Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Daily Schedule for Us

School is back in session for most kids at this time and one of the challenges is getting back into a routine or at least a consistent one. One thing that works for most kids is seeing a visual schedule. Some kids need pictures, others words, and some kids need calendars. If you can I would suggest making one up for your afternoon or if your child is in preschool or 1/2 day kindergarten it might help to have one for the morning as well.
I will freely admit that I am not a scheduled person. I tend to like running by the seat of my pants and going where ever the wind may take me however, having a special needs kiddo can change all of that. With my son I have to be specific. I tell him quite a few things. The first thing is I tell him the places I am going to go. An example of today was the following:
1) Doctors for Itsy to be weighed and measured.
2) Dollar store
3) Pet Store
4) Sears
Then following that I told him what we would do in each place so:
1) It will be a short visit and we will only be getting her measured.
2) Poster board and stickers
3) Crickets for his lizard Joker
4) Get shoes
My day didn't go exactly as planned. I decided to save gas and go to Fred Meyer instead as it was right next to the pet store. I also forgot about getting chicken for dinner. However, over all it went very smoothly. My kids DID run around the shoe department at Sears and yes my son lost his Crocs that were thankfully his junky pair although I don't know if it was my son or my daughter that hid them. Oh well, he has new ones and I was going to throw the old ones out. :) However, overall it was a fairly smooth day. The thing I did notice was I started my day out allowing them to use the sensory swing and then did my errands. I then allowed them to go and get back on the swing once we got home. The one we used was the trapeeze bar because they told me they wanted to 'hang' (meaning dangle with your arms not a noose). Anyhow, it went fairly smoothly.
I know there are some kids that must know things way in advance I can't say that I would do well with that at all. We have our own week with certain days that we do things although we are starting to skip church due to just appointments and so forth. It's hard to fit everything in and sometimes church doesn't offer all we need having a child with sensory issues. Many people don't understand the that it's not an inconvience but a need in his case. Anyhow, basically you have to start prioritizing things and seeing what can and can't fit into your schedule because with all the therapies, doctors visits, and so forth it can get kind of hectic. Do what you can and the rest will have to wait until later.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Can you hold this for me?

One of the things I am learning with my kids is how I tend to not always know what sensory needs will strike and when it will happen. (I tend to not stick very well to routine or a schedule which isn't a task that kids like mine tend to handle well.) One day I was in the fabric store and I had already gone through my purse. I had taken out toys, pens, and whatever else I had stuffed in there and yet my kids were still putting their hands on EVERYTHING. Being in the checkout line I began handing them things that were in the cart and telling them I needed their help holding things. Slowly my cart emptied as their hands and arms got full. Customers in the checkout line began grinning as they understood what I was doing as they had seem them grabbing things off shelves and hooks moments before. Finally, their arms and hands were full and they couldn't get into anything and I was at the front of the line and able to help empty their arms and put my purse back into some sort of order.
It did work quite well at the drop of a hat. Maybe this is something that will help you out when you end up going out unprepared. I do admit having a 10 month old I make sure my keys have toys or objects on them which sometimes the older kids do play with. Fisher Price has made some of their old toys into key chains and there are all sorts of things that light up as well as koosh balls too which give great input.

Shopping Cart Fun

One dreaded task I try to avoid is going to the store with all 3 of my kids mainly because it's hard to get them to call down with their sensory issues. The truth of the matter is there are days I HAVE to do it and slowly I am getting better. This is one thing I have learned is that it's amazing what happens when my children get to push the cart (especially when it's heavy by adding groceries or a sibling). I will stand at the front and steer it but they use their muscles and push. If there is a fight over the cart I make sure I get a basket for the other to carry and I fill it according to the child who is holding or dragging it across the grocery store. Sometimes they get tired but I try to make a game out of it. 'Can you see if you can push it to the end where you see the chips?' I try to make them think and use other ways to move the cart besides pushing with their hands on the handles.

Maybe if you are someone who as the toy shopping cart you can use that instead although a stroller or a basket with wheels will work just as well and fill it with heavy items and have them push it around the room.

How we have used 'How to Read 100 Easy Lessons'

One of the challenges we have faced having a special needs child(ren) is reading. We are homeschooling and I spent last year (his K year) watching how he learned. I found that a lot of things simply were not going to work for him. I was hesitant about buying this book called, 'How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons' but I did it and I have had to change a few things. The last thing I want is my son overwhelmed with information or dislike reading so I try to make it simple and do things in a way that he'll remember them easily. Anyhow, we're on lesson 20 and I'll just post what I did in one of my other blogs for easy of location.


I was asked by a friend to share with people how I am teaching my son who learns like an autisic child/ADHD child how I was helping my son with the book we are using called, How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Maybe it might help someone else. I'll also post it on the therapy blog I have as well. I will try to do this lesson by lesson so it can be copied and printed out for easy of use with the book.

