Toolkit: Encouraging Fine Motor and Sensory Development through Play in a Child with Cerebral Palsy

There are many treatment options for a child with cerebral palsy (CP). But play can go a long way toward encouraging development. Here are a variety of both indoor and outdoor activities which may help develop fine motor and sensory skills:

  • Encourage your child to draw and paint to promote independence with creativity, improve fine motor skills, and encourage sensory experiences. Children often like to paint on a mirrored surface because they can see themselves and the paint. Make sure the mirrored surface is designed for children.
  • Allow your child to play with different materials and textures, such as Play-Doh, pudding, shaving cream, whip cream, beans, sand, and balls.
  • Encourage movement and sensory experiences such as swinging, spinning, and rocking. Many children with low tone respond well to fast movements. Learn what your child likes. If throwing your child up in the air causes her legs to get stiff, modify your play. Instead, position your child so her legs straddle your waist, and then spin with your child.
  • With supervision, allow your child’s siblings to engage in “rough-house” play with your child to provide good tactile and vestibular input.
  • Bring your child to the park, zoo, playground, or supermarket to provide sensory experiences in different environments.
  • Encourage play with blocks, LEGOS, and beads for stringing. Have your child put things in and out of containers, using any appropriate household objects
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