I recently wrote on building the environment for an Autism / Sensory Room inexpensively. This entry will talk about some tactile things that can be a really important part of your sensory room, and how you can do this "on the cheap."
Depending on whether your child is a tactile defensive or a tactile seeker (it is possible to be both), pick and choose which things you think your child would most enjoy. I will put DEFENSIVE ideas in Italic for easy identification.
1. A Sensory Table is a wonderful tactile sensory tool. When buying a product that this would qualify under, you would look for something that would be called a Sand or Water Table which start at around $100 and go up from there. What I would suggest is to pick up a tote designed for under-bed storage. They are inexpensive, have lids, and are easy to store! If you want to be really thrifty, consider using a recycled butter tub for a miniature sensory table! Check out this awesome site that describes 107 different things you can use in your sensory table!
For the tactile defensive, try putting rice or beans or shaving cream into a baggie, and remove the air before sealing. Double bag the baggie, making sure to remove air in the second baggie as well. This allows the person to feel the texture without having it directly against their skin!
2. Tactile Boards are a wonderful addition to any sensory room's tactile collection. You can purchase them from many medical supply and educational supply companies, starting at about $60. Essentially, Tactile Boards are boards that have different textures applied to them. You might find anything from different types of fabric, to sand paper. You can easily make your own by using a piece of wood (any size/shape is fine), and attaching anything that has a unique texture to it. I would use my staple gun or glue gun to attach things. You can also leave some things hanging (like a string of mardi-gras beads) for additional sensory input. Ideas for what to add to your sensory board:
~ Fine-grit Sandpaper, different textured fabrics (silk, lace, courderoy, denim, velvet, etc), carpet, cork, felt, stones, strings of beads, shells, silk flowers, a nylon duster, a toothbrush, a scrub-brush, different textured papers, faux fur, a "squishy ball", etc! (You can use ANYTHING on your sensory board, as long as it is securely attached & safe for your sensory seeker to touch & feel! Don't forget to look at what you have on hand, but also check out the dollar store, free samples for walpaper and fabric, etc. Look here for some ideas!)
3. Fidget Box. Oh there are SO many sensory toy ideas out there. I like to have a fidget box for Abbi, full of things she can just play with and work on figuring out, or sensory seek with them. Try getting a shoe box and filling it with fun tactile items, such as silly putty, moon sand, bouncy balls, vibrating pens, jacks, and surgical scrub brushes (ask your OT or get something similar here). As always, make sure that the items you choose are safe for your sensory-seeker. Here are a few more ideas:
4. Goopy Stuff. Aside from shaving cream (a favorite around here), we also love things like Gak, Moon Sand, and other Goopy things. Rather than buying them new, you can make them for a fraction of the cost, and then you also know exactly what goes in them. Here is a list of fun recipes. For the sensory defensive person, try putting these items in double-bagged Ziplock baggies so that they can experience the squish of it without having it against their skin!
5. Vibration. Lots of sensory kids (both seekers and defensives) tend to like vibration. ANY small hand-held massager will do, but you can also look into fun things like vibrating stuffed animals, or bug-shaped massagers. These not only provide some tactile sensory stimulation but they also help prepare your sensory seeker (and especially your sensory defensive) for coming into contact with more sensory input than they are used to. It is a wonderful tool to use before and after new sensory experiences!
There will be a lot more coming for these Autism/ Sensory room tutorials, so check back. We will be focusing on Vestibular input, Proprioceptive input, Deep Touch tools (to help with overstimulation), Auditory tools, and Visual tools as well as a few others (scent and taste will have their own section too!). I will be adding a reference list to these tutorials on the sidebar for easy access as well. Don't forget to look through the comments on each post for ideas from visitors! Thanks everybody!
So life has been much of a hodge-podge of events and experiences for me lately. I know there are quite a few things I want to share, but if they each got their own post it would take FOR-EV-AH. So. Here we go!
Here's a bad picture of the new curtains & valence I sewed for our downstairs windows (two windows = two matching sets). I'll try to get a better picture at a later time when I can show off the whole room. :) It is really coming together, and I'm happy about it! For the curtains themselves, my grandma took me out to get them and we decided to add some DIY to the mix. We purchased 1 panel for each window. I cut the panels in half length-wise. They are shorter than the width of the window, but that's okay because they are mainly decorative. We have blinds to keep the light / peeping toms out. I mostly just wanted to add a boost of color. For the valence, we got some gorgeous fabric and I just went to it without a pattern. Doing the window treatments this way saved us a lot of money and I'm happy with the results!
On a completely different note, Kimberly from Altered Whimseys has awarded the Reclaiming the Home blog with an awesome award!! :) Thank you so much Kim! :) If you all have the time, please do go check out her blog - she's so creative!
