Get A Grip

Thumb is One, Says Piano Teacher

How to get him to hold a pencil the right way?

John’s extensive team is still trying to help him learn this oh-so-elusive skill.

So, as John would say, “How about this?”

Thus, we have blended piano fingering with occupational therapy with academic skills.

So, to standardize:

Thumb is 1.

Index Finger is 2.

Middle Finger is 3.

Ring Finger is 4.

Pinky is 5.

With the very faintest of prompts, I am to help John put 1 in the 1 hole.

The rest he has to figure out.

And no one says anything.

Eventually, the written number 1 will be purged from the grip.

And John finally grips a pencil in a 3-finger tripod grip.

Like the other kids.

And you know the secret, right?

Practice.  Practice.  Practice.

Try this with your kids?

Peace be with us,

And thanks, Alma Liotta!




And Then He Was Gone.

Mom Outsmarts Herself

On Christmas day,  I let John have a very long leash:  Walking the dog.

But I forgot something hugely important.

I forgot my words.

And so, I ended up seeking help from a 911 dispatcher (she was very kind) and seven (7) deputies in a local search.

It started when Mom handed John the leash with a dog attached, and said to take Spike for a walk.

It was a beautiful day, and he needed a brain re-boot from too much holiday TV.

I watched them meander down the street and turn right, out of sight.

I then realized I hadn’t actually said out-loud to come back at the stop sign.

(Also John didn’t say, “Mom, there is a secret path I know of, and I am coming home that way.”)

John has become an excellent boomerang, and so I waited a few moments.

Still nothing back in sight.

So I tried to catch up with them.

In my pajamas and bare feet.

And failed.

In a very visible-to-the-neighborhood way.

About ten minutes later, I decided I needed professional help.

My bellowing, my questioning of everyone I met, my searching up and down the streets hadn’t found them.

I came back to the house to use the toilet and check in with my teenager.

Still with the dispatcher on the phone.

I opened the door, and found John and Spike back safely at home.

John was playing on the Nintendo, like any other day.

So what did I learn?   That there was a secret path in the neighborhood I didn’t know about.

And now I do.

My teenager had taught John how to make a lap with Spike and how to come back home that way.

And that is what he had done.

Like a big boy.

Like a neuro-typical approach to a chore.

Seems I was was the only one who didn’t know of the secret path.

We thanked all the professionals for their rapid response.

Then we walked the same circuit together, with John and Spike as leaders.

Again, what did I learn?

Say things out loud.  Get a plan for meeting up, if we are going to allow for an independent journey.

(I do this when we part for public bathrooms or shopping in the store.  I just forgot that day with the dog.)

The sheriff who stopped by the house suggested a wristwatch tracking device or sending a cell phone with him.

All good ideas to check into.

And we shall continue to practice with this walking-the-dog-independence, with all the risks it brings.

Peace be with us,



Jumping Drills, Jumping Jacks, Jumping Anything

Ways To Build A Critically Important Two-Footed Launch

Call it cognitive overload.

Call it dendrite building.

The drill is to jump as far as you can, like a kangaroo.

Then do it again.

Until you get to the end.

Turn around and do it back.


Ah yes, jumping.

Here is John trying to be a kangaroo, in a taekwondo warmup exercise.

Jumping jacks or high-knees running in place are equally challenging (and entertaining to watch).

A good 2-footed launch.

Like a 2-year old has.

Except John was easily 6 before he could get both feet off the ground together.

And back then we had to practice a long time, jumping on a large white exercise ball, to gain the underlying skills.

We also embedded social engagement, expressive speech, and shameless use of a preferred stim.

This is how Rosemary taught me, and how you can do it at home with your child:

Wedge with your knee a big exercise ball into a corner.

Like a small domed wobbly trampoline.

Tell your child to climb up on top, only supported (barely) by your two index fingers

(stick out only your index finger on each hand and let him hold on).

Make him count 20 good jumps, launching from both feet simultaneously.

At the same time, he counts each jump out loud, while you look each other in the eyes.


After 20, he gets to do one thing he loves (like open a cabinet door).

After another 20, he gets to close that door.

Eventually your child will build the muscles, the dendrites and the confidence to take both feet off the ground at the same time.

Because now they know where their body is and where the floor is.

Jumping, in all its forms, builds many forms of body confidence.

It also naturally shifts the child forward into fine motor and oral motor skills.

So, try this at home with your kids?

You will be helping them move forward in their learning.

At a very reasonable cost.

Peace be with us,