Friday, April 29, 2011

A future announcement

One of the things I am noticing is how expensive it is to get things for sensory issues if the word 'sensory' is attached. I have thought about this and have decided that I would begin making some products and putting them on and see if that helps some parents who don't know how or don't have the time to make things although the instructions will be listed here. I have quite a few things I have in mind it's just a matter of finding time to get them made and post them. Once I have my shop up and running I will be putting a link on here for your convience as well as the pictures and instructions so you can see what I am making and how to do it if it's easier for you that way.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Infant Taggie Toy

This is something I have seen and there are a ton of tutorials for it. It is a taggie toy. For those of you who don't know what this is it is a piece of fabric with bits of ribbon that are sewed onto the edges of different textures and sizes that babies tend to chew on.
I found 2 pieces of cloth. If you don't have any new fabric you can use used clothing. I chose a piece of scrap flannel and a scrap of cotton for two different textures. I had some ribbon on hand because I was going to make a binki/pacifier clip for a friend of mine who has a foster baby with a trache who keeps pulling at her cords now that she's older.
I chose to make one that had a crinkly sound and there are two ways you can do this. You can get cellophane wrap or you can use material like the bags diaper wipes come in or potato chips. I used the potato chip bag seeing I had one.
Anyhow, when you lay your fabric out (wrong sides together) you put the tags (ribbons) in between so that they'd be sandwiched against the right sides of the fabric. You can also cut and pin the potato chip bag or whatever you choose to use to the outside of the fabric. Sew almost all the way around your shape (I did a square) and the turn it right side out. The tags should be sticking out of the sides. Then you sew up the opening and then just for good measure you can see I did a zig zag stitch around for good measure.

A cheap 'chewy'

When a child has oral sensory issues it can cause a lot of problems. Our biggest one with our son happened to be he was chewing on his t-shirt collars so bad they were stretched and beyond repair. Besides that once they were chewed they got wet and he'd take it iff and refuse to put it on again because it was wet.
Our occupational therapist at the time gave us a rubber piece of tubing.  It was wonderful... until he lost it. I was able to find a local medical supply store and buy some for like $0.33 a foot. I got a yard of two different sizes so allow him to use it as a necklace or tie it in knots and chew on the knots for a harder chew.
Here is a picture of ours. I did find at Sports Authority they have colorful rubber tubing of different strengths and thinknesses.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The joys of couch cushions

My kids love taking my couches apart and I'm forever having them put it back together. If I had my way I would buy a whole bunch of couch cushions because they play several games with them.

#1- They take the couch cushions and build houses. Then they hide in their little created spaces which makes their world seems smaller. They also get to lift and adjust the cushions as needed which helps other sensory issues not to mention the feel of the cushions.
#2 - They stack the cushions in a huge pile. We have 5 cushions downstairs and usually one or two regular pillows so all of these get stacked in a nice pile and then they climb up on them and sit. They love it and would much prefer to watch a movie this way rather than using any other seat.
#3 - They take the cushions and build tunnels to crawl through as they chase one another. This means a lot of up/down type motions.
#4 - They use the cushions as crash pads. Many times this includes seeing how far they can jump and make sure they land on the cushion they have in front of them.
#5 - They lay the cushions on the floor seperated from one another. Then they jump from cushion to cushion. They call this Bowser now from Super Mario Brothers when Mario faces Bowser in the castle with lava underneath them as they fight. Seeing it is lava they make sure they jump from cushion to cushion avoiding the floor at all costs. They make strange ways to jump from cushion to cushion and sometimes add a body pillow for a runway.
#6 - They use the cushions to make themselves into a sandwich.

These are some great alternatives for couch cushions if this is something you allow in your home or if your replacing your couch and can't figure out what to do with the other one.

