Therapy Time or Play Time?

Play time can easily become therapy time for toddlers. Playing is the way that all babies and toddlers learn about the world around them, that’s why play time is so important. When we work with Kaleb on his speech, we do it through play. Though asking questions sometimes comes naturally while you’re playing with a toddler, it doesn’t really help them if they have a speech delay.

For example, if I ask Kaleb “What color is that ball?” or “Where does the car go?” he wouldn’t know how to respond to me. I can’t ask him to give me the answers, so it’s best I speak to him and give him the words he needs to learn while he’s focused in an activity. The best way to approach it would be through one of the following three methods:

Self talk – focuses on what you’re doing
Ex. I’m rolling the ball. I’m pushing the car.
Parallel talk – focuses on what he’s doing
Ex. You are pulling the truck. You are throwing the ball.
Descriptive talk – focuses on the object

Ex. The car is red. The ball is rolling.

Sometimes we just focus on specific words. We’ll place him on his swing and work on “go” and “stop”.  He loves to swing and spin. He also gets a kick out of the sudden stops, so he’ll sit on his swing for a long time going through this. I found an older video showing this type of approach. He was with his I.T.D.S.* doing therapy, which at this point consisted of playing with bubbles. This video is many weeks old, he had just learned to say the word “bubble” (probably his fifth word at the time). If he wanted more bubbles, he’d have to repeat the word. It’s a great way to practice new words and consonant sounds.

*I.T.D.S. – Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist. This is the first therapist that Kaleb started seeing. Her name is Evelyn and Kaleb loves her. He warmed up to her right away when they met, which was a shock because he was extremely anti-strangers at the time. She still works with his weekly and we’ve noticed improvements with his speech using easy steps she has taught us.

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Posted by MommyMonster

I work full time and blog part time. My husband is a stay at home dad. We have an amazing and adorable two year old toddler. He’s smart and sneaky enough to use it against us. He has the most contagious giggle you’ll ever hear. He has more energy than we know what to do with. He does most of his communicating through signs because of a speech delay. He also has Sensory Processing Disorder, he is a major sensory seeker and was recently diagnosed with high functioning autism.
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Track Meet Sensory Showdown

Last winter we had a sensory showdown at an indoor track meet. It was a little too cold to play outside, so I decide that Haydn and I were going to go to an indoor track meet.

That’s right, I said “indoor track meet” –  High “echo-ey” ceilings, fluorescent lighting buzzing overhead, the cacophony of teenage runners, screaming coaches… the glorious organized chaos that IS an indoor track. I am going to take my five year old son – perhaps you’ve heard of him – the little guy with Asperger Syndrome and Sensory Processing Disorder (supersonic-sensitive hearing, among other things) into this maelstrom of noise and excitement. Continue reading

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Mixing SPD and Type 1 Diabetes

English: mbbradford, i made this image myself

My seven-year-old daughter, Madeline, has Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune disorder that has destroyed her pancreas’ ability to produce insulin. She also has Sensory Processing Disorder, which mainly affects her ability to register and respond to vestibular and tactile input. The marriage of these two conditions is nothing short of a horror show, a fact that is difficult for most people to comprehend. Continue reading

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GASP!!! Special Ed!

When your child is born, MOST people don’t expect any serious complications or any disabilities. I say most because some people get testing done while they are pregnant that tells them their child will be born with a disability and are able to prepare for their child’s arrival. Which I think is awesome. But MOST of us expect a happy, healthy baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes.

According to the March of Dimes about 8 million children are born each year in the world with “birth defects.” These are the more severe disabilities that are sometimes genetic, sometimes because of prematurity or poor diet and sometimes just happen. These are the ones you can see right away.

Then there are people who have a happy healthy child. Who see small differences in them, but the children make all the “milestones” – sometimes even early. Whose child is smart and funny and talented and energetic. Whose child sometimes have a hard time with certain things, but who figure the child is just special or different in their own way. Then the child goes to preschool, and it is suggested they be tested for special education.

My son is one of those children. Continue reading

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Jacket Fail: The Ongoing Oddysey of Winter Coat Meltdowns

Just when I think I have Sensory Processing Disorder under control, it rears its ugly head and reminds me who’s boss.

