As an SPD parent there are a lot of differences between what goes on in my world and what goes on in your world. For starters I have a swing a trampoline and a hopscotch rug in my living room and not because I’m the “cool mom” or because I feel the need to buy my child crazy things. I have this equipment because it helps fulfill some of my childs sensory needs and helps me keep my sanity.
When I plan for my week I don’t just plan for meals and appointments. I plan a sensory diet of things like making slime, throwing water balloons, trips to the park and bouncy place, again not because I’m the “cool mom” or because I want to make slime every other week but because if I don’t plan out sensory activities for my child his behavior gets a bit on the wild side.
I’m the mom who knows it’s going to take 1 or 2 hours to put my child to bed because he has an extremely difficult time unwinding. We own blackout curtains, a weighted blanket and a sound machine not because I wanted these things but because I needed help to help my child get to sleep easier. I’m the mom who still lays with her child every night to put him to bed not because I want to but because I can’t just put my child in bed and expect him to sleep. My child knows and tries every trick in the book to keep himself from falling to sleep and won’t stay in the bed to go to sleep unless you are there to keep him in the bed.
I’m the mom who has to make sure I plan for every outing and trip that we go on and I’m the mom who misses out on fun “normal” activities because my child gets sensory overload by those activities. I made the mistake of taking him bowling for the first time and forgetting to bring his ear muffs. We were in the alley for about 2 minutes when I thought we’d have to turn around and leave. We endured but had to cut our fun short because when he says he wants to go it’s not always because he wants to go but because he needs to go. I learned the hard way that if I don’t listen to his cues and leave
I’m the mom whose child doesn’t go to preschool, not because I don’t want him to but because we tried that and he ended up getting kicked out because he was sensory overloaded by things like playing in a loud and noisy gym and getting bumped into by other rambunctious preschoolers.
I’m the Mom who a year later knows what Sensory Processing Disorder is when a year ago I didn’t even know it existed. I’m the mom who reads and researches and tries to educate herself on a disorder so I can do everything in my power to make my child successful. I’m the Mom who hopes that YOU now know that this disorder exists and hope that you might share some information when you see someone you think who might be struggling with this.
While most women are planning what’s for dinner for the week I’m constantly trying to plan a sensory diet for my little one. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t plan about three sensory activities for him per day that the day is harder on all of us.
While sometimes trying to come up with activities can be a daunting task some days it’s much simpler and they just naturally fall into place which makes life a little easier and smoother on all of us. When planning a sensory diet for your kids don’t forget some every day things that you can incorporate.
Gardening or working outside is great for kids. My son loves to help with gardening activities. He loves to help me dig in the dirt and repot plants, he likes to water the roses, and he loves to plant seeds to see if we can make something grow. He also loves sprinkling Epsom salt at the base of the plants to help feed them. Yesterday I was sprinkling some diatomaceous earth around to see if it could help cut down on the ants. He became obsessed with helping so we put some safety goggles on him and gave him an old parmasean cheese can filled with it and let him sprinkle away. We used it all up and this morning first thing he was ready to go to the store to “get some more of that white stuff.” We also rake cut grass and put it in the wheel barrow and push it to the burn pile. All of these activities help fulfill his sensory needs.
Sometimes a bath in the middle of the day works perfectly into a sensory diet routine. Water, toys, maybe some bathtub paint or chalk. Occasionally the boy will request a bath and I feel overwhelmed with luck when it happens as I can usually get a chore or two completed while he plays away.
A bin of toys can be a great sensory activity. My husband had a huge plastic bin filled with Stars are toys, GI Joes, and a handful of spaceships and or he miscellaneous toys. We pulled it down and dusted it off and it has provided hours of entertainment with the boy. He pulls out every single toy and plays with them all.
Cooking or Baking can be a great addition to a sensory diet especially if it involves a lot of stirring or cutting. I enlist help from the boy whenever I have a lot if veggies to cut up. While he might not eat them after they are cooked he loves to help cut so I give him a small knife and supervise his cutting. And baking… We recently made rice crispy treats which is a lot of stirring while melting butter and marshmellows. The boy loved it although he wasnt thrilled about waiting for them to cool.
Chores can also be helpful to fulfilling sensory needs. Mopping, vacuuming, scrubbing toilets. Amazingly my son loves to use the hose attachment for the vacuum so we take turns. I vaccine the carpet in the kitchen and he takes the hose around the baseboards. He likes to push the steam mop so we take turns with that too. He also for some reason actually likes to scrub the toilet so while I scoop the cat box I sprinkle baking soda in the toilet and let him scrub away.
I hope these activities are helpful for you. I know they’ve been helpful for me and they are all no cost activities you can add to your list of sensory activities if they aren’t there already.