Sunday, June 30, 2013

Swing Kick Ball

Here's a game that my daughters made up- swing kick ball.  It's simple, yet fun to play and can be played with only 2 people or with teams.  Same concept as regular kick ball, except the kicker sits on a swing to kick.  The person/people in the field try to catch the ball to get 3 outs.  Lots of fun for the kids, plus it is great for visual motor skills, eye hand coordination, balance and endurance.  Give it a try! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jelly Fish

Here's a cute kids' craft- jellyfish plates!  Have your child paint a paper bowl and add streamers and any other decorations to make jelly fish!  You can hang them from the ceiling with fishing wire to create a sea of jellyfish.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dino Skeleton Painting

Great, fun, easy way to develop fine motor skills and cause/effect... the bigger the better!  We used large white bulletin board paper, found at teacher supply stores.  Or try drawing the skeleton out on many regular sized pieces of paper, have your child paint them, then try to put it together like a giant puzzle...

Draw any kind of dino skeleton on white paper with white crayon.  Have the kids paint over the paper with watercolors to see the dinosaurs.  It's easy and the element of surprise keeps them entertained while they are working!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Sensory Play

Summer is a great time to incorporate sensory play into your child's day.  It's warm, sunny and the days last longer- so get out and enjoy your days.  Here are some ideas for fun that also provide great sensory input:
1- Go to the playground
      The playground is an excellent place to enjoy the outside and provides lots of opportunities for sensory input. Climbing, jumping, swinging and running are all great for sensory play.  A playground is an ideal place for a child with motor planning difficulties to gain awareness of himself and he/she may be able to model other children's movements to learn to navigate the equipment. 
2- Go Swimming
     Water is not only fun and refreshing, but provides lots of sensory input.  Try to swim as often as you can this summer, it's not just great exercise and good to increase endurance and strength, but provides sensory benefits and well as social benefits.  Note that indoor pools may have too many auditory inputs that may be overwhelming to some children.
3- Play messy art outside
     Take shaving cream outside and allow your child to finger paint.  Put a big piece of paper on the clothesline and have your child fling paint at it using a paint brush.  Draw with chalk and then use a squirt gun to erase it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Safety and Travel Beds Useful for Children with Autism

Seems I've been writing letters of medical necessity lately for safety beds for children with a variety of needs.  The obvious medical issues of a child with a brain injury, cerebral palsy, or severe chromosomal abnormalities are easily addressed in such a request, but what about the child with autism who has trouble sleeping and may even put himself in harm's way if he decides to wander in the night?  Most families look to community groups to help raise funds for safety beds, or choose to have a mattress on the floor and put an alarm on the door.  Or turn the child's bedroom door into a dutch door, that's cut in half so the bottom part is locked and the top remains open.  Not so good if your child is a climber, but can be very beneficial in some situations!  Finding a good contact through your physician's office, clinic, or therapy team to write the letter of medical necessity is key.  And then the rebuttal letter when you are denied... one key point to emphasize is that the bed is MEDICALLY necessary, not BEHAVIORALLY necessary.  Explain the medical risks, the life-threatening situations caused by the behavior.

Here are a few of my favorite products out there:

Sleep Safe Bed

Ida and Hannah Beds

Noah's World

Also included in this post are my favorite beds that can be used both in the home and for traveling... lots of families choose this route and skip the insurance puzzle altogether.

The Nickel Bed Tent

The Safety Sleeper

What nifty ways have you come up with to help your child be safe and comfortable at night?  Have you had success being funded through insurance?

Happy dreams,

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Trips With a Child With Sensory Needs

Going on a trip is fun and exciting and provides the much needed break from everyday routines.  But, all the unknowns and chaos associated with packing/unpacking and being on a trip can be overwhelming for a child with sensory needs.  Here are some tips to help your trip go smoother and be more enjoyable for everyone.
1- Bring gum or other motion sickness aids
    For those children prone to motion sickness, ask your doctor about motion sickness pills or other such remedy.  Some motion sickness pills are ok to give little children in small doses.  These pills can be crushed in apple sauce or pudding to allow a small child to swallow them.
2- Provide frequent movement breaks.
     Stop and get out of the car  if you are on a long car ride.  Most children need this break from sitting in order to endure a long car ride.  Encourage your child to run or jump for a while.
3- Provide lots of entertainment to keep your child occupied during the trip
    Bring books, dvds and toys for your child.  I found that it works best when they are novel toys or special toys.  I would go to the dollar store prior to the trip and pick up a bunch of toys and coloring and activity books.  These would not come out until the trip and then only one at a time.
4- During your trip, keep to familiar routines (such as bed time) as much as possible
     Children crave routine, so stick to some familiar routines in the unknown place.  Try to keep bedtime the same and at relatively the same time as at home.  Try to eat meals close to the same time.  This will allow your child to not feel too disoriented during the time away from home.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Sensory Tips

Summer is almost here and most of us are looking forward to the long, lazy days ahead.  We enjoy the laid back routines, the lack of rushing and the fun activities available in the summer.  But, all these things that we, and typical kids, enjoy and look forward to can be very stressful for a child with sensory needs.  The more stressed these children are, the more behaviors they exhibit and the more stressful and unpleasant it is for the entire family.  So, we will provide some tips and ideas in the next few posts to help you, and your child with sensory needs, make a smooth transition into the summer months. 
1- Don't entirely throw out structure in your days
Kids with sensory challenges crave structure and routine.  They need to know what to expect during their day and changes can be stressful and unpleasant.  While we aren't suggesting that you maintain your hectic school/work/activity schedule, we do suggest keeping some structure in your days.  Keep to a bedtime routine.  If you are going to let your child stay up a little later, be sure he/she is getting the same amount of sleep as during the school year and continue with a familiar bedtime ritual.  Keep a calendar visible and mark off each day of summer for your child to see.  If needed, allow your child to see a schedule for each day, whether a picture schedule or in writing, so that he/she will know what to expect throughout the day.  And, limit unnecessary transitions during your day.
2-Limit Stressful activities
Some children with sensory difficulties do not like loud, hectic environments.  If the pool is overly crowded and loud during the middle of the day, go in the early evening or late afternoon when it starts clearing out.  Bowling alleys and the loud bang of the pins can be stressful, so either go at non-peak times, or bring ear buds or head phones for your child to dilute the sounds.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer Camps

Time is of the essence when registering for camps these days to have your child experience nature and fun, in a therapeutic environment.  Many camps train counselors and have weeks geared towards particular areas of need, i.e. social skills, ADHD, and will often indicate what developmental level would be best served in their environment.  Try this link for a list of camps in PA, this site also allows you to search by state and category of need.

Summer Camps in PA for Kids with Special Needs

Some kids may benefit from a visit to the grounds prior to camp, if permissible.  Also creating a social story that involves explanation of the activities he/she will be participating in can be helpful.  You can even make a popsicle stick puppet of your child to interact with pages in the book!