An Alternative for Fidgeters Who Like to Pick

Question:  My son has Asperger Syndrome and severe ADHD.  He has a picking problem and will pick his nails, credit cards, scabs etc.  I am looking for something he can wear on his wrist he can fidget with instead.  Do you have any recommendations of your products?  Thank you in advance.
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It sounds like our Brick Bracelet would be a perfect fit for that.  It has bumps around the entire circumference that he can pick at, not unlike scabs.  You could even take a box cutter and slightly start a cut at the base of one or more of the bumps to get it ‘started’ before you give it to him.  That way he can pick at them and get the satisfaction of eventually being able to actually get some of the bumps off.  Better the bumps than his nails, scabs, etc.
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A solution for kids who like to pick /  fidget

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Giving him other ways to pick safely may help too.  He can peel stickers for instance (they have re-stickable ones he could put on his binder for instance).  Or you can have him help you peel vegetables for dinner, play with play dough, etc.

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Consulting with an OT (occupational therapist) if he doesn’t already might be a good idea.
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I hope some of this helps!
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All my best,

Debbie

Calming a High Energy Sensory Seeker

Question:   We are currently working with my son on his out of control behavior mostly at school, but also at home.  I’ve noticed he likes to run his hands over my arms, or through my hair.  He’ll also rub his head against me and such.  So I’m thinking he may be more of a sensory type person than most?  I’m thinking your chewlery just might help him with the stress he seems to have at school.  He clenches his fists, grits his teeth, has thrown or kicked things in his frustraition.  The most common movement is running his hand through his hair or pulling at it.  So my question for you, is knowing this would you say that your product might help give him something to focus his energy on while he calms down?  And if so, how do I know which one would be best to get for him?  He’s 7, and I was thinking maybe your necklaces just because they’d be harder to loose.  I’m just conserned about the durability if he’s using it to help calm himself when he’s upset.  I hope this makes sense, I’m a very tired mom, who feels like she’s grasping at straws to help her boy. Thank you for any help or advice you can give on this matter.
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We all have sensory needs to some extent, some people just need different/more/less sensory input than others.  I like to use the following metaphor to explain it:  some people like their coffee black, some people like it with a little sugar, for some it has to be just the right color, etc. – we all have our preferences.
. Continue reading Calming a High Energy Sensory Seeker

My Child Chews on Everything – What Can I Do?

Have you ever craved crunchy foods?  Or chewed gum?  Ever chewed on your pen caps while concentrating or bit your fingernails when nervous?  We all have oral sensory habits to some extent.
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For children with sensory needs and/or Autism, however, oral sensory input can play a particularly important role.  Chewing throughout the day (especially during times of stress and/or anxiety) can help them calm, focus, and self-regulate.
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There are several things you can do to help meet that need safely.  For the purposes of this post I’ll refer to children, but the recommendations here can apply for any age.  Some kids grow out of it, others may always have oral sensory needs to some extent through adulthood.
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Please note that the information here is based on my experience with the children I have personally seen as a speech therapist, and may not be relevant for everyone.  There is NO substitution to an in-person evaluation with a trained professional, with treatment catered to your child’s needs.

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Continue reading My Child Chews on Everything – What Can I Do?

Building a Therapy Lego Wall

A lego wall is a very simple DIY project that packs a ton of therapeutic benefit.  To assemble:  simply attach a lego board to a wall.  Mine is from at least 20 years ago so I don’t know the exact brand anymore, but any lego / brick set that comes with a mat to stack them on should work.  Then I used heavy-duty velcro to attach it on the wall.  There’s probably a better way of attaching it to the wall, but I’ve had this up with velcro for almost a year and it’s still going strong.

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The Benefits of Building a Lego Wall

WHAT SKILLS DOES THIS ACTIVITY WORK ON?
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As a speech therapist I use this building block station to help kids work on spatializations, motor planning, eye-hand-coordination, and social skills.  I don’t personally work on colors in therapy (usually colors are practiced at length at home, so I focus on other goals), but this would be a great opportunity to work on color identification as well.
. Continue reading Building a Therapy Lego Wall

Sensory Benefits of Heavy Work Activities

Heavy work activities are any type of action that pushes or pulls against the body.  This could be tension created by something pushing/pulling against your body (like swimming where the water pushes against the body) or tension that the body itself creates (like monkey bars where the body’s own weight creates the resistance).
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What Are Heavy Work Activities?.

