Happy Friday Fabulous Friends !!!!! I was asked to guest write another post for aboutredlands.com. I love everything they are about and I love working with Niko to support all things related to OT and how we can continue to benefit our community by sharing fun and easy ideas to support overall development and optimal mental health within the child caregiver dyad
Also, I asked my work wife @elevatedstateofplay, Mimi, to join me in creating a Top 5 morning activity list. Be sure to click on the link within the article to check it out, let us know what you think, and what else you want us to share🤸♂️Sending everyone good vibes and positive intentions for a happy friday and mindful weekend!!
There has been so much going on behind the scenes, balancing and navigating through so much amazingness and stress at the same time, and all I want to do is scream all about it to the rooftops. Big announcements coming soon, hold tight, it’s going to be an amazing and mindful ride. For now, I must share with you a recent amazing experience. It all happened so fast. It was last Monday. I was watching my Instagram stories, keeping up with all the awesome accounts I follow, my amazing colleagues, and soul OTs slaying it out there, and @thesensoryproject208 posted a story of a mother and her daughter and I remember reading something about weighted blankets.
One, if @thesensoryproject208 is posting about it, I am going to totally check it out. Two, I have been searching for the perfect weighted blanket for years. I have even made my own but have never been able to get the exact feel and weight my body needed. Three, I now have a two year old with very similar sensory needs as myself.
So down the Instagram rabbit hole I went, to @sheltered.co. I went to their website and got stuck there for about 30 minutes. I had finally found not only a product that I truly thought would help my son and I but a company that had values and a mission I could stand behind. As a pediatric occupational therapist and mother to a son with specific sensory needs, this company and their products gave me all the feels.
I immediately went to their stories. I discovered that they were releasing four new colors the next day at 9 am. The next morning I placed my order. I even paid for overnight shipping because I wanted to trial it out Thursday night into the weekend!
The blanket arrived Thursday morning. It was a very fast- paced day, as per usual, and my brain was racing, as it typically does on a daily basis. When I got home, I had discovered my son had got to the box first and ripped off the labels. Clearly he was just as excited as I was for this blanket. I went into a room by myself and opened up the box. It was so beautifully packaged, screaming hugs and love, that I did not want to touch it until I had uninterrupted time to explore what I had just purchased. Fast forward two hours later, toddler asleep, let the fun begin!
The Blanket. Orchid adult sized blanket. 100% cotton. Imagine, me staring and smiling at the blanket in awe of its beauty, honoring how much love, thought, and care was put into making such a stylish, sustainable product. Did you know Pam only uses dead stock fabrics?! You can read all about it on Sheltered Co.’s blog!
The presentation of materials was simplistic, eye-catching, and dazzled with personal touches. As an Educational Occupational Therapist, I truly appreciated the enclosed post card with a thoughtful written message. In this fast-paced world of innovative technology, one must always appreciate written expression. Moreover, the blanket came with its very own travel/storage bag. You better believe I will be taking this blanket everywhere with me!
Oh. My. Gosh. This blanket is epic! It is the exact feeling fabric my nervous system positively responds to and the weight was the ideal amount of proprioception input my body needed!
Photo 4: Holy Cow! My body is actually regulating. My mind is actually slowing down.
Photo 5: That feeling you get when your body has achieved optimal self- regulation and it feels magnificent – yup, that’s it.
Since I have been using this blanket as needed throughout my days and nights, I have felt less anxious and more calm consistently throughout the day. That constant edge of anxiety felt quieter and for the first time in a long time, I actually was able to rest my brain. I vary the amount of time I use it based on how my nervous system is feeling day to day. Also, my sleeping patterns started to regulate. I am a very light sleeper and startle awake from sound quite often. The first night I slept so deeply that I slept through my first alarm. I am pretty sure my body had no idea what to do with its rested self. This blanket has truly been the best additional item to my sensory suitcase.
