BROADWAY FOR THE MASSES IS NOW A TRUE REALITY

Broadway musicals are not just for the elite who can afford them in New York City. There is the belief that everyone w2hould have access to and be able to enjoy the arts – especially musical theater.

But for a long time, the masses have not meant those with certain sensory disadvantages. That has started to change of late, and one theater in particular has stepped up to help make Broadway musicals truly more accessible to more people.

We take you to the Wharton Center, a performing-arts facility in Lansing, Michigan, where it has put together what are called “sensory friendly” performances of plays in the past, including “cat in the Hat.” The next step was reached when a Broadway play, “Disney’s Lion King” developed its own sensory friendly performance for various children with sensory issues and/or listed on the autism spectrum.

Broadway plays are often a challenge for those with sensory disadvantages, as the performances are often loud and have either very dark or very bright lights, and there are often unexpected events that occur. The Wharton Center had a special sensory friendly performance one afternoon in July, and they helped young patrons adapt to the new environment.

These sensory friendly performances differ a bit from the more traditional performances in that they adapt lighting, sound and other effects to fit the more sensitive patrons, and also provide opportunities for patrons to preview the performance and learn about the play, what happens during these events and what they can expect when they arrive for the show. All of this is designed to provide the entire spectacle of a Broadway play but without all the overwhelming sensations that could paralyze children and others with sensory disadvantages.

The Wharton Center would prepare for the sensory-friendly performances by inviting ticketholders to an open house prior to the even, where children can see the theater, know where they are sitting, and they are introduced to cases members and are shown costumes and told about the story of the play so the children will know what to expect when they arrive.

According to feedback from some parents, these extra steps that the Wharton Center takes makes these performances fun for everyone in the family, where event eh children reported having a good time and enjoying the experience of a Broadway play.

Broadway musicals are cultural phenomena that people of all ages should have the opportunity to experience and enjoy for their theatrical power, musical scores and brilliant acting – they are the ultimate in the theatrical arts and can be emotional, uplifting experiences that promote the arts for children. Every effort should be made to allow even the most sensitive and vulnerable of us to enjoy the theater and all it has to offer for our spirits and souls, as that is what gives us the joy of life.

 

Can A Child Outgrow Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder, also known as SPD, is a condition in which the brain struggles to properly respond to information taken in by the senses. Often, this results in people with the disorder being overly sensitive to things in their environment. Normal sounds and textures can be painful or overwhelming to those with SPD. For example, merely touching a shirt or a piece of velvet can trigger this pain. As a result, people with SPD may be uncoordinated, hard to converse with, or even unable to tell where their limbs are in space.

Typically, sensory processing issues are identified in children, although adults can have them as well. Sensory Processing Disorder is frequently seen in children who have other conditions like autism spectrum disorder. Much like autism spectrum, the symptoms of this disorder exist on a spectrum. However, unlike autism, it is possible for the child to outgrow this disorder. Let’s examine the different possible cases for someone with SPD.

In the less severe cases, a child may just have an immature sensory system. Thus, he or she will be able to outgrow it as they develop and their sensory system matures. However, sometimes the disorder is permanent, and the child must learn to develop coping strategies. Such strategies can include social withdrawal, or other, healthier things like swimming to reduce this stress.

Unfortunately, Sensory Processing Disorder is not being fully researched and recognized by the health care community. Many feel that there is no real hardcore evidence of this disorder. Thus, without concrete evidence it can be difficult to study and quantify the symptoms and causes of SPD. However, there have been some studies done, that found similarities between ADHD and SPD. A child with SPD often faces similar symptoms as one with AHDD — restless, easily distracted, impulsive, forgetful, and more. However, symptoms like a desire to swing or spin and a fear of walking on grass are unique to SPD.

Although SPD share similarities with ADHD, the traditional ADHD medications do not work on those with SPD. Rather, a child with SPD needs to work with an occupational therapist to reduce or remove their symptoms. Treatment ranges from swinging on a trapeze to touching Play Doh, all activities that stimulate the senses. After around a month of such treatment, most children will start to feel more comfortable and even physically stronger. For some, this treatment needs to last for years in order to show progress. Overall, it is possible to remedy or outgrow SPD, although it is a case by case situation.

