Hand-Under-Hand Guidance

Use hand-under-hand guidance to show a child an action or object. Invite the child to examine what you are doing by:

    • Asking him to put his hands on top of your hands to feel what you are doing, or
    • Cueing her to reach out and see that you are doing something by touching her shoulder or elbow, or
    • Bringing your activity and/or object up and under the hands of the child.
    • If a child pulls away, continue to do what you are doing and re-invite.
      If you have a child who throws an object you are trying to show him, you may control the object by holding on to it tightly or by moving it. If throwing things is one of a very small repertoire of actions the child initiates, you might want to find things to throw and imitate the child, throwing after he throws items. You might let the child see with his hands that you are doing a little something with the object before you throw it, and gradually elongate that pre-throwing time. Remember that throwing is probably this child’s way to cope with the expectation of someone’s hands controlling his hands.
    • If a child does not reach out to feel what you are doing because their hands are shy or because of motor limitations, bring the activity very near to the child and perform it while in light physical contact.

“While the child is young, or developmentally young, the connection between her and the world needs to be almost always hands-on, involving close physical, auditory, or visual involvement with whatever she is experiencing. Often she will need help to reach out and explore her environment. Helping her will entail using skillful touch in order to invite her hands outward. Gentle touch, the teacher’s hands under the child’s, never controlling, always coaxing, is the best kind. Even though we may be tempted to put our hands on top of the child’s hands in order to guide them, we need to remember that the more freedom we give her hands, the more she will be encouraged to exercise that freedom.”

(p. 74, Remarkable Conversations, Miles and Riggio, © 1999, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA)

Video Example:  Hand-Under-Hand Cooking Routine

In this video a teacher and a student who has multiple impairments (including visual) are performing a cooking routine, making muffins. The teacher has the materials set out for the student and performs the steps of the routine. The student participates by touching items or the teacher’s arm or hand to observe, but only briefly. The teacher respects the level at which he can successfully participate