Buttons and Zippers

Building Independence in Self Care

Up to now, we have always taken the easy way out on pants, shorts, shirts and shoes.

Elastic waist pants & shorts.  Over-the-head shirts.  Velcro shoes.

Avoiding buttons, zippers, snaps and tying.

Not any more.

Here is a way that Alma, one of John’s occupational therapists, told me to help him practice big-boy waistlines.

Using an old pair of pants (or shorts), pull back all the excess fabric (actually cut it off if necessary) around a flexible box.

And I got “upgraded” pants and shirts for him.

So now John gets to practice daily the button at the top (more challenging than shirt buttons) and zipper (harder than a backpack zipper).

And John “gets” to wear a button-down-the-front shirt every day now.

He protests, and tries to negotiate “no buttons today”.

Mom isn’t listening.

These pants you see have adjustable elastic tabs & buttons on the inside waistband.

So they don’t slide down, and we can delay on the belt (the next thing to add).

Also, John is getting more agile with his backpack zipping.

He is actually using the backpack now, as if he is curious about what is in it.

This is a new thing.

We have “practiced” backpack stuff, but never before did John show any interest or self-determination about what was in it (or not).

It seems that now he cares.

We are also working on the shoe tying, a story for another time.

So, dear parents, keep raising the bar on self care.

And allow more time for them to do it themselves, right?

Peace be with us,


Lunchbox, Backpack, Grocery Store

When He Chooses to Start Taking More Responsibility

John is using this sentence more and more:    (Thank you, dear angels)

“That’s my job, Mom.”

In many little and important ways each day.

We continue to work on John’s chores.

These tasks have recently fallen off Mom’s list and gone to his:

Packing his school snacks.

Buying special purchases at the grocery store with his debit card (special account, small amount).

Packing / unpacking and zipping / unzipping his backpack.

Seriously—John is now constantly puttering with the backpack, putting stuff in and taking it out.

For the first time in his life!

Meanwhile, I stay vigilant to anything I should quit doing for him.

The timing is important:  We can train for independence.

So when he (finally) voluntarily chooses to do anything,

Mom has to let go fast!

Motor Planning

Wish I Had More Hands, But At Least My Ticket's In My Pocket!

Zipping and unzipping suitcases and backpacks.

Stuffing things into suitcases and backpacks.

Holding awkwardly shaped things.

All are challenges that need practice to improve.

It is called motor planning.

Often comes with facial expressions of concentration.

Oh, how to use those fingers and hands as he wrestles with what he wants to do!

Mom shouldn’t help, other than show patience and offer some prompts

(starting with hand-over-hand and always moving toward less).

Here is motor planning practice in his beloved and highly-motivating world of taekwondo.

And you never know when another tool will pop up:

John has recently started talking about his ticket from school.

By now, a well-worn little chunk of paper.

First time ever he has talked about any reward system from school.

So, I ask his teacher what the story is.

It’s a school-wide reward system, recognizing students who demonstrate various aspects of character.

And John earned one.

It goes in and out of his zipper pocket, a treasured possession.

And even that is improving motor planning, right?

So, keep your eyes open for any and all efforts your child makes on doing things with his hands and fingers.

It’s all free therapy.,

Peace be with us,


The Need For Speed

Aware Of The Joy Of Winning

Ever hear of the Pinewood Derby?   It’s famous in the world of Scouts.

Each child gets a chunk of wood, four wheels and some goofy little axle pins.

Not too many rules:  just a maximum racing weight limit.

Other than that, Scouts can do pretty much anything they want in design.

This year, John has been paying more attention.

He decorated his car with a marker.

His name and a smiley face.

Apparently enough to win “Unique Design”.

Everyone wins something, right?

And his car came in #2, overall, among about 20 Scouts.

This caused great clamor among his peers, lots of cheering and lots of heats (times they run the cars).

You can see here an elaborate track.

When they announced his name as overall #2 winner, John let out a whoop and ran toward the announcer.

Quite joyous.  Quite aware.

Self-aware of his buddies happy and shouting for him.

Self-aware that his little car had done well.

Aware.  Alive.  In this world with us.

What we parents urgently seek:  our kids being aware.

So, keep putting your child in situations where self-awareness can grow.

And it may.  Don’t give up.

Peace be with us,