Platform Swing Painting

A great way to work on core strengthening (and another awesome pre-writing activity) is to play or work in the prone position. Normally Trevor hates being on his tummy. It’s partly sensory I’m sure, but also partly probably discomfort due to his hypotonia. Either way, he overcame that dislike to engage in this fun activity: painting on the platform swing! I set up a large piece of paper, drizzled some blobs of paint on it, and let him vroom his motorcycle toy through it to make tracks. It was a blast (although be sure to use washable paint, because it did end up a little bit messier than I expected).

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The Green, Green Grass

Sometimes we forget that the most basic sensory experiences are the most valuable, and the most fun. We went to the park the other day and Paige just loved the grass. The look of wonder in her eyes was priceless. I loved seeing her little fingers explore the green blades.

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And now that Trevor is getting stronger I’m realizing that he missed out on some of these basic experiences. He’s spending more time out of his braces and I’m learning just how sensitive his feet are. He has a major sensory defensiveness issue with his bare feet. So as Paige discovers some of these new, basic sensory experiences, I’m encouraging Trevor to try and enjoy them too.

Sometimes the simplest things are the best things.

Easter Dough

I always love trying out new playdough recipes with my little sensory guy. I saw this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago and thought it looked interesting. But given the fact that his oral sensory seeking has suddenly become out of control again (today he licked the stairs, yuck!), the last thing I wanted him to play with was something non-edible but called the name of a food. So with Easter approaching I mixed it up and we had fun with Easter Egg Dough instead!
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All you need is cornstarch and cheap hair conditioner. Mix it up in a 2 parts cornstarch to one part conditioner ratio and you have a sweet smelling, pastel-colored dough that is perfect for spring! It is a great new texture to explore.

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Trevor had a great time with this new dough recipe, and baby sis enjoyed watching him play too:

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Bean Bin Hide and Seek

Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to have Trevor to play in his sensory bins.  The experience really does help calm and regulate him.  With Paige’s birth I definitely was slacking with his sensory diet and it showed.  With organizing the playroom, getting his sensory materials in order was the first order of business.  His sensory bins are more accessible now and he’s really taken a new interest in them.  And the results of this increase in sensory play are wonderful 🙂

He’s been having a lot of fun playing Hide & Seek with his bean bin.  We use a bunch of little character toys (Toy Story, Mickey and Friends, etc.) that I picked up at the Dollar Tree.  We bury them under the beans and then he finds them.  He thinks it’s hilarious if I sing about his toys to the tune of “Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” (Oh Where, oh where has Mickey gone, oh where, oh where could he be?) when he digs for them.

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What are your kids’ favorite sensory bin activities?

Music Man

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Trevor has always responded well to music.  We have a lot of kids CDs that encourage movement and language.  We also have had some success with the Therapeutic Listening program as well, though it was limited.  But today I was reminded just how much music can help him.  On our way to OT today I blasted some Bob Dylan and Trevor just calmed right down.  For the first time since Winter Break he was calm in the car.  And when we got to OT he was so focused and much more regulated.  It was amazing actually.  When we got home he wanted to play dress-up.  And for the first time ever he put on his Batman shirt and cape that my husband had bought him 6 months ago!  He only had one meltdown all morning, and it was pretty minor in comparison to how he has been acting.

Of course it could be that his crankiness has finally just run it’s course thanks to a couple weeks of preschool under his belt.  He always does better when he’s in his routines.  But I’m going to take today’s amazing turnaround as inspiration to play more music for Trevor.  Hopefully my theory proves correct and music will help work out a lot of the behavior issues we’ve been struggling with lately.

A Proprioceptive Sheet-Changing Adventure

Trevor has been interested in “helping” me with household tasks lately.  Usually that means more work for me, but it always means fun for him so it’s worth it 🙂  And today when he helped me change the sheets on my bed I realized what a great proprioceptive activity it is! I always love when I discover a fun way to add heavy work and sensory activities into our daily lives.

