SmartKnit DIY: Calm Down Bottles

Have you heard about Calm Down Bottles?  They are Sensory Tools to help in calming anxious children that have sensory sensitivities.  Children can watch the calming movement in the bottles, which helps them to self-regulate when their emotions become overwhelming.  They’re pretty nice for adults, too! 😉

The best thing about sensory bottles is that you can make them yourself AND they can be completely customized to each person.  When we were researching how to make Calm Down Bottles, we discovered that there are an abundance of different methods and materials that can be used.  The results can give you totally different looks and feels.  You may have to experiment with different possibilities to find the right one for you and your child.  After testing lots of different possibilities, we came up with two options that we really liked.  Those instructions are below, as well as a step by step video.

Calm Down Bottle #1 – Ocean Inspired

IMG_5125

Supplies:

IMG_5112

Directions:

  1. Using a funnel, pour glitter into the water bottle. – You can determine the amount, but definitely cover the bottom of the bottle.
  2. Fill the bottle 1/3 of the way full with oil. – This isn’t a precise measurement, as your bottle size might vary, but if you fill the bottle 1/3 of the way, you’ll have the best results.
  3. Fill up the rest of the bottle with water, but leave some space at the top.
  4. Remove the funnel and add food coloring. – A few drops should do it, but you can determine if it needs more color.
  5. Screw on lid – make sure it’s tight.
  6. Shake it up.
  7. At this point, you can determine if it needs anything additional – maybe more glitter or more food color. Play around with it for a little while.  See what it does after an hour or two or a day.  Once you are satisfied with your results, use super glue to glue the lid on before giving it to your children.  This is optional, but might be necessary to keep the kids from experimenting with the contents on their own. 😉

Calm Down Bottle #2 – Fuzzy Pom-poms

Supplies:

IMG_5112_2

Directions:

  1. Using a funnel, fill bottle 1/3 of the way full with oil.
  2. Fill up the rest of the bottle with water, but leave some space at the top.
  3. Pour a generous amount of water beads into the bottle.
  4. Remove funnel. Drop pom-poms into bottle.
  5. Using a funnel, pour glitter into the bottle.
  6. Screw on lid – make sure it’s tight.
  7. Shake it up.
  8. Like the first bottle, once you’re satisfied with the results, use super glue to glue the on before giving it to your children.

IMG_5136

These were the two we liked best, but what we learned is that the possibilities are truly endless.  We saw some bottles that used only water as a base.  Some had hand soap.  Others had clear or glitter glue in the water.  We saw one that used corn syrup.  Or, you could use mineral oil instead of canola oil.  For us, canola gave it a little bit more of the cloudy look we were going for, but mineral oil makes a nice alternative.  We even saw some bottle that used clear hair gel as a base.  This option didn’t really work well for us, but it could have been user error. 😉

The water beads were a really nice option, but the different base liquids can really affect how the water beads “behave”.  We decided that glitter was nearly a must, as it gave each of the bottles kind of a sparkly and dreamy look.  But several of the bottles we made didn’t have glitter, and they were nice, too.  The pom-poms were fun, but you can put all sorts of different objects in the bottles to watch what they do.  We saw one suggestion that used acrylic shapes, pony beads, small colored hair bands, perler beads or even large shaped confetti.

We also saw a sensory bottle that didn’t use a water base.  Instead, they stuffed a bunch of twigs from the backyard inside the bottle making sure they were not all straight up and down, but kind of haphazardly arranged.  (You can purchase craft twigs, also.) Then they added another element for sound.  In this instance they used dried rice.  The idea was that all the rice would race to one end when the bottle was turned over to make sounds.  Because the sticks were also in the bottle, the rice would catch on the sticks a little bit.  Any number of elements could be used in a sound sensory bottle, such as sand, dried beans, paper clips, popcorn kernels or small pebbles.

dc65d5a3492cd5a225b8ba4a565a72ad

Image from Rhythms of Play.  Check them out for more great ideas!

