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Proprioception

Proprioception is our ability to know where our muscles and joints are in space and how they are moving. This is very important for the development of body awareness. Our proprioceptive sense cannot work in isolation, but requires constant input from our tactile and vestibular systems. Unorganized processing of proprioceptive input may be seen as someone who is clumsy, falls or stumbles frequently, is overly aggressive (e.g., tackles people), walks on toes, constantly chewing on food or objects, has difficulty motor planning, or is messy at mealtime. Someone who is unconsciously worried about where their body is on the chair or how they will walk around the table without bumping into it, will not be able to focus their attention on what is being said or what they are carrying.”  (Dana Nicholls, OTR/L, Peggy Syvertson CCC-SLP).
Does your child:

  • walk on their toes?
  • like to jump all the time?
  • laugh a lot when you press them with pillows or balls?
  • love deep massages?
  • love to walk on pebbles?

All of these questions are examples of activities where your child’s body gets a lot of proprioceptive input. Especially for children who are hyposensitive to this kind of input, these activities bring a lot of joy.


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Disclaimer / Izjava

This blog is intended as another source of ideas for sensory play and a common place for parents to talk and discuss different topics. Though I do have professional education and work experience in this field, I do not take responsibility in reactions your children have to ideas proposed in this blog. Children are very different and what suits one child might not be beneficial to the other so please use your judgment while realizing these ideas with your children.

Thank you!

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Cilj ovog bloga je da pruži roditeljima ideje za senzornu igru i zajedničko mjesto za daljnju diskusiju. Iako sam obrazovana u ovom području i imam radno iskustvo, ne snosim odgovornost za reakcije vaše djece na ideje predložene u ovom blogu. Djeca su vrlo različita i ono što je dobro za jedno dijete možda neće biti primjereno za neko drugo dijete. Stoga Vas molim da koristite svoju prosudbu pri realizaciji ovih ideja.

Hvala!

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Aktivnosti u shopping centru

click here for English version

Najprije, kako izgleda promjena aktivnosti ili mjesta kod Vašeg djeteta, pogotovo u veliki, blješteći, glasni i napućeni trgovački centar? Potrči li Vaše dijete unutra ili se počne ritati i bacakati još u autu čim ste skrenuli na parkiralište od tog centra? Neka Vam Vaš odgovor bude polazište za ovo iskustvo.

Ako Vaše dijete ne voli ići po trgovačkim centrima, ne morate to izbjegavati. Učinite to postepeno prateći djetetove reakcije. Ako se Vaše dijete počne derati već na parkiralištu, neka vam onda to bude i cilj – sigurno parkiranje auta, ali ne i izlazak iz njega. Idući put probajte izaći iz auta, ali ne i otići u centar, možda svega do ulaznih vrata. Ono što je tu bitno je da uvijek kažete djetetu mirnim glasom (šapčući ako je dijete preosjetljivo na zvuk) koji je Vaš plan. Želite da Vaše dijete i dalje ima kontrolu nad situacijom koja mu se očito ne sviđa. Kada dijete uvidi da kontrolira situacijom, stvari će teći glađe. Ako im se čini da se situacija odvija prebrzo, da gube tu kontrolu postat će nervozni i možda će nastupiti tantrum i bacanje po podu. Dakle, samo glasno komentirajte svoj plan bez obzira koliko je Vaše dijete staro i bez obzira na to što možda mislite da Vas ono ne razumije; “sada ćemo se sparkirati ovdje lijevo i onda će mama ugasiti auto. Vidi, gasim! 1…2…3.. auto je ugašen”. Možete koristiti jednostavnije ili kraće rečenice ako je Vaše dijete manje ili ako je veće ili verbalno, možete unijeti još detalja i dapače uključiti ih u brojanje ili dati im izbor gdje da parkirate auto. Uključivanje djeteta u ovakve aktivnosti daje im pouzdanje i kontrolu koja im je vrlo potrebna.

