Halloween can be a parent’s worst nightmare when attempting to find the right costume for a child with tactile overresponsivity (which occurs when the nervous system experiences touch sensations at a higher, more intense rate than others). Children with tactile hypersensitivities often reject the feeling of unfamiliar touch that comes with many Halloween costumes, such as itchy netting, smooth silk, scratchy wool, bumpy corduroy, or denim with tight elastic bands. Read below for suggestions on how to improve the process of searching for Halloween costumes for these children.
Find the Right Halloween Costume for a Child with Tactile Sensitivities:
Select a fabric you know the child will tolerate. It may sound obvious, but recognizing your child’s limits is the first step to celebrating a successful Halloween. If the child is extremely set on a specific costume, but you are unsure if your child will be able to tolerate it, make sure to try it on and then adapt as needed. For example, having them wear a tight compression long sleeve shirt underneath for children who are hypersensitive to touch can improve their comfort and independence while wearing the outfit, and keep them warm at the same time! For girls, wearing leggings instead of tights can be a simple fix for girls who are resistive to wearing tights with their outfit.
Avoid costumes with uncomfortable headwear, face paint, or tight fixtures around the waist and abdomen. This external stimuli can be extremely disorganizing to the child who experiences tactile sensitivities, as light touch receptors are abundant in the area of the head and face. Moreover, the abdomen has additional receptors that respond negatively to external touch.
Let your child pave the way for success. If your child chooses a special character, modifying the costume by using a themed t-shirt with comfortable, familiar legwear can still allow them the opportunity to dress in festive gear, but will give the child the ability to feel comfortable at the same time.
Accessorize! If wearing a dress, face paint, or tight fitting outfit is too much for your child, adding in extra accessories to dress up the costume can be fun and festive. Fairy wands, toy pets, or miniature figurines of the character they are representing can be a fun way for others to recognize their costume.
  Kranowitz, C. (2005). How to Tell if Your Child Has a Problem with the Tactile Sense. In The out-of-sync child: Recognizing and coping with sensory processing disorder (Rev. and updated ed.). New York: A Skylight Press Book/A Perigee Book.
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/costume-boys.png186183Mary Kate Mulryhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngMary Kate Mulry2015-10-15 12:16:422015-10-15 12:16:42Find the Right Halloween Costume for a Child with Tactile Sensitivities
Halloween is fun and exciting holiday for many children. It gives the opportunity to dress up in their favorite costumes and get a lot of candy. While these traditions seem easy and effortless for most children, for a child with autism it may not be so easy. With the proper preparation Halloween can be a very fun holiday for any child with autism and below are a few steps on how to make Halloween an enjoyable experience.
Help Your Child With Autism Have a Happy Halloween With These Tips:
Let you child pick out his costume so you know it is something he will want to wear.
Make sure your child is able to wear the costume around the house prior to going trick-or-treating. This will allow him to get used to how the costume feels and allow you to make any necessary adjustments to the costume to make it more comfortable for your child.
If you are planning on trick-or-treating, take walks around your neighborhood or wherever you plan on going in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Also, you may want to practice walking up to the doors of people you know and ringing the doorbell.
Read your child social stories about Halloween traditions and trick-or-treating.
Make a schedule of the events that will take place the night of Halloween. Show this schedule to your child frequently so they know what is coming next. You could even make a map of each house you will be going to and they can cross off each house they go to.
If your child has limited verbal skills, make a picture they can hold up that says trick-or-treat, or if possible have a sibling do all of the talking.
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/pumpkins.png186183Shannon Taurozzihttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngShannon Taurozzi2015-10-11 12:40:102019-09-03 21:21:14MORE Tips To Help Your Child with Autism Enjoy Halloween
It’s that time of year again: the leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, and children and parents alike are beginning to feverously plan Halloween activities and costumes. While this may be an exciting experience for most families, it can be a difficult and anxiety-provoking experience for families with children with autism. Children with autism may interpret and react differently to Halloween festivities and costumes, which can be an overwhelming experience. However, this doesn’t mean that children need to sit on the sidelines and avoid Halloween activities altogether. With the following tips, parents and their children with autism can have a stress-free and enjoyable Halloween.
Costumes are a quintessential part of Halloween. It is important to remember that costumes are possible for your child with autism, but should be safe and comfortable for him or her to wear. This is especially important if your child has sensory difficulties. Take into consideration how the fabric and the fit of the costume will affect your child: Is it a fabric the child is used to wearing? Is the fit too tight or too loose? A great way to decide if a costume works is by practicing wearing the costume around the house. This allows your child to become acclimated to the costume, and lets you know whether or not the child will be able to tolerate wearing the costume for extended periods of time. With practice and knowledge that a costume works, you can avoid meltdowns and last-minute costume changes on Halloween.
