Tag Archives: Christmas

nowman Nathan Wolfe

Sensory Advent Calendar

When it comes to Christmas and the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder it is all about making sure they still manage to get the right Sensory Diet. Trouble is with all the additional Sensory input (especially in terms of vision, sounds and smells) then this is going to knock their normal routine right out.  I have already talked about how to tackle things such as Visiting friends and Family at Christmas . This post is particular about Sensory Craving at Christmas. The way I have found is best to deal with Sensory Craving is to ensure that there is a regular and often stimulation given. In a way I have provided a Sensory Advent Calendar this year to help calm the excitement a little.nowman Nathan Wolfe

It is key to consider what it is that has changed and is affecting them, and what can be done to get the balance right once more. This can be really difficult to understand because it may be that there is more visual stimulation than normal so you try to limit it (keeping decorations to a minimum for example): On the other hand it may be that you need to give them more opportunities to touch as they NEED to explore the world around them. Christmas for us is one of the most difficult times of the year as The Sensory Seeker gets so excited but often struggles to control his emotions and reactions. As well as trying to keep him at the right balance we ensure that he is supervised more than usual and remember that once things are back to how they were then things will be easier.

The Benefits of a Sensory Advent Calendar

The benefits of a Sensory Advent Calendar for our Sensory Seeker has meant that The Sensory Seeker is not just waiting until Christmas to get all his much needed Sensory Stimulation. Sensory Craving at Christmas can be a nightmare as our Sensory Seeker just cannot get enough input to the senses (mostly auditory, movement and touch; but he is also more sensitive to smell – but seems to want to avoid those). He gets really excited about actual Christmas day and I have found that giving him something to do each day has helped his Sensory diet. This in turn has meant it has been much easier with his hygiene issues (Sensory Craving is not pleasant where the toilet is involved!), especially cleaning his teeth – and sleep (ie he is managing to pretty much stick to his routine and get sleep!). It has also made the build up to Christmas a pleasant one for the whole family – doing nice things together, as opposed to feeling like we are just trying to contain the Sensory Seeker’s excitement a little! An added bonus of this has also been that he has been encouraged to at least try more foods – he even licked a lettuce leaf!benefits of sensory advent calendar

About the Sensory Advent Calendar

The Sensory Advent Calendar is simply having twenty-four things to do with The Sensory Seeker, one each day in December until Christmas Day. ? I wanted to get a real mix when deciding what to include in the Sensory Advent Calendar. I told the children that we would be doing a different thing each day but did not tell them what basing which activity we did being dependent of The Sensory Seeker’s needs and the needs of the whole family. Let’s face it just because he may have limitless energy at this time of year does not necessarily mean that I do too!! Your family may need something more structured and, depending on what works best for you and your family, maybe you could map something out, even produce a visual aid showing the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder what they are doing each day.24 day advent door

Activities to include in a Sensory Advent Calendar

There are obviously a great many things you can do with your child over Christmas, with a wealth of ideas online: Things I considered when creating The Sensory Advent Calendar consisted of activities to get really messy and creative; others were simple, clean and easy to organise and tidy away: Some that he could do independently, and others that involved us all coming together.

Does he require noise? Ideas include singing Christmas Carols, Playing with noisy Christmas novelties or playing Christmas songs (and maybe even having a dance too). Or simply getting outside and letting him be as vocal as he likes! Or if he wants to be settled and quiet some Christmas colouring or other quiet calm activity.

Does he require movement? Again dancing (or playing Just Dance on the computer) is a great way to get movement, as well as our 14ft trampoline, ice-skating and walking around to see Christmas lights. We are regularly doing Parkrun and are carrying this into December – but wearing festive clothes! I have previously written about the benefits of the Forest and Sensory Processing Disorder – and at this time of year you can catch falling leaves – or collect things to craft with at home. When he does not need movement and needs to settle and relax I have bought him some films to watch (linked in with the Christmas presents he has asked for this year), planned trips to the cinema, have Christmas story books to read (The Night Before Christmas Olaf style is The Sensory Seeker’s favourite), make Christmas shapes in our LEGO (also good for fine motor) or play a board game.sensory adventDoes he require touch? I had some really messy activities where he could get covered in paint and glitter. But also some edible ones where it didn’t matter if he tried to eat what he was touching! This could even be tied in with making gifts – such as our Christmas Tree Biscuits.

