Monday, August 2, 2010
I've been having a hard time writing this entry because it's really emotional. All melodrama aside, I seriously think I have a touch of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But this may be my most important blog written and I hope you will remember it if G-d forbid the need arises.
LM ran away last week.
The boys were watching a show on Saturday morning. DH went to get a haircut, I was doing your usual weekend house stuff. I went downstairs to get the laundry, came back up and started to fold - glanced into the den and only saw Bear. Did a double take --- called him. LM? Went into his room, into mine ... LM? LM? Nothing. And then I just got that feeling. I can't really describe it ... almost like it's too quiet or calm and I just know he's not in the house. Our back door is double locked on the top but our side door he can open. So I run out the side door into the front yard. I don't see him. LM! LM! I'm starting to panic. A million things are going through my mind, but since he's not in plain sight out front I decided to go back into the house and look again. Now Bear has picked up on my panic. I'm yelling for LM and Bear is echoing me in his little voice ... lm! lm! ... I look in every room, in closets under beds. LM's not really a "hider" - he's never ever done this before. The reality hits me. He's really not in the house.
Now I race outside .... I see my elderly neighbor across the street in his front yard. I don't know him - I've lived here 6 years and know many of my neighbors very well, but I have never actually met this man. I run across the street (only at the last second remembering that Bear is running 2 steps behind me and pause to scoop him up) ... "Have you seen my little boy?" He politely says no but goes back to his garden. I run back to my house, go to my next door neighbor's house - we are very very close with them and I know they are not home - Maybe LM went to see if they were home? But we share a front lawn - he would be in plain sight.
And then I see that their back gate is open. And they have a pool. (This is where I'm stopping again because it's too hard to relive this moment.) So in slow motion, or maybe it's in warp speed - I don't even know... I'm in their backyard screaming LM's name. There's a gate around the pool and its still locked. There's a solar cover and it looks undisturbed, but still I know I have to look. I can honestly say it was the worst most sickening moment of my life as I lifted the cover and looked for my baby at the bottom of the pool. THANK YOU LORD, LM was not there.
It's been 10 minutes ... maybe 15. The elderly neighbor had walked down the street and asked our other neighbor if she'd seen LM. This neighbor knows us well, knows LM has autism. She's running down the street toward me, her teenagers are running the other way. We're all calling LM. I can't even breathe. She says we need to check my house again. She goes inside I go in the backyard. LM! LM! She's on the phone with 911 - I need to come inside - she needs to know what he's wearing. This can't be happening.
She asks if I'm sure he's not hiding. I tell her he never has ... and then I remember what we used to do back when he had very little language. Like most children with autism, one of our first indicators was that he didn't respond to his name. We made up a little game. I would say "LM! Say Here I AM!" and wave my arms wildly; and he would answer "Here AM" (or it sounded like it) and raise his hand - and we would make a huge deal over it and give lots of positive reinforcement. And so I shout "LM! SAY HERE I AM!" I say it again.
And we hear him. From in the backyard I hear "Here I am." He was in the backyard. I had looked. We have a 6 foot gate that is latched from the inside and is heavy. Somehow he managed to open it and close it and relatch it again. He was sitting on the side of the deck and looked like he was scared that he was in trouble. And then the hysterics started. I held him and sobbed and kissed him and sobbed. Bear held us both tightly and we all cried. I managed to thank my neighbors. This was the scene that DH came home to. By the Grace of God he didn't come home to an ambulance or police car.
I learned a lot of important lessons. Here are 2 of them.
1. I'm pretty certain LM heard panic in my voice and thought it was anger. He didn't want to answer when I called because he thought I was mad. Or possibly he was distracted by something and couldn't process his name being called. We'll be practicing the "SAY HERE I AM!" game a lot more. And we'll absolutely be including it in the La La Language and Social Circle curriculum. It's too important to overlook. Many young children don't know that they should answer to their name - how would they know to say "Yes?" or "What?" Please teach them! If they wander in the store or are hiding in the house - call their name and tell them how to respond... to say "HERE I AM" It's a little game now, but might really help if you ever need it.