Finally, the best idea we saw in all of our research was the use of a small wine rack to make a sensory bottle rack.  A parent made several different kinds of sensory bottles and stored them all in a small wine rack.  When their child needed to use a sensory bottle, each of the bottles was arranged in the rack for the child to choose the one he wanted.  Brilliant!

One last note on the Voss bottle.  As we stated previously, we used Voss bottles because they have such a nice shape and work well for sensory bottles.  Any type of bottle will do, though.  We also used Voss glass bottles, but if you are concerned about the bottles breaking, we recommend plastic!

290926_m16

We hope that you enjoy making your own DIY Calm Down Bottles.  We really had a lot of fun ourselves and truly didn’t realize all of the amazing possibilities!

 

Classic Pastimes for Summer Road Trips

Well, it’s almost summer, which inevitably means it’s time for road trips.  Usually about this time, we pull together some travel tips for families with kids.  This time around, we thought we’d mix it up a little bit.  Or maybe we’re just feeling a little bit nostalgic.  But, our best tip for traveling with kids this summer is to revive some of the road trip games you remember playing as a child.  That’s right, folks! Have everyone put away the devices!  And for even more fun, have the whole family join in and create some memories of your drive alongside the ones you’ll make once you get to your destination.

Milwaukee Cityscapes And City Views

The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways – named for President Eisenhower who championed them. Construction was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956!

Here are a few to get you started:

License Plate Game

This one is my personal favorite!  Make a list of all the states and check them off as you spot them along the road.  If you check them ALL off, you’ll know you’re on one heck of road trip!  This game is one that you can play through your whole trip, even while you’re busy playing others.  You can even add a little bit of competition to the mix.  When someone spots a new state, write their initials next to it on your paper.  The person that has the most at the end of the trip is the winner.

License Plates

Each one is unique!

Eye Spy

This one is a classic and is great for the young kids, too.  One person silently chooses an object that everyone can see.  (The object can be inside or outside of the car.)  That player then uses the first letter of that object as a clue and the other players try to guess the object.  For example, “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with R” when you are thinking of the word “road”.  The person who correctly guesses the item gets to choose the next item.

900_1836318HighRes

I saw a lot of these growing up!

Going on a Trip

This one can take some thought and is one that can keep the kids guessing for a while.  One of the adults (mom, let’s say) says “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to bring macaroni.  If you would like to go, too, tell me what you’d bring?”  “Mom” has selected an item that begins with the same letter of her name, so she can go.  Any object that doesn’t begin with “M” for “Mom” doesn’t get to go.  Then the kids each take a turn guessing.  Unless they guess an object that begins with the first letter of their name, they are excluded from the imaginary trip. When the guessing comes around again to Mom, she brings another “M” object. “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to bring a movie ticket.”  The kids will be baffled as to why Mom gets to bring such silly things on the trip.  Eventually, someone (Dad, perhaps) will figure out the pattern and begin to play along.  Sam can bring his sunscreen.  Elizabeth can bring an elephant. Etc. etc.  It will take a while for everyone to figure it out, especially if the children are small or you have a lot of players, but once they do, it’s obviously a one-time-through game.  But, you can revive the game by coming up with something else unique to each individual.  For instance, maybe this time I can bring 39 pairs of socks or 39 tubes of lipstick – the unique thing here being age.  The kids might figure this one out quicker. 😉

243_630x320

Beware of curves!

Car Spotting

Have everyone agree on a make of car – Honda, Ford, Toyota, etc. – or more specifically a model –Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Flex – or even something along the landscape – wind turbine, oil well, hay bale (Can you tell we’re from the Midwest?  Your examples might be different.)  Once the car or other item is agreed upon, everyone keeps an eye open for it.  The first person to see each one shouts it out and earns a point.  At the end of the trip (or whenever you’ve had enough of the game) the person with the most points wins.  You can change up the items every now and then, too.

what-are-wind-turbines-750x390

Ahh! Good renewable energy!

