This episode is all about hand-eye-body coordination! To help us unpack this exciting and important subject, we have none other than Dr. Jacob Weiss, who is the Director of the HandEyeBody Academy!
We talk about how he got into this work and his magical history as a professional juggler, before he starts to unpack how hand-eye coordination can be utilized for different contexts and issues.
Jacob also situates his work in the realm of similar strategies, commenting on Bal-A-Vis-X specifically, and we get into the founding principles of what he does, focusing on fun and novelty.
One of Jacob's main aims is to be able to empower trainers and teachers in order to spread the methods he has developed, and this sharing and collaboration is a key part of how our guest envisions positive change.
We hear about some amazing success stories and examples from the classrooms in which Jacob has found himself, and our chat ends off thinking about the near future for the Academy and how to get involved!
“A big focus of what I do is not just about sharing a specific drill. It's sharing ideas and approaches of how to modify for different contexts.” — Dr. Jacob Weiss[10:23]
“The idea of making it novel and fun is just really at the heart of what it's about and my approach with it.” — Dr. Jacob Weiss[13:26]
“A lot of what I teach is both the movements, but it's also the mindset and teaching approach to it as well.” — Dr. Jacob Weiss[14:48]
“I've got a monthly program where you learn a different type of exercise each week and different styles and it just keeps changing and keeps giving you new ways to incorporate, so you're building up that library.” — Dr. Jacob Weiss[21:07]
[00:00:01] RH: Hey, there. I’m Rachel.
[00:00:02] JH: I’m Jessica. This is All Things Sensory by Harkla. Together, we’re on a mission to help children, families, therapists and educators live happy, healthy lives.
[00:00:11] RH: We dive into All Things Sensory special needs, occupational therapy, parenting, self-care much more. In each episode, we share raw, honest, fun ideas and strategies for everyone to implement into daily life.
[00:00:25] JH: Thank you so much for joining us.
[00:00:32] RH: Hello, everyone. Welcome to All Things Sensory by Harkla. This is Episode 156.
[00:00:40] JH: Today, we got to chat with Jacob. Not going to spoil too much for you, but he has created some amazing activities, programs and academy that focuses on hand-eye and body coordination, and so much more.
[00:00:58] RH: Yeah. We learned a ton. We are very inspired.
[00:01:02] JH: Oh, inspired is definitely the right word.
[00:01:05] RH: Let's go ahead and meet Jacob.
Hi, Jacob. How are you today?
[00:01:09] JW: Good. How are you?
[00:01:11] RH: Oh, we're doing good.
[00:01:11] JH: We're really good. We’re excited to talk to you today and to tell everybody what you do, because it's really, really cool. First, we have five secret questions that we're going to ask you, so that everybody knows all the dirty details about your life.
[00:01:28] JW: Awesome.
[00:01:30] RH: Okay, first question. Would you rather drink carrot juice, or tomato juice for the rest of your life?
[00:01:36] JW: I guess, carrot juice.
[00:01:37] RH: Me too.
[00:01:38] JH: Oh. I said tomato juice, because I was like, “You can add vodka to tomato juice.” You can’t do that to a carrot juice.
[00:01:47] RH: Probably not. No.
[00:01:48] JH: I mean, you probably could. The next question is, what podcasts are you currently listening to, besides ours, of course?
[00:01:58] JW: One of the main ones I like is How I Built This.
[00:02:01] JH: Oh, I do love that one. Yes, that's a good one. How do you drink your coffee or tea?
[00:02:07] JW: Neither.
[00:02:09] JH: Oh, okay. That was it.
[00:02:09] JW: Water.
[00:02:11] JH: Just water.
[00:02:11] JW: I drink it without the coffee, without the tea, just the water.
[00:02:16] JH: Oh, interesting. Okay.
[00:02:18] RH: When we throw those questions in, we always have an odd ball who's like, “I don't drink either. I don't do any of that.”
[00:02:24] JH: Or, I drink it from a cup.
[00:02:25] RH: Or drink it from a cup. Yes. I love it.
[00:02:30] JH: Okay. Would you rather play spike ball, or volleyball?
[00:02:34] JW: Spike ball.
[00:02:37] JH: There you go.
[00:02:37] RH: Good. Okay, last question. What is your sensory quirk?
[00:02:42] JW: Explain that more.
