Tag Archives: Sensory

newborn with cannula

The Sensory Seeker – In the Beginning

I am not sure at what point, if there is a point, our son The Sensory Seeker started to have Sensory Processing Disorder. I am not sure if anything caused or triggered it or if it is something that has just always been there. But I thought I would try to share some of his early experiences to see if anyone can identify with it – and just so you can get to know him better.

The Birth of The Sensory Seeker

The Sensory Seeker was born at 35 weeks Gestation with just gas and air using Wrigley’s forceps and a whooping 7lb 1 oz. He was also rather long and I believe that the hospital just thought that the dates were wrong. I had had contractions from around 31 weeks but told to get bed rest. I have a needle phobia so at no point did I have the steroid injections. I was also breast feeding my toddler and once this happened I had to try to really limit his feeds. In fact it was the middle of the night when he came in for a feed that my waters started to break. First a trickle but then there was no doubt as they poured out. We went to the hospital and The Sensory Seeker was born a few short hours later. Born at five thirty in the evening we were both discharged from the hospital the next morning.Newborn Sensory Seeker

The Sensory Seeker’s Weight Loss

At home The Sensory Seeker was feeding fine, but was very sleepy. I had been given no information on him coming before the 37 week full-time dates and felt that something was not right. By day 3 when the midwife came to check that he hadn’t lost more than 10% of his birth 3 he’d actually lost 13% (down to 6lb 3ozs) and we had to go straight back to the hospital. Despite constant badgering to formula feed my son I expressed my milk and fed him by first syringe and then cup – which meant I had very little sleep. We did get sent home at one point but it wasn’t long before the weight gain wasn’t satisfactory enough we were sent back in. He was put on the Billy bed (UV light) and was treated for jaundice. His blood sugar levels weren’t right either but they were the opposite way they were checking for so apparently it was ok, I later learnt that his blood sugar levels were an indication of an infection but everyone was too hung up on the fact that I was tandem feeding.baby uv treatment

His weight continued to stay low and his jaundice worsened so they added a top to the billy bed which meant that he had to have his eyes covered. It was really hard not to just be able to cuddle my sick baby too, with the only time I was able to touch him was when he was feeding – this was every 3 hours by cup. He made a tiny bit of progress and was able to move to first a normal cot, and then a side-cot attached to my bed. The whole time I was still expressing, cup feeding and feeding my other son when he came to visit. His bilirubin levels then reached an acceptable level and we were able to go back home.

The Sensory Seeker’s Infection

And then it happened. One day when he was 3 weeks old and I went to change his nappy there was just this awful puss oozing out of his belly!! Luckily there was a clinic running across the road and the midwife saw us straight away who said to take him straight to the hospital. No-one really said anything to me but a cannula was put into my tiny baby’s arm immediately – and he was pumped up with 3 different types of antibiotics. We were sent to another hospital and there he continued the IV antibiotics and returned back to his birth weight at last. His weight has been fine ever since.newborn with cannula

I am not sure if these early experiences have been the cause of his sensory issues or whether he would have had them anyway. But I do think it shows that from the off he has always been a fighter. A strong little man.

inclusion means not being different

Inclusion means not being Different

Inclusion what do schools think that means? I recently went to The Sensory Seeker’s annual review of his EHCP to find out that his school means that they don’t want him to be different. I guess it is a feeling of once again coming back to rubbish parenting really, as it sounded like that the only thing causing any problems is him being treated in a way not like the others! They said that even with a one-to-one teacher he hasn’t made “extra” progress (just in-line with his peers) and that actually he needs to be encouraged to be more “independent.”inclusion means not being different

They did not seem to even understand Sensory Processing Disorder (which unfortunately is not a diagnosed condition in the UK) so it is no wonder that they don’t “get” that his one-to-one helps The Sensory Seeker deal with sensory input that may distract him and need his focus brought back. In fact the SENCO and his teaching assistant didn’t seem to think he had ANY sensory needs at school – which I found really surprising. They were thinking about just taking that section out of his EHCP all together. I thought that there was no point in arguing with them after I tried to explain some of his difficulties, because they just said it did not happen. Or well, that time he was hugging someone else all the time was okay because that person wanted him to do it. Of course the good old social stories came up – as obviously if he understood that he couldn’t just go around touching people then that tactile need will just disappear!sensory processing disorder

