We all want our kids to be positive, happy, and nurtured.
Being parents of special needs kids, we at Little Mo understand the importance of a safe and nurturing environment where kids can explore, express themselves, and develop their potential.
We plan to establish Multipurpose Open Learning Spaces or Mo-Spaces in schools across Australia to provide a dedicated space where schools can run programs to help kids be calm and focused so they will be ready to learn and engage with others.
Mo-Space is a structured environment for kids outfitted with sensory tools and equipment which can help them improve their physical, social, and self-regulation skills in a fun atmosphere.
Our goal is to get ahead of the momentum – to make a plan for input and activity and set up our kids for success both in and out of the classroom.
Mo-Space is a place for all kids. But it can be particularly helpful for children who have special needs such as the following.
Kids on the autism spectrum may have very narrow and intense interests and may engage in repetitive and restrictive behaviours. Some are highly inflexible and can get upset when routines are disrupted.
They also have difficulties in communicating. Some may be non-verbal. Others may be able to speak fluently and may even have vocabulary advanced for their age, but may miss non-verbal cues and may take things literally (not understand sarcasm, jokes, and idioms), and they may sound rude without meaning to.
Because of their characteristics, they may be awkward in social situations which can be frustrating for them.
When they can’t verbally express themselves or don’t have the skills to properly vent out their feelings, they can go into a meltdown or act out in stressful situations.
Autism affects each person differently. The symptoms can be mild in some kids and more apparent in others.
Some autism traits like being able to give attention to details, being able to spot patterns that others may miss, and being able to focus on specialised topics can be considered as strengths.
Autism can also co-exist with other conditions such as attention-deficit hyper disorder and sensory processing disorder.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition wherein focussing on tasks can be challenging.
Persons with ADHD often have trouble organising, making realistic plans, and starting a task and following it through.
Although they have trouble focussing most of the time, they can also hyperfocus on certain things that interest them.
They can also act impulsively and be hyperactive.
ADHD can co-exist with other conditions such as autism and sensory processing disorder.
Sensory processing refers to how our body reacts to outside stimuli. Some people may not be able to process the sensory information properly resulting in difficulties in their daily lives.
Some children with sensory issues cannot filter out all the sensations coming in which cause them to be overwhelmed.
For instance, they cannot filter out background noise and are sensitive to loud sounds. Others may feel pain when being touched. Some of them cannot tolerate bright lights. The tags on the clothes, which could be mildly irritating to us, can be intolerable for some kids with this type of sensory processing issues.
This leads them to avoid the things that cause them discomfort and overwhelm. They may be seen as inattentive in school because they cannot focus on what the teacher is saying amidst all the background noise. They may go into a meltdown at the grocery store just because the lights are too bright for them. They can be thought of as picky eaters because they cannot tolerate certain food textures.
On the other end of this spectrum, some children may have under sensitivity to outside stimuli. This causes them to seek sensations. They could be constantly touching objects, licking things, fidgeting, spinning, and squirming on their seats. They may have a high tolerance for pain so they play roughly with other kids and may hurt their playmates without knowing it.
Some kids with sensory processing issues may have troubles in balance and coordination and in perceiving their bodies’ position in space.
They may seem clumsy and keep on bumping on things. They may make exaggerated movements and like physical activities.
On the other hand, some do the opposite and avoid situations where they can’t feel safe. They avoid the swing, running, and other physical activities that other kids find fun.
Some kids may be sensory seeking in some aspects and sensory avoiding in others.
Many kids on the autism spectrum and with ADHD also have sensory processing issues which pose additional challenges for them.
Sensory processing disorder may also be present in some children that do not have other neurodevelopmental conditions.
A child that is continually lagging behind their peers in terms of skills expected of their age has a developmental delay.
A developmental delay can happen in one or more of the following areas of development.
Some developmental delays can be caused by underlying conditions such as malnutrition, genetic conditions, or being born prematurely.
When kids are uncomfortable or in pain because they cannot process sensory input properly, or when they are under or overstimulated, it can lead to anxiety and/or behavioural issues.
Unfortunately, the sensory seekers, the in-attentive children, or the “misbehaving” kids are sometimes labelled “naughty” or a “problem child”. This can affect their self-esteem and may even reinforce negative behaviours.
As adults, we should not be quick to judge the little ones when they become unruly. Instead, we should help the kids deal with their feelings, and give them tools to self-regulate so that they can have more opportunities to be on their best behaviour.
One way we can help kids is by providing them with a sensory diet. These are activities that engage their senses, hone their problem-solving skills, and help them self-regulate.
Exposing kids repeatedly to sensory stimuli in a structured way will help them over time as the brain learns to process and react to sensory information more efficiently.
Mo-Space is a structured environment where kids can safely explore sensory stimuli in a stress-free atmosphere through play and fun activities.
The structured environment and activities will help the children in the following areas:
We are working with an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, and speech therapist in setting up the rooms and the activities for kids.
Mo-Space will have three rooms: the Engine Room, the Sensory Room, and the Learning Space.
This room is designed to provide kids with a variety of movement activities to engage the whole body and mind.
The room will have uneven surfaces, inclines, spaces to crawl around, textures, objects to push and pull, swings, and more to give the kids various sensory experiences.
The activities in this room will include:
The sensory room aims to provide gentle stimulation to help children achieve calm. This room will be painted dark and will be illuminated by fairy lights. It will also have the following:
The learning space is an area for teacher-supported small group learning.
The room will have interactive whiteboards and will incorporate flexible seating like bean bags, balance balls, peanut balls, rockers, and wobble chairs.
You can help build a brighter future for kids every time you purchase the bright and colourful products in our Little Mo Shop. Part of the proceeds will go to the establishment of Mo-Spaces in schools across Australia.