My homemade weighted sensory blanket!

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Weighted blankets are very helpful for so many people.  Children with Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and/or autism benefit greatly from the sensory input that the heavy weight provides.  This allows the child to relax, sit still and fidget less, thus allowing them to pay more attention or relax to rest.   Adults even enjoy them in larger sizes.  I don’t have one, but I do enjoy sleeping under a few blankets just for the weight, even when I don’t need the blankets to stay warm.  I’ve read that weighted blankets are beneficial for people who deal with insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or even cancer as well.  The blankets can be used as a sleep aid or as a calming tool to help relieve anxiety.

Emily has been asking for a weighted blanket for a while, so I took her to pick out the material she wanted and got to work!  She chose an animal pattern (no surprise there!) and we went with a lightweight cotton since we are heading into the warmer seasons.  I can always make a fleece cover for it when the cold weather returns.

The blanket is filled with polyethylene pellets.  These are the type of pellets you would find in a stuffed animal or doll, and they are completely washable.  The pellets are sewn into squares so that they are evenly distributed across the blanket and they won’t all roll to one side or the other.  This particular size blanket has 120 squares – wow!  The nice thing about using cotton fabric and the poly pellets is that the blanket provides the weight desired without providing too much warmth.

Emily absolutely loves it and has been under it or playing on it almost every minute we’ve been home today.  She’s already planning to take it next time we go to the dentist because they just won’t let her keep the x-ray vest (They give out stickers & lollipops, why not cool vests?).  I do have to take the blanket away from her at some point today to erase my removable fabric marker lines that I used to sew straight lines, but she’s looking forward to sleeping with it tonight.

It was a great success and I think I’ll get started on a second one.  This time, I’ll make her a lap-sized pad that would be easier to take to church or meetings where she has to stay put for an extended period of time.

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To prepare or not to prepare?

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Recently our 7 1/2 year old daughter, Emily, had an opportunity to have a sleepover with a friend. It would be her first one ever.

Wow, when did she get old enough for sleepovers, anyway?

I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of the idea of sleepovers that are held away from our own house, but this was with some very dear friends who we knew well and who we completely trusted with our precious child. I wasn’t nervous about her safety, but I was incredibly nervous about how she would handle such a new and different situation. Emily has Sensory Processing Disorder, a special diet and is a true creature of habit. She likes to do things a certain way and do them the same way every time. She’s not a fan of unexpected changes, and when she’s out of sync her SPD is more pronounced. It’s one thing to go to someone’s house to play for a few hours, but to spend the night? On one hand I was so crazy excited for my daughter to experience this childhood milestone, but on the other hand I had knots in my stomach just thinking about all that could go wrong.

Her entire bedtime routine kept running through my head. She doesn’t even like it when we mess it up, even if we warn her ahead of time or due to circumstances completely out of our control. Would she be able to handle skipping almost her entire routine and doing things differently? Using a different clock, not having HER reading light, brushing her teeth in a different bathroom, not hearing us read the next chapter in her bedtime story book, not doing our noggin-nose-cheek-kiss-hug routine and missing Daddy’s tucks. Would it be worth it to her for all the fun she would have, or would it trigger a meltdown?

Ahhh, the meltdowns! Exactly how do you prepare another parent without a special needs child for the meltdowns? How do you explain that they really aren’t temper tantrums? How much preparatory information do I give without making it sound like my child is a ticking time bomb? Do I even bother preparing the other parent, or do I just wait and see what happens? What if something does happen and I could have offered this mom a simple solution? If she’s whiny, her body is feeling low and needs protein. If she’s too bouncy or touchy, she’s over stimulated and needs a break or something crunchy to eat.

As Emily’s parents, we’ve learned to cope and adapt. We do our best to prepare her for new situations or changes in her routine. If we are unable to do so, we have learned the most effective ways of distraction, redirection, and getting her back in sync. Some of the fixes that we do throughout the day just come naturally to us now because we’ve done them for so long.

How do I prepare this mom to care for my child for 24 hours? How do I prepare my child for such a huge, new situation?

