Category Archives: spd

Travel Tips for Families with Children

Travel cover photo

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.

buzzies-img.png

5 Tips for Helping Teens and Adults with Autism Manage Stress

In Bugsley’s Blog, we talk a lot about issues faced by autistic children, aspergers and sensory processing disorder.  In regards to these conditions, there are a lot of things that we, as a community, have learned over the years, and there are a lot of things that we still don’t know.  But, one thing we know for sure is that children living with autism, aspergers and sensory processing disorder grow up to be adults with the same conditions.

Many of the issues that these children live with, they will continue to live with as they become adults and this can lead to added stress.  And just like anyone else, autistic people can have stress from many areas of everyday life.  An autistic person that is not handling stress well may have any of these key signs: anxiety, crying spells, depression, desperation, difficulty concentrating, feeling overwhelmed, hopelessness, lack of enjoyment, nervousness, sadness, thoughts of suicide, trouble sleeping or worry.  But, there are lots of ways to help people living with autism to cope and manage stress.  Here are several.

kid-and-stress

from raisesmartkid.com

Help Them Engage in a Hobby – Hobbies help people to relax, recharge and are a good release of stress.  The possibilities for a rewarding hobby are as numerous as the stars.  Perhaps one may be interested in a creative hobby like music, painting, knitting or woodwork.  Reading is a good hobby.  Some like mysteries or poetry.  Maybe writing poetry, as well as reading.  Maybe a sport like soccer or running.  Do a little exploring to find out what you enjoy.

Let Them Make Home Decisions – Sometimes loss of control is a trigger of stress.  Returning some control, even small things, can help alleviate some stress.  Choosing what to eat for dinner, what to watch on TV, when to complete household chores and what to do on a Saturday afternoon may be things that will help give back some lost control.

Encourage Them to Be Open About Emotions – Holding back on one’s emotions may greatly contribute to stress.  Helping and encouraging talk about them can help manage some stress.

Stay Involved – Some autistic people are high functioning, while some are not.  As high-functioning autistics become teens and then adults, there is a tendency to step back and let them take the reins.  And this is okay, but stay involved in their lives.  Keep abreast of their progress in high school and college.  Engage in conversation about their interests and other aspects of their lives.  The interest and encouragement can help lower stress.

Offer Support – Finally, offer plenty of understanding, support and reassurance to help them work through their stresses.

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.

bugsley_T_desk

 

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!

sand-soil

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.

workshop.mintviz

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.

k2-_e1005624-ef0e-41c2-ae6e-b17ea32858da.v1

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Image

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!!

dr-seuss_SKK