Monday, August 24, 2015

Sensory Appropriate Classroom Design


Dear Melissa, When I went to my child's open house I personally felt overstimulated by my child's classroom. I know OT's are gurus of classroom design. What are your thoughts? 





I know school system budgets are tight and teachers often do not have the luxury of consulting their school OT for many of the sensory kiddos in their classroom. Here are some simple modifications that can help kiddos who are 1) over-stimulated and sensory defensive OR 2) kiddos who are under-stimulated and need extra sensory input.

What doesn't work for kids with SPD
Way back when, while I was in OT school, I had the privilege of being a literacy tutor. I attended masters-level classes with teachers. As an OT student I remember listening to lectures and often feeling like the techniques conflicted with what I was taught as an OT student. One example of this was the common guidance to teachers to design "welcoming" classroom environments that were overstimulating (see example below).

 an overstimulating classroom
The classroom above is bright, colorful, kid-friendly, and very inviting, right? Unfortunately, this is far from the ideal classroom for a child with sensory processing disorder (SPD). While all of the bright colors and patterns are inviting, they are often too stimulating for children with SPD. My advice: De-clutter! A much less distracting room would look something like this: 

a sensory appropriate classroom for a child with SPD 
Yes, I know some might call this “boring”, but it allows for the child to focus on the task at hand rather than being distracted by the walls. Teachers might not be able to de-clutter to this extent, but several of the following simple techniques can help: 1) adding cabinets, 2) adding simple shelves with uniform bins, 3) covering materials with solid curtains, 4) using solid rugs, 5) decreasing extraneous patterns and pictures on the wall. Such adjustments can help locate the middle ground between inviting and over-stimulating. 

Ideas about increasing sensory input
Theraband on chair legs and wiggle discs in chair seats  
Kicking against the theraband and sitting in a wiggle seat allows a child to move his body without ever leaving his seat!


Exercise
Brain Breaks (YouTube has some great examples), dance, jumping jacks, frog jumps, walks to the office, stacking chairs, carrying stacks of books, yoga, etc.  All of these will get their bodies moving, and all are free! Mounting scientific evidence shows the effectiveness of exercise for improving attention to task. 
Fidget toys
Koosh balls, stress balls, finger traps, Slinkys, velcro stuck to desks… all will help keep little fingers moving while their eyes are on you, listening to the lesson. 

Gum/chewing
Many children seek out calming oral input by chewing on their shirts, pencils, or other inappropriate objects. Gum is often the best way to achieve this calming oral input. Consider chew tubes or pencil toppers if gum is not allowed.

Ideas about decreasing sensory input
Preferential seating
Many interpret this term to mean sitting in the front of the class, but this is not always the case. Look for distractions such as windows, doors, pencil sharpeners, trash cans, or other high traffic areas that may distract the child and position him away from these. Also, many teachers have a gift for figuring out how to position a less attentive child next to a “positive peer” who can help keep him on track!

Cardboard study carrel
If you can’t eliminate distractions from the environment, create a personal environment for the individual child. Make it bright, colorful, and inviting on the outside but solid in the inside to help the child focus during quiet study times. 


Quiet Corner
Everyone needs a quiet space to get away for a few minutes. It can be simply a few bean bags or throw pillows in a corner, or it can be a full mini-tent. Here is where you can get creative and let your imagination run wild! ALL of the children in your classroom will enjoy curling up with a good book in this inviting space. 

Headphones/ear buds/hoodie
A student can create his own personal quiet space with headphones, ear buds or a hoodie pulled up to help damper out extra sound which may be distracting. 
  


What approach works best when addressing sensory classroom concerns with your child's teacher? I will address this in the coming weeks. 

Do you have a question you would like me to address?
Don't hesitate to share!

Resources:
Working with Schools, Sensorysmarts.com (Accessed August 2015)
Sensory Strategies for the Classroom, Occupational Therapy Advance (Accessed August 2015)
How Sensory Processing Issues Affect Kids at School, The Child Mind Institute (Accessed August 2015)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Backpack Safety



Dear Melissa,
My son is entering the 5th grade this year.  It seems like he is cramming more and more stuff into his backpack every year. Do you have any recommendations to keep his young back safe?

You have the notebooks and pencils, but how do you know if that backpack from last year is the best fit for your child again this year? Yes, children seem to LOVE to pick out the coolest trends in backpacks every year, whether it has Elsa & Anna from “Frozen” or is the latest style in a hiking backpack. But, are these the safest options? According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, heavy loads carried by more than 79 million students across the U.S. can cause lower back pain that often lasts through adulthood. In addition, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010 nearly 28,000 strains, sprains, dislocations, and fractures from backpacks were treated in hospital emergency rooms and physicians’ offices. 

