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.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kickstarting

We decided to launch on Kickstarter. And we did it!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/316424315/super-toys-diy-projects-to-support-sensory-process

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!
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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!
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Oscar was helping in the sewing room this week. First he helped me arrange and stitch the lycra.
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Then he tested the swing.
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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!)
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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 :)
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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

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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.

Marketing

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.
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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.
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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!

In need of a deadline

Originally posted March 13, 2014

So, the pattern book. I've mentioned it here before and I'm still plugging away but I'm starting to see why traditional publishing is good. Deadlines! I've gotten to a point where it feels possible to put together all the parts for a book--heck, lots of it is written--but now it's just the slog of getting all the details written for all the patterns, re-taking a lot of photos, doing the layouts and just generally doing. the. work.

Each Friday I try to have coffee with two good friends and we've created something of an accountability group. Each meeting we set a goal for the week and then we check in with each other. This week my goal is a big one--to finish writing up all the patterns I have partially done. Then put them into a nice, laied out format. Wish me luck.
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Helping Hands

Originally posted January 20, 2014

The book we're writing is organized into sections based on the major sensory systems. Each section has several projects which can help children who struggle in that area. My occupational therapist friend suggested a rocker board for our "vestibular" chapter so today I we tried making one with supplies from Home Depot.
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I asked Biscuit to take photos so, of course, Oscar had to do something.
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Like insist on using the drill. Barefoot.
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I need the OT input (perhaps a wider base?) but it seems to work. Both kids had fun trying it.

And once again I'm reminded that you can think and think about a project but can't make any real progress until you make up a prototype and go from there. In the past week I've worked up prototypes for three projects--they all need tweaks but at least I've got a solid starting point. Now I just need to stay in the groove of forward progress.

We're going to write this book, dang it

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Originally posted January 13, 2014 at underconstructionblog.typepad.com

Sometime last year I realized I had a great idea for a book. A book I couldn't pull off on my own but a book that seemed like it would fill a need for people and a book that would require partnership with some of my very best and most talented friends. After a short conversation they were on board with the idea (yay!).

We developed the outline and project list and started working but then life got busy, the holidays blah, blah, blah it got a bit stalled.

But this is the year.

I can't control if anyone will ever buy our book but I can write the content (or at least 1/3 of the content). I can put in my best work and from there, see what happens.

I've been reluctant to blog about this because you know how it is. People (me) get weird about sharing big ideas (will someone criticize me, will someone "steal" the concept, will it turn into a public failure). But that's silly. This blog is a great source of accountability for me and, for this to really succeed, our little team is going to need help.

So I'm going to start blogging about this project. I'm hoping if you have ideas/feedback/contacts/thoughts you'll be kind enough to share them and to help us connect with folks who might ultimately find our book valuable or might be interested in helping us get off the ground.
At this point if you're still reading you're thinking, sure, whatever, but what is the book?
So glad you asked. Too bad we don't have a title.

The working title is DIY Sensory Tools. Our concept is to write a book of patterns/projects for people to make objects that will help a sensory sensitve child (or adult). Really, our target is DIYer moms whose children struggle with sensory integration, sensory disregulation or related challenges.
I'm writing the patterns but the brains in the operation are my friends Kristin who is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Shelley who is a therapist. Both women are small business owners whose practices are focused on helping children. They know what tools and techniques help kids self regulate allow them to be their best.

We've got six chapters and 12-15 patterns outlined. Getting from there to a book feels a bit overwhelming but we've got several prototypes made, patterns written and text drafted. Still much more to do than is already done.

But I'm in. My friends are in. And we're going to get this thing written. Because really, that's step one. You can't sell a book you haven't written (well, tecnhically, with non fiction you can sell on proposal BUT that's not our goal. We're thinking self publishing. Basically, we need to write this thing).
So, if you've read this far, I'm impressed. Thank you (especially if you aren't related to me :) And I'd be grateful for your help.

Do you or your friends fit our target market? If so would you/they be willing to be in touch? We'd love a sounding board!

Do you want to pattern test when the time comes? That'd be awesome!

Do you have ideas of what we should include to increase the awesomeness of this book?
Are there folks we should talk to? Resources we should be aware of? Kristy and Shelley are well connected in the OT and therapy worlds and I know a bit about the online world and sewing/pattern writing but we don't know it all. Ideas welcome.

Wish us luck and inspiration.
The image above is the first pattern prototype--the Target Crash Pillow. It has been a huge hit around our house.