Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sew-Along Day 5: Steps 25-32

We are finishing our vests today!!  Please share photos in my facebook group! Also, I would love to keep a count of how many vests are being donated for this project, so let me know either in the group or by commenting here.  Here is the link to the group:
We will be making the weights for the vests today, completing steps 25-32.  First, we need to cut weight pouches and batting.  I ended up making 14 weights.  2 of them are extras for when he grows or just in case his OT feels he needs more weight.  Mine are 2 different weights (some weights have 3 washers and some have 4), and are color-coded (red is less weight, blue is more) so it is easy to disperse the weight evenly. 

Here are my finished weights.
And the finished vest with weights inside!

Sew Along Day 4: Steps 16-24

Today is day 4 of the Sew-Along.  We will be completing the vest today!  Complete steps 16-24.  When you are finished, you should have a finished vest with buttons if you wish to include them. 
Tomorrow we will make the weights, and the vest will be completely finished! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sew-Along Day 3: Steps 8-15

Today is day 3 of the Sew-Along!  We will be completing steps 8-15 in the pattern.  When you are finished you should have your large pocket piece sewn to the lining of the vest.  You should also have your 8 pockets separated.  You can't see the separate pockets very well in this photo, but they are there :)  Also, the fabric requirements do allow for the large pocket to be made out of the lining fabric.  I made a really silly mistake during cutting, which made it so I had to use the outer vest fabric for my pocket.  It really doesn't matter, and I like the contrast :)
Tomorrow we will be completing steps 16-24, which will complete the actual vest!  We will just have to make weights after that.  Thanks for following along!

Sew Along Day 2: Fidget Items and Steps 1-7

Today is day 2 of the Sew-Along!  Natalie from the Sassy Pumpkin has put together an awesome tutorial on how to add "fidgets" to your vest.  These are great for those kids who need to keep their hands busy.  If you are going to add fidgets, it is best to do them before you complete step 1.  Thank you Natalie for sharing this!  Click the link to view the tutorial.
Here is what your finished vest will look like with the fidgets added:

After your fidgets are in place, complete steps 1-7.  You should end up with your outer and lining vest pieces as shown in the photo.  You should also have your pockets sewn on.  If you are making the ruffle version, you will have a ruffle along the bottom edge of your outer vest piece.

Tomorrow we will be adding the large pocket to the lining, which will be steps 8-15.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weighted Vest Sew-Along Day 1

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Sew-Along!  I am so excited to get started and to see what you all come up with.  To share photos of your vests, ask detailed questions, etc, please join my facebook group, Ladybug Bend Patterns:
Today is the last day the weighted vest pattern is on sale for $5!  Remember that all money earned from this sale goes to SPD Foundation.  Here is the link to the pattern:
Okay, now let's get started!  First, you need all of your supplies.  You will need fabric for the outer vest and the lining, cotton batting, 3-4 buttons, coordinating thread, and the correct amount of weights.  Amounts of all of these items are listed in the pattern.  I decided to make some extra weights for the little guy I am donating to just in case his OT feels he needs more, and also so he can add more as he gets bigger.  As stated in the pattern, there is not a set weight that is recommended.  It depends on the child, and the weight stated in the pattern is only meant to be a guideline and a good starting point.  If possible, please consult the child's OT when deciding on how much weight to use.  These vests should be used under the supervision of an Occupational Therapist.
I have had a lot of questions about whether you can use something besides washers to weight your vest.  The answer: of course!  You can also use rice or poly beads.  These things will make your vest much more bulky, and you will have to adjust the size of your pockets and weight pouches.  That being said, I promise that the washers are the best things I have tried!  They are small and compact, yet still provide the weight needed.  With the batting surrounding them, they are not any more hard than poly beads or rice would be.

Next, you will cut out your fabric.  You will end up with 2 back vest pieces, 4 front vest pieces, one large pocket piece, and 2 flap or ruffle pocket pieces.  Also cut a ruffle if you are making the ruffle version of the pattern.  We will cut the weight pouches, Velcro and batting later. 

