Sensory Suggestions!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by BeachPeace, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. BeachPeace

    BeachPeace Guest

    Well, it is summer and when it rains the days are very long. Blue has an attention span of about 3 minutes and Indigo won't interact with him unless he follows her "rules". So I feel like the "mommy entertainment director", lol.

    When I posted about Blue's jumping, there were some really good ideas for physical outlets for our sensory seeking kids. So I thought it would be good for us to brainstorm ideas for activites that calm our kids. I have learned so much from you all!
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    In the event they haven't been suggested to you, there are two excellent books about kids with sensory issues, both by Carol Kranowitz: The Out-of-Sync Child and The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun.
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Here are a couple of the things that I do to calm myself. They seem to work pretty well with the Tot Monsters and other assorted Kidwinks too:

    1) Blanket burrito. We have a collection of very soft blankets. They have varying textures, weights and colours, but all of them are incredibly soft. I spread one out on the floor and roll myself up in it like a burrito. Usually leave my arms free at the top. Slide a big throw pillow under my head and shoulders. Little easy child likes the blanket burrito too, and the Tot Monster Twins seem to like a blanket taco (they get frustrated when they're rolled in the blanket, so I just lay them on one and fold the bottom half up over them).

    2) Wiggly feet. If I'm doing something that requires sitting still, I move my feet around quite vigorously. Dancers' stretches mostly. Point-and-flex, ankle rotations, clap the soles of my feet together, spread out and then squeeze my toes together, etc.

    3) Rhythmic movements. I get Little easy child to sweep or dust the floor. I use ironing for this. With difficult child, I get him to fold laundry. For the Tot Monsters, I clap their hands or feet together.

    4) Eating crushed ice with a metal spoon. I have no idea why this calms me down, but it does. And using plain old crushed ice avoids the sugar spike that I get from popsicles and the like. I tried this with Tot Monster B today, who is teething like billy-o, and it worked a treat.

    Let me think about this some more...

  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The Out of Sync Child Has Fun is an amazing resource!! Not only does it have ideas, it has ways to make them less expensive!! My entire family loves this book. The kids (and even husband) will go and get it when they are bored.

    One thing I did that is STILL, six years later, a big hit is to make a "crash pad". I took two old twin size sheets and sewed them together on 3 sides. I stuffed it with out of season blankets and old pillows. When they were littler they jumped on it (esp if they could jump from the bed onto it), they wrestled on it, they mushed it around into a "nest" for cuddling or reading or tv watching, etc... I think I spent maybe five bucks getting some used pillows at a garage sale to put into it, otherwise it was all stuff I had. I left one side of it open so we could get to blankets when we needed them, but I had to make SURE the kids knew I would take it away if they crawled inside it. thank you really wanted to sleep in there, but I worried he might get mashed if someone jumped on it, or suffocated if he fell asleep in there. Probably just worrying too much, but it didn't hurt him to stay out of it.

    A mini trampoline can be a godsend. I have friends who have two of them in the living room so their boys can jump while they watch tv. Keeps the boys active and they don't fight or jump on the furniture. I couldn't do it because the constant motion would make me seasick, but they are great to have. At times when one of my kids would be doing stuff to irritate because they just had too much energy the mini-trampoline was an awesome thing to send them to do for a few minutes.

    If nothing else, have a couple of boxes full of books or other heavy stuff and have them carry it from one room to another. Sometimes just carrying something heavy can help a kid calm down. My dad was a jr high teacher and worked with the sp ed teacher (he had all the sp ed students for science class for many many years) very closely. It was common for a student to show up at his class with a big box of books. Dad would have the student put the books down, give them another box and send them back. It actually got to the point my dad could direct the process with-o missing a beat in his lesson - which totally amazed me!

    Is there anywhere you could put a sandbox outside? I know 7 seems old for it, but for some kids it is very helpful to dig, feel the sand sift through their fingers, pack it tight, bury their feet, dig through to find things, etc... Just remember to make sure it has a lid of some sort because otherwise they end up being litter boxes for roaming animals - yuck! An alternative, if you have a difficult child who likes to dig is to just dig up a small area in the yard. Let the kid dig it up if they can, otherwise loosen the dirt for them. Playing in it is messy but can be great for providing various sensations. They can bury things and then dig them up, watch water patterns as it runs through the dirt, all sorts of things.

