What You Need To Know About Sensory Processing Disorder

While approximately 10% of school-aged children experience some form of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – a condition that was recently diagnosed as a form of autism, SPD has only recently received its own diagnosis. Because many of the symptoms of SPD overlap with those of children who have ADHD or are on the autism spectrum, diagnosis has been challenging for doctors.

sensory processing disorder

What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

Sensory processing is the ability to take in sensory information from the world around us and interpret this information effectively so that we may function optimally throughout the day. The brain not only processes information through the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound, but the nervous system also interprets this sensory information and translates it into movement, body position and pressure.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) occurs when the nervous system has difficulty regulating, processing, and interpreting information from one or more of the senses. This may affect one’s ability to function optimally in all environments, and these difficulties can adversely affect a child’s social skills, academic performance, and motor development.

Different children perceive and process sensory information differently. Some children find loud noises scary, while others search for interesting ways to create noise. Similarly, some children may only tolerate certain fabrics or textures for clothing, while others may enjoy rolling around in grass, sand, or on the carpet. All children and adults have different sensory preferences, and while most adults have learned to adapt to their specific needs, some children need guidance in processing sensory information to reach their full potential.

sensory processing disorder

Are There Treatment Options For SPD?

For many individuals, music or sound therapy is the answer to training the brain to process sensory information correctly. Organizations such as Millennium Learning Advantage recognize that the brain is capable of change, regeneration and growth, and use brain-based learning and cognitive enhancement programs that are specifically designed to fine-tune the brain’s ability to comprehend and manage information to help children with various needs achieve success.

Hear what one mom had to say about The Listening Program – a unique program designed to address auditory processing issues (one of the many programs available at Millennium Learning Advantage):

For more information on sound therapy and sensory processing programs,  visit millenniumlearningadvantage.com.

The WestCoast Families July August issues is full of information and resources for families with special needs. Pick up a copy from a location near you, or read the current issue online here.

10 Tips on How to Book a Last-Minute Campsite in BC This Summer

Wishing you had pre-booked a campsite now that BC has been flooded with weeks of warm sunny weather? Well don’t worry, last-minute decision makers can still find a site that suits their camping needs, thanks to this great list of tips shared by the Camping & RVing BC Coalition.

Camping BC

Joss Penny, Chair of the Camping & RVing BC Coalition shared, “typically we  see an increase of campers during summer weekends and it can be  challenging to secure a spot at your favourite campground. I always  recommend planning ahead and making a reservation, however I understand  human nature.” For those of us who took the risk and waited until the last minute to book summer plans, Joss has got us covered.

Camping BC

For campers  who are looking to book a spot at the eleventh hour, Joss and her team have compiled a list of  over  35 private campgrounds with some July availability throughout the province, as well as this list of 10 tips to help you find a campground and site that meets your needs:

1) Determine how far you want to drive and the direction you wish to go in.
2) Determine what activities you want to do and campground amenities  you are looking for (example: lakefront, boating, hiking, washrooms, or a playground).
3) Visit the Where to Camp page which plots over 1,500 campgrounds (BC Parks, Parks Canada, private RV parks/campgrounds, and front country recreational camping sites) across the province.
4) If there are less than 7 days to plan your summer trip, be prepared  to contact multiple campgrounds to secure your spot and the likelihood that you may have to drive a bit further to get what you want.
5) Finding sites four or less hours from major urban centres is difficult on summer weekends so look to travel 6 – 8 hours out of town.
6) Wet summers create availability so last-minute travellers can often find spaces.
7) Consider camping on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in high demand areas.
8) Travel through the North Cariboo region or Northern BC as many sites are available on a nightly drop-in basis.
9) Arrive at campgrounds mid-week to secure first come, first served sites for the weekend.
10) Piggyback with friends as many campgrounds allow up to four adults per site.

camping BC

For more great resources on where to camp and RV in and around BC, visit Camping & RV in BC.