With the return of winter comes hats, gloves and the ever-feared winter coat. We have made such phenomenal progress with Vman I naively believed we would coast into winter. SPD kindly slapped me across the face as a wake up call to realty.
I purchased a fun and fabulous jacket for Vman. It is black and has masculine red stripes under the arms. The contraption also has a fleece that zips out to make it less bulky or warmer, depending on the day. If this coat could talk, it would scream out, “I am the MAN!” Instead, my son is the one screaming. Continue reading

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Date Night With my SPD Son

My five year old son, Mr. Sensitive, started Kindergarten this past year. Sensory Processing Disorder, serious anxiety plus Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy made him an “alphabet soup” kid.  SPD + DMD + Anxiety = a stressful year in Kindergarten.

Mr. Sensitive’s sensory issues are exacerbated by his anxiety. The more worried he is, the more his sensory problems contribute to acting out behavior. If something is overwhelming he yells, throws stuff and bangs into people and furniture.

Imagine you are holding a coffee cup and someone dumps in three sensory problems for you to deal with. Depending on the size of the cup and the size of the problems, you might be able to keep everything under control and inside the cup. If you add two more sensory problems you might have to work really hard to keep that cup from spilling over or dropping out of your hands. The cup might shake. But if you try really hard you might be able to keep everything in the cup for a little bit. Then you’d need a break.

But imagine you add one big anxiety problem to your cup. Your cup was already full, now it overflows everywhere. This is what anxiety does, reduces our abilty to deal with the problems in our hands (or coffee cup).

What would help? Dumping out some of those sensory problems, to start. This would mean doing calming sensory activities instead (in my son’s case, he loves running his hands under water). We could avoid some of the sensory problems. No shirts with tags, please. We can also reduce the anxiety by following routines and working to reduce stress.

Actually, his behaviour can paralyze the entire household. He’s anxious on a good day, and can drive a parent bonkers by simultaneously spiraling around our home, throwing toys, grabbing parents or siblings and shouting intermittently. All this on the way to getting ready for school.

I’ve described Mr. Sensitive as a small, anxious tornado circling through our lives. Imagine trying to get three kids under five and at least one adult dressed and out the door, while dealing with a small, anxious tornado. He’s also a highly intelligent, small, anxious tornado who is very creative. Nothing is ever what it seems. Serving platters become shields. Machines are made out of paper clips, kitchen tongs and magnets. All before 7:30 a.m.

Oh, and you have to dress the tornado and brush his teeth. These are huge sensory and transition triggers for behavior. Remember, the bus arrives at 8:00 a.m. Good luck.

So, to deal with Mr. Sensitive’s behaviour we’ve sought out a behaviour therapist and social worker. The social worker worked with Mr. Sensitive to help him identify when he is feeling anxious. The behaviour therapist gave Hubby and I some ideas for preventing Mr. Sensitive from spiraling out of control, such as more positive sensory activities and “special play time” (which I will describe below).

We did a sensory integration assessment through an experienced occupational therapist, who pointed out that Mr. Sensitive is nearly the poster child for sensory processing disorder. He is a sensory paradox.

The world is usually too loud, except when he’s the one making the noise. The world hurts too much, except when he’s the one trickling sand through his fingers or chewing on metal forks. He gets “lost” in crowded and messy rooms, and either hides or clings and whines loudly. Thank goodness food is not a huge issue (there are no extreme texture or taste issues), although Mr. Sensitive is a messy eater and does not feel food on his face. Hubby and I accept that Mr. Sensitive will eat spaghetti with his hands, and then help him wash them afterward.

We’ve also had a few occupational therapists involved who gave all kinds of sensory processing disorder advice. Large bean bag chair? Check. Small cozy tent? Check. Outings to the park to play on the swings? Check. Dietary overhaul, focusing on protein and removing any dyes and refined sugars? Check. Water play? Check. Noise cancelling headphones? Check. The list goes on.

What about “Special Play Time?”

