Category Archives: sensory processing

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!

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.

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.

 

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

Santa's Hands

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.

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

Sihouette of young family with luggage walking at airport, girl pointing at the window

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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Make a Difference Day – October 24, 2015

This Saturday, October 24, 2015 is Make a Difference Day.  Held every fourth Saturday in October, Make a Difference Day is a community service event with a mission to improve the lives of others.

Making a difference in the lives of others is why we do what we do.  In fact, it’s the mission statement of our parent company – Knit-Rite.  Our products, including SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks, undies, bralette and compresso tees, are designed to help people.

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SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks are knitted using a process borrowed from nature – just like a caterpillar “knits” his cocoon.  We start at the toe and knit each sock cocoon style toward the top, resulting in a perfectly seamless sock.

But, what’s the big deal about seams, you ask?  Many children (and even some adults) who experience sensory processing differences, or hypersensitivity find seams irritating, annoying and absolutely unbearable.  We’ve heard so many stories of parents struggling to put socks on their children every morning because of difficulty in children coping with these irritating seams.  SmartKnitKIDS seamless products are perfect for these children.  Our socks and undergarments will not wrinkle or bunch and lay perfectly against the skin making them more comfortable and reducing irritation.

Most parents find that SmartKnitKIDS seamless products help their sensitive children to have stress-free days.  But, don’t take our word for it.  Just listen to what some of our customers say:

My daughter battles me every morning when I ask her to put her socks on so we can get her on the kindergarten bus on time–she hates the sock seams and no matter how we arrange the socks/tights on her foot, we can’t seem to get it so the seam isn’t annoying her. I thought this was very strange until I read other people’s comments on this web site. I ordered two pairs of socks and when they arrived, she examined them suspiciously–she did spot a line on the sock, but held her foot out reluctantly anyway. When the sock went on, her face lit up and she said “Hey……we can put these socks on anytime!” We’ve been doing wash every other day to ensure clean socks, so I am ordering more of these! – Deborah, SmartKnitKIDS Parent

I could never get my son to wear socks before I discovered SmartKnit socks! The PE teacher demanded he wear socks and sneakers to class or he couldn’t participate in any playground fun- all he would wear were sandals. Once we started using SmartKnit socks he put his socks and shoes on without complaining! I threw all the other brands out! Thank you, thank you, thank you! – Michelle, SmartKnitKIDS Parent

It’s been a about a year since our five-year-old daughter, who has been diagnosed with both a sensory disorder and anxiety disorder, has been able to wear socks without a full blown, tear filled meltdown. I tried other “seamless” socks, but I quickly realized that what is seamless to one child is surely NOT seamless to our little girl. When I read about SmartKnit socks, I ordered one pair to see if they would work. When they arrived and I told our daughter that her new socks without “bumps” were here, she started to cry and say that she hates socks. I showed them to her, she took them, and she hid under the table. She popped out, wearing both a big smile AND the socks! She exclaimed, “Wow! These really work! I am going to wear them everyday!!!” With tears in my eyes, I called her dad and her grandparents to tell them the news! We will DEFINITELY be ordering more! Thanks from the bottom of our hearts!!!! – Alice, SmartKnitKIDS Parent

My son and I used to get so frustrated when it came to putting on socks and shoes. He would try on every sock in his drawer to find the one that bugged him the least. He also hated when socks would slouch and cause wrinkles in his shoes or snow boots. Sometimes he would come in from playing just to straighten his socks! I decided to give SmartKnit KIDS socks a try. When he put them on, he smiled and let out a sigh of relief. Then he smiled and said, “Thanks Mom!” Not only are these socks super soft and comfortable, they gently hug the foot and don’t “slouch”. No more uncomfortable wrinkles! He also really love the fact that there is no heal to “line up”. He really likes them, and I love that he can just grab a pair of socks and put them on! – Sherri, SmartKnitKIDS Parent

My five year old son has Autism and with that, a host of sensory processing issues. He has not worn socks since he was two. I found your socks online and ordered three pairs to start. We have incorporated them into his occupational therapy sessions and he is even starting to wear them to school. This is a HUGE accomplishment for him and I am so happy I came across your website. Thank you for making this wonderful product…keep up the good work! – Nina, SmartKnitKIDS Parent

At SmartKnitKIDS, we make a difference every day with our seamless products.  This Saturday, we challenge you to do something to make a difference in the life of someone else.  Make a Difference – Big or Small – Every day!

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Tips for a Smooth Back to School “Transition” with an SPD Kid

Smooth BTS

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 Back to School 2015 is upon us.  Children all over the country are packing their pencils and crayons into backpacks, getting class assignments and waiting for the bus.  But, the start of a new school year may not bring excitement to all families.  Back to School can create extra challenges for the already challenging lives of children with sensory processing disorders.  As you ready your kids for the next big school year, try some of the tips below for helping to make a seamless transition for you and your kids.

Manage the Morning – Create a list of all the tasks that must get done in the morning.  Time each one ahead of time, so that you know how long it will take on average.  Try to eliminate any stimuli or distractions to keep your child on task.

Bedtime Prep 2 Weeks Before – Begin prepping for your child’s school bedtime routine about 2 weeks before school starts.  You can iron out all the kinks that may come up ahead of time, as well as help your child become accustomed to the new routine.

Pump Your Kids Up – Children feed off of your energy.  If you demonstrate a lot of negative or nervous energy about the beginning of school, your children will pick up on this.  Be excited about the start of school and let your kids know it.  They’ll absorb your positive energy and be excited themselves.