2. I need to know ALL of my neighbors and they need to know us. I need them all to know what it means to have Autism or Aspergers - why LM might not react like a typical almost 6 year old.
I'll end with this -- LM is high functioning. I've heard so many stories of kids on the spectrum who have wandered, some with tragic endings. I didn't think it really pertained to us. Now I know that it does. ANY child can wander, stray or hide. I'm so very blessed that this story has a happy ending.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
- Improves balance: While adjusting to the motions of the boat, whether sitting, standing at the helm, moving around the boat, or bracing to hoist the sails
- Improves strength: Through hoisting the sails; pulling lines to adjust sails
- Improves fine motor skills: When learning knot tying
- Improves eye-hand coordination
- Provides vestibular stimulation: From the combined forward motion and rhythmic movement of the boat on the waves
- Increases sensory awareness:
- Auditory: Sounds of the engine as we motor out of the marina to the quiet of sailing under wind power; the soothing sounds of the waves lapping on the boat
- Tactile: Feel of the wind; including determining wind direction with eyes closed; warmth of the sun; varying textures of the boat deck; close proximity to others in a relatively small environment
- Visual: Focus on object on the horizon to steer the boat properly; attention to watch for hazards in the water; all the new sights of being on the water including the sun sparkling on the waves, shorebirds and fish
- Olfactory: Well, sometimes you can smell those fish, but usually just the good old salt sea air
- Taste: bring a snack along for this one (we did actually taste the salt water when it sprayed!)
- Improves spatial awareness: Small environment in the cockpit requires awareness of personal space and boundaries; judging how far the sail is up when hoisting the sail; spotting objects on the horizon
- Provides relaxation: The gentle rocking of the boat with the motion of the waves, the quiet gentle sounds of waves lapping and the warmth of the sun all stimulate the relaxation response
- Provides social interaction
- Provides experience with teamwork
- Improves communication
- Improves confidence/self esteem
- Improves ability to transition to new experiences.environments
- Provides atmosphere for family/group bonding
- Improves focus and attention span
- Provides environmental awareness
- Provides sense of adventure, exploration and use of imagination
For more information on The Heart of Sailing Program visit: http://www.heartofsailing.org/default.asp
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
"Sue Shutrump, an occupational therapist for the Trumbull County (Ohio)
Educational Service Center, gave attendees a better understanding of how loud
noises and the slightest touch can send some students over the edge and create a
difficult experience for themselves and their students.
By understanding how
some students might react to sudden sounds or even the slightest physical
contact, drivers can structure a bus environment that suits everyone’s needs.
But it is not always an over-response to stimuli that drivers must worry about.
Some forms of Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, affect children in a way that
causes them to have an almost insatiable desire for sensory stimulation. This
can cause hyperactivity, as they seek further stimulation, or even pain, as they
may be unaware of the pain as a result of SPD.
“Before they board the bus,
have them do some heavy work like chair pushes or push-ups against the wall”
said Shutrump during a workshop at the STN EXPO on July 25.
possible, Shutrump suggests making connections between successful sensory
experiences in the classroom or at home with those on the school bus. The use of
pictures to explain the rules can also help drive the point home to students.
But one of the most important tips was to make sure you never just tell a
student to “get over it.”
“With one student, we brought the safety vest into
the classroom, took photos of him wearing it, let the other students touch it
and then created a picture book explaining the procedure for him,” said
Shutrump. “Pretty soon, every student in the class wanted a ‘special vest’ too.” "
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
We just got back from a week at our best friends' lake house - it was almost everything we hoped it would be ... Good Friends, Good Food, BAD Weather. Bad. Thunderstorms on the first day were actually beautiful and welcomed. There's something about sitting on the porch listening to the storm that had a calming affect on all of us. Lots of cuddling and even some hot chocolate in July. We had left realllly early so the boys were knocked out and took a heavenly nap. That was day one. By day 4 of the rain we were going a little stir crazy!
After three days of crafts, songs, movies, baking and indoor play, we were ready to kick the kiddos outside ... rain or no rain. Well, we did, and they had a blast! Here's a few of our new favorite Sensory Play ideas.
