Circles to Encourage New Taste Sensations

Circles to Encourage New Taste Sensations

Today I am going to share with you how circles can encourage your Sensory Seeker (and avoider) to try new taste sensations. Not just circles but how other shapes, sounds and interests can help prior to eating. Plus some ideas for inspiration.

Circles to Encourage New Taste Sensations

My Sensory Seeker as regular readers may know, is a bit (a lot) of a fussy eater. We try not to make too much of a fuss and provide him with foods throughout the day that we know he likes (so he doesn’t starve). See my previous post here. Well I was reading in the Out of Sync Child has fun about ‘Fed Up by Angela Gilbert. Basically it is about how playing with things associated with the food presented helps consumption, especially of new flavours/textures. This means that if before a meal consisting of say food shaped into circles, if the child plays with circles before eating then they are more likely to try new taste sensations.

So what foods are round?’

  • Carrots, peas, cucumber, tomatoes,
  • Pancakes, muffins, scones
  • Spaghetti hoops
  • Cheerios
  • Rice cakes
  • Blueberries, grapes, cherries, melon balls, oranges
  • Burgers

Can you think of others?

In fact with the use of shape cutters you could turn any food into circles. This could be adapted for any other shapes, including their interests – such as using Lego cutters for Lego obsessed children. This can also extend to noisy food – making loud sounds before eating food that can be loud too (popcorn, crisps, nuts,raw carrots, apples etc).

Activities with Circles

The most obvious choice for me at the moment is to let them play with Loom bands (age dependent and make sure they are not likely to put them in their mouth).Other ideas that spring to mind are with balloons, balls, bubbles, bubble wrap, beanbags. Make circles from toys – that can be anything cars, Lego, dinosaurs. Make sensory circles by drawing in mud, shaving foam, sand, rice, etc. How about craft – paper plates, toilet roll holders – again any material can be cut into a circle.  The sellotape and glue-sticks are also circular. The ideas are endless and can be adapted for the child’s interests and sensory needs.

Kids Co-op Circles

I found some posts from the Kids Co-op that may help further inspire you:

Penny + Balloon Atom Smasher - Gift of Curiosity

Circles to Encourage New Taste Sensations

Finger Print Autumn Trees - Our Little House in the Country

Bubble Art - Tiny Tots Adventure

Circles to Encourage New Taste Sensations

Shape Art - Buggy and Buddy

Beach Ball Poetry - Creative Family Fun

Circles to Encourage New Taste Sensations

Sensory Ball Play - Sensory Activities for Kids

Fun Food Faces - B-Inspired Mama

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

School holidays and The Sensory Seeker

School holidays and The Sensory Seeker

Work destroyed – torn to pieces and coloured over, head butting, saying inappropriate things, playing with food, not eating favourite foods on an already limited diet, not sleeping, standing on his hand, spinning, attacking his brothers and smearing ice-cream all over his face. Yes this is the first three weeks of the school holidays. But you know what – it is going well!

School holidays and The Sensory Seeker

Ways to cope with The School Holidays and The Sensory Seeker

The fact that I can even list what my 5 year old has done that is a tad bit stressful so far these holidays is real progress. In fact a lot of them were one off incidents instead of daily occurrences. In fact the reason I am even able to write this is that the school holidays are going so well that he has gone off to a summer day football session. It is at his school with a familiar adult but still a massive step forwards. I think that the two key ingredients for me are that I am not letting myself get wound up about them (he can’t help it and it must be worse for him) and trying to ensure he has a sensory diet to lower the risk of him not being able to cope.

Listening to The Sensory Seeker

I have stopped trying to force him to do things because I fear he will become an adult that can never do them. For example we missed seeing The Lost Dinosaur when we went to The Eden Project because he really could not cope with the sensory input anymore. The barefoot trail really helped him but he was really struggling. We have learnt to watch and listen for his cues and act on them. In this case we removed him from the situation and went back to the holiday park.