In other news, the blog was on Crunchy Mama recently for the Autism Sensory Room post! Part 2 of that post will be coming soon, but in the mean time, DO go over and check out the Crunchy Mama blog- its got a wonderful collection of ideas, projects, and blog inspiration to share!
Ok... back to the grind! More to come tomorrow! :)
My mornings are pretty simple. I sit down with a bowl of cereal, my journal, and a cup of coffee (normally not Starbucks, but I have an amazingly sweet hubby who decided that I should have a non-fat, sugar-free double vanilla extra foam kinda morning - he also got me the GORGEOUS wooden journal in the photo there).
What Kev knows about me (and puts up with, bless-his-heart), is that I have a HUGE journal addiction. We'll call it a collection, but truly... its an addiction. I am rather picky about my journal collecting, and am on a constant search for the perfect journal. These each have their very own amazing qualities that I love. One thing you can always count on is that I will love any journal that Moleskine produces. I've even converted hubby on that fact. Here are just a few of the journals I have within reach this morning (3 of which, are Moleskine)...
Do you have any collections or little obsessions?
I have been slowly revamping my creative space. One of the banes of my creative existence has been my scrapbook tote. It has served me well, as an amazing gift from Rachel, years ago, but frankly, I had beaten the hell out of it. We'll just say it had been well loved.
I wanted to continue to use it because it functioned well, aside from a few torn pockets and busted zippers... it just looked like it had been used and abused (which it had). I tried cleaning it off, but it seemed to only get worse, and that did not remedy the broken zippers & ripped pockets issue. I really couldn't take it to a crop without feeling self conscious either. I'm hard on my equipment, apparently.
So, in the spirit of revamping my creative space, I decided that I needed to give my tote a makeover. Take a deep breath... here's what it looked like before:
I feel bad... truly. Its a good tote - and one of the biggest things that has lasted for me year after year. I'm a bad tote-mama.
To redeem myself, I went and picked out a pretty upholstery style fabric. Can't beat the price either!
Then I sewed.... and sewed... and sewed...
After many long hours of sewing, hot-gluing, and cursing a little bit (I have a few blisters), here are the results:
Isn't she beautiful? I made a huge pocket on the front, double-seamed for durability and with plenty of give for storage. There are NO ZIPPERS on the outside pocket. On one side you can see that I sewed a couple of elastic strips on as well, that I use to store my pens & scissors for easy transport. As a little something extra, I stuffed dried lavender blossoms between the fabric and the tote itself so it smells wonderful, too.
I love that this beautiful tote won't wind up in a landfill somewhere, and that I was able to revamp it for less than $5 worth of fabric (seriously took less than 2 yards of the $2/yd fabric!). I have enough of the fabric leftover that I may make a tote or two that coordinate with it to hold extra scrap goodies for crops!
And even better, I get to continue to use the same tote that Rachel gave me years ago. Sentimental value runs deep with me.
So, I didn't post an entire list of my resolutions on here, mostly because it is exhausting and I just don't think people want to know all about every boring detail of my life. I did post them on a group on Ravelry made especially for those who are setting resolutions and determined to keep them. If you are interested in seeing what I, and others, have resolved to do this year, check out this group over on Ravelry. Feel free to join in!
I also wanted to suggest Super Viva. It is a WONDERFUL way to create a goal list, and keep track of what it is you have set out to do, and what it is that you have accomplished.
All that said, I thought I'd share my progress with a few of my major goals. As I've said a few times here and elsewhere, I am giving myself the entirety of 2009 to accomplish these goals. There's a lot on my list, and I just want to reach them at some point through the year so that I feel like I have made progress and improved my life, but without the stress of being a totally new person overnight.
~I am reading to the kids daily. They don't always sit for it but I read at them when they don't. Bathtime is a good time to catch them with a good book, when they don't run away to play with something more exciting. :)
~I am working on developing a bedtime routine with Abbi that works well for us, but we're not there yet. We will be. :) We've tried a few things I like - such as adding a foot massage to her bedtime routine - we just have to get more regular with it.
~We went on our January field trip to the zoo, and it was AWESOME.
~ I have been on the horn with Abbi's doctors and therapists trying to get the care we moved here for, and we have a few appointments set up. We also had an ARD meeting (TX word for IEP), and got her squared away with all of her school services for the next year.
~I have been taking my vitamins & fish oil, drinking green tea, drinking my water, and cut out sugary sodas completely. I have not changed my diet in other ways yet. I have been exercising a LITTLE. I have lost 15 lbs.
~I have made my yearly well-woman appointment for Feb.
~ I have been baking more from home, instead of using all store-bought baked goods.
