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Fitting sensory activities into the day, how do you explain to your child?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I suspect I'm over thinking this but please bear with me.

 

Last week we went for DSs assessment with the OT, as  I'd expected she identified several sensory issues, some which I had picked up on and some which I had not. She's sent a few pages of activities to do at home/school to help him.

 

DS has asked to do a couple of the deep pressure activities (he loved being made into a pizza) however I'm not sure how to introduce more of the activities. Do you set aside a time each day to go through some of them or just offer them when the child looks to need them?

 

I've bought a couple of boxes so we are going to try and sort out some "sensory" toys into one of them. He already has quite a few tangles and sqidgy things but I'm hoping having them in one place will make it easier for him to get them as he needs them.

 

Also how about school, does your child get to do any of their activities at school? I'm going to meet his teacher for next year tomorrow and I'll take the report with  me (school are supposed to get a copy but I doubt it's reached her yet) I'm wondering if she will be willing/able to incorporate some of the ideas into PE lessons.

post #2 of 10

I found having a routine and having sensory things built in right after something else (like lunch) worked well.

 

As far as school starting, is your son mainstreamed or in special ed? What grade is he in? Is he in adaptive PE? (adaptive PE at our school has tons of sensory stuff)

 

I would try to plan at least a few minutes of sensory stuff before leaving for school ---even 5 minutes after breakfast could be helpful.

 

He might also really benefit from wearing a compression vest at school. These things are AWESOME and very easy for teachers.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks, building in a few bits and pieces to our daily routine makes sense and sounds do able. I think I was just a bit thrown by the 5 or so  pages of ideas form the OT.  It's nice to have plenty of ideas but it was a bit overwhelming working out where to fit it all in! Now I realise the tick chart at the end only relates to one exercise it looks a bit less alarming.

 

We're in the UK so the school system is a bit different, DS is 6 1/2 and coming to the end of his second year of school. Not sure how that relates to the US grades. He's in mainstream with no formal support though they have an assistant in the class who works with him quite a bit.
 

The whole class does PE together, I'm not aware of any formal adaptations for individual children, I suspect informally there are quite a few. I'm planning to ask for things like DS to be given a textured ball when doing throwing and catching activities, I was surprised to see how much better his throwing and catching compared to our balls at home. I know the school have a couple of them but not enough for the whole class to use.

 

I'll have look at the compression vest, no one has mentioned that yet. I'm planning to try sewing a weighted lap pad for him though. I have some polly pellets left over from another project so it seemed a good place to start. Not sure what size to go for though as I've never seen one in person.

post #4 of 10

We have found that a life vest ( the full zip up ones), make great compression vests.  In the US you can buy them in any sporting goods store for $20-30.  You can also buy spandex running sleeves that are good for arm compression there.  

post #5 of 10

My kids attended a special needs charter school for 2 years. They had sensory breaks worked in throughout the day. Kids were also allowed to grab a "fidget" from a box to fiddle with at their desk as long as they used it as a tool, not a toy. So some putty to squish during math was fine, as long as they did their math and didn't get totally distracted by the sensory toy. They were also allowed to sit on an exercise ball or a t-stool - again, as long as it helped them do their work. In a typical classroom, as special chair pad with bumps can give some feedback and help kids sit, as can the lap pad or vest previously mentioned. Another wonderful tool is using compression shirts. These are just tight, stretch shirts that kids might wear under a sports jersey, but they provide that tactile feedback that is soothing to a kid with SPD just for everyday activities. You can find them at sporting goods stores or online. These look really fun and cute for a young child: http://funandfunction.com/by-kids-only-airplane-shirt-p-1348.html

 

I would provide the school with a small box of sensory toys. See if allowing him one during difficult times during class helps improve his ability to do his work. If not, he can perhaps take a small sensory break mid morning and mid afternoon to work with something in the box. Even just getting a drink can provide the needed break. Swinging can be very regulating too so if their are swings on the playground and your DS has has a hard morning, have the assistant encourage some swinging time at recess. Recess should never be restricted for this child. That is a discipline technique that needs to be off the table. Outside play is the most natural "sensory" activity your child has. Make sure at home and at school he has ample time outdoors! 

 

In the states, you can usually do these accommodations without an IEP, but it can help to have one. I don't know how the typically handle special needs in UK schools but I would imagine having a meeting with the teacher, assistant and principal and making a plan, official or not, would be helpful to everyone. Good luck!

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Those shirts look interesting, so far he's always wanted very loose clothing and I've avoided anything tight but I could see him going for really tight. I'll have to have a look and see what I can find locally. We also have school uniform to work around, while the school is not too fussy (head is quite accommodating and we've already abandoned shirts with collars as they irritate DS)  he can't cope with wearing something other than "school clothes" even on non uniform days. Go to school in your PJs day really threw him!

 

I defiantly want to look at a few more fidget options, he has a tangle and a chewy at school. I want to collect a few bits together into a box at home so we can see what works then we'll get stuff for school.

 

Weighted blanket is stalled for now. I know I have a huge bag of polly pellets I just can't find them!

 

I'm actually finding his school have been pretty helpful. He does have an IEP with some of his accommodations but that is very target driven (though targets are things like recognising when he needs his chewy and finding it or asking for it) however his teachers have been very open to any suggestions I've made. When I went in after his OT assessment I mentioned that they had recommended a particular pencil grip. He teacher asked if I knew the name so she could order some, when I couldn't remember she invited me to come and look at the selection of pencil grips they had in stock to see if any of them were the right sort.

