Calming Sensory Strategies

Here are some simple yet effective calming strategies to help your kids regulate when overwhelmed:

Music Playing gentle music is soothing and allows the brain to fall back into a gentle pattern.

Other Sounds Waterfalls, soft drumming, nature sounds – try finding them on YouTube.

Lighting Soft lighting – fairy or dimmable night lights.

Mindful Colouring or reading.

Connect with Nature Go for a walk, create a treasure hunt and collect different objects you find or play a game of ISpy.

A mindful walk Listening to the sounds around you, looking at colours, taking in the different smells.

Playing with balloons Keep the balloon off the ground but have them move slowly and gently.

Texture bag Place several small objects in a bag. Have your child reach in and touch an object, one at a time, and describe what they are touching.

Apps To Help Gross Motor Skills

iPad apps don’t have to be just about sitting in front of screen. These apps recommended by Source Kids encourage movement and a chance to practice some key motor skills.

Kids Yogaverse: I Am Love

GONOODLE: Make screen time active with 300+ dance videos, yoga exercises, and mindfulness activities for kids! GoNoodle was developed by a team of seasoned designers, educators, child development specialists, and researchers.

JUMP JUMP FROGGY 2: Get a jump start on physical fitness and fundamental mathematical concepts while exercising body and mind with Flip the Frog and his colourful friends. Your physical motion in the real world controls the action simply hold your device in your hands and jump! The higher you jump, the higher the frog jumps!

DEM DANCING BONES: Learn anatomy while you move and groove together! Dem Dancing Bones is a hilarious take on the well known traditional anatomy song. Your kids will absolutely love the funny dances performed by this cartoon Skeleton named Mr. Bones.

KIDS YOGAVERSE: I AM LOVE: The iPad app teaches 13 poses and breathing techniques set to music with vibrant backdrops. We step onto our magic mat and fly through the ancient lands of Egypt. We are as strong as a mountain, as silly as a Laughing Dove and as playful as a dolphin. Dive deep into the Red Sea to discover indigenous curiosities, like a long-lost sphinx!

SWORKIT KIDS: Within the popular Sworkit workout app there is a free kids workout section with a variety of fun workouts to help get those wiggles and giggles out. With each exercise presented visually, the app guides students through exercise routines focusing on strength, agility, flexibility, and balance, such as doing the crab crawl, squats, or side plank.

SUPER STRETCH YOGA: Move, play and breathe as Super Stretch introduces you to his friends and their yoga poses. Super Stretch is your guide who takes you on your journey. Using storytelling, animation and video examples, kids enjoy making NAMASTE a part of their day.

School Holiday Survival Guide

As the summer holidays approach, this time can be a cause of anxiety for children who are out of routine for 8 weeks as well as their parents and caregivers who may struggle to find things to do.

When you have the added stress of having a child with a disability, activities which other children and their families find fun could have the complete opposite affect due to extra crowd numbers and noise.

Every child is different, so finding the right activity is important. Here are some Adelaide (and surrounds) based activities to consider:

AT HOME

  • Arts and Craft – craft activities, painting, drawing, stickers, chalk
  • Water Play – buckets, cups, boats, balls, paintbrushes
  • Build a Castle – pillows, chairs, table, sheets
  • Create a Reading/Play Nook – move furniture, blankets, pillows, books
  • Sensory Play – shaving foam, play-doh, floof, slime, magnetic sand
  • Gross Motor Play – trampoline, fitball, musical instruments
  • Cooking

FREE COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES

PAID COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES

Helping Special Needs Parents

Caring for a child with special needs is challenging. It can also be thankless, relentless and make parents feel invisible within their friendship groups and families.

The best way to support carers is by making them feel like they are not alone in their struggles. Joining groups that are designed with carers in mind is a good option. I am a big advocate of Carers SA, soon to become the Carer Gateway in April 2020. However, not everyone wants to be a part of a group situation, preferring 1-1 support and familiar people only.

It is important to provide carers with choices about the type of support they need. It might be a peer support group, 1-1 counselling, carer outings or simply family and friend gatherings in supportive environments.

Providing a safe environment for the carer and the person they are caring for will be greatly appreciated and may work to ease the social isolation that many carers feel in their role. Planning inclusive events may require a little extra effort but asking questions of the carer about what would make it a more successful event for them, will go a long way in helping them feel enjoyment and a sense of belonging.

Here are some other practical ways you can help special needs parents.

Music

Listening and playing music has many benefits for our wellbeing, physical health and emotional regulation. It can keep us feeling happy, motivated and ease symptoms of depression.

While the above graphic references classical music, there is power in all types of music if it is enjoyed. Teenagers and small children are often drawn to and enjoy listening to music through YouTube, television, movies and gaming. And while the mode of sharing music is mostly digital or online in the modern world, it is possible to access the classics from previous generations if this is what you enjoy.

It is important to find music that you enjoy and a good place to find new music is to look on the current charts, take note of music you hear in the shows you like and look up songs and albums written and performed by the same artists. You can do this for free on platforms such as YouTube and Spotify. Add some headphones (noise cancelling if you want to remove environmental noise distractions), get listening and enjoy the benefits.

Be Grateful For What You Have

A short video powerfully depicting the importance of being grateful and mindful for what you have in life.

A little thing you can do to practice gratefulness is to keep a journal and write a point or two each day about the things you were grateful for. It could be as simple as a chat with a friend that made you feel special, a goodnight kiss from your child or a delicious cup of coffee that you didn’t have to make yourself. You will be surprised at how many beautiful moments we overlook each day. Take the time to remember and cherish them. If you wrote 2 each day, there would be 730 happy memories to be grateful for and mindful of each year.

The 7 Drops

Working with children can be a challenge, especially if they are not keen to work with you in return. This list outlining ‘The 7 Drops’ is something all practitioners and educators can try to aid building connections and relationships with the children they work with.

Drop your voice – lower your pitch. Show interest in what the child is doing with your voice, your facial expressions and body language.

Drop your body – get down to their level. If they are on the floor playing, ask to join in on what they are doing. Initiate taking turns if they will accept it.

Drop what you are doing – take your time to get to know them. Leave note-taking and other work for later, make spending time with them your priority.

Drop your guard – let them take risks. Encourage them to try different things and get messy and creative while doing it.

Drop your defences – keep your agenda to yourself. This is about the child’s development. Building a real connection and relationship needs to come from an authentic place. Set goals with the child so you are working towards the same outcomes.

Drop your batteries – turn your devices to silent and give them your full attention. This creates less distraction for you and good role-modelling for them.

Drop your misconception that fun is frivolous – learning through play is powerful. Rediscover your inner child and follow their lead. Have fun!

We Go Together

Finding and maintaining friendships can be difficult for many people but when you are a carer, it can feel impossible to find people who you truly connect with.

If you don’t have many friends, joining interest clubs such as a camera club, carer groups and activities, school events and online communities are some ways that you can find others who have similar interests as you.

Taking the time to build positive friendship connections increases your sense of well-being and gives you a wider world view. And by regularly talking to others, it can help reduce overall feelings of loneliness and isolation.

It is really important that when you find those connections with others that you take the time to nurture those people and share your highlights and lowlights equally. Make the time to listen to one another, have a laugh and support each other not only in the sad times but also in your endeavours and dreams.

People who are truly happy are out and about living life, enjoying their passions, doing good work and being good people. Chase your own passions and follow your own path. You will be amazed at who you find when your paths eventually cross. You will find those special people who ‘go together’ with you, who make you smile, who inspire you to do what you love and who believe in you, even when you struggle to believe in yourself.