Halloween is an exciting time for many kids! However for some children with sensory processing challenges it can be difficult to participate in all of the activities. Here are 3 quick tips from our Pediatric Occupational Therapist to keep in mind this Halloween:
- Costume Choice
Be sure to pick a costume that your child feels comfortable in! Many kids with Sensory Processing difficulties can be sensitive to different textures of fabrics or masks/make-up on their face. Be attentive to your child’s needs – if they want to wear their favourite outfit that makes them feel most comfortable, do that! Another great option to ensure comfort is to find a comfortable onesie that is decorated as an animal. Bonus points – it might even keep them a little warmer on a chilly October evening!
If you plan on trick-or-treating, be aware of the different anxieties a child may feel around this activity. The act of approaching a stranger’s house where there are unexpected (and often scary) decorations, lots of people around, in the dark! That’s a lot of information to process. It can be an anxiety provoking activity for all ages!
Try to front-load the experience with a social story (What is a social story?), or practice going to friends/families houses before-hand so they know what to expect. Many malls also offer trick-or-treating indoors, which may be a more comfortable experience for your child. Other kids enjoy the act of giving out candy to their neighbours when they come to the door, or trick-or-treating at houses they are familiar with (friends/family/classmates).
3. Decorations & Celebrations
As you have probably experienced, many neighbours may decorate their homes and sidewalks with spooky decorations, or even animatronic/robotic decorations that can make noise or move. In addition, it is not uncommon to hear firecrackers or fireworks.
The best way to prepare your child is to front-load the experience by reading social stories, or showing videos of what to expect. You can always do a daytime neighbourhood walk to show the decorations in the daylight where they may not seem as scary to help prepare your child.
Whatever you decide to do this Halloween: Be safe and Have fun! We love seeing all your creative costumes – if you’re posting any fun Halloween Pictures, use the hashtag #WiggleKids for a chance to win a Halloween treat!
So … as promised, we’re going to go more in-depth to talk about the different sensory systems. I thought I’d start with one of our less known but powerful systems called Proprioception. This is one of my favourite senses! I’m going to ask you to do a little test for me. Close your eyes, extend your arms out to the sides and then reach with your finger to touch your nose.
Were you accurate in touching your nose? How did your body know where to move; when your visual system wasn’t helping? This is called body awareness and is related to proprioception. We have sensors in our muscles and joints that give us information about where our body is in space and how our body parts relate to each other. Cool right??
Here is another cool fact. Did you go through an awkward ‘gangly’ phase as a teenager where you all of a sudden became really clumsy? Everyone does! Maybe you couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden your body didn’t do what you wanted it to. This is related to the growth spurt that happens around this time, and how it takes our body a while to catch up and figure out the new dimensions of this new body frame.
Proprioception is a key element in muscle control, gross motor skill development and moving our body through space. It is also an important system that helps us to regulate …. But that is a topic for another day!
What are our Sensory Systems?
Today we wanted to share a brief intro into our different sensory systems, and over the coming weeks, we will be posting more in-depth blogs about how these sensory systems work, and how they affect our ability to thrive in this sensory world of ours!
Can you name all of our sense? We’ll give you a hint…there’s more than five! I bet you can name these ones:
- Visual (Sight)
- Auditory (Hearing)
- Olfactory System (Smell)
- Gustatory System (Taste)
- Tactile System (Touch)
But we also have 3 other senses that aren’t often talked about, but have a HUGE impact on how we function in the world:
- Proprioceptive System (sensations from muscles and joints)
- Vestibular System (sense of movement in space)
- Interoception (sensations related to the physiological/physical condition of the body)
We loooove talking about Sensory Systems (our OT is a bit of a geek that way!). We look forward to teaching and learning with you! Stay tuned for our next post about the bodily system that controls how we experience sensations from our muscles and joints. Bonus points if you already identified that as the Proprioceptive System!
I have been an OT for 13 years, and have focused on pediatrics for more than half of my career. I love working with kids! I primarily work with kids on the Autism Spectrum, and often recommend equipment/toys to help with their development. I started to see a trend in that parents had difficulty finding and purchasing some of the recommended equipment as it is very overwhelming once you start down the therapy-toy ‘rabbit hole.’ <!–more Read more–>
I also noticed that parents often didn’t know how to play with these toys in a therapeutic way with their child. A seed of an idea started to grow. What if I started a company that could offer my ‘tried-and tested’ therapy toys all in one place? These are the toys that I have seen time and time again to be fun, 100% kid approved, and have a huge impact on meeting therapy goals. What if I provided videos and ‘Smart-tips’ to give parents visuals and ideas of how to play? As the seed of thought grew, an opportunity arose to start an on-line therapy store with my family: Something we have always dreamed of doing together and WiggleKids was born.
We have a passion for family and a passion in helping kids reach their potential. We couldn’t be more excited to be offering this service to our community and to be starting this business as a family-run, local, Canadian company.
We hope we can meet some of your therapy toy needs. Have fun and keep playing!