hair pulling

Ask Miss Jaime OT: How do I stop my child from pulling/playing with hair at naptime?

 

Hair pulling during nap time…

Question from Jamie  in Naples, Florida:

“Hey Miss Jaime! Wondering if you have any sensory ideas to keep my daughters hands busy. She will be three in April.  She would always play with her hair when she was tired and during self soothing before bed, but it’s escalating to some pulling of her hair at school during nap time out of boredom I believe since she will no longer take naps. I suggested giving her books to read, but is there anything else you would recommend?”

Replace the behavior…

Thank you so much for taking the time to write in. Most children (and adults for that matter) have habits or self soothing behaviors that they find calming. Using her hands to play with her hair seems to be your daughter’s way of relaxing. Books are a good idea, but if your daughter is seeking sensory input, you may want to give her a tactile toy or blanket to replace the hair habit.   You could also try pulling her hair back for a while so there is nothing to play with (if it is long enough!)   Here are some cute tactile blankets and toys that might help.  I listed some “Taggies” products, but there are some popular fidgets and sensory products as well.  Good Luck!  I hope it helps!

 

*Affiliate Links

 Taggies Monkey Blanket

 

 

 Taggies Plush Toy, Cow

 

 Tactile Hand Fidget

 

 Pull and Stretch Ball 

 

 Stringy Play Ball

 

See-Me Sensory Balls

 

   Touchable Texture Square 

 

Slumbers Bedtime Bear

 

 

Happy Fidgeting!

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~Miss Jaime, O.T.

* I am an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you click on something that I link and purchase it, I will receive a small commission.


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Using Aerial Yoga for Kids with ADHD, ASD, and everything else!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love yoga.  Recently, I had the opportunity to observe an Aerial Yoga class for children.  After that, I just had to try an adult class myself.  I kind of had an idea of what to expect, but the class totally exceeded my expectations.   I practice yoga and I use it with my Occupational Therapy students all the time.  I think yoga is such a wonderful way to work on strength, balance, and coordination.  It also helps to quiet the mind and increase focus.   Aerial Yoga has all the benefits of traditional yoga, as well as the added benefits of sensory input.  Traditional yoga provides sensory input, too, but in a different way.  I am writing this blog post about my experience as an OT in both observing and participating in an Aerial Yoga class.  I recommend that you also read the post “Aerial Yoga from an OT’s perspective”  by the owner of the facility, who is able to give her perspective as a Occupational Therapist specializing in the treatment of Sensory Processing Disorders.   I’ve attached the link for you at the bottom of the page.

You may be wondering exactly what Aerial Yoga is.  Have you ever seen Pink do one of her performances where she sings as she hangs from the ceiling and twists, swings, and flips herself around?   Picture that! Ok , ok. I didn’t hang or twist like a rock star… but the theory is there.  And I felt like a rock star!

Lycra “hammocks” are suspended from two hooks in the ceiling.  The height can be adjusted based on the size of the person who will be using it.   The stretchy  material hangs in a “u” shape.  The material is super stretchy but also very strong, so it can support a child or adult size body midair. The instructor and staff members measured each person to make sure their hammock was the right height.   Aerial Yoga focuses on strength, balance, and coordination through different poses with the Hammock.  The children’s class that I observed was at Sensational Development in Massapequa.  There were 8 students, a Yoga Instructor and three staff members assisting the kids.  The therapists at Sensational Development are trained in Yogapeutics.    For more info on Yogapeutics, please check out the link at the bottom of the page.

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Even the room itself was cool!  The lights were dimmed and soft music was playing in the background.  The floor looked exactly like a hardwood floor, but when I looked closer I realized it was made up of foam mats!  The kids ranged in ages from about five to sixteen.  The students seemed familiar with the yoga instructor’s verbal cues and were able to follow the directions.  The music really helped to provide a calm and relaxing aura. Later, when I would get into the complex inverted positions myself, I was able to feel my body become “un–calm”.  My heart would be racing from physically exerting myself as well as whatever else I was feeling from being upside down. Somehow, the instructor Linda, knew how I was feeling too.  After the “stimulating” poses, she would go back to a relaxing, calm pose.  She called it “chill-axing”.  I loved it. She really knew how to get our bodies back to right “state”.  Not too high, and not too low: Just right. The class consisted of children of all different levels of ability or “disability”. There were children on the spectrum, children with impulsivity and hyperactivity, and children with low tone.  The instructor, Linda, had an awesome way of providing the kids with the cues and descriptions to follow her instructions.   I was amazed at how the kids were able to follow up to ten step directions to perform the different moves she was showing them.  I was also surprised at how well the staff was able to manage all of the kids.  They were all different ages and abilities!  The owner told me later that the parents have to sign up their children for the class in advance so she can make arrangements to have the appropriate staff members present based on which kids were attending.   That made sense.  No wonder everything ran so smoothly.  They had it down to a science.