We ended up settling on middle ground. I explained to Emily that she would not have her regular reading light or her clock, but that I would send a travel clock with her and she could just use the overhead light in their guest room for her bedtime reading. We decided not to send all of her bedding, but chose her favorite pillow (2, actually), her favorite blanket, her soft silky “blankie”, her favorite stuffed animal, her favorite PJs (the only ones she’ll wear) and her favorite water bottle. It would be just like sleeping in a hotel, we told her – we take our favorite pillow and blanket, but the bed is new and this time we wouldn’t be there. We sent her melatonin and prayed that her regular dose would be enough to let her fall asleep. We sent clothes that she likes 99% of the time – nothing fancy, just well broken in. I also sent along 4 pairs of panties just in case. We’ve had many days fall apart over the lack of comfortable underwear, so I even told her that I didn’t care if she even changed out of the ones she had on – after all, it was one day! We told her that she might feel a little nervous, and that was normal. We didn’t want to put thoughts in her head, but we also wanted her to know that it was ok to feel that way. We reminded her that she could talk to her friend’s mom & dad if she needed anything at all, and we were only a phone call away.

I tried to keep it simple when preparing my friend as well. After all, she is a parent herself so she’s plenty experienced with kids in general, and I didn’t want to insult her intelligence by giving too many instructions. I had to remember that some things are just childish behavior and don’t necessarily need special interventions. All kids get tired. All kids get whiny. All kids get over-stimulated and out of control. I told her about Emily’s diet (dye-free, HFCS-free, & gluten-free) and knew they would be awesome at keeping her food in check. They have food intolerances themselves, so they understood completely. I sent GF mac & cheese for dinner and GF waffles for breakfast, along with other snacks. I resisted the temptation to send her with a week’s worth of food for her short 24 hour stay, and told the mom some of my favorite easy go-to foods should she need anything else.

In the end, she had a wonderful time! Emily was brave, strong and excited about her new adventure. My friend was kind, understanding, and compassionate to my daughter’s needs and wants – even when she wanted to eat her frozen waffle still frozen. It was a great match! My friend sent me a few text messages during the evening letting me know things were going well, which eased my heart a bit.

When we picked her up the next morning, my friend asked me if we ever made Emily turn off her animal noises, or if we just always allowed her to make them. Oh no! I hadn’t prepared my friend at all for the animal noises! My sweet Aspie is obsessed with animals and loves to make animal noises in general, which is not a big deal most of the time because most kids her age like to pretend to be animals from time to time. The difference is that whenever Emily is feeling nervous, scared, unhappy with a situation, or just doesn’t know how to act – she resorts to her animal talk and it can get way out of hand. It’s a social skill we work on constantly with her, and have even set rules in place for. For example, if no one else if playing animal then we only use human words to communicate. I had completely forgotten to mention it to my friend! As all the worst case scenarios were going through my head, my friend explained that she simply told Emily when it was time to turn it off, that Emily complied just fine, and she was just hoping it was ok with me that she asked her to stop.

Whew! Seems like I was worried for nothing. My little girl is growing up and learning to adapt a little at a time. She is learning that new & different can be fun instead of scary. She is learning that being brave doesn’t mean not being scared – it means pushing through the fear. I am so very proud of her! She may not be ready for week-long sleepover camps just yet, but then again, neither is Mommy!

Bathtub therapy for a rough SPD day

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On days like this, I really wish I could just snap my fingers and make the Sensory Processing Disorder go away.  I wish I could take the pain and the struggle away from my daughter and take it upon myself.  I would do that in a heartbeat for her, as I know most moms would.  The day started like any other with my sweet 7 year old daughter bounding down the stairs to say good morning to me and our new puppy, even if I did have to remind her to greet people before animals. What can I say? She’s an animal lover to the core!

After breakfast she went off to do her morning chores – getting dressed, feeding her pets, brushing her teeth, etc.  About 30 minutes later, I went upstairs to check on her and found her in tears sitting on the floor in her room surrounded by a dozen or so pairs of pants.

She looked at me with her sad eyes and said “None of these pants feel comfortable today!”.  Her favorite blue jeans (with the patched knees) are in the laundry after being worn for 2 weeks straight.  If I didn’t wash them today, they were going to start walking themselves. I was hoping she’d find a pair of comfy sweats to throw on until I can get the jeans washed & dried.

No such luck.

She was doing all the right things, and was working hard to solve the problem herself without getting angry.  She was rubbing her legs in an attempt to desensitize them & doing her exercises, but her body was failing her.  She was heartbroken and dejected, looking to me for a solution.  A solution I didn’t have.  I can’t magically make the clothes that felt fine last week feel fine today.  I wish I could.  All I can do is offer options. 

