Monday, May 19, 2014

Things we've done recently

I know I don't type on here usually but college is taking it's toll. In fact I will be taking a year off it looks like. My kiddos need my attention and that is more important than getting a degree at this point.

Here is an incomplete list of things we have done:

Races - We live on a hill and it has been a lifesaver to encourage our kids to run. We also do them in the house but we have them do things like slither like a snake (no hands or feet) Walk while holding your heels (looks like a turkey), donkey kicks, and so forth.

Treadmill - We do have one and it makes it great to get the kids' energy out on rainy days.

Electronic Devices - While I don't encourage this one particularly it does have it's place. My kiddo HATES Costco. Seriously, just the thought of going there causes whining uncontrollably. I have found with something like a leapster, ipad, ipod, DS has seriously mellowed him out in the store. I'm not sure what he dislikes about the store but it's only that one. My word of caution is that he does tend to get VERY addicted to it so before hand we must set the rules or limitations.

Weighted toy - This wasn't for my kiddos but for my nephew who was having a hard time sleeping but tends to pull blankets over his face while sleeping. We found a stuffed toy at the thrift store, cleaned it up. (Mind you this was a good quality toy so the stitching was good and the toy MUST lay on it's stomach with it's legs outward like a beanie baby.) I cut a hole in the bottom because I didn't want to have to deal with the seams. I then removed all the stuffing except the head and make fabric patches filled with the plastic pellets you'd put into stuffed toys or a weighted blanket and then sewed it up. I didn't take pictures of it or the process.

Stirring - We have done things like make bread and pizza dough and cookies. The things like making bread use a lot of muscles in the arms. Stirring thick cookie dough does the same. It also means I don't have to move my mixer. :)

Kiddie Pool - We got the bigger one that is hard plastic. It has it's joys and draw backs but you can fill it with anything. My husband it's too keen on messes so some of the things has to be done outside. Usually they're done before garbage day so I can throw them out but things like shredded paper, cut up pool noodles, rice, beans, cut up foam, and pillows all have been successful.

So there are a few things we have been doing. The nice thing for us is that slowly the kiddos are learning HOW to deal with their sensory issues on their own and figure out which things work for them and which things don't. They can also communicate their needs. Does it solve all the problems... no. Our kiddo who is hard-of-hearing can have difficulty communicating this stuff with us so we see a LOT of climbing and independence even though we use a lot of resources to help her communicate.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Things we've tried for our two SPD kiddos

Okay, it's been a long while since I have posted but I'm back again although I am not sure for how long. I had been debating for quite some time about deleting this blog but there are many people who view this page so I leave it up.

Anyhow, that being said, I've really been struggling lately as I have more than just one SPD kiddo and it's driving me nuts! My oldest is 8 and puts everything in the mouth. No joke. The rubber part of lego wheels, electrical cords, paper, plastic, balloons. In the mouth it goes. Mind you he knows better. We got some bubba straws for him to chew on... it's not working. Gum is not an option because then he's playing with it and sticking it on things in my house. Not quite sure what to do about it. Then there is my 3 yr old. I kinda had an idea that she also had SPD when she'd only stay asleep with a big therapeutic heavy pillow on top of her. She CRAVES tactile input... especially if it's sticky. (She emptied a bottle of tacky glue all over our table (I was washing dishes and thought it was flour from the board of the gingerbread cookies) and began to dance, stomp, smear, squish, and try to eat it. Bleck! She too has a fancy for electrical cords so I'm constantly handing her a bubba straw. We've tried the baby toys that are a fruit and when you bite on them they vibrate which doesn't hold her interest for very long. So this is just a way for me to get the juices going.

Things I know that work well for my 3 yr old:
- Playdoh
- Sticker activity books
- Anything with glue (non-toxic)

Things I know that work with my  8 yr old:
- Cutting, gluing, artwork
- Bubba Straws
- Chewy candy (not gum or he plays with it and sticks it everywhere)
- Cooking
- Roller blading (okay I know this is not what you expected but with hockey gloves and this distraction it makes it more difficult)

Monday, September 16, 2013

10 fun and education things you can do with Popsicle sticks

I am finding there are a lot of things to do with popsicle sticks that have helped my kids tremendously. One thing I am finding about the joys of ADHD is my child's inability to sit still and the inability to pay attention. Both things drive me nuts and present a challenge especially when it comes to learning. So here are some ideas but let me remind you that markers of any sort on popsicles can bleed according to the grain of the popsicle stick.

