Tag Archives: sensory seeker

sensory processing disorder italy

Visiting Italy with Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder in Italy was always going to be a bit different than at home but The Sensory Seeker coped amazingly well during our stay.Of course there were times when he just didn’t cope, but there are some things I think made it easier for him and other things that I wish I had known before we left for Italy, that would have made things better for all of us. The main thing for us was to just make allowances: Letting him sleep in bed with us some nights whilst we were in Italy for example. Obviously every individual with Sensory Processing Disorder is different but hopefully some of this will help if you are planning on travelling to Italy.sensory processing disorder italy

Flying with Sensory Processing Disorder – What we learnt on our travels to Italy

So our flight to Italy was the first time we had taken the boys on a plane. The hardest part was the fact that the electrical devices need to have battery to go through security so the boys were unable to play with their iPods and 3DSs until we then and we weren’t prepared to risk them having them confiscated. In hindsight I wish we had taken the in-car DVD players – these could have been used in the car and again once we were at the resort (as there was no television) and they could have been packed in the hold. You should take into consideration the time of the flight – would it be easier if it was at a time when the child will be likely to sleep (remember this could be delayed and they could be overtired in the airport). Luckily our flight to Italy wasn’t a long one (or shouldn’t have been before all the delays). We did not take advantage of the flight’s special assistance but this means that we could have had priority boarding so that it was not as chaotic and noisy when he went on the plane. Saying that in Gatwick Airport we went through Family Security and this was much less of a wait and felt less intimidating than other security checks I have previously been through.

Tips for flying to Italy with a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Obviously have some entertainment that does not involve plugging in – a book, crayons, LEGO etc.
  • Give them a lollipop for take-off – this will help with their ears as well as giving them something to distract themselves with.
  • Decide whether you think they would be better with a window seat or not, if they need extra room, or easy access to the toilet when booking your seats.
  • Carry a charger (and adapter plug) with you – all the trains have somewhere to charge your devices and in Pisa airport there was free charging (with a lighting cable).
  • Of course let them know what is happening and what to expect in advance. The Sensory Seeker was selected through security and had to take his shoes off. I think because we had talked about everything with him it made it much easier. Speaking of explaining things we were delayed by 2 and a half hours on the way there and 3 hours on the way back – although we were past security and the electrical devices were able to be utilised (and charged) so this wasn’t a problem for us.
  • We took special things – a travel cushion, a soft throw and his favourite teddy.Flying with Sensory Processing Disorder

Things to consider in Italy with Sensory Processing Disorder

I think it is good to discuss things that are not quite the same – such as crossing the road. We discovered that just because you are crossing the road on black and white lines does not mean that the drivers have to stop! Here are some tips from our visit:

  • Plan where you are going and figure out where the toilets are. Book in advanced where possible (on the train this also means you do not have to validate your ticket before getting on). This can not only save you money but time too – some of the queues are actually really hideous. Find out which places are busy and which are quieter. You have to pay for toilets, so carry plenty of euros and 50 cents with you. I wish we had put on a map where they were located too.
    • AttractionTix offer a range of discounted and beat the queue attraction offers: We chose to review the Rome Hop on Hop off Cruise. As there was a bar and toilet on board it meant that we could literally hop on if The Sensory Seeker needed the toilet desperately without having to worry about where to find one. Getting on and off the cruise was straight forward and simple and The Sensory Seeker loved the narrative about the area as we went round. Particularly when we were near where Romulus and Remus were left in a basket on the Tiber River as babies (which he had learned about in school). It also allowed him to sit and calm down as we were taken around closer to the next major attraction we wished to visit. Children under 10 years old are also free! Just be careful when going upstairs as if they are too seeking they could end up going overboard.Rome Hop on Hop off Cruise
  • Be aware of the street sellers. One guy came and put necklaces on the boys for “free” and tied a piece of string around my arm even though I kept telling him no. They he was quite forceful saying he needed money for food. My husband gave him back the necklaces and we gave a euro for the string as I couldn’t get it off – he was still trying to get money out of us, but my husband was quite verbally forceful back. This experience was unpleasant for all of us but particularly The Sensory Seeker. They seemed to be where the tourist attractions are most. Try to avoid eye contact and do not get into conversation with them.
  • Italians do not eat at the same time as us here in the UK. At 5pm we found that they had not long closed up from lunch and could not get dinner. Supermarkets we personally fund difficult to locate and a sandwich meal deal cost us almost as much as eating out in a restaurant!italian food
  • Checkout the weather – we went in April and it was warm enough for us with just a bit of rain but did get really chilly on some nights. The mornings start out really bright though – but most places had wooden blinds blacking it out.
  • The sirens sound different in Italy – maybe listen on YouTube before you go so it is not so startling. Or use the headphones/ear-defenders.