“Did you try the brown sweats?” – The seams were itchy

“How about your light blue jeans that you love?” – They didn’t feel right today

“Let’s try your thermal pants because those are tight and snug and can provide pressure while you watch a movie” – Those almost worked, but then her feet felt funny.

Suddenly it hit me! It’s BATHTIME! 

(She needed one anyway, and a benefit to homeschooling is that we can take one in the middle of the day.)

Water ALWAYS works for her! I wish we could afford a house with a pool in the backyard because she is a different person in the water, but the bathtub will have to do for now.  We ran her a nice warm bath with some bubbles, gave her some toys to play with and shampoo bottles for ‘experiments’ and she was good to go! As of this moment she’s been in there for almost an hour, and she’ll likely stay another hour if I let her (and add more warm water). 

After she gets out, I bet the clothes will feel better and we’ll relax with a snack and a movie.  Homeschooling can wait until the afternoon today.

Book Review: Special Diets for Special Kids

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I was so excited when I was offered a chance to review a new edition of the cookbook, “Special Diets for Special Kids” by Lisa Lewis!  This is an updated edition that combines 2 previous volumes into one book full of over 200 Gluten-Free and Casein-Free recipes.  I was extra excited because this came to me at a time that we were re-focusing our efforts to keep a gluten free diet, and I was anxious to have some tried & true recipes to make.  We are a gluten-free family and even though we are not casein free, I do try to control our dairy intake so I love using substitutes whenever possible.  If you are already on a GFCF diet, or if you are considering starting one – this is a must-have resource for your library!

This book is so much more than just recipes! The entire first chapter explains why this diet is so helpful for children on the spectrum, or for those that live with ADHD, Celiac Disease or allergies.  The information includes scientific information about how gluten and casein affect the body and why it is so important to clean up your child’s diet.

Chapter 2 goes on to describe vitamins and minerals, which ones are often lacking in children on the spectrum, and what they do for our bodies.

Chapter 3 is a great “keep it simple” guide to what foods to feed your child, and which ones to avoid.  In addition, she discusses different flours and how to incorporate baking into this diet.  This was super helpful for me as I love to bake! I didn’t want to continue to spend a fortune on pre-made GFCF baked goods, but wasn’t sure where to start baking GF products. This chapter gave me clear information that I needed to move forward with making some of our favorite foods.

Chapters 4-13 are filled with delicious recipes for all the typical kid favorites and many many more!  Armed with this book, you will be able to make muffins, pancakes, chicken nuggets, chicken & dumplings, snacks, sweet treats, and even condiments!  Any of your favorite recipes call for “sweetened condensed milk”?  No problem! She has a casein-free substitute for that.

She also includes an entire chapter (chapter 10) devoted to holiday fare so you can continue your GFCF way of eating easily over Thanksgiving and Christmas.  She offers recipes for 4 different types of dressing, tasty sides, and even gingerbread people & pumpkin pie!  There is no reason to stray from this diet over the holidays!  Arm yourself with safe and healthy food choices so that you can give your child a head start as they deal with being off their routine, having extra people in the house, and all the excitement of the holidays.

I was also excited to see all the sweet treat options in the book for those special occasions.  I always like to have safe recipes on hand for taking to a friend’s house or a potluck so that I know there is something my daughter can have without feeling left out.  Also, my daughter just started Girl Scouts this year and of course that means selling cookies!  Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts do not have a GF option yet, but have no fear! On page 311, there is a recipe for making your very own Thin Mints! You can bet your chocolate wafers that I’ll be making those to have on hand during cookie selling season!

Also included with the book is a CD full of all the printable recipes so you don’t even have to get your book dirty when you are in the kitchen whipping up that new family favorite!

If you want to get your hands on this incredible resource, just click here to order your own copy! Use the coupon code ARMY to get 15% off and free shipping!

Cleaning up after the meltdown

After Lovebug’s sensory meltdown a couple days ago, I decided what we really needed was some more time together.  Yes, as a homeschooling parent, I spend all day every day with her already.  However, we have been so busy lately that we haven’t had a lot of just one-on-one time.  We have been spending countless hours playing outside with friends, traveling to see friends in other states, going to meetings, the park, museums, camp, etc.  The last several months have been a whirlwind.  We’ve been having a lot of fun, but I can tell it’s catching up to her.  It really does make a difference.  Ever since she was really little she would need a day of downtime at home after being on the go a few days in a row.  As much as she loves people, she takes after her Mommy & Daddy and needs a break from the crowds after a while to re-charge her batteries.

