You adore your sensitive, active or “spirited” child, but his sensory needs pose unique challenges. Here are some parenting tips from an occupational therapist for creating a supportive environment at home for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
Explore your own sensory needs
Are you overwhelmed in crowded places or bothered by background noise from fans or outdoor construction. Do you enjoy perfume, or does the smell give you a headache? Complete a sensory questionnaire or consider your own sensory cravings and sensitivities. Completing the questionnaire will build your skills as a sensory detective, which will help you anticipate your child’s needs.
Utilize a visual schedule for routines
Children with Sensory Processing Disorder often find comfort in routines and benefit from the use of a visual schedule that they can easily understand. Putting one together can be as simple as gathering pictures of your child completing routine activities and putting them in order for the day or week. Your child’s speech or occupational therapist can assist you in designing a visual schedule that caters to your child’s specific needs and strengths.
Develop a sensory diet
Once you understand what kinds of sensory experiences your child dislikes or craves in order to self-regulate, you can incorporate those sensory activities into your daily routine. Push-ups and jumping jacks before school, and snuggles and a weighted blanket for calming at night are a few examples of sensory diet activities that might be helpful for a child with sensory processing issues. Your child’s occupational therapist can help you develop a sensory diet that matches your child’s unique sensory needs.
Create a sensory-smart environment
Consider creating an area or room of the home where your child can consistently be comfortable. You could make changes like minimizing and decluttering the room as well as removing bright or fluorescent lights. You know your child best. Create the environment that will encourage calm feelings.
Discipline with care
Do not punish sensory-based meltdowns. Instead, avoid them by following consistent routines, honoring your child’s sensory needs, and consistently enforcing rules and consequences. Learn to discern the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown caused by sensory overload, and offer support to help your child calm himself before giving consequences.
Establish connections with other parents who are raising a child with sensory challenges. Join a support group in your community or online. You are not alone. Connecting with others going through the same experiences can be very helpful.
– Jennifer Wolverton, OTR-L, Occupational Therapist
Total Education Solutions (TES) has been a premier provider of special education services in Ohio since 2007. We are excited to announce that we’ll be expanding into home-based and clinical services with the opening of our new Columbus Clinic in the Fall of 2018! Our services will include speech-language therapy, occupational and physical therapy, behavior support services, and Orton-Gillingham Reading Intervention for children ages birth to 21.
If you’re interested in a free consultation, please call us at (877) TES-IDEA, and connect with us at www.tesidea.com.