As an expert on school ergonomics and healthy growth and development of school-age children, Karen Jacobs, EdD, OTR/L, CPE, clinical professor of occupational therapy at Boston University says,“A child wearing a backpack incorrectly or that is too heavy can be contributing risk factors for discomfort, fatigue, muscle soreness, and musculoskeletal pain especially in the lower back.” Because of the concern, the American Occupational Therapy Association has established a “National School Backpack Awareness Day”. This year it is on September 16, 2015.  

I have summarized the recommendations by the 
American Occupational Therapy Association below:
   
Appropriate size
The height of the backpack should extend from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist.

Shoulders
Backpacks should have very well-padded shoulder straps that can be worn on BOTH shoulders for proper balance.

Hip belt
Backpacks with a hip or chest belt take some strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles and improve the student’s balance.

Fit
Just as your child will try on clothes and shoes when back-to-school shopping, it is important to try on backpacks, too. According to Karen Jacobs, “The right fit should be your top criteria when selecting your child’s backpack. If you order online, be sure that the seller has a return policy just in case the backpack is not quite the best fit for your child and needs to be exchanged.”

Total Weight
Check that the child’s backpack weighs no more than 10% of his or her body weight. This means that a child that weighs 80 pounds should have a backpack that weighs no more than 8 pounds. Get out your bathroom scale and check it out! If it weighs more, determine what supplies can stay at home or at school each day to lessen the load. If the backpack is still too heavy for the child, consider a book bag on wheels.

Weight Distribution
Use different compartments appropriately to distribute the weight by placing the heavier items closest to the body and lighter items in the smaller, external pockets.

Watch for Stress
Watch your child. Ultimately each child is different, and his body will react differently to repetitive and prolonged backpack use. Warning signs that the backpack is too heavy include:

     1.  Difficulty putting on/taking off backpack
     2.  Complaints of pain or tingling
     3.  Red strap marks over the tops of the shoulders
     4.  Changes in side-to-side posture while wearing the backpack.
      
Check out the websites below for loads of tips on how to help keep all backpack-wearers in your household as safe as possible. 

Backpack Shopping 101: Tips to Avoid a Pain in the Neck, American Occupational Therapy Association  (Accessed August 2015)
1, 2,3’s of Basic Backpack Wearing, American Occupational Therapy Association, Accessed August 2015  
Backpack Strategies for Parents & Students, American Occupational Therapy Association  (Accessed August 2015)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Top School Supply Pics



Dear Melissa,
The school just sent us our school supply list. Do you have any other recommendations for back-to-school supplies for my 1st-grade son with ADHD?

Back to school time! The smell of new crayons and paper always makes me giddy! Along with the new notebooks and pencils, there are additional items that can keep your young scholar more organized and focused this school year! Here are a few of my favorites.

Broken Crayons
This is a secret of OT's. We all have art boxes full of broken crayons. Shhh!  Don’t tell anyone!  A broken crayon is a fantastic little tool which magically turns almost any funky, immature grasp into a proper, mature tripod grasp. No therapy required! See for yourself in the pictures below taken just seconds from each other.  

Now the magic effect of the crayon only lasts while the child is using this shortened crayon; the child will likely go back to a more immature grasp when using a longer pencil. However, the more a child gains practice with a proper grasp with the broken crayon, the more likely the child will transfer this skill to other writing instruments. 

Looking for one more OT magic trick to teach a proper grasp? Tape the picture to a vertical surface, such as the wall, or have the child write on a vertical chalk board. Again, no instruction required, just an instantly better grasp!

Pencil Grippers
A variety of pencil grippers will help to create and reinforce proper grasping patterns to make writing easier. Even though I work on handwriting with kiddos on a daily basis, it is generally trial and error to see what works best for your child. Here are a few of my favorites (all can be picked up at your local school supply store or Amazon.com). 




  
Chewing items
School days can be crazy and stressful. Chewing is calming.  If your child tends to chew on his pencil, fingers, or shirt, these are the items for you! Consider chew pencil toppers, s chew necklace or a chew zipper pull. 


