Category Archives: sensory processing

How to Choose the Best Back-to-School Clothes for a Child with SPD

Choosing the Right Back to School Clothes for Your SPD Child

It’s part of the rite of passage for the start of each school year – back to school clothes.  Every family takes part in this ritual – some with excitement and joy, and others with dread.  Families with SPD children must tackle this task than most.  But, following these few tips will help you end up with new school clothes your child won’t fight you to wear.school

  1. Allow Your Child’s Preferences to Dictate Your Choices – Take your child shopping with you. Let him select outfits that feel good and are comfortable.  They may choose clothes that are loose fitting or baggy.  Or, they may prefer things to fit more snuggly.  They may prefer certain fabrics or fasteners.  Resist the urge to select outfits of your choosing.  As long as the clothes are school appropriate, your child will be more likely to wear them if he has selected them himself.
  2. Choose Items that Don’t Have Extras – Most experienced sensory parents will recommend seamless and tagless clothes, those with no zippers, buttons, or buckles, and those that are extra soft. This especially goes for things like undergarments.  Many children find SmartKnitKIDS seamless bralettes, undies for girls and boxer briefs for boys to be more comfortable than traditional undergarments.  They are all made with super soft materials and are knitted with no seams.
  3. Give Your Child Time to Get Used to the New Clothes – Some clothes and shoes need to be “broken in” before they are comfortable. Do your school shopping a few weeks ahead of time.  Then let your child wear her new clothes for short periods of time leading up to the start of school.  You’ll learn if there are things that make certain outfits annoying or uncomfortable.
  4. Stock Up on Tried and True Things – You know your kiddo. If you’ve found that a certain brand of t-shirt gets the most wear, buy several in different colors and even different sizes.  You may get sick of seeing the same thing on your kid, but if your child is dressed and comfortable, you’ve really scaled quite a mountain.
  5. Choose an Irritant-Free Laundry Detergent – This is something that can often-times be overlooked, but some people have sensitivities to certain dyes and perfumes in laundry detergent. For most people with this sensitivity, it can cause skin rash or irritation, but could also cause an itchy sensation.  Most major detergent brands make a dye and perfume free version that will help cut down on the sensitivity and irritation.  Also, avoid dryer sheets.
  6. Practice Dressing – Some children find comfort in a routine and this can be especially true when dressing. If your child is one of these, help them come up with a comfortable routine of dressing in the morning.  It will make school days go smoother.  Another reason to practice dressing is that you will find there are some things that your child has difficulty with – buttons, or difficult snaps.  You can help them work through these difficulties, or determine that a certain article of clothing may be better for home wear.
  7. Choose Weighted Clothing or Compression Shirts – Many children with Sensory Processing Disorder find comfort in heavy garments. They might be most comfortable completely covered, or want to wear fleece or other heavier fabrics.  Some have described this as putting a protective layer between them and the outside world.  Weighted vests tend to offer a solution for some, but many of these options are not ideal in warm environments or warmer months.  A compression shirt like the Compresso-T from SmartKnitKIDS gives children a sense of protection and calming without bulky or unnecessary fabrics.  The Compresso-T is lightweight and moisture wicking – the perfect solution for hot weather, or as a layer underneath other clothing.
  8. Get Rid of Regular Socks, the Biggest Irritant of All – We hear from parents everyday who tell us that socks are the biggest irritating issue for their child. Lumps, bumps and seams bunch and rub making wearing them very uncomfortable for them.  All of our SmartKnitKIDS socks are made with super soft and stretchy materials that are very comfortable for kids.  And better yet, they are knitted cocoon-style meaning that there are absolutely no seams throughout.  Your kids can rest easy knowing that there will be no irritating lumps or bumps to bug them at school.

Following these eight tips will help you with your child’s Back to School wardrobe, as well as navigating through the morning routine during school days.  For more general tips on preparing for Back to School with an SPD kid, check out this post.

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6 Sensational Summer Sensory Activities

We’ve arrived at summer!  With no school for the next three months, many parents struggle to find ways to keep their children entertained.  The activities below are great fun for all kids, but are especially good for children who struggle with sensory processing disorder.  They are all great ways to introduce children to new textures and senses in a fun and non-threatening environment.

Sand and Water Play

Children have always loved playing in the sand and water.  This is a great way to experience tactile input in fun and creative ways.  But, since not everyone has a beach in close proximity, try a sand and water table.  These great toys come in several different shapes and sizes and can be set up most anywhere.  They are relatively easy to clean out, so sand and water can be changed out frequently, so as to not invite dirty, unsanitary environments.  Better yet, you can fill them with just about anything textured to help a child explore.  Uncooked rice, beans or noodles and shaving cream also make great options.  And if cleaned out at the end of the summer, the child can even use it with winter snow!  Add some toys to mix to make playtime even more fun!

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Play Doh, Gak, Oobleck, Silly Putty

Children need to be able to touch a variety of textures in order to develop normal tactile processing.  These great substances can allow a child to develop, while also being creative, exploring and having fun.  A set of cookie cutters, small bowls and measuring cups will enhance the fun and exploration.

