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SmartKnit DIY: Sensory Books

We’ve got another great DIY Craft Project for you!  And we’re so excited about this one!  Today we’re making Sensory Texture Books.  Texture books are a great tool to give your kiddos a sensory input take-along.  This could be useful in the car, the shopping cart, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or even waiting for your food in a restaurant. This book provides hours of calm touch-and-feel time for your kiddo that needs sensory input . . . or let’s face it, any kiddo!

So let’s get right to it! Here’s how to make your own Sensory Texture Book!

Supplies:

• Glue Gun
• Multiple Sheets of Hard Felt
• Multiple Full-Length Texture Sheets
• Extra Textured Items
• Yarn
• 3-Hole Punch

**Note: Our texture sheets included a textured coloring sheet, a piece of faux fur, a plastic canvas sheet, a sequinned pillowcase, a piece of textured paper, 2 shaped pegboards, and some pompoms.  But, you can use ANYTHING.  That’s what makes this craft so fun.  Follow our pattern, or branch out and make your own!

Steps:

  1. Use a 3-hole punch to punch holes in each sheet of hard felt.
  2. Page #1: Textured Coloring Sheet
    1. Carefully glue all 4 edges with a glue gun.
  3. Page #2: Faux Fur
    1. Carefully glue all 4 edges with a glue gun.
  4. Page #3: Plastic Canvas Sheet
    1. Carefully glue each of the 4 corners with a glue gun.
  5. Page #4: Sequin Pillowcase
    1. Cut out a portion of the sequined pillowcase to fit felt sheet.
    2. Carefully glue all 4 edges with a glue gun.
  6. Page #5: Textured Paper
    1. Carefully glue all 4 edges with a glue gun.
  7. Page #6: Extra Textured Items
    1. Carefully glue peg boards to hard felt.
    2. Next carefully glue pom-poms to hard felt.
    3. Remove hot glue strings.
  8. Cut three pieces of yarn, each at 6-9 inches.
  9. Thread through the holes in the hard felt sheets.
  10. Tie each piece of yarn in a double knot to secure it.
  11. Enjoy!

That’s it!  So easy and fun!

Watch our step by step video here:

Sensory Suggestions for Back to School

It’s that time again, Moms and Dads!  That’s right, back to school time is upon us – whether we’re excited about it or not!

At SmartKnitKIDS everything we do is seamless – really it is!  So, we want to help you plan a Back To School 2019 that is as seamless as our socks.  We’ve formulated a list of some great suggestions for a successful Back to School that will help your kiddos have a super seamless year!

SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Sensitivity Socks


You’re already familiar with our Seamless Sensitivity Socks, but it bears repeating. These socks are perfectly seamless. We’re able to do this with a unique manufacturing process where the socks are knitted in the same way that a caterpillar knits a cocoon. Not only that, but they’re made of super soft, stretchy, form-fitting materials, so they’re extra comfortable. And they don’t wrinkle or bunch up. Our high-tech fibers wick moisture away from the skin making them drier also.

SmartKnitKIDS Compresso-T


Another must have for Back to School is our Compresso-T.  Compresso-T’s deep pressure feeling provides the ideal amount of compression for a gentle “hug” feel that helps calm or focus your child. This is a great tool for kids that crave deep sensory input or a child that needs a little extra help in sitting still and focusing.

SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Undies and Bralettes



Just like with socks, many children are bothered by seams in their undergarments. That’s why SmartKnitKIDS also makes seamless undies and bralettes, too! Same great materials with moisture-wicking fibers and no seams. Can’t beat that!

Other Great Sensory School Supplies

Our SmartKnitKIDS products should be on the Back to School shopping list for any parent with a sensory sensitive kiddo. But, in addition to our great products, don’t forget some of these true life-savers for sensory sensitive kiddos and their parents and teachers.

Fidgets

There are many kinds of fidgets out there that can give your child an outlet to get their wiggles out, which will allow them to focus their brains on learning. Depending on the needs of your child, you may want to try a foot fidget, and hand fidget, or even a chewing fidget. Below are several great options of each.

Alternative Seat Options

Some kiddos need to sit in chairs that help them to get their wiggles out. Here are a couple of seat options.

Calming Putty

Another super option for a sensory kiddo is Calming Putty. It has dual positives. It is a hand fidget, but also has a calming scent that is pleasing. Lavender is known for its calming principles, but there are several other scent options.

Learning Tools

Flash cards are great learning tools for all kids, but especially for kids with special needs. This great tool allows parents and teachers to create their own flash cards.

Literature

Finally, here are a couple of titles to add to your library. We recommend these two parent guide books, as well as the two books written for children.



When you’re picking up your pencils, scissors, crayons and markers, don’t forget these wonderful tools to help your sensory sensitive kiddos have a happy, healthy, successful and SEAMLESS school year!  Happy BTS!

