What Katie Wrote

  • Sensory Processing Disorder – Part 5; DEEP Pressure

    Updated April 2021

    “Tackle me, roll on the floor with me, give me bear hugs”

    Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive
    Illustration to show Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive

    For Bear, there is almost no such thing as too much Deep Pressure. I can lie on top of him with all my weight and tickle him till he cant barely breathe, and he will beg for more if I stop.

    Boy in a green lycra bed sock looking like a caterpillar to help with sensory issue
    A green lycra bed sock becomes a caterpillar.

    He loves it all. Craves it. Begs for it.

    • Rough play.
    • Strong hugs.
    • Steam rollers on the trampoline.
    • Weighted blanket on his bed.
    • Lycra bed sock as a stretchy sack.

    He also finds ways to give himself deep pressure when he needs it.

    Dr. Temple Grandin invented the Hug Box, a deep pressure device, while she was in college.

    Bear has the Dino Deep Pressure Suit.

    Dino Deep Pressure Suit to help with autism
    Dino Deep Pressure Suit (Patent Pending)

    The suit itself is actually getting a bit small, but he increases the pressure he receives while wearing the suit by stuffing soft toys inside.

    He sometimes walks around the house with his suit stuffed to the brim.

    I’ve seen him admiring himself in my long length mirror!

    But I regularly find him just lying quietly in his room in his stuffed suit. I’ve even found him fast asleep.

    We’ve used compression vests in the past from JettProof, an awesome Australian company who designed these vests to help their son Jett who also has Autism. These worked for a few years and his kindy teachers could tell when he wasn’t wearing it. But he isn’t so keen on wearing them now which shows how his needs are changing as he is growing up.

    But I like the fact that he is finding his own ways to deliver the deep pressure that he needs when he needs it. He will still ask for big cuddles from us when he needs them and I will always give them to him. No matter what age.


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  • Sensory Processing Disorder – Part Four

    Updated April 2021

    “I love taking risks, jumping from high up and crashing into things”

    Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive
    Illustration to show Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive

    When Bear was about 2 years old, I would flinch when I would see him charging towards me as I knew this meant a head butt to the crotch! I learnt quickly to turn my hips and bump him back with my hip and send him flying! Hilarious! We both thought so anyway. Onlookers might have had a different opinion.

    Crash, Bang, Wallop

    But that was a major stage for him. Crashing into things. Usually me, but anything was game. Thankfully he isn’t like that now but he still loves jumping from high up and taking risks.

    It’s a steep learning curve but I had to learn to let him go for it so he could challenge his own senses and abilities to see what he was capable of.

    One of our local parks has a high climbing wall. He scaled that by the age of 3. Not so much fun trying to get him to come back down though. So I had to make sure he could take risks in a controlled and safe way.

    How to keep a sensory-seeking Bear safe?

    • When he was very young, I could only go to parks that were enclosed otherwise he would run away at the first chance he got
    • We chose parks that have climbing walls designed to be scaled.
    • He loves parks with spiderweb style rope structures. That means if he falls it won’t be a drop straight to the ground.
    • We have become less precious about him climbing all over the couch and dive bombing from the table to the couch (while teaching him he can’t do that at other people’s houses).
    Bear jumping taking risks as part of autism
    Crash landing after school

    Despite requesting a specifically design crash mat from NDIS, they continue to state that it would encourage unsafe behaviours. I have the complete opposite opinion. He will follow his impulses anyway, but the crash mat teaches him how to chose safe parameters in which to follow those impulses. Same as teaching him that he has to stop and look both ways before running across the road to the park.

    I don’t want to completely stop these behaviours. If it wasn’t for risk takers, we wouldn’t have extreme sportspeople like Big Wave Surfer, Laird Hamilton or Freediving Champion, Hanli Prinsloo. They approach their sport with intense knowledge of their surroundings, supreme fitness and knowing their own limits. This is what I want to teach Bear. Not that his actions are bad, but that he needs to be smart about them.

    At the moment his favourite thing to do is jump off the jetty at our local boat ramp at the very end, usually off the top of a bollard. He built up to it though.

    At first it was just jumping off the small walls into shallow water.

    Then it was jumping off the middle of the jetty near the ladder and jumping in close to the ladder so it was easy to grab.

    Boy jumping into ocean at Port Kennedy Boat ramp in Rockingham

    Now he just throws himself off willy-nilly into the water and confidently swims back to shore or the ladder.

    He is constantly learning about his own physical boundaries as well as how to be independent and strong. As a Seeker, he is constantly searching for input but so far he hasn’t wondered if he can fly off a cliff.

    Let’s hope he doesn’t try.