Tips for sight-seeing in Italy with Sensory Processing disorder

  • First of all have a clear plan so that they know what to expect and when. Try to let them have input into what goes into this. For example if they just want to go swimming maybe you could incorporate that into the afternoon or evening for them.
    • Give them opportunities to allow them to do what they need with their bodies – run, spin, swim etc. Parks are good for this (and obviously swimming pools).
    • Ensure you plan in some quiet areas to take a break from noise/busy tourist areas.
    • Listen to them – our son needed breaks and said it was because his toe hurts. I am pretty sure that actually he was sensory overloaded and needed a time out.
  • Establish clear rules of what behaviour is expected and any rewards/consequences. In our case this largely involved a lot of Gelato!gelato - the best in the World in Italy
    • They may be unable to deal with their feelings (and possibly become upset or aggressive). Be aware that they may regress (eating with their fingers, need reminding to go to the toilet). Remember that this is a big deal for them and try not to chastise them for their behaviour, instead try and find ways to help them cope. We know that with The Sensory Seeker letting him talk about his favourite computer game helped him calm down. You can also use hand gestures to get your message across, when they do not appear to be responding verbally, or carry visual aids.
      • Don’t beat yourself up if you did get stressed though – it is hard for us parent/carers too and we are only human. You sometimes may wish to explain why they are licking the locks on the public toilet! The nearest thing I could find is: “Mio figlio non e’ cattivo. E’ autistico. Per favore, siate comprensivi” Which translates to “My son is not being naughty. He is a child with autism/He is autistic. Please show some understanding.”
    • Consider carrying packed lunches so they can be eaten in quieter locations – and it will alleviate the problem of finding somewhere to eat when they are hungry. Alternatively there are many Pizzerias where you can buy pizza/sandwiches take-away. If you carry a water bottle you can also have an instant drink – plus there’s water fountains around to refill them too.
      • You could get the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder to carry the bag for the pressure (weighted work).
        • Also pack ear-phones; a hat and sunglasses; something to do with their hands/keep them occupied (maybe a map to hold or a toy).

If you have any questions or experiences about visiting Italy with Sensory Processing Disorder I would love to hear them in the questions below.

 

Thanks to AttractionTix for the Hop on Hop off Cruise.

Why a trip to The Forest is good for those with Sensory Processing Disorder

Why a trip to The Forest is good for those with Sensory Processing Disorder

The Forest is a great place for someone with Sensory Processing Disorder and visiting a Forestry Commission site means that there are toilets, a café, parking and a park too. Suitable all year round both day and night, here are some of the reasons that I believe that it is a great place for Sensory Seekers and Sensory Avoiders.Why a trip to The Forest is good for those with Sensory Processing Disorder

Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and The Visual Sense (vision/seeing)

Visually there is so much to see in The Forest, but without it being too much (with the colours being mostly shades of green and browns). I do like how each time The Forest can be visited it may be different as the seasons change, giving something new to look out for, whilst providing that security of routine. Likewise The Forest gives the option of moving into the shade/dark or coming out into the open for more light. The Forest also has opportunities for getting really up close to things – as well as viewing them from a distance. You could even visit on a dark evening and take glow sticks.