Aerial yoga is one of those wonderful activities that works on a bunch of goals at once.  Here are just a few of the areas that I saw being addressed:

Attention and focus – as I watched the children adjust their bodies according to Linda’s instructions I noticed that each child had a different way of listening and attending to her words. Some of the children stopped moving and watched her quietly and others kept bouncing as though they were on a trampoline. Each child was able to control their bodies and their positions to what felt comfortable for them. In the classroom, there are children who cannot sit still and listen. But just because they aren’t sitting still and just because they aren’t looking at the teacher doesn’t mean they aren’t listening and they aren’t learning. Some children need to move more than others. And some children need to move all the time. This class was the perfect example of showing that you can still listen when you’re moving around. All of the children followed Linda’s instructions. Occasionally one of the kids would try a different move than what Linda was explaining. The staff just gently went over and redirected them to stay on task and with the class. Some children needed more direction and more physical assistance than others.  So the children who needed less assistance were able to “play” in their hammocks until everyone was ready. This worked out great for everyone.  In the school setting we sometimes talk about a child’s need for self-regulation in the classroom.  What we really mean is that we want the child to be able to keep their own body awake and alert without being hyper or “wild”.  The point is that every child’s body and sensory system is different and their needs can be met in different ways.  It doesn’t mean that they have to sit still.

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Strength– the kids used their core (abs and back) muscles throughout the session to arrange their bodies according to Linda’s instructions.  When I had the chance to try the poses myself, I really felt the muscles in my back and abs working to keep myself in the right position. I also felt the strength in my arms and legs during every pose. When we did the upside down poses, we had to use our arms to pull ourselves back up.  You know in the action movies when someone is hanging from a bridge or a train or something and they miraculously pull themselves back up? Yeah.  That was me!  One thing I didn’t expect was the amount of fine motor coordination and dexterity that was incorporated into the aerial yoga class.  Linda often had us re-orient our swing, to make sure it wasn’t all bunched up, so that our bodies would end up in the correct positions. She used cute expressions like “make a bikini bottom”  to help the kids understand what she wanted. The kids learned to use their fingers to bunch up the material the appropriate number of times according to Linda’s request.  It kind of reminded me of scrunching up a sock or a pair of stockings before you put them on. It takes a lot of small movements in your fingers and hands to get that material all bunched up. We had to do it over and over again, so those muscles got a great workout. What an awesome way to hide fine motor strengthening in a gross motor activity.

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Motor planning – as I mentioned before, following Linda’s instructions required a lot of listening and watching her physically demonstrate the movements. She made it look so easy!  It was much harder to get my body to do what she just did. Motor planning is the ability to cognitively plan out how you’re going to move your body to complete an activity. We take motor planning for granted, but it can be really hard for some people.  The  entire one-hour session was filled with motor planning challenges.  Any new movement can be tricky if you’ve never done it before.  The staff was awesome about making sure that each child in the children’s class as well as every adult in the adult class was able to complete the movements either with or without assistance from staff.  

Tactile and proprioceptive input – As the children stretched and pushed their bodies against the Lycra Hammock, they were receiving tactile and proprioceptive input throughout their entire bodies.  Our largest organ is our skin. So when you engage in an activity that stimulates your entire body, the receptors in your skin are sending a ton of feedback to your brain. This can be calming or alerting; it depends on the child as well as the setting of the activity. Proprioceptive input is also known as deep pressure.  Inside that Lycra swing, your whole body is pressing against that material. And the material is pressing back as you hang against gravity, providing proprioceptive input throughout the entire class.  When I had the chance to do it myself, I was surprised at how my perceptions of the input changed throughout the hour-long class. There were times when I was calm and relaxed and there were times where I felt a little nervous or anxious. The sensations and my emotions changed in different poses.

 

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Vestibular input – Hanging from the ceiling with nothing holding you but a large stretchy sock (hammock) can be a little unnerving. Most adults rarely go on rides. I am no exception to this. In fact, I’ve been on a roller coaster twice since the eighth grade. The reason for this is that most rides make me feel sick. Even swinging on a playground swing too high or for too long can make me a little nauseous, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Aerial Yoga. The instructors told me that it’s normal to feel a little lightheaded or dizzy after class. For the most part I was totally fine. Vestibular input can be extremely calming or alerting to a person’s sensory system. Many children actively seek out vestibular input by swinging, rocking, or hanging upside down. They simply know what their body needs. Then, there are other children whose bodies need vestibular input, but it makes them uncomfortable. Some children avoid having their feet off the ground at all. This is called gravitational insecurity and it can really interfere with typical childhood play.  I thought it was amazing how aerial yoga, with one piece of equipment, could provide so many different kinds of sensory input. How awesome!

Self Esteem and Confidence -There was one student, a teen-age girl, who was the sibling of one of the kids in the class.  She was very quiet, but she was great at the poses; maybe even the most comfortable and skilled in the class. The staff told me that she attends the class every week with her sister, who is on the spectrum.  This is one of her “extra-curricular” activities, such as taking dance or gymnastics.  When I commented on how good she was, the staff told me that she progresses each week, learning new and more difficult poses. They tailor certain things to meet her need for a challenge, since she is capable of more than some of the other children.  The best part was that the staff reported that this girl had really transformed since coming to aerial yoga.  She has become more confident, more self-assured, and more outgoing.  How cool is that?

 


For a more detailed description of how Aerial Yoga can impact a child’s sensory system, you should read this post by Sara, an Occupational Therapist specializing in the treatment of Sensory Processing Disorders, and one of the owners of the facility where I took the class. Click here for the link.

