Over the past year, we’ve tried a lot of sensory tools to help Jax calm his body and get the sensory input he needs to regulate his body and participate effectively in school and in family activities. Some have worked, some have not – it’s been a difficult road of trial and error.
BUT! We have made some progress. I’m sharing our favorite sensory tools that work for Jax – I hope they help you, too.
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A compression suit is basically a tight shirt that “hugs” the body to give lots of deep pressure. This pressure can help kids stay calm and focused. The have really nice versions of compression suits that look just like t-shirts, so the kids can get the input they need without having to wear an obvious “thing.” We like this compression suit because it’s adjustable with velcro.
The weighted vest is different from the compression suit in that it is not tight, but it still provides deep pressure support. We use the weighted vest when it’s really hot and we
don’t want another tight layer on Jax. We like this weighted vest because it looks nice for going out in public and it has removable weights so you can tailor the weight for your child. We also have a weighted blanket that we use at home when we’re relaxing on the couch.
Jax has recently started showing the need for oral stimulation – when he gets overwhelmed, he bites. He bites himself or me to the point of drawing blood. It’s terrifying. A friend told me a trick to getting him to loosen his jaw when this happens: plug his nose. Then he has to let go to take a breath. It works. I’m hoping that this is just a stage for Jax and that we can help him find other outlets for this sensation.
We started using these chewie toys and he seems to really like them. He also likes to chew on ice cubes.
The body sock is cool because it provides deep pressure as well as a place to “hide.” It’s dark and noises are muffled so it’s a three-in-one for Jax. We don’t have one of these at home yet, but this is the body sock he uses at occupational therapy and he really responds well to it.
Picture Schedules and Social Stories
Jax has a hard time with executive planning and transitioning to new tasks or places. Picture schedules help him visualize what’s coming next and help him plan ahead. He does well with the sketch pictures, but lately actual pictures have been working better. We’ve used this picture schedule and we also take our own pictures of Jax. He thinks it’s pretty cool to see himself!
We use actual pictures to create “social stories” for Jax. A social story is basically a book about a particular event. The purpose is to model the desired behavior during that event. For example, we made a social story about hospital visits and surgeries. We have pictures of Jax’s favorite toys that he gets to bring, we show him the check-in desk, the pre-op room and the people he will meet there, the operating room, and explain the recovery process. We read the book a couple of times before the hospital visit. We also bring the book along with us to the hospital and read each section in real time. If anyone would like to see what we’ve made for Jax, I’d be happy to share – just let me know.
Brushing and Compressions
We use brushing and compression therapy sparingly with Jax. Sometimes he really responds well to it, and other times it gives him the heeby-jeebys and makes his skin crawl – that’s the complete opposite of what we’re going for! He seems to like the compressions much more than the brushing, so we mostly stick to compressions. When we do brushing, we use these brushes because they are cheap and it doesn’t matter if we lose one or forget it somewhere.
This is Jax’s sensory diet (so far). Have you used any of these techniques or tools with your kids? What did you think of them? What else are you using to help your sensory kid?
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