Everett gets 1 hour of therapy with a trained therapist per week. We rotate biweekly between occupational therapy and feeding therapy/yoga. What does that mean? The other 167 hours in the week are ALL ME. Granted, he sleeps for part of that, so lets say approx 100 hrs a week, I’m focusing on what I need to do to balance Everett’s therapeutic needs with everything else, like Finn and my husband. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I lose sight of that bigger picture, but I’m working on stepping back and taking a breath when we get frustrated and overwhelmed.
After a lot of support from family, working with his therapist, and partnering with companies like Fun and Function and Ark Therapeutic, I’ve turned our house into a sensory friendly zone.
Everett’s Daily Routine:
- Wake up
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed/Sensory Activity
- Go to school or on playdate/adventure (taking lots of sensory breaks if we are out)
- End playdate/ pickup from school
- Head home for nap or head to therapy (after school)
- Wake up
- Sensory activity
- Eat dinner
- Family time
- Bed time routine starts
- Books, books, and more books maybe songs then with luck, sleeping
Our routine isn’t as structured as it probably should be for Everett, but I do what I can to accommodate his needs while still keeping him in normal kid routines. We rarely spend days at home, so I bring Everett’s headphones/mp3 player with us, plan activities around breaks, and try to prepare him as much as possible. I also keep emergency fidgets in my bag (mostly chews from Ark Therapeutic and goodies from Fun and Function).
While we are out, I try to use the local environment as our sensory playground. We are fortunate to have many Kulture City kits at various places we frequent around town that we love utilizing. If you’re not familiar with Kulture City I highly suggest checking them out. They focus on providing organizations with tools to become sensory inclusive and they have an amazing app.
I also have Everett do crazy walks while we wait at places or give him challenges, like running ahead and seeing how quickly he can hop back and give me a high five. I take him to places at times when it isn’t crowded and during times that he can truly interact with his environment.
At home it’s a whole nother ballgame. We have a shelf of sensory activities that I cycle through on a daily basis.
We utilize a mix of homemade activities (slime, bubbles, painting etc), purchased items (swings, scooter board, hopper balls, etc), and music.
Our current favorite places for purchasing items are:
- Fun and Function
- Ark Therapeutic
- Legacy Learning Academy
We use most of their products every week. I like to incorporate and mix things up. My favorite thing lately, is to set up mini obstacle courses. I do both indoor and outdoor, and although I try to make them slightly different each time, I tend to stick to certain things in each area. For example, our Hearthsong swing is outside, so of course that is always going to be part of the outdoor obstacle course. I also prefer to use our sensory bins outside due to the fact that they can be quite messy and Finn has a tendency to end up with little pieces of rice and beans! Indoors I almost always use our scooter from Fun and Function. We have the perfect length hallway to use it and it’s a lot safer than the road and easier to navigate than in the grass. I also tend to use our Legacy Learning Academy stuff inside, simply because I don’t want to loose pieces to our sets, and some require a table for writing. Other than that, I try to mix up our obstacle courses. I toss in fun stuff like puzzles, our hopper ball, a tunnel, a water mat, ball bouncing, and timed challenges. Unfortunately, I don’t have any obstacle course photos, but I will share a few photos of the various items we do utilize.
For sensory bins, I like to mix up different items, textures, and skill levels. I have made several of my own, but recently, Sensor-bility sent us one of theirs to try out. It was a bug kit that used a green rice base. I really liked it because it came with so much fun stuff. Everett spent almost an hour exploring all the different bugs and playing with all the various pieces that came in it! For the ones I make on my own, I use a dried rice and bean mixture or a dyed macaroni base. I then decide on a theme–for example, maybe our focus this week is on animals, so I select various animals and tailor the obstacle course around that. I hide animals in a mixture, then he has to pick an animal, do that animals walk to the bin, find the animal and make that animals sound until he deposits the animal in a color coded cupcake pan. Everett loves the fun challenges and I get to engage him on multiple levels.
I used to think it would be so hard and challenging to do all these activities, and I will be the first to admit I don’t always have it in me to do obstacle courses or special activities every day. His first therapist once told me “I bet you are doing more therapy at home than you realize” and she asked me a bit about our daily routine. She pointed out the simple things I did for Everett without even realizing it had therapeutic benefits. For example, when we are watching tv, I use a weighted lap pad or vest and a chew for Everett. When we are in the car, I keep a big bag of twizzlers in my console. (we call them chew sticks), and give Everett a fun way to give him oral input. When we are at the playground, him running around and climbing is sensory work too. He wears his Fun and Function dino cape when we go out and his body sock to hide in when he is overwhelmed. I give him back scratches and rubs and big squeezy hugs. I give him warnings about transitions and tell him a lot about what we are doing. All of those things help keep Everett level.
I’m no Autism/SPD saint. Everett still has frequent meltdowns (especially over potty training and sharing with his brother and sleeping and and and), but I do my best and really, that’s all anyone can ask, right?