COTTLEVILLE, Mich. — Occupational therapist Jane Hooper, 42, recently discovered that children will voluntarily practice their fine motor skills under the guise of doing a puzzle.
She was shocked that there was a more engaging way to develop hand-eye coordination than picking up dried beans with tweezers, sorting pasta or even tying shoes.
“Kids have no idea what is going on,” said Hooper, proudly showing off her devious collection of puzzles. “They’ll spend hours thinking they’re having fun, never realizing they’re actually exercising.”
“Yay!” cheered birthday boy Anthony Morris, 8, who has mild ataxic cerebral palsy, unaware that the 50-piece “Frozen” jigsaw puzzle he got as a present was an underhanded attempt to improve his dexterity. “This is so much better than last year’s boring therapy putty.”
Parents of disabled kids throughout Cottleville praised the innovative approach.
“I’m scared that my daughter will overhear me talking about how it’s actually therapy,” said Janet Laurie, 35, carefully stepping around a mess of jigsaw pieces and a half-finished “Avengers” puzzle on her living room floor. “She’s never done this much fine motor activity in such a short time before.”
“Is it ethical?“ Hooper wondered out loud, happily watching her clients struggle to put colorful pictures together.
She never answered her own question.