Diet and The Sensory Seeker

The food thing is so frustrating but actually relaxing about it has been what has worked for me. So what if he has smeared food all over himself before eating it, yes not the most hygienic but it won’t kill him. Surely it is better than him not eating at all. I am careful as to how many foods I give him, make sure they are not touching, something I know he does like. I never expect him to eat anything – even things he does like. I am prepared to barter with him to get him to eat something healthy. He is learning to understand about when he is at school and when he is not. He has shown this by telling us that he can have pancakes on non-school days (they take time to make and wash up after). Just before the holidays ended he decided that he did not like chicken roll – which was the only sandwich filling he would eat before! Now he only wants to eat wraps. There’s no point in making a battle of it I just listen to what he wants.

School holidays and The Sensory Seeker

Things that have really helped with our Sensory Seeker and the School holidays

A paddling pool – we have a big pool outside and he can get in and out when he pleases.

Guns – water and the BOOMCo Madness Rapid Blaster – good for helping with his hand development.

The trampoline – this is an all year round thing that helps but our 14ft trampoline is great for him.

Ice – we made some frozen Lego shapes, great for his sensory needs.

School holidays and The Sensory Seeker

Cardboard boxes – squeezing into a tight cardboard box was good, and he loved that he was able to destroy it afterwards.

School holidays and The Sensory Seeker

Chocolate milkshake – this has been a big bartering tool this summer.

Picnics – I think he prefers cold food and he has loved the variety of a picnic. Plus with it not being hot food he can eat when he wants to. Particularly successful was when we made a last minute decision to take some jelly on a picnic.

School holidays and The Sensory Seeker

Luckily we have a chill factor jelly maker that makes jelly in minutes and not hours. Following on from the success of Character’s Chill Factor Slushy and Ice Cream Makers they have now bought out a Jelly one! Simply leave in the freezer (minimum of 6 hours) and then when you want to make Jelly add your mixture and it is set in minutes! You need to use half the amount of water than normal, and you squeeze, squeeze, and squeeze some more. Then after a few minutes flip it over and leave for another minute to set. The jelly maker is suitable from 5 years (although they will need someone to make the jelly mixture). We found that it was really good for our five year old Sensory Seeker’s hand development. I am always forgetting to make the jelly so this is just perfect for me. Or for my impromptu visits to the park with a jazzed up picnic.

Not worrying about bedtimes – we will suffer later no doubt but whilst the sun is shining late at night and there is no school we have been much more relaxed about what time he (and all the boys) go to bed.

Keeping him active and entertained – using visuals such as alphabet bingo or working through his Gold Stars Starting Maths for the summer gold stars challenge. Children need to keep their education going through the school holidays so they do not forget things. As he is behind his peers I feel that this is particularly important.I picked the lower age book (3-5 years) and think it has been beneficial to both of us to see how easy he seems to be finding it. I feel it has really helped illustrate just how far he has developed in his reception year too (as he is still working towards all but one National curriculum levels and may be moved to P-levels). Each page has a simple activity and it is very visual. It was good for communication as we both discussed things in the book and what was expected of him. He is loving the stickers that he gets as a reward for completing each of the pages too. If he does all 30 then he will receive a certificate too. It has helped me identify that he needs more help/practice with colouring in.

School holidays and The Sensory Seeker

We have also had lots of play, meeting up with others, days out, etc. with much more planned for the rest of the school holidays.

I would love to hear how other people are coping with the school holidays with their child with Sensory Processing disorder. Or any tips/strategies that they use.

We received a free Chill Factor Jelly Maker and Summer Gold Stars Maths book for purposes of review. No other compensation has been given. Words and opinions are my own.

