Update on Abigail Peterson’s Exciting Fieldwork Experience

Hi again- it’s Abigail Peterson from Oklahoma State University. I wrote a post back in March about the work I’ve done the past year in the Child Development Lab on my campus, and I implore to check it out before reading this one! Today, I’ll be giving an update on my research/time there and a reflection on my experience.

First I’ll start with an update on how things went in the Child Development Lab. This semester I got to really take charge of what I was doing in that I felt much more comfortable in my skills. I even made a craft button snake that I used multiple times with E (this child I worked with). Below is a list of the intervention activities I chose and the purpose that they served.

Intervention- Purpose

    1. Reading a book- Pincer grasp and wrist movement
    2. Button snake- Pincer grasp and forearm movement
    3. Kinetic sand (with upper body supported by foam wedge)- Whole hand grip
    4. Play-Doh- Finger and hand strength
    5. Animal puzzle- Wrapping thumb and grasping objects
    6. Foam tangrams- Grasping objects and whole arm movement
    7. Color-coordinated peg puzzle- Grasping small objects and hand strength
    8. Mr. Potato Head- Grasping small objects and hand strength
    9. Building blocks- Object grip and full arm movement
    10. Feed the Horse game- Object grip and full arm movement
    11. Interlocking building blocks- Grasping small objects and hand strength


Towards the end of the semester I began to summarize my observations for a research symposiums I was participating in. The biggest thing I noticed was that E improved in her bilateral thumb movement. Many of the interventions I used focused on grip strength and finger flexibility. E had a hard time flexing her thumb and would often grip things with just her four fingers. My focus was on her wrapping her thumb around objects. By the end of the semester, E was wrapping her thumb around small to medium shaped objects with minimal prompting from me. I also noticed that E had an easier time holding her head upright whereas she used to lean forward in order to complete an activity. Finally, I noticed that E had less difficulty reaching across her body with the opposite arm than she initially did. Overall, I observed that E improved her motor functioning especially her fine motor skills.

Had I been able to work with her further, I would have loved to work more on E’s gross motor functioning as a few sessions before the end of our time I had been shown some new exercises to try. I also would have worked more on helping E to keep her head up and work on her neck strength some more also. Given the time frame that I was able to work with E, however, I feel that things went very well and that the level of improvement was acceptable.

Overall, through this experience I was able to really get a feel for what recreational therapy is and see it in action. Getting to implement interventions with a child was one of the best learning experiences I could have been given. I implore everyone to search out and attempt to participate in experiences like these because the lessons I learned weren’t something that I could have learned through a textbook or lecture. This experience is something I’ll take with me into my career and truly grew my passion for the field of recreational therapy.

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