That's all for today!  Tomorrow we will start constructing our vests (steps 1-7).  We will also have a guest tutorial by Natalie of The Sassy Pumpkin on adding fidgets to our vests.  Fidgets are great for keeping those little hands busy!  Here is a list of extra supplies needed for the fidgets:

7 inch zipper
1 package of snap tape (approx 4 snaps worth)
1 package of sew on Velcro (approx 2”)
Rotary Cutter/matt and/or scissors
Fray Check
Scrap piece of fabric 9.5” x 5”

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Guest Blogger Carla, the Scientific Seamstress

(Taya) Hi everyone!  I am so excited to have Carla, the Scientific Seamstress on the blog today!  Thank you Carla for sharing your story!  The weighted vest pattern is only on sale through tomorrow, so remember to purchase it so you can participate in the sew along.  The sew along starts tomorrow!  I can't wait! Pattern link:

Hello!  I’m Carla Crim, the Scientific Seamstress.  My husband and I are parents to the most awesome (almost) 9 year old kid.  He is a science wiz, Cub Scout, 4H-er, and Futurama superfan. 

A few months ago, he was diagnosed with high functioning autism, ADHD, and anxiety.  Even though I have good friends with kids on the spectrum, and have a background in biology, I really didn’t feel like I was equipped to deal with the diagnosis.  I checked out books, read scientific articles, visited websites, etc., but by far the most helpful and uplifting advice has come from other parents.  Through Facebook, online forums, and blogs, I’ve “met” so many moms and dads with exceptional kids.   Every story is different, as evidenced by the diverse and wonderful children featured in this series.  Thanks, Taya, for giving me the opportunity to share our story.

Louis was actually a very easy baby.   Some of it was his disposition, but we also had a really peaceful home setting.  I was able to stay home with him, and adapted to his routine right away.  He nursed and slept when he wanted, and if something made him uncomfortable, I immediately fixed it.  I spent a lot of time on the computer, feeding him and interacting with other moms on online forums.  In fact, the first seeds of concern were planted when I’d read about other babies the same age meeting developmental milestones.  He was perfectly happy and interactive, but wasn’t even attempting to roll over or sit up.  The doctor did not seem worried, so I tried to put it out of my mind. 

When he was about a year old, we moved out of state.  I was so relieved when he crawled at 12 months, and even more relieved when he finally walked at 18 months.  Again, the new doctor did not seem concerned about the delays, especially since he was doing fine socially and his fine motor skills were good.  Just like in the old house, I structured my days around his schedule.  I had a small business making and selling doll clothes, but as he got mobile, it became harder to focus on intricate projects.  I made the switch to patternmaking because it allowed me to spend more time on the computer, nursing him or keeping a close watch while he played.  Like any toddler, he had his meltdowns, sensitivities, and could be just plain recalcitrant.  So, I just went with the flow and let him be the boss…path of least resistance.


When he was about 2, I noticed that he would shut down in loud or hectic settings.  Most of the time, he was in his stroller or in a backpack, so it really wasn’t a problem.  On the rare occasions that I needed him to walk and hurry along, though, it was very upsetting for both of us.   Train and air travel was very difficult, especially if I was on my own with him and schlepping bags and carseats.  Otherwise, he was never what either one of us would call problematic.  He did exhibit some “quirky” behaviors which I now know are textbook…lining up cars, watching the same programs over and over and over and over, etc.  He wasn’t that into playing with other kids, either.  He was great with adults, but didn’t seem to “get” other kids.  We attributed this to him being the only little one in the house. 


Like any mom, I was so nervous about sending him off to kindergarten.  Thankfully, he had an absolutely wonderful teacher, and his first year of school was very happy.  He didn’t seem to have much interest in ABCs and 123s, but he was still learning and getting on just fine.  The real issues came to light in 1st grade.  He’d come home sad, wouldn’t talk about his day, and wanted nothing to do with homework.  His teacher pulled me aside at open house, and said we needed to have a conference in advance of the scheduled conference day.  At that meeting she described a little boy that just could not be my son – miserable, uncooperative, and lonely.  I was heartbroken.  We agreed that he should be evaluated by the speech and occupational therapists.  He was tested, but no real problems were found and therapy was not recommended.
I tried to talk to him, and all I could get out of him was that the other kids were chattering too much, and he just couldn’t think.  My husband and I tried to work with him on his learning, but it was so painful.  I just wanted him to be happy, so I didn’t push too much.  Part of me felt like a bad parent, but I just couldn’t take the tears.  Things greatly improved when he started switching classes for math.  The teacher was very sweet, but also had a good handle on discipline (no chatter).  He was also with a different group of kids and loved the subject.  We were so thrilled to get papers with smiley faces and stars for a change!

