Hello Again! Let’s Talk Mindfulness

What’s been going on?

Things have been a whirlwind around here lately. R and V were both on breaks from occupational therapy for a while (that was fun, but I’m glad it’s over), V is now enrolled in two different autism studies, I just finished an intense business class, R’s ballet recital is right around the corner, V is starting ballet at the end of the month, I am about to officially launch my business tomorrow, Mr. A switched majors and started a new job that allows him to be home more often, the girls’ school has mostly been on break, I am prepping to go to Convention, we have family currently visiting, relatives planning to visit over the summer, I took on a new leadership role in my spiritual community, and I’ve really been focusing on mindfulness.

That last one, mindfulness, has truly been the overarching theme for me so far this year. I’ve been applying the concept to every aspect of my life.

The thing that started it all was going through the KonMari process. As I have been going through my things, one-by-one, I’m learning about what truly makes me happy. Not only that, but now I know exactly what I have, what I need, and what items would actually fit in my home. This has led to much more intentional shopping. I won’t just buy something because it’s “so cute” if I already have something similar. The exception being that I pledge to donate/sell the old version first. I also won’t buy something if I don’t have the space, no matter how great of a deal it is. The lack of clutter is massively helping with all of our collective sensory issues. Don’t worry. I haven’t gone full minimalist on you guys. I’m still working my way through the komono category (my kitchen is next), but there will be a full post on my KonMari journey coming up.

The floor of my closet after KonMari


Now that we have less clutter and more space, spending device-free time with my kids is something that I literally schedule into my day, multiple times per day. I’m striving to make sure that each of them is getting quality one-on-one time with me, as well as cooperatively playing together with me. I’ve noticed that this has the bonus side-effect of keeping them more regulated. They’ve also been better about letting me know, in their own unique ways, that they’re getting disregulated before it turns into a full meltdown. I’m not saying that it’s working perfectly, or that we don’t have bad days, but the overall trend has been awesome!

R and I hanging out downtown


Getting the girls stabilized has allowed me to make my own health a priority. Every morning, I get the kids settled, put the coffee on, get my diffuser going, and then I take an hour for myself in the kitchen. I sip my coffee, catch up on social media, check into the various pages that I moderate, and read while the girls independently go through their own morning routine in the living room. They still come in and ask me questions, but they understand that they need to give me that time, and take that time for themselves. I’m also taking supplements, utilizing fitness apps, paying attention to what I’m eating/drinking and how it makes my body feel, doing devotions, consciously grounding myself throughout the day, and getting more quality sleep. I’ve intentionally worked these things into my routine and my schedule. I’m definitely more emotionally balanced and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

The result of a selfie challenge from a class I’m taking


With all of these other things settled, I wanted to take a closer look at the products we buy. I’ve always been mindful of the products that we use on ourselves and our home, but I wanted to take it up a notch. We’re on a budget (who isn’t these days?), so I have to research to make sure that what I buy works, actually is safe, and will be cost-effective. Using my rewards program through Young Living to purchase ready-made products, or the essential oils that I need for the products I make on my own, has been my solution. Doing it this way helps my team, my family, my wallet (rewards points!), and the environment. Plus, it’s an easy time-saver. If you’re curious about what’s in your own household products, look them up on the EWG database.

Making silly faces and playing with V


In general, I’m paying more attention to:  where I donate household goods, what charities I support, how my local community is affected by my actions (shopping, donating, voting, etc.), what bills I call my local representative to oppose/support, the local politicians who received my vote, where I shop, the things I buy, ingredients of everything, the literature/articles/posts I read, the people I follow, … Mindfulness and intentionality have both literally seeped into everything, and it’s been a wonderful experience.

Hanging at the museum after our Sensory Parent Support meetup


Time management is the next “big thing” I plan to tackle. I might even end up dedicating a whole post once I’ve semi figured it out.

Disclaimers: 

What I am not is a licensed professional of any sort. Please use your own good judgement, and/or check with an appropriate medical professional or therapist before trying out any activities from this blog.

This post does contain affiliate links that may financially benefit my family.

I am an Independent Young Living Distributor, member #3919812. Please email me at everydaysensorymom@gmail.com if you’d like to book a class, have questions about setting up an account, or would like to join my team.

