Halloween is a time for kids to dress up in fun costumes, however, this may be very uncomfortable for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Kids with SPD may find certain clothing uncomfortable due to tactile sensitivities. This may range from kid-to-kid; some kids may prefer to wear loose fitted clothing, some may prefer to wear clothes that are tight, and some kids may prefer to wear soft clothing. It is best to explore which type of clothing your child prefers prior to picking out a Halloween costume.
Once you know which type of clothing best suits your child, you can then begin to find what Halloween costume will be most comfortable for them to wear.
Here are some recommendations to make your search for a Halloween costume easier:
Allow your child to be a part of the process of choosing a Halloween costume and try to incorporate their favorite things.
Never force your child to wear a costume.
It may be helpful to find costumes that are seamless and do not have tags.
Wash the costume prior to your child wearing it.
Allow your child to wear their costume prior to Halloween.
Masks and face paint may be uncomfortable for a child with SPD. It will be helpful to practice wearing a mask or putting on face paint prior to Halloween to see if your child can tolerate the feeling of having it on his or her face. If your child decides to wear a mask, allow them to remove it if needed. Also, if your child decides to wear face paint, make sure to bring facial wipes in case you need to remove it from his or her face.
It is more important that your child is comfortable in his or her Halloween costume, rather than what costume they wear. It will be helpful to know what type of clothing your child finds comfortable and what clothing they find uncomfortable in order to find the best costume for his or her needs.
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Blog-Halloween-Costumes-FeaturedImage.png186183Ashlen Meyerhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngAshlen Meyer2019-10-04 05:30:202019-10-11 11:18:49How to Choose a Halloween Costume for a Child With Sensory Processing Disorder
The school cafeteria hits the senses with a wide array of sensory experiences all at once. Some children, especially those with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), can find the lunchtime experience overwhelming because of some or all of the sensory aspects of a cafeteria. Preparing your child or student for this part of the school day can help them enjoy, not dread, lunchtime and that can positively impact their entire school experience.
Location, location, location- Where a child sits in the cafeteria can greatly affect his or her behavior and sensory input. For example, a child who is easily visually distracted should be sat so that he or she is facing away from the entire room, which will help them to they can focus on their meal. For a child with sensitivity to smells, make sure they are sat as far away from the lunch line as possible.
Help the child advocate for themselves- Children with SPD can feel when they’re starting to get overwhelmed by whatever sensory stimulus is bothering them, but they can have a hard time explaining it to others. Teach the child that when they start feeling bad, upset, or their “engine” is running too fast (or any other term you use when your child is escalating) they should tell their teacher that they need a break. This could be a movement break, or some quiet time in a hall or designated quiet space.
Give the child a fidget toy- This is a small toy the child can fidget with, ideally, without distracting other children. This would be great for the child who has a hard time not touching his friends who are sitting close to him.
Put a sensory toolkit in their lunchbox- This can vary from child to child, depending on what their sensory needs are. You could put in a fidget for the child who has a hard time sitting still, or a favorite lip balm or lotion for the child who is sensitive to smells to give them a familiar scent to help calm them down (or one to mask the smell of the cafeteria). You could put in pictures of sensory strategies as reminders of how to calm down if they’re getting overwhelmed (e.g. deep breaths, hand-pushes, chair push-ups). Sunglasses could be helpful for the child who is sensitive to the bright lights in the cafeteria.
Familiar foods- For those children with oral sensory sensitivities who are picky eaters, make sure to pack foods they will eat. This is not the time to send mustard on their sandwich for the first time or ask them to try whatever the cafeteria is serving. Have your child help you pack their lunch so that they know what to expect, or go over the menu for the week with them and choose the day(s) they will buy their lunch.
Regulating foods- crunchy foods (e.g. carrots, pretzel sticks) can be very regulating for children with SPD, particularly children with oral-seeking behaviors. Other great food ideas include sucking thick liquids (yogurt, applesauce) from a straw, hard candies, or gum.
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Blog-Sensory-Cafeteria-FeaturedImage.png186183Kimberly Reidhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngKimberly Reid2019-09-01 05:30:512019-09-19 12:20:056 Coping Strategies for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder in Their School Cafeteria
Throughout the year, you and your family are bound to hit the open road a time or two for one of a number of reasons. Many families may want to check out the scene in a new city. Others, will seek thrills at an amusement park or visit a family member that lives out of town. These trips can provide children with priceless learning opportunities and families with memories that will last a lifetime. For children with Sensory Processing Disorders however, these trips can be also be extremely challenging. Below are 6 tips and tricks to use in order to best support children who have difficulty processing sensory information on your next family vacation.