Kada dođete unutar trgovačkog centra, uzmite vremena da svom nervoznom djetetu obratite pozornost na to što je oko njega, ono će se tako opet osjećati bolje i imat će kontrolu. Ako je Vaše dijete malo, možete ga podići i komentirati što sve vidite; svijetla, kafiće, ukrase, čujete glazbu u pozadini, vidite dućane, kolica, ljude itd. Dajte mu minutu, dvije da spozna te stvari oko sebe. Kada vidite da je u redu, nastavite sa svojim planom. Vjerojatno idući put nećete morati prolaziti kroz ovu situaciju, ali ako ćete morati i to je u redu. Samo dajte djetetu vremena. Ako niste u mogućnosti izdvojiti to vrijeme ili krenuti u centar ranije, a budimo realni, često smo u velikoj gužvi, radije ostavite dijete s nekim drugim nego da ga bespotrebno “vučete” na mjesto gdje se ono ne osjeća ugodno.

Danas većinom svi trgovački centri imaju dječje igraonice gdje se djeca mogu igrati dok odrasli obavljaju svoje kupovine. Neke imaju pravila o ostavljanju djeteta samim u igraonici, neke se plaćaju, neke su besplatne, ali su svakako odličan izvor senzornih podražaja. Veće igraonice imaju i sprave za penjanje, bazene s lopticama, tobogane i tunele. Iskoristite to! Provjerite najprije je li Vaše dijete preosjetljivo na zvukove. Ako je, izaberite trenutak kada je u igraonici manje glasne djece. Jednako vrijedi i za djecu koja su prekomjerno vizualno osjetljiva na micajuće podražaje. Ako mnogo djece trči oko Vašeg djeteta, ono se može “zalediti” i ne uživati na ovako zabavnom mjestu. Ja bih najprije izabrala sprave i aktivnosti koje dijete poznaje dok ne spozna prostor, ljude oko sebe i svoje mogućnosti u tom prostoru. Kada Vam se čini da je dijete u redu, možete predložiti nove aktivnosti s kojima inaće ne bi bilo oduševljeno. Polako i postepeno. Najbolje je dati djetetu da odluči i napravi aktivnost prvo koristeći svoju kreativnost i motoričko planiranje, ali ako Vaše dijete treba dodatni poticaj, možete i Vi to učiniti prvi.

Girl in a tunnel. Permission acquired from the parents.

Girl in a tunnel. Permission acquired from the parents.

Ako nemate vremena za igraonicu ili ju Vaš trgovački centar ne nudi, pokušajte uključiti svoje dijete u poslove koje morate obaviti. Djeca koja trebaju dodatni ravnotežni podražaj će se voliti voziti u shopping kolicima u dućanu i na taj način može stavljati namirnice i proizvode u kolica. Dajte djetetu da izabere između dva ili tri proizvoda koja se tiću njega: koji sok ili koje pahuljice kupiti. Ali, ograničite izbor na dva ili tri artikla pogotovo za manju djecu ili ona koja još nisu verbalna.

Ako Vaše dijete voli brzo izmijenjivati aktivnosti, pokušajte brže završiti Vašu kupovinu da ne podražujete dijete prekomjerno. Ne morate odmah napustiti dućan, možete malo pokušati produljiti vrijeme izlaganju, ali nemojte pretjerivati. Vidjet ćete znakove na djetetu kada mu je dosta; odbija suradnju, izgleda kao da mu je dosadno ili da je umorno, vuče se po podu, moli vas da odete doma pa sve do bacanja po podu dućana. Neka djeca pređu ovaj spektar znakova vrlo brzo, dok neka odmah pređu na plakanje. Sigurna sam da poznavajući vlastito dijete znate što je najbolje za napraviti u toj situaciji, otići ili ostati u dućnu – ali ispravnu stvar nije uvijek lako i moguće napraviti, znam!