Tonight's late night activity involved heading to the forest for a picnic dinner and stickman games.

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

Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and  The Auditory Sense (Hearing)

The Forest is a great place for the auditory sense because it can be so quiet – or so noisy depending on how you need it. Listen to gentle sounds like leaves crunching, birds, taping twigs, the wind, water – or for those that need it, make loud noises!

Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and The Proprioception (Sense of body position, from information received through the muscles, and joints – force, speed and control) 

The Forest gives them the opportunity to explore Proprioception – allowing different body positions using fallen/cut trees, or (carefully) hang from a branch, exploring going fast or slow, and even things like pouring water into a cup – as it does not matter if it spills over on to the floor.Why a trip to The Forest is good for those with Sensory Processing Disorder

Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and The Vestibular Sense – Movement and Balance/Gravity

The Forest is great for a Seeker in the Vestibular sense – with plenty of places to jump, spin, do star jumps, skip, hop, dance, play tag and run about. Do be careful with them taking excessive risks with climbing though – however we found that most of the trees were not climbable with the lower branches removed. The Forest is also suitable for taking bikes and scooters too. There is plenty of opportunity to practise their co-ordination, gross and fine motor skills. Or there’s the option of Go Ape.

Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and Olfactory (smell)

I think that The Forest is good in terms of smell as there are scents to enjoy/experience but it is not overwhelming. If more smell is required you could bring a scent with you that they can hold and sniff when needed.

Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and Tactile (touch)

The Forest offers lots of things to touch (mainly on their own terms too). There are trees, leaves, mud, water, flowers, mushrooms, stones, moss, pinecones, acorns, etc, etc. If you are feeling really brave (and I suggest spare clothes) why not let Seekers go barefoot – and splash in muddy puddles. If they are avoiders you can gently encourage them to try a range of new textures and sensations on small parts of their body and slowly build it up (eg start with finger tips until they can touch it with their whole hand). Seekers will be happy to walk around carrying as many sticks as they can too!Why a trip to The Forest is good for those with Sensory Processing Disorder

Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and Gustatory (taste)

Of course it is best not to eat things that you do not know what they are – but The Forest is a perfect place for a picnic and there are tables provided. Bring their favourite foods and make the day more special.

Can you think of any other ways a trip to The Forest is good for those with Sensory Processing Disorder?

For more information if you wonder if your child has Sensory Processing Disorder please read this post.

 

I receive free parking passes and material from the Forestry Commission. Words and opinions are honest and my own.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)

Touch – Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)Touch is the area that sent off the biggest alarm bells for us that our son had Sensory Processing Disorder. I say us it was the Pediatrician who first noticed it, as we struggled to peel him from stroking her shiny tights. We had completely missed the fact that he loved to cover himself in paint, and stroke people’s faces – we just thought that it was his age.

Sensory Processing Disorder is when the information we constantly received by the seven senses is misinterpreted by the brain when it is processed. Sometimes our brains say there is TOO MUCH information coming in, and sometimes NOT ENOUGH. One of the areas this happens in is that of the Tactile sense – or touch.

Does your Child have Sensory Processing Disorder problems in the Tactile Sense (Touch)?

They may have problems with too much, too little or a mix of the two.

