Escape Reality And Explore The Renaissance

It’s fall, and fall in New England wouldn’t be complete without King Richard’s Faire, the oldest renaissance faire in New England. Here, you will be immersed from head-to-toe in a 80-acre forest that is set to resemble a 16th century marketplace. The family and I had a great time exploring the artisans, watching the shows and interacting with each strolling character as they passed by. The are knights, mimes, mud beggars, wenches and members of the royal family walking amongst you. You truly feel as though you have stepped into another time. If you have a child who enjoys history museums, this will surely delight. My son, loves to learn about different places and times in history. He felt as if he went back in time and really enjoyed himself.


I thought at first, King Richard’s Faire might not be a good fit for my son due to his Sensory Processing and Anxiety. Think loud noises, smells and crowds. But, if you scope out the map ahead of time, find a quiet spot to rest and try not and fit everything in, chances are you will have a plan for success. It was loud, but not in an obnoxious way. The wind and trees seemed to dull out some of the crowd noise and we found a great spot to take a break under some pine trees. We let him dictate the shows he wanted to see, which worked out perfect. He chose the Great Cats of The World Show, The Royal Parade and the Challenge of Champions. 

Honestly, the Great Cats of the World Show is worth the ticket alone! We sat in the 2nd row right and got to see a Black Panther 10 feet in front of us. And the white Bengal Tiger was just as impressive. The Geoffroy Cat was small but mighty (and adorable to say the least). The knights put on a great show. There was horseback riding, jousting and tricks with their lances among other things. And our knight (blue & white) won the challenge! My son picked the right spot to sit in! The Royal Parade is the perfect chance to see all the roaming characters in one place! It’s also the prefect time to grab a bite to eat and find a table and watch as they make their way around the village!



Let’s talk food. We split a bloomin’ onion, chicken fingers & fries platter and some fudge! It was all delicious. The food was exactly like what I expected, with a slight edge over regular carnival food.  I did notice they offered gluten free options as well as lactose intolerant! As a mom to a food allergy kid, I found this to be a refreshing surprise! I can’t forget about the massive ice cream cone and homemade pickle served from a barrel! Delicious! It does get a bit busy around the traditional lunch time, so if you can wait to eat later that will save you from having to really search out for a table.

Listen, we could have stayed longer. Explored more. Played more games. Ate more. Shopped more. But, we had about 1 hour drive and it was getting late in the day. There really is so much to do and see there. I find this event is more suitable for kids 7 and over. The games were fun, but some I think would be better for the older set versus the younger! Same with the shows. While some kids younger than 7 would find the shows enjoyable, I think the majority of older kids would be able to sit for them longer and really get something out of them! Landon was the perfect age! He is almost 9 and like I said, in love with history.

If you are looking for a quintessential fall New England event to enjoy, get yourselves to King Richard’s Faire.

I am so grateful at the opportunity to receive free admission to this years event in return for a review. And guess what? I have 4 tickets to give away and are good for any of these dates: October 8, 10, 15, 22 and 23. I only wish to be able to attend next year and cross off everything we missed off our list! My son is already talking about his outfit that he wants to wear! A knight who fights for freedom and love! What is better than that? I have my eye on a flower crown!

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Sensitive Santa Programs Are A Breath Of Fresh Air For Special Needs Parents

The holidays are just around the corner. Menu’s are being planned, family is coming to town and gifts are being purchased. If you have children, then I am sure planning a visit to Santa is in the works too! For some, a visit to the jolly-old-elf is no biggie, while for others it can be overwhelming. This is especially true for those with special needs children. The lines, the noise and the crowds are sometimes just to intense for a sensory kiddo, just like my Landon.  Heck, I don’t even like lines, waiting and loud noises…

If you share my same sentiments, then you are in luck!   Starting this Sunday November 22nd, over 120 Simon malls will be offering the Caring Santa Program. This program is  made possible thanks to Autism Speaks and their association between Noeer Corporation and AbilityPath. This program allows families of children with special needs to enjoy their experience with Santa in a more controlled and welcoming environment, usually before the mall opens. As a mom to a sensational kid, I am so thankful to these companies for providing this program for the special needs community.
If you think this event would be something that would benefit you and your family, I urge you to register for the Caring Santa program at your local Simon mall. Most time slots will be 2 hours before the mall opens to the public on November 22nd or December 6th. For my local friends, Emerald Square Mall will be offering their Caring Santa program on December 6th from 830-1030am, with some time slots already filling up. It is FREE to register- and you must have a reservation to take part in this program.

