Monday, June 25, 2012

Sensory Ideas for in the Home

It has become rather apparent that I need to significantly rework Ellie's sensory diet.  By that, I mean that I need increase the amount of motor & vestibular sensory input her muscles and joints are receiving so that she can settle her little self down without becoming injured.  This type of sensory stimuli is created by bouncing, climbing, crashing, swinging, rocking, and pushing/pulling heavy objects.

If you are interested in oral sensory ideas, please click here.

Let's not have anymore of this, Miss Ellie.
As I am certain you have noticed, many of my recent posts have illustrated Ellie's uncanny ability to climb--the dog bowl incident, the above dresser incident, the vaseline incident.  The list goes on and on.  Much of this is typical toddler behavior and some of it is Ellie trying to fulfill her sensory needs.  Sadly, I have not been very good about creating a safe, in-home environment.  I cannot always take her out back in the blistering heat as our mini-playscape is scalding hot in this 100+ degree weather.  We do not always have the luxury of jaunting off to Chick-Fil-A's indoor playscape either.

This is an ever evolving work in progress, yet here are a few SAFE, high-sensory input activities we have installed in our home.  Hopefully, using some of the "toys" will help curb Ellie's dangerous climbing and hanging off of the kitchen island/open dishwasher/oven handle habits.  There is so much more I would like to do, but I am trying to keep it low-cost.

1. Ball Pit
You can buy fancy ball pits, but if your child is pint-sized like my Ellie Bear, you can get a way with a kiddie pool and plastic balls.  I found the bag of 150 balls at Target for around $14 and I picked up a cheap kiddie pool.  The Chunky Chicken insisted on the pink pool.  Gag.  Anyway, I barely got the plastic pool in the house when Ellie tromps on into the pool with her baby doll and stuffed puppy.  She was having a blast rolling around.  Apparently, the plastic balls are superfluous.  Or not.  When I added the plastic balls, Ellie Bear yelled "ball ball BALL!" and giggled the whole time.  I do hope to purchase a little slide so that Ellie can satisfy her climbing cravings and slide right into the ball pit.  Be forewarned, plastic balls may end up everywhere.

2. Bouncy "House"
We will probably come to regret this, but we have turned Ellie's sleeping area into a makeshift bouncy house.  Ellie Bear enjoys bouncing and climbing and by using a large stuffed bear, multiple pillows, and the old crib mattress, we have made getting to her bed quite the obstacle course.  We also have a collapsible IKEA tunnel that we occasionally add into the mix.  It becomes a real party when our hyperactive border collie believes she needs to race through the tunnel and onto the bed.  Hmm, maybe we should have stuck with pulling the cushions off of the couch and letter Ellie bounce on those.

Anyway, the bouncing, climbing, and crashing are good exercises before bed if your child has SPD because it helps self-regulate--the heavy input into the muscles and joints helps calm.

3. Bean Bag Crash
This is very similar to the Bouncy House and can be implemented together.  Crashing into objects and/or people is seen commonly witnessed in children with sensory processing disorder.  Encouraging Ellie to crash into a bean bag gives her tons of sensory input.  She gets to crash all while feeling those little pellets in the bean bag close around her.  Right now, Ellie has taken to dragging the bean bag about the house, which I am okay with because it counts as heavy work.

Not exactly crashing, but rather lounging.

4. The Hopper or Therapy Ball
I bought a $10 hopper off of Amazon.  The common complaint on Amazon is that it is small, which is one of these reason I bought it for Little Miss Shorty.  It will probably break at some point although it seems relatively sturdy.  I am hoping that Ellie will get the hang of this bad boy sometime soon because right now she carries it around like a purse.  Until then, I help her balance on the hopper.  The hopper helps fulfill those motor cravings all while working on her core muscles as she tries to stay upright.  I love it because it wears her out!

Other items that might be fun, but have not tried:

5. Climbing Wall
Our ABA therapist found this on-line.  It looks like a lot of fun, but right now we do not have the wall space for it.  Placing the old crib mattress under this contraption would probably be a smart idea.  A brief internet search brought me to a Scandinavian website.  Further research would reveal if you are able to find it in the US.

Kid's Climbing Tree Wall

6. Swing
What I really want is one of these therapy swings.  Ellie uses this in therapy and she LOVES it.  Sadly, I cannot justify spending nearly $250 for a swing.

Airwalker Therapy Swing

7. Mini Trampoline
You can buy a mini indoor trampoline with a little bar to hold onto for about $55-100.  I have no recommendations for a specific brand.  Ellie cannot jump yet so I have held off on buying one.

8. Hang Bar
Ellie loves to hang.  I will hold her hands and she will lift her tiny feet off the ground and just hang.  Sometimes, she will hang off of our dishwasher (we have a stacked washer--she hangs off of the upper) which is quite dangerous for both herself and for the dishwasher.  Most of the hanging bars I have found are over-the-door ones for people who like to do pull-ups or hanging sit-ups.  Over-the-door would not be ideal for my little 33-inch pixy.  I would love to get a bar for her to hang off of, but I am at a loss for ideas.  What do you recommended?  What are your ideas?

Also, any recommendations for a little slide that I could use indoors?



  1. She is just about the cutest little girl. Makes me want to squeeze my computer screen when her sweet little face is there :)

    And when you said something about sensory input and stuff about the joints.......yes, that just made me remember how Joey needs some extra sensory input sometimes....maybe if I get him out and make him work hard or something maybe he won't head but me or body slam me so much. Thanks :)

  2. I googled hanging bars, and this one from Kmart looks like you can put in on at any height. (Sorry the link is so long)

  3. Hey you! Catching up.

    How much room do you have for your slide? It's not HUGE but, well, it's not tiny either. My kids both loved it though. And they are ALWAYS available at garage sales.

    Or I those climbing domes look like fun (for the kids! I swear!)

    Also, if you have a basement/work room, we made our own climbing wall for the Boy's Fort - handles are sold at HomeDespot, screw into 1x2s which are screwed into perpendicular 2x4s. Even *I* thought it was easy.

  4. Have you ever tried roller skating? One of the moms from our DS group says it helps her daughter. They have the kiddie kind that strap over the shoes and are easier for little ones. The other mom said the pounding through her feet and legs does great things. I need to get one of those bouncy balls for my 4 year old for homeschooling. He needs to move to focus.

  5. Maine you could try a lycra swing, which isn't too hard to do yourself.
    We use the Ikea Sväva swing at the preschool I work in. Cheap and the kids love it.

    And for hanging, instead or a chin up bar, maybe consider a trapeze or rings, I had those as a kid, just in the doorway ( I think I spent my childhood mostly upside down ) They can be put aside or away very easily. And later on can also be used as a swing

  6. Great idea ladies and thank you for including all of the links! I am at my wits end on some days. . . Thank you!

  7. I really need to do more of this stuff with Claire. Some days she just needs more sensory input than I can give her. We did buy a mini tramp for Claire as jumping is one of the PT goals we are working on now. I like the one we bought. It's a little smaller around, but has a higher weight limit than most I found.


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