Category: Soothe Tool

No More Seams!

As parents, we get the occasional 😉 complaint about socks and undies just not feeling right!  But when those complaints start coming daily it might be time to find a solution.

 

For most of us, once we get dressed, we no longer really notice the clothes on our bodies.  We habituate to the sensation!  But for an individual with sensory sensitivities, they may not be able to habituate as easily, so they end up noticing and feeling those seams all day long!  This can cause them to feel more easily frustrated, because they are already dealing with other frustrations, or lead them to be distracted because their focus continuously shifts to the irritating seam.  Even for those that may not be considered sensory sensitive, if they are all ready dealing with other annoyances, the seam can be the thing to send them over the edge!

 

There are some strategies to help to alleviate some sensory sensitivities by offsetting with deep touch pressure.

Some things to try –

1. Pillow Sandwich

2. Getting dressed after a shower and burrito (wrap up tightly in a towel)

3. Massaging lotion onto skin before getting dressed

 

The complaints over here became so frequent, that we began searching for “seamless” socks and undies.  Many of these can be pricey if they are sold specifically for kids with sensory sensitivities.  So we began trying out some products on amazon with great reviews and found some that we love!

 

Both G and C complain a lot about socks.  But realistically, most of the socks made for kids are character socks.  If you take a look inside, there are so many threads to create the design.  Of course, they are uncomfortable!  So we made the switch to these crew socks and now the kids are chucking their character socks in the trash and searching through the laundry for their “seamless” socks.  These socks are not totally seamless, but very smooth and satisfying for C and G.

(affiliate link)

As far as undies, uncomfortable waistbands and elastic around the thigh are common irritants.  So little C totally loves these, very comfortable waistband and no tight elastic!  We bought one pack to try out and he just recently asked to throw away all his other undies and buy more of these!

(affiliate link)

So now that we have our seams under control, mornings are a bit easier!  One step at a time, but comfort matters!  The more comfortable these kiddos are, the more able they can handle other little frustrations that occur throughout the day.

Categories: Soothe Tool

Slime Time!

G was recently inspired by a book she has been reading called “My Pet Slime” and has been begging to make her own pet slime for about a week.  Of course, each time the idea to make slime pops into her head, we are headed out in the car or getting ready for bed.  So finally, after may days of asking, we put it in our calendar to make sure it happened!  I totally love making slime, so thoroughly appreciate her passion.

She gathered up all of the materials to make a slime just like in the book.  C got involved too once all of the materials were out.  My favorite slime recipe calls for:

1/2 cup of Elmer’s glue

(affiliate link)

1/4 cup Sta-Flo liquid starch

(affiliate link)

And then the extras – food coloring, glitter, googly eyes, bits of foam, or anything else you are inspired to add to your slime!

This was a little too sticky and needed the starch tap!

G poured the glue into a bowl and added many drops of blue and red food coloring until she got the perfect purple!  C added blue food coloring and loads of glitter!  Once they were pleased with the color, they added small amounts of the liquid starch, stirred, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then continued until all of the starch was incorporated.  After the starch is mostly absorbed, it is time to pick it up and knead it!  The more you knead it, the less sticky it becomes. But, if after several minutes, it is still sticky, tap it in a bit more liquid starch.

 

Then its time to add items and play!  C added several beads and gems and G added 2 giant googly eyes to make her “pet slime”.  She is still working on a name for this little cutey.

 

 

We made these creations a few days ago, and if you put them in a cup and cover them, they keep!  This slime pet has been coming out every day for adventures!

Hope this slime recipe brings you as much joy as it does for C and G (and myself 🙂 )

 

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

Adventuring!

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We have found that getting out to explore has really broken up our day and given us something to look forward to.  We head into the woods across the street from our house and are thrilled with the opportunity nature lends.

The kiddos immediately start climbing, working on proprioception, body awareness and strength!

Once at the top, they found some long fallen trees to walk along.  How great for balance and the vestibular system!?

They continue to increase their challenge while judging for safety and ability – working on safety and body awareness!

We then have to cross a stream, and their were multiple avenues to get to the other side.  They each made their choice, demonstrating self-efficacy, reflecting their confidence in their ability to accomplish the task.  When returning, they each took a more challenging path increasing self-esteem as they made it successfully!

  

As we navigated our hike, they were able to point out paths we had taken before and make suggestions for where we should venture this time.  We ended up finding a large pipe that they could crawl the whole way which captivating them for some time!

