How We Use SuperHeroes in Our Occupational Therapy, Part 2

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SPD Hands 2

To encourage my SPD’er with her Occupational Therapy, and to take advantage of her current love of Superheroes, I found these fabulous “workout cards” on Pinterest. We sometimes use these to mix up what we are doing.

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wonder-woman-workout

 

This will be an ongoing series chronicling our experiences with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am in NO WAY an expert! Please read and use at your own risk. 🙂

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Personal Bucket List to Teach My Girls

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Here is a list that I started a few years ago, but I’m just getting around to sharing! Do you have a “Bucket List” of things that you want your kids to learn? I hope to revisit and update this Bucket List each year

1. How to Cook, and Cook Well. Not because they are girls. But because they like to EAT.

Status: GOING QUITE WELL! The girls are cooking all the time! Of course, they prefer baking and desserts to making dinner, but it’s a good start!

2. How to clean the house thoroughly. Not because they are girls, but because when I visit, I expect to be able to sit on a clean toilet.

Status: They are actually better at cleaning than they’d like me to know. I wish they were more conscientious about the dishes!

3. How to swim. At least enough not to drown.

Status: ACHIEVED! We spent a year in swim lessons and swim team last year, so they are excellent swimmers now!

4. How to throw a good punch. Self-defense is extremely important. Because they ARE girls. And because the confidence of knowing of being able to knock a jerk’s face in, is very empowering.

Status: Beginning. I just signed them up for a Krav Maga class for their exercise class. They are still young, so there is time.

5. Spanish. I picked that one because of their own heritage, but also from my own career, I know being fluently multilingual is excellent for their future career prospects. And good for their brain as well.

6. Strong communication skills, both oral and written. One of the most ignored professional skills (and what many think they are better at than they really are), but also crucial for their personal lives.

7. Kindness. Kind hearts that are going to default to kind responses. I feel that sometimes I personally have a snarky and cynical default that I have to continually watch myself for, before manually choosing the kind option. I would love for my girls to “default” to kind!

8. Servant hearts.  I want my girls to look for ways of reaching out to others and giving. Not just big things, but even the little choices that make a difference. Learning how to think of others.

 

 

So,  what would you list on own your bucket list? What should I add?

How We Use SuperHeroes in Our Occupational Therapy, Part 1

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SPD Hands 2

We recently had a fabulous opportunity to check out DCinDC at Newseum. We got to see some of our favorite TV superhero characters up close and personal!

And it was AWESOME. We checked out two different panels – The Art of the Matter: From Sketch to Screen, and “Wonder Women” (women characters in comics).

I lucked out, finding a link to free tickets at the last minute on Facebook, and saw that several actresses from The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow would be there. (There were many actors and actresses also there from Supergirl and Gotham.)

Our TWO FAVORITE CHARACTERS on TV!

Supergirl with my Supergirl (sorry for the awful lighting!)

Why have I encouraged my SPD’er in a love of Superheroes?

First of all, we are all about the #GirlPower in this house. Supergirl is super cool! (We went through a Star Wars “Rey” phase as well, but that was before our SPD Diagnosis.)

Plus, we use them as examples in our Occupational Therapy. Many things you find online are geared toward very small children, and I looked for older, “cooler” examples, so that my 8-year-old (at the time), would have better role models. I also wanted to make the therapy exercises that she does, and might be something she will have to continue throughout her life in some fashion, “normalized.”

SuperGirl wasn’t born knowing how to fight bad guys, she had to train and learn, just like we do in Occupational Therapy.  (Early episodes in the first season actually show and focus on this.) And her trainer and sparring partner is her big sister.

And have you seen Jessie Graff, Supergirl Stuntwoman, on American Ninja Warrior?

Looking for more examples, I found many videos of Stephen Amell (The Green Arrow), doing crossfit, Parkour, and circuit training. Which looks remarkably similar to the “obstacle course” concept that we used in our occupational therapy each day!

And Caity Lotz (Sarah Lance/White Canary, Legends of Tomorrow) is our newest inspiration. As my girls say, “Wow. She can really fight.” No damsels in distress in our house!