Discuss what to expect: Talking about the specific logistics of a trip can help to ease your child’s anxiety about the ambiguity of what’s coming next. Similarly, it’s important to talk about what will be expected of your child while traveling. Here are some questions that your child may have prior to traveling. Think through each one and discuss them as a family before your next adventure begins:
What is the mode of transportation (ie. plane, train, or automobile)?
What will you see? Will there be a lot of people?
What will you smell?
What will you hear? Will it be loud?
How much time will it take? What will you do to pass the time?
How much space will your child have? Will there be time or room to play?
What are the rules while traveling?
Decrease the amount of extraneous and unfamiliar noise: Use noise cancelling headphones or calming music. Both strategies can help your child to calm themselves and more effectively process auditory sensory information, especially with the added stressors of travel.
Prepare a backpack of travel essentials: Many adults pack a small carry-on bag with a few items that will help them pass the time. Items often include shoulder pillows, eye masks, ear phones and iPods; as well as a favorite book or magazine. For children with various sensory processing disorders, include some of the items listed below:
Snacks, water, gum, or hard candies.
Pack a heavy object to help your child regulate. A book or weighted blanket are great options.
Bring a comfort object such as a blanket or favorite stuffed animal.
Include fun activities such as mini board games, coloring pages, books, or playing cards
Call the airline or tourist destination ahead of time: Explain your child’s sensory needs. Certain airlines, parks, and museums have special accommodations for children with sensory processing disorders.
Preparatory Heavy Work: Before taking off for your trip, or during breaks in travel, engage your kiddos in Heavy Work activities. Tasks include animal walks, pushing or pulling luggage, push ups, or big hugs from mom and dad. All of these activities provide your child’s big muscle and joint groups with proprioceptive input. This input is extremely regulating for children, like exercise could be for an adult, and will help to calm your child for the next leg of travel.
Expect some ornery fellow passengers: While it is unfortunate, you may come across someone throughout your travels who will have a low tolerance for kids being kids. Depending on your comfort level in doing so (or your ability to turn the other cheek), write out small note cards explaining that your child has a Sensory Processing Disorder and that as a family, you are doing the best you can to travel with minimal interruptions to the routines of those around you. You could even offer nearby passengers earplugs to help block out any extraneous noises.
The bottom line is that while traveling can be challenging, it can also be an extremely rewarding experience for everyone involved. With a fair amount of foresight and appropriate preparation, you can help to shape your trip into an experience of a lifetime for your whole family. Happy travels!
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/BlogSPDTravel-FeaturedImage.png186183Lindsey Moyerhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngLindsey Moyer2019-03-04 05:30:012019-09-06 19:48:11Happy Travels with a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder
Now that warm weather has finally arrived, many children and families are eagerly awaiting the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer break. Summer is the perfect time of the year to play outside with friends and to enjoy family time. It’s also an excellent opportunity to add additional therapy sessions to maintain progress made during the school year or to meet goals.
When your child is in need of counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA or physical therapy, an individualized treatment plan is created by your therapist. Therapists build a strong rapport and a trusting relationship with children through consistent time spent together. A break in therapy disrupts their treatment plan and can delay progress. There are multiple ways to maximize your child’s time in therapy during the summer months by participating in our multidisciplinary approach. If necessary, your child can receive various therapeutic services all under one roof.
For children who have diagnoses of Autism, ADHD, or other developmental, cognitive, or mental health concerns, multiple therapeutic services are recommended to allow your child to reach their full potential. Apart from the convenience of having all of your child’s services under one roof, therapists collaborate with each other to ensure consistency for your child. Coordination of care will allow your child to grow and gain skills as rapidly as possible.
The summer months bring lots of opportunities for children to play at parks, learn to use/ride various gross motor toys such as bikes or scooters, or play at the beach. Therapy is play based so it’s fun!
Many of our clinics have a sand table where children can learn how to build sand castles, or jungle gym equipment that they can learn to navigate safely. We teach bike riding! Mastery of these skills during your child’s sessions provides confidence that they can participate in these activities safely and effectively outside of the clinic setting. One of the most important goals in therapy is to have fun while skill building.
Here are some tips on maintaining consistency and getting the most out of treatment for your child.
