Tips for managing sensory processing disorder in children
Sensory processing disorder (SPD) can significantly impact a child’s daily life, affecting their ability to process and respond to sensory information from the environment. It can lead to challenges in regulating emotions, behavior, and social interactions. As parents, it is essential to understand and support children with sensory processing difficulties. In this essay, we will discuss practical tips to help parents manage sensory processing disorder in their children, fostering a more comfortable and supportive environment.
Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder:
Sensory processing disorder involves atypical responses to sensory stimuli, where children may be overly sensitive (hypersensitive) or under responsive (hyposensitive) to sensory input. It can affect various sensory systems, including touch, sound, taste, smell, visual, and vestibular (movement and balance).
Priyanka Chopra Jonas, at the World Disability Day celebration in Mumbai, India, on December 3, 2017.
“Every child, irrespective of their abilities, has the right to education, love, and acceptance. Let us come together to create an inclusive world where all children can flourish and contribute their unique gifts.”
Creating a Sensory-Friendly Environment:
- Provide a calm and organized environment with minimal distractions to reduce sensory overload.
- Create designated quiet spaces where your child can retreat and regulate their sensory input when feeling overwhelmed.
- Use visual supports such as schedules, visual cues, and timers to help your child anticipate and navigate daily routines.
- Consider the use of sensory tools like weighted blankets, fidget toys, or sensory swings to provide comfort and regulation.
Supporting Sensory Diet:
- Collaborate with an occupational therapist to develop a sensory diet tailored to your child’s specific needs. A sensory diet consists of activities and strategies that provide the right amount of sensory input throughout the day.
- Incorporate sensory activities such as swinging, jumping on a trampoline, or engaging in deep pressure activities to help regulate your child’s sensory system.
- Provide opportunities for sensory exploration, such as playing with different textures, engaging in messy play, or using sensory bins.
Managing Sensory Challenges:
- Observe and identify triggers that may cause sensory overload or meltdowns in your child. This could include loud noises, certain textures, or crowded environments.
- Gradually expose your child to sensory experiences that challenge them, but in a supportive and controlled manner. This process is known as sensory integration therapy.
- Use relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or calming sensory activities to help your child self-regulate when feeling overwhelmed.
Promoting Sensory-Friendly Strategies in Daily Life:
- Implement a predictable routine, providing structure and reducing surprises that may trigger anxiety or sensory difficulties.
- Communicate with your child’s teachers and caregivers about their sensory needs and strategies that work well for them.
- Advocate for your child’s sensory needs within their educational setting, ensuring necessary accommodations are in place to support their participation and learning.
Managing sensory processing disorder in children requires understanding, patience, and a collaborative approach. By creating a sensory-friendly environment, supporting sensory diets, and implementing strategies to manage sensory challenges, parents can help their children thrive and navigate the world more comfortably. Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. Seek support from occupational therapists, connect with support groups, and embrace a holistic approach to support your child’s sensory processing needs.