It is not everyday that we ask our children to walk up to a stranger’s house and socially engage with the stranger for candy. This is a break in typical social rules that children normally follow. This break in rules may be difficult for a child with a rigid understanding of rules and expectations of the world. One way to help your child overcome this change in rules is through setting a schedule and script that your child can follow for trick-or-treating. For example, the script and schedule may look like the following:
When an adult opens the door, say “Trick or Treat”
Allow the adult to put candy in your candy bag
Say “Thank you” and walk away from the house
This script and schedule allows your child to understand the expectations and rules of Halloween while also creating an easy timeline that they can follow and refer back to with parents. Similarly, you may want to practice this script with your child prior to Halloween at your own household. The child can put on his or her costume, and practice ringing the doorbell and asking for candy to simulate trick-or-treating on Halloween.
Know your Child
Even with extensive preparation, Halloween can be an overwhelming and tiring experience. Know and recognize when your child has had enough and is ready to call it quits for the evening. The point of Halloween is for your child to have an enjoyable time, whether that lasts 30 minutes or 2 hours. Halloween is all about maximizing your child’s fun while spending time together as a family.
With the right knowledge and planning, families with children with autism can have a successful and happy Halloween!
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/girl-and-pumkin-feature.png186183Racheal Smetanahttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngRacheal Smetana2015-10-08 10:21:492019-09-03 21:22:02Simple Tips To Prepare Your Child with Autism for Halloween
When I think of Halloween, my mind races back to colorful memories of bright and lively costumes, overly sweet and delicious fun-sized bars of chocolate, and children of all ages screaming “trick or treat”! As most parents know, children who are especially oversensitive to auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli may experience a spark in meltdowns or increase in negative behaviors as a response to this incoming sensory input. Below are some helpful strategies to circumvent these challenges before the day and ensure a safe, fun, and successful Halloween for all.
How to survive Halloween with sensory issues:
Recognizing the symptoms of auditory sensitivity is the first step in preventing any tantrums or negative experiences resulting from auditory overload. If your child has auditory sensitivities, investing in some noise-canceling ear plugs or headphones may help to alleviate some of the meltdowns that arise with loud music or conversation at Halloween parties.
Trick or treating is one of the most fun and special parts about Halloween. Encouraging children to take part in this special tradition is important to allow them to be able to explore and grow their social skills and leisure opportunities. If your child is tactile or visually sensitive, or he becomes overly emotional or uncomfortable when having to meet and introduce themselves to people, it may be helpful to have an older sibling take on the responsibility of introducing selves to neighbors or family while trick-or-treating. Let your child choose if they want to partake in ringing the doorbell and asking for treats, and know that it is okay if they wish to hang back with caregiver while visiting unfamiliar houses. Role playing with your child to help them prepare for the day’s activities can also be a helpful way to improve their social emotional responses.
Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes time to wear a costume! Oftentimes, Halloween costumes can be hot, difficult to put on, or uncomfortable. To avoid this nightmare, prepare your child by having them wear their costume days before the festivities, so that they have an opportunity to break in their costume on their own time, which can highlight any potential issues beforehand. Hosting a fashion show with other siblings or friends could help to make the idea of wearing non-traditional clothing more fun and exciting in a non-threatening environment.
For Halloween parties, make sure to bring some familiar food for the child to enjoy. Safe food choices can be comforting in an unfamiliar setting like a family or friend gathering, especially when the parent is not there for support. If the party is at your house, take advantage of this by setting up a sensory corner away from the main area of entertainment and provide extensive individual and all age activities to try out. Some good suggestions may include coloring, painting pumpkins, or themed craft jewelry. Playing quiet music and decreasing the amount bright lighting can help alleviate some stress for children with sensory concerns.
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/halloween-featured.png186183Mary Kate Mulryhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngMary Kate Mulry2015-09-30 12:35:472015-09-30 12:35:47Surviving Halloween With Sensory Issues
,Spring break is here. You decided to take the week off work and have a “Staycation” with your family. Now what? Use this time to enjoy with your family…but don’t derail a schedule and development the school year brings.
Spring Break Staycation Do’s:
Do start the day off writing a schedule of “Fun” things to do with your child.
Do give each child a chance to pick something they want to add to the schedule so they each feel like they have a say in the day and are excited for their choice!
Do play a board game.
