Monday, 28 June 2010

In praise of hotdogs

I'm not talking sodium nitrate and colouring and collagen casings here -- I'm talking a fun game that you can play with your children that's especially useful if someone is upset or grumpy or out of sorts.

First, I'll admit that this game wasn't my idea. I got it from a book called "The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun" by Carol Stock Kranowitz.

An "out-of-sync" child has many guises: over-hyper, total couch potato, extra-clumsy. All these symptoms and several in between could be indications of Sensory Integration Disorder, where a child's brain doesn't quite register senses properly.

I still haven't decided if my 7-year-old has a form of this -- he definitely requires over-stimulation to feel right, such as going to bed with a flashlight shining in his eyes and never being able to find his "inside voice". I've decided, however, that the label of SID isn't as important as Kranowitz's suggestions for tackling it, which is basically to ensure children have a varied sensory diet just as one would ensure they have a varied food diet.

"Hotdogs", therefore, are one "dish" in the sensory diet, and one particularly enjoyed by children who like deep touch. The key is to press deeply and deliberately, because children who have sensory issues might feel uncomfortable with soft touching.

Here is our variation. First, the child lies on the ground face down, then we mime turning on the stove and starting to "sizzle" the hotdog by jiggling him. After a few seconds, we turn him over to sizzle the other side. We turn the stove off, then start slathering on the condiments:

  1. ketchup (long, slow strokes from head to toe) 
  2. mustard (splodgy pushes up and down the body) 
  3. onions (poking all ten fingers along the length of the body) 
  4. pickles (using the forearms, press from head down to the feet) 
  5. cheese (a bit of a feathery tickle) 
  6. chili (long stroke followed by a press, which is the sauce followed by the beans) 
  7. finally, the bun, which is your whole body on top of his. You can pretend to eat him now, or if he's too tall for the bun, pretend to cut off his head. (I think this a bit morbid, but they seem to love this part ... go figure). 
With my hot-and-cold, intense 7-year-old, this game has become something of a tantrum buster. He's even offering to do it to the other children when they've had some kind of upset like a scraped knee, so I know he has come to regard it as a soothing therapy.

Meanwhile, if you want to know more about SID, then do consult Kranowitz. You may find that she finally nails the difficulty you've been having with your own child, and what's more, gives you some strategies for dealing with it.


  1. Fabby game! My son has Aspergers and craves sensory input. noise.... but also hides away when he doesn't like noise?? spicy hot foods, strong tastes, soft blankets to wrap up in and rub on his face and hits himself very hard alot..... I'm sure he has some sensory issues and i suspect this game would be very him!!!
    I can see us playing hotdogs very soon!!

  2. Sounds like the Kranowitz book will be helfpul for you, especially the "Has Fun" with all its suggestions for sensory games. You've made me think about her "tactile road", where you put down all kinds of different fabrics and items on the ground for the child to walk over with bare feet. Let me know if you try it.

  3. My son shows signs of SPD and he loves this game too!

  4. I <3 the Out of Sync Child! It's what saved me from being....ahhhhh! ;)

    We do burritos and sandwiches. 'Course my monkey's 13, wears a 14 shoe and is taller than me but...he still enjoys playing along with his little sisters!

    ~Honey from Mondorfment


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