Is your child sensitive to or overwhelmed by different sensory inputs? Do they seek out sensory stimulation throughout the day? Has a therapist or other professional suggested your child would benefit from fidgets, weighted clothing, or other sensory soothing tools?

This book includes instructions for more than 30 projects. They range from simple tools that can be assembled in minutes to weekend endeavors where you can invest your time and love. The book also includes information about each sensory system and ways to modify the projects to meet individual needs.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wool Stones

Super Toys includes a brief description of how to make wool (or felted) stones but the directions aren't very thorough. Need more info? Check out this post with photos (it's on my other blog).

Wool Stones are a great tactile fidget.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Super Toys is for sale!

I am SUPER excited to announce that Super Toys: DIY Projects to Support Sensory Processing is available for sale. Buy your printed copy here.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

We have a proof!

The proof copy of our book came in the mail on Friday night. We were busy planning for a birthday party so I have barely looked through it but seeing everything in print was a thrill! I already noticed some missing page numbers (pagination is more challenging than expected) and I want to change the margins a bit but it looks awesome! This week will be one final edit and then it goes up for sale!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

It's a real book

We did it! We finished the book! It's as perfect as we can make it and the pdf files of the laid out pages are uploaded to Amazon. Right this very minute a review copy of the printed book is traveling from some print on demand facility somewhere in the world to my doorstep.

Once the review copy has been reviewed (likely after my daughter's 10th birthday party this weekend) we'll upload an even more perfected file and that'll be it. Super Toys: DIY Projects to Support Sensory Processing will be available for sale.

While we were in the final stages of entering all the page numbers (there's an annoying project!) a friend was telling me about her family member who has a young child recently diagnosed with autism and struggling with sensory integration. My friend asked if her family member could possibly get an e-copy of the book so of course I sent it (sans page numbers) and asked her to provide a review in return. I got the nicest email only a few days later.
"This book is more then just a tool to help make sensory integration cheaper and more personalized.  I learned so much more.... I love how it not only explains the different types of sensory needs, but also gives examples of behaviors that kiddos with that type of need might engage in. This book is definitely a must have. I would recommend it to teachers, occupational therapists,  speech therapists, parents/grandparents of children with sensory needs.... So now I'm off  to start DIYing..."
Kristin and I wrote this book in the hope that it would help families so getting this message was pretty much the best thing. I hope others find the book equally valuable.

We'll let you know when you can buy!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Working on a cover design!

I need some input/help and would be grateful for your feedback on the designs below.
Let me start with some caveats:
  • I am not a graphic designer, I just play one on the internet
  • These designs are quick concepts, not final, I will fix the way the rope hits the letters etc etc
  • I don't expect a consensus (smart people rarely agree) and would welcome feedback of all types
  • I don't even love all of these concepts
  • The covers that are white background aren't translating well to a jpg. But they are book shaped, I promise.
And a few points I'm trying to keep in mind
  • This book will primarily be sold online so a thumbnail is all folks will really see. Which is the best thumbnail?
  • We are trying to differentiate Super Toys from other books about sensory processing because it is primarily a pattern book helping you make things to support sensory processing. The language about the sensory systems supports the patterns, not the other way around. It would be nice if that was somehow communicated on the cover...
  • The subtitle (DIY Projects to Support Sensory Processing) is arguably more important than the main title (Super Toys)
Finally, how you can help
  • Any feedback is helpful
  • Especially something like: "I like #3 except for the font" or "I like the idea of using the chalkboard but not exactly how you have it. How about....." or "don't use the chalkboard, it's confusing to look at" or "here's a completely new and awesome idea you should use"
  • If you are an online sort of person, share a link to this post and maybe others will hop over and give their feedback too.
Ok, onward to the concepts!





Cover 7
 So....what's working here?

PS if you just can't get enough about cover design and want to see how the pros do it, check out this post by Emily Henderson.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sound Snake and looking for folks to blurb the book

We got the last chapter back from our editor this week and I'm putting the text and photos into the layout. We are SO close it's getting exciting again. The content actually looks like a book.

