Can SPD Kids Have a Normal Life?
It’s a question you see and hear a lot: Can kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) have a “normal” life? First, it’s important to point out that none of us shares a single definition of the word “normal.” And labeling anyone as “abnormal” is dismissive and harmful.
Usually, what people are really asking is, “Can my child have a happy, healthy life with SPD?” And the answer is: YES! Sure, children and adults with Sensory Processing Disorder face unique challenges in their day-to-day. But certain skills and strategies can help them lead productive, rewarding lives.
Essential Skills for Kids with SPD
As you prepare your child for independence and eventually adulthood, the following skills are good ones to emphasize. You can model, encourage, and teach these skills, empowering your child to live with greater confidence and agency.
Self-Regulation and Determination
Self-regulation refers to your child’s ability to control their behaviors, emotions, and energy level. For kids with SPD, sensory regulation means managing how they respond to sensory stimuli.
The following can help children with SPD self-regulate:
- The Wilbarger Protocol (Deep Pressure Proprioceptive Technique), AKA “Brushing”
- Role Playing to practice appropriate ways to act in various scenarios
- Social Stories where you present a story in great detail to show your child appropriate social responses they might find hard to understand
- Sensory Diet that gives your child sensory feedback through activities like chewy toys, weighted items, or wheelbarrow walking
- Professional Therapy for a tailored strategy courtesy of an expert
When children improve their self-regulation skills, it helps build determination and confidence. Ultimately, they feel they have more control and power over their reactions.
Emphasizing and encouraging open communication is one of the best things you can do for a child with SPD. Being overly stimulated can make kids distracted, stressed, and overwhelmed, hampering their ability to communicate freely.
Help your child practice talking about their feelings and what might make them feel more supported and prepared. A speech and language pathologist can offer valuable insight and develop a strategy for moving forward.
Domestic and Personal Care
While personal and household tasks can be uniquely distressing for those with sensory issues, there are ways to help your child perform them with confidence.
- Use a sensory-friendly toothbrush
- Use a detangler before brushing hair
- Experiment with different soap textures and smells
- Use a hairbrush with soft bristles and rounded ends
- Try a scalp massage before brushing hair to desensitize
- Try to find soft clothes with seams on the outside that aren’t too tight, etc.
The list of daily domestic and personal care tasks an adult must perform is too long to list here! But you get the idea. The point is to find products and methods that minimize discomfort while also encouraging desensitization when possible.
Conclusion: SPD Kids and a “Normal” Life
Kids and adults with SPD might have routines and strategies that look slightly different than people without the same sensitivities. But that certainly doesn’t mean their quality of life is any less! Keep challenging your child in fun, creative ways as you explore new products and paths that work for them.
Remember, you can always count on Sensory Scout for the latest sensory news, products, and powerful community support. Access sensory tools and toys, teletherapy sessions, and more through our Facebook Page.
We hope your new year is off to a safe and healthy start!