20 Questions

Goodness, this classic is timeless.  And seriously, since kids ask about a billion questions all the time, you might as well make it into a game, right?  So, have one person think of a person, place or thing, and all the other players begin to ask questions about that thing in order to make guesses as to what it is.  The questions need to be ones where a simple yes or no is sufficient.  Players can guess after each answered question.  Play continues until they have made an accurate guess.

6e2b0180-4853-43e9-8fe5-32a9c5ae4fcf

Read a good book along the way!

Family Story Time

This one can be done the old-fashioned way or might be the reason to bring out a device.  Everyone loves a good story and some books are really great for the whole family – the Harry Potter books, Little House on the Prairie or Charlotte’s Web.  Choose one or two books ahead of time and either bring them along or download them on your device.  One person can read aloud to the car or you can take turns by chapter (depending on the ages of your children and the difficulty of the book).  Or, if you want to save your voice, find an audio book version and play it over the car stereo.

i-070_wb_app_i-670_us-071_03

Home, sweet, home for this road tripper!

Just think of all the fun memories you’ll make with your children.  Twenty years from now, they won’t remember whatever game they’re playing on their phones or tablets, but they will remember the silly times they had trying to be the first to spot the next wind turbine along the Interstate!

 

Autism FAQs

Since April is Autism Awareness Month, SmartKnitKIDS wants to help bring awareness to Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.princewilliamcountypublicschools

from princewilliamcountypublicschools.com

 

What are Autism Spectrum Disorders and Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorders are a range of brain disorders that are characterized by restricted patterns of behavior and impairments in social communication and interactions.  Symptoms can vary drastically from individual to individual in both number and severity, but typically share similar features and origins.

speech211

from speechbudy.com

 

What is autistic disorder?

Autistic disorder is the most common Autism Spectrum Disorder and is commonly referred to as autism.  Autism severely impairs a child’s social interaction and ability to communicate.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome is a milder form of autism and is the second most common ASD.  Children with Asperger’s Syndrome exhibit a higher language development than children with autism.  Many of them will have normal intellectual ability, but have a disinterest in social communication.

What are the other Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Although Autism and Asperger’s are more known, there are other named disorders on the spectrum.  One is Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified or PDDNOS. Children with PDDNOS demonstrate some of the symptoms similar to autism disorder, but do not meet all the criteria of autism.  Another more rare disorder is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD). This one affects more boys than girls. Children with this disorder develop normally for approximately two years and then regress in most areas and continue to regress beginning around age 3 or 4.  They experience a pronounced loss in motor, language, social and intellectual skills, as well as loss of bowel and bladder control. They may also experience seizures. Rett syndrome is a genetic disorder in which autistic symptoms begin to develop between 6 and 18 months of age, after early normal development.  Rett syndrome affects females almost exclusively. Those with Rett syndrome typically begin to shun social contact, cease talking, have unique motor behaviors and regress in skills.  The cause of Rett syndrome has been identified as a single gene mutation.

What are the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Symptoms can range from mild to severe.  They can appear gradually or suddenly. Most symptoms will become noticeable by the age of 3, but can be observed as early as birth.  Symptoms can include:

  •  Social Deficits – Social interactions are difficult for children with autism.  They may avoid eye contact. They may avoid interactions with people.  They often have difficulty reading social cues. They may have difficulty controlling emotions, can be disruptive or aggressive.  They may lose control easily when frustrated or uncomfortable.
  •  Communication Difficulties – Communication difficulties vary from child to child.  Some children with autism may have very good language skills, but have difficulty in initiating or sustaining conversations.  Other children may have language delays or regression in language development. Other children may be mute, while others still will have unusual use of language, such as repeating a phrase or parroting.  Children with autism may also have difficulty with body language. Their facial expressions, tone and gestures may not match the verbal content or emotions.
  •  Repetitive Behavior – Many children with autism, or even adults for that matter, insist on consistency.  They will have difficulty with any change, however minor, with their routines. They may exhibit repetitive motions like arm-flapping, freezing, rocking back and forth or walking on their toes.  They may become intensely preoccupied with any certain topic. Or can spend long periods of time arranging toys rather than playing with them.
  •  Sensory Difficulties – Although, children may exhibit Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) without being on the spectrum, many children on the spectrum do exhibit Sensory Processing Disorder.  This is when the brain is unable to balance the senses appropriately. Children with this disorder can be hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to sounds, textures, tastes or smells.  Children may have difficulty with crowds due to the over-stimulus of noise. Many children with SPD and autism have difficulty with tags or seams in their clothes. What may not be noticed at all or even a minor annoyance to some, will feel extremely uncomfortable to children with SPD.  SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks and undergarments can help many of these children.
  •  Unusual Abilities – Some children with ASD can display truly remarkable abilities.  These can include artistic talents, musical abilities without training, or the ability to memorize difficult lists of information.