All the projects are done and photographed. This "Sound Snake" was the last one through the door. One of our Kickstarter backers asked for a project for the auditory system and this is what Kristin developed. It's sort of hard to photograph something designed to make sound. (almost as hard as photographing the olfactory projects!)

As we wrap up the book design, I'm starting to focus more on marketing. I'm hoping to solicit a few folks to "blurb" the book (provide a quote for the back cover and for Amazon). If you, or someone you know, would be interested let me know! I'm particularly interested in folks who are parents or occupational therapists who could review a review copy and provide a quote. My dream blurber would probably be Carol Kranowitz author of The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun. So, I'm just putting that out there.

Ok, back to work, but I wanted to pop in with an update.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back at it with a new Heavy Hero

Hello! It's been a while but I have a good excuse. Our family was in Costa Rica for nearly six weeks trying out life in the jungle. It was an adventure to be sure and we had a fabulous time but it's good to be home. We've been home a few weeks but already summer is officially over--school starts tomorrow!

On the book writing front, things are moving right along. The book will have four chapters focused on different sensory systems. Each chapter is at a slightly different point. Our process is Kristin and I develop the project. I make it and write instructions and she writes the introduction and reviews my work. Once we're happy, we send the text to our editor. She sends it back and I put it in the layout and add in all the photos. It's a lot of steps but, like anything, it gets done one step at a time.

For the Proprioception chapter I wanted to make sure our Heavy Hero project was going to work perfectly so I made it again and ended up redoing a photo shoot with my son. It was a really hot day to wear a weighted shirt but he got into the spirit. It's gratifying to see these projects coming to life and to be near the finish line on the book.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Launching a book on Kickstarter

I'm far from an expert but I thought some folks might be interested in our experience on Kickstarter.
We reached 149% of our goal which sounds great but let's have some perspective. Our goal was only $1000--an amount I thought we had a good chance of raising.

I would say our primary reason for launching on Kickstarter was the marketing potential. I listened to a podcast interview of Seth Godin a few years ago where he talked about his Domino Project and was intrigued. That project shaped my approach to Kickstarter. I wasn't aiming to get a legacy publisher interested but I was aiming to get the word out and generate sales via another platform (since I don't have much platform of my own and neither does Kristin).

We worked on our incentive structure with items ranging from $5 to nearly $200. We offered e-copy and printed copies of the book. We also sold items made for the book. The last prize level we added was a triple pack of the book so we had something in the ~$50+ range and we sold a few of those which was cool. I think having a range of levels was important.

In addition, as mentioned before, having an achievable, low goal was key.

Also key: Facebook. I have been a bit of a social media skeptic but 34% of our dollars were from Facebook links. Kristin is quite active on Facebook and many of her friends are fellow occupational therapists from grad school. For both of us, most of our friends are moms (a perfect demographic). And we have a solid group of friends on FB who were kind enough to support us and share our link. Some have kids with sensory challenges but several folks chipped in because they are nice to us.

We only marketed via our personal FB accounts. I'm not as active but made a conscious effort to ramp up prior to our launch and be on there during our campaign. But FB can smell the self promotion so my posts only got visibility thanks to shares by many close friends.

Perhaps even more surprising than the traffic from FB was the traffic from Kickstarter itself. Based on reading I had completely discounted any traffic coming from the Kickstarter site but in fact another 34% came from various Kickstarter pages/searches. This was particularly obvious right when we launched and we came up first for "Publishing in California" and reasonably high in "Publishing" overall. By the end of the first week you could barely find us on Kickstarter but at the end we got a few hits from their "closing soon" function. And our project is pretty niche so anyone who searched autism or sensory would have found us.

Finally, we did a smattering of other promotional efforts. I tabled at a craft fair which was a bust because foot traffic was slow. We ordered postcards to hand out to friends and family. I know for certain at least one backer came in via the postcard I gave to a co-worker who shared it with his friend from church. And that was basically it.

We reached $1000 (our goal) within the first week and spent the last 2.5 weeks creeping up to $1500 $10 pledge by $10 pledge.