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Aktivnosti kod kuće

click here for English version

Vaše kuće i stanovi su mjesta koja vaša djeca najbolje poznaju. Oni će se uvijek malo drugačije ponašati kod kuće nego na drugim mjestima. Djeca kojoj se tjelesna shema nije do kraja razvila, bit će opuštenija i osjećat će se zaštićenije u okolini koja im je poznata. Tako da će isprobavanje novih aktivnosti bolje proći kod kuće.

Znamo da kada ste kod kuće, najvjerojatnije morate zbrinuti i kućanstvo; rublje, suđe, doručak, ručak, večeru (osobito ako Vaše dijete ili neki drugi član obitelji treba specijalnu prehranu), čišćenje itd. Tako da ne možete se konstantno igrati s djetetom. I to je ok! Ali, to ne znači da dijete ne može dobiti senzorne podražaje koji mu trebaju. Učinite svoj dom senzoričkim i dopustite djetetu da samo traži podražaje iz prostora koji mu trebaju. No, molim Vas, pazite da ne prestimulirate Vaše dijete. Važno je imati na umu koliko je svako dijete posebno i kako drugačije reagiraju na svaku aktivnost. Jedno te isto dijete može različito reagirati na isti podražaj u različito vrijeme. Ono što je bilo zabavno ujutro može postati najgori neprijatelj već za pet minuta ili do kraja dana. I to je isto u redu! Lakše je reći nego to napraviti, ali sve što morate raditi je promatrati svoje dijete kroz senzoričku prizmu.

Možete dijelove vaših domova ili dječje sobe osposobiti za određeni podražaj (taktilni, vestibularni…). Neki roditelji su čak napravili senzorne sobe u svojim podrumima. To će omogućiti Vašem djetetu da nesmetano pronalazi podražaje koji mu trebaju. No, s obzirom da je cilj da integriramo podražaje, uvijek možemo jednu igru ili podražaj malo začiniti. Ako se Vašemu djetetu ljulja ili vrti ili poželi hodati na nečemu visokome, vrlo vjerojatno traži vestibularni podražaj. Dopustite mu to na trenutak ili dva te ga polako angažirajte na novu aktivnost, dok još prva traje: na pjesmicu ili aktivnost istraživanja tijela ili na nešto vizualno.

Da pojasnim: dok se Vaše dijete ljulja, možete mu dati da baca jastučiće različite težine u košaru ili da pjeva pjesmicu u ritmu ljuljanja. Ako nemate ljuljačku, jednostavno stavite dijete na deku i ljuljate ga u različitim smjerovima i ritmovima. Također, pitajte svoje dijete želi li još te čekajte na njegov odgovor: u obliku osmjeha, plakanja, ako kaže da ili ne ili bilo kakvom radnjom pokaže svoju volju. Ove aktivnosti mogu biti vrlo kratke – djecu je ponekad dovoljno zaljuljati jednom ili dva puta i to treba poštivati, makar bismo mi rado da se ljuljaju i dalje. Vaše je dijete možda preosjetljivo na ovaj podražaj te ga ne želimo prestimulirati.

Ako trebate obavljati svoje kućanske poslove, a dijete bi trebalo biti samo na neko vrijeme, dajte im neki zadatak za koji mislite da mogu sami uspješno izvršiti bilo u svojoj sobi ili kod Vas u kuhinji. Mogli biste napraviti poligon po kući ili hodniku sa različitim preprekama koje dijete mora proći da bi došlo do Vas. Napravite ga tako da ste sigurni da ga dijete može uspješno proći (ne prelagano, ali niti toliko teško da se bespotrebno frustrira). U sklopu poligona možete i nadodati druge aktivnosti poput pronalaženja igrački ili loptica koje mora skupiti i staviti u košaru na kraju. To će Vašem djetetu dati osjećaj za početak i kraj te će imati cilj koji će im dati osjećaj zadovoljstva. Zato je vrlo bitno napraviti zadatak dovoljno izazovan, ali da ga je moguće prebroditi.