Special Edition: Adult Sensory Diet

This post is for adults only. 

I know that I have sensory needs that need to be met, but sometimes life gets in the way. How can I make my own sensory diet a logical and normal part of my routine?

These past several weeks, I’ve been even busier than usual. The girls have been sick off and on, there have been extra appointments/activities, and all of us have been prepping for family coming into town. 

The daily struggle… It’s 11:00 AM. I’ve been up for hours, and my coffee buzz is wearing off. I’m also starting to get cranky and disregulated because it’s almost lunchtime, the girls are loud, and I need a break. How am I going to fix it? Maybe eat a mid-morning snack at 10:00 for prevention? Quiet time alone likely isn’t going to happen. What else is there? Here a list of ideas with varying degrees of practicality:

  • Put on some noise-reducing headphones (with or without music)
  • Write down all of the little things that are causing disregulation/irritation, tear the list into teeny tiny pieces, and throw it away
  • Take a short walk outside, with the girls in tow
  • Eat ice
  • Attempt to go hide in the bathroom, alone, for 5 minutes (haha… I know…)
  • Squeeze, punch, kick, and/or squish a pillow
  • Make another pot of coffee

It’s always coffee-o-clock here

  • Make a pot herbal tea
  • Diffuse some calming oils
  • Attempt to sneak a piece of chocolate from the emergency stash
  • Drink a steaming cup of hot chocolate, maybe peppermint hot chocolate for a nice change of pace
  • Sit down and use a weighted lap pad
  • Chew a piece of gum
  • Do 10 minutes of yoga
  • Do breathing exercises for 5 minutes
  • Meditate
  • Eat a snack
  • Play with a stress ball
  • Firmly pass a bean bag from hand to hand
  • Bean bag tapping (it feels a lot like giving yourself a percussion massage)
  • Curl up with a weighted blanket
  • Run Away

Okay. That last one is probably a bad plan, but the rest are decent ideas. I’m not super awesome at handling my own disregulation without reminders, but I’m slowly getting better. I’ve started incorporating some of these things into my daily routine: I turn on my diffuser while the magical potion known as “coffee” is brewing, listen to music with my noise-reducing earbuds while I’m drinking my brew and simultaneously working, keep my coffee warmer going so that I am able to slowly sip my pot of coffee until lunchtime, grab a homemade “energy bite” out of the freezer around 10:00 for a boost, take a bath after lunch once V is napping, eat a snack with the girls in the afternoon, and then sit down and chill once Mr. A is home.

I infused unscented Epsom salt with my empty essential oil bottles


The burn-out struggle… Now that my daily needs have been met, I need to look at more long-term solutions. What are some “bigger” options?

  • Find a quiet place and write for hours
  • Spa day, at home or at the spa
  • Grab coffee and go shopping, even if it’s just the grocery store
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Go for a walk
  • Get intimate
  • Send everyone away, crank the music, and clean the house
  • Take the world’s longest “sensory bath”
  • Grab a book and go somewhere quiet to read it in peace
  • Make a delicious, homemade meal for a date night in

  • Go for a drive, with the windows down and the music up
  • Take a yoga class or go to the gym
  • Go to a crafting class or a book club meeting
  • Try one of those group painting+wine classes
  • Spend a night in a hotel, without the kiddos
  • Get a massage
  • Have a fun night out
  • Get outside and take a hike
  • Go for a swim
  • Head to a book store or the library

I now have multiple monthly activities that I do with and without my kiddos, by myself, or including Mr. A. This month:  I attended a specialized women’s group meeting, went on a date with Mr. A, started teaching classes, the girls and I will be hosting a support meetup for other sensory families, and we’re all attending a celebration of my favorite holiday at the end of the month. 

This was from our very first Sensory Parent Support Meetup


My next long-term steps are finishing my current KonMari process and working on organization and time-management. Less clutter means less tidying, which will hopefully lead to better organization and more free time. 

Disclaimers:

What I am not is a licensed professional of any sort. Please use your own good judgement, and/or check with an appropriate medical professional or therapist before trying out any activities from this blog.

This post may contain affiliate links that could financially benefit my family.

I am an Independent Young Living Distributor, member #3919812. Please email me at everydaysensorymom@gmail.com if you’d like to book a class, have questions about setting up an account, or would like to join my team.

