Bilateral Integration

Chances are if you’ve seen any of my other posts you will have heard me talk about Bilateral Integration – well today I will try layout what I mean by this and just why it is so important and some suggestions you can try to do at home to improve this skill.

What is Bilateral Integration?

Very simply bilateral integration is the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time. Sounds easy but for some children this is an extreme challenge and it is important to try develope this skill.

Why is it important?

It is important because so many movements, skills and actions require the use of both sides of our body to work together in order to able perform everyday tasks successfully, including walking, cutting, catching balls, playing and skills including self-feeding, handwriting, self-dressing, personal hygiene and many more. 

A child who is delayed in developing bilateral coordination skills may prefer to use one hand alone rather than both hands together and may appear awkward or clumsy in some gross and fine motor activities.

Studies have also found that there is a link between bilateral motor skills and academic performance. Some researchers suggest that coordination exercises may stimulate the parts of the brain that are needed for thinking and for paying attention.

Some Gross Motor Activities That Use Bilateral Coordination include

  • Jumping and skipping
  • Riding a bike
  • Catching a ball
  • Swimming
  • Beating a drum
  • Pushing/pulling activities
  • Sports

Some Fine Motor Activities That Use Bilateral Coordination include

  • Tying shoelaces
  • Threading beads
  • Using a knife and fork
  • Cutting with scissors
  • Doing buttons
  • Lacing activities
  • Using a ruler to draw a line

In more detail

Bilateral coordination can be broken down to 3 parts

  1. symmetrical
  2. reciprocal
  3. asymmetrical movements.(Dominant and Non Dominant Hand Use)

Symmetrical movements are when both hands and/or feet are performing the same motion. Examples include clapping, pull apart toys, and jumping. Both sides of the body are working together to perform the same motion.

Reciprocal movements include when the body differentiates both sides of the body using a rhythmical motion. This includes crawling, walking, riding a bike, and swimming.

Dominant/Non dominant Hand Use (Asymmetrical movements) are very similar to reciprocal movements meaning both sides of the body are working together but both sides are performing separate tasks with one side leading and the other side supporting/assisting. This can be seen more so when performing activities using both your hands. For example, cutting paper, sewing, playing a musical instrument, and tying shoes are all great examples which demonstrate the importance of both hands working together -but each performing specialized sequences to complete the activity.

How do I start?

When performing bilateral activities, always start with symmetrical movements since they are easier, and your child will have to master symmetrical skills before performing more complex activities. Children will develop these skills at different ages and stages but remember always to try incorporate therapy ideas into fun activities!

The Vestibular System and Bilateral Integration

The vestibular system (which is situated in the inner ear and helps the brain to process movement information) plays a vital role in a child’s physical development.

Children who struggle to process movement information from their vestibular systems may also struggle with bilateral integration.

Some Activities to help with Bilateral Integration:

Symmetrical movements

  • holding a squeezey bottle filled with paint use both hands at the mid line to paint a beautiful picture
  • Jumping Jacks – maybe include these in Simon Says or a dice game etc.
  • Catching a ball with two hands – start with bigger balls and get smaller and smaller as the skills develop.
  • Blow bubbles and reach with both hands to pop them, start by clapping them together.
  • Pull cotton wool balls apart, glue on paper to make a picture
  • Tear strips of paper, paste on paper to make a collage
  • Squeeze, push and pull on clay, putty, play dough or modeling foam or stretch toys.
  •  Pull apart construction toys (Duplos, Legos) with both hands
  • Roll play dough, putty or clay with rolling pins
  • Percussion toys: symbols, drums (both hands together), etc.
  • Play with a toy Accordion Pull apart and push together crinkle tubes
  • Play Penny flipping: line up a row of pennies, start flipping with each hand at the far end until they meet in the middle Penny flipping: line up in an oval, start at the top with both hands and flip pennies simultaneously until hands meet at the bottom
  • Skipping rope games
  • Ball play: throw and catch with both hands together Finger painting Bounce a large ball with 2 hands, throw or push a ball with 2 hands

Alternating Movements

  • Drum or Bongos: with both hands one at a time (reciprocally); try to imitate a rhythm
  • Ride a tricycle or bicycle
  • Air biking: while on your back, raise your feet up toward the ceiling and pretend you’re pedalling a bike
  • Walking, running, skipping, swimming
  • Play follow the leader hopping on one foot, then the other; then 2 to 3 times on each foot, alternate repetitions and feet; add arm motions to increase the challenge
  • Juggle scarves
  • Marching

