Friday, July 12, 2013

Back Pack Sensory Kits

In a previous post I detailed the contents of the Handbag Sensory Kit we take out with us, in addition to this the girls also each have a Backpack Sensory Kit.
These don't always come out with us, usually we only bring them along if we will be out for a long period of time, will be a long way from home or if we think they will be needed for a specific reason (for example, if there will be known stressors at the location we are headed to).
The girls Backpack Kits are more personalised to their specific needs and also contain necessities for a day out. Just like our other sensory kit the contents of the backpacks change as the girls needs do, although some things are 'staples' and are replenished after each trip.
Our ultimate goal is for the girls to learn to self regulate when they are stressed and over whelmed. Having their own back packs means they can have some independence and control over how that regulation is done. We try to help them identify when they not coping and encourage them to learn ways to calm themselves.

The girls each have a small backpack which contains what they need for a day out. It stays packed and ready to go near our front door, we just need to add the water bottle!

The current contents of Bubble's backpack.

One of the biggest triggers for melt downs for our girls is thirst and hunger. We always carry snacks, cold water and if we are out for a long time a packed lunch.

Another big trigger for Bubble in particular is cleanliness. She hates mess, it distresses her greatly. We carry wipes and flushable toilet wipes wherever we go so we are never caught out.

Fidget toys. Anything that flashes, holds interest like a current favourite character toy, is stimulating or engaging in some way.
Our favourite fidget toys come from The Toy Bug website and also dollar shops. 
For character toys we often go to McDonalds when they have a series through their Happy Meal campaigns (you can buy the toys without the meal for $2 each).

These ID Bands are from HERE and are always packed in the front pocket of the girls back packs. Bubble is a wanderer and Squeak is a runner, so we put these on them in case we are ever separated. 
They are reusable and have both of our mobile numbers on them.

Wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. Not only are they good to carry for sun protection but they also provide security when Bubble's anxieties are running a little high. She enjoys the enclosed feeling of a hat and glasses, especially when there are a lot of people around.
To the right is a cheesecloth wrap which is a comfort item. If she is tired or stressed the feel and smell of it help calm her down.

Bubble is most defensive of smells. She can smell things that we can't detect at all and often becomes overwhelmed by all the different scents that are around when we are out. She carries an empty bottle of vanilla with her because this is a smell she enjoys.
Another great tool for olfactory sensitive kids are these scented cards from Lime Tree Kids.
The necklace is silicone (by Jelly Stone Designs) and perfect for chewing on. Bubble finds the sensory input from chewing soothing.

Ear Defenders. These are another must have. Both girls but especially Bubble are very sensitive to sound. Not only sounds that are loud but also certain pitch and tone, and also when there is just too many sounds all happening at once. 
The ear defenders give them the ability to silence these sounds and retreat for a little while, or protect their ears from loud sounds like fireworks and race tracks.

Notepad and pen. Sometimes Bubble cannot articulate her feelings verbally, especially when she is overwhelmed. Sitting her down with her notepad and a pen sometimes helps her to calm down or organise her thoughts.
She also uses it as a journal at the moment because she is interested in being an 'investigator' :)

Resistance band or Theraband. Bubble is a deep pressure seeker and resistance bands are a great way to get some sensory input while we are out.
I will do a post on some of her favourite exercises to use these bands for, but her favourite is Tug Of War, either on her own pulling the band between her hands or with someone else.

Small dolls and Theraputty/Silly Putty.
In the same way that her notepad can help her articulate and organise her feelings, the small dolls we carry around often help as well. A lot of our social learning comes through imaginative play. They are also toys that Bubble enjoys and are great for distraction.
Therputty or Silly Putty provides a tactile experience that both of our girls really enjoy. It can be stretched, bounced, rolled, squished and manipulated and has a soothing texture. It also builds hand strength.

Popper toy. This has been one of Bubble's favourite squeeze toys for a while and gets taken out with us a lot. To launch the foam balls you have to squeeze the penguin very hard and both the action and the result are calming for her.
This was a gift from her Aunty and Uncle but they can be found HERE.

Other Items We Use:

Drinking straws: Bubble is happy to drink from cups and bottles but Squeak still needs the oral input from straws so we always carry them.
Small mirror: not only are they distracting but the girls like to watch their own facial expressions. They are a great tool for discussing emotions.
Lycra wraps: both girls enjoy the deep pressure of being wrapped in lycra, I buy 1m lengths of it from Spotlight when it is on sale.
Liquid drop timers: the girls find these soothing to watch. Their action is repetitive and predictable.
Stickers: great for fine motor practice, tactile input and rewards.
Body/skin brush: Bubble does not enjoy body brushing but squeak does, it is the one thing that will instantly calm her. Read more about it HERE.
Change of clothes: we keep a season appropriate change of clothes in the car at all times.
Towels: towels are something else we keep in the car always. 
Battery operated fan: both girls enjoy the tactile feeling of a fan in their face, and in warmer weather it stops Bubble from overheating  which she does easily.
ipad: ipads and ipods can be great therapy tools. If we are going somewhere that there will be a lot of waiting or sitting, or somewhere particularly crowded, these are useful.
Memory game/puzzle: simple easily portable games are great distracters .

Please note - This post is NOT sponsored, all online store and supplier links are genuinely where we buy our products and are items we use by choice.

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