So, you just found out your child has sensory challenges. You feel kind of relieved right? Now all of those behaviors make a lot more sense.
But at the same time, you're worried. Where do you start? How can you help your child overcome their challenges and thrive?
By the end of this post, you'll have a clear action plan and a deep sense of confidence.
Let's get started!
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
If you don't already know what Sensory Processing Disorder is, this post provides a detailed explanation!
But as a quick summary…
Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to correctly receive and respond to stimuli from the senses. Children with SPD experience overstimulation and under-stimulation of their senses such as light, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
Kiddos with SPD might be
- Easily frustrated or angry
- Picky with food
- Frequently putting things in their mouth
- Resisting hugs
- Avoiding social interaction with other children
What is life like for sensory parents?
Let’s talk about life as a sensory parent, what steps to take, and how to help your child make progress!
You are not alone! Read that again.
Your daily life might look different compared to others, but there are plenty of parents worldwide who are helping their kids thrive with SPD.
Oversensitivity, mood swings, tantrums, and clumsiness might be part of your daily routine...and your house might feel like a circus!
But once you identify where you can help, you can create a toolbox of strategies to help your kiddo regulate their emotions and senses.
5 First Steps For A Sensory Parent
Before we get into these 5 steps, here are some general tips!
Go slow - be patient, and celebrate small wins
Trust your instincts - you know your child better than anyone else
Believe in your kiddo - they are capable, unique, and awesome!
Alright, let’s create your sensory action plan! These are steps you can take today to help your kiddo make progress and grow:
1. Identify sensitivities and triggers
Observe your child. When they seem upset, frustrated, or they’re just “not feeling right”, see if you can identify the activities or environment they just experienced. Maybe the lights were too bright, or maybe they had been sitting still for too long. Make a note of which senses are affected and why. Some kiddos might be under sensitive, which could look like craving more tight hugs or more physical activity. Try and tailor their environment to better fit their needs!
2. Create routines
Kiddos with SPD thrive on routines. It helps them understand what will happen at certain times during the day, and help with transitions too! Try creating a morning routine, midday routine, and nighttime routine with your child. Use their favorite toys and activities to keep them engaged, and create a visual schedule with pictures!
3. Cultivate a “sensory diet”
A “sensory diet” is a set of activities that targets your child’s specific sensory needs. Create a sensory diet that fits their daily routines! Picture this: your kiddo is a sensory seeker who loves to bounce around. Their morning routine starts with 2 minutes of jumping (maybe on a small trampoline, or the couch), then he eats breakfast, then brushes his teeth. The jumping helps regulate his sensory needs, and allows him to be calm for breakfast and brushing!
4. Find a positive support system and ask for help
Reach out to friends, or use the internet to find a positive support system. You can join Facebook groups and meet other sensory parents in your area. Having a support system means less solo research for you! Instead of sitting on the internet for hours, you get tips and tricks from experienced sensory parents!
5. Make time for yourself!
This one is super important, but sometimes gets pushed aside. Your kiddo needs your help, and you need energy in order to do that! Schedule time for yourself every day to rest and recharge. Help yourself so you can help your kiddo!
The reality of parenting a child with Sensory Processing Disorder can be a wild ride. Remember, you are not alone!
Here’s a mantra you might find useful: go slow, strategize, and celebrate small wins!
Now go put your plan into action!