Lift Assist Scissors

I found these scissors at our local dollar store. I bought them as you can see because they have a unique feature. There is the yellow piece that sticks out between the handles for lift assistance. That yellow piece can be moved between the scissors to allow a child with poor muscle development to help open the scissors when they're cutting. Obviously enough it can be folded like it is in the picture for easy storage. It also can give pressure when you are cutting down which most kids find easy to do if you leave it out. If you don't need this feature they are still a great pair of safety scissors. I have seen in catalogs scissors simular to these but if you're needing a pair and your budget is tight this might be an alternative in your area.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Homemade Lycra Moby Wrap

My newest baby hated being swaddled she loved being free but she loved pressure input. I needed a way to hold her that would soothe her and yet I could be able to get something done. I ended up going online and looking at Moby Wraps and found I could make them myself. I happened just by chance finding some bright yellow lycra material at Wal-mart for $5 for 5yds. This was perfect because most moby wraps are anywhere from 5-6ft depending on your body build. Lycra material is also wonderful for a Moby Wrap because it requires no sewing as well as it is stretchy.
To make a lycra Moby Wrap all you do is take your 5-6ft of Lycra and cut it length wise so you have two strips of 5-6ft that are approximately 18" each. It may vary some and that is completely okay.
To put it on find the middle of your fabric. Put it at your belly button. Take the right and put it behind you and over your left shoulder. Take the left side and put it over your right shoulder. Put both pieces together in the front and tuck them in the fabric at your belly button. Cross them and wrap around to the back and tie or you can tie them all the way around to your front again and tie.
To put the baby in you want to put them in the side that the fabric is closest to you so in the instructions above put their left leg in the right piece of fabric that went over your shoulder. Then put the right leg in on the left side. Fix the fabric where their bottom is to give it good support. Put up the fabric that is around your belly around the baby. My daughter sleep like this for quite some time.
If these instructions didn't help you might consider looking at a Moby Wrap Tutorial online or at You Tube.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How much lycra for a swing?

One of the questions I see pop up from time to time is how much lycra do I need to make a swing. It all depends on what your set up is where you will be using this and the person using it as well as the quality of lycra you get. In our case probably 5 ft is more than enough but you must take into consideration tying the knots to hold the clips and so forth. Usually you get a couple knots in there. We have a typical 8' ceiling and the hooks are placed anywhere from 1ft to 4 ft away at the max. My kids weigh about 35lbs and 50lbs.
The nice thing about having too much lycra is the other possiblities you can do with it. You can put it up in different ways so you could take it and hang it up like a hammock. You could also hang it up more like a cocoon. You could have a child lay across it so they're folded in the middle if you sew up areas on each side for a STRONG bar to go through and be hung. (I'll have to post a picture of this because I'm not explaining it well at all.)
If you take the time to get the knots out the lycra could be used to wrap and tie around your child so they can push against it while sitting down kind of like putting your knees in your shirt.

Clean me up rag

One thing that I hear a lot from sensory avoiders is that they won't touch anything that is slimy, sticky, dirty, ect. My daughter doesn't have SPD but hates her hands being messy to some degree. We have found keeping a wet washcloth at the dinner table seriously helps the numerous trips to the bathroom to wash her fingers before she's done eating.
So while I was thinking about sensory avoiders I thought about her and this issue among other kids and parents that I've talked about and seeing I had these washclothes around (actually for another project) I decided to use them for this craft.
You will need a washcloth and some craft paints. If your child likes a certain texture you might want to find something that has a simular texture. Remember it doesn't have to be terry cloth but it could be flannel which is softer and without the bumps. Make sure to secure the edges though because flannel will fray.
Step #1 - Lay the washcloth on the cardboard or other painting surface.
Step #2 - Pour small amounts of paint onto a painting tray or a plastic lid.
Step #3 - Have the child dip his or her finger into the paint and then wipe it off on the washcloth to get it off. You might want to have a wet paper towel in case they don't wipe the paint completely off and they're upset.

My daughter found this to be so much fun she painted her arm.

Step#4 - When they're done they not only have stayed clean but they can use this to help them stay clean and remind them that they can always wash off. It's also a great reminder to us parents later on of how far our kids have come.


One of the things my son loves to do in the store is go to the sport section and pick up the weights. He loves feeling the weight and pushing them up with his arm over his head one handed. We try several weights when we are in the store and he's always facsinated by how strong he is. Of course having a SPD child I can definately see the value in allowing him to do this or even holding one throughout the store until I get to check out at least provided he's not having a meltdown or in a mood where I wonder if he's going to hit someone with it.

There are several different weighted objects you can get for kids with SPD from weighted blankets, vests, animals, and so forth. You can end up spending a lot of money on these types of products if they're commercially made. Buying hand weights is pretty cheap. I like the kind that wraps around your wrists or ankles. I found a pair that did both on clearance. They were 1lb each and while it doesn't seem like a lot if you wear them long enough (espeically for a 5yr old) you can tell you have weights on).

