Bins and Pencils

I live in New England, which for those of you not familiar with the United States is a group of states that gets to witness what every season has to offer. We get blizzards, we get heat waves, and we are well known for our beautiful foliage; when the leaves turn such vibrant colors that some give the illusion of being on fire.  So during the winter months when temperatures plummet and we get extremely cold temperatures, I can’t exactly get my kids to play outside safely, which is why I try to get creative with playing options.

Bins And Pencils

However, I don’t like to clean nor do I have the time to clean. These things have led me to my love of bins. That’s right – bins! Plastic bins that the children can play with and then I can quickly throw a lid on it and store it on a shelf for another day. My favorite bins are the ones that have a locking or snap top. How much fun can playing in a bin be? What can you possibly put in a bin that would be considered fun sensory play? Glad you asked.

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My answer: popcorn seeds (not the buttered kind), uncooked noodles (try different kinds curly rigatoni, smooth like ziti, etc.), dried beans, uncooked rice, corn starch, salt, craft sand or playground sand, baking soda, etc. One of these items in a bin at a time with some small hidden toys can prove to combine sensory stimuli and fun. You might have a bin of popcorn seeds for four days with a list of items that the child needs to look for such as: Barbie’s pink shoe, Toy car, paper clip, a stamp, a whistle, a hair bow, a puzzle piece, an individually wrapped candy (Hershey kisses or chocolate gold coins are good options.) For added fun I include sand toys. A shovel and a sand spinner can provide and more ways to play and add an audio component. The sound of popcorn seeds and uncooked is always interesting. For smooth items you can have children dig for items but you can also have them write or draw using their fingers.  Let us know what you put in your bins. Post your pictures on our Facebook page or on our Pinterest page. {add links}

Sensory Classroom Tip

Most children with autism have proprioceptive difficulties, which becomes evident when they are required to write and draw in school. For some, they press too hard and are constantly breaking crayons and snapping pencil tips. Whereas others do not press hard enough leaving faint marks on the paper that are hard to see. If you have a child that is pressing too hard, try rolling up a paper towel or a small bouncy ball and putting it in their palm, it naturally forces the hand to lessen the grip. For the child that doesn’t press down hard enough add weight to their pencil or pen. How? I used washers. For added fun, I paint them with nail polish and then let the kids pick out what colors they want.  This also helps lessen the teasing factor from other children who will ask why they have a metal washer on their pencil. If the washer is painted now all of sudden it is a pencil decoration or accessory.  The boys don’t need to know you used nail polish as your paint medium. Nowadays you can get a variety of colors or nail polish, not just red and pink. For even sensory fun, buy the scented nail polish. I like the Revlon scented nail polish. They have scents such as bubble gum, and icy grape. Scents have been found to increase attention. To make sure the washers don’t slide off use an elastic band on each end.

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Your Day, Your Way: The Autism/Special Needs Daily Organizer App

By Brooke Twine

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prv0GNcNwdI#t=4

At 2 and 4 months my little boy was given a provisional diagnosis of Autism and at 3, the diagnosis was officially confirmed.  It was at this time the onslaught of professionals began.  We had a GP, a pediatrician, a child psychologist, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist.  Mummy and son were quickly becoming overwhelmed.

As any parent would, I was determined to do the best for my son but I was exhausting and frustrating him and the family in the process.  The most frustrating moments for him were during those times when the therapists and I were using daily routines and request boards with him.  I had multiple pieces of cardboard with pictures of activities or food printed onto them.  I would show them to my son to encourage him to request items that he wanted or to follow a routine for an activity.  He would just glance at the board and very smoothly attempt to saunter away.  I was persistent and would follow him.  The smooth saunter would pick up the pace and become a steady jog, then a run.  I maintained my encouraging voice hoping and hoping that we would respond.  He did respond and as he is non-verbal, he responded in the most determined way he could.  He turned, grabbed the cardboard and launched an attack.  He ripped some of it, folded the rest in half and ran and hid it!  There had to be an easier way.

One night in 2012 before heading off to sleep, I pondered what I could do to help him to request items and prepare for his day.  I had about 5 different apps on my iPad but they were not engaging him.  I thought to myself, “I wish I had an app that did routines, activities and requests all in one.”  It was time to get proactive and get it developed myself.

I sourced a number of options but found myself pulling back and second- guessing the process.  This year I decided I needed to act.  I knew this was going to be useful for my son, so perhaps it would be of benefit to others too. My husband and I decided to fund the project ourselves so we contacted the developers at Edway App Studio and moved into a very exciting stage in our lives.

The “Autism/Special Needs Daily Organizer” for iPad is now complete and available on the App Store.  I have been using it consistently with my son, he doesn’t run, in fact, he laughs at the pictures of himself that appear and intently focuses on the content.  The app allows me to create a profile for my son and program an entire day, week or month, complete with written and visual instructions that run in real time, using all of my own photographs.  The daily routine can be put on pause if I get behind or I can mark an activity as completed so my son and I can prepare for the next part of our busy day.  This is also great for teachers as multiple profiles can be created on the one purchase.

There are pre-set request boards called “Family,” “Food,” “Play,” and “I Want,” which are customizable with my own photographs.  There is also an “I Feel” board, which has set avatars that communicate happy, sad and angry.  I can also create my own custom request boards, which is great for items like toilet training, which is somewhat a tad too unpredictable to put on a daily routine with a specific time!  We are also planning some awesome updates that also allow for audio so when my son points to a request, he can also hear the word being said through my recorded voice.

Life with a child with a diagnosed ASD is a life of triumphs, anarchy, joy and frustrations.  It is a life that is constantly on the go and full of surprises.  The “Autism/Special Needs Daily Organizer” was designed to help my son and I on this journey and it is my sincere hope that it can assist others on their journey too.

To download the “Autism/Special Needs Daily Organizer” from the App Store, please visit: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/autism-special-needs-daily/id751268885?mt=8

To access a User Guide for the “Autism/Special Needs Daily Organizer” and also my blog please visit my website, Autism – Seriously? at: www.autismseriously.com

Please come and connect with me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AutismSeriously and on Twitter @AutismSeriously

To learn more about my wonderful app developers please visit: http://www.edwayapps.com.au

Bio:

Brooke Twine is a high school teacher in the UK and the mother of a 6 year old boy who was diagnosed with autism in 2009.  High school teacher + mother = sliding scale to insanity!!  My husband’s name is Ashley and he is a coal train driver.  My beautiful mother, Debbie, is an integral part of my family who helps us each and every day to raise my son.  My little family has been on quite the journey together since the diagnosis, accessing services and endeavoring to find the best combination of professionals to introduce into my son’s life.  My little boy is non-verbal and not toilet trained, so life can present itself with some challenges.  We are determined to maintain our positivity, even in those moments when I could have a meltdown that easily surpasses that of my son.

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