I hadn’t been able to put a finger on what was bothering my daughter, but something obviously was.  Whether she was missing Daddy, or missing our routine (so important to her!), or missing doing crafts with me – I decided the best way to figure it out (or cure it) was to spend dedicated time with her away from other people.  So, we declared it “Mommy-Daughter weekend” and our only plan was that we would spend time together.  Not like some days where we say we will spend the day together but then end up surrounded by friends or out running lots of errands.  This would be JUST US.

We started yesterday and will continue through tomorrow.  It has been awesome!

We’ve watched movies, read lots of books, colored, painted, ate snacks outside on the patio table, crazy danced to music, and had a lot of fun!  We even had a sleepover on the sofas in the living room last night.  Tonight we’re in our own beds because I prefer to sleep without feet in my ribs, but it was so worth not sleeping well last night to have her beside me!  We’ve laughed & talked, and I think this is all she needed. 

Tomorrow we’ll read another stack of books, do some baking, take a walk, do some art, watch a movie, and be silly together.  Good times!

In just a couple days, we officially start “First Grade”! That also makes her happy because she thrives on routines & plans.  In fact, I think she’s more looking forward to getting a routine back than she is anything else about school at this point.  Crazy summer days can only go on for so long!

 

A little look at the last couple of days….

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(Ignore my bandaids…I just had a couple moles removed)

 

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De-stemming a million grapes!

 

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Ready for our sleepover!

 

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Watching a movie while squished in the sofa pillows

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Looks comfy to me!

 

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Playing with chalk

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Lovebug’s really great bunny drawing!

 

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Enjoying some grape flavored water – isn’t she cute?

 

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Bike riding

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Love that smile!

I’ll share more pictures after tomorrow too!

It’s a heartbreaking meltdown kind of day

It started like any other day.  Lovebug coming downstairs to greet me with a “Good morning, Mommy!” when she got up.  Then it went downhill in a hurry.  She wanted oatmeal (gluten free, of course) for breakfast.  Simple enough, right?  Since we are working on her motor skills & coordination, it provides a great way for her to practice independence.  Measuring the oats, pouring them into the bowl, measuring the water, pouring that into the bowl, and then pushing the right buttons on the microwave.  It’s rolled oats (not the quick kind), but we still often cheat and cook it for 2 minutes in the microwave.

So far so good.  A little trouble pouring the oats into the measuring cup and I could tell she got more frustrated than usual, but I let it go.   Then, she wanted warmed up strawberries in her oatmeal too.  No problem.  I throw some frozen strawberries in a bowl, heat them up and that’s it.

She wanted to pour the strawberry “sauce” into her oatmeal herself.

Fine.

Only she couldn’t.  If I didn’t know how truly hard it really was for her it would have almost been comical to see her trying to pour this little bowl into a bigger bowl.  She was twisting her arm in ways like she was trying to perform an underhanded trick or something.  She just could not get her brain to make her arm move the way she wanted it to.

She got very very frustrated.

Evidently, I made it worse when I tried to help her and have her practice it a couple times because I was “making her do it over and over and over and over!”.

We took a break and sat on the sofa hugging as I consoled her.  In the middle of that she had a meltdown over some bug bites that were itching.  I’ve seen that before.  The kicking, the jerking, the “GET IT OFF OF ME NOW” movements that look like she’s being attacked by fire ants.  That’s how she used to be with her panties and socks.  Finally, I got her to use some words and we put medicine on them to stop the itching.

Once she was calm, we went out on the patio to have a nice breakfast and enjoy the cool temperatures.   I thought we were good.  I knew she was extra tired today, but I thought we were going to be ok.

NOPE.

Our neighbor friends came over for a while, and Lovebug was playing with the little boy.  No big deal  – happens all of the time.  After a while, I told her we need to clean up and go to the grocery store.

Usually, she would have been happy to, because 1) she loves going to the store, and 2) she knows we’ll see these friends again later.

NOT TODAY.

Today, she came inside and fell apart crying like she was never going to see this friend again.  Seriously.  On the floor crying and everything.