  1. Using popsicle sticks with tasks that need to be done during the day allows a child to see their tasks one task at a time rather than seeing a huge list of things they need to do. If you can find a way to mount this in the areas in which you are needing them to work this can help them remember what they're supposed to be doing.
  2. It is a great way to do school work. Recently I found on pinterest an idea for math called Zap. We were struggling with getting my son to do math and retain his math facts. Adding this activity provided him with the ability to wiggle and do something while limiting the overwhelming amount of problems before him. He in fact did far more math problems than he would have on the paper and played it twice.
  3. If you get the colored popsicle sticks you can play a sorting game. There are many things you can sort such as colors, letters, numbers, math problems, ect.
  4. Another task is using it as a boredom buster. Have both fun and work type activities for when your child complains they are bored or need a transition or break from a task. Some activities can be like walk on your hands while someone holds your feet. See how far you can jump. Jump on the trampoline 25 times. Give your mom a tight squeeze. Go get a snack. Make 5 funny faces in the mirror. This can also be used when a child is having a melt down.
  5. Using a popsicle stick can help in writing by giving a child the ability to make spaces between words.
  6. Make a popsicle catapult for doing math. Set out paper plates or bowls and try to have your child shoot a pompom onto the plate with the right answer.
  7. Make a house out of popsicle sticks
  8. Hot glue different textures onto the sticks for a tactile toy.
  9. Use them with playdough or large marshmallows to create structures.
  10. Make various objects such as a train track or a ladder with the objects.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Academic Balance Beam

One thing I try to do is incorporate therapy ideas with learning. I have this wonderful idea of using a balance beam. Not all kids are able to use one but if they are or even with a child's help it can help a child use coordination and balance. This week we will be making a balance beam and decided to incorporate reading and math into this task. I will use index cards with words or math problems on them or answers and allow my children to walk down the beam and find the answers or word I am asking for. There are several ways to use this type of technique.
  1. Having the child bend down to reach the card on the ground. In this case you'll want a low balance beam or even in some cases tape on the floor or chalk outside. It really depends upon the abilities of your child. If you have a young child it could be asking them get a toy or a snack.
  2. Another one is having a child walk over the cards or objects to get the right answer or object.
  3. Lastly, you can have the children walk down to the end of the beam jump off pick up the object or card and get back on and give it to you. You could put a crash pad, couch cushions or whatever needed at the end for more of a sensory impact.
For me, my kids are at all different levels academically. I tend to meet them where they are and because they're kinesthetic learners they do best with movement. If balance is required while learning this task can be very similar to a 'T-stool' which can help concentration.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Update on us

Okay so I thought it would be helpful to share with some of you the diagnosis we are facing as some things have changed since I last wrote.
So there has been a lot of questions about what my son has or doesn't have. We've been through the ringer in a lot of ways trying to get a diagnosis and help in this area and not because he's a bad kid but just that we needed answers to know how to help him deal with his issues. His final diagnosis is severe ADHD (both the impulsive and compulsive), SPD, and dyslexia. The part that hinders him the most in my opinion is the first two diagnosis. Sometimes one is worse that the other but we just take things one day at a time.
My middle child is un-diagnosed but I am assuming because ADHD and dyslexia are hereditary at least in our family that she probably has ADD and dyslexia. For her the more severe issue is the dyslexia.
My youngest child is unilaterally hard of hearing and has sensory issues. Once again the sensory issues is worse than the hearing loss.
All of my SPD kiddos are seekers. All of my kids are mostly kinesthetic learners. That means they are on the go craving input constantly. It's exhausting but through prayer and talking with other SPD mommies I have found a nice support of friends. I also have found a few support groups on Facebook that have been a huge help as well and have gotten a ton of ideas off of pinterest.

Car seat solutions

I am not sure about everyone else but one of the struggles I have found with all of my sensory kiddos is finding a car seat they can't escape from in one fashion or another. The biggest problem I have found is with the chest clip and in spite of warnings left and right about not altering their harness I have found to keep them restrained and safe it was necessary until something better off came into the market. So here are my tidbits of advice and experience and product reviews.