[00:02:43] RH: This is a sensory podcast. We like to explore everyone's unique sensory quirks. I'll give you an example. Mine right now is I'm very sensitive to auditory input. If the TV is on and someone's talking and the baby's crying, I freak out.
[00:03:00] JH: My sensory quirk is that I fidget with my hands a lot. Normally, I wear rings so that I can fidget.
[00:03:07] RH: Do you need my rings, so you can fidget?
[00:03:08] JH: It could be a problem. No, it’s okay.
[00:03:11] JW: Let's go with the fan in the bathroom. I really can't have that on. Just the sound of it really bothers me. Which may not be a great thing for the next person in the bathroom. There you go.
[00:03:25] JH: There you go.
[00:03:25] RH: I love it. My husband too. He doesn’t like it.
[00:03:28] JH: Perfect. Okay.
[00:03:29] RH: All right. Now that we all know your deepest, darkest secrets, tell us who you are, what you do, why you do it, all the things.
[00:03:35] JW: Sure. Well, yeah. I'm the Director of HandEyeBody Academy. It's all about helping people move better, focus better, function better, all with fun and creative hand-eye coordination exercises that connect hand-eye coordination to full-body movement and cognitive challenges as well. It's all about really, that full body movement, awareness and making it fun and creative.
[00:04:04] RH: How did you get started with that?
[00:04:06] JW: Long story. I guess, I've been playing basketball since I was three. Started learning ball handling, drills. If anyone knows, Pistol Pete Maravich. Learned from the videotapes from him, learned how to spin a ball on my finger when I was six-years-old.
[00:04:22] JH: Oh, my gosh.
[00:04:23] JW: I actually got into juggling when I was 10-years-old. That's been something that's core to what I do in general. Then the other side of my work, I did my PhD at Vanderbilt in Biomedical Informatics. My focus was really on how do you develop online tools for health and wellness, in collaboration with community partners, with families, really listening and learning and making it very participatory of a process? How do you really think collaboratively in designing new ways to share resources online, and connect people to opportunities to improve their wellness?
A lot of what I do now really combines my background from the juggling, which I started as a kid and have done professionally as well, touring the world, doing that, performing and teaching with that, combined with my online health and wellness focus. A lot of what I do with the hand, eye, body exercises, it's all about making the movements that I learned and got so much value from with juggling. How can you make that more accessible, so you don't have to make your hobby, or career being a juggler, you can use just one, or two balls to do really fun, interesting exercises that you can use for your other goals, whether it's for OTs, and working on that sensory integration, or motor skills, or even athletes and their hand-eye coordination and agility and cognitive training. It's about taking a lot of the different ways I've learned and created and thought about moving with a ball and making it accessible as an exercise for those purposeful goals.
[00:06:14] RH: Wow. Okay, that's all amazing and beautiful. Let's just take a sidestep and just reverse and say, you are a professional juggler?
[00:06:23] JW: Yeah, yeah.
[00:06:24] RH: Oh, my God.
[00:06:24] JH: I didn't know that was the thing.
[00:06:26] RH: Me neither.
[00:06:27] JW: Yeah. It's doing performing arts centers and corporate events. A lot of it as shows, but then we also, myself and my team, it's a three-person group that we toured with. We do team building and training for groups. That's where also a lot of this came from. Because whether it's a corporate group, or a non-profit, it's all about not just the movements, but it's the mindset, learning that growth mindset.
We use the exercises not just to teach movements, but to help teams connect as a team, getting in sync together and connecting to that growth mindset and perspective. That's been a part of what I've been doing since finishing my PhD.
[00:07:11] JH: I love that. That sounds fun. I want to do that with our team.
[00:07:16] RH: Yes. I do have one more. I'm sorry. I'm stuck on the juggling, because it's so cool. What is the craziest stunt that you did? Flaming balls? Tell me the craziest thing.
[00:07:27] JW: Yeah. We haven't really done as much, trying to make it a danger element that sometimes you see. We do lot of – almost the Blue Man Group without crazy makeup. We juggle giant yoga balls. Part of our whole model with our program, it's the social enterprise, which is still what I do today with HandEyeBody. With the events, if we’re brought in for a corporate event to work with their teams, we then donate a visit out to a community non-profit.
One of the, when talking about what's the craziest stunt or things we've done, one of the outreach programs we did, we worked with a camp in the northeast. We had the whole group of volunteers. We had 50 yoga balls, that we were just juggling in different patterns with all different yoga balls. It was a huge sea of moving colors through there that we made a video of as part of a cancer awareness program. That was one of the bigger things we did.
