Sensory Activity: Pudding Finger Painting

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Even though Bear has always been a sensory seeker, he tends to avoid certain tactile experiences. Once we started to get a handle on things after his diagnosis, we knew we needed to work on that.

We started out like everyone does - playing with shaving cream. But as an avoider myself, the smell of shaving cream is sometimes more than I can handle (and that's not even taking its potential as a migraine trigger into account).  We still play with it on occasion, but I was really interested in other options.

I used to watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 for organizing ideas. (Seriously! The woman may be a bitchtastic wacknut, but she's an organized bitchtastic wacknut.)  On one episode, she had the kids finger paint with pudding and I thought the idea had potential.

If you know us then it will be obvious these photos are pretty dated (October 2010 - yeah, I'm that far behind).  It seemed logical to document how it went the first time we did this activity for anyone thinking about adding it to a sensory diet.

At the time Bear was weeks from aging out of EI just as he'd started to make real progress. We'd been turned down for school OT services and didn't know yet if our insurance would cover private treatment.  I figured if I was going to be doing the bulk of his sensory integration activities it was a good a time as any to experiment with this one.

I should note that his first preschool teacher - whom I credit with the brilliant suggestion to use an under-the-bed box as a portable/storable sensory table - told me that they weren't allowed to use things like beans, macaroni, etc for sensory activities at the school. The idea is that for many people food is precious and scarce, and they didn't want to teach the children to treat it casually.

I see the point, and support the intent. So I thought about the pudding thing long and hard. But I ultimately decided a 2-3 year old would not remember the 50 cent box of generic pudding, and even if he did his sensory therapy was more important.

If you saw the Jon & Kate episode then you know some of her kids so thoroughly enjoyed the pudding painting they actually had to be hosed down.  At our end of the sensory spectrum, I was happy I convinced him to paint a little with a fingertip.  
Part of my master plan had been the idea that tasting the pudding would add another sensory element to the activity.  But since chocolate pudding is not, technically, a pancake or a chicken nugget, he wasn't going for it.  But I did convince him to taste the whipped cream (which brought different color, texture and taste to the party), so I called it a success.