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Recognizing the signs of Sensory Processing Disorder – from meltdowns to picky eating

Loud. Bright. Stinky. Getting instant information from the senses is part of everyday life. But for children who cannot correctly process this information, simple tasks can become overwhelming.

October is National Sensory Awareness Month. The Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation wants parents to know the Red Flags of SPD:

• Overly sensitive to touch, noises, smells, or movement
• Floppy or stiff body, clumsy, poor motor skills or handwriting
• Difficulty dressing, eating, sleeping, or toilet training
• Frequent or lengthy temper tantrums
• Easily distracted, fidgety, withdrawn, or aggressive
• Craves movement
• Easily overwhelmed

SPD affects 5-10% of all children, yet often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Most children

Anderson Farms Fall Festival: Kiddie Koral, Pedal Carts and More!

One of my favorite things about living in Colorado is the ability we have to drive less than hour away from the crowded suburbs and insert ourselves into an entirely different landscape. For my family, the start of autumn is ushered in with mountain drives to enjoy the beautiful foliage and trips to the local farms to hunt for the perfect pumpkin.

One of our favorite fall festivals is held annually at Anderson Farms in Erie. It is just a 20-minute drive from Boulder, Longmont or Thornton and is easy to find with it’s 24-foot-in-diameter giant pumpkin currently mounted atop one of the farm’s silos. We enjoyed our visit on a beautiful sunny day last weekend and spent more than three hours exploring all there is to see and do (and consume). The cost of admission includes:

Boo Bubbles – Capture a Ghost in a Bubble

Sure you’ve laid traps for leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day, tried to catch Santa filling stockings on Christmas Eve or foiled the Easter Bunny while hiding eggs…but have you ever tried to catch a ghost at Halloween?

Here’s a fun activity that will help locate and catch Halloween ghosts. But watch out, those ghosts are sneaky and will escape not long after you catch them.
Ghostly Boo Bubbles are vapor-filled, touchable, bouncing bubbles. The bubbles trap vapor from a mixture of dry ice and warm water to make it appear that ghosts are swimming inside.
To capture ghosts in a bubble, you must create a Boo Bubble generator. I’ve taken my generator to both of my daughters’ classrooms since they were in kindergarten. Boo Bubbles never fail to amaze, engage and keep the kids asking to do it again!
This activity works best with a ghostly story told first or a quick lesson on the properties of dry ice. Dry ice can be purchased at local grocery stores and I’ve also seen it at a few Walmarts. Bring gloves and a cooler with you to the store to protect your hands. You will want thick leather gloves and not cotton gloves for safety.
Here’s how to make your own Boo Bubble generator. You will need:
  • Two liter bottle
  • Dry ice (ask the front desk at your local grocers)
  • Heavy duty glove
  • Funnel
  • Rubber tubing
  • Dish soap
  • Utility blade (box cutter)
  • Small plastic portion cups (2 oz works best)
  • Towel
  • Bubble gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Adult supervision
Step by Step Instructions:
  1. Use a utility blade (like a box cutter) to carefully cut the top off of the two liter bottle. Make sure the the hole in the top of the two liter bottle is not larger than the funnel you’ll be using.
  2. Attach a length of rubber tubing to the narrow end of the funnel by squeezing the funnel into the tubing.
  3. Use the utility blade to cut a hole in the bottom of a small plastic portion cup just large enough to fit the rubber tubing.
  4. Slide the end of the rubber tubing (not attached to the funnel) into the hole in the portion cup.
  5. Mix up a batch of your favorite bubble solution in a cup that is large enough to fit your portion cup. (View our recipe here.)
  6. Fill 1/6 of the two liter bottle with warm water and add in a few pieces of dry ice.
  7. Place the funnel over the hole in the two liter bottle. Awesome! The smoke comes pouring out of the tube! If you adjust how much of the hole is covered by the funnel, you’ll see a change in the pressure of the smoke coming from the tubing. Once you’ve figured out a comfortable pressure, remove the funnel.
  8. Dunk the portion cup into the bubble solution and cover the top of the bottle with the funnel and watch what happens!
  9. When the bubble reaches the perfect size, gently shake it off of the portion cup and it will quickly fall to the ground (it’s heavierthan a normal bubble because the bubble is filled with carbon dioxide gas and water vapor).
  10. When the bubble hits the ground, it bursts and the cloud of fog erupts from the bubble. The ghost escapes and you have to go capture another.
Want your Boo Bubbles to last? Shake them onto a towel!
Touchable Boo Bubbles!
Purchase a pair of Bubble Gloves (100% cotton gloves also work well). Blow a Boo Bubble about the size of a baseball. Bounce the bubble off of your gloves. Try bouncing the bubble off of your shirt or pants. As you’ll soon see, some fabrics work better than others. Kids will go crazy for this activity. When I have done this in the classroom, I look out into a sea of gloved hands all ready for a bubble. They bounce it and show their friends. When it pops, the hand comes right back to me for another Boo Bubble. I love all of the looks of wonder and excitement on kids of all ages.