Signs of Too Much

Avoiding Touch

• Going barefoot, especially in sand or on grass, wearing sunscreen, hats, messy play with hands & feet (sand, mud, finger-paint). We often find a compromise of letting him wear sandals (no socks) even in Winter helps. Look out for any tags or labels on clothing/ hats that might bother them. Consider types of fabrics most preferred by the child. Use natural fibres e.g. cotton. Wash clothing before wear. Seam-less socks & underwear brands: online www.sensorydirect.com; or http://www.fledglings.org.uk sensorysmart.co.uk

They become distressed during hair-brushing or cutting (our son was actually physically sick when he felt the hair fall and touch his skin. He is getting better but it is usually a case of one parent restraining him whilst the other just gets on with it (shaving in the case of hair). Allow the child as much control & independence as possible (e.g. control force & duration of own tooth-brush). Give warning prior to a disliked activity & talk them through it. Let them know how long until activity is finished (e.g. brush hair for the length of a favourite song/ use a timer set for 1 minute). Touch FIRMLY but gently. Light touch= startling. FIRM touch= calming. Always approach from the front. Warn them before you touch them. Use mirrors (e.g. hair-brushing, cutting, nail cutting, teeth brushing) so the child can see what is happening & increase control. The brushing technique helps with personal grooming. Avoid fans or vents blowing directly on child.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)They use finger-tips instead of their whole hand. Give opportunities to play but without their hands e.g. touch play-dough/ paint with a brush/ spoon etc. before fingers. Slowly build them up – ie just started with finger-tips, then fingers, and reward them for trying it. Even let them play with their food.

They complain of being poked or bumped (this was common for both my oldest and youngest not understanding how much pressure people had used when touching them).  They over-react to touch – e.g. lashes out. They avoid standing in line or close to others. They walk on their toes. They prefer to be in a protected place e.g. in a corner/ under a table. Pair them with a child that won’t prod or poke them. Have designated spots on the mat (e.g. carpet squares).Get the child to be the line starter/ ender/ hold the door.

Not Enough – The Sensory Seeker

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense) They touch people & objects to the point of irritating them (our Sensory Seeker is forever holding people’s faces in his hands).

• They like people to touch him/ her (fantastic for cuddles).

• They are constantly touching other people’s hair or clothing (or just general touching – good idea to carry wipes. Do you have any idea how dirty the Tube is in London Underground but he HAD to touch it, then he didn’t want the black all over his hands and tried to rub it off on a stranger!!!!)

• They love to be barefoot (barefoot trails are just heaven).

• They pinch, bites, or hurts self (and/or others).

• They have a really high pain & temperature threshold.

• They hit or bang their head on purpose.

• They throw themselves on the ground.

• They enjoy rough play.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)How to Help

• Allow them to fiddle with something that is appropriate & doesn’t distract others e.g. a pasta necklace/ bracelet; elastic necklace/ something with resistance. We have tags at the end of his weighted blanket. Allow a fidget toy in their pocket during seated time (e.g. car rides, mat time). *May need a social story to teach rules of use. Provide a squeeze/ stress ball for times that may be difficult.

• Be specific with words- “if you want to touch something- you touch …. Bracelet/ squeeze ball etc. so they have an alternative to their behaviour.

• Select highly textured clothing & lots of accessories e.g. head-bands, wrist-bands, belts.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)Provide textured blankets or sheets for sleeping. We have surrounded him with teddies in his bed to aid night times as he was waking a lot and kept getting in or bed. But there he would really annoy us. There’s no other way to describe it – tickling, even scratching and kicking us – just really needing to get some sort of sensory touch input from us.

• Give opportunities to learn through touch experiences e.g. sand play, water play, messy play, finger-paints. Add textures to toy surfaces e.g. sand in finger-paints.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)Products & Resources:

www.sensorytdirect.com

www.fledglings.org.uk

www.sensorywarehouse.com

www.specialneedstoys.co.uk

www.sensorysmart.co.uk

Many thanks to the Children’s Occupational Therapy Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust for supply this information and granting me permission to use it. This post is a redraft of a post previously published on Pinkoddy.

Vestibular Sensory Seeker - Movement and balance

Movement: Do you have a Sensory Seeker in the Vestibular Sense?