Puddle Jumping! Let a little boy outside during a rain shower and he'll find the puddles. Splashing and jumping took up the better part of an hour, but we got a little creative too. We practiced our animal walks and played "Mother May I" ... LM, take 3 giant frog jumps over these puddles. Bear, waddle like a penguin across this puddle. R, stomp like an elephant and swing your trunk through that big puddle. Who can make the biggest splash???
Mud Pies: We had all the sand toys out already, let's put them to use! We dug and squished and molded mud. Thick, squishy, messy mud. Pretty much anything we usually do with shaving cream we did with mud instead. LM wrote his name in the mud, we even "painted" the sidewalk with it. Added bonus: walking barefoot! Dig your toes in and pull them out for a satisfying "squelch" sound.
Nature Walk: While we're barefoot in the mud - let's take a barefoot walk and feel how different everything feels when it's wet. I told a modified version of "Going on a Bear Hunt" and we squished through mud, ran through the field and kicked through the puddles hunting for our bear. We also collected all sorts of little boy treasures in our pails ... leaves, worms, rocks and bugs.
Fill the Bucket: After 4 days of rain there was ALOT of water around. Garbage pails and flower pots were full. We gave each of the boys a sand pail and sent the on a mission: fill this giant garbage can to the top! They had a great time trying to carry full buckets (heavy work!) across the yard to fill the can. A little teamwork to build social skills ... LM and R carried buckets together by putting a piece of wood through the handle and getting on either side. LM ran right to the drain under the gutter and refilled his buckets rather quickly ... Bear stood still and tried to fill his pail with the drizzle that was still falling - he might still be out there ... lol.
How Wet Can You Get?: BY the end of the afternoon we had ditched the boots and raincoats and ultimately changed into bathing suits. One last mission ... get as wet as you can! "I'm getting wet under the trees!" "I'm getting wet in a puddle!" LM laid down on his back and let the rain cover him - Bear opened his mouth and tried to catch rain drops. All the boys "washed" the cars and splashed each other with sheets of water. We even pulled out the water guns.
Singing in the Rain: How many "rain songs" can you think of? We sang a lot! This was our favorite:
Sing and Play the Sensory Way!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Tonight, last minute, I needed to get the boys out of the house for a while. My husband was trying to do some repairs and was getting more frustrated by the second as they were stealing his tools and just generally in the way. (This is actually the third night in a row he's tried to fix the door, the first time his "little helpers" were cute ... the third time, well, not so much.) So anyway - he needed some space.
So the boys and I headed to a local restaurant that we've been to before. It's a family place so no one looked twice as LM ate his entire meal lying on his back on the booth seat. (hey - at least he was eating. I'm picking my battles here!) I was pretty proud of myself as we finished up and all shared a frozen yogurt. This was a great outing considering it was unplanned and last minute and also at the end of an already busy day. Only problem -- we'd been gone less than an hour and I promised hubby two.
Now it was approaching 7pm. My kids are in bed by 8 so at 7 we're usually in the midst of bedtime routines. What the heck was I supposed to do with them for another hour? LM made the choice for us as we passed the playground. Playground!!! Seems like a "DUH, why didn't you think of that, Mom moment" , right? Well, I DID think of the playground, but it's usually a place I avoid like the plague when I have the 2 boys by myself. Especially this particular playground. It's a really big modern place which is great but makes it VERY popular. And there are two different play structures but they are about 25 feet apart. How am I supposed to keep an eye on 2 kids who inevitably want to go to 2 different places?!? And then there's all the sensory issues. There's mulch under one playground and sand under the other. If LM is wearing sandals he freaks because sand is going to get onto his feet. There's a danger factor too. LM has very little fear and very little sense of danger. He'll climb as high as the structure will go, and not be able to judge distance and just drop to the ground. Also typical of a child with SPD, he feels very little pain. He went through an entire BBQ with a broken collar bone and didn't tell me until that night when I went to take his shirt off - "Don't Mom! My shoulder's sick." Typical children will fall a few times and learn to be more cautious because of the consequence. There is no consequence when there's no pain, so it gets out of control quickly.