And that's where we sit. We have enough it hire an editor, and we owe her two chapters by the end of the month. Gotta get crackin'.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Our kickstarter campaign concluded today at 5 pm. Woohoo, we made it!

On the site, we were $4 away from our stretch goal but I actually received $10 in cash donations at the craft fair so I'm calling it a success! Time to get chapters polished up to send to the editor we can afford to hire! This post has too many exclamation points!
And I can stop obsessively checking our Kickstarter dashboard.

Thank you so much to all 48 backers!

Friday, May 15, 2015

The end is near

Our Kickstarter campaign ends Sunday at 5 pm. This will be the only chance to pre-order (at a reduced price of $20) before we launch the book in the Fall (likely for $25).

We're within $100 of our stretch goal which is great but almost more awesome has been connecting with so many folks interested in our book.
I'm looking forward to finishing Kickstarter and getting back to writing and editing.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Video content

I made a few videos to show techniques that are easy to do but hard to write about. The videos are on YouTube but my channel is such a mess of kid videos I wanted to post them here. I'll probably create a few more videos once the book is out if anything is confusing to anyone but, in the meantime.

Sewing poly pellets into pockets for the Weighted Blanket.
 Sewing a French seam (for the Weighted Blanket and Target Crash Pillow)
Sewing satin binding on a quilt (for the Texture Quilt)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The beginnings of Super Toys

Each year I keep a notebook that I use for, wait for it....notes! This is where I record random lists and phone numbers and funny things the kids say. I try to keep it with me so rather than writing on scraps of paper I am bound to lose I write all in one place.

In the summer of 2013 I went down to Escondido to meet up with Kristin and we went to our 20th High School reunion. The next day while we were hanging out I told her all about my ideas for this book and we agreed we should write it. Then we spent an hour jotting down ideas of what we might include.

I just found my 2013 notebook on the shelf and it's amazing how much from these scribbled notes has made it through to the final draft two years later.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Super Toys in real life

Last Saturday I had a table at a small craft fair to advertise the book and our Kickstarter. The show traffic was a bit slow but it was still a great opportunity to see kids interacting with the toys.

We had supplies to allow guests to make a Calming Bottle or a Gel Bag. I expected the Calming Bottles to go quick but in fact the Gel Bags were more popular. I let the kids squeeze in the Gel then add glitter, sequins and food coloring before sealing it up with patterned duct tape.
We got a few small donations toward the book and one visitor went ahead and pre-ordered the book on Kickstarter. It's been neat seeing how this project is received by the public--so much positive feedback. Only 9 days left on Kickstarter then it's back to spending my evenings editing book text rather than messaging Kickstarter backers. I have a good life.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Tomorrow is the Nest Fest at my friend's business in Fair Oaks. Kristin and I decided to launch our Kickstarter with the thought that I could advertise our campaign at the event. That and Facebook were really the sum total of our marketing plan.

Lo and behold, we've already reached our $1000 goal! Amazing. I have been so incredibly surprised and humbled to see who has supported us. Co-workers who I don't know especially well are stepping up with generous contributions, friends from Kristy's community of OTs are in the mix, both of our parents and other family members. So many friendly names on the Backer List.

But I'm almost more surprised and impressed to see how far the campaign has gone. An OT student in North Carolina bought the book and passed the campaign link around to classmates. A special ed teacher bought the book and left an encouraging note. The pledge that got us over $1000 was from a man in Alaska.

I can't believe how motivating and encouraging this entire experience has been.

We posted a stretch goal today--if we hit $1500 we'll be able to hire a professional copy editor to make the book just that much more perfect. It feels like we just might do it!
We'll be making calming bottles at the Nest Fest so guests can take home a sensory tool.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


We decided to launch on Kickstarter. And we did it!

I'm excited/nervous!

