Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pump It Up Free Day for Autistic Families

I know there are various Pump it up places but they're not everywhere. I am adding this post because on the 7th of April (at least where I live) there is a time between 3-5 (I think that's the time anyway) where they're opening up for FREE for families with Autistic children. The time following will be opened up for families which is more of a fundraiser to promote Autism Awareness. This might be something to look into if you happen to have a location near you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


This link will take you to a soft clothing giveaway for one boy and one girl with sensory issues that you might want to enter.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A New SPD's Kid Book!

I just happened to be looking at Borders.com for books and ran across this one about a family full of people with various sensory issues. Each family member has their own sensory issue to deal with and they talk about how to deal with them. It doesn't come out until April 1st. It's by the same author who wrote 'The Out of Sync Child' and 'The Out of Sync Child has Fun'.

Other Ideas for Your Lycra Swing

I was flipping through some sensory type magazines which are posted in the pages section above and found some other ideas for using your lycra provided you just tied knots to hang it up.

One thing is to take it and open it up. Put it around your child's shoulders and bring to the front and tie a knot near his or her feet area. The allow them to strech. I didn't think about this much until I saw my son pulling his body into his shirts until he couldn't fit anymore of himself in it. He needed to be squeezed in that way. So instead of him ruining and stretching out his shirts this was another option. (I'm going to see if I can get a picture of this with my son's face blurred out.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Journaling for Parents

One thing that our family did for quite a while was journal everything our son did. Mind you, at this time we still don't have a diagnosis other than SPD but we're looking probably the autism spectrum (high functioning end). Through all of our different doctors one thing we did was document what was going on each day. I recorded what he ate and when. I recorded when he went to sleep and woke up plus any naps. I also recorded his moods. I did this in great detail for about a month and then slowly stopped.
What this did for us was not just paint the doctors a picture of what was going situation or family wise but also it gave us some insight as to things we could change. For instance, we realized that we needed to change his meal time when he acted a certain way although he didn't verbally tell us. We could also see that mood wise there wasn't an actual pattern for his outbursts although I can now see it beginning to show it's head before it goes into a full swing but also these go on longer than one day. The doctors were able to see that what we were talking about weren't 'normal' behaviors for his age as well. The things he did and the things he said were out of place and ummm... scary.
It also helped me to see that I wasn't going nuts. I could tell he had mood swings. I could see the developing behavior or lack thereof and I could also see where I might have been inconsistent schedule wise.
I do journal now but that is here on my webpage. Maybe tomorrow I will end up showing you how I did it if I can break out my old book that I kept notes in to show you how detailed I got. Not everyone will go into as much detail as I did but I did relax after about a month or two. I just needed a time frame captured... usually 3 months is a good time frame but I just couldn't keep it up. Days were bouncing into one another and I couldn't keep things straight as one day felt like the next.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sensory Room Blackout Curtain Ideas

Most kids with SPD have a hard time sleeping at night. It can help a lot to darken a room but not all solutions will work for your child. Our first thing was buy some fabric that doesn't let light in. Most fabric stores sell it. We have hung it one of two ways. We have hung it like a curtain with a simple stitch up top for a rod but we have also tacked it down in the window sill. The bad thing about hanging it was he pulled on it the bad thing about the tacks was he learned to take them out. One family I know was so worried about it they used tempra paint and painted his entire window black for lack of another option that would keep their little guy safe but keep his room dark. We did finally buy blackout roller shade combined with a blackout type curtain that is a dark blue color which works well with our son especially now that he's older. Other things that would do in a pinch is hanging a thick dark colored blanket up over their window.

Pinatas are great sensory activities

One fun thing to do is make a pinata by yourself unless you're sensitive to slimy textures. Even if you're child is sensitive to textures he or she might love breaking the pinata open. If you want to stuff it you could put in things for them to fidget with.
How to make a pinata is easy. Blow up a balloon to the desired size. Place a strong string around the knot and hand it with a pan underneath because it gets messy. Take newspaper and shred it into strips. Long strips work great. Make a thick mixture of flour and water until it is a runny paste. Get a piece of newspaper and cover it in the mixture. Then place it on the balloon until it is covered. Make sure to leave a portion in the very top undone so you can put prizes inside it. Make sure the edges of the opening are thick so you can hang it. Let it air dry and then add a layer. Continue to do this until you have a thick, dry paper shell. Remember this is going to be holding lots of objects and you don't want it to fall through. Also depending on how hard your kid can hit it you might want to make it thinner or thicker depending on your need. When it is completely dry you can paint the pinata if you would like or glue tissue paper on it for some color. When you are finished coloring it take something sharp and pop the balloon and pull it out and throw it away.  You should be left with the shell. To hand it up tie a popscilcle stick or something simular in the middle and push it through the top and pull up. The stick should go sideways resting inside against the sides of the shell. Fill with your choice of objects or candy and hang it up in a place where it is safe to swing a bat, wrapping paper tube, dowel or stick.

