Posts Tagged With: sensory processing disorder

A Comfort Corner

I made a comfort corner for Isaiah. He loves it. This is my most recent attempt at helping him learn to calm himself, instead of going totally crazy when he’s overstimulated. I thought I’d share what we did, in case anyone else wants to try it.

So, first off, what is a comfort corner? A comfort corner is basically just a space where a child can get away from some of the constant sensory input of a normal house and regroup. Usually, they have a comfy place to sit and a couple of calming toys. You can use just about anything to make a quiet, comforting space somewhere out of the way, but still in the main part of your house.

Cozy Corner

Showing off his comfort corner with the teddy bear

Isaiah knows he’s free to go into his at any time, but I’ve also strongly encouraged him to go there a few times when he was getting out of control. We’re also using it for a quiet time in the afternoon. He loves crawling in there and has spent quite a bit of time there since I put everything together. I would like for him to learn that this is a safe place to go when he needs a break, no matter what the reason. That could make his life a lot easier.

Cozy Corner

Rest time

Cozy Corner

Playing quietly

Our comfort corner is actually portable. I used a small Cars tent that he got for Christmas. During the day, it’s set up in the living room, where he can have easy access to it. At night, everything gets tucked away so the animals don’t mess with it while it’s unsupervised. Inside, he has a small pillow, a teddy bear, a blanket, some books and a couple of sensory bottles. He’s free to bring anything else that he wants inside, but I try to make sure those things are always there.

Cozy Corner

All the treasures inside the tent

Categories: Gentle Discipline, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wave Bottles

Isaiah and I made a couple of wave bottles tonight. The goal was to make one that glowed under a black light. Our first one did not, so we made a second.

Wave Bottles

Well shaken wave bottle


Empty plastic bottle
Highlighter (make sure it’s fluorescent)
Oil (we used baby oil)

Wave Bottles

Supplies for Bottle #1

Take apart the highlighter and put the foamy ink cartridge out. Put it into the water to soak. You can squeeze it to make the ink come out faster, but beware–you may end up with dyed fingers. I used a fork to press the ink out, though I still ended up with some on my hands. Isaiah even, somehow, managed to get it on his face. Once the water has a good bit of ink in it, take the foam out and throw it away. Pour the water into the water bottle, filling it about two thirds of the way. Drop in a bit of confetti and top off the bottle with oil. Hot glue the lid on and you’re ready to play.

Wave Bottles

Soaking the ink

Wave Bottles

Finished bottle

As I said, our first bottle didn’t work. My pink highlighter (Isaiah’s color of choice this week) wasn’t fluorescent. Oops. We also didn’t put any confetti in that bottle. It still makes an awesome wave bottle. The color from the highlighter looks really nice and very different from what we would have gotten with food coloring.

Wave Bottles

Isaiah says it makes really good waves

Wave Bottles


For our second bottle, we used a yellow highlighter. We tested it with the black light before pulling it apart to be sure it would glow. I let Isaiah put some confetti into this bottle, which he was pretty excited about. Then I turned him loose to try it with the black light. My dad propped it up against the side of the tv so that Isaiah could do whatever he wanted with his bottle, without someone having to hold the light the entire time. Isaiah raced back and forth, putting the bottle in front of the light, then moving away for quite a while. He decided to test a few other things under the black light, too.

Wave Bottles

Looking through the glowing bottle

Wave Bottles

Floating confetti

Glowing Boy

My glowing boy

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Making Sensory Toys, Science, Sensory Bottles, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Spy Bottles

I made an I Spy bottle years ago at a 4-H day camp. I kept it for years and really loved it, so I wanted to do one with Isaiah. There was only one small catch… Isaiah can’t read the list of items to find. I went ahead and got supplies to make the bottle, then, as we were making it, I realized that I could easily take a picture of the items to attach to the bottle. It worked great!

I Spy Bottles

I Spy bottle

In the end, we actually made a few bottles with different things inside. We’ll probably make more later. It’s easy to get things that go together and make bottles with different themes. We can try different fillers, too.