Play with Your Food: 20+ Sensory Play Activities to do with Food

How many times have you heard someone say “don’t play with your food” at mealtimes? This rule is pretty much useless for my sensory kids. I actually want my girls to play with their food!

On one of our first visits with R’s occupational therapist, she suggested that we encourage R to play with her food, and to even turn eating into a game! Mind blown! Can you even imagine the look on my face? A few weeks later, V’s occupational therapist suggested the same thing for some of her aversions to touching certain textures. I had never thought to make eating fun. (I’m totally imagining the “I told you so” look on my mom’s face right now.) It’s just something you do, properly, at the table with proper utensils. Right? Nope, not for my girls. I’m learning to be okay with it. 

Before starting, this is my prep list:

  • Everyone needs to wash their hands.
  • Make sure no one is wearing anything that they don’t want to be ruined.
  • Use a tablecloth that is easy to wipe down.
  • Have the kids help/observe the food prep.
  • Clear the dining and living rooms.
  • Have gross motor activities set up (trampoline, crash pad, swing, etc.), and have the kids help to create a simple obstacle course if trying a new food.
  • Use fun plates and utensils.
  • Utilize deep breathing techniques to stay calm. (Mostly for me!)

Here’s a sample scenario that’s great for snack time:
R, V, and I all tidy the living and dining rooms, put on “play clothes”, and wash our hands. Then, I put cheese, baby carrots, hummus, and crackers on the counter. Next, I cut a chunk off of a block of cheese, and hand R a butter knife to cut it any way she chooses. While she’s doing that, V puts crackers on the plates, while I scoop out a small bit of hummus for each plate. After that, I put the carrots and cheese onto their divided plates, and send the girls out to design an obstacle course. They call out their choices, the trampoline and the crash pad, while I’m getting their drinks ready. We decide that after each piece of food, they’ll skip to the trampoline, jump 3 times, crawl over the crash pad, and skip back to the table. Each of the foods are ones they already enjoy eating, except for the hummus, which is new to them.

Here’s R trying a sesame seed bun for the first time


As they’re eating, I might have them put hummus on the tips of their carrots (or a corner of a cracker) and eat the other end of the carrot, getting as close as they can to the hummus. I might even have them use their carrots, or fingertips, and hummus to paint on their plates. We’ll talk about what the hummus looks, smells, tastes, and feels like. They do NOT need to eat the hummus. All I’m trying to do is get them to interact with the hummus without being completely disgusted. Eventually, maybe not until the 10th or 100th time we’ve done this exercise, they’ll eat that hummus on their own without any prodding from me. 

Here’s a list of easy ways to make eating fun:

  • Use fun plates and utensils.
  • Cut food into interesting shapes.
  • Serve food with condiments on the side for dunking.
  • Blow bubbles in drinks.
  • Thread dried foods (think cereal) onto string to make edible jewelry.
  • Dunk cookies in milk.
  • Play with edible dough. Bonus points for strong scents: chocolate, coffee, vanilla, peanut butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, etc.
  • Let them choose new foods at the grocery store or when making the grocery list.
  • Choose a variety of food textures (maybe only 2 or 3 in the early days): squishy, crunchy, slimy, sweet, salty, cold, etc. to put on their plates.
  • Go outside and have a picnic, or inside if the weather is being uncooperative.
  • Munch on crushed/shaved ice.
  • Let them stand up to eat.
  • Use marshmallows and toothpicks to build to build anything they want.
  • Make an edible house with cookies, frosting, etc.
  • Finger paint with frosting.
  • Make homemade alphabet soup and see who can make the most words.
  • Have fun dissecting sugar snap peas and then squish the peas. (This is one of R’s all-time favorite activities.)
  • Make homemade frosting and lick the spoon.
  • Have a theme: all red foods, only circular food, crunchy foods, etc.
  • Bite into different foods and show each other what the foods look like on the inside.
  • Let them mix the hot chococate ingredients into their own cups, after making sure it’s not too hot.
  • Make fruit-infused water.
  • Make snack sandwiches with crackers, cheese, toast, cream cheese, cold cuts, cucumber slices, cookies, frosting, pancakes, peanut butter, etc.
  • Have a tea party!