Who develops autism spectrum disorders?

Autism Spectrum Disorders are three to four times more common in boys than in girls.  However, girls with an ASD tend to have more severe symptoms. Autism touches people of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups,

What are the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Most researchers believe that it is a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors that cause ASD.  They are exploring genes which they believe contribute to the development of ASD. Abnormal brain development during the first months of life is being studied.  Researchers hope to determine if structural abnormalities may be caused by genetic and/or environmental factors.

How Did My Child Develop Autism?

Researchers are learning more about autism every day, but we still have a lot to learn.  Research does suggest that the development of autism happens in the very early brain development.  Researchers have identified several genes that can cause autism, but these genes only account for 15% of autism cases.  They have also identified more than 100 different genes or gene mutations that can increase a child’s risk of developing autism. But, most researchers believe it is not genes alone that can cause a child to develop autism.  Many scientists believe that it is a combination of genetics and environment, or non-genetic factors. Some environmental factors that increase the likelihood of autism include: advanced parental age at time of conception; prematurity with very low birth weight; maternal diabetes; infection during pregnancy; and certain birth complications, including those that may involve oxygen deprivation to a baby’s brain.  Although researchers are closer than ever to understanding why a child develops autism, this is still a medical frontier. The organization Autism Speaks funds a multitude of studies working towards discovering the causes of autism.

Are Vaccines the Cause?

Researchers have spent two decades extensively looking for any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.  They have had very clear results. Vaccines do not cause autism.

How are Autism Spectrum Disorders diagnosed?

Currently, there is no diagnostic test to detect autism.  But, scientists are hopeful that with more research a diagnostic test may be available in the future.  For now, diagnosis comes from various screening instruments, as well as parental input. These tools are able to measure the prevalence of symptoms of autism.  A child may display symptoms right away or it can occur after several months of normal development. Some of the things to look for in children between 18 months and 3 years include:

  •         Limited pretend play
  •         Lack of pointing to demonstrate interest
  •         Reduced gaze following
  •         Less frequent demonstration of repetitive, stereotypic behaviors
  •         In children with autism between 2 years and 3 years of age, the following features may be observed:  
  •         Communication difficulties
  •         Socialization deficits with caregivers
  •         Perceptual sensitivity
  •         Other difficult behaviors

How are Autism Spectrum Disorders typically treated?

Every person with autism or an autism spectrum disorder is different.  Because of that, there is no exact treatment for it. However, the best outcomes come from the earliest interventions. There are many different methods that might be used depending on each individual.  They can include medications, behavioral therapy, psycho-education, family support groups, educational interventions, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and specialized training.

How Common is Autism?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify that 1 in every 68 American children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  While this is a 10-fold increase over the last 40 years, much of the increase is due to improved diagnosis and awareness. ASD affects more than 2 million people in the US and tens of millions worlwide.

What Should I Do if I Suspect Something is Wrong with My Child?

Early intervention has been shown to provide children with autism the best chance for improving function and maximizing progress.  Talk to your child’s doctor right away. Also, you can contact your state’s Early Intervention Services to have your child screened.

How Do I Get My Child the Help He or She Needs?

