Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quick Blurb

I am blown away at how many parents are looking for information regarding sensory issues and how to do these things at home due to the market value of anything saying 'sensory' on it. This blog while it has only one follower has had over 2,000 hits in less than 1 year!
However, I am going to be honest and let you know that during the holiday season I might slow down a little bit on posting. The first thing is that I am busy making things for the holidays. I have a fundraiser that someone wanted to me to make pacifier clips for. There is a family that is trying to bring a little boy from Russia who has Down Syndrome who will be placed in a mental institution if he is not adopted. Sadly, this is the fate of many special needs kids around the world. If they're put up for adoption and not adopted they are sent to mental institutions where they usually die within 1 year of being placed there. If you're willing to open up your family to a special needs child please consider Reeses Rainbow. (Type it up in a search and you'll find it.)
I am really working on coming up with some gifts my son in particular can't destroy or that he won't want to destroy. I'm not sure how to go about this. Maybe Christmas will give me a season of creativity that I can share with you.
Lastly, I'm just not feeling good lately. Not quite sure why I feel so icky but we'll find out soon enough. If it continues to persist I'll go into the doctors.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Newspaper fun

We get the Sunday newspaper at our house and one thing I have found is that newspaper is very theraputic and cheap. Here are a few ideas of how to deal with newspaper in a theraputic fun way that most kids enjoy.
  • Have a snowball fight. Crumple up the newspaper into balls and throw it at one another. This is a wonderful alternative if you don't have snow or want to be warm in the winter but have some fun.
  • Play sword fighting. This is probably more of a boy type of thing but my kids do have a fun time with it.
  • Make newspaper dress up clothes. This can also be done out of paper grocery bags. If you're not sure how to do this it's pretty simple. Take a sheet of newspaper and you can use one of your child's shirts as an outline. Make sure it's bigger than the actual shirt because newspaper doesn't stretch. :) Use tape to 'sew' the pieces together if needed.
  • Around holidays that presents are given have a bin for your child to shred newspaper in to use as filler.
  • If you have a shredder or a child who likes to shred you can make a sensory box and fill it with newspaper. Hide some small toys in the paper and allow your child to play in it rather than sand, rice, flour, ect.
  • Make a pinata it's messy and takes time to dry teaching your child patience.
  • Fill a pillowcase up with crumbled up newspaper and allow your child to jump on it and roll around with it. It is squishy and you can determine how squishy you want it. It also makes noise.
  • Make paper airplanes out of it.
  • Make beads. Cut small strips and roll them around a pencil and then glue the end to secure. Allow to dry and then you can if you'd like put a sealant around it. This can be very colorful if you use the comic section of the paper.
  • Take the comics and glue them to a Christmas ball. Some people only use one series of comics such as garfield. The best way to do it if you want to read the words is cut out the characters first and then put the words on the ball.
  • There is a way you can use rolled up newspapers to make a structure. I'll have to see if I can find the link. Once I do I'll stick it in the pages in the How-to section.
  • Stuff the newspapers in your clothing and pretend your a sumo wrester, a snowman or a fat clown.
  • You can use the newspaper to make a puppet of several types. For an older child if you take a foam ball you can use a paste mixture and secure a small portion of a toliet paper tube into place. Keep adding layers and crumple up pieces give the face a nose, eyes, and a mouth if you wish. Measure cloth to put around the toliet paper tube. Give yourself extra room for sewing. Next trace around your child's hand and give it enough room to slide their hands in for a puppet plus seam allowances. I'll have to see if I can make one here soon as it'd be easy to do a photo tutorial rather than a paragrah.
  • Roll up the newspaper into tubes to make a house. You can make this however big or little you wish and they can glue the papers together similar to lincoln logs.
Hope this page allows your creative juices to start flowing. :)

