Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Special Needs Expo & Sensory Bins

Every year, our church hosts a big Special Needs Expo.  This year's Expo was this past Saturday.

Special needs service providers and vendors set up tables displaying what they have to offer.  There's all kinds of stuff like therapies, camps, horseback riding, pediatric dentists, service dogs, schools, GFCF meal planners, specialized equipment, respite providers.... the list goes on and on.  Our school district comes and educates parents on how to get their kids enrolled for classes, whatever their needs may be. It's a great chance for parents to see what all services are offered for special needs families here in our area.

This year, our Special Needs Director decided to add some fun stuff for the kids to do while their parents were perusing the offerings.

There was a bounce house, which Lily has finally decided she really likes.


But by far and large, her favorite thing of the day was those little styrofoam packing peanuts.  Now, the idea behind this was to dig for buried treasure.  A little wading pool was filled to the brim with those peanuts, hiding bags of Skittles, fancy pencils and stickers for the kids to find.  

Well, my kid wasn't interested in looking for treasure.  Because of her sensory issues, it came as no great shock to any of us that she wanted to sit in the pool, run her hands through the styrofoam, and cover her legs with the peanuts.

Thankfully, there were many willing volunteers who were only too happy to oblige the Bird.


Can you see that sweet little smile on her face as she's being buried?



And I was happy that she never tried to eat those peanuts.

I think you can tell it made a fairly big mess, but I believe Lily would've sat there all day, perfectly content.  And that makes that big mess pretty much worth it to me!

Lately, the Bird has been doing more digging and exploring like this.  It seems to have a calming effect on her.  And since she's not mouthing everything at the moment, it makes this kind of sensory play more enjoyable.  We'll be trying out several of those sensory tubs that I always see floating around Pinterest.

However, I think our sensory bins need to be in a plastic swimming pool since Lily Bird likes to use more than just her hands to explore.

Interested in creating some of these bins yourself?  Kid's Activities Blog has this great list of all kinds of "touchy-feely" items.  Check it out:

 

Be sure to visit Quirky Momma Kids Activities Blog for even more sensory play ideas.  And of course, Pinterest!  Come follow me over there, too!

Have a great Tuesday!




15 comments:

  1. Isaac's OT would LOVE this post! LOL!!!

    I'm so glad Lily found something that made her feel happy and settled! What an awesome event that was, too! It is exciting to hear about churches reaching out in this way to the special needs community. Many parents of special needs children find themselves unwelcome in our churches. So, this post is refreshing on so many levels!

    Alesha Kay

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    1. My husband is the pastor at our church so nothing like having a special needs child yourself to realize what a void there is in our churches for special needs families. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. Wow! Why didn't I think of a pool?! Although those under-the-bed storage containers work well too ;-)

    By the way, one of the boards I curate for SPDBN is all about sensory tub ideas... check it out! http://pinterest.com/spdbn/sensory-tub-ideas/

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    1. Those under-bed boxes work well but the sides aren't tall enough to contain everything when Lily wants to get IN the box! I forget about you and SPDBN - going to follow all the boards.

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  3. I wish I could have been at the Special Needs Expo! What a fantastic idea! I'm sure all the families truly appreciated the bringing together of so many important things in one spot.

    Lily is so cute inside that bounce house but obviously, the sensory pool was her favorite! I like the idea of a plastic pool filled with sensory fun for the summer! I just wish I could find someone to clean it out after other than me!

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    1. I would've loved it if you were there, too! And yes, if I had someone to just follow behind the Bird and do all the cleaning up, my life would be just about perfect! :)

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  4. Terrific idea to have a sensory needs expo. Never been to one here. My boy still loves stuff like that. We used a toy box filled with rice and lentils as a calming exercise, during stressful homework times, for a long time. Very helpful.

    xx Jazzy

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    1. The expo is always a big hit in our community. And really - do we ever outgrow calming things like that? While I may not choose to sit in a tub of peanuts, I have my own little "calming quirks".

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  5. I would only use glitter at someone else's house! :-) It is IMPOSSIBLE to clean up. It gets everywhere -- on hair, carpet, furniture, dog fur, etc. It's a mess. I am all for making a mess, but glitter is definitely not worth it, IMHO.

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    1. I 100% agree with you. Glitter is a definite no go. Even if you managed to get it all cleaned up off the floor, it's still stuck to you for so long, even after bathing. Crazy!

      Question for you - do you have a blog? Let me know how I can connect with you! :)

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  6. Those are great ideas!! I'm impressed your church hosted that expo. That's wonderful! I have been meaning to get some bigger bins that Caleb (and Grace) could actually sit in. I thought I was doing well with a shoebox size for the hands but... I've learned the hard way that it's better to have a large container/small amount of rice (or whatever) than a smaller container/moderate amount of rice. I so detest cleaning up rice. Brings back horrible memories of a horrible prank we found in our house after our honeymoon. Rice EVERYWHERE. Shudder.

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    1. Yep, rice is just about as much fun to clean up as glitter. But a little less clingy. I remember riding in my aunt and uncle's car a couple years after their wedding and STILL finding rice.

      I think quite a few of these ideas we'll do outside. Makes for a little less clean-up...

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  7. I wish there were more expos like this around the country! A good friend of mine has a lot of family members with special needs that could probably benefit from an expo that is meant for special needs people. I like the pictures of Lily sitting in the packing peanuts; they make me smile. She looks happy to be there! http://www.specialneedsexpos.com/what-government-benefits-are-available-for-special-needs/

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