A Different Kind Of Diet

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Dear Addie,

Did you know that you are on a diet?  That’s right, you need a steady diet of swinging, and trampolines throughout your week to keep you happy and healthy.  Now I know what you are thinking - trampolines and swings don’t sound all that appetizing, but this my dear is not like a yummy yummy delicious diet - although equally as important for you as food, this diet provides a different purpose.

A sensory diet is essentially a group of physical activities that can help you stay alert and calm all at the right times, such as swinging, climbing or jumping. It provides stability when you may be overexcited or just too tired. Having a good sensory diet is often described as giving you the sensory input you need to be in a “just right” state. You know exactly when you need it and retreat to get your input when necessary. It gives you a sense of control over your being.

It’s not all that uncommon for autistic kiddos like yourself to have a variety of fun sensory equipment (such as trampolines or swings) not only outside, but inside their homes too. While it may look like you have the most super cool, fun parents ever (well…I don’t want to brag), it really is just that you need to fulfill your sensory diet with a bunch of fun activities – we even have some right in your room!

While embracing the need for sensory equipment is all fine and good, it can come with the need to fix or adjust your surroundings. Your platform swing in your bedroom has been a lifesaver for you.  The door frame trim however, has suffered the wrath taking the brunt of your happiness and is now in need of repair, or a sturdier solution for your swing to bounce off.

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Insert “Operation: fix the door frame!”

With my creative juices perhaps a bit dried up from new puppy sleep deprivation, my neighbor happily came over to help me brainstorm a bit.  She had a cute idea of turning the door frame into forest trees - I knew asked the right person ;).  I of course immediately loved the idea, but still needed to think through the execution.

Having at least a vision on how to potentially solve this swing issue, I took a glance around and knew before any of that took place we really needed to address the overabundance of things in your room.

You see Ad, your room at best could be described as a cross between the land of misfit toys or a TLC edition of toddler hoarders! Yikes!

Insert “Operation: clean out this space!”

Your relationship with your things like your books, toys, or even clothes is much more than that of a neurotypical person.  Everything has a place and purpose. Just bagging everything up would’ve caused you great distress and we weren’t so interested in that.

We dumped out all toys into big piles. I sat patiently next to you as you meticulously laid your hands on each beloved toy either carefully inspecting, playing with, or gently tossing aside. This “toss aside” pile was my opportunity to discard or donate said toys. I’m not going to lie, this took hours!

After a decent purge, it was time to continue on and clean up. You stayed watching me the whole time like a hawk as I wiped down all your fisher price little people and their play sets.

At the end of the day, this strategy worked, and we successfully donated a significant amount of good condition toys to a local Pre-K programs and threw away a whole garbage bag full of broken, unsalvageable ones. This was a lot for you to handle and you did great! So, while I could've said goodbye to a whole lot more, I was sure not to push it and respected your attachment being quite happy with the progress that was made.

Now with your space cleaned out a bit, it was time to head back to “Operation: fix the door frame”. Clara and Gabe were happily all hands-on deck with help in brainstorming creative ideas in making all this happen. In case you haven’t realized from just about anywhere you look in our house, we can make a craft project out of just about anything!

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While daddy and I handled the tree trunks, Clara and Gabe happily worked on making mod podge treetops to resemble an enchanted forest! You even got in on the fun with a little fine motor scissor practice ;)

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If I do say so myself, it turned out pretty cute. OTOD enchanted forest-sensory swing buffer 0 aka “Operation: fix the door frame” complete!

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So, this week your sensory diet caused us some extra thought for a safe solution and some much-needed repairs to your room. While we never saw this being an issue, we happily took the opportunity to have fun with it and in the end, you got your very own one of a kind artwork from Clara and Gabe and a successful purge out of the deal.

While your space may never look like a Pottery Barn catalog - it works for us and had two of the cutest designers in town on the project!

Keep swinging baby girl! We all love you very much!

Love,

Mom

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