Which kind of activity used also was determined by time – such as was he able to easily have bath to get clean afterwards. I considered which kind of materials to use – does he need the same as he did last time or would he benefit from a different ones? (see my previous Sensory Snowman post). We made Reindeer food so that he could put it out on Christmas Eve so that he can visually associate it with being the night that Father Christmas comes out.

Promised the kids we would do something Christmassy every day in the run up to Christmas #1goodthing

A post shared by Joy Gloucestershire UK (@pinkoddy) on

Does he require smell? The Sensory Seeker has been more sensitive to smell and taken a dislike to some. The ideas I have when he needs smell are – a big bowl of freshly cooked popcorn; creating ornaments (such as Wonderbaby’s Apple & Cinnamon Ornaments); a scented candle (supervised); bubble bath/bath bomb or even a real Christmas tree.

a real Christmas tree

I hope this post has been useful for you – and this blog has lots of ideas on it of things to do with the Individual with Sensory Processing Disorder. If you are having Bad days – then please read my previous post and hopefully things will be easier in the New Year.

Merry Christmas.

Also of interest – details of Relaxed Performances of Pantos in the UK 2016-2017

Thank you to the Forestry Commission for sending us craft materials and a free parking pass.

Egg Carton Christmas Trees

Egg Carton Christmas Trees

Egg Carton Christmas Trees are good because they are so simple to make, utilise fine motor skills, are inexpensive (using recycled materials) and make great ornaments – which am sure will then enhance your child’s self-esteem.
Egg Carton Christmas TreesYou will need:

  • 1 egg carton (not the plastic sort)
  • paint
  • paint brush
  • paint pot
  • water
  • things to stick on
  • glue
  • glue spatial
  • glue pot
  • needle and cotton
  • scissors

Method

  1. Cut out the egg cartons into individual cups.
  2. Simply paint the egg cups green and allow to dry.
  3. Thread the painted cups together tying a note in the underside of the cups and leaving enough string to hang them.
  4. Decorate with stickers, paper – or whatever you fancy for your tree.
  5. Hang it up.

Egg Carton Christmas Trees

Christmas and The Sensory Seeker

Christmas is a great time for the Sensory Seeker as there’s just so much stimulation for him. I think as he is getting older it is much easier for him to handle. For instance he has more of a concept of time. He has learnt the days of the week and that certain things happen on certain days (for example after school clubs, roast on Wednesdays at school etc), plus he is now learning to tell the time in his maths lessons. He understands now that there is a build up to Christmas and then a long wait before the next one (he used to wake up every day thinking it would be Christmas again). 6 and half is such a magical age anyway that I am sure this one will be truly magical.

Egg Carton Christmas Trees

Other Christmas Related Posts

Reindeer Food and Other Christmas Sensory Ideas

Visiting Friends and Family at Christmas when your child has Sensory Issues

The Sensory Seeker makes Christmas Tree Biscuits

Reindeer Christmas Crafts

Christmas Cards and The Sensory Seeker

Christmas Crafts for The Sensory Seeker

Making Christmas easier for The Sensory Seeker

The Sensory Seeker makes Hot Chocolate Santas Teacher Gifts

When every day is a bad day

 

 

 

Sensory processing disorder and visiting at Christmas

Visiting family and friends at Christmas with Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory processing disorder and visiting at ChristmasChristmas is a time when we go visiting a lot of family and friends which can be difficult for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder. But when it comes to Sensory Processing Disorder techniques to help with Christmas, what works for one individual will not necessarily work for another. You need to look at the individual’s Sensory Make-up – each of the seven senses (vision (sight), tactile (touch), auditory (hearing), gustatory (taste), Vestibular (movement & gravity), olfactory (smell) and proprioception (sense of body position, from information received through the muscles, and joints – force, speed and control) and whether there is a problem filtering with too much, too little or a mix of the two) and determine what their individual needs are based on that.

Problems visiting Family & Friends for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder at Christmas

The individual with Sensory Processing Disorder may very well not like change: The brain is already struggling to make sense of the World without added pressures of it constantly changing. At Christmas people often go visiting friends and family that they do not see regularly, which can be hard on the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder. Added to that is the environment can be greatly heightened with lights, noise, and extra people – which can be quite an overload for the resister or they may want to touch, hug squeeze more (for example) if they are a Sensory Seeker.