The Sensory Seeker: Vestibular – (Movement & Balance)

Vestibular Sensory Seeker - Movement and balanceOne of the areas of Sensory Processing Disorder is trouble with the Vestibular sense (that is movement to you and me). My Sensory Seeker is one of the ones who just cannot get enough movement (it also linked to balance but we will talk in terms of movement to keep it simple). One of the things people comment is does he have ADHD – because he is always on the go. Even when playing computer games he is constantly jumping (and I mean for ages), or if he has managed to sit down he is tapping his foot on the floor. He spins around on the spot or tips himself upside-down (usually a headstand on my sofa). He has always been an excessive risk taker – with no fear of heights and climbing really high even when he was really young.

How can you tell that you have a Sensory Seeker in the Vestibular Sense (Movement/Balance):

  • Rock while standing or sitting
  • Constantly fidgeting/tapping
  • Always on the go!
  • Jump & bounce a lot
  • Can’t sit still in the car/ on the mat
  • Rocking/ movement seems to be the only way to calm them (babies)
  • Seek out intense movement activities e.g. moving toys, merry-go-rounds, adult spinning, see-saws, hanging upside down
  • Take excessive risks with moving or climbing
  • Become overly excitable during movement activities
  • Runs rather than walks
  • Is fast but not always well-coordinated

Meeting the needs of The Sensory Seeker for Movement/Balance:

Basically provide as many opportunities for movement as possible. Big movements, not precise as your Sensory Seeker may struggle with this. Encourage movement throughout the day, star jumps, skipping, hopping,  dancing (musical statutes is good for the balance part), sing songs with actions etc – something that does not take long and can easily be fitted in wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Try to encourage back & forth movement rather than circular though, as it is more calming. Give them chores which require them to move around (setting the table, vacuuming, setting the table)

Outdoor Activities to encourage Movement/Balance:

outdoor movement opportunities for the sensory seekerOutdoor play is a really good idea – especially if they get a good chance to run. Before school my Sensory Seeker often goes on the trampoline (we have a 14ft so there’s lots of room for plenty of movement). I walk the boys to school – well I walk, my 7 year old rides his bike and my Sensory Seeker goes on his scooter. We found that a 3 wheeled scooter was much easier for him than a bike. Play games with movement – a favourite here is tag, plus we have a swing ball in the back garden. Go for walks – we like to make them more interesting for example by going at night and taking glow sticks. Give them a section of the garden to dig and tend to. Or you may want to think about getting a dog and have your Sensory Seeker take it for walks.

Days out or Activities to help the Sensory Seeker with Movement

I like to keep all my boys active anyway, so it is easy to incorporate movement into our activities.  Swimming is good for movement and our Sensory Seeker has a weekly lesson. This is not only good for meeting his movement needs but teaching him a life skill. Rock climbing is another good activity, our local center has special lessons for younger children as well as free climbing times. We love to visit theme parks and other day trips/activities that gives the Sensory Seeker plenty of opportunity for movement (spinning, being tipped upside-down, etc). Other ideas include bowling, ice-skating, canoeing. Our Sensory Seeker absolutely loved Go Ape – plenty of movement and balance.

I would love to hear about other ideas you have for encourage movement into the daily lives of children, to help my Sensory Seeker with his Vestibular sense.

This page was originally featured on Pinkoddy but has been updated for this blog.

kryptonite sensory play

Kryptonite Sensory Play with Superman and Doctor Octopus

Kryptonite Sensory Play

I do find that if my son has plenty of opportunities to fulfil his sensory needs throughout the day, it places him in a better mood and helps him sleep at night. The best way to get and keep his attention is to utilise his interests. Currently he is loving Superheroes and Villains, and we recently made a Batcave and dressed up.

kryptonite sensory play

I got the idea for Kryptonite Sensory Play from an idea we used at Halloween with frozen spiders. I knew that my son would love just a frozen lump of green coloured water labelled as Kryptonite. I like how quickly water freezes too, if he mentions that he’d like to do Kryptonite Sensory play in the morning I can have a block made up for when he gets home from school.

