Posts tagged ‘holidays’

Holiday Shopping Tips

As the holidays are fast approaching, we wanted to take the opportunity to offer some tips about choosing toys and games for your child. Here are some guidelines for how we choose new toys and activities for the clinic.

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 1. Will it last?

o    Does the item appear sturdy? Are there small pieces to break off and get lost? If they do break off and get lost, can the toy still be used?

 2. Can it be used in multiple ways?

o    Does the toy lend itself to multiple options for play? For example, bean bags can be used for target games, scavenger hunts, hopscotch and more. Jump ropes can be used by one person or a group people, be turned into a wiggly snake, or be used as a boundary line.

 3. Does it appeal to a wide age range?

o    Is the product going to be used for a month and tossed aside by a young child who is quickly developing new skills? Can the item “grow” with your child by adjusting the height or the complexity of the task?

 4. Does it offer multiple types of sensory input (without becoming too overwhelming?)

o    For example, try musical instruments which provide opportunity to practice motor coordination while exploring auditory and tactile input, as opposed to items which play music and have blinking lights after simply pressing a button.

 5. Can it travel easily?

o    Wiki sticks, Play Doh and travel sized board games can provide structure while waiting at a restaurant or at a sibling’s sports practice.

 6. Does it allow the child to create their own play schemes?

o    Matchbox cars or barn play sets allow the child to come up with their own ideas for play. Baby dolls or other toys that “talk” may direct the play time for your child.

Happy Shopping!

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Want to take advantage of this opportunity to help your child practice fine motor skills, such as coloring, cutting, stringing and handwriting? Here are some great websites with ideas for Valentine’s Day crafts, cards and more.

Holiday Help: Winter Holidays

This is the third post in our series “Holiday Help”. Here are some ideas to consider as you get ready for the holiday season.

happy holidays

  • If your child has a hard time with change, consider putting up holiday decorations slowly over a period of days or weeks. If needed, keep certain areas of the house “decoration free” – such as the homework area, or an area of the house your child goes to unwind.
  • Decide if a picture with Santa is a real necessity. Some children who are over responsive to sensory input have a very hard time waiting in line in close proximity to others in an area filled with decorations, then sitting with a stranger wearing a bright, textured costume. A nice picture in the living room might be a less stressful option for the whole family.
  • If you need to bring your child with you to the mall during the holiday season, the following suggestions may help:
    • Have a plan. Map out your visit to avoid retracing your steps.
    • If your child is sensitive to noise, he may benefit from listening to music on an mp3 player so the auditory input is controlled and constant.
    • Bring along Post-It notes to place over the automatic flush sensors in the bathroom so your child can leave the stall before the flush occurs.
    • Give your child a weighted (unbreakable) item to carry, or fill a backpack with weighted objects, not more than 5% of her total body weight.
    • Take the stairs instead of the escalator. This may be helpful to children who are sensitive to imposed movement as well as children who benefit from proprioceptive input.
  • Some children have trouble monitoring their body position in space and may benefit from a masking tape line on the floor around the tree or any other decoration you do not want him to touch.
  • Try to keep a regular routine as much as possible. The holiday season has many schedule disruptions at school and in the community. For children with an autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing disorder, often the more consistent the routine, the more consistent their behavior.
  • Most importantly, take a moment and enjoy your family’s favorite traditions. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Gift Ideas: Gifts for Sensory Seekers

If you have a sensory seeker in your home, you know it. They are the kids who seem to be on a never-ending quest for sensory input. Faster! Bigger! Higher! MORE! In their attempts to meet their sensory needs, seekers can unintentionally be rough with toys (or peers) or take excessive risks during play. Here are some toys and equipment chosen with our seekers in mind.

Although our first three lists of gift ideas included only toys and games easily found at  toy stores, due to the intense nature of the way sensory seekers interact with toys, many of the items on this list are found in therapy catalogs and websites. These products are designed with durability and safety in mind. If you have any questions about the products you are planning to order, such as the appropriate weight or size of the product for your child, or how to best use these items as part of a sensory diet, please contact your child’s clinician.

