Spreading global awareness about Sensory Processing Disorder

STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder

October is Sensory Awareness Month, and we’re already focusing on next month because we want to help spread global awareness about this disorder.

On Oct. 6-7, our partners at the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder will host their 20th Annual International 3S Symposium in Denver, Colo. The Symposium will highlight 20 years of research accomplishments with though-provoking research and strategy presentations by clinical experts.

The Symposium is great for any individuals–occupational or physical therapists, special education teachers, early intervention specialists, parents and more–seeking a better understanding of Sensory Processing Disorder. And in addition to the two-day Symposium, the STAR Institute is hosting a pre-symposium workshop for parents focused on relationships and SPD across the lifespan.

Learn more and register for the 3S Symposium and pre-symposium workshop here. And watch our short video below to learn more about the history of the STAR Institute.

Guest Blog: Playing together at Savannah’s Playground

In September, our local playground consultant, Carolina Parks & Play, helped open Savannah’s Playground in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Ingrid M. Kanics, member of Landscape Structures Inclusive Play Advisory Board, was able to attend the grand opening, and today, as our guest blogger, she shares her experience of the event and takes us through the inclusive playground design.

Labor Day typically marks the end of summer, but this year in Myrtle Beach, it marked the beginning of something amazing. Hundreds of people gathered to be part of the official opening of Savannah’s Playground. This inclusive playground, located in the Myrtle Beach Grand Park, takes playing to a whole new level.

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The playground itself provides visitors of all ages and abilities with activities that will keep them busy for hours. For the early learners, there is a whole area of assorted structures that will provide them with a whole mix of climbing and sliding activities where they can build their muscles as well as social and cognitive skills. This playground area includes ample seating and shade to support families with young children.

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Oodle® Swing

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Molded Bucket Seat with Harness

 

Families will also find a huge collection of swings of assorted types. The collection allows children of all abilities the opportunity to experience this favorite childhood activity. The sheer number of swings ensures that wait times to get on a swing will be minimal compared to the regular playground experience. Group swings like the Oodle® Swing provide children with the chance to swing together with their friends.

Nestled in a group of trees a bit off the beaten path is the Sensory Play Center®. Various activity panels encourage children to play with their sense of touch, sight and hearing. The curves within the wall create small nodes of play that support group play for two or three children at a time. This results in a quieter play area, which will support children with autism.

Just down from the Sensory Play Center is Pulse® Table Tennis, an interactive and multisensory game. The lights and sounds attract children of all abilities to try their hand at electronic table tennis. As children play together, the game challenges their motor coordination, reflexes and reasoning as they try to out play their opponent. The quicker children play, the quicker the game becomes, thus challenging even the best athletes who come to the playground.

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ZipKrooz®

 

Even more, a triple ZipKrooz® with assorted seating options ensures that children of all abilities are able to fly down the track to their friends on the other end. Individuals of all ages and abilities will enjoy flying through space!

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PlayBooster® playstructure

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Sway Fun® Glider

 

Once visitors have sampled all of the surrounding play spaces, they can dive into playing on the main playground structure. This huge ramped playstructure delivers a route of play that takes them 12 feet off the ground. Along the way to the top, there are a wide variety of play panels to explore, which will occupy their mind in play to build reasoning and problem-solving skills by engaging their senses. Kids can take a pit stop at the Sway Fun® glider, or leave the structure through the abundance of playground slides found at assorted levels on the playstructure. Plus, a variety of climbers that help build motor coordination and muscle strength are positioned throughout the playground so kids can quickly get back up to the fun. Set around this playground are inclusive playground components–the We-saw™, OmniSpin® Spinner, Roller Table and TopsyTurny® Spinner–that promote group play. Children and their friends can experience motion in fun and different ways!

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OmniSpin® Spinner

 

To say the least, Savannah’s Playground provided hundreds of kids with a great place to play on this Labor Day weekend morning. Every child will find their “just right” fit on this playground as it is designed to support their physical, sensory and cognitive needs while delivering a world of fun. It allows each visitor to build their socialization skills and self-esteem as they walk, run, roll, slide, climb, swing and spin together at Savannah’s Playground!

Dynamic nets win Best Visual Appeal in Boston

Last weekend, we were in Boston, Mass., to participate in the 2013 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual Meeting & Expo. The theme of our booth this year was “We believe parks make communities great,” and it featured our newest playground innovation, GeoNetrix.

We believe parks make communities great!