Unfortunately, by the close of the year, he was still having problems in his main classroom.  He was tested for ADHD (which just meant surveys by parents and teachers), and the results indicated that he might have an issue.  I talked to his doctor, and we agreed to “wait and see” if he needed medication, etc.  We moved (again) early in 2nd grade, and his new teacher immediately picked up on handwriting issues, and was able to get him right into occupational therapy.  While his grades were improving, his social skills and attitude were not.  It was just like the previous year – the kid at school was totally different from the kid at home.  Even though he was clearly very bright, he just wasn’t doing well.  His new doctor had him evaluated for ADHD, and got the same results.  He referred us to a Developmental Pediatrician. 


It took many months to get an appointment, but they worked us in just before the close of 2nd grade.  Most of his evaluation consisted of just talking to the doctor, and you guessed it…more surveys!  At the end of that appointment, she said that his formal speech patterns and other behaviors were very suggestive of Asperger’s (which she explained is now categorized as high functioning autism).  He is clearly bright, as evidenced by his vocabulary and scientific pursuits.  The ADHD and anxiety are probably a result of the autism, and the more I learn, both are very likely related to SPD.
The diagnosis was truly life changing, and in a good way!  For Louis, it meant that he could get services and accommodations that were not available before.  We had a 504 meeting before the start of 3rd grade, and in addition to OT, he is getting counseling (group and individual) and speech therapy.  He gets extended times for tests, and can take them in a quiet setting.  Most importantly, he gets understanding!  His teacher is great with him, and knows how to keep him happy and on task.  For me, it is like a weight has been lifted.  Even though doctors told me my child was fine, a voice inside told me that was not the case.  When he reached school age, I blamed myself for his issues.  I felt like a lazy/ineffective parent for not pushing harder.  Now that we know what we are dealing with, we can better help him.  On a daily basis, we are blown away with how he is growing and changing.  I’ve always loved him, but for the first time, I am really appreciating all the things that make him special.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Guest Poster - Evelyn

(Taya) Today we have a guest poster, Evelyn, telling her kids' story.  Thank you so much Evelyn!  Again, the vest is on sale for $5 through Monday!  Let's donate lots of weighted vests to these kiddos who need them!

HI, My name is Evelyn.

When Taya came to me and said she had this ‘idea.’ I have to say I was THRILLED and have to admit that my brain went into overdrive on how to help make it even bigger and better to help as many kiddos as possible. More on that later as we finish up nailing down the kinks.

The reason I was thrilled and excited about the idea is because we have 2 Kiddos with multiple Diagnoses.

Our daughter was born with a Congenital Heart Defect (Atrium Septum Defect with primum Defect). She had open heart surgery at 7m old.  After her surgery I kept telling my doctor - something is wrong I think she has ADHD or ADD..  She just doesn't sit still, she doesn't sleep. And he kept saying no - that's normal toddler. She ended up starting therapy because of being delayed from the heart surgery.  At 1 yr old she started speech therapy - she said 0 words at that point. And that therapist will forever change our lives. She is the one that suggested looking into SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).  At that point - I had NEVER heard of SPD. SO, an OT at the clinic evaluated her and said yes - she has SPD - and she explained it so well to me. Her way of explaining is that everyone has on/off switches in their brain for different things. And some of her switches are messed up (either on, when they should be off, or off when they should be on). For her it affects her in different ways but the biggest one is that she is a sensory seeker - Think the energizer bunny times 100!!!  She has a very hard time getting her body to ‘shut down’. So sleep or staying still to do anything is near impossible for her. We have slowly found ‘tools’ that help her to a point, but the problem is some days those tools work and some days they don’t. Some of those tools are a weighted blanket, weighted vest, trampoline, net swing, hammock swing.

She also has trouble sometimes with clothing either being too tight, too loose, not long enough, etc…  It’s hard to know from day to day, and sometimes even minute to minute what will be right.  Before she started to talk (which happened after she started preschool at 3), it was very hard to know what was going on. Once she was able to verbally tell us made things soo much easier to help her.

