I've posted multiple times about homeschooling a child with Sensory Processing Disorder. I guess I'm something of an in-the-trenches pro at this point. Why? Atticus has sensory issues. Logan has sensory issues. Oliver has sensory issues. I suspect that Manolin has sensory issues.
So I've btdt.
Once you make the commitment to keep a steady, balanced sensory diet at work in your child's life, dealing with SPD is nowhere near as difficult as it may seem at first blush. The initial diagnosis, the tinkering with schedules, the working through the therapy plan, the worry ... all of that eventually gives way to something of a norm for your family. And from there, well--you're just one other mom advocating for her child with a little scrubby brush and a book of heavy work activities.
There is something of a trick to homeschooling the child with SPD, though. I won't lie to you. Balancing activities that keep sensory-seeking or sensory-avoiding behaviors in check is a challenge when seatwork needs to get done. And let's be honest--eventually, some seatwork will have to be done. Not when your child is 2 or maybe even 7, but eventually. Depending on the issues and the strengths your own child has, the homeschool plan may look radically different. For Atticus, a vigorous brushing, ten laps up and down the stairs in an army crawl and ten good minutes of pushing a laundry basket filled with the heaviest books we could find was enough to prepare him for a long reading session. Your mileage may vary, of course, but this was how I stayed sane in the early years.
Now that we're past those days, and Atticus can regulate himself more often than not, I've moved on to more subtle methods of sensory input. In this post, I'm going to share directions for one of the most successful tools in my little toolbox.
Very Cheap Fidget for Very Happy Hands
What you'll need:
medium-sized balloons (as many as you'd like to fill)
a small funnel
one or all of the following: flour, sugar, dry rice
one small measuring cup
Step one: Inflate a balloon. You'll want to fill it fairly full--the object here is to stretch it out quite well.
Step two: Deflate balloon, and slip opening completely around the end of the funnel.
Step three: Begin filling the funnel with your choice of rice, flour or sugar. A general guide: rice makes a lumpy, slightly scratchy fidget that's good for kids who seek sensation. Depending on how full you make the balloon, a sugar-filled one often has the most "give" and is the easiest for kids who struggle with finger strength. The opposite is true, though, of an over-stuffed sugar balloon--it's actually the hardest to work. And a flour balloon has a nice, stretchy, rubbery quality that just about all kids like.
Step four: Decide how full you want your balloon to be. (More full generally = harder to maneuver and more sensory feedback for kids.) Keep in mind the size of your child's hands, too. You want the end result to be about palm-sized. To keep adding filling, you may need to periodically tug at the sides of the balloon, or even take it off the funnel and re-inflate it for a moment before continuing. (I don't recommend doing that with flour!) Using the chopstick to wiggle the contents of the funnel down can help, too.
Step five: Tie off the end of the balloon after pressing out as much air as possible. The small, heavy little bag you have now is the fidget. I hand them to children doing seatwork, keep one in my backpack as a random toy for kids bored in the car and otherwise recommend them for keeping hands busy in general. Enjoy!