Dominant hand/Non-dominant hand

  • Threading
  • Lacing cards
  • Colouring
  • Writing
  • Tying shoes
  • Cut out all types of things with scissors: cut straws and then string up pieces for jewelry, cut play doh or putty, cut up greeting cards and make a collage, cut styrofoam packing
  •  Spread jam/butter, or any spread on crackers, bread; be sure to hold the cracker or sandwich with one hand whicle the other spreads
  • String beads to make jewelry

Remember to have fun with these and let me know if you find a new and interesting way to develop your child’s Bilateral Skills.

Sensory Activities to do at home with ALL the kids.

Clip art free printable. Family clipart | Ilustração de bebê ...

Its sometimes difficult to keep all the kids entertained and meet all their individual needs and wants. I’ve jotted down some of the things I liked to do when the kids were younger.

Hopefully you will find something to do!

SMELLY PAINTING! – Scratch-and-sniff painting appeals to kids’ visualtactile, and olfactory (smell) senses. Choose a few flavours of Jelly that your children like the look or smell of.  Mix them up – use separate pots for each colour – add the jelly crystals, water and glue in equal measures. Then let them be creative on thick card such as cereal and laundry boxes. When the picture is dry the child can then rub it and it will smell of the jelly!

DIY Scratch & Sniff Painting – Be A Fun Mum

Finger painting is a great activity for sensory seekers. Just give your child an apron, a roll of lining paper and some finger paints. Then set him loose!

Heres how to do it cheaply

Stir 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 cup corn starch together. Add 2 cups of cold water and heat over medium heat until the mixture is thick (the mixture will further thicken as it cools).

Divide into four or more containers, and add food colouring as desired.

6 colors 45ml Colourful Brand non-toxic washable paint finger ...

If your child is does not like “messy play” or is tactile defensive then you can try this to encourage more exploration to new textures. You can also appeal to his sense of smell by using a variety of squishy foods to “paint” on a cookie sheet. For example, you may want to try using ketchup, chocolate pudding, yogurt or cinnamon.

Play-Dough is a great activity to strengthen fine motor skills. It can also reduce frustration and may appeal to kids who like to touch things. Try hiding small objects in a ball of dough for your child to find, or challenge him to roll the dough into a ball or make a “pinch pot.”

If like me you dislike the smell of playbough you can easily make your own. Its also a lot cheaper!

How to make playdough

2 cups all-purpose flour.

3/4 cup salt.

4 teaspoons cream of tartar.

2 cups lukewarm water.

2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (coconut oil works too)

Food colouring, optional.

Ziplock bags

 

Make your own sensory boxes -Many kids like to play in sand and water. And creating tabletop sandboxes is an easy way to combine the two. Plus it’s a simple solution for space and storage. You can use your child’s soothing “ingredient” of choice, whether it’s sand, water, rice, dry beans, beads or even shaving cream.Pour the ingredient into a shoebox-size plastic storage container with a lid. Add some plastic spoons, cups and small toys, too. Scooping, pouring, and burying are all part of the sensory experience. For older kids you could try jewellery beads, sticky foam balls, magnets etc – anything at all and it can be made to look age appropriate.

Shoe Box Farm | Healthy Mama Info

Puzzles – sorting games and puzzles can be good to sit and be calm and do something together it can be a good choice for  great for kids who  tend to get overexcited. If you don’t have puzzles to hand have the kids make them for each other out of old catalogs; comics or anything else that you don’t mind being cut up!

Sonshine Mumma: DIY Jigsaw Puzzle | Two-piece Toddler Puzzles

Dancing – For kids who need more sensory input and don’t like quiet or stationary games, try a simple dance party. It can appeal to your child’s need for visual and auditory stimulation. Put together a kid-friendly playlist, turn up the tunes and let him dance. Office Dance Party is normally a good one as it has all the “Cheesy Actions Songs” eg YMCA; the venga bus; Gangham style etc

Kids Dance Stock Illustrations – 5,369 Kids Dance Stock ...

Enjoy

Mum-to-mum Chattersens

Are you a mum of a baby with additional support needs in the West of Scotland – if so why not join our new Mum-to-mum chattersense group on a Tuesday morning starting Tuesday 18th August at 10.30.