Aspergers teen driver

Driving Test passed by Teen with Aspergers

Our Teen with Aspergers is Driving

Only yesterday I was doing my A-levels whilst pregnant. So how is it today that the baby I was carrying is now the proud owner of a full driving license?! How did the time go so quickly? 7 years ago I would never have believed that this day would come. My son was struggling  in so many areas, and had been newly diagnosed with Aspergers’ syndrome. Now we have so much hope for him and his future., driving is just the start. In fact now we are struggling trying to get him to decide on Universities and courses! We have established that he does want to go, and has an end goal of what he wants to do – but that’s it. Actually looking at them and making a decision for himself – well that’s just another hurdle. But for today we celebrate that our teenage with Aspegers can drive.

Teen with Aspergers Driving

Now for the next nightmare. Insurance – omg! It seems the more expensive car that is bought the cheaper the insurance – but is that wise? And will he know what to do (socially) when out on his own? I guess it is natural for all mothers to worry (Aspergers or not). And actually the sensible lad in him is very reassuring. What about the other idiots on the road though – eek. Today someone walked across the road (fully) then (without looking) ran back again in front of me. I think everyone around was shocked, and horrified. Me I was just glad I pressed the brakes fast enough. The poor guy who was nearly hit couldn’t say sorry enough, I was just shocked speechless. My 11 year old (who was in the front) just said that he hoped that never happened to his brother. But I am sure my oldest will be fine. And when I have got over worrying about him, I am sure it will be his little brother’s turn!

Ethans Escapades
summer sensory diet

Summer Sensory Diet – Tips and Inspiration

I find the best way to help my Sensory Seeker to cope with the School Summer holidays is to provide him with a Summer Sensory Diet. As he doesn’t like change, ideally, a visual aid. This would  show a new summer routine, which meets all of his needs. I like to make sure I continue to provide educational stimulus, so that he does not fall any further behind his peers. I will also help  him to develop his gross and fine motors skills. He needs plenty of outdoor activities to help burn off some his wild energy and meet his proprioception and vestibular needs; some noisy activities for his auditory sense; and of course plenty of tactile activities. Of course I will also set up just invitations to play, and use his imaginative (I love a bit of craft): These are also educational for him but in a less structured way. A plan not only helps him make sense of what is happening, but also gives him an idea of time, and when he will be returning back to school. I will also factor in down-time (he loves computer games and watching television) – both for his and my benefit.

summer sensory diet

Summer Sensory Diet Ideas from the Kids Co-op

There’s some great ideas on the Kids Co-op that inspire me, or I can utilise to help make my Summer Sensory Diet plan – here are a few of them:

Educational

15 Busy Bags for Fine Motor Skills – Powerful Mothering

Watermelon free Printables - Gift of Curiosity

Handwriting practice Letter B - Crystal & Co

summer sensory diet

Outdoor

Backyard Tight Rope - Kids Activities Blog

summer sensory diet

Outdoor Playspaces Kids Love- Frogs and Snails

Nature walks (and free printables) – Livin Montessori Now

Tactile

Chocolate Slime Playdough - Epic fun for kids

summer sensory diet

Ooooey Gooooey Slime - Our Little House in the Country

I am keen to find ideas for Apps as he sees these as playing computer games. He needs to learn how to blend his sounds, count from 10-20 – and other Early Years Goals. He is going to go up to Year 1 but be measure with P scales.

My other advice is to have lots of snacks. These can be frozen! As well as great for touch and smell.

What are P levels?

When children are in Year 1 they have finished the Early Years Foundation and move on to The National Curriculum. This starts at level 1 (and goes to level 3 in infants, and level 6 in juniors). Those children who have not achieved a level 1 at National Curriculum level would be marked with a W (working towards). This can feel deflating and confusing for a child/their parent who has made so much progress but the assessment shows the same W. P levels used when a child does not meet the National Curriculum levels but still allow progress to be seen. They are designed to show layers of small change below that of the National Curriculum levels – 1-8.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