1. One problem I hear from a lot of parents that we have experienced is that children are undoing their chest clip. I have found it is a LOT more difficult for my child to get a chest strap that requires you to press the chest clip button toward the chest rather than the clips that you push from the top and bottom. I seriously wish I had some pictures for these but I don't. There only two different chest clips I have been able to find and this type is so far our most successful.

2. The other issue we have had is the chest straps being pulled down and this has been the biggest problem for us overall.
  • We have tried distracting our children and it hasn't helped but sometimes this can be done by buckling a toy or something they can fiddle with onto their harness somewhere before you secure them in. We didn't have much luck with this strategy.
  • Another alternative which isn't the best is using zip ties to hold the clip in place. This is not recommended but because we couldn't afford a new car seat and there wasn't one on the market we were stuck.
So what are some other options you can try?
  1. Britax was very smart and invented a system that has silicone rectangles that go on the straps to hold the chest clip in place. The only negative thing we have seen with this was that my 2 yr old figured out how to pull them down within 5 minutes and she was free. While I can't say what your child will do you can always try this out at a store like Babies R Us or some place that carries the Britax brand. Now some people can't buy a $300 dollar or even a $250 dollar car seat for their child. One recommendation I would give is call up Britax and see if you can order the silicone chest clip strap. This would be far cheaper than purchasing the carseat if they will allow you to do it.
  2. If you can find a way to put the no slip type flooring mat that goes into your cupboard or under your carpet this might be another solution to put under the straps if you can to prevent it from slipping. I'm not sure how you'd secure it but it might be an if you put it under the chest clip slots and the harness.
Now for the recommended car seat I'd have to go with Chicco Next Step. It is the one carseat my kids CAN'T get out of. :) Their design is great and a lot of it has to do with the shoulder straps believe it or not. The non-slip material is put into the shoulder straps of the carseat as well as they come down low enough that you can tuck the top part of the chest clip in to so that a child can't push it down as easily. This by far is the best product we have seen or used. Unfortunately it is just as expensive as the Britax brand so how can you get it for cheaper is probably the next question.

  • Coupons. Babies R Us has a lot of coupons and sales. We were able to get 20% off this car seat and while it is NOT that much it is better than the $300.
  • Sometimes Babies R Us does a car seat trade-in and you can get more than 20% off. I have done this a few times with various products. It's a great program.
  • Another alternative is seeing if your medical insurance will cover it. This one I am not sure if it is even possible but there are some of them that realize that this is a huge issue and will fork over the bill.
  • Look into car seat programs and see if there is a way to get help in purchasing this carseat.
  • Rather than getting birthday presents and toys or Christmas toys you might see if family and friends will chip in to get your child this car seat for their own safety.
  • Lastly, if you unfortunately have been in an auto accident and a carseat is involved the insurance is supposed to pay for it. I have gone back over a year to get replacements that I didn't know they were supposed to cover. If they want proof and the photos they have don't have the car seats and your children were in the car ask them to look at the bodily injury claim to see how many people were involved in the wreck and explain that you wouldn't have a child unharnessed in a moving vehicle. Some insurances will only reimburse you for the same carseat and others will just tell you to go buy one. I can tell you from personal experience that Allstate insurance was better than Farmers insurance. Both companies did put these on our claims although they were closed claims at the time.
So there is my little okay long blurb about car seats and car seat solutions. Also do not wash the straps on your child's car seat. You can wipe them down but they're not to be saturated through washing.

A few products we have gotten or will be getting

I have deleted some of my other blogs but I have kept this one open because I know people still refer back to it quite often. I know I have severely neglected this page but life can take you on unexpected twists and turns not to mention I got tired of struggling to post pics on blogger. I think it's due to my PC but who knows.
There are some products I'd like to share on this blog post that I have either tried or will be trying to help curb some sensory issues that we are dealing with in our household.

1. I recently purchased a climbing dome. It's not here yet but it was FAR cheaper than a climber or most swing sets. Seeing we live in an HOA the metal kind of swing set is not allowed not to mention my children would probably ruin in within a year. So we found this site and purchased one of these for our backyard:

I realized that this type of structure would allow my children to hang but not on the stair rail. I could easily tie some lycra to the structure to allow the kids to swing. (We got the 10x5 if you are curious.) We could put a blanket or tarp over it for them to hide under and just allow their imagination to run wild. There were some problems during purchasing but over all we worked the kinks out and it seems that everything is going smoothly. (There were issues with Paypal). This company is in Texas and honestly the shipping is reasonable if you don't live in Texas.

