The Sensory Child Gets Organized

sensory child

As a mom of a child on the Autism spectrum and another with un-diagnosed but suspected SPD/ADHD, life is sometimes completely chaotic at home. I know this is because my kids “hold it together” all day at school and then can finally be themselves at home but it is still extremely stressful at times. Since October is ADHD Awareness Month I was offered a book to review called “The Sensory Child Gets Organized” that promised to share “proven systems for rigid, anxious, or distracted kids” and was skeptical at first but so far I’m learning a lot from it.

In the book the author, Carolyn Dalgliesh, provides simple, effective solutions that help kids thrive at home and in their day-to-day activities and helps parents:

  • Understand what makes their sensory child tick
  • Create harmonious spaces through sensory organizing
  • Use structure and routines to connect with their child
  • Prepare their child for social and school experiences
  • Make travel a successful and fun-filled journey

With The Sensory Child Gets Organized, parents get an easy-to-follow road map to success that makes life easier—and more fun—for your entire family. I like how the book includes picture examples of schedules and spaces along with writing space for parents working through the book. There are also some great resources in the back of the book.

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned so far and plan on implementing with my kids:

1) Arrive at birthday parties (or any event where there will be a lot of people) early so the kids can have some time to get comfortable with the location in a small group before there is a large crowd

2) When thinking about the upcoming holiday events make a “must do” list for your sensory child. Consider letting them skip events so they can have a little downtime and enjoy the events you really want them to go to.

3) Organize feelings by having the child rate where they are on a scale of 1 to 10 (with words or pictures). Jacob seems to get just as upset about tiny things as he does about big things so I want to start having him rate his feelings so he can start to realize when he is “just a little” mad vs. “really” mad and learn to react accordingly.

4) Build flexibility one small step at a time. One example was to create a “choices when there is a change” jar that can be used when something in their schedule changes. If something gets cancelled and they are very upset they can pick an alternative activity that they love doing that will make the activity getting cancelled a little easier for them.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book. If you have a child with some sensory processing difficulties I thing this book will be beneficial in helping you create the best home environment for your kiddo as possible.

(Disclosure: I received this book for free but all thoughts are my own.)

 

Free Disability Awareness Activities for Kids

disabilities awareness

As a parent of a child with Autism I am anxious for the start of the school year. As much as I worry about how well my son will do, I worry even more about how others will treat him and accept him. I was really excited to get an email from Easter Seals about their free FRIENDS WHO CARE® disability awareness program that helps parents and educators teach kids about children and adults with disabilities. My hope is that every parent will teach their child compassion and acceptance for others.

Sponsored by long-time Easter Seals partner, Friendly’s Restaurants, LLC, FRIENDS WHO CARE is an interactive program that helps students learn how kids with disabilities go to school, make friends and play. It encourages kids to accept their peers with disabilities as people first, and to find ways to include everyone in school and after-school activities.

FRIENDS WHO CARE® is also fun! The curriculum explores a range of disabilities and includes specially crafted learning activities, hands-on exercises, guided discussions and guest speakers. It starts with an introduction to disability, and looks at vision, hearing, and physical disabilities and then at learning disabilities including ADHD, autism and intellectual disabilities.

Visit their Web site to download the free FRIENDS WHO CARE materials!

Dear Social Worker At My Son’s Preschool

Dear Social Worker at my son’s school,

Jacob is my first-born child. I loved and cherished him as a little one in my womb while mourning the loss of his twin. I walked around for months with cankles and spent half my pregnancy with my head in a toilet. I gave birth and attempted breastfeeding. I joined mommy and me groups so I could make friends with other moms and he’d have playmates. I listened to everything I could about how to be a “good mom” and tried to do it all. I read book after book at my child’s request, cleaned up mess after mess, and changed diaper after diaper.

A few years into his young life, after I swallowed my pride, I took him to the Doctor and shared some concerns I had. When my son’s Doctor dismissed me, I pushed because I knew, I knew, something was not right. I had him tested and, with delays found in multiple areas, he was put in Early Intervention. After learning he had some difficulty processing his senses I researched everything I could on Sensory Processing Disorder. I sat through endless hours of therapies to help him catch up to his peers and then he was tested for preschool and he qualified for services in the public school district. Fast forward to the end of his second year of Preschool and today’s IEP meeting where I sat, outnumbered, in a room  listening to how worried the school staff was about my son.

This wasn’t the first meeting that I’ve endured but somehow this seemed to be the most important that I’d ever have since this was the meeting where we’d start discussing placement for Kindergarten. This is a heavy decision for any parent, including myself, because it’s the one that would probably determine the rest of his school career. I knew once he was in a track at school, be it special education or children labeled with “behavior problems” or regular education, he would most likely be in that category for years to come and I’d have to fight to change it if I ever felt like the placement needed to change. I’ve heard horror stories of parents trying to change services or add things in and I knew my journey would be a long one. I wanted to make the right choices now and it was a lot of stress knowing that I was making such a big decision in the coming months.

All the school personnel on Jacob’s team shared about their experiences with Jacob, both what he was doing well and what their concerns were. Then it was your turn. Seeing that a mother was hurting, worried, and anxious it would have been best to assure me that we would figure this out as a team and that, in the end, everything would be okay. Instead you decided to use many of your words to bring me down and attack my child.

You told me how your team couldn’t be expected to change my child’s behavior that he’d spent the past four and a half years learning {assuming, I guess, that I had not spent the past four years trying to raise him correctly}. You told me how the school personnel was ultimately the one who’d decide placement for my child and basically told me that in the end it wasn’t up to me and I could make suggestions but they wouldn’t really make much of a difference. Then, and this really, really hurt, you implied that I would do anything other than what was in my child’s best interest when all I was doing was trying to understand the different options that were available.

What hurt most of all though, and what made me meltdown once I was safely in the hallway away from you, was that you spent the majority of your time criticizing my child. You used the results of a survey his current teacher and his old teacher had taken and pointed out everything that was “wrong” with my son. Not once did you point out one of the great things about him. Not once.

But that’s probably because you don’t know him. You’ve spent, what? 15 minutes with him?

He isn’t perfect by any means and when you brought up attention problems and ADHD I believe you probably aren’t too far off. All those other things you listed? Yep, those are issues I’m aware of and we are working on.

You seemed to have missed a few things though. His smile. His belief in right vs. wrong. His willingness to help. His laugh. His ability to remember the smallest detail. His inquisitive nature. His joy for life. His love for others. His excitement. His concern for friends who aren’t on the bus or at school.

Any of these qualities you could have pointed out among the other things but you didn’t. Instead, you chose to look at a chart full of dots that represented all his “problems” and completely missed the child behind the chart.

I’m begging you, next time you are in an IEP meeting, think about the parent sitting on the other side of the table and at least one positive thing you can say about their child. Of course, to do that you may actually have to get to know the child you are talking about. They are more than just a list of behaviors, dots on a chart or a diagnosis. They are special regardless of what problems brought their parents into that meeting with you.

Signed,

Jacob’s mom