At that moment, I declared it “one of those days”, and I knew we needed to get some extra rest today as well as some sensory input.  Maybe she didn’t sleep well last night, but something set her off and even she knows she is extra tired and sensitive today.

Unfortunately, it means I also had to cancel plans to go to another friend’s house tonight for a cookout.  On days like this, it gets worse before it gets better and I knew taking her to another situation where she would be overstimulated and up late would not be a good idea.  Thankfully, my friend totally understands and we quickly made plans for a playdate at the park to feed the ducks & have a picnic in a few days.

I spent an hour laying on my bed holding Lovebug and letting her cry.  She was a mixture of emotions.  Tired, disappointed about not seeing her friend, upset with her body for failing her, not knowing why she was so upset, and just plain worn out.  She was crying so hard and nothing could console her.  I did my best to “manage” it and reminded her to take deep breaths so she didn’t end up making her tummy hurt.  Often when she cries this hard, she swallows so much air that her tummy ends up hurting.

I finally needed a break.  I told her she was welcome to be tired – even to cry because she’s tired – and I would hold her as much as she wanted today.  I would not, however, continue to listen to her be upset about not seeing her friends.  I tried to explain to her that she was upset about not seeing people that we will see again soon – the neighbor, probably the next time we step outside, and the other friend in a few days at the playdate.  I reminded her she isn’t missing out on anything that will never happen again.  I told her she needed to spend some time in her room alone.

At this stage in the meltdown, there is no reasoning with her.  She was now getting upset about “being all alone”.  I stayed calm and sweet as I explained to her that she was going to go into her room and have some time to “get it all out” and to get rid of being upset about her friends.  When she was ready to come out and “just be tired”, then I would be happy to help her all I could.   I turned on her soft music, put her in her sensory swing, gave her a couple of her favorite stuffed animals, kissed her and told her I’d be back in 30 minutes to check on her.

This is a classic example of a meltdown versus a tantrum.  She is not in control of her emotions right now, and that just makes her more frustrated.  It breaks my heart when she’s like this because I can’t help make it go away any faster, I can just love on her and wait for it to pass.  We haven’t had a meltdown like this in a very long time, and for that I’m thankful.  I’m also thankful that God has given me so much compassion for times like this.  It took a long time for us to understand what was happening during these moments, but now I recognize it right away.  Oh, how far we’ve come….and how far we still have to go!

Rockfish Day Camp – Day 1

Looks like I worried for nothing!  She said she had an awesome day at camp!  She had fun playing, swimming, making a craft, and making friends.  Her counselor came up to me when I picked her up and told me how smart she was!! He said they were talking about rainbows and asked if anyone knew where rainbows came from.  Lovebug raised her hand and told them that the rainbow came after the flood as God’s promise to us!  She even told me about a couple things that happened today where she did a great job communicating her needs/wants, and another time where she handled a change very well!  I’m so proud of her!!

Here she is making a video for Daddy and all her grandparents on the way home from camp.  She is VERY tired, but VERY happy!

Lovebug goes to Summer Camp

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I dropped Lovebug off at camp this morning, and I think I was more nervous than she was.  It’s a Day Camp, so she will go every day from 8:00 – 6:00 and have a fun filled day full of outdoor activities, crafts, swimming, and even a field trip to go bowling one day.  It’s not her being gone all day that makes me nervous.  She’s already done a couple day camps this summer when she went to Science & Art Camp at a local children’s museum (I’ll post about that soon – lots of pictures!), but this one is different.  The museum camp was all indoors and was taught in a classroom type setting with some free play worked in.

At this Day Camp, there are a lot more opportunities for her Sensory Processing Disorder & Asperger ways to be an issue, and I’m just praying that she is met with lots of grace.

They will be going swimming, so that requires Lovebug to change into her swimsuit (not a problem), and then change out of it into dry clothes (often a problem).  Changing out of her wet clothes into dry clothes often presents a challenge because she gets so cold that it’s hard for her to think clearly.  Because she can’t think clearly, it makes putting dry clothes on a sticky body even more challenging, which leads to great frustration.  We’ve been practicing at home, so I’m praying it goes smoothly and that the counselors will have lots of patience and compassion.

