Monthly Archives: June 2011

Dads, Roughhousing, and Self-Regulation

I’ve written before about what an important contribution Dads (and Dad-figures) can contribute to our kids by roughhousing with them appropriately. Finally, someone’s actually done research on this!

I attribute much of my son’s development of self-regulation and improvement in his sensory issues to my husband working with him daily, roughhousing before bedtime. He also worked with him at the playground, doing activities such as getting him down that slide, getting him to tolerate and enjoy various swings (while stopping the movement at intervals to let it register in the brain, as directed by our marvelous OT, Lindsey Biel), using the monkey bars, doing sand play (OK if the child needs to wash off a lot), water sprinkler play, etc. He had him on a seat on the back of his bike as he rode over cobblestones, and hugged him often (affection and deep pressure–how can you beat it?). On outings, he encouraged our son to push his own stroller, filled with packages if possible, and taught him to push and run at a clip without plowing into other people. Now that our son is older, there’s still a lot of physical play: Sledding, hitting the heavy bag, climbing and hiking, playing stickball. A sensory avoider may well have to be coaxed into such activities but a patient Dad, or other sensory smart adult, may be able to do this.

Yes, some kids can go into sensory overload if pushed too far, but an attentive dad can use deep pressure, a quiet and loving voice, and loud/soft games such as having the child vary his drumming on a pillow or exercise ball or dad’s back from quiet and gentle to louder and more intense and back.

I love the “steal the socks” game!

Here’s to dads on Father’s Day!

Roughhousing and physical play can benefit kids who have sensory issues as well as typically developing children

The researcher’s report.

The really sweet Diane Sawyer report on the research.


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Filed under Dads of kids with SPD, exercise and movement for sensory kids, family fun, Lindsey Biel, Moms of kids with SPD, playground issues, Practical tips for sensory issues, proprioceptive input, Raising a Sensory Smart Child, sensory diet, sensory seeking

Helping Children in China and the U.S. Who Suffered Lead Poisoning

There’s a heartbreaking article in today’s New York Times about children in China who have lead poisoning due to the lax standards of manufacturing in China. I recall when we first learned that brand-name American toys manufactured in China were painted with lead–yes, Barbie, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Matchbox!–I thought, our kids are playing with the toys, but what about the kids in China whose parents are making them and track the heavy metals into their homes, the kids who live near factories, or who breathe air contaminated by heavy metals?

Here in America, we know about lead in paint and now, in cheap toys and imports. I’ve been talking for years about lead in porcelain bathtubs that leach lead (you can test the glaze using a kit from the hardware store; I had my landlord replace my tub that was leaching lead). I know lead tests are painful for most kids (well, not to the hyposensitive child–my son actually enjoyed the sensation at first, one of the signs I had that something was “off” with this little guy!). Nevertheless, we MUST be careful to monitor our children and avoid exposing them to lead.

One small consolation: There are few foreign publishers who buy books on special needs parenting (if you know of any, please do contact me!), but there was a publisher in China who bought the rights to Raising a Sensory Smart Child.  (we also sold Croatian rights). I want to believe that the book will get into the hands of these parents so they can learn about lead poisoning (yes, that is covered, along with mercury poisoning) and what to do for their kids who develop sensory processing issues as a result of lead poisoning. Still, how heartbreaking to read of this very preventable problem!

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Filed under heavy metals, lead poisoning, sensory integration dysfunction, sensory processing disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder and the Seven (yes, 7!) Senses, a New Video

Here’s a video I made about the seven senses. Yes, there are 7, not 5–they include the ones you learned about in school plus two that are unfamiliar to may people, namely, the vestibular sense (sense of music) and proprioceptive sense (sense of body awareness). I tried to provide some images of various types of sensory input, and explain a bit about the aspects of our more familiar senses that we don’t think about. For instance, when you think of the tactile sense, or sense of touch, do you think about the texture of gritty versus smooth or slimy? Do you think about how you can discriminate between hot and cold? Or that the skin inside your mouth has tactile sensory receptors, too, so that you can have oral sensitivities, or engage in oral sensory seeking?


Enjoy the video!


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Filed under auditory processing disorders, proprioceptive input, sensory integration dysfunction, sensory processing disorder, sensory processing disorder symptoms, sensory processing disorder video, sensory seeking, seven senses, SPD and auditory, tactile sense, vestibular input, visual processing

Sensory Processing Disorder: What Is It? Learn in One Minute!

“What is it, some newfangled diagnosis?”

“Hunh. I’ve never heard of it.”