A great resource for finding the right professionals is the Autism Treatment Network from Autism Speaks.  The ATN is a network of hospitals, physicians, researchers and families at 17 locations across the US and Canada.  The clinicians at ATN work together to develop the most effective approach to medical care for children and adolescents affected by autism.

What if I Suspect that I Have Autism?

This is possible.  Researchers are learning more and more about autism, but there is so much that is still unknown.  A greater knowledge in identifying autism has lead to a greater prevalence in diagnosis. But, many adults that have Asperger’s Syndrome or other high-functioning forms of autism never received a diagnosis as a child. They only come to a diagnosis when they seek help for problems they have at work or in their social lives.  If you suspect that you may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, a licensed clinical psychologist, neurologist or psychiatrist can evaluate you and make a diagnosis.

How Do I Deal with this Diagnosis?

When a parent receives a diagnosis that their child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder it can be confusing and emotional.  But, the very best way to move forward for you and your child is to educate yourself. Early intervention has had really great results, and it is important to find out all you can to make sure you take advantage of all the resources available to your child.  Take advantage of resources yourself, too. There are many great online communities or local organizations to obtain advice from other parents.

Will My Child Be Able to Attend School?

Of course!  It is your child’s right to attend school according to the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990.  The Act says that every child deserves access to a “free and appropriate” education funded by the government, whether is is in a mainstream classroom or special education.

asanv.org

from asanv.org

 
** Sources for the content of this blog include The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and Autism Speaks.

Autism Awareness Promos

Welcome to April SmartKnitKIDS families!! April is National Autism Awareness Month and your friends at SmartKnitKIDS have a barrel full of goodies to share.

Bugsley Bucks Return

First, up, Bugsley Bucks! For the third year running and back by popular demand are our SmartKnitKIDS Bugsley Bucks.  Here’s how they’ll work.  During the month of April, you’ll get a $10 Bugsley Bucks card for every order that includes any SmartKnitKIDS or Big Kids with a subtotal of $25 to under $55.  Bugsley Bucks cards can be used as a gift card on smartknit.com orders between May 15 and June 18, 2018.  Likewise, you’ll get a $20 Bugsley Bucks card for orders between $55 and under $100 OR a $30 Bugsley Bucks card for orders over $100.  Only one Bugsley Bucks card per order.

1803_SKK-Autism-Awareness_Blog_3

Free Gifts

Each order to smartknit.com during the month of April that includes at least one SmartKnitKIDS or Big Kids item will also get two great free gifts – an Autism Awareness Car Decal AND Tangler Puzzle.  Of course, they are while supplies last, so be sure to get your orders in early.

1803_SKK-Autism-Awareness_Blog_1

Mermaid Pillows and $20 SmartKnit.com Gift Cards

Have you seen these amazing and soothing Mermaid Pillows?  We’re all kind of gaga over them here at SmartKnitKIDS.  So, we’re giving away 5 of them during Autism Awareness Month!  Each Monday in April, we’ll be giving away 1 Mermaid Pillow, and pairing it with a $20 gift card to smartknit.com.

ENTER HERE

1803_SKK-Autism-Awareness_Blog_5

Surprise Sales

Oh my!  There’s more.  Be sure to be part of our mailing list to find out about some surprise sales that might be sprinkled throughout the month!

We’re very excited about all of our great goodies for our SmartKnitKIDS families and we hope you are, too!

Springing into Spring with a Sensory Sensitive Child

Spring is in the air and to many people, that is welcome news!  But parents of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, that is not always the case.  There are a lot of reasons that make spring a little difficult for these children.

Allergies

Oh yes, allergies.  While nasal congestion, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes can be annoying to most people that suffer from them, for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, allergies are even worse.  When a child is hypersensitive to sensory input, a body’s reaction to allergens can be intolerable.

ucm561011

Photo courtesy of fda.org

Many people think there is precious little you can do to prevent allergies, but there are actually a lot of things that can be done to help any allergy sufferer.  If your sensory sensitive child has a difficult time managing seasonal allergies you may want to try HEPA air filters, as well as a HEPA vacuum cleaner.  A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, can trap pollens, dander and other allergens.  Another way to keep allergens out of the house is to wash window screens, or better yet, resist the urge to open them up.  An allergy sufferer should also wash their hair and body at the end of each day to wash away the pollens before going to bed.  Wash clothing items that are typically not washed as often (like shoes or jackets) more often.  Finally, if you child will tolerate it, use a saline rinse to clear nasal passages of allergens.