[00:08:28] JH: When are you going to come do all this in Boise, Idaho?
[00:08:31] JW: I'm always hoping.
[00:08:33] RH: That would be so fun to have a camp.
[00:08:35] JH: I know.
[00:08:36] RH: Can you share that video with us after we're done with the interview?
[00:08:40] JW: Yeah, yeah. I’ll have to find it. It was a while back.
[00:08:44] RH: Yeah. Find it and then we'll link it in the show notes for everyone to listen to, or to watch. Let's talk more about hand-eye coordination and why it's so important.
[00:08:55] JW: Yeah. Well, there's a lot of different reasons for hand-eye coordination. A lot of it depends on what your current context is and your goals are. A child learning, that's important skills for daily living. Tie your shoe, catching a ball, any of that. For an older person, it might be helping stabilize yourself and not falling, or also daily living. Then for athletes, it might be hitting the ball better. It's all about right your – in general, the hand-eye or eye-hand coordination, your eye sees something, your brain processes it and tells your hand and body how to move.
One of the nice things about hand-eye coordination is because it incorporates the brain in that way. It's connecting the eyes and the hands through the brain. Besides the movement element, there's also a lot of cognitive elements that you can incorporate, both just the default of seeing and catching a ball. Then you can start to add in and stack in other cognitive pieces. Reacting based on different cues. There's a lot you can mix in when you have that as the foundation to play with.
[00:10:13] RH: I love it. Do you have modified activities that we could do as therapists, that we could do with kiddos with different abilities?
[00:10:22] JW: Yeah. A big focus of what I do is not just about sharing a specific drill. It's sharing ideas and approaches of how to modify for different contexts. How do you really understand the movement? For example, if an exercise is throwing and catching a ball, a really nice way to modify that is rolling it from hand to hand on a table. That simplifies it even more. Then you can also modify it again, by just placing the ball on the table and picking it up with your other hand.
You can practice different exercises that might be designed with different patterns that involve throwing and catching, and then change it up just with some very simple changes to make it accessible, but still fun in the same way for people who can't throw and catch yet.
[00:11:12] RH: I love it.
[00:11:14] JH: Then, when we're talking about the hand-eye coordination and playing catch, what comes to mind is the program Bal-A-Vis-X. How similar is what you do to Bal-A-Vis-X?
[00:11:26] JW: Well, I haven't done any specific training with Bal-A-Vis-X myself. From what I've seen online, I think there's a lot of complimentary parallels. There are a lot of people who have been using my exercises. They've learned from Bal-A-Vis-X, or Brain Gym, or other body-brain moving pattern type of training. This is giving them other ideas, other things that they can mix in.
I think one thing from what I do, it's very exploratory and play-base. It's not saying, you have to do this, or you have to do that and get this result. It's really, and that's why I love working with OTs, or teachers, or coaches, because it's all about saying, “Here's different ways to move with a ball and your body, or other objects.” A scarf, you can change it up to make it easy, or make it harder. Here's all the different ways to move that you haven't thought about before. You can then weave that into your existing knowledge of working with your students, or clients.
If you do some of the other programs, you might say, “Oh, where could we add in a ball?” Or, “Oh, here's another type of movement that we could try, because we know you like this from these other methods.” It’s to give more ideas to explore and be creative with, especially if you can combine that with the other methods and expertise that you have working with a client.
[00:12:56] RH: Yes. I'm so glad you brought that up, because our kids really do thrive with novel activities, novel experiences. If you have this program that you can pull different activities from, modify for each unique kiddo and it's different each time and it's fun, and it's engaging, we're going to see so much progress. Not only in just the hand-eye coordination, but activities of daily living and functional life skills. I think that is so important to incorporate those novel activities and make it fun for these kiddos, too.
[00:13:25] JW: Yeah. The idea of making it novel and fun is just really at the heart of what it's about and my approach with it. There can be a great hand-eye coordination drill that you do, but if that's the only one you do, then it's not going to work the same way and it's not going to be as fun when you're comfortable and used to it. You want it to be able to progress and modify, so you have the same type of drill, but add an additional element, or change that makes it a little harder, so you can progress that way, but then also keeping it different.
