Now more than ever, our communities need us to come together and give back to those who matter to us—not just with our money, but with our time, talents, hearts, and creativity. GivingTuesday is just that: a day of global giving to support and continue the missions of the people and organizations who do the most good in their communities.
Head over to our GivingTuesday page to learn more about how your gift can help Twenty-One Senses make a big difference to special needs and at-risk families. Can’t give money right now? No problem! Our Get Involved page lists several other ways you can help further the cause. Finally, be sure to check out the official Giving Tuesday website for more creative ways to get involved and support the organizations you love.
The entire Twenty-One Senses team is thrilled to be celebrating one year of supporting families with sensory issues. We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time and, although there’s plenty of work left to do, we’re taking take a night off to celebrate with everyone who’s been with us on this incredible journey.
Join us this Saturday, November 14th at 8:00 PM CT for our first Virtual Trivia Night. The event is free for all, but please make sure to RSVP so we can send you a Zoom link prior to the start. Register here.
At Twenty-One Senses, our mission is also our passion. As parents and caregivers of children with sensory processing issues, we are dedicated to providing resources and support for families like ours.
As SPD Awareness Month comes to a close, our team would like to take a moment to share just some of the resources and products we’ve found to be particularly helpful over the years. Keep in mind that sensory supports don’t necessarily need to cost money. Get creative and experiment until you find something that works for your family—pushing a laundry basket full of books or groceries around the kitchen is great stimulation for the muscles/joints, and a nook full of pillows can work just as well as a crash pad. The possibilities are endless!
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder in which sensory information—such as light, sound, or touch—is either undetected or incorrectly processed by the brain. This often results in either extreme sensitivity or extreme underreaction to normal sensory input, especially in children. Individuals with SPD may also have problems performing certain motor tasks, appear withdrawn and anxious, or exhibit unusually aggressive or thrill-seeking behavior.
Check out our What Is SPD? page for more information, including specific tips on how to support children with seeking/avoiding behaviors and sensory discrimination challenges.
Did You Know?
Do you have to have autism, ADHD, or some other diagnosis in order to have SPD?
No, sensory processing issues can be—and often are—diagnosis agnostic. However, recent studies have shown as many as 40% of children with ADHD and 75% of children with autism spectrum disorders have significant sensory processing issues.
What causes SPD?
The cause of SPD is currently unknown. Some research suggests there may be a genetic or inherited component. Prenatal/birth complications and environmental triggers have also been named as potential factors.
How do I know if my child struggles with sensory processing?
No two children are alike, and the exact symptoms of SPD can vary widely depending on each child’s surroundings, emotional state, and particular sensitivity. That being said, many children with SPD will show one or more of the following symptoms:
Extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch, or smell
Difficulty learning new things or following verbal instructions
Constant fidgeting, climbing, wrestling, or other “problem” behavior
Tendency to become frightened or overwhelmed in busy, crowded environments
If you think your child is struggling with sensory processing issues, contact your pediatrician or teacher for an evaluation. The STAR Institute also has a great symptoms checklist and a plethora of resources to help you learn about SPD and available treatments.
“This [Covid] feels like having a newborn: You don’t know anything, you have to do everything, but so much feels out of your control. Everything is scary. As soon as you figure something out, it changes. There’s a lot of pressure and judgement. I’m afraid I’m doing it wrong.”
As we enter the fourth month of lockdown, there’s a lot of excited talk about finally “opening up” and getting back to a “new normal.” Some states are opening businesses and public spaces quickly, while others are opening in slow, deliberate phases. There is no single roadmap for this, no one set of guidelines, and so many of us still feel confused, exhausted, and out of control in ways we might not have felt since we first became parents.
But remember, having a newborn allowed you to develop some amazing strengths as a parent: you were able to live in the moment, adapt quickly to new situations, prioritize (sometimes ruthlessly), and accept what you could not control. Reconnect with those strengths and lean into them as the world starts to reopen. With a little planning and a lot of communication, your family can make this transition in a way that feels thoughtful and safe for everyone.
Things to consider:
Telehealth availability is high, but so is the demand. Start making appointments—both virtual and in-person—for healthcare, therapy, and other family services now, even if the actual appointment is a ways off.
Some places may be quieter or less crowded than usual. However, keep in mind that social distancing and more thorough cleaning procedures might mean some things take a lot longer than usual, and some areas may be restricted. Don’t hesitate to call ahead and let providers know about your child’s particular needs.
Talk about it.
Learn how to read your child and understand to what level he needs the situation explained to him. Be attentive to both verbal and nonverbal communication about his level of understanding and his feelings about what he’s hearing (this could be vastly different for every child). Put things in direct, black and white terms as much as possible.
A plan is the best antidote for anxiety, so talk to your child about what to expect when you leave your house. Prepare him for how people might look (masks and gloves) and how people might behave (anxious or standoffish). Make sure he knows what’s expected of him in regards to distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing.
Stress the importance of respecting others’ choices in regards to social distancing. For example, Grandma’s not crazy for continuing to quarantine—she’s older and therefore higher risk, plus she might have other risk factors that lead her to be more cautious or anxious. On the other hand, you might know someone who has to return to work or is choosing to engage in more social activity than your family’s comfortable with. This is a situation that makes people emotional and defensive, and it’s not helpful to argue with others or be confrontational.
Talk to your family about how to manage transitions—into summer, into reopening, etc. Develop good “transition habits” as a family. All the rules of transitions apply: stay regulated, ease yourself into it, try not to force too many “new” things at once. (More on this next week!)
Take it slow.