 

So, are you willing to try an Aerial Yoga Class? Want to see if your child likes it?  Sensational Development is offering a deal with this blog post; “Buy five classes, get one free”.  Mention “Miss Jaime, O.T.” to get the deal.

 

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~Namaste!

 

 


 

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The Real Truth About Sensory Integration Therapy…

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THE ULTIMATE RESOURCE IN SENSORY PROCESSING- ON SALE TODAY!

Guest Post from Hope Caracci:

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience

What does it mean for a child to have sensory issues?

Some children have sensory likes and dislikes that negatively affect daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, playing, and socializing with friends.

Read this example: The story of a little girl named Annalyse. Growing up, sweet Annalyse had various sensory sensitivities (otherwise known as hyper-reactivity or hyper-responsiveness). She did not like to be touched. Her parents had difficulty consoling her when she was crying and calming her before bedtime. She also disliked loud sounds, which often interrupted her participation in activities. In the video below, Annalyse is pictured painting a fish to promote early fine motor skills, but was unable to finish when she heard the sound of a jet and immediately covered her ears. She was scared, uneasy, and done painting! While the faint sound of a jet may not be irritating to some, for children with sensory sensitivities it can be as noxious and irritating as nails on a chalkboard.

Click here for the video:  Sensory Processing and Sound Sensitivity

So how does a parent know if their child needs help overcoming sensory issues?

If sensory likes and dislikes are interfering with many aspects of a child’s daily life, it may be time to speak to a doctor. Pediatricians may refer children to specialized services, such as occupational therapy (OT).

What should a parent know about Ayres Sensory Integration Therapy(ASI®) versus other ‘sensory-based strategies’?

Therapeutic intervention grounded in Jean Ayres’ Theory of Sensory Integration may help a child with sensory issues. Parents should understand the various types of services available. In this blog post, we will highlight the differences between ASI® and sensory-based strategies.

ASI® has a formalized protocol and specific standards, meant to help children improve the way they perceive input from the environment (such as touch or sound) and then respond to it (Watling & Clark, 2011). The purpose of ASI® is to change how the child perceives sensory stimuli, from the inside out. For example, imagine a child who cannot tolerate the sensation of clothing. They cry and fuss during their morning dressing routine, and complain that their socks hurt and that clothing tags are irritating.

After the ASI® intervention, (perhaps 3-5 times per week for 3 months), the child may begin to tolerate sensations and begin wearing socks without complaint! On the other hand, the same child may receive OT that focuses on sensory-based strategies (perhaps one time per week for 3 months) and learn ways to adapt to irritating sensations. This may include cutting the tags out of clothing and engaging in heavy work (e.g., climbing, pushing, and pulling) when sensations become too overwhelming. The child may still dislike the feeling of socks and tags, but may also easily adapt and use strategies to better tolerate them.

ASK “IS MY Child Receiving AYRES SENSORY INTEGRATION THERAPY(ASI®) or Sensory Techniques?”

It is important for parents and caregivers to understand the type of OT intervention a child is receiving. When a doctor refers a child to therapy for ‘sensory issues’ the evaluating or treating therapist may provide ASI®, sensory-based strategies, or even OT grounded in an unrelated theory, regardless of the facility (e.g., outpatient clinic, sensory gym). If a parent or caregiver wants to know the method used in OT, they should ask the therapist. If ASI® is being used the OT should have “post-professional training in sensory integration (SI) -certification in SI/SIPT (minimum 50 hours continuing education in SI theory and practice)” (Parham, et al., 2011, p. 135) and the OT should easily explain specific elements of the protocol.

The criteria for ASI® is complex. Parents or caregivers may simply look at the therapy space and decide if it meets the ASI® criteria. Listed below are some of the requirements, for example, the treatment space must:

• Have adequate space that allows for rapid change (such as moving ramps and rearranging swings)
• Ensure safety (mats, pads, cushions)
• Have no less than 3 hooks for hanging equipment (such as swings) and have at least one hook that allows equipment to rotate 360 degrees
• Have a variety of equipment (such as ropes, trampolines, swings (platform, neoprene, frog), scooter, ramps, vibrating toys, props for play (such as dress-up clothes), materials of various textures, visual targets, and climbing equipment (Parham, et al., 2011)

The parent or caregiver may also access if the treatment meets the criteria of ASI®. Listed below are some examples, the therapist must:

• Present a variety of sensory opportunities (such as taste, smell, touch)
• Challenge the child’s posture, vision, and mouth movements
• Promote the use of two sides of the body together (for motor control and planning)
• Collaborate with the child to choose activities together in a cooperative way (child-directed)
• Present activities that are not too easy or too hard, and ensure that the child is successful
• Support the child’s motivation to play (Parham, et al., 2011)

ASI® is an excellent method to remediate sensory concerns. However, some therapists, children, and families may opt to benefit from a less intense, less structured, and potentially less costly approach. As stated above, other ‘sensory-based strategies’ may be used to help a child adapt to unpleasant sensations in the environment.