I’m also a little concerned about her because she tends to burn up her energy sources super fast, especially when playing outside and doing physical activities.  Normally at home, this isn’t a big deal because I can give her a snack every hour or 2.  At camp, however, they have a schedule they will be following, so I’m hoping her body can hold out till the next snack or meal time, or that she will be allowed to grab a quick snack out of her bag if needed.  I’ve told them, but now it’s a matter of them following through.  If not, I guess they’ll learn because if she uses up all her energy and doesn’t get a snack quickly, it will definitely lead to a sensory/emotional meltdown!  I’m hoping they use the information that I gave them, and if this happens I pray they will see it for what it is – a need for a break and some food – and not as a behavior issue because to the untrained eye, it can often look like one.

The only other issue I’m concerned with is just her trying new things and letting new people help her.  When we went to a family camp at this same camp location (both to enjoy family time and to familiarize Lovebug with the surroundings in preparation for Day Camp), she got to go rock climbing! She was super nervous, but Mommy & Daddy were there to help her.  Daddy put her helmet on for her and helped adjust her straps.  This time, a new person will be doing all of that, and having a “stranger” touch her can be enough to put her over the edge sometimes.  She’s also anxious that they will “make” her to go further than she wants to.  I told her to give it her best, and when she thinks she’s ready to quit, to try a little bit more before stopping.  Often when she does this, she ends up surpassing her self-imposed limits.  Again, we talked about this ahead of time to prepare her, but I’ll still be a little anxious until I hear how the first day went!

On the other hand, there are a lot of positives too!  Being outside most of the day and doing physical activities will do wonders for her! She absolutely thrives in nature and water, so the combination of the two should make for an incredibly fun day for her!  She enjoys making new friends and meeting new people, and loves getting dirty, so I suspect she will have a great time!

My little girl is growing up! I know this “letting go” is good for both of us, but that doesn’t make it easier!  In the meantime, I will keep myself busy with projects that I want to work on and I will look forward to hearing all about her first day at Summer Camp!

Swimming lessons

Lovebug has been taking swimming lessons this summer and is doing amazing!! Last month when she did the first round, I put her in Level 1 because I wasn’t sure how intense the levels here would be.  Almost right away, the teacher said that she really needed to be in Level 3 based on how much she was already swimming.  Thankfully, the classes were small and he was able to teach her at a higher level anyway, so I didn’t bother trying to switch in the middle of a session. 

Bug has always loved the water! She has a great time playing in it, and can’t wait until she can SCUBA dive with Mommy & Daddy!  In the past years, our dear Aunt Chelle has taught her swimming lessons, and taught her to do her “big scoops”, but this is the first time she’s really had to do real swimming with any real amount of distance or endurance. 

When I signed her up for this round, I put her in Level 3.  During this class, they worked on improving the technique of their freestyle stoke, taught elementary backstroke, started learning breaststroke, and touched briefly on the scissor kick.  She had her last class today. 

So, how did it go?  Well, going into the class, she did have a few things working against her. 

* Motor skills and coordination do not come easily for Lovebug.  She’s super smart, but physically coordinating her body gives her a bit of stress.

* She’s a perfectionist which can lead to extreme frustration when she doesn’t get something right the first time. 

* She is very literal.  She takes what you say quite literally, which means she doesn’t always get sarcasm or humor and that can lead to misunderstandings. 

However, in the end, she has ROCKED this class, and I am so incredibly proud of her!  

She overcame some huge obstacles during the past 2 weeks.  We dealt with goggle-fitting issues, not understanding WHY she had to do certain strokes, not being able to coordinate her top half with her bottom half in some strokes, and even a sudden change of a pool rule in the middle of the class (no goggles on the diving board).  Not only did she have to obey the “new” rule – she had to do it without understanding why because no one seemed to know.  That is very hard for her Aspergerian side!  She handled it all with EXCELLENCE! 

Each day, we prayed that God would give her courage, strength, endurance, and let her enjoy swimming.  He is so GOOD and did just that! I also reminded her each day that she didn’t have to be perfect – she just had to do better than she did the previous day.

I also have to give credit to her awesome teacher!  For someone that isn’t Mommy, Daddy, or Aunt Chelle – this was the perfect teacher for her!  Patient, kind, and understanding!  On one of the days that Lovebug was in tears because she didn’t know how to do something perfectly, the teacher pulled her aside and told her “I’m here to teach you.  You don’t have to know how to do this already.  You will get this!”.

Today, that teacher helped encourage my daughter to go down the water slide!! I know that lots of kids go down water slides, but this is a HUGE deal for my daughter!