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  • Sensory Processing Disorder – Part Three; Barefoot Bear

    Updated April 2021

    Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive
    Illustration to show Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive

    On my Facebook Blog What Katie Wrote, I wrote a post about my barefoot Bear and his issues with shoes. a few years back.

    He is still a barefoot bear and still takes his shoes off as much as he can, but he has come a looooong way from where we started on the first day of kindy.

    Bear with his actual shoes on for school. Goal Kicked!

    But you know what, when I come home, the first thing I do is take off my shoes. I rarely have my shoes on because the floorboards are nice and smooth and I don’t want to get dirt from my shoes into my house.

    Back in the day when I toiled at a desk for a living, I constantly had to remember to put on grown up shoes and not walk around in thongs or bare feet all day.

    It’s not that I don’t like shoes, just that bare feet feels more natural to me.

    And I have a killer tan line!

    I’m a grown up. I understand the social rules that I can’t go around in bare feet all the time. But Bear still struggles with this. He is only 7 years old, why would he do something that doesn’t come naturally to him?

    Which is why I am very grateful to the teachers and EAs at school understanding Bear, realising he isn’t just being naughty and helping to keep his shoes on as much as possible.

    Read Bear’s Barefoot Journey Here

    He continues to improve. He knows that he has to wear shoes when we leave the house, so there isn’t much argument, just constant reminders!

    His shoe collection is very limited, especially compared to his sister. That is a good thing though as it means he doesn’t too much of a decision to make when it’s time to put shoes on.

    He wears simple shoes like crocs and sneakers with velcro. I am NOT looking forward to teaching him to tie his shoelaces!

    Socks are still much of a struggle so many times I don’t even bother. It’s easier to wash his shoes every now and then than deal with the meltdown or pick up the threads of the sock he has pulled apart.

    So far, the most important reason to get him to wear shoes at school is to stop him from eating his toe nails.

    But that’s a gross story for another day.


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  • Sensory Processing Disorder – Part Two; Trampolines

    Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive
    Illustration to show Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive

    “I could bounce on a trampoline and
    spin in circles on the tire swing all day long.”

    Miracle Maker Mom

    Updated April 2021

    Trampolines

    LIFE SAVER!!!

    We had one well before Bear was diagnosed with Autism.

    Thanks to the support of our GP, we accessed an OT while he was going through the diagnosis process and she suggested SPD. We bought him a 12 ft trampoline and he practically lived in it!

    All the things he can do!

    He does all sorts on there:
    ✔️ take all his toys on there and bounce them around
    ✔️ use chalks and draw for ages
    ✔️ drag the hose or sprinkler on and make it rain
    ✔️ We do “steam rollers” where I would wrap my arms and legs around him tightly to pin his arms and legs down and roll from side to side in the trampoline. This would give him a lot of deep pressure, squishes and would ensure which ever parent did it had their full attention on him which is craved so much.

    Good for the Bad too

    It was his area to be angry in, to throw himself around in and to calm down in. He could say if anyone else was allowed in, giving him control over his environment.

    One of my favourite videos of him is when we had arrived back home after a visit to the UK. At first light he was on his trampoline just bouncing around as if he was saying hello to a very much missed friend.

    I would share it but in true Bear style he is half naked!

    Go on, you wont regret it

    So if you have the space, get one. If you don’t, try those little ones so they can bounce out some energy and get that bouncing input in their joints.

    They don’t have to be expensive. Kmart Australia have a good range and check out your local Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace for second hand ones in your local area.

    If you have the cash, Vuly look to be an awesome brand and can include all sorts of additions like swings, canopies and even a tent! That would have been awesome for Bear!

    If you aren’t sure, check out your local trampoline centre. Our fav local one is Flip Out Trampoline Arena. He did a Parkour course there and they were so supportive of him and encouraging while being understanding that Autism can come with certain limitations.

    We love Bluey

    We had to downsize to an 8ft trampoline at home but he still uses it regularly and loves to play games with Husband thanks to Bluey and her dad ☺️. Check out Season 2 Episode 11 for “Trampoline” and learn how to play Scrambled Eggs!

    You Spin Me Right Round Baby

    As for spinning in circles, we don’t have a tire swing, but most people at the park feel ill just watching Bear on the roundabout. There is no such thing as too fast for him. It’s used as a reward when he has his Physio sessions at the park. The funniest part is watching his try to walk afterwards 😆.

    And there are so many benefits to spinning that people don’t realise. So while I’m trying not to be sick just looking at him, he is receiving all sorts of sensory input, using all sorts of muscles just to hang on and if there are other kids around, learns how to share, take turns and stop if someone needs to get off.

    Here is a good explanation of why spinning is so good for him…

    Credit for the images goes to Miracle Maker Mom ☺️