At the moment its even more difficult than normal to get out and meet mums with similar issues and trust me there’s no better support than someone else who understands exactly what your going through. When my son was younger his Little Rascals group was a life line.

I’m thinking the format will be something along the lines of

  • basic introductions
  • Topic
  • Chat

In the first few weeks we can decide exactly how you would like it to run and the topics you think would be beneficial and I will try get in people to help. This group will be very much led by your needs.

The first week I will talk about eye contact, head control and tracking which are the initial steps babies have to develop.

OTHER TOPICS:

Feeding

Positioning

Crossing the midline

Bonding

Baby communication

Importance of touch

Please let me know other topics you would like and we can develop a list together. If you have any other ideas or suggestions please let me know and I’m sure we can incorporate them into the sessions.
If you want more information please contact me at chattersense@gmail.com or call Sharon on 07931588835 or chattersense.com.

I look forward to meeting you xx

Weighted Blankets

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF WEIGHTED BLANKETS?

It is believed that weighted blankets help to reduce the stress levels experienced and provide the feeling of calmness and relaxation through use of “deep touch pressure”, without the anxiety of physical physical touch – it mimics the sensation of being hugged and can aid the ability to go into a relaxed state and enable better sleep.

It is recognised that gently applied pressure and touch have positive psychological and physical effects. The evenly distributed weight added to a blanket exerts what’s known as “deep pressure stimulation”. Deep pressure stimulation lowers arousal. Research shows us that deep pressure stimulation decreases the activity of the body’s sympathetic nervous system—that’s the system that promotes alertness and vigilance, and responds to stressful stimuli, therefore one could assume that deep pressure has a calming effect on the body.

Some research demonstrates that deep pressure stimulation decreases the activity of the body’s sympathetic nervous system. (The sympathetic nervous system promotes alertness and vigilance, and responds to stressful stimuli),  It’s the “fight or flight” reaction of our nervous system. At the same time, deep pressure stimulation increases activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, (which is sometimes called the “rest and digest” system). When the parasympathetic system is  activated, it lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and promotes feelings of relaxation and calmness.

Weighted blankets are also thought to stimulate the stimulate oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone can stimulate feelings of attachment and closeness, and generate a deep sense of calm, it plays a number of roles in the body, from stimulating sexual arousal to encouraging social bonding and parent-child attachment, to reinforcing emotional memories. It also plays a role in  facilitating sleep. This hormone is one of several that’s involved in regulating our sleep-wake cycles. Oxytocin levels go up during sleep, typically peaking during longer periods of REM deep into a night of sleep. A 2017 study found that increasing oxytocin during sleep can increase sleep time and sleep quality, and may reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea.

Research shows deep pressure reduces levels of cortisol, an alerting hormone that plays a central role in the body’s stress response. The stimulating effects of cortisol make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. An evening drop in cortisol is part of the body’s natural progression toward sleep—but feelings of stress, anxiety, and being wound up can interfere with that natural nightly drop. The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket may help your body with its natural nightly suppression of this stimulating hormone.

Research also shows that deep pressure increases the hormones serotonin a “feel good” hormone that helps keep you in a more relaxed state, day and night. Serotonin helps to stabilize mood and regulate energy levels and also contributes to regulating sleep-wake cycles. A lack of serotonin can lead to depression and anxiety, and to disrupted circadian rhythms. Keeping serotonin levels healthy is one way to encourage healthy, restful, sleep routines.

Serotonin is what’s known as a “precursor” to melatonin, a key hormone that promotes our nightly rest. The body produces melatonin from serotonin through a chemical process; when serotonin levels are deficient, healthy, sleep-promoting levels of melatonin are also at risk.

Autism – One of the symptoms of autism, especially in children, is trouble sleeping. *Again please note there is little scientific study to support this

ADHD – There are very few studies that examine the use of weighted blankets for ADHD, but a similar study was performed using weighted vests. In this study, researchers explain that weighted vests have been used in ADHD therapy to improve attention and reduce hyperactive movements. The study found promising results for participants who used the weighted vest during a continuous performance test. These participants experienced reductions in falling off task, leaving their seat, and fidgeting.