Lesson #1 -
This chapter introduces the sound 'm' and 's'. The way I helped my son remember these sounds was was through a story. Mind you all the letters unless marked otherwise are all lower case. 'm' really liked what his mom made for dinner he said, 'mmmm' so she heaped another two helpings onto his plate. This allows for how the letter m is formed with two bumps. The 's' sound I told him was a snake try to remind you by saying 'ssss' what he says. I talk about it's form.

Lesson #3 -
This chapter introduces the short 'a' sound. I told my son that the letter 'a' went to the dentist and he opened his mouth and said 'aaaaa'. The 'a' is written as it is seen on the screen.

Lesson #5 -
This chapter introduces the long 'e' sound. This one I told him is smiling. When he thinks of this letter he must smile when he says it.

Lesson #7 -
The letter 't' is introduced in this chapter and I told him that he's trying to learn how to tell time. If your child can tell time you can tell him that he can't tell if it's 3:00, 3:30, 9:00 or 9:30.

Lesson #9 -
This chapter introduces the sound 'r'. This one I came up with the story of 'r' being so mad he puts his head down like a ram and says 'rrrrrr'.

Lesson # 12 -
This chapter starts with the 'd' sound. I told him that this letter the ball fell down the pole and landed on the ground. He can remember this sound because the ball fell down to the ground.

Lesson #14 -
The short 'i' is the star in this page but his tummy got upset before the performance and said 'i'. He threw up on the stage (which is why the dot is there) and he said 'ick'.

Lesson #16 -
The sound of 'th' is introduced here. Notice the two letters are joined together at the bottom as one sound. I told the story of how the 't' was being mean one day and stuck his tongue out at the 'h'. Now the 't's tongue is stuck on the 'h'. He now says 'th' trying to get unstuck.

I am going to stop here for now and discuss the writing tasks that follows each lesson in the book. My first suggestion is lined paper for elementary kids. I personally choose some thicker paper already sliced like in the picture below to have him write his letters. (There are only 2 letters to be written in each chapter.) This allows him to see it isn't going to be overwhelming because he can easily see the end of the paper. I typically try to get him to write each letter 3-5 times. If you're child has an issue with spacing I suggest you use a marker (different than the color of the paper, lines, or writing impliment your child has and draw lines below of where you want the letters. I also allow him to make one silly/creative letter with wiggly lines or teeth just for fun. I follow up this with getting out some stickers and allowing each of us to pick his best written letter of our own choosing.

One other thing I am going to mention that I have seen is that my kid can rhyme but on some of the pages he can't do it the way it is told. I improvised to make it work for us and he says the beginning sound and I quickly follow behind with the ending and then he gets to say really fast what we said together.

I hope this will help some people who are teaching kids kind of like mine and maybe this things will help someone.

Sensory Storage Ideas

One of the things that drives my husband nuts is clutter. He doesn't mind it in the kids' rooms but downstairs it's a huge problem. This has made it difficult at times to deal with because some sensory stuff can be hard to put away. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you.

  • When you purchase equipment make sure you can quickly take it down. A good example of this is a small trampoline. Many times these can be folded up or the legs can be taken off for ease of storage.
  • Hang up what you can. Things like the sensory swings (in general) can be hung up on a hook of some type in a closet, on a wall, or in the garage.
  • Look around your home and find out what you can already use rather than buying something else. For instance, rather than going and buying new playdough. Make some of your own and put it in the playdough container that is now empty.
  • When you buy things make sure it can be used for a variety of things and a variety of sensory needs. If you do this then you'll find it makes things easier.
  • Rather than blowing up an exercise ball can it be used as a chair somewhere? If not can you put in on a rack or in closet on the floor?
  • I know of some people who will take an old mattress and use it for a crash pad. If you do this can you take it and shove it under a bed or even then an extra matress?
  • Another idea is to make things that are easy to clean up or put away. For us, a huge obstacle to dealing with my daughters sensory issues was the table was always a mess. I finally bought some thick vinyl and no joke I stapled it to the underside of my table. This was an awesome idea as the table is so much easier to clean and the kids can use dry erase markers on it.
Some of these ideas will be feasible and others not depending on what you have and the layout of your house. Begin looking for things that will fill a variety of needs that your child has. If you go to OT then take a look at the closet they're pulling things out of. Teach your kids to help you put away the stuff where it belongs and only one therapy toy out at a time!