But anyway ... back to tonight. What the heck, this was a spontaneous night and we might as well go for it. In a word - it was AWESOME! The timing was perfect, it was late enough that there were very few kids around. This was great for a bunch of reasons - less noise, less energy, less congestion and a clear line of sight for me to stick with LM but keep a good eye on Bear. It was also not as bright as a full sun afternoon. Something about this pre-dusk sky was very calming. It had cooled off nicely also.
Normally at this playground LM does 2 things and 2 things only. One is sit on the swing and spin or get pushed, or more likely, do a continuous lap around the play structure. Over and over he walks up one ladder across the bridge and down the slide. Walk back to the ladder and repeat. 200 times. It's a little labyrinth and he enjoys it, but it's so methodical and so unsocial. Although he is very very verbal, when his senses are overloaded his language goes away. There is no attempt to make a friend, and no response when a child approaches. It upsets me more than a little and I'd like to intervene and facilitate but with the sensory overload and also watching Bear, it's never the right moment.
Tonight it was as if LM was seeing this playground for the first time. Figuratively and literally, he was seeing it all in a different light. Where there was routine, now there was intention. He tried each and every ladder, slide and climbing structure. Out of my own over-protectiveness I wanted to re-direct him when he headed to the rock wall, but I stood by and let him try. SO GLAD that I did. With all the determination he could muster he made 9 attempts to climb to the top. Never giving up he explored different routes. I gave him a little hint and guided his foot to the proper hold. Then he got it. All the years of motor planning in Occupational therapy paid off as he looked for each step, reached and climbed. And when he got to the top ... pure joy. Full on intentional eye contact with a look of joyful pride that I have never seen before. Knowing that he had conquered it once, he scrambled down and tried again. He had it mastered this time.
Our 2 hours were up now, but I was savoring the moment with my two loves. This park has a great walking trail so we walked a lap hand in hand and my little chatterbox returned. Bear was getting really tired and I picked him up for the walk across the parking lot. LM got a little clingy so I hoisted him up too. "You're so strong Mom." No, you're so strong little man. In more ways than one.
Sing and Play the Sensory Way!
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Calming down an over stimulated child isn’t easy. There are a few things that you can do to help. First, learn to spot the signs that your child is getting over stimulated. For each child, this can vary. When my son would get over stimulated, it was difficult to spot the signs. For the most part, he didn’t display any.
Now, if he is over stimulated, that means that he will be up half the night, watching television and making noises. When he was a baby and toddler, being over stimulated was fine, until he started coming down from it. I could count on this happening during the holidays. A big family get together would get him over stimulated, and he didn’t know how to come down from it. I didn’t know how to help him. We would end up spending the night with no sleep. He would be crying and inconsolable. I would be crying, because nothing I did would help.
Things that I know now, that I wish I new then.
1. Take time-outs. Breaks away from everyone can help. Find a quiet, dark room for you and your child to rest in.
2. Recognize activities and situations that bring on a melt down from over stimulation. Keeping a log of these incidents can help you identify them, if you don’t already know.
3. If incidents happen at school, arrange with the school to have a quiet place for your child to go to come back down.
4. Cut visits to family, during the holidays, short. Don’t be worried about upsetting anyone if you leave early. You’ll benefit from it later.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Little Man LOVES Toy Story. I mean all out perseverative love. It is all Toy Story all the time and he has the word ANDY written in sharpie marker on his foot to prove it. About two months ago we saw the first coming attractions for TS3. "MOM!!! Is it June 18th yet????" And so it started. June 18th circled on the calendar, June 18th written on his chalkboard, June 18th talked about incessantly to strangers on the street. You get the picture.