You may also be interested in Jenny’s Waterplay Activities Kids Co-op Round up

he is disabled

He is Disabled

Being reminded that he is disabled

I think the main problem I am having with deciding whether to hold our son back at school a year or not is that it means accepting there’s something wrong not quite right with him. Funny as we all know he is disabled, he gets disability money and has full-time one-to-one support at school. It is easy to compare him to others with disabilities and think that the term really does not apply to him. He is so behind his peers in so many areas, but yet he’s just our son. Sometimes it’s easy to think that it is me with the “problem” – not giving him enough attention, bad parenting, I do not have the patience. I would rather those things be true and strive to help him as much as I can. But the reality of it is it is him and the fear that he may never develop further is frightening.

he is disabled

Pushing all these fears away and just being positive not thinking that he is disabled really helps with day to day life. So he wets himself and doesn’t sleep at night – lots of children do that at aged 5, he is still young. If he moves up then I could see that as a problem as he may be the only child to do those things. If he stays down then those younger than him may overtake him.

The Fears

I know this is covering old ground but the decision day is getting closer. I had a chat with him and he really wants to move up. On days when I forget that he is disabled he seems so level headed, and that it would just be stupid not to let him move up. Suggesting that he will fail before we even let him try. But should we not upset him and just wait for him to fail, or should we nurture him and prevent him from failing. I know that the education system is more likely to help the school financially after he has failed – but we are lucky that he’s at a good school and they do not want that. He’s had a lot of changes lately and he’s not been himself. I had the back door open earlier and I told him not to go outside. I said that it was too wet. It was fresh air – I didn’t add that. I just said, “Kyle, don’t go outside. It is wet.” He is five years old. He said, “What did you say?” and I repeated it. Then he repeated, “What did you say?” and I repeated it again. This happened another few times before I just kissed and hugged him. Then I went upstairs and cried. He is disabled and just because it is invisible does not mean that he does not need the help. I have to stop thinking in terms of failing him and think in terms of what is best for him. I wish I had the answers.

he is disabled

But after the decision is made I shall continue being positive for him. He has come such a long way. If he stays behind he will be ahead of his peers. Then that will be good for his confidence. If he moves up then it will be because it has been decided that it is best for him and he can cope. Either way I can forget that he is disabled then he can just be Kyle again.

Just different

Just Different

Today  at school the children were asked to wear something and make a donation for Just Different, a charity which helps raise awareness of disabilities. Of course my boys have some idea about disabilities, with 2 members of the house having them. Here is a guest post from the Charity Just Different to help explain what the charity is all about.

Just Different

JustDifferent is a registered charity founded by Toby Hewson, a young man with Cerebral Palsy. Toby’s vision is of a world where everyone is accepted as equal regardless of their disabilities or differences. To achieve this vision Toby has a team of disabled adults who deliver unique workshops about disability and difference, which challenge and change negative perceptions held by children and young people.

“I always find it quite awkward around disabled people, and so when I first walked in, I didn’t really want to take part. But when you started explaining it, I got less afraid, and understand so much better now” Year 9 Pupil

Whilst PHSE education remains a non-statutory subject in the National Curriculum, the DfE states that the subject is an important and necessary part of the pupil’s education. In order to fulfil its duties relating to SMSC a broad and balanced curriculum is required, which meets the pupils’ needs and prepares them for the challenges and opportunities of adult life.

Just different

“For many children, contact and direct communication with someone with disabilities is limited or non-existent. This opportunity is an investment in children’s (and teacher’s)
capacity to challenge discrimination” – Teacher Year3

Since 2008 JustDifferent’s workshops have benefited over 159,000 children and young people across the
UK with messages about acceptance and tolerance. These are a platform to dispel myths about disability, tackle discrimination and build a more inclusive society, focusing on children and young people – our next generation of employers, educators and policy makers.

