Introducing Sock It To Autsim Bugsley

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Some of our most seam-sensitive kids are autistic kids.  That’s why SmartKnitKIDS and Bugsley work so hard to “sock it to” autism, or in other words to make a sock that autistic and seam-sensitive kids can happily wear – with no seams to bug ya!

Sock It Bugsley is a karate champion.  When he’s not winning tournaments around the world, he likes to practice his karate moves on seams!!  If Sock It Bugsley finds a seam, he immediately gives it a kick or a punch and it’s gone.  Just like that!

Make sure you add this awesome Bugsley to your collection!  Now shipping in SmartKnitKIDS seamless sensitivity socks!  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.

Announcing The Retirement of 5 Beloved Bugsley Cards

How many of your SmartKnitKIDS kiddos collect the Bugsley cards that come in the boxes of SmartKnitKIDS socks? All of them, right?!  We thought so. Well it is time to meet some new Bugsleys, which will come during the next few weeks in April.  And as the saying goes, “out with the old, in with the new,” so we’ll be retiring some the following Bugsleys. Hope you got one!

Officer Bugsley – Finding Seams and Taking Names! Officer Bugsley is on patrol to find all those offensive seams. Don’t worry, though, he’ll still be working hard even if his card is retired!

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Astronaut Bugsley – This awesome explorer roams the universe looking for the best seamless solutions for all our seam-sensitive kiddos out there. Just like Officer Bugsley, he’ll still be on the job.

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Blue Sox Bugsley – This slugger hits home runs daily for Team No Seams! He’s one player that we’re glad is on our team.  The No Seams Team are the Home Run Champions!!

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Bend It Like Bugsley – GOOOAAALLL!!  This Bugsley is on the Champion Seamless Soccer Team. He’s the king of dribbles and scores!

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Super Bugsley – It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s Super Bugsley!  Keeper of the Seam Free Universe, this Bugsley works hard to keep your world Seam Free!

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These Bugsley cards have been some of our favorites, but we can’t wait to introduce you to 5 new friends coming to your SmartKnitKIDS socks boxes!  Stay tuned  . . .

10 Activities to Beat Cabin Fever

Tired of being stuck inside and running out of ideas for indoor play? Grab some household items and bust that boredom with these easy and cheap activities!

#1 Fun with Shaving Cream: Squeeze some foamy shaving cream onto a tabletop, tray, mirror or plastic bin. Encourage your child to use his/her fingers to draw pictures or practice writing letters, words and numbers. Give your child different utensils to use (e.g. eraser end of a pencil, plastic orange peeler) if your child does not want to touch the shaving cream. If your child doesn’t like the smell, place some shaving cream inside a large Ziploc bag before playing with it.

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#2 Bed Sheet Swing: Have your child lay inside a sheet and, with another adult, grab the ends, lift your child slightly off the ground and gently swing him/her back and forth. Count out loud for each swing or incorporate nursery rhymes. Or, play some soft, soothing music and turn down the lights while swinging slowly to help calm your child.

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#3 Pouring and Exploring: Grab some kitchen ladles, measuring cups, pots, Tupperware containers and plastic bowls. Put the items into an empty plastic storage bin. Add some dry foods (e.g. beans, noodles, cereal, oatmeal, salt, rice) and encourage your child to transfer the dry food to and from the different containers. Feeling brave? Instead of dry food, use water and add a variety of cups, pitchers and a turkey baster.

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#4 Parachute Play: Use a flat sheet as a parachute. Throw some balloons or soft, light toys (e.g. stuffed animals, balls, small bean bags) on top and have fun bouncing them around together. Have your child sit underneath or on top of the sheet and shake the sheet fast and then slowly.

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#5 Flashlight Games: If your child is comfortable in a dark room, dim or turn off the lights and have fun playing with flashlights. Take turns shining the flashlight on the floor while the other jumps or stomps on the light. Give your child the flashlight and ask him/her to find an item in the room to shine the light on. Read a book in the dark by shining the flashlight on the words. Put on some music and have fun dancing with flashlights. Make shadow puppets or move your body to make your shadow dance on a wall.

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#6 Cleaning Toys: Lots of kiddos love to help out and often feel pride when they do. So, why not accomplish two things at once? Give your child a plastic bin filled with water or fill up the sink or bathtub. Then, have him/her help wash hard, plastic toys (e.g. Legos, animals, vehicles, blocks, magnetic or foam letters, action figures, dolls). Just add a little soap (kid’s shampoo will also work), water, sponges, rags, toothbrushes and/or dish scrubbers and let your child wash away! You’ll be surprised on how much fun he/she can have. J Place the toys on a towel or tray to dry.