Tips For Children Who Are Uncomfortable In Their Clothing

Kids who take off their close because it’s uncomfortable is not just rebellion. For those who suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) certain tactile sensations can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable to the point where the child might prefer to be naked. while that is not a long-term solution, these tips can help get your children who are suffering from SPD to wear clothes:

Buy Sensory Friendly Clothing 

What used to be only available in specialty boutiques or online retailers, big box store’s like Target are having more sensory friendly clothing available through their Cat & Jack line. The clothing has flat seams and no tags. Zappdos has partnered with PBS to also offer sensory-friendly clothing with loose necklines, flat seams, and tags that dissolve in water. Undergarments can be purchased through SmartKnitKids who specialize in seam-free underwear and socks.

At Home Let Them Be Free 

While children need to wear clothes when they leave the house when they home are home it is acceptable to allow them to take their clothes off. This way they associate outside of the home with clothes and no in order to leave the house they must put clothes on.

Routines 

If your child struggles getting dressed in the morning, try having them select which clothes to wear the night before. Sometimes by giving them power and responsibility of selecting an outfit, it will not be a fight in the morning. Also, start the morning routine earlier to allow more time.

 

Best Sports for Kids with SPD

Children with Sensory Processing Disorder often struggle with identifying different sensations that the body comes in contact with. Depending on the type of SPD your child has, different sensors can be affected. For example, if your child’s SPD effects their vision, they may struggle to identify colors, lights, shapes, and sizes. Sensory Processing Disorder can affect all walks of life. It can affect a child’s learning ability, social life, productivity, and daily life in general.

There are multiple therapies that can help a child cope with this diagnosis. One of the more fun options is participating in athletic activities. After doing some research, we were able to compile a list of sports that parents feel helped their child the most.

Swimming

Swimming is great because directly affects all of the child’s senses at once. They can feel the water from their head to their toes. Also, there are tons of visual cues and movements. It’s a fun activity that will also teach them the importance of safety.

Martial Arts

Sometimes, SPD can have an effect on the emotional self-control of a child. This can rear the ugly head of SPD; leading to aggressive outbreaks. Martial arts will help your child learn self-control. The combative sport will teach your child how to control their bodies and mind.

Wrestling

Like martial arts, wrestling is a great way for your child to learn self-control. At the same time, wrestling provides a way for your child to burn physical energy. Wrestling is a great brain exercise as your child will have to come up with a strategy to defeat their opponent.

Gymnastics

As with the other sports we have mentioned, gymnastics is great for any child, not just a child with SPD. Although, your child with SPD may struggle with following instructions. If this is the case, you can ask for open gym time. During this time, the gym will be less crowded and your child can freestyle.

Yoga

Like the other activities we mentioned, Yoga is great because it’s a peaceful and calming environment that teaches focus all while requiring a lot of physical output. Yoga is great for your child’s body. It will build strength, increase flexibility, and straighten posture.

When you are looking for activities for your child, try to find those that affect all of the child’s senses. You want to put your child in a place where they can not only succeed, but learn valuable skills that can be applied to all walks of life.

Helping Your Picky Eater

Have you ever asked your child to try something and without hesitation, your child has determined that he or she hates it despite the fact he or she has never tried it before? The reason that this occurs might be surprising but it’s very common. It has to do with food texture. Even adults find themselves enjoying the flavor or something but also can’t stand the texture of the food.

Where does this aversion to food texture come from and how can we use this knowledge to help your picky eater? Food texture issues stem from a delay or oral motor skills such as movement of the tongue to push the food to the sides of the mouth so one can easily chew. When a child suffers from delayed oral motor skills, it makes some things very difficult to chew. The child remembers this type of food caused distress and if they put something in the mouth that has a similar mouth feel they will automatically spit it out or begin to gag. Over time, they will refuse to eat foods that they think will be difficult to chew and therefore become a “picky eater”.

There are several ways to help encourage your child to try new textures and to eat new foods. The first method is to help them get used to the texture in general. For example, if your child doesn’t like eating mushy foods like mashed potatoes then have them play with mushy textures throughout the day like playdoh. This gets them used to the texture and it won’t seem as off-putting when it comes to mealtime. Another method is sort of like exposure therapy. Have a side of vegetables with every meal will get your child used to them on the plate. Do not force your child to eat them. Sooner or later they are more likely to at least try them. The key is to be patient and let your child discover the flavor on their own. We recommend having at least 2 to 3 different textures on the plate. For example “chewy” meat, “mushy” potatoes and “textured” vegetables.

One other important thing to know is to not reward your kids with food. Even if your kid eats all their vegetables it doesn’t mean that they should get a piece of cake. Conversely, don’t offer them cake if they eat all their vegetables. It’s important for kids to learn to eat without reward.