How to Have a Fun and Safe 4th of July with Sensory Sensitive Children

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.

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.

  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.

  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

  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!

Summer Water Safety for Autistic Kids

Summer time usually means pool time for most kids.  The weather’s hot and sticky and the nice, cool water can feel great.  Whether your kids spend time at the slides and diving boards; like to play water games with their friends; or prefer floating along calmly on a raft, safety should be the number one thing for pool time.  That is especially true of families with autistic kids, since drowning is the leading cause of death for children with ASD.

Here are a few tips to help keep everyone safe at the pool and to ensure everyone has a good time – all summer long.

Introduce Water Early

The first step in water safety for children with autism, or any child, is to introduce them early.  As with anything, your child will feel more comfortable around water if it is familiar.  Feeling comfortable will help to reduce any feelings of fear or anxiety.

Discourage Wandering/ Water Safety

The downside of familiarity is the feeling of over confidence.  And that over confidence may lead them into a dangerous situation with water. As autistic kids do have a tendency to wander off, it is imperative that proper safety precautions are taken.  Be sure any pools have adequate fencing and locks to keep the child from wandering in.  Gently tell your child about the dangers associated with water, too, so that they can be aware themselves.

Enroll in Swim lessons

Autistic children can absolutely learn to swim, and as with all children, they should be enrolled in swimming lessons.  Accidents can still happen even in the safest of water environments, so teaching an autistic child to swim will help to prevent drowning.  They will be better equipped to help themselves out of a dangerous situation.  The National Autism Association maintains a list of YMCAs that offer special needs swimming lessons.

Stay Nearby When Kids are in the Water

Even if kids can swim and you’ve taken all the safety precautions you can, accidents can still happen.  And they usually occur in a split second.  Whenever your children are playing in the pool, it is important to stay nearby.  And as tempting as it is to read a book or take a little nap in the sun, you shouldn’t do so while your kids are in the pool.

Inform Pool Staff, Friends and Neighbors

Inform anyone who may regularly see your child at a swimming environment of his or her special needs.  It never hurts to have an extra set of eyes (or 12) on your child to help prevent a water emergency from occurring.  It only takes a second, and an informed friend, neighbor or regular lifeguard may be the difference in keeping your child safe.

Summer is about having fun.  Remembering these water safety tips will help keep your child safe so that the whole family can enjoy pool time.

Now get to the pool . . . and don’t forget the sunscreen!

 

Sources: https://www.intheswim.com/eGuides/water-safety-for-children-autism

https://www.autismspeaks.org/tool-kit-excerpt/importance-water-safety-tips-and-tools

 

SmartKnit DIY: Sensory Lap Belts

Who’s ready for another SmartKnit DIY Sensory craft?  We are!  Today we’re making Sensory Lap Belts.  Our lap belt is a great tool to help provide some proprioceptive input for your sensory kiddo.  It’s a great way to help a child control their fidgets and focus for school or any other task.

So without further ado, here’s how to make your own Sensory Lap Belt.

 

Supplies:

• 1 Long No-Heel Sock – We used one of our SmartKnit KAFO socks, but any long sock will do
• Rice
• Needle and Thread
• Scissors
• Markers
• Essential Oil – We used a calming lavender

Steps:

  1. Fill your sock with rice.
  2. Fold the edges of the sock in to create a crease where you want the seam to be.
  3. Thread the needle and sew an invisible seam along the crease.
  4. Knot and snip your thread.
  5. Personalize your lap belt using the markers to create designs or doodles.
  6. Add a few drops of essential oil.

That’s it!  So easy and fun!

Watch our step by step video here:

 

Springing into Spring with a Sensory Sensitive Child

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

Allergies

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

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

Weather

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

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

Clothing

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

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

Daylight Savings Time

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

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

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

Introducing Bugsette!

Bugsette

You’ve seen Bugsette before!  She’s the sweet purple-y sister of our friend Bugsley!  She models our bralette and girls’ undies, and she loves to wear SmartKnitKIDS pink and purple socks!

Bugsette enjoys lots of fun activities just like SmartKnit Kids!  She likes to play soccer. She loves to play make-believe with her brother Bugsley.  And she really loves her dance class. Her seamless SmartKnitKIDS socks, undies and bralette keep her super comfortable while she navigates all the super activities that make her Bugsette!

Look for the Bugsette card in your packages of SmartKnitKIDS socks! She’s a great addition to your Bugsley collection.

Since April is Autism Awareness Month, it is the best time to expand your Bugsley collection.  All orders over $50 will receive Bugsley Bucks – money that can used for purchases May 1 – June 16.

Orders $50 – $79.99 receive $10 in Bugsley Bucks.

Orders $80 – $109.99 receive $20 in Bugsley Bucks.

Orders $110+ receive $30 in Bugsley Bucks.