Soothing Sammy for Children with Autism
As an early intervention specialist, working with children on the Autism spectrum, I know how hard and frustrating it can be as a parent who is unable to understand why their child is upset, and how hard it is to communicate with children that are feeling overwhelmed.
My name is Jeana, the author and creator of Soothing Sammy.
I have worked with children with a wide range of developmental delays for 10 years. I know how hard it is to support children with sensory and speech needs, while they are trying to process their emotions.
I scoured the internet looking or something that would teach young children how to respond to their emotions in a way that speaks to them. Something visual and tangible that actually made sense.
There are a lot of products out there that teach adults how to help children calm down, but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted to help kids learn this skill - in a way that spoke to them, helping them independently take charge of their feelings. That's when I decided to write "Soothing Sammy."
Soothing Sammy is a golden retriever that children visit when they are upset. Throughout the story, children visit Sammy's house. Sammy gives them different items that help them regulate their bodies and emotions. All of the items directly affect their sensory system, helping them calm down quickly.
At the end of the book, there are four pages that describe all the sensory components addressed in Sammy's house (this includes auditory, visual, tactile, gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell), vestibular and proprioceptive) and which objects address each component!
Soothing Sammy has been great for our family, especially my son with Autism.
Sammy is super soft which gives them that lovely sensory input they both need. When my son is upset we go grab Sammy and he holds him. Sometimes, we read him the story too. Last week, my son said "Parker sad!" when I was struggling to understand what he was asking for. His ability to communicate that feeling is a huge breakthrough for us.
I just wished I had ordered two so they wouldn't fight over him so much. :) -
The Soothing Sammy System is easy for children to understand and simple for you to implement.
The 4-part system includes:
1. Children's Book - The colorful photos and simple story is perfect for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary aged children.
Sammy, a golden retriever, shows his friends, how calm down with items he has in his home (such as drinking from a child's cup, using a washcloth to dampen their face, eating a crunchy snack and listening to a calming song).
2. Soothing Sammy Plush Dog (Golden Retriever) - Using an empty box or container, follow the directions in the back of the book to construct a "Sammy house" for this plush dog. Fill it with household items discussed in the children's book. When your child feels upset, redirect them to the Sammy house to calm down (just like the children in the book did). Sammy the plush dog:
- Meets and exceeds all US safety Standards for children ages 2 years old and up.
- Is Machine Washable
- Measures 11.5"L x 3.5"W x 10"H
3. Parent Guide - This 80-page book explains how to prevent children from becoming frustrated in everyday situations. Examples of topics include:
- Sharing space and items with other children.
- Encouraging your child to listen and follow directions.
- Transitioning to and from different activities.
4. Emotions & Feelings Activity Book - These playful activities teach children the vocabulary to describe how they feel.
These activities also teach simple academic concepts that prepare children for Kindergarten.
- Examples Include:
- "Excited vs. Surprised"
- "Angry March"
- "Sunny Side Up"
- "Emotion Patterning"
- and so much more!
* All materials to complete these activities are typically found in at home (no need to buy more stuff to complete these activities).
Why Sammy Supports children with Autism:
Tangible and Visual Components:
The set comes with a stuffed animal/plush toy of Sammy who is almost a feet long (machine washable and is safe for children ages 2 years old and up) and an 80 page parent guide describing how to use Sammy and the book with your children in a variety of situations.
This set includes directions on how to build a house for Sammy (the stuffed animal) to live in and what household items you can place in the "house" that kids can be redirected to when they need to self-soothe.
My hope is that this book and stuffed animal will be a visual reminder for children, prompting them to work through their emotions. Once they are verbal, there is also a section in Sammy's book that helps children work through identifying why they were feeling overwhelmed and how to prevent it from happening again.
This set comes with a post-card with a photo of Sammy to place around your home. When your child is upset, hand to or show your child this postcard. This will remind them Soothing Sammy is available to help, without the adult having to "talk to them" while they are mad.
To support your child with a speech delay (either expressive or receptive), take some photos of the items you are going to place in the Sammy House. Allow your child to point to these objects if they are unable to request what they want. Having a choice board may also help them in instances where they are feeling frustrated. Placing two or three photos of calming items in a choice board will help them feel less overwhelmed. Here is a site with some ideas on how to make your own choice boards.
Don't underestimate the power of "Real Pictures". Pictures of your child completing the calming activities! Watching themselves using the items reinforces how they feel when they are using them. You may want to place these pictures in Sammy's house!
The set has been use by parents of children with developmental delays, children with autism and typically developing children ages 2 through 11 years old. I hope that this may help you with your child and bring some simple solutions to overwhelming situations. I am happy to talk more about Sammy and help you decide if the set is appropriate for your family.