So, we were super excited to have a chance to meet some of these fabulous people in person!

This will be an ongoing series chronicling our experiences with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am in NO WAY an expert! Please read and use at your own risk. 🙂

Dealing with ‘Tudes at Christmas

Hubby and I have started a new tradition this year since our girls are getting older. We are now having Christmas Eve Day individual Mommy/Daddy dates with the girls.

This year, the girls were not handling the stress of holidays very well – we’ve gotten a LOT of short-tempered attitudes, sass, and flat out rudeness. Toddler behavior in a young teen body. Frankly, everything we’ve been dealing with since our move in June, but upped a notch. Time-Out breaks, lectures, whatever, nothing has worked.

And at our complete wit’s end, we decided to take the opposite approach, trying to apply something that I read long ago in “Shepherding a Child’s Heart.” Which is to look for the heart reason behind the behavior and focusing on that. (my paraphrase)

I knew they were picking up on the stress hubby and I are dealing with here the past few months. I knew they were dealing with the beginnings of preteen hormonal craziness and not understanding how to process those emotions. And what makes kids act out? Often, the need for attention. So, we tried to give them this individual attention and time today.

It wasn’t about spending a ton of money, (let’s face it, we don’t have it anyway), but to pour our love into them as much as we can. To show them God’s love as mercy – forgiving them for their behavior without condoning, but also to try and model for them a new way.

What did this end up looking like for us? My oldest and I dropped some bags to donate at the thrift store, and then we went inside to look around and shop/play a bit. We went over to Target and grabbed one or two things and grabbed hot chocolate/coffee at the Starbucks inside. That is how easy it was

I noticed results instantly, even before we left the house. Our oldest’s defiant ‘Tude began to melt, I got some real conversation, and her sweet spirit began to re-emerge. My youngest also has some good bonding time with her dad that afternoon as well – picking up our Christmas Eve meal, and stopping for lunch together.

So, remember, if you are feeling any sort of stress, your kids are most likely picking up on that and feeling it too. And oftentimes, when you feel them pushing you away with their behavior and acting “unloveable” that is often the exact moment they need you to pull them closer and love on them more.

Reality of Living with Sensory Processing Disorder

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SPD Hands 2

What is Sensory Processing Disorder???

It’s when your child CAN’T participate in the Christmas pageant with the other children her age.

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I love my gal, I am so proud of the fact she can tell me now and start advocating for herself. Do you SEE how far we have come in one year???????

But man, it’s so heartbreaking when she’s missing out on all those stereotypical- traditional- childhood moments.

That’s the reality of this Sensory Processing Disorder thing. There are amazing wins, but there are losses too.

Our Sensory Diet Menu – Sensory Bins

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October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

I know how much reading about others’ experiences have helped me, so I thought I’d share some some of the exercises/activities that we were given by our Occupational Therapist.

Because of our tactile issues, sensory bins are an integral part of our sensory diet.

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My Amazon Affiliate Link! Please feel free to use!

My Amazon Affiliate Link! Please feel free to use!

There are more ideas for Sensory Bins located on my Pinterest Board. We are apparently big fans of all types of slime.

 

We have also stocked up on playdough,shaving cream, clay, and just about anything else I could possibly think of.  I try to make sure we doing a sensory bin a couple of times a week. (When we started, we did it every day, and had to set a timer, to get her used to the idea of actually touching things, and then extending the minutes every so often. Now, she often asks to pull certain items out, or will want to make a new slime every few weeks.

In a pinch, sand toys at the beach work just as well. And thankfully, no one is ever too cool for making sand castles.

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This will  be an ongoing series chronicling our experiences with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am in NO WAY an expert! Please read and use at your own risk. 🙂

Our Sensory Diet Menu – Yoga

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October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

I know how much reading about others’ experiences have helped me, so I thought I’d share some some of the exercises/activities that we were given by our Occupational Therapist.

One of the first activities that our OT suggested to us was yoga. During our session she used Yoga Pretzel cards. I fell in love with them.