His EHCP actually has good guidance in it about his Sensory Issues from the Occupational Therapist, but because they discharged us they no longer come to the meetings. I can’t even really get her involved whilst the school are saying there aren’t any issues either! Luckily his class teacher was able to quickly pop in to the meeting at the time we were just about to move on to the next bit of the EHCP. She was then asked about The Sensory Seeker’s sensory issues (in a tone that he did not have any). But, thankfully, straight away she said that yes he clearly did and came up with an example straight away. In fact, ironically, it was to do with their sensory time where a few children go off to practice writing. She said that music was played to help them feel calm – but actually it stopped The Sensory Seeker from concentrating. That he was able to let her know it was a problem. The SENCO again was immediately in the frame of mind of not wanting him to be “different” so asked what the teacher did to resolve it. The teacher explained that they just turned the music off! That they didn’t *need* it. It is a shame that next year not only isn’t she his class teacher but she is leaving to go on to another school.party planning sensory processing disorder

We will have to see how things go in year 4 because I am concerned that they are just knocking his confidence by ignoring his sensory needs and treating him no differently – such as setting him the same homework as the others for example. And then when it is not complete (because he has struggled with it so much, or not in the right sensory frame when he has come home) he is then punished (like the other children) by missing break times. I fear that this will then further impact his social skills and relations with his peers -especially as he becomes more aware of things such as being the only child not invited to parties. They have also mixed up the children in his year group and this change has already upset him. Unfortunately he was sick and missed move up day too – so we shall have to see how it goes. It isn’t all bad however, and I am not blaming the school it is because the knowledge just isn’t there. Things I mentioned (such as his inability to use a dictionary as he does not know the alphabet) they tried to help straight away. He seems to have a good relationship with his TA and in our opinion has helped him come on leaps and bounds.

Sensory Help in the Bathroom

Sensory Help in the Bathroom

When we redesigned our bathroom we had to really stop and think about our youngest son’s disability. We took him along to make sure he approved of the colour scheme and had some real issues adjusting him to a square toilet. Our son’s needs are sensory as he has sensory processing disorder and rather individual to him. More physical needs can affect not just the disabled but the elderly too so it is useful to find solutions for their bathroom.

Sensory Help in the Bathroom

I felt mindfulness really helped me understand what the Sensory Seeker needed in the bathroom. I found that even the slightest tilt of my head under the shower can make the noises sound very different. This gave me an insight into the fact that even small changes can make a big sensory difference.Sensory Help in the Bathroom Sensory Processing Disorder is different for each individual and it can be every time they enter the bathroom, depending on their sensory diet that day. Knowing if The Sensory Seeker would be effected by colours, smells, touch or temperature etc are very important factors in encouraging him into the bathroom, and then using the products he needs when in there (see also my posts about brushing his teeth and washing his hair).Brushing Teeth & Sensory Processing Disorder

I previously wrote about Sensory Processing and Bathtime problems – but have since discovered additional solutions you can have added into a bath that may help with sensory issues such as Chromotherapy and Echo. Chromotherapy is based on light therapy and uses a visible spectrum of colours which help the body harmonise the emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. The colours can be fixed or run through a cycle of seven. Not only is this useful is you have a visually sensory seeker but it also encourages the mind and body to relax. Whilst Echo is a sound therapy which utilises sounds and music to create a relaxing environment. It works wirelessly from a music player using Bluetooth technology, with simple volume controls at the fingertips of the user. Again great for the auditory sensory seeker but also relaxing for mind and body.

Do you have any other helpful hints when it comes to the bathroom?

 

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.

Sensory Soap: Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap RangeDo you have trouble when it comes to keeping your child with Sensory Processing Disorder clean? This may be because they are sensory avoiders and do not like touch, or they may be sensory seekers and always touching things (for more information see my previous post on Sensory Processing Disorder: The Tactile Sense). Either way Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap might just be the answer you have been looking for.

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap Range

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap RangeThey have a range of bath paints, bubble baths (colour changing/glitter), goo, bath crayons, soaps (that you can mould to make shapes out of!), body paints (let that Sensory seeker go wild whilst actually getting clean!).

With smells to tingle the senses and fun characters to really appeal to their visual nature – what’s not to love?

And of course it is all soap in one form or another so it is getting them clean at the same time. But the real beauty of it is that it is cleaning itself up!