Who can benefit from heavy work activities?
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Everyone!  Everyone needs heavy work activities to some extent.  After all, it’s mostly exercise and getting the body moving, which all of us need.  However, heavy work is of particular benefit for individuals with sensory processing issues for several reasons, such as:
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Continue reading Sensory Benefits of Heavy Work Activities

Back to School Sensory Strategies

Back to school can be a very stressful time for any child as they adapt to new surroundings, new friends, new teachers, new classes, etc.  You may see their sensory needs increase during this time.  For instance, the child may be very fidgety in class, may act out more, may start chewing on things or their chewing may increase, etc.  Luckily, though, giving children the appropriate tools to regulate their systems can significantly help them through this time.
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Back to School Sensory Strategies Continue reading Back to School Sensory Strategies

Drooling – Getting to the Root of the Problem

I was looking at some of the tools and videos on your site.  I have a 9 year old daughter with low tone in her face and some periodic drooling.  I have taken her to various speech therapists in the area for help with this issue and most say to remind her to swallow.  Now she is 9 and still has this issue – reminding her does not seem to help.  The dentist said maybe strengthening her chewing and jaw muscles might help.  I think there might also be an issue with closing her lips from what I can see from the videos on your site.  I do not think most of the time she is aware that she is drooling as well.  Would the Z-Vibe, etc. help?  Any suggestions for her I would appreciate.  


If reminding her to swallow hasn’t working by now to stop the drooling, then it’s not going to work, most likely because that’s not the root of the problem.
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What to do when saying "remember to swallow!" isn't working

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Drooling can be caused by a few different things.  You mentioned that you don’t think she is aware that she’s drooling – this could very well be true.  Sometimes children have limited to no awareness in their mouths, which means they can’t feel the saliva.  And if they can’t feel it, they won’t know to swallow it.  There are a few strategies you can try to “wake up” the mouth so to speak (including using the Z-Vibe).  For more information on these strategies, click here.
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Continue reading Drooling – Getting to the Root of the Problem

Vertical Velcro Pull for Finger, Hand, & Shoulder Strengthening

Vertical Velcro Pull - DIY Strengthening OT Exercise.

This vertical pulling activity is a simple way for your little ones to work on upper extremity strength in their shoulders, wrists, and hands.
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Directions:

1.  Cut 3 strips of velcro, about 12 inches each.

2.  Securely attach the strips vertically to a vertical surface.  We attached them to a section of our tactile sensory board (full post on this coming soon).  Although velcro has a sticky label on the back side, we used hot glue for extra “stick.”

3.  For variety, attach the first and last strip with the fuzzy half facing out, and the middle strip with the scratchy half facing out.  This way, when you peel the velcro apart, there will be two different textures left on the wall to touch and feel.

4.  Instruct the child to pull the velcro strips off of the wall, starting at the top and pulling each strip completely off of the wall.
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Voila!   You now have a simple DIY occupational therapy activity that works well in a clinic setting, at school, and/or at home.
. Continue reading Vertical Velcro Pull for Finger, Hand, & Shoulder Strengthening

10 Simple Fine Motor Exercises for Putty & Play Dough

10 Easy & Creative Fine Motor Exercises for Putty / Play Dough.

Putty, play dough, and other hand manipulatives are classic occupational therapy tools for fine motor work and sensory play.  Not only are they fun, but they can also be used to work on a whole host of developmental skills, such as hand strength, finger isolation and dexterity, bilateral coordination, imaginative play, and much more.  Here are some of our favorite play-dough games/exercises/tricks:
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Continue reading 10 Simple Fine Motor Exercises for Putty & Play Dough

Easy “Birthday Cake” Fine Motor Activity

Easy "Birthday Cake" Fine Motor Activity

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The best therapy exercises are the ones where the child doesn’t know it’s an exercise, which is why every pediatric speech and occupational therapist’s “bag of tricks” is mostly full of toys and games and other fun activities.

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Play dough is one of these staple activities.  There are endless possibilities of what you can do with it, one of which is creating a “birthday cake” for imaginary play and to work on fine motor skills.

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So, let’s throw a birthday party!

•   Be enthusiastic and involve the child in every step of the process.  Ask him/her who’s coming to their party, what kinds of games they’ll play, where it will be hosted, etc. Continue reading Easy “Birthday Cake” Fine Motor Activity