Now, having done yoga since college, I was a huge fan of this. I know how good yoga makes my bones feel, I can only imagine for someone with Sensory Processing Disorder, how awesome it could be. And these cards give step by step instructions that are easy for kids to follow. (I did step in and work with her on technique a bit.)

 

Eventually, I ordered some other yoga related activities just to mix things up a bit.

 

 

 

 

This will  be an ongoing series chronicling our experiences with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am in NO WAY an expert! Please read and use at your own risk. 🙂

A Couple of Months Into Our Homeschoool Year – Time for Re-evaluation!

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We are now about 2 months into our new homeschool year, and I am already needing to re-evaluate our plan!

By and large, I think our overall schedule was a good idea. The curriculum choices we made were good ones, but I think I grossly under-estimated how much time things would take. Also, my work hours have picked up quite a bit, and that has cut into my time to participate in some of the hands-on work I wanted to do with the girls.

We also started going to a weekly homeschool program – which works like a Co-Op but brings in professionals from the area to be the teachers of the classes (meaning I don’t have to volunteer!). So far, the girls have enjoyed the first session, so we are going to continue with it this fall. I’ve been making my girls do the optional “homework” sent home by these teachers, so that takes up time as well.

And then you add in OT appointments, AHG, AWANA, and the general laundry and occasional grocery shopping, and well, there just aren’t enough hours in a day! (Not to mention all of the prep for our recent travel as well!)

So, my plan for today is to rearrange our “planner spreadsheet” and stretching out our assignments into hopefully a more manageable schedule.

How are you doing? Have you re-evaluated your homeschool plan already? What are you changing or not?

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Swimming with Sensory Processing Disorder

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October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

Swimming is what finally led us to our SPD diagnosis. My youngest has ALWAYS had problems with water. Every summer our attempts to help her learn to swim ourselves were a complete failure. We finally enrolled her in a “learn to swim” summer camp at the YMCA, which got her over the hump, and she could then at least swim well enough to not drown.

I was excited when both girls chose swimming as their fall sports activity. They used to do dance, but wanted to try something new. After experimenting with several summer camps, they both fell in love with swimming.

What actually happened though was my youngest WANTED to do swim lessons and  really enjoyed them, but absolutely refused to put her head in the water properly and do the breathing properly, etc. Which meant the Y would not “promote” her from the beginner class. She was upset about this because she did the stroke part very well, and her big sister was accepted to the swim team.

What did SPD look like for us, exactly?

She would say “I can’t” and shut down (and was seen as stubborn or defiant by first swim teacher, which is why we switched instructors). Thinking that perhaps my youngest didn’t understand the instructions was what let me to Google searching and to SPD in the first place. I had to take that info to our pediatrician myself and demand help, before we got referred to an OT for an evaluation. No one else caught it for us. (Listen to your gut, parents! Don’t let people brush off your concerns!!)

I had tried games like going under to pick rings off bottom, and slowly trying to go under bit by bit, and more. She wouldn’t blow bubbles for more than a second – she would blow a little, then stop and come back up. So the traditional approaches just did not work.

I began to work with the Y to help her on their side. On of the most amazing things about the local YMCA was their “Ability” Special Needs program. The Coordinator instantly knew what to do. We first started with getting our youngest assigned to a special needs trained swim instructor (Previous instructors were an abject failure).

We also purchased a few things to see if they might help. The Y Ability Coordinator suggested trying a swim headband and maybe a tight long-sleeve swim shirt. We purchased Ear Bandit with putty buddies, but my SPDer couldn’t stand stuff IN her ears. We had to do quite a bit of trial and error.

 

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Ear Band-Its were one of the many products we tried. After a while, we just used the swim cap and made sure the cap  covered her ears.

 

We also tried a swim cap which did work, but she didn’t like wearing it. We also purchased very nice goggles, and those worked well for her.

 

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High Quality Goggles and Swim Cap are now our Go-To.

 

Other things that I noticed: the indoor heated pool was was a much better environment for her as she was extremely sensitive to cold. However, that room echoed very bad and was extremely loud, so we switched her lessons to a different day when it was less crowded and quieter.

