I'm back from a super fun (but super exhausting) trip to Disney World! We took my little girl for her 3rd birthday! I'm a Disney fanatic, but the excitement of Disney took on a whole new meaning as we watched Halle Jane experience it for the first time! With about a thousand pictures in 3 days, there were WAY too many to share, so here's just one for now. (I'm going to do a Disney for Educators blog recap later.)
Anyway, I'm back today with a new product review for the Fiddle Focus™! Fiddle Focus™, from Creative Educational Strategies & Services, is a product created to assist children in managing "their social and emotional regulation". I met the ladies behind the Fiddle Focus™ at the American Speech Language & Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention last year. At the time, I was roaming the convention hall looking for something that might help with some of the sensory issues my own little one was experiencing at the time.
Though I haven't written much about it, Halle Jane has definitely had some sensory issues that we've had to work through. I have a family history of clinically diagnosed OCD. Though she does not have a diagnosis of any kind at this point (except of perfectness by her parents and grandparents), she definitely has some "hang-ups" that we have to work through. To make long stories short, we have worked/are working through walking in bare feet (still wants to wear shoes to bed), eating food with her fingers-especially sticky food like donuts, pancakes, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (still needs to see a wet napkin nearby), getting water in her eyes (still needs a cue to "use her windshield wipers"), wearing tags (still asks to have them cut out, which we rarely do), playing with play dough (still hates when it gets under her fingernails), loud noises (the vacuum, toilets, thunder), and a few more. Currently, we're dealing with her not wanting to ever go without pants! (She doesn't want to wear a gown to bed or a dress unless she has on shorts/pants/bloomers underneath). It seems like whenever we work through one hang-up, another one comes along.
In addition to these listed, we've also had to work with her on using her hands appropriately when her sensory needs are high and she needs a release. There are times when you can actually "see" the need for a sensory release build up in her. This is usually followed by her grabbing tightly to or squeezing something around her, even if that means your arm or leg. She's little, so it doesn't necessarily hurt when she squeezes you (and her intention is never to hurt), but its not appropriate for her to squeeze other kids at preschool either. So we had to teach her how to appropriately get that release she sometimes needs.
When I met the Fiddle Focus™ ladies, I was intrigued by their products. They have both the Fiddle Focus™ Busy Fingers and the Fiddle Focus™ Busy Hands. They graciously provided me with a Fiddle Focus™ Busy Hands to try with Halle Jane in exchange for my review. Disclaimer: While the Fiddle Focus™ Busy Hands was provided to me, no other compensation was provided. The opinions in this post are all mine.
So let's get started. The Fiddle Focus™ Busy Hands is a "quilt-like" square of five different fabrics combined together. The fabrics are different colors and have different textures, created to provide needed sensory experiences. The outside boarder includes a loop feature which is great for connecting other focus/sensory items or hanging the Fiddle Focus™ onto something (i.e. the stroller or car-seat). You can also add Velcro to the back to attach it to the desk, chair, etc. The Fiddle Focus™ Busy Hands and Busy Fingers™ (a smaller more "plush" version) come in different color patterns, are handcrafted in the U.S., are recommended for all ages, and meet CPSC Safety Requirements.
The Fiddle Focus™ can be used in many different ways, but the general idea is that children (or adults) can stroke, rub, touch, push, feel, etc. the different textures when they need a sensory release, need to calm down, or need to focus. They can work in the same was as a fidget, although I find these placed in a students lap or Velcroed to the inside of a desk much less distracting for the student using them (and for other students/teachers nearby) than other fidgets.
When I first gave the Fiddle Focus™ to Halle Jane, she determined it was a baby blanket. She used it to play with her baby dolls, but she also learned to rub it when she was extra excited/worked up and needed a sensory release. We have also taught her to squeeze it (or a stuffed animal) instead of squeezing a real person!
Even though she uses it a lot to play with her babies, when it's bedtime, the babies give it up, and its hers to use at night. Halle Jane is very picky about blankets. She doesn't like to keep covers on, but she wants something over her legs. We don't do "blankies" out of the house, but she does keep one in the car to cover up with and in her bed. The only blanket she uses are Muslin blankets that we used to swaddle her when she was a baby. I love them because they are soft, but very light-weight, so not too hot in humid South GA. She carefully lays out her Muslin blanket over her legs at night, and rubs the Fiddle Focus™ between her fingers while she calms down and falls asleep.
Pure precious-ness right there :)
So let me sum it up: The Fiddle Focus™ is awesome! We use ours at home, in the car, on trips (yes, it traveled to Disney) etc. And we've seen a big difference! Though she doesn't always need it (and the times she does are becoming less), when she does, it definitely provides an appropriate way for her to calm down, get a sensory release, or focus on what she's doing.
If you're a parent in the same boat as me, this might be a good option for you. (And side note-hang in there! You're doing a great job! Sensory needs can be challenging and tough, but you can and will make it through!) If you're an SLP (like me) with a student(s) that need sensory experiences to focus, this might be a good option for you! And the same goes if you're a teacher or other service provider as well!
Think you want to try it, or want to know more?CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE FIDDLE FOCUS™ WEBSITE
I'd love to hear your thoughts!