A Little Time for Me

One thing I have noticed for myself that being a parent of a child with special needs is not a task for the weak in any way, shape or form. It requires all of you and then some. It is draining. You seriously are on-call 24/7. Finding someone to give you a break can be a difficult task as well as keeping that person as a resource.
As a parent I strongly encourage you to find something for yourself to do that you enjoy. When you child goes to bed or before they wake up find something for you whether it be a hot shower you can enjoy, journalling, drawing, reading, watching a movie or even looking at old photos to remind you there are good days in the midst of many draining ones. Many times I know for our family my parents have been there to step in and help watch the kids giving me a break but not all families have that ability. Not all kids are going to do okay in public school and they must be brought home to be educated. In spite of all of this find some time that you can have alone apart from your child even if it is before they get up or after they've gone to bed. It doesn't have to be every single day but try to find some time at least once a week where you are able to focus on you because taking care of a special needs child is both draining and rewarding no matter what special need you are dealing with.
Maybe the time that you set apart for yourself is time to cry and vent the frustration and grief through tears. Maybe you are going to spend that time journaling or blogging. Maybe you're going to just step back and focus on something you enjoy whether it be reading, baking, sewing, scrapbooking, listening to music or whatever. Find something even if it's for 10 minutes to take a step back and give yourself a break.
I also strongly encourage you, if you are struggling feeling like you are getting no where, to journal. Write down the struggles and progresses you and your child are making. What are things you have learned or realized about your child? What things have they mastered or have improved in? What things are you doing different that are working better for you? These little nuggets are going to be able to be looked on when you feel all you are doing is treading water to let you know you are moving forward even if it's a little bit more than where you were before. It is still progress.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

3 Games on the Market

There are some games that are used in therapy that aren't listed as 'sensory' games. Some of these you can make up your own version without paying the price if you can't find them in the thrift stores. I'll just name a few and how you can possibly make it work for you.

What's in Ned's Head - This game is basically using a bag to pull out different things from this bag with several holes. The objects in Ned's head are of various textures and sizes. You can make this game yourself using a box with holes cut out of it where only the hand can fit into it.

Twister - This game is one that most people know which has a plastic vinyl sheet that you lay out on the floor and you put your right or left hand or foot on the color that is spun. This game can be recreated by using circles. Some ideas for circles that will work on different surfaces might be:
  • felt -carpet
  • paint - outside in the grass depending on where you live or the dirt
  • paper - preferably taped to prevent slipping
  • chalk - outside on cement
  • tape - hard surfaces are best
  • sheet - this one you'll have to paint, sew, or color on various colors of circles
Please keep in mind if you're child is young then you'll have to make the circles closer together than if a child is older. The point is not to frustrate your child but to allow them to move in various ways.

Memory Match -  There are so many versions of this game and you can bring this to the very needs your child has at little to no cost. Here are some ideas on which to make memory cards
  • old deck of cards
  • paint sample cards at hardware stores
  • index cards
  • cut out felt squares
  • regular paper
  • Cardboard
  • Cereal boxes
  • Plastic lids
Now the things you can use to make pictures could be some of these items
  • velcro (squares and circles are sold as well as bigger prints that are adhesive on one side)
  • felt squares
  • stickers (raised, smelly, visual movement ones, sparkle or glitter, fuzzy)
  • yarn
  • photos
  • drawings of the child's photocopied and shrunk
  • newspaper grocery ads of items

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sewing Cards

As a kid growing up I remember having sewing cards with laces. They were fun to string up making sure the lace went through each hole. I have purposely avoided things like this unless they're durable due to how rough my kids are with things. I finally got an idea the other day of how to make one that is more durable yet cheap.
We tend to go through a lot of containers that have recyclable plastic lids from many dairy products. Use a cookie cutter and trace on the lid the shape you want to have. (You might need to enlarge this to some degree but make sure it fits on the lid.) Then cut the shape out and punch holes using a hole punch. If you don't feel like cutting it out a circle will do just fine although it will have a rim. For safety you might consider using electrical tape and going around the edges to prevent any sharp edges.
To string the lacing card you can use a shoelace, pipecleaner, a wet spaghetti noodle, or yarn just to name a few things.

The only word of caution I will give you is that make sure there are no sharp edges that your child might scratch or cut themselves on.

Homemade Bean Bag Toss Game

My son who has SPD has a hard time regulating his emotions. When he's mad we're all on alert because he tends to get violent and destructive. (We have holes in doors and dents in walls in his room due to his outbursts.) We have suggested many things but this is a new thing I am trying.

I found a large box and cut holes into the box. Due to how rough my son is with things I chose to reinforce the edges with strong tape to make it a little bit more durable. (Thank goodness it's just a cardboard box!) I then made some bean bags. I used white rice and securely sewed it. If you can't sew that is okay. Some other options you might consider is putting rice, or something into a plastic baggie and then securely taping the bag shut. You could also fill a ballon with beans or rice and tie off the end. (To get it fuller you pull the balloon downward stretching it and it makes more room.)