We only launched 10 minutes ago and got our first backer. WooHoo! Now we just need to keep up momentum for 23 days.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book photography

Originally published March 17, 2015

My friend Karin agreed to do the photography for our book. I honestly had no idea how generous her offer was. I knew the book would be immeasurably improved by professional photos but was picturing her bringing a "big camera" and taking a few shots and calling it a day. But no, we had a full light set up multiple big lenses, multiple memory cards, 16 different kid models and a really hectic two days. I think it's going to be worth it.

My friend and co-author, Kristy, flew up from San Diego for the photo shoot and we got a ton done including deciding on a book title and creating an entire additional project for the book late Saturday night. Both are awesome, I think. I'll save the title reveal for another post once we decide on the subtitle.

I was so busy coordinating kids and deciding which project should go with which kid I barely snapped any photos this weekend but here are a few. I can' t wait to see the real images in a few days!
I'm not sure how many folks follow along this ol' blog here but if you don't know me in real life you'd be forgiven for wondering, "what book?" I've mentioned it only sporadically but I'm trying to start talking about it more both to document the process and keep myself motivated.

Kristy and I are writing a book of patterns for projects that support sensory needs/regulation. This will be a book for parents of kids with sensory processing disorder and related challenges who are already working with an occupational therapist who may be recommending certain tools. The book may also be for occupational therapists wanting to make things for their practice. Anyway, I need to work on the elevator pitch but that's the idea. We've got 15 "big" projects and about 20 "super simple" projects along with information about the body's sensory systems and vignettes of children with various sensory sensitivities. Kristy is a pediatric occupational therapist so she's the book brains and I'm the pattern creator and project manager.The farther into this project we get, the more excited/hopeful I am it will be a useful tool.

Anyway, that's the idea and we're getting close to done! We will be self publishing and are kicking around (ha!) the idea of a kickstarter campaign to pre-sell books. That's where we're at!

Little helper for a lycra swing

Originally posted October 7, 2014

First off--how many years do you think it will be before I remember that October is my one and only month of blog traffic thanks 100% to this post about making mandarins into Jack-o-lanterns. It's really great idea and really terrible photography. Which is now all over Pinterest. Sorry, Pinterest, for inflicting terrible photos on you. Just trying to stand out in a world of perfect images ;)

One of these years I'll remember that folks come by in October and I'll plan some really awesome posts. But this is not that year.

So, if you are visiting from Pinterest, hi!
Oscar was helping in the sewing room this week. First he helped me arrange and stitch the lycra.
Then he tested the swing.
And he liked it!

For whatever reason, the swing patterns I want to include in the book have been the biggest headache. As far as I can tell, it's 99% about fabric choice and 1% about design which makes it very hard to write a pattern and feel confident that others will get the same results. This lycra (from JoAnn Fabric) actually does work! It worked for Oscar and equally for (much heavier!) me. So I feel like I'm getting close.

You can see the Sawyer Swing abandoned on the ground in the back. That's the one swing that's been awesome. My kiddos both love it. We keep it up all the time (except when I have to test other swings!)

The book has a look

Originally posted September 13, 2014

Last week my friend, Lisa, who is a talented graphic designer came over and gave the book a look. It's so, so, so much better than I was able to do with my novice skills. And now everything is set up as a template that I can fill with content. Just as soon as Kristy and I finish the content.
Screen shot 2014-09-13 at 8.23.40 PM
The headline font is annoying me because it got weirdly pixelated but the coolest thing is that it's Biscuit's handwriting! I made it a font using Fontifier which was super easy and fun and I'd love to recommend it but it's just too pixelated. I'm trying to figure out if I should use it or not. I'm leaning toward yes.
Screen shot 2014-09-13 at 8.25.14 PM
The little weight image is an original drawing I commissioned from one of our 11 year old friends. He's a budding artist so I paid him a very, very meager sum to make the chapter logos and I totally love them!

Don't pay attention to the content yet, it's mostly placeholder, but with a layout this project is feeling really real. Which is awesome!
If anyone out there is interested in pattern testing, let me know. I'm thinking I'd need you to get your own supplies (though that could be negotiated). Then I'd send you a pattern to make a project as written and ask you to let me know if any parts are confusing. I'd "pay" you with an e-copy of the book. (I'd offer a printed copy but I'm still not 100% sure if I'm going to offer print or just digital). E-mail me or leave a comment if you're up for it! I'd be very grateful! Most, but not all, projects are sewing projects.

