Sunday, May 1, 2011

Portable Sensory Board for Students Who Love to Squish Things

Last Thursday, one of the speech-language pathologists I work with at a high school asked me if I had any manipulative items she could use with a student who wants to squish everything.  The student, who is diagnosed with autism, is very distracted during speech-language sessions and the SLP thought that if she could provide the student with some squishy things while he is working then perhaps he might be able to attend to the sessions a little better. 

I asked if the student also put things in his mouth but the SLP said he primarily liked to squish with his fingers.Well, I didn't have a lot of squishy things at home or at work so, of course, I headed over to my favorite spot--Goodwill!  Fortunately, they had swim "noodles" that day so I bought a couple.  Our therapy assistant gave me a ratty, double tri-wall board that had been covered with wood-grain Contact paper, some sticky back Velcro, and I was all set.

Today my DH (dear husband) used our 80's electric knife to cut lengths of the noodles and then slice them open like a hot dog bun. (Yes, yes I do know how to use the electric knife but we had to have some "family time" this weekend.)  We also cut some noodle "coins" for extra squishing opportunities.  The foam sliced very clean with few snaggy edges.  Many students with autism get very distracted by snaggy edges, I've found.  I put duct tape on the short ends, then clamped the foam on the long ends.
Unfortunately, I had placed some removeable squishy objects on the board prior to attaching the lengths of foam, and learned that I had put the removeable objects too close to the edges.  Oh well.
We'll see how this works for the student.
This is a real mix of items--squeezable sports balls, a smooth nail file, yarn wrapped "fruit," a textured patch, a black piece of foam that resembles a slice of  bread.

This is a freebie pencil bag I had at work.  It is filled with thin felt, thin foam and a filmy packing sheet.  I chose not to use a sheet of bubble wrap since that might be too enticing to the student.

I cut extra noodle slices to use with younger students, perhaps stringing the purple ones on something.  Maybe they would make fun rings to wear as a silly way to encourage regard of a more affected hand?