Category Archives: Resources
Shopping online tonight for Zoolander’s 9th birthday, which is coming up this week. I know she’s tactile and likes things she can touch and, because she’s very visual and has mild dyslexia, she likes books with pictures.
Here’s Zoolander’s birthday wish list:
*Syringe ballpoint pens
*Astronaut ice cream
*Rare Earth magnet balls like Nanospheres, Magnet Balls, Buckyballs, Neocube, Cybercube, Zen Magnets
*Plush microbes-She especially likes Gangrene and the Common Cold. (Who doesn’t, really?)
Gangrene (Clostridium perfringens)
Common Cold (Rhinovirus)
|Who wouldn’t love the cuddly Common Cold?|
I definitely plan to order a book that Corinna at birdwannawhistle recommended, a childhood favorite of her science-minded 2E husband, The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.
Last year, Zoolander wanted stuffed peppers and a fruit bouquet for her birthday meal. She hasn’t decided yet what she wants this year, but hopefully something easier than making stuffed peppers on a school night.
Did I mention that Zoolander wants to be a scientist when she grows up? Let’s just say that her favorite gift from Santa this year was a plastic human skull.
It started in 1st grade. Before that, she claimed that she wanted to ‘hunt bears’ for a living. She changed her mind after she did her Science Fair project on the quality of our water.
I called the Water Department and asked if she could test the water at their lab. Both scientists in the lab that day were women and they were delighted to suit-up a somewhat toothless, 6-year old Zoolander in a real grownup lab coat, roll up her sleeves and let her go to town. They were so kind and helped her through her experiment, while Zoolander grinned from ear to ear. She loved it and was hooked.
She then became obsessed with blood and the human body. One of her most thrilling experiences came at the age of 7, when the nurse at the doctor’s office let Zoolander help test her own urine. Livin’ the dream, baby!
Almost every book Zoolander checks out the library at school has something to do with the human body or blood. She really likes books with pictures, especially if they are gross.
They had a reading contest at school with books for prizes… Zoolander ordered ‘An Introduction to Genes and DNA’. Last summer, on the first day of camp, her counselor asked Zoolander which Disney Princess was her favorite. No response. Awkward silence. So, the counselor tried asking her what book she had read last and was a little caught off guard when Zoolander shyly replied, ‘Solving Crimes with Forensic Science’.
Zoolander sleeps in a pile of her science books. She especially loves the series of ‘Horrible Science’ books, which are illustrated with funny Mad magazine-style cartoons. Her favorite is ‘Blood, Bones and Body Bits’, but recently asked me to order ‘Chemical Chaos’.
So, last weekend, I found mold on some food in the kitchen. (don’t ask) Zoolander was psyched and begged me to let her keep some. She was all out of petri dishes, so she put some mold in a jar. She decided it needed water and then maybe some flour and then maybe a little sugar. Then, because her father had so carelessly thrown away a previous jar that contained moldy cheese, she made a special label for her new mold jar.
I am not a scientist, and I can’t keep up with her curiosity, so I try to find enrichment opportunities for Zoolander. I know she’s a visual thinker, because she tells me that she has a DVD library in her head and when she’s bored at school she selects a movie and watches the entire thing. Great.
Anyway, here is some of the fun science stuff she loves that other visual learners might enjoy.
*Mad Science-A hands-on after school science program. This is the highlight of her week.
*CU Wizards-Fun and free monthly science show for kids at the local university, which features lots of soda geysers and other kid-pleasing explosions.
*Usborne books-Lots of colorful non-fiction titles with beautiful illustrations.
*Horrible Science-Fun UK book series.
*IPhone Apps-3D Human Body, 3D Skeletal System, 3D Muscle System, Molecules, 3D Brain, 210 Human Body facts
*Android App-Speed Anatomy
*3B Scientific-Online site for all your human anatomy and plastic skeleton needs.