Do go outside and ride bikes, go for a walk, go to the park, etc.
Do bake some cookies that the kids can decorate!
Do an arts and crafts project using things around the house.
Do have a dance party or play Dance Revolution on your Wii.
Do for children ages 3-10, make a book: staple paper together and have your child dictate the story to you (or write it themselves depending on age). Then let them illustrate it!
Do make a picnic instead of your typical lunch. Set up a blanket in the yard and enjoy!
Do write a social story so kids know what to expect during this off time
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Staycation_BlogGraphics-FeaturedImage.png186183Deborah Michaelhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngDeborah Michael2015-03-26 08:23:122015-03-26 08:23:12Spring Break: Tips for the "Staycationing" Family
I cannot tell you the number of times that I have heard parents say that the kids are getting bored and that they (the parents) are at their wit’s end…two days into the much-anticipated (and dreaded?) winter break. There are only so many times you can watch Frozen or play Minecraft before everyone loses it! So, what if for this winter break we start a new tradition…in the form of an “unplugged” winter break? The following is a list of five non-television and video game-related activities that are bound to keep the kids entertained, their brains active, and you sane!
Five Activities for a Successful Holiday Break:
Go Local: Whether it is the children’s museum or that exhibit at the aquarium you have been meaning to visit, make the trip! Many of the museums offer special discounts on specific days or may even have special events going on for children during the break.
Indoor “Laser” Obstacle Course: Hang up yarn from one end of the room to another multiple times until the yarn crosses over itself. Put “prizes” on one end of the room and try to make it from one end to the other while not coming into contact with the yarn. For added fun, turn it into a race against time, or add furniture for more obstacles.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt: Make a list of random items (or things that you have lost if you are really trying to make the hunt efficient) and award point values for the various items. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of children, make it a block event!
Camping Out – Inside: Unless you are fortunate enough to be in a warm climate, or you want to brave the cold, try setting up a tent (made of blankets or otherwise) in front of the fire place. Have a camping-inspired dinner of hot dogs, beans, and S’mores! All the fun of camping WITH running water? Sounds like a win to me!
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/kids-playing-indoors.jpg338507Morgan Lasleyhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngMorgan Lasley2014-12-23 19:53:362014-12-23 19:53:36No Video Games Allowed: Five Secrets to a Successful Holiday Break
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/grandpa-reading-on-christmas-eve.jpg338507Stephanie Joneshttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngStephanie Jones2014-12-23 19:36:452014-12-23 19:39:556 Classic Christmas Books to Read this Christmas Eve
Ahh the Holidays! It really is my favorite time of year. I love all the traditions, music, and the Holiday spirit! This can be an especially fun time when you share it with little ones. I love to see the joy on their faces as they experience a bit of that holiday magic! That is until they are faced with boredom and cabin fever, then no one is happy! Luckily there are plenty of options for holiday fun for all ages in the Chicagoland area. There are too many options to name, but here are a few good ideas to get you started for a fun holiday break with your family.
Okay, okay. Maybe I’m stating the obvious a bit here. Holiday Lights are probably the first thing that jump to your mind when looking for a great winter weather activity, but read on all the same. Maybe there are some new options to consider.
Morton Arboretum – Lisle, IL – I pass this location every day during my commute, and I always get excited when the lights start to go up. This is certainly one of the most beautiful displays I’ve seen. They do offer events for young children, but this may be a better option if you have older kids who would enjoy this more than the blinking cartoon displays at other locations. This seems a bit more “classy.”
Zoo Lights – Chicago, IL or Brookfield, IL – This is a great evening outing for the entire family. Zoo lights are even better than most light shows, because you can see animals, and participate in other activities as well. Just bundle up, and be prepared for a bit of walking. I recommend you bring a stroller or wagon. Even if your little one is at that “I wanna walk by myself” age, you may want to bring the stroller as backup.
Holiday Trolley Express – Carol Stream, IL – This is a great somewhat indoor option that can help you avoid sensory overload or cranky fits from frozen fingers. The Carol Stream Park District offers a festive trolley ride to enjoy some of the beautiful light displays in the area, followed by some holiday fun.
Christmas Around the World – Museum of Science and Industry – This is a fabulous option, not only for great light displays, but also for tons of other fun stuff to do. Museum of Science and Industry sets up beautiful trees with decorations from around the world. Check their website in advance, because they also offer free holiday concerts or other events. When I went last year there was a Russian Children’s Choir performing holiday classics in Russian. It was beautiful, and a nice relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the museum.