Since children are out of school, they have a lot more availability during the day to participate in therapy, and while camp and extracurricular activities are important, and great options for staying active, they cannot replace individualized therapy plans.
Summer can be filled with unstructured time. For kiddos who struggle with ADHD, Autism, or Anxiety, this can be exacerbate some of their symptoms. Maintaining scheduled therapy hours provides children with consistency and routine to continue to work on their treatment goals.
Rescheduling missed sessions is easier during the Summer months. (you might even be able to see a different therapist, depending on your child’s needs)
Plan ahead and schedule additional sessions if you have an upcoming vacation or break, your therapist may have extra flexibility as well.
Remember, school may be out, but kiddos who maintain their therapy schedules thrive when Autumn arrives!
**Please keep in mind cancellations should be done at least 24 to 48 hours in advance, so other families also have the chance to reschedule.
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Bedtime can be a stressful time of the day for both children and their parents. Getting your child to sleep in their own bed at night can be quite the challenge. Figuring out what works best for you and your child can be exhausting and may require a trial-and-error process.
If you are searching for ideas to help your child sleep in their own bed at night, you may be interested in exploring some of the options below:
A bedtime routine is extremely important if you are having a difficult time getting your child to stay in their own bed. It may be helpful to have them take a warm bath, put on their pajamas, brush their teeth and pick out a book, as well as a stuffed animal to sleep with before getting into bed. Establishing a before-bed routine will reduce your child’s stress levels and assist with falling asleep, staying asleep throughout the night and waking up feeling refreshed. Many children benefit from a visual schedule, so that they can follow a step-by-step picture sequence of their routine.
During the hour or so before bed, make sure your child engages in calming activities. Activities that are alerting or stressful for your child can make the transition into bedtime more difficult. Examples of calming activities may include guided meditation, listening to calming music, yoga, drawing or reading a book.
Keep in mind that consistency is key! It is important to establish a routine and stick with it, even if you may not be noticing immediate results.
Be sure to give your child ample warning time before bedtime approaches. Moreover, do not suddenly tell your child that it is time for bed while they are in the middle of their favorite activity. It is beneficial to give them a reminder that bedtime is approaching, roughly an hour before they should be asleep, with consistent warnings until it is time to go to sleep. If your child has not yet mastered the concept of time, using a timer can assist with this.
Another option is a concept called “bedtime fading.” This is putting your child to sleep somewhat later than their usual bedtime, so that they are more tired and fall asleep faster. After doing this for a few days, you can gradually shorten the time down closer to their actual bedtime. For example, if bedtime is typically 8 p.m., put your child to bed at 8:30 for a few days. Then 8:15 and so forth, until you get back down to 8. This allows them to gradually learn to fall asleep alone, especially if they prefer to have a parent with them in the room in order to fall asleep.
Your child may also benefit from keeping their bedroom door open. A child may feel better falling asleep on their own if the door is open at least halfway. If they do not stay in their bed, the door gets closed. You can also try using a nightlight to increase their level of comfort while they are trying to fall asleep.
Gradually moving yourself out of the room may also be beneficial. Explain to your child that you will stay on the floor next to them until they fall asleep. The following night on a chair nearby, etc. After a few days, the goal will be to phase yourself out of their room.
A reward system works well for many children, especially during bedtime. If your child lays in their own bed without coming out, they can earn a breakfast treat or pick a prize out of a bin of options such as stickers or toys of your choice. You can even place that reward on a shelf in their room, so they know it is there for them in the morning. If your child comes out of bed throughout the night, they do not receive a reward; however, can try again the next night. It is best not to bring too much attention to the fact that they were unable to achieve the reward and focus more on earning it for the following day.
The first time your child gets up from their bed, take them by their hand, walk them back to bed and calmly state that it is bedtime and they need to go to sleep. The second time, do the same thing but just say the word “bedtime.” If it happens again, say nothing and silently walk your child back to bed. The less talking, the better, as to bring less attention to the situation.
Praise your child
Saying your final “goodnight” should be brief. You may want to discuss how your child’s day went and what will take place tomorrow. Praising your child for something he or she did during the day that you were proud of them for will help them to fall asleep on a positive note.
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https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Blog-Handwriting-FeaturedImage.png186183Kimberly Reidhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngKimberly Reid2017-07-12 10:26:482017-07-12 10:26:484 Fun Ways to Practice Handwriting
Should I Have my Child Evaluated for a Feeding Disorder?
