Building Pre-Dressing Skills

One of the most obvious ADLs is dressing. And this is often an area that OTs may address in early intervention or school settings. If you're interested in building these skills for your child or a young client, read below for some of my favorite strategies.

Undressing- Before a child is able to dress themselves, they start to undress themselves. In a reverse chaining method, you can allow your child to do the last step of the undressing. This might be pushing pants off from ankles, or pushing a shirt over his head. Socks and shoes are also a favorite for kids to doff.

Play Dress Up - Dress up games serve double purpose- imaginary play and building physical skills. Some examples might be using different hats, or using the commercially available hooded towels or blankets to practice putting things on their head. I made a cape for my son out of an old t-shirt by cutting off the sleeves and front of the shirt.

Another piece in the dress up category would be gloves or booties that come in these kits with a coordinating book. A friend gave us the "Tickle Monster" book and my son loves donning and doffing the gloves.

Pullover bibs- These are such a simple way to practice the overhead movement. They don't catch as much as the ones with a big pocket, but depending on what you are serving they will be more than sufficient. I see these often at discount stores, but there are also a number of tutorials for how you can make your own.

Dolls- Practicing dressing and undressing dolls is a great way to build fine motor skills, use of fasteners (usually velcro) and address valuable social-emotional skills also.

Button Snake- When it comes to practicing fastener skills, the button snake is becoming well known in therapy and mommy communities. I have made these out of scrap materials before because I'm cheap and don't want to spend a lot of time on it. Tonya at Therapy Fun Zone makes much nicer ones and also has ideas such as making a button sandwich out of felt pieces. 
button snake 1web
Image via Therapy Fun Zone

What are some of the ways that you use to build dressing skills?

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