Anxiety – One of the primary uses of a weighted blanket is for the treatment of anxiety. Past research has shown that deep pressure stimulation can help reduce autonomic arousal. This arousal is responsible for the symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate. The researchers also explain that for some of the study participants, lying down may also have helped reduce anxiety. This suggests that using a weighted blanket while lying down may further help reduce anxiety symptoms.

Insomnia & Sleep disorders

Osteoathritis – Massage therapy applies deep pressure to osteoarthritic joints, so it’s possible that similar benefits may be experienced when using a weighted blanket.

Chronic Pain – One of the recommended at-home treatments for chronic pain is massage therapy. It is suggested that the extra pressure of a weighted blanket may help keep the legs in place and reduce feelings of pain in chronic pain conditions.

How to use a weighted blanket

You can use a blanket like you would any other blanket providing it is the correct weight. It should never be forced on a child/adult and they should have the ability to take it off if they wish.

It can help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep better over the course of the night. But it can’t do ALL the work of a good night’s rest. You still need to pay attention to the basics, which are key for healthy sleep:

  • Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, with regular bedtimes and wake times
  • Avoiding too much light exposure at night
  • Not eating too heavily at night and close to bedtime
  • Consuming alcohol only moderately, and ideally not within a few hours of bed
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Managing stress and supporting mood with relaxation practices, including meditation

Why do Weighted Blankets Help?

Decreases activity in the bodys sympathetic nervous system
Increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system
Stimulation of oxytocin
Decreased cortisol
Increased serotonin
Increased melatonin

HOW TO MAKE THE BLANKET & CONSIDERATIONS

Blankets can be quite expensive to purchase especially as there is no guarantee of there success so I will try to give you some simple steps to make one yourself for around £20.

The blanket should be 10% plus 1-2 lbs of the child’s weight eg if your child is 5 stone, that’s 70lds so the blanket should be 7lds. The length of the blanket should ideally be the length of the chin to feet and approximately double the width of their body.

It is highly recommended to use washable beads such as celloexpress or Fairfield Fil Poly Pellets 

Weighted blankets can be made from a variety of fabrics. Flannel, fleece, satin, polyester, velvet, and cotton are just a few examples. As with selecting the best size for a weighted blanket, choosing a fabric usually depends on preference. I have found that including the child in their choice of fabric and pattern really helps.

Some things to consider:

Consider Icons - Download Free Vector Icons | Noun Project
  • temperature. For someone who loves to bundle up in warm pajamas or heavy blankets, a fabric that holds in heat may be a good choice, like flannel or fleece.

For someone who breaks out in night sweats or is experiencing hormonal changes like menopause, a lightweight cotton blend may be a better fabric choice.

  • Texture. Some will be  sensitivity to certain fabrics that can influence what type of fabric is needed. For individuals with sensory issues cotton or satin fabrics are often preferred, but everyone is different.

PRECAUTIONS

Check out some jobs specific safety precautions - HSEWatch.com

Children weighing less than 20 pounds should never use a weighted blanket of any kind.

Children and infants under the age of two years-old should not use weighted blankets, even if their body weight exceeds 20 pounds. Children under the age of two do not yet possess the fine motor skills to instinctively adjust heavy blankets. A child could easily become overheated or fail to pull the blanket away from his or her face to breathe.

Children should not use adult-size weighted blankets. A child should be able to pull the blanket on and off easily and without any help. If it is too heavy for a child to manage, it is simply too heavy.

Do not use weighted blankets as a way to restrain children or force them to use it even if they do not want to. Weighted blankets should be independently administered. The goal of Deep Touch Pressure and weighted blankets is a calming effect that comes from a sense of safety. Forcing someone to use a weighted blanket against his or her will is counterproductive and will only cause anxiety, further complicating insomnia and other sleep-related issues.

Precautions should also be taken for children with special needs or developmental delays.

While weighted blankets are widely recommended for kids with sensory-related problems and autism, extra precaution should be taken to ensure that the child is able to maneuver the blanket on his or her own before falling asleep.

No weighted blanket should exceed two pounds more than the recommended 10 percent of body weight for children.

For adults with underlying health issues, particularly the elderly, extra care is needed as well. Make sure that blankets are not too heavy for individuals of advanced age.

Pay special attention to weak arms or legs that may feel trapped under the weight of the blanket or be unable to adjust it properly throughout the night.

As with children, if the weighted blanket is too heavy for an elderly person to administer on his or her own, then it is simply too heavy.

