October 2012

New from Sens-Aura!

ICE Popcorn Tube

ICE Popcorn Tube

The ICE Popcorn Tube is a wonderful addition to your sensory environment. This pleasing novel visual can be speed adjusted by the therapist to assist with evaluations of levels of general arousal. Like all the ICE products, the Popcorn Tube offers wireless capabilities when used with the Power Cube or Super Switch (sold separately)..

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Sens-Aura from Southpaw

Therapy Talk
Deanna Maciole
Keeping the "Joy" in the Holiday Travel Season
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L

As we flip the calendar from October to November, we move away from the fun and spookiness of Halloween, and see that Thanksgiving and the Holidays are next on the agenda. For many, this season brings about traveling to visit family or friends.  And whether it be by car or plane, it can be a stressful time for our children with sensory processing concerns.  The holiday season itself brings about a certain level of 'stress' for these children with the changes in routines and additional sensory stimulation at home and out in public. Therefore, this month we are going to explore some tactics to make the trip a smooth one, focusing on traveling by plane, but many of the strategies will be able to be used for car travel.

Preparation is key!   From using social stories to developing a specialized sensory diet, children with sensory processing concerns need to be prepared to make the trip as comfortable as possible for them, as well as family and the other people traveling.  Initial preparation can be done as you see best fitting for your child.  Whether it be having some sort of count down for a visual guide; such as a calendar, count-down rings, etc. to let him or her know when the trip will happening or by developing a social story to let your child know what they can expect, anything that can ease their anxiety will be beneficial.   In addition, based on your child's age level reading books about taking a trip, traveling or going to the airport may also help in the preparation.  And remember, for many children, these steps may need to be carried out a couple times and regardless of whether or not this is the first time traveling to this extent.

Airports, at any time can be both chaotic and over stimulating, but during the holiday travel season, crowds, noise and chaos seems to be even escalated. If possible, traveling on days and at times with less people traffic can be very helpful.  In addition, delays are often inevitable, making it more difficult on these children. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time, decreasing the need to be hurried through the lines and throughout the airport. In addition, making sure your child dresses comfortably and is only traveling with what is necessary in his or her carry-on, which will include anything to feed the sensory system to keep your child calm and regulated.   So once you do the initial preparations, now you are ready to start the trip.

To help with keeping regulated prior to even boarding the plane and while up in the air, make sure your child has had a proper meal, but in case there is a delay, making sure you have snacks and "oral" input on hand will be key.  It is easy to have gum, hard candy, and chew tubes stashed away in a side pocket of a bag.  Using an iPad, MP3 player or hand-held game system can help keep your child entertained and focused on things other than what is happening around him or her.  Have your child to use ear buds or headphones to assist in blocking out the over-head speaker and all the addition noise.  For your child that uses hand fidgits, having any little squeeze or tactile ball on hand, small Play-doh set, or a plastic baggie filled with beans, dried pasta, or corn kernels may help. Using weighted items can be beneficial and easy to take along with you, from weighted lap pads, vests, or neck pads.

For children on a regular sensory diet, allowing yourself the time to carry out activities before boarding the plane will help with any anxiety and the fact that he or she will stuck in a small seat and area for an amount of time.  Heavy work can be achieved with carrying a backpack, doing animal walks in the waiting area or even chair push-ups and wall pushes while you wait.  Getting a variety of vestibular input may be more difficult, but taking frequent walks, and in less crowded areas trying to do some spinning, fast paced walking, hops may help.  In addition, find the escalator, people mover, or elevator to take a ride on.
Be prepared with activities to keep them entertained keeps down the frustration and nagging.  Making up an 'airport bingo' game where the child has to find different people or objects, going on letter hunts, having travel games, and any electronic device will help keep everyone happy.  In addition, there are now many travel size coloring books, magnetic drawing boards, or Etch-a-Sketch available that tuck neatly in a carry-on.

So, now is the time to start preparing, pack your backs (keeping them under the weight limit), and get ready for a "joyful" holiday trip.

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