“There is nothing like actually confronting the issues! I think I speak for a lot of teachers when I say that with little personal experience of disability, it is difficult to talk to the children with real meaning and understanding. The workshop was a real learning experience for me and I know that experiences like this are the best way to learn and gain an understanding for children and adults,” Primary Headteacher

If you would like further information about our unique “Disability & Difference” workshops please visit our website www.justdifferent.org or contact Sarah on 01243 778275 or by email at bookings@justdifferent.org

You can find Just Different on Facebook

This is NOT a Sponsored Post.

repeating reception

Repeating Reception Year or Not?

Some people never get to meet with an Educational Psychologist whilst today I met a second for my son who is only in his reception year at school. The first time was when I was wondering whether to send him to school. She came out to evaluate whether she thought it would be in his best interests to remain in Reception the following academic year. Apparently they do not like to use the term “held back” but that is what in effect it is.

repeating reception

She asked me what his strengths are – that’s easy he is happy. She said that was good, and to be honest if there was anything I could wish for that my children have it is happiness. She explained that research shows that children who stay back in reception year do not make much extra progress. I think that is because they compare themselves and try to identify with those around them. I am not sure my son has that ability to think that way.

He, in my opinion, is a very likable little boy. He has made good friends in reception (and has those all-important party invites that any parent may understand the fear of them possibly never receiving). Would he miss those friends if he was separated from them? Is he so lovely that he’d easily make friends again?

repeating reception

Year 1 is really fast paced compared to Reception – but my husband thinks that may be he needs the push. Currently though he is already falling asleep at school, and does get over-stimulated, or wet himself at school – and that’s with full time support. Would year 1 be too much and lower his confidence?

Also what if he does catch up when he’s older? He can never move back with his peers, and in secondary school everyone will know he was held back. He is a bright lad maybe something will click and he will be on par with his peers. Or there’s the possibility that he will never “get” some of the areas that he is struggling with so there would be no point him not moving up. He may need other ways to help him (he is a very visual learner).

party planning sensory processing disorder

Thankfully the Educationally Psychologist is supporting us whatever the decision. I am sure whatever is decided the school will fully-support him – I cannot say enough how grateful I am for all their help and support. We have his meeting for his review next Monday (and the first time I may hear about this thing that is replacing the Statement).

I have had some feedback of regret about keeping their child back, but then seen others who are pleased they have managed to fight for their child back. So if anyone has any experience or even feelings on this I would love to hear it please.

sensory seeker activities

Sensory Seeker Activities from #KidsCoop

Obviously my son is a Sensory Seeker and so I am always on the look out for activities that help him fill his Sensory Diet. Play is really important and by making sure my Sensory Seeker receives the right amount of stimulation for him can make so much difference to his attention, learning, diet, sleep and so much more. So here are 10 ideas from last weeks Kids Coop for The Sensory Seeker.

sensory seeker activities

Dinosaur Ice Age - The Sensory Seeker

4th July Sensory Bin from Recycled Materials - The Good Long Road.

Cloud in a Cup – Schooling a Monkey

Mini Sand Play Set - Play Trains

Dabber Twist & Reflection on Creativity - Bambini Travel

Sturdy and Smooth Playdough Recipe - Buggy and Buddy

Sense of Taste – Fun with Tasting Bottles - Gift of Curiosity

Toddler Safe Coloured Playdough - Kids Activities Blog

Peppermint Patty Marshmallow Play Dough - Kids Activities Blog

DIY Kids Glitter Glue - Mini Monets and Mommies

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

kids dressing up ideas for imaginative play kids coop

Dressing Up Ideas for Imaginative Play #KidsCo-op

I am sure we all know that imaginative play can be beneficial for children. For my Sensory Seeker he just loves dressing up. I think it was all those sensations of touch – which he is a major seeker in. This role play made it easier for me to engage in with him too. I think it is from this basis that we have been able to go on and develop his imaginative play in other areas. It is in fact the reason that Autistic Spectrum Disorder has been ruled out and he now has it in writing that he does have Sensory Processing Disorder.

So I thought that I would share some of the Dressing Up Ideas for Imaginative Play from The Kids Co-op.

