Monday, June 13, 2011

Tips for the park

One of the things I love about good weather is the flexibility of playing outside. Many times there are quite a few parks about and you can take your pick. Having a kid with sensory issues at a park can be a different story and make a pleasurable activity into a horrible nightmare.

First of all, you must think about what your child is like and their issues to determine what park and time would be best. What specificially are their needs? Do they crave physical input? How do they do in social situations? What about noise? What about bathroom issues? What about unorganized chaos around them? Think about these things one by one and what the ideal park setting would be for your child to allow your family to have an enjoyable time.

Second, do some research. Most areas have a park and recreation office and they are more than happy to share about the features of the park(s) they manage. They can share with you the different features the park has as well as an idea of busy hours. You might also try driving by and investigating the park by yourself. Little things that usually someone doesn't think about that might affect your child or make your park experience less pleasent are great things to check out. For instance, if your child has a senstivity to noise a good place to check out would be the bathrooms. How loud are the toilets? Is there a paper towels or a air dryer? These may seem like small things until your kid needs to go to the bathroom but won't go due to noise. It also is not good to find the bathroom so far away from the play area that your child might not want to go to the bathroom when needed.

I have gathered up a list of ideas of things to think about before deciding on a park to make the most of your trip. Ideas I never would have thought about until I had a kid with SPD.
  • When are the busy hours?
  • What types of kids play there (younger kids or older)?
  • Is the park close to a road or a parking lot (noise and danger)?
  • Does the park have bathrooms? What are they like? How far away are they?
  • What types of toys does the park have to play on? Are they skill appropriate for your child's needs?
  • If there is a beach or a pool is there a life guard? How easy is it to get to the water? How easy is it to get wet?
  • Is there a place to rest such as a picnic table or chairs or even a place to lay a blanket out? What about shade?
  • Is it a park that allows animals like dogs to roam on or off leash? Do you have to watch out for doggy doo or worry about your child's safety around animals?
Some ideas before you go to the park:
  • Eat lunch first.
  • Bring a snack as well as a drink.
  • Bring an extra set of clothes in case of getting dirty or wet
  • Bring sunscreen or a hat
  • Bring a timer and set a limit of when you are going to leave
  • Make a few rules on behavior before you go
  • Have something ready to do once you get in the car that the child will anticipate.
  • Bring a game like a ball or something that go out of the car but not be too bothersome to carry around.
  • Avoid things like squirt guns if your child may squirt others who are not playing.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The blessings of labels

I am not sure why but my son tends to have a hard time realizing what things are dangerous and what are not. He tends to think he's super human which tends to keep us on our toes. The thing I have learned with my son is many times trying to keep him safe isn't easy as telling him you can't do that you could get electricuted or you can't watch movie because it's bad.
We found that showing our son, for instance on movies, the warning/rating label that he quit hounding us about watching movies we deemed not age appropriate for him. He quit trying to get them from their high spots and was able to much easier identify which movies were okay and which were not. This also worked on other things too such as electrical cords, toys, shampoo, plastic bags and any other thing in your household that might have a label. We realized that words like 'warning' and 'caution' were so important for him to be able to recognize because of how these two words he tended to listen to.
Our house is much better simply because he has learned these 2 words as well as movie/game labels. It takes a lot of fighting and arguing because he realizes that it's not people being mean to him and telling him 'no' but it's the product telling him he needs to be safe or not to use it so he can stay safe.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summer Time Thoughts

With summer just around the corner many kids are out of school. The bad thing about summer time from a lot of kids who have sensory issues tend to be the fact that they have a hard time adjusting to a new routine especially not having school. These kids tend to do very well with structure and routine and if you are a parent like me you don't do so well with it.

Here are some things I have tried.
  • Alarms for exact meal times is a huge one including snacks. Sometimes that 10-30 minute wait is just too much and then you have behavior issues. Now living by an alarm is not a fun thing but it does help you do things on time for those kids who do things according to a strict schedule.
  • Lists of what will happen in your day is another one. It's hard to record every detail but many times giving a child an overview of what you are doing works well.
  • If you are going out give your child a detailed agenda. For my son he needs to know what we are getting at the store and he's really good at keeping me stick to my list. If I don't then we tend to hit some behavior problems. He knows when the list is done we can go home.
  • Lastly, you need to have a list of activities or things on hand to meet those days where you will have sensory issues galore. For my son it tends to be physical activity so things like going to the park or if we're not going to the park going to a fast food resturant playland after we eat and when it's not busy because they have air conditioning. For my daughter it would be things like shaving cream, playdoh, vinegar and baking soda, and aggression cookies.
  • Another task is that depending on your child's sensory issues if you can declutter it can seriously help. I have found this true with our son. Our house is no where near de-cluttered but when we strip his room bare he does so much better. (This is one reason why I don't do happy meal type toys and cheapy toys.)
  • Lastly, many times when people think about summer they think of water but I have some kids that don't like their clothes being wet. Try to find some way to involve them in the summer fun without being wet. Some ideas might be an aquadoodle mat or playing with ice cubes in bags. Using squirt guns or spray bottles on different spray levels to decorate or paint or making popcicles are all good fun summer activities that involve some sort of liquid but don't have to have direct contact with the child.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Practicing Buttoning Quiet Toy

The turtle follows the ribbon from one corner to the diagonal corner.

I saw something simular in a sensory magazine and immediately thought how boring it looked although it had a great concept. The point of the product was to help kids learn how to button or to develop fine motor skills. I took that idea and made something simular.

A close up of the turtle bead I used for this project.
 Rather than using a plain bead I used a sea theme and added a turtle and sea printed fabric. I made some squares and made buttonholes large enough for the bead to go through. This keeps the fabric in place. Due to the ribbon sewn into the product I was able to go and make sure that unless it is cut or broke the bead will not fall off.
This product will be going to Little Mr. E who is 5 and still struggles with many daily tasks such as buttoning. I am sure his mother will update later after it is given to her and Little Mr. E plays with it.