Visitors to our booth were able to get a first look at the iconic playstructure. The dynamic nets, contemporary towers and colored, translucent polycarbonate roofs of GeoNetrix enticed attendees to stop by for a play break and test the new playground innovation. Landscape architects were so captivated by the structure that they voted our booth Best Visual Appeal.

GeoNetrix offered ASLA attendees an opportunity to take a play break and test our new iconic playstructure.

In addition to our booth, we were proud to sponsor the Opening General Session speaker, Jack Dangermond, founder of Esri, who spoke about geodesign and the emerging GIS platform. We also sponsored the ASLA/Landscape Structures Gala at the Boston Children’s Museum, which offered hands-on activities, farm-to-table dining and dancing.

American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting & Expo | Boston, Mass. |

We had a great time in Boston visiting with landscape architects, hearing from industry experts and taking in the nearby attractions. Our employees and playground consultants are already looking forward to 2014 ASLA in Denver, Colo.!

Meet the professional: Dr. Lucy Jane Miller

Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, founder of the SPD Foundation and STAR CenterWe are so honored to work with clients around the world, and we’re constantly learning about their fun and unique projects, obstacles they’ve faced and the innovative solutions they’ve created to overcome challenges. That’s why we’ve created this new feature that spotlights professionals. This week, meet Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, founder of the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation and the STAR Center. Below, you’ll learn how she came to begin her career, and what lead her to start the SPD Foundation.

When I was 16-years-old, I stopped seeing things the way other people do. Literally.

Without contact lenses in my eyes, objects were growing blurrier and blurrier. With contacts in, I could see but my eyes ached until, after several hours, I could hardly bear the pain. Only a few months earlier, I’d been thinking about where to go to college, what to do for the summer and all the other things typical 16-year-old girls think about. Then this one big sensory piece started to fail—my sense of sight—and my whole world shifted. My parents took me to a local ophthalmologist but he brushed aside my complaints. “There’s nothing the matter with her eyes,” he told us. “It’s all in her head.”

I was in college before we solved the mystery of my fading vision. By then, wearing contact lenses for more than a few minutes had become agony and even enormous shapes were fuzzy without them. It was my alarmed freshman roommate who insisted I see a doctor at the school clinic, triggering a series of referrals that finally brought answers and help. I was diagnosed with advanced kerateconus, a disease that distorts the corneas and—without treatment—eventually, leads to blindness.

The diagnosis was grave but it also came as a relief. My vision problems weren’t all in my head after all! The symptoms were real and they had a name. I finally knew what I was fighting and could make a plan for fighting it.

The year was 1971 and the cure for the disease was corneal transplants in both eyes, a procedure only two doctors in the U.S. were qualified to perform. I went on a waiting list for donor corneas, doubling up on classes so I could finish college before my surgery, learning Braille and practicing with a white cane, just in case the cure didn’t work and I lost what was left of my eyesight. A few weeks before graduation, I reached the top of the list for my first transplant. During the two-hour surgery, the old bad right cornea was removed and a new donated cornea was stitched to my eyeball with 16 sutures that would jab my eye and eyelid like teensy relentless needles for the three months after surgery when both my eyes had to be patched.

The operation was a total success, but I felt lost in my carefully maintained darkness. The endless stream of doctors, fellows, residents and medical students who gazed admiringly at my eye murmured, “beautiful, beautiful,” but I didn’t feel beautiful at all. I couldn’t see. I made a mess when I tried to eat. I couldn’t perform basic personal hygiene tasks and, after a lifetime seeing people when I talked, it didn’t feel like communication when I talked in the dark. What’s more, the admiring medical people who visited seemed to care only about my beautiful new eye. I felt reduced to a single sensory organ—an eyeball.

Then a new person entered my life. She was a young occupational therapy student doing her internship and she had been assigned to teach me how to feed, dress and take care of myself. She was about my age and showed no interest in my eyeball at all. Instead, she talked to me, Lucy Jane Miller, and listened to what I said. She always wanted to know how I—not my eye—was doing and she told me little things about her life so we had a real relationship even though I couldn’t see her. I silently called her “Angel” and imagined her with long blonde hair, blue eyes, a perfect Olympian body, and a halo, of course. I learned to identify her footsteps and detect her scent so I could say, “Hi, Angel!” just as she came into my room.

Then came the day when Angel chanced into the room when my patches were being changed and I finally glimpsed my rescuer with my eyes as well as with my other senses. The sight astonished me. Angel was a polio survivor. Half her face and body had been paralyzed and left sagging by the disease. In my darkness, Angel was beautiful because I could only “see” the beauty that was inside.

