None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. -Hebrews 8:11
How Should You Spend Your First $100 on a Therapeutic homeschool?
Some good options to choose from (Amazon affiliate links, or check your local stores): Laminator ~$20, 5 mm Laminating sheets $16, kinetic sand set $22, rocking chair $44, pod swing $30,rolling scooter for coordination and belly time ~$19, a set of Social Thinking books ~$55-$120 (see below), learning apps $5-$60 (see below for some of our favorites)
Some of our favorite learning Apps:
(links to the Apple App store)
Scribblenauts Unlimited (spelling, reading)
Exploring Emotions (Zones of Regulation app)
Prodigy (math) This is a subscription service that’s worth it.
Dragon Box series (math)
Touch Press Inc. Games, bought as all-access 12 game sets (MasterSwords, Faktr, Twelve a Dozen, CodeBreakers, SimCell, CraftyCut, Habitactics, The Elements by Theodore Gray [goes well with his Elements book], and many more learning games)
The Great Courses subscription and apps.
Kid in Story Book maker for self-modeling.
Some of our Favorite Curriculum Books:
Explode the Code series (Amazon affiliate link)
Handwriting Without Tears (Amazon affiliate link)
It Takes Two to Talk (early intervention/beginning communication) (Amazon affiliate link)
Some Helpful Websites:
National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (especially Evidence Based Practices and AFIRM modules)
The OT Toolbox (and sign up for their excellent newsletter)
Lemon Lime Adventures (for Sensory processing especially)
CrashCourse YouTube channel (Great for subject overviews for older kids)
Sensory Regulation Tools and Strategies
- Discovery Kids Star Projector (Amazon affiliate link): Use this in an away closet, in a darkened room, under beds, or in tents and forts.
- Hape Eye Spy kaleidoscopes (Amazon affiliate link): These are far sturdier than other versions, and the variegated lenses make them adaptable to different light levels. Use with Christmas/twinkle lights, regular room lights, and even candles.
- Christmas/twinkle lights in warm tones. Use these in away spaces or to provide soothing indirect lighting.
- Children will also appreciate visual schedules and choice boards like the ones in the free downloads above.
- Noise-canceling earmuffs (Amazon affiliate link)
- Move between quieter and louder rooms
- Use earbuds when listening to talk so as to lower ambient unpredictable sound.
- Make music playlists (on iTunes and Amazon Music, for instance, not associative apps like Spotify) and repeat them to provide pleasant and predictable sounds.
- Turn on Closed Captioning on your devices and TVs to help people with less acute audio processing.
- Beeswax candles if possible, or coconut wax candles (Amazon affiliate links), to produce neutral or air-cleaning scent. Many children with special needs are sensitive to the smoke from paraffin or soy candles.
- For kids who are easily overwhelmed by fragrances, introduce beeswax to smell and play with (for instance, these Stockmar beeswax modeling sheets in naturaland colors– Amazon affiliate links), as the gentle, natural fragrance is usually more tolerable.
- If a child gets very overwhelmed by scents, try desensitizing by smelling coffee beans, which will overwhelm in a safer, more predictable way and clear other fragrances from the scent queue.
- Use lavender flowers (such as these food-grade, organic ones– Amazon affiliate link) to fill a sensory bin. The relaxing effects are available without the overstimulation or nasal/skin irritation that can result from using oils or artificial fragrances.
- Fill a large tin or plastic bin with tactile sensory items such as dried beans, uncooked rice, seeds, millet, birdseed, or animal feed cracked corn. You can make useful items like sacks of cracked corn or birdseed pinecones, and the sensory play that comes along with it emerges naturally.
- If you can supervise the play time well and no one who eats non-food objects is around, water beads (like these, affiliate link) are a fun and intense sensory experience. Otherwise, plain water, with cups, scoops, and water wheels (like this one, affiliate link) makes a fun tactile experience. Vary the water color, temperature, and scent according to the season or lesson.
- Allow children to wear soft, all-cotton or natural fiber clothing, even if that means they wear pajamas all day. Blended fabrics often feel itchy to children with sensory differences.
- Be aware that taste is often bound up with other senses and can be overshadowed by a child’s desire for uniformity of appearance, texture, or predictability. For these reasons, never take personally a child’s apparent disgust with foods you offer. They might love the smell, the taste, and texture but be confused by the appearance, or there might be another sensory processing difference that makes for challenging eating.
- Read Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter (Amazon affiliate link) to ease your discomfort around feeding issues. Also ask your pediatrician about a feeding clinic or feeding specialist occupational therapist in the area if your child’s food aversions or feeding difficulties are severe.
- To overcome constricted diets, offer foods that are fairly uniform and predictable, such as Larabars, sliced bananas, baby carrots, apple slices, grapes, strawberries (in season when they’re sweet), and some pre-packaged, frozen foods that have consistent appearance (like Annie’s gluten free macaroni and cheese, Udi’s gluten free cheese pizza, and Applegate Farms gluten free chicken nuggets and breakfast sausages). Meatballs or meat patties that you make at home can also seem more uniform and acceptable to a child with sensory difficulties, but be willing to serve them separate from sauce, pasta, or breads. Overwhelmed kids need less to deal with at a time.
- To add a food, think very small changes, like adding straight pretzels instead of only knotted pretzels, or sausage patties instead of links, or sliced fruits rather than whole. The key to expansion is for a food to register as food, as familiar and safe.
- Encourage a sense of safety and shelter (or “coze”) by providing access to a tent, closet with a soft pad on the floor, underneath a bed, bean bags, foam mattress forts (a good way to reuse old crib mattresses), or a blanket fort/tent. You can also allow the kids to use couch cushions to make little cubbies.
Vestibular (swinging movement):
- Provide a swing, rocking chair (regular, recliner, or camping/travel rocker), seesaw, or balance board to allow the child to rock back and forth in order to calm down. These options are generally most effective in the order they were listed here (swings are best, balance boards work but have a high learning curve).
Proprioceptive (Deep Joint Pressure):
- Encourage lying on the belly to play or write/color/read.
- If you have access to an occupational therapist, find out how to safely apply deep pressure to joints.
- Provide a large or small trampoline.
- Crash pads made of mattresses, bean bags, or other foam objects are great for kids to safely run and jump onto them.
- Swinging on the stomach gives both proprioceptive and vestibular input.
- Allow the child to dangle between the counters or fitness bars.
- Bouncy balls, exercise balls, and bouncing ride-on toys also enable deep pressure. You can also roll an exercise ball over a child for a safe “squish.”
- Children might climb behind the couch cushions or under their mattresses or pillows or a weighted blanket to give themselves deep pressure as well.