Sensory Processing Strategies for Coping with visiting family and friends this Christmas

Planning. If possible know as much about what is going to happen as you can. This means you can prepare. Knowing how far it is, how long you will be, what will happen, who will be there will greatly improve the likelihood of smooth visiting.

How far: Will they need something to keep them calm on the journey. We have a ds, tablet and in car dvd player.  If there is an unexpected long journey with have apps on our phone. Although this is advice for any child to stop them becoming bored when visiting family and friends, for those with Sensory Processing Disorder it can help them calm down and remain focused.

How long: Knowing how long visiting will last can help better prepare the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder. Make sure you explain things in terms they understand; for example with the use of time. It would be no use telling our Sensory Seeker that we would be visiting until 7pm, but he would understand if we told him that the visit would end by bedtime. It also helps prepare for whether other things need to be packed – do they need to take an activity, favourite toy, ipad/ds, etc – are they likely to have an “accident” and need a change of clothes packing, will they need something to ensure they eat/drink – like a special cup? Are their Sensory Issues likely to become a problem whilst they are there? Do you need to take things to help deal with those issues whilst still there (will you need a weighted blanket/lappad with you, head phones, eye mask/sunglasses, squeezy, chewy or favourite toy.

What will happen whilst visiting and who will be there: if you can talk to them before you go then they can be prepared. If it is a party situation then it may be noisy – music and party poppers, or additional lights (see this guide on parties as it will be pretty similar). Is it possible to arrange a safe place to go, do they know where the toilet is – or who they should ask about it? Will there be people they do not know? Do they know what to do if someone wants to hug or kiss them? If they do not like it may be they could offer a hi-five or to offer to shake hands instead. Have they got something to help them cope if they want to kiss/hug people more than is socially acceptable (I tend to get him to come and give me a bear squeeze instead).

If you can think of any other problems and/or solutions for visiting family and friends at Christmas for the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder then please do reply below.

Our Little Angel

Our Little Angel – The Christmas Production

Our Little AngelOur Sensory Seeker had his school Christmas production today. I guess you could say like a lot of other 5 year old boys. And that is exactly why I am writing this. Because today our Sensory Seeker wasn’t a boy with difficulties – he was a little Angel. He was no more supported than any other child in his year group and he was just fine!

Okay he may have poked the Star (character) when he was meant to be pointing at her. But her remember to point, no-one had to tell him to. No-one helped him on or off the stage. He just did it all by himself. And when he repeated the performance for the second time in the evening he kept his attention and another parent told me how well he had done.

I am so proud of how far our little Sensory Seeker has come and I am so excited about how far he has yet to travel.

Ethans Escapades

Hot Chocolate Santas – Teacher Gifts

The recipe for a successful Christmas with a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder has to be to understand their needs and fulfil them. Our Sensory Seeker thrives on structure, organisation and routine. Continuing on the theme of teacher gifts this week we made Hot Chocolate Santas. We made them for his brother’s teachers and also as a build up to a family night watching Christmas films, eating and drinking chocolate.

Things needed for Hot Chocolate Santas

Hot Chocolate SantasHot chocolate powder

Mini-Marshmallows

Cellophane (or food bags)

Glue

Cotton wool

Eyes (googly or stickers)

Red Pompom

Red Paper

Cups

Extras – chocolate drops, chocolate sprinkles, squirty cream, chocolate to eat

Method for Hot Chocolate Santas

Hot chocolate SantasTake the cellophane or food bag and make into a cone shape, secure in place. Take the red paper and roll it around your cone to make a hat. Remove the hat, secure together and glue on some cotton wool to the bottom.

Next fill the cellophane bag with hot chocolate – make sure that the bag has been properly sealed and that the powder isn’t falling out.  If you wish you can add some chocolate drops in first – this will make it less likely that the powder will fall through and will not be seen under the hat (as well as being a tasty surprise).
Hot chocolate Santa GiftsMake sure you have left plenty of room at the bottom to put lots of mini-marshmallows to represent Santa’s beard. Then sealed the cellophane closed and tie with a red, white or silver ribbon. Stick on the eyes, the red pompom as a nose and attach some cotton wool as a moustache. Pop your Santa into a mug. When ready tip the cottons into the mug with warm water and add squirty cream and sprinkles. Drink whilst snuggled up under a blanket watching Christmas films with the family.

