The bulk of my emotional energy these past few months has been dedicated to helping my daughter stabilize during this time of transition. My heart grieves for the many changes she’s had to process–the most significant one being spending the first three years of her life in a dismal orphanage during which she endured malnutrition, neglect and a lack of stimulation. And then here comes along this couple who, in the spirit of providing her the love and home she deserves, rips her away from the only home she’s ever known. She lost her language, heritage and people she considered family in a matter of weeks. I’m sure a lot of adoptive moms can relate to dealing with a child reeling from such massive change and having problems with sensory integration.
I’ve been working in tandem with my daughter’s preschool teacher, therapists and child specialists to pursue the best course of action for responding to the ways she’s acting out. And one person who examined her suggested she had hyposensitivity to sensory input, either as a direct result of being boxed in an orphanage for three years with very little sensory input–or it could be a result of the stress of our most recent relocation out of state. In either case, it was highly suggested to me to search out tools to help my daughter integrate her senses better to aid in her poor balance, constant need to touch people and textures, craving of intense movement, lack of coordination and inability to sit still in class. Here are some tools I’ll be purchasing to aid in her integration and perhaps it could be a help to you:
I call this stuff magic for meltdowns. When my daughter is acting ornery, I sit a kinetic sand box in front of her and she loves squishing it through her fingers and making sand molds. It’s like of like wet sand but it’s cool and sticky. You can create things that keep its shape. It’s been used as a therapy tool for eons. This has been a hit in my household for several years and even adults find this “toy” addictive. A friend of mine feels confined to her desk job and purchased it for her workspace so that she can take a minute break from office management boredom and jog her brain with the malleable texture of kinetic sand.
This is great for kids with low muscle tone and it’s easy to slip into your purse to occupy your kids during doctor appointments and long car rides. I consider this my non-messy alternative to kinetic sand when I’m on the go. It provides hours of fun because the color changes and it has a soothing effect as kids manipulate it into different shapes.
Parents whose children have autism report great success with this vest because it acts as an instant hug and provides extra calming when a child needs to especially concentrate like when they’re sitting down to do homework. There are lots of vests like this out there but this one stands out because of the velcro on the sides. The steady sensory input it offers is especially great because it’s weight adjustable with a vest that includes two ½ pound weights and four ¼ lb. weights for a total of 2 pounds. Kids over the age of two can use this and it’s easily machine washable.
I just happened to be chatting with another adoptive mom at the park the other day and we swapped stories of our kids. Her daughter was sporting this “chewelry” (and handed the necklace back to her mother to hold while she climbed the monkey bars) and my little girl kept pointing to it and saying she wanted one, too. But it’s not a fashion statement–it’s jewelry designed to prevent fingernail biting, chewing and helps with sensory integration and fidgeting. It’s stretchy and made of non-toxic plastic. This mother said they’re really easy to clean and allows her to focus better in class without destroying her nails and clothes. An aside for those who make this purchase–some parents say you just need to talk to your child about not taking the necklaces off and swinging it at other children. And some people have said their children have complained it pinches the hair on their necks. To that end, one parent offered the following suggestion: cut the necklace open at the seam where the ends are connected to fix the pinching issue–and they’re also long enough that you can cut them in half.
If your kids are of school age and they’re caught chewing their pencils out of boredom and need for oral stimulation, these pencil toppers work great because it’s made of non-toxic, food-grade silicone so it’s safe to put in your child’s mouth and it’s designed to endure even the most aggressive pencil chewer. Long used as a fidget tool for kids with ADHD, it’s been shown to improve language and communication, sensory processing and improved focus in school.