So you’re probably here because you’ve been told, or have realized yourself (maybe from reading about 5 common signs your child is not crossing midline) that your child or student may be avoiding midline crossing. Maybe you want to do something to encourage more midline crossing, but you’re worried about how to do it and whether or not you have any “pinterest worthy” materials or activities to set up at home.
I’m here to tell you a little OT secret: crossing midline is really easy to encourage, if you know what to look for and how to set up the environment. You don’t have to set aside an hour of “Crossing midline” time (but that would be amazing!). Yes, there are a TON of really fun therapeutic ideas and activities for you to encourage crossing midline at home or in your classroom, (in fact, you can check out some activities here for ideas) , but setting up those activities take time and you may not be able to do them as much.
Allow me to share with you some really simple ways to start integrating crossing midline opportunities throughout your child’s day.
1. Environmental Set up is key
As much as possible, offer essential items/objects on the opposite side. For example, placing their tooth brush or a glass of water in a location that requires them to rotate their trunk to reach for it with their dominant hand.
Keep in mind that this requires some observation and cuing on your part, to make sure that only their upper body/ trunk is rotating. If they pivot on their feet or shift in their seat to turn to reach for an object, they are not crossing the midline. Once you get this trick down, you can encourage crossing midline all throughout the day.
2. Cleaning up/ Chores
Don’t worry, it doesn’t count as child labor if you’re paying for their food and lodging so don’t feel bad when asking your child to participate in daily house chores! In fact, many chores around the house provide ample opportunity for bilateral integration and crossing midline, if you set up the activity properly. Here are some examples and tips:
- When kids are putting toys away in boxes, or books back on shelves (or laundry into hampers!), position the child so that their items are on one side and they have to only use their dominant hand to pick up the object and place it away.
- Washing windows, shower doors, or washing their own crayola-tastic scribbles off the wall: facing the surface, have them use both hands on a towel doing big movements side to side.
- Putting dishes in the dishwasher
- Using a hose in the summertime to water the plants/lawn/wash the car
3. The infinity walk
The infinity (or lazy 8) symbol is a pretty universal crossing midline icon. Tracing it with your fingers (just like in this crossing midline game)or walking in a lazy 8 pattern just screams crossing midline. Anytime your child does an activity that doesn’t require hands (such as watching TV, memorizing spelling words or math facts), have them try this infinity walk.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that changing routines and adding new daily activities can be really overwhelming, even when you’re motivated and know the importance of them. The tip I give to all the parents I consult with (and try to remember myself) is to focus on ONE new activity or way of doing an activity and try to integrate it everyday for a week. Once you feel comfortable with that, add a second one and a third one.