At the end of July ‘Mess Around’ did a session at Lou’s new school, as she wasn’t able to attend I searched their website and was delighted to find that a session was being held on 6th August at a local village hall, only a few miles away from where we live.
‘Mess Around’ provide messy play sessions from babies aged 6 months old, (sitting unaided) to children aged 5. These sessions are run all over the UK.
I was keen to book Lou onto the session as she thrives on messy, or sensory activities. I also wanted Moo to experience the session as she’s more on the move now and has already taken an interest in messy play, particularly sand and water play.
There was a great variety of experiences set out all over the hall including:
● Yellow gloop
● Coloured rice
● Coloured spaghetti
● Ribbons and streamers
● Paint with a variety of rollers and painting tools
● Purple play dough with cupcake moulds and stand
● Sand tray
● Water tray including water beads
● Coloured rice pudding
● Balloons covered in shaving foam and tennis rackets/swatters
● Coloured porridge oats – made into a Union Jack pattern
This all made for a very inviting a colourful site on a ‘Carnival Sports Party’ them, which tied in nicely with the start of the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. The session included music of a up-beat, party style.
The organisers had taken a lot of care and attention in laying out the materials on the sports party theme, and included medals and cups into the ‘Tuff Spot’ or builder’s tray.
We hadn’t encountered ‘water beads’ before, both Lou and Moo were fascinated with their texture and Lou was surprised she could pick them up as she described them as “flat under the water.”
We were fascinated with the yellow gloop mould that could be explored with cooking spoons and spatulas.
The highlight of the session, especially for Lou, was the foam machine – at first she wasn’t sure but she got right in there and throughly enjoyed the feeling of the foam raining down!
I would recommend Mess Around sessions to anyone, they are well organised and the staff are extremely helpful and friendly, they went around at various points with a bubble machine. There was an area that included wash bowls and towels to clean up at the end, it was also good to be reminded when booking the session to ensure the children wore old clothes so they could fully explore the materials on offer.
This week we have been very busy, we haven’t got as many craft or sensory activities completed as last week as we’ve done more organised activities and play dates at the park. The weather has been slightly better than last week so we’ve also spent more time outside.
Cardboard layer heart.
Our main craft activity was creating this cardboard hanging heart. I cut out 3 different sized hearts and Lou pained them in colours of her choice. We let them dry and then stuck the hearts together, and made a hole to thread some patterned ribbon. Lou has requested that she hangs this up in her bedroom.
This was such a popular activity this week. Lou played with this dough every day and it smelt lovely, being scented with vanilla essence! Lou made this dough herself during a session at the SMILE Centre, Malvern.
A social story was used as a recipe guide, using symbols as well as the actual words. The ingredients used were:
– 2 cups of plain flour.
– Half a cup of salt.
– 2 tablespoons of Cream of Tartar.
– 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
– Food colouring.
– Essence – this time was vanilla.
– 1 cup of boiling water.
Mix all ingredients together until they become a dough ball.
Time at the park.
We enjoyed going to our local park and another in a nearby village. The girls met up with some friends which benefitted them greatly as they’ve both missed the company of other children, especially Lou as she’s been used to interacting with other children at Pre School.
This was a set activity I’d arranged for Lou to take part in. Where she made mini pasties. This was a great activity for Lou to explore all of her senses. I’ll be writing more details on this particularly activity in a Blog post on its own.
‘Mess Around’ session.
This has to be the highlight of our whole week! Another set activity that was booked in advance online. The girls arrived to a village hall full of messy play activities, including coloured rice and spaghetti, water beads and gloop. This was the most beneficial session for Lou – my sensory seeker. I’ll be writing an individual Blog post about this session.
We look forward to reporting back about how our week 3 goes.
We all explore the world via our senses. The brain has a filter system that allows us to only pay attention to what is most important at that time. This filter may not work in the same way for some people. They may experience things differently, as I always say: “My child sees the world differently.” This may lead to a ‘sensory overload’ due to experiencing many sensations all at once. In our case, a ‘sensory overload’ manifests itself as a ‘meltdown,’ where items are throw, hitting out, screaming and unable to cope with the current situation. We remove Lou to a safe and calm place, she has a ‘calm tent’ where she can access cushions, blankets and her calming sensory toys.
As we know the senses are:
But there are also senses related more directly to movement:
▪ Vestibular – sense of balance and position of the head.
▪ Tactile – sense of touch.
▪ Proprioception – our sense of body position, pressure, movement.
There are people who are ‘Hypo’ (under sensitive) and be seen as a ‘sensory avoider. ‘ on the opposite side, some people may be ‘Hyper’ (over sensitive) or seen as a ‘sensory seeker.’ In my experience, Lou is on the whole a ‘seeker’ – although has some ‘avoider’ tendencies, e.g dislikes showers, swimming and having hair brushed amongst others!
What is a Sensory Diet?
A sensory diet is a planned scheduled activity programme that is designed to meet a child’s sensory needs. This can change over time as the child’s behaviour changes. The application of the sensory diet is used both as a treatment strategy and also to prevent behaviour challenges. A sensory diet is important just as it is to have a balanced food diet, we need a balance amount of sensory information to allow our bodies to function. The sensory diet with aid a child to self regulate their behaviour, emotions and attention.
The benefits of using a balanced sensory diet are:
▪ To handle changes/transions with less stress.
▪ To reduce sensory seeking and avoiding – in particular unwanted behaviours.
▪ To help increase attention, alertness and emotions.
In terms of this checklist in our personal experience:
Lou on the whole, for touch is a definite avoider, she particularly dislikes clothing seems, and takes her socks off moments after having them on! She wears leggings and soft T-Shirts everyday. Lou is not a fan at all, of the shower, having her hair washed or brushed. Although, the exception to touch is that she is a seeker in terms of messy hands, face, others parts such as legs. In materials such as glue, paint, lotion, sand etc. She thrives on these type of activities.