Reading Corner: Help Your Child Triumph Over Bullying (& Activities)

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying in schools and playgrounds is increasing…and with the internet and texting, children are no longer safe from bullying just because they are home. As parents, we need to be alert to the signs of a bullying problem.

  • Child comes home bruised or cut.
  • Child comes home without some of his belongings such as backpack, books or jacket.
  • Child does not want to go to school.
  • Child has bad dreams or frequent headaches or stomach aches.
  • Child comes home by a longer route or doesn’t want to ride the bus.

Parents who suspect a bullying problem need to take immediate action to stop the bullying:

  • Speak with your child, asking direct and indirect questions.
  • Speak with the teacher, principal, guidance counselor and other parents.
  • Be supportive of your child.
  • Assure your child that he has done nothing wrong and that you will not let any harm come to him.
  • If your investigation does not uncover a bullying problem, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice.

Picture books are a wonderful vehicle for helping kids explore difficult issues. Here is a wonderful story that will provide a great opportunity to discuss teasing and bullying with your child.

Lessons from Penn State: Teaching Kids About Body Safety

Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State assistant football coach, has been sentenced to 30-60 years in prison on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. There are no winners; lives have been altered irreversibly and the trail of pain runs deep. Sandusky and Penn State have come to represent complete individual and institutional failure on behalf of children, but now it’s time to reflect and take action.

What are the lessons and what can we do differently to build communities that are off limits to child sexual abusers?

1. Regularly talk with kids about body safety. With all the responsibilities of parenting, it can be tough to continually reinforce body-safety rules, yet it’s important to keep those conversations alive—e.g., “No one is allowed to touch the private areas of your body or ask you to touch theirs. If anyone tries to or does touch your private parts, tell a trusted adult.” Children don’t always tell when they are being abused because they may have been threatened and/or may fear losing a person they love or admire. So remind them, “It’s never too late to tell. I will not be mad at you. I will always love you.”

2. Be vigilant about screening. Unfortunately, in the quest for power, adults may debase children. If you enroll your child in a program affiliated with a “hero,” or in a program which seeks the spotlight

Jessica Ridgeway’s disappearance and what every parent needs to know about teaching kids to be safe

“Mom, when can I just be by myself?”

My 8-year-old daughter asked me this question last summer as we sat by a stream near our house. I knew what she meant. She’s independent like me and would love nothing better than to leave the house and explore her environs on her own terms. And I want that for her, too. My childhood was brimming with solo adventures that are the foundation of how I still live my life. I’d like nothing better than to set her loose.

But then I think of Jessica Ridgeway, the 10-year-old Westminster girl who went missing while walking to a park three blocks from home on her way to school.

As a mom, I’ve struggled with a balance of being a free-range parent versus a helicopter one. In my heart, I’m the former and believe happiness and self-confidence are borne out of self-sufficiency. In reality, I am often the latter. I don’t let my 6- and 8-year-olds play in the front yard of our sometimes-busy street unsupervised. I walk them to and from the bus stop while parents of similar-aged kids let them go it alone.

My husband sometimes harps on me to loosen the reigns and I wish I could but then I remember all those Dateline specials about kids who get kidnapped walking to school. And I usually err on the side of caution.

