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Finding Sensory Support
When the boys were babies, I had a very hard time getting anyone to believe that they had exceptionalities. I had an acquaintance of mine from their preschool suggest Occupational Therapy for their sensory issues. The first place I went to was an epic disaster and I was completely discouraged. Charlie had an unbelievable meltdown and the person evaluating him was less than understanding. A few days later, by chance I walked past a cute little office with a sweet logo. It happened to be who is my friend now, Jennifer Hewitt’s Happy Hands Occupational Therapy clinic https://www.happyhandstherapy.org/. She is one of the first professionals to listen and believe me when I would tell her my concerns.
Everything Jen told me to look into I did, every book she suggested I read. I Googled all of the topics she told me to, and most importantly I followed all of her suggestions. The boys were in Occupational Therapy with her clinic for 4 or 5 years. In the beginning when we spoke about the boys, we would discuss that they are sensory seekers. Not all children are, but mine were definite seekers. They crave sensory input of all types, especially deep pressure.
Items for Home Sensory Input
One of the first items I sought out for them was a weighted blanket. At the time they were very expensive, so I made my own out of duct tape and rice. Here is a tutorial from Pinterest that shows you how to do it. The one that I made for the boys was very stiff and not very comfortable, however it is very durable. This is a chart for the recommended weights for a weighted blanket:
Now they have reasonably priced blankets like this one on Amazon,
It is $65.80 and if you click the $12 off coupon it will only be $53.80! This is for a 5 LBS blanket, but even the higher weights are reasonably priced. You might be wondering, why should I get a weighted blanket? If your child is sensory seeking and requires deep pressure, this is a great way to give it to them. In order to lie still and watch a movie, for my children a weighted blanket is a must. Or as Bobby shows, he ends up like this to get his sensory input.
Two books both written by Carol Kranowitz, that have helped me greatly with understanding sensory needs and how to provide them are,
The Out-of Sync Child ,
and The Out-of Sync Child Has Fun, .
I used these books to better understand why the boys needed a sensory diet and how it helps them to regulate. The Out- Of- Sync Child Has Fun, has plenty of ideas to help your child at home with his sensory needs. I found that incorporating these simple activities in their day helps them to be calmer and more focused because it provides the stimulation they crave and need.
Another big sensory support that we did was install a swing in our living room. Yes, you read that right, we have a playground swing in our Living room.
We didn’t start here, it has evolved to installing the proper supports in the attic and putting the swing into our Living room. I don’t recommend this step unless you have professional help to install it. People ask me why we don’t just have a swing set outside. Well they broke the outside one. The boys swing so hard that they literally broke the wooden beam that supports they swings. We looked into a commercial swing set, but it turned out to be too expensive. When they were little we started out with this,
It hangs on the door frame, and has a rope ladder, swing and a couple of other sensory modalities. It was great until they turned 4, then they would swing too aggressively. Then once they broke the outside set, we decided to install a sturdier one inside. We also switch up what hangs from the ceiling. Sometimes it’s a swing, or a rope to climb, or it’s a hammock Pod Swing like this one
The swing for our sons calms them down and gives them what their body needs.
Jen worked with the boys and with me to help us get them to a point that when they are at home we can give them the input they need. Sometimes it takes trial and error to find out what works for your child, and as they grow their needs may change. I am forever grateful to Jen for helping me and the boys with their Sensory Processing Disorder and for taking me seriously as a parent with concerns about their child. I hope this has given you a few ideas to help your child meet his sensory needs at home.