Does your child…
Experience extreme anxiety or exhibit behaviors during mealtime?
Find mealtime to be an exhausting process that requires too much time and energy to complete?
Have difficulty tolerating a variety of food groups?
Require you to prepare a separate meal from the family dinner or snack time at school?
If so, a feeding evaluation by a qualified speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist may be warranted.
What Does an Evaluation Look Like?
The parent interview often provides the most valuable information and it is important to fill out all case-history information completely. The therapist may inquire specifically about your child’s medical history of any respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal, and craniofacial issues. Report any food allergies or restrictions (soy, gluten, dairy, egg, nuts) to ensure your child’s safety. If time allows, a 3-4 day feeding diary that includes a detailed report of all the food/drink ingested would allow the clinician to analyze any patterns of behavior and preferences related to feeding. The therapist should know the child’s regular feeding times, a list of all foods and drinks preferred/tolerated, any foods the child used to enjoy but no longer accepts, the length of a typical mealtime, and any positive or negative behavioral or physiological reactions to foods.
The clinician will examine the oral cavity (jaw, tongue, hard/soft palate, dentition, etc.) for appropriate symmetry, strength, and range of motion for feeding. Based on your child’s level of comfort, food and/or drink brought by the parent may be presented. The clinician will observe the child’s postural stability, acceptance of food/drink, munching or rotary chewing patterns, chewing side preferences, and the timeliness/success of the swallow response, and overall rate of feeding. The clinician will take note of signs/symptoms of airway penetration such as coughing, wet vocal quality, watery eyes, or excessive throat clearing. All of this information will assist the therapist in making appropriate referrals and/or developing a feeding treatment plan tailored to fit your child’s needs.
What’s the Difference Between a Picky Eater and a Problem Eater?
A picky eater is a child who accepts 30 or more foods, requires repeated exposures prior to eating the food consistently throughout varying food environments, and has specific routines with food presentation (e.g., needs crust cut off, no foods can be touching, will only eat one specific brand of chicken nuggets). Children who are picky eaters are still able to maintain adequate nutrition and hydration without nutrient-based supplements. Parents complain that new food experiences such as going to restaurants and birthday parties are often difficult due to their child’s feeding preferences.
A problem eateris a child who accepts roughly 5-10 foods and has no more than 20 foods in their food repertoire. The child presents with extreme phobic reactions to new foods such as crying, screaming, throwing foods, and most often times, absolute refusal if their foods are not preferred. Physiological symptoms become evident with facial grimacing, gagging, or vomiting when presented with or during mastication of foods. Parents often feel obligated to allow their child any food so they will eat something. A problem eater likely has underlying medical or functional impairment such as autism spectrum disorder, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), reduced strength and coordination of the oral musculature, and/or sensory processing disorder. Extreme self-restriction can occur if problem eating is left untreated and most often leads to pediatric undernutrition (PUN). Most parents express that the “wait it out” approach does not work with a problem eater and they will continue to self-restrict for days until preferred foods are presented. Children who are problem eaters often require nutrient-based supplements to maintain their health.
A speech-language pathologist can treat both a picky and problem eater to expand the food repertoire and increase tolerance of various tastes, foods, and textures.
What Does Feeding Therapy Look Like?
There are many different approaches to feeding therapy. Your speech or occupational therapist will choose a technique and plan of care that suits your child’s needs most appropriately. Since feeding is a daily activity that requires parent assistance and preparation, you will likely be included in the sessions for education and training purposes.
A feeding therapy session will focus on creating a positive mealtime experience for the child. Intervention targets will likely include increasing awareness, stability, or strengthening the oral cavity, improving the motor plan sequence for feeding, and/or imposing behavioral modifications during feeding, and educating the parent. Behavioral modifications may include a daily mealtime schedule, with no “grazing” in the kitchen allowed, restricting the amount of preferred foods presented to the child, or implementing positive reinforcement for when a child is trialing a new food (access to a favorite toy for 1 minute.) Parents also benefit from behavioral modifications, such as allowing the child to choose foods from two choices, reestablishing trust after hiding something nutritious in the food, and maintaining the promise of “just 5 more bites.”
A technique called “food chaining” uses the child’s core diet (what they will reliably eat across all settings) to “chain” or transition to another similar flavor and texture of foods.
Here is an example of the steps taken while food chaining:
Core diet – what the child will eat reliably across all settings.
