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Sensory Processing Disorder and Fall Activities: Strategies to Promote Success at Apple Orchards and Pumpkin Patches

Fall is the perfect time of the year for children to explore apple orchards and pumpkin patches. These outdoor activities expose children to various sensory experiences. Children with Sensoryblog-sensory processing disorder-fall-activities-main-landscape Processing Disorder (SPD) may have a difficult time appropriately responding to the sensory input that they are exposed to at these community events.

Below are several strategies to help prepare for and promote a successful experience at apple orchards and pumpkin patches with a child with Sensory Processing Disorder:

Preparation

Prior to leaving for the orchard or pumpkin patch, prepare your child for what he or she is about to experience (especially if it is the first trip to these fall sites). Have your child look at pictures or books related to these fall activities. Share with them the activities that they will partake in, so they know what to expect (e.g. hay ride, mazes, drinking cider). Discuss safety and the importance of staying together (e.g. holding hands).

What to Bring

Pack the essentials:

  • Clothing for various weather changes
  • Sunglasses/hat for children who are sensitive to bright sunlight
  • Preferred and comforting food/drinks
    • Crunchy/chewy foods and drinks that involve sucking thicker liquids through a straw can help regulate the body
  • Familiar or soothing item from home to help calm your child down or a fidget to help keep hands to self (e.g. blanket, toy)

Hula-Hoop Space/Retreat Spot

Some children have a hard time being in close proximity to other people and objects. To help them avoid feeling overwhelmed by this experience in the orchard and pumpkin patch, encourage your child to create a ‘hula-hoop space’ with his or her arms arched in front of the belly and fingertips touching. This will help your child visually see and physically feel how much space should be between him or her and other people/objects. As a family, determine a ‘retreat spot’ at the orchard or patch that you and your children can retreat to help re-organize the body and take a break.

Regulating Heavy Work

Your child may seek out a lot of movement and take climbing risks. Heavy work activities can help organize and regulate the body. At an apple orchard or pumpkin patch you can encourage the following heavy work activities. Be sure to appropriately modify the weight your child pulls/carries/pushes based on his or her age and size:

  • Pull a wagon
  • Push pumpkins
  • Carry a sack of apples

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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how to make carving a pumpkin a speech and language activity

Carving a Pumpkin – Make it a Speech and Language Activity!

One of my favorite Halloween memories from childhood is carving pumpkins with my dad. I loved the excitement of picking them out, pulling out all the yucky guts, deciding on faces, lighting them up and then, of course, making pumpkin seeds. With Halloween right around corner, it’s a great time to carve some pumpkins and make memories with your kids. Below are 3 ways you can work speech and language goals into this fun holiday activity!

3 Ways to Make Carving a Pumpkin a Speech and Language Activity:

1. Going to the pumpkin patch: There is so much to see at the pumpkin patch! This is a great opportunity to talkhow to make carving a pumpkin a speech and language activity about size concepts as well as to compare and contrast.

  • Have your child find the biggest or smallest pumpkin.
  • After picking out your pumpkins, have your child put them in order from biggest to smallest (or vice versa).
  • Compare the sizes and shapes of the pumpkins.
  • Use similes to describe the pumpkins. “It’s a big as a____.”

2. Carving the pumpkin. But first, talk about how you’re going to do it.

  • Make “How to Carve a Pumpkin” directions and problem solve with your child about what’s going to happen first, next, and last. They can draw or write out the steps.
  • If your child is younger, use one of these sequencing activities to help with the sequencing!

Sequence 1
Sequence 2
Sequence 3

3. Making pumpkin seeds. Cooking and recipes are great ways to work on language comprehension, vocabulary, and sequencing skills.

  • Click here for a great recipe – it gives you different seasoning options.
  • After reading through the recipe ask comprehension questions such as “What are two ingredients we need?” or “How hot should the oven be?”
  • Have your child recall all the steps of the recipe. It might be helpful to draw, or write them out.
  • Talk about the different seasoning options and how they might taste; use descriptive vocabulary words to describe the flavors! Spicy, fiery, zesty, sweet, fragrant, etc.

Happy Halloween!

Click here for 5 more speech and language themed Halloween activities!