To learn more abut the Caring Santa Program and to see other malls participating click here. It was only about a few years ago that I found out abut this amazing program and boy would it have came in handy during Landon’s early visits with Santa! If you can’t find a sensory-friendly event near you, I urge you to contact your local mall to request one for next year. You never know if your request will be heard unless you try!

Merry Holidays


Landon, Christmas 2008

Living with Sensory Processing Disorder

My world is sensational, thanks to a 7-year-old boy named Landon. Some day’s loud noises are our friend and then the next day they aren’t. On most days sunlight is the enemy, food is surely our foe and bedtime is never quick or painless. Anxiety leads to sadness and sadness leads to frustration and frustration leads to anger. You see, my Landon has Sensory Processing Disorder, better known as SPD. Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. A. Jean Ayres, PhD said it best when she referred to SPD as a neurological “traffic jam” in the brain.


SPD can affect our senses such as vision, audition, tactile, olfactory, taste, proprioception and the vestibular system. It can affect one sense or multiple senses at once. All of Landon’s senses are affected by SPD. While some days only certain things act as a trigger for him, he does have days where he has a full blown “sensory day”. Call it mother’s intuition, but I can tell if he is going to have a “sensory day” within 1 hour of him being awake.

During Landon’s test for developmental delays and learning disabilities, it was discovered that Landon was in fact gifted. While some people are not convinced that there is a link between gifted minds and SPD, there is more research being complied on this topic everyday to say otherwise. Paula Jarrad, MS, OTR conducted a research study in hopes to bring awareness to the prevalence of SPD in gifted children.

 “The ‘double-edged sword’ of giftedness often bestows, among other features, a global heightened awareness to sensory stimulation, an endowment of amplified mental processing speed and attention capacity, and unusual challenges with frustration, pain, noise, and emotional hypersensitivity,” Jarrard learned from her review. “As many as one-third of gifted children may exhibit sensory processing disorder features, significantly impacting quality of life.”

I find her results to be very accurate in how it depicts life with my sensational kid.

Preliminary research states that SPD is often inherited, which means it is coded into the child’s genetic makeup. However, as in many developmental and behavioral disorders, genetic factors and environmental factors can affect the child. Only with more research will doctors be able to identify the role that each factor plays. While navigating this path with Landon, I uncovered that I also have SPD. At first, I was sad to think I might have passed this onto him, but Landon is who he was meant to be, and he, nor I will ever apologize for being “sensational”.

In order to better understand if a child is having sensory issues, try using the “Sensory Checklist” here.  This checklist is usually broken into age categories.  After reading the entire checklist, you might think that most kids exhibit these characteristics and it is not a big deal. However, it is when the symptoms of these characteristics become severe enough to affect normal functioning and disrupt everyday life that it becomes a challenge. Behavioral therapy, play therapy and social skills groups are just some of the ways you can treat SPD. You must find the right balance that works for you and your sensational kid.

My child has been labeled fussy as baby, grouchy as a toddler and now anxious as a 7 year old. I tear these labels off. Labels are for jars, not for my son. Having SPD doesn’t define us. Instead it shapes us. We might move to the right while others move left. But in the end, we are all on the same journey. We want to learn, grow, socialize, love and explore just like the rest of you. We just have a harder time navigating through it all. We do things a little differently, as does everyone in some way, shape or form. And last time I checked, being different makes us unique. The world is better place when we are free to be who we were meant to be.

A fully edited and more descriptive version of this story has been published in RI Parent Magazine, October issue.  It was chosen as the cover story and features my little boy! 

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Namaste ~ Joy

Sensory Activity: Calm Down Jar & I Spy Bottle

Howdy folks! It’s Monday again. Which means, I have another “Make-it-Monday” activity to share with you. With Landon being a sensational kid and all, what better thing than to make something to help him when he needs it most! Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder are known to have a emotional extremes. Having something tangible for Landon to hold/look at/admire when he is trying to regulate his emotions is a great tool we found that works. I hope you find it helpful, for any kiddo as well! And to boot, it was fun to make!