    For kids who like fossils and dinosaurs, try getting some plaster of paris and a few plastic dinosaurs or bones or whatever. Us a dishpan or smallish storage box with a lid and mix up the plaster. Bury the items in it and let it harden. The kids can use chisels, hammers, sticks, etc until the find an item, then switch to paintbrushes, toothbrushes, etc... to get all the plaster off of the times. I have spent HOURS in various museums while my kids worked on this kind of thing and there is no reason you cannot do it at home. Plaster of paris is available in craft stores.

    Sometimes, esp in summer, cold things are appealing. An inflatable pool can be fun to lounge in - I just saw an ad for one for $25 at walmart. Not big enough to really swim in, but fine to splash or lounge in. Heck, toss a bar of soap to them or add bubble bath as you fill it and they get clean too. Just remember to empty it before they use it again. I have some hot/cold packs that we keep in the freezer. thank you often gets one out to play with when he is hot. Not so much to just sit on his body, he mushes it around and messes with it. I don't even think he always knows he is doing it, but it provides a sensation he enjoys.

    Popsicles can also keep them busy. They can add a huge amount of sugar which is a problem for some kids. If you pick up a set of popsicle molds either at the store or a garage sale, you can control the sugar. I often put a bit of skim milk into the jelly jar when it is "empty" and shake it up. Poured into the mold it makes a nice snack with-o nearly as much sugar as the store bought kind - and it gives a calcium boost. You can freeze pudding (remember pudding pops?) and almost anything else. If I freeze juice I mix it with an equal amount of seltzer water or club soda first. It cuts costs and reduces the sugar with-o diluting the flavor. Our absolute FAVORITE popsicle is made with unsweetened applesauce and a LITTLE bit of cinnamon and sugar. I just mix them together and freeze in the molds. It may sound strange but it tastes wonderful.

    When looking for items to provide sensory stimulation, don't forget about party supply stores. I often go to ours for various bouncy balls, things to mess with, clackers, etc.... I end up getting some of the things that I have seen in various catalogs for OTs at a whole lot less. Let what your child enjoys doing and playing with guide you to the kind of sensory things that he needs.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Use fruit instead. You can either puree the fruit then freeze it into popsicle moulds, or you can freeze the fruit and puree it frozen, then eat it with a spoon. Fruit to include for sure - strawberries, mango, banana. The banana makes it creamy. You shouldn't need to add any sugar. In fact, I used to make a fruit smoothie using banana, a couple of strawberries, a slice of mango maybe and perhaps half a passionfruit - and I had to water it down because it was too strong. No added sugar at all.

    Other things to do for sensory sooting -

    1) The washing machine or fridge or other large appliance that comes in a large cardboard crate - let the kids have the crate. We cut a small window in it, but the kids could put cushions in it, get in, close it up and watch TV or play video games while watching through the little window. difficult child 1 used to do his homework in this nest.

    2) We got a cargo net and hung it in the tree loosely. The kids would climb into the cargo net and wrap themselves up in it. That way they felt confined but not overheated. Also good - those string-like hammocks woven from stuff like macrame cotton. Again, hang them loosely and let the kids wrap themselves right up in it, cocoon style.

    3) the jogging trampoline works well even in wet weather - they can burn up energy even when stuck indoors.

    4) blowing bubbles always works for difficult child 3. We used to keep a bucket of water with a bit of bubble mix in it, then used those large bubble wands you dont blow trough, but instead just wave through the air. If you're having a birthday party, these make great alternatives to loot bags.

    5) difficult child 3 loves photography. He's had to learn to be patient and sit quietly when getting a good photo. Giving him a sense of purpose and a job to do that he knows how to do, calms him down.

    6) Maths. I'm not kidding. When he was younger and we were away from home and he was stressed, I would settle him down by sitting him in a corner facing away from people, and give him a maths workbook to do.

