Friday, 23 February 2018

Adapting Ring Stacks with Small variations Builds Fine-Motor Skills


Rings stacks can be extremely simple, yet adapted to teach many skills. Typically developing babies often play with the popular nesting ring stacks during their first year.  A ring stack can be as simple as a tube wedged inside a container so that rings can be placed on top and not fall off.  I have used my own arm as a ring stack during therapy and the Princess Wand shown below. I love using the wand with children because after they release the ring, I can activate it to flash lights, make sounds and vibrate. These types of sensory rewards can be very motivating when trying to engage children with attention challenges.
I cut the ring shown in the photo out of a detergent bottle.

The ring stacks shown below demonstrate just a few ways the common ring stack can vary.....
1) they may require nesting by size, largest to smallest or not require size discrimination at all because the rings are the same size
2) the rings and stack may be made out of plastic, wood, soft vinyl or fabric-providing different tactile  sensory experiences.
3)The rings may be designed to squeak when squeezed
4) made out of a material safe for a baby to mouth and
5) the ring stacks may vary in the number of rings nested; of course the greater the number of rings- the more complex.












Ring stacks teach spatial relationships-how objects fit together and children build on these skills as they fit complex shapes into shape sorters and fit their feet into shoes. I have found it very helpful to explore adaptations to ring stacks when working with children and adults with disabilities. I can make rings to be as large as necessary to compensate for decreased eye hand coordination.  The little boy in the photo is placing rings on top of a cat toy. The mouse is on a spring and squeaks when moved. He was motivated to engage in order to hear the mouse.

The ring stack made out of a toy sword (I bought this one at a Dollar store)  requires stabilizing with one hand while placing the rings. The child in this photo is visually attending better than usual because  he is reaching and stretching, getting some movement sensory stimulation while engaged in stacking the ring.

In addition, I cut these rings in a rectangular shape so that he must orient the shapes to fit onto the sword. this adds a higher level cognitive demand.


I often adapt tall ring stacks to use with adults to promote visual attention and an upright posture.  The following videos demonstrate a few more variations. The Frisbee Ring Stack requires using force, so the resistance provides sensory stimulation and builds strength.




Source: Sensory Frisbee Ring Stack by RecyclingOT

The bilateral ring stack encourages people to use both hands together, developing bilateral coordination. The one shown in the video makes a beep when they press down hard. I attached a squeaky toy to the bottle so that they have to push down using force to make it squeak. Many children and adults with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders enjoy the proprioceptive sensory stimulation to muscles and joints as they use force.



Source: Bilateral Ring Stack for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities by RecyclingOT

The stretchy cord ring stack requires pulling the ring shapes that are attached to cord and then stacking them onto the stacking piece in the center. It provides a great deal of sensory stimulation as they pull and even more when the ring stack consists of a motorized toothbrush.



Source: Stretchy Cord Ring Stack for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities by RecyclingOT

The Twirly ring stack takes a great deal of motor control to place and release the rings. Many of my clients with autism enjoy watching the shapes spiral downward.


Source: Visual Stimulation Ring Stack for Individuals with Autism by RecyclingOT

The curvy ring stack made out of a bird mister provide a different type of visual sensory stimulation, reaching and requires using hands together to coordinate placement.

Source: How to make this helpful toy for children with autism by RecyclingOT

Ring stacks can be straight or curve such as the  "candy cane " ring stack shown in this video. It vibrates making it especially motivational fun and sensory based.

Source: How to Make Vibrating Candy Cane Ring Stacks for Children with Autism by RecyclingOT

Many of my clients with developmental disabilities love the paint roller ring stack. It feels great to roll between placements. It also develops motor planning skills because it can be tricky to make the rectangular shapes fit and go down this ring stack.



Source: Paint Roller Ring Stack for Children with Autism by RecyclingOT

This is just a sampling of some adaptations I have made by using the simple, familiar skill of placing a ring over a stack and adding challenges that motivate, meet sensory needs and build hand skills. Check out my books to learn more.....

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