Back on the book bandwagon

Originally posted September 9, 2014

My last post about this project was a rambling internal monologue while I wrestled with contradictory ideas about ignoring sunk costs and quitting doomed projects vs. the importance of grit and perseverence when you really believe in something. All with a side dish of self doubt.

I'm over it.
I'm back to planning to finish this book.

And I've got some additional friends in my corner who are total professionals in their fields and will absolutely make the final product 100 times better than I could do on my own.
With that resolve, I've made a commitment this month to do something every day that leads toward completing the book. It's after 11 pm and I haven't made my progress today (blogging doesn't count) so I'll leave my thoughts about daily habits for another day and close with the image I took this morning of a prototype of one of the super easy project ideas that may be included. Kristy, if you're reading, does this look right? I'm not the Occupational Therapist in this effort :)

Book marketing Venn diagaram and reimagining grand plans

Originally published July 11, 2014

For the past year or so I've been working on a book. For the past six months or so I've gotten more serious about the project and posted about it publicly to motivate myself to stay focused. For the most part, it's worked and I've made good progress.

But lately I can't stop thinking about other projects I want to do and was considering abandoning the book project.

From the beginning I have been convinced this is a book that should exist (and, as far as I can tell, doesn't exist). I'm also confident that between me and my co-author we are qualified to write this book. Not that others couldn't, just that we can.
But lately I'm starting to question my original premise that there is a need for this book. I'm not worried about selling tons of books or even really making money but I am worried about investing my time in a project that isn't useful to the world. Know what I mean? I've pretty much gotten over the sunk costs but the opportunity cost of finishing it is really quite high.

After a few days of mulling I thought of a solution.

Right now, I need to pause book creation and figure out if there is a real interest in this book. Would anyone need it? Buy it? If not, no problem at all, I'll move on to other things. If so, I'm crazy excited to finish this project and make it even better knowing there are real people waiting for it.

What, you might ask, is the solution? Kickstarter. Ages ago I heard a podcast with Seth Godin where he talked about using Kickstarter not to fund a project (a book) but to presell a book to ensure there is sufficient interest. Well, duh!

So for the past week I've been thinking about Kickstarter and even practiced making a video (wow, I am seriously terrible on video--I look all shifty eyed.)
---this is where I paused writing this post for several days as my mind continued thinking about books, Kickstarter, what I really want to do, the embarassment of quitting altogether and I continued talking to friends and boring them with all my considerations. then I started up this post again with more ideas---

In addition to thinking about Kickstarter I really starting (re)thinking about this project and talking to folks I trust. One good friend has a child with autism who uses some of the stuff that would be in the book even though sensory disorders are not his primary challenge. She gently pointed out to me that what special needs parents have the least of is time. Really, most would rather buy the weighted blanket off the internet. Even if they like to sew (she does not like to sew). She felt that the advantages I see of of making a project for your child (self satisfaction and the meditative act of making, the idea of stitching in love for the child, complete customization options for your child etc) simply don't outweigh the time for most special needs parents.

Good point.

So I started rethinking how I'm approaching the book. From the original brainstorming session with Kristin when we made an outline I was imagining a pattern book with ~12 full length project patterns for kids needing support with different sensory systems (ie vestibular, proprioception, tactile). On one hand, a cool, comprehensive resource. On the other hand, most folks might only need one or two patterns so individual pattern sales would be more attractive. From the beginning the book also contained a section on "repurposing household items to help your sensory disregulated child" Super simple stuff, much of which can be found on Pinterest, but put into one place with input from a pediatric Occupational Therapist.