Every Day SPD Therapy

I was talking to my friend the other day and both her and I have run into people who think that therapy happens to be something like what you would see at occupational therapy or physical therapy. One thing we stress to others is you must see things differently. You must see your world as a big occupational therapy session.
One thing I hate doing is shopping but I have found that if I make my kids do the work my trip goes better. Depending on my kid I ask them to pick up various objects. Today my daughter took things from the bottom shelves and put them in the car and my son (older) did the heavier things. Sometimes it is worth making them carry something through a store so their hands and fingers are busy such as holding snack for after the trip. We also have slowly managed getting my kids to work together (not an easy task at all) to deal with putting produce in bags. One holds the bag while the other puts the produce in. The more fruit/veggies the heavier the bag. ;) However, even the checking line is a task. I have retired from putting items on the counter as I have deligated it to my children. They get to lift various weights of products and yes, sometimes I help due to need, rushing, or a lack of patience. I make sure that if the kids got something it is put into it's own bag for them to carry especially if their small. If they don't get anything then they have to help me carry the groceries to the car.
However, there are things in your home that can be used as therapy tools that you probably didn't think of. What about your sled? Can you bring it inside and have them drag it or you drag them across the carpet? What about canned goods? Can you have your child arrange them on the shelves or put them away? Do you have a trampoline? Bouncing is fun and theraputic. Riding bikes is also theraputic. Need more of a challenge in riding a bike then help them learn how to ride up hill. Chores such as taking out the garbage, washing dishes, taking the garbage can to the curb, or vacuuming are all things you can use as sensory tools.
When you think of sensory tools for cheap you must think outside the box? Questions I ask myself are:
  • Can my child safely chew/suck or blow it?
    • chewy toys, straws, wind instruments, bubbles
  • Can my child carry, pull, or push it?
    • baskets, bins, tubs, bags, things with handles, things that can carry weight like big trucks, vacuuming, flying a kite
  • Is it heavy?
    • grocery bags, bins filled with toys or objects, moving furniture,
  • Can it bounce or does it involve my child bouncing?
    • balls, trampoline, exercise balls,  bouncy horse, jump roping, bumping down the stairs
  • Can it be stretched or squeezed?
    • rubber tubes used for exercising, stress balls, lycra, body sox, playdough, moon sand
  • Can it make them go fast?
    • bikes, scooters, swings, running, sensory swings
  • Does it make noise?
    • toys, instruments, blowing into jars, radio, CD player, movies
  • Does it have lights?
    • Christmas lights, blinking lights, electronic toys, flash lights, lava lamps
These are just some of the questions I ask myself when I am looking for something theraputic for my kids to do. For some inspiration you might look at some of the sensory or therapy type catalogs and look at products and what they do. Can you find or create something like it? It might take a while but once you begin to realize that the world is full of things with several different uses other than their intended purpose (hopefully used correctly) you begin to see that you can have a full occupational therapy session day at home or in your own community.
I will add that you can't always fill a whole day with occupational therapy tasks. There are going to be times where it is simply impossible depending on the needs your child has. I know I didn't add all the sensory areas but I hope you get the idea and creativity is sparked in areas you didn't see before.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Games for SPD Kids

A few games my SPD child LOVES that I will share with you today aren't always the quietest games around but they do involve movement which is what my son craves.

This game is really simple and your child can play it by himself. The lights on the mole heads light up and you try to hit them. The game keep score of how many moles you hit but watch out because if you hit a mole that is not lit up you loose one point. The settings can be picked of having a 1 or 2 player game as well as two levels of difficulty.

This game is fun because it requires my son to have balance and to put his body in odd shapes. It is more fun for him with a group. If you don't have this game it's pretty simple to make something that'll work as it is a grid of 4 colors. Each color is in a row and then you just call the color and the placement of a right or left hand or foot.

Humgry Hippos
This game is not okay for kids who put things in their mouths. The sensory input of this game is making the mouths of the hippos open and close to gobble up marbles. I suppose this could also be done with some round candy or cereal maybe but I haven't tried it. It can get kind of noisy with all the hippos trying to eat.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Edible Dyed Noodles

One of the things I am VERY cautious about is things that are toxic when it comes to my kids. Due to oral sensory issues even at the age of 5yrs old they are putting things in their mouths. Needless to say when I wanted to dye noodles or rice I couldn't until I came across this recipe for dyed noodles that doesn't take rubbing alcohol but vinegar! Good thing because my kids decided to eat some later! They were pretty colorful. (These also can be used in a sensory bin or the rice can.)

1tsp or less vinegar (the LESS the better)
food dye
noodles or white rice
Snack ziplock bags

Step #1
Pour some noodles into a snack ziplock bag. I used about 1/2 a teaspoon vinegar and about 8-10 drops of food color.
Step #2
Seal it closed and then squish or shake until the noodles or rice are all colored. We double bagged them when the kids squished them. We reused the baggies and did it again with some other colors and noodles. (The best balanced coloring are on noodles such as macaroni or elbow noodles that can rub against the edges of the bag or rice, otherwise it's more or less the edges that get colored on other noodles.)

Step #3
You take it and place it on wax paper, parchment paper, a cookie sheet or whatever to allow to dry. Spread them apart while they're wet or they'll stick to one another. Here's some of our pictures.