Ho! Ho! Ho! Again, I’m probably stating another obvious one here. Everyone knows you have to visit Santa at Christmas time! But what if your child can’t handle the sensory overload of a busy shopping mall or wait in the long line without a meltdown? Don’t worry. Santa doesn’t just sit at the mall all day! He likes to get out and meet kids at Holiday parties or pancake breakfasts. Here are some other Santa alternatives.
Breakfast or Lunch with Santa – Check your local listings. Many park districts, Boy Scout troops, or even rotary clubs offer pancake breakfasts with Santa for a reasonable amount. I even found one in Rolling Meadows that is free if you bring a canned food donation. Sit back and enjoy a nice breakfast with your family, and wait your turn to meet Santa in peace. Sometimes he may even have a chance to come over to your table and greet you!
Holiday Express – Again, check your local listings. I started to look at all the options, and there were too many to type! Almost every park district seems to be offering a fun “Polar Express” type outing this year. Enjoy a nice holiday train ride (Hooray, another indoor light show option too!) to the North Pole and meet Santa. Many of these train rides are also a pajama party like in the movie, and offer hot cocoa or other goodies.
Hanukkah oh Hanukkah! There are lots of fun ways to enjoy the Festival of Lights in the Chicagoland area. Here are a few of the most exciting suggestions I found.
Menorah Workshop – select Home Depot locations – enjoy Hanukkah snacks while you learn to make your own menorahs!
Hanukkah Concerts – There are many options out there for concerts as well, but I recommend you look into the one at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.
Hanukkah Happenings – Vernon Hills, IL – raffles, crafts, photos, dreidel spinning, and more!
Hanukkah Party: A Special Time for Families with Special Needs – Northbrook, IL – I couldn’t have been more excited when I heard about this! This is a great opportunity for some of our own families from here at North Shore Pediatric Therapy to get together and enjoy the holiday. Celebrate with music, games, a candle lighting, and the Hanukkah story.
Candy and Craft activities – check your local park district, library, Home Depot, craft store, or candy store. Many are offering free or inexpensive classes to make candy, holiday cookies, ornaments, or holiday decorations.
Doll Tea Party (with Fancy Nancy) – Arlington Heights Park District – I went to many Doll Tea parties as a girl, and I loved them! Let your little one dress up like their doll for extra fun.
Holiday movies – many of the small local theatres offer a free or $1 screening of holiday classics. Check with your local theatre for more information.
Frozen® party – Heller Nature Center – Highland Park, IL – Let it go! Let it go, and let the kids go have a blast. This sounds like a ton of fun. It makes me want to braid my hair and hug a snowman, but unfortunately this ones for kids only. Darn it!
Grinch’s candy cane hunt – Park Ridge, IL – Why wait until Easter when you can have a candy cane hunt right now?!
See, there is no reason to get the Winter blues! There are plenty of exciting options out there. For more great ideas check out Oaklee’s Guide or Chicago Kids, or check with your local library and park district. Whether you stay in, or go out, enjoy your holiday season. Happy Holidays!
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/holiday-finger-family.jpg338507Megan Summerhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngMegan Summer2014-12-17 08:28:592014-12-17 08:28:59Winter Break 2015: Chicago Family Activity Guide
As the holiday season approaches us, so starts the mad dash to buy everyone’s wish-list toys. Toy stores will provide you with a plethora of options from electronic gadgets to doll sets. But remember, toys can also help to improve skills, confidence and overall development! Before you go running to the stores, let’s stop and examine the toys that promote developmental skills from an occupational therapy perspective.
4 Toys for Fine Motor Development:
Automoblox – Suitable for children 2+ years, Automoblox allow your child to explore their creative side! The interchangeable wheels, rims, tops, and bumpers promote manipulation skills.
Pop Beads – Pop them in and pop them out! These beads promote fine motor precision as your child becomes a jewelry designer. In addition, the resistive aspect of the Pop Beads improves fine motor strength.
Spirograph – Your childhood comes back to life as you watch your child create beautiful circular patterns. As popular as ever, the Spirograph’s interlocking gears promote fine motor precision and control. Suitable for ages 5+.
Cat in the Hat I Can Do That Game– Can you tip toe around the Trick-a-ma-stick while balancing a cake on your head? I bet you can! This silly multi-player game encourages gross motor development through various animal walks and balancing activities. Great for ages 4-8.
ALEX toys, Monkey Balance Board – This adorable board is great to practice balance skills, weight-shifting and leg strength. The durable wood is great for indoors and out, so this board will last you well into the next winter season! Great for little feet ages 3+.
