The Sensory Seeker never fails to amaze me. Even when he has a bad day I can see just how far he has come. The other week we had some snow and this really is a perfect example of this. Although after a little while the sensory overload (and freezing cold conditions) became too much for him (hating everyone and feeling that everyone was against him) he first had some fun!
The Sensory Seeker copes with Snow aged 8
First of all he can follow instructions – it doesn’t seem that long ago that we had to physically put his socks and shoes on, as no matter how many times we gave him the instruction he just couldn’t do it. This was even when he started school – so in the grand scheme of things that wasn’t that long ago. Not only did he get himself dressed (picking out his own clothes) and out his socks and shoes on – but he was also able to listen to the fact that he also needed to put his coat, hat scarf and gloves on!
Next the sensory seeker was able to play in the snow. He made snowballs, helped build a snowman and of course got down in the snow and made snow angels. This was more to do with just actually playing (and with his family not isolated) rather than just touching the snow and covering himself in it. He even kept his gloves on (when told) whereas before he would have had to have touched the snow with his bare hands. This I believe also helped him stay out in the snow for a longer period of time.
Plus the fact that he was well enough to play outside – he used to always be in and out of hospital with his bad chest. Every time it got slightly cold he would be back on antibiotics.
Unfortunately it did suddenly make him really upset and spoiled all his enjoyment. It is a shame really that it doesn’t snow more often because I think a part of it is that it is out of routine. For The Sensory Seeker that day he decided that he hated the snow and was glad it didn’t happen often. Not even a special hot chocolate with marshmallows could make him feel better. But before the sensory meltdown I saw him having fun. I am so proud of the progress he has made and I hope that one day he can enjoy the snow as much as the rest of us (in my family) do.
When it comes to Christmas and the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder it is all about making sure they still manage to get the right Sensory Diet. Trouble is with all the additional Sensory input (especially in terms of vision, sounds and smells) then this is going to knock their normal routine right out. It is key to consider what it is that has changed and is affecting them, and what can be done to get the balance right once more. This can be really difficult to understand because it may be that there is more visual stimulation than normal so you try to limit it (keeping decorations to a minimum for example): On the other hand it may be that you need to give them more opportunities to touch as they NEED to explore the world around them. Christmas for us is one of the most difficult times of the year as The Sensory Seeker gets so excited but often struggles to control his emotions and reactions. As well as trying to keep him at the right balance we ensure that he is supervised more than usual and remember that once things are back to how they were then things will be easier.
Sensory Christmas Activities for the Sensory Seeker
I try to ensure that we do a good mix of Christmas Activities on the build up to Christmas and how I run that activity will depend on The Sensory Seeker. For example – does he need noise (and therefore we will put Christmas music on, sing, etc) or does he need it settled and quiet? Does he need a non-messy activity that he can really touch? Or does he need to get messy (and plan a bath time straight afterwards). Which kind of materials should I use – does he need the same as he did last time or would he benefit from a different one?
Sensory Snowman Cards
To demonstrate what I mean let’s take the idea of making a Snowman Christmas Card. You can really vary how much sensory input is involved and vary the craft material. This year we used shredded paper.
This is a non-messy craft in terms of it getting stuck to The Sensory Seeker but meant he could get it all over his hands (and my room!) without too much fuss. It was easy for him to understand the craft – as he simply had to stick it into two circular shapes. You could draw around something round like In the Playroom’s Upcycled Snowman Collage Cards. He was then free to use whatever craft materials he liked to decorate his snowman.
Alternatively, if this would have been too difficult for him I could have put the glue on the card in circles myself; Or the circles could be drawn with a white crayon (on a darker background); Or stuck on with paper or felt; Or even used cotton wool pads like this Quick Craft Snowman Card from RedTedArt.
If you wanted to get messier than how about using finger prints to make snowmen out of white paint. Or if you wanted to use paint without getting dirty how about using the end of an old toilet roll holder to put circles of paint on the page.