Proprioception: (body sense)
Lou is a seeker in all movement, such as rough housing, jumping, climbing, etc. She is a risk taker and thrives on impulsive and risky actions, for example, jumping off steps at height, she literally has no fear! Lou prefers dry, crunchy foods, she isn’t keen on soft textured or runny foods, especially sauces.
Vestibular: (movement sense)
In terms of balancing, riding equipment, spinning, climbing – especially stairs, Lou is a definite seeker. She enjoys being lifted up in the air and twisted down so her head is facing the floor! She also enjoys bring twirled around by an adult.
Lou comes across as loud, she talks loudly and will create her own sounds to mask other louder sounds, for example, when Moo was a tiny baby crying, the hoover, motorbikes passing by, etc. She isn’t keen at all on sudden unexpected noises, and can hear sounds far away that I can’t even hear! E.g aeroplanes, grass cutters, if Lou has been in a loud environment with a lot going on, she may try and escape, e.g a sports hall, or hold in her sensory overloads until she reaches the safe place of home and will often have a meltdown. Lou made sounds whilst she ate even from 6 months old, when she first started eating sold foods, this came out as humming. She still does this humming and now sings whilst concentrating at an activity and when eating.
Lou has a ‘thing’ about screens, e.g an ipad. She used to be more into the TV but lately she gets absolutely absorbed in the ipad, in fact this is the only time she isn’t moving or talking! Lou has been interested in colours from an early age, she enjoys watching her gel droppers, rainbow projector and goes to sleep with her bubble tube on, which projects changing colours onto her ceiling. Lou dislikes the dark, she will always have a light on somewhere at bedtime, or she can’t settle.
Lou smells everything – play dough, new toys, books etc. She will notice a change in perfume and often says: “what’s that smell?” It may be a new air freshener or that something is cooking. Lou will chew on toys, and will try and get Moo’s dummy to chew on! She now has a safe Chewigen bracelet and necklace if she has the need to chew. These were from: http://chewigem.co.uk/
Sensory diet activity ideas:
– Bear hugs
– Massage with or without lotion
– Joint compressions
– Therapy brushing
– Jump on cash pad – can always be homemade with sofa cushions and pillows.
– Hand fidgets
– Mixing cake ingredients
– Vibrating toys – we have a vibrating neck cushion.
The products are reasonably priced and we received a prompt delivery, I will be ordering more for Christmas this year!
Through starting to use the sensory diet approach for the past month, I’ve already noticed that whilst absorbed in these activities, Lou is calmer and focused. She will often create her own opportunities, even if I haven’t provided them. For example, she will find a wet chalk outside and rub it into the concrete slabs to feel the texture on her hand. She is also always seeking for water play, she fills the sink and will explore soap – I do have to keep an eye on this as she does like to flood my bathroom!
It may be easier to put sensory diet ideas and activities into a chart of plan to clearly see whats to be worked on. Examples can be quite simple:
Source: Google search: ‘sensory diet plans.’
Or a little more detailed:
Source: Google search: ‘sensory diet plans.’
I am currently working on a sensory diet plan for Lou over the next few weeks as she transitions from ending Pre School to the 6 week holidays, in preparation for starting ‘big school,’ in September!
Research series: Aspects of Sensory Processing Disorder.
I have wondered now for over a year how a 4 year old child could be hungry for what seems every minute of the day!
Most mornings Lou has already eaten more than me by 10 am! A bowl of cereal at 6am, a banana, toast, raisins etc! I try to offer the most healthy options I can but it’s so hard when Lou is a dry and beige food lover! I couldn’t understand why Lou is forever saying “I’m hungry,” I wondered if it was boredom but I then researched if it could be some connection to her Sensory Processing Disorder. I found out that fact we have 8 senses, the usual: taste, touch, hear, see and smell. But there is also proprioception and vestibular and an internal sense called interoception.
Interoception is a relatively unheard of sensory system. It is the sense responsible for detecting internal regulation responses, such as respiration, hunger, heart rate, and the need for digestive elimination.
This means that Lou literally cannot regulate her hunger, she never feels full and therefore doesn’t feel satisfied that she’s eaten enough. When I spoke to my mum about this she said that I had this problem too as a child, I had a few weight issues until I was about 14 then went through a period where I ate hardly anything due to a social pressure of looking thin as a teenager. From the age of 21 my weight started to rise again and then even more after having 2 children! I have lost 3 stone since Moo’s birth in March 2015, but I am still struggling to feel full and I often see myself as greedy. As an adult I can self regulate and will tell myself that enough us enough, but at 4 years old Lou won’t have this self control yet. Luckily diets such as Slimming World help me to keep a control on my weight and I’ve still got a way to go.
I do worry about Lou’s weight and she is just like me as a child – solid and tall for her age – she is currently in age 6 to 7 years clothes!
Unfortunately Lou is not a fan of many vegetables especially potato, she’s not keen on pasta either, the all important filling foods! I am currently trialling using a sectioned plate as if certain foods aren’t touching she will eat them, she doesn’t like sauces but is a massive fan of chicken! She would literally eat the same thing everyday if she could!
The only thing other than this I can do is to continue to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables as she may find that she likes them, up until a few months ago Lou would only eat bananas, now she will try apples, pineapple and sometimes satsuma. I will also wait in anticipation for this Occupational Therapy appointment that Lou has now been waiting for since October 2015!
Some people may think that I adhere to Lou as a ‘fussy eater’ but I’d say it’s not being ‘fussy’ it’s Sensory Processing Disorder 🙂 And awareness is key to understanding her needs.