Category Archives: sensory issues

SmartKnit DIY: Sensory Fidget Board

Who couldn’t use a Sensory Fidget Board?  This sensory toy is perfect for helping children focus their anxious and fidgety behavior.  The different textures, sounds and even scents of each piece of the fidget board will appeal to the senses.

Just like our sensory bottles, the Sensory Fidget Board is very easy to make at home with regular household tools AND can be customized for each person.  A fun way to plan your sensory board might include a shopping trip for the child who will use the board.  Wal-Mart and dollar stores are great places to start.  You can also buy many of these items on Amazon, too, if you familiar with the touch and texture of each item.  Choose things that your child is naturally drawn to and enjoys touching and holding.  We selected a few fun items that we liked for our sensory board, but the possibilities are truly endless!

Watch our step by step video for instructions on how to make ours.  Then, just adjust depending on whatever amazing items you choose for yours!

Sensory Fidget Board

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Supplies:

Directions:

  1. Using the pencil, trace the shape of the board onto the foam sheet.
  2. Use your scissors to cut out the foam shape.
  3. Peel off the backing from the foam sheet and carefully place it over the board.
  4. Carefully arrange the items onto the board and begin attaching them with glue gun or staple gun.  Be careful not to melt anything with your glue gun.
  5. When applying the hook and loop fastener, match up the hook side to the loop side as closely as possible and glue one side to your board.  Then add a small amount of glue in between the hook side and the loop side, so the two pieces stay together on the board but most of the strip will unfasten.
  6. Once you’re done attaching all your items, let the glue cool and harden.  That’s it!  Enjoy! 😉

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This was what we came up with, but the possibilities are truly endless.  😉

Here are a few other things that would work great on a sensory board!

Cotton balls

Mesh or Loufa sponges

Paint brushes or makeup brushes

Rubber bands

Silky hair ribbons

Silicone basting brush

Safety mirror (no sharp edges)

Raffia strips

Fine grain sand or smooth pebbles enclosed in plastic or fabric bag (ensure all sides are closed so nothing can escape)

Glass accent gems or marbles

Beaded play jewelry

Plastic hair curlers

Feathers

Slow-rising squeeze toys

Felt

We also love the idea of including water beads – as these are so nice to touch – but we couldn’t figure out a way to attach them and still get the full effect of them.  If you can think of a way, send us a message and let us know!

Back To School Sensory Kit Giveaway!

Don’t worry Moms and Dads of Sensory Sensitive Kids!  SmartKnitKIDS has just what you need for Back to School time.  Many moms and dads dread BTS time because they know it means a struggle to get their kids out the door in the morning for school.  And once you get your kiddo there, it’s a struggle for the teacher in keeping them focused and ready to learn.

That’s why we assembled this amazing BTS kit from several of our favorite sensory items we’ve come across in talking with occupational therapists and parents of sensory kids.  We have one kit for one lucky winner!  You can enter to win anytime between right now and the end of our sale on August 15 at 11:59 pm.  Enter by subscribing to our email list; commenting on any of our posts about the giveaway; visiting our SmartKnitKIDS facebook page or following @smartknitkids on Twitter.  It’s just that simple.

ENTER HERE

But, if you’re not the lucky winner, don’t despair.  We’ve made it very easy for you to order your own Back to School Sensory Kit.  Follow the links below to purchase each piece from our website www.smartknit.com or from our friends at Amazon!

$25 SmartKnit Gift Card

We love to make our amazing seamless socks, undergarments and compresso-t products part of every giveaway we do.  But, we know that size, style, color preferences, sensitivity and even needs vary from each individual kid, that’s why we don’t include any specific product as part of our giveaway.  Instead,  we always include an e-gift card that can be used to purchase any of our seamless products from www.smartknit.com.  You get $25 that can be used to buy whatever you need most.

Bouncy Chair Fidget

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This is a top fidget for kids with ADHD, Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder.  This specialized elastic band easily attaches to child’s chair and offers kids a change in environment needed to help them focus and be ready to learn.  The chair fidget is heavy duty and can withstand frequent kicking.  Another great feature is that it is silent – perfect for the classroom since it doesn’t cause noisy distractions.