She is also High Functioning Autistic - which makes things even more interesting. Everything has to be a certain way, she does NOT handle changes well at all. And going outside of her ‘routine’ will cause world war III.

But, she is NOT her diagnosis.  She is a very sweet, lovable, smart girl. And has grown leaps and bounds in every way. I wouldn't change her for the world, she is our girl.

Our Son had also had some medical issues which caused him to have a feeding tube for 5m as a baby. Luckily, our daughter’s Developmental Therapist - noticed some things that he was not doing that he should have been, and also he did NOT sleep, unless in the baby swing and ONLY going side to side. SO, she suggested having him evaluated. I’m glad we did and went down that road early.  He has and is globally delayed. He didn't start walking till 22m. He was CLIMBING before he was a year old tho. He has SPD also, and is a sensory seeker also. He also has some other sensory issues: he is tactile defensive - so, touching certain textures does not happen. And he is very oral. Everything even at almost 3 yrs old still goes into his mouth. He is also completely nonverbal, so figuring out what works/doesn't work for him is not easy.

He also has Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). Basically the white matter between his right brain and left brain is ‘damaged’ so his right brain and left brain does not talk to each other. That makes things even more interesting. Being a sensory seeker and not understanding ‘danger’ or understanding that something is ‘harmful’ is not easy for him or for us.  

He has been in therapy for over 2 years now and has made some huge advancements. He can use an ipad better than most adults. He can now communicate his needs/wants by taking us and pointing to it.

And again he is NOT his diagnosis. He is a sweet, laid back, loving boy. And we wouldn’t change him for the world.

We absolutely LOVE our children just how they are. We have both learned to adapt or help them thru their lives. So, they can possibly live as normal of a life as possible. Our hope is that getting them help early will help them more in the future.  

One parting word -> GO WITH YOUR GUT…  If you think something is wrong - keep talking to the doctors and find out what is going on.  Do NOT let the doctors blow you off..  You know your child better than anyone else.

P.S. To understand a little bit of my life - it took me 3 hours to write this - just because our boy continually kept trying to go over the side of the rail at the top of the stairs.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Guest Poster Stacey from Hailey Bugs Closet

(Taya) Today we have Stacey from Hailey Bugs Closet telling us about her little Bug's story.  Stacey explains so well how SPD kids' needs can fluctuate from day to day.  Thank you Stacey for sharing your story!

Remember the weighted vest pattern is on sale for $5 at Craftsy through Monday!  The Sew-Along starts on Monday!  I hope we have a lot of participants and that together we can make a difference in many kids' lives!  Here is the link to the pattern:
Here's Stacey!

I wanted to thank Taya for having me as a guest this week on her blog and for bringing awareness to SPD. For those of you who don't know me, I am Stacey Mann, owner and designer over at Hailey Bugs Closet. I originally started my shop selling clothing I had made. I made clothing that was comfortable for my little Bug and what was comfortable for her. However, her needs change, sometimes weekly and what she likes today she says hurts or isnt comfy the next week. Trust me this is a common issue in our house! So, from there I started creating designs and patterns that made HER feel good. People liked them and I basically went from selling custom clothing, to selling patterns so other mommas could make boutique clothes for their little ones. Enough about me though, I wanted to share with you my journey with Bug and how she and I and our family cope with our ups and downs and just shed some insight into what her world is like.