One recent behavioural recommendation is to do at least 15 minutes of special play time a day. This means one-on-one play time where the adult follows the child’s lead and actually listens to the child. This sounds simple, but in a crazy-busy household with three kids under five years, Mr. Sensitive has been missing individual attention.

Of all the techniques we’ve tried, special play time has shown the most improvement in reducing Mr. Sensitive’s anxiety and improving his overall behavior. We simply follow his interests. It’s a time to listen to him and answer the million questions floating in his head.

So our family jumped into special play time. I bought a 1700 piece set of Legos for Hubby and Mr. Sensitive to play with together. After listening to them argue about how to follow the directions, where wheels should go and how Mr. Sensitive was messing up Hubby’s Lego creations, I then confiscated the 1700 piece Lego set. I told Hubby and Mr. Sensitive when they’re ready to play together, I will return the Legos. Right now, the Lego set is now sitting on top of my china cabinet. They can play with it together, so long as I’m around to supervise.

To my effort toward special play time, Mr. Sensitive and I have “date nights.” This is simply one-on-one time with me while we run errands together and take time to follow his lead. Our dates usually include fancy coffee for me and hot chocolate for him or ice cream for both of us. So far I think I’ve gained about five pounds in our date night regime.

I have noticed a huge reduction in Mr. Sensitive’s anxiety and overall improvement in behaviour in the day following date night. He’s calmer and less reactive. But then, so am I.

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Posted by Angela

I am a Special Education teacher who blogs about my super-powered special needs family.  My 2 year old has Prader-Willi Syndrome and my 4 year old has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Sensory Processing Disorder.  We’ve hit the genetic lottery big time!  Oh, don’t forget our 9 month old baby boy – we’re still waiting to see what his superpowers are.

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Confessions of a Bad Mom

super mom quote by a super bloggerI’m a bad mom.  I think that about a million times a day.  I think it because I swear at my children under my breath.  A lot.  All with a fake smile plastered on my face.  I think it because I get frustrated.  A lot.  My son has Sensory Processing Disorder, which has riddled his life- and mine- with friend issues, and self-control issues, and weird noises, and I get so frustrated I want to scream. And sometimes I do scream.  I scream into pillows, into my hands, in my car, in my bedroom, and sadly, I sometimes scream at my kids.  I hate that I do that.  That makes me a bad mom.  Yes, my screams are often followed by apologies, but the apologizes shouldn’t have to happen because I shouldn’t yell.  But I yell because I’m frustrated and I’m a bad mom.  I think about the parents who have children with special needs much more significant than my son’s and I think that I need to keep it together, because I have it so good compared to those other moms.  I’m a bad mom because I told my kids that wine is “Mommy’s Medicine,” and I’ve been known to say I’m going to go postal on them if they don’t stop doing whatever kid-like thing they’re doing.  I’m also a bad mom because I don’t want to spend every moment with my children.  I love the one-on-one time I have with my husband.  I mean really love it.  Like I feel like I’m not a real person if I don’t get enough grown-up time.  For this reason, we’ve opted out of Little League and the like because I don’t want to commit that much time to something.  Because I’m selfish.  Because I’m a bad mom.  These are the toxic thoughts that infest my brain off and on, all day, every day. Continue reading

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Voices of SPD October Newsletter

Thank you for the outpouring reaction to the first official month of Voices of Sensory Processing Disorder. We’ve had some amazing pieces published this past month! Be sure to listen and find out how these Voices can help you find your own.

Ripping off the Band-aide

Hello friends. It’s time to rip off the Band-aide and just start. No more excuses. No more thinking. Just do it already, Jennifer! After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one simple step. So I offer you Voices of Sensory Processing Disorder.

Revealing the Elephant in the Room

For the first year we knew my son had Sensory Processing Disorder, we didn’t exactly hide it but I didn’t talk about it publicly. Then, once I started letting friends know about it, I decided it was better to be honest than to try to hide the fact that we were facing SPD as a family.

Here’s My Number- So Call Me Crazy

I was recently inspired by a hater who thinks I’m “CRAZY” because I write this blog. This opened my eyes to the fact that there are probably many people who think I’m crazy for airing my dirty laundry onto the Internet, and I felt the need to step onto my soapbox for a moment. Thank you for humoring me.