Marble Fidget

Marble-Fidget

This small, handheld fidget is the perfect tool to help children that need to keep their hands occupied.  It is great for kids that tend to have desk distractions like pen clicking or pencil tapping.  Marble Fidgets are heavy duty and can withstand lots of “abuse” from active kiddos.  But, if it does break, no need to worry.  It comes with a guarantee!

Desk Buddy Textured Chewable Ruler

Desk-Buddy

Here’s another great fidget for your child to keep at his or her desk.  It was engineered by a team of occupational therapists and teachers.  Lay it at the top of your child’s desk and if the need arises, they can touch the sensory bar.  Several different textures will keep fingers happy!  And, it is made of FDA-approved material that is safe to chew on.  But, don’t worry if your child likes to put this item in their mouth.  It’s naturally bacteria resistant and dishwasher safe.

Lavender Scented Calming Putty

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This therapeutic calming putty gives a multi-sensory experience.  It provides a calming touch and smell, as well as working the hand muscles.  Children can twist and squeeze the putty, which helps build arm and hand muscles.  Lavender is known for its soothing qualities and then scent from this lavender putty can have a calming influence on a child or even promote sleep if used near bedtime or naptime.  Made of silicone, it is safe for children ages 4 and up.  Free of gluten, casein, latex and soy.

Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske

Raising-A-Sensory-Smart-Child

We love this book at SmartKnitKIDS.  It has definitely helped us to better understand a child with Sensory Processing Disorder.  It is a winner of the NAPPA Gold Award and iParenting Media Award.  The best thing about this book is that it helps parents learn how to advocate for their children at school and to empower their children in the world.

I’m Not Weird, I Have Sensory Processing Disorder by Chynna Laird

I'm-Not-Weird

This children’s book is told from the SPD child’s perspective and is a great tool for helping to explain SPD to other children.  It is truly a perfect addition to a classroom that has an SPD kid.  The book was inspired by the author’s own daughter.

Other Great Sensory Items that We Love

Net Therapy Indoor Swing

Net-Therapy-Swing

Sensory Chewable Droplet Pendant

Chew-Pendant

Hypnotic Liquid Motion Spiral Timer Toy

Sensory-Timer-Toy

Cozy Canoe for Sensory Diet

Cozy-Canoe

Body Sock Sensory Sack

Body-Sock

And more!

Don’t forget to enter our contest to win your own Back to School Sensory Kit!

ENTER HERE

 

Tips to Help a Sensory Kid Have a Fun 4th of July

Our country’s Independence Day celebration – better known as the 4th of July – is truly one of my favorite holidays.  What can be better than a day at the pool or the beach with family and friends, hamburgers and hotdogs cooked on the grill, and a spectacular fireworks show on a warm, summer evening?  Not much, right?!  Well, for a kid with sensory processing disorder, my idea of perfection might seem more like a day of torture – especially during the fireworks show.

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Too often, parents of sensory sensitive kids have to handle meltdowns or choose to hide out from the world instead of participating in our annual country-wide birthday party.  But, what if I told you that with a little thought and preparation, a family with a sensitive kiddo can be part of the festivities?  You can!  Just follow these helpful tips.

Preparation

As any parent of a sensory child knows, preparation is often key.  Doing a lot of prep work ahead of time will help your child to cope with the situation, manage his or her sensitivities and even enjoy the experience.

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  1. Limit the number of sensory exposures – Take an assessment of what activities the family would like to participate in and determine which ones might be difficult for your sensory kiddo. Every kid is different, as well as every community, so plan accordingly.  Maybe your child would prefer watching a 4th of July Parade through town, but wouldn’t be able to handle the fireworks display.  Or, perhaps it’s the other way around and avoiding the parade is best.  You know your child best and know how much is too much.  Limit your plans to what you feel your kiddo can handle.
  2. Limit the amount of junk food – This one might be difficult with all the cookouts, barbecues, ice cream trucks, etc. that might occupy your plans, but could be critical to helping your kiddo avoid a difficult situation. Too much sugar could lead to hyperactivity that will only enhance their sensitivities.  Choosing healthy fruits, veggies and proteins might make all the difference.
  3. Prepare the child before hand – Talk to your child days before hand about things that you know might upset him or her. Let your child know that there may be large crowds or very loud noise involved and reassure them that it doesn’t have to be scary.
  4. Rest before the festivities – Especially if you’ve already had a long day and you’re set on a fireworks show, give the child some cool and quiet down time a little while before. It will give everyone – you included – a chance to recharge their batteries and be better prepared for the evening fun.
  5. Set expectations – Sometimes a child just needs to feel in control. Find out what time a fireworks show or parade is expected to be finished so you can help your child understand how much time is involved.  Just knowing how much longer something is, might help your child to better cope.