V has always been a pro at making mealtimes fun


I’ll keep this post updated as I think of new activities, or as people suggest things. 

Disclaimers: 

What I am not is a licensed professional of any sort. Please use your own good judgement, and/or check with an appropriate medical professional or therapist before trying out any activities from this blog.

This post may contain affiliate links that could financially benefit my family.

I am an Independent Young Living Distributor, member #3919812. Please email me at everydaysensorymom@gmail.com if you’d like to book a class, have questions about setting up an account, or would like to join my team.

Daniel Tiger in Our Neighborhood 

A live performance, downtown, at night, with two kids in tow…

My kids adore the PBS show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. If you’ve never watched it, it’s about the children of some of the characters from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. The show is awesome for teaching kids how to handle big emotions and everyday experiences. It’s especially popular within the autism community right now. This article perfectly articulates how helpful Daniel Tiger can be for kids with autism. I can definitely say it’s been great for R, and for V. I love the little tunes (“flush and wash and be on your way”, “clean up, pick up, put away, clean up every day”, “when you can’t get what you want, stomp three times to help yourself feel better”, etc.), and frequently use the tunes to help the girls.

When a giveaway for a local live performance of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood popped up in my newsfeed a couple of weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to win tickets. I didn’t expect to be successful, and had all but forgotten about it when I got the notification that I’d been tagged on the Empire Kids NW page. I was pretty shocked to see that I had won. I want to give a huge thank you to Ashley Cravens from Empire Kids NW for my family’s tickets! My girls had a fantastic time!

With the event being less than a week away, I did my best to prepare everyone for the big night. I made sure that the girls and I talked about going to see Daniel Tiger at least once or twice every day, leading up to the night of the performance. I also had conversations with them about what it means to attend a live performance, and what the timeline should look like. The day before the show, I talked to R about what she should pack in her bag. After lunch on the day of the performance, I thoughtfully helped her get dressed. She wore compression leg warmers and compression shorts under her jeans (adjustable waist with loose legs), a comfy long-sleeve thermal shirt, a chew necklace, and comfortable slip-on shoes. Then, we packed up her gear in her backpack: sunglasses, a fidget, binoculars, a Tranquil Roll-On, compression arm warmers, and noise-reducing headphones. V wore Daniel Tiger rain boots, her trolley hoodie, and a chew necklace.


Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live was performed at The Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. We left fairly early so we had plenty of time to park, walk to the theater, and take pictures. After a blinding trip through downtown, thanks to overwhelmingly bright construction lights, we parked in a parking garage near the theater. Mr. A and I decided to use our carriers to transport the girls from the parking garage to the theater and back again. This gave V and R some much-needed deep pressure input before and after the performance. While we were waiting for the doors to open, we took some cute pictures with trolley and Daniel in the lobby. If you live in the area, the theater really is a must see. It’s gorgeous!

Neither one of the girls had a meltdown during or after the live performance! V, my little wiggler, was thrilled to be able to stand and dance throughout the show. R was content to sit and watch the performance, occasionally using one of the tools in her bag. Surprisingly, the live show was not very sensory-friendly. Before the performance, as well as during intermission, there was a slowly rotating projection of a trolley that continuously traveled all over theater. This would have been fine if the lights didn’t aim directly into the eyes of the audience at certain points of the rotation. Then during the show, the overhead theater lights were constantly being turned up and down every time the characters started singing a new song. It was very distracting. At least the girls did well, thanks to our careful preparations. I would have had a great time as well if I had remembered my own sensory gear:  noise reducing ear buds, sunglasses, bean bag, lavender rice “sock”, and my own calming essential oil roll-on. However, it was all sitting in my purse, safe and sound on a hook by the front door of our home. Oops.