Bug is lucky, her condition is not severe and pretty much at this point in her life our real main struggles are clothing and sometimes food. She is incredibly picky though so I think that is more our food issue as opposed to textures but that wasn't always the case. I noticed at only a few weeks old when I would nurse her she would often times gag on the milk. I thought it's probably normal, I was a super producers and I bet I am making too much milk. I will admit, I tried to nurse my oldest and she and I just were not having a good go at it and I used formula. Yep, there I said it, please don't shun me, she really is a bright girl about to graduate from high school early and makes Honors. So, since I bottle fed previously I had no idea gagging on milk and puking it up wasn't normal. That is until my sister in law had my nephew 3 weeks later. We were sitting one afternoon chatting and nursing and Bug gagged liked she often did and I asked my sil how often my nephew did it. I was SHOCKED to hear that he NEVER did that. I mentioned it at the next pediatrician appt and she said what I thought, she figured Bug was gagging because there was just too much coming out at once. At 6 months though our insurance changed and the new doctor asked about her nursing and I told him and he said we need to watch for this. He mentioned there was a chance she may need a speech specialist as she got older.....NOPE, chatty Cathy can talk til the cows come home and started early too lol. But we did have an issue with baby food. She hated most of it. She gagged on anything too thick, she would puke if it was chunky and I was so worried about what I could feed her. It took a lot of trial and error but as she was able to finger feed things that could be sucked on and get real soggy were great. Noodles were a nightmare and instant gag fest every time. Squishy foods like bananas and avocados were faves, although she can't stand the slimy squishiness now at all! Over the years what feels funny or bothers her in regards to foods has changed although she is pretty hesitant to try new things. It doesn't help that she has a peanut/tree nut allergy too. She is most comfortable sticking to her basics and I have been able to work things like steak onto her plate and she loves it. Although she prefers chicken nuggets and frozen GoGurt. I initially started out making food just for her, but it got old FAST. Now she knows I will put the food we are eating on her plate and always make one thing she likes. If we are having something she just cant stand or is spicy I will make something for her BUT this isn't a nightly thing. I also always offer yogurt with her dinner so that if she just decides she isn't going to eat chicken tonight because it feels funny she has something in her tummy.

Another thing I noticed with Bug early on is that 1. she HAD to be swaddled, up until she was 7 months old or she would cry when she slept, and 2. when she nursed she had to grab, pinch and rub my bicep ALWAYS. To the point it was raw and it hurt when she did it. I was told to try and give her a blanket or a toy or something to rub but nothing worked. Its a soothing method she has used as many kids with sensory issues struggle with some level of anxiety. She will be turning 8 in a few days and still when she is having a rough day she will rub on my bicep and she instantly starts to feel better. Anxiety is something that runs high for her but is not disabling. She has a hard time with new things and she stresses out. An example is this year she is in a combo class and she is in 2nd grade. The idea of 3rd graders scared her. She cried for the 3 days leading up to the start of school. I told her if she got in there and hated it we could talk to the school. Her first day she was so nervous, but lo and behold she loves the class, has 3rd grade friends and is picking up some 3rd grade math along the way. We have chosen not to medicate her as her anxiety levels are not high regularly. It comes and goes depending on the situation.

Something I have noticed with her and chatting with moms of other little ones with SPD it seems like many of them are not good sleepers. Bug is one of these and she functions quite well on little sleep. She can stay up if I let her longer than I can. It takes her a long time to wind down to fall asleep and regardless of bedtime is always up between 6:30 am and 7. Even if she is up on New Years. She stopped napping at about 26 months as well and still wouldn't go to bed until 11. Even that was a struggle with her to get her to finally go to bed on her own in her own room....she has a lot of willpower!

Clothing is our BIGGEST issue and always has been. Certain clothing as a baby would make her cry. Just having a wet diaper set her off big time. I was SO thankful she was an early talker and was talking in full sentences at 15 was crazy. Of course I had my son after her and couldn't figure out why he could only say a handful of things at that age when she could tell me exactly what she wanted. I thought he was broken lol. Basically with Bug nothing heavy can be worn ever. Not even when sleeping so blankets are just kicked off. Pants are hated. That was all well and good while living in SE TX but not in Northern CA where we are now. She prefers leggings but not tight ones. OMG, finding the right ratio of tightness but not too loose can be a nightmare. They need to be semi fitted and a soft material. However, the tops she wears need to be longer and over sized but her short sleeved shirts cant be too long. I know a lot of children are the opposite and need more weight and that's why weighted vests and blankets are so important. What feels good today may not feel good next month either and you may need to play around until you find the right combo. She and I work together on what works best for her but also what is logical, like socks. She hates them. She will wear them with sneakers (that was a HUGE break through as all she used to wear were flip flops and Crocs) and she will remove them at home. Even in the winter she would rather have cold toes....but hey I am ok with that so long as when we are outside she is protecting her feet. Shoes are a struggle and I will buy her 1 pair of shoes that are pricier and more comfortable, she gets attached anyway and even when she chooses something else to wear it's usually only once or twice and she goes back to flip flops or her sneaks....right now we are wearing leopard printed Converse with everything.