Ako je Vaše dijete premalo da bude samo i mislite da to nije dobro za njegovu sigurnost, neka dijete bude s Vama npr u kuhinji; može se igrati s različitim teksturama hrane kao što su grah, sirova tjestenina, žitarice ili mu možete čak prirediti ljepljivo tijesto od brašna i vode. Ako to tijesto napravite malo žilavijim, može biti dobra proprioceptivna aktivnost gdje dijete mora otkidati male komadiće, napraviti kuglice među vršcima prstiju i npr zalijepiti te kuglice na komad papira sa unaprijed nacrtanim oblicima (srce, krug, linija, lice..). Naravno, imajte na umu da sve ove namirnice mogu završiti i u ustima Vašeg djeteta pa treba imati dijete na oku i procijeniti je li ova igra sigurna za njega i po pitanju alergija (npr. gluten ili kikiriki).

Ako ste primijetili da Vaše dijete ne voli imati prljave ruke, onda će iduća aktivnost biti vrlo izazovna za Vaše dijete i možda će mu biti potrebno i nekoliko mjeseci da prihvati pa probajte aktivnost uvoditi postepeno – igra s pjenom. Pjena je vrlo taktilno stimulirajuća koju mnoga djeca isprva ne mogu podnijeti. To se često dogodi jer pjena nema čvrste granice i rubove koje daju informacije našem mozgu o tom predmetu pa tako pjena vrlo lagano klizi kroz prste i mozak ju ne može s lakoćom definirati. Može biti prilično zastrašujući osjećaj. Radila sam i s djecom koja su skoro i povratila kada su dotakla pjenu. Zato, idite polako i postepeno i nemojte forsirati dijete. S pjenom se možete igrati na ogledalu ili npr na staklenim vratima te crtati prstićima različite oblike, crteže ili raditi otiske. Neka djeca su slabije osjetljiva i na okus pa im je pjena za brijanje zbog svog snažnog mirisa vrlo privlačna za istraživanje ustima. Imajte i to na umu kada dajete djetetu da se igra s pjenom (kao alternativu, možete koristiti šlag ako Vaše dijete to smije staviti u usta).

Girl and a boy playing with shaving foam.  Permission acquired from their parents.

Girl and a boy playing with shaving foam. Permission acquired from their parents.

Za djecu koja su slabije osjetljiva na taktilni i proprioceptivni podražaj, pokušajte nabaviti ili napraviti neravne podloge koje ćete staviti na mjesto gdje se Vaše dijete najviše igra. Meni se jako sviđa ova sobna plaža Dr. Stošića koju možete kupiti i kod nas.

girl playing with water

Girl (15 months old) playing with water and moist cloth, using these materials to engage in pretend play. As she is still new on her feet, I added sandy’s step factory product popularly called “room beach” for her to stand on, instead of a plain concrete backyard floor.
Permission to post this girl’s photo acquired from her parents.

 

Možete i koristiti svoju kreativnost te napraviti različite podloge i sami. Uzmite presvlaku za prekrivač te ju napunite malim lopticama ili granuliranim stiroporom. Ovo će onda biti sigurno mjesto gdje Vaše dijete može skakati (ako su loptice mekane!), prekoračavati, prepuzavati, valjati se ili jednostavno ležati. Ili samo dajte svojim vrečama-sjedalicama punjenim stiroporom novu ulogu.

Pročitajte post Kako senzorički opremiti kuću? za više ideja!

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Activities in the park

Parks are an endless source of sensory input, sometimes easily over stimulating the child, but also a possible endless source of fun, too!

