Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sensory school supplies

Now that the school year is drawing in close, it's time to get school supplies for many of us. As we do this, I wonder how many of us are on the watch for things that are "sensory friendly"? I'm not necessarily talking about pens and pencils, but anything at all that you would need to get for your child. In the world of our senses, it's amazing what can trip us up when they are turned up too high.

In clothing, seams and scratchy material are the enemy to many an ASD child. It can cause high distraction and inability to sit still for very long. That's minding that our kids don't sit still long in the first place. Tags aren't ASD friendly either. Thankfully, there are tagless shirts out there. Some companies are printing their information right on the fabric. That has to be helpful right? If you inspect the clothing you buy (and I bet you do) you can see what kind of tags are easiest to cut out without damaging a shirt. You can also see what kind of seams are just too stiff to soften. Most T-shirt seams are pretty soft, but you know your child's sensitivities better than anyone. What about the designs printed on the shirts? Are they really stiff also? Don't forget socks either. Look for seamless designs in socks that fit to your child's size. You can order specialties online.

When dealing with clothing, a good practice is to always wash all new clothes with a good dose of fabric softener before wear. You'll wash out any "fillers" used by the companies to keep the clothes from wrinkling on the sales floor. Those are most commonly used in jeans, but I've heard of them in shirts too. This will still go a long way toward making clothing softer and more comfortable.

Now, what about pens and pencils? I've actually heard of children who don't like the pencils and pens with flattened sides on them. I think this is particularly rare, but maybe your child is one of them? I've come to wonder if this may get in the way of an ASD child's handwriting? If it's uncomfortable or distracting to use such an implement, wouldn't it make the task harder? Our kids can't necessarily tell us, so maybe a few experiments are in order.

Then there's markers. Unscented is the way to go, as well as washable. I don't know about all our kids, but marker scent gives me a headache. Scent is one of my downfalls with my own condition. It's that way for my son too. Then there are those who like the scent a little too much. Either way is a distraction in class.

Some of our kids are very sensitive to sound. I've seen that some schools have headphone ear protectors that make it easier for some kids. You can also order these from locations online. Now is the time to get prepared. Some of these items are not cheap, so the earlier you get them the better.

Best of luck and a great start to all our kids' new school year.


Tina Brooks said...

I can't handle fabric softener! But agree wholeheartedly with washing everything once before wearing! I do that anyway, you never know what contagious whatever might have tried on the clothing in the store!

I also can't handle wearing artificial fibre touching my skin. Some tricks for kids that have school uniforms? Get them custommade in natural fibres (if you can afford to) and if not, get some soft cotton breathable long sleeves or pants to wear underneath so the uniform doesn't touch their skin.

Heather Caprio said...

I have a pair of $6.99 earbuds from WalMart (I think they are JVC "Marshmellow") they are great at blocking out distracting noise and being subtle enough that people don't wonder why I'm wearing headphones in the middle of class.

David Wilde said...

Thanks Tina and Heather, great points.