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap Range

I think they’d make an ideal present for their stockings, or to help fulfill the additional sensory needs triggered by the festive season. They also have little characters on the tops of the bottles for an additional tactile feel – and they are designed to be played with in the water.

I also liked how this developed my Sensory Seeker’s hands as he played with the products – from undoing bottles, to developing his pouring technique (hand-eye co-ordination, estimation of how fast the liquid would pour out, tilting his hand back0; then squeezing on the flannels and sponges, to helping his fine motor development with the crayons.

Sensory Soap: Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap

Sensory Soap

Of course soap products are not just suitable for those with Sensory Processing disorder, and are just as much fun for all children, covering such a huge variety of ages.

 

This can really help other children (friends and family perhaps) get a better understanding of say a sensory seeker – as they join in the fun of covering themselves in soap.

I was invited to Hamley’s in London with my youngest 3 children (including my Sensory Seeker) to have a messy play date with Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap and see their new designs.

Sensory Soap

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap RangeI thought that it was great to see the products being demonstrated without the bath – as this is just perfect for me  as he often wants to touch things (or again if you have a sensory avoider who does not like the bath, this could be a small step in).

Sensory Soap: Kids Stuff ® Crazy SoapThis was achieved by giving the children aprons and goggles for protection. Then there were a number of stations set up – with bowls, flannels, water, the products, and others had white boards to draw on, special bath colouring in books and crayons, flannels, sponges – and all manner of sensory experiences.

I could see this as a great idea for a Sensory soap party.

Our travel expenses were paid to attend the event at Hamley’s but I was under no obligation to write this post. I think they are an absolutely marvelous product and they really helped my Sensory Seeker as he was struggling with all the changes (it was Half Term Holidays). I thoroughly recommend them to other parents – both those who are and aren’t having difficulties with Sensory Processing Disorder.

The Sensory Seeker

We make sense of the World around us through our senses. We process so much information – about the sounds, smells, textures, our position, what we can hear, how much we are moving, and so on, and then the brain filters out which bits of information we need right now. They then tell us how to respond appropriately. For example, if we take a sip of coffee that is too hot, the senses will tell us not to drink it, to move the cup away from us – what position our body is in, in order to do this. We develop preferences for things, as some sensory input works better for some rather than others. For example, some people may work better listening to music, and others prefer the quiet.

Sometimes this can be harder than others, and can depend on your mood. For example, you may find it harder to ignore that annoying sound when you are trying to concentrate on something difficult, and when you are particularly tired.

Those with Sensory Processing Disorder have difficulty with the brain filtering out the bits it does not need. The first thing to do when you suspect Sensory Processing Disorder is to keep a diary. Consider things to do with the 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).

Keep track of when things are good, and when things are not so good. Consider whether the sense may be experiencing too much of something or not enough. What things help to diffuse the situation and what things help in maintaining a happy balance? Make sure you think about the times of day – does it always happen in the mornings? Does it only happen after they’ve been energetic?

Sensory Processing Disorder can affect many aspects of life including hygiene, sleeping, diet, relationships, self-esteem, danger, health, and education. Sensory Processing Disorder never goes away but it can be managed by a good Sensory diet. The earlier it is detected the better. There are many different Sensory Aids available to help.

Seekers often do not sense the movement/noise/touch etc and therefore need to make it themselves, (this is because the brain tells them that there is not enough input from these senses). They may have trouble sitting still and being quiet, always fidgeting and making noises. They may lick or touch things – even if this is a health and safety hazard.

Ways to help the Sensory Seeker:

  • Foods with flavour
  • Fizzy Drinks
  • Chewy Toys
  • Straws
  • Bubbles
  • Opportunities to move- the park, trampolines, etc
  • Fidget toys
  • Playdoh
  • Weighted blanket
  • Compression vest
  • Deep Bath
  • Space hopper
  • Various colours
  • Fluorescent lighting
  • Cluttered room
  • Artificial lights
  • Changing colour lights
  • Noisy toys
  • Mirrors
  • Fragrant toiletries
  • Electric toothbrush
  • Resistance tunnel or body sock
  • Offer different smells
  • Chewy and crunchy foods
  • Hats or hooded sweater
  • Encourage jumping
  • Lots of teddies in bed
  • Bear hugs
  • Messy play
  • Compression gloves
  • Vibrating pillow
  • Heavy work
  • Different textures to play with
  • MP3 player