On a previous post about sensory therapies, I promised to write about our sensory life, so here it is. To sum up our current approach, first I observe Beth closely and try my best to understand her sensory needs and challenges. Then I give her time throughout the day to self-regulate with her preferred sensory activities, while providing her opportunities to move up the developmental ladder when the time is right. Here are the “sensory rules” we live by:
1. Home is the Sanctuary
My rule now is no therapists in our home. I want home to be a place of relaxation for Beth. Yes I do “therapy” play activities and teaching with Beth, but it is done in a way that is not stressful to her (based on her interests, short sessions, many sensory breaks). We have speech therapy, but it is outside our home.
Anything goes at home, as long as it is not dangerous. Beth relaxes with mint floss, Altoids, bubble baths, chomping on ice, watching and feeling Seltzer water bubbles in a container on a light table, and chewing edible toothpaste on a toothbrush. Beth wants the blinds closed all the time, loud noises to a minimum, and even light distribution in a room. Jumping on the couch is permitted, because it helps her self-regulate. I let Beth develop her own routines, which have sensory experiences interwoven within the steps. For example, her bedtime routine is currently this: play with iPad close to bedtime, eat a crunchy snack, lie in the master bedroom bed under the soft blanket, go lie in her bed under her heavy and soft blanket and look at the stars on the ceiling (1), listen to song-type books I read to her, kiss daddy goodnight and rubs his “scratchy face,” then off to sleep.
2. Development is Based on My Child’s Timeline, So I Let Her Be the Guide
I try to figure out where Beth is developmentally and work at that level, introducing very small challenges when the time is right (also known as Floortime, but I use this concept in every aspect of our life, not just play). Trying something before she is ready is pointless. For example, I spent a lot of time trying to get her to tolerate spinning around while I am holding her, in an effort to help mature her vestibular system. Eventually I stopped pushing my agenda, and when she was ready, she started spinning on her own and requesting that I spin “faster” while I am holding her.
3. Roll with It (Some Days are Good, Some Days are Challenging)
I remember being so upset at a blow-up jump center when Beth seemed to regress and refused to go on the slides. Over time I realized a pattern. When Beth is starting to get sick, needs to have a bowel movement, or hasn’t had enough sleep, she gets absolutely terrified of vestibular (movement) challenges. I roll with it now, and let her be the guide.
Some places on certain days absolutely terrify Beth. I just cut the visit short now if possible, because I realize I haven’t figured out everything yet. There are a few stores that bother Beth more frequently, and I think it may be the visual clutter and/or lighting. I trust that time will reveal the answer. …continue reading