When we got home, I got R ready for bed, while Mr. A took care of V. I don’t know if I’ve ever described R’s bedtime routine, but it took a long time to perfect. On her own, she goes to the bathroom, brushes her teeth, and puts on pajamas. While she’s doing that, I fill up her diffuser, and get her bed ready. We’ve been using a combination of Sacred Mountain and Vetiver in her diffuser lately. Then, I put Tranquil along her spine, RC on the center of the bottoms of her feet, and Vetiver on her big toes. While I’m doing all of that, R puts homemade lavender body butter on her hands and arms, and applies lip balm. When we’re done, R and I do a simple bean bag activity, followed by bean bag tapping. After that, I help R put on her compression arm warmers and leg warmers if she wants them. Then, I cover her and her chosen toys up with a weighted blanket, and she puts her eye mask over her eyes. This is currently working very well. She was asleep in minutes, and didn’t wake me up until the next morning. V’s bedtime routine is a work in progress. She ended up traveling back and forth between my lap and Mr. A’s lap, eventually falling asleep on Mr. A.

All in all, I’d say we had a pretty great day.

If you’d like to purchase essential oils, here is the link to do so through me, or to sign up to be able to purchase essential oils at wholesale prices.

Disclaimers: 

What I am not is a licensed professional of any sort. Please use your own good judgement, and/or check with an appropriate medical professional or therapist before trying out any activities from this blog.

This post does contain affiliate links that may financially benefit my family.

Special Edition: Pamper Yourself with 10+ Recipes

This post is for adults and does contain links that potentially benefit my family financially.

While my parents were visiting recently, I got a lovely break and decided to be proactive about my own self-care. I know that a lot of my family members feel like they don’t do enough to help out because they live so far away. It’s not true at all. Every time someone video chats with the girls, I get a break. Every time they come to visit and just play with the girls, Mr. A and I both get a break. Every time they help out with our sensory tools, that’s something that makes everyone’s lives better every day. This last visit alone is going to yield weeks, if not months, of positive ramifications for all four of us. You guys are awesome and I love you!

Anyone with young kids knows how insanely difficult it is to go clothes shopping. Having sensory kiddos makes it all but impossible. Before my parents’ visit, I literally hadn’t updated my wardrobe since V was an infant. I seriously looked like the stereotypical “hot mess” mom. My parents were sweet enough to help me make a new wardrobe happen. One afternoon, my dad and Mr. A hung out with the girls so that my mom and I could go shopping, and take our time. Since I was able to put some thought into my decisions, I made sure to choose pieces that I can effortlessly mix and match. I love that now I can just mindlessly throw on an outfit, and go. Even though I’m putting almost zero effort into getting dressed, I feel like I look way more put together.

Next on my “to do now” list, was to make a bunch of bath and body products. I’m a Young Living member (the discount rocks!), so I have a nice stash of oils. While I had some extra help, I took the opportunity to make a bunch of products to incorporate into my everyday routine. This makes me feel pampered without having to go out of my way. Like a lot of parents, I know that my own self-care simply isn’t going to happen unless it takes minimal effort. I feel like I’ve managed to accomplish that.

Facial Toners, Body Butter, and Sugar Scrub

*Note: Most of the following ingredients and supplies are less expensive to buy locally, but I provided convenient affiliate links just in case. The essential oils are all less expensive to buy wholesale. Use this link if that is something you’re interested in doing.
Face and Body Wash:

I chose ingredients that are calming, uplifting, and generally good for the skin, so that every shower has the ability to reset my mood. To make my face and body wash, I filled my bottle halfway with unscented Castile soap, added about 2 teaspoons of grape seed oil, added the essential oils, dumped in a splash of rosewater (I added a little, swirled it around, smelled it, and added a tiny bit more), filled it almost to the top with distilled water, and shook it up. I frequently make a Castile soap based body wash. If it isn’t foamy enough when I test it, I just add an extra squirt of Castile soap. This does seem to work better on a washcloth, rather than a loofah.

Facial Toner for Daytime

I love lavender and frankincense for my skin! In a 1 ounce glass spray bottle, I added 2-4 drops of lavender essential oil and 2-4 drops of frankincense essential oil, filled it almost to the top with plain witch hazel, and shook it to combine the ingredients. After I wash my face in the morning, I shake up my toner, and spray my face. Done!

Nighttime Facial Toner

I’ve found that Purification is great for treating my acne-prone skin, but it makes my skin more sensitive to the sun, so I only use it at night. In a 1 ounce glass spray bottle, I added 2 drops of Purification essential oil, 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil, 2-3 drops of frankincense essential oil, filled almost to the top with plain witch hazel, and then shook it up. After I wash my face at night, I shake up the bottle of toner, and spray my face. Too easy!