Here’s what you need:
Plastic bottle
Filler: We used rice for two bottles and birdseed in a third. You can also use sand, colored salt (or colored rice) or beans.
Trinkets: This can be just about anything that will fit into the mouth of your bottle. Ours had shaped erasers, buttons, a crayon, rubber bands, bobbie pins and beads.
Glue: White glue works fine, though hot glue dries much faster and tends to be a bit more secure.
Ribbon: I tied the list onto the bottle with ribbon. I only actually attached a list to one bottle, since Isaiah is more interested in shaking it to make cool sounds and seeing the treasure inside than he is in deliberately searching for an object.

I Spy Bottles

The list of treasures

I let Isaiah fill the bottles himself, which was pretty exciting for him. He filled them about halfway, added the trinkets, then put in the rest of the filler. Once everything was inside, I helped him put on the lid and shake the bottle to spread the toys throughout. It’s really important to make sure there’s some extra space left in the bottle when you fill it or nothing will move when you turn or shake it.

I Spy Bottles

Carefully filling the bottle

I Spy Bottles

He's pretty proud of his bottles

I Spy Bottles

Shaking his finished bottle

Categories: Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Bottles, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sensory Bottle–First Attempt

Isaiah and I made a sensory bottle last night. I only had one bottle, so we just made a very simple one this time. Here’s what we did.

Sensory Bottle

Our finished bottle

What you need:
Empty bottle (we used a Gatorade bottle)
Food coloring (must be water based)
We also used some stickers because we didn’t have confetti

Sensory Bottle

Isaiah with his bottle full of glitter and stickers

I let Isaiah put the stickers and glitter into the bottle before adding the water. Once he was done adding glitter and stickers, I carefully poured some of the water in. With very close supervision, I allowed Isaiah to add food coloring to the water. Giving him control resulted in a really dark color, but he liked the independence of doing it himself. I added the rest of the water and glued on the lid. He’s been playing with it ever since. Next time, we’re going to try using baby oil for some of the bottles.

Sensory Bottle

Excited that there's water inside

Sensory Bottle

Dye mixing

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Toxic Waste Slime

We stopped in Dollar Tree to pick up paper cups for a craft and I promised Isaiah that he could pick one toy to buy. While we were there, I kept an eye out for new sensory activities, as always. Isaiah selected a dolphin that he immediately deemed “Winter“. I was quite happy to have a find of my own. A little plastic barrel of neon colored slime. It was made to look like a toxic waste container. I couldn’t tell through the packaging what it might be like, but I figured for a buck, it was worth a try for Isaiah.

Toxic Waste Slime

Toxic waste

Well, it was a hit! It’s the nastiest substance I’ve encountered in quite a while, but Isaiah loves it. He played in it happily for a long time and I’m sure he’ll be happy to see it again soon!

Toxic Waste Slime

This is definitely the face of a happy child

Toxic Waste Slime

Such a weird substance...

Categories: Sensory Play, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sensory Table

Just for fun, I set up a table with a bunch of sensory toys for Isaiah. He thought it was amazing. I put a water bucket on the floor so he could rinse his hands when he felt a need, too, which made him happier to stay for a while. He switched between activities constantly. I think I’ll set him up with a different set of sensory activities soon. It was certainly worth the effort of setting it up!

Sensory Table

All the sensory activities on Isaiah's table

Activity 1: Water Beads

I put his water beads in a pan with some plastic hearts that I got around Valentine’s Day. I also put out some cups to scoop and pour the water beads. Of course, he also had the option to try to sort out the hearts, but he was much more interested in pouring the beads.

Sensory Table

Water beads and plastic hearts, waiting for Isaiah

Sensory Table

Scooping water beads

Activity 2: Beans and Cars

Isaiah adores cars, so I put a set of little plastic cars in a pan with dry beans. Again, I gave him cups and scoops to manipulate the beans. He was more interested in the cars than scooping, though, which was fine with me. He tried to make roads to drive the cars on. After a while, he tried burying the cars, too.

Sensory Table

The cars and beans

Sensory Table

Driving a car

Activity 3: Shaving Cream

The last activity was a pan of shaving cream. I put some red hearts in the bottom of the pan before I added the shaving cream. They were completely covered, so Isaiah didn’t even know they were there until he stuck his hands deep into the shaving cream. He didn’t stay with the shaving cream for very long because he wasn’t in the mood for messy play. He was more interested in having an excuse to stick his hands in the bucket of water.