~ I made my January charity item - a hat for a preemie.
~ I am working on recovering my scrap-tote. Small a feat as this seems it is really going to contribute to me getting back into scrapping, going to crops, and generally being inspired.
~ I got a sketchbook and a journal that I plan to use, eventually (lol)
~ I have been reading a book about how to write successfully (to prepare to really WRITE)
~ I have read 5 books since Jan 1. This is a big deal to me, as I wanted to expand my literary base and I am loving every minute of it. I'm about to start the 6th book of the year (Chosen from the House of Night series)
~ I have all of the tools to do my RTH podcast for this blog, except a working, reliable computer (which will happen very soon!!)
~ I have been blogging more than I did last year (want to step that up but the whole computer problems are contributing - urg)
~I got a perm
~ I have backed up all of my files on disk
~ I paid off my credit card and closed the account.
So far, so good. :) Do you have any resolutions, wishes, or goals this year? What are they, and how is it going?
I'm not really one to believe in Karma but there is definitely something going on between me and computers. Something prejudicial maybe. I honestly don't know anyone else who can kill a computer so quickly without trying.
We have only had this computer since August of last year. I swear that I do all the usual things, protecting its wiry little brains with malware, spyware, and virus protection, and run them as regularly as Saturday Morning Cartoons. I defrag, disk-cleanup and clear cookies with the best of them. I try to be a good computer owner, honest.
Sadly, I am afraid that if there were a protective service for computers, I'd be hauled in for negligence; at the very least, computer abuse. I have 3 or 4 computers dead in the closet that I'm waiting to find something to do with. I feel a bit like an electronics mobster, collecting the remains of my technological mishaps until I can arrange for proper repair or disposal. I'm hoping they can be revived, but I'm not so good with the voo-doo, and all attempts at ressurrection have failed as of yet.
My poor e-machine-the-third-in-'08 has just about called it quits and is on its last proverbial leg. I tried the restore disk, but fagettaboutit. I had to hire a professional this time - someone outside "the family" to really teach it a lesson.
I'm hoping to hold out sending it until I can have my new laptop in hand, but if it gets any worse, I'm going to have to send it in and do without for a while (which means no updates for a bit). We're going to try to hang on and see if it will work with me.
In the mean while, I have been looking to entertainment of the non-technological kind. I have been going a little book-crazy. I just finished Stray and Rogue, and am hoping to finish up Neverwhere tonight. I'm going to be starting on the House of Night series next. Have you been reading anything lately?
So - I'm starting over, almost bare bones, and I want to decorate my office. I need a space for my computer, and my sewing machine. I have a VERY long desk that has to stay (which would be perfect for the sewing machine & crafts since I can spread all of my work out on it). I have another, smaller desk that I like but that does not go with the big desk. The smaller desk does not have to stay but can. I could paint it, and change out the handles, maybe. It could work for the computer, if there is not another way. I need LOTS of storage. I have two cabinets that hold my fabric right now (well, most of it). I need to come up with storage for my yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, spinning stuff (no wheel, just spindles & lots of fiber), scrapbook supplies, painting supplies, and jewelry making supplies.
I have a GIANT walk in closet (you could easily put a twin bed in there with room), and the room itself is about 18 feet by 10 feet with a large window on one wall. Here is what the layout looks like (probably not to scale)
I'm looking for organization ideas, decor ideas, the works. I would love to see what you would do, by showing me links to decor inspirations, maybe making up a mock design floor plan for my room, color schemes, themes, etc. How would YOU decorate my room?
A sensory room is a WONDERFUL thing for any child, whether they have sensory issues or not. Sensory input is a part of every child's development. If you have children, or if you or someone you know has Autism or Sensory Integration Disorder, please pass this on. I think it is so important for people to have options for sensory stimulation and fun that don't cost a fortune!
Abbi loves the sensory room at her school, with its black walls, LED lights, beanbag chairs, bubble tubes, tactile walls, sensory tables, and more. It helps her to calm down, find a happy spot, and helps her to deal with the stress that she faces by trying to fit her Autistic body and mind into a neuro-typical world. Unfortunately, building a room like that can be INCREDIBLY expensive if you order from medical supply companies for the equipment. For many of us that is just not possible.
Our sensory room is in the process of being built, and will hopefully be finished by March. We have spent a lot of time working with therapists and teachers to find workable, inexpensive solutions that can help those of us with shallow pockets to provide our children with the sensory relief and enjoyment that they so desperately need.
This post is my way of spreading the wealth of knowledge, and hopefully helping some families to give their child a chance to experience some wonderful sensory-based stimulation without breaking the budget, especially in these hard economic times.