Sugar Scrub

This smells heavenly, and makes my hands feel so good! I filled my mason jar 2/3 of the way with organic light brown sugar, then I added the essential oils, filled almost the rest of the way with coconut oil, stirred it up, and put the lid back on. I like to wash my hands with this every night before bed.

Body Butter

This body butter feels absolutely wonderful! I use it any time I’d normally use regular old lotion. I chose oils that calming and good for my skin. I mostly followed this recipe. However, I did add a heaping teaspoon of grated beeswax to the ingredients that needed to be melted, and I also added 2 teaspoons of bourbon vanilla extract (at R’s insistence) to the liquid oils toward the end.

Texturizing Spray

This is my all-time favorite hair product! I have fine, wavy hair. Not only does this texturizing spray give my hair some body, but it works just as well as dry shampoo between washes. I don’t add any conditioner or lemon juice/alcohol. Other than that, I follow this recipe exactly. My favorite way to use this is to spray my almost dry hair, scrunch it up real quick, pile my hair into a messy bun for about half an hour while I go about my day, and then let my hair down. I always end up with perfect waves that don’t fall flat or get oily.

Hand Soap

I love knowing exactly what’s in my hand soap, and being able to do a different scent every time I make it. This time, I filled a glass soap dispenser 1/2 way with unscented Castile soap, added my Pumpkin Pie blend of essential oils, filled nearly to the top with distilled water, and carefully swirled to combine. This particular soap blend smells lovely!

Bath Salts

Don’t laugh! I know this one isn’t practical at all, but I might get to use it someday. I filled a mason jar 1/2 way with plain Epsom salt, 1/4 of the way with a mixture of “Real Salt” and pink Himalayan sea salt, added baking soda until there was about 1 inch of room at the top, added essential oils (about 10-20 drops total), put the lid back on, and shook to combine the ingredients. When I’ve used my homemade bath salts in the past, I added one to two tablespoons to my bathwater, as well as a heaping teaspoon of coconut oil. I always come out feeling grounded.

Mr. A also got a few nifty things, because he’s amazing.

Beard Oil

Making this beard softener was slightly selfish on my part, but I am definitely feeling better about Mr. A’s beard now that it isn’t so scratchy. I followed this recipe to make the beard oil. It smells great, and Mr. A seems to like it as well. I used a nearly empty 1 ounce pump bottle that had just a tiny bit of macadamia nut oil left in it, added the essential oils, and topped with grape seed oil.

Super Thick Man Lotion (aka Body Butter)

I used the same body butter recipe that I used for mine, I just added a couple of different essential oils that I thought Mr. A would enjoy.

Flavored Toothpicks

In a metal lid, I combined 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil with the essential oils, added a handful of toothpicks, soaked them for about an hour, blotted the excess oil off, and put them in a small parchment paper-lined metal tin.

Future Plans

I have big plans to improve daily life even more! Stay tuned…

The oils mentioned in this post can be purchased through my  Young Living business. This is my distributor link. By purchasing through me, ID #3919812, you are supporting my small business. By purchasing other items through my Amazon affiliate links, you are helping to keep my blog going. Thank you!

Disclaimer:

What I am not is a licensed professional of any sort. Please use your own good judgement, and/or check with an appropriate medical professional or therapist before trying out any activities or recipes from this blog.

The Day of “The Appointment”

Yesterday was Diagnosis Day, the day of “The Appointment”. It was the day that R finally received her official diagnosis. 

R’s long-awaited appointment was with a developmental pediatrician downtown. We woke up, I fixed R’s breakfast, got myself ready to go, double-checked my purse for all of R’s paperwork and V’s diaper bag, negotiated an acceptable outfit for R to wear, fixed V’s breakfast while Mr. A got ready, and let V pick out her own outfit (a sundress with a Star Wars sweatshirt over the top). I was feeling really pleased with myself when we left on time, until I realized that I forgot to make coffee. 

