Do you know a child with sensory processing issues? Or maybe it’s you who has a really acute sense or hearing or smell, or is really particular about the feel of clothing? Well, do we have a treat for you! I’m Bobbi Sheahan, and Jenny let me take over her blog today! (How cool is THAT?) And, wait, it gets better. I brought Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz with me! When I think of helping kids with sensory processing issues, I think of Carol and Joye. Joye has been working as a perceptual motor therapist since the late 1970’s, and she founded and continues to direct a popular organization called Kids Moving Company. Her website is www.kidsmovingco.com. Carol has been a hero of mine since her book, The Out-of-Sync Child, helped me to begin to understand my daughter’s sensory issues. She is the author of several books on the subject and the Editor in Chief of S.I. Focus Magazine. She is also a board member of the Sensory Therapy and Research (STAR) Center. Her website is www.out-of-sync-child.com.
QUESTION: I am so excited to bring you to Jenny’s readers, and I thank Jenny for having us on her blog! I want to talk about your new In-Sync Activity Cards. Why did you create them, and who did you create them for?
We created these cards to provide a very user friendly supplement to our popular book, Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow. The activities in our book were so well received that we wanted to offer more. Ideally, the book and the cards are used together, as the book provides in-depth explanations of the sensory-motor terms on the cards.
QUESTION: What kind of reception are you getting from people who are using the cards?
Based on reviews on amazon.com, it seems that our cards are a hit! People appreciate that their kids will do the activities without hesitation because they are fun, not even realizing how helpful they are … as one reviewer says, “easier than getting them to eat vegetables.” People also like choosing favorite activities and keeping each card in the appropriate space, such as in the kitchen or dining room. Children of all ages and abilities are enjoying and benefitting from our ideas.
QUESTION: We love your cards! I really appreciate the cute illustrations on the cards that show the body movements for each activity. We have sensory issues and autism in our house, but I have to tell you — all of my kids love the activities. My kids love clapping their feet, playing copy cat, the Creepinator, and holding up the wall! Did you realize how much fun they would be fun for everyone, even folks with no sensory issues?
These activities are drawn from experiences that we have had working with children over the course of our careers. In our book and activity cards, we focus on ideas that help children feel successful. The ideas work because they:
A) Involve movement, and we believe that moving actively, rather than sitting passively, improves children’s ability to learn.
B) Are interactive with an adult or other kids, and we believe that social participation strengthens learning.
C) Are fun, and we believe that having fun while learning makes what is learned memorable.
QUESTION: One of the things that I like the best about what you’ve done here is the simplicity of use. What equipment would you recommend that people purchase for a sensory kid, if they were going to start with just a few things?
Most of the activities in our In-Sync Activity Cards can be performed with no equipment at all. An easy starter kit might include masking tape, paper plates, a few bean bags, and a hoop or two.
QUESTION: I love the name of Joye’s company: Kids Moving Company. Like many of us who grew up in the 1970s, I spent too much time in front of the TV when I was a kid, but I think it’s even harder now for kids to have lots of time to play and move and be kids. Kids’ lives are so planned, so plugged in now. Can you talk about how important it is to let kids move and run and be active?
We feel very passionately that kids must be unplugged and must be allowed abundant time and space to move! Below are a couple of paragraphs from our book that begin a discussion about the importance of moving to develop and enhance basic sensory, perceptual, and visual skills:
HOW MOVEMENT GETS KIDS IN SYNC
From a chapter in Growing an In-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz and Joye Newman, by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2010 by Out-of-Sync Child Inc. and Joye Newman.
Our out-of-sync culture no longer fosters physical activity. The balance has shifted toward emphasizing technology and academics at the expense of movement. In the past, children used their bodies to walk to school, do chores, help harvest and prepare food, and keep moving. They learned new skills when their bodies and brains were ready. Today, the emphasis on early academic achievements and technological expertise has resulted in a world in which sedentary activities have become the norm. And modern conveniences such as remote controls and Velcro make it easy to move less. It is almost as if movement is no longer necessary. But movement is necessary!
Pediatricians, teachers, and other specialists now recognize that early motor development is one of the most important factors in the physical, emotional, academic, and overall success of your child.
In the past, children played outside. They climbed trees, jumped in puddles, played hopscotch and rolled down hills. By doing so, their brains were learning concepts of up and down, right and left, forward and back — many of the skills crucial for the acquisition of reading, writing, and being In Sync.
The In-Sync child’s healthy growth depends on three major components — Sensory Processing skills, Perceptual Motor skills, and Visual skills. These skills are developing at birth and are continuously integrated as the child moves.
QUESTION: How can parents introduce more movement into their families’ days?
Introducing movement into every family’s day is unbelievably easy — all you have to do is think about it! Whenever the children have the opportunity to move from place to place, rather than having them walk, have them jump, or slide, or hop. Using chairs to go over or under, or a sturdy table to crawl across, makes a simple obstacle course for the children to go through to get to the front door.
QUESTION: What’s next for each of you?
Joye is enjoying spreading the word to people across the country about the importance of movement and how easy it is to integrate opportunities into almost any scenario. She is also working on a preschool movement curriculum. She continues to oversee the Kids Moving Company in-school programs, and to run her private practice, helping children feel more comfortable in their bodies.
Carol is working on a new book in the “Sync” series, entitled, Striving for Sync: Teens and Adults Tell Us about Growing Up with Sensory Processing Disorder, to be published by Sensory World in 2013. Meanwhile, she speaks internationally about how SPD affects learning and development.
And both Carol and Joye continue to write articles, have interviews, and speak at conferences and local gatherings about what parents, teachers, and professionals can do to help get children In Sync.
Bobbi Sheahan is the co-author of What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child With Autism (Future Horizons, 2011) and is a columnist for S.I. FocusMagazine and a regular contributor to Autism Asperger’s Digest Magazine.