Children with Down syndrome often have a tendency to use one hand or the other in play, versus using both hands together. For example, they might use one hand to try to put a puzzle piece in a form board, without using the other hand to stabilize the form board. They need frequent reminders to use both hands and to integrate both sides together. Motor therapies are essential in this population, with your physical therapist helping your baby develop a solid motor base so they have the distal strength and dexterity to manipulate small objects and engage in fine motor activities. The occupational therapist will then capitalize on the gross motor base teaching you and your baby ways to use their hands together in play, dressing and for feeding. Many of our LMNOP activities will involve getting your babies to use both hands simultaneously in songs and fingerplays, so they are using both hands at the same time without even realizing it. Besides facilitating language development, LMNOP is also addressing other important skills for this population in the context of singing, movement and play.
* Disclaimer: We don’t expect typically developing children to necessarily use both hands together until about age 1 year-so these two handed activities are just for practice. It may be challenging for your baby with DS but we need practice and repetition.
~ Jill Rabin, SLP