Special activities set up at Bayville Primary School seemed like fun to the students participating, but little did they know that each station they went to had a distinct purpose. They were all part of the school’s second annual Sensory Day, created to honor National Autism Awareness Month and Occupational Therapy Awareness Month, both recognized in April.
Packed with sensory and motor stimuli, the tasks required students to use their hands, to move their bodies and to motor plan, which means to conceive, plan, and carry out a skilled, nonhabitual motor act in the correct sequence from beginning to end.
At one station, students planted plastic flowers in a bed of various types of beans, while another task required them to blow a ball across a goal using a straw. Drawing their names in sand and building geometric shapes with toothpicks and miniature marshmallows were other ways in which fine motor skills were enhanced.
Occupational therapist Dr. Doreit S. Bialer said the first sensory day held last year was a success, with children enjoying the activities and learning new ways in which to build their skills. She organized the event along with the other therapists who work together at Bayville Primary School, including occupational therapist Ms. Alison Milligan and physical therapist Diana Krauper. They all ensured that the children were benefiting from the movements required throughout the stations.
“Multisensory environments improve the development of thought, intelligence and
social skills while offering people with cognitive impairments and other challenging conditions the opportunity to enjoy and control a variety of sensory experiences,” Dr. Bialer said. “Occupational and physical therapists have specialized training to help balance children’s sensory systems to promote calmer and more organized states.”
Bayville Elementary School Assistant Principal Dorothy McManus said the benefits provided by these special activities are truly a gift to the students. “Having fun while improving motor skills is a win-win, and our dedicated therapists did a wonderful job making that happen,” she said.