Thinking about my friend's comment about time, maybe the book is the simple ideas and the more complicated patterns are some sort of add on, separate thing, something. Maybe I just list them for sale on Craftsy/Etsy and use the book to promote them. Maybe those patterns are just freebies. Maybe "book" is actually "pdf download" or even "free download" of simple ideas.
Maybe self publishing isn't actually the right avenue. Maybe instead of Kickstarter I try to pitch an agent/publisher and use their knowledge to determine 1. if there is a market and 2. how to position the book.

Maybe I am overthinking this.

But I have been so head-down-focused on getting the projects designed, made, tested, patterned etc that I really haven't stepped back and now it really is time.

This post has been in my drafts folder for several days because it's kinda hard to put yourself out there online and with friends and say you're fully committed to a project and then come back and say well.....I might actually quit this project. Or at least completely reimagine it.
But I decided that since I have posted about this effort I should continue to do so--it keeps me honest and might be a chance for a reader to provide feedback or thoughts. If you made it this far--congrats--I welcome your thoughts!

In the meantime I'm off to a sewing class. For all the classes I've taught I haven't attended a sewing class in years and I'm really excited.

I made some worms and then I played with photoshop

Originally published April 10, 2014

I'm creating a "lap buddy" pattern for the book. Something that provides a soothing weight for a sensory sensitive child and a bit of texture for fidgeting. After I created three versions I got the kids to participate in practice a photo shoot.
I'm really struggling with the photography for the book. I can take a decent snapshot but the expectations of quality for photos in the online and print worlds have just gone through the roof. All the major blogs use professional photographers and photoshop each image. I'm DIYing this book so that means I'm doing the photos (and I best get on board with photoshop).
This week my goal was to play around with photoshop. My dad is actually a photoshop expert so really I should just ask for help but it was kind of fun to mess around with PW Actions and curves and whatever other little things I could figure out. Here are a few before and afters.
I'm still working on it.
In related news, I put my first pattern from the book (Target Crash Pillow) up for individual sale on Craftsy and Etsy. Did I mention this already? My plan is to sell individual patterns for a short time until the book pieces are together then I will just sell the package. So if you want individual patterns, snap 'em up.

Trying to motivate


Originally posted April 4, 2014

Last week I was on fire with book project sewing. Look at the poly pellets all over the floor.
This week seems to be the exact opposite (I typed poopsite for opposite--funniest typo ever) but I'm going to get out there and make a weighted lap buddy. Fingers crossed.
I'll post my progress on Instagram. I'm @mdhaworth over there.


Originally posted March 26, 2014

Not that the book is done yet but I have been thinking about marketing/publishing. To give myself a deadline and some step goals I've decided to publish selected, individual patterns as pdf downloads. They'll be priced affordably and I'll ask buyers to pretty please provide feedback on the pattern so I can further perfect them for the book.
My goal is to list the first pattern (for the Target Crash Pillow) on Craftsy and Etsy by Friday but I need a descriptive blurb. To force myself to write it I'm turning it into a post. Feedback welcome. I'll let you know when the pattern is posted.
Target Crash Pillow Downloadable PDF Pattern
It’s like having a foam pit in your house! The Target Crash Pillow is perfect for children who like to bump, and jump and crash and hurl their body into your furniture. It’s also a safe place to land under an indoor swing or next to a bed.

The Crash Pillow has a removable, washable cover and the graphic target motif looks cool in a kid’s play space or your living room.

This listing is for an instant pdf download pattern. The three-page full color, detailed pattern does not include pattern pieces to trace but describes how to cut out the pieces and assemble a Crash Pillow for your family. You'll need a sewing machine and basic sewing skills.

Soon, very soon, the Target Crash Pillow pattern will be part of a book I'm writing chock full of projects to meet the needs of children with sensory challenges. But, for a limited time until the book is released, I'll be offering individual patterns as pdf downloads at an affordable price.

As a personal testimonial, I designed this pattern in consultation with my friend who is an occupational therapist and suggested that a large, foam pillow would be a useful project for children with sensory challenges. I created the pattern and prototype and since I finished it,"Crash Pillow" has been a fixture in our living room. Turns out all kids love this one. It has been one of the best things I've made for my toddler son, third grader daughter and even my husband. Family tickle wars forever!