During each adventuring trip, G and C take turns being the “trailblazer” leading the way and warning the rest of the pack about obstacles along the path.  This allows them to feel empowered to lead and learn responsibility.

Please share what types of adventures you and your family have been on 🙂

Categories: Move Tool Soothe Tool

Extra Time for CHORES :)

We are really hot and cold with our chore chart and holding kiddos accountable for household responsibilities, so decided that this is the perfect time to get back on our chore game!  We made it simple with our white board, listing the chores and days of the week.  The kids are responsible for putting their G or C in the box after they accomplish the task.  At the end of the week, we add all of their letters up and they get a small, but motivating, stipend!

Chores may seem tedious for kids, but there are so many great benefits, so its worth the groans and eye rolls!  Plus, once they realize that they can earn money, they get a bit more motivated!

So why chores?

Self-regulation

Picking chores that offer opportunities for heavy work can meet two objectives!  1. getting the chores done and 2. self-regulation.  By using the muscles and joints in our bodies, our brain gets comforting information about where the body is in space helping us to feel more grounded.  Think about how good you feel after you clean the house!  This is partially because the act of scrubbing, pushing, and lifting is grounding for your body!  Here are some chores that will provide the most heavy work for kiddos:

Carrying laundry

Vacuuming

Picking up toys, heavy ones!

Sweeping, especially on hands on knees

Putting away groceries – carrying heavy bags, sorting cans

Washing windows

Cleaning anything on hands and knees – dusting, washing tabletop/counters, scrubbing floors

Feeling proud of the clean table – scrubbing on hands and knees for some heavy work!

Self-Esteem

Doesn’t it feel good when you finish cleaning?!  All that scrubbing and tidying not only helps us to feel regulated, but it also gives us a sense of pride.  After the kiddos straighten up their rooms, they most often come out so thrilled for us to see.  They feel so proud when we ask them to help with sweeping the floor and commend them for a good job, or notice them clearing their bowls from the table after breakfast and thank them.  Making a chore chart provides them with reminders of items they can do around the house, which then allows us to offer more positive praise!  Especially now, being in the house, this is a simple way for us to help them to continue feeling good and confident.

Life Skills

Chores will help your children to become more independent.  One day, they will be adults, and isn’t it our job to help them to be functional adults?!  So getting them to pitch in with dishes, laundry, and tidying now will help them to develop skills they will need throughout their life.  Of course it is important to think about what types of chores are age appropriate.

 

 

Pillow Sandwich

You can see from our posts lately, that we have been taking advantage of this time at home for some fun family activities.  But as fun as it has been, it has still been stressful and emotional for the kids given the fear and uncertainty.  We have seen some quick changes in mood and stronger emotions over the past month.  My go-to for regulation is always DEEP PRESSURE, you can learn more about why HERE.

So today when emotions were very high, I broke out my favorite trick – the PILLOW SANDWICH!

First, I put one pillow down – for the bread.  Then have the kiddo lay on top.

Next I give some joint compressions, by pushing and pulling at fingers, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles, and pushing down lightly on shoulders and head.  If you are not comfortable or sure how to give joint compressions, you can give a nice massage to provide the deep pressure.

Now we talk about toppings!  What does your kiddo want on their sandwich – mayo, mustard, bologna, tomatoes, cheese, etc.  Let them pick.  Today we actually went for an ice cream sandwich!  So instead of bread – we used cookies, then G was chocolate ice cream, and we added peanut butter cups and hot fudge!  She sure sounded delicious!

Then I topped her off with the last cookie, and squished the sandwich together.  First with pressure from hands, and with permission, more pressure.

And then of course, I tried to eat her, and it had us both laughing and quickly forgetting about what it was that was so upsetting in the first place.

C came in and joined the sandwich fun, and they came up with some pretty creative sandwiches!

Yes C is in that sandwich!

After we finished, G asked if we could do this again tomorrow!  So definitely sandwich success!

Let me know how it works for you, and what toppings your family comes up with.

 

 

Balanced and Barefoot

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I recently read this book that I am totally obsessed with, Balanced and Barefoot, written by a very inspiring occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(affiliate link)

 

This is a great read to get parents excited about sending their kids outdoors.  It reminds us of how we used to play from morning until night outside and how valuable that was!  I used this book most recently to teach occupational therapy students about the benefits of outdoor play and decided that our Home from School time is the perfect time to put this into practice for our family.  We totally love outside time already, but now we can fully embrace the wonderful learning opportunities offered in the great outdoors!

