It’s been way too long since my last post. I apologize to my followers, but honestly since January 2013 things have been going great. Meltdowns were almost non-existent. B’s sensory challenges were easily managed. Eating was what it was. She wasn’t eating a bunch of new foods, but every once in a while she would try a new food. Even her OT said she was doing extremely well. Therefore, nothing new to report
Then summer happens. New activities, weather changes, vacations, barbecues, spur of the moment trips to anywhere…I’m sure you catch my drift.
Summer for B was one of the best times to focus on her sensory needs. She enrolled in a summer school arts and crafts program. Despite all of the different texture mediums (Paper Mache for example) she absolutely LOVED the class.
She started piano lessons. My husband’s cousin, who plays the piano beautifully, tutored B over the summer. B struggled in the beginning (learning the notes and remembering where they were on the piano), but given time and practice she’s learned to love playing the music.
The biggest sensory investment we made this summer…was Taekwondo. We had heard from so many different people how much Taekwondo helped them build their confidence, encourage individual success, not to mention the physical awesomeness that helps many kids with sensory challenges. I reached out to my OT friend Miss Angie Voss who described specifically why Taekwondo could be a great sport for our kids. Here was her response: “Taekwondo provides a significant amount of proprioception via joint traction and compression as well as the core strength needed to maintain the different positions. Proprioceptive input is also achieved through all of the different movement patterns, static and dynamic. The front kicks and punches provide a powerful dose of joint traction to all of the joints of the arms and legs, as well as the body requiring to engage almost every muscle of the body. Proprioception is very calming, regulating, and organizing for the brain. Taekwondo also provides vestibular input via balance and constant shifting of posture and position, which is also regulating for the brain. From an environmental standpoint, Taekwondo is structured, typically not too chaotic, and organized. It’s also known for following a very specific routine and process at each session. This in itself can be very regulating and soothing for our sensory kiddos.”
I knew there was a reason why B absolutely LOVES going. She is getting so many of her sensory needs met in a simple 45 minute session. She especially enjoys working on her kicks, blocks, and punches. Because of the sensory input she receives from her Taekwondo class (in addition to her at home sensory diet), we’ve decided to scale back her OT sessions to only once a month.
Vacation, on the other hand, was a bit more challenging for B’s sensory system. In the grand scheme of things, I couldn’t blame her. We stayed at multiple different places (hotel, condo, and our Aunt’s vacation home). We ate out a lot! Mot of the time there was very little on the menu that she was willing/able to eat. We were in the humid, hot (but beautiful) sun almost everyday. We had no real set agenda, and I’m sure it took a lot for her to go-with-the-flow.
Vacation successes: We went to IHOP for breakfast one morning. She loves pancakes but will only eat them with my cousin’s homemade blueberry syrup (it’s amazing). We didn’t have that with us, so I had to improvise. They had pancakes with banana slices (which she loves) and strawberry syrup (the kind they put on sundae’s). I told her she liked each of those things separately, and I was asking a lot for her to think about trying it. She decided she was willing to give it go. She tried it and LOVED it! Same with the waffle fries that they serve EVERYWHERE down south She was finally willing to try them at one of the restaurants and thought they were great. She even said we could buy some frozen ones for home!
She swam in salt water. A completely different sensory experience than your typical Midwest swimming pool. Salty, giant waves, sand sticking to every part of your body. She handled it like a champ.
Vacation hiccups: The spiders and bugs. Oh, the spider and bugs. They say everything is bigger in the south. It’s true. Needless to say, sleeping was a huge struggle for B. She would have trouble falling asleep, and wake up at least 3 times each night. She was petrified of the bugs (particularly spiders).
At the family reunion, our cousin’s boyfriend made a fantastic dinner spread. We had a meeting room in the hotel, and we couldn’t wait to eat. B, however, found the smell of the grilled meat to be beyond obnoxious. She refused to step in the room and was perfectly fine playing out in the hallway. That is, until we had to take a family reunion picture. Her little olfactory system couldn’t deal. She had a total breakdown. She cried and cried and wanted nothing to do with coming into that room for pictures, yet wanted to be in the picture. Thank goodness for my awesome mom who was willing to hug her, and give her possible suggestions. She also educated those who thought she was simply having a bratty tantrum. All while I stood there helpless. See, I had forgotten her Scentsy pig. She carries it with her when she’s around extremely unpleasant odors. I absolutely should have remembered the pig. She ended up taking a clementine with her and smelled that during the pictures. I’m pretty sure the picture will document her overall feeling that night (clementine right in front of her face).
Now that we’re back from vacation, summer is officially coming to a close. That means school is starting. That means we must get back into B’s sensory routine. Morning jumps on the trampoline, playing hopscotch, swinging in her IKEA swing, hula hooping, jumping rope…the list is endless. I can tell we’ve been a little too lax this summer because she’s having more meltdowns at home and she’s having a lot of personal trouble with her younger sister. I’m hoping that once her sensory diet is back in full swing these things will help set her body and mind at ease.
If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. May each one of your children’s school year be a success. Remember to embrace the new, work through the challenges, and lean on the people you know will support you.