What do fingernails on a chalkboard, clanging metal against your teeth, and the sound of breaking polystyrene have in common? For most people, these senses-offensive actions give us major shivers. This is the same sensation children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) experience on a much smaller scale. For us, they are merely uncomfortable; these triggers do not cause meltdowns over severe outbursts as they do with individuals with SPD.
Most parents of children with sensory issues find their biggest challenges occur in five familiar situations: getting dressed for school, attending social gatherings, eating out or being in public, and when with other children on the playground.
If you find you have the same difficulties with your child, here are four simple ways to help cope with your child's sensory processing disorder.
First things first. You are not alone. There great strength in numbers and so connecting with other parents who are familiar with your situation is beneficial as you can discuss what does and doesn’t work for your children. A support group will also help you feel less alone. For more information on local groups, click here.
A lot of parents of children with sensory processing disorder are hesitant about using a visual plan at first because they are unsure of its effectiveness. Rest assured, this cheap and easy to make tool can be a game-changer. By mapping out your child's week in words or by using images and leaving it somewhere they can see on a daily basis, they know what to expect that day, and so you minimise the number of meltdowns they have. Try using a magnetic dry-erase calendar. Simple, but effective.
A major contributing factor to sensory processing issues is the children not enjoying the sensation of their fabrics against their skin. Trying opting for sensory adaptive clothing for soft materials they’d be much more comfortable in. Adaptive bodysuits have no nasty tags or scratchy surfaces and provide a pleasurable day-to-day sensory experience.
There are a number of sensory toys available on the market to choose from to help encourage sensory processing, create a calm environment, aid developmental growth, at the same time of providing hours of entertainment. Stuck for ideas? You can use our recent blogs for ideas.
No matter what route you take, communication with your surrounding support network is vital. That includes staying in touch with the school and talking with your child's teacher to best understand how sensory processing issues affect your child, which triggers to avoid, and which coping strategies to help make explosive situations run smoothly.
We'd love to hear from you. What copy strategies help you cope with your child's sensory needs?
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Swimming is a fantastic inclusive activity to do with children with special needs. It’s a great sensory experience that is good fun and has positive benefits for both physical and mental health. It is also an activity that can be done all year round and doesn’t have to be weather dependent (depending on where you choose to swim!).