INSTRUCTIONS (From https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/weighted-blanket-diy-4164314)

red and black weighted blanket

Equipment / Tools

  • Kitchen scale
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Tailor’s chalk or your favorite marking tool
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine

Materials

  • Durable fabric for the front and back
  • Plastic filler beads (so the blanket is washable)
  • Quality thread

Determine Your Blanket Size and Weight

A weighted blanket doesn’t have to be as large as a quilt or duvet, ideally chin to feet length. Into the fabric you’ll sew squares that will hold the weighted filler. These can be anywhere from 3 to 5 square inches. That means the overall fabric measurements should be a multiple of your square size plus 4 inches for the edges.

Sew Vertical Channels in the Blanket

Weighted Blanket Supplies

Next, sew all the vertical channels on the marked lines. Starting at the closed bottom edge, begin your stitching just over the line of stitching that’s almost 2 inches from the inner topstitching. End the stitching just over the top 2-inch marking, and be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

When sewing these lines, it’s helpful to start at the centre and then sew the next lines near the centre of those sections and so on. Working this way helps to prevent the sewing from getting off track and the fabric from bunching.

Fill a Vertical Channel With Weighted Stuffing Beads

Place a measured scoop of filler beads in a vertical channel. Remember that the scoop should hold the correct weight based on the number of squares that will be in that channel.

Shake the beads, so there is a level amount throughout the channel. Depending on the fabric, some beads might stick in the channels (flannel tends to stick a lot), but don’t worry about that too much. 

top stitching the edges of the weighted blanket

Sew Horizontally Across the Filled Channel

Use pins to form a line to keep the filler beads in place and away from the marked horizontal line for your squares. You don’t want to accidentally sew over one of the beads, as it might break your needle.

Sew the marked horizontal line. Begin just over the line of stitching that’s almost 2 inches from the inner topstitching. End your stitching just over the inner topstitching on the other side and be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

As you sew support the weight of the blanket, so it doesn’t pull your stitches. Feel along the marked line as you go and push any stray beads out of the way. If you meet any resistance when sewing, chances are a bead got in the way.

Then, repeat the process of adding filler to a vertical channel and sewing horizontally to close off the row of filled squares until all of the lines are stitched.

filling the channels with beads

Topstitch the Open End of the Blanket

When you reach the top of the blanket, sew the last row of squares closed. This stitching should meet up with the line of inner topstitching, overlapping a tiny bit.

Fold the edges of the open side in about 1/2 inch. Starting and ending where the topstitching ended on the sides, topstitch 1/4 inch from the edge. 

***Normally all topstitching would happen at the end of a project. But because this project gets quite heavy, it’s much easier to do most of the topstitching before adding the filler and then finish off the top at the end.

topstitching the weighted blanket

Mum-to-mum Chattersense Group West Scotland

I am thinking about starting up a new Mum-to-mum group for families of children with additional support needs under 18 months.

The main purpose of the group would be to offer parent/carers and their children the opportunity to meet other families, make friends, share experiences and have fun! The groups will also offer parents/carers information, advice and workshops. Initially these will be virtual but the intention would be for them to roll out into communities in the future.

As a mum of a child with Downs syndrome I remember how isolating and confusing those early months can be and the roller coaster of emotions that occurred on a daily if not hourly basis!

The format I am considering is that there would be regular group that would meet and each session a “topic” could be discussed or considered. I would like to have specialists “drop” in and provide information and compile a list of resources that may be useful for you and your family.

If you think this is something you would be interested in could you please let me know, and if it is something you feel would be beneficial I will set it up in the next couple of weeks.

Please let me know and if you have any other suggestions do not hesitate to get in touch.

Chattersense@gmail.com

07931588835

Chattersense.com

July in National Food awareness Month

Apparently July is the national awareness month for food – I know who knew?

There ‘s a calendar that schools use to get their themes – well it seemed like a good idea for a post about sensory and communication issues around food! One of my favourite topics lol!

Where to start – let me refer you to a previous posts I did on feeding and sensory needs and the Rice Krispies as a sensory experience!

Well as the song goes “Lets start at the very beginning” – we all know “ A is or apple” Therefore I have decided to do this post all about Apples!

Apples are nice and crunchy and provide good sensory feedback in the jaws, they are various flavours so can excite our taste senses. They also have a nice aroma to stimulate or sense of smell, they work on our taste buds, or sight and tactile senses.