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Filling the bottle


Supplies Needed:







Directions:  Pretty darn simple. Fill the bottle 2/3 of the way with a lukewarm water. Then add the whole bottle of glue, followed by the glitter. If the glitter falls right to the bottom of the bottle, you may want to add more glue. Especially if you use a bottle bigger than a 20 oz. one. Once you have the glue/glitter/water combination down, add the small objects. We chose a Lego head, pony beads, letter beads (his initials)  2 small Lego pieces, lanyard pieces and a penny.  There you go- You have yourself your own I Spy/Calm Down Bottle!



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Finished product!

Wordless Wednesday- Sensory Diet

It’s Happy Hump day again! Last week, during school vacation we went for a relaxing family lunch. We decided as a family, we would try a new place for the three of us. Hubby & I go for sushi alot, but never with Landon. He was determined to get a STAR on his chart for trying a new food! He did- and we are so proud! Way to go for overcoming your anxieties & fears. We love you Landon!


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Sensory Processing & the Challenges it brings

Say it isn’t so. Sensory Processing Disorder truly controls Landon’s life.  However, control doesn’t have to have a negative impact. It can force you to think “outside the box”, which for Landon, has made him more creative! From what he eats, what he wears, his anxiety, the ability to touch certain items and more, it all has a daily effect on him.  However, this control doesn’t hinder him from having a ” normal” life. And I put “normal” lightly as I fully believe there is no single entity that we should define as normal. He makes friends regardless of his social anxiety. He learns ways to cope to loud noises. He focuses on what textures he likes versus not dwelling on those he doesn’t. Even his open bite posture causes him the inability to make certain sounds. Somehow, he manages to say words that he just shouldn’t be able too ( shock to his speech therapist as well). He truly is a determined little man, who I couldn’t be any prouder of.

At the eye doctors picking out his frames

At the eye doctors picking out his frames

Here we are again. Sensory Processing has  added another “challenge” to his list. And again, I say “challenge” lightly as each challenge only makes you more unique. LANDON NEEDS GLASSES. Not because his vision is impaired, but for a whole other reason. Technically, his vision is 20/20. It’s when the environment effects his vision, (i.e. wind, light, glare) the glasses are needed. This is especially true for light. At his vision appointment, we found out that Landon has larger than normal pupils for any adult my age. Meaning, it lets more light in. Landon has always been sensitive to light as most sensational kiddos are, so having pupils that cause more light to travel through his eyes only exacerbates his visual sensory challenges.

Off to School with his new Glasses!

Off to School with his new Glasses!

We all know schools are infamous for their horrible track UV lighting that would give anyone a headache. But those with sensory challenges are more susceptible to headaches, decreased concentration and poor vision because of this. To read more about how a classroom can affect kids with sensory challenges, click here. Landon’s headaches were so bad, I knew something had to be wrong. Here we are today with glasses that have a mild prescription, uv protection and scratch resistant. I am hoping this alleviates his headaches. He has been a trooper through all of this. Even at the 2 hour appointment, he let the doctor poke and prod all around his face and get very up close and personal. He was so well behaved and I was so very proud. He was even excited to pick out his very own pair of glasses. Now that  school vacation week is over, the true test will begin. Will he remember to wear them? Will he lose them? Will he break them? Will they help with the glare & squinting?  But honestly, I only care that he is not upset about this new challenge he has. He realizes that people are unique and his uniqueness happens to also include wearing glasses!


Being Goofy with our glasses!

Being Goofy with our glasses!

Growing Pains

Growing pains. All kids get them. As their parents we will never really know how painful they actually are to our kiddos. The thought of my kid going through any pain at all, just makes my heart ache. Last weekend Landon was in such intolerable pain we almost went to the hospital. He couldn’t walk. He needed us to compress his ankle & shin for almost 1 hour. This was the only thing that helped him. Even with us holding his ankle, massaging where he asked and a dose of Ibuprofen, he was hysterical. We were at IKEA,  drove almost 90 minutes in the rush hour traffic all to be there for 5 minutes and leave. We left the IKEA parking lot and had to pull over at a  local Walgreens. We sat for almost 2 hours until we began our journey home.

Long story short: after the  doctors appointment the next morning,  we all came to the conclusion that it was either a charley horse gone wrong, or just very bad growing pains. But regardless of what it was, the doctor explained to us that it was probably almost as painful as a minor fracture or pulled ligament. This is due to sensory kiddos feeling pain in different way than their peers. So, of course my heart broke even more when I thought about that.

