The Octaband® is a Great Tool for Motivating People with Special Needs and Intergenerational Groups for Psycho-social and Health-Related Goals
The Octaband® is being used with great success to motivate engagement and thereby healing in people around the world ~ regardless of age ~ with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, attentional deficit disorders, developmental disabilities, sensory-processing needs, mental illness, neurological disorders including Parkinson’s Disease, dementia including Alzheimer’s, or recovering from substance abuse. Intergenerational groups are also enjoying the benefits of this inclusive prop.
The following structures can be used for populations as indicated.
Bouncing Objects atop the Octaband®
This activity is being used by all ages and populations in either of two ways, depending upon the participants’ abilities:
- Tossing one or more bean bags into the air and catching it/them for as many counts as possible.
- Throwing one or more bean bags OFF of the Octaband® as quickly as possible, with people assigned to retrieving it/them.
Dance/movement therapist Miriam Berger wrote: “I love the Octaband®. We use both the large and small sizes for my Movement Disorders class (Parkinson’s, MS, etc). One activity they love… we put a small bean bag ball in the center and bounce to music and count how many times we can do it. We have gotten up to 400!”
Physical therapist Kelly McDermott relayed that picking the beanbags up off the floor motivated some children to move in challenging ways without even realizing it. She found the Octaband® “an excellent tool for our gross motor groups. It promotes visual attention, coordination, motor planning, strength and endurance. Students of varying ages, cognitive levels and physical abilities can participate and most of all have fun. One particular student, a 4 year old little boy with a cortical vision impairment and developmental delays who is shy and doesn’t typically participate in our gross motor group activities without continuous prompting, loves the Octaband®. The Octaband® brought him out of his shell. It is the one activity that he really enjoys.”
Capture the Spider
This is a group activity for children, developed by a group of first graders and shared by dance/movement therapist Rena Kornblum. It works best in a small group where each person can have a chance to be captured if they so choose.
The children move around in a circle and then choose someone to sit on the center circle. The rest of the class continues moving around in a circle, getting closer as they wind the child in the middle up in the web. If this is on a linoleum floor (not a carpet), the children continue to move around the circle, turning the captured child in the web. Of course everyone’s favorite part is getting captured, being wound up and turned.
The Octaband® should NEVER be lifted with a person sitting on the center, as that amount of weight would cause the Octaband to stress and tear.
Variation: This can be done individually with one child. The child may want to wrap it around him or herself or may want the teacher to wrap them in the Octaband® legs. The child may then try to see how quickly they can move to disentangle from the Octaband®.
Being wrapped in the Octaband® gives some children a sense of safety and security. This is an activity that should be done only if the child chooses it.
Mine / Ours Structure
This structure is appropriate for all ages and abilities. It helps participants be conscious of their desires sometimes to have things just for themselves and at other times a willingness to share.
All the participants in a group circle hold onto one or two legs of the Octaband®. Everyone says “mine” as they bend their elbows, bringing them toward the body. Once everyone’s pulling the Octaband® close to them, everyone straightens their elbows, saying “ours” as they loosen their hold on the Octaband®.
Participants must be able to stand and walk or propel their wheelchair safely, or be assisted to move around the circle. Folk music may be played to accompany this dance.
- Participants stand in a circle around a maypole, and in time with the music, take 4 steps in toward the center, then 4 steps back out to the circle.
- Everyone faces the same direction, holding their Octaband® leg in their hands closest to the inside of the circle and everyone moves in the same direction in time with the music.
- Leader directs participants to reverse directions.
- Count off so that each person is a 1 or a 2. All the 1s face one direction and all the 2s face the opposite directions. All the 1s weave to the inside of the 1st person, the outside of the next, etc. until they are all interwoven, then all reverse directions.
The Octaband® is being used successfully as a tool for motivating engagement by occupational therapists, music teachers, physical education teachers, adaptive physical education teachers, physical therapists, physiotherapists, recreation therapists, special needs and classroom teachers, dance/movement therapists, music therapists, expressive therapists, and social workers.