                              

Visual Timers
Learning to stay on task and to complete assignments on time sometimes requires a little extra support. These tools can help. 
                                                                    
                                
Image result for visual timers    
Image result for visual timers

Picture Schedules
Parents and teachers can work with a child to make a picture schedule binder for home and during the school day. They can simply be made with wallet-sized pictures, clear contact paper and Velcro. With Velcro on the back of each picture, the schedule is rearrange-ableAdditional photos of various activities can be kept in a pencil case inside the binder.  
   

Writing Paper
I can’t tell you how many times I have had a parent/teacher complain about a young first or second grader's handwriting skills! Then, when I ask for a writing sample, I am given a sheet of typing paper with the child’s letters written in all different sizes all over the page. This example reminds us that kids need structure! I personally like dashed-line paper. It comes in all different letter heights and line colors. There are versions where the bottom half of the line is highlighted in yellow to help children discern the difference between the “regular” letters and the “tall” letters; you can also purchase paper with raised lines to help keep letters from sinking below the lines. Again, check out Amazon.com or your local school supply store. 

Resource:

Do you have a question you would like me to address? 
Please don't hesitate to share: www.share@childrenstherapyteam.com

Monday, August 3, 2015

Kindergarten Transition


Dear Melissa,
My daughter will start Kindergarten in a few weeks and she seems a bit anxious about it.  Do you have any tips for making this transition easier? 

The big day is coming. Your little one is beginning “real school.” Apart from starting college, this is probably the biggest school transition your child (and you) will face. Even if your child has previously been in a preschool or daycare setting, there can be much anxiety about the first day of school. Here are a few tips to ease some of those butterflies. 

Pretend Play
Use dolls, puppets, drawings, and plays to help act out what kindergarten will look and feel like. This has a fantastic two-fold benefit. First, it helps your child to know what to expect. Second, pretend play can help to show you, the parent, what fears your child may have about making this big transition.  

Visit the School/Teacher
Many schools have “back to school nights” where your child can meet the teacher, see the classroom, and become more comfortable with their new school setting. You can also go and play on the playground at the new school in the weeks before school starts so that your child has something familiar to look forward to.

Write a Social Story
A social story is a magical tool often employed by speech therapists. In a social story, the adult and child work together to create a story about a situation in which the child is the main character, and the ending of the story results in the child mastering the tricky situation. I have included a resource link with tips for writing social stories at the end of this blog.

Interview a Big Kid
Make a playdate with an older child in the neighborhood, family friend, sibling, etc. - and take time to discuss the new school. What does this older child like about this school? What can students do at the school that is not available at home or preschool? Focus on questions that reinforce the positive, fantastic “big kid” benefits of the new setting.

Read Books
Your local library will have dozens of books on starting at a new school and many specifically about starting kindergarten. Have your child pick out a few, and then cuddle up to read! This will help greatly with shaping expectations, raising the comfort level of your child. 

Talk Time
Try to focus on the positive as much as possible, but certainly don’t close the door on your child expressing her fears. Allow her plenty of time and encouragement to talk about this transition. Use leading questions such as: “What do you think?” or “How do you feel?” For example, say “What do you think will be the best part?”, not "Tell me what you are afraid of.” If you sense apprehension, you can delve in further and definitely validate her concerns when appropriate. But it does NO good to plant negative ideas into her head by asking “Are you afraid you won’t make any friends?” when she was actually excited about meeting her new classmates. Focus on your child’s concerns, not your concerns. Sending off “your baby” (whether it’s your oldest, youngest, or somewhere in between) can be tricky for moms and dads.  Many parents feel sad and apprehensive about letting their little ones go to a “big kid school”. However, I personally think that these feelings are best discussed with your family and friends, NOT in front of your child. We want our children to feel confident and excited about school, not guilty that they are making their parents sad. 

Consider Special Needs
Kindergarten teachers are especially trained to accept a wide variety of abilities into the classroom and take it in stride. However, if your child has already been identified as having a special need or is currently in therapy for a developmental delay, it can be in the child’s best interest to let the school know ahead of time. If you think your child will need special interventions in kindergarten, and she does NOT have an IEP (Individual Educational Plan), it is helpful to contact the school before school starts (or even better, before the beginning of summer break). If you need help setting up school services for your child, talk to your child’s therapist(s) or contact Arkansas Support Network (link below) for additional assistance. 

So load up those brightly colored crayons in the backpack and pick out the coolest lunchbox, because we are off to school!

