Home intervention techniques can vary widely. While most of the research focuses on classroom techniques, I wish to discuss the various actions we have taken at our home. I have one Asperger/ADHD/Bipolar/PANDAS Syndrome son and one Bipolar/OCD/LHON/ADD/Anxiety daughter. We do a lot of modifying our days including intervention, sensory work and integration.
Both have extreme sensory issues and attention deficits which require frequent breaks and and unique activities to either stimulate or calm them down. We received an exercise bicycle from freecycle that my son uses frequently to burn off stress. Thanks to Christmas Amazon.com gift cards, we were able to purchase a raindrop item, a gel stress ball, a Tiger Touch Tactile brush and Theraputty. Get the pack with the sample of each strength — our Occupational Therapistrecommended it! Outside time — no matter how cold as long as their bundled up — means the world to my children. They need to get out of the house and outside into nature (we have a fenced back yard). Having slides, climbing structures and a sandbox can be essential to a child with sensory needs who needs that exercise and stimulation. If you have an ADHD child — exercise is vital. Every other weekend, we hike 4-10 miles in various local parks.
The iPad donated by a Gallia County resident has been a godsend. We’ve used many educational apps that send me a weekly report I can forward to their teachers. During stressful times, I allow the children to play games to help them relax. Here’s a helpful hint for those of you with an iPad/iTouch — if you see an app you want but it’s pricey, contact the app developer on Facebook. Briefly explain you have a special needs child who would benefit, but you just can’t afford the app. Many times they will give you a code for a free app!
My children set-up their own “sensory area” under a table in our living room. They filled it with extra-soft blankets and micro-bead plush pillows. They go there when the stress gets to be too much. Other sensory ideas we use:
1. I put shaving cream all over the dining room table (you can cover it with a large trash bag if you wish) and allow them to draw/erase and relax with the sensory activity.
2. When it snows, I take a large bucket outside and fill it with snow. I bring it in (again on the dining room table) and allow them to sculpt and play in a warm environment.
3. Baths — the environmentalists aren’t going to like this, but warm water is wonderful for relaxation and deep pressure therapy. Whenever my children get way too stressed, they ask to take an extra shower.
4. Sand therapy — fill a dish with an inch or two of sand, and allow the children to draw letters or dig into the sand for small items you’ve hidden there.
5. My wish list: A sensory swing that hangs from the ceiling! These are not simply sensory activities; these are, in their own way, interventions. Calming your child often motivates them to work with you more.
Interventions with a special needs child at home:
1. Strong parent involvement — this includes repeatedly emphasizing good behaviors, your unconditional love for your child and watching your child for what they need — any list is great, but nothing compares to the observations of a parent who is with their child 24/7. Keep a list of what you see, and present copies to your child’s teacher, principal and the special education coordinator when your child does get into your school of choice. Your observations will be invaluable. Consider using a behavior tracker program like Track-n-Share Pro or Autism Tracker Pro. Often mental health professionals and school officials will dismiss your verbal remarks. It’s much more impressive to have it all documented and graphed in a program.
2. Allow your child some time to be themselves. Also, when your child is upset, do the best you can to comfort them, but allow them to express their emotions and cry it out if necessary. After a reasonable amount of time (this may be hours or even the next day) when your child is calm, try to talk to your child about what upset them. You may be surprised at the answer. She may have been hungry, tired, constipated, in pain, hurt by something said to them days ago, or any number of things. … Or perhaps there is a sensory problem in your home that can be easily fixed.
I did NOT sign-up for this! (but I would have!) SNP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on my FB page of the same name or follow me on Twitter @Jhobbssaunders.