Other options:
  • Make the bean bag out of different material on the outside. If you sew use different types of fabrics if you don't sew look for different objects you can fill such as a sock.
  • Fill the bean bag with different things. If you need a heavier bean bag you can try using beans or poly pellets. For a lighter one you can fill it with newspaper, easter bunny filling, shredded paper, or fabric scraps. For a noisy one you can add some plastic packaging, a bell, newspaper, or a squeaker toy.
  • Place the cardboard box at a different angle.
  • Make the holes larger or smaller.
  • Use an object different than a bean bag. I like bean bags because they don't bounce but if you want something fun that won't damage anything another option might be ping pong balls.


I have been taking an ASL (American Sign Language) class in college and one of my projects was to read various chapters out of a book titled 'For Hearing People Only' which answers questions that hearing people have about Deaf culture. One of the questions was on if signing should be something that should be mandated and the chapter talks about how kids should be required to learn the manual alphabet as well as numbers in K-1st. At first I disagreed with this but then after reading the article I had a change of view.
One of the points that this article brings up is it helps fine motor development as well as manual dexterity. I know for my kids this isn't a huge deal but for many kids with sensory issues or who are on the autism spectrum or even then ADHD they can struggle in these areas. It can be taught to children and it can be something that is fun as well as educational as you pass secret messages to one another as well as communicate in areas in which it is supposed to be quiet.
Another thing that came to mind with my son is because we've hit 1st grade many times due to a poor pencil grip his hands tire fairly easy. Being homeschooled I do allow him sometimes the ability to tell me the answers and I will write them such as in math. I am looking forward to teaching him his manual alphabet to do spelling as well as his manual numbers to do math problems. This gives him the ability to fidget and move and yet work on his school work in a non-traditional way
There are many sites you can go to learn how to do the manual alphabet but not all sites teach the manual alphabet correctly. The site below teaches the correct fingerspelling for even the letter 'f' which is usually done in books and other publications incorrectly.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sensory Issues and Homework

One of the things our family does is homeschool. I don't regret it at all and it has been both encouraged and discouraged. There are many people who will end up telling parents with special needs children to not homeschool because it's hard. I can't say it's easy all the time but it's definately rewarding IF you can do it. There are some cases that this just simply isn't possible and I understand that.
I just wanted to share with you about what I have done for my son school work wise as sometimes it can be hard (especially with sensory issues) to get a child to sit down and do their homework. First of all, what is comfortable for you might not be comfortable for them. You might be surprised that your child works best laying down, sitting in a bean bag chair or even standing up. You might have to take frequent breaks to allow them to swing, hang, fiddle or whatever the case may be for 5 minutes and then return to their school work with a timer to indicate the changes. This can be very distracting for parents but in the long run it could be less frustrating for everyone involved.
Another thing I have learned through homeschooling my son is that how busy the page or overwhelming can be a huge issue. Looking at 12+ problems seems like a lot of work! What I have seen with my son is that I can cut or fold the paper and give it to him throughout the day rather than making it all in one sitting. Sure they'll have a folded homework page but it'll be done without as much stress for you.
Sometimes another trick is that they give you the answers and you write them down especially if they have a hard time with writing. Sure you want them to get better at writing but you also don't want them to tire especially if their grip is different or they have a hard time controling their pencil. Maybe you could take turns.
I have also found that a white board is an awesome tool. I am talking about the little ones that are about the size of a paper. These you can do quizes and games and they can be cleaned while your child swings or bounces or hands upside down. I was able to do this yesterday with my son to help him remember his numbers. Sometimes it's just hard to collect them from his memory bank. He has a hard time going past ten and so I showed him that 14,15,16,17,18 and 19 all have something in common. They all have 'teen' at the end. He just needs to check the second number and if the first number is a '1' then he has to add teen except in the case of 11, 12, and 13. This can also be used for the twenty-ninety family. They all say twenty if its a 2 and therefore after 20 they can just add second number at the end.
If you can play it as a game such as guess this letter and you can jump on the trampoline 5 big jumps or you can turn in the swing until it stops. Then give the next letter, number, math problem or whatever you are looking on.
Anyhow, with school in session regardless if you are homeschooling or not some of these tips might help. I hope it does work for some people who have kids with sensory issues.