It is so important to understand that these cravings will always be present. Ellie will most likely be the kid who chews on the caps of her ballpoint pens at school or the girl chewing gum. She will probably be the little girl who must swing the highest on the swingset and spin the fastest on a merry-go-round. That is okay. Our therapy goals are to help Ellie satisfy these cravings in such a way that she can form meaningful relationships, communicate effectively, play/work, and basically function in day-to-day life.
There is a lot of trial and error involved in finding things that will help Ellie. I will briefly touch on a couple that have worked so far and you kind find more in-depth information on my blog.
1. Chewelry or Chews
Ellie has “approved” objects for mouthing. One is her blanket and the other involves various types of chewelry which is essentially food-grade tubing. Now, for a whopping, wallet-emptying $0.26, you can purchase 1 foot of food-grade tubing at Lowes or Home Depot. I carry ~4inch tube pieces with me every where for emergencies. It works. Its cheap. It is easy to find. It is dishwasher safe. To implement the chews into your child’s daily life (yes, there is a method to this), click on the link above or here.
|Left: Book in mouth = not good
Right: book replaced with chew = appropriate
2. Introducing Sensory foods are foods that are going to give intense oral input, i.e. sour, spicy, etc:
Lemons and Limes
Sour fruit sticks
Dried fruit banana chips were not a big hit
Peppered Beef Jerky
1. Heavy Work: essentially, I am making Ellie push heavy objects aka baby bootcamp. She LOVES it. For instance, we use one of those Little Tikes Shopping Carts. My sand-filled hand weighted hand balls (you can use canned goods or water bottles) go into the cart. Bear is then encouraged to push this cart around the house (or in the speech therapy hallways) prior to sitting down for functional play or speech therapy.
|That blue round thing is a weight. The rest of the stuff Ellie added.
2. The weighted backpack (Tutorial): This is along the lines of a weighted blanket. You can use rice or beans to fill the backpack SLOWLY building up 10% of the child’s weight. Ellie wears her backpack walking from the car to speech therapy or to a doctor’s office. Anywhere where she cannot just run to and fro destroying things in the process.
3. Joint compressions: this is hard to explain and there are no pictures. At times when Ellie needs high tactile input, she requests “squeezes”. Basically, I grab her hands and squeeze them very hard, repeatedly. You can also do a very tight hug. We have a “row-row-row-your boat” compression where Ellie has to pull against her own body weight.
4. The swing: It is impractical to expect a toddler, with or without SPD, to sit for 45 minute speech sessions. Yes, she does get a break to push her weighted cart, but that doesn’t work all the time. Also, it is rather difficult to imitate sounds if there is a chew in her mouth. Our therapy clinic also offers OT and PT, which means we crash in on the PT gym and borrow their swing. While Ellie is swinging, we have her imitate sounds.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. May more therapy sessions were recommended by Ellie’s doctor, but the fact of the matter is this: there is only so much therapy one can handle. By “one”, I mean me and Ellie and our credit cards.
Thank you Gretchen for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to blog about Sensory Processing Disorder. It is very much appreciated!