 Peter Pan in Neverland - Joys of the Journey

Dress up Corner - The Keeper of Cheerios

DIY Dinosaur Hats and DIY DInosaur Feet Stilts – Laly Mom

Fly Masks - Teaching Mama

DIY Minion Costume - Hodge Podge Craft

Two George Washington Cotton Ball Wig Crafts - Pink Stripey Socks

Rainbow Shamrock Crown and Wand – The Craft Train

kids dressing up ideas for imaginative play kids coop

Robot Costume - Danya Banya

Cereal Box Fireman’s Hat – Pink Stripey Socks

Spies and Russian Salt Dough Map – Solagratiamom

Paper Plate Masks - Kids Activities Blog

Easy Crown Crafts - Where Imagination Grows

Silly Monster Faces - Look What Mom Found

In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb Mask Crafts - Stir the Wonder

Batman Onesie Tutorial - Lou Lou Girls

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

Find more KIDS DRESSING UP ideas on my pinterest board

sleep tips and special needs

Sleep tips for those with Sensory Processing Disorder

If sensory issues impact on your child’s bedtime, here are five tips from Antonia Chitty and Victoria Dawson, authors of Sleep and Your Special Needs Child, to help you help your child to sleep more easily.

sleep tips and special needs

 8 Sleep tips to help your child with sensory issues

  1. Consider every aspect of your child’s bedtime experience in terms of sensory processing and try to think about what they are trying to communicate to you.  For example one child got out of bed throughout the night to sleep on the floor, she was showing that she needed firm sleeping surface.  Once this was recognised and a more appropriate mattress purchased her sleep patterns improved considerably.
  2. Your sense of smell is at work even when you are fast asleep. For a child who is extremely smell sensitive this can create difficulties at bedtime.  Consider any smells that may interrupt their sleep such as cooking late in the evening or a change in washing powder for the bedding that surrounds them.
  3. Some children cannot tolerate the feel of certain textures, others prefer to sleep without clothing on.  Experiment with different nightwear until you find something that your child tolerates.  If they do not like to wear clothing you need to consider the fact that our body temperature dips during the early hours meaning they are more likely to wake up if they get too cold.
  4. Weighted blankets can help some children to feel more grounded at bedtime.  You should always take professional advice from your child’s Occupational Therapist before using weighted blankets.
  5. Some youngsters are extremely light sensitive and prefer a completely darkened room in order to sleep more easily.  Blackout blinds can be helpful in creating the right environment, some children cannot tolerate the LED light on a television or light seeping in from underneath the door.
  6. Many children are sound sensitive and may awaken easily.  Using white goods noise such as a fan whirring in the background can help to mask out background noises.
  7. Some children like to rock in order to get to sleep, while this can look alarming it can help them to soothe themselves to sleep.  Build in rocking activities during the run up to bedtime to help them to feel calm, such as using a swing.
  8. We all have sensory preferences when it comes to sleep habits.  Some individuals prefer a firm pillow, others a soft one.  As adults we often inflict our own sensory needs on our child when choosing their bedroom and furnishings.  Put aside your own preferences and think about what your child prefers, speak with their therapists to allow you to build in their sensory needs during bedtime.

sleep sen

Think about your child’s own preferences, and prioritise these tips to work through, starting with the one that is most appropriate for your child. Introducing one change at a time is easier for the child, can show you which change is most effective, and give you an indicator what else to change to help you and your child have a great night’s sleep.

Sleep and Your Special Needs Child is on offer at just under £9 at time of writing. It addresses sleep problems using a highly successful behavioural and cognitive approach to sleep management, and is the first book to explain these approaches in detail. The practical advice contained is invaluable for parents who want to feel more in control and more confident about tackling sleep issues in a way that is appropriate for their child.

Health Hop



My Review post on Pinkoddy: Sleep and Special Needs

This is a Guest Post. I have received nothing in return for it I just wanted to share the advice.