Skip-It – This 90’s game is still skipping strong! The Skip-It encourages gross motor coordination, balance, and encourages a child to separate the sides of their body, increasing body awareness skills.
4 Toys for Sensory Play Development:
Lakeshore Scented Dough– Can your child tell the difference between the cherry and the grape? This dough encourages olfactory development as your child kneads, pinches and sculpts the dough into shapes and characters.
Wonderworld Sensory Blocks– These little blocks, designed for children ages 18 months and older, encourage visual, auditory and tactile discrimination skills.
Touchy Feely– A Marbles the Brain Store game, it encourages tactile discrimination for texture, shape, and temperatures.
Melissa and Doug Deluxe Band Set – A mom-approved band for your child to star in! A great way for your child to control the amount of auditory stimulation in their environment and be exposed to various sounds!
4 toys for Executive Functioning Skill Development:
Sequence for Kids– A family-friendly game for ages 3-6, this game is great for attention, problem solving, and as the title suggests, Sequencing skills! The best part, if you love it, you can buy the adult version as well!
Busy Town Eye Found It – Richard Scarry’s beloved children’s book comes to life in an eye-spy inspired game. Race through Busy Town looking for hidden pictures promoting attention, cooperation and visual motor skills! Great for a group of kids ages 3+.
Rush Hour – Help the red car get out of a traffic jam! For your older child (ages 8+), this game promotes problem-solving skills, sequencing, attention and organization.
Simon Swipe– Follow the color pattern and focus on strengthening your attention, sequencing and memory skills! This game is great for solo play or to play with a friend! (ages 8+)
It is largely recognized that the holiday season is a lovely, yet chaotic time of year. During this busy time, being with family often takes precedent over the speech and language homework sent home by your child’s speech-language therapist. Why not combine a holiday tradition with speech-language homework?
Use this recipe for extra language and speech reinforcement while decorating cookies this holiday season:
2 cups of basic concepts: While adding ingredients give directions emphasizing the understanding of quantitative concepts, such as all, some, one, both. For example, “Add both cups of flour” or “Put on some red sprinkles and some green sprinkles.” If this is too advanced, you can always get extra practice with counting. You can count the cups of ingredients or the number of cookies.
1 teaspoon of adjectives: Adjectives or descriptive words can easily be targeted during baking. You can talk about ways to describe the cookies that you are making, e.g., “Look! You made a big cookie and your sister made a small cookie,” or you can give directions including adjectives, e.g., “Decorate the long tree cookie and I’ll decorate the short tree cookie.”
2 tablespoons of vocabulary: Like with any activity throughout your day, it is good to try to introduce your children to new vocabulary or reinforce the vocabulary they are already using. Vocabulary categories that are easily targeted during cookie decorating are: colors, shapes and nouns. For example, “Do you want to make the tree, snowman or ornament?” or “What colors did you use on your cookie?”.
Mix in turn taking: Turn taking is a great social skill to practice at home with siblings or friends. Take turns putting in ingredients, mixing or putting on candies to decorate. Appropriate turn taking can be used by kids when playing games with peers and during conversations.
Stir in requesting: Have your child exercise his or her expressive language skills by requesting for items. Depending on their skill level a carrier phrase could be used, “I want ______” or the request could be in question form, “Can I have the _______, please?”. Once your child is successful at making simple requests, work towards expanding the utterance, making the request longer, (e.g, “I want the red frosting”).
Bake for following directions: Baking holiday cookies makes for the perfect set up for your child to practice following directions. First start with simple one step directions, “Put on white frosting”. To continue to improve your child’s receptive language you can advance to first/then directions, “First put on white frosting, then put on green sprinkles”.
Let it cool with articulation practice: Throughout the whole baking/decorating process, articulation (speech sounds) can also be targeted. As an adult model, you can provide the correct productions for your child emphasizing the target sound. (e.g., What cookie do you like?, Look at my cookie!”). If your child is at the stage in speech therapy where they can practice saying their target sounds, work on using them during the activity. For instance, if you were working on “s” or s-clusters you could practice using the sound to describe what you see “I see a reindeer” or when taking about the steps to baking “Stir in the flour”.
Throughout your cooking baking experience keep in mind that the activity should remain fun, keeping the speech-language practice with in your child’s abilities in order to keep frustration low. Enjoy this recipe for ideas of ways to target speech and language! Happy Holidays!
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/holiday-cookie.jpg338507Katie Devore, MA, CCC-SLPhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngKatie Devore, MA, CCC-SLP2014-12-09 17:00:452015-01-08 12:24:21A Holiday Cookie Recipe for Better Speech and Language