Some things may incorporate more of a rhythm focus. Then some things may be a whole series of challenges with your eyes closed, so it's more on proprioception. Then other things, maybe what can you do and how can you be creative catching a ball in a cup. It's more about getting you to think creatively, not just do this drill, but you be creative, you come up with ideas, you teach me how I could do this differently.
A lot of my approach, it's very much that non-linear pedagogy type style. It's giving you a lot in your toolbox to explore, both in types of movements that you hadn't thought about, but also just the approach. One of the things, it's not about, are you doing it right or wrong? It's, “Oh, that's one way you can move with it. Let's try this other way, too.” A lot of what I teach is both the movements, but it's also the mindset and teaching approach to it as well.
[00:14:58] RH: That’s so cool.
[00:14:59] JH: One, it's so important to teach kids how to adapt and try new things and to be confident in their ability to try new things that might be hard at first.
[00:15:09] JW: Oh. I see it both for kids and adults. One of the stories that I often share is when we're at a community event, where we were doing a program that I described, part of our work is with non-profits and community outreach. We were at a community event and we were teaching juggling and different hand-eye coordination challenges. A family came up and the 10-year-old child, the parents were encouraging her to come try it. She walks up and as she's walking up, she's saying, “I can't catch. I can't catch.” She's one, telling herself that and then saying it out loud to us, further reinforcing that story she's telling herself about what she can or can't do.
Then I throw her a ball. She catches it perfectly. Then she was as good or better than anyone else we taught that day. She lights up and she's like, “Oh, I guess I can do it.” So many people think, “Oh, I'm not good at basketball, or baseball, or whatever it is,” and think that they're not coordinated. Adults will say that too. We'll teach a whole room, like at a corporate training, we’ll teach a whole room and then we say, “Okay, now switch the ball to your left hand.” There's a collective growl, right? That's that vocalization of, “I can't catch,” from when they were 10.
It's all about, okay, well, how many hours have you actually put into practicing that? It's getting you into that mindset. Instead of being in the mindset of thinking you can't do it, it's practicing, knowing that you can do it if you put in the time. Not everything, you have to put in all the hours it would take to get it, but if you can practice, tell yourself, “Yeah, I know, I could do that if I put in the time. I'll choose to do this other thing and spend my time there.” Then when you see something you really want to do, you will cut yourself off and say, “Oh, I couldn't do that.” Your first thought would be, “If I put in the time, I could do that. Let's put in the time, because I really want to focus on this.” It's that mindset piece that is just as important as well.
[00:17:08] JH: Oh, for sure.
[00:17:08] RH: Absolutely. The other thing that I was thinking, you brought up that success story. Do you have any other super inspirational success stories that you can share with us?
[00:17:19] JW: Yeah. Well, a lot of what I'm doing now is the train the trainer. A lot of my programs are focused on sharing exercises and approaches with PE teachers and coaches and therapists. One story just shared with me is for coaches, or trainers who work with seniors with Parkinson's, for example. In that situation, you might have a freezing of gait, or you're not moving, and just what they would describe as how, as they did these exercises from HandEyeBody, it just unlocked them. They're able to move.
When they first did it, it was surprising, but they were able to move in different ways, just from doing these movements from these exercises. The others have described, teachers have said, they saw a student moving in the way and doing things that they're like, “Wow, I didn't realize they could do that.” If they're only seeing a student in one context, maybe a team sport, let's say, and if that's not where the student really taps into, then it opens up how they see someone in a whole new light.
It's not that everyone – this is what every single person has to do these exercises and some may like other style, some team sports, some may, whatever, like more yoga without any objects. It's giving you another piece in your toolkit to help reach individuals who may connect in different ways, or enjoy different challenges and styles of movement.
[00:19:00] RH: We just want to take a minute and talk to you about our company, Harkla. Our mission at Harkla is to help those with special needs live happy, healthy lives. Not only do we accomplish this through the podcast, but we also have therapy products, easy to follow digital courses and the Harkla Sensory Club to try to bring holistic care to you and your family.
[00:19:18] JH: Listeners of the All Things Sensory Podcast get 10% off their first purchase at Harkla, with the discount code 'sensory'. We'd recommend checking out some of our bestsellers, like the compression sensory swing, weighted blankets, or our course on sensory diets.
[00:19:33] RH: Here's the best part, 1% of each sale gets donated to the University of Washington Autism Center to support autism research and fund scholarships to families in need to receive in-clinic therapy for their child.
