I began this article today recognizing you, as the World’s Foremost Expert on Your Child. Just the thought of decorating a whole room can be cause for anxiety or even a sense of being overwhelmed before we even begin.
My goal today is to ease that anxiety and create a working template for you so you can begin. I want to help turn that thought of decorating into something fun that builds your confidence while at the same time produces a space that is calming to your child. It is totally a win-win.
Let’s get started.
In each of our lives, we tend to lean towards those places and things that are comforting to us. Conflict is not what most of us yearn for and sometimes go to great lengths to avoid. But, the process of decorating our child’s room can create conflict.
So, in the essence of embracing our fears, here is our first task. I want to suggest that conflict is the presence of two conflicting ideas or motives that need a ground to join forces on.
Perhaps as you step out and endeavor to decorate your child’s room you can already sense that your ideas may conflict with your child’s ideas and use up what little energy you have just trying to find common ground peacefully. If I may, perhaps conflict can also be identified as passion.
If you both have passion in this process, then I would like to submit for your thought that perhaps this is your common ground. Not only can this be your common ground but really become an opportunity to launch you into a joint effort that can quite possibly teach both of you the knack of appreciating differences and finding resolutions.
Let me introduce you to what I like to call a SENSORY SCRAPBOOK. This will serve as your key to putting both of your ideas into an actual touch-able and see-able book. This book is the creative ground for you to launch into decorating together.
Now, I realize that on one page, I could give you all the quickest ideas of what colors, textures and styles will work and propose that you can do all this in one Saturday afternoon project to put happily on the done list. But I believe that there is no shortage of magazines and internet posts to launch you in that direction.
My goal is to help you create an understanding of your child of what he/she likes. I am sure that we can all identify our favorite comfort food and the place we go to recover from a difficult day.
We are each our own awesomely unique and incredible individual in this world, and we all have our own ideas of what we like. As a mother of four, I like neat rooms and clean clothes that are hung up. My son, on the other hand, likes a neat room, but his idea of neat differs from mine and he like clothes folded up.
So, what to do?
I believe that as a parent, we are honored with the task of teaching our children to succeed in the world they live in with as much independence as possible. That is the point of the SENSORY SCRAPBOOK. This book is a place where your passions will meld into one beautiful composition of a room decorated to calm your child in a very tumultuous world.
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This scrapbook will take abstract thoughts and ideas and make them concrete. It will take a thought and make it come to life. It will create a foundation of expression for your child’s desires, coupled with the wisdom and guidance of the one he/she trusts to launch him/her into the world of being grown-up.
This scrapbook is designed to take your child to the point of validating his/her thoughts and ideas of what he/she feels is safe and comforting. Hopefully, this scrapbook will grow and mature with your child.
It will become one of the most treasured memories of childhood and one of the most important tools in his/her adulthood. It is a work that will take a little effort but yield a comprehensive picture of how you can decorate your child’s room and achieve your goal with immense success.
The basis of this SENSORY SCRAPBOOK is in its’ name. It is a scrapbook that looks to your child’s senses to fill the pages and bring to life what has quite possibly not really been explored.
Let’s get a picture of the supplies we need.
This is what I suggest:
- A book that will have pages that turn easily, be large enough to sketch in, glue pictures in, and take the abuse of being looked at over and over again.
- Colored pencils, chalk, pencils and erasers, glue that dries quickly, and any other creative tool of expression that your child enjoys. This is his/her project.
- A box to put all these supplies in easily, to take out and put away with little effort.
- A binder with plastic sleeves that you can insert whole 8 ½ by 11 pieces of paper in (preferably white paper).
- A personal cover.
Remember, this is a creation that should allow your child and you the ability to add pages that can be looked at but yet protected. If you glue a swatch of fabric on a page, you will want that fabric piece to not fall off over time, thus the clear page protectors.
Your binder should be big enough to add pages with ease and even allow you to change the order of your pages as necessary.
These supplies can cost less than $20.00 if you don’t mind a dollar store. The supplies don’t need to be expensive. It is the creation of these pages that will forever illustrate what your child likes and finds calming that is priceless.
Now, to the fun part! This SENSORY SCRAPBOOK is divided into six sections.
- What your child can SEE
- What your child can SMELL
- What your child can TASTE
- What your child can TOUCH
- What your child can HEAR
- What your child can SENSE
I suggest that with each section, you create a page that says what sense it is dedicated to. With each section it will be up to you and your child to talk about what he/she finds calming when a particular sense is used.
For example: When you begin by asking what your child can SEE that has a calming effect during the day perhaps he/she will say, “I like the sight of the blue water at the park” or “The puffy white clouds floating across the sky.” This is where you can write down what your child says or let him/her draw a picture of what that water looks like or what those clouds look like.
Remember, this is an activity that has no right or wrong answers. The goal is to SEE with his/her eyes and find a way to put that in your SENSORY SCRAPBOOK. This will be the goal for each sense in your binder. Now, sense #6 is what I call KNOWING INSIDE. Your child should have a sense of what he/she likes beyond the five senses.
For example, your child tells you he/she does not like a sound on the radio. You ask: What is it that you do not like?” The child replies, “I do not know; I just don’t like it.” This section is dedicated to those instances that are most important to record in your scrapbook.
In time your child will grow to understand why he/she did not like that particular thing, and it will be validating to see that his/her feeling was important even when it could not be explained.
This process is fun and can use so many ways to explore what your child likes and finds calming. It can be a trip to the park, a night out for a meal, a toy he/she really likes at the store or anything that you notice brings the child to a calmer sense of himself/herself. You can add these thoughts you have in this scrapbook as well.
The next step is actually taking the information you have entered into your SENSORY SCRAPBOOK and allowing your creative energy to take flight. You may find that garage sales work best for your budget. You may find that ordering on-line from your favorite store works great.
As you launch your SENSORY SCRAPBOOK to the next level of action, you can rest calmly assured that you and your child have embarked on a journey of teamwork, self-realization, and validation that will make you the world’s foremost decorator for your child.
You will have created a scrapbook that will continue to grow and change with your child but always validate and teach that what he/she feels is very important and to be valued.
This article was featured in Issue 101 – Balancing The Autism Journey