Establish Communication with the Teacher – This one is so important.  You need to establish good communication with your child’s teacher right up front.  Make sure you know the best way to contact the teacher and when is a good time to contact her/him.  Help the teacher by letting them know about your child’s challenges, as well as methods that you have for helping them through it.

Have a Safe Zone – Establish a safe zone for your child.  Whenever things – such as homework, the bedtime routine or the morning fluster – get to be too overwhelming for your child, make sure he has a place to escape for a few minutes.  The safe zone should be free of stimuli and contain things that help him cope.

Visit School Ahead of Time – Most schools have a Back To School Night.  These can tend to be packed with people and a little overwhelming, however.  Gauge your child and if an event like this might be too much for him, arrange another time to visit the school during a calmer environment.  But, it’s important to visit the school ahead of time so that your child starts to develop a sense of familiarity with his new surroundings.

Pack a Sensory Kit – Pack a kit to put in your child’s backpack of things that help your child.  Let the teacher know what is in the kit and how it will help your child.  Making sure the teachers and administrators know the types of triggers that create challenges, as well as what things help your child to overcome them will help everyone.

Make a Trial Run – Practice the routine for the entire day ahead of time.  This should include getting ready in the morning, how the child will get to school and get home, and what activities they are to do when arriving home (i.e. homework, chores, playtime, TV time, etc.).  Knowing the routine what is expected of him each day, will help your child to adapt.

Give the Child a Sense of Control – A new routine might be a little scary for your son or daughter, but letting them make small choices will help them to feel more in control.  Make sure the choices are not open-ended, but between no more than two or three things.  For example: braid or ponytail for your daughter’s hair, the dinosaur, ninja turtle or super hero shirt for your son, cereal or pancakes for breakfast, Kids Bop or the soundtrack to Frozen in the car.

Make a Seam-Free First Day Outfit – As moms, we have a tendency to want to dress our children up for the first day.  They look so much cuter for all the first day photos.  It may be tough, but try to ignore this urge.  Choose an outfit that is comfortable and doesn’t have any annoying lumps, bumps or tags.  Your child will have a more comfortable first day all around if they’re feeling comfortable, too.  Don’t forget your SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks, underwear, bralette and compresso t, and your kiddo will be on their way to a great first day!!

Happy First Day of School 2015 from your friends at SmartKnitKIDS!!  Here’s to a seamless school year!!

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SmartKnitKIDS Compresso-T — The Soothing Compression Tank that Breathes

Many children with autism or sensory processing disorders find that deep pressure helps to calm and soothe them.  Constant and even pressure has a soothing effect, which can help many children to have better and more productive days.

Therapists and parents tend to turn to weighted vests or deep pressure vests to provide this compression.  But vests can be heavy, bulky and hot – especially during the summer months.  Sensitive kids may not want to wear a vest that they might find uncomfortable or “funny-looking”. Sensitive skin might get irritated or chafed under heavy vests.  Or, a child may have to wear an extra layer to protect skin, making them extra hot.

SmartKnitKIDS has a different solution.  Our seamless Compresso-T looks like a regular under shirt.  Made with seamless, super soft and breathable material, the Compresso-T is the ultimate in comfort for sensory challenged kids.  The Compresso-T is breathable, but also contains moisture wicking yarns to help pull moisture away from the skin and help keep the wearer cool.  Seamless finishing eliminates uncomfortable pressure points.

But, most importantly, the Compresso-T is made with ultra-stretchy yarns, which provide children with gentle compression, or a “hug”.  Parents find the Compresso-T gives their children the soothing benefits of constant and even pressure in a super soft and absolutely comfortable garment.compresso_t SKKIDS-CompressoT

Tips for Traveling with Sensory Sensitive Children

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Are We There Yet?!

Summer is here and it inevitably brings a season of travel – family weddings out of town, vacations to the beach or amusement parks.  As parents, it is always a challenge to plan entertainments for children, but parents of sensory sensitive children have added challenges.  When traveling with your children, remember these tips to help vacations and other trips go smoothly.  Bon Voyage!

  • Plan Ahead and Rehearse Your Trip – 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 on 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.
  • Travel With Help – Another family member or support person will be invaluable to any parent traveling with children, but especially with sensory challenged kids. The old adage “two heads are better than one” definitely applies here.  When things get rough, having an extra person available who can help with baggage, check-ins or even truck-stop bathroom breaks will help things go more smoothly.
  • Give Yourself Extra Time – If you’re not in a hurry, the trip will be more enjoyable for all – kids included. Make sure you arrive early for flights.  Leave early for car trips also so that you can plan to stop several times to stretch your legs.
  • Check into Accommodations for Children – If 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.
  • Bring Extra Clothes – Easy access to an extra set of clothes for each child will make getting through any mishaps easier and stress free. Bring a couple extra pairs of SmartKnitKIDS socks since they can sometimes disappear quicker than larger articles of clothing.
  • Bring 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.
  • 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 along a data hotspot.
  • Pack Snacks – Plan to bring some healthy snacks. Chewable and high-protein snacks like licorice and beef jerky are great choices, but you should plan things that each child will prefer and enjoy.
  • Remain Calm – Don’t let yourself get discouraged with minor setbacks. Take each day in stride and enjoy your trip as best as you can.

Reward yourself for a mission accomplished and announce to your kids, “We are there!”  Maybe it will even be before they have asked, “Are we there yet?!”