Except, June 18th came and went. We had tried the movies once before for Alvin and the Chipmunks and it was a bust. I had brought noise cancelling headphones and tried to prepare him for the dark, but it was just too much. Too dark, too loud, too many people. So I was nervous about Toy Story 3 at the movies to begin with. But then I realized it was also a 3D movie that required you to wear glasses. And it got fantastic reviews which were sure to pack the theaters. Now I was sure this was a recipe for disaster. So this epic event, June 18th, the NEW Toy Story that was LM's greatest wish came and went without us. How do you explain to a 5 year old that it's just too much for him to handle - that he won't really enjoy the thing he enjoys the most? To quote a neuro-typical 5 year old ... IT'S NOT FAIR.
Luckily for my family and the 1 in 20 other families who have children with SPD, the Autism Society of America and AMC have come to our rescue. Once a month they team up to offer a Sensory Friendly Film. From the AMC website - "The program provides a special opportunity for families to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment. The auditoriums dedicated to the program have their lights up, the sound turned down, and the audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing." In the case of Toy Story 3 the film was also shown in 2D so no glasses were needed.
So we just got back and it was absolutely everything I had hoped it would be. LM had his hands over his ears for the first 5 minutes, but from then on he did GREAT. It was Bear's first movie ever also - and a great experience for him as well. Best of all, Rob and I were able to truly enjoy a family outing. No worries about disturbing others, just able to delight in the awe of our children. Better than any date night we've ever had.
So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to AMC for being so sensitive to our children's sensitivities. And of course a big shout out to the Autism Society of America for putting together another great resource.
For more info visit: www.amcentertainment.com/SFF/
Sing and Play the Sensory Way!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
But slowly with age and sensory integration therapy he is trying all sorts of new foods. Hooray! I won't say he's head over heels happy about this, but he is compliant and trying new foods daily. Lots of vegetables now - all steamed for softer texture, he can't chew the raw yet - and new meats daily. Twice this week he had meat on a bone. He tried some grilled steak that I had cut up for him and then he tried a chicken leg. I was hovering a little - telling him to careful of the bones. Of course that was followed by his new favorite question of all time - BUT WHY???? "Because we don't eat bones. They'll hurt your teeth and are very bad for your belly if you swallow them."
SO tonight for a treat we took the boys downtown to our favorite pizza place. LM has a few bites of salad and then dove into the pizza. He ate about 3/4 of the slice and then reached for a new one. "Hey Little Man - finish the slice you have before you get another one." But Moooommmmm .... THOSE ARE THE BONES! They'll hurt my teeth and belly! I'll have to admit the crust was on the well done side ....
There are so many of these little quips that make us laugh and give us a peek into how his mind works. Glad for the opportunity to document a few of them. Do your kids have any funny name for foods? Sketties anyone?
Sing and Play the Sensory Way!
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I know there are a hundred articles about cooking with your kids, but I figured I'd put a sensory spin on this one. From homemade pretzels to fruit smoothies, my kids love to cook. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time in the kitchen.
LOOK THE PART:
Besides having fun playing dress up, giving LM an apron and chef's hat transitions him into this activity. I remind him that now that he's "Chef LM" he needs to have quiet hands and wait his turn. I bought a kid's sized apron, but we make a new hat every few weeks. Easy to do and gets some fine motor cutting and stapling activities in too.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
When LM was 2 year old (and not yet diagnosed)I took him to a friends birthday party at a local kids gym. The party program itself was a recipe for disaster: 20 toddlers shrieking, wide open spaces, no transitions between activities, and worst of all: me. An "unseasoned" mom new to this whole diagnosis, neurotic because LM was alternating between tantruming and spinning in circles.
But then a breakthrough. It was "freeplay" time and they opened the ball pit. (I'll add a sidenote here: I was totally THAT mom who believed the chain email I got about the disgusting germ infested toxic dump that is a kids ball pit - it took everything in me not to snatch him out!)So LM dove in and did this dolphin-like spin/dive/swim and for the first time had some interaction with another child. At least he looked in her direction and sort of played a "ball toss" with her. I won't say that the rest of the party was great, but there was a huge difference in his activity level after this.
A week later we started OT in a sensory gym and I learned all about the wonders of the ball pit. The ball pit is one of those super great activities that can both awaken AND calm senses depending on the needs of the child. I'll also add that its the one activity that a child instinctively knows what they need to do to regulate themselves in. Even as a 2 year old with no language (expressive or comprehensive) and the play skills of a 3 month old, LM knew just how to "use" the ball pit.