What did you do when your “baby” went off to kindergarten to help ease the transition?  Please share! Please share! www.share@childrenstherapyteam.com

Resources:
How to Write a Social Story, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, accessed July 2015
12 Ways to Help a Child Make the Transition to Kindergarten, Anne Densmore, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School (2013), accessed July 2015
How to Help Your Child with Special Needs Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten, Christina Vercelletto, NY Metro Parents (2015), accessed July 2015  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Bucket List


Dear Melissa,
Help! My kids start back to school soon. It seems as if the summer has simply flown by and we have not had time to truly enjoy it. What are some cheap/free things we can do as a family before we get back into the school routine?

I can’t lie. Summer is my FAVORITE season. I like nothing better than hanging out on my back porch, either as a family, or alone and curled up with a good book. Heat index 100? Bring it on. That just calls for moving the lawn chair under the shade tree and adding extra ice to my tea!

I, too, begin to feel the panic that sets in after Independence Day. Summer is ending. So much is left to do. How do I prioritize? Here is a list of some of my absolute favorite family-friendly activities that are appropriate for all levels of abilities and require little-to-no money and little-to-know Pinterest savvy!

Water day. It’s a no-brainer. Most people don’t have the luxury of their own swimming pool, but this is no excuse to stay dry on a hot day! Fill random buckets with water and grab a bunch of Dollar Store water soakers and sponges. Spread throughout your back yard and let the water fun begin! Want to get a bit fancier? Adding water balloons to the mix is an obvious choice. Preschool and lower elementary-aged kiddos also enjoy having various plastic bowls/cups/spoons for playing kitchen. Another good choice is having your little Picassos draw with sidewalk chalk, and then use the water cannons to erase their masterpieces. Want even more inexpensive ideas for water day? Visit my Water Day Blog from last year!

Ice Age.  Again, it’s crazy hot outside. You can create a frozen wonderland to cool things off. Take plastic figures (dinosaurs, action figures, etc.) and freeze them in large bowls of water. Then, simply give the kiddos some small hammers, nails, butter knives, forks, etc to chisel the creatures out. (Obviously taking into consideration the fine motor skills and safety awareness of your little ones!) Get buckets of ice water, throw in some sponges, and have a “snowball” fight. Add in an afternoon snack of popsicles or ice cream, and you have created a full afternoon of frozen fun!

Back Porch Time.  This one is super easy. Simply take your favorite frozen afternoon snack, sit outside with our kiddos, and ponder the big questions in life without the interruptions of all of those fancy electronic devices. (The ban on electronics goes for you too Mom & Dad!) So far this summer, my 4 & 7-year-old and I have had some very interesting debates:  evolution vs. creationism, t-rex vs triceratops, Washington vs. Lincoln, Santa vs Easter Bunny, apples vs. pears…you get the idea. Sometimes the conversation will be heavy (and followed by the very necessary point that we DON’T then discuss religion & politics at school!), and other times it is very silly and mundane. The point is that you are talking to your children.

Car Wash.  Do you notice a theme yet? I like to be outside, but I like to be able to keep cool. Park your car in the driveway. Grab some buckets, sponges, dish soap, and your trusty water hose. The kids get to get wet, messy, stay cool...and your car gets clean. Now that's a win-win!  

Tent.  Set it up either outside or inside. Store-bought or home-made from an old sheet.  Help the kiddos set up a tent and then actually spend some time together inside. Read books, tell stories, have a picnic, go crazy! Feeling a bit more adventurous? Grab some sleeping bags and actually spend the night in it!

Write. Ok, you have been meaning to have the kids sit down and do this all summer, but there is no time like the present. As I put it to my own kiddos: “Don’t do it for your mother, do it for yourself. Some day you will be a grown-up, and you will like to remember what you were doing when you were a kid”. It is often too hot to play in the afternoon anyway, so why not take a writing break? For the little ones, have them draw/color a favorite activity or particular interest. For older children, have them write a few sentences on what they liked best about this summer. Even better, have an older child write their own book. Make it a big deal that you are placing this in a “forever spot” to keep and share when they are grown. 

Read. School days will be upon us before you know it. Now is the time to make reading fun. Again, the important word here is fun. Allow even big kids to snuggle on the couch as you read to them. Allow children to read comic books or items of interest that may be below their reading level. Take them to the library or bookstore and allow them to explore. Show them that you too enjoy reading by reading frequently in their presence. It is never too late to foster a love for reading!

That thing. You know…that thing. That thing that you have been wanting to do all summer, but haven’t found the time to do? Well go do it! Make time! You only have a few weeks left.