Weather

The changes in weather and temperature from cold, dry winter to a warm/cool, wet and budding spring can really affect the senses.  The scents of grass and trees budding and the cleansing rain washing away the winter might be a great sensation to most of us, but the change can be overwhelming to the sensory sensitive kid.

Spring-Weather-Storm-Rain-Forecast-i97490886

Photo courtesy of farmersalmanac.com

There isn’t a whole lot that can be done to change the weather.  The spring weather is coming sooner or later.  You can help your child to “warm up” to the weather changes by talking about them ahead of time.  “I’m looking forward to the sweet smell of the trees and flowers budding,” you might try.  Or, “the spring rain is nature’s way of giving the earth a bath.  It will feel so good.”

Clothing

I don’t know about you, but changing out the winter wardrobe can feel a little strange at first.  Lighter fabrics, shorter sleeves, shoes without socks, and frankly lighter weight clothes all around all can feel so different after the long winter of bundling up.  It can take a little time transitioning, especially for someone that has sensory challenges.

The easiest thing you can do to help your child transition to spring clothes is to make sure and wash them all beforehand.  New things may be scratchy and older things may need to be freshened up after sitting in the closet all winter.  Make sure everything fits properly.  If your kiddo has grown enough, old things may be a little tight, which might be uncomfortable to your child.  Make sure to avoid clothing with scratchy tags, elastic waistbands or cuffs and annoying seams.  SmartKnitKIDS seamless undies and socks feel great against the skin.

Daylight Savings Time

Many children thrive on routine and when that routine is disrupted just a little bit (looking at you, Daylight Savings Time), it can wreck havoc on the whole family.  A sensory sensitive kid may have a tough time coping with the change, especially the spring change when everything gets a little earlier.

Well, we’re a little late to the game on this year’s Daylight Savings Time prep, but it never hurts lay out a good plan for future.  The easiest way to prepare a child for Daylight Savings Time change is to gradually move bedtime back by several minutes each day by several days in advance.  The gradual change will be less taxing on the child’s internal clock making the time change easier.

With a little bit of preparation, even your most sensory sensitive child can successfully navigate their way into spring.

Pets for Kids with Autism

February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day! Pets can be an amazing thing for children with autism, sensory disorders or any number of other special needs.  Animal therapy has increased in recent years to treat a multitude of health conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, heart disease, emotional and behavioral disorders and chronic pain.  It seems only logical that someone would study the effects of animal therapy on children with autism.

dog

In 2014, the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine did just that.  MU’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction found that autistic kids who have a family pet at home have more advanced social skills and are more assertive and communicative than autistic kids without pets.

children_with_animals-t3

Dr. Gretchen Carlisle, the lead author, and her team, studied 70 families who have children that are patients at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  While most of the families had dogs, several had a variety of other animals including fish, farm animals, rabbits, reptiles, birds and even a spider.

article-2539802-1AACE2C800000578-283_964x689

Dr. Carlisle’s data showed that children who live in homes that include pets were more likely to introduce themselves, ask questions and respond to other people’s questions – all things that can be difficult for children with autism.  The researchers felt that the pets helped to provide an opportunity for the children to interact with others without realizing they were doing it.

children_and_animals_640_01

But, Dr. Carlisle cautions that finding the right animal is key and is also different for each autistic child.  Dogs typically are the most common pets, especially for children, due to their energy, affection and playfulness.  But, for a child with a sensitivity to noise, a barking dog may not be the best option.  Cats can be great for a child like this – or rabbits, gerbils, etc.  It’s important to match your child’s needs and personality to a pet that he or she can really bond with.  There are a number of animals that can make really great pets: guinea pigs, iguanas, farm animals (as long as you live in the proper environment for them.)  Remember, someone in this study actually had a spider!

