Reading to your children has been proved to help your child to learn new vocabulary and develop imagination, and it's just as good for bonding. Books may also come in handy for children with special needs, as there are an array of titles that are written to encourage your child, and help you stay positive. Find books that focus on trying, accepting others differences, feelings etc. A good idea is to also act this out for your child, for example with a puppet show – something they can physically see and enjoy. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just get the point across that for example “it’s OK to be different” or “it’s important to always try”.
Book Titles of interest:
Children with OMA have difficulty initiating rapid eye movement, which may affect their ability to play sports, and because of this they may feel more comfortable practicing non-group sports. Sports are an important part of children's life because it helps them develop gross motor skills. Playing with a ball with your baby, or making pillow obstacles for your toddler, are excellent ways to develop these skills, and also will help them with balance and coordination, something that OMA children may struggle with. Swimming classes or just running around to burn some energy are great ways to exercise and build muscle strength. You may find out more about Gross Motor Skills here..
Find playgrounds, children's museums, a zoo, kiddie water parks, seasonal events, and any outdoor places and activities that can be fun, safe and age appropriate for your baby or toddler. It's common to get discouraged when seeing other children being physically able to do more things than your child, but don't stop. Exposing your child to other children is one of the best things you can do for him. They learn and get motivated to try to stand, walk, jump and talk by seeing other little ones just like them doing it.
Find activities offered in your near Rec Center or other institutes that offer a variety of classes for toddlers. Good chances are you will find several different activities throughout the year. One good example is Ready Steady Go in Australia, which offers classes for toddlers that run the length of a school term, where children get to try different sports in a non-competitive environment. This helps with their gross motor development and hand/eye co-ordination. When your child is under 3 years old, most of these places will allow and encourage participation from parents as well. This is perfect because at such a short age, they need to know that you are there to help them through while experiencing these new adventures.
Get involved in gym classes. Depending on the country, some examples are Kindergym or Gymboree, which are essentially gym classes for infants and toddlers. You may be able to find some "soft rooms" locally as well. Short sessions in safe matted areas with a variety of sensory equipment will help your child explore in a controlled and safe environment.
The best thing you can do for your child with OMA, is join in! Pull up your sleeves, put on your sneakers and play with your child. They feel most comfortable with you so they will follow your lead. Also, be encouraging! Here are a few tips from other parents of children with OMA:
We are often adding new and exciting ideas. Please check back later to get an update!
Introducing your child to music or playing an instrument may seem too hard given their focusing issues, however there are methods of learning music such as the “Suzuki Method” which tends to focus more on listening and learning instead of reading music to learn. His belief was that any child can learn to play music just as they can learn to speak any language. "I have no doubt that people are born with hereditary physiological differences, but I believe that a person's abilities grow and develop depending on the stimulation from outside." That sounds like something we all should at least give a try! By searching "Suzuki Method" on the internet you should be able to see if your child can benefit from it and if classes are available by you. Don't forget, "An unlimited amount of ability can develop when parent and child are having fun together”.
When it comes to fine motor skills, arts and crafts are a super fun and affordable way to practice these skills. These skills are very important for when it's time for them to learn to feed themselves, dress up, and later on when it's time to write or use a variety of tools on their every day life. Public libraries in many countries offer free story and craft time workshops for children from birth to school age. Try at-home options such as craft kits, looming kits, puzzles, coloring, and play dough. Remember that everything takes time and practice, so it may take awhile before your Picasso is able to draw something legible or make a tower with the legos. You may find many more ideas here.