Benefits of Making Hot Chocolate Santas for those with Sensory Processing Disorder

Hot chocolate SantasThis was beneficial for our Sensory Seeker* because it helped keep him grounded. It was good for his tactile stimulation, hand development, hand-eye co-ordination, fine motor, logic and order (knowing which ingredients to add next) speaking and listening (when asking how to do something), sense of belonging & importance. Of course he really liked the taste too and allowing him to eat the chocolate whilst doing the activity really helped keep him focused/hold his attention to the task.

*Note that The Sensory Seeker is not actually featured in this post but his older brother. the benefits of the activity still apply.
Christmas-countdown

Co-Hosted by Blue Bear Wood ~ Milk, Crafts & Honesty ~ The Sensory Seeker ~ Rainy Day Mum ~ My Little 3 and Me ~ The Gingerbread House ~ Adventures of Adam ~ The Mad House



reindeer food sensory christmas

Reindeer Christmas Crafts

Reindeer Christmas Crafts

There is nothing better than building up the excitement to Christmas with some crafting. I find that the structure also helps my Sensory Seeker cope with the sheer chaos of Christmas and lack of routine. Sven is a favourite character from the hit film Frozen and so I thought that this year our Sensory Seeker would appreciate making some reindeer Christmas crafts.

Reindeer Christmas CraftI love this little craft as it is so simple but so personal. Simply cut out the shape of the head and paint brown, whist also making 2 hand prints. Once dry glue together and add a tissue paper red nose, and two black eyes. Thread it up with a “Stop here Santa” sign and one at the back to hang up.

This was good because my Sensory Seeker LOVES to paint. And the cutting, sticking and threading is fantastic for his fine motor development.

Or what about letting them lose with tape to make a Reindeer – for a mess free craft idea. It can be made by letting them stick freestyle, or you can draw the lines on the paper for them, or they could copy from an image in front of them. Afterwards you could let them colour inside it or glue some glitter and/or Christmas shapes inside.

Or if your child has some patience then why not make a Reindeer from a toilet roll holder. We painted him brown and let him it dry, before simply adding the eyes, pompom nose and feather ears. This was part of our Toilet Roll Holder Advent from last year.

Christmas Crafts for the Sensory Seeker

Christmas Crafts for the Sensory Seeker

Christmas is a confusing time for our Sensory Seeker. All that change of routine, different stimulus, and really the lack of understanding of time. Every morning waking up wondering if it is Christmas, or if it is Christmas tomorrow? Trying to stay awake, and being absolutely over-exhausted. Our Sensory Seeker already has  eyes that are so black. You can see my previous post on Coping with Christmas when your child has Special Needs, but one of the ways is to keep busy, keep it structured, and make sure they get a sensory diet. With this in mind I give you ideas to keep your Sensory Seeker (or avoider) entertained over the Christmas period that will help them remain grounded, focused whilst aiding their development.

Christmas Crafts for the Sensory Seeker from last weeks Weekly Kids Co-op

Candy Cane Play Gel Winter Sensory Fun – The Science Kiddo Christmas Crafts for the Sensory Seeker

