Save it for a Rainy Day

It has been a while since I wrote the last blog and suddenly winter is really and truly upon us. My husband and I were fortunate enough to go to Egypt for a week of sunshine and there was an endless amount of exercise and activity available to us. Since being back in cold and rainy London our activity levels have drastically decreased.

This got me thinking about the importance of exercise and movement for children with any kind of Sensory Processing Difficulties. Children experience and integrate sensations through their bodies and just the right amount of sensory input is vital. So, with winter upon us, I thought I would give you some ideas of indoor sensory activties to help your children regulate their levels of attenion and activity.

  • Build a fort made with blankets and pillows and allow the children to sleep in it on weekends (the smaller and softer the space, the better).
  • Let your child lie on a picnic blanket and take them (or let Dad take them!) for a ride around the house. They should try keep their balance in different positions while on the ride. Swap and see if they can pull you.
  • Tampettes are great fun.
  • Buy some lycra and make a tunnel that they have to crawl through. Use the tunnel to make an obstacle course.
  • Get your child to lie down right on the very edge of a blanket. Roll them up tightly into the blanket and then unroll them as quikly as you can.
  • A really calming activity is to have your child lie face down on a bed. Roll a therapy ball over their back and apply firm pressure through the ball. Ask your child if you should put more or less pressure on the ball.
  • Bounce up and down on a therapy ball while watching TV.
  • Place colouring in pictures on a vertical surface (the wall) and get the children to colour in. Its great for arm strengthening and is very proprioceptive.
  • Animal walks are excellent motor planning acivities and need core strength to carry them out. Have competitions to find your family’s best donkey! Animal walks can be done to music, as relay races, or used to replace running in general games.
  • Crab walks – Child assumes an inverted crawling position with chest and head up and hands on floor behind back. Keep the body in a straight line and walk around on hands and feet in this position.
  • Bunny Hops – Child squats down low on heels with palms flat on the floor.  Move hands forward first and then hop feet forward to between the hands with a little jump.
  • Duck Walks – Child squats down and places hands around ankles.  Walk one foot at a time in this squatted position.
  • Squirmy Worm –  Child gets into push-up type position with only feet and hands touching the ground.  The child inches feet forward towards the hands so that bottom goes up into the air, then creeps hands forward to straighten out into push up position and repeat. 
  • Seal Walk – Child lies face down on the floor.  Extend arms to push up and walk forward with arms, dragging feet behind.

I think that one of the most important things about sensory diets is that they should be fun for your children and the age old principle of the more the merrier really does apply. So hopefully when your children go to bed this winter they will have had their share of sensory fun and will drop off into a quiet and contented sleep.

Have fun playing with your kids this winter!                                                                                               

Sensory Awareness Month

October is Sensory Awareness month – well in the States at least. But I thought I would take the opportunity to do a little awareness building anyway. I found this clip that I thought would be helpful as it explains what sensory integration dysfunction is and it also shows you what sensory integration therapy looks like.

On of the key aspects of sensory integration therapy is scaffolding an activity to provide the “just right challenge” for a child. As you’ll see in the video, therapy is FUN (as it should be) but it also leaves the impression that the therapist is playing with the child. However, each activity is graded and structured to provide the just right challenge. As the child progresses through therapy, activities will place increasing demands on the orgranisation of information within the central nervous system.

I hope that you find the clip helpful and I’d love to hear any of your thoughts or comments!

What’s in a Name?

I have been reading a lot of blogs about sensory integration (mostly written by parents) and in my own practice I have come across a number of parents who are saying that their child is being labelled as “the naughty child” in school. Now, I’m not a huge fan of labelling children but I am a huge fan of understanding them and the reason that they do certain things.

Many children with Sensory Processing (or Integration) Disorder (SPD) are hugely misunderstood by those around them and are therefore labelled as having behavioural issues. When you consider some of the signs and symptoms of SPD, it’s not surprising children are being labelled as “naughty”:

  • Over or under responsiveness to certain stimuli – may not seem to register when you call their name
  • Attention difficulties – In a classroom situation, poor attention = distractibility = disrupting the class
  • Struggles to sit still – may move around the class during lessons (I even had a child who would intentionally fall off their chair and roll around on the floor for 10 minutes at a time)
  • Often cannot grade movements – this may lead them to unwittingly hurt other children on the playground.
  • Implusive – children will feed their sensory systems in one way or another and this is often done in an impulsive way.

So, does that mean that all naughty children have SPD? No, but some children who have SPD may not be able to help being naughty. If their is a sensory basis to their behaviour and if teachers and those around them understood this, their needs would be better met and their behaviours would improve.

If you see your child in any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, you may want to get in touch with your local Occupational Therapist and have a chat with them to see if there may just be something more to their “naughtiness”!

Welcome to the Sensory Foundations Blog!

I am an Occupational Therapist working in independent practice in South West London. I am passionate about the children that I work with and I hope that this blog will contain useful information and tidbits about children who require and would benefit from Occupational Therapy.

I thought that it would be appropriate for the first blog to share some of my passion and enthusiasm for Occupational Therapy. OT is the most amazing profession because I  get to do what I love everyday. I see the most incredible children who, in spite of their difficulties, have a deep sense of hope and joy. I am in the privileged position of helping these children reach new heights and gain new skills. No matter what their disability, there is always ABILITY to be found.

My goal for the coming weeks is to write about a variety of topics, including:

  • sensory integration
  • various difficulties children may be having
  • handwriting and coping with school work
  • various activities to strengthen fine and gross motor skills
  • child development

Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know if there is anything specific relating to Occupational Therapy that you’d like me to write about!

Visit my website at www.sensoryfoundations.co.uk