[00:19:45] JH: Learn more about how Harkla and all we have to offer at harkla.co. That's H-A-R-K-L-A.C-O. Don't forget to use the discount code Sensory to get 10% off your first purchase. That's S-E-N-S-O-R-Y for 10% off.
[00:20:06] RH: The best part is all Harkla orders come with a lifetime guarantee and free shipping.
[00:20:14] JH: You really can't beat that.
[00:20:14] RH: No, you can’t.
[00:20:17] JH: Okay, let's get back to the show.
[00:20:19] JH: We have a lot of therapists who listen to this podcast. Can you talk more about the training and getting trained in your programs?
[00:20:28] JW: Yeah. I have an online program, HandEyeBody Academy. It's not just for therapists, or for teachers with kids. It's for everyone who works in this way, because it's that – it works for seniors, it works for athletes. To me, I think there's a magic in the connections across disciplines and interaction. A soccer coach could learn something from a pediatric occupational therapist, who also learned something from the baseball coach over here, and adapting it in their own context. It's all about learning. I've got a monthly program where you learn a different type of exercise each week and different styles and it just keeps changing and keeps giving you new ways to incorporate, so you're building up that library.
Right now we have, I think, over a 1,000 different exercises that we have in there. It just keeps growing. As well as a whole section on coaching and teaching strategies. Your mindset approach to teaching the tips of what you can look for, of things to pay attention to with students, or ideas that you can try to approach it in a different way. It's both the learning of the movements and the ideas, and the strategies of how to teach it, but also then connecting everyone together to share.
Because the seeds of the ideas will come maybe for me, but the real power of it is when the OT says, “Oh, I did this move and I did it, while they were – used their toy that they really like, instead of the ball." Or the soccer coach says, “Oh, I did that move while they were moving their footwork on an agility ladder. The focus of their hands. vision, combined with the footwork drill I already did was – .” So sharing the context.
I'm not an expert. My background, my research is on that online collaborative software, health tool design. My background in research isn't in OT. It's not in football training. It's not in Parkinson's. The real power will be when I share the seeds of ideas of how each person takes it and builds on it. I think, that may be what's a little different from my approach than some of the others. I'm very much not prescriptive in, you have to do it this way. It's these are ideas you can explore and here's another way you can try it. Let's be open to all the different ideas. You get that broad net.
A part of my background, my non-juggling, or ball coordination type work is facilitating design shops. Design thinking and really drawing out ideas and creative ways from a group and then you get a big net of ideas, and then you go from there. Then you say, “Okay, let's really focus down on this.” I take a lot of that same approach with what I'm doing here, that the power of how I teach and it's online, so people from all around the world, is getting that perspective from all different disciplines.
Also, people in different countries. Because I may have a way of thinking from where I grew up, that even the same type of approach may be slightly different from somewhere else in the world. It's drawing and bringing those perspectives together. It's less of, here's just this class to take and that's it. It's more of that community and ongoing learning. People who really are passionate about growing themselves as teachers and trainers and coaches, and also people who care about the benefits and the growth for the students and the clients that they teach.
It's not for someone who's just teaching forever and just dials it in and whatever happens. It's really for people who get excited about, what can I do differently? What can I do? What can I learn to help myself and enjoy doing it and help the students and clients that I'm working with? It's that energy and that's the style of approach that we go forward with it.
[00:24:34] RH: That is so cool. I mean, that's right along point with OTs in general, is we take a challenge, we take an activity and we modify it and we twist it and we make it doable and we make it novel. I think that is cool that you play on that and incorporate that. Do you know if you have quite a few therapists in your academy?
[00:24:53] JW: Yeah, we definitely have a few so far. We really are just getting going with the academy program. We're growing it — starting to grow more this summer. In between our initial launch and now, I've been connecting with just so many occupational therapists and pediatric occupational therapists. There is, like you said, just a natural connection. It's not just the movements and coordination and proprioception and those pieces. It’s the mindset, the energy of always looking for ideas, always being creative and thinking how you can modify and come up with your own idea. I really connect with the energy of OTs in that way.
[00:25:35] JH: What about for parents? Would this be something that parents should go do, or would it be better if they just went to your Instagram?
[00:25:44] JW: Yeah. Right now, the main formal program that's launched is more of the teacher-trainer professional development mode. I also have other programs coming out, that are videos designed for families to watch. Actually, I have a program for schools, a whole virtual school program that's like a virtual assembly that's designed for the kids and parents, or classes to all watch together.