Holiday Gift Ideas – Later Elementary School

The holiday season is here! This post is the third and final in our series on holiday gift ideas. If you have a child in the later elementary school grades, this list is for you. As always, we limited our suggestions to games under $25 that are available from toy stores and department stores- not “therapy” toys – so they are easy to find and will blend in with other holiday presents.

Click on the name of the game for a link to the manufacturer’s website. We also listed the underlying skills that can be addressed during play. Have fun!

Holiday Gift Ideas – Early Elementary School

The holiday season is here! This post is the second in our series on holiday gift ideas. This list includes some of our favorite games and toys for our children in the early elementary school grades. Just like the preschool list, we limited our suggestions to games available from toy stores and department stores- not “therapy” toys – so they are easy to find and will blend in with other holiday presents. Plus, everything on this list is under $25!

Click on the name of the game for a link to the manufacturer’s website. We also listed the underlying skills that can be addressed during play. Have fun!

Holiday Gift Ideas – Preschool

The holiday season is here! Are you looking for gift ideas for your children that will also help them develop skills? This list includes some of our favorite games and toys for our preschool children. We stuck with games available from toy stores and department stores- not “therapy” toys – so they are easy to find and will blend in with other holiday presents. Plus, everything on this list is under $25!

Click on the name of the game for a link to the manufacturer’s website. We also listed the underlying skills that can be addressed during play. Have fun!

Uno Moo – Fine motor, visual perceptual

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Cat in the Hat – I Can Do That – Motor planning, balance, coordination

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Elefun Motor planning, body awareness, visual motor

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Don’t Break the Ice – Fine motor,  force grading, visual motor

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Don’t Spill the Beans – Fine motor, force grading

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HiHo Cherry-O – Fine motor

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The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel – Fine motor, visual motor

Holiday Help: Family Gatherings

This is the second post in our series “Holiday Help”. Here are some ideas to consider for your next family gathering.

  • If your child is sensitive to noise, arrive early so the volume level rises slowly over time.
  • Have your child complete sensory diet activities before being asked to sit for a long period at the table. Ask your therapist for ideas.
  • Allow your child to take a movement break during the meal. Or, allow your sensory sensitive child to move to a quiet place in the house to take a break from the stimulation at the dinner table. Taking a break is always better than a meltdown at the table. If you are going to be at a relative’s house, plan ahead and ask the host where your child can go as a retreat.
  • Bring a length of Theraband to loop around the legs of your child’s chair at the dinner table to provide them with an appropriate way of gaining sensory input without kicking the table (or a cousin).
  • Review behavioral expectations with your child for several days before the family gathering. Use clip art pictures to reinforce the concepts.
  • If you are sleeping over at a relative’s house, you may consider bringing a set of your child’s sheets. Children who have tactile sensitivities may find it difficult to tolerate the novel sensation of different pillows, sheets, or blankets.

Helpful Hints for Road Trips

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The holidays are fast approaching. Do you have any long car trips planned? Here are some ideas to consider as you prepare.

  • Use a calendar to count down the days leading up to the trip. Highlight the days of the trip with a bright color. Bring it with you to help your child see when they will be going home.
  • Allow your child to wear comfy clothes in the car, even if it means wearing their pj’s for the ride.
  • Gather pictures to track your progress on the trip. Print pictures of planned stops, state lines or miles traveled. As each milestone is passed, have your child put the picture in an “All Done” envelope.
  • Pack sensory smart snacks. Chewy foods like dried fruit and bagels or drinking liquids (even yogurt) through a thin straw can be organizing.
  • Use bathroom breaks as sensory breaks as well. Encourage wall pushups against the car or a tree, or have your child help you “rearrange” the luggage.Image
  • Use a 5-point scale for voice volume. Practice with it before the trip. Use it to prompt your child to bring their volume down to a 3 or use a 2 if a sibling is sleeping.