There have been far too many nights that I've gone to bed feeling like J and I didn't get to spend enough time together. Being a 2 yr old with sensory issues, he almost has NO attention span, does not want to share, does not want me to help him with anything, and melts down at the drop of a dime. Only his melt downs include a blood curdling scream (not exaggerating), slapping himself in the face, and banging his head on the wall. Being an overwhelmed, frustrated mother, I decide that it's easier to just let him play alone than to deal with the wrath that results when playing with him. But that didn't work for him. I want to interact with him. I feel like he's at the age where he needs to get prepared for the learning envirnoment. I can't keep waiting on the EI system to help b/c they take the hurry up and wait approach. We are going on 2 months of waiting for an OT which he so desperately needs right now. And lets not forget about the feeding therapy he needs but EI doesn't seem to agree. I will keep fighting for him until he gets the help he needs. And in the mean time, I will do what I need to do to help him...and myself.
My main goal is to drastically decrease his TV time. I still let him watch Dora and Yo Gabba Gabba after breakfast, but then the TV goes off and Disney Radio comes on. This week, I started doing small learning sessions with him. The only thing this "session" requires him to do is stay seated. I do several different activities with him, and while I don't expect him to participate, I expect him to stay seated (or in his case, at least have one foot on the chair!lol). So we pull out a fold away activity table my mom got him for his birthday. This table only comes out for "school" or activities, so he loves to sit at it, as oppsoed to his Elmo table set that stays out at all times. He immediately sits at his table and waits for his activity. We start with arts and crafts. Today I traced his hands onto construction paper and let him color them in. Next, I pulled an activity sheet from his preschool activity book I purchased from Target and showed him how to make curved lines. I traced over the curved line examples and I didn't expect him to be able to do it, but I wanted him to watch me do it. Well, he made 3 curvy lines!! WAY TO GO BUDDY! So after that activity, I gave him a coloring sheet to color on while I pulled out his animal picture book. I found that he needs to have another option available to him just in case he is not interested in what I am doing. So in this case if he didn't want to see the animal pictures, then he could just color...no tantrums involved! So I went through the pages and named the animals and made the animal sounds. For the most part, he colored, but he did pause for his two favorite animals, a dog that says "woo woo" and a lion that says "Woooaarr!!" lol. Good enough for me! Next I do his ABC flash cards. For some reason, everytime I pull these out, he hides his face behing his construction paper. Every time! And peeks out every now and then with a big smile! After ABC flash cards, I sing the ABC song. I know eventually he will sing along. After the ABC song I read a story for the day and he always pays attention to that part. And then his learning session is over. 15 minutes tops and he has been well behaved so far. But please don't let this post mielead you into believing he sits still at the table the entire 15, b/c he doesn't. Several times I have to tell him, "Don't rock in the chair baby, you may fall" "Sit down for momma." "Sit down on your butt, J." "Don't throw your papers on the floor." "You threw them now you have to pick them up." "No screaming, use your inside voice please." He enjoys the interaction, so he does listen well for the most part, but he has fallen out of his chair a few times. Also, if he isn't standing on his chair, lying across the table, or playing peek a boo under the table (all while I'm still reading to him!!) he is just scowling at me! It is hilarious to look over a book and see that cute scowl! But I promise I don't laugh. I keep reading! After the lesson we yell "SCHOOL!!", J throws both hands in the air and says "Cool!!" I wish I could take the credit for teaching him to say it so enthusiatically, but anyone can tell by the way he looks at the TV when he yells it, that he learned it from WORD WORLD!! Then he helps me to put his table away and we play Ring around the rosey. He needs this after sitting still (or trying to) for the past 15 minutes! He loves it!
Then I have lunch with him and we go for a walk, WITHOUT THE STROLLER! Today we walked around 2 cul de sacs. J's face was lit up. He would run in front of me and then stop and I'd say "Jump, Jump, Jump. Jump" to the beat of one of his favorite Choo Choo Soul songs and he'd start jumping and saying "jump"! Then as we walk we passed some house with dogs and whenever the dogs barked he would yell "DOG" and stop in front of the house and bark back! Then whenever he sees a big truck, first he yells "CAR!" I say "Very good J, but that's a truck!" Then he says "Choo Choo!!" He can't pronounce train yet, so he calls his trains truck. Considering I have yet to meet a 2 yr old who can say truck without sounding like a sailor, I think I will accept that for now! We got home and J was ready for his nap.
Right now, I don't expect a huge response from him right away with the sessions we have, and I also expect him to get frustrated and not want to cooperate on some days. But I know that with consistency, he will learn. And that brings me to my attention whore news I want to share...My baby finally figured out his shape sorter block!! He has never had the patience to get the right shape into the right hole. He would just grab any shape and try to pry it into any shaped hole and when it wouldn't fit, all of the shapes and the sorter block would go flying and he'd have a huge fit. Last night he came up to me with the block asking me to empty the shapes from it. I pulled the shapes out and he sat beside me and intently looked at the shape in his hand and then looked at the block to find the right shape. He turned the block until he found the correct shape and pushed it in. The look of achievement on his face melted my heart. I made the biggest deal out of it! He then went on to put in two more shapes. He only has the patience to do 3 -4 shapes at a time, but no matter what shape he has in his hand, he can match it to the shape on the block...even the star! I am so proud of him!
I do hope that this post helps anyone who is surfing the net for activities to try with sensory kids. I borrowed a book from the library full of activities to do with toddlers. I immediately turned to the page with activities for 18-24 months old and there were none that are appropriate for J. The activities required the child to have some sort of attention span, coordination, and the ability to talk. It's too much for J. So I brainstormed and came up activities for him using sensory toys and exercises. I will be posting here with the ideas and techniques I use for J and how they help him.
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