Here are just a few benefits, from just one activity we started this week – Fort Making!

Executive Functioning – (planning, problem solving)

For a few weeks, G has been begging to build a fort.  I wanted to empower her to come up with the idea on her own, so with some “help” from C, they drew up a plan.  I worked with their elaborate drawing to explain what I could do to help.  We modified the plan to finding at least 10 big sticks and tying them together at the top, then it was up to them to add all of their details.

Gross Motor

So today we set out to find the “10 big sticks”.  We have this awesome pile of branches just beyond our fence, so I climbed over and passed them to the kiddos.  They lugged them from one side of the yard to the other.  We raked the area to make it clear for the fort.  We then began to lean the sticks against one another, and the other trees in the space we selected.

Fine Motor

We grabbed some twine began to wrap and tie the branches in place, this is where we stopped for the day.

Self Esteem

But the kids were so proud to see there vision starting to come to life!

Sensory

Being outside altogether provides neutral calming and regulating sensations for the body –

Auditory – breeze, birds chirping, yells of triumph as we found the perfect sticks!

Visual – neutral, calming colors of green, blue and brown.  Our pile of gathered sticks turning into a creation!

Muscle work – gathering, climbing, lifting, carrying, raking

the beginning of our fort, stay tuned for our progress!

 

Outdoor recess is our favorite and we have it scheduled for 2 hours today.  Our second recess actually ended up going for about two hours and continued on even as it rain!  Adding another exciting sensory element.  I will continue to share more about the wonderful benefits of being outdoors!

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

 

 

 

Teaching Skills for Self-Regulation: SOOTHE

The first portion of this post focused on CO-REGULATION and how adults are an important tools in helping kids to calm and soothe.  Now let’s talk about other tools!  If you missed the previous post, read HERE first.

A big part of my career has been focused on sensory tools for self-regulation and coping, hence the blog 🙂  And I have found that most tools can be organized into four categories – SOOTHING, FOCUSING, MOVING, and RELAXING.  So when searching for what tools your kiddo needs, you can think about these categories.

SOOTHE

SOOTHE tools can provide naturally regulating inputs.  A need for deep pressure and proprioception is built into our bodies.  How great do you feel when you are stressed and someone gives you a hug?  That hug provides you with deep touch pressure and proprioception and help you calm and regulate.  How about climbing under your covers, or even better a weighted blanket!?  The weight of the blankets provides the body with deep touch pressure.  Or last, does going for a run or lifting weights help you to feel more calm and in control?  These muscle work activities provide the body with proprioception!  These SOOTHING sensations are perfect for our kiddos (and adults) who:

  • get easily frustrated
  • become upset when things do not go according to plan
  • act out when angry – throwing, hitting, biting
  • appear clumsy

Here are two soothe tools to make – Chew Necklace, Weighted Blanket

Here is the latest SOOTHE tools we bought for home – The Body Sock

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

I love the body sock and every program that I ever worked in had at least 2 or 3.  This is a stretchy lycra rectangular suit that you can climb into and press against.  Lycra offers a lot of resistance – so offers a lot of deep touch pressure and proprioception!!  A great tool for self-regulation!!  So considering I find it to be so helpful at work, it was about time we got one for home 😉

    

There are many ways to use the body sock!

  1. Climb in the body sock and push against it with hands, feet, arms, legs and feel the resistance.  Have the child pay attention to how it feels to add a bit of mindfulness
  2. Work on body awareness – the pressure can help one to “feel” his or her body more.  Try having the child copy your body in different positions, or complete different yoga poses
  3. Use the body sock as a safe space.  The body sock can help to block out some sounds and sights, while also offering that calming resistance.

Here is the C and G 3 word review —

C (4) blocking [face], bendy, squishy 1000 out of 10 😉

G (7) stretchy, silky, awesome 10 out of 10

We are creating our own calm down, quiet space and this tool is starting off our area…making this the Tool of the Month!!

In the next post, I will fill you in on some MOVE tools!

 

 

Categories: Soothe Tool

Kinetic Sand … Favorite Fidget #9

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I have purchased and tried many different moon sands and kinetic sands and this National Geographic Play Sand is my favorite by far!

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

This sand is so mold-able, it is amazing!  It is also pretty dense, so for those who have some tactile sensitivities, this could be a good touch exploration activity.  This set comes with 6 different tiny castle molds to add to the fun!