kryptonite sensory play

The sun has begun to shine more lately,  and I knew that the Kryptonite Sensory Play would be ideal outside (if not I would have done it in a nice warm bath). Coupled with one of his favourite superheroes (Superman) and villain (Doctor Octopus) he set to work on destroying the Kryptonite. First he bashed it with his characters and noticed that it went all slushy. He loved the Sensory feel when touching it on the bottom of Doctor Octopus’ feet. I liked how not only did he get his sensory needs met, but it really helped his speech and language, as he tried to explain to me what was happening to the Kryptonite.

kryptonite sensory play

And after he bashed it with his characters, and had a feel of the coldness (he loves cold), he then decided to use his feet.

kryptonite sensory play

And he stamped and he stamped and he stamped. Until the Kryptonite was no more. This was great for his proprioception, as well as learning a bit about the science behind the ice breaking up. I am hoping that as we play this game more and more it will develop. Maybe using the characters more to tell a story.

kryptonite sensory play
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

crazy soap review

Crazy Soap Bath time fun #Review

Bath time fun crazy soap review

As a Seeker my son loves bath times and the extra sensory input that it can provide. So when the opportunity arouse to add a little bath time fun by testing out a range of products in the  Crazy Soap range we were delighted to try them out.

bath time fun with crazy soap puppets 

Fun is an important part of bath time – it makes the experience more enjoyable, and provides opportunities for learning. So we were delighted to see that the Crazy Soap Colour Changing Bubble Bath and Crazy Soap Shake & Sparkle Foam Bath both came with finger puppets on the lids.

blue bath with bubbles to make things more fun

The colour changing bubble bath has the description that the clever chameleon has conjured up  a jungle spell – and indeed as the mix went into the bath it was orange and change to blue. If I’m honest, in the bath this happened far too quickly for my son to notice. He did like a blue bath but maybe a smaller amount of water might be more effective to get the colour changing effect.

We are good in that we reuse our water, and so when adding the Shake & Sparkle there were concerns that the boys would end up sparkling (by not getting it out of their hair). They need not have worried and we could hardly see the sparkles – but again may be this would be effective in a jam jar for a snow globe at Christmas. You could tell that the bubbles did indeed sparkle though. This can be picked up from Boots for £2.49 or 249 points (and you can collect 8 points with the purchase).

sensory seeker covering himself in black paint

Crazy Soap benefiting the child with Sensory Processing Disorder in the Tactile Sense

I should have realised a long time ago that my son was a sensory seeker, but I just thought that he was young and being my fourth that I was more relaxed. See the thing is that every time there’s paint about he tends to end up painting himself (as he is a seeker in the sense of touch). He loves to cover ever little bit of his hands, then work up his arms, and then anywhere I’m brave enough to let him continue – including his face!

So I don’t know who was more delighted to receive some Crazy Soap Bath Time Body Paint as part of a set of Crazy Soap products to review.

bath time fun crazy soap blue paint

We had blue – and you can mix it with other colours – not that we got a chance to find out, as my little sensory seeker took the tub and covered himself in it. Maybe he was trying to make himself as a Smurf. Luckily this paint is for the bath so I didn’t need to worry about any mess (although it was unfortunate that it was quickly washed away too).

Bath time fun crazy soap blue paint drawn to make a letter k on back

He giggled away as I painted a letter K on his back – as a Seeker he absolutely loved the sensation of the touch on his skin, and the smell is so gorgeous. All this whilst it was actually cleaning him too!

We also tried the Crazy Soap Bathtime Fun Soap and he loved the feel of it moulded to his foot.

Bath time fun crazy soap moulded on foot

The soap can be shaped into anything you wanted – so we did a letter K for his name (I decided it was wasting the soap to do his whole name to be honest).

bath time fun crazy soap moulded into a letter k

I received the products mentioned for free in order to review them. All thoughts and opinions are my own.