Thank you, Temple Grandin, for understanding the importance of Sensory Input for self-calming. Compression, heavy lifting, and massage are three sensations that are very centering and calming for my boy. We don’t have regular access to a therapeutic gym but I consider myself creative, and I think the boy inherited that creativity too.
Here are some of the things we’ve discovered are inexpensive but work!
Cheap electric toothbrushes – I buy them at the bargain outlet or dollar stores and keep a couple on hand. The vibration is soothing to him and he can apply pressure to his jaws and the roof of his mouth. He even asks for toothpaste now. When he’s done, he smiles into the mirror and says “Ding!” like the little sparkle in the commercials.
Weighted blanket – We got ours through the OT unit – someone makes them for the kids. it’s about 5 foot by 3 foot, and has pockets with filled bags (I think it’s sand) inside. He will lay down in bed, and ask to have his blanket on, as well as other blankets and stuffed animals. Before we had the weighted blanket, he would roll himself up tightly in a thin blanket.
Swimsuit Spandex fabric – Currently my 5 yard length of 66 inch wide spandex is tied around the top of the swing set pole in the back yard. The boy climbs inside of it and pushes against the fabric for resistance. It doesn’t have to be anchored, but it helps.
Buckets and a pool – We get a small inflatable pool every year, and he spends hours wading in it and splashing. He enjoys spraying water into buckets then carrying them across the yard and dumping them in the pool, or anywhere else in the yard. He also likes dragging the hose around.
Housework- he loves feeling useful and helpful – so most of the time, he’s more than willing to help with housework, as long as he understands what’s expected of him. He enjoys loading bags into the car, and into the house. He likes cleaning up and will do a fair job on his bedroom if he’s in a good mood. He likes to cook but sometimes the ingredients are too tasty or too yukky to deal with. He is particular about his clothes and his style, so he likes helping with laundry.
Stroller/Wheelchair – He enjoys outings now – We can go visit other peoples’ homes, or fairs and festivals, or the Talent Show. He feels safe and secure and can relax and not worry about anxiety and fear making him run. In the chair, he has a light blanket he uses to cover his head when it’s too much for him. We have ear-protection headphones to block out sounds that hurt like sirens and construction or lawn equipment.
He’s making his own therapy with his environment – he’s showing me what he needs and it’s my job to provide it. Smile *ding*