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Friday, April 27, 2012

Sensory Pull Toy

I was pleased to discover that the motor to the Sguiggly Wiggly pen fit perfectly inside the pouring spout of  a detergent bottle. This can make an activity vibrate and many children pay better attention given that proprioceptive sensory input.  A bottle such as this one can easily be turned into a vibrating shape sorter by cutting 1-3 holes and providing the corresponding shapes that fit through them. For example, cut a square hole and provide blocks.    The activity I designed this week involves grasping rings to pull the thick fabric strands from one side of the bottle to the other. I cut the rings out of the pouring ends of dishwasher soap bottles. You can see the ridges where the caps screw on the bottles. I wanted to make an activity that would encourage 1 1/2- 4 year old children to pull the rings, nice and hard. This gives them sensory feedback and also strengthens the hands and shoulders as they stabilize the arms while pulling.  

I made the strips of fabric thick enough to require force while pulling but not too thick as to discourage the children.  I figured having 3 rings to pull would enable me to work on repeating 1,2,3 as the children did one side and then turned it around to pull in the other direction. I also like how they will need to alternate in grasping the handle with the left and right hands. Children at this age often don't have a hand preference yet and using both hands in this way develops coordination between the left and right sides in preparation for developing a side dominance.    As you watch the video notice that I am rather enjoying the pulling experience!   

Source: Sensory Pull Bottle Helps Children with Autism or sensory Processing Disorders by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Friday, April 6, 2012

No Longer A SECRET

Doreit Bailer and Lucy Jane Miller’s new book No Longer a SECRET: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory Motor Challenges elaborates on how to help the sensational kids Dr. Miller describes in her book Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorders.  Although a bit more technical, No Longer A SECRET is written by two expert occupational therapists for an audience of parents and educators eager to help children better access the curriculum, make friends and develop self-esteem.

I am going to compare the two books because although there is overlapping information, each offers readers a different perspective. Both books describes the sensory systems and subtypes of Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD)- which are as follows:

·         Sensory Modulation Disorder

o   sensory over-responsivity

o   sensory under-responsivity

o   sensory craving

·         Sensory-Based Motor disorder

o   postural disorder

o   dyspraxia

·         Sensory discrimination Disorder
Both books do an excellent job of explaining red flags and symptoms of SPD and how the concepts that make up the acronym “A SECRET” are used to problem solve solutions. The elements of A SECRET are:

·         A- Attention

·         S-Sensation

·         E-Emotional Regulation

·         C- Culture, Context or Current Conditions

·         R- Relationships

·         E- Environment

·         T- Task
Sensational Kids provides very detailed and lengthy case studies of sensational children, their family dynamics and how a child’s coping abilities are reflective of his or her specific neurological make-up. Case-studies include:

·         a typically developing first-grader

·         an over-responsive kindergartner

·         an under-responsive second grader

·         a sensory-seeking preschooler

·         a dyspraxic third- grader
Readers of Sensational Kids learn about basic intervention techniques, special education laws that impact services, the prevalence of SPD and co-existing conditions such as attention deficit disorder or autism and what the future holds for these children.

Now No Longer A SECRET delves further into problem-solving a child’s emotional, social and sensorimotor challenges by carefully differentiating the subtypes of SPD in order to individualize treatment and avoid cookie cutter “sensory diets”. Short case-studies are used to illustrate a child’s challenged area and then a chart is created with each element of “A SECRET” filled in. For example, one child who had melt downs during soccer games was supported in the areas of
·         Attention- by giving him the job of calling out sports moves

·         Sensation by jumping, wrestling, jumping or doing heavy work before sports

·         Emotional regulation –by listening to positive, uplifting music on the way to the game

·         Culture- being picked up early from school to do some self-esteem boosting before the soccer games.

·         Relationships-parents positive attitude influenced how he felt

·         Environment- visual cues used to help him better judge where he was on field

·         Task- play with smaller group of players
Parents might find the information in this book overwhelming, but I think that it will be worthwhile to plug along and reread the sections that pertain to their child. Then share strategy ideas with the occupational therapist (who will hopefully, also read this book).

This is a great read also for experienced therapists. There are descriptions of many simple, low cost, easy to implement adaptations that are variations of what OT’s typically have in their bag of tricks. For example, sitting on a readily available folded sweater can be used instead of a cushion and a pen cap might be an ideal fidget tool because it doesn’t have any distracting moving parts (….not to mention it looks “normal”).  
After writing this lengthy book review, I hope that it is no secret that I highly recommend No Longer A SECRET. Parents, teachers and therapists will find this an important resource when planning strategies for children challenged by sensory processing disorders.  

Purchase at Future Horizons
Use code "PEDIA" to receive 15% discount
or purchase on Amazon

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sensory Sock Manipulatives

I spent some time sewing this week making "sensory sock" bean bags that can be used in a variety of ways. They are made out of socks filled with  either- sand, popcorn or lentils. (you can use many other materials including marbles, pennies, beans etc. )

These bean bags feel really nice and of course can be used in toss activities. But I thought it would be interesting to create  a manipulation activity using these familiar and inviting materials.

The kids I work with are too young to expect to  close buttons or snaps. However, one girl opened the snaps and another opened a knot. These are the first steps to learning how to manipulate fasteners- watching me do it in a fun way....

The blue towel shown in the photo and video has pockets sewn onto them. I bought the pockets at a dollar store, but I can't remember exactly what they were, maybe potholders.

I can position the towel close in front of the child or higher on the mane to make the child reach during insertion tasks. When I place the towel behind on the horse's croup the child (and the child is facing forwards) has to rotate to place objects inside the pockets. Positioning the child to face sideways works on different postural stability and balance skills- while reaching for and inserting the socks.

I also  teach color identification or directionality concepts when I tell the child to place the socks or toys in the red or blue, left or right pockets. I  worked on matching skills when I asked the children to help me find matching color socks to connect before putting the materials away. (I did all the connecting manipulations).

Using these long and awkward socks is great for encouraging children to use both hands.   So if you don't want to spend time sewing, try using these "sensory sock" activities during simple placement or tossing tasks

If you don't have a horse available- try adapting these activities to perform while sitting on a bolster swing-placing the towel in front of or behind the child. Reinforce with a little movement as needed during the task and then lots of movement when compelted.