Sensory Scavenger Hunt

Plan a scavenger hunt for the kiddos using different textured areas of your yard.  Include an activity or something to find in the grass, mud, flowers, water or any area that will give them a different textured experience.

Blow Bubbles

What kid doesn’t like to play with bubbles?  Start out by blowing the bubbles for the kids and let them chase them around.  Then help them to blow the bubbles themselves.

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Crazy Straws

Buy a package of fun and crazy straws.  You can use them to let the kiddos use their breath to blow different objects around.  (Lightweight boats in a small pool of water is a lot of fun.)  When the kids get thirsty, they can use the straws to sip on some lemonade.

Water Balloon Catch

Play the good old fashioned water balloon catch game.  The surprise drop of a balloon and spray of water will be a fun way to help them develop.  If you’re unsure of whether or not it will scare your kids, just show them up front what it looks and feels like.

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Bugsley Bucks for Autism Awareness Month

Nearly 25 years ago, the Autism Society designated the month of April as Autism Awareness Month.  What they began was a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all.  Today, the prevalence of autism is 1 in every 88 American children.

SmartKnitKIDS works every day in manufacturing products that help children with sensory differences. Many children with autism also have these sensory issues and therefore, irritations like clothing seams can feel like big irritations to these kids.  SmartKnitKIDS socks are seamless, leaving nothing to irritate sensitive feet and toes.  The form-fitting design gives children’s feet a gentle “hug”, which provides closeness and gentle pressure that are soothing to children.  SmartKnitKIDS uses this same technology and design in a host of other products for kids with sensory issues, including Big Kids SocksKids UndiesCompresso T, and Bralette.

SmartKnitKIDS believes in spreading awareness of the condition, as well as celebrating the amazing individuals that live with autism daily. To celebrate these great kiddos, we are offering one amazing deal on SmartKnitKIDS and Big Kids products.  For any purchases made in the month of April that are at least $25*, SmartKnit will send you a Bugsley Bucks card in your order.  The Bugsley Bucks cards will then work like cash on a single purchase made between May 1 and June 15.

$25 – $49.99 Spent = $5 in Bugsley Bucks
$50 – $74.99 Spent = $10 in Bugsley Bucks
$75 – $99.99 Spent = $15 in Bugsley Bucks
$100 – $124.99 Spent = $20 in Bugsley Bucks
$125+ Spent = $25 in Bugsley Bucks

And we haven’t forgotten about those ordering small amounts either.  Any order under $25 will receive 10% off at checkout!

So, this April, we encourage you to do something to raise awareness for autism.  Wear blue. Put a blue light on your front porch. Participate in a local autism event. And don’t forget to order your SmartKnitKIDS products for extra Bugsley Bucks!!

* Subtotal must reach $25.  Tax and shipping are not included.  See www.smartknit.com/rewards for more details.

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!!

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Groundhog Day

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Do you ever feel like you’re living in Groundhog Day?  You know the movie from the early 90s starring Bill Murray where he continually relives the same day, February 2, Groundhog Day?  Your version probably consists of mornings battling your sensitive child to put socks on.  Then you have to adjust the socks, and adjust them again, and then again and again.  Finally, all the lumps and bumps are smoothed away and the seams are in just the right spot.  Once you have the socks just right, you now have the challenge of getting his shoes on without disturbing your hard work adjusting the socks.  If they move, you’re back to square one.  And that’s only Monday.  And Tuesday.  And Wednesday.  You get the idea.  Your own version of Groundhog Day.

In the movie, Bill Murray’s character eventually breaks the cycle and wakes up on February 3, the next day, a new and different day.  It’s time that your family breaks the cycle, too, so you can move on to a new day – one without the morning sock battle.

SmartKnitKIDS socks are a great way to cure the lumps, bumps and seams for good.  Our kids’ socks feature truly seamless construction, knitted like a cocoon from the toe up.  So, there’s no need for seams, or lines or bumps or any of those annoying things.  Our socks feature Halo Top™ which is comfortable and non-binding and helps keep the socks in place without making indentations.  The yarns used in SmartKnitKIDS socks are made with high tech fibers to wick moisture away from the skin and preventing stinky feet.

These socks may make the difference between living in Groundhog Day or waking up tomorrow knowing that it’s a new day!

Visiting Santa with an Autistic or Sensory Sensitive Child

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The annual visit to Santa is one of the hallmarks of the holiday season.  But, this fun and happy tradition can be a scary and stressful activity for a child with autism or sensory disorder.

There’s a growing trend across the country to offer stress free time with Santa for special needs children.  Many of them, Like Caring Santa, are sponsored by autism awareness groups like Autism Speaks.  Perhaps you saw the story done last week and published in USA today about a young autistic child that had a very unique and memorable visit with Santa.  Pictures were posted all around social media sites of young Brayden Deely, along with Santa, sprawled out on the floor enjoying a few stress free moments together.  It was a memorable picture and one many parents hope for.