What are your plans for the last few weeks of summer? 
Do you have a bucket list?  If so, please share!
Resources:
Activities Under $10 That Will Keep Your KidsBusy All Summer Long, Mike Spohr, www.Buzzfeed.com (accessed July 2015)
10 Fun Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer, Kellye Carter Crocker, Parents.com (accessed July 2015) 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Amusement Parks


Dear Melissa,
My family wants to visit an amusement park on our family vacation this year. Any tips for my 6-year-old with Autism to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone?

I have personally been to the amusement park with individuals with both physical disabilities and Autism. In my experience, the staff tends to be extremely helpful and bends over backwards when they see an individual in a wheelchair. But when the special need is less visually obvious, the staff become very suspicious: Does your child really have a special need, or are you just being a whiny guest?  

Therefore, this blog is for children with more “hidden” disabilities such as Autism. Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your next trip to the amusement park: 

Keep Routine
In general, routine is your best friend for all children, and especially children with Autism. As much as possible, keep meal times, snack times, rest/nap time, and bed/wake times the same as a typical day. 

Bring snacks  
Hungry children are grouchy children. Make sure you keep plenty of snacks on hand to ward off both boredom and grouchy hunger pains.  Also, keep in mind special dietary needs or allergies, as your options may be limited once inside the park. It has been my experience that most snack stands will have a book of item ingredients and allergens if you ask. 

Have a plan for long lines
Don’t just have an A and B plan for waiting in line. Make sure you have plans C, D, E, F, and G as well! Fidget toys, snacks, books, handheld games, earphones/music, jumping jacks, eye spy…all can be good distractions for waiting in line. But a word of caution: don’t bring your child’s absolute favorite toy if it can be avoided. There is a high likelihood of it becoming lost in all of the excitement. 

Avoid crowds
Me: “Hey, I hear you are going to Silver Dollar City on Saturday!!!”  
Kiddo: “Um…I don’t like to be around that many people…”  
What? What kind of response is that?  The response of a person who has Autism. If your child has this reaction, try to avoid weekends, holidays, and other times when you know the park will be the most crowded. Some places, such as Disney World, even have crowd calendars so you can plan your trip during less busy seasons. 

Dealing with noise/crowds once you are there
If your child will tolerate ear buds or headphones, consider using these to block out extra sounds. A hoodie can also be pulled over his head to help muffle sounds. In addition, ask around and find a couple of quiet corners of the park where you can take a breath and relax a bit before joining back in the fun!  

Know your child’s ride tolerance 
I am completely guilty of “therapizing” my biological children at amusement parks. I regularly push the envelope (just a bit) and make them ride rides slightly outside their comfort zone.  However, if your child is hesitant to go on the merry-go-round at the park, then he will probably be terrified by a roller coaster. So don’t do it! On the other hand, many kiddos with Autism and ADHD are complete sensory seekers and can’t find a roller coaster fast enough. If you have a sensory seeker, make sure you pair him with an adult who can tolerate these types of rides so nobody gets sick!  Bottom line, know your child and choose rides accordingly. 

Know your child’s walking tolerance 
Normally, I would never put a 7 or 8-year-child in a stroller, but this is totally the exception.  Shoot, I want to use a stroller at the park! If the child can fit in it, then use it!  An added bonus is that the stroller can also help prevent the temptation for the child to wander off.  

Put an ID bracelet on your child 
Have a way to ID your child if he gets lost or tends to wanders off. Use a bracelet with your child’s name, your name, and your cell phone number so staff can find you quickly if your child becomes lost. You may want to check with the amusement park. Many have stations that will provide these ID bracelets for your child and measure your child so you know which rides he is tall enough to ride. But a word of warning: many children are resistant to these wrist bands due to sensory sensitivities. Other options may be to put the wristband on a belt loop, shoe lace, or ankle. 

Role play
As with everything in life, practice makes perfect! Talk about what to expect at the park.  Practice waiting in line. Watch videos of the rides and other aspects of the park. Basically, make sure that the park is a familiar place before you even walk through the gates. 
  
What amusement parks will your family be visiting this summer?  
What worked and what did not?  
Please share! www.share@childrenstherapyteam.com

Resources:
39 Theme Parks with Special Needs Access Passes by Karen Wang (Posted 2013), accessed June 2015
Tips on Enjoying Amusement Parks for Kids with Autism, MetroParent.com, accessed June 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bye-Bye Paci


Dear Melissa,
My daughter is about to have her first birthday, and we want to start weaning her from the pacifier. Any tips?

I too started weaning both my children from the pacifier around 1 year of age. And, in my experience, the final step of eliminating the pacifier completely at 2 years of age was one of the hardest things I have done as a parent!