However seeing this blog is about finding things that are cheap and are from home I do have some suggestions. You can use pringles cans filled with beans or rice and then taped shut. You can use regular soup cans that aren't open yet but if they're likely to fall you might want to make sure it doesn't pop the seal. You can fill some socks with beans and tie them shut. You can lift a backpack or a bag full of something in front of you. Carrying the laundry basket full of their toys or clothes is another one. (I'm all for having them pick up their own mess.) You can in the summer time play with water balloons but be careful if they have a sensitivity to having wet clothes. Have them push a wheelbarrow around and to add more weight you can add dirt, rocks, and maybe a sibling if they're big enough. These are just some ideas where they have to use their muscles to get that input they need and crave.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Punching Bag Alternative

Not all kids with SPD are as aggressive as mine. Sometimes I long to meet a parent that is used to being attacked as their kid goes into a melt down just to know I am not alone. Due to his aggressiveness we try to give him appropriate things to do when he is upset. We have tried allowing him to punch the bed, pillow, or bean bag and it has yet to work. I thought it would be as easy as getting him a bopping bag but with my son he loves popping things when he's upset which is why I have yet to make some posts about things you can do with balls... ours keep getting popped. :(
I went through Sports Authority the other day looking for things that vibrate like hand held massagers. I had no luck with that but I did find some punching bags. I thought this was a wonderful idea and I had my son hit one of them that was hanging. It was too hard. We finally came across one that stood up from a tire on a pole which was much softer. The prices at our store ranged from $70-$100 easy. I also knew a friend of ours had an older son who had one that put it on their sensory swing hook. My husband and I thought about the qualities of these bags when I told him what I had found. Our biggest concern was if we got the one that stood up that my kids would move it or roll it down our stairs. The problem with the hanging ones happened to be they were too heavy and hard for my son who is around kindergarten age.
Off I went to think about this. Of course in my mind I was thinking... 'cheap cheap' so I came up with a much cheaper althernative. Find an old pillow case or maybe two if you don't have one for a king. It really depends on the size length wise that you'll need it to be. In my son's case he needs full body contact so a larger pillowcase or more than one is required. If you have two you will have to undo the bottom of the pillowcase and sew the two together to make it as long as you need it. Make sure it is sewn securely. If you don't happen to have extra pillowcases you could use fabric sewn up the long way.
If you are using a pillowcase cut a slit in the top opening where you put the pillow in and string a rope through it. If you are using a piece of fabric you will need to sew the edge down to allow you to thread a rope through. You might want to reinforce this depending on how much impact this bag may take.
The next choice happens to be the filling. What are you going to stuff it with?
I will name a few things that you can stuff it with just to give you some ideas but the possibilities are endless.
  • blankets
  • pillows
  • outgrown clothes (make sure anything with buttons or zippers are turned inside out or not used)
  • thick coats or winter clothes (watch out for zippers or buttons)
  • bubble wrap
  • packing peanuts
  • play balls of various sizes
  • towels
  • sleeping bags
Anyhow hang this up and your child can hit it or tackle it to their hearts content and get some agression out.

No Mess Collage

While I don't have a sensory avoider I know of some kids who are and seeing I haven't confined this to any sort of therapy but just in general therapy type things or solutions for tapped out moms. As I come across ideas for avoiders I try to post them although they may be something that won't fill my son's particular needs.
One thing that can get very messy... and sticky is glue. Sometimes doing artwork for these kids is just too much because of all the sticky things that are involved. So if you should happen to try to do a craft that is going to involve glue of some sort you can replace the glue with clear contact paper. The kids place the contact paper on the table and put what they want glued down on the contact paper and it sticks. Then take another piece of contact paper and place over. If you didn't line it up correctly then you can cut around the edges to make sure there is no sticky surface.
Of course, some kids will avoid the sticky feeling all together and in that case rather than having them put the items on the contact paper. Give them a regular piece of paper and put their design on the regular sheet of paper and then cover that paper with contact paper for no mess or sticky sensation!

Another Blog Giveaway - Books!

Living with a Side of Autism is hosting a giveaway Off We Go Book Series is what is up for grabs. These book detail step by step of what the expect on various trips. This series covers the grocery store, getting your hair cut, and goign to the dentist. All that is required is you leave a comment on her blog.