After seeing how much LM loved it and understanding the sensory benefits we decided to set up a ball pit at home. We went out and bought a mid-priced inflatable one. It was junk. It looked cute and had characters, but was much too shallow for even a small 2 year old to really "submerge" in. Next we got a small kiddie pool and bought 300 extra balls. Defenitely better, but took up a lot of room and the balls went flying everywhere when LM statred playing. And my neat-freak husband was twitching with all the balls everywhere.
LM was napping in his pack and play playpen and I had an epiphany. How about a ball pit in the pack and play? It was perfect. Deep enough to hold 400 balls that didnt spill out the top and enough room for LM to dive and roll in. And an added bonus: I could lift and shake the whole thing making "waves". The PNP ball pit is still the most used "toy" in our house and the first thing our playdate friends run for. It's the perfect multifunction toy.
The best part is that LM knows to go play in his ball pit for a few minutes when he needs to calm down. Giving him this self-regulation opportunity is priceless and a huge step towards getting him to manage on his own. If I had a must-have list, this would be at the top.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
LM's sensory diet has become such a natural part of our lives, that I forget not everyone is familiar with what a sensory diet is. First of all, it's not a food diet. First referred to as a "diet" by OT Patricia Wilbarger (of Wilbarger brushing protocol fame), a sensory diet is a variety of activities designed to be incorporated into your child's day to help regulate his senses. Just as we need meals to nourish us, and snacks to get us through our day, a person with any type of sensory processing disorder needs specific activities to continually regulate their 7 senses. (Yes, I wrote 7: touch, taste, hear, see, smell, vestibular and proprioception)
LM is typically a sensory seeker - he is under-responsive to touch and movement, he can get "hyper" to the point of total distraction, has some personal space issues, and just craves movement in general. We started a sensory diet when he was 2, now at 5 it's a way of life and he's very good at knowing what activities he needs and when he needs them.
An OT with Sensory Processing Disorder training should evaluate your child and work with you to put together an individualized diet. It takes some initiative and planning to get into the routine of activities several times a day, but it becomes natural very quickly. The best part is that the results are almost immediate.
Here's a few of our favorite sensory diet activities. I'll blog about each of them individually with more info, but this will give you an idea.
A mini trampoline and a ball pit. These are both great because LM has access to them throughout the day as he needs. No setting up required and no mess. These are our two most used activities. By the way if you have a toddler, - no need to go out and buy an expensive ball pit, and don't waste your money on the blow up plastic ones - they're too shallow anyway. We took our old pack and play playpen and filled it with about 350 balls (bought at target). Jumping and rolling around in the ball pit address the proprioceptive and vestibular senses.
Smoothies. We make smoothies every morning. It's usually orange juice and bananas with a bunch of supplements. I make them extra thick and give LM a straw to drink with. A great oral motor activity, this "wakes up" his taste and smell senses as well.
Massage. We incorporate massage often throughout the day for different reasons. While getting LM dressed I use baby powder (corn starch) and massage his feet, hands and legs. It's a quick vigorous massage, (think getting blood flow moving) and it gives him the sensory input he's looking for. Also makes wearing shoes less of an issue. At night or during the day if he needs to quiet down I take out a scented lotion and do a slower massage to his arms, legs and back. I sing to him very slowly, very quietly ... and both of us relax.
Heavy Work. You've seen me refer to heavy work before. These activities also address the proprioceptive system and help calm and regulate senses. Look back at some of the Sensory Saturday activities - most of them have heavy work ideas.
Shaving cream. A favorite around here, we buy it by the case! Besides being played with in every bath and shower, it's great for teaching letters and numbers as well. Spread some out on a cookie sheet and "draw" in it.
Need more info? Stay tuned for more detailed blogs about each of these activities and more. And in the mean time ... check out the Sensory Smarts website. It's fantastic! http://sensorysmarts.com/sensory_diet_activities.html
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I'll start this by saying the creative side of me usually shies away from "commercial toys" as I get a big kick out of finding new functions for everyday items. But I'll make an exception for this Sensory Saturday because my family LOVES LOVES LOVES Melissa and Doug's Slice and Bake Cookies.