A lot on the professional training side, here's the drills and here's explanations of how you can apply to modify it. That's not designed for the kids to watch directly, necessarily. Although, you can share the videos and they can watch them that way. I also have programs that it's almost like a Bill Nye, the science guy style, they bring characters. Some are more like a science lab, where it's the brain lab and you're doing more cognitive challenges. Then some, it's more rhythm with a music context.
It changes up. It's not just about the drills, but making it fun and engaging, the style of exercise. Those right now, I've been doing a more in the school context, but I'll also be having them available for parents to get access too, individually. The whole HandEyeBody kids program will be growing more. Definitely connect on Instagram, and you can just see some of the drills and you can play with those on your own. Also, keep an eye out for as we have more of the programs for families directly, too.
[00:27:14] JH: I was just thinking, as school is coming to an end and summer is about to start, that's perfect for families to grab ahold of, to do things with their kids over the summer.
[00:27:24] JW: Oh, yeah. It's something both for the summer, or homeschool. Especially if you try to do PE for home school, that can be a challenge. It's something you can do anywhere. All you need is a ball, or rolled up sock even, and you can do the exercises inside without leaving lots of space to move around. You can do it by yourself. A lot of the exercises, you can do it with partners, but they're also designed to be able to practice by yourself, if you don't have anyone to practice with.
[00:27:53] JH: Perfect.
[00:27:53] RH: I love that.
[00:27:54] JH: Yeah. I like it.
[00:27:55] RH: What would you say is the biggest challenge with what you do right now?
[00:27:59] JW: Well, one of them, I think, just with COVID currently in general, as I was saying, a lot of what I've demonstrated, here's how the solo exercises you can do. That's just the tip of the iceberg, because you can apply them to partner practice, or group exercises and activities. I just haven't been able to film and demonstrate that as easily with the social distancing. That's definitely been a challenge of how to get that out there.
Part of it in my teaching, I teach here, so you can modify it and do it with a partner, or a group. Just being able to film in that way and get the videos up, because it's to share a line. That definitely has been a challenge.
[00:28:42] JH: For sure.
[00:28:42] RH: I feel like, those group activities would be so fun in the clinic, or even in the schools for therapists.
[00:28:49] JH: Oh, for sure.
[00:28:50] JW: Yeah. I can just share one example that you can apply pretty easily, is make it a Simon says game. In Simon says, typically, okay, let's stand on one leg, or tap your head, or whatever it is. If you have a ball, or a scarf, or an object in your hand, then it opens up so many things. It could be Simon says, pass the ball behind your back, or Simon says, throw and catch the ball. Or Simon says, bounce the ball three times.
There's so many ways you can incorporate the different exercises that you learn of the styles from HandEyeBody into a group game as Simon says, which also has that, the cognitive element. You're reacting, or not reacting to the cue, if you do the move or not. It has that element there of learning that self-regulation and developing those additional pieces, but it's also a fun group game you can do with everyone together.
If you're looking for an activity, if you're a teacher and you need 15, 20 minutes of an activity and you don't know what to do, you just give everyone a ball and play Simon says and it's a lot of fun. It's a very easy group dynamic that you can add that's fun and has a lot of benefits in itself, but you incorporate all the movements that you've learned through HandEyeBody.
[00:30:20] JH: I like that idea.
[00:30:21] RH: So fun.
[00:30:23] JH: Okay, this thought just popped into my head. Before we got started recording, you said you have a kiddo, right?
[00:30:28] JW: Yes. She's four and a half.
[00:30:31] JH: Four and a half. Do you do your exercises with her?
[00:30:35] JW: Yeah. It's funny. Well one, her first word was ball.
[00:30:39] JH: Of course.
[00:30:40] JW: When she was a baby, which I’m very proud of.
[00:30:41] JH: As it should be.
[00:30:43] JW: Exactly. Yeah, so a lot of it would be just handing her the ball and passing it back without throwing and catching at first. Then again, on her own, without throwing and catching, you can pass the ball from one hand to the other reach, stretch it all the way out to the side, pass the ball back, stretch it out to the other side, and then pass it around an object. Around the leg of a chair, or just anything that she can reach around.
There's fun games that we've played with her. Then even all the different tools I get, they're really hers, as far as she knows. Blazed paths and hiko sticks and all different types of tools that we've used in my work, she will play with them and I'll use them with her. She has fun with all of that as well.