If someone you know is resisting the idea that sensory processing disorder is real, please ask them to watch this one-minute video and check out my website,


I’ll be uploading a new, slightly longer and more detailed video on SPD to YouTube soon so watch for it!

Sensory processing disorder is real, intense, and distressing for the person with SPD. Please help spread the word and educate others!


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Help Your Child with Sensory Issues Learn to Ride a Bike Safely

One of the charms of living in my neighborhood is that the police officers will stop kids on bikes and issue them coupons for free ice cream cones if they’re wearing their bike helmets! It’s a delightful surprise to the kids and a great reminder of the importance of bike safety. Having had a minor bike accident on the local bike trail last week while wearing a helmet, the message of bike safety hits home for me at this time. I had heard that you should replace a helmet after any accident, no matter how minor, because the integrity of the protective styrofoam is compromised. My local bike dealer told me that indeed, that’s true, and in fact you should replace a helmet every 2 years regardless, and NEVER keep it in direct sunlight (such as in your car). Is your child in need of a new helmet? Whether yes or no, I urge you to bring your child to the nearest bike shop and ask them to adjust the helmet properly for him for maximum safety. Or check this link on adjusting your child’s bike helmet. Or check this video on properly fitting a helmet. And please, don’t assume that because you’re an adult you can go without a properly fitted helmet when YOU are riding!

Meanwhile, if your child with sensory processing issues is resisting learning how to ride a bike, perhaps this archived newsletter from my website,, will help. I hope so!

Riding a bike can be challenging for children with sensory processing disorder, but they can learn the skill!

Help Your Child With Sensory Issues Learn To Ride A Bike

Bike riding is a great form of exercise and transportation, offering kids a sense of independence. Children with sensory issues often need extra help in learning to be comfortable bicycling. Part of their struggle with riding a two-wheeler is the difficulty of planning and quickly carrying out movements while on an unstable bike that they must control.

1. Choose the right bike. Encourage your child to start early riding a tricycle to begin to build biking skills, and then invest in a small, low-to-the-ground two-wheeler with training wheels. Both genders may do better starting out with a “girl’s” bike with a dropped support bar, which makes it easier to mount and dismount. Also, wider tires are easier to balance on than thinner, racing tires.

2. Adjust the bike so it’s easier for your child to manage it while learning to ride. Make sure the seat is large enough for her and consider replacing it with a wider or longer seat (seats can be sold separately). Adjust the seat’s texture if necessary, with a nylon cover, or a towel tied over the seat, if this will make it easier for her to feel the seat underneath her and make her feel more secure. Bikes are most comfortable to ride for long stretches when the seat is adjusted so that when the rider is seated, the balls of her feet touch the ground. However, at the beginning of learning to ride and feel confident on a bike, a child may need the seat lowered so that her feet are flat on the ground when she is sitting. You may want to remove the pedals while she practices pushing herself with her feet while seated, and balancing.

3. Break down the skill into steps. Have her propel herself with her feet, then lift them up and try to balance as the bike is moving, and stop herself with the handbrakes just before putting her feet down. In this way, she will learn to balance, then to use the brakes, then add in the pedaling step. You might try positioning your child on the bike at the top of a short, very gentle slope. Hold the seat and one side of the handlebars as he rides down the slope so he can feel his feet on the pedals as they move.

4. Try training wheels. After the child has become comfortable with training wheels, reposition the training wheels to be slightly off the ground. You might encourage the child to listen for the sound of the training wheels hitting the pavement and practice bike riding while trying not to “make that sound,” which means he is not relying on the training wheels. As you see him becoming more competent, move the training wheels higher so that he is even more reliant on his sense of balance.

5. Protect her from injury. Encourage your child to wear long sleeves and long pants and even protective pads when first learning to ride if she will tolerate these clothing items, which will lessen the impact if she falls and keep her from getting discouraged. Practice in a large open lot with few visual distractions. Also, be sure her bike helmet fits snugly. Use the sticky-backed pads to adjust the fit if necessary. The helmet should not fall backward or forward or swish side to side while the child is riding, and the chin strap should secure it in place. You may want to desensitize the child’s head with massage or vibration before placing the helmet on her.

6. Be patient and encouraging. Teach your child that learning to ride is a process. Challenge her to push herself just a little each time she rides so that she doesn’t become overwhelmed and avoid riding altogether. Be sure to celebrate her triumph when she makes that first two-wheeled ride on her own, and remind of how proud you are that she persevered at this challenging task.

Copyright © 2010, 2011 Nancy Peske

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Filed under bike riding for kids with sensory issues or autism, playground issues, safety and sensory issues, sensory processing disorder