West Midlands Health Mentor Jeevan Chagger currently works with students at a special school who have been diagnosed with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and part of his work involves developing fine and gross motor skills through sensory circuits. In this blog, Jeevan talks about how he is making a positive impact on the students he is working with.
With one of my three core objectives exploring the ‘implementation of a programme to develop and improve targeted children’s gross motor skills’, I have used a range of activities to help pupils develop in this area.
Some of the activities include core balance and stability on yoga balls, whereby pupils lie on their stomach on the ball, using their core to balance and help move forwards to encourage crawling. I also utilise heavy muscle work including lifting weighted items, such as bags and balls, to promote the use of arms and get pupils comfortable with holding onto items. This can have further benefits on handwriting such as grip of the pencil and letter formation as a result of working on arm and wrist movements.
Use of trampolines also provides another avenue to stimulate children. Trampolines are used at the start of a session as an excitatory to get pupils engaged in the activities. This encourages them to jump and use both feet, helping their walking and balance. The trampolines are then removed after ten minutes of the session, to promote calming and crawling through other activities. Sessions end with a “squash” through use of a yoga ball where pressure is exerted onto a pupil through the ball. This is useful for stimulating the body along with calming as children get a feel for more sensory-based interaction, getting them ready to return to class. Velcro play is used in addition to this, to promote construction and assembly but more for pupils to use their skills and strength to take apart and put together an object.
These sessions have made a productive and positive impact, as noted by the class teacher. “Jeevan has worked with a particular child who has both fine and gross motor difficulties which have a profound impact on his learning and self-confidence. Jeevan has been implementing a programme of support devised by the school’s Occupational Therapist. There has been a marked improvement in the child’s confidence in writing and he will now attempt to form letters involving circular shapes instead of his previous dashes and lines.
He is now able to write his name and is consistently applying pressure when writing. Last year he was unable to use the main staircase at Condover Hall when on residential, having to use a narrow staircase with two handrails. This year he mounted the main sweeping wide stairs five times, holding one handrail and managing to come down each time, twice in the middle of the stairs, no handrail at all. He was very proud of himself.”
Jeevan has also evaluated the impact he has made. “It’s been a great experience to work alongside an Occupational Therapist and deliver a programme to help pupils with their fine and gross motor skills. To see the progress of individuals within the space of 12 weeks has truly been rewarding and even more so knowing I can use what I am learning at the school in my practice at another school and sharing knowledge with colleagues.
I have been able to see first hand how consistent delivery of sessions has seen one child’s handwriting improve greatly. It’s also good to see pupils smile once they have worked with you. Some of my mentees are now more comfortable talking to adults about their issues, not afraid to ask for help and more importantly enjoying school every day. I always get asked, are our class with you today Mr C?”
That isn’t all Jeevan does…
My timetable for the day starts with a meet and greet at the gate where I interact with pupils on the playground and catch up with them on their progress over the week. I then head off to a mentoring session in the morning for 20 minutes, to help with the self-esteem of Year 7 pupils. This is followed by leading a sensory circuit session with the OT for pupils in early years foundation stage before supporting Year 6 pupils prepare for transition.
During the morning break, I am on the playground supporting pupils through physically engaging games. Use of scooters and football is very popular. I then deliver a series of 1:1 sensory circuit sessions for pupils who have their own sensory plan to aid their development. After lunch, I am back on the playground for half an hour with more activities and facilitating pupils before going inside to run a lunchtime club, with athletics the topic this term.
The afternoons are busy too, starting off with indoor play and sensory circuits with two pupils before heading back to Year 6 for mentoring. I support anger management as well as delivering a music session through the use of Dhols (Asian drums) where I teach pupils to channel their anger and thoughts into music and performance. The day rounds off with an after school club, the first of its kind at the school, as pupils explore a range of sports where the goal of each week is – Can you beat Mr C’s target?
To read more success stories like this, visit our dedicated blog page.