See, Lovebug loves slides, but she does NOT like going down them fast, so she tends to stick to the smaller slides.  She also can’t stand closed-in slides.  It seriously disturbs her vestibular sense, and it’s just a part of her Sensory Processing Disorder that we deal with.  She avoids things like this because she’s terrified of how she will feel going down it.  Most of the time it’s much worse in her mind that it really is.  So, she has not wanted to go down these slides before – here, or at other water parks we’ve been to.

When we got there today, I saw that the water slide was turned on. I told Lovebug that if she had a chance to do it, she should try it at least once and see if she liked it.  We talk often about this and say “Don’t let your fears keep you from having fun” and “Try everything at least once”.  When the time came, and the teachers said they could go down the slide, she had a look on her face that was a combination of fear and desire.  She wanted to do it, but she was scared.  I gave her hugs and encouraged her, and then her teacher went the extra mile.  She offered to wait at the end of the slide in the water for Lovebug.  That sealed the deal and she started toward the stairs.  As she stopped and turned around in hesitation, her teacher said “Don’t let your fears stop you from doing this!”.  Bug had heard that before, but it was nice to hear it from someone else. 

Her teacher positioned herself at the end of the slide, and hollered up to Lovebug telling her “I’m right here!” as she came down the slide. As she landed, she didn’t even need the teacher’s help and was able to get out all by herself! 

She even went back and did it again! 

Since I know you want to see it for yourself, here you go!

 

FIRST TIME:

 

 

SECOND TIME:

 

 

She was SO SO PROUD of herself!! She can’t wait to tell one of her friends that went down the slide last time we went swimming together.  She wants to go back with him and do it together!

That’s my girl!!

4th of July with an SPD kiddo

Having a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, I have to be extra aware of the amount of stimulation that she receives, and in what ways.  I also have to balance that with her food intake (both the amount that she eats and what type of food she eats) and the amount of rest and/or downtime that she gets.

Yesterday was a very, very busy day for us as we went to the 4th of July celebration on post.  I’m thankful that we were able to go at all, of course.  I know families who have kids with SPD and they aren’t able to attend events like this at all because their children can’t handle the sounds of the fireworks.  Lovebug actually LOVES fireworks, as long as she is prepared for the sound ahead of time.  Surprising since she has to leave the room when I use the blender or the vacuum!  She did have a huge problem with the music being so loud, and I forgot her noise-reducing headphones, so it was a great thing our tent was not close to the speakers.

However, as far as sensory input goes though, the day was FULL of various sources. 

Feeling – The heat was incredible and that alone can wear you out. 

Sounds – The music, the sounds of the thousands of people talking at once, kids yelling

The sights – The colors, the people, the tents, the bounce houses – so much to look at and take in

Activity – Tons of walking! We walked 3/4 of a mile from our car to the activities, and then walked around the parade field a great deal.  Lovebug also spent some time in a few bounce houses.  Normally that’s a great thing because she always has extra energy, but this time it was just one more thing zapping her energy.  Then, there was the long walk back to the car.

It was a very long day, but it was a great day.

That means that today I had to know when to call it quits.

This morning Lovebug had swimming lessons.  I couldn’t do anything about that other than miss them completely, so we went and she did very well.   This afternoon, however, she was bouncing off the walls unable to focus or follow simple instructions.  We had gone out to run a couple errands, but we only made it to the first quick one.  Then, we went over to the commissary and I sat in the parking lot for 10 minutes trying to decide whether or not to go in.

It was pouring down rain, and Lovebug was bouncing all over the place even while sitting in her carseat.  She was talking nonstop and unable to focus.  I sat there thinking about whether or not I wanted to walk through the parking lot in the rain and then try to shop for 2 weeks worth of groceries with this bouncing ball of a daughter along side me.

It wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t a behavior issue.  It was simply a matter of overstimulation.

So, I called it.  I told her I didn’t feel like grocery shopping today and we were going home to order pizza and play.  We watched a little TV, we did a puzzle, and we ate dinner in the quietness of our own home.  It was awesome!!

It wasn’t even a gluten free pizza, which would have been best for both of us, but GF pizza crusts were on my grocery list, and I didn’t feel like cooking from scratch.  We ordered pizza from a place we’d never tried, but that came highly recommended, and it was awesome!

We’ll go grocery shopping tomorrow instead.   Some days you have to know when to quit.  For the sake of everyone involved.