Imagine a child who has difficulty participating in school activities because he dislikes loud or unexpected noises.   A therapist using sensory-based strategies may encourage the child to practice wearing noise-canceling headphones. Further, if the same child cannot tolerate the close proximity of his classmates in the lunch line, the therapist may educate the child, parents, and teachers to ensure the child is last in line (so that he is in control of the unexpected touch input he receives from friends).

AYRES SENSORY INTEGRATION THERAPY and ‘other sensory-based interventions’ are TWO different treatment methods

The important thing for parents and caregivers to understand, (so that they can make an informed choice about what is best for their family and situation), is that ASI® and ‘other sensory-based interventions’ are TWO different treatment methods. Most OT students learn about sensory processing and integration in school; however, therapists who provide ASI® are specially trained. Further, sensory-based strategies can be a wonderful way to work on a child’s skills, and knowing the difference can help parents and caregivers decide which type of therapy will work for their family and child.

DON’T MISS THIS FANTASTIC SALE! THE SENSORY LIFESTYLE HANDBOOK PLUS 6 BONUS PRODUCTS, VALUED AT OVER $70, IS ON SALE FOR $16.00!

sensory integration, sensory diet, sensory processing, SPD, ADHD, ASD

Information sources:

Parham, D.L., Roley, S. S., May-Benson, T.A., Koomar, J., Brett-Green, B., Burke, J. P., et al. (2011). Development of a fidelity measure for research on the effectiveness of the Ayres Sensory Integration Intervention. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 133-142.

Watling, R. & Clark, G.F. (2011). Using sensory integration and sensory-based occupational therapy interventions across pediatric practice settings. OT Practice, 16(17), CE1 – CE8.

For More Information About Sensory Processing:

SPD, ASD, Sensory Processing, Sensory integration, Sensory Diet

The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is on sale this week only!

About the Author:

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Hope Caracci, OTR/L, OT(D) Candidate has 16 years of experience as an occupational therapist with 12 of those years devoted to children.  Hope specializes in sensory integration therapy and evidence-based practice.  She has presented on the topics at the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Hope specializes in the treatment of children with sensory processing dysfunctions and is certified to provide the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT).

Contact Hope on Twitter at eVidence-Driven pediatric Practitioners  @hopeful2433

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adhd, core strength, posture Special education, CPSE, Pre-school, preschool

 

Miss Jaime OT pencil grip

Ask An OT: How to desensitize a child’s skin…

theresa2

Ask Miss Jaime OT!

~from Theresa Allender in Seattle, Washington:

How to  Desensitize Skin…

Question:
“My four year old has a super sensitive body. She is uncomfortable with kisses and hugs, she will only wear certain clothes because of how they feel, she is the same about shoes, it’s uncomfortable for her to have her head washed, etc. I was wondering if I could desensitize her to make her more comfortable in her skin.

Also, is this hypersensitive body related to her inability to hear others around her sometimes? For example it seems like she is blocking people out on purpose but she is genuinely startled to be tapped on the shoulder or yelled at for not responding.”

Answer:

Thanks for writing in Theresa!  It sounds like your daughter has tactile and auditory hypersensitivity.  Sensory processing difficulties are very difficult to pinpoint without an assessment.  Even with an assessment, many children’s sensory issues change from morning to night, day to day, or season to season. What bothers them one day may not bother them the next.  Your daughter sounds pretty consistent, which may be helpful in figuring out how to help her.   In terms of “desensitizing” her, you could try massage.  A friend of mine is a Massage Therapist and she happens to work with children.  She says that gentle massage every night after a bath would really help the desensitization process.    You know what your daughter can tolerate, but start slow and gentle with some lotion.  She said that one very important thing is to decrease the time significantly for a child.  Start with five to ten minutes if she can tolerate it and then try to increase it.  But even 20 to 30 minutes total is a great accomplishment and will help to start the desensitization process.  You could try some lavender or pleasant smelling lotion if you think she would like it. If not, go plain.  If you already do this, systematically make your massage a little longer.  Then you can try pressing more firmly, etc.  If she has very sensitive spots, avoid them.  After you brush her hair, you could gently massage her scalp while you talk to her.   If the massage becomes ok, you can “step it up” by using a soft washcloth for the massage, or follow up the lotion with a “drying” massage with a towel or soft cloth.

Pediatric massage can help improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and improve aversion to touch.  It’s also great for improving the parent/child bond.

As for the second part of your question, children who are hypersensitive to auditory stimuli may appear not to hear you because they don’t hear you.  Children who have auditory hypersensitivity will hear every little thing around them, which may limit them from hearing something closer.  Leaves blowing outside, the sirens blowing two blocks away, or the hum of the air conditioner are competing with the voice of Mom.  All of these background noises can be hard for a child with auditory hypersensitivity to “tune out”.  This means that these background noises may be equal or more pronounced than closer noises like mom calling her name.   So it makes it hard for her to respond at times.  Often children learn how to self-modulate so that they can “tune out” the background stuff.  If it’s really impacting her, you could consider a “Therapeutic Listening” program.   You would need to find a therapist who is certified in it, but it seems pretty cool.  Check out this link for more info:

http://www.vitallinks.net/

or you could look at this You Tube Video to get an idea of what it’s all about:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oINBi8zRQUc 

Thanks for taking the time to “Ask an OT”!  If my readers have any other advice for Theresa & her beautiful daughter Maya, please comment!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for stopping by!

