Volume 26I 2021
Monthly Focus!
Magnifying glass
This month's focus is sensory tools and supports!
Our New Sensory-Focused Treatment Room
Sensory Treatment Room at TechACCESS
Thanks to the amazing support of our grantors, we have created a sensory space that we use during evaluations and treatment.

Tools in this space include:

Very special thanks to our grantors who made this possible:
Shriners of Rhode Island Charities Trust
Frederick C. Tanner Memorial Fund
Using Google Slides to Make Sensory Diets & Interactive Daily Schedules
Visual Schedule
Using Google Slides as a work-space for creating and using digital daily schedules is a fun and interactive way to help students monitor and track their sensory diets. The child and caregiver can use the digital format without copying pasting and printing paper copies.

Creating your own digital daily schedule is easy! Follow these easy steps to make your own or check out this one we created: click here.

1.    Add a Background: although you want to create images to drag & drop, there may be some portions of the slide you do not want the individual to move. Because Google Slides does not allow you to lock down items, the workaround is to make items part of the background:
·      Create a new Google Drawing and set the page size to match the size of the slideshow (click file, then page setup)
·      Add all the content that you do not want moveable in the final schedule
·      After creating the background, save image by clicking, File, then Download, then PNG image.
2.    Back in your Google Slide, add this as a background by clicking Slide, then Change background, then uploading the image you just created.
3.    After the background is set, you can begin to add the movable items. You can add manipulatives from many sources:
·      Clipart (click Insert, then Image, then Search the web to find pictures to add)
·      Text boxes (click Insert, then Text Box)
·      Shapes (click Insert, then Shape)
The items that you add can be placed in several locations:
·      On the slide
·      Off the slide
·      Another slide
4.    Sharing the activities with students and families: After the activity has been created, you need to share it with your students and give them edit rights to the slideshow.
5.    You can push out a copy to each student through Google Classroom and make sure to allow them access to edit.
Switch-Controlled Sensory Activities
Fan with a red switch attached
How can we help switch users independently participate in sensory activities? Easy! There are many different switch accessible sensory toys, devices, and activities available. Let’s consider three different types of sensory input and how they can be adapted for switch control. 

Light: There are many different light-based sensory devices available such as light boxes (here's a DIY version), fiber optic lights, moving lights, etc. Some are available in switch-adapted form from companies such as Enabling Devices and Ablenet. If your light toy/device is not switch adapted, you can connect a switch using the Ablenet PowerLink or the iClick from Inclusive TLC.  
Sound: Sound-based sensory activities include music, musical toys, toys that produce sound, sound machines, etc. These are also available in switch adapted form. The Powerlink and iClick can also be used to connect a switch. 

Tactile Input: Devices such as a fan, vibration toys, or a massage cushion can also be adapted for switch control. 

For those requiring increased sensory input, try connecting two different types of sensory input to one switch for engaging switch controlled sensory activities!

You can purchase switch-adapted devices from companies such as ablenet or Enabling Devices or you can make your own!

Need ideas for activities? Check out this great resource!
Make Your Own Sensory Tools!
Bag of blue rice and water bottle filled with sand and shells
Teaching children to be aware of and, in part, manage their sensory needs can be very empowering for them. Parents and teachers can do this by engaging kids in making their own sensory tools. These projects can provide an opportunity for families to have some fun while also providing children with inexpensive sensory options for home. 
Seek and Find Rice: Place one pound of rice and one Kool-Aid packet in a Ziploc bag along with 1-2 tablespoons of warm water. Seal the bag and squish it between your fingers until the color is spread evenly. Pour the colored rice onto parchment paper to let it dry. Pour the rice into a small empty, dry water bottle. Next, choose small items to add, such as legos, letter beads, buttons, and other small items. Seal it well. Children can try to find each item when they need a break. 

Marble Maze: Use scraps of fabric or even old clothes such as flannel shirts and a marble to create an easy to sew sensory tool. Follow the link to see the directions and examples of this easy project. Kids can easily sew these simple rectangles by hand. This tool is small enough to take along and is great to keep fingers busy as children move the marble through the maze. Be sure to choose a fabric that will appeal to your child or student. 