 

One problem we keep hitting is the schools use of DVDs as a reward. DS hates watching films on the whiteboard, there seems to be some kid of flickering which he can't cope with, he not one for sitting watching films anyway. The result is he won't read to us in case they make him watch a film and will play up at the end of term again as their end of term treat is often a film. He's too distracted by the film to do much else while the rest of the class watch and he can't cope with going off to another class (not that I think that would be very appropriate anyway). They usually ask the kids what they want to do but it's always been the DVD that wins the vote.

 

Any ideas for more inventive class rewards would be nice as I'm struggling to think of anything much.

post #7 of 10
Quote:

Originally Posted by LaughingHyena View Post

 

One problem we keep hitting is the schools use of DVDs as a reward. DS hates watching films on the whiteboard, there seems to be some kid of flickering which he can't cope with, he not one for sitting watching films anyway. The result is he won't read to us in case they make him watch a film and will play up at the end of term again as their end of term treat is often a film. He's too distracted by the film to do much else while the rest of the class watch and he can't cope with going off to another class (not that I think that would be very appropriate anyway). They usually ask the kids what they want to do but it's always been the DVD that wins the vote.

 

 

 

On the shirts/vest -- a lot of kids with sensory issues who prefer clothing be loose really like the tightness of the compression. It's like a hug.

 

On classroom rewards -- every kid has something they find motivational, and the key is to figure out what it is for your child. Since the film is distracting by he can't leave the room, what about an activity that uses headphones (and may be get him some quality, noise cancelling ones so he can't still hear in the film) and doing something like a book on tape or a computer game. Since he would be listening on headphones, it wouldn't stop the rest of the class doing the movie. In the US, computers with learning games are common in classrooms, and most schools have selections of books on tape and the tape players in the library.   Do you think either of these might be motivational for  him and realistic in his school?

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

I've bought a couple of tight fitting UV shirts for the summer so we'll see how they go down. He could certainly wear them under something else if he gets on with them.

 

Quote:

On classroom rewards -- every kid has something they find motivational, and the key is to figure out what it is for your child

 

Even at home I'm still struggling to work out what motivates him, collecting stickers/marbles/whatever to earn a reward later certainly doesn't seem to work well. I suspect it's just not immediate enough for him. We did have some success recently with building a lego model, each time he put on his excema cream he would get to build the next step.

 

Things like staying up later or a trip or meal out are too much change in routine, I suspect this is the case for school too, extra playtime or whatever would have to be carefully fit into the routine.

 

I like the idea of wearing headphones, he loves audio books and our library has quite a selection even if the school doesn't have any so I could send something in with him. We also have an old CD walkman around somewhere if the school don't have something suitable. My other thought is that if the school could provide a space I would be happy to go in and take a small group out to play a game or do a craft project or something. I already volunteer in another class so it wouldn't be too out of the ordinary.

 

Apparently the reward policy, especially the reading reward scheme which is causing the most issues is being revised for next year so I'm hoping it will be better next year.

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaughingHyena View Post

 

Even at home I'm still struggling to work out what motivates him, collecting stickers/marbles/whatever to earn a reward later certainly doesn't seem to work well. I suspect it's just not immediate enough for him. We did have some success recently with building a lego model, each time he put on his excema cream he would get to build the next step.

 

...

 

Apparently the reward policy, especially the reading reward scheme which is causing the most issues is being revised for next year so I'm hoping it will be better next year.

 

 

Lego is great -- they also have those small lego packets. If he likes building, earning time to play with open ended building toys rather than following the directions is another option. (Lego kits could get expensive)

 

I hope the reward thing at school is better, but do talk to the teacher up front about it. A lot of kids on the spectrum aren't into the things that other kids find rewarding. Your problem is actually a pretty normal one.

 

As far as using stickers/marbles whatever, were you working with small enough amounts that he could get the reward THAT DAY, or was it something he needed to work toward for a series of days? Many kids his age really need the reward to happen the same day, even if they use stickers to increment their progress toward the reward. just a thought....

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Lego is great -- they also have those small lego packets. If he likes building, earning time to play with open ended building toys rather than following the directions is another option. (Lego kits could get expensive)

I did wonder if we were going to be forever buying kits but when we did the last step of the kit we bought he said we'd have to build something else tomorrow and that he would look through his instructions and decide which one.  So far he's been happily building through the various kits we already have.

 

I'm never sure about earning extra time with things he enjoys, there are so few things that he will happily do alone that I don't like to restrict them. To earn extra time there would presumably have to be a standard amount of time he could already play. I need to learn to be more creative in my thinking though, I wonder if he would go for time building with mum or dad.

Quote:
As far as using stickers/marbles whatever, were you working with small enough amounts that he could get the reward THAT DAY, or was it something he needed to work toward for a series of days?

The last chart we did was for the morning routine, we had all the steps written and illustrated and for completing them the kids got a sticker each day. The reward was an extra bedtime story, so still that day but obviously quite a bit later and I think for DS it was still to far to really click for him. Of course it could be that a bedtime story was simply not worth brushing his teeth for!

 

Only as I type this do I suddenly wonder if that was when the school reading scheme started. We were to tick off each night we read with him (and for the little ones havign the parents read counted). I know once he realised the reward was watching the film we haven't managed to get him to read to use in term time since!

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