~  Miss Jaime, OT

If you have a question for Miss Jaime, O.T., please leave a comment on this page or go to “About Me” and leave your question.   Thanks!

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Are Food Dyes Making Your Child Hyper?

Many people are busy following through on their resolutions at this time of the year, and MANY of those resolutions involve getting healthy, eating well, and exercising.  Parents nowadays are often struggling to find the balance between making sure their children get nutritious meals and finding the time (and money) to create those healthy non-processed delights.

The Trend

Health trends change all the time, but it seems like the drive toward non-processed and organic foods is here to stay. Specialty stores like Whole Foods, Fairway and Trader Joes are flourishing all over Long Island.  Many parents with children with special needs are aware of all the research out there in regards to limiting sugar, going gluten free, and even decreasing dairy.  However, a topic that is on my mind right now is Food Dyes and their effect on Hyperactivity.

This blog post is based on my opinion and my research and is not meant to take the place of an important conversation with your family  physician if you have concerns about your child’s dietary needs.  But, I found a few articles that I thought were very interesting and I decided to share my findings to give you some info and/or food for thought.

Many parents are willing to try anything rather than put their child on a daily medication.  Who could blame them?!  There are side effects and long term implications that would scare anyone.  Unfortunately, sometimes a child’s hyperactivity and distractibility can severely limit their ability to participate in their daily classwork and then Mom and Dad are faced with a tough decision.   There are other alternatives, including counseling, supplements, and biofeedback.  But what if just changing the food that you serve your child could help them have a more productive school day?  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

 

The Feingold Diet

So…. here is the skinny on the food dye and hyperactivity controversy.    In the 1970’s the “Feingold Diet” became a very popular diet for kids with hyperactivity.  Dr. Ben Feingold, an allergist, wrote a book called “Why Your Child is Hyperactive” which ended up becoming a bestseller.  Dr. Feingold died in 1982, but the controversy about his ideas regarding hyperactivity and diet are still very real.  Some parents swear by the diet; reporting improved sleep, decreased aggression,  and increased attention in their ADHD child.   Feingold’s diet eliminates synthetic food dyes, artificial flavors, and some preservatives.  It is definitely a big commitment for parents who decide to go that route.  Today, the Feingold Association is a support group for parents to help children with ADHD through dietary changes.  If you decide to try it, you definitely need to do your research.  Even medication can have artificial coloring!  The website www.Feingold.org is a wealth of information about how to start eliminating synthetic food dyes, preservatives, and artificial coloring from your child’s diet.

Studies for and against the Feingold Diet have popped up.   In the early 1990’s studies in medical journals reported  that food sensitivities are a responsible for over 70 percent of ADHD symptoms.  But, food allergies often develop slowly, so the correlation may bot be obvious right away to a parent.    In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that food coloring may exacerbate certain symptoms of  ADHD in some children. But, the FDA says that it doesn’t affect enough of the population to do anything about it.  But does it affect your kid?  The FDA apparently puts the synthetic food coloring additives through a tough process to ensure that the coloring is safe.  Each batch is tested for contaminants such as lead when they are produced.  LEAD!  That sounds weird to me! Why would lead be in my food?

Because synthetic food dyes are actually made from petroleum.  Okay, in fairness, it’s not petroleum like we get at the gas station, but still!  That statement right there makes me want to be more careful about food dyes and artificial coloring.  Gross!

There are nine FDA approved synthetic color addiditives that are used in our food in the US. However, these three make of the majority of the food coloring in our food: Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6.  Other dyes to avoid are Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, and Red 3. In the 1970’s Red 2 was found to be a potential carcinogen and is no longer allowed in the USA.

 

More Recent Studies

Last year, a study at Oregon Health and science University in Portland found that the link between food dyes and increased ADHD symptoms in children affected 8 percent of those diagnosed.  That means that hundreds of thousands of the 5.9 million American children that are diagnosed with ADHD could be helped by eliminating synthetic dyes from their diet.  Isn’t that  amazing?

Feingold was an allergist.  He detected that these “hidden” food allergies were causing kids to have poor behavior and attention, sleep patterns and more.  When you think about how many children have severe allergies nowadays compared to twenty years ago, it only makes sense!  Something has changed to cause this.  Why are kids so prone to allergies?  And if they are, could something simple like food dyes be impacting their health without your knowledge?

What’s even more amazing (and annoying if you ask me) is the fact that the FDA does not require food labels to be complete!  The Feingold Association also recommends eliminating artificial flavors (even vanilla), artificial sweeteners like  aspartame (Equal & Splenda) and preservatives (BHA, BHT, and TBHQ).

So how are you supposed to eliminate these offenders when they may not even be labeled properly?  Hmm.  Apparently, to be an approved food for the Feingold Association, manufacturers need to fill out a ton of paperwork about everything in their foods.   Doesn’t it seem like all food manufacturers should have to go through this process? I mean, do we even know what we are eating?

 

Warning: Conspiracy Theory!