For more ideas for family-friendly summer fun, check out our latest issue! Pick up a copy at one of these locations, or view the July/August issue here.

Celebrate Pi Day with Kumon!

Pi Day is observed on March 14 at exactly 1:59 PM and this year, Kumon Canada wants to help Canadian children celebrate Pi Day in a fun and exciting way. Pi Day is a great excuse to engage children in fun math challenges meant to enrich and deepen their understanding of the concept of Pi. Activities might include investigations of the value of Pi, special Pi projects and parties with pizza or other kinds of “Pi.”

Kumon Math and Reading Centre Instructors have compiled four fun activities to help families celebrate Pi, while incorporating the self-learning method that Kumon follows. Here are a few fun ways to celebrate Pi Day and have your kids problem-solve and learn on their own at the same time!

  1. Make a Pi Bracelet or Necklace

To celebrate Pi Day this year, break out the craft kit and make yourself a fun fashion accessory!

Supplies:

  • Different colours of beads
  • Pipe cleaners, thread or string
  • A pen and a pad of paper

Steps:

  1. Write out as many Pi digits as you can colour code each number.
  2. Grab different colours of beads and begin to string them onto the thread or a pipe cleaner you select to make your bracelet.
  3. Start to place the beads onto the thread in order of Pi’s number sequence and the colours you’ve selected for each digit.
  4. Tie up the thread and wear your new accessory – use it to memorize the digits of Pi!
  1. Throw a Pi Day Scavenger Hunt

Conduct a Pi Day scavenger hunt by hiding Pi-themed objects around the house. The objects can also represent the numbers of Pi.

Supplies:

  • Assorted circular objects (fruit, cups, wheels, balls, etc.)
  • Assorted number cards that represent the numbers in Pi
  • A pencil and a pad of paper

Steps:

  1. Hide a number of circular objects or numbers around your home.
  2. Come up with a list of the objects kids need to find (provide a few hints just in case!). Here is an example list to get you started:
    1. Three objects that have circular cross sections: cylinder, cone and sphere
    2. The first five digits of Pi
    3. Three items with the word ‘Pi’ in it
  3. Ask children to hunt for the objects.
  4. For older children, challenge them to measure the circumference and diameter of circular objects and then divide the circumference by the diameter, to find Pi.

After the hunt, reward all participants with a delicious prize, like pizza or pie!

  1. Host a Pi Word Challenge

Word challenges are always a hit with children. Here’s a fun way to enhance and test children’s vocabulary and help them learn new words as well!

Supplies:

  • Pencil and pen for each participant
  • OR Scrabble board game letters

Steps:

  1. Challenge children to write down as many words they can think of that include the word “pi” (pizza, pineapple, picture, pie, etc.).
  2. For younger players, help them out by talking and spelling things through and using images for added support
  3. Determine which child has the most number of words written down and offer them a prize!

Healthy Family Expo!

Are you looking for small steps to healthier, more active, eco-friendly family living?WCF - 200 x 100 #2 for blog post

Healthy Family Expo has the answers for busy Metro Vancouver parents at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Sunday, March 26th!

THIS EVENT TURNS THE TYPICAL EXPO ON ITS HEAD! Parents can taste and shop their way around 200+ exhibitors, including the Whole Foods Market Zone, London Drugs Health Zone, Toyota Outdoor Living Zone, West Coast Kids Healthy Baby Zone, Green Living Zone and more. But it’s the kids who will be blown away by the enormous Active Kid Zone, with a giant hamster ball track, rock climbing wall, Springfree Trampolines, run bike and sportball areas, Tumblebus & TumbleTown, Science World fireball show, Vancouver Aquarium AquaVan, Bobs & LoLo and Jessie Farrell concerts and very popular meet & greets with CBC Kids favourites Daniel Tiger & Super WHY!

Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 26th and grab your 2-for-1 Expo tickets online for a limited time with promo code WCF241, and you will be entered to win the early bird Springfree Trampoline prize! First 200 adults through the door will receive an adult ticket to Science World and partial proceeds of ticket sales support the Canadian Autism Network.

WCF - 200 x 200 #1 for blog postSharing is caring, so the Healthy Family Expo is giving away thousands in pre-expo prizes leading up to the $15,000 Grand Prize Showcase to be won at the main event on March 26th, including a one-year lease on a Toyota Prius c.

To get involved in the fun:

  1. Join the Expo Facebook Event to RSVP to win thousands in prizes from Expo partners at their March 23rd Facebook Party!
  2. Grab 2-for-1 Expo tickets for a limited time using promo code WCF241 (click for tickets!).
  3. Grab VIP Expo tickets to get a loaded gift bag and skip the line at the door! Only 100 available (click for tickets!).

Birth Fair Speakers!

Here it is – the speaker schedule for the Birth Fair! Both days are so jam packed with great information that some people are already buying tickets for both Saturday and Sunday!

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Tickets are just $5 online at www.birthfair.com/tickets, $10 cash only at the door.

Tax Changes Ahead!

Some of us look towards the tax season with dread, but there’s also lots of reasons to be excited if you have a family. Plus, how great is it that February has an entire day devoted to family? Almost all Canadian families are given an extra day to spend time with each other. H&R Block wants to give Canadian families another reason to celebrate Family Day, by reminding them of all the credits and deductions they’re entitled to. Want more money for your family vacation next year? Then, pay attention.

Changes to benefits this year: There’s a new benefit in town and it’s called the Canada child benefit. It actually replaced the Canada child tax benefit and Universal child care benefits last year. Canadians may be entitled to this tax-free monthly payment that helps eligible families with the cost of raising children under the age of 18.

Last chance for certain credits: This is the last year to claim the Children’s arts tax credit and Children’s fitness tax credit. If your children participated in a program of artistic, cultural, recreational, or development activity (such as tutoring), you may be able to claim up to $250 of the fees paid, per child. If your children played hockey, took horseback riding lessons, or participated in some other eligible program of physical activity, you may be able to claim up to $500 per child for the cost of registration in these programs.

Child care expenses – Canadian’s who paid for daycare or a child care program such as a summer day camp, may be able to claim these expenses.

Other benefits to remember – if you have a child under the age of 18 who is eligible for the disability tax credit, you may be eligible to claim a transfer of the unused amount. If you are caring for a dependent with a physical or mental impairment, you may be able to claim the Family caregiver amount .

Whatever you do, be sure to contact a tax professional to make sure you receive all the benefits you’re entitled to!

Backpack Buddies in Your School?

We are so fortunate to live in an area with access to locally grown foods to maintain healthy and active lifestyles. But for some in poverty, access to nutritious food is far out of reach, meaning too many children are going hungry. With more than 20 per cent of BC children living below the poverty line, how can we expect them to concentrate in the classroom with growling bellies? Backpack Buddies looks to eradicate childhood hunger by providing a weekend worth of meals to those in need.

This charity helps the Metro Vancouver area fill the weekend hunger gap by providing stocked backpacks for children to take home and share with their families, breaking the cycle of poverty. The program works with local partners and communities to distribute the backpacks through local schools. It was started in 2012 by mother and daughter duo, Joanne Griffiths and Emily-Anne King, and today they have helped deliver more than 8,000 backpacks in the 2015/2016 school year alone. Currently there are nine schools in the Lower Mainland who are part of the program, but you can help! Donate money, food, or time and be a part of the solution to child hunger.

Canadian History in Miniature Trains!

With the holiday season approaching and memories of train sets under Christmas trees endlessly looping in parents’ heads, now is the time to introduce this age-old tradition to a whole new generation of children. Trains are deeply rooted in Canada’s history and much can be learned from exploring their contribution to our country. The first Canadian transcontinental was completed in 1885, simplifying long-distance overland travel. From then until the 1950s, trains were the transportation workhorses of society. After commercial airlines took off, trains and planes fought for passenger business with airlines replacing trains as the glamorous way to travel. Evidence of the esteem rail travel had in earlier times exists in the opulence of restored railway stations.