The first thing that I noticed about the sensory room at Abbi's school is that the walls and ceiling are black. This provides a low-stim environment, so that they are not overwhelmed by the other sensory input in the room. It is really very calming! Black absorbs light instead of reflects it, which also helps those with vision problems to be able to make out shapes and colors more easily. Paint of course, is pretty inexpensive in the scheme of things, but if you don't want to paint or if you're renting, never fear! You can leave the walls as they are (it won't take away from your child's sensory enjoyment).
In order to find a comfortable place for kids in the sensory room, I find that most therapists use bean bags, crash pads, and ball pits,. Those things can add up pretty quickly if you're not careful. Here are some comparisons and ideas.
Bean Bags: If you were to buy a standard sized bean bag from a medical supply company, it would run you well over $100. The larger ones can run in the thousands.
I recently found a beanbag at Walmart for $25, the same size as the standard ones listed in medical supply catalogs, and even better, it was a solid dark blue instead of rainbow colored, making it much more calming to the sensory child's eye. Really you can find just about any pattern, shape or size you want at walmart (or any other number of retailers) that will run you a fraction of the cost.
This Big Joe bean bag runs about $64.88 with free site-to-store shipping.
Check out this 6 foot XL Fuff Chair! It runs $199 from walmart.com with free site to store shipping.
A similar, but smaller one (5 feet, and much shorter in height) from Abilitations (one of my absolute favorite Special Needs Supply Companies) runs nearly $600. A bigger one like this can be used to lounge on or as a crash pad!
This awesome tutorial tells you how to make a crash pad similar to the bean bag ones, but filled with foam chunks instead of "beans" for a different, more squishy feel!
Please note, that whatever size bean bag you get, it will do wonderful things for your child's sensory input. Just get whatever works best with your budget, space, and needs.
I mentioned Crash Pads a minute ago. Here's a wonderful video on how to use crash pads at home. There are many different types of crash pads. The bean-bag-bed one is just one type. The big mats that are often used in school & gymnastics gymnasiums can be used as crash pads when put on walls or floors. When purchased from traditional equipment manufacturers each panel can run anywere from $180 for the smallest mat to well over $500 per mat, depending on many varying factors.
If you are looking for exercise mats to put on the walls for your child to crash into for good deep pressure impact from, try picking up a 2" thick, super-thick kinder-mat for less than $20!
Interlocking foam mats for the floor run $261 from Abilitations for 12x4' worth of foam flooring. From Amazon, the same amount of interlocking foam flooring runs $29.99. That is less than 15% of the cost from Abilitations!
Ball pits are another big item, so I consider them part of the sensory room "environment." - It may seem like just a toy (and a rather big one) but it is providing all kinds of sensory input! I personally think they are one of the most important parts of a good sensory room, because they can both awaken and calm the tactile system (depending on which way your child is leaning), they can provide visual feedback, give the feeling of water buoyancy without the mess, and help to develop gross motor skills as well. Have a friend over and the ball pit is also a great way to help build social skills!
From a medical supply company, a small-sized ball pit with 180 balls costs over $700 (the cheapest I found it was $270).
We will be getting a hard-plastic kiddy pool because of its durability. The size we will be getting is similar to the ball pit above, and maybe a little bigger. It will run us about $10. If you want to get a softer pit that won't have any hard sides if your child thrashes around, try a blow up kiddy pool for about the same price! Like most things, you can go big or stay small with this. About 300 ball pit balls (which would just about fill the small kiddy pool) will run about $39 on amazon. $50 for a durable ball pit the same size as a $700 one? Not bad.
Hopefully that's a good start for a sensory room. I will be posting more ideas for various aspects of sensory equipment and sensory rooms soon, so check back. I'll include things for tactile, audio, visual, oral, and movement sensory stimulation. :)
**NOTE: I am not a therapist, and I have no allegiances with any of the retailers listed in this post. I'm just a mom on a budget looking to find a way to give my daughter a quality sensory stimulation room!
Thank you all SO much for coming by and signing up for the giveaway! It was SO much fun visiting each of your blogs. Rest assured that I will be checking back often!
I did the drawing using a random number generator (using a list where those who blogged it received 2 #s) and the winners are............
Julie - hand-crafted jewelry
Mary- $5 starbucks card
Danna - $5 starbucks card (Sorry Danna - I don't have a link to your blog if you have one, or an email, so check in to give me your address!) :)
CONGRATULATIONS LADIES!! :)
I'm also feeling a little like a winner too, today. I've been keeping with my healthy goals, and have been doing good with not having sugary drinks, and exercising! Tomorrow I start my vitamins and will be exercising 20 minutes a day for 5 days this week!
If you're making changes for your health, how are you doing?