Location

What is it they say about location?  It can make all the difference.  Sometimes just finding the right spot can help your child to relax and enjoy a great fireworks show.

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  1. Find a secluded spot – When I was a kid, my family would always watch the city’s professional display from a nearby elementary school playground or even sometimes the high school football field. These were some of the higher points in town, which meant we could see a really great display from pretty far away.  The display itself was far enough away that the noise wasn’t bad at all.  Amazingly, no one else had the same idea, so we usually had the location to ourselves.  We’d spread out a blanket and have a couple of snacks and it was truly perfect.  Of course, every city and town is different, and this may not be a valid option, but try some things out.  You might be surprised at what you’re able to come up with for a nice and happy time with your family.
  2. Watch from the car – As I said, sometimes seclusion is just not an option. If not, try watching a display from the car.  It might help to muffle some of the sounds.  This may also help your child to feel safe since the car is familiar.
  3. Watch from inside or on TV – The neighborhood I live in now is inhabited by serious pyrotechnic experts, I think. I mean, it must be anyway, because every street is equivalent to a professional display.  Every street!  While this really could make things difficult for sensory kids and pets alike, it does provide the ability to watch fireworks from pretty much any window in our house.  While this is certainly not ideal to a lot of sensory kids, it might be just what the doctor ordered for some.  And for real, mom wants to stay home in case she needs to call the fire department.

During the Show

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  1. Bring a familiar or favorite item – Wherever you decide to watch fireworks, bringing along a familiar or favorite item might give your child comfort if they have a moment of anxiety during a particularly loud or crazy moment.
  2. Establish a safe space – Have a designated place available that your child can escape to if things become too intense. It might be the car, the basement of your house, or I even saw that one parent would set up a tent where they were viewing fireworks.  If things got too loud or scary, the child just crawled in the tent and felt better.
  3. Earmuffs and sunglasses – If your child is sensitive to noise, give them a pair of noise cancelling headphones or earmuffs to help muffle the noise. It might make it easier to enjoy the pretty show.  Or if your child is sensitive to flashes of bright light, a pair of sunglasses will soften things up a little bit.
  4. Use fidget items – Bring along a few fidget items. If your child can focus some of his or her energy and attention elsewhere, they will have an easier time coping with the situation.
  5. Play a prediction game – While you’re watching a fireworks display, ask your child to guess what color each rocket will be or how many seconds until they hear the bang. Your child may have fun trying to guess, but it will also help to establish some predictability about what is happening.
  6. Be mindful of your child’s cues – Finally, watch your kiddo for how he or she is handling the day and each unfamiliar situation. Watch for his cues or signs that a difficult moment is brewing.  If you notice some familiar signs, don’t be afraid to call it a night and head home a little early.  It’s better to have a shorter night of fun, then a night that turns into a meltdown.

Here’s hoping your 4th of July celebration goes off with a bang!  Happy Independence Day to our SmartKnitKIDS family and Happy Birthday, America!

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.

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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.

Splitting Seams . . . Again

True SmartKnitKIDS pros out there know about the amazing differences between our seamless socks and other socks that claim to be seamless.  But, we know there are some rookies out there, too, so we thought it was about time for a quick refresher on the seamless playbook – just in time for Back to School shopping!

There is more than one way to knit a sock!  Truly.  But, most don’t claim to be seamless.  Of the ones that do, some of them are just that – a claim.  Let’s break them down.

Smooth or Hand-linked Seams

First up is a smooth or hand-linked seam.  This sock really does have a seam even though the seam is a lot more comfortable than regular sock seams.  The seam is created by linking together both sides of the sock to fuse together the toe of the sock.  The process is done very carefully to ensure that the resulting seam is as flat as possible.  But, the most seam-sensitive among us can still feel that pesky seam.  It’s not truly seamless.

HandLinkedSeams-1
This is an example of a handlinked seam.  Notice you can still see the seam line on the toe.
HandLinkedSeams-Hand-2 Here is the handlinked seam turned inside out.  It is better than a traditional sock, but still has a seam line.