children_with_animals_friends-t3

There are several other studies that conclude that owning a pet can really be beneficial to most people.  Bonding with a pet has been shown to encourage empathy towards other humans.  Pets have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate and can even help children and adults to gain independence that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

There are so many reasons to love your pets and the benefits that they have for autistic kids are just a few of those reasons.  Give your furry friends some extra love this Tuesday . . . or maybe some of their favorite treats!

The information for this blog post came from the following articles.  Read more at the links below:

https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/autism-and-pets-more-evidence-social-benefits
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pets-help-autistic-kids-advance-social-skills/

https://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2014/1230-children-with-autism-who-live-with-pets-are-more-assertive/

https://blog.brainbalancecenters.com/2014/09/benefits-pet-ownership-children-special-needs

** Photos are from bhmpics.com; copperpointresort.com; dailymail.co.uk and foodexposed.co.za

 

 

Surviving Winter with an SPD Kid

Winter!  It’s a tough season for all of us, but especially parents of sensory sensitive kids.  Your concern for your kids shifts back and forth between keeping them warm and managing their sensitivities.  Every kid is different, but following a few tips will help you navigate the winter more successfully with your sensitive child.

Wash Everything

At the start of a new season, most parents are pulling out a few old things from last season, but also doing a lot of buying of new things to wear.  Run the old clothes that have been sitting in the back of a closet through the wash to help freshen them up.  But, go ahead and wash all your kid’s new things, too.  Washing new things before wearing them can help loosen and soften them.

Remove Tags

Every sensory parent knows that’s the first thing to do, of course.  Some tags are worse than others and new things may need to be tried and inspected for any extra discomforts.  Don’t forget coats, scarves, hats, gloves, etc.  These are easy to overlook since they go over other clothes, but you never know how something will rub or irritate.

Keep Skin Moisturized

Sometimes sensitive kids can experience even more difficulty when it comes to dry skin.  Be sure to lotion them up every day and use a good chap stick.  It will also help if they’re well hydrated, so make sure they’re drinking plenty of water, too.  Water – not juice or soda!

Prepare them Before the Season

Test your kiddo ahead of time to see what items will bother them.  Bundle them up with anything you would on their coldest day – coat, hat, scarf, gloves.  You’ll have time to find a solution for anything that is irritating.

Hand Warmers

Some children will find gloves uncomfortable and refuse to wear them.  And since SmartKnitKids doesn’t make gloves at present, you’ll need to find something that works to keep their hands warm.  A hand warmer in each pocket may do the trick.

Dress in Layers

Since some kids, try as you might, just will not wear a winter coat, you may have to resort to multiple layers.  You can find several shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, etc. and add several layers to your kiddo.  Thermal shirts like ones made by athletic gear companies may help, too, since they’re thin and designed to keep you warm.

Keep Extra Clothes at School/Daycare

This extends the idea of dressing in layers.  If you keep an extra layer or two at school, it’s fewer things to keep track of when leaving the house, but can provide a little extra warmth if the child didn’t arrive at school with enough.

Experiment with Different Fabrics

Some children might like the super softness of fleece and others may feel it’s too bulky.  Some might like the sleekness of a thermal shirt, but others may not.  Give you child a choice between certain fabrics that you approve of to create extra warmth.

Socks

Don’t forget our SmartKnitKIDS socks.  Keeping feet warm during the winter is important.  SmartKnitKIDS socks will be more comfortable for sensitive kids because of our super soft, stretchy fabric and no seams.  They also help keep feet dry, which in turn keeps them warmer during the winter.  I like to stick some over my baby’s hands, too, instead of mittens.  They stay on better than baby mittens and they’re nice and comfortable. 😉

Stay positive, moms and dads.  Although it may not feel like it, the warm weather isn’t toooo far off.