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#7 Buried Treasure: Bury small objects like beads, pennies or, our favorite, wiggle/googly eyes into Play-Doh and have your child pull and stretch the dough to collect each one. Use the empty Play-Doh container as a place to put the found objects. Take turns and allow your child to hide the items for you to find.

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#8 Balloon Play: Blow up some balloons and have fun hitting them back and forth to each other. Kick it up a notch by using fly swatters, cardboard tubes (wrapping paper or paper towel tubes work best) or foam pool noodles to hit the balloons. You can also tie the balloon to a pool noodle to make it easier for beginners.

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#9 Slapping Post-Its: Grab a fly swatter and some Post-its. Use markers to scribble colors, draw shapes and write letters, numbers or words on the Post-its. Then, place the Post-its on a wall or door. Call out a color, shape, etc. and let your child use the fly swatter to slap the Post-it that matches the label. Add a second fly swatter so a friend or sibling can join in on the fun!

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#10 Bedsheet Hammock: Knot the ends of a bedsheet together in the middle of a sturdy table to create a child-friendly hammock! Give your child a cuddly toy and some books or a device to lay back and unwind with for a while.

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About Our Guest Blogger: Melissa Ames has over 16 years of experience working with children with autism, SPD and other needs in both home therapy and school settings. While serving as a dedicated Early Childhood school teacher, ABA home therapist and case manager for home therapy programs, Melissa naturally supported parents of the children she worked with. She observed that parents lack hands-on, ready-made resources to help them be more successful at home, as well as better connect and have fun with their child. Melissa became the change she wanted to see in the world by starting her own company, EarlyVention, which designs fun and interactive subscription activity boxes for children with different abilities and the parents who love them. EarlyVention also provides vocational opportunities for adults with special needs, who help assemble the activity boxes, creating an ecosystem of impact.

 

Tips for Parents Navigating SPD

In observance of Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month this October, our team would like offer the following nine tips for parents navigating life with an SPD kid.  Sensory sensitivity can be overwhelming to parents, especially if it is a new diagnoses.

  1. Embrace your own sensory issues. – We all have them – there’s no denying it. Personally, I don’t like the texture of oatmeal or the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard – that one’s all of us, right?  I don’t like dirt on my hands and feet.  Some people pale at the sight of blood.  The difference is that people without SPD can usually manage their sensory issues, while people with SPD do not know how to process them and they tend to get overwhelmed.  But, in embracing your own sensory issues, it helps to understand what an SPD child is feeling or going through.
  2. Create a sensory diet. – Once you’ve identified your child’s sensory needs, make time each day to fulfill them – or at least one thing. Perhaps it’s swinging at the park or having some quiet time to his or herself.  Whatever it is, ensuring your child gets this input each day will help them to be more balanced.
  3. Celebrate your child’s strengths. – SPD kids are extraordinary individuals who just happen to struggle with certain aspects of everyday life. When things become frustrating for you and your child, focusing on his or her strengths will help get through the frustration.
  4. Trust your intuitions. – You know your children better than anyone. If something just doesn’t feel right, trust that feeling.  Don’t let family members, other parents or doctors sway you away from your intuition.  You are the best advocate for your child.
  5. Join your child in their world. – Connect with your child by doing the things that they do. If he loves to spin, spin with him.  If she enjoys a cold popsicle, have one with her.  Take a moment to let loose, be silly and have fun.id-10091357Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  6. Focus on the long term. – A good road trip is the best analogy to describe parenting, because overall it is a journey, but especially with a sensory kid. Sometimes the road is smooth and other times it’s bumpy.  And sometimes you need to pull over at the rest stop.  Sometimes you need to take a detour or return home and start again.  But ultimately, the destination is worth the journey – a happy, well-adjusted kid!
  7. Be willing to rewrite the playbook. – No sensory solution will work forever. As your child grows and changes, their sensitivities may change.  They may get better or worse, or they may develop other sensitivities.  Be flexible and work towards new solutions.
  8. Do research. – The world is full of information that is always changing and developing. Stay on top of studies and ideas by reading websites and books.  Knowledge is power!
  9. Raise awareness. – You are the best advocate for your child. Help other parents or teachers to understand things in your family’s world.  Many people won’t understand SPD unless they are faced with it.  Wear orange proudly.  Just like pink is the color for breast cancer awareness, orange is the color for SPD awareness.  And we know right where you can get a pair of perfectly seamless orange socks that will feel great on your child’s toes!  Visit smartknit.com and wear your orange!smartknitkids-ankle-orange-noicons

Tips for Recognizing SPD

Are you wearing orange this October?  Wearing orange in October means more than just Halloween in the Sensory Processing Community.  October is Sensory Processing Awareness Month and orange is the awareness movement’s color.

