Archives for posts with tag: Sensory processing disorder

As I sit here to write about this great sensory tool called Playfoam, I start to walk a bit down memory lane and  think how much fun it would have been to have this stuff when Elizabeth was young.  Instead, we worked with a very young Elizabeth to encourage her to work with playdough. I can remember how her sensory issues would only let her touch it with one finger, then pull it back and repeat.

But as I look at this pack of Playfoam, I can visualize how easily this product would translate into the therapy world of a child like Elizabeth, a child affected by Sensory Processing Disorder ( SPD)

For starters this product is simply intriguing in its appearance.  It makes you WANT to touch it.  And it comes in a variety of colors, which are all in nice calming tones of light green, orange, blue and purple.

The texture of the Playfoam is great because it does not break apart and does not disintegrate as you play with it.  So that means that no matter how much manipulating  your children do to this foam, it will stay the same.  

The one thing that I remember about Michael playing with the foam, especially the lighter colored ones, is that it is important to have clean hands BEFORE you play with it.  It seems the foam will take the dirt or “kid grime” off of the child’s hands and then the foam will look dirty.  Just a little F.Y.I.! Trust me, sea foam blue can quickly become sea foam blue and tan.

And since I began this with a cautionary thought, let me give one more.  Please pay attention to the recommended ages for use because the playfoam (which is non-toxic) is so intriguing looking, that it is possible that younger children may try to eat/taste it.  So just know the recommended age of use if 3 years old and up. 

But with those thoughts addressed,

It’s time to focus on the amazing features of the playfoam.

So many ideas came to mind for fun ways to use this tactile tool, especially for those with special needs.

I know that Dyspraxic people can have a hard time judging strength so the foam could be used to work on improving motor skills.  The foam can be squeezed in the child’s hand to work on hand strength and the awareness of the pressure that they are using.  You can give him/her one color in each hand and have them squish it as hard as they can and have them count with you as they do it.

The playfoam encourages development in counting, imagination, color identification, fine motor strengthening while giving a nice sensory input as well.

And it would be great for working on shapes and sensory manipulation

This foam could be used to mold shapes and identify them.  Or even use a plastic cookie cutter that is the shape of a square, circle or triangle.  The child can be encouraged to push down on the cookie cutter, which requires strength and focus, and then the shapes can be lined up to work on identification.  If you cut enough shapes, you can even work on easy patterns too!

The foam can be cut and put back together.  Another good skill.  Using a Popsicle stick as the “knife” will allow the child to independently work and play!  

Something that I know many Dyspraxic children lack is natural curiosity, so for Elizabeth I would have to tell her what we are making with the foam.  But think of the possibilities!  So this foam could help with growing a special needs child’s imagination. Elizabeth used to always make only cookies with play dough, but playfoam allows for easy manipulation without the sticky feel to easily make a house, car or whatever you can imagine! 

The fact that the price of the foam is very reasonable, makes it very easy to add to your “repertoire” of sensory toys or learning tools.  With Summertime in mind, how great would this be to use as you sit outside with your child on a sunny day?  I always think about how to make the “learning” or “therapy” fun and simply part of our daily living.  So that is what I envision.  

And lastly, for those who have ever reached into a Playdough container only to find hard chunks of playdough instead of soft pieces, know how important this last point is, this playfoam will stay soft and “playable” when stored back in its original container.

So play, create and enjoy.  And when you are done. Put it back where you found it so that the next round of fun will not be hindered by dried out foam.

I think having so many years of therapy with Elizabeth and so many years of follow-up at home has given me a perspective to see toys differently than other moms might.

If anyone wishes to share other great therapy ideas for this foam, we would love to hear them. And for those wishing to see the foam, please take a peek at the website to decide if this is a sensory tool for your child.

I always mention Michael when I talk about testing toys and products, but he really is my little “go-to” man for trials and opinions and he told me how much he loved “that really great foam, remember Mom, I made transformers out of it?”  So know that I talked a great deal about how the foam could be used for our special needs and sensory children, but know that anything their typical siblings can show them, as they simply play, is always a good thing.

I wish you all a peaceful week.

Michele

I can remember as a kid jumping on one of those balls with the handle.  They still make them now, but I had them when I was little and I loved it.  My brother and I would jump with these around the basement and try not to ricochet into a wall.  Ah, the memories of childhood fun.

Flash to the future and Elizabeth and I are headed into one of her earlier OT appointments.  Kind of when we were not really sure what to expect and we saw therapy balls in the room.  They kind of  looked like the beloved ones of my youth but minus the handles.  

Elizabeth was not the easiest one to get onto one of these balls due to her special needs.  Specifically that her Sensory Processing Disorder affected her so greatly at this time.

I can remember that the occupational therapist did get her to use the balls, and I can remember the exercises that she learned.

We bought one of the therapy balls to use at home and we tried to do our therapy homework.

We had good successes with the ball but always had to work hard to help Elizabeth keep her balance so she did not roll off of it, get scared and then be afraid to try again.  And as all of you who have a child with special needs and more specifically SPD know, it is so important to end any and all activities on a good note so that the child will be more likely to engage easily the next time.  It is their last memory that they hold onto.  So that was our goal.

Now flash to current day, and in the mail arrives a package.

And in the package is a new therapy product for us to try.

It is called the Gymnio Physio Ball. And Faster Blaster.

I took them out of the box and took a look at the product.  I decided to first tell the kids what we were going to try and then start getting the ball filled.

First off, and I cannot lie, the Faster Blaster pump is incredible.  It allowed for shorter work of filling up the therapy ball.  And I know we all know how some pumps work and how much of a cardio workout it can become just getting it half way filled.  But this one did great.  Fast.  Easy and Efficient.

Now to the Gymnic Physio Ball itself,  once it was filled, it was light and easy to maneuver.   I liked mainly that its shape was almost like an eight figure.  This was new to my eyes at first, but I quickly understood it will be less likely to roll away in all directions when using it or even storing it.  And that the biggest concern we had earlier with Elizabeth could be lessened by the shape of this therapy ball.  It really gives you better control when working with someone like during OT sessions. 

Also, as the therapy balls come in various sizes, you can get one that allows both therapist and client to sit on the ball together to accomplish a skill.  Otherwise stated, I could have sat with Elizabeth and helped her feel secure had we had this special tool.

That is a huge benefit.

physiogymnicball

The Gymnic Physio Ball strengthens coordination and balance skills.

Another great attribute is that you can still do all the exercises and sensory integration therapies with this therapy ball as you can with the round one. But in my opinion with more control.

Any special needs gym, be it home or elsewhere, would benefit from having these therapy balls and that darn, Faster Blaster!  

I know that with summer coming, a new addition for the sensory diet  might not be a bad idea.  Because I know my typically developing son, Michael,  was having a ball with this new item…pun intended.

But seriously, that is the purpose of the therapies we do for our special needs children isn’t it?  To help them progress while making it fun at the same time.

So if this sounds like something that could be helpful to you or your child please take a peek at it. Look at the various sizes to better determine which one is going to work best for your child. Lastly, don’t forget that when not in use for  “therapy” time, they can be used to give some nice sensory input when simply used to sit on when watching television, listening to music or doing homework at the table.

In any event, take a peek and hopefully you will have the same positive thoughts on this product as we all do.  Please let us know and I wish everyone a good week.

Michele

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