Sensory Table

Shaving cream and carefully hidden hearts

Sensory Table

Shaving cream doesn't pour very well...

Categories: Sensory Play, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weighted Toys for Special Needs

Some children with special needs benefit from weighted toys and blankets. These tools can be helpful for many different needs, including SPD, ADHD and autism. Determining whether your child will benefit from a weighted toy is mostly a matter of trial and error. Either using the toy will help your child, make no difference at all or make things worse.

Sometimes, weighted toys are recommended by an occupational therapist or teacher, other times, we parents come across the idea and decide to try it ourselves. Either way, knowing you want to try it doesn’t necessarily make it easy to find such a toy. There are weighted toys available, but there is not much variety. Many are plain or ugly and they often cost a fortune. I saw one advertised yesterday for $70! Now, $70 is a small price to pay to help your child to function better, but what if you could make your own or buy one for less that your child will love?


Isaiah's special friend--it weighs approximately 3 pounds

You have two great options. First, if you’re a little bit crafty, you can make your own from your child’s favorite stuffed animal. I haven’t made one myself because my stitching skills aren’t stellar, but many mamas are much better at such things, so I wanted to include this.

Animals can be weighted with a variety of materials. The heavier the material, the better because it takes less space inside the animal. Unpainted aquarium rocks, plastic pellets, rice and beans are all great options. The toy should weigh no more than 15% of your child’s weight.

To make your animal, take a pair of toddler tights and cut the legs off. Pour your heavy item into one leg of the stocking and tie it shut, trimming off any excess stocking. If you want, you can pour half into each leg, so you have two smaller weighted bags. Carefully cut open a seam on the stuffed animal, preferably toward the back and/or bottom, and remove a small amount of stuffing. You want to remove just enough stuffing to fit the weights inside. Once the weight is inside, carefully and securely sew the animal closed. Your toy is now ready to be enjoyed by your child.

You also have the option to do as I did. I promised Isaiah a trip to Build-A-Bear for his birthday this year. We brought weights made from aquarium rocks to be stuffed inside whatever toy he selected. It took quite a while for him to choose the perfect toy, but he ended up choosing a monkey. The woman carefully stuffed the weights into the monkey, then let Isaiah stand on the pedal to fill his toy. Stuffing the monkey with weights took extra effort, but she was willing to do it for us and said they do it fairly often. I would highly recommend paying your local Build-A-Bear a visit if you find yourself in need of a weighted toy. We had a wonderful experience and Isaiah got to experience choosing the perfect toy, without the limitations of choosing from premade toys.


Standing proudly outside the store


Isaiah with his brand new monkey

Categories: Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory processing disorder (also known as sensory integration disorder) is a neurological disorder that makes it difficult for a person’s brain to decode information taken in by the senses. It is a broad diagnosis that encompasses other, better-known disorders, such as autism and ADHD.

Sensory disorders occur on a spectrum, where the middle is “normal” and each end is a different extreme. A person with a sensory disorder can land in different places on the spectrum in different areas. For example, Jonathan is very sensory seeking when it comes to oral stimulation, but avoidant of large amounts of visual or auditory input.

Sensory seeking behaviors can include things like frequently running into walls, wanting to be swung upside down repeatedly, “falling” on purpose and other big movements. They can also include things like singing or talking endlessly, without breaks. Oral seekers tend to chew on toys, bite and suck their thumbs.

Sensory avoidant behaviors include covering the ears, moving away from the center of the action and rocking. A child who has reached his limit will often either shut down completely or have a “meltdown”. Meltdowns, from the outside, look much like tantrums, except that the child is not doing it for attention or to get what he wants. He does it because he has lost control and is just plain terrified.

When a child shows signs of being overwhelmed by sensory input, he should be removed from the situation or the stimulus should be removed. Unfamiliar (or more) people, places or toys can make a child more likely to become overwhelmed. If a child is already beginning to shut down or have a meltdown, there are a variety of tools to be used in helping him calm down, including deep pressure, bear hugs and bouncing on a ball.

Because sensory behaviors are meant to balance sensory input, they should never be punished. Children have to be taught ways to manage the feeling of lost control. Some sensory behaviors, such as twisting hair around a finger are best left alone. That is an “organizing” behavior that helps the child to remain in control.

Categories: Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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