Flavor mapping – analysis of your child’s flavor preferences
Flavor masking – use of a condiment or sauce to mask a new taste
Transitional foods – favorites used to transition a child to a new food. These foods cleanse the palate in-between bites of new foods
Surprise foods – new foods that are significantly different – something you make together, for example: chocolate to peanut butter, apples to pears, and chips to veggie sticks.
Food chaining often incorporates all senses to transition to a new food using a feeding hierarchy. A feeding hierarchy is a tool to teach the child how to taste/trial food in slow increments in attempt to reduce the amount of anxiety associated with trialing new foods. The feeding hierarchy may include providing the child with a goal to interact with the food, or an item of similar consistency a number of times.
Some examples of what may be included in a feeding hierarchy are:
Tolerating the food and its scent in the room
Allowing the food on the table or on the child’s plate
Touching the food with a utensil or hands
Touching the food to the lips (kissing) teeth, and tongue
Licking or sucking the food
Sinking the teeth into the food
Taking a small “nibble”
Taking an average bite of food
If your child is experiencing these symptoms consult with your physician regarding your concerns. Should you have any questions regarding a feeding evaluation/therapy, consult with a qualified speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist as soon as possible.
Fraker, C., Fishbein, M., Cox, S., Walbert, L. (June 2004). Food Chaining: A systematic approach for the treatment of children with eating aversion. Retrieved from Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: Volume 39, pg. 51.
Fraker C., Fishbein M., Walbert L., Cox S. Food Chaining: The proven 6-step plan to stop picky eating, solve feeding problems and expand your child’s diet. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press; 2007.
Roth, M., Williams, K., Paul, C. (August 2010) “Empirically Supported Treatments in Pediatric Psychology: Severe Feeding Problems”. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, vol. 24, no. 3, 193-214.
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Blog-Feeding-Therapy-FeaturedImage.png186183Stephanie Sorrentinohttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngStephanie Sorrentino2017-06-20 05:30:442017-08-25 09:54:05What Parents Need to Know About Feeding Therapy
While it is called a “diet,” it’s not a FOOD diet, but it should be considered nutritional intake that your child’s body/brain need daily.
Consistency is key and it is important to find a schedule that works for you. Work with your occupational therapist and teacher to develop a timeframe that works best. Do not overdo it if it does not seem sustainable.
As much as possible, sensory diet activities should be completed around the same time each day.
Many sensory diet activities can be adapted to be used across many environments in order to promote consistency i.e. at home, in school, while traveling.
When appropriate, get other siblings and family members involved!
Watch your child’s responses before, during, and after sensory diet activities and be sure to address any abnormal changes you see with your occupational therapist.
The best sensory diet combines tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular based activities.
Just as no two children with sensory processing difficulties will present the same, no two sensory diets will be identical.
As your child’s brain continues to develop, the sensory diet will likely eventually need to be updated in either types of activities or frequency.
Examples of sensory diet activities for each sensory system:
Proprioceptive: jumping and crashing on pillows, heavy work activities such as pushing a heavy laundry basket or helping carry grocery bags to put away, wheelbarrow walk or animal walks (bear crawl, crab walk), joint compressions.
Vestibular: log rolls, cartwheels, swinging, head inversions over the edge of a couch, yoga poses, rocking chair.
Tactile: messy play (shaving cream, water, finger painting), sensory bins (uncooked rice or pasta noodles, kinetic sand), exposure to novel materials (i.e. corduroy, velvet, sandpaper, sand, silk).
Auditory: participation in Therapeutic Listening program under the guidance of your occupational therapist, listening to calming music, listening to white noise, play exploration with various instruments or toys/books that make sounds.
Oral: blowing bubbles, use of straws, use of chewy tubes or “jewelry”, food texture exploration (i.e. creamy, dry, wet, lumpy), having a chewy or crunchy snack to provide “heavy work” to the mouth”.
Visual: activities such as “i-spy”, spot the difference picture games, and word searches, de-clutter the home environment, oculomotor exercises, dim lights and avoid fluorescent bulbs.
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Blog-Sensory-Diet-FeaturedImage.png186183Corinne Kreutzhttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngCorinne Kreutz2017-06-02 09:20:062019-09-20 09:58:08What You Need to Know About Sensory Diets
Every child needs sensory input to stay focused, regulated, and organized throughout the day, especially children who have sensory processing challenges. Every child has different sensory needs that need to be met each day and acquiring that input can be difficult when the weather turns rainy.
