Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sybarite Summer or the importance of Sensory Play

My father and I email nearly every day – These past few months his emails will invariably have a sentence about the weather and how hot it is.

"It was so cloudy in the morning .. we thought for sure it will rain but it did not "


"It rained a lot today it was so cool in the night that we did not need air-conditioner"

During the monsoon

"The well is only 3 feet deep now " ( indicator of a good monsoon on which India depends heavily)

This pre-occupation with Summer and monsoon is very easy to understand when you see just how hot the Indian summer is and how critical the monsoon is.

There is no way to stop thinking about it!

The point I am making is that for a child with sensory needs – asking them to ignore those needs and focus in discrete trial or indeed any other therapy would be like asking someone in India in June to not think about how hot it is

It makes no sense.

You can help them focus a lot better and make them happier by simply turning on the air conditioning !

One of the best advice I got from a Floortime consultant two years ago ( though I did not recognize it at that time ) was

Forget everything – just fill up his day with Sing+ Swim +Swing

We did do a lot of that but nowadays I am even more intentional about it

So now our backyard looks like this


And our evening schedule looks like this ( its so great to use R's ability to read - Making a schedule and then checking things off really helps ground him and make him feel secure. It also tells him that after the work stuff ( work with Erin ) play time is coming up )


Another important thing to remember is that while Sensory Motor play is fun and also satisfies sensory needs based on the child's individual profile – its very important to engage in back and forth interaction while doing Sensory Motor play

So basically

Step 1 Figure out what your child's sensory profile is by observing what they like to do with they are free – do they like to snuggle within the sheets a lot ?

Step 2 - Figure out the activities that can help satisfy that need – so if you child likes to sniggle within sheets a lot - that would tell you that the child craves Proprioceptive input and therefore games like "Pillow Sandwich " ( which is exactly what it sounds like – your child is between the pillows and getting squished ) are great

Step 3 – Satisfy that sensory need – but be part of that interaction – and help the child climb the development ladder through that interaction – use your affect love and emotion and engage in as much back and forth as you can . This is one of the most important things I learned at the ICDL conference from Rosemary White's Session – ie stop thinking of a sensory need in isolation – example my son craves vestibular input so I must get someone to swing him for 30 minutes. Instead find a way to see if your child can choose the activity ( PECS board ) . Giggle Laugh , Sing songs while swinging – Enagage in back and forth interaction. Push the swing and then stop – Wait till the child asks for more etc etc


Julie said...

Love this. =)

Niksmom said...

Great post. And, um, can we come play in *your* backyard!? (If only we lived close enough...)

Anonymous said...

I <3 you, Kajoli. I'd love to be your neighbor.


Territory Mom said...

K, this is great what you do for you son. I'm going to make a schedule for us. We didn't get introduced to the sensory diet until last year when my son was 5 close to 6 yrs old. It made a huge difference. Your son will come out of this. There is no telling what a big impact he will make on the world. You are doing great.

Huriya said...

Interesting! I am also looking into floortime therapy for my 3 yr old son. Just started reading Engaging Autism by Greenspan.
How was your son diagnosed with Apraxia? I have a nagging feeling that my son may have that as well, but he hasn't been diagnosed formally.

Heather said...

love this! I remember our OT always being so positive about 'playground season' coming up. I also have a boy after two girls, so it's also interesting to see how his sensory needs are much different than theirs.

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