Wearable Fidget: Does your child or student need a fidget that they can't lose, that can travel with them on the bus or in the car? This easy to make tool can be added to a zipper on a jacket or backpack. Simply get a keyring and 4-5 beads. Let your child determine the colors they like best. Put the beads on the keyring and attach the ring to a zipper pull. If you'd like to see examples, click on the link. 

Sensory bag: This is a quick and easy project that can be used for squishing and calming down but also to practice writing letters. Take one large Ziploc baggie and pour in 1/2 cup of hair gel and some food coloring. Squeeze out the air, seal, and fold a strip of duct tape over the top for extra protection. Children can squeeze and spread the color throughout. These are great to lay flat and draw designs or write letters with your finger. 

Calm Down Jar: There are many ideas for making a calm down jar, but this one has been successfully tested with students. You need a plastic bottle, glitter glue such as Elmer’s that comes in some great colors, food coloring, and warm water. You will need to use about half a bottle of glue to get a good looking result. Pour the glue in the bottle and about a cup of very warm water. Shake hard to break up the glue. Next, add the rest of the water, food coloring, and, if you want, small objects. Put on the cap and shake to finish mixing. You may want to hot glue the cap to prevent spills.
Sensory Diets for Adults & in the Workplace
It is estimated that “5-16% of school aged children are affected by sensory processing disorder” (Bunim, Juliana 2020). Some adults today have sensory processing issues that were never properly diagnosed and treated simply because this wasn’t a widely understood diagnosis 15+ years ago.

As these individuals have transitioned into adulthood, they may have found it challenging to adapt to their workload or environment. That's where a sensory diet can help!

A sensory diet is something that is typically prescribed by an occupation therapist and will vary depending on the individual and how they process different stimuli. As an example and depending on the environment, the individual could be hypersensitive to noise and a 10 minute walk will help that person regulate themselves so they can continue to work at their desk. Another individual may need dimmed lights to reduce visual stimulation. Some individuals rely on apps on their phones or other strategies to help regulate and calm themselves.

In 2002 the American with Disabilities Act passed a law stating that individuals who need a reasonable accommodation from an employer shall receive one. This is something that an individual with sensory processing disorder (SPD) should be aware of as they identify strategies and tools they can use to help regulate themselves throughout their work day. It is important that individuals with SPD work with their employers to address their specific needs.

If you feel that you have a SPD, you can work with your primary care physician in order to properly diagnose and treat your symptoms. Once you have a proper diagnosis your doctor can refer you to a specialist that will give you treatment based on your individual needs. 

Check out this great Fact Sheet from AOTA about "Using a Sensory Integration–Based Approach With Adult Populations". There is also a guide created by SPIRAL (The Sensory Processing Institute of Research and Learning) called SPD Education Toolkit
For Adults and Adolescents that's worth checking out!
Apps for Sensory Processing
There are many apps available to help individuals with sensory processing disorders - children and adults - focus, relax and engage. Here are a few to try to incorporate within an individual's sensory diet:
This app simulates various heat-sensitive surfaces reacting to the heat of your fingertips. Simple, yet surprisingly relaxing and entertaining!
Dropophone (free)
Create your own melodies. This app allows you to make songs that sound like drips and drops falling on a tiny orchestra of instruments.

BrainWorks ($8.99)
This app was developed to “provide children with the sensory breaks they need to function their best!” It contains more than 130 sensory activities.

Miracle Modus (free)
This app was developed by an individual with autism who stated: “I’m autistic, and I wrote this because I wanted something to mitigate sensory overload. I find mathematically-patterned rainbow lights very soothing.” Contains hypnotic rainbows and soft bells.

Relax watching the goldfish swim elegantly through crystal clear waters.

Fluidity HD (free)
Interactive real-time fluid dynamics simulation, control fluid flow and stunning colors at your fingertips.

This is not just a great sensory app, but can be used for developing cause and effect touch skills and sensory integration support or for introducing touch awareness.
Mention of any product, service or event in this newsletter does not constitute any endorsement or recommendation by TechACCESS.

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