They're great quality of course - M&D do wooden toys like no other. The set consists of 12 round cookies with a piece of (very strong) velcro on each side; 12 decorated "frosting" pieces with a square of velcro, a baking pan with 12 velcro squares, a cardboard tube container, an oven mitt, a wooden spatula and a wooden knife.
I hope you all have already discovered the wondrous sensory joy that is velcro. If not, remind to blog about it, it's worth a whole entry on its own! So back to the cookies ... the cookies are beautifully minimalistic. Maria Montessori would approve for sure. There's a nice weight to the set, and that alone starts giving some great sensory input. LM dove into the box and started velcroing cookies together and then pulling them apart. Again, hooray for super duty velcro, he really had to get a good grip and then use some muscle to get them apart. RRRIIIIPPPP ... ah, a satisfying sound as well! I gave him some suggestions on how to expand this activity - next we tried to "unscrew" them. (Think Oreo cookies). Then my favorite part. We stacked the 12 cookies on top of one another and laid them on their side like a log. Time to slice with the wooden knife. There was a good amount of resistance and LM really had to push down on the knife. We're definitely incorporating this slicing into his sensory diet. He was so calm and focused.
Bear was his little helper and got to stick the cookie slices to the baking pan. Great opportunity to introduce multi-step directions and processes. "First slice the cookie, then put it on the sheet, then put it in the oven and put on the frosting last." Also a great turn-taking activity. 2-3 kids could work cooperatively. Of course the pretend play opportunities are endless. Next time we'll pull out the chef hats and aprons. They both like playing restaurant, but maybe I'll get LM to put on a cooking show demonstration. Look out Food Network, here we come!
Keep up the good work Melissa and Doug! This one is a winner!
Sing and Play the Sensory Way! ~Lea =)
PS - My favorite Melissa and Doug vendor! www.gummylump.com
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Last night we took LM to our local elementary school for a "read aloud" night. They invite the upcoming Kindergartners to come to the classroom to hear a story, get to know each other and get familiar with the school.
It's really a great program. For typical children. For a child with sensory processing issues, for my child, its another big obstacle.
An obstacle that has been on my mind for weeks. I can't stop talking about it, stressing over it, imagining it. How can I prepare LM? What would it be like?
Well, it was bad. There was noise, there were distractions, there were 20 typical 4 and 5 year olds sitting on a rug. And then there was LM. Pacing the room, counting and talking, trying to make sense of his world. And as much as the whole program didn't make sense to LM, LM didn't make sense to the typical parents.
Unfortunately the program is only a half hour. 20 minutes into it LM was getting better, getting more comfortable. The teacher held up the book and LM read the title, author and publisher before she could. The typical parents gasped. I forget that it's not "typical" for typical kids to be reading at a second grade level when they're in preschool.
Then they had milk and cookies. The typical kids scrambled, LM waited his turn and said "No thank you, I'm allergic" when the teacher offered him milk. The teacher looked stunned. I forget that it's not "typical" for typical kids to have had years of social skill training and remember to use their manners with strangers.
"How's your cookie, LM?"
"I think it has flax seeds"
Oh, that's right. Typical 4 year olds don't know all about supplements. Or the planets, or nouns and vowels and math and ...
Well, then it was time to go. LM hadn't made any friends, acted kind of weird, and other than sitting fairly well (on the chair I pulled out for him while the typical kids sat in the floor), I thought the night was pretty disastrous. I should probably mention that I hadn't made any friends either. I couldn't really chat, I couldn't really take my eyes off LM. So I gathered up the little man, and started to slip out the back door.
"Excuse me, LM's Mom?"
Uh oh. The principal. I was prepared with all my answers, yes, he's in a special ed. program now, yes, we've looked at your contained classroom, no, we don't think it's appropriate for him, yes, we think he can be mainstreamed with an aide (you just didn't get a good sense of him tonight I swear) ... but she didn't ask me any of that.