Since the 1950’s, the amount of food coloring in our US foods has increased by 5 times.  5 TIMES!  That’s crazy.  Want to hear something even more annoying?  Companies such as Kraft, Coca-cola, Walmart, and Mars have taken artificial coloring out of the products that they produce for the U.K., but have done nothing to change their products for America. Why?  Because European countries have banned food dyes.  A perfect example would be Fruit Loops, which have all 4 dyes that have been banned in Europe.  Still, Fruit Loops are exactly the same for us Americans.  I would love to see some statistics on hyperactivity and ADHD over there compared to here.   Hmm.   Most of the brightly colored snacks like Doritos, Skittles, and Mac and cheese are pretty obvious.  But,  even “healthy” snacks  often contain food dyes.  So that means that parents who are trying to feed their kids common “healthy snacks” are actually unintentionally giving them food dyes.  Even Yoplait yogurt and fiber one bars are guilty of it.  Oh, did I mention that many of the countries whose government banned food dyes also have governments which provide health care?  So, the European government stands to lose money if their people get sick from food dyes.  The U.S. Government actually makes money when Americans are sick.  Hmm again.

Feingold was an allergist.  He detected that these “hidden” food allergies were causing kids to have poor behavior and attention, sleep patterns and more.  When you think about how many children have severe allergies nowadays compared to twenty years ago, it only makes sense!  Something has changed to cause this.  Why are kids so prone to allergies?  And if they are an “allergy-sensitive” kid, could something simple like food dyes be impacting their health without your knowledge?

I hope this blog was an eye-opener for many parents.  It certainly was for me!   I’m thinking that if I want to stick with my own personal resolution of being healthier and eating less processed, artificial foods, I need to re-vamp my pantry!  Sorry for my random theories but when you blog, your thoughts are said out loud!   Again, this post is only meant to get your thinking.  If you have legitimate concerns for your child’s health, make an appointment to speak with your family doctor or allergist.

Resources

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com

http://www.cspinet.org

Armstrong, Thomas, Phd.  (1997). The Myth of the ADD Child. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam.

Stevens, Laura J.  (2000) 12 Effective Ways to Help your ADD/ADHD Child. New York, NY: Penguin Group Inc.

Barkley, Russell A. (2005). Taking charge of ADHD: Revised. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

~Miss Jaime, OT

 

Please comment if you have any other input for our readers!  I’d love to hear from you !

 

lefty gifts

If you love a Lefty… great gift ideas for the lucky Lefty in your life!


gift-ideas-for-the
LEFTY GIFT IDEAS

The holidays are around the corner and it’s crunch time to find the perfect Lefty Gift.  In the spirit of the last minute search, here are some cute ideas for the Lovely Lefty In Your Life.

Lefties are forced to live a Right-handed world.  It’s just not fair!

As I’ve stated before, Lefties often claim to be “ambidextrous”.  The real truth is that Lefties are forced to adapt to right handed furniture, school supplies, kitchen utensils, and even jewelry!  So in the spirit of the holidays, here are some cool lefty gift ideas for your ALL the Lovely Lefties in your life!

From the Little Lefty who is struggling in school as well as your Lucky Lefty spouse who has everything…

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For your Little Lefty….

Learning everyday skills like tying your shoes can be a challenge for any child.  This Lefty Kit includes Lefty Scissors, guides to help learn how to tie a shoe and how to write as a Lefty.

 lefty gifts  lefty gifts

Red and Blue: Lefties Tie Shoes, Too!  Kindle Edition – FREE

This Lefty Shoe tying guide comes with lefty scissors, too!

Learning how to write and cut Lefty

Lefty gifts at School…

The biggest concern for me as an OT is that Lefty “hook” that many children develop when they start to write.  Also- why is the cutting so jagged and choppy?  It’s because Righty scissors have the blades set for a Righty!  Many Lefties switch hands to cut because of this. This can be very confusing for a Kindergartner who is really busy trying to strengthen their hand dominance and hand strength.  So some suggestions to help this…

This can be very confusing for a Kindergartner who is really busy trying to improve their hand dominance and hand strength.  So some suggestions to help this… Lefty notebooks with the spirals on the other side (nothing to hook away from, Brilliant!) and Lefty Scissors.

 

lefty fiskars Lefty gift notebook     lefty school kit
 Lefty scissors can make a big difference when Little Lefties are just learning to cut.  It can also stop your Lefty from switching hands when he or she cuts.  Lefty Notebooks have the spiral on the other side, so it doesn’t get in the way of the lefties arm when writing.  This lefty kit for school includes a notebook, lefty scissors, a Lefty Stabilo pen and a lefty sharpener.  Awesome!
 

lefty

 

lefty
 A Slantboard is recommended for young lefties who have/are developing that “hooked” wrist.  The Slantboard puts their wrist into extension (bent upwards), eliminating the hook.  Lefty Notebook set with Lefty Visio Pens

LEFTY GIFTS FOR WRITING AND DRAWING

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 This Lefty Activity Pad was specifically made for little lefties!

 

  81ilsx35hal-_sl1500_ Lefty gift pencil LEFTY GIFTS
Stabilo makes a series of Lefty pens and pencils! These Lefty Visio pens are ergonomically shaped to provide lefty writers  a comfortable, easy to use writing utensil!