I am lucky since Bug is older and has also falls into the category of "highly intelligent." However with that comes another can of worms as very intelligent people tend to be a little quirky, think Einstein and Bill Gates. We deal with some OCD stuff and a kid who is too smart and gets bored. Thankfully she loves to learn and read so she stays out of trouble. She just needs to be constantly challenged and why she LOVES her combo class so much now, she is able to learn things another grade is working on. I embrace all the little details about her though and she has helped me grow as both a mother and person. I try to be a little more patient now and realize that not everything has to be done perfectly and we all don't need to fit into the pretty little mold. I have discovered that Chucks really do look cute when paired with a floral peasant dress and when it makes her smile I smile too. I am thankful that we no longer have fights about wearing our undergarments and that together we can decide which things are most important and find a compromise, and what we can say to heck with it. Like riding a bike, I am not sure she will ever be off training wheels but oh well. On our tough mornings when she is stripping her leggings off in the car because they hurt even though she wore them the week before (yes true story) I have learned to laugh, have a little more coffee and tell her "fine, don't wear the pants, but you might get cold." and in the end, or in my case the next week she was wearing those pants to school and now they changed "in the washer" and feel good. Everything changes for her and I just try to roll with the punches and tag along for this journey she has taken me on and try to enjoy every moment with her.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Guest Blogger Hayley From Welcome to the Mouse House

(Taya)  Today we have a guest blogger, Hayley from Welcome to the Mouse House.  Thank you Hayley for sharing your beautiful story!  Remember that the weighted vest pattern is on sale for $5 at my Craftsy store.  All proceeds go to SPD Foundation.  The Sew-Along will start Monday, the 21st, and I encourage everyone to find someone to donate their vest to, whether it is your own child, a child you know, or a school district/therapy center.  Link: 
Here's Hayley!

Hey guys!   My name is Hayley from Welcome to the Mouse House.  My 6 year old son has Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder and he is the most amazing boy I have ever met.

When Taya contacted me about doing a post in honor of Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month, of course I agreed.   This is something we have been living with and learning about since our Ethan was a baby.   It was evident from very early on that something was "off" with how he behaved and how he  responded to touch, light, noise, and the world around him.   When he was about 6 months old, we had him tested and he was diagnosed with SPD by the time he was 8 months old.   

Immediately, we started working with multiple therapists to get him the help that he needed.  I am not going to lie, it was tough.  So so tough.  We were dealing with meltdowns like you can't even explain, we couldn't take him to all the typical places you take a baby, and I felt so alone.   It wasn't what I imagined raising a child to be, but it was my new reality and I was determined to make it the best it could be.  I could tell that Ethan was special.

The therapists were coming to the house at least 3 times a week to work on his sensory issues.   Ethan didn't want to touch grass, food, water, rocks, or anything "different", so the therapists used to do sensory therapy where they would basically make him dig his hands into dried rice or sticky noodles.   After months and months of therapy, it started working!  He would also get overwhelmed by bright lights in stores and loud noises at the park and the therapists showed us tricks like weighted blankets and hats.   It took time, but we learned how Ethan best handled these situations and we worked with it.   It was a lot of work, but so worth it when we saw the results.  
By the time he was 16 months old, it was very clear that there was more going on.   We all had our suspicions and by 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Autism.   It was hard and I cried and I felt like maybe I had gone wrong somewhere along the way.   I knew I had done everything correct, but I wondered.  

But I regained my strength, took a breath, and realized that it would be okay.   It wasn't the end of the world.   We would figure this out and it would be okay... and it has been.  We are doing this parenting thing day by day and that is good enough.  SPD is tough some days and Autism isn't something that I would wish for anyone, but we are doing it.... my son is awesome and I am so proud of everything we have accomplished.

My biggest advice to anyone that suspects that something might be "off" with their child.... don't listen to anything or anyone but your gut.  My gut is what got us where we are today and I knocked down many doors until I got answers and my son is better for it today.  

Please consider purchasing Taya's weighted vest pattern so that the proceeds can go towards the SPD foundation.  It is such a wonderful organization!
. Welcome to the Mouse House

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guest Blogger Kristy from Hopeful Threads

(Taya) I am so excited to get this started!  The pattern is now on sale at Craftsy for $5!  ALL money earned from the sale of the weighted vest pattern from now until the 21st will be donated to SPD Foundation.  The pattern is only on sale on Craftsy, but all weighted vest pattern sales from Etsy will also be donated.  The Sew-Along starts on Monday, the 21st!