I checked R in at 9:22, while Mr. A tried to find a decent parking spot. He came in with V just before the nurse took us all back to a room at 9:30. She checked R’s height and weight, and asked all of the usual medical history questions. Even though my brain was only functioning at about 10%, due to the lack of coffee, I did remember to update R’s allergy information! The nurse left the room at 9:40, Dr. G came in at 9:55, and immediately formed a connection with R. I couldn’t believe how easy the doctor made it look. After Dr. G got R settled with some toys, we went over the latest updates from R’s occupational and speech therapists, plus the screening that was done at her therapy center. I also gave the doctor all of the checklists and questionnaires that I had filled out before R started going to OT and Speech. Then, Dr. G spent nearly 2 hours learning pretty much everything there is to know about R. I’m extremely glad I had Mr. A with me to help fill in some of my memory gaps.

Just before checking out at 12:00, Dr. G gave R an official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The doctor recommmended that R continues going to speech therapy and occupational therapy, and that we set up more supervised play dates with other girls, as well as boys. Applied Behavior Analysis therapy was not suggested, nor was any medication. However, Dr. G made it clear that those options were available to R, should she ever need them. 

So many emotions and thoughts have come and gone since yesterday. The first was relief. She only confirmed what I had suspected for a long time. The diagnosis doesn’t change anything about R. I simply finally know for sure what’s going on with my kid. This should make it easier to continue her therapies. It also makes it easier to brainstorm new things to try. At the same time, I’m sad. Part of me hoped I was wrong. Autism is a neurological condition. It isn’t something she is going to grow out of. Sure, we can help her manage some of the more dangerous symptoms, but she’s still going to have so many challenges as she gets older. What will happen to her if something happens to me and Mr. A? Who would advocate for her? It’s a scary thought process.

From R’s First Concert

The following thought really got to me. I was thinking that I wish I was close with another experienced special needs mom, because I desperately need to talk to someone who’s already been through all of this. 

Special Note:

If any one of my readers would like to chat with me, please don’t hesitate to send me an email. 

How I Turned Our Living Room into a Sensory Gym

In the beginning, I was planning to keep all of the sensory tools in R’s room. That only worked for a very short amount of time. Most of it is now in our living room, so that we all have easy access to everything, and things are less likely to be misplaced.

The very first sensory tool I just had to have, for the girls of course, was a crash pad. When I saw the price tag, I immediately got on Pinterest to try to find a way to make one. Some of the ideas I found were way too time-intensive (Hello! I have two sensory kids!), and some were almost as costly as buying a ready-made crash pad. I finally found this post. I didn’t want to sew it, so I bought a duvet cover at IKEA for less than $20. All I had to do was stuff the duvet cover full of all of our spare pillows, blankets, sheets, and stuffed toys. Too easy! 


The next “big thing” I wanted for the girls was a mini trampoline. My criteria: it had to be sturdy enough for me to use as well, the girls had to love the color, and it needed to have a bar for the girls to hold on to. We ended up with this trampoline in pink. I love that the bar comes off for easy storage. It’s not listed on the website, but the weight limit is at least 150 pounds. 


The girls also have storage chairs from Costco (they’re usually in stock around the holidays). I store all of their personal sensory items in the bottoms of the chairs. R’s chair has the weighted blanket I made for her (her OT sent me to a really awesome workshop), her weighted lap pad, superhero-inspired compression armwarmers and legwarmers from Kozie Clothes, a variety of bean bags, and a ball all stored in it.

V’s chair has her weighted blanket, weighted lap pad, a set of felt bean bags, a Schockproof ball and beanbag, her brush, a sensory bottle, Glow Bug, and her favorite chew necklace all stored in the bottom.

We also have other chewelry, an exercise ball, a kid-size day bed, play mats, various pillows and cushions, silly putty, dough, diffusers, light-up bouncy balls, etc. 

How in the world does it all work? I usually have the crash pad set up just like it is in the picture, but with the trampoline across from the chairs. This set-up is great because one kid can jump on the trampoline, while the other jumps on to the crash pad. Then, they switch. My plan with the chairs is for the girls to use them as a safe place to calm down. Most of our other “tools” are fully integrated into our home. Aside from “homework exercises” from their occupational and physical therapists, I let them choose what they want to do, because they usually know exactly what kind of input they need.

Disclaimer: 

What I am not is a licensed professional of any sort. Please use your own good judgement, and/or check with an appropriate medical professional or therapist before trying out any activities from this blog.