 

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What looks like “FUN” to other kids can be a literal HELL for an SPD kid.

 

Her group was intentionally kept small with no more than 5-6 kids, and an additional aide was added. The aide was there to shadow and assist my youngest, but publicly to any parents that asked, the aide was “in training,” so it wasn’t obvious in calling attention that my youngest was receiving specialized help. (That might not be a big deal to some parents, but I found to comforting that they were respecting my child’s feelings and her privacy.) After a few months, we also added in another weekly, private session.

 

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This was WITHIN WEEKS of starting agressive therapy and making changes to her swim class.

 

Her group was intentionally kept small with no more than 5-6 kids, and an additional aide was added. The aide was there to shadow and assist my youngest, but publicly to any parents that asked, the aide was “in training,” so it wasn’t obvious in calling attention that my youngest was receiving specialized help. (That might not be a big deal to some parents, but I found to comforting that they were respecting my child’s feelings and her privacy.) After a few months, we also added in another weekly, private session.

 

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We found that even a cheap “sun shirt” helped her deal with the splashing of the water while swimming.

 

I want to point out that the accommodations we implemented were not changing the rules or giving her special privileges or special treatment. Our youngest DOES have SPD, but she also has to learn to live within society. I did not ask them to change their level “promotion standards.” What we are trying to do is merely give her some tools that will help her cope and build her skills so she can promote fairly.

From talking to other parents of SPDers, I know I am not alone in this water struggle.

Here are a few articles that I found interesting and useful.

http://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-children/pe-lessons/

http://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-children/swimming-instructors-guide/

https://www.sensoryswim.com/sensory-processing-disorder

I just want to give you all some hope: six months after her diagnosis and starting therapy, our SPDer had “promoted” twice, was learning to jump off the diving platform, had bypassed her older sister in skill level, and told ME she no longer needed the aide in her class.

This fall, we did decide not to pursue the actual swim team (this also coincided with our move, so it would be different instructors) because of the amount amount of kids at swim team practice in an indoor facility, and the highly competitive (not in a good way) nature in our new town. I do plan to bring individual swim lessons back into the mix in the future.

And one year after beginning this journey – here is my SPDer, on the beach, being splashed by waves. AND LOVING IT.

 

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October 2017, at the Beach (on the right)

 

This will  be an ongoing series chronicling our experiences with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am in NO WAY an expert! Please read and use at your own risk. 🙂

Throwing a Little Sensory Processing Disorder into Our Mix . . .

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October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

We had our first evaluation for Sensory Processing Disorder in January by an Occupational Therapist. It was amazing, I had been looking for answers for this child since the day she was born, and finally, someone listened and agreed with me and had ANSWERS. And a plan of action. And with two little tips that first appointment, my 8-year-old was able to wash her hair that evening (with lots of mom help) calmly and in 10 minutes. It was practically magical. I walked back downstairs and told my husband that I thought I might just love the new OT.

Those two little tips?

Wearing her swim goggles in the shower. And the OT described washing her hair like giving her head a deep massage. For some reason, it worked when the OT said it, not me when I’ve been saying it for ages. I didn’t even care. One thing I’ve learned about SPD is WHATEVER WORKS is my new motto.

I know it sounds weird, but I was actually EXCITED about having our diagnosis. My youngest was 8 at the time, but I’ve known “something” was going on since the day she was born. It took me this long (and walking in with an internet diagnosis saying “my daughter has X” before it happened). I was so happy to finally able to name it, and finally, have a PLAN.

I’ve tried to explain Sensory Processing Disorder to her as best I can, and I think she’s happy that she knows why she’s been a little “different.”

These are the diagnoses we began with —-

Gravitational Insecurity

Auditory Sensitivity

Tactile Defensiveness

Touch Sensitivity

Though we did not get an official Dyspraxia diagnosis, much of the language the OT used in the evaluation paperwork, mirrors the description.

http://www.webmd.boots.com/children/guide/dyspraxia

This will  be an ongoing series chronicling our experiences with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am in NO WAY an expert! Please read and use at your own risk. 🙂