Great start but I’m sure there’s a lot more fun to be had with a plain old apple?

  • Apple printing – cut it in half, put paint on it and use it as a stencil
  • Make a bird feeder with it – hand it on a piece of string and add seeds into it
  • It can be used an alternative to an egg in the egg and spoon less (far less messy)
  • If the weather permits you can go apple picking
  • You can “dunk” for apples doesn’t have to be just at Halloween

You can make an “Apple head” Simply peel your apple, carve a face, and hang your creation out to dry. As time goes by, your apple will start to look more like a wrinkly grandma than a piece of fruit.

Carved Apple
3 weeks later

Make an “Apple picture from a bath loafer” –  You will need some cardboard – an old cereal box will do nicely, some red paint, a red and green marker, scissors, a plate, glue and a plastic bath loafer.All you do is draw an apple shape on the cardboard, if stuck just draw a circle or a wonky heart .Then you pour your red paint on your plate. Next dip your bath loafer in the paint then put it on the cardboard in the apple outline. Then all you do is Draw and colour in a green leaf with your marker on some extra cardboard. . Cut out and glue the leaf on! – An artist in the making.

  • While feeling creative why not make an apple button tree – draw the outline of the tree (or print one off) and then simply get the kids to decorate with buttons – great for those who are wary of new tactile experiences they don’t have to get their fingers all the way in the glue but will experience it a little
  • How about some apple songs/poems

The Apple Tree – poem
Way up high in the apple tree. (Point up)
Two little apples smiled at me. (Close thumb & forefinger of each hand to make an apple)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (grab pretend tree & shake)
Down fell the apples— (raise hands & let fall)
MMMMMM, were they good!

Five Red Apples 
Five red apples in a grocery store
Bobby bought one & then there were 4
four red apples on an apple tree
Susie ate one & then there were 3
Three red apples. What did Alice do?
Why she ate one & then there were 2
two red apples ripening in the sun
Tommy ate one, & now there was one
one red apple & now we are done
I ate the last one & now there are none!

  • Why not try a science project


Discover the difference between raw and cooked apples. Bake a whole apple, and slice and simmer another. Have a raw one cut up as well so children will be able to see the changes in colour, texture and taste. Great rich sensory experience

  • What about some nice cooking recipes – if the kids are fussy with new tastes this could be a way in!

Apple pizza


Ingredients: Pizza dough, apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon, shredded cheddar cheese.
1. Roll pizza dough out onto tray.
2. Sprinkle cheese on dough.
3. Put cut apples (pre sliced thin by you – although you can do a few with them to show them) on dough.
4. Mix equal amounts of flour, sugar, cinnamon in a bowl (enough to cover pizza).
5. Sprinkle mixture on pizza.
6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
7. Enjoy!!!

Individual Apple Pies


Ready-made pie crust (the kind that comes packaged flat in the dairy case)
canned apple pie filling
have your child cut out two large circles of pie crust (using a large, round cookie cutter or a large plastic drinking cup). Put a spoonful of pie filling in the middle of one circle. Place the second dough circle on top.

Use a fork to “crimp” the edges and pierce a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake in a toaster oven 10-15 minutes or until brown.

Apple Honey Crackers

Apples
crackers
Peanut butter
Optional: honey
Give your child a slice of apple and a table knife for dicing the apple, use hand over hand method if they struggle! Encourage them to spread the cracker with peanut butter. Add honey, if you like. Sprinkle diced apples on top.

Apple Sandwiches
Apples
Peanut butter
Slice apples the “round way” so that a star is formed in the centre. Spread a slice with peanut butter and top with a second slice to form a sandwich. (You don’t need to core the apples if the slices are thin.)

You can use the leftover end pieces for making applesauce or for dicing on the apple grahams described above.

Applesauce
For each quart of peeled and sliced apples, add:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
Cook until tender. Mash apples with a potato masher or electric mixer. Add more sugar if needed. Serve cold.

Dried Apple Rings
Peel, core, and cut apples into rings. Dip in salted water for 15 minutes. Dry for two weeks.

Apple Ring Sandwiches
Peel, core, and cut apples into rings. Spread with:
peanut butter and bananas slices
cream cheese and raisins
granola mixed with honey
cheese spread or a slice of cheese
Cover the first apple ring with another apple ring to make a sandwich.