As for my son, he has his own agenda. He prefers to drag the blanket around the house, pull it over him and throw it off of him while laughing, and run around on top of it. He does calm and organize for a few minutes and then he is off running again. We have just begun our journey with helping him figure out what he needs to calm and organize. We just keep adding to his sensory tool bag to increase the variety of choices he has to access when needed. This is just another beautiful example showing that every individual has a unique and ever-changing nervous system.
I have been on a life-long search for sensory supports to help me calm, organize, and maintain optimal self-regulation. The last ten years as an occupational therapist has provided me with extensive knowledge of sensory processing and various intervention strategies that I have tried and ruled out as ineffective or added to my sensory suitcase. The important thing to remember is that each person has a unique nervous system with their own specific needs. One must explore and determine which sensory supports they would need to promote their own optimal self-regulation.
Thank you Pam for creating a business that supports our hidden sense of proprioception and for making your business grounded in ethical and sustainable practices providing fashionable hugs to all!
*disclaimer * This is my personal review of a product and a business I chose and will continue to support. I am not affiliated with the company in any way and they did not ask me to write this review. I just truly think Pam is amazing and her company is sensational!
*disclaimer* This blog post is not providing medical advice and it does not claim to do so. Please consult with your pediatrician, doctor, and/or occupational therapist for recommendations, treatment, and specific intervention plans.
I was asked to write a guest blog for aboutredlands.com. I love aboutredlands.com and what they are all about. If you are a local business in the Redlands area, I highly recommend you check out their site! Local people supporting local business!
Here is the link to my article!
Start your day off with “How Mindfulness can bring you home”.
Danielle Delorenzo, OTR/L is the creator of Mornings with an OT Mom. She lives in sunny southern California and together with her husband Chris, have an awesome little boy, Luke, that is an unstoppable force of high energy and loves to explore everything!
Danielle has a Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy, postgraduate studies in Infant Mental Health, and is currently enrolled at the University of St. Augustine pursuing a post professional doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy.
She is a school district lead occupational therapist and adjunct professor/thesis advisor for a MSOT graduate program.
She has over 18 years of experience within Special Education in a variety of roles such as: paraprofessional, developmental interventionist, preschool teacher, early intervention ABA therapist and supervisor, early intervention and school-based occupational therapist, occupational therapist for early intervention target evaluation team, program development consultant, and educational trainer in the areas of sensory processing and fine motor development.
It is her dream to empower all individuals with the tools necessary to facilitate independence, maximize educational potential, foster positive overall development, and support optimal emotional regularity necessary to navigate through life and be as successful as they can!
This is a journey along my life as a working mama ~ wife ~ doctorate student ~ adjunct professor ~ trying my best to implement balance and gratitude within my many roles while striving to be a genuinely good role model for our son and within our community. Mornings with an OT Mom is a multimedia experience about understanding the science behind play and every day activities and their connection to overall development, emotional regularity, and academic achievement.
✌It is about collaborating with others to facilitate lifelong learning and to make connections that build opportunities. It is to empower and educate with evidence based research to shift the mindset to focus on the foundational skills necessary to support emotional regularity and the attainment of academic and life goals throughout a lifespan. 📚
I am so excited for you all to be joining me on this journey. Thank you so much for supporting me and Mornings with an OT Mom! Looking forward to connecting with each and every one of you!
🧠 Did you know that we have 7 senses!?! You must be thinking, no way, we have 5! Vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. These are the 5 senses we were all taught growing up. However, we actually have 2 additional senses, sometimes called our hidden senses, vestibular and proprioception.
💥 These two sensory systems are crucial to support the foundation of an optimal sensory system necessary for learning to occur. When a kiddo is experiencing difficulties processing vestibular and proprioceptive input, this can impact academic learning.
🤹♂️ Vestibular Processing is registered by the inner ear to tell the body where it is in space and where the body and head are in relation to the environmental stimuli.
🤸♂️Proprioceptive input is providing messages to your joints and muscles as to where your body is in space (body awareness).