I don't push her to do it to a discipline basis, but she always gets to play with the toys whenever she wants. I think, it's helpful in so many ways, I think. It's making connections in your brain through move – I mean, you guys know this as OT. It's not about just that you're learning to move, your brain is learning how to learn, you're making new connections that will help with other learning abilities as well. I think, that's as important for her growing, as learning her numbers, or letters, or anything like that.
[00:32:07] RH: Yeah. Well, when you incorporate that learning into movement, she's going to learn her alphabet and her numbers so much easier. I mean, you can bounce the ball and say the numbers and say the letters –
[00:32:16] JW: Exactly.
[00:32:17] RH: Go through it that way.
[00:32:18] JW: Yeah. She's great at math already. We can get her a little better in her reading. I was just talking to my wife that we should do more with get the letters and the words all around the blaze pods and the different – and put the ball, bring the red ball over to whatever word, or letter. There's a lot that I just get to learn from working with her on that, too, that I can also share with the teachers and therapists and everyone that I'm working with.
[00:32:47] RH: Totally.
[00:32:48] JH: It’s so fun. I love it. What's next for you? Are you working on anything new and exciting? What's going to happen next?
[00:32:57] JW: Yeah. My big push is really getting more people part of the HandEyeBody Academy program for the teachers and trainers and therapists, because again, the more we have there, the more conversations, the more learning with one another. That energy will be there. I'm also working on developing a kit of specific balls to use and tools, because we use cups. While I'm not incorporating it into a package yet, yoga blocks and cups are two of the tools that are just really foundational, that you can apply in so many ways and they're so accessible. That's the thing is. It’s a ball, a block and a cup are pretty accessible for anyone.
I don't try to incorporate all different types of things, but just those simple things. We're putting together a kit that you can get that has it all together. Because some drills, you want a ball that is softer, and some you want a ball that bounces, and some you might want to slow it down using a scarf. We're putting that together in a kit that lets you quickly be able to do any of the exercises. That's one piece that's going to be coming soon. Again, having the programs for schools and for families is a big one. The current, main push right now is that main program for that professional learning as well.
[00:34:23] RH: Very cool. People just be able to purchase the kit, they'll have the cups, the scarfs, the blocks, the balls, everything they need to get started and learn this stuff.
[00:34:32] JW: Yeah.
[00:34:32] RH: How exciting.
[00:34:36] JH: Where can people go to find your academy and to find out more?
[00:34:41] JW: Yeah. The main website is handeyebody.com. That has all the details. Then on Instagram, which is the main place I share a lot, it's @HandEyeBody. There's a lot of free information and free drills and ideas that you can go to there just to get started.
[00:35:00] RH: I will say, I was on your website the other day, and you have a video on there that is so cool and so inspirational, and just shows the different progressions of some activities and who you work with. I would highly recommend everybody heading to your website and just watching that video to get an idea of what it looks like.
[00:35:19] JW: Awesome. Yeah. I'm updating it now, so there'll be even more stuff to look at soon. Definitely, and you can check that out and sign up to get more updates.
[00:35:30] JH: Cool.
[00:35:31] RH: Okay. Last thing, what is your one piece of advice that you could give our listeners?
[00:35:37] JW: I think, something that I talk about a lot that I have for a while and I think it really taps into — especially OTs, but also parents is, whatever you're working on, is asking yourself three questions of one, is this good for either my students, or clients, or children? The person who I'm doing it for, is this something that really speaks to what they learn well with, what they connect to, and what energizes them?
If you're doing it with a partner, is it something they would hire you for? It's what is it, really think about? Is this something that will help other people? Then the other question is, how does this benefit me? If it doesn't make you energized, if you're not enjoying it, then you're going to burn out really easily. I think, that speaks to a lot of occupational therapist, that you want to have that creative energy, that you're excited to try things and to learn things. Or you will be able to share that energy with the people that you're working with.
Then the third question is, how does this benefit the community? You might have something that helps the person you're working with and you like it, and you're sustainable and thriving, but you can always ask, is there more in the community that this could benefit? Again, for me, I didn't come from specifically developing a program for kids, or developing a program for Parkinson's. It was me saying, I love doing these type of moves and I've done this since I was a kid. How might other people find value out of this?
It's always, whatever you're doing, it's asking yourself those three questions. You don't always have to do all three in every single thing that you do, but you are aware of which one you're leaving out. You might be at a non-profit and doing amazing work for the students that you work with and something that I'm enjoying. Or you might be doing great work with clients and not be thinking about who all in the community really could benefit and need this type of service, or learning.