Instead she told me LM was exceptionally bright and I was doing a great job at anticipating his sensory needs and facilitating his progress. She reminded me to make sure that sensory accommodations are written into his IEP, and told me she looked forward to watching his progress. And I said, well, nothing. I was speechless.
And with that, LM turned around, called out "Bye everyone!" and the kids called back, "Bye LM!" Best friends? No, probably not, but it's a darn good start.
So another obstacle overcome. And another member of LM's fan club. Weeks of stressing over this and it went just fine. I couldn't wait to tell Daddy when we got home, he'd be happy to know that I can stop obsessing. So I walked in with smiles instead of the anticipated tears.
"It went great!"
"Uh, what went great?"
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Model Me Kids Going Places iPhone App
Oh the dreaded haircut. LM has worked through a whole lot of his sensory issues, but the haircut is still our nemesis. We've tried them all ... specialty kids salons with race car chairs, Daddy's barber (but don't you want to be a BIG boy? Uh, nope.), Mommy's salon with tons of lollipop bribes, even the backyard with Daddy wielding the buzzer.
It always ends the same: A screaming kid and a lousy haircut.
As I was searching through the App store on my iPhone, I came across Model Me Kids.
Based on their DVD series, Model Me Going Places, this app is designed to familiarize children with locations that may be challenging, and to help teach appropriate behavior in these places through peer modeling. LM *loves* the iPhone and uses it every chance he can get, so I was fairly confident that this just might be a winner.
He watched the social story before we got into the car, and I used the dialogue from the video to talk it over with him as we drove to the barber. I must admit, in the past I have "ambushed" him and not told him where we were going until we walked in. Not the best strategy I know, but the hysterics usually start as soon as the word "haircut" is uttered. To my surprise and delight, LM actually walked in on his own accord. Again, I used exact dialogue to prompt him, and he sat in the chair and put on his cape with minimal fussing.
There were still tears when the buzzer started, but no full blown meltdown. We stopped once and he held the iPhone and watched the whole video again. The barber was actually able to give him a little bit of a "hairstyle" instead of the usual shave-it-all-off-so-we-don't-have-to-do-this-again-anytime-soon haircut.
Huge success! The Barber was impressed, I was relaxed, and LM? Well, the Little Man was as handsome as ever. Thanks Model Me Kids!
La La Later ...
Saturday, April 10, 2010
La La Later ...
Friday, April 9, 2010
Who knew a roll of paper could elicit such joy? (And as much as the kids enjoyed playing with it, I'm speaking of my joy... we occupied ourselves for almost 2 hours straight on a rainy Saturday morning!) If you're not familiar with exam table paper it's that super thin, crinkly, somewhat translucent paper that sticks to your you-know-what when you go to the doctor.
The Little Man (LM) gets all the credit for this sensory play day. I brought a roll home as a much cheaper alternative to easel paper, expecting the boys to draw and paint on it. Little did I know, exam table paper is a sensory extravaganza!
LM got his grubby little hands on it and right away built a road. He started on one end of the den, gave it a push ... and voila! a 20 foot road appeared. First he carefully walked toe to toe (like a balance beam) the length of the road. Little Bear of course was quick to follow. Hey! added bonus: the paper makes a crinkly sound! I asked them if the paper made different sounds if they walked, jumped or crawled down the road. To their sensory delight, it sure did.
Those who know me know that I'm singing a La La Language song every chance I can get, and this was an activity that called for a song!
I've spent months trying to come up with a great title. "Happy People Smile" and "Tales of a Literal Child" (Don't you worry - lengthy explanations will be blogged soon!) were the front runners, but in the end, La La Language is who I am. My hope for this blog is to share resources about early childhood developmental delays and invite you to join my family's journey.
I'm eager to share experiences with parents and would really welcome professionals with resources to share. Each week you will find a sensory activity; a language enrichment song or activity; an article related to autism, adhd, sensory processing disorder, auditory processing disorder or developmental delay; a product or program review (aptly named La La LOVE it!), and a healthy dose of my witty children's antics.
La La Later ...