Another product that I am loving is a curriculum which is called Handwriting Without Tears. These books have really helped my son and some public and private schools use them. This book really helped with my son's handwriting. The only problem we have had is that my son doesn't lift up his pencil like he should when writing in print. One of his doctors ended up telling us to move him into cursive which this company does have to curb this problem. This curriculum can be purchased through multiple places including Amazon, Rainbow Resource Center and their actual homepage. I found that the teacher's handbooks are more or less for a larger classroom so I didn't purchase the one for 3rd grade.

One product I am planning on buying happens to be a product that costs about $3. I know you can find it at Walmart and they're called Bubba Straws. They are silicone and for kids, like mine, that are chewing on everything and you want to make some chewable jewelry this is one cheaper route to go that allows you to have some color. 5 straws come in a pack and are in pastel colors. They also can be purchased off amazon or their own company.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Educational Finger Pencil Grip Activites

I know it's been a while since I have posted but between college and homeschooling I've been pretty busy. Anyhow, one of the things I have been dealing with is inefficient pencil grasp. I've never had this problem before but it's making writing very difficult to the point that if he can verbalize it when his hand is tired I write what he's dictated or drawn in the air or pointed out. Anyhow, I wanted to share some ways that I have dealt with some of this to ease some frustration on his behalf but also to develop his skills educationally as well as small motor skills through education.

The first thing I did was because he couldn't figure out sometimes the name of a letter and draw it he could identify it if it was written out. So for spelling I quit using the typically lined paper and began printing my own stationary. When he ends up getting frustrated because he can't think of the name to go with the sound of the letter he can point it out. This was very simple to make by taking a word document and typing both the upper and lower case letters. My son also knew the combination sounds such as 'th', 'ch', and 'sh' but he could only identify them when they were written down separately from other words. So I added combination sounds to the bottom of the page and this is what I got.

We began using Handwriting Without Tears which is an AWESOME program if you didn't know. However, I couldn't just stop what I was doing to work on his finger grasp and at the same time I couldn't stand any more melt downs either. So I looked on the web for some solutions and realized that clothes pins worked well to develop the right grasp for pencils. I had gotten a bunch from the dollar store and didn't have to use all of them and so they got put up and I had forgotten about them until tonight. Then I began trying to figure out how to put letters and numbers on them. I didn't want to write them on them but I remembered I had these stickers that had letters so I went to investigate and I found these


I began placing the stickers on both sides of the clothes pins so that one pin on both sides had the same letter like this.


I then took them and put them in a plastic bin but you can put them in a shoe box or whatever. Now for spelling I can place the pins on one side of the box/bin in order and then have him pick them out and spell the word all while working on his small motor skills and pencil grasp without him even knowing and still accomplishing his regular school work.

I am also planning on doing the same for his numbers as well for him to do his math school work but I'm looking for number stickers that are small enough to put on clothes pins. I might use my labeler to do this if I can't find stickers but I like the sticker idea just because it allows more color to be on the clothes pins. If you wanted to you could paint them as well to add more color.

Another idea that might work for your child is coloring your pins that are vowels a separate color from the consonants.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Learning letters sensory style

I seriously wish I could find the cords to my external hard-drive so I could empty the contents on my laptop so I could post pictures but it's still missing. :(
Anyhow, I wanted to share something that I found at our local dollar store the other day. There is a more expensive version at homeschool stores and things of that nature but the dollar store was cheaper.
One of the issues my son has had problems with is learning to write his letters. They go in the wrong directions and he forgets how to write them. So there were these cards that had sandpaper like texture just on the letters that you could put your fingers on and follow the letters reinforcing your letter shapes. Now this can be done by yourself with sand paper but I think it might be more expensive... maybe. However, I got to thinking about how some kids don't like the rough feeling that sand paper would bring but never fear I have a solution... I hope.

What are some other things you can use that your child might like that will help them with their letters?
  • Glue that is hardened
  • Glue with salt to make it rough and crystalized
  • Gluing beans, cereal, or other objects to give letters a different feel
  • Gluing fabric letters onto cards of various textures
  • Cutting out jello letters with letter cookie cutters
  • Gluing small pieces of crumpled tissue paper or newspaper
  • and so much more.