Paediatric Occupational Therapist Lynda Foulder Hughes has taken treatment for dyspraxia to national television. Find out how the member of the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT) helped create the magic behind Tree Fu Tom…
‘Tree Fu Tom was conceived by the BBC to help young children with coordination difficulties. Since 2007 I helped write the scoping document for funding and helped design every spell for the TV programme.’
Lynda Foulder-Hughes is a member of the BAOT with a PhD in child health, and is part of the Dyspraxia Foundation.
Dispelling Difficulties with Proprioception
‘The movement curriculum is for all children, but it’s particularly beneficial for those with dyspraxia. Every spell contains an element of proprioception: the ability to know where your body is moving in relation to position and space. Some children don’t feel movement very well.
‘We used evidence from the literature on 12 specific areas of physical development for each spell – things like balance (both static and dynamic), trunk rotation (moving the top half of the body while the bottom half remains still), and trunk and leg separation (very important when learning how to play football, or standing on one leg to put your trousers on). A choreographer did the movements with the children, while we watched and made changes. Then it was sent off to our animators.’
Dyspraxia: Making Movement Fun
‘We tested all the spells on children aged three to seven with a range of academic and physical abilities. Today most children are less active than in previous generations. We know children will only do things they enjoy, so they had to be really fun, but challenging.
‘Following up, we watch children embed the spells into their everyday play. Giving them catchy names helped. It is really interesting to see children pretending to be Tree Fu Tom in the playground with their friends, and doing the spell movements.
‘Using television makes this fun way to encourage children’s movement development totally accessible. Tree Fu Tom is shown in 75 countries/territories around the world.’