WHY PRACTICE PURPOSEFUL MOTOR?
There are so many reasons to practice purposeful motor but these are my top three!
1. Motor Practice creates functional motor plans
Anytime we move, we are using a motor plan. A highly practiced motor plan can make a task easier or it can create a motor loop. This is why it is so important to be purposeful in our practice! When we practice a purposeful motor skill, we are creating motor plans that will be functional for this task moving forward. PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT, so we want to make sure we are practicing with purpose.
2. Strengthens the connection between the brain and the body
Apraxia makes it challenging for the body to carry out the motor messages sent by the brain. As we practice the process of using the brain to send a message to the body and having the body follow through, we are strengthening the connection between the two.
3. Develops more motor control
As you practice purposeful motor, you are likely to see improvements in the initiation and precision of movement as well as the ability to inhibit impulsive actions. Sharpening these skills gives us more motor control. Ultimately, the development of more motor control leads to more opportunities for education, employment, social interaction, and any goals that are important to you!
So how do we get more purposeful motor practice?
Incorporate purposeful motor into daily activities! Every intentional action we complete throughout the day requires purposeful motor. No one needs more things to schedule, so make purposeful motor a part of the activities you are already engaging in!
5. Go for a walk
Walking (running, elliptical, treadmill, riding a stationary bike) is often not a purposeful motor action. We start the task, and then the motion becomes automatic. However, we can make going for a walk purposeful by adding in an intentional goal.
Start and stop intentionally.
Starting and stopping are often the most difficult parts of a purposeful movement. We can practice these by setting an intention to start or stop moving at a specific landmark.
– Stop walking when you get to the corner
– Start walking on the count of 5
– Walk from this street light to the next and then stop
Create short goals
Short goals give you purpose but keep it fun!
– Stomp from this mailbox to the next
– Skip to the next house.
– Walk backward or sideways to the end of the driveway
Adding specific exercises to your walk adds an extra level of motor challenge. Try some of these options or come up with your own!
– Every time you come to a bench, complete 5 squats
– When you pass a dog, complete three jumping jacks
– Complete 10 push-ups at the end of every mile
Take advantage of the rhythm of your favorite songs! Create a playlist that varies in tempo and practice walking to the beat. When the music changes, change your pace.
Unfortunately, waiting is a part of life. Waiting is tricky and requires not only patience but a whole bunch of motor control. Use waiting time to practice purposeful motor with a body engager, an activity that occupies the body with intentional motor activity. Here are some of my favorite body engagers!
– Sticker by number
– Jigsaw Puzzles
– Paint by Number
– Play Dough
– Geometric Shape Puzzles
– Copy a poem or recipe
– Coloring pages
– Word Search
Need more ideas? Check out I-ASC’s body engager blog to learn more!
3. Do household chores
I don’t know about you, but there are always things around my house that need to be done! If chores are a new challenge, start with something simple and increase the challenge as motor skills improve.
For example, let’s think about washing dishes. To start, have someone else prep the dishes and focus on simply loading the dishwasher. Ready for the next step? Once all the dishes are in the sink, rinse each dish and move it from the sink to the dishwasher. Need even more of a motor challenge? Unload the dishwasher and put away all the clean dishes.
Other ideas for purposeful motor chores are:
– Making beds
– Feeding the pets
2. Take up a hobby
Increase your time for fun by taking up a hobby! Almost every hobby requires purposeful motor skills, so find something that interests you and learn how to do it. Need some ideas for where to start? All of these hobbies will have you challenge your motor abilities.
– Board Games
So many more!!
1. Explore S2C Lessons. Bring on the VAKT!
Spelling itself is purposeful motor practice! S2C lessons are designed to offer purposeful motor practice by pointing to letters to spell out words. In S2C lessons, all our questions are color coded. Have you ever noticed the red questions that are written into S2C lessons? These are VAKT (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile) questions. They are specifically designed to engage learning without using the letter board. Very often, they offer a built-in opportunity for purposeful motor practice.
VAKTs can take many forms:
It could be an opportunity to point to something.
– Point to the source of power for the hot air balloon
– Point to Egypt on the map
– Point to the planet that is furthest from the sun
It could be a simple body movement.- Let’s orbit this chair the way the Earth orbits the Sun
– Stretch out your arms so that we can measure your wingspan.
It could be a VAKTivity.
– Make ice cream in a bag
– Learn a line dance
– Create your own abstract art
If you’re trying to get more purposeful motor practice, don’t skip those VAKT questions!
Because apraxia makes it difficult to connect the brain and body, it is likely that you will need some coaching as you are practicing your purposeful motor skills. This formula can help!
ACTIONABLE VERB + BODY PART = COACHING THE BODY
Kelley Howe is an occupational therapist and registered Spelling to Communicate practitioner living in Knoxville, Tennessee. In her private practice, Adroit Therapy Services, Kelley supports her neurodiverse clients by helping them access reliable communication and teaching purposeful motor skills for all aspects of life. Kelley was first exposed to Spelling to Communicate in 2016 while working as an OT in Tampa, Florida. Since then, she has shifted her focus to helping her clients achieve true autonomy through reliable communication. In 2021, Kelley joined the I-ASC Leadership Cadre and now serves as a Cohort Leader and Mentor.