Understanding Sensory Sensitivity
If you suspect your child has sensory sensitivity or you’ve been told your child has sensory sensitivity, you’re in the right place! Understanding sensory sensitivity is a process, whether you’ve known it for a long time or you’re new to the topic.
The great news is the more you know about sensory sensitivity, the more you can support your child in proven, meaningful ways. And as you gain more insight into how they experience the world, you’ll feel more empowered and equipped to help them grow, adapt, and thrive.
What Is Sensory Sensitivity?
Sensory sensitivity means that a child or adult is especially sensitive to one or more sources of sensory stimuli. Whether the person has ASD (autism spectrum disorder), SPD (sensory processing disorder), or is simply sensitive to particular input, there are tools and techniques that can help.
Oversensitivity to sensory stimulation is also called hypersensitivity. Hypersensitive people are also described as “sensory avoidant.” An oversensitive child might avoid tags on clothing, hugs, loud noises, crowds, certain food textures, and more.
Undersensitivity to sensory stimulation is known as hyposensitivity. Hyposensitive children are often called “sensory seekers.” You might have a sensory seeker in your house if they like snug clothing, pressure therapy blankets, constantly touching people or objects, or fidgeting with just about everything.
Signs Your Child May Have Sensory Sensitivity
Children can be both hypersensitive and hyposensitive.
Your child might be sensory sensitive if they:
- Enjoy smelling everything or complain about the smell of everything
- Enjoy touching everything or have a lot of issues with the way things feel
- Prefer powerful flavors and texturized foods or are very picky and selective with textures and flavors
- Seek touching other people all the time or avoid touch at all costs
- Speak loudly and enjoy loud music or have a strong reaction to loud sounds
- Have very poor balance (undersensitive) or excellent balance (oversensitive)
- Ignore or have delayed response to injuries (undersensitive) or have huge reactions to minor injuries (oversensitive)
How to Help Children With Sensory Sensitivity
Whether your child is hypersensitive, hyposensitive, or a combo of the two, there are plenty of ways to support them on their unique journey. Through a little trial and error, you can find out which tools and techniques work best to help your child regulate and find their happy place again.
Helping With Sound Sensitivity
If your child is oversensitive to sounds, try the following:
- Reducing external noise by closing doors and windows
- Making sure they have soft, comfy EarBuddies
- Creating their very own “quiet nook” away from doors, windows, and other noise sources (as much as possible)
If they’re undersensitive to sound, you can help your child by making sure others are aware of this. This insight will help them communicate better with your child, who may not always hear them.
Helping With Touch Sensitivity
If your child is hypersensitive to touch, try the following:
- Always approaching from the front and letting them know when you are going to touch them
- Keeping in mind that hugs aren’t comforting for everyone
- Creating a sensory bin so your child can safely explore different textures
If they’re undersensitive to touch, you can help your child by finding safe chewing alternatives like a chewable necklace or toy.
Helping With Sight Sensitivity
If your child is hypersensitive to light or visual distraction, try the following:
- Reducing fluorescent lighting in the home
- Always having sunglasses on hand when heading outside
- Keeping visual distractions to a minimum in their bedroom or workspace
Helping With Smell Sensitivity
If your child is hypersensitive to smells, try the following:
- Using unscented detergents, soaps, and shampoos
- Making the home environment as fragrance-free as possible
- Making others aware so they can avoid wearing strong scents when they visit
If your child is hyposensitive to smells, you can help them by creating a regular hygiene routine that keeps them from developing body odor they might not detect.
Conclusion: Understanding Sensory Sensitivity
Sensory sensitivity might be hard for most of us to relate to, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to understand! With a little time and patience, you can start to see the world through your child’s sensory lens. And maybe smell and taste it like they do, too!
Remember, you can always count on Sensory Scout for the latest sensory news, products, and plenty of community support. Access sensory tools and toys, teletherapy sessions, and more through our Facebook Group. We hope your Halloween is all treats and no tricks!