SmoothSeams-1

Here is an example of a smooth seam.  It is very faint, but you can still make out the seam line.

SmoothSeams-Hand-2

And this is what your toes would feel.  This is the inside of a sock with smooth seams.

Truly Seamless

To make a sock that is truly seamless you have to start at the toe.  Then there is nothing to sew or fuse together.  No seams!  SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks are knitted by starting at the toe and working up from there.  It’s just like a caterpillar knitting a cocoon.  No seam means no irritation.

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This is one of our SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks.  See how there is no irritating seam anywhere in the toe of the sock.

TrulySeamless-Hand-2

This is the same sock turned inside out.  Again, it is easy to see that SmartKnitKIDS socks are truly seamless.
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The difference between the seam types is clear when side by side.

Pressing Line

So some parents tell us that their child can still feel a “seam” on our SmartKnitKIDS socks.  Are they feeling a seam on our seamless socks?  The answer is no, although they may think they’re feeling one.  Why?  Because of what we call the pressing line.  The pressing line is something that occurs in the “finishing” process of our socks.  After the socks are knitted, they are pressed to give them a finished look.  To some children, this line can feel like a seam and can be irritating.  But, it can be easily washed out.  It may take a few times through the wash, but a pressing line should diminish.

PressingLine

This sock is also a SmartKnitKIDS sock, but see how there is a very faint line around the toe.  This sock has gone through the finishing process and has been pressed.

PressingLine-Magnified

Here is a close up of the pressing line.  As it sometimes resembles a seam, some people mistake it for a seam.

Cuff Only on Small and Medium

Okay, one more item for discussion.  Many of our customers have noticed that the Smalls and Mediums have a woven cuff, but the larger sizes do not.  Why is this?  The main reason for this is due to the very small size of these two smallest socks, they require a little more special care in making them resulting in the cuff.  The added bonus is that smaller children tend to have more trouble keeping their socks pulled up and the extra cuff helps with that.

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This is the size difference between a small and an x-large.  Notice how the small has a cuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Tips for Families with Children

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Are we there yet!?  The end of the school year brings on the beginning of summer travel!  Sometimes travel can cause so much added stress that they are not even fun for the parents of children – especially parents with special needs children.  The point of most summer travel is to have fun and create family memories for both children and their parents.  So, what can parents do to make summer travel less stressful and more fun?  Following this roadmap will help you to avoid many of the stressful detours of summer travel!

Travel Planning

  • Plan Ahead of Time – Make a detailed itinerary and make sure your children understand each leg of the journey. For children that have anxiety, it may help to rehearse parts of the trip.  Take some short practice runs in the car to help the child become accustomed to entertaining themselves in the car.  Visit the airport in advance and point things out to your children.  Watch planes land and take off.  When your trip arrives, the travel expectations you have for your children will feel more familiar and comfortable.
  • Give Yourself Extra Time – If flying, be sure to arrive at the airport well in advance. Although, it does mean extra time at the airport, it will ensure that you have time to make any necessary adjustments.  If you are driving, leave extra early so you can plan to stop several times along the way to stretch your legs or even visit interesting sites on the road.  If you are not in a hurry, the trip will be more enjoyable for all.
  • Travel with Help – If possible, you should plan on at least two adults traveling with your party, especially if you are bringing more than one child, or a special needs child. When things get rough, an extra person who can help with baggage, check-ins or even truck-stop bathroom breaks will help things go more smoothly.
  • Accommodations for Children – If you are using commercial transportation, call ahead to see what accommodations are in place for children. Take advantage of anything that may be helpful in keeping your children comfortable and entertained.
  • Travel During Sleep Times – Many children have an easier time traveling while they sleep. If possible, plan to leave at night or when your kids are used to taking naps.

