Today’s newsletter, which I’ll archive very soon, is about back-to-school sensory diet activities that involve proprioceptive input and what’s called “heavy work” (think pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, and climbing). Of course, a sensory diet at school has to be tailored to the individual child and should include activities for oral and tactile input, withdrawal from stimulation, and other elements. Ideally, you’ve got access to a sensory smart OT to help you design it and cooperative teachers, administrators, and cafeteria and playground supervisors to help the child implement it. In my newsletter I’ll talk about how to help ensure that happens.
Meanwhile, I just had to share a link to Hartley Steiner’s blogpiece on the sensory diet at school that was set up for her son Gabriel who is not a sensory seeker and yet, like all kids with SPD, needs sensory input throughout the day to stay regulated and be able to focus well. I urge you to take a few minutes to read her extremely helpful description of a sample sensory diet.
One suggestion she made is to involve the child in janitorial type activities. I think this is a fabulous idea because first, of course, it gives the child needed input. Second, it helps the child feel good about himself because he’s able to contribute to the school in a very real way. I would love to see more schools implement groups like the old “AV clubs” where certain kids took on the responsibility of moving AV equipment around (I’m old enough to remember big black and white TVs with rabbit ears on metal carts). I think it’s a good thing to have kids feel connected to their school and be able to take pride in their contribution–and as I say, it makes for really helpful sensory input.
What sorts of activities does your child do at school as part of her sensory diet? Do share!
This study on children with autism showed that their sensory processing is slower and they take longer to manage and sort through multisensory stimulation. I believe that as we learn more about the brain and its functioning, we’ll better understand sensory processing disorder.
Does your child with SPD have difficulty with background noise and distractions? Does she hyperfocus to get away from stimuli?
For a limited time, Amazon.com is selling slightly damaged copies of Raising a Sensory Smart Child (the revised and updated version) for cheap. If you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself or perhaps for your child’s teacher or caretaker, you might want to act now. I’m told these have “shelf ware” or slightly bent or soiled paperback covers–nothing that would make it difficult to actually read the book.
Meanwhile, pristine copies are available too! You might want to pick one up in your local bookstore on the Special Needs parenting shelf.
Have you bought school supplies yet for your child with sensory processing issues? I’m a big believer in recycling the stuff from last year. It’s cheaper, better for the environment, and better for kids who struggle with transitions (for whom “new” is often a problem).
A few tips–
Watch out for “antibacterial” chemically treated items. I don’t know who decided that a chemical spray on a ruler is necessary to keep kids healthy (actually, it’s just the sort of thing that contributes to the preponderance of staph infections in the U.S.) but beware. You’d be amazed at what they’re dumping chemicals on these days!
Browse the therapy catalogue sites to see if there are any accommodations that might help your child better tolerate learning in a school environment. There are chewable items for oral sensory seekers, spandex bands that stretch across a chair’s legs that the sensory seeking child can push her feet and legs against, fidget, inflatable cushions that provide input so the child has an easier time staying seated, sour and strong-flavored candies to help perk him or her up at homework time and perhaps at school too (great for “wet noodle” kids who have trouble remaining alert), and much more. Please see the products section of the SensorySmartParent.com website for more suggestions categorized by sensory or developmental issue.
Check last year’s clothing NOW to see if you need to buy anything as you may want to launder items several times to make them softer and more tolerable for your child, and you’ll want to go shopping early for the best selection of Crocs, sweatpants, and other sensory kid favorites. You’ll also find that many of the soft clothing manufacturers who make sensory friendly clothing are having sales now. I’m impressed by the shirts available at SoftClothing.net and my coauthor, Lindsey Biel, OTR/L, has checked out and recommends clothes from Tereskids.com You might also try Lands’ End and Hanna Andersson cotton clothing (best prices are on clearance or used via eBay or consignment stores).
Have you found any great products you recommend? Excellent sources for sensory friendly stuff? Do share!
Stock up on fidgets for classroom use
Kids may better tolerate "new" clothes that have been washed several times