          

Setting up an “invitation to play” has been a really useful technique that we use in our house and that I recommend to families.  We all get into slumps and find our kiddos asking and asking for tv and technology.  When I find this happening, we “reset” with meaningful activities!  After the kids go to bed, we pick out a toy, craft or other activity, and set it out on the floor in the playroom.  When they wake up in the morning, they are immediately invited to play!  It works for us, because even if this is a toy that is stored in our playroom, this sets the scene for them to play with something that they may have forgotten about and it builds it back into their repertoire.  It has been really fun and they get so excited to see what is in store [and gives us a little time to sleep in 😉 ].

So yesterday, I set up an invitation to play on the floor of the dining for the kids to see when they got home from school. They were pumped because it was in the dining room! and immediately got to work on building sand castles!   They were engaged in this activity, squeezing the sand, dropping it, noting how hard and soft it was at the same time, and molding it.  You can see that they had a blast.

        

Here are some our describing words and score;

C (4) mushy, squishy, hard, 100

G (7) hard, warm, soft, 10

Grab your own set of sand and castles — NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Play Sand – 2 LBS of Sand with Castle Molds and Tray (Blue) – A Kinetic Sensory Activity

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

Categories: Focus Tool Soothe Tool

Water Beads … Favorite Fidget #7

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Orbeez, water beads, sooper beads, call them what you like, these little expanding balls lead to endless fun!  They start as tiny seeds… and as soon as water is added, they immediately start to expand!  They will expand for up to 6 hours, looking something like this

Water beads have always been one of the most desired prizes in the OT prize box.  Just a small handful can overflow a cup!!  They are such a great sensory tool for touch, sight, and focus!  They give a cool sensation and if you fill a deep bucket or table, can offer some deep pressure input.  Hiding small items amongst the water beads can make for a fun searching game!  Good for visual distraction and tactile discrimination. (Click HERE for more details on specifics of sensory bins)

C had a bug-themed birthday party this year, so we filled our water table with green and yellow water beads and many plastic and rubbery bugs.  The kids had a blast digging up to their elbows for bugs.  (For a whole other sensory experience, we also had a mud table filled with real bugs!  But that is for another post…)

         

Something else we love to with our water beads is pour them into balloons!  These make really excellent stress balls.  Clearly, I could go on forever about all the wonderful things you can do with these little beads!   So, here’s the review:

C(4): breakable, bouncy, slimy, 16  (yes, out of 10!)

G(6): squishy, wet, colorful, 10

O: satisfying, boba-like, fun, 8.5

This is the pack that I always order!  Very inexpensive for A LOT of beads!  Click the image to buy your own!

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

Wikki Stix … Favorite Fidget #5

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I love wikki stix!  They are very versatile and allow creativity!  They are simply thin pieces of yarn covered in wax, so they offer a somewhat tacky texture that is pliable.  They are sold in individual packets which are perfect for travel or adding to a coping kit.  They can also be purchased in bulk to offer in a classroom or a program.

One of my favorite activities that I have completed with wikki stix is a group challenge.  I provide the group with a pile of wikki stix and instruct them to build a road.  They usually start out simple, building a straight road from one end of a table to the other.  Next, I give them each a cotton ball and a straw and see if they can blow their cotton ball down the road.  As the activity goes on, I invite them to challenge themselves and see what kind of a road they can build, while still getting their cotton ball through the path.  I have a fond memory of doing this group with about 8 staff in a residential program.  I often teach activities to staff, so they could then bring it back and do the same with the youth in the program.  These staff got so into the activity, building their path over posters and stacks of books, weaving it back and forth across the table.  It was so fun to watch!  And I know that the more excited staff are about an activity, the more enthusiasm they will bring when doing it with youth.  Consulting and working with many programs for kids and adolescents, staff buy-in is one of the biggest indicators of moving the program culture to one that embraces sensory strategies as tools for self-regulation.

Completing this activity meets so many objectives, such as;

  1. team building
  2. breath control
  3. fine motor manipulation
  4. communication
  5. self-regulation

I have personally made wikki stix roads with pre-school children up to adolescents.  Adjusting the level of difficulty or challenge invites all participants to engage in the activity.

I often keep wikki stix in my purse for my kiddos to use while we are out.  Here are some of their (and my) creations:

Of course, they gave their review and rating:

C (4) sticky, colorful, shapey, 100

G (6) stringy, sticky, fun to play with, 8

The perfect tool for fidgeting, being creative, or focusing!  Click below to get your own set!

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.