11.15.2012

Sophie's sensory diet

I thought it'd be nice to write a post about the things we do with Sophie at home everyday. I already wrote that we attend a play group three times a week for socialization, but we have also made our living room into a small sensory gym for her and we aim for at least an hour of therapy a day, but often it is more. She tires easily so it is spread into 15-minute chunks throughout the day. We live in a 3-bedroom apartment with 4 children, so I think if we can do it, anyone can!

Sophie's main issues right now are related to motor planning and body awareness, as well as sensory integration so we are trying to address those. I am also trying to encourage her to play or at least find something else to do at home other than watch Thomas videos. It's slow going, but we have made some progress.

The ramp

My husband made this for her. He is actually a carpenter, but for this project you really don't need to be. He was making a batch of them for my friend who happens to have a great shop of therapy products, and used extra material to make one for Sophie. It's just a piece of plywood, about 2'x3' with a low-pile carpet stapled to its underside. Both readily available at your local hardware store. We keep it behind the couch when it isn't being used.

It is a very versatile piece of equipment. Sophie loves to use it as a slide, the carpet provides some traction so she doesn't slide down too fast. We prop it up against the couch. We encourage her to crawl up to work on her strength and coordination. I'm also trying to make her realize that she can climb on the couch and get on the top of the slide that way. She can't quite wrap her mind around that yet. To increase her body awareness I help her do front rolls, back rolls, slide upside down, face first... The possibilities are limitless really. I also think that being a sensory-seeker she enjoys the feel of the carpet on her skin.

To add a bit of imaginary play we play peek-a-boo under the ramp. I look under it and say "where is Sophie?" and she peeks down and finds me. She enjoys that simple game. I realize that it's a game most enjoyed by infants much younger than Sophie but I was inspired by Stanley Greenspan's "Engaging Autism" book. He believed that it is necessary to meet the child where they are developmentally, not where we think they "should" be. So if Sophie is at the "peek-a-boo" stage, that is what we will play.

The mats

We picked up the foam mat in the shop section of the department store. It was around 30 dollars. It's a bit heavier-duty than the kiddie ones they sell. Sophie likes to do all sorts of yoga-like poses on it (all coming purely from her, I never taught her any). Having low muscle tone, she is incredibly flexible and seems to enjoy it.

The trampoline

Our OT loaned it to us for several weeks. Sophie loves it. She doesn't actually jump on it (she can't jump yet), likes us to jump for her. Most of the time she wants to sit while somebody else jumps and she absorbs the vibrations. I usually employ her sister for that job and she is happy to oblige.

Sensory toys

There are very few toys Sophie will use and she will only use them for short amounts of time. Still, I do like to encourage her to play with toys. She prefers bright sensory-type toys, like bead roller coasters or the abacus. She likes things to fall and make a clunking noise. I keep her favorites in her line of vision always and bring her attention to them throughout the day. She also enjoys the mirror and I've caught her making faces into it a couple times.

I'm also pleased she's been visiting the Thomas table which we've made for her (out of a discounted Ikea side table) more often these past few days. She used it extensively in the past and then all of a sudden stopped. I'm hoping that the rekindled interest is signaling a progression in her development.

Books

Before (and even during) her regression, Sophie loved books. She had books on her lap and would leaf through them constantly. Then like with so many other things, she suddenly stopped. I've been stubbornly reading books at bedtime with her even though at first she didn't seem to care in the least. Well, after several weeks she seems to enjoy them again and seems to like our bedtime ritual. And while she doesn't look at books anywhere near as often as she used to, she will do it sometimes, which is better than never I figure.

Swings

Sophie loves to swing. She could probably swing for hours if we'd let her. We have mounted a door way bar in the girls' room doorway and are able to attach all sort of things to it. My older daughter loves her gym bar. And Sophie loves her swing. We have a plain plastic one from a department store which is great because it's cheap, comfy and has a safety harness. Another bonus is that my baby will be able to use it very soon. We also have cuddle swing which is very nice for relaxing Sophie and providing deep pressure stimulation. We use our swings a lot.

Chewing

Sophie is constantly craving oral stimulation. When she doesn't have her fingers in her mouth she chews on coats, seatbelts or Wii remotes. She loved this Chew Noodle since she got it. It seems to provide the sensation she is looking for. The unfortunate thing is that is seems to go missing on a regular basis, but I guess that's a different story all together.

There you have it! Sophie's sensory diet. I'm always on the lookout for new things to add that she might enjoy. She loves bubbles and I'm looking for a squishy ball like the OT brought and she liked. I'm also researching flashing-light toys which Sophie really likes. She would love this. Down the line I might make a sensory table for her as I already have a great table for that purpose. I think she is not much into tactile stimulation yet, so I'm not rushing into it. Might be a spring balcony project.

At the same time I'm planning to create a simple PECS board for her very soon. She is very visual and I have a feeling she will catch on to it very fast. I will write about it when I get to it.

 

2 comments:

  1. My son who will be 3 in march has sensory processing disorder, general developmental delays, expressive language delay and this week our doctor suggested he may have high functioning autism and is referring us for an eval. He too craves deep pressure. He loves his weighted blanket which I sewed for him. It has a generic train print fabric and he calls it "my thomas" because he doesn't see a difference between generic trains and thomas. We also live in a small apartment so it is good to see some ideas that work in a small place. We are looking at getting him a bean bag chair since he loves the sensation from the one at his speech therapy sessions.

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  2. I'm glad my ideas were helpful. Sophie has a weighted Thomas blanket too. Bean bag chairs are great, I think she would like one too-she's definitely a lounger.

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