Today we have our first guest blogger!   Kristy from Hopeful Threads is here to talk about some of her experiences as a parent of a child with SPD.  She also explains really well why you would use a weighted vest for a child with SPD.  Thank you Kristy!
Hello Friends! I'm so excited to have been invited to share with you all, in honor of Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month! My name is Kristy and I blog over at Hopeful Threads. 

I am the mother of 6 children, and first learned about Taya and Ladybug Bend when searching for a pattern for a Weighted Vest to sew for my youngest daughter. Taya's pattern was not only well written, but it helped me create a finished vest for my child that was super cute, in addition to being functional. My daughter has loved wearing it and it has helped calm and re-center her during some tough days, and helped prevent some meltdowns when we've been able to identify some of her triggers and have her wear the vest in advance. I'll explain a little more from my personal perspective, and I'm sure you'll learn a lot from Taya during this sew along event too, from both her professional and personal perspectives. I know I'm looking forward it!

My youngest daughter lives with some Sensory Integration challenges. For her this means certain activities or disruptions in her normal routine can cause her to feel very unstable and out of control. If we know these things are coming, we can have her wear her vest in advance and it often helps reduce or even prevent some of the negative experience for her. The vest provides a certain amount of deep pressure that allows her to remain calm and feel more organized with whatever the activity may be. This is of course good for her, but it also helps maintain a calmer more pleasant atmosphere for our whole family. 

When I made hers, I chose to use fabric with her favorite character Tinker Bell, so she would see the vest as the positive accessory it was intended to be. It worked! ;)
The vest provides this wonderful line of pockets on the inside that neatly and comfortably hold the little weighted pillows. Taya's pattern instructions are so detailed that she even provides the exact number and type of materials needed to make the weighted pillows AND where to find them easily. Made for a very pleasant sewing experience! You can see many more photos and my full review of this fabulous pattern here

Now that my daughter has begun to outgrown this vest, I anticipate sewing another in the near future and will be donating this one within our local foster care community or to our local Therapy Center. I hope many of you will sew along and find a way to donate a vest in honor of Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month as well!

As a Mama, I have to take a moment and share my gratitude for Taya's efforts to raise awareness, support and again for creating this incredible Ladybug Bend pattern for us to use. It has definitely been a blessing in our lives!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Story

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is something that affects my life every day.  In a nut-shell, we have the 5 senses we always learn about, and then we have 3 others: tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular. In SPD any of these senses can be either over-sensitive or under-sensitive.  That means things like loud noises, light, being touched, are amplified or not as sensitive.  Instead of giving you a boring summary of SPD, I am going to tell you my story mixed with SPD facts.

I first learned about SPD when I was in college, studying to be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.  I was fascinated by it.  Years later, SPD would become a reality for me.  My son was diagnosed with Autism right after he turned 3 (he is 6 now).  I have to say I was in denial until right before this point.  I started to "see" it when he was almost 3, and got him in for an evaluation shortly afterwards.  Usually, children with Autism also have SPD, but they are two separate disorders.  There are a lot of people with SPD who do not have Autism. 

He lacks stability in his muscles and trunk (proprioceptive dysfunction), so he prefers to play while lying on the floor with this head on the ground.   Proprioception is the sense of where your body is in space.  There are receptors in the joins, muscles and tendons that help us with this.  Children who have proprioceptive dysfunction may lack stability like my son.  They may be clumsy and trip and fall a lot, they may not know how much pressure to put on things, so when they color it might be too light, or they may break the crayon because they push too hard.  Sometimes my son will hang on things, trying to get that proprioceptive feedback in his joints.  The photos above and below are showing how he is seeking that feedback by pushing his head into the ground/couch.  He is also supporting himself in the above photo.  Two birds with one stone :)