Since children living with sensory sensitivity are near and dear to our hearts, we wanted to spread awareness by reminding us all of the signs a child may display indicating a sensory sensitivity.  The information below comes directly from the book Raising a Sensory Smart Child: the Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues.  We recommend the book which can be purchased on Amazon.  The blog should not be used in place of advice from a medical doctor or occupational therapist.

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What is Sensory Processing?

Sensory Processing refers to how a person uses the information provided by the sensations coming from within the body, as well as the external environment.  We all remember learning about the five senses in school (touch, taste, smell, sight, sound).  In addition to the five traditional senses, a person will also receive sensory input from the body’s position and movement.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

When it is suggested that a child may have sensory processing disorder, it usually means that the child displays symptoms of hypersensitivity – a child who is over sensitive to stimuli – or hyposensitivity – a child who is under sensitive to stimuli.  There are many different symptoms to look for when determining if a child may have a sensory processing disorder.

Over-Sensitive Children

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Touch

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A child who is over sensitive to touch may avoid several of all types of touching or may shy away from being touched.  This is known as tactile defensiveness.  They may not like to be held as infants or toddlers.  These children may not like the feel of certain textures on their hands and feet and avoid things that may make them messy like paint, glue, sand, etc.  They may not like holding things in their hands – especially if the object is made of certain textures.  This avoidance can lead to delays in fine and gross motor skills.  They also may take issue with certain clothing items or fabrics, socks, shoes, seams, tags or waistbands.

Body Position

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A child who is over sensitive to the body’s position has trouble understanding where his own body is in space.  This child doesn’t understand how much force needs to be applied for certain activities, so they appear to be weak and clumsy.  They may have trouble closing snaps or buttons or attaching snap-together toys.

Body Movement

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A child with body movement sensitivities may avoid movements that require him to unnecessarily pick his feet up off the ground, such a jumping or skipping.  He may be hesitant or afraid of stairs or playground equipment.  He may have trouble with balance or easily become dizzy.  He may easily become motion sick and avoid things like carousels or spinning toys.

Sound

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This child has trouble shutting out background noise.  Simple sounds like the noise of a vacuum cleaner may be too much.  Or the hum of an air conditioner or refrigerator may be distracting and annoying.  This is also the child that needs total silence in order to go to sleep and stay asleep.  Being in loud or crowded settings may be difficult for this child.

Sight

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A child who is over sensitive to sight may have trouble adjusting to bright lights.  They may have trouble following moving objects or making eye contact.  They may become overexcited or agitated if there is too much to look at.

Smell

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The difficulty that this child experiences is that many common scents or odors may seem overly fragrant.  He may hold his nose and object to things that may seem fine to most people.  They may gag easily or become nauseated.

Taste

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Taste goes hand-in-hand with smell, so many of the symptoms will be the same.  But, this child may also object to certain food textures.  He may have difficulty with foods that are too hot or too cold.  He may gag easily on foods or may find that only certain foods are acceptable.  He may have difficulty trying new foods.

Under-Sensitive Children

Touch

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A child who is under sensitive to touch may not react to sensations that other children find upsetting.  These can include childhood vaccinations or common, minor injuries such as scraped knees.  The may seek strong hugs or cuddles and may be especially comforted by them.

Body Position

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Like a child who is over sensitive to body position, an under-sensitive child has difficulty determining how much force should be applied to an object.  This child may too easily break crayons or spill drinks.  He may push or bump into other children and seem aggressive because he can’t properly apply an adequate amount of force.

Body Movement

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This child will seem fearless.  For example, he may be the child that climbs furniture or wants to swing higher and higher on playground equipment.  Or, he may be unable to sit still and constantly fidgets.

Sound

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This is the child that just doesn’t seem to pick up on verbal instructions.  He may miss something a teacher says during class.  He may seem to not hear you when you call his name even though his ability to hear is not impaired.  He may frequently ask others to repeat things.

Sight

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Under sensitive children may overcompensate for their sight sensitivities by touching objects.  They may stare at objects or words or may seem distracted by them.

Smell

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An under sensitive child may crave certain scents.  He may frequently sniff food, people or objects.  Or he may not be bothered by unpleasant or strong odors.

Taste

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This child may want to taste objects that are not meant to be food.  He may crave certain foods or crave extra flavor – particularly something spicy or strong-flavored.

Knowing some of the common symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder will help parents to identify ways to help their children better process input.

Don’t forget your orange SmartKnitKIDS socks to help spread awareness!

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Biel, Lindsey, and Nancy K. Peske. Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues. New York, NY: Penguin, 2009. Print.

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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