How Speech Therapy Can Benefit from Heavy Work Activity
Incorporating a Heavy Work Activity into a Speech Therapy session can make a big difference, especially for those with sensory processing challenges.
At SpeechEase, we are always looking for ways to incorporate useful techniques from other disciplines like Occupational Therapy to better support our clients. Today we’re focusing on Heavy Work, and how Heavy Work Activities can support focus, regulation, motor planning, and body awareness during Speech Therapy.
What is a Heavy Work Activity?
If you’ve never heard of a Heavy Work Activity, you may be surprised to learn that this type of activity engages a little-known sense called proprioception that we all have. Another way to describe this sense is ‘body awareness’.
A person’s sense of body awareness comes from the way receptors in their muscles and joints send messages to the brain. This sense tells someone where their body is in space, where each body part is, and what it’s doing. Thanks to proprioception we know how much force to use when completing a task like writing on a piece of paper or shutting a car door.
For people with sensory processing challenges, this sense doesn’t always work as effectively. This can lead to behaviours like writing too lightly with a pencil or slamming a door hard – behaviours that can be challenging and surprising at times.
This is where a Heavy Work Activity can come in handy. This type of activity can help to “jump start” the systems that control balance, movement, and body awareness.
A Heavy Work Activity typically involves pushing or pulling – some sort of resistance that activates as many muscles and joints as possible at the same time, for a short period of time.
How Can Heavy Work Activities Be Incorporated in Speech Therapy?
In our experience at SpeechEase Speech Therapy, we’ve found that Heavy Work Activities can be incorporated into Speech Therapy both before and during a session to help our client’s maintain focus. It may be an Occupational Therapy concept at the core, but we have seen first-hand how valuable Hard Work Activities can be in the therapy room.
An example of this is the sensory path we’ve created in our Mansfield Clinic.
As you can see here, we’ve used a variety of brightly coloured floor stickers to create an interactive pathway featuring hopscotch and action areas where our clients can do a wall push up as they make their way to the therapy room. This bodily movement and muscle engagement can help our clients to strengthen their body awareness and focus prior to starting their therapy session.
Heavy work isn’t just great for kids with sensory processing challenges, it’s been found to help clients focus regardless of their diagnosis. It’s also a really simple thing you can incorporate at home to contribute to the development of your child’s sensory processing.
Heavy Work Activities to Try
Looking for some Heavy Work Activities to try out at home, school, or in your own Speech Therapy clinic? Here are a few of our best suggestions.
PUSHING HEAVY WORK ACTIVITIES
- Wall push ups
- Pushing a vacuum cleaner around the house
- Pushing a box across the room (box can be filled with toys, books)
- Pushing a wheelbarrow or trolley
- Pushing a laundry basket full of laundry around the house
- Flattening dough (or play doh) with a rolling pin
PULLING HEAVY WORK ACTIVITIES
- Pulling on a rope
- Tug of war game
- Pull up bar
- Pulling and stretching a resistance band
- Pulling and playing with stretchy slime
JUMPING HEAVY WORK ACTIVITIES
- Jumping rope
- Star jumps / Jumping jacks
- Sitting on a therapy ball and bouncing up and down
- Squat jumps
LIFTING HEAVY WORK ACTIVITIES
- Carrying bags (grocery bags, laundry)
- Carrying a stack of books
- Carrying a full tote bag
- Weighted backpack (books, water bottles)
CHEWING AND SUCKING HEAVY WORK ACTIVITY
- Chewing gum
- Drinking thick liquids through a straw like a milkshake
- Chewable necklaces or bracelets (designed for purpose)
- Eating crunchy snacks
Curious to learn more about how we support our clients with sensory processing challenges? Get in touch with our friendly team today.
For more insights into how Allied Health Professionals like Occupation Therapists can support your Speech Therapy journey, take a look at our guide here.