Sign Language can be good for many things

I am taking an ASL course to help my youngest daughter who has unilateral hearing loss. In the learning process one of the books I used explained how learning the manual alphabet is a very good thing to learn even for hearing children. It is very good for hand-eye coordination as well as manual dexterity. It also gives the child another way to communicate which can be a huge bonus especially if it is a setting where your child is supposed to be quiet and they talk non-stop provided it's not like my son's friend who just talks to hear himself talk. There are some kids that are autistic that are not verbal and that is not my son but sign language whether ASL or some other manual form of language has helped these families tremendously.
Another bonus to it is depending on how your child learns this might be a way to help them improve their reading and spelling if they must have movement.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I am up and running and now it is time to get an external hard drive. I didn't do this before and lost ALL my pictures and websites. It's ALL gone. :(  Unfortunately some of the pictures I had were to go on this blog and I appologize. I didn't listen to my dad and do something so simple. (See why you're supposed to obey your parents!)
One of the things I have been doing lately is dealing with my son hanging off our stair rail and my daughter climbing up the closet shelves. I have found allowing my son and daughter to play in the lycra swing is benefical. Somehow my son is able to physically climb up the lycra swing and touch the ceiling allowing himself the ability to climb and yet swing. My daughter being younger and smaller gets a good work out getting in and out of the swing and thus takes care of her climbing escapades.
Another product we bought and have been using is a product called a 'Gigaball'. It is a huge ball with two openings. It can hold I think 150 lbs in it. You can climb into the ball and roll around. It is nice because should you ball get punctured there are quite a few air chambers allowing much better change of finding the leak and patching it. We do not use shoes in the ball and pockets must be emptied of any possible objects that might pop the ball. We also only used it in the grassed area of our yard. (Other areas in our neighborhood that are tracks tend to have sticker bushes.) When the ball slowly deflates our children tend to climb up on a toy structure about 2 ft high off the ground and jump on top of it making a great crash pad. The ball is quite durable because it hasn't seemed to effect the ball at this point in time. We have also had more than one kid in the ball at a time and made them work as a team to roll the ball across the yard. Do not use the ball on a hill and send your kid rolling no matter how much they enjoy spinning or forward rolls. Not a good idea. In fact, if your kids are like mine keep them AWAY from hills as the temptation may be too great.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chewing on Pencils

With school approaching I have found that we HAVE to use pens for my son. It's not really an option. My son tends to chew the pencil tops (below the metal if it has it) to the point he breaks the top off. I have noticed with pens this is harder. I know as he learns to write he will need a pencil of some sort. My solution was to take rubber tubing you can find at a medical supply store, spots store or even then some fishing store tubing to put on the top of the pencil to allow them the ability to chew as needed without breaking their pencils constantly or chewing off the erasers. I have noticed him doing this with pens too but they tend to be harder to break and he doesn't have to worry about them being sharpened either... just another task. I would suggest mechanical pencils EXCEPT then he'd be playing with the part that makes the lead come out. Maybe when he's a little bit older.

Making Visuals to help Memorize

Once again I still don't have my PC so I thought I would share some ideas that might help and then later post pictures. One of the tasks I am doing to help my son learn his days of the week is provide visuals. Most kids on the Autism Spectrum and who have ADHD are very visual. Long time ago I was helping in a girls church program which required Scripture memorization or they didn't pass. Not all the parents helped their kids with the memory verses and so I began to use visuals. I wondered if I did the same thing but with the days of the week if it would work and it is paying off.
I do have pictures but I'll let you be creative.

Sunday - a picture of a sun
Monday - my son learned the sound 'M' makes so I put a big letter 'M' up.
Tuesday - my son knows the number 2 and so I have a number 2 up.
Wednesday - this picture I made a picture of a cloud blowing making it windy.
Thursday - this one was tricky. I finally decided to make a 'Th' seeing it has it's own distinct sound. I tell him to stick out his tongue on this one so I suppose that might work too. :)
Friday - I made a frying pan
Saturday - This one is tricky too but I make a chair for the 'sat' part of Saturday. Might need to change it because my son keeps calling it 'sit' day. LOL

Later I will make pictures of different things we do on these days. So Sunday and Wednesday will have a church by it. Days my husband has off will have a picture of my husband home. And of course we will add or change things as they come and go so he can have an idea of what is expected on those particular days.

This can be used for anything though not just the days of the week. The key that I have found is that the item or picture doesn't have to be the word or a picture of it but something that will jog their memory. Sometimes you can get really creative and do things like shooting a rubberband through a toliet paper tube for the word 'through'. Or putting something in a cup for the word 'in'. Cutting out a picture of an eye could work for 'I'. Remember these are just visual clues. This won't work for all children but for the younger kids I have worked with in the past this has worked fairly well. I hope it'll help someone with memory work.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I have to admit I am a bit frustrated and hope to be posting soon. My PC is still broken but it doesn't stop the ideas I am waiting to post about. If my dad doesn't fix it soon I'll get my lap top a boot up disc so I can use that until my regular PC is fixed. It's been hard not posting.