If I asked you what does your park have, what would you say? Would you say: a swing, a slide and a sand box? If your park has all that, that’s awesome. If your park doesn’t have that, if you don’t have a park at all, that’s ok, too! You as a person are more than enough 🙂 what is not so obvious is that parks or some green areas in your neighborhood have tree leaves that are especially in the Fall season colorful (visual), they make noise (audio), if taken in hand they can be a great source of tactile input. Some are dry and make a crisp sound, others are wet and usually not well appreciated among both kids and adults. Who wants dirty hands, right? If your child doesn’t speak, you can help him/her imitate the shhhh sounds of those leaves, too. If you take a few beautiful and colorful leaves home, you can make some creative art. From unusual decorations on a gift box, or sorting them by color or size to making them into powder (the dried ones) and using it to form new shapes (gluing the powder on paper in a shape, mixing it with water etc). I tried making an Indian coloring art called rangoli out of different colors of fallen leaves. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo to share with you. So, all this is just from leaves, and we didn’t even enter a park!
Let’s go inside and hit the swings, the most popular thing in the park. Or at least sharing the first place with the slide. Since there’s a high demand for a swing, sometimes kids have to wait for their turn, right? That mostly means either shout: “I wanna goooo!” Or cry until the child on the swing leaves. Older parks, at least here in Croatia, have those kinds of swings that swing you only forward-backward.

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More modern parks nowadays have those disks made out if rope which one can swing in any direction including rotations (in some cases).

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Swinging a child (also applicable for putting a baby to sleep) in different directions gives their brains different information or better to say, different sensory input. Forward-backward swinging mostly affects the frontal cortex whose primary task is thinking while left-right swinging mostly affects the balance part of the brain.
Aside from actual swinging, you may practice planning and sequencing with your child. Especially if you have more children. Let them wait their turn starting from short period of waiting to progressively longer. Ask your child to list you the order of children in which they will go on a swing. This you can also do on a slide, but in addition, you can ask your child to verbally describe how they want to slide down – on their backs / tummies, upside down etc. Once they are up there on a slide, you can have the child count one, two, threeee… and then go down.Then change the rhythm. Oneeee, two, threeee… Another popular item in the park is the sand box. Sand gives a very strong sensory input. It has no obvious boundaries so childrens’ reactions to sand are similar to those of the shaving foam: fear, disgust, vomiting, etc. depending on your child’s sensory profile. You may make this game intriguing to a child who doesn’t like sand on their hands by putting some small objects or toys into the sand pit and ask the child to take it out. Digg deep! It can be anything from small balls to small rubber animals or blocks. Another suggestion is to make the sand wet by adding some water. Do it progressively and observe your child’s reactions. Does your child like it better when the sand was dry or when it was a cookie dough or perhaps when it is completely muddy? After you are done squeezing the sand through your fingers, you may take some shapes and create imprints in sand.

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You may also use equipment in the park to make a polygon. Give your child a toy and specific instructions on how to overcome all the obstacles and have them put the toy in the basket in the end of the polygon. That will give a meaning to this string of activities and obstacles a child has to go through.

 

 

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Activities on the way to the kindergarten / school and back

So, it is just a matter of how you perceive your way to the preschool and back. If you walk to the preschool and back, you can see your path as a road and a sidewalk which gets boring and less creative, or you can let your imagination go wild. Can it be a racing track? Sure, if it’s safe and not many people around to bump into. Can it be a car exhibition? Awesome, for my nephew at least. I am almost positive this is how he learned to speak, by proudly pronouncing (grandfather’s) Opel and (mom’s) Renault.

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During the winter, take the slides and make it a fun ride home. But what to do in that dull, grey, rainy season? Well, get the rubbery boots on and go wild! There’s nothing more fun and interesting for kids to do than run through the puddles of water. They make noise, they feel different to our feet and in a way, it’s a forbidden  fruit so it makes it all more pleasurable. I even allowed my niece and nephew to walk on top of the fences of other people’s houses. Not something to be proud of, I know. But in my defense, I was 35 weeks pregnant and could not carry them more than a few minutes at the time (they were 10kg each at the time). And it was great. They got the high perspective that they needed so my sister’s couch had a break that day. Otherwise, pre-bed time looks like this:

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Activities in a shopping center

verzija na hrvatskom jeziku (in Croatian language)

First of all, how does an entrance to a new place, especially a big, shiny, loud, crowded place such as a shopping center affect your child? Does your child rush into it or has a meltdown as soon as your car makes a turn to the shopping center’s parking lot? Take your answer to this question as a guide to your shopping center experience.