  6. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Some things that work here:

    1. Play catch with a weighted ball (we use an 8 pound now but as they are getting bigger, I think I need a new one).

    2. Learning obstacle courses
    *Set up an obstacle course with various 'stations'. At each obstacle or station, have a flash card with a fact/vocab word/etc and the child shouts out the info as they do the physical activity. It is a great way to teach math facts and sight words.

    3. Tub play
    Using either a bath tub or a kiddie pool, fill it with various substances - lotion, shaving cream, pudding and let them 'paint' themselves.

    4. Cacoon
    Take a big comforter or other blanket and have the child lay on one edge with their arms down at their sides. Roll them up like a burrito and them give them little squishes with your hands.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The banana suggestion for smoothies reminded me of an article in a cooking magazine. It recommended freezing bananas cut into 1" chunks and then mashing the frozen banana up for ice cream. It is surprisingly rich and creamy tasting with nothing else added!!

    Pudding paint is lots of fun for kids who like that texture. The pudding can be tinted with food coloring or berries or cinnamon or whatever.

    If you measure out roughly equal amounts of cornstarch and water you get a really fun substance to play with. It looks like a liquid but if you hit the surface with a spoon it will break like a solid. Some kids can spend hourse playing with it. It made each of my boys cry when they were little because it felt strange.

    To help with the loss of info that can happen during the summer when kids are not using what they learned in school regularly, try to tie vocabulary, math problems, etc with physical activity. The more senses you can incorporate into learning the more the lesson will be remembered. There are all kinds of cds with fun songs for kids about music, science, etc.... They can be great in the car. Math tables, vocabulary quizzes, etc... can make car rides more fun. We have sometimes let whoever gets ten questions right first gets to pick where we stop for a picnic, or what park to go to, etc....

    Get the kids to cook. It uses all kinds of sensory stimulation and works on math and executive functions too. Maybe pick a cookie from another country and try two different recipes for it. Have the kids make a half batch or double batch to add a math challenge.

    Let the kids count that big jar of change. Have them pull out a bunch of pennies and teach them to play blackjack. They will get some basic math facts as they have to count to 21 and not go over. They will also learn about handling coins as they have to know how much they have and how much they should bet. After the game the coins all go back into a container. The winner doesn't have to unload the dishwasher or something like that. My grandpa started us on that at about age 6. If we said we bet 5 pennies and put in six we lost the extra penny and the others didn't have to match it. We got to be very accurate that way, LOL!!

    Jigsaw puzzles, sudoku, word finds, crossword puzzles, jumble, etc... are all great ways to keep them busy and thinking. If your crew really likes one kind of puzzle you can order a mixed lot of back issues from the publisher. Penny Press used to be the name of the company I order from, but they are now Penny Dell Puzzles, online. I figured out that husband and I spent about $30 on sudoku and logic puzzles in just a couple of months one year. It seemed like a lot for our budget so I found the bundles of older puzzle magazines and bought a bunch. We haven't had to buy either kind of magazine in three or four years/ They make great gifts for my relatives too!

    If you have a pool or take the kids to a pool, get some of the squeeze bottles that you can put ketchup and mustard in. Dollar stores usually sell a 2 pack of them (one red and one yellow) for a buck. They are easier to fill than many squirt guns, they can give a good long squirt, and most pools allow them when they won't allow squirt guns. If you have a kid obsessed with weapons and violence these are a great way to squirt each other with-o having "guns". I know it isn't a big deal for most kids, but for some of our difficult children it can make playing with water a lot less stressful- at least for moms!
  8. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    I love the book "Mudworks: Creative Clay, Dough, and Modeling Experiences," by MaryAnn F. Kohl. It has amazing playdough recipes. Some of them require cooking, others don't. And, you can eat some of them.

    We also like something called TheraPutty, which is available through occupational therapy websites and at many medical supply stores. Each color has a different level of hardness/softness. I hide beads and coins in difficult child's and he has to pull the putty apart to find them. You can also use playdough for this, but it doesn't give as much resistance.

    difficult child also, even at 7, still enjoys a tub full of water and plastic fish and sea life. You can often find these at the dollar store.

    How about a nice mud pit? Give them some shovels and let them dig. When they have a nice hole, fill it with water and enjoy some peace (until clean up time, that is).

    Good luck.