If you've been reading my blog or following along on any of my social media accounts, you know I have a major obsession with the Happy Mats and Bowls by EZPZ. I seriously believe they are the best thing ever. EVER!
You probably also know that I have a 2 year old, Halle Jane, though I haven't talked much about some of the sensory/anxiety issues we've been experiencing with our precious toddler. As an SLP, I work in a school with Pre-K through 5th grade self-contained classrooms for students with Autism. The majority of my caseload is students with Autism or other special needs outside of just speech and language impairments. Most of the students I work with have sensory needs.
When I first started noticing a few "red flags" with my own daughter, I flip-flopped back and forth between believing there was something there, and thinking maybe I was over-thinking things since I see it all day long. In the end though, especially when others starting noticing as well, we all agreed that there was something going on.
Most of her sensory issues center around not wanting to get dirty. She wouldn't eat a doughnut without a fork. She wouldn't eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich unless it was broken up in bite-sized pieces so the jelly didn't get on her mouth. She didn't like to go outside without shoes. She didn't like to play with play-dough unless I cut her nails short so it didn't get under her fingernails. She didn't like band-aids or stickers on her skin, but loved to wear them on her clothes. She LOATHES tags on clothing, her dolls, her blankets. She pretty much just loathes tags in general. And she's terrified of loud noises (the vacuum, the flushing of an unfamiliar toilet, airplanes, lawn mowers, and anything that makes a noise that she can't identify.)
We've slowly but surely worked through many of these issues. We did a lot of playing barefoot outside, and we planted a garden. We covered her in stickers and band-aids. We played with a lot of play-dough and finger paint. We DID NOT cut ONE single tag off of anything, unless it was a particularly hard or scratchy tag. My mom took her to the airport to sit in an airplane. We flushed a lot of public potties. (so gross!) We vacuumed and went outside when daddy was cutting the grass. And we worked a whole lot on eating.
Eating was the one area that was killing me. We were fighting a battle at every meal, just to get her to eat a few bites. Part of the problem was that she just didn't want to slow down to eat. But she also didn't like getting her hands or mouth dirty, so eating finger foods or anything sticky would sometimes just about send her over the edge.
Enter EZPZ, and everything began to change, You can read my previous blog post on what the EZPZ Happy mats and bowls did for our mealtime HERE. But let's just suffice it to say that the mats made eating fun and interesting, which reduced her desire to leave the table, which increased the opportunities we had to work on sensory needs with eating.
Today, I wanted to show you another EZPZ product, and how we've used it to work on sensory needs while also fostering her independence and ownership in mealtimes: The EZPZ Play Mat!
While there are SO many ways to use the play mat (stringing beads, arts and crafts, finger paint, Legos, just to name a few, we've been using the Play Mat to let Halle Jane help make her own dinner or snacks. Instead of me preparing her food for her, she gets to help me "cook dinner" by fixing her own plate. Last week, we had tacos for dinner, and it was a HUGE deal to see her happily making her own tacos, getting her hands dirty, and EATING the tacos she made....THREE TACOS, to be exact!
She loved getting to do it all by herself, and this SLPMommy loved the mess she made! Side note: While she did have some spillage, the mess was contained to the mat. The beauty of these silicone mats is that they stick to the table, so they aren't knocked off, and when you're ready to clean up, you simply peel them off, and rinse with soap and water. They don't harbor bacteria, and they're also dishwasher safe. You can read many more "Pro's" to the EZPZ mats in a previous blog post by clicking HERE.
We've also used the Play Mats for decorating cupcakes and sugar cookies with different toppings, making a bowl of ice cream with different toppings, fruit salad, and many others! Below, Halle Jane helped put strawberries and whipped cream on pound cake in an EZPZ bowl.
If I've made a believer out of you, and you want to order them for yourself, or your friends, or for baby gifts, you can use my link below for 10% off your order!
Are YOU using the EZPZ mats? I'd love to hear what you think!
Stay tuned for another post coming soon on how I use them at school!