Choose your family’s “safe” social circle and expand it slowly. Think of it like concentric rings, with the core/innermost circle being your household. The next innermost ring might include grandparents or your next door neighbors, and the ring beyond that might include cousins, friends, or coworkers. Make sure everyone in each ring agrees to the same “rules” about social distancing. Be explicit with your child about how you choose the members of your circle and what the rules are.
When you’re ready to start going out, apply this same idea to stores, offices, and establishments. In this instance, the innermost circle would be grocery stores, doctors, and other truly essential businesses. The second ring might be department stores and barbershops, and the ring beyond that might be restaurants.
Go on the first few outings alone if possible. This will let you get a lay of the land, acclimate yourself to the new way of doing things, and be better prepared to set your child’s expectations. Don’t be embarrassed to reach out to friends, neighbors, or the establishment itself and ask what to expect.
Check in frequently when you’re out with your child, and have an exit plan ready in case he needs a break or is misbehaving. If he does start to become frightened or overwhelmed, remind him you can both leave right away, with no consequences or punishment for him, and try again later.
Twenty-One Senses is proud to be participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. It’s is an opportunity for people all around the world to come together to focus on connection, healing, and doing good—whether it’s by picking up groceries for a neighbor, hosting virtual get-togethers, or advocating for a cause close to your heart.
We all know these past few months have been hard on everyone, and it’s been a particularly stressful time for families struggling to adapt to this new way of life.
Our mission remains true: to empower families like ours and to help them navigate typical childhood experiences, even in these very unusual and uncertain times.
To that end, Twenty-One Senses is thrilled to announce we’ll soon be launching a new serviceto provide parents with personalized coaching, empowering them to rise to the challenges presented by COVID-19. Working together, we’ll build strong coach-parent-child teams focused on learning, self-regulation, empathy, resilience, mindful communication, problem-solving, and self-care.
As of April 16, 26 states have either recommended or ordered schools to remain closed for the remainder of the 2019 school year. We all knew this might happen, but it still hurts. Millions of parents and children alike are feeling overwhelmed by the new schedules, roles, and responsibilities thrust upon them by shelter-in-place living and distance learning. With a lot of patience, tenacity, and deep breaths, we can emerge from this stronger and more resilient.
Stay tuned for more information on this exciting new service. And stay safe, everyone.
At Twenty-One Senses, our mission has always been to help families with sensory issues navigate typical childhood events, play spaces, and activities. However, we recognize the world is quickly changing and all families, not just those with special needs, are adjusting to a new way of life.
To better support social distancing measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19, we will be pausing our regular programming to focus on e-learning resources for children of all ages and abilities. We’ll be adding to the list regularly, so check back often. Please share it on social media or with anyone you think might find it useful.Finally, let us know if you’ve found a great resource we should include.
We believe in the power of community, cooperation, and positivity in the face of adversity. While there are certainly challenges ahead, we can all use this moment to pause and reflect on the things that matter most: our families and our communities.
Due to concerns about the spreading rate of COVID-19, Twenty-One Senses will not be hosting or participating in any spring events. Sadly, this means Tuesday’s Sensory Night at Altitude Trampoline Park is canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Remember, there are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself and others around you.
Practice good hygiene.
Don’t touch your face!
Wash your hands often with soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
Wipe down frequently touched surfaces with a bleach or antibacterial solution.
Cough/sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and wash your hands immediately afterwards.
Practice social distancing.
Work or study from home if at all possible.
Avoid any unnecessary travel, public events, and large gatherings.
If you must go out in public, try to keep roughly six feet between yourself and others.
Avoid shaking hands, giving high fives, or kissing on the cheek.
Stay home if you’re feeling sick, even if your symptoms are mild.
Finally, stay calm. Your children will look to you to see how they should react.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the continuation of our Sensory Spotlight series, plus some sensory-focused tips and tricks on how to manage prolonged stays at home.
Twenty-One Senses is thrilled to be partnering with Altitude Trampoline Park in Skokie, IL to host a sensory-friendly jump on the third Tuesday of every month. Kids jump for $15.95 (that’s two hours for the price of one), and parents jump for just $2.
The following sensory accommodations will be available:
Calmer music at a lower volume
Sensory triggering games turned off
Noise canceling headsets available for checkout
Paper towels as an alternative to automatic hand dryers
The next jump is next Tuesday, January 21 from 6-8 PM. Head over to our events page to purchase tickets and check out other upcoming events.
Throughout the years, my co-founder Gabi and I have watched many special needs kids, including my own, struggle to navigate typical childhood spaces and situations. As caregivers, we were constantly researching ways to set them up for the best possible success at home, in school, in extracurricular activities, at summer camp—you name it. The information we needed, however, was often hard to locate, scattered across various sites, or incomplete.
Most community and enrichment spaces are built with neurotypical kids in mind and, as a result, are often partially or totally inaccessible to kids with sensory sensitivities. As parents and caregivers, it can be hard for us to understand just how our kids might struggle in these spaces, how to help them integrate successfully, and how to find providers that will accommodate them appropriately. Many businesses are starting to recognize the need to support all participants, but they aren’t always sure just how to go about or how to get the word out to the people who need to hear it.
We knew that bringing kids into these spaces and experiences needs to be easier for everyone. Gabi and I started Twenty-One Senses in order to create an online space that makes it much easier for:
Caregivers to find sensory supportive businesses, public spaces, enrichment activities, and resources
Business to access resources and materials that allow them to better support the special needs community
We’re just getting started and will be adding new content all the time, so check back often for sensory information, tips and tricks, business profiles, and more. In the meantime, you can learn more about our mission and ways you can get involved.
Thank you for all your support now and in the future!