Or you could be the stereotypical artist, where you're just doing it for yourself and you don't really pay attention to what other people think about it. It's getting you to ask those different questions and pay attention to it. And so many times, you'll realize which one is not as prioritized when you ask those questions, and just being purposeful of where you want to make your focus, or what you can do to open up new ideas to grow with it.
[00:38:28] RH: I really like those questions, to ask yourself. That's great.
[00:38:31] JH: Just check yourself.
[00:38:33] RH: Check yourself. Check yourself. Well, Jacob, we are so grateful that you shared your time with us today. I learned some cool stuff. I'm going to go – I think we should go try out some of his activities. Do you have any Instagram reels on your activities?
[00:38:48] JW: I haven't done as much with reels yet.
[00:38:51] RH: Because we need to go remix one of your reels.
[00:38:54] JH: Well, I did write this down that we're probably going to do that. We're going to try some of your exercises and turn it into a reel, or a couple reels and share it.
[00:39:05] JW: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Definitely, that would be awesome. That's what I love being on Instagram, it's so great for anyone can learn this and try it and post themselves and tag you. It's always fun to see sometimes people do the harder ones and it's more dropping and playing and laughing. That is just fine. You can also start with the easier ones. There's all different levels to choose from.
[00:39:27] RH: Yes.
[00:39:27] JH: Yeah. I'm excited to do one.
[00:39:29] RH: Yes. We challenge everyone listening to find you on Instagram, Jacob, @HandEyeBody, and try these activities and tag us and tag you and try them out and let us have a hand-eye coordination party.
[00:39:43] JW: Awesome. Feel free. Anyone can DM and message me on Instagram. If you want a suggestion of which one to start with, I'm always happy to respond and share some ideas with you, too.
[00:39:53] JH: That sounds good. Well, thank you so much, Jacob. We appreciate it.
[00:39:56] JW: Thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun.
[00:39:58] RH: Yeah.
[00:39:59] JH: All right. I hope that you are currently as you're finishing this episode, going on to Instagram and finding Jacob, because you need to go follow him.
[00:40:11] RH: Yes. I'm just so inspired for all of the therapists out there to be able to go try these activities and modify them and implement these tools into your practice, because they can make a huge impact.
[00:40:22] JH: I'm just thinking of all the teachers and educators. Like he said, even parents. There's something there for everyone.
[00:40:31] RH: Yes. Make sure that you leave us a review on iTunes, if you love this episode.
[00:40:36] JH: If you try any of his exercises that you see on his Instagram post, make sure you take a video, post it, tag him and tag us, because we want to see what you're trying.
[00:40:49] RH: Yeah. I want to try the Instagram reel remixes.
[00:40:53] JH: We're going to that. We will do –
[00:40:54] RH: We're going to post some videos and we want you guys to remix these, and we're just going to have a hand-eye body party.
[00:41:01] JH: Yup. It's going to be great.
[00:41:02] RH: It's going to be fun. All right, everyone. Thank you so much for being here. We will chat with you next week.
[00:41:08] JH: Okay, bye.
[END OF EPISODE]
[00:41:10] JH: Thank you so much for listening to All Things Sensory by Harkla. If you want more information on anything we mentioned in the show, head over to harkla.co/podcast to get all of the show notes.
[00:41:21] RH: We always have the show notes and links, plus full transcripts to make following along as easy as possible for everyone.
If you have follow-up questions, the best place to ask those is in the comments on the show notes, or message us on our Instagram account, which is @harkla_family. If you just search Harkla, you'll find us.
[00:41:42] JH: Like we mentioned before, our podcast listeners get 10% off their first order at Harkla. Whether it's for one of our digital courses, one of our sensory swings, the discount code Sensory, will save you 10%. That code is S-E-N-S-O-R-Y. Head over to harkla.co/sensory to use that code right now, so you don't forget.
[00:42:04] RH: We're so excited to work together to help create confident kids all over the world and work towards a happier, healthier life.
[00:42:11] JH: All right. We'll talk to you guys next week.
[00:42:15] RH: Just a friendly reminder, this is general information related to occupational therapy, pediatrics and sensory integration. We do not know you, or your child. Therefore, we do not know any specific needs. Therefore, you should always refer back to your pediatrician and occupational therapist for more information.
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