Making and Breaking the Rules

There’s a lot I don’t understand about SPD (and probably never will), but I know my son copes with his intolerances, discomfort, fears and anxieties with rules. A lot of rules. As his Mama, it turns out that I have rules, too.

Operation Mallrat

Has anyone ever heard of sensory processing disorder? Well,  I sure as hell never did. Sensory Processing Disorder is pretty much the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever encountered in my life. It sounds like something some sick bastard invented to tell kids to scare them in an attempt to get them to behave.

Mr. Sensitive vs. New Winter Coat

Last Christmas my sister bought Mr. Sensitive a new winter coat. It was thick and warm and had Mr. Sensitive’s favorite race cars on it. He looked at the pictures on his coat and returned to playing with his new Christmas toys. I thanked my sister for the expensive gift. No big deal, my husband and I thought. He can try it on later. Were we ever wrong.

Coming to My Senses

In 2010, after getting accepted into graduate school to obtain my Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling, I started work with a new therapist, and my life changed. I told her about my history and described that maybe I had something wrong with me sensory-wise. Before our second session was over, we were on her laptop, and I was taking a quiz to see if I had sensory issues. And why yes. Yes, I did.

Well Meaning or Just Mean?

I know some of these people mean well when they tell me he’s perfectly fine, but most of their comments are rude and plain insulting, and I know I’m not alone in this.

Kindergarten – The Rite of Passage

Visiting the local library, I noticed the shelves of books preparing tots for their first day of kindergarten. But I had to wonder, where are the books preparing the parents for the first day of kindergarten? This momentous move is presented as a rite of passage for our five and six year olds. But we parents are often overlooked. Isn’t this a rite of passage for us as well? And today holds great significance for SPD parents.

The Mountain of Sensory Overload When You Have Nonverbal Learning Disability (NLD)

I have NLD. Nonverbal learning disabilities (or anydisability) is like a mountain between where you are and where you want to go. But there are ways to attack the mountain of sensory overload problems and ways of coping.

How Can One Little Infant Create So Much Guilt?

What words of advice can I offer after going through all of this? To parents: trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone. Don’t let the judgemental looks or well-meant comments question yourself.

Mentally Preparing for Kindergarten

She took it upon herself to plug her nose when everyone at her table was eating bologna sandwiches. I was beyond excited for her! Excited that she learned a few coping skills all on her own! That she didn’t isolate herself from everyone else. It was a pretty proud mama bear moment for me.

Trying a Sensory Diet To Cope with SPD

For those of you whose children were diagnosed recently, I recommend you start a sensory diet. I really thought this was about food at first. I had never heard of this before. When the Neuropsychologist who diagnosed Adrian suggested a sensory diet, I asked which foods he meant. A sensory diet are activities that help your child process sensory input.

Let your voice be heard.

Join us as a blogger by visiting Voices of Sensory Processing Disorder.

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Mr. Sensitive vs. New Winter Coat

I am a Special Education teacher who blogs about my super-powered special needs family.  My two-year-old has Prader-Willi Syndrome and my four-year-old has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Sensory Processing Disorder.  We’ve hit the genetic lottery big time!  Oh, don’t forget our 9 month old baby boy – we’re still waiting to see what his superpowers are.

Our lives have too many appointments, too many school problems, and are generally too busy as we try to live life to the fullest. My family has many Special Needs. We like to think of them as super powers. They are what make us special and unique. Truthfully, they are what make life interesting. Although some would say that life with a husband, a five year old, a toddler, and a baby is interesting enough. Continue reading

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Operation Mallrat

Has anyone ever heard of sensory processing disorder? Well,  I sure as hell never did… and when my son, Haydn, was diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder, Asperger Syndrome, we were also informed that Sensory Processing Disorder would most likely be riding shotgun. Sensory Processing Disorder is pretty much the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever encountered in my life. It sounds like something some sick bastard invented to tell kids to scare them in an attempt to get them to behave.

“You had better eat your vegetables, OR: the sound, smell, sight and texture of just about everything in the world will distract, irritate and annoy you. Always. No matter what. Forever.” Continue reading

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