Exploring the world of model trains can be fun for the whole family! This year’s Vancouver Train Expo from Nov 5-6 at the PNE Forum has something for everyone, including an opportunity for kids to experience hands-on the grand past-time of another millennium, and for parents to gain exposure to the state-of-the-art technology of today’s new trains. The Expo represents the contribution railways made, and continue to make, to Canadian history and culture. Model railroading is a rewarding hobby that ranges from pushing wooden trains around on the floor to replicating a part of our history in miniature, sometimes re-enacting a particular time and date, and adhering to the same rule book and procedures as the real railroad did in that day.

Vancouver Train Expo will feature trains made from scratch by hobbyists with metal working skills, and others produced by 3D printers. In addition to a variety of interactive train displays such as Thomas & Friends, Vancouver Train Expo will offer mini-rail train rides, LEGO® displays and balloon twisters – the perfect family outing for a pre-Christmas weekend. It will appeal to kids who are fascinated with small working mechanisms, and parents who enjoy learning the various technical and artistic skills that are part of this endeavour.

Don’t miss the Vancouver Train Expo. Visit www.vancouvertrainexpo.ca.

Get Halloween Sewing!

Halloween is a great time to DIY and putting together a stand-out costume doesn’t have to require years and years of garment-making expertise! With a little creativity and a few key tips, it’s easy for anyone to craft a creative costume.
Here are 5 tips for beginner sewers who want to make a notable Halloween costume:

  1. Choose ‘no-fray’ fabrics
    When you work with fabrics that don’t fray, costumes are as easy as cut-and-go. Look for felt, vinyl, pleather, and flannelette. Once cut, the raw edges won’t unravel, so the finish will look pro even if your skills are not (yet!).
  1. Find existing pieces
    Instead of sewing an entire costume, use clothes you already own as a base (or hit your local thrift shop) and build the costume on top of that. Having less to put together will save you time for extra trick-or-treating.
  1. Use a sewing machine that’s easy to work with
    Look for a sewing machine with features that are suitable for beginners. The Brother NQ900 sewing machine has speed control, an automatic needle threader, and an easy-to-load bobbin. A machine that’s easy to work with eliminates frustrations, so you can spend more time crafting your costume.
  1. Find creative ways to customize
    “Glue gun” is not a four-letter word when it comes to a homemade Halloween costume. Anything goes! Add studs, appliques (the Brother NQ900 has a sideways-sewing feature to make this super easy), or trim to your piece. Many sewing machines have the ability to embroider different fonts, so adding words or monograms to your costume is also within reach.
  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself
    Halloween is about having fun, and a DIY’d costume is a bragging right! So get creative, and don’t worry about little mistakes that only you will notice.

– Denise Wild

TV personality, sewing, DIY expert

All Aboard!

Looking for some family fun? Love trains? Love to soar the Sea to Sky highway? Check out the West Coast Railway Association (WCRA) and their amazing rail rides that provide hours of fun for the whole family. Located at 39645 Government Road in Squamish, families can visit the Royal Hudson Steam Locomotive, with an extreme blast to the past.

There’s nothing quite like the history of a steam train, the sound of metal on metal and all the amazing history of travel. There’s also the Mini Rail, a large 1/8th scale miniature to see in the park. Worth the trip to Squamish, there’s lots of fun to keep the whole family active, open daily from 10am-5pm all year round!

A special treat is the Polar Express, coming back to the WCRA! Get the family in the holiday spirit with a ride on this mystical train that teaches the true meaning of Christmas.

The WCRA is also looking for new members and volunteers to help restore old locomotives! Get involved with other train lovers and help to do bodywork, paint, sanding, woodwork and get involved as a family.

For more information, times and more, check out wcra.org