His biggest difficulty with SPD is tactile.  We live in Utah, where it is cold half the year.  He loves to wear shorts and short sleeves.  Getting him to wear pants has been very difficult.  He just doesn't like the feeling of them on his legs.  We have made a lot of progress with this, but in the past we would deal with meltdowns almost every morning getting dressed.  I used to have to hide his shorts because he wouldn't wear anything else.  People probably thought I was a negligent mom for sometimes sending him to school in shorts and with no coat on.  It just wasn't worth the fight sometimes.  He does so much better wearing pants now, but he does roll his pant legs up sometimes to have the feeling of shorts.  Long sleeve shirts and coats are the same story.  Some kids prefer to have their body covered up.  They don't like the feeling of the shorts or short sleeved shirts rubbing on their skin, and that might cause a meltdown.  Some kids like to have their clothes tight and others like them loose.  I remember one time he had a very long meltdown and I couldn't figure out what the problem was.  I finally found that he had a string hanging from the waistband of his pants and he just couldn't take it anymore.  Below is a photo of one of his many meltdowns. 

Your vestibular sense is your sense of balance and movement.  Some kids will seem hyperactive because their vestibular sense is under-responsive.  They don't feel the movement as much, so they need to move more and more and more for their body to feel regulated.  Other kids, like my son will seem more lethargic because they feel the movement too much.  He has made a lot of improvement over the past few years, but when we started therapy for him, it took so much energy to get him to jump, run and play.  It's like his body just wasn't awake.  Now, his activity level is pretty well regulated, but he is still on the more lethargic side of things.  His favorite activities are more passive things like watching TV, playing with Legos, and he LOVES cars.  Cars are an obsession for him.  Swinging has always been a very scary thing for him.  He doesn't like to swing high or fast at all or it scares him.  Below, you can see that he is nervous.  He wouldn't even sit on the swing at one point because he didn't feel safe. 

 The last thing I will talk about is the auditory sense, or the sense of hearing.  Lots of kids with SPD hear things differently.  They may hear sounds louder or they may not even hear them.  The 4th of July that my son was 3 was probably one of the hardest days of my life.  We went to a parade, and it was so loud.  He kept covering his ears and screaming.  The photo below shows him "shut down".  He was trying to protect himself from all the stimulation he was getting.  He came home and threw up.  We weren't sure if he was getting sick or what the problem was, but now we know that his system had just had too much (he has done it since after movies as well).  THEN, we went to fireworks later that night.  Worst. experience. ever.  I still break down in tears thinking about it.  I took him and hid in the restroom, but he was still hysterical.  We had parked too far away for me to take him to the car.  He has since done much better with fireworks, but we have had to work hard and be prepared (parking close, noise cancelling headphones).  Movies are also difficult for him. He would much rather not go, and we haven't taken him to a movie for a couple years.

He is an amazing little boy, and I can truly say he one of my heroes.  I am so proud of all that he has accomplished and know that he will do great things.

This is just a basic overview of SPD and how it presents in my son.  If this is something you are interested in learning more about, please feel free to ask me any questions. 

A good website to learn more:
Some of my favorite books on SPD:
Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller
The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz
The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz

Monday, October 14, 2013

Special Announcement!

First of all, it's good to be back!  It has been 4 years since I last posted.  I can't say that things have slowed down any, but I have decided that just isn't going to happen!  I will find a way to blog regularly.  It is always a fun thing when I do.

The biggest reason I decided to re-open my blog is because I have an awesome project in the works and I am ready to announce it!  October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month.  Most of us know someone who is affected by SPD.  I will go into more about what SPD is tomorrow, and we will have guest bloggers throughout the week who will tell their stories.  But today I will tell you my plan.  Starting Wednesday, October 16th, my weighted vest pattern will be on sale at Craftsy for $5.  All of the earnings from this sale will go to SPD Foundation.  SPD Foundation is the leader in advocacy and research for SPD. 

But wait!  That's not all!  I am going to have my first ever Sew-Along!  The Sew-Along will go from Oct 21st-25th.  If this pattern seems intimidating to you, this is the perfect time to try it.  I would like to encourage everyone who participates in the Sew-Along to find a child who needs a weighted vest and donate it to them.  It can be your child, niece, nephew, friend's child, neighbor, etc.  You can also donate to your local school district or therapy center.  I guarantee you will quickly find someone who needs it. I would love it if together we could donate 100 vests!  I am going to keep a count through November, so if the week of the Sew-Along is too busy, that's okay!

Let's make a big difference together!

Here is the link to the pattern.