I always knew he felt his emotions differently from others, but never actually stopped to think about physical pain. As much it sucks seeing him fight though his emotions, try to explain his feelings and feel tremendous amounts of pain, I know all these things will make him a stronger person, one with empathy no doubt. Does your little one have growing pains? What are some home remedies you do to calm them? Share away- I would love to know!


THEN- 18 months


NOW- 6 years

Art Therapy – Wordless Wednesday

Art Therapy: Art is an amazing thing. I could talk all day about the benefits of doodling, painting, crafting, sculpting and all facets of art. But- I will just show you how art transcends age limits, disabilities, handicaps: for it is a universal language. One you can interpret how you see fit. Landon had his Intro to Watercolor class today at the Warwick Museum of Art. He went this summer as well- the only 5-year-old in the program designed for 6+ and up. His artwork caught the attention of the instructor and she knew he would excel and take it seriously. He was back for more during February vacation! Here are his pieces that he named himself:

Dragonfly- Elanna's memory

Dragonfly- Elanna’s memory

Flower Brought to Life

Flower Brought to Life

Sunset over Waves & Rock

Sunset over Waves & Rock

I love Colors

I love Colors




A day in the life with Sensory Processing Disorder

Nov 19th 2007 Landon's Birthday

Nov 19th 2007 Landon’s Birthday

Let’s start with some fun info on Landon.  For starters, Landon was born full term on November 19th 2007. He was almost 9 pounds and 21 1/2 inches long. Not a small baby by any means. He was born healthy despite me having Maternal PKU and having a very high risk & difficult pregnancy. He just beat the odds from the beginning. I know he will continue to do so throughout his life.

Landon’s favorite things:

Landon loves many things. He develops obsessions to things very easily, just like his momma, who has her own obsession with Coke and her 15 year old pillow! The pillow is just so damn comfy and Coke – well it is the best thing in the world (next to Landon of course-Lol). At this time, Landon loves Curious George, trains, bedtime stories, his blanket, chocolate milk and swimming. Sounds like your typical 2 1/2 year old boy. I am sure in a few months- he will add onto these and the list will be in the double digits!

Landon’s typical weekly schedule:

Landon is a very busy little boy. We have been working with Early intervention through the city of Warwick since November 2009. We attend many programs at the center as well as home based therapies every other week. We are currently enrolled on the wait-list for the Brown Center for an evaluation appointment for his Sensory Processing Disorder and his intellectual gifted abilities.

Mondays- Landon has Talking Explorers class from 11-12:30pm.  It’s a child only class and has worked wonders for Landon’s separation issues. Every other Wed- Landon has his Occupational Therapy and a Parent Educator come to the house. Every other Thurs- Landon has in-home speech therapy. Starting soon- Landon will be in a communication/behavior class on Tuesdays while Mommy is in a behavior seminar for 11 weeks. This new behavior seminar is based on “time-ins” and communication rather than “time-outs”. I am eager to learn more. As you can see, Landon & I have a fun, packed schedule during the week.

Landon’s personality, behaviors & physical attributes

Landon is a very happy boy. He is very outspoken (with the words he does know) and also with his babbling! He will try and talk to anyone regardless if he has met them in the past. You can say he is a people person. Landon also signs many things on a daily basis.    Landon is very tall for his age. He is in the 95% percentile for height and 75% for weight. He is 41 inches tall and weighs just about 35 pounds. He has long, curly auburn hair and fair skin. He is just the cutest thing ever!

Landon is going through some challenges with children his own age. He sometimes finds himself hitting or pushing to communicate because most children his age are past his verbal abilities. But, for the most part he apologizes right away and we are working to help him communicate better – even through learning more sign language. Landon has a schedule everyday and we try not to deviate from it as this is when certain “uh-ohs” may occur. He is a great sleeper,  but poor eater. These issues I will address as the blog continues.

Landon John Friedman

Landon John Friedman


For now, I think most of you have a pretty good sense as to who Landon is. I look forward to showcasing our activities, challenges, rewards and everyday life of being a mother to A Sensational Kid! If you ever have any questions about SPD, Landon in general or just a nice “shout-out”, please post it here or feel free to email me.

Be real,