Easy Snowman Craft for Kids – Spark & Pook

Glittery Christmas Tree Collages – Where Imagination Grows

Christmas Reindeer Printable Activities – Enchanted Home Schooling Mom

Frozen Sleigh – Keeper of the Cheerios

Snow Dough Snowmen –  Multicrafting Mummy

Build a Snowman Busy Bag Activity – Sunny Day Family

Dipped Pine Cone Ornaments Christmas Craft – Christianity Cove

Clotherspin Manger Nativity Scene Christmas Craft – Christianity Cove

Clay Nativity Ornaments –  Crafty Moms Share

Sensory Play: How to make pretend snow in 2 easy steps – Pinch of Perfect

Christmas Sensory Bin – My Bright Firefly

How to make Olaf from a sock – Playtivities

Christmas Tree craft for Toddlers – Playtivities

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

Christmas with Special Needs

Christmas Special Needs – Adapting life to make things easier

Christmas Special Needs

Christmas special needs can make things more difficult. We have learnt that the best way to cope with it, is it to adapt things to fit with our children’s needs. My oldest, and now my youngest, son do not like the disruption to the routine (a lot less so for my oldest now, so I feel there is hope for the youngest as he ages). When my oldest was younger Christmas Special needs meant that  he did not like the absence of  doing things he liked at school (such as maths) , and it being replaced by things he did not like such as singing and dressing up. The structure was gone and the visual and auditory stimulation was high. It was such a difficult time that I really could not tell you what happened. It is all a bit of a blur. I remember that I just kept telling myself that his behaviour would settle as soon as Christmas was over, and the routines had resumed (well at least until Easter anyway). This is pretty much how things are for my youngest now. My oldest accepts the change much more easily now (he’s 17 years old the end of the month), but just wants to play computer games all the time.

Christmas Special Needs – The Christmas Dinner

Christmas with Special needs is the reason that the Christmas dinner came to happen on Christmas Eve. I really could not cope with an undiagnosed child at Christmas  Special needs ( Aspergers), cooking Christmas dinner and doing all the other Christmas things.  I was a lone parent and he was a fussy eater. Trying to encourage him to stop playing his latest game and come and eat veg was never going to happen. But by moving Christmas dinner to Christmas Eve then I could encourage him to eat with the promise of a visit from Father Christmas. It also meant that it left me free to help him deal with Christmas Day – as I was not in the kitchen cooking.

Christmas Special Needs

 Particularly advantageous if he was getting frustrated with his new toys, as well as being able to sit and encourage him play socially with me. Instead Christmas Day consists of eating foods he likes – picking on cold meat, curry snacks, fruit, chocolate, mince pies, crisps and the like, as and when (a break in the game allows). On a practical note, you can always run to the shops if you have forgotten to buy something too (like my pigs in blankets last year!) It has also become our tradition and I think it has many advantages, not just for children with special needs.

Christmas Special Needs – The Decorations

This year we have gone one step further to help cope with Christmas special needs by having not put up any of the decorations (well we have the odd one or two). We have always put the tree and everything up on the 1st December, but when I noticed my youngest son being more ‘spinny,’ distant and wetting himself at least daily, and realised that it had happened as soon as the school had their tree/decorations up I decided that we would delay it. One day he was particularly distressed (he’s really touching people a lot more) and had to come home from school, I noticed how much he settled in the non-stimulating environment. It is hard, and our 6 year old is desperate for the tree to go up – but we just discussed putting the tree up to our youngest and he went wild and hurt said 6 year old. We had to monitor him for ages after that. Luckily my husband breaks up from work on the 17th so there will be 2 of us around, allowing one to cook and one to look after him, so we are waiting to put the tree up then. If he could not have had the time off we were considering just letting the boys decorate their room (as oldest and youngest have separate rooms) and have a tree in there.

Christmas Special needs

Christmas Special Needs – Aspects of Christmas enjoyed

We thought about the aspects that they do like and those to avoid when considering Christmas special needs. All  the boys have advent calendars – which helps them count down to the big day – so there is still some excitement, preparation for it. We have taken the youngest to see Father Christmas, and got him to talk about what presents he would like. These are the aspects of Christmas that he enjoys, and plenty of dressing up too. He also has his visual aid book at school – so he still knows what to expect, to some extent, at school, and makes it feel structured for him, and let him know how much of the school day is left.

Christmas Special Needs – Rewarding the coping

We are rewarding our youngest with computer time (his favourite activity) at the end of most days, just to help him cope/focus. We are having to really be aware of his toileting, and regularly taking him, as this is an area he is really struggling with during the festive season.  I think it is important to remember that no matter how difficult we may find his behaviour is to deal with, it is a million times worse for him, that it is his inability to cope and anxieties showing.

I have not mentioned Autism in this post as it has been decided that it is not what my youngest son has. I need to write a post about that but really finding it difficult. I do still feel that whether it is consider as Autism or not then the methods used to help him remain the same so have looked on the NAS at their help with Christmas advice.

If anyone else has any help and/or advice on coping with Christmas I would really appreciate them sharing it in the comments.

See also Christmas is coming and my son is getting stressed – over on the Special Needs Jungle – talking about Christmas with her teenage son with Aspergers.