If your child does not like going into the malls, you don’t have to avoid it. Do it gradually and observing child’s reactions. If your child starts screaming at the parking lot, try making that your goal – safely parking the car, but not exiting from it. Next time, try exiting the car but not going inside the mall, but perhaps until the main entrance. What is important is that you always tell your child in a calm voice (whisper to those overly stimulated to sounds) what is your agenda. You want your child to be in a control over the situation. When the child feels they are in control, things will get a lot easier. If they feel activities are too fast for them, if they are loosing that control, they will become upset, anxious and perhaps even have a tantrum. So, just comment on your plan to your child no matter how old they are and no matter how much you think they can comprehend; “we will park in the spot right here on the left and then mommy will turn off the car. I’m doing it, look, 1…2…3… car is off”. You can use simpler sentences, or break it apart in more smaller ones or if your child is bigger, you can add more details. If your child is verbal, you can have them count or choose the parking spot. Engaging your child in these simple activities gives them confidence and control they badly need to stay regulated.

Once you slowly get inside the mall, take a moment to see what is around you to make your anxious child feel better and back in control. You can take your child in your arms if they are small and tell them what you see around them; lights, coffee places, ornaments, music playing in the background, shops, carts, people, etc. Give a minute or two to your child to comprehend what is going on around them. When you see the moment is right, continue to your chores. Most likely next time you will not have to go through this process again. If you do, that’s ok, too. Give your child the time they need. If you are not able to take those few minutes extra, or start early, and let’s be realistic, we are sometimes on a very tight schedule, rather leave your child with somebody else and not “drag” them into a place  where they will feel uncomfortable.

Nowadays, most of the larger malls have some sort of playground for children to play at while parents are doing their shopping. Some have rules about leaving your child unattended, some are paid, some are free but most of them are a good source of sensory input. Larger playgrounds have all kinds of climbing equipment, ball pits, slides and tunnels. Use it! See if your child is overly sensitive to sounds. If it is, then choose a moment when there are less loud children around. Same goes with children who are overly sensitive to moving visual stimuli. If there is a lot of running children around, your child might freeze and not enjoy this fun playground. At first, I would choose some activities there that your child is familiar with, just to get some confidence in the space and its own possibilities. Once you feel your child is ok with the environment, you can propose going to an activity your child is not very thrilled about. Slowly and gradually. It’s always good to leave it up to your child to do it first so they use their own creativity and motor planning on how to achieve the goal of that activity, but if you see your child needs some encouragement, you can do it yourself first.

Girl in a tunnel. Permission acquired from the parents.

Girl in a tunnel. Permission acquired from the parents.

If you have no time for the playground or there isn’t one at your mall, try engaging your child in the chores you need to do. Children who need vestibular input can enjoy a ride in the shopping cart plus they can easily put the groceries into the cart itself. Let them choose out of the two products that are relevant to them; e.g. which juice or cereals to buy. However, limit your options to two or three to choose from for smaller children, especially those that do not use verbal language.

If your child likes changing activities very often, try to do your shopping chores quickly because we don’t want to overstimulate the child. You do not have to leave the store right away, try prolonging the period for one activity, but do not go overboard. You will see the signs from your child: not engaging in your activities anymore (“getting bored”), looking tired, dragging themselves on the floor, asking you to leave, “nagging” and everything else up to a tantrum. Sometimes children go through the spectrum of signs very quickly, and some children skip to crying right away. I’m sure knowing your child, you will instinctively know what is the right thing to do in that moment; leaving or staying – but the right thing is not always easy or possible, I know.