wasn’t Mae’s doing. I told her before we walked into the mall that we were shopping for the birthday boys only. She walked by the Disney store and pointed it out casually. We breezed past the Lego store and the Pillow Pet kiosk. She wanted to look at lots of things, but she didn’t ask for anything until we went into the Mind Game store. Who can say “no” to educational toys? That store is a trap, and I fell for it. So, I applied my bookstore rule — I’ll never say no to buying at least one book, provided they behave and listen well in the store.
It was all good because I had been looking online for manipulative puzzles for Mae anyway. Dr. Mike found that Mae had significant weaknesses in visual-spatial and visual-motor skills, which means that her brain has trouble processing what her eyes see, and she may have difficulty using feedback from her eyes to coordinate movements. These skills impact a child’s ability to comfortably hold a pencil, tie shoes, button, snap, etc, all things that frustrate Mae easily. Last summer, the occupational therapist identified these challenges; however, Mae’s therapy at the time focused on her sensory processing issues because we wanted her to decrease her tendency to touch or stand too close to others. Well, it turns out that it’s all related because poor visual-spatial skills make it difficult to judge how close to stand to someone else. At any rate, if we address these issues now, it should help with her writing and other tasks that utilize motor skills.
Just last night, Mae complained about her fingers and arm hurting while she was writing in her journal. It’s clear that she is holding her pencil too tightly and using too many fingers. I showed her another way to hold the pencil and suggested that she not press so hard. She gave that a shot and then switched back to her way, telling me, “Mom, people can do things different ways. Everybody’s different.” Well, ok, fine.
Dr. Mike recommended puzzles to help improve her visual-spatial and visual-motor skills. I bought Brain Twist, a three-sided pyramid that can be twisted and turned to match colors and flipped inside out, and Nanodots, a set of strong, small magnets that can be shaped into endless possibilities. (Hubby just had to ask Dr. Mike, “What about video games?” And, the answer was, yes, video games are good practice too. Hubby had already made that argument to me ages ago because I was trying to resist buying a game console for Mae, and he just wanted to delight in hearing a professional say it.)