Use these tips to make New Years eve more enjoyable for you and your child:
Arrive before the other guests to allow for gradual accomodation of sounds and sights.
Find a quiet spot where your child can retreat in a noisy environment (e.g. pillow and blanket or sleeping bag under a table or in a separate room)
Provide your child with safe calming hand fidgets.
Chewy tubes and munchies may also be calming.
Offer noise cancelling ear plugs or headphones for the count down.
Sensory Fun in the Snow!
- Shoveling snow gives your child heavy muscle work activity that can be very calming and organizing.
- Go sledding for a burst of movement and muscle activity.
- Make angels in the snow, roll snowballs, and build snow forts to improve motor planning.
- Throw snowballs at targets to increase visual motor skills.
- Snow shoeing is another way to get some heavy muscle work.
- Hide toys in snow for your child to find to improve tactile and visual discrimination.
- Bring a cookie sheet of snow inside to practice drawing designs and letters.
Stay warm and have fun!
Imagine how you feel when you shop in a hot, loud, over-crowded, not so nice smelling mall, while wearing an itchy wool coat at the end of preparing for and hosting a busy holiday party. That is how day to day activities for some children with sensory processing disorder feel. So when they are exposed to the same stimuli that would overload just about anyone, the effects are compounded. This can be lead to ‘sensory overload.’ It is no wonder that temper tantrums, emotional outbursts, difficulty with self calming, distractibility, and an inablitiy to stand in lines are common scenes with many children at malls.
When the question is asked, is it sensory or is it behavior? Reframe the question by asking are there sensory issues driving the behavior? However, use caution, because some behaviors may be learned as a way to avoid or get something, or communicate wants and needs. It is important to learn how to be proactive when offering calming strategies (e.g. giving bear hugs when when your child begins to look disregulated) as opposed to reinforcing negative behavior (e.g. offering a bear hug after he or she hits you).
Keep these strategies in mind when shopping this holiday season, but use them only as tolerated by your child:
1. Find spots in the mall where you and your child can regroup (e.g. quiet hallways without a lot of decorations).
2. Incorporate some deep pressure hugs throughout your shopping day.
3. Have some calming ‘mouth tools’ available (e.g. grab a snack or meal, sip on a water bottlle, bring a child safe chew toy)
4. Take time to smell the flowers…I mean candles in the quiet candle stores with soft music.
5. Give your child some closely supervised movement breaks out of the shopping cart. Even when you are in a hurry and don’t feel you have the time, you may save time in the long run by preventing an outburst later.
6. Give your child some safe ‘hand fidgets’ to fiddle with while riding in a cart or waiting. If they are old enough and able to do so, or allow your child to help you push the cart or carry bags.
7. Put on some snug fitting under garments that offer firm, maintained touch pressure and ‘breathe’ with your child.
8. Shop at less crowded times of the day or season as you are able, and take several short shopping trips over several days, rather than trying to squeeze it all into a couple of long trips.
9. Allow your child to choose and where his or her favorite comfortable clothes and socks.
10.If you are fortunate enough to have some help, bring along an extra hand. Your child may be held by grandma or walk around with her while looking at some pretty decorations, while you stand in the long check out line.
Susan Swindeman, OTR
Adapted from… Tools for Tots: Sensory Strategies for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Henry, Kane-Wineland, Swindeman, 2009
Do school days = blue days for your child? Is your chld able to hold it together at school, but falls apart when he comes home? Consider these Sensory Options and Strategies (S.O.S.) to help your child through his school day:
1. Prepare your child’s nervous system to help pay attention for a long day of sitting by having him jump on a minitramp or play on playground equipment for 10-15 minutes before leaving for school.
2. Allow your child to where comfortable (school appropriate) clothing of his choice.
3. Give your child some inconspicous ‘hand fidgets’ (e.g. small koosh ball, worry stone, pencil fidget, stuffed keychain, or small piece of theratubing) that he can fiddle with to help him stay calm and focused.
4. Give your child a comforting family or pet picture to keep in his bookbag or locker to ease separation and provide a visual break.
5. If your school does not allow gum, offer alternative ‘mouth fidgets’ (e.g. hard straw water bottle, pencil chew topper, chewlry, chewy lunch snacks) for calming.
6. If your child has trouble standing in line, suggest he stand at the end of the line so that he is not bothered by others incidentally bumping into him when they are behind them.
7. Talk to your child’s teacher about optimal classroom placement (e.g. away from visual clutter, close to the teacher for optimal visual and auditory cues)
8. If your child has trouble sitting still, see if the teacher will give him some muscle jobs during the day (e.g. holding open doors or bringing attendance to the office) or allow him to sit on a move n’ sit cushion.
9. Have a visual schedule (pictures and/or written) of your child’s typical school day, and talk about it before he starts school.
10. When your child comes home from school, allow him to play outside for a while to get out some energy, before sitting to do homework.
Need some sensory ideas to keep your child cool in this hot weather?
- Hide plastic ice cubes in a bucket of cool beans for your child to find
- Put shaving cream in the refrigerator for a while before shaving cream play
- Fill a sand table with cold water and floating toys
- Offer frozen treats
- Give your child a cold wet towel
- Go swimming
- Use a kiddie car shade
- Bring a cold water bottle on your bike ride or hike
- Use a hat or sun visor
- Wear light colored, breathable clothing
- Fingerpaint with cold pudding
- Slip and slide
- Refrigerate silly putty before playing with it
- Play in the sprinkler
- Fill a bucket with cold water and play catch with water balls
- Bring a sunbrella to the beach
- Fill a kiddie pool with cold water and water safe toys
- Put your sand box in the shade
- Show your child how to roll a cold water bottle under his foot
- Shoot squirt toys
- Read books under a shade tree
- Use a patio umbrella to cover the sidewalk while playing with chalk
- Stay hydrated
- Remember those sunglasses
- Give your child a cooler bath than usual
- Keep lotion in the refrigerator, then offer a cool massage
- Make a fort or obstacle course in an air conditioned room
Provide close supervision and perform these activities only as tolerated.
July 4th is fast approaching… fun… sun… and fireworks!
Enjoy Independence Day with these sensory strategies for kids with auditory over-responsivity:
Allow your child to…
Run, climb, and jump before settling down for fireworks to prepare the nervous system
Hold a soft and smooshy hand fidget for calming
Eat some crunchy or chewy snacks
Sit in your lap while watching the show
Wear headphones or less conspicuous ear plugs during the fireworks display
Watch fireworks with you inside the air conditioned car with the windows closed
Enjoy the fireworks display from inside a building with a nice window view
Stay safe, have fun, and enjoy your holiday!
Do you tremor at the thought of your child’s reaction when you know it’s time to brush his teeth? Do you dread bedtime because it’s more like ‘jump on the bed’ time? Are you at your wits end when it’s time for dinner and your child does not like her brown food touching her red food? Oh…and green food? Forget it! Share your frustrations, thoughts, experiences, and ideas on our new Sensory Blog Spot at http://www.weecaretherapy.com/blog!