For more advice we recommend the following article:
https://www.romper.com/p/food-texture-aversion-in-toddlers-7-ways-to-help-your-picky-eater-8249053

Transitioning To Winter

The transition from fall to winter with kids with sensory processing disorder can be extremely overwhelming. It can be overwhelming for anyone regardless if they have a disorder or not. Especially this year with the weather yo-yo-ing from hot to cold throughout the week, being prepared to help your child transition from day to day can make your morning routine go smoother.

The Layered Effect

Heavy coats are usually deemed unwearable by kids with SPD. They are too bulky and can feel uncomfortable. The best course of action is to dress your child in soft layers. On especially cold days start with a thermal, then long sleeved shirt, then a sweatshirt and then a hoodie. The fabric should be something that your child likes to wear such as cotton or flannel. You can even have them pick out clothes that they like to wear from other seasons (such as their favorite hoodie from fall or their favorite long sleeved shirt from spring) and have them create the layered outfit.

Portable Hand Warmers

Some children with SPD will flat out refuse to wear gloves or mittens. By adding portable hand warmers in their pockets, they can keep their hands in their pockets without the sensation that they can’t touch anything or feel stifled by an uncomfortable fabric on their hands.

Practice Makes Perfect

One of the ways to get children with SPD to cooperate it to practice and plan. By having your child sit in a warm coat or by placing his hands in gloves for a few minutes each day can help give them exposure to what is upcoming. This way when the winter does come, it’s not as traumatizing as putting them into a coat for the first time.

Soft Clothing

Before putting the clothing on the child, be sure to give it a wash with fabric softener to help make the clothing feel appealing. Also make sure you remove any hidden tags (especially in gloves) that would feel irritating.

Having a child with SPD can be so overwhelming but these are a few tips and tricks that you can do to help make the transitions from warm weather to cold weather easier.

Sensory Processing Disorder During Christmas

Everyone knows that the holidays can be rather chaotic in and of themselves. The coming and going of relatives, the seemingly eternal bustle of shopping and preparing for Christmas, and the perception that there is never enough time in a day to get everything done. For many people, despite the holidays being a time of good cheer and merriment, they are more often filled with stress and tight schedules to make sure that everything gets done in an orderly fashion – if it gets done in any fashion at all.

For those who have even weightier troubles, such as sensory processing disorder, Christmas time and the holidays in general can be an absolute nightmare. Daily schedules are all but abandoned as people attempt to coordinate plans for getting together, people are in and out with what appears to be no rhyme or reason, and a lot of what makes Christmas so stressful for people is navigating among everyone else in the outside world who are also trying to get their holidays absolutely perfect. For those with SPD, this can be especially hectic. So for those who are trying to coordinate a happy holiday as well as accommodate the needs of someone with SPD (and they are important to accommodate), here are a few holiday tips to consider:

First and foremost, don’t be afraid to acclimate Christmas to your child’s needs. If your child has specific eating habits or may very likely reject Christmas dinner somewhere else, you should feel encouraged to have a meal specifically catered to him or her. It is also a good idea to arrange the personal atmosphere that best suits your child’s needs. Noise canceling headphones are a good idea, or if your child uses an iPad or other electronic device to serve as distraction, it would be in your best interest to have it on hand if you are going out to visit family or friends. Make sure to bring a weighted blanket and sensory tools as well. Should you feel the need to keep Christmas small for your child, do not hesitate. It is okay to limit visitors with time limits so as not to overwhelm your child, or even just to have Christmas with your immediate family to keep things simple. And while on the topic of simple, be mindful of things that impact the senses; try to keep aromas, noises or music, and lights as minimal as possible.

Try to avoid bringing your child to shop whenever possible; crowds of people in stores and malls can be disconcerting. If you are faced with the need to bring your child into public situations where he or she may feel less at ease, it is important to make them aware of these situations in advance. Reading social stories can be a good way to prepare your child for upcoming events so they will not feel as put upon as they might without warning. Visiting Santa can also be prearranged; many malls accommodate children with sensory processing disorders, so scheduling visits in advance could work to everyone’s benefit. Be aware of warning signs should your child start to feel uncomfortable as well, and don’t be ashamed of withdrawing from a situation for the benefit of your child. It may also be beneficial to stretch Christmas over a period of days. Normally, Christmas involves a lot of traveling, a lot of people, a lot of presents, and a lot to take in. Allowing a child to open a few presents a day as opposed to everything at one time could make the holidays pass more easily. So don’t be afraid to stretch the celebration from one or two intense days to several days of calmer festivities.

