Thursday, 7 July 2011

Highly Sensitive

This week, I've been reading The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine N. Aron and it has been a real eye opener. I have always considered myself over sensitive. I struggle with things that others seem to find so easy such as navigating train stations, or even buying things from a shop. I've felt my sensitivity has held me back, and it was with sadness if not surprise when I quickly realised that Alice had similar tendencies.

From the first time I saw her it soon became obvious that she was a child of extremes. If anything was slightly amiss, she would scream. There was never any middle ground. The upside of this is that she also gets extremely happy, joyful and excited over the smallest things. It's lovely, but can be exhausting. On two occasions, loud noises have made her faint with shock, she can't stand doors being left ajar, and takes against clothes with certain textures or colours. Upsets can quickly escalate into quite terrifying meltdowns where she tries to hurt both herself and me. Being so sensitive clearly makes her very unhappy at times.

I easily rattle off the 'problem areas' that her sensitivity has caused. Many of them I recognise in myself! What has amazed me through reading this book however is how many of her strengths come as a result of being so sensitive. She's starting to show empathy, and gain a sense of social fairness. She's deeply passionate and persistent with tasks. She notices and delighted by the tiniest details. It has taken this book to show me that high sensitivity has its benefits as well as disadvantages. As I embrace and value my daughter's sensitivity, I am also coming to respect my own.

For any other highly sensitive people, or parents of highly sensitive children, I whole heartedly recommend this book!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Dyed pasta and threading

After a long break in posts, I thought I'd come back and share this little activity. It was very quick and easy, and I'm really pleased with the results.

To dye your pasta (white rice also works well), you'll need to use:

Dry pasta (didn't see that coming did you?)
Ziplock bags, one for every colour you intend to use
Vinegar/rubbing alcohol
Food colouring - natural ones don't seem to come up as brightly as synthetic, but it's worth experimenting.

Put a tablespoon on vinegar/alcohol into your plastic bag. add a few drops of food colouring. Pour in enough pasta to soak up the liquid and shake around until the pasta is fully coated. Leave until the pasta is the shade you want (I left mine over night, but it might only take yours half an hour or so.)

Empty the pasta onto some greaseproof paper, and spread out so the pieces don't touch. Leave to dry.

VoilĂ ! Coloured pasta or rice. So what are you going to use it for?

Rice is especially good for sensory play. Put handfuls in a tray and let your child mix the colours together. It looks great in clear plastic bottles as a shaker too. Both rice and pasta can be used in collages.

The pasta can be used for sorting colours or shapes, adding and subtracting games and for counting. I'm sure there are many other activities you could think of!

I decided to use ours for threading. It's an activity which Alice is really keen on lately, and the holes in the pasta are just the right size to be challenging, but not too frustrating. I made my 'needle and thread' by taking a length of thin string, and taping a tooth pick to the end. Make sure the needle is quite long if you have a little child. It's much easier for them to use. I tied a piece of pasta to the end to stop the others falling off. Once the pasta is threaded, it can be used as necklaces or belts, for pretend snakes, lots of strings can be hung up as a bead curtain, or you could just take them off and start threading again!