LEFTY GIFTS FOR YOUR LEFTY WITH AN “INKED-UP” HAND:

Again, Lefties are notorious for having a dirty pinky side of the hand.  This is because they write from left to right (as all English Language writers do) and the ink smudges on the pinky side of the hand as they move to the right to write the next word.  This contributes to the “hook” so commonly seen in Lefties.    Most adult Lefties are very picky about what kind of pen they use.   Gel pens are best because the ink dries quickly.  So here are some lefty gifts for your inky Lefty:

So here are some lefty gift ideas for your inky Lefty:

lefty gel pens  Lefty  lefty
Gel Pens are better for lefties because the ink dries faster This Gel Pen Set is perfect for your Inky Lefty!  How about a Lefty coloring book to encourage mindfulness and relaxation?

 LEFTY GIFTS FOR Lefties in the Kitchen…. Uh-oh.

I don’t mean to generalize, but if you do a bit of research you will read that Lefties can be clumsy.  Righties can be clumsy too, so the stereotype really stinks.  Especially because Lefties live in a Right handed world.  Simple everyday tasks like cooking dinner or making coffee can involve a right handed tool like a Can Opener.

Here are some cute Lefty Gifts ideas to help our your Loveable Lefty in the Kitchen:

LEFTY GIFTS   Lefty Gift LEFTY GIFTS
Lefty Can Openers can simplify a lefty’s life Lefty 4-in-1 folding corkscrew & bottle opener!   This Lefty Baker’s kit includes a Lefty Measuring Cup, no more twisting to read!

 

lefty knife  Lefty Chopsticks
 A Magic Slicing Knife- just for Lefties!  Training Chopsticks for Lefty or Righty!

LEFTY GIFTS For your “Techy Lefty” 

lefty gifts  lefty gifts   Lefty Gifts
 A reversible Ipad Case  A leather portfolio for Leftties!  A Left Handed Mouse….
Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for stopping by!

I wish all of my readers a Happy, Healthy Holiday!

 

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Dollar store, stocking stuffers, sensory, fidgets

Dollar Store Stocking Stuffers for your Sensory Kid…

The “little” holiday gifts are sometimes the hardest to think of….

Opening my stocking on Christmas morning was one my favorite parts of the holiday.   My mom always stuffed my stocking with little nail polishes, socks, and other tiny fun things, all individually wrapped. I’m sure she spent a fortune and a ton of time wrapping every little thing, only to the five of us rip through the stockings in less than five minutes.  As we all grew up and moved out, the stocking tradition stopped, which was soooo sad.  Oh well!  Life goes on!

As I ran to the dollar store yesterday to get some tinfoil pans for the ten pounds of mashed potatoes I need to make for Thursday, I was struck by all the awesome Sensory stuff at the Dollar Tree.   In the spirit of the holiday season, I decided to share  some of my Dollar Store know-how for all you moms out there who need to stuff a stocking for your sensory kid!

Some of this stuff is “non-traditional”,  but shouldn’t stockings be individualized to the child?

So if something seems weird but might be something your child loves, go for it.

StressBalls – Tactile and great as a fidget (also great for hand strength)

Koosh balls– Tactile and great as a fidget (some kids are very defensive to Koosh balls for some reason)

Silly Putty – Stretchy and tactile, heavy work for little hands.  (also great for hand strength)

Fake Play-Doh– I say fake because it is imitation play-doh and it’s definitely not as good as the real thing.  However, it is still fun to squeeze, squish and create with.  It just won’t last too long.

Silly String – Tactile- Kind of wet and cold when it squirts; (AMAZING for hand strength – see spray snow) and so fun to play with in the snow!

Shaving Cream – For finger painting, sensory squeeze bags, or the moonsand recipe below, etc.

Body Lotion – For massages, deep pressure and tactile input (can help calm and get little ones to sleep) Dollar Tree has princess lotion!

Hair gel – For finger painting, sensory squeeze bags, etc.

Slime/Gak – These little eggs of goo are usually in the same aisle as the stress balls – they are wet, smelly, slimy, and the containers are hard to  open (need 2 hands and great practice for opening lunch/juice boxes, etc.)

Loofah – Great in the bathtub or out, loofahs can be great for tactile and sensory input

Nail files – This is a tough one to sell for any kid, but a sensory kid really can be defensive when it comes to nail hygiene.  For girls, the promise of glittery nail polish or polish that is “Anna and Elsa’s” favorite color can help persuade them for a little, soak, scrub, and file.  For  boys, sometimes watching mom or dad or an older brother can be a little helpful.  If they really hate getting their nails clipped and or filed, try to do it after a bath and use a buffer instead of a nail file (until they tolerate it).

Velvet color by number– These are fuzzy and fun for kids who enjoy coloring and the tactile feedback helps kids to color within the lines

Scratch Art – These vary by store but the concept is the same, grab your scratcher (with a perfect pencil grasp, of course) and scratch the paper until some fabulous art shows through.  It’s fun.

Chalkboard games – Many of these from the Dollar Store are cheap and don’t last long. But writing with chalk provides a kinesthetic feedback that kids don’t get to experience with dry erase, pencil, writing on a tablet, etc.  It is fun and if used consistently, can really help a child’s motor skills.

Cornstarch – This is a weird one, and your kid may think you’re crazy.