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For more information about Caring Santa, please visit the link at Autism Speaks.

Events like Caring Santa are truly making strides in helping children with autism or other special needs to enjoy some of the traditional activities associated with the holiday season.  But, the locations where it is offered are still fairly sparse.  Some parents don’t have the option of a Caring Santa event close at hand, but would still like to give their children the opportunity to visit with Santa.  Follow these tips to have a more successful trip with your child:

  1. Prepare your child with a mental picture – You may have to do some advance work to observe how the Santa in your area operates. Where does the line form?  What are the options that your child has when talking to Santa (sit on his lap, sit beside him, or stand beside him)? What does the area look like?  Will there be photos?  Will Santa have helpers there, such as elves?  The more details you can tell your child about, the more likely they are to feel comfortable.
  2. Plan ahead – During your visit, or a call afterwards, ask if it is possible for Santa and his staff to offer special accommodations for special needs children. Find out if there are any special details that you should be aware of.
  3. Go during a week day – Week days are generally less busy than evenings or weekends. You might be able to avoid long lines, as well as over-stimulating crowds.
  4. Make a schedule for the day – Some children like to know exactly what events will transpire in a given day. You can print off a schedule and point out where the Santa visit is.  Let your child hold it and follow along.
  5. Dress your child comfortably – Resist the temptation to dress your child in the adorable, but uncomfortable, Christmas outfit. Visiting Santa may be a little overwhelming, and an uncomfortable outfit might just be too much.  Save the Christmas outfit for some cute photos another day.
  6. Give your child an incentive for being good – No matter how well you’ve planned, you may still have to wait. Plan ahead of time to have an incentive for being good, such as new toy or a special privilege.
  7. Be open to other options – Despite all your best plans, your child just may not be able to tolerate visiting a mall Santa. Look into schools or churches that offer time with Santa.  Or, even have a family member rent a Santa suit and visit the child at home.  This might turn into an even better tradition for your family.
  8. Read a story or watch a video about visiting Santa – This is another way to help your child to be prepared for his or her Santa visit. We found the video below, which very calmly describes what your child will experience during a Santa visit.

Most importantly, make the visit fun for your child.  If it is too stressful or frustrating than it won’t be enjoyable for anyone.  You’ll want to create fun and lasting memories that your child will remember each year.

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Tips

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With the Halloween costumes put away for the year and the children feasting on their Halloween candy haul, it’s time to begin thinking of the Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s right around the corner!  Thanksgiving weekend is known for being one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  According to AAA, last year 46.3 million Americans packed their bags and journeyed at least 50 miles away from home to spend the holiday with family or friends.

Thanksgiving weekend travel is already stressful due to the sheer numbers of fellow travelers, but it can be even more stressful for families with young children – especially children with special needs.  So, if you’ll be among America’s travelers in a few weeks, follow these travel tips to help your family have a smooth and happy holiday trip!

  1. Plan Ahead – Make a detailed itinerary and make sure your children understand each leg of the journey. Rehearse parts of the trip that may give your children moments of anxiety. Take your child on short, practice runs for car trips, or visit the airport ahead of time. Walk through the airport and point out things to your child and watch some planes take off and land. When travel day arrives, the travel expectations will feel more familiar and comfortable.
  2. Arrive Early for Flights – Planning to arrive at the airport early will ensure that you’ll have time to make adjustments for any travel “roadblocks”. Be sure to bring enough activities to keep your children entertained for any waits or delays that may occur
  3. 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.
  4. Charge Your Devices – Ensure that all your devices are charged and that you’ve brought extra chargers. You won’t want to be in a jam if the children have used up all the battery playing games just when you need your map app to get you to your next stop.
  5. Pack Plenty of Snacks – Pack plenty of healthy, low-sugar snacks that your children are familiar with and enjoy. You never know when a flight will be delayed or if the next restaurant is not for another 100 miles down the road.  Healthy snacks will help keep kids from getting cranky due to hunger.
  6. 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 with your kids along the way.  It will make the trip more fun, enjoyable and memorable for you and them.
  7. Bring or Buy 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Do a Safety Check – Pack a first aid kit. Make sure each child has a proper car seat.  Bring all medications your children are on.
  10. Pack 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.
  11. Visit a Local Playground – Help your kids create a memory of their adventure. Visiting a playground while on the road or in Grandma’s hometown will not only give them something fun to remember during your travels, but will also give your kids a chance to burn up some of the energy they’ve accumulated while playing 50 State License Plate Bingo in the backseat.
  12. Keep Your Cool! – There will always be things that happen, whether it be a speeding ticket from the highway patrol or a missed connection during a layover. Take a deep breath and go with the flow.  If you don’t stress things that happen outside of your control, you’ll better enjoy your trip and so will your kids.

Remember at the end of the road is Grandma’s special turkey and dressing or pumpkin pie that you’ve been craving for months – as well as hugs and smiles and family memories.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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