My kids and I are openly discussing Jessica Ridgeway’s disappearance and my hope is they will be extra cautious yet not live in fear. National Safety Director Nancy McBride has these tips on teaching kids personal safety:

*Speak to your child in a calm and reassuring way. Fear is not an effective teaching tool; confidence is.

*Speak openly about safety issues. If you approach child safety openly, your children will be more likely to come to you with problems or concerns.

*Don’t confuse children by warning against “strangers.” Danger to children is much greater from someone you or they know than from a “stranger.”

*Teach children that no one has the right to force, trick, or pressure them into doing things they don’t want to do.

*Practice safety skills by creating “what if” scenarios. An outing to a mall or the park can serve as a chance for children to practice safety skills, such as checking with you before they go anywhere or do anything, and locating adults who can help if they need assistance.

*Supervise your children. It is vital to their protection and safety. Children should not be put in the position of making safety choices if they are not old enough or skilled enough to make those choices.

*Check out adults who have access to your children. The more involved you are in your child’s life, the less likely it is that your child will seek attention from other, potentially dangerous adults.

Are you more of a free-range or helicopter parent? Have you discussed Jessica Ridgeway’s kidnapping with your kids?

Mama Drama: Responding to Rudeness from Other People’s Kids

Dear Mama Drama:

I’ve had a few experiences with rude children that have stumped me. I don’t really know how to deal with other people’s kids who are disrespectful. Where is the line?

(photo credit)

One was a teenager who had parked across three parking spaces in our church parking lot. I politely asked him to move his car but he gave me lip and refused. Imagine how mortified he was when he learned our religion classes were combining that day and he had to sit through my lesson.

Another was a student in my daughter’s second grade class who was being really mean to her about something she didn’t agree with. Fine. But then this girl started going off on ME! I couldn’t believe she’d dare to do it to an adult.

~Disbelieving Mama

Her Beauty: A Mother’s Wish For Her Daughter.

One day she’ll hate the freckles we once lovingly called Angel Kisses, and she’ll wish for her long, straight hair to be short and curly. But today she is a ten-year-old girl, content to brush out her hair and toss it over her shoulders, smiling into a mirror without looking away in “Why am I so ugly?” pain that may one day arrive. Any day, in fact.

She’s growing fast, much faster than I am happy with. It’s odd for me to admit, but I don’t feel the same fears for my growing sons that I feel for Stacey. Perhaps it is because I don’t know what it’s like to be a boy, but I remember very well what it’s like to be a little girl. And I remember feeling ugly every day.

As a little girl, I don’t have memories of someone telling me I was beautiful, or even pretty…or even, “Hey, it doesn’t hurt when I look at you.”

Douglas County Libraries’ story times for autistic kids welcomed

The sensory-enhanced story time at the Highlands Ranch Library is great for Holly del Campo and her 2 1/2-year-old son, Nolan, because she said it’s so hard to keep him engaged.

He has sensory processing disorder, which means he interprets the world differently than others through his senses, but also has a hard time sitting still and keeping engaged in regular story time. She said he was diagnosed at 2 when he was not speaking.

“It’s great that places like the library are aware of it,” del Campo said. “It’s hard to go to the library because he goes from thing to thing.”

The sensory-enhanced story time was designed for children along the autism spectrum, or any child who is differently abled. Douglas County Libraries designed it over nine months CLICK TO READ FULL STORY

5 ways to help kids pay attention in the classroom and at home

“Mom!” said 7 year-old Mason when his mother cursed at the driver who had just cut her off, “you’re in your amygdala. You’d better get back into your prefrontal cortex.”

Such utterances have been made by school children in Steamboat Springs ever since Kristen Race, PhD, began training that district’s teachers in her Mindful Life Schools program (other school districts in Colorado and around the country have received training, as well). In addition to trainings for educators, Dr. Race also offers workshops for parents  in how to create peaceful classrooms and homes through the simple act of cultivating mindfulness.

The children learn early on the brain science behind the program. When we are stressed, our response are more likely to come from