In the fog of recuperation, my future came into focus. While still in my eye patches, I applied to occupational therapy school. Two days after the last stitches were removed following my second transplant, I started graduate school.

One of the first books I read with my new good eyes was the work of a pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist named A. Jean Ayres. In Sensory Integration and Learning Disabilities, Dr. Ayres wrote in detail about the behavioral, social and emotional issues that arise when a child’s sensory foundation is not firmly established early in life. She stressed the importance of early diagnosis of sensory disorders and described in detail how occupational therapy (OT) could and was helping children. Fresh as I was from my own darkness, Dr. Ayres’ words resonated instantly.

Demoralized and disabled by the long-term repercussions of a doctor’s proclamation that my symptoms were all in my head, I knew how critical accurate and early diagnosis was. Barely out of my teens, I had known the humiliation of being unable to perform normal, everyday routines like other people my age. Grateful for Angel’s care, I was a firm believer in how dramatically OT could address sensory issues and improve a person’s life. Before first semester ended, I decided to spend my life promoting the understanding, accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of the sensory-based disorders that Dr. Ayres described.

From Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Learn more about Dr. Miller and the research, education and treatment she provides to help individuals struggling with SPD. Then read about our partnership with the SPD Foundation and the STAR Center, including its sensory playground.

Dr. Miller created an inclusive playground with many sensory-rich activities at the STAR Center.

Dr. Miller created an inclusive playground with many sensory-rich activities at the STAR Center.

Stimulate your senses on the playground with Pulse™

Our inclusive playgrounds bring children and families of all abilities together for play. In addition to providing access to the playground, we are focused on offering sensory play experiences. That’s why we introduced Pulse™, a multisensory way to add lights, sounds, touch and more movement to the playground.

Pulse, with its three interactive games, brings children of all abilities together for visual, auditory and tactile stimulation. The games are easy to understand, encourage social interaction, teach the value of sportsmanship, and help develop physical coordination and spatial awareness.

Pulse Tennis

Pulse Tennis

Pulse Tennis is great for two to eight players ages 5 to 12. With flashing lights and realistic tennis sounds, kids will be encouraged to run, lunge and stretch to send the light back to their opponent.

Pulse Table Tennis

Pulse Table Tennis

Pulse Table Tennis welcomes two to four players ages 2 to 12. Kids develop hand-eye coordination and concentration as they watch for the light to bounce back to them. Table tennis, installed at a wheelchair-accessible height, is great for therapeutic settings.

Pulse Tempo

Pulse Tempo

Pulse Tempo rewards kids for their movement with five unique sound and light shows. Designed for up to six players ages 2 to 12, Pulse Tempo helps advance kids’ motor skills.

Watch Pulse in action below, then go to playlsi.com to hear what kids have to say about the new multisensory play experience.

Announcing our NEW 2013 Park & Playground Equipment Catalog

We are very excited to introduce our 2013 Park & Playground Equipment Catalog. With more than 200 pages, our new catalog features many new products and offerings that are designed to inspire your upcoming playground projects.

2013 Park & Play Equipment Catalog

2013 Park & Play Equipment Catalog

The catalog opens to a letter from Cofounder and Chairman Steve King on behalf of all 300 employee owners at Landscape Structures. We are all honored to be a part of children’s lives, and are constantly inspired by their imaginations and drive to have fun. Every employee here puts his or her heart and soul into creating innovative playgrounds that kids flock to and become community gathering spaces.

Pulse™ Tempo

Pulse™ Tempo

Next, you’ll see our new product offerings for 2013 like Pulse™, which offers a multisensory way to add light, sound, touch and more movement to the playground. We’re excited to show off our new site furnishings collections—Designer, Vivid and Nature-Inspired—which will match your new or existing playground. We’ve also introduced new freestanding play components like the We-saw™, our multi-person seesaw that welcomes children and families of all abilities; the Flywheel™ Spinner that encourages social interaction; and the Log Stack Climber, which will expand your nature-inspired playground design and offer various levels of challenge.

Mobius® Boat

Mobius® Boat

In addition to our new products, we have a section of signature playground designs that highlight our custom design and manufacturing capabilities. Our artists, designers and engineers look forward to collaborating with customers to help bring their ideas to life, and our focus on the details makes each playground an exciting destination for children who visit it.

These are just a few of the highlights in the new 2013 Park & Playground Equipment Catalog, so take some time to page through the entire thing. You can browse our Virtual Catalog or request a copy be mailed to you at playlsi.com.