What to Pack

  • Electronic Devices – Tablets, phones or other electronic devices provide touch, visual and audio input for children. Remember a set of headphones and a pair of sunglasses to help those sensitive to bright light.  Download age-appropriate games ahead of time, or make sure your data plan will be sufficient for your entire trip.  You can also bring a data hotspot.  Ensure that all your devices are charged and that you’ve brought extra chargers, especially if you are sharing devices with your children.  You won’t want to be in a jam if the kids used up all the battery playing games just when you need your map app to get you to your next stop.
  • Snacks – Pack plenty of healthy, low-sugar snacks that your children are familiar with and enjoy. Chewable and high-protein snacks are great choices, as well as things that do not need a lot of prep and can easily be eaten on the go.  You never know when a flight will be delayed or if the next restaurant is not for another 100 miles down the road.
  • Special Needs Foods – If your child has special dietary restrictions, be sure to bring things you know they can eat. Special needs foods may be harder if you don’t know the area as well as home.
  • Insurance Cards – Just in case you need to visit a doctor while out of town, be sure to carry your insurance cards with you. It will make the process much easier and you’ll be able to save your concerns for your sick child.
  • Bring Extra Clothes – Most likely, if flying, you’ll need to check bags. Or, if driving, you may have a very packed trunk with multiple bags.  Easy access to an extra set of clothes for each child will make getting through any mishaps easier and stress free.  Socks tend to disappear easily, so don’t forget a few extra pairs of SmartKnitKIDS socks, too.
  • Toys – Pack several small sensory input toys that will keep your children’s attention for longer periods of time. Choose things that are easy to pack and pick up, but also things that your children already enjoy.  Good examples are Rubix Cubes, rubber band balls and Play-Doh.  You may want to have a few things to play with in the hotel, as well, for downtown.
  • Safey – Pack a first aid kit. Make sure each child has a proper car seat.  Bring all medications your children take daily.

Establish Ground Rules

  • Create Realistic Expectations – Know what your children can handle and what they will not be able to handle. You may need to add extra stops into your itinerary or perhaps travel over multiple days.  Don’t pack too much into your day to overwhelm kids.
  • Discuss the House Rules – Make sure your children know what will be expected of them at all locations – how to behave on a plane or in a hotel or even what special rules Grandma has at her house. Knowing what is expected up front will help them to follow along with your expectations.

Make Memories

  • Pack Your Sense of Humor – Make the trip fun for you and your kids. Laugh with your kids and tell jokes.  Make up road trip games to play together along the way.  It will make the trip more fun, enjoyable and memorable for you and your kids.
  • Visit Local Site for Children – Help your kids create a memory of their adventure. Visiting a playground, children’s museum or other children’s attractions while on the road will not only give them something fun to remember during your travels, but will also give your kids a chance to burn up some energy they’ve accumulated along the way.

Stay Calm and Expect Changes of Plans

  • Remain Calm – Don’t let yourself get discouraged with minor setbacks. There will always be things that happen – a speeding ticket or a missed connection during a layover.  Take each day in stride and enjoy your trip as best as you can.
  • Expect Changes in Plans – It’s okay if you don’t make it to everything you wanted to do with your kids. If you stay calm and continue to have fun with what you do make it to, your kids will build happy memories of your travels.  If you stress about changes, they may, too, and that’s what they’ll remember about your trip.

Following these travel guidelines will help your trip to go smoothly so that all will have fun.  In 20 years, you’ll all be sitting around the dinner table reminiscing about your fond memories of your trip.  So, buckle up and build memories seeing the world with your family.

Guest Blog: Top Five Distractions for Children in the Classroom

From Buzzies.

Parents and teachers know that it can be challenging to keep children focused and on task. Classrooms are full of distractions, especially for children with attention deficit disorders or autism spectrum disorders. It is important to understand why children are distracted so that we can create calm and focused learning spaces.

Here are the top five distractions for children in the classroom, according to Neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin:

1) internal distractions, internal thoughts, anxiety, etc.
2) sensory sensitivities, too much noise, light, temperature sensitivities, etc.
3) too much sitting still- kids need to move in order to stay focused. Sitting still for too long makes it hard
4) Sudden distractions- loud noises, other kids chatting, etc and
5) Teacher talking too long…kids attention spans are short and teaching in a way that exceeds these spans will mean distractibility because the methods aren’t developmentally appropriate.

Buzzies can help some children to focus by lessening reactivity to sensory distractions and by lowering stress associated with internal thoughts or distractions. Buzzies basic is a version of Buzzies that children can take anywhere and use in the classroom. Buzzies original and Buzzies basic act passively and in real time, they don’ t just buzz to remind a kid to pay attention. There is nothing like Buzzies! Fidget toys, reminders, teacher prompts, etc. all can be helpful but Buzzies work continuously and in real time to help reduce the stress response, which can lead to better focus in some children.

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