Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Unique Connection

I have been recently studying up on development in young children with vision impairments. I have been loving it. It reminded me of a video that I had shared on Facebook awhile back. In the video, the children are blindfolded. They are then brought up to a line of women. Their mother is in the line of women. Each child has to identify their mother by touch alone. Watch how tender it is to see these sweet little children identify their mothers without using their sight. 

I wanted to share this video for several reasons. Most importantly, I wanted to share it for every mom who has a child with a significant vision impairment. The sweet moms who don't get to make eye contact to evoke a smile from their babies. These sweet moms (and dads) worry how their new infant will see them, connect with them, identify them. I always share with these sweet families that their child can see them. They just learn to see them differently. It's through their touch that blind babies and infants learn who mom and dad is. Take heart, your children know who you are. 

I also want to point out how important touch is in general. Touch allows babies and infants with vision impairments to know their caregivers. Touch also teaches these kids about the world and we must not overprotect them. No one ever said touch must be with the hands (although that is the first thing we think about). Touch can be accomplished using feet, arms, belly and legs. Random touch doesn't help much but purposeful, consistent, meaningful touch does wonders! Even for our most impaired-body students. It may take several (and I mean like 100) times before those little limbs respond, but keep going! Use soft blankets, interesting textures, etc. to elicit interest.

Parents, siblings, friends, all caregivers, hug those little ones who have sensory impairments! Enjoy them and encourage them to see the world with touch :)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

DIY Sensory/Music Wall

Have you seen these musical walls on Pinterest? I loved the idea as soon as I saw it! I searched a few different ideas to find the right combination of items to make our sensory wall. I loved the colorful xylophone made out of PVC. I then added different wind chimes and purchased a glockenspiel to mount to the wall. I took lots of pics of everything. You can add a curtain feature (not on this wall) if you need to reduce visual clutter. I am going to give you the directions on how to make this from the perspective of someone who has no building skills (me). 
We (my handsome husband and best partner/builder, Todd) is the guy in the pictures. We purchased everything at Lowe's. To make the PVC xylophone, we used different PVC from 1/2" to 4". Todd cut everything to make the xylophone arrangement with a hack saw and a PVC cutter. We bought joints for each piece of PVC. You can YouTube how to paint PVC. That's what I did. See below for all my painting pics and tools. 

I bought a variety of mallets for the drums and music instruments. 

Here are all the screws, bolts, anchors, etc. we bought. I had no idea on what we needed but Todd did! Here's what we bought. 

Below: here's how I painted the PVC and the metal cans. I used a ton of this primer. Spray it evenly and do it outside for sure.

We had a ton of ideas when we were formulating this wall. Todd was smart--he taped out sections of each area. This helped with mapping out and spacing items.

I ordered this glockenspiel from Amazon. I liked the case because 1) it was black and 2) I could mount it and have it closed off (since this was going to sit outside)

I also wanted to find something that would be accessible to kids with limited arm motion (that couldn't hold a mallet) or were in a wheel chair (and had their heads positioned so that they were looking up). Hello wind chimes! I found two distinct sounding chimes from Ross for about $7 a piece. They had low ropes hanging down the center that would be accessible to these special kids that I was thinking about.
Todd mount the metal cans (treated with primer and and outdoor spray paint for rust issues) with L brackets. 
As we walked through Lowe's and were gathering ideas for items, we found aluminum flexible tubing--ventilation tubing, no rust or mess).  I thought this was fun because of its length and texture. We mounted it with brackets.
There are several versions of these musical walls on Pinterest. Check them out! I hope this inspires you to get handy and make a wall for outside in the backyard or inside a playroom/classroom. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

White Cane Day 2015

Happy White Cane Day 2015!!!

I have been so excited to see all the fun posts on social media sites about White Cane Day!!
Are you curious to know how I celebrated? We had to do our celebrations a little early due to fall break in Utah. We had a big event last Friday night that was SO much fun!
We were honored to have Blessing Offor (most notably from TV's "The Voice" but is also a very accomplished musician and speaker). Check out his The Voice audition below. 

Blessing was a true blessing as he was motivational, real and energetic about his life and experiences as someone with a vision impairment. Our theme for White Cane Day this year was "Sing Your Song of Independence". I chose that theme because independence isn't the same for everyone. There are truly different levels of it. It's time we have fun and celebrate it! Plus, I totally wanted to empower my students to pick up their white canes and walk with pride. 

I decided to turn White Cane Day into a full on short term program for students. We spent almost two full days with Blessing. We co-wrote a song with him and several talented students shared their musical gifts. I also wanted this to be a big opportunity for community service, education and awareness. Our students got busy by making handout cards with information about White Cane Day and their feelings about the white cane. We made white cane key chains to give away. 

I couldn't have done it without my amazing staff that always steps up and helps with these events! They are a talented group of recreational therapists, OTs, special ed majors and adaptive PE teachers from our surrounding universities. 

The t-shirts were one of my highlights! But if you have been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that I love my t-shirts and designing them is always a fave thing for me to do. 

Did you forget about White Cane Day? It's not too late to celebrate! There are so many ideas that you can do to help promote awareness of White Cane Safety Day. You can have a class presentation (and let your child talk about the white cane), invite mobility instructors to come and demonstrate (and then let you try under blindfold). I have done art contests in the past where students draw white cane safety. There's no "right way" to celebrate as long as you are! 

Can't wait til next year to celebrate one of my favorite holidays again!!