*Discovery Channel-Human Body/Pushing the Limits
*Hoagies’ Gifted science links
Zoolander’s obsession with science and her strong visual memory make me think of an interview I did with a scientist named Tom. Tom describes himself as a visual thinker who definitely knew at an early age what he wanted to be.
Reading a post from CaffeinatedAutismMom on the SPDNetwork.com called ‘Meltdowns Happen’, brought back memories of just a few lovely Lily freak outs, most of them because she was unable to control her emotional response to sensory overload. Didn’t realize that until later, but looking back, it’s obvious.
Of course, as an infant, I remember her crying and crying at the slightest noise, or, as a toddler, crying when the trash truck honked its horn, running away from her Daisy Scouts meeting in Kindergarten because it was too chaotic and loud, holding her hands over her ears and shaking during school events in the gymnasium, hating the school bus because it was so loud, getting out of the pool and refusing to participate during swim team tryouts because, again, too loud and chaotic.
We figured out pretty early that Lily was sensitive to noise. But, it wasn’t until 2nd grade or so that we realized she liked soft clothing. In 4th grade, she refused to wear jeans anymore and I had to search out soft pants with an adjustable waist. She had one shirt she loved to wear and I figured out that it was Modal fiber, which IS very soft. In 5th grade, when I asked her why she always pulled a hoodie up over her head, Lily told me that it blocked the bright overhead lights at school, muffled loud sounds and made her feel good. Now that she’s in 6th grade, Lily has become the Queen of Jeggings. They’re perfect for her sensory needs. Soft, skinny, tight and of course, stylish.
Now that she’s 11, Lily’s meltdowns (in public anyway) are few and far between. Occupational Therapy has helped and so has daily movement. Lily’s learned coping skills. She’s learned to advocate for herself and she regulates her emotions better now. Sometimes she’ll remove herself from a situation when she realizes it’s making her uncomfortable. We’re still always on the lookout for triggers though and so are her teachers and the friends and family who know her. Sometimes just warning her that an event might be loud is enough. Now, if she does end up in a loud and chaotic situation, her discomfort usually shows up as irritability or agitation.
This topic of sensory sensitivities also made me think of an interview I did with Jeffrey Freed. He’s an educational therapist and the co-author of the book, ‘Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World.’ He’s also what you would call Twice Exceptional. He talks about his sensory issues as an adult and a child.
I passed Zoolander’s Sensory Eval on to her school and to our private Occupational Therapist. Zoolander began seeing our OT once a week and our OT began working directly with the school district’s OT to implement some of the suggestions from the report.
Zoolander loves her time with our OT. They usually start the session with some kind of swinging activity, followed by work on cursive handwriting. Our OT noticed that Zoolander had a difficult time, even with cursive, because her letter formation is far from automatic. Sometimes cursive is supposed to be better for visual-spatial kids because it’s more fluid and artistic.
The beauty of visiting this OT is that she’s wonderful and really gets my twice exceptional kids, plus she’s close to our house, but… insurance won’t pay for her services. Insurance insists that we can drive 20 miles to the nearest OT who specializes in grannies with arthritis and who have no training in working with kids who have difficulty with Sensory Processing. So, there you go.
Luckily, our OT understands the expense and gives us lots of ideas to try at home, plus she tapers off her sessions once she feels the child is improving. The books, The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder and The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun have lots of great info and activities.
It’s also very helpful that our OT works quite often with the school district’s OT. That takes me out of the middle of things. They talk. The school’s OT observes and then makes adjustments and provides any sensory tools that they might need in the classroom.
Zoolander now has a special balancing chair, which she says helps her concentrate because she can move around more. She is also allowed to use a laptop for written work, which she says makes writing much easier.
I know the team at school takes care with Zoolander’s placement in the classroom, making sure distractions are minimized. They are also conscious of the fact that if Zoolander is fidgety, she may need a Sensory Break, which could just be running an errand to the office or erasing the white board.
Zoolander has shown improvement since these sensory accommodations were made, but I still felt that there was something else that was getting in the way of her learning. So, I put her on the waiting list for a Learning Evaluation.