1)  You can use cornstarch to make “oobleck” ( a Dr. Suess favorite – look up the book and here is the link to the recipe)

2) You can make moonsand

Bubblewrap – so, so, fun.  I bring bubble wrap to my classes sometimes when I want to strengthen a pincer or pencil grasp. The weak kids always want to “rip” the plastic with their nails.  Not on my watch!  Get those “pinchers” moving.

Stretchy Bugs, Animals, Creatures, etc. – These are great fidgets for a kid who needs to have something in their hands all the time.

“Fidgets” – I consider mini koosh balls, tops, jacks, mini slinkys, etc. all to be fidgets.  They are small and keep little hands busy when mouths are supposed to be quiet (teacher is talking, waiting in waiting room, sitting in movie theater, etc.)

Grow In Water Pills – I buy these pills a lot when I’m at the Dollar Store – they look like an aspirin, but when they are submerged in hot water, the plastic coating around them starts to melt and then a little sponge in the shape of a bug, dinosaur, etc., pops out for kids to play with.   Because I am always looking for ways to work on hand strength, I put a bunch in a tupperware and then give my students Travel Size Water Bottles  filled with hot water so they can squeeze, squeeze, squeeze until their hands get tired.  I’m so mean, right!?  But they love it and then they get to have water play.  Also, the sponges can be used later for painting activities, etc.   You can do a lot with these little guys – and they are usually 9 pills for a buck – what a bargain!

Grow in Water Animals –  Same concept as above.  But they are bigger and cost $1 each – and they will definitely take up more room in the stocking (that’s always a plus!)

Mechanical pencils -there is something thrilling about replacing the broken lead of a mechanical pencil. That is, the first few times.  After that you start to get annoyed and then think… Maybe I shouldn’t press so hard….If you have a child that presses way too hard when he or she writes, give these a try.  The feedback from the break may be a help with that habit.  If your child is in the second grade or older, I suggest trying to get them to change the lead themselves. Resist the urge to automatically do it for them. Maybe they will be able to do it.

Highlighters – Kids love highlighters.  I think it is because they are mostly a “grown-up” thing.  However, highlighters can be great to help kids with copying, “highlight one line blue, copy it, next line yellow, copy, etc… They can also be great to help outline a shape when your child needs to “cut on the line”. They can help highlight where to write when they need to skip spaces or write smaller. They are even good to make boxes to keep your letters and words spaced properly.

Flashlights – What kid doesn’t love their “own” flashlight?  It may seem like a weird gift, but you can explain that it is their special flashlight to use if the lights ever go out. You can also use it to work on visual tracking and scanning, games like I spy, ( turn the lights off in the living room, “I spy, Daddy!,  I spy, the TV set!, etc.” Your child  has to move the beam of light (aka. tracking) and then settle on the object he is looking for.

Basting Brush – Again, this one is a little weird, but it is basically a plastic paint brush.  The bristles are a different texture for your “multi-sensory” kid and it can be just another tool to have fun and paint with.  Besides, your child doesn’t even know what basting is.

Spray Snow – Spray Snow can provide hours of fun, but obviously your child needs to be chaperoned.  Aerosol cans like these can be dangerous, but I love the position that the little hand needs to take in order to get it to “squirt”.  It is EXTREMELY difficult to hold the cylinder of a can in your thumb, middle, ring and pinky while your index sits on and squeezes the cap.   This one is for older kids (like 8 and up).

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sensory processing

Sensory Processing 101 is a vital resource for parents, therapists, and teachers who work with Sensory Processing difficulties.

Oral Motor

Okay, I am going to include this because so many children have weak oral motor skills and it can impact their speech,  eating habits, and oral hygiene.   That said, your house will be very loud and potentially obnoxious if you stuff your kids’ stockings with these toys.  BUT! in the spirit of the holidays…. it is supposed to be all about the kids, right?  Maybe confiscate the loud ones for “another day” when they can go outside or in the soundproof basement, etc.

Whistles – in the party favor section, there are a lot of different whistles, princess, whistles, hunting “duck” whistles, etc.

Blow toys- not sure what these babies are called exactly, but you have to control your breath so the ball goes up but not too far, etc.  This works on force modulation (if you remember from last week) and breath control.

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Balloons – Kids love balloons and there are a million ways to play with them.  You can put them in their gift and then offer to blow one up and they are likely to play with the balloon longer than your other present.  For older kids, trying to blow up a balloon is a major deal, and something we totally take for granted.   Many dollar stores have them multi-colored bags or one color, which can be fun if you get your child to “help decorate” for the holidays.

Blow outs – these look like the annoying noise makers from New Years Eve, but way bigger.

Novelty straws – Straws are a great way to work on “sucking” and oral motor “strengthening”.  The Dollar Store has fun ones for both boys and girls.

Noise Horns – Again, so annoying but so strangely addicting…

Musical Instruments – On this particular trip to the Dollar Tree, there were a lot of recorders.  Blowing would be work alone, but then you have the eye-hand coordination to try to cover up the holes at the same time.

 

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What is your favorite Dollar $tore Stocking Stuffer?  Please leave a comment and let us know!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!      ~Miss Jaime, O.T.