A special thanks for extra lucky moms for having me featured on their blog today!
Hi everyone! My name is Jennifer Glickstein, pediatric occupational therapist and owner of brand-new startup Dress Up to Calm Down.
It has been a long crazy journey to get to where I am today. My love for working with kids with special needs started when I used to volunteer with Special Olympics. I loved that there was such an incredible organization that provided opportunities for kids with special needs to meet others just like them and engage in activities that provided them with a sense of teamwork and inclusivity! I got my undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a degree in rehabilitation psychology and special education. As part of my fieldwork, I was the regional event planner for Special Olympics Wisconsin where I spent weekends around Wisconsin planning different tournaments, events and volunteer opportunities for others. I met a lot of amazing players, parents, volunteers and coaches through this. I knew I wanted to continue my passion working with kids with special needs. After undergrad I took a gap year off school and got a job working as a behavior therapist in an ABA clinic called the Minnesota Autism Center. I worked directly with speech therapist and occupational therapists and fell in love with the idea of helping others through learning skills that they would need to be as independent as possible. I applied for OT school in the fall of 2014 and became an Occupational Therapist in the Summer of 2016. I currently work at a private outpatient pediatric clinic called Kids Abilities.
Throughout my journey as an Occupational Therapist and working with a variety of children with conditions ranging from Cerebral Palsy to Autism to just small developmental delays, I have learned that therapeutic tools and interventions are necessary for the success and goal achievements of each of the kids I work with. Weight as a form of therapeutic intervention is a huge component of occupational therapy as it provides “proprioceptive” deep pressure input to the bodies muscles and joints which helps with calming and increased body awareness. For many of my kids I see, they struggle with poor posture at the table and are often seen slouching or resting their head on their hands. They are clumsy. Tripping over their feet and walking down the hallways touching everything in their paths. Many of them are sensory seekers seeking out movement to the point it interferes with their daily lives. Others are sensory avoiders, fearful of movement, hate wet and messy textures, are picky eaters or react to loud noises to name a few. Weighted tools help with both sensory seekers and avoiders by helping slow the body down for sensory seekers and reducing the fight or flight that comes with sensory avoidance.
At my clinic, the only wearable weighted tools available for us therapists to use were denim weighted vests that were uncomfortable and not ideal for those who had sensitivities to textures and weighted blankets which could only be used for stationary work. I saw how much kids benefited from using weighted tools especially for body awareness and self -regulation. As the crazy therapist at my clinic that would make a mock grocery store where I would have kids push a cart and lift in and out large Costco size food items. Then around the holidays I have them wrap Amazon boxes full of bean bags and have them carry the boxes across the room to stick them under the tree in the lobby. I saw that there was a NEED for more fun weighted tools at the time, but I put this idea on the backburner for a while as I continued to develop and grow as a therapist.
One day, I was working with a little boy who had Sensory Processing Disorder, trauma pre-adoption and attention deficit disorder. He came into the clinic very dysregulated. He was jumping from activity to activity every few minutes, had difficulty following directions and focusing and could not sit still in his chair to save his life. I immediately knew that using a weighted tool was just what he needed to help him calm down so that he could learn and engage in the activities I had chosen. I presented him with a weighted vest. He immediately refused and stated it was ugly and he did not need it. I decided to attach a cape, print out a Superman Logo on the front and weighted arm and leg weights for armor. He LOVED it! He put it on no questions asked, we pretend played superheroes during gym time and after he was a different kid! I knew that this was something big and hence where my idea of Dress Up to Calm Down was born. Weighted costumes for kids providing a fun alternative to the standard weighted vests and blankets.
Once we had the idea, it was time to get to work. We decided that the best route for us to take was to find a costume manufacturer that already made costumes and see if they were willing to help us make costumes with pockets for weights and weights. My husband Jake is an engineer and has a lot of connections with manufacturers. It was difficult for find someone willing to work with us and this novel idea but eventually we did. We chose two different costume types which we thought would be popular and then Jake and I worked with the factories to develop a few prototypes which we tested out in my clinic. The kids loved them and responded well to them. After feedback from other therapists in my clinic both physical therapists and occupational therapists, we made a few adaptions, and we were ready for production! We received our inventory after long awaited lead times (thank you COVID 19) and launched this August!!
We have had such positive feedback and support from both the therapy and psych communities and are looking forward to making weighted tools fun for kids both at home, school and in clinic! We hope to expand to more costume types and weighted accessories in the future.
Check us out at www.dressuptocalmdown.com
Use the code dressup30 at checkout to get 30% off your first order.