Apple Juice
1/2 cup seeded apples
1 cup water
1 tsp. sugar
Blend the ingredients in a blender. Serve chilled.

So I think that’s me exhausted by bank of ideas for apples – that’s just one food that there is so much we can do with it – not simply just eat it – although that works as well.

Hope you have fun – if you have more suggestions to share please let me know as I am compiling a list of fun sensory activities that are cheap and easily accessible to all.

Dressing Practice

Here are some basic tips for dressing – please excuse the dishevelled look – I was going for the relaxed look!

Putting on trousers

Putting on a T-Shirt

Putting on a shirt

Putting on a shirt – tip

Button hook 2

School Tie

Final Tips

Good luck – you know where I am if you need any more advise x

How to develop a “Sensory Diet”

Each child has their own unique sensory needs and you know them better than anyone – so I will help you to get to understand what your child is seeking and avoiding and how you can provide them with the opportunities they need throughout the day to be as calm and regulated as possible.

We all respond to sensory input differently. Some individuals may seek out more sensory input as they under react to sensations, and others may avoid sensory input as they overreact to it and it is overwhelming for them. It is also possible for individuals to show a combination of reactions too, depending on their levels of arousal or their opportunities to self-regulate.

1   Make a list of the times of day or the environments that your child experiences challenges or seems to be seeking sensory input.

Don’t over think this, just simply grab a piece of paper and start writing out the times your child is having a temper tantrum, having difficulty, overwhelming you, or is confusing you with their actions. Sometimes kids with sensory issues have unusual behaviours to get their sensory needs met. Write down anything that comes to mind!

2   Check off any anything on the list that is caused by their sensory needs or you feel could be helped by my sensory

Common Sensory Challenges:

This is not a complete list, there are so many sensory needs and behaviours.

  • Difficulty waking up or getting out of bed in the morning
  • Particular about the type of clothing they wear
  • Anxious before school or doing a different activity
  • Won’t sit still at the table during meals
  • Tantrums when it’s time to run an errand
  • Flips out in the store for seemingly no reason or because of the lights, sounds, and environment in general
  • Very rough in their play with siblings, parents, and other children*
  • Overly shy and awkward in public or on play dates
  • Refuses to leave the house
  • Climbs furniture unsafely
  • Obsessed with swinging and/or spinning
  • Hates getting messy
  • Touches everything and gets overly messy, seeming not notice
  • Licks everything
  • Gags at new or different foods on their plate or even on the table for meals
  • Stares at spinning objects like a ceiling fan
  • Difficulty paying attention in school or during structured activities
  • Completely can’t stand bright lights
  • Loses it with loud noises
  • Fearful of climbing playground equipment, the stairs, or getting on a swing
  • Refuses to have teeth brushed
  • Can’t seem to settle down to go to sleep
  • Bites people of objects for seemingly no reason or when they are excited or upset
  • Has a hard time sleeping through the night
  • Chews on toys, pencil tops, and other objects frequently
  • Smells everything
3   Choose sensory diet activities to try and offer before/during your child’s challenging times or when they are showing you they have sensory needs!

Most important is that you offer an activity as part of your routine because you know it’s a challenging area for your child OR you give an activity when you see they need it.

Either way, you really want to try and think about what your child’s “need” is and then match an activity that might help.  

Here s a simple summary of sensory issues that may help guide you:

Simple Strategies

  • Calming routine, sequence to be completed five times: –

Squeeze my hands (massage hands)  

Rub my head (slowly rub the forehead and brows) –

Pressure on my legs (pushing down and rubbing thighs)

  • Use a therapy ball: – Bouncing whilst seated – Rolling on tummy, weight bearing through the arms as this is good for self regulation – Laying on your back and lifting the therapy ball up with the feet – Laying on your back and lifting the therapy ball up over your head and onto your tummy and back – Squishes – give deep pressure using the therapy ball as this is calming and a good way to finish a movement break.
  • Anywhere body breaks: – Wall push ups – Isometrics, pushing hands together, clasping hands together and squeezing, chair push ups, wall push ups
  • When seated: – Place the feet on a slightly under inflated ball for movement – Sit on a wobble cushion or better still sit on a physio ball/ physio peanut – Use lap or shoulder weight for feedback through the legs/ upper body – Wrist weight (small light ones) or ankle weights to give extra body feedback. (See sensory direct online).
  • At play: – Den building, pulling through the arms either by climbing, swinging or pulling on rope. – Burying and burrowing under toys, blankets, pillows – Make your own squeeze box to sit in (a box stuffed with pillows) – Exergaming (interactive games such as just dance or ring fit etc.)