How to Make Changing the Sheets a Sensory Adventure:

  • Have your little one help you pull the pillowcases off the pillows.  Pulling is great proprioceptive work!
  • Let your child climb all over the pillows, blankets, and sheets on the floor.  Not only does this work on balance and body awareness, but it’s a great gross motor activity too.
  • Wrap your child up in the sheets if they’ll let you.  (Never force this type of activity, but it’s awesome for proprioception).  Trevor loves to be wrapped up and buried so he had a blast doing this.  He kept asking me to wrap him up again and again.  And finding their way out of the sheets and blankets once they’re covered is a good way to work on motor planning skills too.
  • Have your child lift your heavy blankets and carry them around.  More great heavy work – and if you can get them to carry them to the laundry room that’s just an added bonus 🙂

I mean really, who needs toys when you have dirty laundry to play with, LOL?!

You Can Help Support Our SPD Kids!

Trevor has a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder.  As you all know, it greatly affects his (and our) daily life.  Unfortunately SPD isn’t a recognized diagnosis in the DSM.  This means that Trevor and other people with SPD are not getting the support they truly need.  The APA is taking public comment about the inclusion of SPD in the latest revision of the DSM.  Well known SPD advocate Lucy Miller wrote this letter, giving the latest status report on getting SPD in the DSM.  To find out more about what you can do to influence the APA’s decision, just go here.  Please help support Trevor and all of the other people who are affected by this disorder.

Crash! Bang! Boom!

A Crash Pad is a great way to get proprioceptive input.  Falling (or jumping, if your kid has mastered that skill) onto the Crash Pad is a good way to get vestibular input as well.  “Crashing” is one of Trevor’s favorite activities!  Not only is it fun, but he gets that proprioceptive and vestibular input his body craves.  You can buy large bean bags to use as a Crash Pad, or sew together some fabric and stuff it with foam or pillows, or you can just do like we do and round up all the pillows in the house and pile them on the floor.

Trevor has always loved to just throw his body down onto the pillows.  But lately he’s been getting a kick out of me singing him songs, like “Humpty Dumpty” before he crashes.  When Humpty Dumpty falls down, so does Trevor.  This is also a great way to work on auditory processing skills.

To provide even more proprioceptive input, I often grab an extra pillow and “squish” him into the Crash Pad after he’s fallen.  He loves it!

Trevor loves to crash at any time, but we’ve really been trying to get him to crash in the evenings to help regulate his sensory system before bed.  I’ve found that the more proprioceptive work we do in the afternoon and evening, the quicker he falls asleep.  And when you have a kid who routinely takes a couple hours to turn himself “off” before he falls asleep, you try everything!

Undersea Lightbox Adventure

Trevor loves his light box.  But for some reason we hadn’t played with it in a couple weeks.  I’m not quite sure how that happened, but reading about how much fun Owen and Melaina had with their homemade light box inspired me to create a new light box adventure for Trevor.

What You Need:

  • 2 gallon sized Ziploc baggies
  • water
  • blue food coloring
  • baby oil

How To Make It:

  1. Fill a Ziploc bag about 1/3 full of water.
  2. Add in a few drops blue food coloring and mix.
  3. Squirt in some baby oil (this is optional, but it creates some neat looking bubbles)
  4. Let out the air and seal the bag.
  5. Put the sealed bag inside a second Ziploc, to prevent accidental leaks.
  6. Place on top of your light box and enjoy your own Undersea Light Box Adventure!

Having his fish “swim” in the “ocean” (I found these transparent animals at the Dollar Tree in their glow-in-the-dark section):

The Sea of Trevor:

Cheese Face 🙂

The next day he also wanted to play with the colored gel bag we made previously.  This worked out great.  I had him sort his animals by putting the water creatures in the blue “sea” and the land animals in the yellow “sand”:

Trevor’s Animal Habitat:

Playing and Sorting:

Cardboard Box Body Painting

Any time we have a good-sized cardboard box left over I try to do a fun project with it before it gets thrown out.  Recently we did some cardboard box body painting.  Because box + paint + toddler = a messy good time!

We did this in our master bathroom so that I could transfer Trevor to a bathtub as soon as he was done.  He had a great time exploring the paint with his toes and his fingers!

He kept wanting me to add more paint, but that made for a slippery surface.  Being the already unstable walker that he is I had to add something that would absorb some of the liquid.  I shook some corn meal into the box on top of the paint.  You could also use flour or cornstarch, but I thought the corn meal’s gritty texture would add a new layer to the sensory experience.

This is such a fun activity!  It also promotes tactile discrimination and works on improving body awareness and balance.