With an increasing number of schools, nurseries, SEN institutions and paediatric Occupational Therapists using CleverstiX not only as cutlery, but also to replace ‘Tweezer Grippers’ as the new implement of choice for fine motor activities and exercises – often to develop handwriting grip – we decided to take a more in-depth look at the reasons behind this trend.
Based on feedback from OTs, SENCOs, parents and children it became apparent there were 2 key reasons why CleverstiX are being preferred to ‘Tweezer Gripper’ style tools – with the ‘No-Spring Back’ design being key to both:
- Comfort and Ease-of-Use
- The Effectiveness and Intensity of Fine Motor Development
1. Comfort and Ease-of-Use
This feedback can be attributed largely to children’s instinct for pincer movement. For instance why do many children prefer finger-eating over using a knife and fork? Often because it’s the pincer action that is natural to a child, whereas the grip and the operation required for a knife & fork is not. Hence the finger rings as part of the CleverstiX ergonomic design provides a re-assuring familiarity for the youngsters who use them, as essentially CleverstiX are simply acting as an extension of the fingers! Skybound Autism Therapies found the rings “added rubber support to help keep the child’s fingers correctly positioned in order to teach the correct motor plan“.
Additionally CleverstiX provide the child with FULL control. Crucial to this is the much referred ‘No Spring Back’ design! To quote from OT Magazine:
“We found that nearly all other ‘tweezer grippers’ or similar products were spring-loaded with a very limited degree of movement that meant that kids were only exercising the closing movement before the tweezers sprung back into place. In contrast we found CleverstiX were far more intense in fine motor development because they exercise flexion and extension by demanding control of both the closing and opening movements from a maximum of 70 degrees.”
Bloggers found that, given the choice, kids were opting for CleverstiX to use in fine motor games:
“..his preferred method of transferring the pom poms was using the CleverstiX.” (Meraki Lane)
“I gave a choice. Immediately Adam chose the CleverstiX. CleverstiX have become our firm favourite fine motor skill tool! Once I helped insert his fingers he loved how he could move it independently…. He struggled to use the Jumbo Tweezer for this activity before turning his attention back to the CleverstiX.” (Adventures of Adam)
“Our favorite fine motor tool came in very handy when playing with our sensory bin. Cleverstix enabled him to pick up individual pieces of rice. You should have seen the look of concentration on his face!” (Jenny Evolution)
Other articles point to how creative kids can be in how they use CleverstiX:
“Cleverstix were very popular with the children who were all keen to try them….lots of different uses for them from eating to all sorts of games such as, picking up small items and transferring them.” (Dyspraxia Education)
“The children who tested the CleverstiX really loved them and rated them as ‘totally ace’. One girl also used them to pick up bits of sponge to dip into paint to stencil a tepee she was making and her brother managed to use his with his Ninja Lego!” (National Handwriting Association)
Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that CleverstiX boast embossed widened tips, which of course aid pick up of any objects forming part of a fine motor exercise.
2. The Effectiveness and Intensity of Fine Motor Development
For this we must again credit the ‘No Spring -Back’ design. The lack of spring-loaded resistance demands a more precise movement from the user, and it’s this precision (rather than brute strength) that more faithfully replicates the delicacy required in many fine motor activities such as handwriting. The control demanded is 2 directions rather than one and hence the disciplines of both extension and flexion are engaged – as indeed are increased and necessary levels of concentration.Furthermore, since fully opened CleverstiX have the 2 sticks at a 70 degree angle of each other, the range of movement exercised exceeds that offered by Tweezer Grippers by several times. Paediatric OTs cited the impact of these design features when assessing CleverstiX. Skybound found “dramatic improvements in fine motor control, finger dexterity, flexibility and strength” while others echoed this theme:
“We found CleverstiX to be an excellent tool to develop inner hand strength, enabling children to develop the control and accuracy of their fine motor movements” (OT for Kids)
ConclusionThat’s no doubting the tweezer gripper style tools can assist in developing hand strength and can be crude in terms of a child’s ease-of-use. However if the objective is Fine Motor Skill it’s worth remembering that ‘skill’ typically requires precision and the ‘No Spring-Back ergonomic design CleverstiX delivers precise movements in with a natural comfort that kids find as easy as Child’s Play!