I hope this helps!

Heres a useful link for how to understand what your child may be needing for their sensory needs

Toiletting Advise

TOILET TRAINING

Children learn all new skills more successfully when they are not anxious, so although it can be a challenging and frustrating process to toilet train your child, especially when out and about, try to keep calm.

When to begin potty training?

All children are different, but a good guide that they are ready to become toilet trained is if they:

  • can remain dry and clean for two hours or more
  • are aware when they are emptying their bladder or bowels
  • show an interest in sitting on a potty or toilet
  • have a regular pattern to when they wet or soil their nappy.

Before you think about toileting it is important to understand the skills needed to be independent – and if these are not present think about how they can be adapted to meet your child’s abilities.

The “Building Blocks” For Toiletting are:

  • Physical skill
  • Sensory Processing Skill
  • Concept Understanding
  • Communication skills

Children all develop this ability at different stages and as a general rule of thumb you can tell if a child is struggling with this when

  • They are not alerting an adult when they have wet or soiled their nappy.
  • Struggles to undress independently.
  • Is fearful to sit on the toilet/potty.

Where to start?

  • Allow 3 – 7 days at home initially when you “drop everything” when the child has to “go” to the toilet
  • A good way to prepare is to start a toilet chart to see how often your child might need to use the potty. A quick feel of the nappy at regular intervals will tell you if it is wet or soiled.
  • It may take a week or two before you spot any pattern in the chart. If you do – for example your child’s nappy is usually wet between 12 and 2pm – you could try ‘catch’ that wet nappy by introducing ‘potty time’ just before that time.
  • Keep the potty training routine structured for several weeks. If no success wait a few weeks or months and try again

There are some simple strategies that can be utilised to help develop these:

  • Building blocks: Develop each of the four steps outlined above. This is a lot harder than it sounds. It may be necessary to get an OT involved to help with this if basic strategies have not worked
    • The traditional routine in nursery and school is for children to be asked to go to the toilet and wash their hands before morning break, lunch time and before the end of the day. This is a good routine to aim for.
    • Decide whether to start using a potty or to begin directly using the toilet. If you decide to use the toilet, a special seat to reduce the size of the seat may be helpful.
    • Make use of visual schedule: Including the steps involved in toileting.
    • Reward chart: For independent toileting (whether successful or not initially) or telling an adult of the need to go.
    • Choose a rewarding activity for you and your child to do while they are sitting on the potty. For example, looking at a book or picture or listening to nursery rhymes or a story CD. When on the potty
    • If using a timed program make sure it is consistent and reinforced with a sound, visual cue and verbal instruction (just the word toilet – sentences may be too much information) increase how often you have toilet/potty time. It is a good idea to start trying two hours before and two hours after a time that seems to be successful. Give extra fluids during the daytime so the child needs to urinate more often and therefore gets more practice.
    • Give them lots of time. When on the toilet/potty Make sure you have plenty of time and do not rush your child. Give them time, but do not keep them there so long they get bored – ten minutes at the very most
    • Talk to your child about what you are doing. For example, say that “we are waiting for a wee-wee” – it may be helpful to let them see other people in the house using the toilet so they can conceptualise that its nothing to be “afraid” of
    • Games and activities that involve blowing, such as bubbles and whistles, will naturally encourage the stomach pushes needed to go to the toilet. A running tap might also be helpful
  • Read books: Buy one of the many children’s books that serve as a social story about toileting (many books have the flushing noise maker in them!).
    • Role play: Role play toileting with teddy bears.
    • What to wear – Children may be more aware that they are wet or soiled if they are wearing pants and loose fitting clothes rather than nappies. Training pants can be helpful when out and about some sometimes the child will use them as a nappy (if they have the awareness of being uncomfortable) this can help. Wear loose elasticated clothes that are easy to pull down / up without fastenings.
    • Physical setup:
    • Be prepared with the right equipment in place. Ensure the toilet is free and if distraction is required – make sure that everything is there. smaller seat that.