⛹️♂️There is so much research that supports kids are NOT spending enough time outside, exploring uneven surfaces and a variety of textures which challenges the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. This is now leading to decreased attention, maladaptive (unwanted behaviors such as biting, kicking, hitting, throwing body on the floor, etc) behaviors, and decreased self-regulation (the ability to calm and organize) at home and at school. This makes learning new skills and retaining the information a challenge.
🏄♀️Playing outside and exploring a variety of textures and uneven surfaces helps to smoothly integrate the different sensory systems to help interpret and perceive the world around us and how to manipulate our bodies through space.
🧙♂️Always with stand by support from an adult, let your child push their limits (always in a safe and supervised environment). Let them figure out where their bodies are in space and how they need to move their body in relation to their environment.
🧚♀️Here are just some of the skills that are being worked on through fun outdoor activities: attention, gross motor strengthening, motor planning, tactile exploration, self-regulation, body awareness, executive functioning, and so much more!
🌻Motto of the story! Play outside kids! Get messy! Explore everything! Engaging in outdoor play helps promote overall motor development and optimal emotional regularity which is correlated to higher rates of success with academic achievement and other life goals . Now, go explore!
My friend and I were sitting in my zen den (my house office) last night talking about mindfulness. We have had several amazing conversations about this before and still, we find ourselves questioning its entire nature. We were talking about how mindfulness often is misunderstood or associated with something it is not.
I find myself researching more and more about this topic, and not just because I am writing a chapter on it for my book (more details on that coming soon!) but because I have been doing it my entire life. The trick though, is to be fully present in the moment and continually engage in daily mindfulness tasks, day after day.
Mindfulness is so simplistic in nature that I fear its simplicity is one of the reasons people may shy away from this beautiful and amazing technique. Seriously, think about it?! What is it to be mindful? Take a moment. What do you see? What do you hear? How does your body feel ? In this exact moment in time. What are you doing? What is your environment? Is your to- do list a mile long with deadlines? Is your toddler unwrapping all the gifts you just wrapped? Are you about to bake all day long ? – all of the above is my current situation. This is mindfulness.
The more aware you are in the now, the more you are able to remain present. And what it means to remain present, is to not let your mind wander to the future or back to the past, but to be mindfulful in the moment and emotions of the now. Feel each experience in the moment with your entire being. Your sight. Your smell. Your touch. What you hear. What you taste – especially around the holidays!
Life is a wave of emotions. The tricky part is to find the balance between high and low tides.
When we become more aware of the now, it can help our bodies and minds develop mentally healthy techniques that promote emotional regularity when stress decides to peak in and say, “Hey hey, I am here to start that rollercoaster of emotions!”. Being mindful helps keep your body at an optimum level of arousal as so you can smoothly navigate your day, even when stressful situations occur.
When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed during this holiday season, take a step back. Take 5 minutes. Focus on the now. Focus on what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel.
Take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds, and let a “haa” sounding breath out as if you were emptying your lungs of all its air. When you take a breath in, take it in through your nose and feel the air on the back of your throat while drawing your belly button in towards your spine. It is amazing to me how much power our breath has. Please do not undervalue the power of your breath and how beneficial it can be to your mental health and body.
Embrace every emotion you feel. Own it. Allow your body to react to it. Do not get stuck in negative emotions. Rather, think of how you can move forward, in the now, on how to continue in that moment of time as positively as you can. I know, easier said than done. Start small. Keep an open mind. You can do anything for 10 seconds!
The more we practice mindfulness, the emotional shift felt between the high and low tides when stress occurs will shorten. The brain and body will begin to adjust to a mindful way to view life. Sending everyone good vibes, positive intentions, and a holiday season filled with mindfulness ✌☃️🎅🎄🤶
Looking for some last minute mindful holiday presents. Look below! No affiliation with any , just really love these books. They will forever be in my personal library!