Again, a pacifier is a strong source of comfort for many infants/toddlers. And for children with Autism and/or Sensory Processing Disorders, letting go of this consistent source of self-soothing can be particularly difficult. Why exactly do we feel it is necessary to take something away that our little ones so dearly love? Well, nobody ever said parenting was easy. We are the adults. We know that pacifier use shouldn’t last forever. As I have discussed in several recent blog posts, extended pacifier use can hamper speech development, social development, as well as dental/oral structure.

Again, this is HARD. There are many tricks you can try to help the weaning process along, but ultimately a child should be weaned from pacifier use by 2-3 years of age to prevent long term complications/delays. What trick(s) you try vary widely depending on the age of the child. Here are a few of my favorites:

Wean early  
If you stop the pacifier “cold turkey” before 6 months of age, the baby hasn’t really developed the chance to voice a strong opinion in the matter. Yes, there will likely be a few days of crying as she learns a different method of self soothing, and you will likely find her wanting to nurse or drink from a bottle more frequently during this time. However, many parents swear that this “cold turkey” method is way easier in infancy than waiting until she has grown into an opinionated toddler. 

Wean gradually 
I personally used this approach. You slowly disallow the pacifier in more and more environments until you are only left with the night-time pacifier (which is hard to give up!).  You might start with “no paci at daycare”, then “no paci while playing”, etc. In my house, we worked pretty quickly to the pacifier only being allowed in the car seat and crib. This makes bedtime and car rides much more enticing, but it is also very hard to wean the pacifier away from these times when soothing is so needed!

 Make it less desirable
This method works so well that the people at the One Step Ahead store have even created a product to mimic it. But, let me save you $29.95 plus S&H! For this method, you take away all of the pacifiers in the environment except for 2-3. The child can have these pacifiers any time she wants. BUT, you begin to very gradually cut off the tips of these pacifiers, millimeter by millimeter, at whatever pace you choose, until the child is only left with the hard plastic part, and nothing left to chew on. (Warning: Make sure that the remaining plastic part is not a choking hazard). As the rubbery nipple gets smaller and smaller, the child will loose interest, and no longer ask for it. Problem solved, no tears!

Give it away
This method is more appropriate for an older child. The child must be old enough to understand cause and effect and be able to participate in simple storytelling. Often this occurs around 2-3 years of age. For this technique, you discuss with the child that she is getting older and is now a “big kid”. As part of the story, she can either give the pacifier away (such as to the baby classroom at daycare), or she can leave it for the “Paci Fairy”.  Better yet, choose to do this around Christmas/Easter and have Santa or the Easter Bunny do their magic. Whatever story you choose, the magical entity takes pacifiers to babies, and your now "big kid" kiddo may enjoy a new "big kid" toy from the Paci Fairy or Easter Bunny. But here is the kicker. Once you make this exchange, YOU CANNOT GO BACK TO THE PACIFIER! If you turn back now, your child will know that they can make you change your mind any other time in the future that you try to set a firm limit. Not a fun situation to get into with a toddler! Another disclaimer with this technique is that you do not want to give the pacifier away to a close cousin or a new sibling. This can just create jealousy and resentment toward the new baby in her life. 

A word of caution
Pacifiers are soothing. And again, they are particularly soothing for children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders. If you take away something that is soothing from your child, she will generally find her own replacement item/activity that is self-soothing. Sometimes what your child uses as the new self-soother is even worse than the pacifier! This is a whole different problem on how to fix inappropriate oral sensory seeking. For tips on this, see my previous blog on this issue.

Do you have a question you would like me to address or ideas about pacifier weaning? 
Don't hesitate to share!

Resources: 
Ask Dr. Sears: Weaning Off PacifierParenting.com, accessed July 2015
Are Pacifiers OK...A Dentist's Take, Monday's with Melissa Blog, Children's Therapy TEAM, posted June 15, 2015  
Night Time Pacifier UseMonday's with Melissa Blog, Children's Therapy TEAM, posted July 6, 2015  
Oral Sensory Seeking Help, Monday's with Melissa Blog, Children's Therapy TEAM, posted September 15, 2014
Pacifiers: In or Out?, WebMD, accessed July 2015 
Pacifier MistakesMonday's with Melissa Blog, Children's Therapy TEAM, posted June 29, 2015  
Pacifier Time vs. Language DevelopmentMonday's with Melissa Blog, Children's Therapy TEAM, posted June 22, 2015 
10 ways to help your child give up the pacifierBabycenter.com, accessed July 2015