Little Bit of Sensory Overload

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My daughter testing out the swing. Yep, it is just as fun as it looks.

I'm going to start this post by explaining I am not an expert on children with autism. I'm not going to get into a debate on whether or not I believe in Jenny McCarthy and her magical powers and I'm not going to discuss any theories on immunizations. However,

...I'm a parent of a non-verbal autistic boy who means the world to me...

As the parent of this sweet little boy, I sometimes get disappointed with my lack of ability to find presents to entertain him in the ways my other children are entertained with games and books.

So when I was trying to figure out anything to buy him for Christmas last month, I saw a news report on a new creative space at the hospital for children with autism. The room is filled with so many wonderful machines, lights and sounds to capture the attention of children.

If you have a child with autism, you understand how frustrated some of the simplest tasks we take for granted can be to them. You may also understand how upset they can become when their frustration gets the better of them. When this happens, they need a way to calm themselves. And when they are in a good mood, they need a way to stimulate their senses.

When I saw the clip, I thought it would be so expensive to create a room with things such as fiberoptic lights and computers that work by touching the screen.

News Report Video for the Sensory Room - Click Here,0,822207.story

However, even if I didn't have the budget to create a room on the scale of the hospital, it did give me so many ideas to help transform my autistic son's room from a plain empty space into a room he can enjoy.

1) Calm Colors. The walls are a muted grey and on wall is a darker shade of grey with fun blue and green circle wall decals. Originally, I had wanted to paint a wall design on the dark grey wall, but once you see the frequent use of circles and bubbles in the space these circles just seemed perfect.

2) Lights. There were so many different types of lighting in the video to create a psychedelic vibe. I found a bubbling water lamp, a circle electric light, a night club type disco light, created a pillar of circle lanterns (stringing white Christmas lights in the middle) and I found a light bulb that changes colors for the new open overhead light.

Bubbling Light w/swimming fish
Disco Lighting - The instant I plugged this light into the wall he started dancing and laughing.
Paper Lanterns with Christmas lights inside

3) Cubby Hole. We left the bottom of his closet open. Sometimes he likes to sit in the bottom of his closet, so we created a fort with old cushions from his PB chairs. I still need to sew slipcovers for the cushions, but I put the cushions in place for now.

4) SWING!!!! Okay, this wasn't in the news report, but it is his favorite thing to do at school. I installed the swing today. I bought the supplies a couple of weeks ago, even bought an extra sturdy metal hook for rock climbers to attach the swing to the eye bolt. For some reason it took me a few weeks to work up the nerve to put the eye bolt into the beam. You don't know how relieved I was when the ceiling beam didn't crack in half and fall through the drywall when I personally tested it. Whew! The top picture shows my daughter taking it for a test drive.

5) Sturdy Platform Bed. He has destroyed several beds and mattresses from jumping on them, but never sleeps in them. We also bought king size pillows to create a mattress topper for him by sewing together a sheet. I have some fur fabric I bought to use on his throw pillows too. The platform is the same size as a twin bed, so if or when he stops jumping on mattresses we can add one on top.

Stapled a mattress pad to the edge and to the top before covering with a sheet and stapling to create the platform. Still need to create the mattress topper using a king size sheet sectioned into 5 empty spaces for 5 king size pillows.

6) Trampolines. As I said, he loves to jump. And he loves his mini trampolines and uses them more than our furniture now.

7) Pea Pod Snuggle Thingie. He loves to steal every single pillow in the house and lay under them to feel the weight. His teachers sent a weight blanket home for him to try, but he didn't like it as much as the cushions. The pea pod is to stimulate a calming feeling when he feels the pressure around his body.

Me testing the Pea Pod. It is super comfy.

8) Peanut Exercise Inflatable. He loves to balance himself on my exercise ball, so he now has his own and loves it.

9) Rubber Mats. After we installed the wood floors, we thought those square rubber type mats would be nice under his bare feet when he is jumping around.

This is the summary list of all the components that are going into his space. Obviously, I still have about 8-10 hours of sewing left on making his mattress pad pillow cover and his cubby cushions and throw pillows.

I'll post a final reveal once I finish the little details. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow I'll be working on the upstairs hallway again. I hope to at least give you a peek of the colors and the new trim.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Please follow on facebook or twitter to receive updates.

And a special thanks to those of you who sent emails asking when I'd be back. I promise you will be seeing me more and more.

Much love,

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The Shabby Creek Cottage

I'm back this week...

Pin It After a long and restful break, I am full of energy and plans for 2012 at my house.  Did you miss me?  Come on and lie to me :)
First up will be - Finish the upstairs hallway!!!  (I used three of these -!!!- because I have let it sit half painted this entire time...almost three whole months)  GASP!  What?  Yep.  Three whole months.  Have you ever let a project sit half finished for three whole months? 

Actually, it is really easy.  You just stop halfway through and put all your supplies on the floor in the corner (neatly).  Every once in a while, you stop in front of the pile and briefly think about it, but quickly get distracted by something else...anything else.  Then there are the blinders you can put on your eyes to walk through the project zone (it helps to not turn on any lights). 

Here is where I left you back in November...

Remember?  I was trying to decide if I should try to add dark paint to the doors and rails to make it more like this...

Fear not my loyal DYI friends, I'm back.  I have my supply list for the hardware store and a fridge full of caffeine drinks at the ready.  I plan to rip out the old trim around the doors and add the chunkier, basic boards and finish the painting this weekend.

I think I suffer from some kind of seasonal "Blah" disorder.  I can build stuff in my garage when the temps are over 100 degrees, but throw some cold weather and snow into the picture and all I want to do is curl up on the couch.  Mind you, I've caught up on all the TV and movies I didn't have time to watch over the summer...but I miss my power tools.  I walked by my miter saw last night in the garage and almost burst into tears thinking how much I missed him.  I wonder if he gets bored out there without anything to do.

Hahahahaha!  Anyway -

I also have to build a new computer/video game work center for my two boys who share a room.  I hope to start planning and drawing up the plans tonight, but the build won't be until next weekend (unless it is 2 degrees outside - I'm not a superhero and my garage isn't heated).  Then comes the pantry build. 

I think just posting this on the blog makes me happy and motivated to get to work. 

Please stay tuned.

Much love,