Finally, it is important to praise your child for good behavior and for coping with what might be stressful situations. Allow for periods of time where they can be expressive: running, jumping, twirling, whatever they may do. And make sure to keep separate space for them to calm down should the need arise. Try as we might, there are almost always pockets of time when Christmas becomes overwhelming for all of us. Accommodating this need beforehand for your child could save them some unwanted reactions. But, most of all, make sure that Christmas suits your family entirely. It doesn’t need to be like everyone’s Christmas as long as you are enjoying yourselves and the time you have together.

Does a Fidget Spinner Actually Help a Student Concentrate and Focus?

Fidget spinners can be found in every store, classroom and trashcan from Long Beach to Long Island. Kids adore them, babies giggle madly and even grownups can be captivated by their curious movements. Some are even capable of lighting up, levitating and driving classroom teachers bonkers. The fidget spinner has joined the ranks of Rubix cubes, slap bracelets and “my pet rock” in being basically useless and cheap to mass produce.

Selling at anywhere from $2.00 to $200.00 it is obvious someone is becoming very wealthy off the fidget spinner. Then there’s the fantasy of making a kid focus on bookwork by putting something bright shiny and engaging in their hands.

Some schools are getting wise to the marketing ploy and Massachusetts, Florida and New York schools have issued many bans against bringing these dervish-machines into a place of learned scholars. So are these fidget spinners actually beneficial or have we all been bamboozled?

The things is there is some truth to the idea that small manual actions can ground the mind, allow the user to exercise control over their breathing patterns and hence their focus as well as aid in mindfulness exercises. There is no “clinical” evidence that supports or refutes the claims from marketers that fidget spinners aid in focus.

Julie Schweitzer is an authority on behavioral science at the University of California. According to Dr. Schweitzer, the fidget spinner is captivating and engaging whereas a stress ball or chewing gum is a subtle action that vanishes into the subconscious. This captivating aspect keeps the fidget spinner from being a benefit to the student trying to complete a task.

One thing for sure a classroom of students sporting their own brand of fidget spinners, an array of tricks they have perfected in the last few classes and a teacher on their last nerve is no recipe for mental stimulation and education.

How Is Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosed In Children?

Most of us take for granted the simpler things in life: the taste of food, the sound of music, the scent of a flower, or the sight of a beautiful sunset. For some people, even these common experiences can present a gargantuan computational problem for the mind. Sensory processing disorder (or SPD) is a condition that forces the subject to experience life with less structure than most of us are used to. Those who have this disorder have brains that can’t interpret sensory information.

This can mean a variety of things, and it all depends on the person who is diagnosed with the condition. While one person might simply be hypersensitive to a smell, a sound, or a number of visual stimuli, another might have difficulty with coordination while taking an ordinary stroll down the street. One might have trouble avoiding obstacles. Engaging in conversation can cause issues as well. Depth perception can be a great struggle for those with SPD. Imagine not knowing how far away the vehicles are when you’re trying to cross the street. These are the problems some people face every day.

For a parent, SPD can be a terrifying diagnosis. To others, the mere possibility is strange, since diagnosis isn’t always easy. After all, sometimes kids seemingly cause trouble for no reason at all. The reasons behind their actions are difficult to determine, and that’s why we might not immediately jump to conclusions if they aren’t in the mood for a cuddle or a kiss, or just don’t want to talk. Kids often trip over their own feet, so how are we to know if something really is wrong?

It’s important to look for signs of SPD as early as possible. When a child is an infant or toddler and continuously struggles when being clothed, this is an early warning sign. The child might routinely avoid affection or be unable to eat or sleep without a tantrum. When children get older, take note of any sensitivity to common actions. If your child can’t adapt to different situations, has a difficult time when trying to write, or just gets too easily distracted, then there might be a bigger problem.

SPD isn’t as rare as you might think, either. Researchers out of the University of California at San Francisco determined that anywhere from 5 to 16 percent of children experience a form of SPD while growing up. If you suspect your child has a hard time with common activities and is hypersensitive to sights or sounds, then you should find an occupational therapist who can assess the likelihood of SPD.

At first, the child will be given a series of interviews in order to determine typical behaviors and responses to certain stimuli. After that, treatment might be personally tailored depending on your child’s situation. Therapy for one child can be completely different for therapy for another, and this is a direct result of the many different forms that SPD can take. No matter what, it’s important to take these steps as early as possible in order to make life a little easier in the early years of school, and a lot easier down the road.