What is Crossing Midline?

July 06, 2020

Crossing midline is a phrase used often by occupational therapists. When children have difficulty crossing the midline of the body, they may not easily cross the sagittal plane. This plane divides the body evenly into the left and right sides. Early in development, children will perform tasks on the same side of the body as the hand used. For example, if you place the object on the left side, the left hand will be used. This may appear normal until a child gets older and tasks become more complicated and both hands are needed more regularly. 

Signs of Difficulty Crossing Midline 

Crossing midline is vital to development. It promotes communication and coordination of the left and right sides of the brain. It is needed to complete tasks like dressing and writing and more. There are signs that a child may have difficulty crossing midline. This can include the switching hands to complete a task, turning the torso of the body instead of reaching for objects on the opposite side, and asking for help to complete age appropriate dressing tasks. 

Figure Eight 

One of the most common activities recommended to parents to improve crossing midline is tracing a figure eight. This isn’t a random idea. When you trace a figure eight in a horizontal position, it creates a left and right side of the figure. If the figure is large enough to take up a standard sheet of paper, tracing it can activate the left and right sides of the brain more easily. Repeating tracing a figure eight pattern requires more coordination than simply moving a hand from side to side. 

5 Figure 8s Playsheets

Playapy has created a set of playsheets that present five different activities and themes using a figure 8. The 5 Figure 8s include the following activities: Butterfly 8s, Fishing 8s, Ladybug 8s, Racetrack 8s, and Sluggish Snail 8s. Each of these playsheets provides a different approach using simple items in your home including crayons, a paperclip, a pencil, scissors, magnet, or a small toy car. You can watch a video for demonstrations of these activities. 

These activities are truly playful solutions that lead to powerful results. Hopefully you give them a try and see for yourself. If you would like to support Playapy, you can purchase the playsheets in the Playapy shop. You can also practice crossing midline with crossbody exercises. You can watch a video for these exercises. Have a playful day!

Amy Baez, MOT, OTR/L

Amy Baez is the Founder of Playapy and Creator of the PALS Handwriting Program. She is a pediatric occupational therapist, speaker, and parent coach with 20 years of experience. Learn more at www.playapy.com.

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