Below are some fun and easy to do sensory activities that can be done with the whole family to ensure that your child is getting the sensory input they need:
Tactile/messy play is a great indoor activity for the child with tactile processing challenges:
Create sensory bins of rice, beans, sand, noodles, etc.
Cooking/baking (allow the child to mix with their hands to explore new textures)
Heavy work activities and activities that provide vestibular input can be great to help regulate a sensory seeking child:
Animal walk races
Using a rolling pin and cookie cutters while baking
For the anxious child or a child that has self-regulation difficulties:
Listening to calming music
To increase attention, alertness, and address impulsivity challenges:
Red light/green light
Be creative and have fun using these activities to brighten up a gloomy, cold day!
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A fidget tool is one sensory strategy used to help children achieve self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to maintain an optimum level of arousal in order to participate in daily activities. Self-regulation is a critical component of learning, as it can impact a student’s attention, emotional regulation and impulse control; a child’s performance in the classroom is directly related to his regulatory state.
A child’s nervous system, specifically the sensory system, needs input to help achieve a regulated state to successfully complete tasks. The theory behind fidget tools is that it provides a sensory experience to increase self-regulation, attention, participation and performance.
During the school day, a child’s body works tirelessly to perform the functions necessary to participate in the classroom. Children need:
Muscle control and endurance to sustain a seated, upright position to sit at a desk or on the rug during circle time.
Auditory attention to attend to instructions and lessons, while also blocking out surrounding sounds of peers chattering, shuffling papers or chairs scooting across the floor.
Visual attention to read work instructions, look at the teacher during lessons and complete written work, while also blocking out other visual distractions around the classroom.
Impulse and body control to keep hands, legs and other body parts from touching objects or peers nearby.
Emotional control to regulate emotions when happy, sad, confident, frustrated or embarrassed throughout the day.
For some kids, the demands of the classroom environment exceed what their bodies can handle. This isn’t due to a lack of intelligence or willingness to learn; it stems from difficulty coping with a neurologic system that isn’t organizing and responding appropriately to a variety of sensory stimulation from the external world.
The result of a child’s inability to organize his nervous system during the school day is an increase in behaviors that are often deemed inappropriate or distracting in the classroom. Such behaviors may include inability to sit still, wandering around the room, constant touching of objects or peers, laying on the floor, emotional outbursts, not following directions or not understanding how to complete a task.
These behaviors are actually how the child attempts to regulate his body to participate in the classroom. To minimize these behaviors and increase positive participation, it is important that the child is set up for success by providing individualized strategies for him to sustain a regulated state throughout the day.
One of these strategies is the fidget tool. I frequently recommend that my clients use a fidget tool in the classroom to help sustain attention and increase performance. Fidgets come in a variety of forms including Koosh balls, stress balls, small weighted balls, small figurines or fidget spinners.
Fidget tool recommendations are always given with the stipulation that the student must understand that the fidget needs to be used appropriately. I suggest that the parent and teacher review appropriate uses for the fidget with the child (i.e keeping the fidget in the hands, under the desk in the child’s lap), inappropriate uses for the fidget (i.e. throwing the fidget, rolling the fidget, giving the fidget to a friend) and the consequences for inappropriate use of the fidget (i.e. having the fidget taken away). Laying out clear guidelines for the use of the fidget helps students know the expectations and follow the rules.
While several schools have banned the use of fidget spinners in the classroom due to the craze they have caused, as an occupational therapist I support fidget tools as a sensory, regulatory strategy, as long as clear expectations are set and rules are followed. I have seen great success in my clients’ performance and attention when they use fidgets appropriately and not as a toy.
Does that mean my child needs a fidget spinner?
Fidget spinners or tools may not be suitable for everyone. Each person’s sensory system will respond differently to various strategies and may be needed at different times during the day. Some children benefit from fidget tools during writing activities, some may benefit from the tool during lecture periods and others may require use of the fidget more frequently. There may also be children who have difficulty with self-regulation where fidget spinners or fidget tools cause increased distraction or dysregulation. Check out our other blogs for ideas on other strategies that may be incorporated in the classroom to promote optimal performance.
https://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Blog-Fidget-Spinners-FeaturedImage-01.png388382Dana Paishttps://nspt4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngDana Pais2017-05-05 10:35:072017-07-26 11:31:00Fidget Spinners: The Bottom Line